Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Amulet: Escape from Lucien

Amulet: Escape from Lucien
Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Aleece


Summary: Kazu Kibuishi’s #1 New York Times bestselling series continues!  Emily, Navin, and their friends continue to battle the Elf King in hopes of destroying him forever, but one of his most loyal followers, Max, isn’t making it easy for them.  The crew journeys to Lucien, a city that’s been ravaged by the war.  Emily has more enemies there than she realizes—and it’ll take everything she’s got to get herself and her friends out of the city alive.
Review: We start this volume by seeing Max and Logi heading towards the Elf King with Logi stating that he has an ominous feeling. Then we see Navin and Aly get into trouble by arriving late to class and then to make matters worse Navin is banned from operating any type of vehicle. Finally we see Vigo, Emily and Trellis who meets up briefly with Navin before parting ways again. 

However, after seeing where all of the characters are, it jumps right in to non-stop action and an adrenaline rush that makes the entire volume fly by like it is a movie playing right off the pages until you finally hit the end of the volume and realize it is to be continued again. 

This book is a wonderful masterpiece that kids/adults of all ages will enjoy and want to reread over and over again. The illustrations are marvelous and while this ARC only had some color, the good portion that had it was amazing and I can't wait to see the final product. The story and artwork are simply stunning.

Friday, September 26, 2014

We want your reviews!

We don't want this blog to be just about what our staff think of books!  We'd like to get your recommendations too!  Please email mstevens@rlalibrary.org with reviews of books that you'd like to recommend.  The only requirements are that it is a positive review and you give it a star rating.  We may do some light editing for grammar and we'll give you credit by first name and last initial unless you specify otherwise. 

Send those reviews in!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui

At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Treasures of Mawangdui
Author: Christine Liu-Perkins
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Christi


Summary: This middle-grade chapter book unearths the mysteries of the Mawangdui (mah-wahng-dway) tombs, one of China's top archaeological finds of the last century. Miniature servants, mysterious silk paintings, scrolls of long-lost secrets, and the best preserved mummy in the world (the body of Lady Dai) are just some of the artifacts that shed light upon life in China during the Han dynasty.

Review: The cover of this book is what captured my attention. It’s interesting and gross at the same time (so the kids should love it). The cover has a picture of Lady Dai and her amazingly well preserved skin after being buried for 2,200 years. Inside the book, you find out about the archaeological dig that unearthed her and two others. They also found a treasure trove of more than 3,000 artifacts from beginning of the Han dynasty that had people all over the world flocking to the museum. So how was her skin still moist and her joints were still movable (normally rigor mortis starts writhing 12 hours after death)? Check out this book to find out!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Orphan’s Tales

Title: The Orphan’s Tales; Volume 1: the Night Garden & Volume 2: In the Cities of Coin and Spice
Author: Catherynne M. Valente
Rating: 5 /5


Summary (From Amazon):

The Orphan’s Tales; Volume 1: the Night Garden A Book of Wonders for Grown-Up Readers

Every once in a great while a book comes along that reminds us of the magic spell that stories can
cast over us–to dazzle, entertain, and enlighten. Welcome to the Arabian Nights for our time–a lush and fantastical epic guaranteed to spirit you away from the very first page….

Secreted away in a garden, a lonely girl spins stories to warm a curious prince: peculiar feats and unspeakable fates that loop through each other and back again to meet in the tapestry of her voice. Inked on her eyelids, each twisting, tattooed tale is a piece in the puzzle of the girl’s own hidden history. And what tales she tells! Tales of shape-shifting witches and wild horsewomen, heron kings and beast princesses, snake gods, dog monks, and living stars–each story more strange and fantastic than the one that came before. From ill-tempered “mermaid” to fastidious Beast, nothing is ever quite what it seems in these ever-shifting tales–even, and especially, their teller. Adorned with illustrations by the legendary Michael Kaluta, Valente’s enchanting lyrical fantasy offers a breathtaking reinvention of the untold myths and dark fairy tales that shape our dreams. And just when you think you’ve come to the end, you realize the adventure has only begun….

Volume 2: In the Cities of Coin and Spice

Catherynne M. Valente enchanted readers with her spellbinding In the Night Garden. Now she continues to weave her storytelling magic in a new book of Orphan’s Tales—an epic of the fantastic and the exotic, the monstrous and mysterious, that will transport you far away from the everyday….

Her name and origins are unknown, but the endless tales inked upon this orphan’s eyelids weave a spell over all who listen to her read her secret history. And who can resist the stories she tells? From the Lake of the Dead and the City of Marrow to the artists who remain behind in a ghost city of spice, here are stories of hedgehog warriors and winged skeletons, loyal leopards and sparrow calligraphers. Nothing is too fantastic, anything can happen, but you’ll never guess what comes next in these intimately linked adventures of firebirds and djinn, singing manticores, mutilated unicorns, and women made entirely of glass and gears. Graced with the magical illustrations of Michael Kaluta, In the Cities of Coins and Spice is a book of dreams and wonders unlike any you’ve ever encountered. Open it anywhere and you will fall under its spell. For here the story never ends and the magic is only beginning….


It’s hard to talk about these books in-depth without revealing the stories contained within, because of that I shall be straight to be point as I can be with this review. I personally found each volume of this series to be wonderful and entirely enthralling. And since one of the aspects of the tales is the power a story has, with it even affecting both teller and listener, that effect is more than appropriate. But in fair warning I must mention the stories are told on several levels and not exactly linear in their telling. An example goes as follows: Story Orphan tells->Story told by character A->Story told by character B taking place an unknown amount of time ago->Story Orphan tells->Story told by character C which is another viewpoint of B’s Story, ETC. Or another way to envision it is a series of nesting dolls, each one containing and leading to another, even if it’s just another face on one of the dolls

These are not the kind of stories where you can just take things in passively. To understand the whole narrative, and in the end every fragment of these tales does creates a single narrative, you have to be able to focus. Because without focusing and paying attention the connections between the stories, which sometimes are nothing more than a simple and quickly mentioned word, could be utterly lost. But the stories, on all levels, are worth the challenge of making yourself understand the narrative. They are worth the tears, the smiles, the horror, and the disgust they call pull out of your heart. I wish you to enjoy these tales as I did, and let yourself be lost in a world where even the gods can be lost children and the one’s fate can be written on their eyes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Hug

How to Hug
Author: Maryann Macdonald
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Christi

Summary: The reader is invited to consider some things about when, who, and how to hug and also advised to be prepared to receive one in return.

Review: It’s amazing what a hug can do! With wonderful illustrations the author gives this adorable book just the right amount of charm. It’s a sweet storytime book for preschoolers & toddlers. This hug guidebook would be a great gift for holidays or even just because.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesdays at the Castle

Tuesdays at the Castle
Author: Jessica Day George
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Aleece


Summary: Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays, the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book, from a fan and bookseller favorite, kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.

Review: Celie loves Castle Glower and the castle loves her back. She knows the ins and outs and ups and downs. She loves the changing passages and new rooms that it builds and when it wants her to do something it creates a new door for her to go through. All of this comes in handy when her father and mother are presumed dead and her brother, Rolf is to be crowned king but at the same time become a puppet to the council and Khelsh, a foreign prince who will stop at nothing to take control of the castle. 

Overall, this is a wonderful story that was way more thrilling than I could have imagined. The changes in the castle and the changes in the people within the castle make this for a fast paced read that leaves you wanting more and more with each turn of the page.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Author: Bill Thomson
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Sue


Summary: This wonderful book is about three children who find a bag of magical chalk at the playground on a rainy day.  Their drawings come to life, which seems great when a drawing of the sun stops the rain, but is scary when a dinosaur stalks them!

Review: The realistic illustrations tell the story in this wordless book.  All you need is a little imagination and the breathtakingly real illustrations, and you are set for a real adventure!