Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Image result for lost in a good book by jasper ffordeLost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next, a literary detective in the Special Operations division, has become famous for her work trapping a villain in the pages of Jane Eyre. Set in an alternate universe centered in England, Thursday and he husband Landon start noticing bizarre coincidences that put their lives in danger. Thursday’s father, a renegade time traveler being hunted by the ChronoGuard, keeps finding her in the past and future to warn her about a mysterious substance that will destroy the world if she doesn’t stop it. At the same time Thursday keeps meeting Miss Havisham from Great Expectations to be trained as a book jumper. As the plot threads begin to merge and the characters keep meeting, the book becomes even more engaging. The second in the Thursday Next series, Lost in a Good Book continues Jasper Fforde’s wildly inventive and humorous universe created in The Eyre Affair. While having read the works of literature mentioned is not necessary, familiarity with their plots gives the reader a deeper understanding of this book. Fforde even brings in a character from his Nursery Crime series. This book is great fun and well worth the reader’s time.

Lost in a Good Book sub index

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

the_front_cover_of_the_book_raising_steam_by_terry_pratchettRaising steam by Terry Pratchett

After his father dies in an accident working with steam and metal, 10 year old Dick Simnel vows to make steam his servant. Ten years later, Dick tells his mother he has educated himself in mathematics at the library, knows what went wrong with his father’s work and shows his mother the prototype of a steam engine he calls Iron Girder. After Iron Girder takes a few turns on tracks he’s laid in a field at home, Dick announces he’s taking Iron Girder to the city of Ankh Morpork. Lord Vetinari, tyrant of Ankh Morpork, sends Moist von Lipwig to see this novel machine. Both Moist and Dick realize the potential it has to carry people and goods. Even as Lord Vetinari, Moist and businessman Sir Harry King begin planning what they call the railway, a group of renegade dwarfs called grags begin fomenting a rebellion. As the grags and railway are heading toward open warfare, Moist keeps extending the railway throughout the area.

Since this is a Terry Pratchett book, plot twists and Image result for terry pratchettturns, colorful characters and humor come without pause. Just when the reader suspects what’s coming next, Pratchett springs another surprise. This title also features Moist von Lipwign one of my favorite DiscWorld characters. Published near the end of Pratchett’s much-too-short life, this title is one to treasure.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

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Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

Rowell’s fans will be thrilled with her latest novel detailing the crazy life of Simon Snow as he tries to finish theWatford School of Magicks, fall in love, and save the world.  Simon and his roommate and arch enemy Baz started off as fictional characters in the writer’s 2013 Fangirl.  Simon, his best friend Penny, his sort-of-ex-girlfriend Agatha and Baz join forces to combat the powerful Humdrum which is trying to steal all the world’s magic.  The story may remind readers of the Harry Potter stories, but Rowell’s twists on the genre and strong characters and setting make this title hard to set aside.  I recommend to fans of fantasy, Harry Potter, romances and Rainbow Rowell.

If you’re an an author geek, here’s an interview with her from Book Expo last June.

fangirl               eleanor and park

Click on the book covers for our reviews of her other books.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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Crooked Kingdom  by  Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker, leader of the Dregs gang in the fictional city of Ketterdam, plots revenge against those who cheated him of payment for a dangerous and scary robbery job and kidnapped a valuable member of his gang in the first book, Six of Crows. Using the unique talents and abilities of each member of his crew, Kaz makes meticulous plans against both the criminal leader and the outwardly respected merchant who double-crossed him.  Each person in the gang knows only his or her job and even then is not aware of the ultimate purpose. Almost like assembling a jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces, Kaz moves ahead, even when it seems his enemies have thwarted him. Without giving away any of the details and ruining the mystery, I can say Crooked Kingdom lives up to the suspense and excitement Bardugo generated in Six of Crows. Readers will find themselves rooting for Kaz and each person in his gang, worried when they seem to be in danger and hopeful that their audacious scheme will destroy their enemies and make their future lives more secure.

 

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Click book for our review of the first book.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

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The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

When Humpty Dumpty is found dead in many pieces among the dustbins at the bottom of a garden wall in a seedy part of town, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division investigates with his partner Sgt. Mary Mary.

They find Humpty was involved in shady and mysterious dealings, had an exwife and numerous girlfriends and had not been seen in public in the past year. The coroner finds several possible causes of death, but everyone in town seems to have liked Humpty, even the possible suspects. As they investigate Jack and Mary uncover more puzzles, including ties to previous cases that had been assumed solved. In this alternate universe of England where Nursery Rhyme characters live side by side with real people, everyone accepts this situation as perfectly ordinary.

Loaded with tons of humor and imagination, The Big Over Easy has laughs aplenty and constant surprises. This new series follows author Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series, also based in an alternate England where real characters track literary crimes and are able to move from the real world into books. Just when the reader thinks the murderer will be revealed the plot takes another U-turn. Nothing is resolved until literally the last page.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

In the city of Ketterdam in the country of Kerch, society is strictly divided between classes, with rich merchants at the top and various criminal groups and gangs at the bottom. Upper classes, business and trades people, tourists and those coming to Ketterdam for its busy trade and markets all want to visit its gambling houses and other shady businesses in a designated part of the city. The law allows the various enterprises to operate as long as they do not disturb the status quo and those in power. Among the criminal gangs is the Dregs, run by an enigmatic young man named Kaz Brekker. Kaz has gathered young people with unique talents, including a sharp shooter with a gambling problem, a runaway from a merchant family who’s good with explosives, a young woman gifted at spying and with her knives, among others. When a new drug appears that amplifies magical powers of a group known as Grisha, Kaz and his crew are hired to kidnap the scientist who developed it. The challenge is that the scientist is being held captive in an impenetrable fortress in a well-guarded city. Kaz plans the job so each member of his gang’s special skills play an essential part in the plot. Suspense builds as they face unexpected obstacles. The book ends on a cliffhanger; I can’t wait to read the sequel!

I have loved reading fantasy for as long as I can remember and never cease to be amazed at the worlds, characters and plots authors invent. Leigh Bardugo has used her imagination to give readers a gift of believable people who possess magical abilities in a plausible world.

Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson

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Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

sloppy firsts Sloppy firsts by Megan McCafferty

Almost 16 year old Jessica Darling has started an occasional diary in January of a new year to chronicle her life after best friend Hope has moved with her family from their New Jersey shore town to Tennessee. Each month starts with Jessica’s monthly snail mail letter to Hope, giving her a summary of the most important events and her thoughts each month. Without her best friend, Jessica eats lunch with three girls she calls the Clueless Crew, since as a sophomore she can’t sit with upperclassmen. She doesn’t fit into other social groups and has no interest in joining them. Smart and diligent, Jessica ranks near the top of her class and is also a champion runner on the school track team. An insomniac, Jessica is faking being sick to nap in the nurse’s office when she is awakened by Marcus Flutie, a notorious Dreg, to supply urine for an unscheduled surprise drug test for his parole officer. Jessica surprises Marcus and herself by agreeing to do it on his promise he won’t narc on her. The surprises continue as she and Marcus start a tentative friendship.

The first in a series, this diary reflects a true to life teen girl’s voice, full of drama about family, friends, school and life in general. I am eagerly anticipating reading more about Jessica’s adventures as her life continues.

Reviewed by Ellie Goldstein-Erickson