Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Furies of Calderon cover

For a thousand years, the people of Alera have united against the aggressive and threatening races that inhabit the world, using their unique bond with the furies – elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal.  But now, Gaius Sextus, First Lord of Alera, grows old and lacks an heir.  Ambitious High Lords plot and maneuver to place their Houses in positions of power, and a war of succession looms on the horizon.  Far from city politics in the Calderon Valley, the boy Tavi struggles with his lack of furycrafting.  At fifteen, he has no wind fury to help him fly, no fire fury to light his lamps.  Yet as the Alerans’ most savage enemy – the Marat – return to the Valley, he will discover that his destiny is much greater than he could ever imagine.

The cover of the edition that I read stated that Furies of Calderon was inspired by Tolkien.  In some ways, I see that, I guess.  I really thought it was more reminiscent of A Song of Ice and Fire series with a bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender and maybe a little bit of Pokémon thrown in, but in a good way.

It started out a little slow, but once I got to Chapter 10, it became a page turner.  I just had to know what was going to happen next because, by that point, I cared about the characters so much.  Butcher includes plenty of plot twists, which really kept me guessing and one of things I look for in a book is the ability of the author to keep me guessing.  It got to the point that, after I had been surprised by so much, nothing would surprise me, if that makes any sense.  I definitely can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

I recommend this to fans of High/Epic Fantasy, especially if you like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.

Five stars!

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The Color of Water by James McBride

Growing up, author James McBride wondered why his mother looked and acted different than other parents in his neighborhood.  He describes feeling like something was missing in his life because his mother never discussed her background. This book fully titled The Color of Water A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother tells the story in alternating chapters of the author’s upbringing in Brooklyn and Queens with eleven siblings and his mother Ruth’s Jewish upbringing in the south.  His mother agreed to discuss her background with her son only if he would also include each of her grown children’s many accomplishments in the book (all have college degrees).  The author paints the whole picture when it comes to recounting his mother’s life including the good times and the bad, which only makes you appreciate her resiliency even more.  I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know the author’s family through these pages, and I highly recommend this uplifting title.

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Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless coverAlexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.  Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

At first, all I knew about this book was that it was a Steampunk mystery and I was excited to begin it. I quickly found that it includes vampires, werewolves, and ghosts, which made me less excited to begin it. I’ve found that novels containing the supernatural can be very good, but most of them are simply awful. Nevertheless, as this was scheduled for book group, I began reading.

I was very pleasantly surprised. There’s no other way for me to explain Soulless than to say it is a Steampunk-Sherlock Holmes-Twilight-Jane Austen romance novel. It’s got a little bit of everything. I thoroughly enjoyed the humor in it as well. I think my favorite line is after Alexia’s family discusses how horrible it is that scientists are moving in next door to an acquaintance of theirs and Alexia replies, “How ghastly for her, people actually thinking, with their brains, and right next door. Oh, the travesty of it all.”

I recommend this to fans of paranormal romance and paranormal mystery who like a little something extra in their reading material. I also recommend it to fans of Jane Austen who have an interest in the supernatural.

Five stars!

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Announcing a New Book Group – Beyond Imagination!

Here at the library, we’re happy to announce the start of a new book discussion group. Beyond Imagination is dedicated to the enjoyment and discussion of science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative fiction. The group will meet the second Thursday of every month at 7PM in the library’s Small Meeting Room. We’ve got a great selection of books for January through May of 2013, and will be adding more shortly.

Our first meeting, on January 10, will be about Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. If you’ve read the book, we hope you’ll join us. If you haven’t but want to, we have copies available here at the library. Even if you don’t read Stardust, but are interested in speculative fiction, come by and find out what we’re about!

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Mystery Book Group Coming Up

Don’t forget that our mystery group, Murder by the Book, will meet on Wednesday, August 8, at 7PM in the Small Meeting Room of the New Albany-Floyd County Public LIbrary. We’ll be discussing Margaret Coel’s book Eagle Catcher. For more information, call Reference Services at 949-3523.

The Eagle Catcher, by Margaret CoelWhen the Arapahoe tribal chairman is found murdered in his tepee at the Ethete powwow, the evidence points to the chairman’s nephew, Anthony Castle. But Father John O’Malley, pastor of St. Francis Mission, and Vicky Holden, Arapaho lawyer, don’t believe the young man capable of murder. Together they set out to find the real murder and clear Anthony’s name. The train that Father John and Vicky follow winds across the High Plains of the Wind River Reservation into Arapaho homes and community centers and into the fraud-infested world of Indian oil and land deals.

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