Recently in Science Fiction / Fantasy Category

Conspiracy and rebellion...

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are central to Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau, the second book in The Testing trilogy. Cia has finally made it to university. Only the best and brightest will be groomed as future leaders -and the rest get "redirected". The pressure is greater than ever to succeed, and Cia will need all the help she can get -if she can figure out who to trust.

This dystopian series will be a hit with fans of The Hunger Games trilogy and Divergent trilogy.

Jennifer @ Forest Home

St. Patrick's Day Recommendations 2014

Today is St. Patrick's Day, a day that is technically a Christian feast day in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, but has somehow turned into a day where you drink beer with artificial coloring, have strangers kiss you because of your probably dubious 'Irish' heritage, and physically accost those who have committed the foul crime of not wearing the color green.

So in honor of St. Patrick's Day, we present not a list of books about Ireland (there are many), about St. Patrick himself (also more than a few), or even drinking or the cuisine of Ireland. Instead, we present a few specially selected library items that have something to do with a Patrick of varying sorts. It has just as much to do with proper St. Patrick's Day as Chicago's annual war against natural water colors.

First, we present the fictional Patrick (there are many fictional Patricks, but for this list here is the one), Patrick Bateman in Bret Eason Ellis' American Psycho. A disturbing black comedy tale drenched in bloody murder and transgression, with the occasional break to discuss 80's pop music. So it's much like your average St. Patrick's Day party (and also like your average St. Patrick's Day party, this one is not for kids).

Secondly, here are some athlete Patricks, starting with Danica Patrick the great racecar driver. Her book Danica - Crossing the Line has her telling her own story, letting you in on exactly what it took to become the first female driver in Indy 500 history. Then there's basketball great Patrick Ewing, whom we know from his time with the New York Knicks. But did you know he wrote a children's book about painting in 1999?

For the acting Patrick, while the illustrious Patrick Stewart would make an excellent and Shakespearean choice, we shall have to put baldy in a corner and instead highlight his highness, the Saint Patrick of the Cinema, Patrick Swayze. From Point Break, to To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar, to his autobiography The Time of My Life, there's a little something for everything when it comes to Swayze.

nameofthewind.jpgFinally, we humbly offer the author Patrick, Wisconsin's own Patrick Rothfuss. A man born in Madison and raised on Tolkien, McCaffery, and C.S. Lewis, his debut (in-progress) fantasy trilogy The Kingkiller Chronicle has won awards and counts amongst its fans the living legend George R. R. Martin. Not to mention the fact that the main character is a musical ginger-haired gentleman, so he's like the fantasy equivalent of Irish! For those of us who also grew up with our minds in Pern, Middle Earth, or Narnia, Rothfuss manages to contribute meaningfully and excellently to the field of fantasy fiction with his books.

So let's be honest, what's more Irish than this list? Okay, maybe don't answer that question. Remember to enjoy your St. Patrick's Day responsibly, and read more books!

Tim @ Central

Red Rising by Pierce Brown


Red Rising by Pierce Brown follows Darrow and his fellow Reds as they toil in the brutal mines of Mars, enslaved by the cruel Golds who promise their labor will someday make the surface habitable. Hope for a better future keeps the Reds working, but an incredible tragedy reveals Darrow's entire world is a lie. To expose the Golds' treachery, Darrow is thrust into an epic role of espionage. Can he trick the Golds and save his people?

Suggested for fans of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games and William Goldman's The Lord of the Flies, this has a dark and twisted power of its own that will captivate readers and leave them wanting more.

Beth @ East

Redshirts by John Scalzi

redshirts.jpegJohn Scalzi's Hugo-winning book Redshirts is an odd duck, to be certain. As it starts, it seems like an excellent pastiche of the sci-fi phenomena of the 'Red Shirt'. For those not up on their tropes (and haven't gotten themselves trapped reading everything on the site I just linked), the Red Shirt is a character who is introduced solely to die for dramatic effect. In the original Star Trek, it was the plethora of security officers (whose uniform included a red shirt) who went on away missions with Kirk, Spock, and McCoy only to die a horrific death to prove the danger that faced the main characters.

Scalzi's book starts with that concept in a universe that is actually quite closely modeled on Star Trek itself, complete with the seemingly ridiculous high rate of fatalities amongst the lower ranks of the starship the Intrepid. When the characters become aware of this strange and seemingly improbable part of their existence, things start to get even more weird, and even more metatextual.

So here's the thing about Redshirts: if you're not someone really up on your sci-fi tropes, you're not going to have as much fun as someone who knows Star Trek like Montgomery Scott knows the back of his hand (and if you understand that reference, Redshirts is definitely going to appeal to you more than most people). Scalzi takes a lot more clich├ęs, concepts, and the like that have ingrained themselves into our cultural sci-fi subconscious, and he deconstructs them, turns them on their head, smashes them with hammers and then pieces them back together in as funny a way as he can. In a sentence, he lovingly sends up all the dumb things that have become seemingly standard practice in sci-fi, and it's a wonder to read. It gets really weird by the end (and even more bizarre with the three different codas), but as long as you're aware this book will subvert all expectations, you're in for a fun ride. For those up on their sci-fi, definitely check this one out. I even highly recommend the audiobook version, read by Star Trek alumnus Wil Wheaton, as it has excellent comedic timing and makes for a great listen.

The Time Machine by H G Wells


It's difficult to pick my favorite H.G. Wells story. The Invisible Man? The War of the Worlds? Or maybe The Island of Dr. Moreau! These are all sci-fi stalwarts for sure, but after re-reading The Time Machine, I guess it's my favorite hands down. The Time Machine packs a lot of science fiction wallop for being published in 1895. From freaky crab-monsters inhabiting the beaches of Earth's future to sinister Morlocks dining on what's left of the Human Race, The Time Machine accomplishes much more than creating a timeless science fiction story---it outlines English class struggles and the evils of Victorian life through futuristic parables.

A sci-fi classic in every right, The Time Machine does much more than bend time--it bends the fabric of humanity and opens possibilities into the unfathomable decline of Mother Earth.

Dan @ Washington Park

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

lifeaswe.jpgWhat would it take to end life as we know it? Would it require all-out nuclear war? Virulent viruses that cause zombies to walk the earth? Alien invaders from far-off spiral arms of the galaxy? Or maybe something a little more close to earth: the Moon. How exactly can the Moon bring about the end of civilization, you ask? Well it turns out that Susan Beth Pfeffer has explored exactly that idea in her excellent novel Life as We Knew It.

Life as We Knew It is told in the manner of a diary, written by a sixteen year old girl named Miranda living in Pennsylvania. It begins like any other young adult novel, with a teenager girl and her problems with friends, family, school, and her hopes and dreams for the future. Yet something different is happening, not that Miranda pays too much attention. A meteor is going to hit the Moon, so big that it will be visible on the Earth. Miranda isn't too excited for the event, indeed she complains because all of her teachers are giving her extra homework based around the event.

Then, when the event occurs, everything changes. The moon's orbit shifts, ending up closer to the Earth. This, however, proves almost as disastrous as if it crashed into the Earth itself. Weather patterns change, tides surging, terrible floods, typhoons and tornadoes and tempests raging across the world. Panic ensues, but Miranda is very lucky that her mother is not only level-headed but resourceful. Miranda's family stocks up on food and other supplies, trying to prepare for what comes next. But there was no way any of them could be prepared for what comes next.

Life as We Knew It is a tremendous, gripping book about the struggle to survive in circumstances that are simultaneously apocalyptic and realistic. Pfeffer writes Miranda as utterly human, vulnerability tempered by a growing strength in the face of horrific circumstances. Once you pick this book up, you'll find it very hard to put down. You'll turn each page, following Miranda and her family utterly absorbed. Definitely check this book out as soon as possible, as you'll never know when life as we know it might end.


Hear about the best books 2013 has to offer. Suggestions made by librarians Tom Olson and Jacki Potratz will make holiday gift-giving a breeze. This is your chance to ask questions before you buy. Many genres, as well as children's and young adult recommendations, will be presented. All books on display will be available for checkout. Preview the titles on our Give Books! 2013 Pinterest board.

Jacki @ Central




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