Where is the “oh jeez, what” subject heading?

September 17, 2014 Leave a comment


So, today I’m cataloging retro titles. I came upon this book, Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat and after reading the NLS annotation my reaction was:

“Oh jeez, what?” and then, “Where is the ‘good lord, what the hell’” subject heading when you really need it?”

Then I looked up the title online to compare descriptions.  This really does come down to the original purpose of this blog: NLS’s crazy, mixed up, misguided, and occasionally, FAR OUT annotations.

breath-eyes-memoryFrom the NLS Annotation:

Until age twelve, Sophie is raised by her aunt in Haiti. Her mother then sends for her to come to New York and explains that Sophie is the product of rape. When a grown Sophie is befriended by an older musician, her mother tests her virginity. Sophie rebels by violently deflowering herself, an act that caused her to seek sexual phobia therapy. She marries the musician and tries to come to terms with her past as her mother does the same. Some violence.


Oh jeez, what the what?  Pretty much the end of every sentence of this annotation is cringe-worthy.  Rape. Virginity. Sexual phobia therapy. Haiti.  And…only some violence?  This is a book that contains, by description, a violent self deflowering and the best we can do is “some violence” but no, not even a little bit of “descriptions of sex,” explicit or otherwise? Uhhhhh.

So, like I said, I visited the internet to find out if its just me, or is this book weird (?).  Turns out, it’s been an Oprah’s Book Club selection.  I was like, “sensational, much?”  But then I read the Amazon description from July 2003.  Turns out, it’s not JUST a book about virginity verification and violent deflowering after all.  Yay?


breathFrom Amazon:

At the age of twelve, Sophie Caco is sent from her impoverished village of Croix-des-Rosets to New York, to be reunited with a mother she barely remembers. There she discovers secrets that no child should ever know, and a legacy of shame that can be healed only when she returns to Haiti–to the women who first reared her. What ensues is a passionate journey through a landscape charged with the supernatural and scarred by political violence, in a novel that bears witness to the traditions, suffering, and wisdom of an entire people.


When presented from this angle, the book seems downright interesting, engrossing, enlightening, and, dare I say, worth a read?

NLS, I realize that this is a very old annotation…1994 to be semi-exact.  So, I’m not going to rail too hard.  Let’s assume this annotation writer has moved on to other tasks at the NLS…director, deputy director, collection development…something innocuous that doesn’t put them in direct access to the books, or the humans, or writing PR copy.  Uh oh.

Anyway, that is all.  Now back to cataloging this backlog of 4 months and 2,000 titles.

Edited to say: Make that 3,000 and change.


May Copy Alotment: what’s coming up

August 7, 2014 Leave a comment


Welcome to the May 2014 edition of WRT’s What’s coming up.


eloDB78343 North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

Boston. Pirio is helping her godson’s father Ned on his lobster boat, when they are hit by a freighter. Pirio is recued after four hours in the frigid ocean, but Ned is not. When signs suggest foul play, Pirio investigates. Strong language, some violence, and some descriptions of sex. 2014.

The Boston Globe calls Elo’s novel, North of Boston, a “murder mystery, an environmental thriller, and a domestic drama.” Apparently it’s a modern day story that just sounds old in the annotation. Pirio is the daughter of Russian immigrants, her family owns a perfume business(?), she has an uncanny sense of smell, she’s mysteriously impervious to hypothermia, and she’s kind of a wild-woman. The reviewer goes on to talk about a series of twists and turns that will satisfy the reader.

The review on Kirkus Reviews tells us right off that this is the beginning of a new series starring Pirio Kasparov. Overall, the reviewer likes the book and says that it’s “well-laid” groundwork for the rest of the series, but didn’t offer much more than another description of the novel.

Our trusty Goodreads commenters are the first to give us an idea about how people actually “feel” about Pirio. With an average review of 3.67 stars our of 5; most people are impressed that this is the author’s debut novel. Some detractors called the book “contrived” and that the author sometimes “rambled” on about unimportant things. But, to be honest, I had to go through 4 pages of reviews to find one that was actually negative. Many reviewers gave 3 stars, but still wrote favorable reviews about the writing, characters, and plot.


wilson_DB78357 Cold City. Repairman Jack; the Early Years: 1 by F. Paul Wilson

New York City, 1990. After losing his temper and severely injuring a coworker, twenty-one-year-old college dropout Jack dives into the seedy side of the city. Soon Jack is toting a gun and smuggling stolen goods—and uncovering secrets others want hidden. Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. 2012.

An independent reviewer’s blog, LayersofThought.net calls this, the first of a set of prequels in the Repairman Jack series, a “fun, action-oriented piece of escapism.” Critically, he is not happy with this book having so many loose plot threads. His complaint is that most books in series will at least wrap up a single story or have a clear climax but that this book did not. The reviewer gives this book 2.5 stars out of who knows how many so it’s tough to gauge the severity of the rating.

Amazon readers give Cold City 4.5 out of 5 stars and some highlights claim that the book is an excellent introduction to an already well established and well loved character, but that, without knowing this character as well as fans already know him, you might not get much out of this book. So, hearing that, keep in mind that a new reader to Repairman Jack should probably not start out with the prequels of the character.

The website for Crimespree Magazine’s reviewer points out that this book has almost no supernatural elements (which explains the Amazon reviewers’ points) but that the book is still a great example of “pure crime fiction done at its best.” Quite conversely, this reviewer says that this book is a great read even for series first-timers and that, if this book is any indication of what’s to come, the reader is in for a “hell of a ride.”


Panic_HC_JKT_des4.inddDB78376 Panic by Lauren Oliver

In the poor town of Carp, New York, graduating high school seniors enter a high-stakes game called Panic. Contestants work through deadly challenges all summer, hoping to win the grand prize of more than $50,000—and to start a new life. Some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2014.

The Guardian’s U.S. edition reviewer calls Panic “brilliant…fast paced and even when the pace drops, the plot still keeps you hooked.” Obviously we’ve moved on from vampires to dystopian society so here is another book to recommend to those who have liked The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.

Goodreaders have given 3.59 out of 5 stars but some of the reviewers are a little tired of the Hunger Games’ trope and are dubious that this book will truly be a “stand alone” in a world where it’s almost illegal for a YA writer to write a single novel to tell a story. One YA reader posted an entertaining review made almost completely from GIFs. As you read through the reviews, though, you see that teens must rate books with more stars than you would expect based on their actual reviews. Looks like the kids may be over the Hunger Games, Battle Royale, and everything in between.

Deseret News out of Utah calls Panic “well-written, unpredictable and entertaining.” This review is provided by an adult reader and mother. She briefly comments on the language, sexual references, and injuries that take place in the book.


leonardDB78385 Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

Dragons once called Caithen home, but five hundred years ago the Empire conquered the kingdom and bound them into service. Now the dragons want Corin, crown prince of Caithen, to free them. His task seems hopeless—until he meets Tam, a seer, and realizes her powers may be his salvation. 2014.

So, right off the bat, from reading the joint review at Dear Author, I learn that the dragons in Moth and Spark owe a lot to Ann McCaffrey’s dragons in the Pern series books. So, keep that in mind when recommending this book. They did complain a bit about the world building and called it confusing because it’s supposed to be a Europe inspired world, but, unfortunately, uses place names that are very similar to the names of known places from ancient Greece. They enjoy the story, the politics, and say that it’s not as heavily detailed as many sci-fi/fantasy novels usually are. They called it a “romance in a fantasy setting” which might work for romance fans who are getting bored and looking for a change of pace but aren’t ready to give up romances yet.

Another reviewer, however, at GoodBooksandWine.com says that the book is very dense and that the author goes into great detail really setting the scenery. She did enjoy the book and says that if you liked Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell that you will like Moth and Spark. I happen to have really liked that book so maybe I’ll have to check this one out. She gives 4.5 out of 5 stars on her own scale.

Goodreaders give 3.3 out of 5 stars which is on the liked-it low-side of things. The most recent review spells it out pretty clearly. This reader DNFed (did not finish) this book 15% into the story because there was very little magic or fantasy and the main female character is unlikeable. She actually says that she “hates” her and agrees that that’s pretty strong emotion for a fictional person. I can kind of relate. I hated A Discovery of Witches but read it c2c (cover to cover) but DNFed the second book after 5 pages. While that’s totally irrelevant, I just felt like sharing. I’m pretty sure nobody reads these, but it’s kind of my job so I’ll keep it up for the typing practice.


weirDB78389 The Martian by Andy Weir

Six days after becoming the first man to walk on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney is caught in a windstorm. Though his support crew thinks he died, Mark survived and now faces abandonment, failed machinery, and a hostile environment. Strong language. Bestseller. 2011.

The Martian will be released as a feature length movie in 2015, starring Matt Damon, so it’s no surprise that Entertainment Weekly took the time to review the book. They give it a B on an A-F grade scale. The reviewer says that it’s “relentlessly precise” and has plenty of suspense. He specifically notes that that the book has more science than fiction, so that’s probably good to keep in mind for a science minded reader.

The A.V. Club’s reviewer gives The Martian an A grade. She says right in the review title that the books “makes the tale of an engineer stranded on the red planet gripping.” She also points out that the book does not focus solely on the main character, Watney, but also spends time on NASA and the spaceship and crew that accidentally leaves the main character behind, describing it as an “Apollo 13-style look at the organization in crisis mode.

Lastly, our friends at Goodreads have given the book 4.33 out of 5 stars—high praise! I won’t bother with any specifics of their reviews because the people who liked it…and that was almost all of them, REALLY really liked it. Like, 5 stars-why aren’t there 6 stars?-liked loved it. So, space nerds, science nerds, survival nerds, nerdy nerds, and book nerds should pick up The Martian by Andy Weir.


jacobsenDB78452 Operation Paperclip: the secret intelligence program that brought Nazi scientists to America by Annie Jacobsen

History of the clandestine program that brought top minds of the Third Reich to the United States after Germany’s defeat. Focuses on more than a dozen scientists who contributed their expertise in rocketry and medicine to help America during the Cold War. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2014.

The New York Times reviewer, who also happens to be a Hitler and Nazi scholar pens a review that basically gives us all a history lesson and explains pretty much all of the book…in detail. She mentions that the book is “crowded” in places and that the narrative becomes “muddled” when stories of various Nazis are told along side of the stories of present-day historians. I guess she didn’t hate it though because she titled her article “Willkommen” and not “Scheisse.”

The NPR book review “staff” (sorry, no individual listed) also provides an audio interview with the author. I didn’t listen because I was…well, I was busy trying to get this review post done. I’m only writing May’s reviews in early August, so yeah, I’m way past any deadline that may have existed. Let’s just assume that NPR liked the book though, because I’ve never heard them do an interview with an author and be all like, “Yeah, your book. It seems to be horribly written and completely irrelevant.”

The Goodreaders give 3.81 out of 5 stars. One helpful review calls it a “very readable book about a very ugly story.” Another reviewer says that although it’s long and detailed that it’s still very readable. Probably a great suggestion for a history buff or WWII enthusiast.


nesbitDB78457 The Wives of los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

1943. Women from across America and overseas follow their husbands into the desert of Los Alamos, New Mexico. As the men toil on a top-secret project, their wives try to adapt to this strained, military community with its rationing and censorship. 2014.

Boston Globe correspondent Daneet Steffens reviewed Wives in February and praises the author for bringing to life a story about the scientists’ wives of the Manhattan Project. She does say that it may take a while to really get in to the author’s style but that it will be worth it overall to stick with the story.

The Santa Fe New Mexican book reviewer enjoyed the novel and says that it belongs in the canon of other such stories told about Los Alamos during WWII. She also comments on the unique prose style but it seems like she enjoyed it as well. We learn during this review that TaraShea Nesbit is a first time novelist. No star out of star ratings given to either of these reviews.

Our Goodreads friends gave the book 3.31 out of 5 stars which is sort of on the low side and, you guessed it, it was the unique style that really put off the detractors. Apparently the story is told from a first person plural style. One review, to illustrate the annoying style writes, “We didn’t like this book. We don’t like stories told in the first person plural. We felt this made the story unnecessarily vague …We felt that the author perhaps…” and so on. But those who enjoyed the book really enjoyed it. The ratings were almost exclusively 1-2 or all 5.

That’s it.  See you in September when I’ve be telling you what’s coming up in June.  Timeliness is mine!


April Copy Alotment: what’s coming up

June 24, 2014 Leave a comment


Welcome to the April 2014 of WRT’s What’s Coming Up.  Someday soon I hope to be caught up.  But for now…


stashowerDB78103 The Hour of Peril: the secret plot to murder Lincoln before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower

Details the plot to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln in Baltimor while he was en route to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration in February 1861. Profiles Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and widow Kate Warne, America’s first female private investigator. Some violence. 2013.

The New York Times called The Hour of Peril “swift and detailed” but neglects to tell us how many stars it’s worth! Overall though, it’s clear that the reviewer enjoys this non-fiction account of Lincoln and Pinkerton’s story. The Barnes & Noble site features several reviews, but the overview, provided by bestselling suspense writer, Harlan Coben, calls the book “…history that reads like a race-against-the-clock thriller.” Overall B&N readers and reviewers have given The Hour of Peril 4 out of 5 stars and note that the book has received several honors in 2013 and 2014 for notable non-fiction and tru-crime. Overall the Goodreads readers have given the book 3.67 out of 5 stars. They love it just like everyone, were surprised by the swift way the book reads, and only a few found the details daunting.


tessaroDB78151 The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

In 1955 London newlywed Grace Munroe learns that her husband cheated on her and that she has inherited a fortune from an unknown Parisian woman. Grace travels to France to investigate her relationship to her deceased benefactor, Eva d’Orsey, and asserts her newfound independence. 2013.

The Goodreads readers REALLY love The Perfume Collector and show that devotion with 3.95 out of 5 stars. They’ve read it in audio and print and they feel like it transcends both media. They call it a great story of love and loss and an interesting picture of 1920’s Europe. They do say, however, that it was horribly edited—lots of grammatical and word use errors in the print book which make me curious about the NLS narrator’s handling of these problems…it will be interesting to see what our readers think. Publishers Weekly used words such as “contrived banter,” “mildly clichéd,” and calls the main character’s love interest choice predicable. PW neglects to give any kind of star rating which begs the question, “How will we know what to think about what you think if you don’t use stars?” I’m going out on a limb though to say that PW wasn’t all that wild about The Perfume Collector. The Historical Novel Society found the story “enticing” and says that it’s a “refreshing read that combines a bit of mystery, love, nostalgia and self discovery.” HNS says the history and locations are well described and worth the read.


lynchDB78165 The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora, who as an orphan was sold to crooks, grows up to be a con artist impresario and leads a band of fellow thieves. When a coup throws their country of Camorr into chaos, Lock must become a hero. Violence and strong language. 2006.

I’ve since learned that The Lies of Locke Lamora is from the Gentleman Bastard series, but as it’s the first book in the series, adding it to the What’s Coming Up list isn’t a bad idea. BestFantasyBooks.com reviewed Lies almost three years ago as it’s a few years old. Their review is quite detailed and worth the full read if you are thinking of recommending this book to a sci-fi reader. They praise the author’s resourcefulness in solving plot conflict, the rich and well written characters, and the “startlingly impressive” finale. It is noted that this is the author’s debut novel. Goodreaders have given it 4.27 out of 5 stars and repeatedly draw it’s similarities to Ocean’s Eleven. One Goodreader artfully pastes images that suggest it’s as if Ocean’s Eleven and the Godfather had a love child. Another Goodreader posits that Ocean’s Eleven would have been perfect if it had taken place in a fantasy version of the Renaissance…oh wait…we have it now and it’s called The Lies of Locke Lamora. Either way, I’m adding it to my list mainly because I’ve gotten caught up in the fervor of a bunch of four-year-old reviews!


bruchacDB78176 Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac

In a distant future, Native American girl Lozen hunts genetically modified monsters for the tyrants who are holding her mother, sister Ana, and little brother Victor hostage. With each kill Lozen’s unique powers grow. Violence and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2013.

The first review I’ve selected is by a blog called Rich in Color; a blog “dedicated to reading, reviewing, talking about, and otherwise promoting young adult fiction starring people of color or written by people of color.” Lozen is an Apache hunter in a post apocalyptic world in which technology has failed, monsters are loose, and we’re living in a new “steam” age. The overall recommendation from Rich in Color says get the book now and read it fast because it’s a “fun, quick read, and…a distinctive addition to the dystopian genre.” Sounds like, if you enjoyed the Hunger Games series, you’ll like Killer of Enemies. Good Reads readers give it 3.7 out of 5 stars and say that they are happy to see a protagonist of color, a book where the “Indians aren’t poor,” and has excellent action. Hilariously enough though, one reviewer was happy that the “heroine didn’t shame her name sack” and is “…tall (above 6”).” Six whole inches tall. Wow. Now I’m even more interested in this book than I was already! In August 2013 Kirkus Reviews called Killer of Enemies a “good bet for fans of superhero fiction and graphic novels and readers in search of superpowered female warriors. Done.


hannahDB78198 The Orphan Choir by Sophie Hannah

Louise Beeston misses her seven-year-old son, who is required to board at Saviour College School to perform with the school’s choir. Meanwhile, her neighbor keeps her awake playing loud pop and rock music and –more recently—choral singing. Strong language. 2013.

The UK Independent’s reviewer likes the The Orphan Choir and is familiar with the author’s previous work. Apparently this is Sophie Hannah’s first attempt at ghost, or supernatural fiction; she normally writes psychological suspense. Of the book, the reviewer says “…innovative score and an eerie twist.” The Goodreads readers have only given Orphan 2.71 out of 5 stars though. They use words like “infuriated,” “disappointed,” “extraordinarily bad novel,” and say that the main character is “unlikeable.” Ouch. I guess that most of the book is exposition and that the supernatural ghosty stuff doesn’t even take place until the last 50 pages or so. As a person who recently spent six months reading nothing but haunted house fiction, this book would have gotten a toss across my living room in no time flat. Just kidding, throwing a book, even a bad book, is rude. The rest of the reviews are mostly independent review blogs and they seem split. Half of them “really enjoyed” it and the other half basically say, “meh.” So, take that to the RA desk and do what you will.


stroudDB78207 The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Plagued by malevolent spirits, London turns to ghost-hunting agencies staffed with you sensitive to paranormal activities. Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins, and Lucy Carlyle join together to become Lockwood and Co. –but after bungling a job, their only chance at redemption is clearing a dangerous haunted house. For grades 6-9, 2013.

The Screaming Staircase is book one in the Lockwood & Co. series. The blog Fantasy Book Critic loves the book and calls it “interesting, captivating, and just all out amazing.” He notes that even though it’s a YA novel it will work for adult readers…but due to the graphic descriptions of the ghosts, avoid readers who are too young. In late 2013 the New York Times reviewed this book and another called The Clockwork Scarab. The reviewer enjoyed both but particularly liked The Screaming Staircase for its lightheartedness, thrills, and themes of friendship and friends at the right time. I’d like to find a review by a young reader again as in an early book featured on What’s Coming Up…but we’ll have to settle for Goodreads and assume that at least a few of the reviewers were actually YA readers. Turns out they really like The Screaming Staircase and give it 4.23 out of 5 stars…wowser. “Reccomendation of the month…this book is awesome…brilliantly written,” and even “BEST. CHARACTERS. EVER!” An underlying theme in the reviews is that most readers thought it was going to be something else, either boring or another re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes with paranormal overtones and ended up really really…really enjoying this book. Get thee to BARD or the library ASAP and read this book!


Real Simple’s 50 Books that will Make You Want to Read

May 21, 2014 Leave a comment


Recently, Real Simple polled it’s readers to find out which book made them in to a reader…whether it was as a child or as an adult. Over 4,000 Facebook fans answered the poll and these are the 50 titles that came up over and over again. A link to Real Simple’s list has been posted to our Facebook page and this is the breakdown of DB availability if you want a quick look.


white-charlotte_300Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White






bronte-eyre_300Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte






stevenson-verses_300A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson






warner-boxcar_300The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner






keene-clock_300The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keen






wilder-woods_300Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder






odell-dolphins_300Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell






mitchell-gone_300Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell






rawls-fern_300Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls






montgomery-gables_300Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery






lengle-wrinkle_300A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle







Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak




rowling-potter_300Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling






dickens-cities_300A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens






williams-velveteen_300The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams






buck-earth_300The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck






alcott-women_300Little Women by Louisa May Alcott






konigsburg-frankweiler_300From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg






paterson-terabithia_300Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson






burnett-garden_300The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett






spyri-heidi_300Heidi by Johanna Spyri






hinton-outsiders_300The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton






blume-margaret_300Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume






seuss-cat_300Green Eggs and Ham,

The Lorax,

Horton Hears a Who,

and The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

DB34056, DB31231, DB34058, and DB33062


tolkien-hobbit_300The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien






tree-grows-brooklyn-ictcrop_300A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith






blume-nothing_300Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume






steinbeck-mice_300Of Mice and Men,

East of Eden,

and The Red Pony by John Steinbeck

DB48515, DB49676, and DB34258



fitzhugh-spy_300Harriet the Spy by Louis Fitzhugh






dumaurier-rebecca_300Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier






lee-mockingbird_300To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee






lewis-narnia_300Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis






campbell-trixie_300Trixie Belden by Julie Campbell






christie-none_300And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie






saintexupery-prince_300The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery






hope-twins_300Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope






sewell-beauty_300Black Beauty by Anna Sewell






bronte-heights_300Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte






baum-oz_300The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum






king-it_300It by Stephen King






dahl-chocolate_300Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,


James and the Giant Peach,

and Big Friendly Giant by Roald Dahl

DB33498, DB31793, DB32548 and DB44101


frank-diary_300The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank






meyer-twilight_300Twilight by Stephenie Meyer




March Copy Alotment: what’s coming up

May 7, 2014 Leave a comment

Welcome to the WRT (Who’s Reading This) What’s Coming Up portion of this blog.  Each month, after I finish cataloging the month’s PICS download from NLS I will highlight a few titles that are coming up.  These will be fairly random is selection.  I will try to avoid the popular authors and series as they get plenty of attention in our collection.  My goal is to try to show off a few titles that caught my eye but may not get many direct requests from readers.  It’s also meant to bring your attention to some titles that may help that one picky reader this month.

With no further ado, here’s March 2014:

yogaDB077925 The Yoga Store Murder: The Shocking True Account of the Lululemon Athletica Killing by Dan Morse

Washington Post reporter dissects the March 2011 murder of a young saleswoman by her coworker in an upscale yoga-apparel boutique in Bethesda, Maryland–a killing overheard but ignored by employees in the Apple Store next door. Violence and some strong language. 2013.

Washington Post review praises the book for its detail regarding the crime, those involved, the investigation, and the families affected. However, they also bemoan the same attention to detail when the author relates seemingly obscure facts about the victim’s mother and the medical examiner. Good Reads provides access to user-driven reviews. Some reviews are more professional level while others are more gut-reaction. What’s nice about Good Reads is that you can get a quick idea of how actual readers like or dislike a book. With nearly 4 out of 5 stars overall the readers enjoy the book. It’s full of detail and really tells the story about the crime. It would seem that anyone who enjoys true crime stories in the style of Ann Rule will like this book. Finally, take a look at the review at crimelibrary.com. It would be nice if this site gave a quick thumbs-up, thumbs-down rating, but at least the review is brief and to the point; they liked it and found it engaging and not dry at all.

someoneDB077947 Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

When William Ashe steps between Shandi Pierce’s three-year-old son and an armed robber, Shandi believes destiny has brought her and William together. It has, but not for the reasons Shandi believes. Some strong language. 2013.

USA Today gives immediate gratification in their review article: 3 out of 4 stars! It begins by trying to jump right into the story–the way the actual book begins—in media res. A young woman, a chaotic situation, lots of “mahem,” and possibly a little bit of magical realism. The Good Reads readers give the book almost 3 out of 4 but it’s important to note that when a reader doesn’t like this book, they really don’t like this book. There is a date rape scene (apparently drunken-roofied, non consensual sex) near the beginning of the book and the haters feel like the author is sympathetic to the rapist and downplays the act. Finally, DearAuthor.com featured this book as a “recommended read” in November 2013. The reviewer won’t give up much besides the basics of the story, southern set, but not stereotypically southern, characters with issues…but not your typical love story. All she will say is that it’s a worthwhile book and that there is a payoff at the end…do not skip ahead!

cityDB078003 City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

A year after the events in City of Dark Magic (DB 75832), Sarah Weston returns to Europe. She must convince a doctor to give thirteen-year-old blind musical prodigy Pollina Rutherford an experimental alchemical treatment for her rare autoimmune disorder. Strong language, explicit descriptions of sex, and some violence. 2013.

I selected this book because of the interesting author name and the reference to “experimental alchemical treatment.” Turns out, Magnus Flyte is a conglomeration of two authors and City of Lost Dreams is book two in a series. No worries! Tor.com’s reviewer found the book weak but an enjoyable read nonetheless. The story is fantasy that does not take place in space or in the future. It’s not a steampunk alterative reality fantasy either. It is however “absolutely swimming with badass female leads.” And, while this is a follow up, be sure your reader has read DB75832 first; she doesn’t recommend Lost Dreams as a stand-alone.   Good Reads readers give it almost 4 out of 5 stars (I’m noticing a pattern). One reader review calls it a “great smart-girl-slightly-smutty-beach-read.” The Kirkus review calls the book an “amusing romantic mystery” and then goes on to describe it much like the Tor.com review but adds at the end that it is “sensual, witty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny.” So, there you go.

sistersDB078005 The Sisters Weiss by Naomi Ragen

Rose Weiss rebels against her ultraorthodox Jewish parents in 1960s Brooklyn and runs away from home. Forty years later, Rose–who is now an award-winning photographer–is stunned when her niece Rivka appears, seeking refuge from her traditional family. Some descriptions of sex. 2013.

The Jewish Book council not only calls this novel “riveting” but includes a set of discussion questions at the end of the review! One of the most interesting things pointed out in this review is that, while the novel is noteworthy, it will also be educational for people unfamiliar with the “laws of strict Orthodox life,” which should be comforting for our Jewish readers and interesting for our readers looking to expand their world-view. The Goodreads readers? Nearly 4 out of 5 stars! That almost never happens. RTbookreviews.com (Romance Times) gave The Sisters Weiss 4 out of 4 stars. Their reviewer praises the novel’s “clear prose” and says that “women of different faiths can connect with [the story] as they struggle to find their personal heaven.”

truthDB078085 All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

Judith and her best friend disappear for two years without a trace. One day Judith returns, scarred and with her tongue cut out. The townsfolk want to know what happened, but she is afraid to share the truth. Some violence. For senior high and older readers. 2013.

The “by kids, for kids” reviewer at theguardian.com calls this book a “dark and chilling tale of abuse and secrets, of love and loss, of silence and courage.” Overall, this young reader was very impressed by the story in this book. Unfortunately, beyond reading her full review of the book, there is not a “star rating” to share here. Sounds like one of those great unrequited love-drama-feelings kind of books that teens and young adult readers will eat up. Good Reads ruins a perfect track record by giving All the Truth 4.01 out of 5 stars! The Good Reads reviewers called it stunning, compelling, unlike any other, intoxicating…they basically love it. The New York Times review is worth the read. While the annotation alludes to the historical fiction nature of the story, the rest almost sounds too modern. The NYT review gives a much more detailed picture of this story, the conflict, and the characters. Once again, no star rating, but it’s clear that the reviewer recommends this read.

Razorland…a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

This one almost writes itself.  Usually I make funny (to me) jokes about how these books are turds, etc. etc. But the main character in this series of books is actually called “Deuce.” And she is a girl. Outpost novel  Today’s offering, from the NLS’s magically awesome annotation generator:

Enclave, DB074167:  In a post-apocalyptic future, Deuce, a loyal huntress, brings back meat while avoiding the deadly Freaks outside her underground enclave. But when she is partnered with outsider Fade, she begins to see that the ways of the elders may be horrifically wrong. Violence. For senior high and older readers. 2011.

Outpost, DB075532:  Deuce and Fade struggle to fit in with the organized topside community called Salvation. An excellent fighter, Deuce volunteers her much-needed skills to patrol against the Freaks–but in Salvation, women do not use weapons. Sequel to Enclave (DB 74167). Violence. For senior high and older readers.    2012.

These books, together with any future “deuces” that Ann Aguirre decides to drop on us, make up the groundbreaking series: RAZORLAND.

Remind me never to go to “Razorland.” Please. I realize that I’m going to hurt feelings up in here, but truth be told, science fiction, fantasy, and most especially, post-apocalyptic fiction is not my cup of tea (that is putting it diplomatically).  Now, that being said, I also know that it is a genre that is fiercely defended by it’s fans so I know I’m going to take some flack. But come on, re-read those annotations and pretty much every other annotation for the genre.  They read like goulash for words.  As in, here’s a bunch of stuff we had left-over, let us put it in this bowl and just mix it up, bake it in an oven and hope it comes out okay.

When cataloging any book from the science fiction or fantasy genre I usually have to read the annotations multiple times before I can even begin to figure out what the what they are talking about.  Here are the hallmarks/problems with the genre’s annotations:

  • words are used out of context/time/relevance; loyal huntress, brings back meat, enclave
  • people are named after thoughts, emotions, nouns, adjectives…it’s chaos.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that there are several “Chaos’s” out there between the pages.
  • places are named by putting words in hats and drawing them out.  Or, by Mad-Libs techniques.
  • too many words; why can’t they say something like, This girl lives underground because there are zombies above ground. One day when she is above ground hunting she meets a dude and he makes her question her entire existence.”  Why not?
  • ridiculous premiss that nobody gives a crap about; “…[above ground], women don’t use weapons…”  So what?  I’ll bet they use their MINDS or something.

So you can see why I try to never share sci-fi/fantasy on this blog.  It’s like not even fair and you’d get really tired of hearing me rant.  At my desk each month you might overhear me muttering, “Oh barf, who cares?” So feel free to stop by sometime.

Anna dressed in overdramatic nonsense.

January 24, 2013 Leave a comment

From the NLS annotation:

Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood

Since his father’s untimely death, seventeen-year-old Cas and his Wiccan mom have continued the family trade–hunting down vengeful, murdering spirits. But when Cas goes after ghostly Anna, an unexpected occurrence changes everything. Violence and some strong language. For senior high and older readers. 2011.

Let me guess…it’s LOVE isn’t it?  The unexpected occurrence is that Cas has feelings for “ghostly” Anna.  Is she GHOST-ly, I mean, is she sort of like a ghost, or is she an actual ghost?  Wait wait don’t tell me. I’m sure that I’d rather be shocked when it’s all revealed 30 pages in to the 320 page book.

You know, if I were a teenager I would be super pissed that YA classified books almost exclusively have to do with either the supernatural or falling in love–typically both. I know the whys and the wherefores to writing supernatural for young adults; spare me the lecture.  I’m just saying that as a reader of books and a librarian, I’m just wondering if somewhere teens are getting burned out on being constantly bombarded with the SSDD (same shit…).

Anyway, today’s offering is called Anna Dressed in Blood and it is the first book in the…wait for it…ANNA series by Kendare Blake.  Yes, Kendare Blake.  Let’s all make a little offering to the Goddess in hopes that Kendare is her pen-name.  And “Blake?”  Please.  We get it, you’re material pays homage to both the Gothic and the Romantic periods.