Not Just for Teens! Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves

RipperFirst Impressions
I am obsessed with tales of Jack the Ripper because no one really knows who he was. [Editor's note: It looks like they might have?!]  This book, the first in a series, offers an alternate history of Jack’s reign of terror.

Drive-by Summary
Arabella Sharpe, orphaned and at the mercy of her grandmother, is finding life within the stifling cage of social propriety boring and unfulfilling. Her grandmother has decided to “toughen” Arabella’s character by sending her to Whitechapel to volunteer at a woman’s hospital. Life there is rough and dark, but Arabella has resolved to stay and help no matter what the cost. She is soon a first-hand witness to the dilemma of the poor and unwanted when things take an even worse turn.  Aided by her “visions”, Arabella gets deeply involved with a secret society bent on catching a monster. She quickly becomes instrumental in solving the gruesome clues left by a deadly serial killer as she follows “him” through London’s East End.  This book is definitely a page-turner with a twist on a story that has been told and retold.  You will not be disappointed with this series.

My Favorite Character
I love Arabella’s character and the strength it takes for her not to turn and run away.  She does not settle into a life of comfort and makes her own decisions to be an active member of a society that sees her as a mere object.

Words to Live By
At the beginning of each chapter, there are quotes from Jane Eyre which remind us of how women were regarded during the Victorian era:

“I was weary of an existence all passive.”

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow minded… to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to play on the piano and embroidering bags.”

Recommended For
This is a young adult book, however, the story kept my adult-self intrigued to the last page and have now moved on to the next book in the series.  Also, this series is the author’s debut novel.  She has a PhD in Nineteenth Century British Literature which gives this series the realistic edge that conveys the social conformities and how, during that time, things had to change.

Final Say
It is not often that I come across a well-written and pragmatic mediation on the purpose of life in a novel.  This series will teach and leave the reader with a sense of curiosity about the indignations of how people regard one another according to the social norms of the time.

You can check out Ripper today!

-Keyla

Short, Scary Reads

Scary Short Stories

Who remembers this inexplicably terrifying read?

How do you get prepared for Halloween?  Design costumes?  Decorate?  Watch a million scary movies?

I prefer, not surprisingly, to read – because there is nothing like a really scary book to keep you up all night with the lights on.  But it is sometimes hard to devote yourself to a full-length Stephen King thriller when you are working, partaking in Doctober or Fire Drink with Me,  and working on your way-rad Halloween costume.  This is why story stories are the bomb.  They give you a quick, powerful punch of horror that will keep you thinking (and worrying!) for days.

So, I was totally going to make my own list of favorite scary short stories for you, but Flavorwire has beaten me to the punch.  They have a list of the 50 Scariest Short Stories that includes some classic favorites (Lovecraft, Bradbury) and some new talent (Russell, Gaitskill) that are sure to get your blood pumping.  It is a comprehensive, frightening list despite the fact that my two all-time favorites, All Summer in a Day and The End of the Party, were not included.

What is your favorite scary story?  Leave a comment below!

A Fine Romance by Susan Branch

A Fine RomanceThe Hook
What? A love affair with nature and in a country where gardens rule. Exactly what I like!

Tell Me More
I love art and journaling.  Susan Branch has an exceptional talent with watercolors and expresses everyday things into a joyful cacophony of delight. This book is a day-by-day account of the author’s trip through England aboard the Queen Mary 2.  It is luxuriously written and each chapter covers the must-see places that are close to Susan’s heart: the cottage where Beatrix Potter lived her final years, the Sissinghurst gardens, Jane Austen’s home, and so many other historical gardens thorough-out the English country side.

Snapshot

A Fine Romance !

Inspiration: Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.

Recommended For
Those who would love to travel, love gardens, and, of course, the artist in us all.

Final Say
I have purchased this book due to the details of the walking paths in the Cotswold and other little places along the way. It is a virtual journey one can live and relive without ever getting tired of visiting.

Grab A Fine Romance today!

– Keyla

Interesting New Titles from October’s LibraryReads List

The October LibraryReads list is here!   This nation-wide list is comprised of books read, reviewed, and voted on by librarians.  And there are some intriguing books coming out in October.  Here are the highlights:

A Sudden Light by Garth SteinA Sudden Light

“Garth Stein has given us a masterpiece. This beautiful story takes readers on a thrilling exploration of a family estate brimming with generations of riveting Riddell family ghosts and secrets. This is a true exploratory novel, taking readers through secret passageways, hidden rooms, and darkened corridors that engage all of the senses.” – Whitney Gayle, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT

 

As you wishAs You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden

“Even if you don’t have a crush on Cary Elwes, you’ll enjoy this vivid behind-the-scenes account of the making of The Princess Bride. His stories, especially those involving Andre the Giant, will leave you in stitches. Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and others also recount their experiences. An amusing account of a group of performers who came together to make a heartfelt film that is loved by many.” – Emily Weiss, Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH

 

Malice by Keigo HigashinoMalice

“Detective Kaga is investigating the murder of best-selling author Kunihiko Hidaka. Hidaka’s wife and best friend both have rock-solid alibis, but Kaga discovers that the friendship might not have been what it seemed. A classic cat-and-mouse game with twists that keep the pages turning.” – Vicki Nesting, St. Charles Parish Library, Destrehan, LA

 

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The Glitter Plan by Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor with Booth Moore

The glitter planThe Hook
I pay attention when I have the opportunity to learn and understand what is considered a trend in fashion as it becomes an overt fashion statement to those who treasure labels.

Tell Me More
I am very motivated by entrepreneurial ventures and the risks taken to become successful.  Juicy Couture, a label for the young-at-heart has intrigued me since their inception.  And led to me  to ask myself: how, why and where?  Then I won this book through a GoodReads contest and the answers to these questions were answered. Juicy Couture is more than just a clothing label.  These two women have a pragmatic passion of combining fashion into useful, everyday objects. Their personal flair, infused by society’s reoccurring need to stand out in a crowd, helped them to make the best-timed judgment call ever made in the fashion industry.

Snapshot

The KFC theory is not just for chicken: do one thing and do it well.

The KFC theory is not just for chicken: do one thing and do it well.

Recommended For
Those of us who have big dreams and have the gumption to try to make creative ideas become a reality.

Final Say
There are so many people in the world that have experiences and dreams who want to do something that they love in order to make ends meet. Often they may not have the education so that they can accomplish their goals. This book is proof in the pudding that a little innovation and a lot of motivation can make a dream come true.

Get The Glitter Plan today!

– Keyla

Summer Reading Reviews, Week 7

Summer Reading may be over, but we still have several weeks worth of great reviews to share with you!  Here are some of our favorites from Week 7:

DIY Bride Crafty Countdown by Khris CochranDIY Bride Crafty Countdown

40 projects with various skill levels, some well worth the time, others a bit insane. The cost breakdown is helpful in evaluating if DIY actually makes sense.

 

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison ArngrimConfessions of a Prairie Bitch

Despite having never seen “Little House on the Prairie,” this memoir from the actress that played Nellie Olsen is an entertaining reflection of her Hollywood childhood. Hilarious and heartfelt, this dishy book is perfect summer reading.

 

Fledgling by Octavia ButlerFledgling

The BEST vampire book ever! Forget sparkles and pining, this story of survival set it the Pacific Northwest challenges your assumptions about vampires, race and love while also being epic fun. From genious Octavia Butler RIP.

 

Sister, Mother, Husband, Dog by Delia EphronSister, Mother, Husband, Dog

Mostly Delia Ephron’s memoir of essays is shadowed by the passing of her sister Nora. These are insights and observations but musings more that the profound but such is the way of grief.

 

Reading Roulette

We have hit the time of year where it is time to start thinking about winter projects, winter meals, winter trips, and, of course, what the heck we are going to read when the weather makes a turn for the dreary.  Winter reading, to me, has always been a high stakes game.  I want something exciting and well-written, just like my summer reading, but I also want deeper content – some to ponder and discuss at length.  So, with those rather high standards, the search for my winter reading becomes rather daunting.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fall/winter reading guides, both at the library and on the internet — because reading is the most awesome thing you could be doing, like, at any given moment.  (Also, it is really nice to know that everyone is concerned with what I read next?)   So, as a professional “book-slinger”, I have seen, read, and made many good reading guides.  But none are as fun as this What Book Should You Start Reading Next? game:

What Book Should You Start Reading Next - Google Chrome_2014-09-15_14-00-29

The premise is simple; click on the start button, let the list of books shuffle past, click stop, and get paired up with a surprise book.  The books are all critically acclaimed, interesting, and perfect for people who like reading from random suggestions from strangers on the internet (like me!).

Of course, if you prefer something a bit less capricious, we here at BPL have also created a Hot Reads for Cold Nights list that has some of the upcoming fall/winter titles we are most most excited about.  There are a lot of exiting books, well-written books, and a lot of books with depth, sentiment, and, perhaps, some laughter.

Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! by Kathy Sheldon

Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!The Hook
Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! Make Stylish Shrink Plastic Jewelry by Kathy Sheldon caught my attention because I’m always on the lookout for cheap and easy craft projects to do in my down time. It’s even better when I find a project that hooks my kids and gets us all crafting together, and results in beautiful items we can wear ourselves or give as gifts. I’ve enjoyed making fun stuff with Shrinky Dinks since I was a kid myself, but now that I can purchase blank sheets of the shrink plastic (in clear and solid colors) and draw and color my own designs, it’s opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities.

P.S. If you don’t know what Shrinky Dinks are, check ‘em out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shrinky_Dinks

Tell Me More
A colorful and fun crafter’s how-to book that combines drawing, coloring, and jewelry-making, Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! is filled with great ideas! It contains 35 projects and the templates you’ll need to make them happen. Think shrink plastic is a low-brow medium? You won’t after you check this book out and see the beautiful things you can easily make with it!

Snapshot

SSS1

Recommended For
I recommend this book for folks who love to make stuff, but don’t have a lot of time, money, or expertise. Shrink film is fun and easy to work with and this book contains projects with appeal for all ages. It also offers a wide range of styles – from cute and clever to simply beautiful.

Final Say
I own many interesting and unusual pieces of jewelry, and often receive comments and compliments from strangers about a piece I’m wearing, but on the days when I’m wearing something I’ve created from Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk!, I receive far more.  People love the look of this jewelry! It’s unusual and the shrink film retains color extremely well, so the pieces I’ve made are bright and eye-catching. Aside from the fabulous projects it features, it’s also inspired me to come up with many new and fresh ways to use shrink plastic creatively.

You can pick up a copy of Shrink! Shrank! Shrunk! at the Bellingham Public Library.

– Jenni