Category Archives: Staff Recommends

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston REVIEW

exit coverAvailable in Print, eBook & eAudiobook.

Just a forewarning about this book. It deals with the matter of rape which I know not everyone wants to read about. So if this is a trigger for you, feel free to pass on this review.

With that being said, I don’t think this book is solely about rape. The sexual assault of the main character, Hermoine Winters, is by far a pivotal action of the story. But the resulting months and story line after her assault are about much more than that. This story, for me at least, was about growth in personal lives, in relationships and in maturity. Hermione’s story starts at the beginning of her senior year in high school, which is a year of growth and change in of itself. She is already thinking about how things will be changing and how something as simple as sleeping in a bunk at cheer camp will be the last time. But then her life is thrown upside down. She is drugged and sexually assaulted while at cheer camp.

In the wake of the Stanford case & Brock Turner’s ‘sentencing’, this book struck a chord with me. It gave me a look at the process and people that ultimately end up being involved when something terrible like this happens. While Hermione’s ordeal is by no means the standard situation a survivor deals with, her handling of the situation, her relationships and healing were a perspective I would not have any knowledge of prior. I think the author wrote an intriguing story not about rape, but about how rape changes a person and the people around them. Characters in the book grappled with blame, fault, ignorance, empathy and anger in their own ways. Johnston gave the reader a look at how sexual assault can affect people involved directly and indirectly in many ways.

I know this isn’t a book that many people would want to go out of their way to read. However, I would still recommend it greatly. It is well written and provides a story line of a situation often not discussed enough. If you aren’t willing to give this story a try, you might check out one of Johnston’s other stories such as ‘One Thousand Nights’. I’ve already read and enjoyed that story as well.

Happy Reading!

Maggie
Librarian
Warren Branch
Indianapolis Public Library

The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan REVIEW

apolloAvailable in Print, Audio Book, eAudio Book & Large Type.

I’ve been binge-reading Riordan’s series lately in preparation for this book. Riordan’s series are great for middle readers but I love them as an adult and I know many teens that enjoy keeping up with the series.

Trials of Apollo, Riordan’s 5th series, centers around the god, Apollo, after he is punished by Zeus and turned into a mortal. Not even a demi-god, just a mortal, awkward teenage boy. Some of our favorite characters from the Percy Jackson & Heroes of Olympus series make cameos in the first book. With mention of many main characters that may pop up in additional books of the series.

I enjoyed this first story of Apollo a lot. It’s interesting to see the world that Riordan has created from the perspective of a god instead of a teenage demigod. Apollo’s perspective on the wars and demigod’s actions is quite contrasting from what we’re used to hearing from characters like Percy Jackson.  I think Riordan has set up an interesting story arch for Apollo in the coming ‘trials’/stories of the series. I look forward to learning more about Apollo and hopefully seeing some appearances from old beloved characters.

For anyone a fan of Rick Riordan’s books, this series will not disappoint. If you haven’t read Riordan’s books before, I strongly suggest reading the Percy Jackson series and then Heroes of Olympus series first before diving into this one. Riordan’s other series, Kane Chronicles and Magnus Chase series, can be read without reading the others. But once you start, you’ll find it hard not to read all of them!

Happy reading!
Maggie
Librarian
Warren Branch

Heartless by Marissa Meyer REVIEW

heartlessAvailable at the library this fall.

I managed to snag an advanced reader’s copy of Marissa Meyer’s first book post-Lunar Chronicles. I attended a panel discussion with her, Matthew Quick, Amanda Talley and Paul Rudnik. Meyer talked about her love for Alice and Wonderland and how it inspired her to write a prequel about the Queen of Hearts.

Meyer’s Heartless addresses what life might have been like for Catherine the Queen of Hearts before she became queen. Was she always so mean? Did she want the power and control of being queen? Meyer gives a look at her own idea of what the world of Hearts was like before Catherine the Queen took reign.

The book intrigued me from the start. I love the fantastical world of Alice and Wonderland and Meyer’s world of the Lunar Chronicles. Heartless does not disappoint in painting a world full of oddities and clever characters. Meyer’s descriptions of costumes, the Mad Hatter’s hats and Catherine’s bakery treats come alive off the page. I enjoyed her portrayals of classic characters from before Alice’s time in Wonderland.

The story overall, is well written and I was almost sad when the story ended because I wanted to keep reading more about the characters. But of course, I could go on to read Lewis Carroll’s works instead!
If you loved the Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer’s first standalone novel will be a great read for you. And for those who love the whimsical world of Lewis Caroll, this book will delight. You may have to wait a while though, this book will be released on November 8th, 2016.

Starflight by Melissa Landers REVIEW

starflightAvailable in Print.

Starflight starts a new science fiction series for author, Melissa Landers. This book was one part Firefly and one part comedic Shakespeare but lots of fun all around.

Starflight centers around the story of an orphaned girl, Solara Brooks, who is setting out for new opportunities in the fringe planets of the galaxy. Her trek is derailed when she ends up stuck traveling with her arch nemesis from school, Doran Spaulding. Through a series of events and calamities, Solara and Doran make their way on board the Banshee where they quickly become friends with the ragtag crew of misfits on board.

This book started out wobbly for me. I liked the premise and the storyline so I soldiered on but the first third was hard to get into. I think my main hang up was my lack of empathy for the characters. Solara’s true personality didn’t shine through for more until she was on the Banshee. Once aboard the ship, she and Doran really blossomed as characters for me. Things take off at an epic pace from there. There are pirates, run-ins with the law, crash landings and escapes from bounty hunters.

Rocky start aside, once I knew the characters fully, I truly enjoyed the book. I’m a big science fiction fan and I love anything with fast paced action. Starflight meets all the criteria for me there. The characters all have secrets, weaknesses, strengths and desires that make them interesting to get to know. I believe the second book in the series will highlight the story of two other characters from the banshee, Cassia and Kane.

I think this series will only get better with time and more books so I look forward to the next one. If you are a fan of science fiction, good humor and action-packed hi-jinks, give this series a whirl.

Happy Reading!
Maggie
Librarian
Warren Branch

Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom REVIEW

22701879Available in Print.

This book is not something I would typically pick up for myself but it was a book choice in a monthly book subscription I’m a part of (Uppercase Box, if you are interested). I haven’t been disappointed yet by the book choices, including the more realistic high school drama ones. Not If I See You First definitely falls in the realistic/love story/high school drama category. However, the premise and the main character stood out to me as being a little out of the average for this genre.

The main character, Parker, is blind. No, that’s not a spoiler, it’s pretty obvious from the get go. Told from her point of view, you get an interesting ‘look’ at what life is like when you have to rely on your instincts instead of your eyes. Parker is witty, sarcastic and straightforward. I liked her from the start. She is also flawed. Pretty much all the characters had their own flaws. This drew me into the story more. I felt like I could relate to the characters on a different level because they had the same everyday, run of the mill personality flaws that you might find in your own group of friends or yourself. It’s the flaws in these characters that lend them their charm. Parker and her friends get along well because they embrace the flawed aspects of each other whole heartedly.

The story itself revolves around an incident that happened to Parker in the 8th grade. She’s now a junior in high school but changes in the school system lead to her to face an old friend she believes betrayed her. Throughout the book, Parker is forced to examine how she reacts to situations and how she limits herself as well. By the end of the story, after facing her fears and facing some truths, Parker is able to strengthen her bonds with her friends and family. I think Lindstrom tells an amazing story of trust, honesty and compassion in Not If I See You First.

If you are a fan of realistic drama and sarcastic characters, give this book a try. It’s a great story that I read through in a heartbeat because I was so drawn in by the dialogue and the character’s storylines. This was Lindstrom’s debut novel and I’m sure we’ll see more great things come from him.

Happy reading!
Maggie
Librarian
Warren Branch