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News of the World: a novel, by Paulette Jiles

News of the World: a novel, by Paulette Jiles

News of the World has been a really popular book, and after reading it, I can see why.  Paulette Jiles did meticulous research in order to take us on a post-Civil War journey from northern to southern Texas.  Captain Kidd, an elderly veteran and widower, has reluctantly agreed to take a young girl (Johanna) to near San Antonio to be reunited with her aunt and uncle.  She was taken captive by the Kiowa Indians, and her parents killed, four years previously.  The Captain has made a life from traveling around the towns of Texas, getting paid to read newspapers from faraway places to people who have little other communication with the rest of the world.  It appears he's made a mistake in agreeing to make the journey with Johanna--she only speaks Kiowa, has completely abandoned the ways of white people, and having been once again wrenched away from the only life she knows, is by turns difficult, sullen, and terrified.  Also, Texas at this time is largely lawless, not every stranger along the way proves to be a friend, and the elements themselves, such as flooded rivers, all combine to make for a perilous journey indeed.

I was struck by Jiles' skill in showing the clash between cultures, the difficulties of communicating for the two main characters, and yet what's possible with Johanna's young mind being able to make new connections as well as reach back into the past, and with the Captain's experience and patience. Along the way, the Captain and Johanna find solace in each other's company, fight together to survive, and show that the concept of "family" is not dicated by one's blood.

Number of Pages: 
213

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

When the library where Nina works has to shut down due to budget cuts, she finally asks herself what her dream is -- she wants to run a bookshop. Realizing her only experience is in matching up readers to books, and that she can't afford to buy or rent a space in the city, Nina follows her dream to Scotland to check out an old van that's for sale. As she tries to piece her dream together and find a way to support herself in her new endeavor, Nina gets opposing advice from her friends, and lots of unsolicited advice from the men in the Scottish village. Unsure of what to do, but slowly finding her confidence and expanding her comfort zone, Nina moves forward with her plan.

Like the other Colgan books I've read, this one has a romantic plot twisted in, but is more about a young woman figuring out what she needs in life. It was a light read, but thoroughly enjoyable.

Number of Pages: 
332

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

When sixteen year old Lina's mother is dying of cancer, she makes Lina promise to live in Italy with one of her friends after she dies. But Lina has never met this friend, and never even heard of him until after her mother becomes ill. She tries her best to avoid making the trip until her grandmother tells her the friend is really her father. Lina is still mad that she hasn't met or heard about him until now, but she agrees to one summer, packing a small bag and planning on going home as soon as possible.

After her arrival in Italy, Lina is given one of her mother's journals -- the one that her mother wrote during her own time in Italy. Lina follows the places her mother visited and her relationship with Lina's father until she can finally understand her mother's decisions. She also manages to make quick friends and have her own Italian romance.

Number of Pages: 
398

Imprudence by Gail Carriger

Imprudence by Gail Carriger

Imprudence is the second book in Carriger's Custard Protocol series. It begins immediately after Rue's last adventure, with her airship, the Spotted Custard, and its crew safely in London. Unfortunately, as soon as are they home, trouble begins with the werewolves of Rue's father's pack, and everyone seems very secretive. Rue is not pleased when her parents all shut her out, and her sometimes-beau seems to know far more about the matter than he should. There's a strange machine stashed on Rue's ship and her childhood friend and navigator has done something to encourage trespassers. Rue must discover what is happening, what her parents have planned, and come up with a better plan herself.

Number of Pages: 
352

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

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The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Sara has come to Broken Wheel, Iowa from her home in Sweden just to visit her penpal and fellow bookworm, Amy. But when she arrives in the small town that's barely even a town anymore, Amy's funeral has just ended. Having planned on staying and reading with her friend for two months, Sara doesn't know what to do, but the town makes it understood that they still plan on letting her stay in Amy's house, as the guest of all of them. Sara stays, mostly because she doesn't know what else to do, but no one else in the town reads, and Sara has little in common with Amy's old friends. The town appoints her a personal driver, but there isn't anywhere to go, and Sara soon needs something to keep her busy. After everyone rejects her offers to help, Sara becomes determined to help them in a way they didn't know they needed -- by finding the right book for each person. She opens a bookstore using Amy's personal library, though she has no customers in the town. Slowly she begins to understand how the citizens of Broken Wheel think, and manages to connect with each of them and make herself a part of the town.

I picked up this book because of the similarities to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I loved. I did enjoy The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, but it wasn't my favorite and I found Sara difficult to relate to. She's not a very strong protagonist, and has a tendency to go where the wind blows her, which puts her in some weird situations during the story that I found unrealistic. Overall, it was an easy, light read. 

Number of Pages: 
394

The Loch Ness Punster by Kate Klise

The Loch Ness Punster by Kate Klise

The Loch Ness Punster is the latest book in Klise's series 43 Old Cemetary Road. These books are a fun series told in letters and newspaper clippings, and don't have to be read in order. In this most recent book, our protagonist, twelve year old Seymour Hope inherits a Scottish castle from an adoptive great-uncle he's never met. His mother, who happens to be a ghost, takes him to Scotland to see his inheritance, but his father has bad memories of his time in Scotland and refuses to join. Seymour must decide whether to keep his large castle or try to sell it, but naturally there is another plot afoot. This book follows most of Klise's fun themes, with silly character names and bits of hidden plot that pop up in importance later in the story. I loved her books growing up and they're still very fun reads.

Number of Pages: 
130

Born of Deception by Teri Brown

Born of Deception by Teri Brown

Born of Deception is the sequel to Born of Illusion (review here). Anna is moving to London to visit her boy and join a travelling theater company where she will perform as a magician all on her own. But her arrival in London coincides with trouble in the Society for people with psychic abilities, and Anna is unsure who she can trust in this new city. When her powers become less reliable than usual, all the problems begin to hurt her relationship, and she has to question what it is that will really make her happy.

Number of Pages: 
328

Flaming Iguanas: An Illustrated All-Girl Road Novel Thing by Erika Lopez

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Flaming Iguanas: An Illustrated All-Girl Road Novel Thing by Erika Lopez

It's about time for Tomato Rodriguez to shake things up in her life. She's nearly 30--why not learn how to drive a scooter? When her friend suggests starting a motorcycle gang, they get their affairs in order and pick out some rad biker jackets...oh yeah, and track down motorcycles and at least TRY to figure out how to drive them across country. What could possibly go wrong? Welcome to madcap adventure and sass as Tomato reels through life--looking for lovers, post offices, the perfect sing-aloud driving soundtrack, and the best way to get out of a mud pit.

Told with a meandering, conversational voice and rubber stamps adorning most of its brown-paper-bag pages, Flaming Iguanas feels like you're gabbing with your best kooky friend and laughing your butts off. It's smart, off-the-wall, and a little raunchy. Tomato takes many sideroads, both literally and figuratively, to get where she's going, but it's non-stop fun. I learned about this book from Book Riot's list, 4 Great Road Books by Women, and then requested this through Interlibrary Loan. Ask us if you'd like to request it, too!

Number of Pages: 
288

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams

This book contains five books and a short story.  Below is a summary of each book:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

Arthur Dent is having a very bad day.  When he wakes up there is a man from the county council at his home to inform him that he has a bulldozer there to demolish his house to make way for a bypass, his friend, Ford Prefect, announces that he is really an alien “from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse,” and then the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace express route.

But, not to worry for Dent and Prefect manage to make their escape onboard one of the alien spacecraft and are soon tossed out an airlock only to be picked up by a passing spacecraft piloted by Ford’s semi-cousin and the only human woman left alive aboard a ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive, a ship that can make seemingly impossible things happen… like being picked up by Ford’s semi-cousin and the last human woman just moments before dying in the vacuum of space.

Soon, they are all on their way to Magrathea, a planet that, eons ago, engaged in the trade of making other luxury planets, where Arthur learns something quite shocking.  There the gang to try to find the Ultimate Question Of Life, The Universe, And Everything and to try to figure out just why Zaphod (Ford’s Semi-Cousin) scrambled his brain.

The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe

This novel picks up right where The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy left off.  The gang has left the planet Magrathea trying to escape from Vogons trying to finish the job of demolishing the Earth by killing Arthur Dent and Trillian.

They run into Zarniwoop van Harl who works in the offices of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and sets Zaphod the task of figuring out who really runs the universe.  Our adventurers manage to escape from him and end up at Milliways, The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, which has been projected through time to the literal end of the universe so that people can go and enjoy it with dinner and a show.

On the way out they steal Disaster Area’s stunt ship only to find that will put them into greater peril.  So, they try to escape with Zaphod and Trillian landing back on the Heart Of Gold and Ford and Arthur landing on a strange ship full of cold bodies. Where they soon make some more startling discoveries.

Life, The Universe, And Everything

Living on a primitive planet is something that Arthur Dent has gotten quite used to and then Ford Prefect has to show up and pull him into a time space eddy where they land on Earth a few days before its destruction and are attacked by a squad of robots.  Then, they are rescued by Slartibartfast where he reveals that the robots are from the planet Krikkit.  A planet which was cut off from the rest of the universe due to a thick dust cloud and the inhabitants never knew about the existence of the universe until a spaceship crashed on their planet and they decided the rest of the universe “would have to go.”

They very nearly obliterated the rest of the universe until they were locked on their planet… And now there is the threat of them escaping to start it all again.  Naturally, the only ones Slartibartfast can think of to save the universe are Ford and Arthur.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

Arthur has been aimlessly hitchhiking his way across the galaxy when he lands on a planet that oddly enough seems to be the Earth… but it was destroyed by the Vogons.

Apparently, on this Earth everyone believes the Vogons were just a “mass hallucination” and oddly enough all the dolphins have disappeared leaving every human a fish bowl that has an inscription that reads, “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Arthur meets a girl named Fenchurch who does not believe in the “mass hallucination” theory and they go to investigate what happened to the dolphins.  They come across Wonko The Sane a man who believes the rest of the world is insane and has built his house inside out in order to keep the rest of the world in “The Asylum.”

Soon. The pair is off with Ford and the others to try and find out what “God's Final Message to His Creation” says.

Mostly Harmless

After everything that happened in So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish Arthur decides to take Fenchurch around the galaxy when she suddenly just disappears while sitting next to Arthur.  So, he settles on a planet and becomes a “sandwich maker.”  There he learns he has a daughter with Trillan because she impregnated herself using his DNA.

Meanwhile, Ford goes back to the offices of The Guide only to discover that there has been a takeover and someone is planning something dreadfully evil.  So, he has to try and find Arthur and Trillian so they can prevent it.

Number of Pages: 
815

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Eustace and a friend named Jill Pole are running away from some bullies when he has the idea to call on Aslan.  Soon, they find themselves with Alsan and given a mission to find the King's missing son.

And so, they set off with Puddleglum the Marshwiggleto toward giant country, where they will encounter a witch, almost be dinner for giants, and even travel under the world.

Number of Pages: 
243