Rachel Reviews: City on Fire

City on Fire is a behemoth of a novel – clocking in at over 900 pages – but it feels overwrought and excessive, as if author Garth Risk Hallberg simply wanted the world to know that he was capable of writing such an opus. The core action – which spans about seven months in 1977…

Jim Reviews: The Watchmaker of Filigree Street – Natasha Pulley

I admit I picked up this book because of the cover. I first saw it in the new book display by the circ desk (if you haven’t checked that one out you really should there are a lot of gems there). And everything on the cover of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street has a connection to the story which makes it even cooler. Plus it has really great endpapers. This is Natasha Pulley’s first book and it is a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy.

Jim Reviews: Once Upon a Time in Russia – Ben Mezrich

Mezrich’s Once Upon a Time in Russia: The Rise of the Oligarchs is a hard book to categorize which in my mind says it’ll will appeal to a wide variety of people. This is a book that could be read as a history of Russia in the 1990s and early 2000s It could be read as true crime literature. It also has the machinations of big business, the intrigues of government and the shadowy feel of espionage. All of this is set against the background of Russia after the collapse of Communism.

Rachel Reviews: Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes

Where Station Eleven cornered speculative fiction with a flu virus turned pandemic, Broken Monsters turned its spotlight on a probable schizophrenic serial killer roaming around the city of Detroit in real time.

And, yes, both hooked me with narratives, and kept me reading past bedtime, and fed me answers just as quickly as they kept me asking questions…

Jen Reviews: The Ingredients of Love – Nicolas Barreau

Reviewed by Jen “A charming restaurant A book and its mysterious author A little secret A romantic meeting Paris and all its magic . . . Cyrano de Bergerac meets Chocolat and Amélie in this intelligent, charming, and entertaining publishing sensation from Europe. While in the midst of a breakup-induced depression, Aurélie Bredin, a beautiful…

Michelle Reviews: Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book – Gerard Jones

There’s no lie in that subtitle: the birth of the comic book (the storytelling, the art, the characters, the industry, all those egos) is the axis on which Men of Tomorrow turns. The thing is, a whole, beaming-bright universe of American history glommed on for the ride. There be decades in these pages, long years that hosted war and prohibition and depression and hope that ebbed and flowed like the tide. And I loved every minute spent on delving into the details.

Rachel Reviews Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy

Since seeing all three Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) as well as David Fincher’s Oscar-winning adaptation, I’ve felt no real need to read the books – until I kind of joined a book club and then quit after I’d already started reading the first book… and, man, I was hooked.

Staff Review: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of those books that I think everyone’s at least heard of – if not read themselves. It’s a familiar story, with both substantial literary themes and characters that have transcended the confines of the novel. It’s both a difficult read and an easy story to follow. And I honestly did not think that I was going to love the book as much as I did.

Staff Review: Sous Chef – Michael Gibney

I’ve been reading a lot of history lately so I decided to take a break and indulge one of my other interests: cooking. Part of the reason Sous Chef: 24 Hours On The Line caught my eye (besides being bright red and having a knife on the cover) was that it is different from your average book on the world of fine dining.

Joint Staff Review: Traitor’s Blade – Sebastien de Castell

This is the story of how Jim came to read Traitor’s Blade:
Michelle, after one chapter: Dude, this is basically Three Musketeers fanfiction!
Jim: Oh? Are there swords?
Michelle: Yes! And magic! Okay, that’s not very Three Musketeers, but fanfiction! And I know who’s who.
Jim: Yeah? Who’s Ara–
Michelle: Oh, no. You’re going to read it and then we’ll discuss.
Jim: *gets book that evening*…

Staff Review: Coraline – Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Rachel By all accounts, Neil Gaiman’s children’s book Coraline is a strange and creepy piece of fiction. It features another set of parents for its protagonist, Coraline Jones, who live through the hallway behind the door that goes nowhere. Copies of her next door neighbors, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, perform nightly for…

Staff Review: Midnight in Europe – Alan Furst

Reviewed by Jim It’s been a good spring/summer for the historical spy novel genre. A couple weeks ago David Downing’s Jack of Spies came out and now we have Alan Furst’s Midnight in Europe. Fans of Furst will immediately recognize the style and plot of this book. Christian Ferrar is a well to do Spanish…

Staff Review: Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd

Reviewed by Carol 4.5 Stars. Remarkable historical fiction about a Southern family’s views on slavery pre-Civil War, and the relationship between one of the daughters, Sarah Grimké, and her slave, Handful. Grimké and her sister, Angelina, become passionate about abolition, and eventually become active publicly for the cause, resulting in many life changes, some positive…

Michelle Recommends

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age – W. Bernard Carlson | Here’s the thing: I may never again want to hear the words commutator, stator or rotor, but I will very probably never get enough of Nikola Tesla. Most everyone has heard the name, but aside from his innovative work with AC and polyphase systems, how…

Jen Recommends

The Perfume Collector – Kathleen Tessaro After receiving an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, newlywed socialite Grace Monroe must uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor. Weaving through the decades from 1920s New York to 1950s Monte Carlo, Paris and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary woman who inspired one…

Staff Review: Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Reviewed by Drew Let’s face it, magic schools where callow youth learn to be wizards and accidentally end up saving the world a few times are the bacon of fantasy literature – delicious but overused. We’ve Potter’d around Hogwarts, can Kwothe the University’s motto by heart, and have sampled the Coldwater showers at Brakebills Academy…

Staff Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky – Nancy Horan

Under the Wide and Starry Sky is dual historical fiction biography of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny Osbourne. The story begins with Fanny arriving in Antwerp with her children fleeing her philandering husband in America. A lot of time is spent with Fanny before Stevenson is introduced in chapter ten jumping through a window in…

The Passage – Justin Cronin

Reviewed by Kim What would happen if the scientific community and the military got together and created a virus which essentially turned people into vampires? This is the basic premise of Justin Cronin’s third novel. Predictably, the origin of the virus has so much potential. A vampire bat virus which could make humans immortal and…