Monday, May 30, 2016


Beowulf is a new translation of the classic epic poem by Seamus Heaney. It takes a poet to translate poetry obviously. This is probably the best, and easiest to read, translation of Beowulf I have ever read. Beowulf is the epic tale of a hero taking on the monster Grendel and his mother to save a neighboring kingdom from certain destruction. Beowulf is a must read classic and this is the must read edition. Heaney's translation is lyrical and absolutely magnificent. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read; one of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - V (violence).

Eyes Like Stars

Eyes Like Stars is by Lisa Mantchev. The first book in the Theatre Illuminata series. Bertie has been raised in the magical Theatre Illuminata where characters from every play ever written live and perform. The actors are bound to the theatre by a magical book. When The Book, and the Theatre itself, are threatened it's up to Bertie to save everything she loves; to do so she must learn the truth about her past and the magical power she possesses. A charming and unique premise, promising an enjoyable series.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Watership Down

Watership Down is by Richard Adams. The classic saga of a group of rabbits fleeing one home to search for another. Led by a pair of brothers, one of whom seems to see into the future, the group travels across the English countryside passing through various dangers to find the perfect home. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. A classic tale of courage that's not just for kids.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Book Store is by Robin Sloan. Clay is an out of work web designer, one day wandering San Francisco looking for a job he wanders into Mr. Penumbra's book store and his life changes forever. He finds himself a night clerk in a bookstore that hardly sells any books; its few customers come in to borrow books that are written in a strange code. Clay and his talented group of friends set out to solve the mystery of the Unbroken Spine. A touching story of the power of friendship and the magic of finding "just the right book." The ending is a little cheesy, but the story is extremely enjoyable.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling is by Robert Galbraith. The first book in the Cormoran Strike series. Cormoran Strike is hard boiled detective. He lost a leg in Afghanistan and his relationship with his girlfriend has finally ended. He is living in his office, which he is about to lose due to debt. On the day his life seems to be falling apart, he finds himself with a new temporary secretary he can't afford and a new client who is rich. His new client is the half-brother of a famous supermodel who recently fell to her death from the balcony of her flat. The police believe the death to be suicide, her half-brother does not, and he wants Strike to prove it. A gripping crime novel for those who love the genre. Oh, and by the way, Robert Galbraith is the pen name of J.K. Rowling. This is her first crime novel and if you are thinking Harry Potter - DON'T.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

Folk and Fairy Tales

Folk and Fairy Tales is edited by Martin Hallett and Barbara Karasek. A wonderful anthology of classic folk/fairy tales and some of their modern re-tellings. There are also a fantastic sampling of criticism and introductions to the various tales that should not be missed. These are not the Disneyfied versions of the tales; they are the originals so reader beware.

Ratings: 12th grade - 10 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content) - P (profanity).

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy

Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Comedy is edited by Scott McMillin. A wonderful selection of Restoration drama completely annotated for contemporary readers. This book includes the following plays: The Country Wife, The Man of Mode, The Rover, The Way of the World, The Conscious Lovers, and The School for Scandal. If you have never read an example of these comedies of manners, you should.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

White Fire

White Fire is by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The thirteenth book in the Agent Pendergast series. Corrie Swanson wants to win the Rosewell Prize, and to do this she heads for a ski resort in Colorado built on the location of an old mining town to examine the bodies of eleven miners who were eaten by a bear 150 years ago. When she is denied access to the bodies, she breaks into a building to examine them and finds herself facing a ten year prison sentence. Enter Agent Pendergast, who arrives to rescue Corrie, and finds himself in the middle of a series of murders that might be linked to a missing Sherlock Holmes story penned by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1928. Another fantastically suspenseful and action-packed installment. Fans will NOT be disappointed.

Ratings: Adult - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History is by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. A must read book about America's first conflict with radical Islamic states; yes, this conflict began long before 9/11. From the Presidency of George Washington, the Barbary states in north Africa had been taking American ships and enslaving American crews. Washington and Adams both tried to pay for peace; Jefferson determined to win it by force. This book documents the birth of the American Navy and Marine Corp and the success of our first war on foreign shores. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read. An excellent look at a chapter of American history we would do well to remember.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Freud in Oz: At the Intersection of Psychoanalysis and Children's Literature

Freud in Oz: At the Intersection of Psychoanalysis and Children's Literature is by Kenneth B. Kidd. A marriage of psychology and children's literary criticism which posits the symbiotic relationship between the two fields. I had to read this for a college class. Kidd looks at both genres of children's literature: trauma fiction, picture books, and fairy tales; and specific texts: the Pooh novels, the Oz series, Alice in Wonderland, and The Catcher in the Rye. It is not a textbook and I did find it interesting and worth the time it takes to read (it is only 205 pages), but I wouldn't take it to the beach for summer vacation.

Ratings: Adult - 7 out of 10.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Indemnity Only

Indemnity Only is by Sara Paretsky. The first book in the V.I. Warshawski series. For those readers unfamiliar with V.I., she is the typical Chicago private detective, only she's a woman. In this, her first appearance in print, we find her meeting an anonymous client. The "client" gives a false name and asks her to find his son's girlfriend whose name is also false. When she attempts to locate the girl she finds a dead body instead; the son of a prominent banker. Solving his death leads her into the seedy world of insurance fraud, corrupt union leaders, and hit men. If you're a Philip Marlowe fan, you'll fall in love with V.I. as well.

Ratings: Adult - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).

Station Eleven

Station Eleven is by Emily St. John Mandel. It's the end of the world as we know it. A flu pandemic has swept the earth and wiped out the majority of the world's population. This book focuses on a group of survivors all linked to a famous actor who died of a heart attack on the eve of the pandemic. The book is realistic and the premise is interesting. The way the book travels back and forth in time is well done. There are aspects of the plot that are not addressed and some of the characters in the book are a little weak, but the book was an enjoyable read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 7 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence).

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is by Katarina Bivald. A charming story about how books bring people together. Sara has been writing her pen pan (Amy) in Broken Wheel, Iowa for some time. When she arrives from Sweden for their long planned two month visit, it is on the day of Amy's funeral. The people of Broken Wheel, a dying town, want their visitor to stay as Amy had planned. When they refuse to let Sara pay for anything, she decides the way to pay the people for their kindness is to open a small bookstore with the house full of books she finds at Amy's. Eccentric idea, well Sara is an eccentric person and the effect she has on the residents of Broken Wheel is almost as incredible as the effect they have on Sara. A must read for book lovers.

Ratings: 12th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).