Patron Reviews

Reviews of books, movies, CDs and audiobooks written by ELPL Patrons. Post your own review here.

Leviathan

Review written by: Katie M.
5

Being generally unaccustomed to the strangely fascinating realm of steampunk (more or less historical science fiction, for those who aren't in the know) I bought this book from a school book fair at the last minute, knowing that it had been recommended to me by several of my friends. I am so glad that I did. Leviathan takes place in an alternate 1914, when the central European Clankers (termed such because of their complicated and anachronistically advanced machines) are on the brink of war with the western European and Russian Darwinists (as their weapons, transport, and technology comes in the form of genetically engineered, or "fabricated", animals). The plot focuses on the young Prince Aleksander, son of the recently murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, as he flees from those out to remove any trace of the threat he poses to ending World War I. In England, a Scottish girl named Deryn, about Alek's age, disguises herself as Dylan Sharp in order to join the British Air Service. Their paths cross, of course, and even though they are supposed to be enemies, neither wishes the other ill. The plot kept me reading for its own sake, although anyone who has read a novel with multiple main characters will understand that I might prefer Alek's misadventures to Deryn's. The reader is pushed along by the nearly incessant action and complications the characters face, and is left hanging at the end of the novel. First-time readers will be glad to know that the sequel Behemoth was released this fall. The history in this book, though not always accurate, made Leviathan enjoyable in another way. It provides a few points of familiarity to the reader, and made this history geek smile more than once. Although I tend to receive laughs when I say that I love books with pictures, the fairly detailed art in Leviathan enhances the story as much as anything. They are beautiful, if sometimes disturbing, and seem as natural a part of the novel as the Clanker's Stormwalkers or the Darwinist's flying whale. On the off chance that you skipped over the rest of this review, this book is highly recommended to anyone wishing to find an amazing and perhaps unexpectedly good read

By Author/Artist: Scott Westerfeld
ISBN: 9781416971757

Trouble Don't Last

Review written by: Lottie
3
The book I'm reading is a very sad story on how a boy named Samuel who is a slave. Samuel's mother was taken away from him, and since then he doesn't remember what happened that day. Later one day Samuel is brought outside from one of his friends, or guardians and is on his way to a new adventure.
By Author/Artist: Shelly Pearsall
Format: hardcover
ISBN: 0375814906

The Windup Girl

Review written by: Julia Purosky
4

The Windup Girl is very successful in creating a future Bangkok grappling with the social and political issues of its day. It has become a society of fugitives, foreigners, and the native Thai people who wish stubbornly for Bangkok to remain the sacred city of their ancestors. The Thai are now struggling against the manipulative corporate power of the Calorie Companies that are trying to ensure the country's dependence on them so they may make a profit. Bangkok has been spiraling down for some time and now everything is coming to a head as the ocean threatens to drown the city, the Environment Ministry takes bribes to allow illegal trade, and bioengineered plagues are feared to return. This sci-fi remains beautifully written through it's carefully sinister, winding plot, and has been carefully addressed from all directions. The story is told by a Calorie Man and foreigner, Anderson Lake, a Thai law enforcer for the Environment Ministry, Jaidee, a Chinese exile, Hock Seng, and, of course, a windup girl- a genetically modified human designed to serve and valued as lesser than natural humans- Emiko. As the plot unfolds, everybody must cope with their fate due to their social status and personal dilemas. There are clever ties between the characters and the story keeps giving just enough information to keep the reader up to speed, but needing to know more. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes awesome character development, thorough plots, or gripping science fiction.

By Author/Artist: Paolo Bacigalupi
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781597801577

The Search for WondLa

Review written by: Katie M.
4

Written by the co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Search for WondLa is a science fiction novel set far in our future. Twleve-year-old Eva Nine lives alone in a high tech but somewhat dysfunctional Sanctuary under the care of her robot Muthr. When her home is attacked and destroyed, she is forced to flee to the outside world for the first time in her life. With Muthr, the Cærulean Rovender Kitt, and Otto the Water Bear, she embarks on a search for another human being on the strange planet she finds herself on. Her only clue as to what might have happened to her entire species is a charred scrap of paper with the image of a girl, an adult, and a robot holding hands and the word WondLa printed around them. The story remained suspenseful throughout, something that I thought was impressive for a "journeying" book. It also managed to be fairly unpredictable and surprisingly dark. All together, The Search for WondLa was a good read. The cliffhanger ending screams for a sequel that will definitely be worth checking out.

By Author/Artist: Tony DiTerrlizzi
Format: Print Book
ISBN: 9781416983101

Half-Price Homicide

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
4

Helen, on the run from the law and having assumed a false identity, works a variety of low-wage jobs where she can be paid in cash (and remain off the radar). In this book, Helen is working at a designer consignment store in Ft. Lauderdale. One day, one of their sellers is found dead in the dressing room following a fight with her husband. Helen, becomes a suspect when the lead detective turns out to be someone who suspected her of previous murders. In addition, Helen goes through some personal changes, including the illness of her mother and a return to her hometown to become legal again. This is a pretty entertaining book, although I admit to not feeling strongly about any of the characters.

By Author/Artist: Elaine Viets
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-451-22989-2

Antiques Bizarre

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
5

This book is one in a series featuring Brandy and her mother Vivian. Brandy is out of work but helps her mother run their antiques booth. Vivian has bipolar disorder and in this book is mostly in a manic state. Her mental illness combined with her natural personality makes Vivian energetic and impulse, both annoying (to many) and fun. To help the towns residents, many of whom were victims of a flooding river, Vivian organizes a fundraiser rummage sale and auction. When the winning auction bidder is killed just after making the winning bid, Vivian and Brandy feel responsible and start asking questions. As others die, they become more involved, both as suspects and as mystery solvers. The book is written in a very entertaining manner, with funny asides and the occasional shift in narrators.

By Author/Artist: Barbara Allan
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-7582-3421-6

Serial Killer Sudoku

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
5

This is the third book in the series featuring Katie McDonald, puzzle museum curator and former mathematician. Katie has returned to her hometown to run the Avondale Puzzle Museum. A man's body is found behind the local cafe but Kate vows not to get involved this time. However, when the killer sends Kate emails in the forms of puzzles, hinting the the next murder, she has no choice but to get involved. When the police chief is injured protecting Kate, she feels especially obligated to solve the crime, and is aided by her teenage protege, Harry. Kate is a likable character, smart and independent, but she doesn't quite feel that she fits in with the other townspeople.

By Author/Artist: Shelley Freydont
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 978-0-7624-3711-5

Sudden Death Sudoku

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
5

This is the second book in the series featuring Katie McDonald, former mathematician and current puzzle museum curator. Kate hosts a sudoku tournament in her town when one of the least liked competitors turns up dead. Kate, worried that murder will reflect poorly on her tournament, gets involved in solving the crime. Plus, as she is a puzzler (and mathematician), she can't help but want to solve problems. She is aided by her teenage protege, Harry, as they work together. Newcomer police chief also works to solve the crime, but the townspeople prefer to confide in Kate so she is often in the middle. I enjoyed this book, which along with the mystery, also deals with individuals who are outsiders, or feel they are.

By Author/Artist: Shelley Freydont
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780762436934

Dead Head

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
5

This is the third book in the series featuring gardener Paula Holliday who lives in suburban Connecticut. In this book, Paula learns that her friend has been living with a false identity for 20 years, after escaping from prison for a crime she was innocent of committing. Her friend's husband asks Paula to prove his wife is innocent, since she successfully solved crimes in the past. This is an entertaining book. Paula is independent and witty, and has several strong and quirky females friends. The plot is compelling and doesn't need a romance to be a good read!

By Author/Artist: Rosemary Harris
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-312-56994-5

The Big Dirt Nap

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
5
This series features Paula Holliday who moved from NYC to suburban Connecticut to start her own gardening business. Paula visits the Titans Hotel to see their rare corpse flower which is due to bloom soon. However, while at the hotel, a man she chats with casually at the hotel bar is murdered after she gives him her business card. She gets more and more involved in this crime, as others suspect her of knowing the murdered man better than she does. I enjoyed this book which is quite funny and has several quirky female characters. The plot is also more complicated than it appears at the start of the book.
By Author/Artist: Rosemary Harris
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-312-36968-2

Tooth Fairy Travels

Review written by: Emma M.
5

I think that the book Tooth Fairy Travels is good because people who believe in the Tooth Fairy can read what most Tooth Fairy's do in the day time. But they could have a different point of view from Gail Herman's point of view. Most tooth fairy's say that they sleep in the day time. But in this book the little tooth fairy's go to school like all of us do. And the bigger fairy's go to work. Some teach at the school and others do there jobs. Belinda, the main character has parents who are tooth fairy's. She learns that she doesn't have to be what her whole family is-Tooth Fairy's.This is a great paperback book for children 8 and up. I liked it and other kids should, too.

By Author/Artist: Gail Herman
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0553486799

The View From Saturday (Newberry Award)

Review written by: aliera konett
5

I listened to this book on a day trip to Ohio with my family. This book seemed to reach out and touch everyone with its funny, sad or happy journey through five stories of understanding and coming together as a team for academic bowl. Despite their differences, they come together to form a team of 4 unstoppable sixth graders and there teacher.

By Author/Artist: E.L. Koingsburg
Format: CD
ISBN: 1400089921

Undead and Unfinished

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
3

This is the ninth book in the series featuring Betsy Taylor, queen of the Vampires. This book seemed slow to get started, with a lot of review of earlier events, and short chapters that did not do much to further the plot. About 100 pages in, however, the book's plot emerges and becomes much more interesting (and more like the earlier books in the series). Betsy and her sister Laura (the Devil's daughter) go to Hell (literally) where Laura has to learn how to travel through time and space. Where the sisters travel forms the interest of the plot, as we learn about their family history and also see a glimpse into a possible, dire future. The surprising ending of the book is enough for me to recommend it.

By Author/Artist: MaryJanice Davidson
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-425-23435-8

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
4

I picked up this book because of the author's other books (which I had enjoyed), not realizing it was historical fiction which I do not typically care for. However, I found this book enjoyable -- timeless in some ways, and yet also reflecting depression era southern U.S. The book surrounds the Darling Dahlias, the gardening club of Darling, Alabama. The chapters switch to focus on the various Dahlia members, which in some ways was confusing (as the reader has to recall who is who). But as I got used to the shifting focus, I got into the book which follows the Dahlia's attempt to solve the mystery of the death of a local young woman, and clear one of their members from the charge of embezzlement. The book also nicely shows the various work and family roles that women of that era might have held.

By Author/Artist: Susan Wittig Albert
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-425-23445-7

The Sudoku Murder

Review written by: Harriet Garcia
5
This book is the first in the series featuring self-proclaimed geek Katie McDonald. She returns to her hometown upon the request of her childhood friend and mentor, "the professor." His puzzle museum is in financial trouble and he is being threatened to sell it to a mall developer. As more threats come, and someone is killed, Katie gets more and more involved in the fate of the museum. The police chief initially suspects Katie of the murder, but they come to have sort of truce with each other. Each works to solve the crime separately, but come together at the end. I really enjoyed this book. It has several very smart (genius) characters (a nice change) as well as small town quirks and charm.
By Author/Artist: Shelley Freydont
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-78671-977-8

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