First line: I’m really not supposed to be doing this, but a girl’s gotta get paid.
Summary: Ropa has dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. It’s not a fancy job but it brings in just enough money to take care of her grandmother, her sister and herself. Taking messages to the living from the dead can be rather boring until she starts to hear whispers about children being kidnapped and then returned with the life sucked out of them. Ropa is dragged into the investigation which leads her to a hidden underground library filled with occult magic. Using her wits and a little magic she is determined to hunt down the mysterious child snatcher that is haunting the streets of Edinburgh.
My Thoughts: Having recently visited Edinburgh this book caught my attention. I knew some of the locations Ropa visits and could easily picture them while reading. At first I was not sure if this book would be one I’d enjoy since the vernacular took a little bit to get used to. But once I got past this I was hooked. It was so different and quirky that I was immediately sucked into Ropa’s world.
There is still so much after reading this that is still unknown. There are hints to a war or revolution. The world is basically a dystopian society. Part of me likes that even after reading the second book I still am wondering about the Edinburgh that Ropa lives in. Little pieces are mentioned when they pertain to the story but not a full history has been revealed. And that sometimes is a downfall for fantasy books. They reveal too much that it is overwhelming. This seems to build naturally.
I cannot wait to learn more about Ropa’s world in upcoming books and the Library of the Dead. We have barely scratched the surface which leaves this series up for more shocking reveals and interesting storylines.
Stephanie is fourteen years old, and a summer 2021 teen volunteer.
It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.
First line of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451 follows the tale of Guy Montag and his conflictions as he lives in a dystopian, book-despising society. He works faithfully at his job as a firefighter, someone who burns books and the homes of disobedient citizens, until he meets people that cause him to question his values and beliefs. Maddened by the constant desire to learn more, Montag finds more and more flaws in the society that he lives in. He makes friends and enemies, one of which is an animatronic canine. There are multiple suspenseful moments as well as thought-provoking statements woven throughout the story.
Even though it was written in the 1950s, the book’s description of a futuristic world is oddly like our current world. It shows the addiction to technology extremely well. Montag’s wife wastes away her time in a room surrounded by screens and false realities. She does not care about the world outside or her neighbors. The book also describes a fast-paced world where silence and rest are unnatural. Nobody takes walks for enjoyment and even when nothing is happening, people are listening to their own personal entertainment in Seashells, the dystopian version of ear buds. One character mentions how communities have become indistinguishable. Every joke is the same. Conversations are dull, only consisting of talk about fancy cars or clothing, or new television shows. All knowledge about classical works of literature and true art are nonexistent. While Fahrenheit 451 does exaggerate some realities, it is still very close to our lives in the 21st century. Bradbury’s imaginings of the future can be somewhat discouraging, seeming as if our world is drifting away from the love of books and knowledge, but it offers hope when Guy Montag fights for change.
An enjoyable aspect of the book is Bradbury’s talent for exhibiting anxiety and creating suspense. It is easy to get caught up in the emotions of the book. In a couple situations, Montag becomes overwhelmed. Bradbury showcases Guy’s anxiety through realistic inner monologues. Montag’s emotions, whether it is stress, anger, or despair, are clearly communicated and can be relatable to those who feel stuck in a constantly moving world. Montag has some suspenseful scenes that lead to moments far from any cliché. With these small but essential aspects of the story, Bradbury draws every reader into Guy Montag’s journey.
However, no book is completely enjoyable, and Fahrenheit 451 has some rough parts. There are a few odd metaphors that can be confusing, and some paragraphs are tedious to read because their topics get overcome by too much poetry. A slightly annoying factor about the book is that it is split up in a strange way. There are not frequent chapter breaks, and it can be hard to find a break in the text. These aspects do not overcome the many good parts of the book, though, and are simply things that were not enjoyed.
There are a few things to be aware of about the book. Characters understandably get angered, causing them to spout mild profanity. As mentioned earlier, Montag deals with anxiety, and overwhelming situations are expressed in a very realistic way. Some sensitive readers who cannot handle emotionally intense situations may want to be wary.
Overall, Fahrenheit 451 is a fantastic book for anyone looking for a classic, but exciting read. It offers topics to think about or discuss such as a fast-paced world vs. a slow, simple life, or the importance of maintaining knowledge and wisdom. It is a wonderful and enjoyable book full of surprises, thoughts, a little bit of poetry, and adventures.
First line: “There are places you can go,” Ariana tells him, “and a guy as smart as you has a decent chance of surviving to eighteen.”
Summary: A Second Civil War was fought over the rights of reproduction. Under the new Bills of Life children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can be unwound which means their organs will be harvested and given to patients who need new parts. Every part of the Unwind will be used so technically they are still “alive” but just in another form.
Connor has been trouble for his parents for years but he never thought that they would actually choose to unwind him. Risa is a ward of the state. She lived her whole life in a state home learning how to play classical piano but when it comes time to test her she does not measure up to the set standards. Lev was raised knowing he was born to be an Unwind. He is called a tithe. But on one fateful day these three get thrown together and their lives will change forever!
My Thoughts: I absolutely love everything that Neal Shusterman has written (at the last the ones I’ve read so far)! He is a genius. He writes books that really make a person think. It is great that there are books like this and his other series, Scythe, for kids to read. The stories deal with tough topics and decisions. And the worlds he builds are just unreal. I am blown away by his story telling and his plots.
It is easy to get caught up in the story. I was listening to this as I took a trip to Kansas City and one of the discs had trouble loading and I was yelling at it to start working. I needed to know what happened! Luckily it started playing.
Each of the characters is unique and have difficult stories to tell. Shusterman brings in minor characters that give even more insight into life in the days of Unwinds and the recipients of the organs. And at one point we get to experience the consciousness of an Unwind while he is being unwound. It was disturbing.
I cannot wait to start the next book and see how the story continues. It is scary, realistic and very thought provoking. I highly recommend this.
FYI: It does have some graphic moments and can be a little disturbing for some people.
If you have not listened to our library podcast,Novel Ideas: The Library Podcast, you are missing out. We discuss so many different things and love to chat books. Recently Alyssa, Hannah and I spent an hour discussing our love of young adult books and the tropes that are found within them. Most of the time they are easily dismissed because the book is so good. How do you feel about the typical YA tropes?
First line: Tonight, I will make the Alchemist’s blood—Jules Ember’s blood—into a weapon.
Summary: Jules Ember was raised listening to stories of the Alchemist and the Sorceress. When she learns that she is the Alchemist and Caro, a lady in waiting to the queen, is the Sorceress, she must learn how much of the stories are really true. Jules is blamed for the murder of the queen and is on the run from Caro and the rest of the kingdom. With the help of Liam and Elias she is able to piece together her past and decide how to save her country.
Highlights: This cover is stunning. It is very eye catching and filled with little details from the story. I really enjoyed the first book and the idea of blood being a source of currency. Even though it is mentioned and a known entity the blood currency is rarely discussed in the sequel. But I did like that when we meet Elias we learn that other countries do not have the same issue with blood. It is only Sempera. Very interesting!
Jules is one of those characters that falls into the savior trope. It is a commonly used idea but it can be a lot of fun. She has a secret that means she is the only one who can change the world. While Jules is searching for answers I really enjoyed the story. She takes looks back into her past lives as the Alchemist to see how her conflict with the Sorceress came about.
Lowlights: The insta-love is what brought this down for me. She loved Roan. He gets killed. She was kind of scared of his brother Liam. However, shortly after spending a little time with him they are in love. Okay. Sometimes the story needs to move along but it happened really quickly.
FYI: This is a sequel. Read book one, Everless, before picking this one up.
First line: Serina Tessaro stood on the steps of the fountain in Lanos’s central piazza flanked by nine other girls her age, all in their finest gowns.
Summary: In Viridia girls are not allowed to read, they must be subservient and bend to the will of men. When sisters, Serina and Nomi, are sent to the palace with a chance of being a Grace and her handmaiden, Serina sees this as a chance to take care of her family. However, when the Heir chooses her younger rebellious sister, Nomi, as a Grace instead, their worlds are changed forever. When Nomi breaks the rules, being able to read, and her sister is the one who takes the blame and is sent to the women’s prison on the isolated island of Mountain Ruin. Nomi has to learn to be a Grace while living under the roof of the Superior while Serina is forced to fight for survival.
Highlights: I found this very enjoyable. I would classify it as a dystopian novel. Going into it, I thought there would be an element of fantasy to it. To tell the truth I was fine without it. It was good straightforward story. I liked the relationship between the two sisters. They truly care about each other and are willing to sacrifice themselves to save the other one. So many stories are centered on romance but this was sisterly love. Each sister had their own strengths that sets them apart. The action was well done. Not overly gruesome or gory. The cover art is beautiful. I enjoyed the supporting characters such as Maris, Malachi and Jacana. I am hoping that we get to see more of them as the story goes on. I raced through the ending. It was fast and gave a cliffhanger that leaves me wanting more!
Lowlights: Several plot lines were predictable. There were similarities between other books of this genre. Even with the similarities, I did not feel like I was reading a rewrite of another novel.
First line: Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper.
Summary: In a world where blood is time and time is currency, resides Jules Ember. She is a young girl determined to save her father’s life by returning to the Everless estate in order to earn more blood irons (the currency that can add days to years onto a persons life). However, when her father dies at the gates of Everless Jules becomes entangled in a mystery about her past and the family she has been serving.
Highlights: The idea of blood being transformed into currency but can also be consumed to add more time to a person’s lifespan is very intriguing. I never would have considered this premise but it is fascinating to think about. I liked the twist at the end. I figured out several pieces but many of them were great details that added to the mystery. This is a typical dystopian YA novel but it still feels fresh and new.
Lowlights: Being a reader of YA I could easily predict several plot points. There are similarities to books such as Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
*May contain spoilers–see my review of book one, Gilded Cage.*
First line: Jenner reined his horse to a halt, and it stamped and snorted in the long blue-black shadow of the trees.
Summary: In a modern day Great Britain the powerful are called Equals. They have magical powers called Skill. And the common people live their lives just as we do except for each person is required to serve 10 slave years during their lifetime. Many are sent to the slave towns to work in factories but the Hadley family are assigned to work at a home of an Equal. However, when Luke kills the Prime Minister he is condemned and sent to the dreaded prison island for a lifelong punishment. His sister Abigail is determined to rescue her brother. She escapes and tries to find the other rebels who are intent on bringing down the Equal regime and end the slave days. Revolution has begun in Great Britain and it will be a battle to the death.
Highlights: This series reminds me of the Hunger Games. There is lots of action and drama. The characters are really well established. I hate Whittam Jardine almost as much as President Snow. I was deeply saddened by several deaths in the story. I was completely shocked when they happened that I gasped and had to take a minute to recover from them. If a book can make you do that, you know that you are invested in it. I keep having complicated feelings about Silyean. He is an interesting character that I cannot decide if I want to trust or not. When I was nearing the end the whole story sped up and it was like a marathon. I had to finish it and was exhausted at the end. It was great! I cannot wait till the author releases the final book to find out how the story ends, if I can trust Silyean and see if the Hadley’s survive the revolution.
Lowlights: The magical powers of the Equal is called Skill. I felt like the word was over used at times. On several pages, the word is mentioned multiple times. As a reader of the series, we understand what they are doing. It does not have to be pointed out repeatedly.
There’s definitely a chill in the air and we’ve seen our first forecast for possible snow (already?! it’s far too early for snow!). Break out the hot cocoa and some marshmallows, find a soft blanket to curl up in, and grab a good book! If you’re looking for something new, here are a few books scheduled for release this month (all of them before Thanksgiving!) that we recommend.
Nov. 7: Now is Everything by Amy Giles (young adult)
Hadley Macauley is at the center of this debut novel, told in alternating then and now chapters. Hadley’s family may look like a perfect family from the outside, but they are hiding a dark secret. Hadley is doing everything she can to keep her sister safe from their father, but after Hadley’s relationship with Charlie deepens, a violent incident at home changes everything. After Hadley attempts suicide, everyone wants to know what happened that day at home, and Hadley’s not saying a word.
Nov. 7: Renegades by Marissa Meyer (young adult)
From the author of the Lunar Chronicles comes the first in a new series about a syndicate of good guys who rose after society crumbled and chaos ruled—the Renegades. As champions of justice, they’ve brought about peace and order, which is appreciated by everyone but the villains they’ve vanquished. Nova is on a mission of vengeance for a villain who has the power to crush her, and when she meets Adrian, they both end up in danger.
Nov. 14: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #3)
Brandon Sanderson does epic fantasy with the best of them, and the third installment in The Stormlight Archive series is no different. Humanity is facing a new Desolation in the Voidbringers. The violent Everstorm is sweeping the world with destruction. But nestled in the mountains above the storms, Shallan Davar unearths dark secrets in the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant. Previous books in The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings (#1), Words of Radiance (#2), and Edgedancer (#2.5).
Nov. 14: Artemis by Andy Weir
New science fiction from the bestselling author the The Martian is set in the near future in a city on the moon. Life in Artemis is pretty rough if you aren’t one of the rich tourists, so a little smuggling won’t hurt anything and certainly helps pay the bills. But when Jazz gets the chance to pull of a perfect crime, what could go wrong? Until she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy for control of the city itself.
Nov. 21: The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris (middle grades)—this book is on order so is not available yet on the catalog
Carter is a street magician. When he runs away to a sleepy New England town, he finds friends and more magic. After a greedy boss and some crooked carnies move into town, Carter teams up with five more kids who think like he does. They set out to rid the town of the bad guys, using magic and teamwork, and in the meantime, find friendship, adventure and their own self-worth.
Nov. 21: The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
From Goodreads: “A moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.”
The holiday weekend means I’m a little behind this month, but here are some new releases we’re looking forward to this month. I hope you found some time to get some reading in on that last great weekend of the summer.
Yesterday really did seem to be our last blast of summer with temperatures in the Wichita area hovering near 100 degrees. Today feels like the beginning of fall with much cooler temperatures and a cloudy sky! But for us readers, that just means that we can move our reading indoors with a cup of our favorite warm beverage (librarians here are split between coffee and tea, although my favorite is hot cocoa).
Take a look at the titles below and see if something here grabs your interest. You can click on the title of the book to find it in our catalog.
Sept. 5: Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison
Where does a life built on lies get Sutton and Ethan Montclair? Not very far it turns out. While it appears that the couple is made for each other, the truth is much darker. They have been consumed by troubles, both personal and financial, and the two both love and hate each other. When Sutton disappears, leaving a note that directs people not to look for her, the lies begin to unravel and Ethan finds himself at the center of the gossip and questions. A thriller full of twists and turns that will have you turning pages.
Sept. 5: All That Makes Life Bright by Josi S. Kilpack
This romance tells the story of Harriet Beecher and her relationship with Calvin Stowe. Harriet has a strong faith in God and believes that God will help her accomplish everything she is meant to be, including a wife, mother, and writer. When Calvin is called away on a European business trip, Harriet begins to wonder about her place in his life as she knows he still misses his first wife. Even when Calvin returns, life is much harder as Harriet tries to fulfill her many roles.
Sept. 5: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie
Another masterful tale from Rushdie, this novel tells the story of the Golden family, from the perspective of their Manhattanite neighbor, confidant and aspiring filmmaker, Rene. Nero Golden is a real-estate tycoon with three adult children. They move into a mansion in downtown Manhattan after immigrating to the United States under mysterious circumstances. Rushdie calls on pop culture, cinema, literature, and current events to tell this story.
Sept. 5: Lines by Suzy Lee (picture book)
From Goodreads: “And magic once again flows from the pencil and imagination of internationally acclaimed artist Suzy Lee. With the lightest of touches, this masterwork blurs the lines between real and imagined, reminding us why Lee’s books have been lauded around the world, recognized on New York Times Best Illustrated Books lists and nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international honor given to children’s book creators. This seemingly simple story about a young skater on a frozen pond will charm the youngest of readers while simultaneously astounding book enthusiasts of any age.”
Sept. 12: Warcross by Marie Lu (young adult—not yet on catalog, but is on order)
For those who log in every day, Warcross is more than just a game. Emika Chen is a teenage hacker who also works as a bounty hunter, searching for those who bet on the game illegally. She needs to make some quick cash, so she takes a risk and hacks into a game, but accidentally glitches herself into the action. She’s convinced she’s going to be arrested, but instead ends up on a mission for the young billionaire creator of the game.
Shaker Heights is a carefully planned suburb of Cleveland, from the layout of the roads to the color of the houses. Elena Richardson embodies the ideas behind the suburb perfectly, as she absolutely believes in following the rules. But when Mia Warren moves in — an artist and single mom — and rents a house from the Richardson, life in this carefully ordered community gets upended.
July is more than half over, and school starts in about a month. How is summer flying by so fast? Could it be that the time I spend reading makes the days go by faster? If so, I don’t want to have to stop reading to get summer to slow down. I love finding new books to read and being one of the first patrons at the library to read a new book. And there are some great ones coming out the last two weeks of this month!
Here are a few of our picks:
July 18: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Cass took the shortcut home, the one she promised her husband she wouldn’t. She saw a woman sitting in a car, the woman who was murdered. Now, she’s having a hard time. She’s forgetting everything: whether she took her medication, where she left the car, why she ordered a baby pram when she doesn’t even have a baby. The one thing she can’t forget? The woman who was murdered. A murder she might have been able to prevent.
July 18: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Modern day New York: Magic is pretty much extinct. Pretty much, but not completely. There are a few, the Mageus, who have an affinity for magic, but must keep who they are a secret. And if any of them cross into Manhattan, they will never leave. It’s sealed by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that locks them on the island. But the Order, which created the Brink, didn’t count on Esta, a talented thief who steals magical artifacts from the Order. Esta can steal from the past, but can she steal the item she needs from 1902 before it is destroyed by the Magician?
July 25: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond
Alice is a rock-and-roller turned successful lawyer. Jake is a therapist for kids and teens and is breaking into marriage counseling. They are getting married, and Alice ends up inviting one of her clients, a famous musician, to their wedding. Finnegan invites them to join a group that promotes healthy marriages, and Jake and Alice can’t see why it wouldn’t work, as they are both wholly committed to making their marriage successful. However, The Pact has some rules and the consequences for breaking any of the rules can be pretty severe.
July 25: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Isa spent the most significant years of her life at a boarding school near the marshes at Salten. Now she has received a simple three-word text message: I need you. Isa drops everything and, with her baby daughter, heads to Salten. Something terrible has been found on the beach, which will force Isa and her three best friends, whom she hasn’t seen in years, to confront their past.
July 25: Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed
An isolated island, settled by ten men and their families just before the country was left uninhabitable by incineration. Only chosen male descendants of the original 10 colonists, known as Wanderers, are t allowed to cross to the still-smoldering wasteland. The daughters are wives-in-training. Only in the summer do the children run free, and one summer Caitlin Jacob witnesses something so terrifying and against everything she’s been taught, that she has to share it with the other children. 17-year-old Janey Solomon, who is slowly starving herself to prevent entering puberty, takes on the task of learning the truth, and encourages an uprising of the girls on the island.
Click on any of the titles above to see the book in our catalog.