Category Archives: Reviews

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

This historical fiction novel by Kenneth Oppel takes place in Canada in the late 1880’s.  The country is young and exploring its boundaries.  The last spike has been driven into two great railway systems, creating a coast to coast system.  Now travelers can journey across the country at record speeds but no train exists that is big enough or strong enough to make the full trip until The Boundless arrives.


The Boundless was a dream of railway manager Mr. Vanhorn.  It pulls over seven miles of train cars including a circus, a gym, a pool, three classes of passengers cars, and much more.  Sadly, it also pulls Mr. Vanhorn’s funeral car as he did not live long enough to see his dream built.  Surrounded by a current of electricity, Mr. Vanhorn’s car will travel the rails forever as part of the Boundless.  But there are many people who would like to get their hands on the treasure that travels along inside the funeral car next to Vanhorn’s body.

Only two people know where the key is to unlock the funeral car, the guard hired to protect it, and James Everett.  Once a poor employee of Mr. Vanhorn, James saved Mr. Vanhorn’s life three years previous and, in gratitude, James was left everything Mr. Vanhorn owned.  James alone knows what and how to get in that car- knowledge that soon endangers his son, William.

William is shy and unsure of himself but full of excitement to be traveling on The Boundless’ maiden trek across the country with his father.  That is until he witnesses the murder of the funeral car guard and quickly becomes the prey himself.  Will, stuck an unplanned adventure, he must out run and outsmart those trying to use him to get to the riches inside the train car.

No one is who they seem and even those trying to help Will stay safe and the speeding train has ulterior motives.  Can anyone be trusted?  Is everyone using him to get inside the funeral car?

The Boundless tells a wonderful story of a young boy trying to find faith in himself and discover who he truly is.  This is a grand adventure full of mysterious creatures and strange magical happenings that no reader should miss.

There is also a book trailer which you can view by clicking here.

Formats Available: Book, eBook, Audiobook

Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Middle school is hard. Add the facts that your twin brother now has a girlfriend and ignores you, your mom is your assistant school principal and knows everything, and oh yeah your dad died of heart disease and you’ll understand why middle school is especially tough for Josh.


Written in verse, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander explores the world of two 14 year old twins who excel at basketball just like their father but find themselves going in opposite directions. They have new emotions and feelings they can’t quite express or understand and aggression they can’t quite control. Full of highs and lows that normal students go through, this book expresses clearly what it feels like to grow up, having the comfort of people near you always to suddenly feeling alone. I often find that books written in verse are especially powerful in the succinct ways words are phrased, this book was exactly that.

The Crossover is part of this year’s Kentucky Bluegrass Award nominations. I highly recommend this title to any upper elementary or middle school student. The KBA book award is a reader choice award. This list of nominations can be found at and is open to any Kentucky student in grades K-12.

Formats Available: Book, eBook, Audiobook

 Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch

A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy

If you are looking for an awesome book series to read with your children (ages 6-10), I suggest the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy.

Starting with the first letter of the alphabet, best friends Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose put their minds together to solve mysteries in their home town of Green Lawn, Connecticut.  There are lots of twists and turns in these books and plenty of excitement for all. Each mystery is separate from the others so that you can read them in order or out of sequence as you choose.

Don’t miss out on the fun!


Ron Roy also has a website dedicated to the series.  You check it out by clicking here.

Formats Available:  Book, Audiobook

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

Hedy’s Folly by Richard Rhodes


Hedy Lamarr is best known today for being a gorgeous movie starlet. However, her most lasting contributions to history may well be her skill as an inventor, rather than her stunning looks on the silver screen. Richard Rhodes draws on a range of historical sources – military and show biz – to detail how Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil developed and patented spread-spectrum radio technology to make radio-directed torpedoes un-jammable – ultimately the seed of today’s digital wireless communications networks, from cell phones to wifi Internet.

Richard Rhodes is best known for winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 with The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Here, he writes well out of his usual history-epic comfort zone, and, in some respects, it shows. This book is terse, and more “dishy” in tone, attempting to emulate a movie industry gossip rag, equal parts frothy biography and dense technological history. Ultimately, whether you will enjoy this book depends on whether you like either or both of these genres, and can tolerate the other.

If you like this:

Publicity photo of Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr in “Let’s Live a Little” (1948)

You better like this with it, too:

USS Wahoo

USS Wahoo SS-238: one of the most successful US submarines of WW II. Lost with all hands in 1943.

If you do like your Hollywood gossip biographies with a hefty helping of technological wartime bureaucratic drama, or the reverse, then this is the ideal book for you.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type and Large Type), e-Book, Audiobook (CD and Downloadable)

Reviewed by Katherine, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch

Guilty Pleasures for the Ears: Downloadable Murder Mysteries

LFPL has recently added 1000 new titles to its Downloadable Audio subscription, One Click Digital.

Here are two recent titles that I have enjoyed:

  • Dan Stephens, a.k.a. Cousin Matthew from Downton Abbey, narrates Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.  Whether you’ve read this story before or not, you’ll enjoy the voices and accents Stephens creates to accessorize the colorful characters in Christie’s plot of a murder on a train isolated in a snowdrift somewhere in the Balkans.


  • Meet Mary Russell, young wife of a retired Sherlock Holmes, whose first person narration is vocalized by Jenny Sterlin in several of Laurie R. King’s novels about this unlikely looking couple whose minds are a match.  In Dreaming Spies, the latest in the series, Russell and Holmes travel to Japan in 1924 and help the Crown Prince of Japan, with the help of a family of samurai, foil blackmailers who hold an ancient Japanese treasure.  Russell’s sharp perspective and the details of Japanese culture create a rich tale that holds the listener’s attention.


Reviewed by Laura, Main Library

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall

“My daddy says that when you do somethin’ to distract you from your worstest fears, it’s like whistlin’ past the graveyard. You know, making a racket to keep the scaredness and the ghosts away. He says that’s how we get by sometimes.” – Starla



Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall is one of those books that changes your heart and gives you a view of America’s south in 1963 through the eyes of a child. The story begins with a child and follows her throughout a life altering journey. Starla is a feisty nine-year old, who states her mind and continually challenges authority. She is being raised by her grandmother and father because her mother has gone to Nashville to become a famous singer. Her grandmother rules with a strict hand and Starla fights back against her rule every chance she is given. Starla quickly decides to flee town to escape her grandmother and to reunite with her mother because she believes that her mother is the only one who loves her. We eventually find out her mother’s true character later on in the story.

Starla is found on the roadside by a black woman that is currently caring for a white baby that she has taken from a church’s front step. Eula and Starla continue on a journey towards Nashville that is briefly halted by Eula’s abusive husband, however they eventually make it to Nashville to find Starla’s mother. This adventure brings Starla face to face with race relations, abuse, and murder.

This book is unique because writers normally do not decide to depict the tension in the American South at that time through the eyes of a child. The only faults that can be found in this book are some of the side stories that the writer introduces. For example, the story of the white baby that Eula has stolen seems to just fizzle out at the end. Overall this book is well written and a page turner to the end. Some readers may even identify with Starla because they also grew up at this time in the South.  For those of us that weren’t alive during those times, this book gives an authentic view of the race relations of the South at that time.

Formats available: Book, Large Print

Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch


The Six by Mark Alpert


In the not too distant future six teens, each with a fatal illness, have transfered their “memories and personalities” to Pioneer robots, eight-hundred pounds of metal and neuromorphic electronic circuitry.  Leaving their human shells behind is only the beginning for these adventurers.  At first, there is pain and anger at losing their human form.  Then, the fear of losing their memories, their humanity, or of simply disappearing.

They must learn to harness the technology, as well as come to grips with the power and strength given their robotic forms.  This second chance at life comes with a very high price as The Six must confront Sigma, a highly developed artificial Intelligence, and stop it.  Sigma has escaped human control and is out to rid the world of what it perceives as its greatest nemesis, humans.

Adam, Jenny, Zia, Shannon, Marshall and DeShawn are the Six.  Adam is a geek, who has spent years writing computer games. Zia has street smarts and is tough as nails. Jenny is a debutante who had everything. Shannon, a classmate of Adam’s, is a wiz at math. Marshall never let his deformity label him. And DeShawn has a wicked sense of humor.  Each distinct personality demonstrates you can still be unique even when housed in identical forms. One of the most difficult tasks for these teens will be learning to work as a team, caring about each other, fighting together, and just plain getting along.

Full of adventure, heartache, and intriguing scientific facts, this tale is a roller coaster ride of emotions as well as a rousing battle for control of the Earth.  The Six face painful losses, death, and decisions many adults couldn’t handle.  And while they don’t come away unscathed, they command respect for who they are and how they handle what life throws at them. The final pages will have you searching the skies, or at least the Internet, for the next installment to hit the streets.

Mark Alpert takes us into our scientific future and asks if can we hang on to our humanity, compassion, knowledge and understanding of others if we no longer hold a physical human form.  Can we handle being given great strength and almost unlimited power to control the world around us?  I had a hard time putting The Six down even though at times I was slowed down a bit by where Mark Alpert was going with his scientific knowledge.

I could hear the teen’s voices clearly in the characters, right down to the misbehavior antics and lack of emotional control at times.  The commander was a stereotypical military leader of the “my way or the highway” mold but fit in with the storyline. There was plenty of high adventure, strife, just a hint of romance, and enough battle action to make me feel like I was watching a World War II movie.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

“This is what happens when you live in dreams, he thought: you dream this and you dream that and you sleep right through your life.”

A review of Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


What propels a person forward in life?  Ambition, goals, dreams?  As people move from childhood to adulthood and through their lives, it seems that many have a clear picture of what they believe their life will or should be in the future, but what if this vision and the reality of their situation never meet.  It is at such a fork in the road of life where one could possibly encounter beautiful ruins, that which is left of a person when ambition, goals, or dreams have faded in to the reality of everyday living.  But even ruins have a certain charm.

In his 2012 book, Beautiful Ruins, Mr. Walter investigates this idea through the lives of rather diverse characters.  The year is 1962, and a dying American actress finds herself in a dying fishing village situated in a mere crack of the Italian coast on the Ligurian Sea.  Fresh from Rome and the production of the epic film Cleopatra, she basks in the obscurity of the village’s one small pension aptly named the Hotel Adequate View.

With a timeline that shifts between 1960s Italy and modern-day Hollywood, a cast of characters is introduced who are all desperately trying to bring to fruition that which they have dreamed as their future.  And from where do these dreams spring forth?  What forces in one’s life are powerful enough to create such dreams?  Of one character, Claire, Mr. Walter writes:

“We want what we want. At home, she works herself into a frenzy worrying about what she isn’t – and perhaps loses track of just where she is.”

 As the novel progresses, the reader becomes intertwined with the various quests being made, ever wondering the final outcome.  In your experience, just how often does illusion become reality?

“But aren’t all great quests folly? There are only two good outcomes for a quest like this, the hope of the serendipitous savant – sail for Asia and stumble on America – and the hope of scarecrows and tin men: that you find out you had the thing you sought all along.”

 Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type and Large Type), eBook, Audiobook (CD), Downloadable Audiobook, Playaway

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

The Diviners by Libba Bray

thedivinersJust finished The Diviners today and it is definitely a compelling story set in an interesting time period – the Roaring Twenties.  And it is about fascinating (though occasionally disgusting) paranormal events. But I hate to say it, the book just isn’t as good as it should be.

The Diviners’ diminished impact stems primarily from stretches where the research was so good that Libba Bray couldn’t resist putting in all of her discoveries. The result is a novel which clocks in at almost 600 pages, a good number of which are non-essential to moving along an otherwise thrilling tale.

There are also odd descriptive elements – such as an anthropomorphic wind – that are convenient for linking scenes but do not really add much to the tale. Granted, it may be that the wind takes on a much more important role in the second book, Lair of Dreams, as varied dark forces rise across the land, but I doubt it.

Yet that’s not to say that this is a bad book, not at all.

In fact, the overall structure of the book is solid and the tale is a complete one but which also leaves room for further adventures of its ensemble cast. Further, Bray always delivers on witty dialogue and surprisingly complex emotional motivations for characters that would be flat and cookie-cutter in the hands of a lesser writer.

Take the emotional center, the vivacious Evie O’Neill, formerly of Zenith, Ohio, who has come to Manhattan to live with her Uncle Will. She is the quintessential teenager coming of age in the Jazz Age, all brashness and go, go, go attitude. Evie could have easily been a shell of a person, much as Daisy Buchanan was in The Great Gatsby, but ends up being much braver and tender-hearted than the flapper persona she works so hard at creating. Through her lens, this tale of ghosts and murders feels like an adventure closer to the action pulps of the day rather than a horror tale of the Lovecraftian persuasion it could have been.

lairofdreamsAlso, there is a good deal of mystery surrounding Evie’s Uncle Will and his connection to Sister Margaret Walker, industrialist Jake Marlowe, and con-man Sam Lloyd through a mysterious Project Daedalus. Just enough about the Project is leaked along the way by another character, Jericho Jones, so that one ends up naturally anticipating the unfolding backstory of these characters. Rarely does a series of this nature (horror bordering on paranormal fantasy) get a reader excited about the next installment unless the original plot is unfinished or there is a heavy romance angle left unresolved.


Bray also has a fun promotional website for this series at NOVL:

Every Day is a New Day

Have you at any time woke up in the morning or during the day wished you could start the day over again and not recall anything?  It may be due to something as simple as the water heater is broken, spilling coffee in your lap on the daily commute, or planning dinner.  What if it were truly possible we could wake up the next morning with our minds cleared of all previous events of the past  day, days, or even years?

This is the obstacle faced by Christine, the protagonist, in S.J. Watson‘s first novel Before I Go to Sleep.  The book opens with Christine waking up in a bedroom.  She is unable to recollect what has happened and unable to determine who is the person sleeping beside her.  Christine is told by the stranger, who turns out to be her husband Ben, that she has was in an accident  and suffers from amnesia.  Each day, she is left not knowing what occurred the previous day.

Afterwards, she sees a cell phone in her small bag and notices a Dr. Nash is calling her.  Christine begins to regain some of her composure through their conversation where it is suggested she keep a diary of what happens each day.  As a result, she will have an artifact to look back on past days in the hopes of recovering from her amnesia.  Christine hopes to figure out what triggers these episodes of not remembering. Essentially, will she be able to live her life with purpose or not?

This novel is the product of Watson’s participation in the first Writing a Novel course at Faber Academy.  It contains drama, action, suspense, and an emotional thrill ride that can be enjoyed by readers from varied backgrounds and interests in genres.  For those who might be interested, Watson’s second novel, Second Life, was recently release and is available at the library.

Formats Available:  Regular Print, Large Type, eBook, Audiobook, Downloadable Audiobook

Reviewed by Micah, Shively Branch