Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

Penelope Keeling, daughter of painter Lawrence Stern, mother of three grown children: Nancy, Olivia and Noel, discharges herself from the hospital after suffering a heart attack at the age of 64. Although she feels there is nothing wrong with her, this brush with her mortality sets two of her children to thinking about their inheritance. Olivia, more concerned about her mother living alone than caring about money, unexpectedly finds the perfect solution when an old lover of hers dies. She arranges for his 18 year old daughter, Antonia, to stay with Penelope.

When one of Laurence Sterne’s paintings comes up for sale at about half a million pounds, Nancy and Noel, feeling the monetary strain of living outside their means begin to look with greedy eyes at the Shell Seekers, the only painting Penelope owns by her father. But the Shell Seekers is more than just a painting; it is a tie to the past.

Set in parts of England and Cornwall, the Shell Seekers takes us through the events of Penelope’s life from the heart aching destruction of World War II to present day. Following the weave of her life is the Shell Seekers; a link between past, present and future that just might tear this family apart.

Don't forget: you can place this book on hold by going to the JCLC online catalog

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

30 Days of Night by Steve Niles

We've all heard that "the book is better than the movie." But what if the movie is based on a graphic novel? 30 Days of Night, by Steve Niles, is an 80+ page graphic novel originally published in 2003. The movie came out just last month.

The graphic novel is by illustrated by Ben Templesmith in a shaky and low detail style. The bulk of the illustrations are in black, white, brown and shades of the three, giving the work a murky, dark feeling. When other colors are used, they are also darker, muddier tones...except for reds, yellows and oranges. Fire and blood are illustrated with vibrant tones, making them pop from the pages for maximum impact (and there is a lot of blood). The story itself is a simple one, though creative and well-written. It recounts the town of Barrow, Alaska's horrifying fight to survive when the sun went down for an entire month, and vampires came to party. There is a lot of tension in the story, as a small group of humans struggle to keep their lives, and their sanity; hiding, and waiting for the sun to come up once again.

The movie retains the basic storyline of the graphic novel. The differences are in the character relationships, added characters and situations and location changes. It's understandable that the filmmakers would need to pad the story in order to make a feature length film from an 80 page book. Their changes don't detract from the plot, and their more fully developed characters help the viewer become more engaged, and therefore more horrified, by the events that transpire.

The graphic novel and the book contain enough differences that one will not detract from the pleasure of the other.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans

Christine and Martin were in love and getting ready to spend their lives together. She was planning her dream wedding-just the right flowers, food and gown. One week before the wedding Martin told Christine that he could not marry her. Her best friend, Jessica, could tell how devastating that was. She suggested they take part in a humanitarian work trip to Peru. On the trip the guide, Jim, introduced the group to a very different culture from their own. They met Paul, an ER doctor from the United States, who runs an orphanage of children who have been taken off the streets by the police. All the children are boys but one. Roxana is deaf and shy. The children had been abandoned by society and some had been sold or prostituted. While there Christine, Jessica and the rest of the group painted a classroom, built a greenhouse and spent time with the children. Then they went by foot and canoe into the jungle to stay at a lodge. Jim and Jessica became very good friends and so did Christine and Paul. As they worked at projects and being with the children, Christine found herself being helped as she was helping others on this mission to Peru.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Something Rotten by Alan Gratz

There's something rotten in the town of Denmark, Tennessee, and it's not the smell from the polluted Copenhagen river. Horatio is in town visiting his best friend Hamilton Prince after the death of Hamilton's father, millionaire paper-plant owner Rex Prince. On a surveillance video, Hamilton's father tells his son that he's been systematically poisoned over the course of the past few months, but the tape cuts off before he is able to name his murderer. Hamilton vows to avenge his father's murder and makes Horatio help by playing detective. Meanwhile, as Horatio pokes into the family secrets, Hamilton plays the drunk, hoping to fool everyone into thinking he's too out of it to notice what's going on. Hamilton's mother Trudy, who married her dead husband's brother, Claude, also seems to be clueless about the murder. But does she know more than she's letting on? And what about Claude? He had the most to gain, with the new wife and control of the family business. Add in one media mogul attempting a hostile takeover, one pretty evironmentalist convinced the paper plant is polluting the river and two redneck friends, and you have a cast of suspects that only Shakespeare could have bested. Though it's a novel for teens, anyone familiar with Shakespeare's Hamlet will enjoy this intriguing contemporary mystery based on the well-known play.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

In a futuristic world where, at the age of sixteen, everybody undergoes an operation to become “pretty” there by wiping out all physical differences lives Tally Youngblood.

Tally is lonely, all of her friends have been through the operation, and moved on to the freedom to play and party in New Pretty Town. Then she meets Shay, who is not sure she wants to become “pretty”. Her unconventional ideas begin to upset Tally’s world and when Shay runs away on the eve of her operation, Tally is given a hopeless choice: either she follows Shay’s cryptic directions or she will never be allowed to become pretty.

This fast moving teen book,the first in the series, takes the reader on hover-board rides and bungee jumps, through tricky ethical situations and gives a disturbing view of the nature of our own society.

Just click on the link to request this book from the JCLC catalog

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Shelter of Hope by Tracie Peterson Westward Chronicles #1

Simone Dumas grew up in the Wyoming Territory in the 1880s. Her home was not only lacking in love but was physically and emotionally abusive. When she was ten years old her mother's arm was broken by her husband. That was the last straw and she took Simone's tiny brother and left-fully intending to return with the law and rescue Simone from a living nightmare. When her mother was no longer there to receive the beatings, Louis Dumas turned to Simone for his release of hatred. Trapping in the area was less profitable than earlier years so Simone's father decided to move to Colorado and try mining. When in town he met a man who wanted to settle in the area. Louis took this opportunity and sold his property, traps and Simone to the stranger. He took the new owner home, grabbed his belongings and left Simone with her new life as Mrs. Davis. She fed the man and then began gathering her belongings. Mr. Davis decided to make Simone his wife but she had other ideas. After she hit him over the head she took her bundle and his horse and left. Before someone found his body Simone wanted to be out of the area. After days on horseback she took a train to Chicago where she learned about work at Harvey restaurants. And so began a new life for her in new places with people who really cared. But she did not know how to trust and was afraid to love. Someday the law would catch her. This was her constant fear. Until she finally decided to trust and confide in others.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry

Ever wonder how Peter discovered Neverland, how the mermaids came into being, how Peter learned to fly or how exactly Captain Hook lost his hand? In this prequel to J M Barrie’s classic “Peter Pan”, we learn the answers to these questions and more.

Peter is the leader of a group of orphan boys who find themselves on a rust bucket of a ship, named The Neverland, bound for Rundoon. They soon learn they are destined to be servants for the horrible King Zarboff the Third, ruler of Rundoon.

Also on the ship is Molly Aster, an apprentice Starcatcher and daughter of the ambassador to Rundoon. She and Peter strike up a friendship, which turns into an alliance when she finds the shipment her father was following with the intention of keeping it from the King, has ended up on her ship instead of his. This being a chest of “starstuff”, a magic material that falls from the sky giving among other things happiness, power, increased intelligence, and the ability to fly.

Black Stache, a fearsome pirate who commands a villainous crew has heard of the treasure, the greatest treasure to sail the seas and he wants it. But the crew of the Neverland under King Zarboff’s control and Molly are not going to give it up easily. The fighting soon moves from aboard the ship to an island inhabited by indigenous people, mermaids and of course Mr. Grim.

Follow the link and request this book from the JCLC catalog

Friday, November 9, 2007


By Neil Gaiman with illustrations by Charles Vess

This is the enchanting fairy tale that was adapted into an enchanting movie by the same name. I was surprised how closely the movie followed the book, though its ending is somewhat different and oddly enough, more satisfying. Like many people, I thought this was a graphic novel, and you may find it shelved there in the young adult section. But in reality, it is like one of those old children’s book, lavishly illustrated. Charles Vess created nearly 175 water colour paintings that are reminiscent of Arthur Rackman’s or Edmund Dulac’s work for Neil Gaiman’s story.

Like any number of fairy tales, this one is about the journey of our hero Tristam, on a quest for true love, but finding adult hood, via an adventure through Faery. There’s the usual fantastical creatures and places (unicorns and witches and princes and castles and inns), and some unusual creatures and places (hairy night visitors and fallen stars and flying ships that capture lightning and quaint English villages that are anything but). But in Gaiman’s capable hands, they are old toys given a loving polish and most importantly, always entertaining. Don’t be fooled by the genre. This is not a children’s story, but more like the original Grimm’s tales. Frightening and graphic things happen here, as well the breathtakingly beautiful, but what would expect to find when you travel in Faery?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Greywalker by Kat Richardson

Harper Blaine, private investigator, died while working a case. She was dead for about two minutes before the paramedics resusitated her. Now she's seeing things - shadows and figures with glowing eyes, doorways made of fog, glowing edges around people and buildings. Her doctor refers her to a unique couple, who inform Harper that she is a "Greywalker," someone who can consciously walk in and out of the realm between life and the afterlife. Her vision has also been affected, as she can see the two realms overlapping. She must learn to control her new ability before the shadow realm creatures - vampires, ghosts, and other, unnamed beings - become drawn to her and seek her out. But how do you control something you when don't fully believe it's happening?

Harper tries to continue doing her job, hunting a missing college student and searching for a lost family heirloom. But strange things are occuring within these cases. Could it be that the creatures of the Grey have already begun to find her?

This fantasy novel combines detective and supernatural fiction. There are passages that drag, when Harper's new friends discuss the scientific and theologic ramifications of her new condition, but most of the book is an entertaining, slightly creepy read. Harper is a strong female character who refuses to back down, even when she probably should. Fans of Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake may like this milder, less graphic, read. I loved it and can't wait to read the sequel: Greywalker: Poltergeist.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

In this refreshingly funny retelling of the classical adventures of Odysseus, Penelope, his faithful stay at home wife finally gets to tell her side of the tale. Her story, told from beyond the Styx, is interspersed with a chorus made up of the twelve maidens Odysseus had hanged on his return.

Penelope, always overshadowed by the lovely, spiteful Helen, the Helen who ruined her life begins her tale as a child in Sparta relating how her father threw her into the sea. We see another side of Odysseus, the con man masquerading as a hero of whom she says “I knew he was tricky and a liar, I just didn't think he would play his tricks and try out his lies on me." She relates the difficulties of running a kingdom at the age of 15, bringing up a small child and getting on with the in-laws without her husband. All the while hearing the rumors of Odysseus fighting one eyed Cyclops, (or perhaps one eyed tavern keepers,) sleeping with a goddess on an enchanted isle, (or perhaps just a beautiful courtesan). And having to deal with suitors who come just to eat her food.

The maidens, meanwhile, relate through poetry, sea chantey, courtroom sketch and anthropological lecture their side of the tale, and their undying indignation at having been murdered.

If you are interested in reading this book, please follow the link to the JCLC catalog

Rebecca Of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Having always loved the “Anne of Green Gables” books I had previously overlooked this classic. But on reading it I was disappointed to find that this book was another story along the same lines without the sweetness and fun that made Anne so popular. Perhaps if I had read this one before Lucy Maude Montgomery’s other trilogy “Emily of New Moon” I would have liked it better.

Rebecca leaves the family owned farm she christened “Sunnybrook” and comes to live with her two elderly Aunts who did not want her. They had expected to get her older, sensible sister, Hannah. Rebecca is a dreamer but with a practical side and although she makes mistakes like leaning on a freshly painted fence and throwing her beloved parasol down the well she soon out grows them. The boy at school who takes a fancy to Rebecca is no cheeky trickster but “Seesaw” Simpson, called so because he can never make up his mind. The plot is predictable and Rebecca, although sweet is a rather dull character.

If you are looking for another book just like Anne of Green Gables then by all means read this, but if you want something for girls that is different try “Heidi” or “What Katy Did”!