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Science Fiction / Fantasy Archives

November 27, 2013

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.

November 14, 2013

Do you get excited when you open a new book? Us too! So, give books!

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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

October 25, 2013

Sci-Fi @ Fantasy Fridays

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As the days get shorter with the approaching winter, have you ever thought what would happen if the days started getting longer, even longer than the 24 hour cycle? That's what is happening in The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. As the earth's rotation starts to slow, the country is forced to decide how to cope - there are those, in the majority, who continue to live days in 24 hour increments and those who mark the length of days by sun up and sun down. Teenage Julia copes with these changes, along with her family reactions, the change to the environment, her first love and how people who don't follow the "rules" are treated differently. This is a beautifully written coming of age tale that will resonate with readers. To see a previous review of Age of Miracles, click here.

Meredith @ Central

October 4, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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Yovanoff's atmospheric novel, The Space Between, is about Daphne's quest to find her brother Obie who travels routinely between Hell and Earth, to save lost souls. Hell is the natural habitat of Daphne and Obie, who are half demon - half angel children of Lillith and Lucifer. Other mythic personalities from Apocryphal literature such as Azrael, Moloch and Beelzebub are also characters in this story, which is set in a timeless city of Pandemonium, and present day Cicero, Illinois. While Daphne is on earth she finds Obie's odd, endearing half human daughter, Ramie, in a cardboard box in a closet. She then falls in love with a sad, suicidal human boy, named Truman. Fans of the movie Constantine will find this strangely beautiful, well written novel most engaging.

Deb @ Bay View

September 27, 2013

Banned Book Week: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Friday

handmaidstale.jpegI can hardly believe The Handmaid's Tale, the 1985 Sci-Fi masterpiece, is only Margaret Atwood's fifth novel. And I can hardly talk about the book without getting overly excited, because it is one of my very favorite books by my very favorite author. When I finished reading it, I felt so energized by the subject, the themes, and the language. I kept thinking about it, turning it over in my mind, combing through the details, and letting it sink in.

It takes place in the dystopian, distant-ish future in the Republic of Gilead, ambiguously located somewhere within the former United States. The society is a theocratic military dictatorship initially founded by a radical pseudo-Christian cult via a terrorist coup d'état. Some unnamed kind of environmental, social, and physical degradation presumably motivated the overthrow. Whatever happened left most of the women infertile and most of the newborn babies deformed. The job of having children falls to Handmaids, women conscripted into domestic servitude and used solely for their reproductive capacity. The idea of Handmaids is loosely based on the biblical story of Jacob impregnating his wife's handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah. They distort that idea and use it idea to justify sexual slavery; they're trying to repopulate after all.

The main character (and first-person narrator of the book) is a handmaid named Offred - signifying that she is the handmaid Of Fred. The narrative flashes from the bleak present to her past. She remembers these totalitarian ideas taking hold and her world changing, slowly at first and then at a break-neck pace. In her past she was married to a man named Luke and had a daughter. They were all separated, and the extremely remote possibility of being reunited with either keeps her going. All Handmaids do on a daily basis is the grocery shopping, which seems dull except that all the while she has an intense inner world where she tries to preserve parts of her identity that are gradually being worn away. She has endless, uneventful days which she tries not to fill with painful memories of a world where things made sense.

This book is so rich with imagery and ideas that I could not possibly take it all in on one reading. It was banned in North Carolina for being "sexually explicit, violently graphic and morally corrupt" - hardly things we're unfamiliar with in our world today. Margaret Atwood is very careful to incorporate only things that either had happened in different contexts already or things that were in the realm of possibility. She takes ideas and historical events and pushes them to a very extreme conclusion. That idea gives you a novel that at times seems fanciful, until you really think about it and there are distinct historical precedents. This book forces you to look at the world and see what it could become of the straits were dire enough.

Allie @ Central

September 6, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays-Hugo Awards

The Hugo Award and John W. Campbell Award winners were announced over the weekend at LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention.

The John W. Campbell Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2011 or 2012, sponsored by Dell Magazines, went to Mur Lafferty.

For a complete list of Hugo winners, click here:

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Best Novel: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi

Best Novelette: The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan

Best Graphic Story: Saga, Volume 1 written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples

Jacki @ Central

September 13, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy by Carrie Ryan brings to life a world set decades after a catastrophic zombie infestation has left survivors throughout the world isolated and struggling to survive. The last remnants of civilization collapse as huge zombie hordes threaten to overrun the last remaining cities and outposts.

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Forest of Hands and Teeth
Teenager Mary struggles against the constraints of her village. The Sisterhood has always protected her people since the Return. The Sisterhood claims that the village is all that remains, but Mary can't help but wonder if there is a world beyond her village. When the fences that protect her village from the Unconsecrated are breached, Mary is forced to seek her answers in the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

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The Dead Tossed Waves
Gabry enjoys her uneventful life in a seaside town until a teenage prank spirals out of control. In the course of one night, Gabry finds her quiet life irrevocably gone, her friends dead and her mother missing. Gabry must flee into the forest she has feared her whole life to escape.

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The Dark and Hollow Places
Annah and her brother, Elias have always found a way to survive together in the Dark City until the day Elias leaves for the recruiters and Annah is left behind. Annah, a tough and daring protagonist, manages to survive from day to day but desires more from life than just getting by.

Laura @ Central

October 7, 2013

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: Arkham House

Arkham House Bk 1.jpgThe Milwaukee Public Library has extensive holdings from Wisconsin's own Arkham House publishing in the Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room. August Derleth, a highly prolific Wisconsin author of mystery, science fiction, literary fiction and poetry, founded Arkham House in 1939 with fellow author Donald Wandrei. Arkham House was created in Sauk City shortly after H.P. Lovecraft's death in 1937, in the hopes that it could preserve the many unpublished works of Lovecraft through publication. The press became known for its mixture of weird fiction, horror, and fantasy by various authors as well as the high quality of printing and binding. Some authors with titles published in Arkham House are August Derleth himself, Stephen King, and Ray Bradbury. Though not a financial success during Derleth's lifetime, the numerous volumes from Arkham House are now highly sought after by bibliophiles, and science fiction and horror enthusiasts alike. Most print runs were limited to just a few thousand copies which made for a scarcity that heightens the value and collectability of these titles. The library owns a wide selection of Arkham House titles with publication dates spanning from 1939 to 2006. You can request a viewing of one of these 170 items from Arkham House in MPL's Rarities collection by speaking with a librarian at the Art, Music, and Recreation reference desk. To speak with an Art librarian, call (414) 286-3071.

August 9, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

loveminus80.jpegAfter a devastating break-up, broadcast publicly for hundreds to view online, Rob does what so many would do - he goes and has a few drinks to drown his sorrows. Then, in perhaps not the clearest of mind, he drives home and things go from bad to worse as he hits a jogger with his vehicle, killing her nearly instantly.

But in this not-so-far-off future, there is a glimmer of hope (or at least something more sinister, masquerading as hope). The woman, Winter, is placed in a cryogenic freezer and put in a "dating center" where women literally await a second chance at life if a multimillionaire agrees to marry them and pay the extremely high cost of their medical resurrections. Driven by his grief to pay the exorbitant price to go on a five-minute 'date' with Winter in order to apologize, Rob finds himself dedicating his life to scraping together the money to continue to awaken Winter for these brief periods where she gets to be alive again (even if he could never possibly hope to afford her more permanent resuscitation).

This is the start of Will McIntosh's Love Minus Eighty, a story that may be predicated on fantastical technology but resonates with very real and very true human emotion. Exploring love in a digital, always-connected yet-always-disconnecting age, McIntosh also deftly weaves in the politics of power in relationships romantic, familial, and friendly, as well as strong themes about the roles society forces upon women. This book is highly recommended to anyone who likes their sci-fi with a strong heart and a keen observing eye. Check it out from your local library today, or maybe one of McIntosh's earlier works!

Tim @ Central

August 2, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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Come one, come all! The Carniepunk Midway promises you every thrill and chill a traveling carnival can provide. But fear not! Urban fantasy's biggest stars are here to guide you through Carniepunk, this strange and dangerous world...




Cold Girl by Rachel Caine (author of the Morganville Vampires series, and the Weather Warden series, among others) is about a teenage girl who becomes a victim when her first love betrays her and she has to decide whether or not to get revenge. The result is sad, disturbing and intense.

Naturally, there has to be a creepy clown and Jennifer Estep's (author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series) Parlor Tricks does the job. Gin Blanco, also known as the Spider, tries to find a link between an Air Elemental who is the star of a knife-throwing act and a missing girl.

Allison Pang, in A Duet with Darkness, introduces an overconfident young fiddler who borrows an enchanted instrument, by pawning her soul. The music she performs at a carnival show is capable of attracting the Other Folk.

The destiny of a sociopath who is stalking young carnies is exposed in Rob Thurman's (author of the supernatural thriller All Seeing Eye, the Trickster Novels, and much more) Painted Love.

The combination of fantasy and horror elements means readers of several genre tastes will find stories to their liking and anyone who's ever been haunted by their reflection in a funhouse mirror will be creepily satisfied.

Jacki @ Central


July 23, 2013

Whatcha Readin' @ Capitol & Mill Road

Ever wonder what the library staff are reading? Here's a snapshot of what's currently being read by workers at the Capitol and Mill Road branches:

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Lynn is reading The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau and Flat Water Tuesday by Ron Irwin

Enid is reading Her: A Memoir by Christa Parravani and is listening to Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Deidre is reading Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick


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Casey is reading The Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today edited by Judi Kingry & Lauren Devine, Tarnished and Torn by Juliet Blackwell and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

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Liz is reading Soulless by Gail Carriger

Kim is reading All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

Carl is reading You: A Novel by Austin Grossman

Brandis is reading The Frugal Woman's Guide to a Rich Life edited by Stacia Ragolia

Watch for future lists of what the staff at the branch locations are reading!

July 26, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

vn.jpgAmy's entire life changes at her kindergarten graduation. Her erstwhile absentee grandmother gatecrashes the ceremony, wreaking havoc and violence. When the safety of Amy's mother is then threatened, young Amy does the only thing she can think to do; she vomits acid all over her grandmother and devours the remains whole.

Even with the caveat that both Amy and her grandmother are robots, it's a pretty crazy way to start a book, and the craziness doesn't die down there. What unfolds in Madeline Ashby's vN is a bizarre tale of a robot on the run from a government that would turn her into scrap metal because of her one little flaw: as opposed to all other robots, Amy can hurt humans without her robo-brain shutting down. Joined in her journey by a sarcastic fellow robot Javier and his baby bot Junior, Amy finds herself travelling all across the country both in search of peace, and answers to the question about why she's so different from the other robots.

This is pulp sci-fi with a heavy dose of anime influences, so if you like books with robot cannibalism, pregnant mechanical men, and plots where at every turn the characters end up going from the frying pan right into the fire, you'll definitely find something to like in vN. While not quite to the level of excellence as the Asimov and Philip K. Dick classics that Ashby pays homage to, the book is a fun little adrenaline romp.

Tim @ Central

July 19, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a small book, but only in terms of the number of pages. Told largely through the voice of a child, the story that Neil Gaiman packs into his first novel for adults since the publication of Anansi Boys in 2005 is complex, but not difficult. It is magical, terrifying, nostalgic, and heartbreaking all at once. The main character (never named) is first introduced to us as a middle-aged man returning to his childhood home for a funeral. When he finds himself driving to the Hempstock farmhouse at the end of his street, memories of his seventh summer come flooding back - the summer he met Lettie Hempstock, an unusual girl utterly convinced that her backyard pond was an ocean.

The narrator is a seven-year-old boy growing up in England in the 1960s. His family has fallen on difficult times, and his parents decide that in order to help make ends meet, they must rent out the boy's bedroom to a series of boarders, and he will have to move into his older sister's bedroom. One particular boarder commits suicide in the family's stolen car, which sets in motion a chain of magical and terrible events which change the lives of everyone involved forever.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a fairy tale written for adults, complete with magic and monsters. It could only have been written by Neil Gaiman, and is definitely worth an 8-year wait.

Jessie @ Villard Square

July 12, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw is an intimate and domestic story about one family's struggles to find happiness and security, featuring job troubles, disputes between in-laws, and a few sweet romances. It has been compared to the Victorian novels of Anthony Trollope.

It is, at the same time, a story about cannibalistic dragons.

Tooth and Claw takes place in Tiamath, a country ruled by dragons whose status is determined by their size, strength, and firepower. That's for male dragons, of course: female dragons, in addition to being without fire and fighting claws, must take care not to come close enough to a male to "blush," which will of course ruin a female's prospects for marriage to any other dragon. Nonetheless the dragon heroines of Tooth and Claw, from motherly Berend to the ruined, mysterious Sebeth find a way to make their mark in the midst of the males' battles for power--whether fought with teeth or in courts of law. The main dispute throughout the story arises when the elderly noble dragon Bon dies, leaving his gold to his children, along with his body for them to eat, for it is in eating dragon-flesh that dragons can attain great size and power. Of course a dispute arises about just how much of their father's body each child was entitled to, and disputes ensue which force all five siblings to take sides, despite the very real danger of being eaten by an irate brother-in-law if the case goes against them!

This story of one family's troubles gives the reader a glimpse at a fascinating alien world full of dragons, treasure, frilly hats, and the little-seen monsters known as the Yarge.

Mary Lou @ Central

June 28, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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Iron Kin is the third novel of The Half-Light City Series and tensions are rising. The city is divided with Fae and human mages on one side, vampire Blood Lords and shape-shifting Beast Kind on the other. The City is on the brink of destruction as the potential for war grows increasingly imminent. Various schemes threaten the successful renegotiation of the peace treaty between four supernatural factions. The fate of the City may hinge upon two unlikely heroes - Saskia, a young metal mage, eager to prove her worth and Fen, a wildly unpredictable Fae.

Carl @ Mill Road

June 21, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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In Ghost Spin by Chris Moriarty, The Age of Man is ending. A stand alone, but set in the same interstellar empire as her previous two books, Spin Control and Spin State, this is a captivating story of artificial intelligence. Humanity's only hope for survival is to find the Drift, a mysterious region of space that may enable survival, but mankind will have to fight the clone-dominated Syndicates for control of it.

Cohen, a 400-year-old AI kills himself and scatters copies, or ghosts of himself into the void of space and time. Some of his ghosts are still self-aware. Some are insane. And one of them hides a secret worth killing for. Now Catherine Li, his human wife, must do the same. Her copies wake up all over, each hoping to reunite with the consciousness that consumed her life until his death.

Character driven with plot twists galore, this drama inspects mankind's potential through an investigation of our society's ethics.

Jacki @ Central

June 7, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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A time traveling serial killer taking directions from a house, is, in a nutshell, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. Harper Curtis, a drifter in Depression-era Chicago, is down on his luck and has a bent for violence. In 1931 he kills an old woman and steals her coat for its warmth. Inside one of the pockets he finds an old key to a special house. There's a room in the house that's filled with mementos that seem familiar to him and there are names written on the wall in his handwriting. The house lets him time travel (the room is a portal) and uses him to kill certain special girls--Shining Girls.

Kirby Mazrachi is one of the Shining Girls; Harper first visits her in June 1974 when she is 6 1/2 years old. He gives her an orange plastic pony and tells her, "I'll see you when you're all grown up." In 1987, he delivers on his promise, but she survives the brutal attack. Working as an intern for the Chicago Sun-Times, she has an opportunity to learn more about Harper. Through old newspaper files, she finds out about attacks similar to her own and the weird mementos left by the bodies of those who've died through the decades. She suspects Harper, but because of the timeline (the deaths occur from 1931 through the early 1990s) she has difficulty getting others to believe her. Harper eventually learns that she is still alive and so naturally, they must meet again...

Jacki @ Central

June 14, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

For thirty years, Terry Pratchett has been writing books about a massive motley menagerie of characters in his Discworld fantasy series. Filled with humor, magic, wit, and adventure, there's a little something for everyone. With thirty-nine books in the series so far, it can be a little daunting to find a place to jump in, so we'll point to a couple of good books for where to start your Discworld experience.

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If you like crime solving, gruff but lovable policemen, and malicious secret societies, why not start with Guards! Guards! This is the first book about the lovable group of misfits known as the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, and their misadventures in attempting to save their city from a deadly dragon.


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If you like witches, Shakespeare, and murder most foul, there's Wyrd Sisters. This is the first of the books about a group of three witches: the cantankerous Granny Weatherwax, the jovial Nanny Ogg, and the naïve young Magrat Garlick. The witches then have to deal with ghostly kings, traveling acting troupes, treacherous usurpers of the throne and more, and that's just in their first outing.


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If you like con artists, stamps, and stories of love and redemption, there's Going Postal. This story begins with Moist Von Lipwig, a skilled con artist, finally caught by the law. He's given a choice, he can either face certain death or become the new head of the Ankh-Morpork Postal Service. From there unfolds a story of a man who quite accidentally manages to rebuild the entire dilapidated service, invent the postage stamp, and even fall in love.


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Finally for the young adult readers, there's the Tiffany Aching series of books, starting with The Wee Free Men. Tiffany Aching is a young apprentice witch who ends up on rather dangerous adventures which she manages to triumph over as she grows and matures, with a helping hand from a group of six-inch tall angry blue pixie-like creatures known as the Nac Mac Feegle.

Tim @ Central

May 31, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

Recently the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America presented their annual Nebula Awards, honoring the best of 2012's efforts in genre fiction across a variety of categories. Here are a few highlighted winners that you can check out from your local library branch!

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2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson is this year's winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel. In a future where humanity has spread out across the entire solar system, artist Swan Er Hong struggles to cope with the death of her grandmother when her world is thrown further into chaos as she gets caught up in a conspiracy that spreads across multiple planets. Epic in scale and length, this is an intricately detailed and well realized space opera.

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After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress is the winner of this year's Nebula Award for Best Novella. A post-apocalyptic tale embroiled with a criss-crossing time travel narrative involving kidnappings and aliens, Kress manages to elegantly make a complicated tale easy to read.



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Finally there is Fair Coin by E. C. Myers , winner of this year's Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Sixteen year old Ephraim gets hold of a strange coin, supposedly taken from a dead body that looks just like him. Soon he finds out that the coin can grant wishes, but not without a cost and those costs quickly begin to mount up.


For a full list of nominees and award winners, click here!

Tim @ Central

May 17, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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NOS4A2 by Joe Hill is an epic novel spanning three decades that horror fans will enjoy because of its unsettling imagery and omnipresent dread.

Ever since Victoria McQueen helped police apprehend serial child abductor Charles Talent Manx, she can't keep out of trouble's way. Manx is in a coma and Vic is receiving phone calls from his victims. His dead victims.

The kids were never found; when they call, they tell Vic that they're not dead, they're thriving in a place called Christmasland. No matter how hard she tries, she can't forget the boy she found in the back seat of Manx's Rolls-Royce Wraith--a disturbing creature that looked like a vampire, with hooks for teeth.

So, that might sound creepy to you, but what really got me was Bing, the Gasmask Man, Manx's assistant. He's charged with trapping the mother's of Manx's victims; reading about the House of Sleep and Bing gassing his victims into submission nearly put me over the edge.

Jacki @ Central

May 9, 2013

Whatcha Readin'@Central Library

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Ever wonder what the library staff are reading? Here's a snapshot of what's currently being read by workers at Central:

Laura P is reading The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge

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Hilary E is reading Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton

Christine O is reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

John S is reading Deity, Mantra, and Wisdom: Development Stage Meditation in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra by Jigme Lingpa, Patrul Rinpoche, and Getse Mahapandita

Allie S is reading Visa for Avalon by Bryher

Leslie F is reading An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon and listening to The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

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Gail B is reading Disturbance by Jan Burke

Tom O is reading Dear Life: Stories by Alice Munro

Tom F is reading I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp: An Autobiography by Richard Hell

Mary M is reading Amazing Things Will Happen: A Real-World Guide on Achieving Success and Happiness by C.C. Chapman

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Victoria S is reading The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price by Lynn O'Shaughnessy

Kelly K is reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Manuel C is reading Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells

Jim B is reading The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Joanne B is reading Gone to Soldiers by Marge Piercy

Emily K is reading Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West by Stephen E. Ambrose

Pam H is reading Dance of the Gods by Nora Roberts

Roxanne S is reading The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Chris M is reading Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (a forthcoming title, July 2013)

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Kathy B is reading Anjum's Eat Right for Your Body Type: The Super-Healthy Detox Diet Inspired by Ayurveda by Anjum Anand

Watch for future lists of what the staff at the branch locations are reading!

May 10, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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The Rain Wilds Chronicles by Robin Hobb follows a group of dragons and the humans that keep them. The dragons are nearly extinct, but the humans work to defeat disease, adversity, mother nature, poachers and the government to keep the species going. The first three books, Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven and City of Dragons cultivate the characters and build suspense. And although Blood of Dragons is the final book in the series, it reads quickly, with plenty of back-story details to bring readers up to speed, so it can even be read as a standalone. Fantasy fans will also find the story finishes well...loose ends are neatly tied up and closure for all major characters is included.

Jacki @ Central


May 3, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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I know Walter Mosley for his Easy Rawlins mysteries, but the Crosstown to Oblivion series has also piqued my interest. Mr. Mosley describes the series, saying, "a black man destroys the world." Stepping Stones; The Love Machine is the third and final pair of short novels, following Merge; Desciple and Gift of Fire; On the Head of a Pin.

Why two novels in one volume? Well, you can choose either story to start with, and once you've finished, flip the book over and start again. Love Machine follows Lois Kim and Dr. Marchant Lewis. Dr. Lewis has developed a way to share consciousness with other living beings, animal and human. Stepping Stone introduces us to mailroom manager Truman Pope, who is essentially a loser, but also crucial to humanity's future.

While Stepping Stone was my favorite of the two, they are both shrewd stories that bring the characters to life and reveal the hidden desires and fears of what it means to be human.

Jacki @ Central


April 26, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

zendegi.jpgZendegi starts slow and simply, detailing the preparations of Martin Seymour, an Australian reporter, who is about to fly to Iran to cover a parliamentary election. Yet instead of simply covering an election, a scandal befalls an Iranian politician and world-changing events begin to unfold all around Martin. Simultaneously, Iranian expat Nasim Golestani finds herself torn from her work mapping the brains of birds to watch the uprising in her home country. After a jump forward of some fifteen years, the two characters find themselves intertwined in a story involving a virtual reality video game, artificial intelligence, and the realities of mortality.

Greg Egan's book isn't very action-packed, even in the sequences covering the political upheaval. Instead, Egan concentrates on the ideas of mortality and immortality, legacy, tradition, and fear of the new. Ultimately the book succeeds in telling the very moving story of Martin Seymour, the crux being on one man's efforts to make sure he can raise his son even when his life is threatened. We see reflections of this same desire in many of the characters, while Nasim's part of the story tells us much about the implications of trying for a sort of electronic immortality. While not a book for those more in favor of Egan's previous books that are based more on hard science fiction, Zendegi is an excellent little mental exercise with strong characterization of its leads and their all too relatable fears and desires in a near future that seems quite plausible.

Tim @ Central

April 19, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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Guy Gavriel Kay's River of Stars takes place in a fantasy version of the medieval China's Song Dynasty. The two main characters, Lin Shan and Lu Chen are based on poets, Li Quingzhao and Su Shi. As a result, poetry from the period is beautifully interspersed throughout the narrative. Art, politics and the escaping of fate is all part of the adventure and Kay pulls in readers with the way he describes the obsessions of his characters--their romantic pursuits, alliances and everyday affairs that can make or devastate a life.

Jacki @ Central

April 12, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

shardsofhonor.jpgWhile we here at the Read@MPL try to keep our recommendations to mostly more recent works to keep you all abreast of the latest and greatest additions to the library collection, sometimes we find an older title that's just so good you have to recommend it. In this case, this humble reader recently took the plunge into reading Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold, the first novel in the author's Vorkosigan Saga. The series is epic, spanning novels and short stories, nominated for tons of awards and even winning four separate Hugos. While jumping in at the beginning of such a long series is daunting, let's just describe the set-up of this wonderful book.

Shards of Honor starts with a survey team from Beta Colony, a science-minded democratic and socialistic society. They are quickly put under attack by a ship from Barrayar, a militaristic planet that relies heavily on order and tradition. This leaves our protagonist, Captain Cordelia Naismith, stranded on a strange planet with a wounded crewmate, and worst of all captured by a Barrayaran who was also left behind by his crew: Captain Lord Aral Vorkosigan. These two people from different cultures are thrust together in a struggle to survive, forming a bond that will be tested repeatedly through intergalactic intrigue, war, and more. Bujold creates Space Opera at its very finest, its quality and brilliance holding up spectacularly over the almost thirty years since its original publication. Shards of Honor is definitely worth a read or even two, and then there's the rest of the series to get to. This book comes with a very enthusiastic recommendation from this humble librarian.

Tim @ Central

April 5, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

bestofallpossible.jpegWhen the home planet of the proud and aloof Sadiri is destroyed, the scattered survivors take to founding a new home on a planet where splinter groups of their race had gone many years ago. A group forms to investigate these former Sadiri groups, led by the cool and collected Dllenakh. Accompanying this group is a few human scientists, including Grace Delarua, the narrator for much of the book. Through Grace, we see not only the wildly different societies of all these formerly Sadiri civilizations, but also the ongoing changes amongst the Sadiri as they adapt to their new roles (Dllenakh especially), and eventually her own changes brought on by such close contact with the Sadiri.

This is the story at the heart of The Best of All Possible Worlds, the second novel of Carribean author Karen Lord. Through this framework, she explores themes of self-discovery, love, race, and identity. Though some themes are handled more subtly than others, Lord creates a very compelling story of social science fiction amidst the rather straightforward and episodic plot. The characters and the varied cultures are fully realized, making the book quite the enjoyable page turner. For those who like their science fiction more focused on character and societal exploration than matters of technology or other hard science, this is a must-read.

Tim @ Central

March 29, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

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Wool: Omnibus by Hugh Howey was first published as five novella length e-books written while he was working at a bookstore in North Carolina. The story begins with a sadness that ripples through every word. Set far into the future, humans live underground in a huge silo. There is a rigid structure to the hierarchy of society within, supposedly for their own good, to prolong survival. But it leads to dissent as some are curious about what they glimpse through pixelated screens showing what's outside, and they will risk anything to explore.

Full of action and suspense, the characters are well developed and the story grips you from start to finish.

Jacki @ Central

March 22, 2013

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

boywhocouldnt.jpgDarren, the main character of DC Pierson's The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To, is your typical isolated teen with a creative drive. He draws in the margins of all his homework, imagining an entire series of movies and tie-in novels with fantastical characters. When fellow loner and classmate Eric unexpectedly befriends him, Darren finds far more than he ever bargained for. For you see, Eric can't sleep and he's never had to.

From there unfolds a story that is equal parts fantastical and mundane, as Pierson relies on more than a few stereotypical aspects of high school coming-of-age tales to drive the plot of his debut novel. Teenage love and best friend betrayal both play their roles before the exciting and fantastical final act. While the ultimate conclusion feels a little bit weak, there's fun to be had in this quick and easy read.

Tim @ Central

March 15, 2013

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fridays

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Firebrand by Gillian Philip

Firebrand, the fascinating first book in the Rebel Angels series will please many fantasy readers. A young, half-feral faery named Seth MacGregor struggles with the dangers of 16th-century Scotland. His mother has shunned him so he lives with his father's clan; even there, he's treated with indifference which allows his anger and resentment to grow. Eventually his half-brother, Conal, takes him under his wing and the clan starts to look at Seth differently.

A magical barrier called the Veil separates the world of full mortals from the Sithe (as the faeries are known). It is a grave punishment to be exiled to the other side of the Veil and Seth and Conal's fate is just that. They try to live among the mortals peacefully, but the two supernatural beings don't blend in well and have a rough time with 16th-century witch hunters.

Jacki @ Central

March 1, 2013

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fridays

deathless.jpgDeathless by Catherynne Valente

Marya Morevna has seen her sisters married off one by one, to men who are secretly birds. When her own bird finally comes, he is not a bird at all, but the Tsar of Life Koschei the Deathless. Carried off into a world of house spirits forming committees, rifle imps, and magical firebirds, we see Marya grow first through adventure, but then through the harshness of bitter war and the aches of bittersweet love.

Catherynne Valente's Deathless is ambitious, taking a classic Russian folk tale and intertwining it with the history of its native land through political upheaval and war. Thankfully this ambition works, crafting a story with lush language and magical magnificence that contrasts starkly and poignantly with the harsh realities of Leningrad during WWII. Valente utilizes the fantastical elements and the grim backdrop to say some very meaningful things about love, life, and death. While interested readers will want to brush up on their Russian folklore before reading, these same readers will find their extra effort very rewarding.

And if you finish the book by March 11th, you can stop by Boswell Books and discuss it with the store's fine Sci-Fi Book Club at 7 pm that night!

Tim @ Central

* * * * *

A beautiful and multi-layered retelling of the Russian folktale of Koschei the Deathless, set during the Communist Revolution and WWII; with mythological figures reflecting the politics and struggles of that period. Clever and precocious Marya Morevna captures the heart of Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and is seduced away into his world of magic, as well as his war against his brother, the Tsar of Death. As she explores what it means to be Koschei's bride, Marya encounters such varied creatures as collectivised house gnomes, Party Chairman Baba Yaga, living buildings, shape shifting birds, imps made of rifles, firebirds and a dragon who hoards the paperwork of death orders. But the real world and the magical one begin to collide as Marya's heart becomes torn between the wondrous Koschei and Ivan, an innocent soldier, during the siege of Leningrad. Check catalog for availability.

Clark @ Washington Park, May 17 2011

March 8, 2013

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fridays

workingtheoryoflove.jpgThere's a subtle brilliance in the pages of Scott Hutchins' debut novel A Working Theory of Love. With such a title you'd worry that the book is overambitious, seeking to explain the grandest of all human emotions in its three-hundred some pages. Thankfully, Hutchins avoids any simple answers or universal truths but instead explores the emotional journey of one man, thirty-something Neill Bassett Junior. The arc of the book is plotted through Neill's relationships, romantic and familial.

Neill is in many ways an emotional failure, already a divorcee and unable to truly connect with anyone. He struggles to understand why his dead father was so distant, which becomes central to the book as he works every day with a computer programmed with years of his father's journals, effectively recreating his father's memories in an attempt to create artificial intelligence. This distance is something that Neill himself reflects in his relationships with women, but thankfully he starts to grow and change in a very real and organic way through the course of the book. A sort of 'coming-of-maturity' tale as opposed to simply coming-of-age, A Working Theory of Love mixes the melancholy with a smart sense of humor, creating a very human story intermingled with just a tinge of sci-fi.

Tim @ Central

February 15, 2013

Science Fiction & Fantasy Fridays

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Set in Gatlin, a small town in South Carolina, Beautiful Creatures is the first book in the Caster Chronicles series and revolves around Ethan Wate. Ethan has lived in Gatlin his whole life and can't wait to get away and see the world because nothing ever changes or happens in Gatlin. He's also having recurring dreams about a girl, and when Lena Duchannes moves into town he's certain that she's the girl from the dreams, and so their star crossed romance begins.

Lena has a secret, she and her family are Casters, or people with supernatural powers. And on her sixteenth birthday, which is only six months away her destiny will be determined. Will she be claimed for dark? Or for light? The series continues in the books Beautiful Darkness, Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption and the first book was just released as a movie.

Jacki @ Central

February 8, 2013

Science Fiction & Fantasy Fridays

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

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Imagine going to bed one night and when you wake up the next day, the world as you know it is gone. In The Age of Miracles, 12 year old Julia faces just that when it's announced that the earth's rotation is slowing and no one knows why. The days slowly stretch from a predictable 12 hour day and night to a 72 hour day and night. She and her family struggle with the decision to follow the customary 24 hour day or to follow the sun, sleeping when it's dark and being awake during daylight.

Birds cannot fly, the tides slow, and the food chain breaks down and causes hoarding. The slowing rotation of the earth also causes some people to get sick, seemingly randomly, though it's thought that the circadian rhythm of the body is being thrown completely off kilter. Julia's mother contracts this disease while her father slowly becomes someone else. And she herself, struggles to cope with pre-teen feelings of a first crush, a first kiss, fitting in, and parental discord. While also learning to cope with a world she no longer can trust, things are overwhelming.

In her first book, Ms. Walker has captured the essence of not knowing what your future may bring in a world gone crazy. The miracle is in the unknown and how one learns to live with the time we have today.

Roxanne, Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library

February 9, 2013

Speculative Fiction for Black History Month

With Black History Month upon us, what better time to read excellent works of speculative fiction by some amazing authors from a variety of backgrounds, from African-American to Caribbean-Canadian? What follows is just a small sample of great works out there. For more suggestions, check out the Carl Brandon Society or BlackSci-Fi.com.

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Featuring works both by modern writers and those of the past such as W.E.B. Du Bois and Charles W. Chesnutt, Dark Matter is a series of anthology collections focusing on both genre fiction and essays by writers of African descent. Spanning a diverse range of styles and themes, these collections provide a taste of many different unique voices in the world of sci-fi and speculative fiction.



midnightrobber.jpgNalo Hopkinson's Midnight Robber draws from African, Caribbean, and Creole folklore to flavor a tale of a fierce and resourceful young woman, Tan-Tan, determined to make her way in a world she has not chosen. Tan-Tan grows up spoiled and cherished until her father's crimes lead them both to exile on the prison planet of New Half-Way Tree. Forced to survive in a lawless world, Tan-Tan takes refuge in childhood games, becoming the legendary Robber Queen, providing her with the courage to overcome her harsh surroundings.


icarusgirl.jpgIn The Icarus Girl, author Helen Oyeyemi creates a tale of psychological horror with echoes of both Henry James and Stephen King. Jessamy Harrison is skipped ahead a year in school (to the pride of her English father and Nigerian mother), but the nervous eight-year-old finds the change difficult. Unable to make friends or to cope with teasing about her mixed-race status, she breaks down in screaming tantrums and is prey to odd, feverish illnesses. Add in an imaginary friend that might not be entirely in Jessamy's mind, and you've got the formula for a very interesting read.


futureland.jpgIn Futureland, Walter Mosley presents nine interconnected stories in a near-future Cyberpunk tale, each with their own interesting and different black central character. From the smartest man in the world, to the world's heavyweight boxing champ (a six-foot-nine-inch woman), to a private detective who solves cases with the help of a greatly enhanced artificial eye, there's a lot of variety to be found in Futureland. Those who like mystery and noir will find Mosley's work especially enticing.


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Bellona is a city at the dead center of the United States. Something has happened there, and the population has fled. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. Strange portents appear in the cloud-covered sky. And into this disaster zone comes a young man-poet, lover, and adventurer-known only as the Kid. Tackling questions of race, gender, and sexuality, Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren is a literary marvel and groundbreaking work of American magical realism.


List compiled by Tim @ Central. Annotations adapted from NoveList.


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January 30, 2013

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

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The Fablehaven Series is a fantasy series written by Brandon Mull. It includes Fablehaven, Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star, Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague, Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, and Fablehaven: Keys to the Demon Prison.

When Kendra and Seth Sorenson are sent to visit their grandparents for the first time ever, they expect it to be long and boring. What they soon discover, though, is quite the opposite. Their grandparents are actually the caretakers of Fablehaven, one of a handful of secret preserves around the world where fairies, golems, satyrs, and other magical creatures live.

Kendra and Seth's visit also coincides with a time when preserves are under attack by the Society Of The Evening Star, who are after the 5 artifacts that will open Zzyxz, a prison for demons that, unleashed after millennia, will destroy the world. It becomes the task of Kendra, Seth, their grandparents, and the Knights Of The Dawn to recover the artifacts hidden at Fablehaven and other preserves to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Society Of The Evening Star. Each artifact is well-guarded, so rescuing them is not easy.

While written for early teens, the five books in the Fablehaven series have an all-ages appeal. I found myself wanting to pick up the next book immediately after finishing the previous one. The descriptions provide a clear, imaginative picture. The battle scenes don't get too graphic for the younger readers, but will still hold the interest of older readers. The characters, especially Kendra and Seth, show believable growth throughout the adventures, and the conclusion should be satisfying to every reader.

Cami - Youth & Community Outreach Services

January 4, 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

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In The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, Blue Sargent and her psychic mother are sitting through their annual watch on St. Mark's Eve. Her mother is waiting to "see" the spirits pass through the church yard of people who will die in the upcoming twelve months. Something unique happens this year, Blue actually feels a particular spirit for a young man named Gansey, who seems to be one of the "Raven Boys", a nickname used for young men who attend the local Aglionby Academy. Her aunt tells her there are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark's Eve - either you're his true love or you killed him. This has Blue in an upheaval.

Soon after this watch the mysterious Gansey makes an appointment to have a psychic reading at Blue's house. Their worlds collide. Gansey and his circle of friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah join forces with Blue to discover the mystery behind the story of Owain Glendower, a medieval Welsh noble. Gansey will stop at nothing to find him and believes the countryside around Henrietta, Virginia is his final resting place. Murder and intrigue weave through this story to unveil a few shocking plot twists that will have readers clamoring for the next volume!

Katharina, Central Library Children's Room

January 5, 2013

Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez

emperormollusk.jpgEmperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez is as ridiculous as its title implies. The book is pulp sci-fi at its silliest, a series of set pieces that would make for an excellent summer blockbuster or thrilling videogame, but still make for a pretty enjoyable book. Our hero is the titular Emperor Mollusk, a squid-like brainy alien from Neptune who travels about in a robotic body (a description that evokes memories of Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for those of us who were children of the late eighties). Evoking such modern 'reformed' villain tales such as Despicable Me or Megamind, Mollusk is a supervillain thrust into the role of Earth's defender, alongside a colorful cast of supporting characters.

Facing off against giant angry vegetables, massive slime monsters and even the ravenous radioactive brain of Madame Curie (Martinez really has a thing for disembodied brains), the action and humor occur at breakneck pace in the book's brief 300 pages. Thankfully this means the book does not overstay its welcome, though the plot's conceit wears thin by the third act, eventually falling apart entirely in the last few pages. For high-concept (yet surprisingly cliche at times) goofy fun, you can't really go wrong with giving Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain a try.

Tim @ Central

December 14, 2012

The End is Nigh! Books for Surviving and Enjoying Apocalypses

12/21/12 is almost upon us! For those fearing doom and destruction as the Mayan calendar comes to an abrupt end, here are three books that can help you prepare for the end of the world as we know it.

roughsurvive.jpgThe Rough Guide to Surviving the End of the World by Paul Parsons is a light-hearted but scientifically thorough look at the threats to human existence. It covers many plausible apocalyptic scenarios, including out-of-control technology, massive natural disasters, overpopulation, and threats from space, among others. This is the ultimate guide to have on hand when the unthinkable happens.

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How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times by James Wesley Rawles provides the ultimate guide to total preparedness and self-reliance. Written by one of the best-known survival experts, this work contains everything people need to know in order to prepare and protect themselves.


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Modern Survival : How to Cope When Everything Falls Apart by former British Special Air Service member Barry Davies outlines a guide for surviving modern catastrophes. Documenting recommended steps for handling such examples as natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and government shutdowns, this guide is a must if you fear the worst.



For those who don't have any fear for the impending immolation of civilization, here are a few books of exciting tales of post-apocalyptic fiction for your enjoyment.

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A hefty tome of collected short stories from genre fiction juggernauts such as George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Octavia E. Butler, and Stephen King, Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse explores the scientific, psychological, and philosophical questions of what it means to remain human in the wake of Armageddon.



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Then for those looking for a classic tale of civilization's end, why not try John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids? When a freak cosmic event renders most of the Earth's population blind, Bill Masen is one of the lucky few to retain his sight. The London he walks is crammed with groups of men and women needing help, some ready to prey on those who can still see. To make matters worse, man-eating plants known as triffids are roaming wild, hunting the blind and sighted alike. You can also check out a previous review by Dan @ Central.


Of course, the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic genres don't end there, in case you're hungry for more stories of the struggle for survival in desolate landscapes. City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is a gem of the genre and especially suited for younger readers (though older readers will enjoy it too!) Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a harsh but immensely engaging tale of a boy and his father in a world gone wrong. Finally, for those still left in the dust of the popular fiction bandwagon, now is as good of a time as any to read Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy, a story for those who like their Running Man with a side order of Battle Royale.

Tim @ Central


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January 28, 2013

Year Zero by Rob Reid

yearzero.jpgYear Zero by Rob Reid posits that aliens will destroy Earth not because they want to enslave us all to their tentacled will, but because they've accidentally racked up a spectacularly huge amount of debt by illegally downloading Earth's music. It's left up to low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter (not the Backstreet Boy), his indie musician neighbor Manda, and two bumbling alien reality show stars to try and save our planet from imminent destruction. Together their adventures have them encountering deadly alien bureaucracy, otherworldly beings that look like vacuum cleaners, and American record executives more concerned with maintaining profit than the fate of the planet as a whole.

As a smartly satirical bit of wildly outrageous science-fiction, Year Zero is a novel that easily evokes comparison to Douglas Adams' seminal work The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. However, this works both in Reid's favor and to his detriment. While Reid is certainly writes in a style that evokes the late, great author, this is his first novel and therefore both his prose and comedic timing pale in such an unfair comparison to one of the modern masters. Outside of such comparison, Year Zero holds its own as a thoroughly funny and fun romp, just barely managing to outstay its welcome as the humor and plot wears thin in the last twenty pages.

Tim @ Central


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December 21, 2012

The Islanders by Christopher Priest

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Christopher Priest's The Islanders fashions itself as a guide to the islands in the 'Dream Archipelago', a vast array of tropical and subtropical nations in a fictional world quite similar to our own. What unfolds is a series of interconnected short tales of various locales, stories of lost romance, ghosts, scientific expeditions gone awry, and more. Masterfully crafted, the book not only keeps you turning the pages eager to read what's next, but also has you flipping back as events and characters recur in the various entries, revealing more of their history and unveiling some of the mystery of previous tales.

The Islanders is easily one of the most engaging and challenging books of 2012. Not a book for those who require a traditional plot structure, or those who hate it when some mysteries are left unanswered; those who do make the trek through the Dream Archipelago will be rewarded for their efforts with a deeply enriching reading experience.

Tim @ Central


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October 11, 2012

Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike Mignola

joegolemcover.jpgA steampunk vision of New York City decimated by plague and half-sunk beneath the sea. Young heroine Molly must rescue her caretaker, an elderly magician, from mysterious dark forces. She is aided by a gruff man of clay and his employer, a detective out of the past who is part mechanical and part magic. The text is accompanied by numerous small illustrations by the creator of Hellboy comics. Check catalog for availability.

Margaret @ East


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September 29, 2012

The Damned Busters by Matthew Hughes

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damnedcover.jpgWhen confronted with an accidentally summoned demon offering him his hearts desires for the low-low price of his soul, Chesney Anstruther makes the one decision you wouldn't expect. He says no. Thus begins The Damned Busters, a fun little romp by Matthew Hughes and the first in his To Hell and Back trilogy. Chesney is by all accounts a nerdy loser, an actuary who has no real friends, no love life, a tiny apartment and his only passions being numbers, pornography, and comic books. Yet his chance encounter with the demons of hell starts him on a strange and curious path to finally fulfilling his greatest dream: Chesney gets to don a cape and cowl and start fighting crime as the heroic Actionary. But when your powers come from a negotiation with the denizens of hellfire and brimstone, not everything goes as you plan, and it turns out other people can broker deals with the devil for their more nefarious dreams.

Matthew Hughes' book is humorous, light-hearted, and irreverent in its bizarre mish-mashing of Faustian and caped crusader tropes. While low on character development (especially in terms of the few female characters of the book), the pace is swift and the dynamics of heaven, hell, and humanity keep the book interesting. Indeed, when the politics of the divine and demonic are front and center, the book is at its most thoughtful and original, Chesney's crime fighting career is sadly an exercise in common chauvinistic male fantasy. Overall, however, Hughes' writing provides an amply quick and fun read. The premise has a lot of promise. The first sequel, Costume Not Included, is already published and the final volume of the trilogy is on the way.

Tim @ Central



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September 8, 2012

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

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"Dear You, The body you are wearing used to be mine." Through a series of letters to Myfanwy Thomas, from former self Myfanwy Thomas, she must figure out who she is, who betrayed her, and just what on earth is going on. Thomas is a "Rook" in a secret British government organization, there to keep secret from its citizens any supernatural crimes and villainy.

Thomas encounters fascinating co-workers in the Checquy Group, a house-sized cube of flesh, and a closet full of clothes she never would have bought herself (but actually did).

The Rook, a clever debut story from Australian author O'Malley is energetic, suspenseful, and laugh-out-loud funny. It quickly took up residence in my Top 5 favorite books of all time. I actually wouldn't mind hitting my head so I could read it all over again, and be just as enraptured as I was the first time through!

Ali @ Bay View


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November 17, 2012

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

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Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card hardly needs more praise thrown onto the heap of accolades it has already accumulated. Nebula and Hugo award-winning, recently voted the third greatest Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel in an NPR survey, and recently awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature, there is little doubt that the book has been both a popular read and critically acclaimed since its original publication. The question then becomes if the book lives up to the hype.

The briefest summary of the book doesn't instill a potential reader with confidence, as it reads like your typical military sci-fi trope. A genius boy of six is recruited into Earth's galactic fleet, excels in all his training far above his peers, and is constantly considered humanity's last hope in their great war against the bug-like aliens. Indeed, the overall plot isn't exactly filled with surprising twists and turns, those familiar with the genre will feel the events folding along familiar lines. The real power of the book is in its characters and psychology. The titular character Ender and his siblings are intensely interesting, young people with intelligence way beyond their years. It is precisely because of these intricate characters that the book succeeds on a narrative and emotional level. Ender's Game is truly a case where the praise is well warranted. With a movie adaptation coming in 2013, now is a great time to finally read (or re-read) this modern classic.

Tim @ Central


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August 10, 2012

The Games by Ted Kosmatka

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In a not too distant future, the United States is the reigning champion of the Olympic Gladiator competition, an international event featuring genetically engineered creatures. In its desire to remain superior to other countries in genetic research, the government creates a gladiator that assures a US victory. However, their monstrosity is such an abomination that it might ensure the end of civilization as well. Check catalog for availability.

Dave @ Zablocki


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August 24, 2012

Old Man's War by John Scalzi

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John Scalzi's Old Man's War is born of the heritage of Robert Heinlein's military science fiction classics. Our protagonist John Perry, a seventy five year old widower, joins the mysterious CDF (Colonial Defense Force) thanks to its reputation of making people young again. Of course, it also means defending the far away space colonies from all sorts of vicious and hostile alien races, a rather daunting proposal for a septuagenarian. Of course, the CDF has this accounted for, as all of their recruits are given brand-new genetically and cybernetically enhanced superhuman bodies, complete with green skin and a personal computer built into the brain. We follow John from his initial days as a recruit, to his acclimation period to his new body and following days at boot camp, and finally out to the actual field of battle itself.

Though much of this brief summary seems like old hat for veteran sci-fi readers, the book itself is fresh and interesting thanks to the tone Scalzi keeps throughout. Humor and self-awareness abound, keeping the book from becoming pretentious. This does not mean the novel is without depth, either, as Scalzi plays in a meaningful way with some big themes, most importantly what it means to be human. A wonderful mix of action, humor, wit and philosophy, Old Man's War is enjoyable to both the sci-fi fan and non-fan alike.

Tim @ Central



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July 26, 2012

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

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Verity Price is a lot of things: cocktail waitress at Dave's Fish and Strips, former reality dance show contestant, and the eldest daughter of a family line of cryptozoologists. Striking a balance between her ballroom dancer desires and her duties in maintaining a healthy relationship with New York City's cryptid (creatures of myth, folklore, and urban legend) population is hard for Verity, but it proves even harder when single female cryptids are mysteriously disappearing. Add in rumors that a long thought extinct dragon might be sleeping under the Big Apple and the sudden appearance of a strikingly handsome man who also happens to be a member of a secret organization dedicated to the extinction of all cryptids, and Verity has her hands more than full.

Discount Armageddon is the type of urban fantasy in the vein of Joss Whedon's television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yet such a comparison isn't unfavorable; while they share spunky blonde protagonists who wisecrack while dealing with the supernatural, enough of the New York that McGuire creates feels like a fresh take on the genre. The tone is kept light for the most part, with Verity's narration cracking jokes and some of the more silly aspects of the world proving highly amusing (Verity lives with a tribe of talking mice that have an entire religion based around her, complete with festivals and feasts). Simultaneously, the book is also a true feminist take on urban fantasy, focusing on a strong and independent female who manages to kick butt and save the day without giving up her more feminine pursuits and interests. A fun and quick read, readers will find it hard to put the book down. The best part is that this book is the first in a series. Midnight Blue-Light Special is due to come out in March of 2013.

Tim @ Central


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July 11, 2012

Amped by Daniel H. Wilson


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Author Daniel H. Wilson writes another fabulous novel about the role technology plays in the near future. Amped examines how people react when confronted with awe inspiring technology they do not fully understand. Owen Gray, the narrator, has a device similar to the cochlear implant (see the link and illustration below) surgically inserted into his head to control his seizures. Other people around the world start getting these devices too for various other reasons - attention deficit disorder, Down syndrome, Parkinson's disease, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other conditions related to the brain. What began as a miraculous medical solution soon becomes an elective surgery used by regular people and the government to enhance intelligence and physical strength. Suddenly a debate explodes about who is a real human and who is not. Then government gets involved and the Supreme Court of the United States declares that everyone who has received a device like Owen's is no longer considered a legal citizen and will not be protected by any existing laws. What happens next is a very plausible and frightening account of what fear and misunderstanding can do to a society when confronted by someone or something they perceive to be dangerous and unequal to themselves.

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For the curious, follow this link for more information about cochlear implants.

Valerie @ MPL Central



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July 6, 2012

A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin

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Like many people, I became addicted to HBO's television series Game of Thrones, named after the first book of George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. After I finished the first season I started reading the books. Normally, I advocate reading the book before watching its film adaptation; however, I found that having seen the TV show was extremely helpful in allowing me to keep track of who was who throughout the 700 or so pages of plotting, political intrigue and outright murder that make up the first book.

A Clash of Kings is even more brutal and bleak than its predecessor. George R. R. Martin does not shy away from the ugliness of war, and he isn't afraid to kill off main characters or innocent bystanders. His characters also grow and develop throughout the course of the book. Old friends become enemies, while a former enemy proves to be an unlikely champion and savior to a girl in need. Dragons have returned to the world, and magic along with them. In the Seven Kingdoms, five different men declare themselves to be kings and begin to fight against one another on several different fronts. Meanwhile, Mance Rayder (the King Beyond the Wall) is gathering the Free Folk (more commonly known as the Wildlings), and preparing an attack on the Night's Watchmen, who are sworn to protect Westeros from the dangers lurking in the far north.

The standout character in both the novel and the TV show is Tyrion Lanister. Peter Dinklage won an Emmy for his work in that role, and watching him it is easy to see why. Even though Tyrion is a member of one of the most powerful families in the Seven Kingdoms, he is scorned and mistrusted because he is a dwarf. He compensates for his lack of height by fine-tuning his wits, which he needs when he is (temporarily) named to the role of Hand of the King, the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms aside from his nephew, King Joffrey. Tyrion must work to protect the capitol, while fighting to control Joffrey's violent outbursts and the machinations of Queen Cersei (who is Joffrey's mother and Tyrion's older sister).

A Clash of Kings provides a jaw-dropping follow-up to A Game of Thrones, and leaves the reader eager for the next book.

Jen @ Washington Park


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June 2, 2012

Awards: Orange Prize; Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse

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American author Madeline Miller won the £30,000 (US$46,591) Orange Prize for Fiction, which "celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world," for her debut novel The Song of Achilles.

"This is a more than worthy winner--original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her," said Joanna Trollope, chair of judges.

The Guardian reported that the judges "took about three hours to reach their decision before agreeing, at midnight, to award the prize to Miller.... Trollope described the final judging meeting as 'almost painful,' owing to the strength of the six books on the shortlist."

"To be candid, if this had been a weaker year any one of them could have won," Trollope said. "It was an extremely strong shortlist and I hope the breadth and the adventurousness of the settings and the subject matter puts to bed for ever the idea that women only write about domestic things. They are all to be commended."

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Terry Pratchett won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction for Snuff, his 39th Discworld novel. He will be honored June 6 at the Telegraph Hay Festival, where he will receive a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année and a set of the Everyman Wodehouse collection. In addition, a locally bred pig will be named after the novel.

The Guardian noted that Pratchett has been shortlisted for the prize on three previous occasions. "There are so many things he does which Wodehouse did too," said Peter Florence, one of the judges and director of the Hay Festival. "It's not just the playfulness of the language--he's also quite patently satirical in the way Wodehouse was. Wodehouse was really hard on fascism. He wasn't simply writing a comedy of manners, and neither is Pratchett.... Both of their invented worlds are wrestling with the political realities of their times."

Jacki @ Central


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June 1, 2012

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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"Would you believe that all the gods that people have ever imagined are still with us today? ... And that there are new gods out there, gods of computers and telephones and whatever, and that they all seem to think there isn't room for them both in the world. And that some kind of war is kind of likely." - Shadow, American Gods, chapter 13.

The core narrative of American Gods is described in the above quote by the story's protagonist, an ex-convict named Shadow. He is released from jail several days early due to the unexpected death of his wife, and is quickly recruited to be a driver and bodyguard for the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, who is attempting to muster the strength of the old gods to combat the newer, upstart gods.

The majority of the book is spent with Shadow and Mr. Wednesday as they drive across middle America. Gaiman uses several quirky roadside attractions as important settings, including the House on the Rock and its indoor carousel, located in western Wisconsin.

Running beneath the surface of the main storyline are several important themes, like what it means to be alive and how belief has the power to shape reality. Within the main story itself are several smaller vignettes, all about various individuals and how they and their gods came to America. These serve to illustrate another central idea of the book: Everybody has a story. Shadow's story takes him to places beyond imagination, and introduces him to a cast of characters that will not soon be forgotten.

Jen @ Washington Park


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April 20, 2012

Timeless by Gail Carriger

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As if raising a two-year-old while living amongst vampires and werewolves in Victorian England wasn't challenging enough, Alexia is summoned to Egypt to meet the world's oldest immortal. In Timeless, Carriger brings the Parasol Protectorate series to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion with this fifth installment. Carriger's books are always great fun and Timeless is no exception. To get the most out of it, consider reading all the books in the series; Soulless, Changeless, Blameless and Heartless. Fans of the series will be sad to turn the last page and say goodbye to the colorful cast of characters they've come to know and love.

Submitted by Ashley @ Center Street


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March 20, 2012

Hunger Games Trivia Challenge at Bay View!

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Join other fans of The Hunger Games trilogy in celebrating the release of The Hunger Games movie by taking part in a trivia challenge based on the books.

Correct answers will bring you rewards, but incorrect ones may bring an uncertain future. There can be only one winner!

Hunger Games Trivia Challenge
Bay View Library,
For Ages: 13-18,
2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave
Thursday, March 22,
6:30-7:30 p.m.
Registration Required
Call: (414) 286-3011

Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!

Developed by teens, for teens, through TAB - MPL's Teen Advisory Board. Sponsored by Best Buy.


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March 30, 2012

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson

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I loved this book even though I am not a fan of futuristic robot books or of modern military tactical endeavors. Author Daniel H. Wilson has a Ph.D. in robotics and uses this unique knowledge to create Robopocalypse, an absolutely fascinating story about the near extinction of the human race in the not so distant future. There are far too many interesting and important characters to mention here, but the main character, soldier Cormac Wallace, describes some of the events preceding Zero Hour when the Robs/robots take over the world and the New War that follws. Interspersed throughout the story others recount what happened to them in different countries around the planet. The cross culture viewpoints really make the fear and chaos of war relatable to all.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central



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March 2, 2012

Pure by Julianna Baggott

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Pressia is a sixteen year old survivor of the Detonations. They occurred when she was only six, so she doesn't remember much about life during the Before, but her grandfather tries to keep the memories alive by telling her stories of amusement parks, movie theaters and birthday parties. They do the best they can to survive; people sicken and die from drinking the water and others' faces basically melt away, as a result of the nuclear winter.

All sixteen year olds outside the Dome are required to turn themselves in to be trained as a soldier or, if they aren't considered strong enough, to be used as live targets. Pressia doesn't want to experience either of these things so she's on the run. While trying to avoid the soldiers hunting her, she comes across Partridge who has chosen to escape the Dome to search for his mother, who he is certain survived the Detonations. His father is one of the most influential men among the Pures (as Dome dwellers are called) in the Dome but is emotionally distant and Patridge has a tenuous relationship with him.

Pures are safe and healthy and live a much different life than those outside the Dome. Patridge knows he should be content in the Dome, but he's lonely, especially after his brother commits suicide. Then his father slips and makes a remark which gives Patridge hope that his mother survived the Detonations and is out there somewhere...so he escapes, risking his life to find her.

Pure is a fast paced adventure suggested for fans of Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games trilogy and Justin Cronin's The Passage.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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February 28, 2012

Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

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Throne of the Crescent Moon opens in the city of Dhamsawaat, the heart of the Crescent Moon Kingdoms, where Adoulla Makhslood is the last true ghul hunter, who is in his sixties and thinking longingly of retirement. Though he has no apprentice to take his place, Adoulla is assisted by a young dervish, Rassed bas Raseed, who is much more devout and restrained than Adoulla, who loves good food, cardamom tea, and all the luxuries of the city.

Adoulla's comfortable morning is soon interrupted by the arrival of a young boy whose family has been slain by ghuls. Chasing down the magical culprits brings Adoulla and Raseed into the path of Zamia Banu Laith Badawi, a desert tribeswoman who can take the shape of a lioness to protect her band. Together with some of Adoulla's friends, a mage and an alchemist, the fearsome trio will take on the corrupt Khalif, the dashing criminal who calls himself the Falcon Prince, and the most dangerous evil any of them have ever met.

Filled with fascinating characters, several romances, and set in an Arab-influenced fantasy world different from any you've seen before, Throne of the Crescent Moon offers an adventure you won't want to miss!

Submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park


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February 21, 2012

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

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For those with a hunger for science fiction but tired of the vampires, werewolves and zombies, try Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamer series which begins with My Soul to Take. This young adult novel follows Kaylee Cavanaugh as she discovers her abilities as a bean sidhes, which is in turns terrifying and confusing because she senses people who are about to die.

She sees a shadowy fog around an individual and gets the overwhelming need to scream...these people's souls must be collected by a reaper, but if Kaylee is anywhere around she can delay the process and give the soul a chance to say good-bye. She does this through singing for the soul, which to human ears translates to an ear-drum-shattering scream. Young women in town start dying for no reason and Kaylee is determined to get to the bottom of things with the help of Nash, a possible love interest who meets Kaylee at a dance club when one such girl is seen in a misty fog. The two discover many things that illuminate Kaylee's bean sidhes powers and what is causing women to drop dead.

Kaylee's lives with her aunt, uncle and cousin because her mother passed away when she was three and her father is away in Ireland because he can't bear to raise a daughter who reminds him more and more of his deceased wife. Elements of suspense, mystery, romance and horror will keep readers enthralled until the stunning conclusion.

Submitted by Mrs Nimphius @ Forest Home


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March 7, 2012

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files

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Storm Front is the first book in the Dresden Files series. Harry Dresden, a wizard and private detective, works for both civilians and the local police... for a price. I say for a price, because Harry's low on cash and really needs it to keep his business afloat. Harry works hard on his cases and is a really likable guy. You feel bad for him as he gets into terrible danger or is being chastised by the higher-ups in the wizarding community. It's good that Harry has a sense of humor, because he certainly needs it time after time - thirteen novels' worth actually. My aunt, who generally reads non-fiction, especially biographies, enjoyed this series and was the one who brought Jim Butcher's books to my attention. So with that in mind I recommend this fun series to all fiction and non-fiction readers alike.

Currently there are thirteen books in the in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files the most recent of which is Ghost Story published in 2011.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central



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February 10, 2012

Snuff by Terry Pratchett

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Welcome to the city of Ankh Morpork, the largest city on the Discworld, which floats through space on the back of the turtle. This is a city where gods abound, where magic is mostly under the control of absent-minded professors, and where the City Watch--which includes dwarves, trolls, werewolves, vamipres, gnomes, and one policeman no one knows how to classify--is commanded by a man whose titles range from the Duke of Ankh to Blackboard Monitor Vimes. Sam Vimes, in turn, is commanded by his wife.

Snuff is the story of what begins when the hardworking Vimes is persuaded to take a two-week holiday to the country. Vimes insists that where there is a copper there will always be a crime, and sure enough the crime finds him before he's had a chance to get too bored with the countryside. What follows is both a thoughtful story about the law, the authority of the police, and the rights of the downtrodden, and a hilarious adventure featuring a six-year-old boy's fascination with all kinds of excrement, Vimes's search for a bacon sandwich, the many problems caused by a cigar that sings, and goblins who persist in believing that snot is sacred.

Snuff is the 39th of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. For a look at where Sam Vimes's story began, check out Guards! Guards!, the first of the books about the City Watch.

Submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park


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January 11, 2012

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

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Lauren Olamina, the fifteen-year-old narrator of The Parable of the Sower, a classic science fiction novel, is unusual in two ways. She suffers from a neurological condition called hyperempathy, which causes her to feel the pain of others when she sees it; her father has taught her to hide her condition to keep others from using it against her, but as a child Lauren would bleed through her skin if she saw someone else bleeding. Lauren's other unusual characteristic comes out in the poetry that is scattered through her journal: she is the author--the discoverer, as she puts it--of a new religion, one she calls Earthseed, which teaches that God is Change.

There's plenty of change going on in Lauren's world, which is nearly as compelling a character as Lauren herself. The story opens in 2024, and though it was written nearly twenty years ago this vision of the future remains creepily plausible. Lauren lives in a walled neighborhood in southern California, a last bastion of seeming normality in a world where unemployment, poverty, global warming, and designer drugs have left the world outside a terrifying chaos. Water is more expensive than food, arson is on the rise, and the government is powerless to help anyone.

In the midst of it all, Lauren is trying to be ready for what comes next, but no one is ever really prepared when the big change comes.

Submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park


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December 5, 2011

Mother/Daughter Book Discussion at Bay View, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m.

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Mothers and daughters, grades 7 - 9, who enjoyed the book Matched are invited to take part in a Mother/Daughter book discussion at the Bay View Library, Thursday, December 8th, 6-7pm.

Society Matched Them, But Love Set Them Free.
In the Society, officials decide.
Who you love.
Where you work.
When you die.

In Matched, the Society decides every occurrence in a person's life including the day that they will die. The Society also makes sure that the streets are clean, the trains run on time, there is no illness and peace seemingly prevails, so most people are willing to accept what the government dictates as the price to be paid. Cassia has just turned 17 and is excited for her Matching ceremony where she will learn who she is to marry. She is happy to find that she has been matched with her best friend Xander. But while she watches the data card the government has provided about her match, another face flashes on the screen for a moment. The face of another boy she knows, Ky. That brief flash is enough to make her wonder if Ky is really the person she is meant to be with. Her doubts about her match and the death of her grandfather make her realize for the first time that there may be many experiences, feelings and choices that are closed to her as long as she follows the Society's rules. Allie Condie has created a fascinating dystopian society where the price of perfection is loss of our most basic freedoms.

In Crossed, the second book in the Matched trilogy, Cassia and Ky are separated and sent to the outer provinces to work in labor camps. Their struggles to find each other again make up much of the book, though more information is revealed about the mysterious Xander. Crossed is another beautifully written book that will have readers eagerly awaiting the final installment which is planned for publication in November 2012.

Submitted by Fran @ Bay View


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November 25, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Reves (The Circus of Dreams), and it is only open at night.

In The Night Circus, Celia and Marco, two young magicians, are bound into a duel as children and though they recognize that they are playing a game of sorts, they have no idea that only one can be left standing. The circus is merely the stage for the game, a battle of imagination and strength. That they also cartwheel into a charmed love affair complicates the game even further and leaves the fates of everyone involved hanging in the balance.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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October 12, 2011

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

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Oh, you've GOT to read this one! Sunny Nwazue was born in New York, but moves with her family to her parents' native Nigeria at the age of twelve. Sunny, an albino, has always felt a little like an outcast, and these feelings only intensify when she is the new girl at school. Through the help of two classmates, a teen from Chicago, and some adult mentors, she realizes that her skin is far from the only thing that sets her apart. The writing style is accessible for any reader, and I loved the interpretations of traditional African culture as Sunny explores her heretofore unknown abilities. There's a mystery to solve, too! Someone is using children in her town for a sinister purpose. How can the evil and magical Black Hat be stopped? And by the way, who wouldn't love a book where librarians are the richest and most powerful people in the community? Yes, you must read Akata Witch, it's a fun, fast-paced, and intriguing book!
Submitted by Ephemera, soon to be blogging from Villard Square Library!

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September 28, 2011

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

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In The Eyre Affair we meet literary detective Thursday Next who is called onto the case of Jane Eyre, who was kidnapped straight from Bronte's novel. During her investigations she meets the people who play the characters of your favorite classic books, battles the powers of darkness and matches wits with the greatest super criminal ever known.

In Fforde's world, the black market for books is more lucrative than that of illicit drugs, performances of Shakespeare's plays are interactive - having more to do with rock concerts and mosh pits than dry, high-society theater and it's possible to travel into your favorite books (just be sure not to inadvertently change the ending). Throw in a gray market cheese economy, genetically engineered pet dodos and some good old-fashioned interoffice politics and it seems like there'd be too much to wrap your head around, but with Fforde's fast paced, quick witted and very entertaining writing you'll simply be wanting more.. His ideas are wonderfully unique and his characters are amazingly fun. This is a book that will have you happily whiling away the hours before reaching for the next installment of this ongoing series.

Submitted by Matt @ East


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November 23, 2011

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

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Although this book appears in the catalogue as a childrens book the story takes place during the main character's mid-twenties thus making it more appealing to young adults and adults. The book jacket warns, "if you're looking for happily ever after, you've come to the wrong place." Readers will find that ominous statement to be quite true. Jacob Reckless' father has disappeared into the strange world beyond the mirror that hangs in his home office. After a year of waiting for his father to return, Jacob frequently visits the Mirrorworld with the hope of finding his father. This story, however, centers around a curse that has befallen Will, Jacob's younger brother, who unfortunately followed Jacob on one of his excursions. Jacob journeys across dangerous and bizarre lands meeting witches, dwarves, dragons, shape-shifters and more in an attempt to save Will's mind and body from succumbing to the evil curse. Will Jacob succeed and at what cost?

At the very end of this perilous adventure more bad news is revealed making me wonder if this is just a super depressing ending or if there there will be a sequel.

An aside, I enjoyed listening to the book on CD performed by Elliot Hill.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central



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October 18, 2011

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

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This is a story about Richard Mayhew and the girl named Door he meets one afternoon. What comes after is both fantastic and terrifying. Lady Door Portico introduces Richard to the world that exists under London where nightmares come true and danger hides around every corner. Door desperately needs to avenge her family's death. Richard wants nothing more than to return to his normal predictable life. However, everything becomes even more complicated when the people they encounter have malicious goals of their own. Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar love to inflict pain and death on the human race. Hunter will not let anything stop her from keeping her status as the greatest body guard in the underworld. Angel Islington will use all of his incredible beauty and power to attain his freedom and exact revenge on his keepers. The marquis de Carabas wants... I'm not sure what he wants. He's a mystery to me.

I have both read and listened to this story on CD performed by the author. Gaiman's wonderful performance really brings the bizarre characters and dark underworld to life.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central


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August 22, 2011

Kindred by Octavia Butler

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Kindred follows the story of Dana, a black woman living in 1970's California. While celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday, Dana is inexplicably transported to 1815 Maryland to save Rufus, the white son of slave-owners. This becomes habit as Dana is transported back more frequently and for longer periods, each time having to save Rufus from some near death experience. As Dana becomes aware of the link between her future and Rufus's, she must watch as the boy she risks her life for grows up and becomes a cruel slave owner himself. Dana is forced to assume the role of Rufus's slave bringing untold danger to herself and her husband. Realizing that Rufus will never change, Dana makes a decision that will change the lives of people in the past and present.

Submitted by Maria @ Central


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August 15, 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Ready Player One is a debut novel by Ernest Cline. Set in a dystopian America in 2044, the only way to escape a world full of famine, poverty and disease is a vast virtual reality simulation game based on geek culture from the 1970s and '80s. The person able to solve the increasingly difficult series of puzzles will become an heir to the creator of the game. Millions of people have been trying for years to attain the prize, but have been unable to unlock all the puzzles. Would you be able to win? If you're an expert at Pac-Man, can recite Devo lyrics at random and are overtly familiar with John Hughes' work--it may be possible...

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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July 20, 2011

Harry Potter is over--What now?

A number of us grew up with Harry Potter, but in between re-reading those fabulous seven books, these titles should fulfill a desire for magic, history and coming of age.

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman stars Quentin Coldwater. He is a senior in high school, but he's totally hung up on a series of fantasy novels set in a land called Fillory that he read when he was younger. So he's completely surprised when he finds himself admitted to an elite college of magic where he learns the craft of modern sorcery. Want more? The sequel, The Magician King will be out in August.

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If you want to find out how hard it can be to truly live and how easy it is to kill, you want to read The Secret History by Donna Tartt. A group of smart students at a New England college are groomed by their enigmatic classics professor to live beyond the boundaries of typical morality and their lives are changed forever.

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In Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey we meet James Stark. He was kidnapped by demons when he was nineteen and is working as a sideshow gladiator in Hell. He escapes and goes to Los Angeles where he makes plans to ruin the magic circle that stole his life.

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Edward Moon, a stage magician and detective, works with a silent assistant, the Somnambulist. Together they scheme to recreate the apocalyptic prophecies of Samuel Taylor Coleridge to bring down the British Empire. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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August 5, 2011

Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik

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Imagine Europe's Napoleonic Wars (setting for Patrick O'Brian's historical naval novels, which provided the basis for the film Master and Commander) if dragons existed and had been harnessed into military service as an Aerial Corps by each major military power of the day. Author Naomi Novik brings such an alternative history vividly to life in her Temeraire series. The first book, His Majesty's Dragon, introduces the upstanding young naval captain Will Laurence, whose life is changed forever when he accidentally becomes bonded to a dragon hatchling of great intelligence and mysterious pedigree, whom he names Temeraire. The books (six already published, with a seventh due in March 2012, and projected to total nine in all) follow Laurence and Temeraire as they learn to trust one another and struggle to find a place for themselves in British military and society. Their adventures in subsequent novels take them from Scotland to China, deep into the heart of Africa, onto the battlefields of Napoleon's Europe, and around the world to Australia. Along the way, the duo makes both allies and enemies, often in the unlikeliest places. Novik infuses these novels with rich characters and relationships, stirring adventures, and detailed historical and science fiction world-building. The Temeraire novels offer an absorbing and rewarding read to fans of historical novels, military strategy and tactics, and science fiction alike.

FYI, the books, in order, are:
His Majesty's Dragon
Throne of Jade
Black Powder War
Empire of Ivory
Victory of Eagles
Tongues of Serpents
Crucible of Gold - coming March 2012

Submitted by Heather @ Central

Help support Milwaukee Public Library Villard Square Branch! You can help support the new MPL Villard Square Branch by clicking on the link below. Your support through the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation will help to provide enhancements to the new library that will encourage and influence library patrons, particularly young people to see the library as a welcoming place for positive activity. If donating online, simply include "Villard" under the special instructions. Thank you!

Double your gift - Milwaukee Public Library Foundation
has received funds to match dollar for dollar donations supporting
the new library up to a total of $100,000.

Donate Now!




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June 17, 2011

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

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Widely being touted as an "astounding urban fantasy," this story fleshes out a shared universe that Card had halfheartedly constructed some 30+ years ago. Now better conceived, he writes of godlike beings that share our planet who are in reality space-time manipulators that are exiled due to have lost their "gates" to their own world. Danny North is one of those beings in an isolated Appalachian restricted compound where he is denigrated as an untalented, powerless child. However, he is the first in many generations to actually have the gate magic, which all other Westillian Mages have sworn to eradicate.

Danny finds himself on the run only to discover that Mages are active on Earth and even complicit with the despised native humans. Meanwhile, on the home planet Westil itself, the loss of the gates mean an entirely different political balance has emerged among the gifted families. In fact, smaller gifts--although ignored-- may be more important than the more recognized powers. Danny comes to terms with his powers and his present predicaments as does "Wad" on Westil, but neither have come to the end of their adventures. I'm looking forward to another of this series where the magic is entwined with quantum physics. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library


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May 31, 2011

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

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For Celia West, being the daughter of the world's greatest superheroes should have been a dream come true, but without any superpowers of her own, her greatest claim to fame is that she's been kidnapped more than any other person in the world. Her family life while growing up was dysfunctional at best and as a teen, Celia eventually rebelled against her parents by running away and joining up briefly as a henchman with her parent's greatest nemesis, Destructor. Now that she's an adult, all she wants is to live a quiet life away from her parents and the superhero community, while pursuing a career in forensic accounting. When Celia is asked by the D.A. to assist in a tax evasion case against Destructor, she's reluctantly drawn back into the world of superheroes and super-villains. As the case proceeds, her carefully ordered life is turned upside down again by kidnappings, evil plots, romance and public humiliation, as her past association with Destructor is revealed. But as Celia unravels the threads of the current mystery, she uncovers the secret origin of all of the heroes and ultimately discovers her own kind of heroism. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Clark @ Washington Park


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May 24, 2011

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

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In Hull Zero Three an unnamed narrator awakens from a gestation pod on a starship that hurtles through space on a derailed mission. His enigmatic little-girl rescuer hustles him through increasingly cold chambers, chasing the ship's heat, while ransacking corpses for useable clothes, food and water. When sanctuary is found at last he almost succumbs to its allure before he discovers that he is not the first of his genome to pass this way--he is the latest of hundreds. Looking for his real purpose for awakening before his time, Teacher (as he now knows he is) encounters others of different genomes & experimental organics who also come to believe that something has gone very wrong with their ship. What? And how can they fix the problem? Each apparent solution hides a bigger problem and only audacious and daring action can outwit the Ship's Defenses to save the mission AND an inhabited planetary system. I felt the book was well-written, perhaps a little too obscure in some places, but certainly of interest to fans of "hard science" fiction.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library


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May 23, 2011

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

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Cameron Smith is a slacker with no real interests, hobbies or likes. His boring life is turned upside down when he is diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, essentially a death sentence. While in the hospital, he is visited by a glam-punk angel named Dulcie who tells him his only chance for a cure is to find the mysterious Dr. X, who is lost somewhere in time and space. Accompanied by a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome (who is really the Norse god Baldur), Cameron embarks on a cross-country road trip in a desperate attempt to save his life.

A dark comedy, this book offers plenty of laughs. Bray lampoons modern youth culture, the U.S. Educational system, and America's consumer culture. The author skillfully weaves together elements from different mythologies as well as modern culture to form a cohesive book that is both touching and entertaining. Going Bovine was the winner of the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award, which is given annually by the Young Adult Library Services Association, of the American Library Association.



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Submitted by Jennifer P. @ MPL Central

May 17, 2011

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

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A beautiful and multi-layered retelling of the Russian folktale of Koschei the Deathless, set during the Communist Revolution and WWII; with mythological figures reflecting the politics and struggles of that period. Clever and precocious Marya Morevna captures the heart of Koschei, the Tsar of Life, and is seduced away into his world of magic, as well as his war against his brother, the Tsar of Death. As she explores what it means to be Koschei's bride, Marya encounters such varied creatures as collectivised house gnomes, Party Chairman Baba Yaga, living buildings, shape shifting birds, imps made of rifles, firebirds and a dragon who hoards the paperwork of death orders. But the real world and the magical one begin to collide as Marya's heart becomes torn between the wondrous Koschei and Ivan, an innocent soldier, during the siege of Leningrad. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Clark @ Washington Park


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May 21, 2011

Rage of the Fallen by Joseph Delaney

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Welcome to the Last Apprentice series! Rage of the Fallen is actually book 8 in the tale of Tom Ward's apprenticeship to John Gregory, the local spook. Set in medieval times, a spook is a hunter & defender of their assigned county against the scary, ghostly things that plague local residents. An eerie position, most folks are afraid of and dislike spooks but desperately need them when ghosts, boggarts or witches show up in the county. Tom Ward's ongoing apprenticeship has him encountering all types of frightening creatures as well as discovering who he is.

In book 8, John Gregory, Tom and his friend Alice are in Ireland in hopes of finding some temporary safety while a larger war goes on back home. Unfortunately, they discover a new sort of evil creature making town's people go mad. As spooks, John Gregory & Tom must stop this creature. Although what they find may lead back to an old adversary with a grudge. All the while Tom fearing for his & Alice's life as they try to outmaneuver their greater enemy, the Fiend. A small cracked jar in Tom's pocket is the only thing keeping him away for the moment. Their last hope is to collaborate with the Witch Assassin Grimalkin to attempt to bind their common enemy, the Fiend; however they haven't heard from Grimalkin in weeks.

The apprenticeship of Tom Ward includes a bestiary of all types of creatures, everyday adventures and a bigger ongoing story of Tom, his past and his future. For John Gregory, a spook of an earlier generation, the world looks very black and white, wrong and right, good and evil. For Tom, whose own history puts him in question, everything is not so clear. Caught between his destiny and his choices, he stays true to himself and loyal to his friends, even to his detriment.

Submitted by Casey @ Atkinson


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May 6, 2011

Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale

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In an alternate London, gas lamps light the streets, and the descendants of fallen angels, called Prodigals, with their yellow eyes, black nails, and latent magical abilities inherited from their demonic ancestors, are second class citizens, living uneasily among humans. They are watched closely by the Inquisition, an order devoted to upholding the law, and more often than not punishing Prodigals for minor infractions.

Belimai Sykes is a Prodigal, who, after a run in with the Inquisition six years ago, still bears its scars both mental and physical. Not only does his body bear the evidence of time spent at their hands, lines of holy verse carved into his skin by their prayer machines, but when he left the Inquisition House at last, it was as a drug addict and a broken man. Captain William Harper is a member of the Inquisition, a stoic, atypical member of the order who hires Belimai to investigate the disappearance of his sister. By the time of the second story, the two have formed an unlikely friendship.

Have you ever put off reading the rest of a book simply because once you do, there won't be any more? Wicked Gentlemen is one of those books. It's composed of two stories, each told from the perspective of a different character, and an epilogue. A gothic steampunk fantasy, with wonderfully detailed world building and engaging characters that leaves you wanting more, it is also an example of a novel with a gay protagonist, but the "romance" is hardly at the center of this story. I so enjoyed this book that I was sad to put it down, but there has been talk of a sequel, and we may be seeing more of Belimai and Harper in the future. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Ashley @ Center St


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May 3, 2011

Spiral by Paul McEuen

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Liam Connor, a brilliant scientist and winner of the Nobel prize, has a secret. During WWII, he witnessed the ravages of the most deadly bioweapon ever created. Has he unraveled its mysteries? Might he even have a sample of the doomsday fungus? Some very powerful people have their suspicions, and are willing to go to any lengths to find out. When they find Liam, his family and another prominent scientist must follow the clues Liam left them to stop the destruction of the human race.

Murder, political intrigue, and spine-tingling suspense make this a finely-wrought mystery, peopled with passionate and intriguing characters. It's by far one of the best thrillers so far this year. In addition, the author himself is a prominent scientist at Cornell; he provides an authentic look into the possible future (and past) of biotechnology. Both adults and teens will enjoy this book, as long as they are comfortable with some violent scenes. A must-read for lovers of thrillers, modern speculative and science fiction, and even WWII and warfare history. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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April 27, 2011

Fledgling: A New Liaden Universe Novel by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

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Fledgling is the story of Theo Waitley, an "accident-prone" teenager in a highly-regulated academic society. It seems, at first, to be only a typical growing-up story. But then she discovers unusual error messages on her home computer console that is now hooked into the main academic net. She thinks it's a fluke, but then her mother finds that someone has tampered with the basic historic documents upon which most of the planet's research depends. Someone high-up in the faculty has been condoning such fraud--but why? And why try to injure and defame her father--even though he is from off-world? During an inter-planet journey, Theo discovers that her awkwardness at home transforms into an unusual "dancing" skill. She is naturally able to anticipate trajectories of bodies (humans or objects) to prevent disastrous collisions. This brings her to the attention of the Pilot Guild which supplies navigators for spaceships. So...by the middle of the book we are dealing with at least three viewpoints and certainly that many mysterious plots. Breezily written, the characters are well depicted and (mostly) likeable and the storylines are eminently logical, although not obvious.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library


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May 19, 2011

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

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After watching a few episodes of HBO's new series Game of Thrones based on George R. R. Martin's books, I wanted more then just the weekly episode. Now after reading book one in the series I am anxious to read even more. Game of Thrones is a dense and intriguingly complex read. Set in a medieval backdrop, it is filled with characters, plots and subplots involving a handful of kingdoms fighting for, with and against each other. The main families are the Targaryens, the Starks and the Lannisters. Each represents a land or kingdom with an interwoven history of alliances and battles as they struggle for control of the "iron throne."

Frequently alluded to, this constant battling for power is the "game of thrones" these noble born families play. The characters are compelling and deep and I was drawn to them and their individual stories. Chapters are written from each character's perspective and rotate between them. When the end of the book comes, there is no perfect resolution or complete closure but more like a pause or intermission. Needless to say, I will be reading book two, Clash of Kings, very soon, as well as continuing to watch the HBO series. The TV series has remained very faithful to the books from as much as I have seen. However, the books offer additional details, background and insight then is possible on film. I can see the series following the lives of these families and the transition of power from one generation to the next. If you enjoy fantasy genre and series, this should definitely be on your "to read" list.

Submitted by Casey @ Atkinson

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Game of Thrones is the first book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, and it is about to premiere as an HBO miniseries on April 17, 2011.

A thrilling fantasy epic, it follows three main families - the Starks, the Lannisters, and the Targaryens - in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the East beyond.

The King's Hand, a political position directly under the King, is found dead and Ned Stark is chosen as his replacement. Suspicious that the previous Hand was murdered by someone close within the King's court, he must tread carefully to find out the truth even as it splits up his family and endangers their lives. Could the murderer be one of the Lannisters, a family that yearns for power? Perhaps it was one of the brothers or even more troublesome, the Queen herself. And the real question, the one that plagues on Ned's mind and question his family's safety - What could the former Hand possibly have known that someone would kill for?

Meanwhile, the Targaryens are waiting across the sea. The former rulers of the Seven Kingdoms, there is only Viserys Targaryen and his thirteen year-old sister Daenerys left. Viserys is determined to get his family's throne back; he exchanges the marriage of his sister to a warlord king of a nomadic horse tribe, hoping to raise an army. What he doesn't count on is his sister falling in love with her husband and coming into her own with a fierce determination to take control of her own life.

Amidst all of this is the constant reminder that winter is coming, an utter darkness that will span four decades and there is a mysterious threat beyond the northern The Wall. The people of the Seven Kingdoms must prepare for the danger that will threaten their lives and the stability of the kingdom.

Martin is a master storyteller, keeping you on the edge of your seat and flipping through pages nonstop. The only thing disappointing about the book is that eventually, it comes to an end.

Submitted by Monica @ MPL Central


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April 7, 2011

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde

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Shades of Grey is the first of a series and it doesn't know whether it wants to be science fiction, parable, or mystery. As Fforde lives in Wales it is possible that the story is all three. The story begins innocently with the protagonist announcing that he is being eaten by a carnivorous tree. Then things get really weird. Although outwardly, like our own world, Something Happened an indeterminate time ago that changed everything. Where once everyone could see all colors almost equally, now everyone perceives only one color range (designated by their family name and an appropriate color spot on their lapel). Thus Blood, Russet and Pink all see the red spectrum in varying degrees while to others red is just varying shades of grey. The same is true of all the other colors. Because particular color balance is needed to keep each person sane and healthy, chromatocologists become the country doctors of their society with their licensed swatches restricted to their dispensing. The entire populace is ruled and predicated on the individual's ability to see color.

Then there is the problem of the roads that absorb anything that sits still too long (a few minutes unmoving) on the surface. And the lack of engines that stay working despite mechanics that try their hardest. (There hasn't been a new car or boat built in generations. Even the train is beginning to loose some tracks and parts.) Our narrator--Eddie Russet--wants only to conform, but his curiosity gets the better of him. He discovers that previously obvious rationale for some rules gradually become more absurd as he moves farther and farther from the center of the society. As he poses more questions, his life becomes more complicated and precarious. I find it difficult to easily summarize the story and its logic, but I enjoyed its humor so much that I can hardly wait for the sequel due out this year.

Fforde also writes the Nursery Crimes series (which cast various nursery characters as victims, investigators, and criminals) and the Thursday Next mysteries as well. I've not read any of those mysteries although they have been recommended to me. I have briefly looked at his blog www.jasperfforde.com/ which only reinforces my opinion that his absurdities rival those of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker series.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library


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April 6, 2011

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Kathy is a clone, raised along with a generation of cloned children to "donate" her vital organs. Although she goes through the same experiences as any child growing to adulthood - making and losing friends, going to school, falling in love - her hazy understanding of her destiny endows each moment with a deeper significance. Most deadly and disabling diseases among the naturally-born population have been eliminated as a result of the clone program, but does that justify taking Kathy's life? Does Kathy have a soul?

Despite the alternate-present setting and the element of human cloning, this book is not science fiction. The world is merely a vehicle to address the ethical struggles central to the characters' lives: how we treat those different from us; whether and when we believe that the end justifies the means or that the rights of an individual can be trumped by the needs of the many; whether we accept our fate or grapple with it; and the value of what we do with the time we are given.

As beautifully written as The Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go will not disappoint lovers of Ishiguro's prose or of literary fiction. Fans of science fiction like Neal Shusterman's Unwind or lyrical suspense like James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series will also want to pick this up. Check catalog for availability.

March 23, 2011

Unholy Ghosts by Stacia Kane.

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100 years from now, the Church of Real Truth trains and licenses witches to protect humans from hauntings of real ghosts who mainly want to destroy all live humans. Brash church witch Cesaria "Chess" Putnam, investigating another haunting officially, is blackmailed into purging a haunted airport for the local druglord/mobster. Full of street language, sex, drugs, and violence, I would not recommend this to anyone under 16 without guidance, but it is very well written if you like supernatural urban fantasy. This is the first of the Downside Trilogy. The other books in this trilogy are Unholy Magic and City of Ghosts.

Visit the author's website here.

Submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library



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March 26, 2011

Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson

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Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson (c2009)

Kim Stanley Robinson is best known for his award-winning The Mars Trilogy, which traces the colonization of Mars over many decades. His most recent novel, Galileo's Dream, isn't as different from that spaceship-filled future as it may first seem.

Galileo's Dream opens in the seventeenth century, when a stranger tells Galileo Galilei about an invention he has recently seen in northern Europe. It is a device which combines two lenses to make distant objects appear nearer. The story quickly puts the true science in science fiction, following Galileo through his experiments and discoveries with his improved telescope. Just when you're settling in for a story about a historical scientist, Galileo's stranger returns - this time to transport him to one of the moons of Jupiter which Galileo himself discovered, now colonized by humans in the midst of a political and scientific schism. Galileo is soon embroiled in conflicts even more deadly than his struggles against the Catholic Church and the Inquisition in his own time.

The story unfolds across distant worlds and times, exploring the importance of science in the history of the whole human race through the life and dreams of Galileo himself, who asks, "But why should science have to have a martyr?"

Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park


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March 21, 2011

Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis

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Blackout & All Clear by Connie Willis (c2010)

Taken together, Blackout and All Clear make up a single story, over 1100 pages long. They are the latest epic work from Connie Willis, the winner of ten Hugo Awards and six Nebula Awards for her science fiction. Blackout and All Clear have been jointly nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel of 2010.

Blackout and All Clear take place in a universe Willis has previously explored in two other novels, which are not necessary to read first (Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog). In this future world, the students and faculty of the History Department at the University of Oxford study history by living it - even undergraduates must complete a history practicum in which they use time travel to experience the time period they have studied.

In Blackout we are introduced to various young historians studying the Second World War in England. Eileen is in the peaceful north, observing children evacuated from London to protect them from the bombing. Mike, doing a study of heroism, is headed to the southern coast to meet civilians who assisted in the evacuation of Dunkirk. Meanwhile, Polly is going straight to the heart of London to work as a shopgirl in the middle of the Blitz, with a memorized list of bombing sites to protect her.

All three will be perfectly safe as long as the theory they've been taught holds true - as long as historians can never change the history they've come to observe.

- submitted by Mary Lou @ Washington Park


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March 18, 2011

The Bradbury Report by Steven Polansky

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The Bradbury Report by Steven Polansky (c2009)

Written as a first-person journal, this book examines the idea of human cloning for body parts by cloning whole functioning beings rather than individual organs. Using the pseudonym of Ray Bradbury, the journalist - a retired math teacher - describes how he met his own clone and went on the lam to Canada in the company of an old college girlfriend while the clone's language skills are coached and he is acclimated to normal human social mores. There are no good endings in a book like this, nor does Polansky give us more than an outline of conjectures about the clone-raising operation. Still the book gave me an interesting way to look at the consequences - both socially and morally - of such a widespread government-sponsored program. Check catalog for availabilty.

- submitted by Leah @ Wisconsin Talking Book & Braille Library


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February 26, 2011

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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With A Discovery of Witches, debut novelist Deborah Harkness has created an enchanting read that is equal parts history and magic, with some suspense and romance to boot. Diana Bishop is doing research in Oxford's Bodleian Library and comes across an alchemical manuscript. She makes a few notes and then returns it to the stacks, but the old text has been lost for centuries and its reappearance unleashes long dormant creatures of the underworld. Enter demons and witches and vampires. Of particular interest is Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist, yoga practicioner and wine connoisseur--as well as vampire. Why is he so invested in Diana?

A truly addictive story, at least for me, and it stirred up my curiosity. Harkness suggests these nonfiction titles, all of which inspired some aspect of A Discovery of Witches. Diana Bishop is descended from a long line of witches. In The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England by Carol F. Karlsen you will find out more about some of those witches--the Bishops and the Proctors--while reading a classic interpretation of what happened in Salem in 1692. Bruce Moran's Distilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientific Revolution is a fantastic book which is extremely readable. It will give you a new appreciation for the alchemists. And, The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes provides an introduction to the study of genetics, and to the legacies that are carried from generation to generation among the population.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL


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December 15, 2010

Too Many Magicians by Randall Garrett

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1966 looks very different in a world in which the Plantagenet kings have remained in perpetual power, and the discovery of the Laws of Magic obviated the need for the study of the physical sciences. Crime, however, looks about the same.

When a high-profile Master wizard is murdered in a physically and magically sealed room, it's deduction, not thaumaturgy, that can reveal the culprit. Enter Lord Darcy, a man with no magical abilities but a stunning analytical mind. Fans of Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe will recognize this brusque yet brilliant character with unimpeachable integrity.

What begins as a classic locked-room mystery evolves with brilliant turns of plot, well-drawn characters, and a touch of magic that only serves to highlight the magnitude of Darcy's scientific genius. Highly recommended for all lovers of puzzles, and guaranteed to keep you guessing until the last moment.

Too Many Magicians can also be found in the compilation Lord Darcy.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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January 19, 2011

Sapphique by Catherine Fisher

Sapphique is the much-anticipated sequel to Incarceron, a dystopia in which entire generations inhabit a living prison. In book 1, teens Finn and Claudia struggled to escape; now in Sapphique, they must find their place while torn between the world outside and the world they left behind. If you've been waiting breathlessly for the new installment, here it is! If this is your first introduction to the series, start with Incarceron.



Check catalog for availability.
Or start with the first book in the series, Incarceron.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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November 16, 2010

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

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Mockingjay is the third book in the extremely popular Hunger Games trilogy for young adults. In the first two books in the series, 16 year old, Katniss Everdeen survived two trips into the Hunger Games arena where tributes from 12 districts are forced to fight to the death in televised competition by the evil rulers of the Capitol. As Mockingjay begins, Katniss has just escaped the arena with help from District 13. For the moment Katniss, her family, and best friend Gale are all safe. But Katniss cannot help but worry about the friends she left behind in the Capitol, especially Peeta who fought beside her in the arena and is now a prisoner of President Snow. Uprisings have begun in the other 11 districts and Katniss's home District 12 has been destroyed. President Snow wants to take his revenge on the girl who has become a symbol of freedom for those who were once so completely under his control. No one connected with Katniss is safe so she is forced to take an active role in promoting the uprisings though she begins to doubt the motives of the leaders of District 13 as much as she once hated the actions of President Snow and the Capitol.

Many teens (and adults) will eagerly read to find a resolution to the Katniss/ Peeta/ Gail triangle but the book is not a romance. It is more a story about war and what happens to people in war. What is the role that media plays in war? Does power always have a corrupting influence? Can anyone who has fought in a war not be changed forever? What is the real price of freedom? These questions and many more are raised by the story. Once again the author ties in many intriguing threads to create a thoughtful and moving story with no easy answers.

--submitted by Fran @ Bay View



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October 22, 2010

The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Caroline Funke

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Who among us has not wished to live in the world that exists in one of our favorite stories? Or to have some wonderful piece of that story become a reality in ours? For Meggie and her father Mo the pages of books become portals to other worlds that allow people, animals, and everything else to pass back and forth... although sometimes at a high or dangerous cost. Not the lighthearted children's fairytale you may think it would be Inkheart overflows with malevolent characters vying for power and revenge popping up in one world and then blasting back into their own wreaking havoc wherever they land. In this trilogy readers and writers (those featured in the book), and those who control them, hold the ultimate power to permanently alter the worlds around them constantly leaving the characters and us precariously unbalanced and unsure of how it will all turn out. Who will live? Who will die, when, and how many times?

Check catalog for availability.




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July 13, 2010

Century #1: Ring of Fire by Pierdomenico Baccalario

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It is snowing in Rome the night that four kids, brought together by fate, discover they were all born on February twenty-ninth, Leap Day. Later that night they run into a man who tells them "You know. You all know! It's begun! They know. And they're coming!", and insists the kids take his briefcase. The clues inside send them all over Rome in search of "The Ring of Fire", while a man who kills with his violin goes all over Rome looking for the kids and the briefcase. What is the Ring of Fire? How does it work? And who will find it first? Ring of Fire is the first book in a series of four which will have the kids traveling to four different cities all over the world. The second book, Century #2: Star of Stone, will be available September 28, 2010.

Submitted by Alison @ MPL Central

August 25, 2010

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.

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After fifteen year old Liz takes a journey on the SS Nile she arrives at Elsewhere, the "place" where people go after they die. Her first task while in Elsewhere is to go to Binoculars #219 and watch her own funeral as it takes place down on Earth. She absolutely hates her new "life" and cannot let go of her former life, so she goes to the Binoculars everyday to watch her family and friends as they live out their daily lives. However, Liz has new responsibilities now that she is dead. Even though she is only teenager, she needs to get a job, earn money, learn to drive a car, and make new friends. Full of happiness and sadness, Zevin writes a sweet story about accepting the lot you are given and truly loving those around you. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central


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July 6, 2010

In the Stormy Red Sky by David Drake

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In the Stormy Red Sky (check catalog for availability) is the seventh installment of David Drake's Republic of Cinnabar Navy (RCN) series. David Drake is one of my favorite authors, mainly for his ability to slip effortlessly between the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres.

His Republic Of Cinnabar Navy series is a true space opera, complete with large space battles reminiscent of the naval battles of the 19th century. Beyond the well-crafted action sequences, the plot moves along at a fast clip.

Drake's character development is exquisite. I got hooked on the series with the first book because the main character was a librarian. Adele Mundy is my kind of female protagonist. She is extremely intelligent, practical, efficient, and ruthless in pursuit of her goals and the goals of Daniel Leary, her close friend and captain (in this book). While Adele started out as a librarian she is now one of the most accomplished spies in the Republic of Cinnabar.

The story unfolds mainly from Adele's point of view. The captain and crew of the RCN's newest ship are tasked with transporting a new ambassador to a star cluster that is allied to Cinnabar. When they arrive at their destination they realize that the new ruler of this area is not especially stable. They also learn that the Alliance of Free Stars' navy has just won a major battle and has succeeded in taking over one of Cinnabar's star systems.

Adele and Daniel must somehow return to Cinnabar space in one piece both physically and politically. This is a fun novel that is reminiscent of Horatio Hornblower. It is the seventh in the series, and while it can be read alone I would recommend at least reading the first book in the series With the Lightnings (check catalog for availability) in order to get a handle on the main characters' history with each other.

Submitted by Rose @ MPL Central.

June 29, 2010

Soulless and Changeless, both by Gail Carriger

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Gail Carriger's debut novels Soulless and Changeless (check catalog for availability) were so much fun that I had to go out right away and get the second one to read before I even finished the first. Both novels are in Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate series. Set in a parallel Victorian steampunk England where vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and other creatures are contributing members of society, Carriger's main character has to navigate not only the dangers of the supernatural set but also the murky depths of high society.

Alexia Tarabotti has to contend both with the discomfort of being half-Italian in English Victorian society, as well as concealing the fact that she is preternatural. Preternaturals are not well known either among the ton or the supernatural set and can revert a supernatural back to their human state simply by touching them. Alexia deals with the supernaturals in a way that befits her station and refuses to tolerate rudeness or impropriety.

In Soulless, after Alexia accidentally kills a vampire, she must join forces with Lord Conall Maccon who happens to not only be an earl but is also the Alpha werewolf of London's werewolf pack. Alexia finds Lord Maccon to be rude and forward but is strangely attracted to him. For his part, Lord Maccon finds Alexia to be headstrong and frustrating. Together they must overcome their personality conflicts to determine why some vampires are disappearing and new ones are appearing.

In Changeless Alexia (now Lady Maccon) must once again team up with her now-husband Lord Maccon. As Alexia tries to adjust to her new relationship to Conall, the supernatural population of London is afflicted by a plague of mortality. Because of her abilities as a preternatural Alexia is, of course, blamed for the unfortunate incident. At Queen Victoria's request she looks into the incident only to find that its cause may be tied to her husband's past.

These two books were great fun and a great summer read. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion, and am eagerly awaiting the third installment in the series.

Submitted by Rose @ MPL Central.

May 13, 2010

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games is set in Panem, a future North America. This nation is ruled by The Capitol (which seems to be in the Denver area) and surrounded by 12 districts. An annual competition called The Hunger Games is held, in which one girl and one boy from each District competes in a fight to the death, which is televised night and day during the competition. When 16 year old Katniss Everdeen's little sister is chosen for the games she steps forward to take her place; Katniss does this knowing that she is probably going to die.

When another librarian described this as a cross between The Running Man and The Lord of Flies I finally checked it out. I wish I wouldn't have waited so long...I couldn't put it down. If you want to continue the story, it is a trilogy; the second book is Catching Fire and Mockingjay, book three, comes out August 24th.

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

December 7, 2009

Far North by Marcel Theroux

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Stories of human survival in a post apocalyptic setting are not unfamiliar, but when finely crafted and well written, they can be fresh, thought provoking, and lovingly bleak. The inevitable comparison to Cormac McCarthy's The Road aside, Far North is a captivating tale of perseverance and survival. Set in the far northern section of Siberia after civilization is decimated by a global warming disaster and nuclear contamination, Makepeace Hatfield is the sole survivor of her settlement. She lives a solitary life spent patrolling an empty town with her precious guns and horse. After seeing an airplane crash, Makepeace realizes there must be some advanced civilization left in the world and sets out to find it. Her quest is filled with loneliness, desolation and hardship, much like the barren wastelands and empty cities through which she travels. Though the world she lives in is fraught with violence and fear, Makepeace is a woman of exceptional strength and the driving force of this novel.

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Dan@Central

October 21, 2009

A Certain Slant Of Light by Laura Whitcomb

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Helen and James are a kind of "ghost" that is trapped on earth for the cliché reason of unresolved issues. However, this novel is nothing like the cliché. The eerie story flashes back and forth to Helen's life and her unusual ghost life. The manner in which Helen and James find each other and figure out how to pass beyond earth to the next phase of their "life" mesmerizes the reader. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

August 31, 2009

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

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Ken Masen, in the hospital with his eyes bandaged, awakens to a collapsing society brought upon by a green meteor shower that left everyone who witnessed it blind. After un-bandaging his eyes, Ken, able to see, wanders through a chaotic London populated by panicked and unruly blind people until he meets Josella, who can also still see. Together, they discover a group of other sighted people led by a disturbed man named Beadley.
While this bedlam is occurring, it seems man-eating plants named triffids, which can walk and communicate amongst themselves, are "walking" amok and preying on the weak and blind!
This fascinating story of morality and evil almost left me rooting for the repugnant plants to eat everybody! Truly a post World War II science fiction classic, Day of the Triffids should be savored for its shockability and pure ol' wackiness! Highly recommended.

Check catalog availability

Submitted by Dan @ Central

August 10, 2009

2009 Hugo Awards

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Hugo Awards are awards for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy. They were first awarded in 1953, and have been awarded every year since 1955. The awards are run by and voted on by fans. The Hugo Awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, a famous magazine editor who did much to bring science fiction to a wider audience. Gernsback founded Amazing Stories, the first major American SF magazine, in 1926. He is widely credited with sparking a boom in interest in written SF. In addition to having the Hugo Awards named after him he has been recognized as the “Father of Magazine SF” and has a crater on the Moon named after him.

This year's Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress can be found in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-sixth Annual Collection. The focal point is Henry Erdmann, a retired physicist, who takes the role of detective in figuring out mysterious ailments linked with visions and apparent mental powers that the residents begin to experience. There's a theme of human evolution and transcendence, but there are also moments of character conflict. Check catalog for availability.

July 6, 2009

H.G. Wells Science Fiction Pioneer!

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H. G. Wells (1866-1946) was a highly successful English writer, historian, and teacher, but is mainly remembered for his classic and influential works of science fiction. His imaginative and scientific mind created a number of stories that have intrigued, terrified and thrilled readers for over a century.

Wells' works have been widely filmed and one of his stories was indirectly involved in what is often considered to be one of the greatest hoaxes in history. During an episode of a popular radio show on the evening of October 30, 1938, Orson Welles directed and narrated a reading of War of the Worlds, a story of an alien invasion of Earth written 40 years earlier. The radio broadcast was so well done that many people actually believed an alien invasion was occurring as they listened to the terrified Orson Welles perform.

Though Wells wrote many other distinguished works that cover a wide range of topics, I’d like to recommend the following classic works:

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When a mysterious stranger appears at a country inn swaddled in bandages from head to toe, the local townspeople become curious, suspicious and terrified. What hideous fate has fallen upon THE INVISIBLE MAN?


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When some shipwrecked survivors land on a deserted Pacific island they thought their lives were spared, but instead, they were cast into the living hell that is THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU.

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A scientist builds a time machine and travels thousands of years into the future. He finds beauty, but he also finds the monstrous Morlocks! Can THE TIME MACHINE get him safely home?


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Can the earth survive a martian attack? Find out in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS!

For these titles and all works by H.G. Wells, including audio books and film adaptations, please click on the link here: H.G. Wells catalog availability.

Submitted by Dan @ Central

December 29, 2008

Fairy Tales For Adults

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Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Stardust follows the adventures of Tristran Thorn as he hunts down a fallen star to bring back to Victoria Forester, the woman he loves and wants to marry. The fallen star, however, has landed in the forbidden neighboring realms of Faerie. Witches, unicorns, flying pirate ships and other magical events do not phase Tristran, but do the reader. This novel comes in many formats - book, audio, graphic novel, illustrated novel and movie. The movie has been toned down to appeal to a wider audience, but Gaiman wrote the screenplay and therefore it remains true to the original story. This fairy tale is very entertaining and one I will most definitely read again. Check catalog for availability.


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The Frog Prince by Stephen Mitchell

Mitchell puts a serious and contemplative spin on the traditional frog prince fairy tale. Both the frog and princess have unexpected and engaging personalities. Their stubborn behaviors immediately put tension into the story making the reader wonder if the tale will end happily ever after. The conflict builds and keeps you reading up to a shocking ending. Check catalog for availability.

Ever since reading this tale I hunted for other authors who similarly put a spin on traditional fairy tales. One such book is right below.


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The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

I have enjoyed all of the Mercedes Lackey books I read thus far. The Fairy Godmother puts a twist on the traditional Cinderella tale. What happens when Cinderella and the Prince cannot marry because one of them is an infant? Or when the fairy godmother is ready to retire without an apprentice? These and other traditional tales are interwoven by Lackey to create a new and fantastic fairy tale for adults. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Paula N. @ MPL Central

April 14, 2008

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

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A member of a species that takes over the minds of human bodies, Wanderer is unable to disregard her host's love for a man in hiding, a situation that forces both possessor and host to become unwilling allies. A first adult novel by the author of the Twilight series. Check catalog for availability.

A couple of friends kept telling me to read Twilight, but I was skeptical because I don't read 'vampire books.' But, they wore me down and I inhaled the first book in less than 48 hours. Now, I look forward to every addition to the series, the movie, and anything else Ms. Meyers has for me to read. The Host is also not a book I would typically expect to enjoy, but she has an uncanny way of making me want to know her characters and everything that happens to them in their lives. If you've read Stephenie Meyer, please share your comments. How did you hear about her? Would you recommend any other authors like her?

- Submitted by Jacki

About Science Fiction / Fantasy

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to READ @ MPL in the Science Fiction / Fantasy category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Romance is the previous category.

Urban Fiction is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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