Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King


Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

Setting aside his usual horror tropes for this title, King shows readers he’s not afraid the take on the detective novel.  It’s still scary, but this time in a crazy human way with no help needed from the supernatural.  In the early morning hours of a depressed Midwest city, the promise of one thousand jobs has hundreds of unemployed folks lined up at the civic center for a job fair.  Some of them have been there since the previous evening, hoping to be some of the lucky ones who may be able to pay next month’s rent.  Just before 5 A.M., a gray Mercedes sedan plowed into the crowd, backed up, ran over more innocents, then somehow escaped off into the early morning mist.  The escaped mass murderer is nicknamed Mr. Mercedes and still haunts the lead detective from the case, even though Bill Hodges retired months ago from the police force.  Like so many retired police officers he knows, Hodges now has little to live for and spends his days in front of the television, toying with his father’s old Smith & Wesson 38 service revolver.  “On a couple occasions he has slid it between his lips, just to see what it feels like to have a loaded gun lying on your tongue and pointing at your palate.”  His suicidal thoughts stop quickly when he receives a crank letter from someone identifying himself as the Mercedes Killer, and taunting Hodges about spying on him and his now-empty life.  While the letter claims that the killer has had his fill of violence, the former detective knows that’s not how serial killers work, and the book becomes a fast-paced, high stakes hunt as Hodges tries to find the shrewd killer before he strikes again.

If you are expecting another fabulous horror story like The Stand or It, you will not find it here.  That being said, I still think this is a super fun book and was hardly able to put it down.  King is a master of suspense, and this latest title proves that in a new way.  I highly recommend this to Stephen King and mystery/suspense fans.

running man          joyland



Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

furtistic violence

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong

What a roller coaster of a ride this book is!!!  If you love science fiction-action movies, this is the perfect choice for you.  Zoey Ashe is a normal teenager living in a worn down trailer with her mom, who hardly talks to her.  She barely even knows her her biological dad is, some rich guy she’s seen twice in her life who her mom says is a major douche bag mafioso type.  When he dies and leaves everything to Zoey, her world crashes in.  Suddenly, all the crazies in the world are after her for the $5 million dollar bounty on her head.  Of course she is kidnapped by her father’s henchmen immediately, but then becomes a media star because the whole thing (which took play in the subway) was streamed live on the internet using Blink, a GoPro type device almost everyone wears.  She’s immediately taken to a lawless city called Tabula Ra$a, which is like Las Vegas on steroids.  Here chaos ensues, with Zoey trying to trust the “Fancy Suits,” who are her father’s closest advisors and don’t really seem to be on the up and up themselves.  They’re fighting against a genetically altered crazy man, think Robocop, for control of the city and the future of mankind.

This was a super fun book which I could hardly set down while reading.  I want to give readers a warning that there is some extremely graphic violence which was difficult for me, but I have trouble stomaching “The Walking Dead” zombie show on TV.

I would recommend this to readers who like high action books and movies, and those who like fast-paced adventure stories.  If you love the Matrix movies, Ernest Cline the Maze Runner books, this is your perfect next book.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

all american boysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

It would be an injustice to this title to say that it is simply about police brutality.  In truth, the writers reach much deeper than this, looking into the psyche of an African-American teen who is beat up by a policeman, and his white basketball teammate who is family friends with the officer who brutalized Rashad.  The story is told from these alternating points of view, and what I especially appreciated about it was the evolution of Quinn’s thoughts and feelings as he realized that by not taking any action, he was just another part of the racism.  He quotes Desmond Tutu as saying, “If you are neutral in a situation of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”  Watching him as he pondered and grew into someone who could no longer be a bystander is what made this book different from other YA novels I’ve read.   The character of Rashad was also unique,  as he expressed himself through drawing, in a style inspired by Aaron Douglas.

I really liked this book because it forced me to confront my own attitudes about race and white privilege.  With the recent events of racism at Berkeley High, I think this book will be especially appealing to readers.

Also by Josh Reynolds When I Was the Greatest. when i was the greatest

Click on the book cover for our review.

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

how it went down

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

This ripped from the headlines story details the shooting of the black, sixteen-year-old Tarik Johnson by a white man named Jack Franklin.  The neighborhood is in an uproar, and even the eyewitness disagree about what they saw.  When Franklin is released by the police about claiming self-defense, the community tries to make sense of what really happened, but the truth seems to get more distressing as new accounts of the event come to light.

Magoon discloses the story from varying perspectives: local teens and adults, police logs, a local bodega owner, 911 emergency response call log and more.  Through the multiple points of view, readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions about “How it went down.”  This story echoes incidents going on across the country without pointing fingers of blame and striving to give real insight into racial relations in the country today.  I commend Magoon for her good writing that makes readers feel that they are in the moment of the incident, while trying to show how urban violence can impact one young man and his community.  I highly recommend this to all teens and fans of urban drama.

37 things          rock and the river          fire in the streets

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander


The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

This new book combines sports excitement  with a story told in free verse poetry and will be a slam dunk for readers who like either of those two genres.  Josh and Jordan are twins who can rip up the b-ball court, and have always been close.  When Jordan starts dating a girl they call “Miss Sweet Tea,” Josh feels left out the the boys’ closeness begins to fade into memory.  Josh is also a rap artist and starts cultivating his skills there.  “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering.

What I think readers will like about this book is the realistic, fast-paced sports action.  The family interaction feels authentic, with dad being a former pro basketball player and mom and assistant principal.  The book also goes super quickly since it’s written in free verse, making it the perfect choice for that last minute book project.  I would recommend this to sports fans and readers who enjoy family drama.

he said





When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

when i was the greatest

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds

This Brooklyn, New York writer really knows how to take readers into the mind of a teenager boy living in Brooklyn who is trying his best to stay out of the troubles that sometimes seem to overwhelm his neighborhood..  This short, fast-paced book is told from the perspective of Ali, who lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, which used to be full of crime but is slowly becoming gentrified.  He lives with his over-worked mom and little sister Jazz, and hangs out with his best friend Noodles and his brother Needles.  Needles has some type of syndrome, but is much calmer since Ali’s mom taught him to knit in order to focus his energy.  But Noodles is always on the prowl and gets them invited to an exclusive, adult-only party thrown by the block’s high roller named MoMo.  Can I just say a random misunderstanding has disastrous result!

I totally loved this book.  It’s definitely Urban Drama, but the main characters are trying to stay clean and all three have memorable and realistic personalities.  I would highly recommend this to all  teen readers, especially those who love Urban Drama.  This is Reynolds first book but we also have his second one, The Boy in the Black Suit.



Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty


Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

The hardback edition of this title intimidated me a little, since it’s a heavy book to carry around. However, once I started reading it I was so enthralled I carried the book everywhere, even to the grocery store so I could read a few pages while I waited in the check out line. Lonesome Dove tells the story of Augustus McCrae and W. F. Call, former Texas rangers who have decided to drive their cattle from their ranch in Texas, the Hat Creek Cattle Company, to Montana in the late 1800s.

In those days, travelers had only themselves for support. There was no reliable source of food, supplies or help on the trail. The best anyone could hope for was finding towns along the way for supplies or medical attention.

Having made their decision to go ahead with the plan, Gus and Call enlist their ranch hands and acquire others from the area who want to go with them.

The adventure includes death and disaster. The characters are so vivid they seem to walk right off the pages into the world. I grew to care deeply about them all, wanting the heroes to succeed and the villains to face justice. I didn’t even want to finish the book because the story had hooked me so completely I didn’t want it to end. Imagine how glad I was to find out McMurtry has written both a sequel, Streets of Laredo, and a prequel, Dead man’s walk. Streets of Laredo picks up several years after Lonesome Dove ends, catching up on many of the characters. Dead man’s walk introduces the early years of Texas Rangers Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, from their first mission to their brutal treatment after being captured by the Mexican army and further adventures.

Even though there are violent episodes in all three of these books, the characters and adventures overwhelm any negative affects. I enjoy recommending these books to all readers who love realistic adventure and unforgettable characters!

Review by Ms.Goldstein-Erickson

streets          deadman