Great Reads

O'Malley, Daniel. The Rook

"The body you are wearing used to be mine."  So begins the letter that Myfanwy Thomas finds after opening her eyes in the middle of a public park surrounded by dead bodies and with no memory of who she is or what has just happened.  Her former self, it turns out, knew the amnesia was coming and prepared carefully, giving her future amnesiac personality two choices: To begin a brand-new life, far from England, under an assumed identity; or to take up the life and persona of Myfanwy Thomas and figure out who betrayed her and caused the amnesia.  Myfanwy (it rhymes with “Tiffany”) chooses the latter, and, via reams of letters and notes left for her by her former self, discovers that she is a Rook, a high-ranking executive in the Checquy Group, a secret supernatural agency policing the British empire and keeping it safe from super- and paranormal threats.  She also discovers that, despite her job and her own paranormal abilities, the former Myfanwy Thomas was actually a pretty boring person with a pretty boring life.  Keeping her amnesia secret proves to be difficult when she realizes that she’s a much more forceful personality than the one which formerly inhabited her body.  Meanwhile, at least one other member of the Checquy’s ruling body knows about her altered circumstances because Myfanwy was betrayed from within the organization, making it impossible for her to trust any of her compatriots—and whoever attacked Myfanwy won’t stop there. The safety and security of all of Britain is under threat and only the new Myfanwy can stop it.

Debut author O’Malley takes the concept of a secret supernatural government agency and makes it entirely his own, with a witty and unique spin on the superhumans among us. An appealing main character and liberal doses of genuine humor further enliven this already thrilling supernatural suspense story. Sequels are to be hoped for!

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Sanderson, Brandon. The Alloy of Law

Sanderson’s sequel to his popular “Mistborn” series is set three hundred years after the events of “The Hero of Ages” and society and technology have advanced accordingly, bringing his fantasy world up to a level roughly equivalent to our own Victorian/Wild West era.  Waxillium Ladrian, or Wax, is a Twinborn gifted with both Allomantic and Feruchemical powers.  Born into a noble family, Wax fled the glittering capitol city of Elendel as a young man to become a lawkeeper out in the wild Roughs. Now older, perhaps wiser, and certainly more jaded, he has returned to take up his role as the head of the Ladrian family following the death of his uncle. He has resolved to give up the coarse lifestyle of a backwoods lawman and marry for the good of his family, but soon finds that the city can be just as dangerous as the Roughs. A band of outlaws known as the Vanishers have been mysteriously robbing train cars and kidnapping noble women, then vanishing without a trace.  When Wax’s own intended becomes one of those captives, he, his wise-cracking parter Wayne, and his intended’s bright cousin Marasi are honor-bound to solve the mystery and save the Vanishers’ victims—a task that will strain both their intellects and their Allomantic powers to their utmost.

A well-developed and unique setting paired with sparkling, sympathetic characters, witty dialogue, and a rollicking adventure make this title far from a stale rehash of the original series, but a fascinating outing in its own right. We can only hope for further adventures with Wax and his crew!

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Wilson, Kevin. The Family Fang

This sharply comic first novel kept my interest from start to finish and has often entered my thoughts months after finishing it.  The story centers on the chaotic art that performance artists Caleb and Camille Fang create along with their two children who are participants—often unwillingly—in the bedlam their parents force upon others…in shopping malls, subway stations, and various other public places.  As the novel progresses, we see how this life has affected the psyches of the Fang children.

The Family Fang is more than just a highly entertaining story.  It is a novel that leaves the reader with some big questions, such as: “What is art?” “Is art worth it for art sake?” and “Does every family subject their children to their own personal “performance art?”

This is a great book, and I wait with anticipation for the next novel by this author.

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Benioff, David. City of Thieves.

In this coming-of-age story set during the siege of Leningrad, Lev and Kolya, a teenager and a young soldier who have both been arrested for petty crimes and sentenced to death, are given one last chance by a Colonel to save their lives if they can achieve the impossible: find a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. The next few days Lev and Kolya go on an epic journey to find this rare ingredient, navigating the terrors and sadness of their desperate city.  After crossing into German territory, Lev and Kolya must depend on each other more and more and their unlikely friendship strengthens as their mission reaches new levels of danger and consequences.

The modern-day odyssey is based on the experiences of the author's own grandfather, a now-retired Lev, who lives in Florida. Although set within a period of a few days, the events that happened effect the teenager for the rest of his life. This story should not be missed.

Just a Thought -- What's On the New Book Cart?

One of the perks of being a librarian is seeing all the new books come in before they go out to the shelves. In the past, we've occasionally picked some new, yet-to-be-shelved titles to feature here and let our readers in on the fun. We haven't done a post like that in too long, so here are some picks from our newest new book cart!

 

Lister, Michael.  "The Big Goodbye" (MYS)

"Stylish, retro, and highly entertaining. Michael Lister's PI Jimmy "Solider" Riley is a compelling noir hero." (From the book jacket)

 

Maberry, Jonathan.  "Dead of Night" (F)

"A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side effects. Before he can be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang...but a bite." (from the book jacket)

 

Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Corn Maiden and other Nightmares" (F)

"The seven stories in this stellar collections may prompt the reader to turn on all the lights or jump at imagined noises." (from the inside flap)

 

Su, Tong. "The Boat to Redemption" (F)

"Raw and absurd, realistic yet astonishing, the new novel by Su Tong...portrays a people caught in the stranglehold of their own desires and needs, constantly observed by a Party that sees everything and forgives nothing." (from the inside flap)

 

Levine, Robert. "Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business and how the Culture Business can Fight Back" (364.1662 L665)

"In an incisive chronicle of media's collision with the Internet, jounalist Robert Levine narrates how the culture business succumbed to the siren song of "free." Fearless in its reporting and analysis, Free Ride is an epic tale of value destruction and the business history of the decade." (from the inside flap)

 

Hitchings, Henry. "The Language Wars: a History of Proper English" (420.9 H675)

"Henry Hitchings...examines grammar rules, regional accents, swearing, speling, dictionaries, political correctness, and the role of electronic media in rehsaping language.... Peopled with intriguing characters--including Jonathan Swift, Lewis Carroll, and Lenny Bruce--The Language Wars is an entertaining tour through the often combative history of the English language." (from the inside flap)

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