Thanksgiving is next week, and then we launch into a full period of exams for December. You’ll be up late studying a lot, so what to do in those precious hours you have downtime and want to just relax? Well, how about read (or re-read) the Harry Potter series?
It’s a fun adventure, with magic, hard choices, and a characters not always being what they seem. On top of that, the fact it was written for a slightly younger audience means you can fly through the first few books, getting yourself almost immediately to the parts that made you sad the first time around (don’t lie, you know you felt a few tears leak out, and you know which part is being referred to).
One of the absolute strengths of the series is on Rowling’s ability to bring the world of wizards alive, creating characters that it is impossible not to feel sympathy for (or, in some cases, impossible not to hate. Looking at you, Umbridge). Between Ron, Harry, Hermione, and Neville, every single reader ends up having a favorite they find themselves rooting for through seven straight books, and it’s a joy to see them each grow and change as more events unfold.
Of course, no discussion of Potter would be complete without pointing out just how much fun the names are to read – Albus Dumbledore, Severus Snape, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasely, Neville Longbottom, Minerva McGonagall, Rubeus Hagrid, Dolores Umbridge, Voldemort, Draco Malfoy – Rowling has a Dickensian way of naming a character perfectly for their personality, making it even more fun to see them running around the castle together.
So pick up a hot Butterbeer Latte from Starbucks (part of their secret menu), crack open Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and let yourself be taken away down Memory Lane on a broomstick.
And good luck on your exams.
Dog On It is a hugely entertaining book about two private detectives one of whom is a dog. Meet the story’s narrator Chet, a K9 school drop-out rescued by Bernie Little owner of the Little Detective Agency. Chet will tell you that he almost made it through his final test at the police academy but something happened – something he is a little fuzzy on except there may have been a cat involved. That’s OK though because now Chet helps Bernie nab all kinds of “perps”. The plot involves a missing teen named Madison. Bernie, recently divorced and currently a little down on his luck, tells Madison’s frantic mother that they will take the case and find her daughter.
All dog lovers will recognize Chet who adores his partner unconditionally, who knows how to find happiness from the all little things in life and who will always find the Cheerios that have spilled under the kitchen table. Chet’s attempts to try and puzzle out the meanings of various “human” expressions and following his stream of consciousness as thoughts come and go are often hilarious.
This is the first book in the series by Cape Cod author Spencer Quinn and it is a delight to read.
Review by JoAnne Griffin
The Night Circus is a story that sticks with you. Morgenstern’s poetic approach to descriptions of the circus and its denizens dance on the page, and after finishing the book, anything less poetic end up coming off as drab. Really, the circus almost comes alive when you’re reading, and there are moments you begin to wonder if you can smell the popcorn and caramel she continually refers to.
In an odd happenstance, the two characters at the center of the contest that powers the story actually end up feeling a bit contrived by the last page, making the reader wonder how the rest of the book veritably sparkles, and then that can still happen. Still, it doesn’t truly detract from the story in any meaningful way. The issues that the reader may take with certain elements of that piece of the story stand out all the more because of the nearly effortless way the rest of the book pulls itself together.
You can do far worse than picking up The Night Circus, even with so few beach days left to the year. Of course, perhaps the visual and olfactory sensations present on the page will bring the sharp air of the impending autumn into relief.
There’s certainly one easy way to find out.
Want to read The Night Circus? You can check it out at Hirsh! Just click the cover to be taken to the listing in the catalog. Happy reading!
Ready Player One ended being a much, much better book than one would assume at face value. On the surface, the story surrounds a gamer named Wade, as he attempts to make friends and find a hidden Easter egg treasure deep within the bowels of the largest multi-player game ever concocted, OASIS. But there are catches: the people he’s friends with are also competing for the prize; a huge conglomerate corporation is trying to steal it out from under them; and the only person who even knew where to find the keys to get to the tests to try to win the prize was the game’s mastermind, who started the contest in his last will and testament.
The prize? $2.4 billion and a controlling stake in his company.
Ready Player One actually tends to make the reader forget that they’re reading about a character playing a game, and when compared to the “real” world, it’s easy to see how that happens. By the point the story begins, Earth has been absolutely ravaged by war and food and fuel shortages, and has become little more than an apocalyptic wasteland where people have to scrape a living together to get by. This is the world OASIS was born into, and this is the world that gave it the distinction of being the biggest game in world history. And then the contest starts.
Cline has littered the book with references to and trivia of pop culture from the last thirty years, so reading the story is almost like an exciting trip through nostalgia. The characters are fun, the story’s engaging, and the stakes are high. Ready Player One becomes a page turner quickly, and definitely deserves the distinction.
Want to read Ready Player One? You can check it out at Hirsh! Just click the cover to be taken to the listing in the catalog. Happy reading!
Book Review by Jane Ichord, Information Services Librarian
Want to take a break from your job, leave your house behind and move to Paris? If you’re like me, your first answer is “Yes!” and your second answer is “I can’t!”, then follow my lead and pick up a copy of “Paris In Love: A Memoir” by Eloisa James instead. It’s the perfect outlet for living vicariously. James, a professor and writer of historical romances, documents her sabbatical year in the City of Love and Lights. During the course of the year, she eats and shops her way through Paris, offering her audience a glimpse of daily life croissant by croissant. As with any good read, there’s plenty of conflict on which to report — James’ European life is not all fun and games: her husband and kids are along for the ride. There are anecdotes about navigating Parisian schools, surviving ordinary marital spats in foreign territory, and gaining perspective on those less economically fortunate.
James’ account is the perfect T or beach read, packed with abbreviated vignettes that, in fact, started out as Facebook posts. It’s my idea of the perfect summer escape; shopping without spending, eating without the calories, and the right mix of adventure and reality to keep me from canceling my week at the beach and booking a one-way flight to Paris.
Book Review by Amy LaVertu, Information Services Librarian
What does it mean to have talent?
Does having talent really matter if it doesn’t get recognized?
Is talent a ticket for happiness, success and a life worth living?
These questions are at the heart of Meg Wolitzer’s captivating new novel, The Interestings. Wolitzer’s novel centers on the lives and loves of a group of six friends who meet as teenagers at a summer camp for the arts in the mid-1970’s. The group, which calls themselves “the Interestings,” believes that their talents will protect them from a fate worse than death… an ordinary life. However, talent proves to be a mixed bag as the group enters the adult world and comes to understand that talent is no guarantee for success, happiness, or a meaningful life. When one member of the group member achieves wild success as an animator (think Matt Groening of “The Simpsons” fame), the other members must face what their talent, or lack therefore, has brought them in life.
Set largely in New York City, The Interestings spans four decades. Reminiscent of the Up series of documentaries which tracks a group of school children into adulthood, the reader gets to experience the characters’ development from insecure teenagers who see only limitless options ahead of them to jaded middle-aged adults. Wolitzer seamlessly interweaves events of the day (e.g., Nixon’s resignation, the AIDS crisis, the Central Park jogger attack, 9/11) to give readers the broader context of her characters’ lives. While the novel clocks in just shy of 500 pages, The Interestings is a surprisingly brisk read. Reading The Interestings evokes the same feeling one gets when one catches up with long lost friends; the hours fly by and yet there is much more to say.
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