Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

The Glass Hotel centers on an evening in which a message is scrawled in the lobby of the glass wall of Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island, where brother and sister Paul and Vincent are working. That night, Vincent meets Jonathan Alkaitis, and her world changes forever - and reaches a tipping point when she learns a few years later that Alkaitis has been orchestrating a Ponzi scheme. This novel explores the broadness of human connect, addiction, how people can disappear into roles and what they will do for appearance, love and loss, and more.

I can only describe this book as captivating. Mandel does an excellent job of both developing her characters and creating exquisite scenes. The descriptions of the Hotel Caiette are beautiful. Told from multiple, shifting perspectives, the characters are flawed but so easy to become invested in, making readers want the best for them even if they clearly do not want the best for themselves. This is a story that is heartbreaking and totally worth the read.

Reviewed by Publicity Librarian, Megan Bryant.
Rating: ★★★★☆

Read-alikes: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel; Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer; Writers & Lovers by Lily King; Life After Life Kate Atkinson; The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

On the way home, the school bus breaks down…..the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind on the bus: "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when a broken digital wristwatch begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. The classmates heed the bus driver's warning, heading out into the woods--bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them--the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for the friends: "Avoid large places. Keep to the small."

I liked that Small Spaces is an eerie book that combines the familiar world of riding the school bus with the terrifying answer of what is hiding in the dark. This is the perfect creepy read for a rainy day.

Reviewed by Librarian, Mary Lynn Saxton.
Rating: ★★★★★

Read-alikes: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab; Nightbooks by J. A. White; The Mothman's Curse by Christine Hayes; Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee; The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman; Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

One Second After by William R. Forstchen

This survival story finds John Matherson and his small North Carolina community dealing with the aftereffects of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) strike against America. All electronics have been wiped out, which means: cars stopped on the roads; electricity is down; running water is out after a day or two; cell phones and internet are down. Of course, during the first day, they don't know all this; they only know that nothing is working! Eventually for the town, the worst is not knowing what is going on or how long it will last. The worst for John, though, is his fear for his beloved youngest daughter who has juvenile diabetes... and her insulin supply is running out.

This book raises a lot of questions about our current society and how we are so dependent on our creature comforts... if our technological infrastructure falls apart, can we rediscover how to clean water, grow food, and care for common injuries? Some of the lessons learned in this book apply to our current pandemic situation even. This includes some social lessons: some people who were formerly low on the totem pole, like hippies and survivalists, are suddenly very popular and in high demand! Even the librarians who find a stash of 1800s literature--in print--on the invention of electricity become local heroes too.

Reviewed by Library Assistant, Denise Fudge.
Rating: ★★★★★

Read-alikes: Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank; The Passage by Justin Cronin; The Dog Stars by Peter Heller; Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry; The Remaining by D. J. Molles; Wool by Hugh Howey; The Sunrise Lands by S. M. Stirling.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple


What would you do if your mother suddenly went missing? For 8th grade Bee, this question becomes a reality when her eccentric and erratic mother, Bernadette Fox vanishes without a trace - and right before their family trip to Antarctica! Told through a compilation of emails, official documents, and secret correspondence, Bee investigates her mother's disappearance and learns about her past as a genius architect along the way.

Readers will have so much fun with this book! Bernadette is quirky, determined, and true to herself. While Bernadette is definitely a flawed character and that can lead to some long-winded and frustrating sections of the book, the ending more than makes up for it. I would recommend both the book and the movie but definitely read the book first!

Reviewed by Publicity Librarian, Megan Bryant.
Rating: ★★★★☆

Read-alikes: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter; The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin; The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion; Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng; Life After Life by Kate Atkinson; Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn; Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty; The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; Commonwealth by Ann Patchett; Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple.

Friday, March 20, 2020

There are some days that are such a disaster that you beg for a do-over. What if you got the chance? Would you believe that it was really happening? What would you do different if you could? High-school student Elllison Sparks is given that chance for a do-over. Now she needs to do it right! Read this fun Young Adult Book by Jessica Brody, available at Rowlett Public Library as a book or eBook.

This is an extremely entertaining story with fun twists and makes for a great read for fans of time travel! You can also check out our Blind Date with a Book post on Facebook for more read-alikes.

Reviewed by Librarian, Mary Lynn Saxton.
Rating ★★★★★

Read-alikes: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han, 100 Days by Nicole McInnes, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Nemesis by Anna Banks, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey, Zeroes by Scott Westerfield, Between the Notes by Sarah Huss Roat, The Underdogs by Sara Hammel, My Name Is Not Friday by Jon Walter, Once and For All by Sarah Dessen, I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway is a story of magical fantasy reminiscent of Miss Peregrine and Alice in Wonderland, with a side of whodunit. When Nancy is kicked out of the world she calls home, she is sent to Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children. Much like Miss Peregrine, Headmistress Eleanor has been through her own door and offers insight and understanding into her “students” circumstances to help them get through a kind of PTSD. Just like Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, each child’s door takes them to a magical place of either profound logic or absolute nonsense. The worlds chose the children specifically and understand them more than anyone or anything can, but it can also destroy them. Nancy’s return to reality, however, sparks tragedies across the campus and it is up to her and her new friends to use the set of skills they acquired in their worlds to solve the cases.

This is a highly relatable series with great character development that is so easy to binge. With elements of fantasy and mystery, it easily kept my interest and had me craving more. It could seriously be a CW series. Fingers crossed!. Keep in mind that this series is told in novella style, so if you're looking for prominent plot development, look elsewhere. (SPOILER: There are 5 books in the series as of 2020, with another projected for release in 2021).

Reviewed by Children's Librarian, Lauren Osborne Reasor.
Rating: ★★★★★

Read-alikes: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders; Uprooted by Naomi Novik; A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab; All Systems Red by Martha Wells; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers; The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Reese's Book Club.
"A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both"  (Goodreads). The story begins when the babysitter, Emira, is confronted and accused of kidnapping by a security guard in a grocery store, and things quickly spiral from there. The story shifts back and forth from the perspectives of Emira and her employer/entrepreneur and social media influencer, Alix Chamberlain. This novel explores themes such as race, privilege, the complications of transactional relationships, self-perception of motivations, and denial. 
This book is packed full of flawed and complicated characters that can invoke sympathy as well as extreme frustration, and it makes for a great read! The story really brings into perspective how as humans we are able to justify our actions and convince ourselves that we are being selfless when we are really being selfish. I read this book in three days, and I could not put it down! In many ways, this is a coming-of-age story, and my only criticism was that I was hoping for the protagonist, Emira, to have a ride-off-into-the-sunset moment and put everyone in their place when Reid writes a much more realistic ending. While it was not the ending I imagined, I would highly recommend this novel.

Reviewed by Publicity Librarian, Megan Bryant. 
Rating: ★★★★☆

Read-alikes: Dear Edward by Ann Politano; Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane; Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson; The Dutch House by Ann Patchett; American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins; The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson; The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin; A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum.