Book Review: Alex and Eliza

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz

First Line: Like a latter-day Greek temple, the Schuyler family mansion sat atop a softly rounded hill outside Albany.

Summary: Eliza Schuyler is the daughter of a wealthy general.  Alexander Hamilton is the right hand man of General George Washington.  When the two meet at Eliza’s home, the first encounter is not the one of fairy tales.  However, when they meet up again several months later their friendship grows and a romance for the ages is born in the midst of the American Revolution.

Highlights: This is a very quick read and great for a first book about Alexander Hamilton.  With the popularity of the musical, Hamilton, this book is appearing at just the right time.  I know very little about the man who had a key role in the establishment of our country.  I am a huge fan of Melissa de la Cruz.  I think she does a good job of bringing this story to readers in a YA version.

Lowlights: The book is almost more juvenile than YA usually are.  I expected a little more surrounding the war.  I do plan to read the next one as well.

FYI: Perfect introduction into the story of Alexander Hamilton.

Book Review: The Fallen Kingdom

The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

First Line: I am the beginning of a girl: her throat filled with ash, desperately clawing her way from the earth with weak, trembling limbs and an urgent message on her lips.

Summary: In the third book in the Falconer series, Aileana has returned from the dead and with powers given to her by a faery.  She knows that in order to return her world to the way it once was is to find the Book and the only way to do that is to enlist the help of the faery who killed her.

Highlights: Very action packed with many fight scenes and witty remarks.  This book made me laugh often.  I love the character of Derrick.  He has been my favorite part since the very first book.

Lowlights: The story seemed a little weaker than the rest.  It could have been included in the second book as a short ending.  The author seemed to stretch it out at times.

FYI: Perfect for readers of Sarah Maas and Cassandra Clare.

Late June new releases

Register for the adult reading program, log your books, and be eligible for great prizes.

Are you participating in our adult summer reading program? If not, you ought to consider it. If you think you will read four books of at least 100 pages each, sign up! You will be entered to win some great prizes with every four books you read and log. Every week there will be a randon drawing for a book bag filled with books and swag. At the end of the program, three lucky random winners will receive a new Kindle HD tablet and a $50 Amazon gift card.  Click here to register and log your books through July 23.

If you are looking for some new books to read this summer (then log them as part of summer reading!), here are some new releases scheduled for the second half of June.

June 20: The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz
This first book in the new Jane Hawk series promises a new series loaded with the signature suspense of Dean Koontz. Jane Hawk, the widow of a man who committed suicide, does everything in her power, despite her grief and anguish, to learn the truth behind his death. Jane’s husband was just one among a surprising number of people who are happy, talented, accomplished, and of sound mind who are killing themselves. As Jane seeks to learn why so many people are committing suicide, she becomes the most-wanted fugitive in America.

June 20: The Force by Don Winslow
A dirty cop that everyone thinks of as a hero, because he is the highly decorated leader of a special unit that has been given carte blanche to fight gangs, drugs and guns. What he really is has him caught in a trap, trying to avoid getting caught by the Feds while trying to protect his crew, his family and the woman he loves, all while the city is teetering on the brink of a disaster.

Cover image of "Every Last Lie" by Mary Kubica
“Every Last Lie” is the newest thriller by Mary Kubica.

June 27: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica
Clara’s husband, Nick, and daughter are in a car accident and Nick is killed. When her daughter, Maisie, starts having night terrors following the accident, Clara starts to wonder if there’s a lot more at play than a simple accident. Driven by a desire to know what really happened, Clara will stop at nothing to learn the truth in this thriller that is told in the alternating voices of Nick in the months leading up to the crash and Clara’s investigation following it.

 

June 27: The Impossible Vastness of Us by Samantha Young
This young adult novel explores the life and relationships of India, Eloise and Finn. India’s mom is engaged to Eloise’s father, and when India tried to befriend Eloise and become friends with Finn, it becomes apparent that what is visible to the outside world often hides the real truth.

June 27: Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams
A young American woman, Virginia, flees a family secret and becomes an ambulance driver in World War I France. A charming British army surgeon (Simon) pursues her, and they eventually marry. Five years later, the young widow and her daughter, the daughter whose father never met her, are in Florida to settle Simon’s estate. Simon’s brother and sister welcome Virginia to the lovely oasis of Cocoa Beach, but Virginia is determined to find out what really happened to Simon, because she is not convinced he died in the house fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her.

Cover of the book "The Sisters Chase"
“The Sisters Chase” promises a whirlwind adventure with the Chase sisters as they cross country looking for a better life.

June 27: The Sisters Chase by Sarah Healy
Mary, Hannah, and their mother Diane run a seaside motel. When Diane is killed in a car accident, the daughters find out the value of the motel is less than the back taxes they owe on it. They set out across the country in the hopes of finding a new and better life, while the secrets Hannah carries threaten an even greater loss.

Early June new releases

Aaahhhh. Summer is finally here! The kids are out of school, the pools are open and the sun is (we hope!) shining. Summer just screams at me to pick up a new book — or several! — and climb into the hammock under the tree and ignore everything else for a while as I lose myself in the pages. When I was a teenager, we lived just a couple blocks from the local public library, so I would ride my bike over, pick up a few novels, come home and jump in the hammock to read. My family always knew where to find me in the backyard.

And now that I am, well, let’s just say not a teenager any longer, and my summers aren’t nearly as free as they were when I was 14, my heart still yearns for the hammock, a light breeze and a stack of good books. Luckily, with all the new releases to look forward to this month, my stack will stay nice and tall.

Here are a few titles we are looking forward to that will be released the first couple of weeks of June.

June 6: Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
This, the 13th novel from Sarah Dessen, takes place in the world of wedding planning, so a crisis is just about guaranteed. Louna is the daughter of a famous wedding planner, so she has seen weddings at beaches, hotels, and fancy clubs. After her first love ended tragically, Louna is pretty cynical about happy endings. So when she meets Ambrose, she works to keep her distance. However, now that he’s met a girl he really wants, Ambrose is hard to discourage.

“The Alice Network” is the newest historical novel by Kate Quinn.

June 6: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
This new historical novel by Kate Quinn brings together the stories of a 1915 woman, Eve Gardiner, recruited as a spy in France, and a 1947 unconventional American socialite, Charlie St. Clair.  Charlie is sent to Europe to have a “little problem” taken care of, but while there she goes on the hunt for her cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war. There, Charlie meets Eve, who, desperate to fight against the Germans, is trained by the “Queen of Spies” and sent into enemy-occupied France during the World War I.

June 6: Camino Island by John Grisham
A daring heist from a vault deep below an Ivy League university’s library. A dealer in rare books, who also occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts. A young female novelist who goes undercover. Eventually, people learn too much. Suspense as only Grisham can deliver.

June 13: Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
From the author of Bad Feminist comes an emotionally raw memoir of food, weight, self-image, and self-care. From Goodreads: “As a woman who describes her own body as ‘wildly undisciplined,’ Roxane understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care. In Hunger, she explores her own past—including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life—and brings readers along on her journey to understand and ultimately save herself.”

Take a trip to Old Hollywood in this story of one actress’s story of her life, secrets, and all seven husbands.

June 13: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Evelyn Hugo, one of the most glamorous actresses of Old Hollywood, has decided the time has come to tell her story, and the truth, about her scandalous life. To do so, she chooses unknown magazine report Monique Gray, who is not exactly at the top of her own world, but is determined to use this chance to jump start her career. As Evelyn’s life unfolds, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s surprisingly in tragic and irreversible ways.

June 13: The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor
Kristoff, an apprentice stamp engraver in Austria, is forced to work for the Germans after his teacher, a master stamp engraver, disappears during the Kristallnacht. Fifty years later, Katie Nelson discovers a stamp collection of her father’s, which includes an unusual stamp from World War II Austria. The discovery leads Katie and Benjamin, an appraiser, on a journey to find the origins of the stamp.

Book Review: Caraval

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

First Line: It took seven years to get the letter right.

Summary: Scarlett is a young woman who lives on an island with her sister and cruel father.  She is engaged to be married to a man she has never met but has high hopes of him taking her away from her father and the life she has known.  But she has dreams of visiting Caraval, the mysterious carnival/game that is filled with magic and wonder.  Her grandmother raised her on stories of Grand Master Legend and his amazing magical world.  When she suddenly receives an invitation for her, her sister and her fiancé, she is thrust into a game she does not know how to win.  Her father forbids her to leave but when her sister goes missing she has to believe that she has left for Caraval and it is up to Scarlett and the arrogant seaman, Julian to find Tella and bring her back before her father discovers them missing.

Highlights: The world of Caraval is beautiful.  The descriptions of the island and its inhabitants are as detailed as a painting.  I wanted to live in this world apart from the terrors and trials that Scarlett had to endure.  I love how strong and passionate Scarlett was about finding her sister.  It is great to see relationships like that with strong female characters.  And the twist at the end was fulfilling for the whole story.

Lowlights: Some pieces of the story were a little predictable.  I was able to guess things before they happened but other pieces I thought I had figured out and was not even close.

FYI: I listened to this on audio while taking the long drive to Colorado and really enjoyed it.  It made the dreariness of I-70 fly by.

Summer reading for grown-ups!

If you are a parent, you may be familiar with summer reading programs for kids. You know, you come into the library, sign your child(ren) up, and then spend the summer convincing them to spend time with books to log all their minutes reading or being read to, and hope that the weather in the last couple weeks before school starts is nice enough to use your free passes to the water park. It’s fun. No, really, it is! But admittedly, it can be a little bit exhausting.

Even if you don’t have children, you may think that summer reading programs are only for kids. And our summer reading program for kids is super awesome, but it’s not the only summer reading program we have.

We have a summer reading program for you! Yes, every single person who loves to read and is 18 or older can enroll in our adult summer reading program. Registration for the adult summer reading program opens at 9 a.m., Tuesday, May 30. You can register and track your books online or you can come in to the library and pick up a paper log. All books must be logged by 5 p.m. July 23.

Oh, and let’s talk about the prizes! We love to give away prizes! Each week, anyone who has read at least 4 books will be entered in a drawing for a library tote loaded with books and swag. Tuesday, July 25, we’ll draw three names to win grand prizes — a Kindle Fire HD and $50 Amazon gift card — from all participants who have logged at least four books . All prize winners will be drawn at random. 

The theme for all our summer reading programs is the same this year: Build a Better World. So help us build a better world this summer by participating in our adult summer reading program. And tell us in the comments below how reading helps build a better world for you!

Late May new release titles

It’s nearly summer and that (hopefully) means more reading time, right? What kinds of books do you like to read in summer? Are you a person who loves those easy “beach reads”? Or is summer your opportunity to get your teeth into something meaty while lounging in the backyard or by the pool? Share some of your favorite summertime reads in the comments!

Meanwhile, here are some brand-new books to look forward to, that will be out in the latter half of this month. Click on any of the titles to be taken to the catalog where you can see if the book is on the shelf or you can put it on hold.

“A Million Junes” by Emily Henry is scheduled to be released May 16.

May 16: A Million Junes by Emily Henry
Reading the summary of this book on Goodreads, I see the link to Romeo & Juliet, but I also see some Hatfields and McCoys here. The setting is Five Fingers, Michigan, and the century-old feud between the Angerts and the O’Donnells is as strong as ever. Jack “June” O’Donnell, 18, like the O’Donnells before her has nothing to do with any of the Angert family — until Saul Angert, son of June’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three years away. Suddenly, June finds she doesn’t hate Saul. The chain reaction sparked by Saul’s arrival threatens to reveal truths that have been hidden about the families’ feud for 100 years.

May 16: Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer
Are you looking for a good beach read for your Memorial Day weekend? This book from the author dubbed the queen of beach reads might be a great choice. Darcy Cotterill lives on Nantucket and is surprised when she finds out that her ex-husband is living next door with his wife and step-daughter for the summer. In addition, she’s trying to navigate the ups and downs of her own romantic relationship with a local carpenter.

May 18: Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession by Alison Weir
Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, this novel tells the story of the second of Henry’s six wives. Anne is young and at the English court fresh from France. You know how she died. Now read how she lived.

The sequel to “Lady Midnight” by Cassandra Clare, “Lord of Shadows” continues the story of Emma, Julian and Mark.

May 23: Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2) by Cassandra Clare
Shadowhunter Emma Carstairs is fighting her feelings for her parabatai, Julian, and begins dating his brother Mark. Mark has just returned from spending five years trapped in Faerie and no one is sure whether he will ever be able to be a shadowhunter again. Emma, Julian and Mark are caught between the unsettled Faerie courts and the Clave.

May 23: The Long Drop by Denise Mina
Do you have a hard time finding books that aren’t part of a series? I do. Here’s a standalone psychological thriller about a “trial-of-the-century” in 1950’s Glasgow. A string of murders has occurred and Peter Manuel is found guilty of the crimes, but how did he end up there?

First in a new Gothic horror series from Madeleine Roux, “House of Furies” is scheduled to be released May 30.

May 30: House of Furies by Madeleine Roux
First in a new Gothic horror series by Roux. Finding herself happily out of the harsh school she’s been attending, 17-year-old Louisa finds employment as a maid at Coldthistle House, a boarding house.  While she’s happy for the change, she quickly realizes that something isn’t quite right. This boarding house is a house of judgment, not rest, as Mr. Morningside and his staff are expected to execute their own justice. Louisa begins to fear for one kind young resident, but how can she know who to trust?

Book Review: The Book Jumper

The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser

First Line: Will ran.

Summary: Amy and her mother, Alexis, decide to make a trip to Scotland to their family estate on an island called Stormsay.  When they arrive at the ancestral home and she finally meets her mother’s family she learns a secret that will take her love of reading to a whole new level.  The two families that live on the island are able to jump into books and interact with the characters and story. Their mission in life is to protect the stories and keep them running smoothly.  On her first day of lessons as a book jumper she enters the world of The Jungle Book but as the days pass things in the literary world start falling apart. It appears that someone is stealing ideas from stories!

Highlights: Once again the cover caught my attention. But the idea that someone could jump into a story and live along with the characters is a dream come true.  What story would I jump into?  The possibilities are endless. The little twists were fun and kept you wondering.  The other stories were chosen well with a variety of different themes.

Lowlights: Spoilers. Several of the books that are mentioned I have not read but the plot gives away the endings to many of them.  It made sense for the story and it isn’t a major problem but it was a little frustrating.

FYI: This story was originally published in German.

Early May new release titles

Isn’t it fun that new books just keep coming and coming? However, it means that my to-read list is always getting longer, no matter how fast I finish books! How do you decide what book you should read next? Do you keep a stack of books on your nightstand and read them top to bottom? Do you have a “hopeful” stack that you think you’ll pull your next book from? I am so easily distracted by the new, shiny titles, that some of my to-reads have been in the stack for years!

So, let’s add to those piles or throw something shiny and new into the mix with these books that are being released in early May.

A Court of Wings and Ruin
“A Court of Wings and Ruin” is the third title in the Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas.

May 2: A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
My heart is beating so fast just thinking about getting my hands on the third installment in Maas’ Court of Thorns and Roses series. I’m dying to see what Feyre has planned in the Spring Court, and where things are going on the other side of the wall in Prythian. War is looming and one slip by Feyre could bring not only Prythian down, but could cost Feyre everything she loves.

May 2: The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts #2) by M.R. Carey
From Goodreads: “Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.
The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.”

“Into the Water” is a new thriller by Paula Hawkins, author of “The Girl on the Train.

May 2: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
A single mother is found dead in the river, in the same place a teenage girls was found just a little earlier that summer. Are the two deaths related? A lonely 15-year-old girl is left behind in the care of an aunt she doesn’t know, a woman who vowed never to return to the place she left. And the river is disturbed and secrets are beginning to emerge.

May 9: Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
Nora and Theresa Flynn leave their small village in Ireland and travel to America, to a new home in Boston. Decisions are made by both sisters that will have long-term repercussions, as 50 years later, when Nora is the matriarch of a large family and Theresa is in a convent in rural Vermont, a sudden death forces them to face choices they made long ago.

The Girl Who Knew Too Much
Amanda Quick’s latest novel, “The Girl Who Knew Too Much,” is set in 1930s California.

May 9: The Girl Who Knew Too Much by Amanda Quick
It’s California in the 1930s, and reporter Irene Glasson finds a beautiful actress staring up at her from the bottom of the pool in an exclusive little town where Hollywood’s elite go for privacy. The dead woman was the keeper of a secret about one of Hollywood’s leading men, a scoop that Irene was hoping to land. Now the rookie reporter is investigating murder.

May 11: New Boy (Othello) by Tracy Chevalier
This is the fifth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series (which also includes titles from Margaret Atwood and Anne Tyler). From Goodreads: “The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970’s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practice a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Peeking over the shoulders of four 11 year olds Osei, Dee, Ian, and his reluctant girlfriend Mimi, Tracy Chevalier’s powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.”

Book Review: A Crown of Wishes

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

First Line: Vikram had spent enough time with bitterness that he knew how to twist and numb the feeling.

Summary: Gauri is a princess of Bharata. Vikram is the prince of Ujijain. Gauri is a prisoner of Ujijain and therefore a prisoner of Vikram. She has been banished from her kingdom and her throne by her evil brother. When Vikram enters her cell and proposes to free her in if she will travel with him to the Otherworld to enter the Tournament of Wishes she agrees in hopes of escaping and returning to her homeland. As they travel they encounter magical creatures and trials that will test them as they compete for a wish from the gods.

Highlights: The writing and imagery is beautiful. The detail is so colorful and enchanting. I love the cover.

Lowlights: With all the detail and characters it was easy to get lost. At times the story seemed to be shifting and didn’t seem to have a main climax. I expected more from the tournament. It was still fun but not nearly as good as the first book.

FYI: This is the second book in a series but I feel that it can be read as a standalone as well. People are mentioned and seen from the first but they do not alter it without knowing the previous book.