Book Spotlight: Flush

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Review by Tiffany, Librarian, Sebastopol Branch

Noah's dad has a reputation of going to the extreme.  When he finds that someone is doing something wrong, he takes matters into his own hands.  After finding out that a local gambling boat was illegally dumping into the ocean, Noah's dad sunk the boat.  And now he's in jail.  As a matter of principle, he won't post bail and this has made Noah's mom unhappy.  She's even threatening divorce.  Noah must help prove to himself, the community and his mom that his did did the right thing.

Why I'd picked it up:  I had read other titles by Hiaasen and thought his stories and writing were good, so I wanted to give this one a try.

Why I'd finished it:  The story was very entertaining.  I wanted Noah and his father to prevail and catch the bad guys.

I'd recommend it to:  Anyone who enjoys a good book with well-developed characters, a good storyline and a little bit of mystery.

Book Spotlight: Unlikely Friendships

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland

Review by Tiffany, Librarian, Sebastopol Branch

Do you like animals?  Do you enjoy heartwarming stories?  If so, this is the book for you.  The chapters are small, only a page or two each, and the pictures are amazing.  Holland has compiled forty-seven stories of different animals becoming friends with animals outside their own species.  The stories take place in zoos, shelters, homes and in the wild.  Each story is unique and interesting.  It didn’t take me long to finish this book and it definitely put a smile on my face.  My favorite story was about a dachshund and a piglet.  You don’t want to miss this book!

Book Spotlight: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

Review by Rachel Icaza, Librarian, Rincon Valley

Jacob has always been close to his grandfather, a tough-as-nails man who was the only member of his family to have survived the Jewish Holocaust at the time of World War II.  Jacob grew up listening to his grandfather's tales of a wonderful island off the coast of Wales where a group of very peculiar children lived under the care of a wise old bird.  Grandfather's stories are proven true by a group of old photographs depicting a girl who could hover off the ground and a boy invisible until he put on clothes.  When his grandfather is attacked in a violent and mysterious way, Jacob is the one to find his grandfather in his last dying breaths.  The message his grandfather gives him sends Jacob on an adventure to find the Welsh island and the home where Grandfather found peace, friendship, and love after the horrors of war.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is a book unlike any other.  Inspired by amazing vintage photographs (all un-touched by technology), this story kept me guessing until the very end.  I especially enjoyed the voice of the main character, Jacob.  He feels like a real person, with a hilarious sense of humor and the same fears and doubts about himself that many of us feel.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is Ransom Riggs first book of fiction.  I can't wait for more books like this.

Book Spotlight: The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Review by Rachel, Rincon Valley & Central, Librarian

Rory grew up in Louisiana among some rather eccentric relatives (Cousin Diane reads auras to foretell the future and Uncle Will survived Hurricane Katrina only to keep 8 freezers full of emergency food in his upstairs bedroom).  Rory and her parents are the only "normal" people they know.  That is until Rory finds herself attending a boarding school in London.  The beginning of the school year marks the anniversary of the famous Jack the Ripper killings of 1888.  As Rory tries to adjust to life in England, London is rocked by a series of Ripper-style murders.  Rippermania overtakes modern day London.  The police have few leads and no witnesses, save one – Rory saw the man believed to be the Ripper copycat.  The problem is that no one else saw him.  Why was Rory the only one to see the killer?  And what does he plan to do next?

The Name of the Star is a modern thriller that traces the streets of an ancient city on the trail of an elusive killer.  Maureen Johnson writes an entertaining, edge-of-your-seat caper.  After reading this book, you'll be dying to visit London.  Just be sure to take some of Maureen Johnson's other great books (13 Little Blue Envelopes, Suite Scarlett) with you on the long plane ride.

Book Spotlight: Zombie Haiku

 Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum
Book Review by Tiffany, Librarian, Sebastopol

What do you get when you combine Zombies with Poetry?!?  Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum.  Mecum creates a story told through haiku.  A Haiku is a poetry form that consists of “three simple lines composed of five syllables, ten seven syllables, and another line of five syllables”.  I wanted to keep reading because of how clever the haiku were even though I was extremely grossed out at the same time.  The story follows someone who gets bitten by a zombie and you see the transformation from human to monster.  When he is a zombie he is a monster, eating everyone and anyone, including his own mother.  Between the haiku and the pictures this book isn’t for the faint at heart.  Here are some examples of Mecum’s haiku:


“As I stumble out,

the sick people walk toward me

and I’m in trouble.


The only option

Is a nearby billboard sign,

which I quickly climb.


My town is broken.

From this view, I see the end.

Below, they gather.”  (page 19)


“Turning on her road

and seeing the porch light on

makes me salivate.


What is that low growl?

I look around and notice

That moaning is me.”  (page 37)

Book Spotlight: How They Croaked

 How They Croaked
By Georgia Bragg, Illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
Review by Tiffany, Librarian, Rincon Valley & Sebastopol

As the name would imply, this book tells the stories of the bitter end for some historically famous people.  We all know that Julius Caesar, Christopher Columbus, and George Washington died, but how did it happen?

There are warnings all over the book telling you that if you can't take blood and guts then this isn't the book for you.  From my experience, the first story, about King Tut, is very gory, but the other stories aren't that bad.

I don't consider myself a morbid person, but I couldn't stop reading about how all these people died.  The introduction said it nicely, "There are nice things to say about everybody, but this book is full of bad news.  There are funny crying parts and disgusting stupid parts and hideous cool parts, but it's pretty much one train wreck after another.  And who can tear their eyes away from a train wreck?"

I also like how the author adds interesting details about the person's life and interesting historical facts at the end of each chapter.  The sad part is that many of these people died simply because modern products like antibiotics did not exist.

I couldn't decide which story was my favorite, so you will have to read the book and decide for yourself.

Book Spotlight: Cryer’s Cross

 Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
Review by Tiffany, Librarian, Rincon Valley & Sebastopol

Imagine living in a town so small that all the high schoolers are in the same classroom, all day with the same teacher.  Now imagine being in that town and having one of the girls disappear without a trace.  That's how this story opens.

Kendall, a senior in a small Montana town, didn't know Tiffany Quinn  that well.  But when Tiffany goes missing, Kendall becomes curious.  Kendall, who battles with obsessive compulsive disorder, becomes even more concerned when her best friend, Nico, disappears without a trace, as well.  What is happening to this small little town?  Is she next?

Why I picked it up:  I've heard a lot of buzz about this title, so I was curious about it.  Also, I read Wake, which is written by the same author, and thought it was a good concept.  While I didn't like Wake that well, I thought the author had potential and I wanted to see if this book was better. 

Why I finished it:  I was glued to the pages from start to finish.  It was a gripping story and I had to know what happened to Tiffany and Nico. 

I'd give it to:  Anyone who enjoys suspense.  Fans of Gail Giles will enjoy Cryer's Cross

Book Spotlight: Start It Up

 Start it Up by Kenrya Rankin

Are you interested in starting your own business but don't know how to get started?!?  This may be the book for you.  Start it Up is designed for teenagers who have the entrepreneur itch but doesn't know where to start.  Rankin divides the book into ten different chapters:

Entrepreneurial You:  Passion Isn't Just for Your Dating Life

Who's Got your Back?:  Establishing a Support System

Getting Serious:  Creating a Business Plan

The Technical Stuff:  Making your Business Official

Money Matters:  How to Amass and Protect your Fortune

Who's the Boss?:  How to Hire and Manage Your Crew

Extra, Extra:  Telling the World about Your Big Idea

Repeat Business:  Customer Service Rules

Doing Good:  Using Your Business to Improve the World

Now What?:  To Grow or Let it Go

This book has lots of extras too, great websites to help you get started in your new business.  Some websites highlighted in the book are:  YEAbiz stands for Young Entrepreneurs of America.  This website is dedicated to educating and motivating young entrepreneurs.  The U.S. Small Business Administration has a special site just for teens. 

Book Spotlight: The Running Dream

 The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Review by:  Tiffany, Librarian, Rincon Valley & Sebastopol

Jessica is a runner.  She remembers the exact moment she discovered how much she enjoys running.  One day, however, all this comes to an end, when she is in a car accident and loses her leg.

Why I picked it up:  I was browsing the shelves for a new book when the title caught my eye.  I'm a runner and I enjoy reading about characters that enjoy the same activities that I do.  Plus, I have read other titles by Van Draanen and I enjoy her stories.

Why I finished it:  You get sucked into Jessica's story.  I really felt sorry for her and wanted to know that she would be okay.

I'd give it to:  Anyone who loves running.  It will help you when you are in the middle of a race or a long run and you need some motivation to keep going.