Category Archives: Reviews

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One is a fun and thoroughly enjoyable romp across the world both real and virtual in the year 2044.  For those of us that grew up during the 1980’s, it is also a very nostalgic romp full of references to things such as Rubik’s Cubes, Pac Man games and 80’s movies. In addition, if you are a fan of the Canadian rock band Rush as I am, you are in for a treat!!!

Ready Player One is set in the not so distant future. It’s the year 2044 and the world isn’t a good place. Reality is so bad for most people that they experience their lives mostly through their avatars in an online virtual world called OASIS. A unique opportunity arises when James Halliday — the 1980’s obsessed computer guru that created OASIS — dies and lets the world know that he has left a series of puzzles that lead to an Easter Egg in OASIS. Whoever solves the puzzles and finds the Easter Egg first wins the ultimate prize…Halliday’s massive fortune and control of his corporation.

In Halliday’s video will that was released upon his death, he left a clue:

“Three hidden keys open three secret gates

Wherein the errant will be tested for worthy traits

And those with the skill to survive these straits

Will reach The End where the prize awaits.”

Halliday also left a clue in a book he wrote that contained a puzzle to help people know where to begin hunting for the first clue.

“The Copper Key awaits explorers

In a tomb filled with horrors

But you have much to learn

If you hope to earn

A place among the high scorers.”

Our hero — Wade Watts, AKA Parzival — is a student and like countless others, has been obsessed for years with trying to solve the puzzle that Halliday left. The ‘gunters’ (shortened version of egg hunters) teach themselves about 1980’s movies, pop culture and video games to better equip themselves for solving the puzzles. It has been years since Halliday’s death and still no one has solved the first part of the puzzle. Parzival suddenly makes a connection and figures out the location of where to begin the quest. As he solves the first puzzle and gets the first key, he appears on the Scoreboard which attracts the attention of the whole world. He embarks upon a deadly, epic quest to solve the puzzles along with many others who are close at his heels.

Will he get there in time? Read and find out!!!

— Review by Marci, Fairdale

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

Phenomenal book! Full of brilliant brave, strong women! It’s Charlie’s Angels as if written by Mary Shelley! I can’t use enough exclamation points!

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter includes all of the gothic horror of Moreau, Hyde/Jekyll, Holmes and Watson, Dracula and Van Helsing. I didn’t think it was possible to put all of my favorite things in one story but Goss did it.

The story begins with Mary Jekyll, who has just buried her mother and is orphaned and broke and desperate for a way to make money. She’s also very interested in the secrets of her father’s shadowy past…one clue leads her to believe that if she could locate her father’s former friend, Edward Hyde, there is a reward for his capture and this could solve some of her urgent money troubles.

But her hunt leads her to Hyde’s daughter, Diana, a wild, untamed and hilarious young girl suddenly shoved into Mary’s care. With the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Mary becomes involved in a spectacular adventure and mystery and befriends more remarkable women, all of whom have been created through frightening experiments.
The women uncover a secret society of wicked scientists and they band together to fight the forces of evil and take back their identities.

It’s such a fun read, I highly recommend reading it as I did with the windows open and rain falling outside, crisp fall air and a large ginger cat at your feet. Or another colored cat, doesn’t have to be a ginger. Or a dog. Whatever your preference. But it’s the perfect book to curl up with during the autumn season.

Review by Heather, St. Matthews

Women and the Square Circle

Women’s wrestling appears to be garnering interest with the public again due, I surmise, in part to the rise in popularity of the Netflix show GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling).  Stepping into the square this year are two books which throw a spot light on the world of women in the ring.

The first is Sisterhood of the Squared Circle: The History and Rise of Women’s Wrestling by Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy. It offers short biographies of several athletes from around the globe and their journey into the world of female wrestlers. Two of the women are from Kentucky whose paths led them from an attraction at a freak show in a circus to a tag team matched up again male wrestling tag teams.  While some will see wrestling as a charade, which by in large it is, the performers/wrestlers display athletic prowess and drive to do whatever it takes to get ahead even if it results in broken bones or missing teeth, as displayed in the book.

Pat Laprade and Dan Murphy present a good mix of information, past and present, up to the latter half of 2016, as well as images of each female wrestler. There is still enough mystery in the field of women’s wrestling to keep the reader wondering what the future may hold for this rough and tumble sport.  If shows like GLOW are of interest or if wrestling draws your attention check out this latest non-fiction title.

My other selection is entitled Crazy is my Superpower: How I Triumphed by Breaking Bones, Breaking Hearts, and Breaking the Rules by AJ Mendez Brooks

As in many autobiographies/memoirs, there is a mixture of good, bad and ugly. Brooks’ book is no different. Memories of her early years show the hardships – being bullied as a child and being raised by her older siblings – while her parents worked just to keep food on the table.  As a child, Brooks was drawn to the world of wrestling as she watched the excitement in the ring and the fancy ring attire.  She also struggled with anorexia and depression but she always knew she wanted to be in the ring, at the center of attention.  

At one point in the book she talks of traveling to a plethora of different venues around the States and Mexico.  Each chapter builds Brooks’ story and brings the reader along on her journey to the ring. There are lists at the end of the chapters in which Brooks’ rates her experiences.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch

Are You A Fan?

Random Fandom is returning on

Saturday, September 23, 2017, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Let your geek flag fly!

This day-long convention of all things fandom returns to the Southwest Regional Library.

Join us for a day of child, adult, and family programming, vendors, gaming, food trucks, and contests.

Register at the door, or go to www.lfpl.org/RandomFandom to sign up online.

Location: 

Southwest Regional Library

9725 Dixie Highway
LouisvilleKY USA 40272
Phone: 502-933-0029
Website: Click to Visit

Girl in Disguise

Girl in Disguise by Greer MacAllister is a novel about the first female Pinkerton agent, Kate Warne, whose real life is almost stranger than fiction. I first discovered Kate in a Netflix show called the Pinkerton’s. I did the proper library assistant thing and researched her. Not only was she  the first female Pinkerton detective she also lead the women’s detective bureau part of the agency. Not much is known about her before she become a Pinkerton agent, leaving both historians and novelist alike to wonder who Kate Warne was.

Greer MacAllister breathes life into her own version of Kate’s history before she becomes a Pinkerton agent. The novel sucked me into the story and Kate’s world from the first chapter. It  begins in 1856 and continues through the Civil War but ends soon after the Civil War. Greer gives her own spin to a few of Kate’s actual cases as a Pinkerton, including cases that may or may not have been real. One of the most nerve racking and nail biting parts of the book  is her working to get Lincoln to Washington without him being killed before being sworn in as President. This is based on Kate’s most famous case as a Pinkerton.

It’s hard to put Girl in Disguise into a genre category even though the library had it classified as general fiction. To me it is a bit of biographical fiction and historical fiction with a bit of mystery thrown in. Fans of historical fiction, mystery, biographical fiction, detective fiction will enjoy this book. Kate Warne proves that sometimes life can be more mysterious than fiction.

Formats Available: Book, eBook

Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

A Girl, a Mission, and a One-way Journey: A Review of Mars One by Jonathan Maberry

Tristan and Izzy have been in love since middle school. They have always known that there was an ending date stamped on their romance that loomed ahead of them. Since he was twelve, Tristan knew he and his parents were going to be part of a mission that will take them away from Earth forever as part of the small group of people who were going to colonize Mars.

Reality television has pulled out all the stops to capitalize on the teen’s romance, drawing on the legend of star-crossed lovers Tristian and Isolde. Tristian and Izzy’s romance has humanized the mission and touched the heart of millions in a way none of the other publicity has done. With all the world’s eyes on the Mars Project, they have become the darlings of reality television, much to their chagrin.

Tristian and Izzy only agreed because the money they would receive could give Izzy opportunities for college and a better life when Tristian was gone. As for Tristian, some of his share would be divided between the needs of the mission and a trust set up on Earth to help others in need. But the mission isn’t all glory and celebration for there are those on Earth who would see it ended before the colonists leave the planet.

NeoLuddite radicals want the mission to Mars scrapped, even if that means killing the colonists. They also strike against Izzy in hopes of grabbing attention and rocking the confidence of the mission. News breaks that China has also been planning a trip to Mars with their own group of colonists. Another concern is who will reach the red planet first and what will that mean for their voyage?

Then someone aboard starts sabotaging life support functions on the ships. Now in deep space the colonists must find the saboteurs before it is too late.  Who are the terrorists among them? Where will they strike next? Will any of the ships and their crew make it to Mars?

This tale of space exploration, mystery, and danger is told through Tristian’s eyes, following his courtship and separation with Izzy, the grueling training, and finally the voyage of no return. A genius in engineering, he can take anything apart and put it back together in record time. At this point, it will take all of his skills, ability with machines, and ingenuity to help make this mission a success and save the people he cares about. Filled with scientific facts and supposition about how a journey like this might become reality, especially if we continue to deplete our limited resources without finding other solutions.

In my opinion, at the heart of Mars One are two strong young teens that grow to love each other, grow apart, and go their separate ways, all while keeping their memories of each other alive. In the end, they use their love to leave something wonderful behind.

Format Available: Book, eBook

Review by Katy, Shawnee Branch

Perception Versus Reality: a review of The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus

Perception versus reality – how often are the two completely unrelated?  Throughout the years, numerous authors, philosophers, poets, and others have attempted to explore this question.  Mr. Henry James, that behemoth in the firmament of American literature, employed, for example, his novels to aid in developing within the reader the ability to move past perception and into reality.

In the words of Betty Suchar at a presentation before the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (Henry James’ “Portrait of a Lady,” 2013):

“James believed that the skill the author possessed in composing the various scenarios played out in the character’s mind had the potential to assist intelligent readers in the complicated challenge of understanding human relationships and in developing their ability to rehearse options in their own mind before making decisions. Since motives are often hidden or misleading, readers could sharpen their ability to interpret human nature only if his novels were ambiguous.”

Now, what has this to do with the debut novel, The Unfortunates authored by Sophie McManus, you may ask, about which this review was to focus?  Well, I believe that Ms. McManus has aptly succeeded in giving the reader characters who, on first meeting, leave a very particular impression.  Cece and her son, George, heirs to a great robber baron fortune, seem cultivated, polished, and self-assured.  But once again, it is what lies beneath, hidden from sight, that is most important, and as the novel progresses, Ms. McManus begins to provide subtle hints that, when upon close inspection, there are actually cracks in the marble and all that glitters is most decidedly not gold.

This strong debut novel draws realistic characters who lead lives of quiet desperation, a desperation that slowly becomes visible as subtle hints become more pronounced when failures and tragedies are no longer avoidable and must then be faced.  And small decisions of the past, seemingly insignificant when taken on their own, rise from that past and merge to create unforeseen disasters.  Or were they foreseeable?  Decisions of her past, in Cece’s parlance, constitute “the unfortunates.”  Ah, the euphemism is such a useful tool in that wonderfully human game of self deception.

“How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.” 

“History isn’t the lies of the victors, as I once glibly assured Old Joe Hunt; I know that now. It’s more the memories of the survivors, most of whom are neither victorious or defeated.”  — Julian Barnes, A Sense of an Ending

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

 

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

 

For all the troublesome women out there…

Danielle Abbott has always been obsessed with the Drowning Pool. An area of her town’s river that has taken numerous women’s lives, including now, her own. Was it an accident? Suicide? Or something more?

Danielle had many enemies and she has left behind an angry teenage daughter who is harboring dark secrets from her best friend’s earlier drowning. Hawkins weaves together the secrets of the town and deaths as each chapter takes the voice of a different character and their viewpoint and involvement. Into the Water had me hypnotized and kept me guessing until the very end and even then I didn’t get it right! Hawkins is quickly becoming a master of psychological suspense.

I felt notes of magical realism peppered throughout the mystery. The way the Drowning Pool pulls you in and swept away so many women’s lives is eerie and otherworldly. Hawkins is particularly adept at capturing the way the past holds on to us and just how deceiving and destructive memories can be.

Just as addicting as Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins has a diehard fan in this librarian.

Review by Heather, St. Matthews

Carousel Books – Part I

In my reading life, there is a selection of choice books that I refer to as my carousel reads.  These are books that I read time and again, with the common thread among them being the wisdom, inspiration, and uplift I believe they have brought to my life.

The other day, and for reasons still unknown to me, my copy of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, which I inherited from my paternal grandmother, called to me from among the scores of other books surrounding it in the bookcase where it rested, saying, “It is time.”  Since I am one who is rarely contrary to talking books, I removed it from its repose and began to read.

But first, a few words about Mr. Gibran. Born in 1883 in Lebanon, Mr. Gibran demonstrated early in his life an innate talent with the arts, which was of such magnitude that he lived the vast majority of his life as an expatriate successfully working as both an artist and writer, the products of which brought him worldwide celebrity.  In fact, an article from the January 7, 2008 issue of The New Yorker said of Mr. Gibran:

“Shakespeare, we are told, is the best-selling poet of all time. Second is Lao-tzu. Third is Kahlil Gibran…” 

Wow.  I would say this statement provides a definite perspective.

As to The Prophet, first published in 1923, it is a brilliant meditation upon life and the conditions in which we humans find ourselves, conditions  not rooted in a particular religious philosophy or nationality; in other words, it is universal.  Ruminating on such subjects as love, work, friendship, and beauty, the reader is provided a lens through which life is examined with a unique perspective, and it is this perspective that I find refreshing and is the reason for my return to its pages.

During this most recent reading, one passage immediately drew my attention:

“Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.  Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love.”

And further, as example:

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”

With countless other profound phrases and erudition, I imagine that The Prophet would make for a strong candidate for the select lists of carousel books of others; thus, joining in a perpetual celebration of the human condition that this lovely book provides.

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

Formats Available:

  • Regular Type
  • Large Type
  • eBook
  • Audiobook on CD
  • Downloadable Audiobook
  • DVD

GodPretty in the Tobacco Fields

The loss of her parents was a tragedy for RubyLyn Bishop. Even worse in her mind, she was shuffled off to live with her Uncle Gunnar in the small rural town of Nameless, Kentucky. For RubyLyn life in Nameless brings changes and challenges from the people who watch and gossip about her.

She must work in the tobacco fields to help support the small farm on which she and her uncle live. Memories of the past and a small scrape of tobacco paper are all RubyLyn has left of happier times with her parents. When her spirits need a bit of a lift, she sometimes folds the scrap of paper into a fun way to tell her fortune, a practice that Uncle Gunnar doesn’t approve.

Surprisingly, RubyLyn finds growing tobacco is something that comes naturally to her. There’s a sense of peace, a solace in working the land and plants, especially when a close neighbor, Rainey Ford, takes an interest. He is easy to talk with and friendly. It isn’t long before she finds herself caring a good deal about him, but there is a problem, he is African-American and she is white. In the 1960’s South, close friendships like theirs were frowned upon and could cause serious problems for them.

Then there is Rose, an older woman and neighbor, who becomes someone that RubyLyn can depend on and talk with when she needs someone. Rose encourages RubyLyn to enter her tobacco plant in the State Fair competition. It may be just the push she needs to realize there is a larger world around her and that she can decide for herself where her future should lie.

Born and raised in central Kentucky, this book drew me in right away. In it, I found an opportunity to spend a short time in the Appalachian area. If you’ve ever wondered what small town life might be like, especially in our turbulent past, this is a book you should take time to sit with. In my opinion, Kim Michele Richardson takes the reader on a journey back in time, using her words to paint pictures of small town life with characters you will come to care about and for whom you can root. It is a realistic portrayal, where life doesn’t always end the way you want it to, where when one road ends another will begin.

Later this year, Ms. Richardson will release a new novel entitled The Sisters of Glass Ferry. For more information about this budding author check out her website.

 

 

Formats Available:  Regular Type, Book Kit

Reviewed by MicahShawnee Branch