Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania is by Erik Larson. Another wonderful book by Larson, the King of Nonfiction writing. This book looks at the sinking of the British liner Lusitania on May 1, 1915 by a German U-boat off the coast of Ireland. Of the 1962 passengers and crew, only 764 survived - 128 of the dead were Americans. The sinking of the Lusitania helped draw America into WWI. Larson also provides information on the German U-boat captain responsible for the disaster and the secret British intelligence unit who were tracking the U-boat but told no one. Larson brings history to life in a way few nonfiction writers are able to do. Along with all his novels, this book is A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

Ratings: 11th grade - 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The One-in-a-Million Boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy is by Monica Wood. Quinn Porter is a musician who has spent his life on the road. When his young son dies suddenly, his twice-ex-wife, guilts him into completing his son's Scouting commitment to help out a 104-year-old woman named Ona. As Ona and Quinn begin to build a relationship, Quinn learns to love the son he never understood, and Ona discovers she is still very much alive at 104. A heart-warming story with very lyrical prose. A beautifully written story about learning to live and love.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8.5 out of 10 - AC (some adult content) - P (profanity).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Norton Book of Light Verse

The Norton Book of Light Verse is edited by Russell Baker. A charming collection of verse divided into categories that make it easy to find what you are looking for. There are a wide selection of authors and time periods to wander through. An enjoyable introduction to light poetry.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity in some poems).

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mr. Churchill's Secretary

Mr. Churchill's Secretary is by Susan Elia MacNeal. The first book in the Maggie Hope Mystery series. Set in London in 1940 on the eve of the Blitz, Maggie Hope, a Brit raised by her aunt in America after the death of her parents in a car accident when she was an infant, finds herself one of the secretaries for Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Maggie is remarkably gifted in mathematics and codebreaking. When she accidentally breaks a secret German code, she finds herself involved in a web of intrigue that may cost not only her life but the lives of those she loves. A very enjoyable piece of historical fiction.

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

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Persuasion is by Jane Austen. Classic Austen, fans of Pride and Prejudice will like Persuasion. Persuasion may even tempt those who are not fans of P&P. Anne Elliot was persuaded to break off her engagement with Frederick Wentworth because he was "beneath her family's class." Eight years later, both still unmarried, they meet again. The now wealthy "Captain" Wentworth appears again in her social circle. Is this their second chance? Can he forgive her, does he still love her? Can he be persuaded this time? Wonderful Austen fare. A must read classic book.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression is by Amity Shlaes. The graphic novel version of Shlaes' full blown novel. A long over due look at what caused the Great Depression and why it lasted so long. Shlaes is fair to all sides and doesn't paint either side of the aisle as all good or all bad. A must read for history lovers and those who want to understand how we got where we are today. A great way to introduce younger readers to important historical events in a way that will engage them.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us

Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us is by Murray Carpenter. A must read for those who drink coffee, tea, soda, and other sources of caffeine. At times Carpenter gets a little into the weeds with the science, but the book is easy to understand and follow. You will never look at caffeine in the same way again! Carpenter presents both the good and bad effects of the drug and provides the science from both sides. A well-researched and readable excursion into our favorite addiction.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10.

Pluto: Volume 1

Pluto: Volume 1 is by Naoki Urasawa. The first volume in a manga series based on the character Astroboy created by the legendary cartoonist Tezuka. The series opens in a futuristic society where robots and AI are common. A very popular robot, Mont Blanc, has been murdered. This is followed by the murder of a human; robot detective Gesicht is given the case. He discovers someone/thing is killing robots and he is on the list. A wonderful science fiction tale for readers who may find manga more accessible. This is definitely not a childish story or series and provides much content that is rich and thought provoking.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence).

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Blue Labyrinth

Blue Labyrinth is by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. The fourteenth installment in the Pendergast series. When a dead body arrives literally on Pendergast's doorstep, he finds himself plunged into a deadly game of cat and mouse that is more dangerous than anything he has ever faced. This episode involves Pendergast's family history, which then leads to a search for vengeance. As suspense-filled as any book in this fantastic series; fans will not be disappointed.

Ratings: Adult - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - V (violence).

Maus, Vol I: My Father Bleeds History #1

Maus, Vol I: My Father Bleeds History is by Art Spiegelman. This absorbing graphic novel tells of Spiegelman's father and mother, and their experiences as Polish Jews during WWII. Spiegelman interviews his father about his experiences and turns the interview into a graphic novel in which the Jews are represented by mice and the Nazis by cats. A moving tale, the first volume takes us from the mid-1930s until 1944 when Spiegelman's father and mother are taken to Auschwitz. A must read for young readers - reluctant readers especially.

Ratings: 9th grade - 10 out of 10 - V (violence) - AC (some mature thematic content).

The Circus of Dr. Lao

The Circus of Dr. Lao is by Charles G. Finney. This classic little book is a wonderful treat! When the unusual circus of Dr. Lao arrives in Abalone, Arizona, the citizens are treated to a variety of strange attractions such as a mermaid, a sphinx, a chimera, an ancient god, and other bizarre creatures. Set in a small town during the Great Depression, this is a classic work of speculative fiction. Warning: it is not politically correct in any way shape or form, so be prepared. For those of you who have seen the movie version, the book is similar - but there are differences. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended read.

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Grendel is by John Gardner. A fabulous re-telling of Beowulf from the point of view of Grendel, the monster. A must read for anyone who has read the epic poem. Read this in tandem with Seamus Heaney's translation, they make a spectacular duo. Gardner never paints Grendel as less than evil, but you can't help walking away from the story without feeling for him. A wonderful book. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended Read.

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

The Immortal Realm

The Immortal Realm is by Frewin Jones. The fourth installment in the Faerie Path series. A plague is sweeping through the Faerie realm and Tania and her sisters seek help from the mortal world to save Faerie. Tania, Rathina, and Connor set out on a quest to find an ancient magic that will save everyone they love. Fans of the series will not be disappointed and will be anxious for the next installment.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is by Gabrielle Zevin. This charming story follows A.J. Fikry the grumpy, book-snob owner of a small bookstore located on isolated Alice Island. His wife recently died in an accident and he is struggling to cope with his loss. Then one day he meets a new publishing rep, has his prize collection of Poe stolen, and discovers an unexpected package left in his store that changes his life forever. A wonderful story about books, their place in our lives, and the power of love to help us overcome life's challenges.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend & Reality of Marie Laveau

A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend & Reality of Marie Laveau is by Carolyn Morrow Long. A fascinating look at the historical "Queen of Voudou" and New Orleans in general. Long does a great job of sifting through legend and myth to find the truth about Marie Laveau. A very well researched book, at times a little dry in the reading, but nevertheless a great read for anyone interested in learning more about historical New Orleans and the emergence of voudou and its most famous practitioner. Long shies away from voudou practices and sticks with historical information about the city and the people.

Ratings: Adult - 8 out of 10.