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The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men

Tiffany Aching is a 9-year-old farm girl who is good with cheese and sees the world through steady eyes. She doesn’t like her younger brother that much, as he gets in her way and is constantly sticky, but when he is abducted by the Queen of the Fairies, she is determined to get him back. With the help of a group of rowdy pictsies named the Nac Mac Feegle, the “wee men” of the title who got kicked out of the Queen’s kingdom for being drunk and disorderly, Tiffany travels to the world of the fairies. Can Tiffany defeat the Queen, with only her wits, a frying pan, and the help of the Nac Mac Feegle? Can she save her brother and Roland, a useless boy from the village who also wandered into fairyland? Does she have what it takes to be a true witch, in a land where all your dreams come true, even the terrible ones? Find out by reading The Wee Free Men.

This is a young adult fantasy novel that lives in Pratchett’s Discworld universe. Tiffany is a great character, with many flaws but lots of heart. There are themes that will make this book relatable for many kids and teens, like having annoying siblings, death and grief, and finding out what who you are and what you want to do. The book is very funny, and it has the perfect amount of naughtiness in this book – there’s enough faux swearing by the Nac Mac Feegle to delight kids, but not too much. The Wee Free Men is delightful to read out loud to the family, especially if you ham it up with the Nac Mac Feegle dialogue. This is the first book in the Tiffany Aching series, which is a great introduction for young readers to fantasy fiction in general and Discworld in particular. Adult fans of Discworld will like Pratchett’s familiar fantasy-with-a-twist-humor and the cameo by Granny Weatherwax.

 Recommended for ages 10-14, grades 4-8.

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Wee-Free-Men-Discworld/dp/0060012382/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1405965168&sr=8-1

From King County Library System in Book, Illustrated Book, ebook, Downloadable Audiobook, and Audiobook CD: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=title%3A(%22wee%20free%20men%22)&suppress=true&custom_edit=false

Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945 by Max Hastings

Published as All Hell Let Loose: The World at War, 1939-1945 in the UK

 

Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945Inferno is a compelling history of World War II, told from the point of view of regular people, soldiers and civilians, who experienced the war. The author, Max Hastings, is a British journalist and author of many modern history books. Inferno offers a comparative history of the war, giving the reader context about the similarities and differences between geographical areas and time stages of the war.

One of my favorite parts of reading this book was discovering World War II topics that I hadn’t learned about in high school history class. These include the conflict between the Russian and German armies on the Eastern Front, where 90% of the German Army’s losses were received. I also learned a lot about the Pacific Theater, as most of what I learned focused on the island battles. The sections on China and southeast Asian countries under Japan’s rule were very interesting, as was the discussion of Japanese vrs. Western values on warfare and prisoners. Hastings contends that the industrial might of the United States made more of an impact on the war than the US military, which was interesting to think about given the focus on troops in my history lessons.

Inferno is a great book for people who want a more complete or alternate history of World War II. As a history that is focused on the stories of ordinary people and soldiers, it is also has more compelling human stories than history books focused on battles and weapons. Max Hastings won  the Pritzker Prize for Military History and Inferno was a New York Times Notable Book.

 

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Inferno-World-War-1939-1945-Vintage/dp/0307475530/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1405381896&sr=1-1&keywords=inferno%3A+The+World+at+War%2C+1939-1945

 From King County Library System in Book, ebook, and Downloadable Audiobook: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=Inferno+Max+Hastings&commit=Search

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

The perfect non-fiction summer read. This is an engaging book from the king of popular non-fiction about many interesting developments that happened over the summer of 1927. By reading this book, you’ll learn about the early history of flight and why Charles Lindbergh was such a great pilot and why the 1927 Yankees were the best baseball team in history.  You’ll also read about a massive natural disaster and the President who went on vacation to the Black Hills during the aftermath. There are also some spectacular crimes detailed in the book, including a  horrible murder that gripped the nation, the trial of two anarchists which was very famous at the time but is unremembered now, and you’ll also read about how Al Capone consolidated his power in the criminal underworld of Chicago.

Bryson is adept at making the historical entertaining as well as informative, and you’ll come out of this book with many good cocktail conversation starters. This book is a series of loosely-related topics that were interesting to Bryson, not a linear tale, so if you don’t find one topic that interesting, you can always skip to the next chapter. Bryson also narrates his audiobooks himself, and he has a nice voice, so the audiobook version would be a great choice for a summer road trip as well.

 

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/One-Summer-America-Bill-Bryson/dp/0767919408

 

From King County Library System in Book, Large Print Book, Audiobook CD, Downloadable Audiobook, and ebook: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?t=smart&search_category&q=one%20summer%201927%20bryson&commit=Search&CFID=33673684&CFTOKEN=c512db1bf5f70fde-16D65355-155D-225D-1D6BCD5B976C3CA5

Great Books to Relax With

These are the 10 “beach reads” I am looking forward to this summer, even though I often read them in a comfy chair on my deck instead of on the beach. If they haven’t been published yet the release date is listed.

 

Stuff Matters

10. Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik

This looks like a great nonfiction book to read when I get sick of fiction. There are lots of short entries about the modern materials that make up our everyday lives. Easy-reading nonfiction is great to read before bed, as it is interesting, but does not lead me down the rabbit trail of “one more chapter!” the way a gripping fiction book can.

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Stuff-Matters-Exploring-Marvelous-Materials/dp/0544236041/ref=zg_bs_books_57

From King County Library System in Book and ebook: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=Mark+Miodownik+stuff&commit=Search

 

thrones

9. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I have read all of the books of The Song of Ice and Fire series, but I’d like to re-read them, starting with A Game of Thrones, before I start watching the tv series.

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Game-Thrones-Song-Fire-Book-ebook/dp/B000QCS8TW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1402370263&sr=1-1&keywords=game+of+thrones

From KCLS in Book, eBook, Graphic Novel Book, Audiobook CD, Audiobook Cassette(!),  Chinese Book, and Spanish Book: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=(contributor%3A(martin%2C%20george%20rr)%20AND%20title%3A(game%20of%20thrones)%20)%20-anywhere%3A(wall)%20-anywhere%3A(hedge)&suppress=true&custom_edit=false

 

thousand

8. Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

I loved the Veronica Mars tv show because of the spunky teenage girl protagonist solving interesting crimes. I am excited to see if the first book in the series will live up to the show.

From Amazon in Kindle format: http://www.amazon.com/Veronica-Mars-Original-Thousand-Dollar-Paperback/dp/B00JIB7JHE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1402347794&sr=8-2&keywords=the+thousand-dollar+tan+line+veronica+mars+1

From Powell’s in paperback: http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780804170703-0

From KCLS in Book and Downloadable Audiobook: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?t=smart&search_category&q=thousand%20dollar%20tan%20line&commit=Search&CFID=33676042&CFTOKEN=68c19e6e8575842b-179FCAB4-155D-225D-1D8785D646F3B30F

 

ocean

7. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I actually have this book checked out right now, I just haven’t been in the mood to read it! It is a short read, but a little creepy, so I am going to read it when I feel in the mood for a darker title.

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Ocean-End-Lane-Novel-ebook/dp/B009NFHF0Q/ref=zg_bs_25_79

From KCLS in Book, ebook, Large Print Book, Audiobook CD, Downloadable Audiobook, and Spanish Book: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=ocean+end+lane+gaiman&commit=Search

 

Shine Shine Shine

6. Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer

This book looks fantastic! It is about autism, rockets, love, death, and a troubled marriage. It is the first book by the author and has been gaining popularity since its release in 2012.

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shine-Lydia-Netzer-ebook/dp/B006ZL9DRO/ref=zg_bs_25_3

From KCLS in Book, Audiobook CD, and Downloadable Audiobook: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=(contributor%3A(Netzer%2C%20Lydia)%20AND%20anywhere%3A(shine%20shine%20shine)%20)&suppress=true&custom_edit=false

 

giver

5. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this classic children’s book in middle school, and I look forward to reading it again. It is a dystopian story that should appeal to readers of The Hunger Games and Divergent. The movie version will be released in August 2014. It stars Jeff Bridges as The Giver and Brenton Thwaites as Jonas (he played Prince Phillip in Maleficent).

The IMDB page for the movie: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0435651/

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Giver-Readers-Circle-Laurel-Leaf/dp/0440237688/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402428471&sr=8-1&keywords=the+giver

From KCLS in Book, ebook, Audiobook CD, Downladable Audiobook, Preloaded Audiobook Player, Chinese Book, Japanese Book, Korean Book, and Spanish Book: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_edit=true&custom_query=%28contributor%3A%28Lowry%2C+Lois%29+AND+title%3A%28giver%29+%29+-title%3A%28son%29+-title%3A%28messenger%29&page=1&suppress=true

 

Landline

4. Landline by Rainbow Rowell – coming July 8, 2014

Rainbow Rowell is known for writing engaging books about love stories with all of life’s complications. This novel has a character with a failing marriage, and she finds that she can talk on the phone with her husband in the past. This seems like a good mix of romance and sci fi, and a great beach read!

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Landline-Rainbow-Rowell/dp/1250049377/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402365069&sr=1-1&keywords=landline+rainbow+rowell

 

 

The Book of Life

3. The Book of Life (All Souls #3) by Deborah Harkness – coming July 15, 2014

I loved the first two books in this series, which is like Twilight for adults. I am looking forward to the final book in the series.

See my review of A Discovery of Witches, the first book in the All Souls trilogy:  https://30secondbookreview.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/a-discovery-of-witches/

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Book-Life-All-Souls-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00G3L6KQI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402347196&sr=1-1&keywords=the+book+of+life

From KCLS in Book: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1393249082_book_of_life

 

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

fault

Since the movie version of this book came out, it has become even more popular than it was. I got tired of waiting on the hold list, so I went and bought it the other day. I am waiting for a free weekend so I can really sob my way through this tale of first love and cancer.

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fault-Our-Stars-John-Green-ebook/dp/B005ZOBNOI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402349346&sr=1-1&keywords=the+fault+in+our+stars

From KCLS in Book, Large Print Book, Audiobook CD, Preloaded Audiobook Player, ebook, Spanish Book, and Chinese Book: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=the+fault+in+our+stars+john+green&commit=Search

 

Written in My Own Heart's Blood1. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

The book I am most excited to read is the latest volume in the Outlander series. I can’t wait to find out what has happened to Jaime and Claire since the last book!

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Written-Own-Hearts-Blood-Outlander-ebook/dp/B00C8S9W0G/ref=zg_bs_17_8

From KCLS : http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&t=smart&search_category=keyword&q=written+heart%27s+blood+gabaldon&commit=Search


The True Meaning of Smekday
by Adam Rex

smekday

Gratuity (aka Tip) Tucci is a pretty-much-normal twelve-year-old girl with a pretty-much-normal life. That is, until her mom says that aliens are talking to her through a mole on her neck. No one believes her, until the aliens invade on Christmas Eve, which they rename Smekday in honor of Captain Smek. The aliens, called the Boov, declare Earth a colony and rename it Smekland. All of humanity is sent to live in Florida, transported there by rocketpod. Tip doesn’t get on a rocketpod though, preferring to drive to Florida in her mother’s dilapidated car instead. She forms an unlikely alliance with a Boov mechanic named J.Lo. Together with Tip’s cat they have a hilariously eventful road trip in Tip’s upgraded car, which is renamed Slushious and has a new feature – it hovers. Will Tip and J.Lo ever learn to get along? Will Tip be able to find her mom in the Happy Mouse Kingdom? Will their crazy plan to prevent another alien invasion work? Tip tells answers all these questions and more in The True Meaning of Smekday.

The True Meaning of Smekday is a classic road trip and coming-of-age story, and it is also a  science fiction and satire novel.  It includes many drawings, comic strips, and newspaper clippings to draw the attention of kids. It is a great introduction to sci fi for a kid in the second half of elementary school, a great choice for reading out loud to children, or for anyone who is young at heart and likes a good laugh!

 

Appropriate for ages 8-12 or grades 3-7

Read a comic of 10 reasons to read The True Meaning of Smekday: http://www.smekday.com/10reasons.html

Read an excerpt of the book here: http://www.smekday.com/excerptfromthetr.html

 

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-True-Meaning-Smekday-Adam/dp/0786849010

From KCLS in Book, Audiobook CD, and Downloadable Audiobook formats: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?t=smart&search_category&q=the%20true%20meaning%20of%20smekday&commit=Search&CFID=33399093&CFTOKEN=ae39d96d93de66c7-7E308132-155D-225D-1D86DD71A0737EEF

Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent

Divergent takes place in a dystopian Chicago, where people are divided into five factions that practice one virtue: the Dauntless are brave,  the Candor are honest, Amity members are peaceful, Abnegation are selfless, and the Erudite are intelligent. At sixteen children are put into a simulation that tests their aptitude for all the factions, and then they get to decide which faction to join for the rest of their lives. Beatrice Prior grew up in Abnegation, but she always felt out of place because she was too selfish. When her simulation test gives her confusing results, she has to choose between staying with her family or being true to herself. Her answer at the choosing ceremony surprises everyone, including herself, and she has to live with the consequences. Will she be able to survive the initiation into her chosen faction? Should she trust her fellow initiates, even as they’re competing for a limited number of slots? Who are her real friends? She is told that she must keep her test results secret or risk death, but can she fool everyone, even her cute instructor? You’ll have to read Divergent to find out.

This is a dystopian novel starring a teenage girl, and has a similar feel  to The Hunger Games. There is a lot of teen romance going on in Divergent, but there is no love triangle as there was in The Hunger Games. (I personally felt the love triangle was a bit annoying!) The structure of the society in the series provides for a lot of discussion of human nature and nature versus nurture debates, which gives readers a nice introduction to philosophical arguments.

There are three official volumes in the Divergent series. The second book is Insurgent, and the third is Allegiant. There are also companion stories in ebook format told from the perspective of Beatrice’s main love interest, named Four. They are Four: The Transfer (#0.1), Four: The Initiate (#0.2), Four: The Son (#0.3), Four: The Traitor (#0.4), and Free Four: Tobias Tells the Divergent Knife-Throwing Scene (#1.5). There is a companion book that goes into the history of the factions, The World of Divergent: The Path to Allegiant (#2.5). The film version of Divergent came out earlier this year, and look for Insurgent to hit theaters in Spring 2015.

 

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Divergent-Veronica-Roth/dp/0062024035/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1401218366&sr=8-1&keywords=divergent

From King County Library System in Book, eBook, Large Print Book, Spanish Book, Audiobook CD, and Downloadable Audiobook: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=(contributor%3A(Roth%2C%20Veronica.)%20AND%20title%3A(divergent)%20)%20-anywhere%3A(allegiant)%20-anywhere%3A(insurgent)%20-title%3A(official)%20-title%3A(inside)%20-title%3A(tobias)%20-title%3A(transfer)&suppress=true&custom_edit=false

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

WildWild is a memoir of loss, grief, and finding yourself again. After losing her mother and her marriage, Cheryl Strayed went on a years-long bender of reckless behavior. She impulsively decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Canada down the Western USA to Mexico, as a journey of self-discovery. Strayed encountered many problems, some stemming from her lack of knowledge about the trail and her failure to pack practically, but ultimately triumphed over the trail and worked through some of her problems.

I have heard that this book has inspired many new hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, but experienced hikers may be underwhelmed by her lack of preparedness and wilderness skills. There are some passages I found genuinely moving, and passages that were very funny as well. Be prepared for the a bit of 1990’s Northwest counterculture/hippie vibe that shows through as well.

This is a feel-good story of growth that won a lot of awards last year, including being included in Oprah’s book club and being named a best book of the year by NPR. It will come out as a movie in December 2014 and will star Reese Witherspoon, so you can get started on reading it before it gets even more popular with the film release. This is a great beach read for those interested in hiking, mother-daughter relationships, or journeys of healing and self-discovery.

From King County Library System in downloadable ebook, downloadable audiobook, pre-loaded audiobook player, audiobook cd, large print book, book, and Spanish-language book: http://kcls.bibliocommons.com/search?custom_query=(contributor%3A(strayed%2C%20cheryl)%20AND%20title%3A(wild)%20)&suppress=true&custom_edit=false

From Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Found-Pacific-Crest-Vintage/dp/0307476073/ref=sr_1_1_ha?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399934020&sr=1-1&keywords=wild+cheryl+strayed

IMDB for the film version: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2305051/