Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Title: The Dead House

Author: Dawn Kurtagich

Published: August 2015

Pages: 440


Twenty-five years ago, there was a fire at Elmbridge High school that shut down the facility forever. Three students died and one, Carly Johnson, went missing. Very few details as to who caused the fire or the disappearances have been found…that is, until now. The charred diary of Carly’s twin sister, Kaitlyn, has been found in the ruins of the school, and has cast a vast shadow of suspicion on the activities of Carly and her friends. Except Carly doesn’t have a twin sister.

This book is complete and utter insanity, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The story itself is told through diary entries, video transcripts, police reports, and notes traded between the two “sisters” Carly and Kaitlyn. Are they really sisters trapped in the same body? What really happened the night their parents died? And are the tragic events at Elmbridge High the result of severely incorrect treatments for mental disturbance, or is there a more sinister source at play? I genuinely have no idea. If there’s one thing you’re not going to get from this book, it’s a definitive answer. On…just about anything. But that’s part of what makes it fun.

I really don’t know how to even begin to describe this book, and I definitely don’t know how to get into it without spoilers. There’s just so much that happens in it! It also manages to capture that deeply unsettling atmosphere that I feel makes horror truly successful, and then near the end, everything goes off the rails—but in a good way. The fact that it jumps between past and present and is told through various mediums is also a really effective tool to up the creep factor. When you’re reading Kaitlyn’s diary and the transcripts of Naida’s video clips, you feel like a voyeur, peeking in on something you have no right to see. And then, of course, everything becomes entirely unhinged and you feel like you can’t catch your breath.

Bottom line: This book, while not perfect, is incredibly compelling. Despite its hefty appearance, it’s an incredibly fast-paced read. If you can bring yourself to put it down once you’ve started, you’re stronger than I am.

Happy reading!

Want to check out The Dead House? Find it on the CMRLScatalog and put it on hold!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Staff Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I thought after Amber'sreview of A Court of Thorns and Roses went up yesterday, I'd post my review too, so you could see both sides of the feelings towards this book. Amber didn't like the romance; I LOVED the romance. Read both of our reviews, and then check the book out and see what you think.

TITLE: A Court of Thorns and Roses
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
PUBLISHED: May 5, 2015
416 pages, hardcover
Want to read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES and see what you think? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put a hold on it!

Can you say SEXY? I mean, goodness, I was not expecting this book. I’ve got to start with romance in ACOTAR because it’s…seductive. I don’t want you to think that the whole thing is full of sex or anything; it’s just that those few scenes are hot hot hot. Tamlin will make you SWOON. But he isn’t the only character who you’ll fall for. There’s plenty of sexy characters to completely fall in love with, including our kick-butt heroine, Feyre (what an awesome name!).
The world building is stunning, as was expected. The fairie courts and world are so interesting and well-done that I could’ve pictured the land without the addition of the map (though I’m a sucker for a book with a map). I hope we get to see even more of this world in the next book (WHICH NEEDS TO COME OUT TOMORROW!). I just LOVED this world of fairies, beasts, flowers, art, magical eyes, darkness, beautiful manors, Tamlin, Rhys, and magic magic magic. Quick little shout out to our weirdly attractive anti-hero Rhys. I won’t go into much detail here other than to say GET READY.
You may or may not know that this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Because of it, it’s obvious what is going to happen from the beginning. You know who Feyre’s going to fall in love with, but the path getting there and what happens after is so absolutely amazing, different, and cool that it doesn’t matter. The world, the characters, the magic are all unique, but it definitely still feels like a fairy tale.
The bottom line: Incredible world. Fantastic retelling. Beautiful magic. Awesome characters. SEXY times. Well-deserved hype. I NEED more.

-- Stefani

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Our Teens Review Books: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 5, 2015

416 pages, hardcover

Read the full synopsis on Goodreads!

Want to check out A Court of Thorns and Roses? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put it on hold!

A magical story of the classic Beauty and the Beast, retold by the beloved Sarah J. Maas. With her unique spin on other majestic stories, I'm interested in what Sarah's main character, Feyre, has to offer to the novel. 

The beginning of the chapter introduces us to Feyre's world and daily life. She's an excellent hunter who kills for the survival of her family, and prefers to keep to herself a majority of the time. Witty, analytical and crafty, Feyre can bargain any product for a few measly coins. Swallowed in poverty, Feyre must carry the burden of taking take of her eldest sisters and crippled father, promised by her mother. In the midst of the winter hunting becomes increasingly difficult, but that won't stop Feyre from trying. A casual cold night of hunting, Feyre spots a healthy deer and prepares for an attack, until she witnesses a wolf lurking within the distance.

A possible faerie.

Faeries, particularly High Fae, are powerful beings that once ruled humanity with an iron fist. They viewed humans as pitiful insects and treated many in inhumane ways. For centuries humans have been captive to the faeries' powerful grip, but eventually humans rebelled against the faeries and war was declared. A war so deadly it wiped out thousands in masses, six high ruling queens created a peace treaty between humans and faeries.

Taking her chance, Feyre manages to kill the wolf, and that's when everything changed...

At the beginning of the chapter I was interested in Feyre, her sisters and the world surrounding their lives. It's told in a common way: average humans living in poverty conditions and everyone just lives. Nothing special, and then Feyre's whole life is changed when she killed a wolf lurking from the wall of Prythian, High Fae territory. The High Fae Lord, Tamlin, came to avenge his dead subject, and basically demands Feyre to live with him or else face death. Of course, Feyre leaves with Tamlin but in hopes to escape the castle to return to her family again. Personally, I enjoyed the story without the romantic elements. Not saying I have major issues with romance, but I felt after Feyre left her family with Tamlin to Prythian, it became more about romance than anything else. Honestly, I wanted to know more about Prythian, the High Fae and the brewing terror that lurks in Prythian and I only received a quarter of the High Fae citizens and homeland. I understand Feyre being bound to the High Fae's (Tamlin) castle, but considering Feyre's curious nature and adventurous streak, the story should've been revolving around the mystery of High Fae's weakening power and the ultimate ruler that holds Prythian.

Not only that, but I wanted Feyre's family to develop and form without the help of Feyre. The consequences of being co-dependent for so long, and then suddenly have to fend for one's self is something I wanted to see in ACOTAR, but that didn't happen like I hoped. I wanted Cause-and-Effect themes in the story, the actions of Feyre's to Tamlin's actions, and what would be the effect of it.

Even though romance between Feyre and Tamlin was predominant in the story, it didn't stop Feyre from bonding with other individuals. She did form a friendship with Lucien, Tamlin's High Fae wingman. Having Lucien in the novel was incredibly refreshing, and I enjoyed every witty remark and quip that came out of Lucien's mouth. There was development in Lucien's character, but I wished Lucien and Feyre bonded a bit more in the story, I think it'll be a better dynamic and possible love interest. There's also Tamlin's servant, Alise, a cold yet calculating individual. There were bits of Alise's backstory, but it didn't last long and then she only appeared whenever it was convenient. Such a waste of potential, and she could've been Feyre's female support in the midst of masculinity.

Other characters are basically nonexistent, and new characters arrive near the end of the book. The plot starts to pick up, but it's near the end of the book as well. I tried to remain captivated, but I think the romance between Feyre and Tamlin was too much for me. Oh, uh, there's some scenes in the novel that's 16+ rated, so... Take note. There's violence, bits of gore, and lots of physical connection so I'd advise teenagers to adjust to the adult themes or skip them.

I'd recommend this story for romance lovers and Beauty and the Beast fanatics. To me, it's not top notch like I've anticipated and not enough action. Too much romantic angst, and Feyre could've interacted with other beings besides the two main love interests.

The story isn't bad, but it could've been better in my opinion. Also, some of the exact plot elements are very similar to Sarah J. Maas's other novels. Anyway, I'll rate it 3.0 out of 5. I'm not a romantic person, so reading this book had been somewhat of a chore for me. This isn't the best book I've read, but when I'm bored and have nothing better to do, this book would fill my boredom and romantic mood.

-- Amber

Monday, December 7, 2015

Music Monday: Grammy Nominees

It’s Music Monday! What does that mean? The Central MississippiRegional Library System has a ridiculous amount of FREE to you resources available for patrons. One of those is Freegal, a free and legal service that now allows patrons to download five songs each week for FREE (notice the emphasis on free). Every Monday we’ll be picking five songs that we love that are available on Freegal for you to download.

As the 2016 Grammy Nomination list went live thismorning with some amazing music, I thought I’d share five of the songs that were nominated for a Grammy that you can download on Freegal. Give them a listen, add them to your streaming playlists on Freegal (we can stream for up to three hours every single day now! How cool is that?!), download them if you like.

Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (Nominated for: Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance)

Ex's & Oh's, Elle King (Nominated for: Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song)

Moaning Lisa Smile, Wolf Alice (Nominated for: Best Rock Performance)

Hold Back the River, James Bay (Nominated for: Best Rock Song)

Coffee, Miguel (Nominated for: Best R&B Song)

Plus, two of the artists nominated for Best New Artist have lots of songs for you to listen to and download, including

Meghan Trainor
Courtney Barnett

So give these songs a listen. Do you think they all deserved the Grammy nom?

-- Stefani