Staff Review: Books 1 & 2 of The Lovegrove Legacy

Originally posted on Tuesday, 03 March 2015 at ROPL.org.

If you’re like me, maybe you don’t find Regency romances interesting and you avoid fantasy. If you love both of those things – and even if you don’t, keep reading. Why? Because it turns out that sometimes, when you put two things together that you don’t like – they produce something you might love.

Of course, this isn’t always true (and the opposite isn’t true – after all, I love mint and I love chocolate, but I certainly don’t like them together). But if you give me a Regency (or Edwardian/Victorian) setting and sprinkle it liberally with magic? I love it (unlike that mint chocolate chip cookie you’re thinking about right now) and maybe you will, too. If you already like those genres, together or separate, you’ll certainly find something to like in this series.

Alyxandra Harvey’s new series, The Lovegrove Legacy, is set in 1814 London (in the middle of the Regency period). It’s the story of three cousins; Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope. Unbeknownst to the three girls, they are descents of a very strong magical family, but as the three cousins soon find out – there’s a reason their abilities have been hidden.

The first book, A Breath of Frost follows the three cousins, but primarily focuses on Emma as she tries to figure out why their magic has been hidden from them. The second book, Whisper of the Dead, picks up where the first left off, but instead of focusing on Emma, we change to Gretchen. Although the primacy focus of each of the these first two books is on a particular cousin, Harvey provides us with plenty to read about the other two – along with the love interests that flit throughout their lives.

In many ways, The Lovegrove Legacy is a Regency romance — there’s a season, there’s swooning and handsome men and beautiful dresses. But there’s also magic, lots of magic, and danger. Harvey’s world is similar to our own, but with a twist of magic that will leave you excited for the third book. .

Check out both of these books from the library! If you like them, you might also enjoy the Ceclia & Kate trilogy by Patricia C. Wrede (previously reviewed on ROPL).

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Insurgent Official Trailer

Originally posted on Tuesday, 03 March 2015 at ROPL.org.

Excited for the second installment of the Divergent series? Check out the trailer for the movie, which comes out March 20th! If you haven’t read the series or watched the first movie — check out the books or the movie from the library.

Staff Review: Cecelia & Kate (trilogy)

Originally posted on Tuesday, 20 January 2015 at ROPL.org.

Sometimes what you’re missing is a little magic. If you’ve ever felt that way and enjoy a good mystery (or three) plus a whole lot of fun – keep reading! Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer trilogy, Cecelia and Kate, is exactly what you’ve been waiting for. Beginning in 1817, Sorcery and Cecelia follows the story of two cousins: Kate and Cecelia and their adventures in magic, growing up and falling in love.

The first of the three books, Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, is told in letters between the two cousins. We follow Kate as she spends the season in London, while Cecelia is stuck back at home. Enduring their aunts, irritating boys, Kate’s cousin Georgy and promise of magic, the two girls write back and forth, giving us a fun and entertaining look at their daily life and adventures. The novel comes to a satisfying and fun end, good enough to stand on its own, but definitely leaving you wanting to spend more time with the two cousins.

The second novel, The Grand Tour, picks up not long after the first. Though this novel, too, is told through the written word, unlike the first, the two girls are traveling together so there’s no need for letters. Instead, we’re treated to Cecelia’s deposition and Kate’s journaling. While the format is slightly different, The Grand Tour measures up very well against Sorcery & Cecelia. Newly married, Kate and Cecelia are off on a honeymoon – across Europe! But being that they’re both intimately involved in magic (one way or another), nothing’s ever simple! But, of course, it is quite a lot of fun.

The third, and sadly final, novel of the trilogy is The Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After. Here, as with Sorcery and Cecelia we return to the letter writing format. But unlike the previous two, we’re treated to the letters of Cecelia and Kate’s husbands, which prove to be equally entertaining as the two girls’ letters. Set back in England and ten years after the events in The Grand Tour, the third book follows up on Cecelia and her husband’s attempt to find a missing magician and a startling discovery – related both to magic and the newest mode of transportation in England – the steam engine! Kate and her husband take charge of Cecelia’s children and have their own, related, adventures. This time, though, Kate’s sister Gerogy has her own entertaining storyline.

At the heart of each of these three novels is a combination of magic and mystery. Wrede and Stevermer manage to weave these two concepts together with ease and humor. If you’re looking for a fun romp through the early 1800s, look no further.

If you like the Cecelia and Kate series, you might also like these books:

Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series:

  1. Etiquette & Espionage
  2. Curtsies & Conspiracies
  3. Waistcoats & Weaponry
  4. Manners & Mutiny (coming soon)

Kady Cross’ Steampunk Chronicles:

  1. The Girl in the Steel Corset
  2. The Girl in the Clockwork Collar
  3. The Girl with the Iron Touch
  4. The Girl with the Windup Heart

Ysabeau S. Wilce’s Flora Segunda series:

  1. Flora Segunda
  2. Flora’s Dare
  3. Flora’s Fury

Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl’s Castle series:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle
  2. Castle in the Air
  3. House of Many Ways

Cat Valente’s The Girl Who … series:

  1. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
  2. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
  3. The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two
  4. The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (coming soon)

Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and books by Robin McKinley and Tamora Pierce.

Death of a Comic: Joan Rivers

Originally posted on Saturday, 06 September 2014 at ROPL.org.

On September 4, 2014, the world lost one of the most prominent and ground breaking female comics: Joan Rivers. She broke into the world of comedy, leaving the doors wide open for the many female comics who followed. She continued, up until her death, to make us all laugh. Known for her stand-up comedy, Joan Rivers was also a producer, actor and TV show host.

The library has a small display in her honor, with several of the books she’s written. We also own a DVD of her comedy and life, along with a couple of the movies she’s been in. Be sure to come into the library and check them out.

For more Joan Rivers, check out some of these links:

And, last, from the LA Times: Joan Rivers, an unstoppable comic force to the end

Spend Your Summer With Some Books!

Originally posted on Monday, 21 July 2014 at ROPL.org.

Are you looking for something to read while you’re at the beach in the sun or maybe sitting in the backyard, sipping some lemonade? Or maybe curled up in front of the AC. Wherever you plan to read this summer, we’ve got some teen titles for you. The following are a selection of summer-themed books, ranging from light romances to something a little darker.

Check out the display in the library for these, and other, summer reads! Click on the book cover for more information about each title.

Staff Review: Afterparty

Originally posted on Tuesday, 13 May 2014 at ROPL.org.

By Daryl Gregory
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Reviewed by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

Daryl Gregory’s novel is not about drug use, religion or the future … Or, technically, it’s about all of these things. But it’s also about relationships, love, what it means to be alive and breathing. But at its heart (and it does have one of those, a rather big one, too), Afterparty is about what’s real.

Most of the novel is told from Lyda’s point of view. She’s a partial creator of a drug which seems to be making an appearance on the street. This drug, originally created to be helpful, has the strangest result from an overdose – a person gets religion. But, if it’s caused by a drug, is that religion at all? Lyda doesn’t think so, after all, the god she sees is a hallucination.

As one of the creators of the drug, Lyda’s determined to stop its spread. There’s only one problem: she’s in a mental hospital.

Afterparty follows Lyda on her journey – of love, self-discovery, loathing, redemption and, ultimately, the truth. Gregory sprinkles the story with a few cleverly written pop culture references as well as additional points of view. He picks many of our side characters and turns them, if briefly, into main characters. He gives us just enough clues to lead us to the answers that Lyda’s searching for (some many find them before she does, though I didn’t).

The book blew my mind in a few places. The world that Lyda lives in is close enough to our own that, aside from the ability to print drugs on demand, it could be our own. But at its heart, it’s a science fiction novel (which is where you’ll find it on our shelves). Afterparty is reminiscent of William Gibson’s (informal) series: Blue Ant Trilogy and Kim Stanley Robinson’s Science in the Capital series (near-future science fiction that takes place in worlds similar to our own – I highly recommend both of these series).

Gregory’s book is clever and entertaining, but it’s a little deeper than that. We’re given a close look at our future (although the novel is mostly set in Canada, it could be, in some ways, any technologically advance country/large city) and it’s not pretty. But Afterparty is not devoid of hope — we do find an answer to what’s real and we’re left wondering if it even matters at all.

Staff Review: The Grandmaster

Originally posted on Saturday, 10 May 2014 at ROPL.org.

Directed by Wong Kar Wai
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Reviewed by Sarah Nagelbush, Adult Librarian

grandmaster01If you like kung fu movies, then you’ve probably heard of Bruce Lee – you might even have watched some of Lee’s movies. But you may not have heard about the man who taught Bruce Lee, Ip Man (often written as Yip Man). His rank was that of grandmaster and while he’s most famous in the west for being Bruce Lee’s teacher, he has quite a legacy in China.

Wong Kar Wai (known for movies such as In the Mood For Love, Chungking Express and Happy Together) finally released his long awaited Ip Man movie. The Grandmaster is a mixture of fact and fiction. Tony Leung Chiu Wai plays Ip Man, but there are a number of other characters, notably Zhang Ziyi as Gong Er, who are not real. Instead of a biopic of Ip Man, Wong Kar Wai does what he’s known for, creating a movie that is about the mood and feel of a specific time in history (1930s China) and a rather moving character study.

The Grandmaster features plenty of kung fu, but it’s less about the fighting itself than the art of fighting. The movie, while giving us some history of Ip Man, is more focused on showing us how people survived in 1930s China. We follow Ip Man as he must leave his wife and child and eventually go to Hong Kong. And while Tony Leung Chiu Wai acts superbly, the heat of the story belongs to Zhang Ziyi’s character. Gong Er is the daughter of another martial artist, a rival of Ip Man’s.

Her story is central and we flit in and out of it throughout the movie. Gong Er is beautiful, strong and a martial artist in her own right. But she is also a woman and thus she’s forced into sacrificing her life, basically. The scenes between Gong Er and Ip Man are full of emotional and sexual tension. Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi play well off of each other and Wong Kar Wai did an excellent job matching them up.

grandmaster02There are several fights, but the highly is Zhang Ziyi’s improbably battle next to a train. I will not spoil this scene, though. It’s best enjoyed within the context of the film. The secondary characters (Ip Man and Gong Er being our main characters) play out their own stories. My biggest complaint is that Wong Kar Wai made a new cut of the film, before it was ever released and Chang Chen’s character, “The Razor” Yixiantian, is barely in the movie (for a great Chang Chen film, also starring Tony Leung, check out John Woo’s four hour masterpiece, Red Cliff) .

Fan of Wong Kar Wai won’t be disappointed with The Grandmaster. But if you’re looking for something that focuses more on Ip Man and has a lot of kung fu, you might want to check out Donnie Yen’s Ip Man movie. But if you’re looking for something a little deeper, a little darker (in all senses of the word) and much more surreal, The Grandmaster is the right movie for you. Wong Kar Wai’s focus on the art of kung fu is what gives The Grandmaster it’s life, while Ip Man moves the story forward and Gong Er gives it heart. Check it out, it’s a beautiful movie, if nothing else.

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