Have You Heard
… the wizards in London? No, this isn’t a new Harry Potter book. Ben Aaronovitch’s Midnight Riot* is set in modern England, but its magic is much darker and grittier, and somehow more realistic, than J. K. Rowling’s style. Peter Grant is just finishing his training with London’s Metropolitan Police when he takes an eyewitness report from a ghost. That brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who takes him on as an apprentice and introduces him to the wonders and horrors of the magical world. Peter’s life will never be dull, or safe, again.
Midnight Riot beautifully melds police procedurals with urban fantasy. Aaronovitch guides us through the dark side of London, where an evil spirit takes over people to commit murder and spread chaos. Along the way, he introduces us to a number of neighborhoods and institutions, filled with surprising amounts of history about both the city and police work. The result is an enthralling, beautifully-detailed book filled with rich characters and an amazing mix of humor and horror.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)
… a very simple method to beat these hard economic times, called UWMW? In Money Secrets of the Amish, by Lorilee Craker, you can learn what not only the Amish, but millions of others already know. UWMW – Use it up, Wear it out, Make do or do Without. We waste a lot of money simply because we want instant gratification. Everything we buy nowadays seems to end up on a debit or credit card. What’s the matter with good old-fashioned cash? Yes, it’s dangerous to carry around a lot of cash. Solution: plan ahead what you want to buy and where to get it and only carry that amount of cash. It seems to have worked for the Amish for the past 250 years and for a lot of the people who grew up during the Depression of the 1930s and 1940s. It can work for you, too.
Start simple. Going to the movies is a good example of instant gratification. Why spend $60 or more for a family of four to see a movie and get munchies, too? All good things come to those who wait. Invest in a hot air popper for about $15-$30, or better yet use a heavy bottom kettle with a lid, and buy popping corn for about $1.10 for a two-pound bag. This is definitely cheaper than microwave popcorn in the long run. So far, you’ve only spent half of the money of going out just one time. The movie itself is even cheaper. You might have to wait a little while, but with your Waukegan Public Library card you can check out up to six DVDs at one time for FREE and have yourself a movie marathon.
Another simple start is second-hand shopping. Clothes, dishes, even furniture can be found if you are willing to spend a little bit of time looking. Learn to barter, use coupons, go together with a friend and buy in bulk, and always read the unit price on the shelf sticker when shopping.
A lot of this book is just plain common sense. This is also a funny read, and that is a good motivator in getting you started on the path to saving some of your money.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
…the supernatural insurance company that uses death threats to coerce you into buying more insurance? Sounds a bit ridiculous, right? But in Bentley Little’s book, The Policy, this is an altogether believable and horrifying premise that plays upon our everyday, adult fears.
The story centers around Hunt Jackson, who has moved back home to Phoenix following a bitter divorce. Almost immediately, he runs into issues with his insurance - vandalism, harassment from his agent - until he receives an offer from a door-to-door insurance salesman who promises to take care of all his problems. But then the salesman keeps showing up, promising more and more outrageous insurance coverage, and the price of NOT accepting his offer gets steeper and steeper.
There is a sense of helplessness as the characters are drawn further and further into this nightmare, with seemingly no chance to escape the almighty force that has taken control of their lives. It’s like being strapped to an out-of-control roller coaster that’s becoming increasingly dangerous and erratic. His straightforward writing is very effective in pulling the reader directly into the heart of the story, and let me tell you, this story goes by FAST. Really, really fast.
Stephen King has praised Bentley Little’s work over the years, and for good reason: this guy writes some really scary stuff. This is a great author to try if you’re looking for a fast read to scare the pants off of you. You won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed by Katie (staff)
… the disfigured, grumpy guy who hates Christmas and doesn’t care much for chocolate either? In my book that would make him an alien, but in Loree Lough’s book, Love Finds You in North Pole, Alaska, you meet the grump himself, Bryce Stone, a former marine who was hurt during the Afghan was. He thinks that Christmas is too commercial, but he’s the owner of a kitschy Christmas shop that his parents left him. His aunt Olive runs the place, and she’s something of a mind reader. Samantha Sinclair came to North Pole, Alaska, for a job as a chef in a fancy restaurant, but when the job falls through, she ends up working for Bryce and his aunt. Aunt Olive has a secret of her own and sees in Sam something that Bryce desperately needs – a special understanding of his problems in dealing with how the war affected him and his lack of faith in God.
See how Sam gets Bryce to stop feeling sorry for himself. Sam grew up with seven older brothers, and she’s spunky and spontaneous. She knows how guys think. Can Sam and Bryce see eye to eye on running the shop, a tragedy and new found love? You won’t want to put this funny, endearing book down, so be sure to have a lot of time to just sit and read.
North Pole, Alaska is a real place, and the town is open with Christmas spirit 365 days a week, 24 hours a day.
*Love Finds You in North Pole Alaska, is part of the Love Finds You series of unconnected inspirational romance novels.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
The book is big on details and a nice lengthy read (614 pages), but trust me on this, you will finish it in like three days. I was interested in President Obama’s recent presentation of the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha. This book is all about the events that led up to the creation of Combat Outpost Keating in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Afghanistan and the eventual total destruction of that base. It is equally about all the men, including Sergeant Romesha, who were deployed there. Many did not make it back, and for those who survived, their lives were changed forever after. This will book will have you missing meals and staying up late just to find out what happens next. Jake Tapper is a very talented writer and writes a masterful chronology of events.
Reviewed by Richard (staff)
… a species of bird that can glide, dive and dabble, look dazzling and funny all at the same time? You have got to check out An Original DUCKumentary.
Did you know that there are 120 different species of ducks in the world? In this amazing DVD you will follow the story of the common Wood Duck, when mom duck hatches her brood in a very tall tree. Yep, a tree. Sixty to seventy feet off the ground no less, as duck eggs are a delicacy for a lot of predators. It takes just over a month for ducks to hatch, and of course, mom does all of the work. Daddy duck just keeps watch until everyone is safe in the water and then goes on about his business. Mom flies out of the nest to the water and calls to her darling little duckies to follow her. Ducks are born instinctively knowing what to do, so once the newly-hatched ducklings tumble to the ground (yes it’s a long, long fall, but they know just how to land without hurting themselves), they follow their mom’s call to the water where they immediately glide in, take a few looks around their new world and start to eat. Ducks don’t have to be taught to swim or how to eat or even where to find food or where to go in the winter, they just know. Ducks are very smart. In just a few short weeks, these cute little duckies are teenagers and starting to grow feathers. In the fall, ducks start to find a mate, and if the female finds the right male to protect her throughout the winter, in the spring, if they are still “talking” to each other, they will finally mate. There is no hanky-panky during the winter; it’s all about protection. Then the cycle starts all over again.
While the Wood Duck story unfolds throughout the film, you will get to meet at least fifteen other different species of ducks, each more fascinating and colorful and entertaining than the last. The Redhead is fickle and lays her eggs in several of her neighbors’ nests, so you have a foster-care mom scenario. The South American Torrent Duck is like a white water rafting junkie. You have to see this to believe in how they survive. Buffleheads, Pintails, Shovelers, Goldeneyes and Green-winged Teal are just some of the interesting ducks you will get to meet in this short family DVD. In the spring, head on over to the Waukegan Public Library’s Hinkston Park Branch, located in the Field House, and see our annual flock of ducklings as they grow up.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
… the dangers of swallowing gum or looking in the microwave? Ken Jennings looks at many of the things our parents warned us about in Because I Said So! The Truth behind the Myths, Tales & Warnings Every Generation Passes down to Its Kids. Parents all over the world tell their children to do or not do certain things, often things they learned from their own parents or friends and family members with children. However, over generations that information can become outdated or misremembered, so Jennings collected dozens of common sayings from the United States and looked into the truth behind them.
Each of the warnings in this book is followed by a brief explanation of the author’s research and his conclusions. Scientific and medical studies are cited, where appropriate, and summarized in everyday English. In some cases, Jennings has been able to provide a history of how the warning was started. At the end, there is a simple bar with a rating from completely false to completely true. Not surprisingly, most of the sayings fall somewhere in the middle — true in some circumstances but not always, or not completely true as they are usually stated. Fortunately, the book includes an index, in case you want to start with your parents’ favorite warnings (or the one you’re about to use with your own child).
By the way, swallowed gum is safely passed through the digestive system (unless you are swallowing several pieces every day for a long time) and looking into modern microwaves should be safe, although the FDA recommends against standing against one for “long periods of time” while it is running.
Reviewed by Fran (staff)
… the scum-bag who stole the youth soccer associations’ money? Moises Huber has a few gambling debts that he needs to pay in Jeffrey Allen’s Popped off*. He not only steals the money but also the trophies that each kid is supposed to receive at the end of the season. Deuce Winters is a stay-at-home dad, youth soccer coach of his 5-year-old daughter Carly’s team, the Mighty, Fightin’ Tiny Mermaids, and a part-time private investigator in Rose Petal, Texas. Being a stay-at-home dad is a novelty in Rose Petal. Deuce gets teased a lot, but he and his lawyer wife Julianne wouldn’t have it any other way. Deuce is asked to track down Moises and get the money and trophies back with the help of his partner Victor, who happens to be a dwarf.
The soccer scenes are hilarious. The banter between Deuce and Victor as they try to figure out where Moises is, is very politically incorrect and even more funny. The short chapters make this a very easy and fast read, but you need to really pay attention to all of the misconceptions and double talk while you are laughing, or you’ll miss the confusing yet satisfying ending. I enjoyed this book immensely.
* The previous book in this series is Stay at Home Dead.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)
… the shamelessly sexy and fun story of Maggie Reilly, the woman who thinks she has no time for love? Fans of Fifty Shades of Grey who are hungry for another story of a relatable female protagonist and powerful male hero with a dark side will devour Midnight Encounters by Elle Kennedy.
Maggie is a busy student, waitress and volunteer worker with no time for love; the only concession she makes to her needs is the occasional weekend tryst with her “special friend” Tony. Maggie bounces into a hotel room she believes belongs to Tony only to be shocked by the presence of another man: Ben. Ben is a bad boy Hollywood movie star who thinks that love has no place in his life, just like Maggie. Can you see the writing on the wall? There’s no doubt about the novel’s outcome, but the inevitability doesn’t detract from the fun read. Rather, it gives Midnight Encounters the feel of a fairy tale, modern-style.
Reviewed by Sara (staff)
… the quilt shop that brings trouble to the community? In Katie’s Way, a recent installment of the Pleasant Valley series* by Marta Perry, we meet Katie Miller who has just opened a quilt shop in Pleasant Valley. Katie was jilted by her intended when he married her best friend. Katie can’t face life in her hometown, so she moves to Pleasant Valley to open a quilt shop. It’s a very slow start to get her new business to make money. The Amish make quilts, so they don’t need to buy them, and tourists are few and far between in this small community. Her next door business neighbor, Caleb, has his doubts about a quilt shop being next to his furniture business. Caleb has a secret past.
One of Katie’s younger sisters is in her rumspringa and is causing problems at home, so she is sent to Katie to help out. Caleb has heard of this problem. He has his doubts about Katie and her sister when bad things start to happen in the community. With the Amish and Englisch businesses in the area, Katie and her new friend Lisa hatch a plan to bring more business into the community by sponsoring Pennsylvania Dutch Days. Some people don’t want the hordes of tourists invading even though they want to see their businesses increase in sales. Can a friendship between Katie and Caleb develop when vandalism increases and Caleb thinks the worst of Katie and her sister? This has a somewhat surprise as to the vandalism angle but a very nice, feel good ending.
This is a standalone book with enough backstory into the characters of the previous books. It is the first book that I have read in this series, and I didn’t feel as if I was missing anything, although I do plan to check out the other residents of Pleasant Valley.
Reviewed by Terry (staff)