Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

We all know pre-teens and teens who just love a scary book, so for Halloween, that’s what I’m turning to today.  I am taking Cathy’s suggestion from the scrlreads page on the library’s website.  She says for all young adult readers going through The Hunger Games withdrawal, this is a book for you.  James Dashner’s The Maze Runner is the first in The Maze Runner Trilogy and keeps you hanging onto the edge of your seat.

Sixteen-year-old Thomas has no memory of his former life when he arrives at the Glade and has no idea why he has been sent there.  He is taken in by the Gladers, the other boys who have been trapped in the stone-walled prison and begins to learn of terrible things that happen there.  He would have become accustomed to the Glade just as the other boys had if it weren't for the unexpected arrival of 'the girl'.  With her comes a message telling of great change about to come.  

The Maze Runner is an intense story that makes you want to read more of James Dashner's trilogy. School Library Journal suggests a Grade 6 – 10 level, but it seems to be finding an audience among adults as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Two friends have told me lately that they are having trouble sleeping because Ken Follett’s new book, Winter of the World is keeping them up.  Follett is definitely a master writer of epic historical fiction.  Today though, I’m not going to talk about his newest bestseller because that is #2 in his Century Trilogy.  I’m focusing on Book 1 because you would definitely want to read book 1, Fall of Giants, first.  

The trilogy follows the lives of five interrelated families from the turn of the twentieth century, through to end of World War I.  The five main characters come from Wales, England, Germany, Russia, and the United States.   It’s through these characters that we learn the human stories behind the events that shaped our world, like the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the suffrage movement, and the working conditions that spawned the union movement.  A Washington Post reporter said of this novel, “well-researched, beautifully detailed with a terrifically compelling plot”.  That sums it up nicely.  This story reminds us that the events of history are rarely as black and white as we once thought. 

Book 2 continues where Book 1 leaves off, and follows the lives of the next generation through World War II.

50 Years of James Bond

Can you believe it – James Bond is 50 years old. 

The editors of Life have complied 50 years of James Bond, and it is a complete look at every aspect of this pop culture phenomenon.  The James Bond that fans know and love, has taken on a different personality with each actor that has played him.  If you think that there were only four, you’d be wrong; there have been eight.  Of course, most fans still agree that Sean Connery was the best Bond.  This book also delves into Ian Fleming’s background in Military Intelligence and the role that played in the development of his character.  Just like a good James Bond movie, this book is a bit cheeky with a look at each of the actors who played the role, Q, M, the Bond girls, villains, gadgets, and cars.  Each movie is described in some detail.  

Anyone who has ever read an Ian Fleming, James Bond novel, will realize that the Bond of novels is much more serious about his work, than the wise-cracking spy on the big screen.  Unfortunately most of the old James Bond novels are no longer in the library’s collection, but are still available through Inter-library loan, downloadable audio book, or ebook.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimige of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Harold Fry, the hero of Rachel Joyce’s bestselling novel, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, is an unlikely hero if ever there was one.  He is recently retired, an ordinary man, living an ordinary life, in a town in Southern England.  His wife finds everything he does annoying, and they have fallen into a familiar pattern of coexistence that has remained unchanged for years.

One morning he receives a card in the mail from an old friend, Queenie Hennessy, who is dying in a hospice and wants to say goodbye.  Harold writes a response and walks to the post office to send it.  But when he reaches the post office, he decides he really must deliver it in person, and just keeps on walking.  He has no proper shoes; only a light jacket, and no cell phone.  Harold Fry believes that as long as she knows he’s coming, she will keep living. So begins his 600 mile “pilgrimage”.

On the way, Harold faces many challenges that could easily bring an end to his quest.  He is tormented by the scars of the past, and the pain of the present.  Along the way he meets a cast of interesting characters who both help and hinder him.  I loved this unforgettable book, and recommend it highly.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

The Beautiful Mystery is the latest in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series.  In this book, he leaves his familiar surroundings to solve a mystery at the Gilbertine Monastery of Saint Gilbert Entre-les-Loups deep in the Quebec wilderness.

The monks of the monastery live a cloistered life of silence, prayer and contemplation.  They grow their own food, pray, and make beautiful music.  While they have taken a vow of silence, they do sing, and are world famous for their glorious Gregorian chants.  This ancient music is often called “The Beautiful Mystery” because of its effect on the singer and the listener.  However, when a CD they produce – meant to raise a little money to repair their building - becomes a worldwide bestseller, tensions appear.   When the choir director is found murdered, the monks have no choice but to call on the Surete-de-Quebec.  No outsider has ever been admitted to the monastery, and Chief Inspector Gamache is the first.  He has his work cut out for him: imagine conducting an investigation when no one is talking – literally.  Divisions within the monastery appear, and so too, within the ranks of the Surete.

This novel has been described as elegant, beautiful and captivating.  It is sure to add to the number of Louise Penny fans.