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IQ

posted by: May 10, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for IQThis is Sherlock like you’ve never seen him before. Joe Ide’s IQ is a fresh take on the famous detective that really boils down the essence of the character and reimagines him in an entirely new context. This is not just another “update” where Sherlock becomes a quirky PI with a psychiatric disorder and a nicotine habit, nor is it a recasting where they take a cranky doctor or a malcontent police officer and throw in some brilliant deductive reasoning. Ide crafts an entirely new character who embodies the spirit of the great detective while breaking new ground; in this story he is a young African American man, growing up poor but smart in south central Los Angeles. It feels like a breath of fresh air for a story that, even when done well, has been done to death.

 

The story spans a couple of time periods. It begins present day where IQ (the nickname of Isaiah, our titular character) has become well known as a problem solver, and is called in to solve an attempt on the life of a rap mogul. It flashes back and forth with the past where Isaiah takes steps down a dark path while simultaneously beginning the journey to become a positive force to the world around him. In the present, a bevy of suspects and an unusual crime scene confuse the field for Isaiah and his assistant/frenemy/partner Dodson, while in the past we see the pair in their earlier days, striking out at others and themselves as they struggle with the curveballs life throws their way and the questionable choices they make.

 

At times, the story may feel distant from the experiences of many of its readers, but the author does a good job of including threads we can all identify with. We may not be poor and growing up in the inner city, but we all understand struggling with grief, giving in to temptation and making bad, easy choices, or trying to help people even when they won’t help themselves. If anything, Ide’s IQ is more generous and well intentioned than most of us — going above and beyond to help others even at real cost to himself. Rather than being alienating though, I found it inspiring. Plus Ide includes a cast of oddball true-to-life characters that keep the story moving and the reader’s interest piqued.

 

I really enjoyed this story — especially the tension of the mysteries and the well-developed main characters. If you like this story, you’ll probably enjoy a lot of Sherlock stories — both the originals by Arthur Conan Doyle and many of the derivatives by a batch of other authors. I would highly recommend BBC’s recent adaptation of Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It shares the modern setting and a certain irreverent sense of humor.


 
 

Foxlowe

posted by: May 8, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Foxlowe"Don't go Outside. Don't let the Bad in." In Eleanor Wasserberg's debut novel we see the inner workings of Foxlowe, a commune where a group of people, who call themselves the Family, live by a different set of rules. Freya is the leader of the group, and as long as you follow her rules and listen to what she says, everything will be okay. If you break the rules, you are punished or you become a Leaver.

 

The story is presented through Green, a young girl living at Foxlowe, who Freya treats like a daughter. In the main part of the story, Green remembers what her childhood was like at Foxlowe and she recalls when Blue became a new family member and the down fall of everything. She follows and believes Freya blindly and doesn't understand the unsettling truth of who Freya really is. While much of her telling shows a beautiful and happy life, there are dark and disturbing moments throughout the story.

 

Later, Green recalls her life as an adult, where she goes by the name of Jess and lives on the Outside. She misses Foxlowe as her life is difficult and she is unsettled. Her life on the Outside is met with strange feelings and unhappy moments. Remembering the reason she no longer lives at Foxlowe, we see the deeply dark moments that have brought her to her current struggle in life.

 

Though you may be left with questions in the end, some things are better left unanswered. The mysteries of Foxlowe and what happened to everyone is intriguing and left up to the reader’s imagination in many ways. The beautiful language and point of view gives a sense of a magical and secretive world that is also dark and disturbing. Foxlowe is a captivating new story that will keep you guessing.


 
 

The Second Mrs. Hockaday

posted by: May 4, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Second Mrs. HockadayDear Readers,                                                                       May 4, 2017

 

I am writing to you to offer a glimpse into the book The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers. A first novel for this accomplished playwright, if you enjoy reading in letter and diary format—once you pick it up, it will be difficult to put down. A historical fiction, mystery surrounds the main character, Placidia Fincher, and through her writing you learn how it was to be a young woman left alone to face the responsibility of maintaining some type of normalcy at home despite being surrounded by the chaos of the Civil War.

 

At the start of her entries, dating back to 1865, we find out that 19-year-old Placidia has recently been arrested and is corresponding with her cousin behind bars. It is obvious that she is not willing to reveal the circumstances behind her predicament—at least not easily—which adds to the mystery. What is established, prior to Placidia being in jail, is at the young age of 17, she finds a respectable union with Gryffth Hockaday, a high-ranking confederate soldier. Adhering to the social customs of the time, this union was one where marriage came first, above love. However, before any romance blossomed, the major received his own letter calling him to the frontlines of battle.

 

Switching between different time periods, you will be anxious to find out what happened during the two years that they were separated. What you realize is that hidden within the diary entries and letters is a snapshot of life in the South during this chaotic time. Susan Rivers does not stray away from the complicated history of this time period—touching on topics such as slavery, isolation and brutality. Despite the dark aspects, the story is also one of hope and redemption, especially for the leading lady of the story. If you enjoy this style of historical writing, then you may enjoy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer or These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner.

 

I hope this blog finds you well.
 
Yours Truly,
Elna


 
 

The Shadow Land

posted by: May 1, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Shadow LandBulgaria, which lies along the Black Sea coast in Europe, is an ancient country whose capital city of Sofia dates from the Fifth century. Ottoman Turks, tsars and Soviet-style communists have all had a crack at ruling the country, which is now a parliamentary democratic republic. The legacy of Bulgaria’s shifting governance and political instability drives Elizabeth Kostova’s novel, The Shadow Land.  

 

New college grad Alexandra Boyd is an American abroad. She’s just arrived in Sofia and reaches out to help an elderly couple struggling down the steep steps of the upscale Hotel Forest. No good deed goes unpunished as a cab ride later, she realizes she’s accidentally mixed a piece of their luggage in with hers. With the help of her taxi driver, nicknamed Bobby, Alexandra starts a journey in attempt to return the bag which contains a deeply personal item: the ashes of a man named Stoyan Lazarov. And while Americans like Alexandra turn to the police for help, Bobby isn’t as trusting of the new state’s authority. As the pair crisscrosses Bulgaria tracking the elusive Lazarov family, they realize they, too, are being followed.

 

At its heart, this story is gripping historical fiction. As Alexandra and Bobby gradually piece together the life of Stoyan Lazarov, they also uncover the horror of government-sanctioned “work camps,” survivor’s guilt and unending atonement. A recent past that won’t stay hidden looms, threatening all of Bulgaria with its darkness. Readers who enjoy historical fiction with a political bent, such as The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna or Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, should add The Shadow Land to their reading list.


 
 

This month's BCPL's Reading Challenge is read a book set in Asia. Here are some of our suggestions. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. You can participate in BCPL's Reading Challenge on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Bwellread to earn prizes at the end of each month!

 

 BCPL Reading Challenge 2017 In Partnership with WBALTV

Cover art for The Arab of the Future Cover art for Black WaterCover art for Cambodia Noir Cover art for China Rich Girlfriend Cover art for The Coroner's Lunch Cover art for A Fine Balance Cover art for Four Years in the Mountains of Kurdistan Cover art for The Good Earth Cover art for Henna House Cover art for Hiroshima Cover art for Hunters in the Dark Cover art for In Order to Live Cover art for Island of a Thousand Mirrors Cover art for Jade Dragon Mountain Cover art for The Kite Runner Cover art for Memoirs of a Geisha Cover art for Midnight in Siberia Cover art for The Morning They Came For Us Cover art for Music of the Ghosts Cover art for The Quiet American Cover art for Sarong Party Girls Cover art for The Secret Chord Cover art for Selection Day Cover art for Shogun Cover art for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Cover art for A Strangeness in My Mind Cover art for The Teeth of the Comb and Other Stories Cover art for The Temporary Bride Cover art for The Translation of Love Cover art for Waking Lions Cover art for Walking the Himalayas Cover art for The Wind Up Bird Chronicles Cover art for Women of Silk Cover art for A Word for Love


 
 

The Empty Ones

posted by: March 29, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Empty OnesRobert Brockway’s The Empty Ones is a punk rock take on a weird and spooky world full of butt kicking, hard drinking and surprising emotional investment. This book will turn the volume up to 11, and follow it up with a punch straight to the heart when you least expect it.

 

A continuation to the first book in the series, The Unnoticeables, this book picks up shortly thereafter. Telling the next step for our rough–around-the-edges “heroes,” it also tells a little more of their history. Brockway does a great job of gradually revealing the mysteries of its world and the nature of the eldritch enemies his characters face while darkly foreshadowing the future ahead of them. The ending completes a satisfying story while setting up the next chapter, leaving readers excitedly waiting for the third and final volume of the series.

 

Readers who enjoy more bizarre humor and “out there” fiction will enjoy it for sure; this book is weird and there’s just no way around it. Joyously counter-culture and unrelentingly vicious at points, it balances this with surprising heart and depth of character in ways you won’t always expect. It’s is a heck of a ride that readers may just need to strap in for and enjoy. Brockway also does a good job of capturing the unique feeling of the exhaustion you get when it feels like the world has nothing but further misfortune for you, no matter what you do — but you push on anyway.

 

I highly recommend reading The Unnoticeables before starting on this one — the mythos is convoluted enough that it could be a little confusing to try and jump in midstream. If you enjoyed this title, you should also try David Wong’s John Dies at the End, which similarly is a story full of strange humor and surprisingly dark moments. Both Wong and Brockway write for the internet humor site Cracked, and they share an esoteric style of writing. Readers might enjoy other stories of magic and adventure, such as Jim Butcher’s Storm Front or Daniel Polansky’s Low Town.


 
 

The Bear and the Nightingale

posted by: March 27, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Bear and the NightingaleKatherine Arden’s enchanting debut novel buries readers in the freezing winter of medieval Russia, a place still steeped in myth and fairy tale. The Bear and the Nightingale is an atmospheric debut that brings to life 14th century Russian history, makes it relatable to readers and fills it with magic.

 

Vasya grows up in the northern wilderness, the daughter of the wealthy lord of a remote village. The family’s wealth doesn’t spare Vasya’s mother, who dies giving birth to her, or the children from spending long winter evenings huddled together around the giant kitchen stove as their nurse spins folktales about demons and sprites.

 

Their kind but distracted father lets the children, especially Vasya, grow untamed. She may be a little unusual, but she is also brave, intelligent and kind. She tells no one, not even her brother, that she actually sees and speaks with the sprites in the house and the horses in the stable.

 

When her wild behavior starts to scare off potential suitors, her father is finally convinced he needs to remarry in an effort to tame his youngest daughter.

 

His new wife, a deeply devout woman, forbids the villagers from honoring the old traditions by leaving out dishes of food for sprites in the house or barns. Vasya realizes it isn’t because her stepmother doesn’t believe they exist, but because she sees them too that she is determined to rid the village of these old customs. However, by starving the spirits that have kept them safe and prosperous for years, the village allows an ancient evil to creep back into their midst.

 

Because she can see what is happening, it's up to Vasya to save herself, her family and her village from demons straight from her nurse's stories.

 

The Bear and the Nightingale is perfect for a cold winter night. The compelling plot and lyrical writing will hold readers under its spell, unable to put down the book or go to bed at a decent hour. Vasya is an unforgettable heroine who Arden has crafted so carefully, she seems like a real person. While readers are supplied with proper villains, their evil is complex and nuanced.

 

Readers who enjoy books by Neil Gaiman or Naomi Novik’s Uprooted will enjoy this title.


 
 

New Next Week on March 28, 2017

posted by: March 24, 2017 - 8:00am

The following titles will be released next week. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. Be sure to visit our Hot Titles webpage for more exciting upcoming titles.

Cover art for Almost Missed You Cover art for The Ashes of London Cover art for Before This is Over Cover art for Black Book Cover art for Casey Stengel Cover art for Change of Seasons Cover art for A Crown of Wishes Cover art for The Devil's Feast Cover art for An Extraordinary Union  Cover art for Hashimoto's Protocol Cover art for How to Be a Bawse Cover art for It Happens All the Time Cover art for Miramar Bay Cover art for Mustache Shenanigans Cover art for My Darling Detective Cover art for A New Way to Bake Cover art for a Perfect Obsession Cover art for PhenomenaCover art for Red Clover Inn Cover art for Richard Nixon Cover art for The Satanic Mechanic Cover art for Strange The Dreamer Cover art for The Women in the Castle


 
 

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