Posts Tagged ‘Supernatural’

Best New Books of 2014: Kerri H’s Picks

December 15, 2014

I read everything… fiction, nonfiction, short stories, young adult fiction. Happy books, sad books, disturbing books, thought provoking books. I try to round out my reading experience each year with a variety of genres and themes.

RedeploymentRedeployment by Phil Klay
This is an important, thought-provoking, disturbing and humbling collection of stories. They are written by a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq during the surge. Each story is told from the viewpoint of a different character… a chaplain, a Foreign Service Officer, a Mortuary Affairs Marine and many others. Descriptions evoke the grit, stench, claustrophobia, nonsensical situations, and collateral damage both physically and emotionally found in twenty-first century war.

Best to LaughBest to Laugh by Lorna Landvik
You will laugh at the quirky cast of characters and fun storyline. Candy Pekkalo is living a non-descript life in Minnesota when her cousin calls to see if she would like to sublet her Hollywood apartment. Once there, Candy thrives. She meets a diverse group of neighbors who become family, and works an odd, yet interesting, assortment of temp jobs. She even succeeds in the male dominated stand-up comedy world of the late 1970’s. You’re going to have fun living Candy Pekkalo’s life vicariously.

Dept. of SpeculationDept. Of Speculation by Jenny Offill
If you’ve ever experienced infidelity, bedbugs, motherhood, or feel like your brain goes from one random thought to another… this book is for you.  Written from the perspective of “the wife” it’s a collection of random thoughts and famous quotes.  It sounds disjointed, but it flows together perfectly.  It’s also about teaching college students, ghost writing, general discontent and hope.

JackabyJackaby by William Ritter
This young adult novel enraptured me. I read this fast-paced mystery with evidence of the supernatural in two nights.  In 1892, Abigail Rock arrives alone in New England from Ukraine via a boat from Germany. She’s in need of a job, room and board. After applying to an advertisement for an investigative assistant, she begins working for the eccentric R.F. Jackaby. Together they investigate a series of murders. This is a funny, rollicking read about a serial killer. I know it seems strange to call a book about a serial killer funny; but trust me, there are some hilarious scenes and dialogue in the book. This is the first book in a series. I anticipate this will be the next big young adult series.

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
An autobiography in verse which resonates with readers is an amazing feat! Jacqueline Woodson elegantly portrays her childhood; evoking the love her family poured on herself and siblings. She perfectly distills the reality of the civil rights movement and her experience being raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. These poems merge to form a fluid and beautiful story.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

June 1, 2012

This debut novel opens with a woman standing in a park in the rain at night surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves — and she has no memory of who she is. She finds a letter in her pocket which begins “The body you are wearing used to be mine.” How can you resist an opening scene like that one? I certainly couldn’t when I discovered this book just after it came out earlier this year. I’ve since recommended it to several co-workers and friends and now I’m passing this great book on to you.

The woman with amnesia in the park is Myfanwy Thomas (pronounced like Tiffany), and it turns out that she is an agent for Her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service. The operative words there are ‘supernatural’ and ‘secret’ because the stuff this agency deals with is way out there beyond just vampires and werewolves — and it is very, very secret. Her position is called a Rook, and it turns out the agency, called the Checquy, is based on the pieces in the game of chess (yeah, it’s as complicated as it sounds).

The letter Myfanwy found directs her to an apartment where there is a warm shower, clean clothes and a comfy bed. Further letters explain who she is, more about her super secret job, and the fact that someone within the Checquy is a traitor and trying to kill her. One of the letters also lets her know that she has a choice, she can try to resume her dangerous life in a secret government organization, or she can simply walk away and flee the country with a vast sum of money in a secret bank account.

Myfanwy decides to stay and try to determine who the traitor is. But, she must do this while re-learning everything about herself and the Checquy. She doesn’t even remember how she takes her tea, let alone all of the inner workings of this very strange agency. She also soon discovers that many of the agents working for the Checquy, including herself, have special abilities (think of the mutants from the X-Men). Her work-mates include one person with four bodies, an aristocratic woman who can enter anyone’s dreams, a man whose skin oozes toxins depending on his mood, and the most attractive vampire one can imagine.  So, yeah, dealing with a house full of sentient purple slime is all in a day’s work for Rook Thomas.

Daniel O’Malley has written one heck of a debut novel that is full of wit as well as suspense and fantastic supernatural action. There’s so much more to this novel than I was able to describe in this blog post! Even if you’re not normally a “Fantasy reader” but you enjoy a good suspense and espionage story, give this one a try. And, if you are a Fantasy reader, what are you waiting for? Click that link below and get reading! It’s also available as an audio book, read by Susan Duerden.

Find and reserve this new book in our catalog.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

November 18, 2011

Alexia Tarabotti is the soul of formality and fits with the most proper set in Victorian London.  Well, as well as any soulless spinster with much too much Italian blood and much too great of an appetite possibly can. In a Victorian London where vampires set the social standings and werewolves run her majesty’s empire, being a supernatural is not that extraordinary.  Yet, being soulless is something of an oddity.  And when vampires and werewolves around London start disappearing, Alexia starts to garner some interest.  Lord Maccon, a loud, messy, gorgeous, improper werewolf, is sent to investigate at the queen’s request.  Fur flies (sometimes literally) when Alexia and Lord Maccon come together to solve this supernatural mystery.

I have to admit when describing this book to friends, I am the tiniest bit embarrassed at first.  People start to get the look, “You’re an adult reading a vampire-werewolf-romance-fantasy.”  But, as I insist to my judgemental friends, this book is different.  This book is good.  So good I succumbed and have read the entire series.  And the rest of the books are just as delightful, funny, and charming as the first in the series. Gail Carriger has create as supernatural romance series that even I, an avowed supernatural cynic, enjoy.   Now I must wait for the newest book to be published.   So I encourage you, dear readers, do not be frighten or ashamed of reading and enjoying Soulless.  It has a librarian’s approval.

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Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

July 14, 2011

Are you a fan of teen fantasy, but find yourself a little fatigued by all the Twilightesque paranormal romances that have been filling the YA shelves?  I understand. I’ve been there. It’ll pass. The best cure is to pick up some Sarah Dessen or E. Lockhart and immerse yourself in contemporary chick lit. Then when you feel ready to enter the world of demons and vampires again, pick up Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel.

Set at some point during Queen Victoria’s reign, Clockwork Angel is the prequel story to Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, etc.). You don’t need to read Mortal Instruments to understand and enjoy Clockwork Angel, but you will want to pick the series up after you’ve finished. The story begins with our heroine, Tessa Gray, journeying from New York to London to meet her brother. Upon arrival, she is kidnapped and held hostage by the Dark Sisters. The Dark Sisters know something that Tessa doesn’t – she’s a Downworlder and has the power to transform into other human beings at will. The Dark Sisters torture Tessa until she is able to perform the magic herself, then prepare to marry her off to their boss, the evil Magister.

Luckily for Tessa, she is rescued by the Shadowhunters, a group of warriors fated to fight the darkness and keep the demons in check. Tessa is taken to the Shadowhunter headquarters and introduced to the world of demons, werewolves, vampires, and warlocks that she never knew existed. She finds herself befriending the super-hot Will, a dark and brooding Shadowhunter, and his partner-in-crime-fighting, Jem, who’s less dark and brooding, but still really hot.

Tessa enlists the Shadowhunters to help find her missing brother and the book becomes one action-packed scene after another as Tessa becomes entangled in the Shadowhunter lifestyle and they discover a plot to bring the Shadowhunters to an end.

Describing the plot of paranormal books always sounds a bit ridiculous. Vampire hunters? Really? But you’ll have to take my word for it that this is a rollicking good read, full of action, hilarity, a little bit of melodrama, and a lot of spine-tingling romance. Just try it.

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The Long Way Home by Joss Whedon

December 28, 2010

Reading this aptly-titled graphic novel is a lot like coming back home and reconnecting with an old friend. I’m not sure how someone who is not already a fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series would approach this novel: I’m too immersed in the history of Joss Whedon’s universe to truly be able to view it from the outside. It does jump right into the storyline without much explanation of the dense Buffy cosmology, so if you are unfamiliar with the show, you would be missing a lot of back-story. With that said, I’m of the opinion that anything Whedon has even sneezed at is worth giving a chance at least once.

The Long Way Home truly is the start of the eighth season of the television show. If you watched the show years ago, I strongly recommend taking a look– even if graphic novels are not your cup of tea. I usually don’t read graphic novels: something about the way the story moves through the panels seems to disagree with my delicate sensibilities. This novel is different. I simply couldn’t put it down. In some ways, I even prefer this format to the TV show, in that Joss Whedon is no longer hampered by budgetary constraints. Scary monsters actually look scary, unlike the TV show with its occasionally silly monster makeup and costuming. The art is fantastic and the characters are drawn older but true to the original actors.

In a way, I feel like this installment reintroduced me to characters I’d come to love. Maybe most importantly, it retains Whedon’s signature wit and snappy dialogue. Highly recommended for fans and anyone who wants to see what all the hullaballoo is about.

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