Category Archives: Staff Recommends

Learning to Swear in America REVIEW

learning-to-swearLearning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy.

Available in Print and eBook.

A giant asteroid is heading for earth. Southern California is the target, but the whole world will be impacted. The smartest minds are assembled in a NASA facility in Pasadena to solve the problem. With less than a month left, a young Russian physicist arrives to join the team. Yuri’s mathematical skills are unquestioned, but since he is only seventeen he is often not taken seriously by his fellow scientists. That is most unfortunate when Yuri knows he has the best solution to stop the asteroid.

One day Yuri decides to eat lunch outside and finds a pretty young woman named Dovie. Having spent most of his life focused on physics, Yuri is socially awkward and does not know how to interact with other people his age. In addition, Yuri has never been to the U.S. and does not understand the customs (or often the subtleties of the English language). Fortunately, the artsy Dovie takes a liking to Yuri and invites him to her house. Dovie’s hippie parents and wheelchair bound brother Lennon are welcoming but live a very different existence than Yuri’s.

With the world in peril, Yuri gets to spend time as a regular teenager while simultaneously trying to convince his colleagues that his unique knowledge holds the key to saving the planet. It’s possible his overzealous behavior will keep him from returning to Russia.

This is a nice blend of science and teenage uncertainty about their own future.

The Game of Love & Death REVIEW

gameloveGuest review from Mollie at the Lawrence Branch.

The Game of Love & Death by Martha Brockenbrough.

Available in Print, eBook & eAudio.

Love and Death come together once again to play the Game, a game played for centuries. Love has never won, ever. The date: Friday, February 13, 1920. Love choses his character, an infant boy. Death, her player is a baby girl. “Wearing a pair of soft leather gloves, Love’s opponent, known as Death, reached for the child, who woke and blinked sleepily at the unfamiliar face overhead.” Will he win this time? Death, and her history of successes, won’t make it easy for Love, especially when both can transform themselves to distract their opponent’s players!

Fast forward 17 years . . . to 1937.

The players in this round of the Game are seventeen-year-olds Flora and Henry. Flora, an African American singer/pilot, strives to be a strong woman. Henry, an orphaned white boy, living in the shadow of his well-to-do adopted brother tries to prove his worth. He and Flora meet and it is love at first sight for Henry. Can these two star-crossed lovers win the game for Love?

Short chapters keep the reader engaged; however, I chose to listen to the eAudiobook. I felt the narrator performed well. Songs were performed at the end, as a bonus section.

I recommend this book for teens that like historical fiction, love stories, or a modern-day Romeo-and-Juliet story.

My Heart and Other Black Holes REVIEW

my-heart-and-other-black-holesAvailable in Print, eBook & eAudio.

Warning: this is book is sad. It deals with sad things and unhappy people. That being said, it is a marvelously well written book that will give you all the feels and make you tear up a time or two.

Warga takes on the complicated subject of depression which is never something easy to write about or portray in a character. I, myself, have not dealt with mental illness but I have many family and friends close to me that have had their battles with depression over the years. I think Warga did an excellent job of conveying the feelings, both emotional and physical, of depression.

While her story ends on a promising note, I know that is not the case for most. But I believe Warga’s intentions are to make readers see that there are always options. There is always someone out there to support you no matter what you are going through.
I recommend this story purely because it is well written and a beautiful story. I also recommend this story for anyone that has struggled or known someone who is struggling with their own personal illness. There is always an answer and there is always someone who will support you.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

The Leaving REVIEW

the-leaving-coverAvailable in Print & eBook.

Six kindergartners disappear. Eleven years later, five return. What happened in the meantime? Where is the sixth child? How do the families pick up the pieces and start over?

That’s where The Leaving starts. With questions and accusations and no answers. This book hooked me from the start. I love mystery and intrigue and this story has it in spades. The story is told in alternating viewpoints from two of the survivors and one of the siblings of the original six children. Each character has a unique voice and the author even uses visual text images to put the reader in the mindset of the characters.

Besides the intriguing premise, the story was fast paced and kept me engaged. It kept me guessing almost all the way through. I started to pick up the pieces and figure out the story line about two thirds of the way in but there was still some questions I hadn’t figured out till the very end.

This book is probably one of my favorites of 2016 so far. I highly recommend it to anyone! But if you love mystery and suspense, then this is a must read for you.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love REVIEW

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Available in Print.

Graham really likes Roxy. They have been friends ever since Graham moved next door to her after his mother died eight years ago. The first thing she asked him was which Hogwarts house he would be sorted into. How could he not love her after that? Graham is ready to tell Roxy how he really feels, and he is planning to do it at Comic Con.

Graham and Roxy collaborate on their own graphic novel (he writes, she illustrates) and are huge fans of the reclusive Robert Zinc, creator of The Chronicles of Althena. Zinc has not been seen in public for years, but with the movie adaptation in production he will be appearing at the convention in a Q&A session with limited seating. What a perfect time for Graham to express his true feelings.

Things are complicated from the start. To get tickets to see Zinc, Graham will have to wait in line all night outside in New York City. Roxy’s parents would never allow her to do that, so Graham convinces his best friend Casey to get Roxy’s ticket (but not before agreeing to convince his sister to go out with Casey).

And it only gets worse. Graham could not have foreseen the large number of fans willing to do anything to see Zinc. Or the attractive guy who attaches himself to Roxy from the beginning of the con. What should be the best Comic Con of Graham’s life turns into a series of frustrating events.

For all of Graham’s misery, this is fun excursion into the New York Comic Con. It’s all you could ever want from a con without being there – laughs, suspense, adventure and pop culture references galore.