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Staff Picks: Books

I Am Princess X

In fifth grade May and Libby created Princess X together. For years after the two continued the story of the princess in the purple dress and red chucks who wields a katana. That is, until Libby and her mom drive off a bridge on a rainy night. Three years later, lonely May discovers a sticker of Princess X on a shop window. No one could have created it, except for Libby. It seems impossible, but May wonders if her friend might still be alive. 
This clever murder mystery trails May on her quest to find out what exactly happened the night that Libby and her mom died, and to find Libby if she did indeed survive. Fans of webcomics, suspense, and puzzles will love this book! I sure did!


These Girls Pack a Punch!

 Do you need more dinosaurs, time travelers, and girl power in your life? If so, I have two fantastic graphic novels for you.  First up, is Paper Girls, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn, the writer named by Wired Magazine as " the greatest comic book visionary of the last five years." This suspenseful mystery starts with a slow burn as four paper delivery girls head out to cover their route the morning after Halloween in 1988.  After the girls accidentally set off a strange machine, the story kicks off at break-neck speed, and soon the girls are facing off against dinosaurs, laser-blasting knights, and sub-human creatures that might just be from the future. It’s intense, fast-paced, wicked fun, and the series is only just beginning. 

 

Also, make sure to check out the Lumberjanes series by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson. Lumberjanes follows five “hardcore lady types” spending the summer at a crazy camp surrounded by bizarre supernatural mysteries. The girls fight werewolves, solve riddles, and avoid the ever-watchful eye of their group counselor in this manic, off-beat, fantastic read. This series has been out for a while, but you can catch up on Hoopla digital.

Both of these series are a great mash-up of sci-fi, fantasy, action, and mystery with fabulous artwork. So what are you waiting for? 


Another great Sally Spencer mystery!

A young mother is found dead, one of her children is missing. DCI Monika Paniatowski has just returned to work after maternity leave. Her nurturing disposition makes her vulnerable and the plight of the children sends her in directions she wouldn’t normally go.


Thicker than Water is another great mystery by Sally Spencer. Monika has become as likable as Inspector Woodend once was. The story is engaging and suspenseful. I couldn’t put it down. 


Mr. Splitfoot

As I neared the end of Samantha Hunt’s novel Mr. Splitfoot, I became upset to realize that I would soon finish it. I love this book; it encompasses everything that makes a great novel: flesh-and-blood characters, atmosphere, page-turning plot, and—most important to me—a literary tinge with incisive writing. I’m still sad I finished it.

One of the blurbs on the back of Mr. Splitfoot comes from Charlotte Bronte, speaking through a medium: “It’s intriguing because a person will know there’s something two-sided.” Bronte is right; this book is about duality. At the core are the relationships between life and death, mother and daughter, community and isolation, mainstream society and the fringes, earth and space. It’s a dark, gothic novel, a ghost story, set in the backwoods and small towns of New York. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes weird books that are both thrilling and multifaceted.


Tricky Twenty Two

I just finished Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich. If you like an easy read with comedy infused, this series is a good one. Stephanie Plum is a Bounty Hunter, a rather incompetent one, who finds her skip more by luck than skill. She hangs with Lula a retired hooker, who you do not want to call fat (she hates that and will sit on you). Stephanie has two men in her life, Joe Morelli, who she grew up with, and Ranger. Morelli was a “bad boy” growing up and is now a police man. Ranger is Cuban-American and runs a very successful security service. Ranger is mysterious, drop dead gorgeous, can open any lock, and has a fleet of black vehicles. This is especially helpful for Stephanie, as in each and every book her car somehow gets destroyed, usually in a huge fireball.

In Tricky Twenty-Two Morelli tells Stephanie that he is breaking up with her, that he wants to find a different line of work, one that is less stressful. This is odd because being a cop defines Morelli, so what is really going on. Of course Morelli, like so many men, keeps it all to himself and does not communicate with Stephanie. Ranger is a man of few words but he packs in so much meaning. He can say “Babe” and it can mean so many different things. Both men have deep feelings for Stephanie. Ranger is not the marrying type so we all know that eventually Stephanie and Morelli will get hitched. In Tricky Twenty-two we are aghast that Morelli breaks it off with Stephanie and we know that they will get back together and it will probably take the whole book to do it and it does. During a marriage ceremony, there is the lighting of the candle. The soon to be wed each have a candle and they symbolically light a single candle together, signifying that they are now one. Having personally been married 36 years, communication is paramount. If Morelli would have just shared his thoughts and fears with Stephanie as he should then this the book would be a lot shorter.

You should start with book one “One for the Money” although you could read them in any order. I prefer to read them in order and grow with them. It’s kind of a formula read, Grandma Mazur will always be attending funerals, possibly trying to pry open a closed casket to peek inside. These are humorous books, even the funerals are fun events. Grandma and Lula both will be carrying huge caliber guns that they freely fire off and hit everything except what they are aiming for. Lula’s outfits are usually 2 sizes two small and the coloring is blinding at best. Stephanie has a pet named Rex, but you are going to have to read the books to find out what type of pet he is, and when you read the books you will find out where Stephanie hides her gun. Stephanie is described as cute, perky, adorable, short etc. If you turn the book over and look at the picture of Janet Evanovich on the jacket, I think Janet Evanovich is describing herself. Check it out at KPL.


The Crooked House

Something horrible happened to 14-year-old Esme and her family one night in the crooked house that stood alone on the outskirts of her town. It was a trauma that burned so deep that when she left her muddy little hamlet, she changed her name to Alison and never came back. For 13 years, she led an isolated life, enjoying the anonymity that living in London gave her. When she’s invited to a wedding that happens to be in her home town, she reluctantly heads back and finds that the events of that horrible night so long ago might not have been what they seemed.

The Crooked House
is a captivating, atmospheric novel, one that the bridges a gap between mystery and literary fiction. It’s been compared to Daphne Du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, and I would agree that fans of Rebecca would enjoy this suspenseful novel.


Author Henning Mankell

One of my favorite mystery authors is Henning Mankell who penned a great many international best-sellers, and is considered to be one of the leading proponents of the Nordic noir novel. Twenty-six of his books featured the policeman character Kurt Wallander and some took place in both Sweden and Mozambique. My favorites include The Fifth Woman, The White Lioness, Sidetracked and The Troubled Man.

His Wallander character was played on BBC television by Kenneth Branagh. Quite a few of his novels also featured Wallander’s daughter Linda, and explore the issue of racism.

If you haven’t read any of his works, do yourself a favor and check a title or two out from KPL’s Central location. His books are intriguing and you might find yourself totally immersed in his characters, locale, and details. They are that good!

Although he was born in Sweden in 1948, Mankell also spent considerable time in Mozambique.
Sad for all of us who love his work, he died of cancer on Oct 5, 2015 at the age of 67.


Little Black Lies

I admit to not knowing much about the Falkland Islands, the setting for the novel Little Black Lies. But the Falklands are a strong presence in this suspenseful story by S.J. Bolton, and I certainly feel as though I have a stronger sense now of the islands.

In the story, three children have gone missing in this wild and beautiful place, over a period of several years. Most of the islanders feel that accidents claimed the children- perhaps a fall, or swept away by a strong tide. As events unfold and the main characters and motives are revealed, it becomes apparent that certainly not all of the disappearances can be explained away by accidents.

Strong characters, a fast paced story, and a fascinating setting make Little Black Lies a winner. It was recommended to me by a co-worker, who said he feels it’s one of the best books he’s read all year, and I agree.


The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

 This is sort of a fun read for those who may be looking for a bit of a darker read but aren’t really ready for something scary.  The head mistress of a ladies’ finishing school and her brother are poisoned and rather than report the crime to the local police the seven students decide to hide it in an effort to avoid being sent home and separated from each other.  Disgraceful Mary Jane, Sly Kitty, and Stout Alice (each girl has a moniker) haphazardly cobble together a cover up while Pocked Louise sets her sights on finding the killer.  The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is an interesting read for anyone who enjoys murder mysteries with female protagonists.

 


As chimney sweepers come to dust: a Flavia de Luce novel

I was delighted to hear that author Alan Bradley had a new book. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: a Flavia de Luce Novel features twelve year old Flavia’s adventures in Canada in the 1950’s, where she has been sent to boarding school. It is a gloomy and mysterious place, and almost immediately, Flavia discovers a mummified body in the chimney of her room.

If you have not made Flavia’s acquaintance before, she is definitely worth discovering. She has been compared to a cross between Harriet the Spy and Sherlock Holmes, and that is an apt description. If you are new to the series, it’s probably best to begin with The Sweetness at the bottom of the Pie, which is the first of Flavia’s adventures.