Monday, March 30, 2015

When by Victoria Laurie


At first Maddie thought it was a fun game, trying to figure out what these strange numbers that hovered just above peoples forehead could possible signify?  However reality set in quickly when her father died suddenly  in the line of duty on the very date she had seen depicted on his forehead for years.  Maddie can see the death date of anyone, whether looking directly at them, or at a picture, and these dates never change.  After his death, Maddie and her mother move to a small town where they struggle to make ends meet.  Maddie's ability enables her to supplement the meager allowance they are allotted with her father's wrongful death suit however it sets her apart as an outcast.  Her mother descended into alcoholism years ago and can no longer care for herself, let alone her daughter.

At a client reading, Maddie realizes that while the sick daughter she came inquiring about will live for some time to come, her healthy son has less than a week left.  After sharing this information the woman grows skeptical of both Maddie's intentions and her ability.  Maddie, with the help of her best friend Stubs, decides to reach out to the mother one more time, to plead with her to take this warning to heart.  It is this behavior that makes her the lead suspect in the FBI's case when the boy is reported missing on the very date Maddie predicted.  As more children are reported missing, children linked to Maddie, the FBI grow even more convinced of her involvement. Proof of her innocence lies in her ability, an ability the FBI doubt.  Determined to prove her innocence, Maddie sets out to unravel the who, why and how behind these strange disappearances.

Laurie, a paranormal mystery veteran, proves her versatility as a writer with her gripping teen debut. Plenty of intrigue and suspense keep the story moving at a fast clip while the snappy dialogue and well developed cast of supporting characters provide for a full bodied thriller. Though When centers around the compelling mystery, Laurie also deftly explores deeper themes of bullying, grief, and healing, making this a perfect pick for both mystery and teen fiction fans alike.

For other mysteries with a paranormal twist featuring female sleuths, check out Victoria Laurie's adult mystery series, as well as The Mediator series by Meg Cabot.

Friday, March 27, 2015

I am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage by Mary-Ann Kirkby

While recently browsing a list of books I saw this particular title but was unfamiliar with the term Hutterite. My curiosity being what it is, I was determined to check it out to learn more.

In the 16th century an Austrian named Jacob Hutter embraced the concept of shared property and communal living and founded the Hutterite faith. After enduring years of persecution, members from the sect fled Europe and settled in northwestern North America.

It is this heritage that journalist Mary-Ann Kirkby hails from and upon which she reflects and shares her compelling tale. Shortly after a 2002 return visit to her former Hutterite colony, Kirkby resolved that it was time to tell her story. And it’s an especially fascinating and absorbing one at that, where she fondly yet honestly details the intricacies of the Hutterite way of life.

As Kirkby recounts growing up in Fairholme Colony, a tight-knit Hutterite community in Manitoba, she describes the group’s practice of communal sharing of work as well as food, where personal possessions are few and freedom rather limited. Increasing tensions within the community prompted her parents to leave the colony when she was 10 years old. The family faced countless challenges as they struggled to adjust to life in the outside world. Kirkby’s adolescent schooldays were filled with ridicule for how she talked, dressed and what she ate. Follow her remarkable journey as she maneuvered through two very different cultures. This beautifully written and heartfelt memoir is one you will not want to put down.

I am Hutterite is available from VBPL as an eBook. You might also be interested in Plain Wisdom: An Invitation into an Amish Home and the Hearts of Two Women by Cindy Woodsmall.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lucky Dog: How Being a Veterinarian Saved My Life by Sarah Boston

Sarah Boston is an animal vet specializing in cancer surgery, mainly for dogs. So it was an odd sort of coincidence when she herself became a victim of thyroid cancer. Boston writes a candid and often witty account of her experiences and observations as a cancer patient navigating the frustratingly slow-moving Canadian healthcare system. But this book is not just about her. Boston also includes a number of touching stories of her canine cancer patients, calling attention to the rather large dichotomy that exists between human and animal health care. She explains that when it comes to receiving medical treatment it is far better being a dog, where it is a routine occurrence for an animal to elicit an abundance of attention and compassion from its veterinarian.

Not only does Boston keep her story refreshing and spirited as the reader follows her progress through diagnosis, surgeries and radioactive iodine therapy, but the account is considerably enhanced with those remarkably inspiring tales of man’s best friend that she so warmly shares.

If you enjoy reading Lucky Dog you might want to check the catalog for books from veterinarians Jeff Wells and Nick Trout.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 pages by Ammon Shea

Can you imagine attempting to read the entire 20 volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary (a mere 21,730 pages) over the course of a year? Dictionary aficionado and word collector Ammon Shea tackled exactly just that. Spending approximately 10 hours per day often camped out in the basement of the Hunter College Library, he read through the etymology and definitions of each and every word of this voluminous tome. One might expect a book about reading the OED to be rather tedious, but this is simply not the case here thanks to Shea’s witty and clever writing.

A single chapter is dedicated to every letter of the alphabet and begins with an introductory passage which may share interesting nuggets of general dictionary or OED lore or it might discuss one of the many mental or physical challenges facing Shea as he progresses through the extensive lexicon. Each chapter concludes with snippets of humorous commentary on a selection of favorite words discovered along this word-rich journey. Why not pass a few pleasant hours reading this perfectly delightful book? And while doing so you just might pick up a few strange and unique words that you can show off at your next social gathering.

If you enjoyed Reading the OED, then you may be inspired to read two extremely well-written and researched books both by Simon Winchester which present fascinating historical background and even some intrigue on the creation of the OED. Check the VBPL catalog for The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary and The Professor and the Madman: A tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Terrorist's Son by Zak Ebrahim

If you’re drawn to stories of individuals who provide inspiration through their resolve to make a positive difference in the world or just simply limited in your reading opportunity, then I strongly recommend this stirring 93-page book. It can easily be read in one sitting but don’t be fooled by its brevity. It packs a powerful message.

At the tender age of seven, Zak Ebrahim’s life was turned upside-down. He is the son of El-Sayed Nosair, an Egyptian-born American citizen, currently serving prison time for his conviction in the 1990 murder of Rabbi Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League, and for being an accomplice in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. After these horrific events, Zak, his siblings, and American-born convert to Islam mother, endured a life filled with disdain, death threats, shame, and poverty not to mention moving more than 20 times within a 10-year period. How does one recover from such a troubling and dreadful childhood?

Zak now dedicates his life to speaking out against terrorism and its perpetual cycle of violence. In his book he shares how the brunt of his father’s actions nearly devastated his life. But with the passage of time he was able to impugn the senseless dogmatism adhered to by the terrorist mind-set, leading him on a path that rejects extremism’s teaching of hate and violence and instead promotes tolerance and peace.

In addition to The Terrorist’s Son, you may also want to check out Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef. Mosab is the son of one of the founding leaders of the terrorist group Hamas. His story, as well, is a gripping account of how he turned his back on terror and violence.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Cyn Rothchild’s best friend, Annie, has fallen utterly in love with the handsome and charming new high school librarian, John Gabriel. In fact, it appears that he has nearly mesmerized the entire student body to the point where students are walking the halls in a glassy-eyed daze. But it’s Annie’s increasingly odd behavior that raises Cyn’s suspicions about the beguiling librarian. Her misgivings are confirmed when she inadvertently discovers his true nature – a full-fledged demon complete with wings and bloody horns.  

Why has the evil Mr. Gabriel chosen this school as his command center and what exactly are his intentions? Accompany Cyn, demon-battler and heroine, in her quest to find the answers and save her BFF while enlisting the help of her drop-dead gorgeous classmate and secret crush, Ryan Halsey. This not too frightening horror-comedy, infused with a bit of romance, is an entertaining tale that will take you to hell and back.

If you enjoy Evil Librarian then check the VBPL catalog for Team Human by Justine Larbalestier or the books in the Tantalize series (Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, and Diabolical) by Cynthia Leitich Smith.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin

The Walled City, based loosely on the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong, is an ungoverned settlement -- prostitution and drug smuggling are rampant.  Our three heroes/heroines each have their own reasons for being there, and their own struggles to survive.

Dai is trying to escape his past.  Now, working for the authorities, he is undercover, trying to take down the leader of a drug smuggling ring.

Jin, disguised as a boy, is trying to find her sister who was kidnapped years earlier and taken into prostitution.

Mei Yee, her sister, has been trapped in a brothel for several years, believing that escape is impossible, when one day a young man appears at her window.

This fast paced novel switches between their perspectives as all three race against the clock, trying to escape before the authorities take over the Walled City at the end of the year.

The Walled City will appeal to readers who enjoy fast paced dystopian such as The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner series.  Readers should also check out Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi.