Monday, October 31, 2016


Ghostman / Roger Hobbs 321 pgs.

We really never know the name of the main character of this book.  He changes identities like you change your clothes.  He is an experienced bank robber but made a mistake on a job 5 years ago.  Now he owes the "boss" of that former job.  He gets called in to "clean up" a situation in Atlantic City as payback.  The Atlantic City job was a casino and the money has gone missing.  As the Ghostman investigates, he realizes there was even more at stake.  Now racing against the clock and hounded by a federal agent, he is trying to play all the competing forces against each other and come out the other end alive and debt free.  Lots of adrenaline in this story.

Today will be different, by Maria Semple

Semple, author of Where’d you go, Bernadette, has created an even more memorably confused, conflicted, and engaging character.  Eleanor Flood, almost fifty, has had a successful career as an animator of a popular series and for twenty years has been married to Joe Wallace, hand surgeon to the stars (and current team doctor for the Seattle Seahawks in addition to his private practice).  Their eight-year-old son is named Timby, his name an “autocorrect” by iPhone when Eleanor suggested the name Timothy to Joe when they were expecting.  Eleanor is a bit of a mess and swears that “today will be different;” she’ll be a better mother, wife, and human being.  She’ll stop forgetting dates, times, and people’s names.  In the course of the one day that the story takes place, her life will definitely become different.  The short graphic novel, and the poetry exegesis, bound into the novel add to the eccentric charm of the book.  Hard to describe.  Hard to put down.  259 pp.

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley  331 pp.

Less than 24 hours after arriving home to Buckshaw after being kicked out of Miss Bodycote's Academy in Canada, Flavia de Luce stumbles upon a dead body while running an innocent errand for the vicar's wife. With her father hospitalized with a serious case of pneumonia, her sisters ignoring her, and her disliked cousin Undine being a pest Flavia feels like her only friends are her father's valet, Dogger, and her trusty bicycle, Gladys. Flavia begins her own investigations into the death of the woodcarver and his connection to a famous author and a local singer. This is not a typical whodunit. The main focus is Flavia herself, her thought processes, and her emotions around her feeling of being left out by her family. The twist at the end of the story has left Flavia facing a whole new existence in the next book.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Soon I will be invincible

Soon I will be invincible / Austin Grossman 288 pgs.

Dr. Impossible is due to take over the world...and this time, unlike the 12 previous attempts, he is confident it will work.  In the meantime, Corefire has been defeated and The Champions reunite to try to figure out what happened to Corefire.  Fatale is the newbie on the team, a mix of robotic enhancements on a woman's body, she is still trying to find her place in the world.

I've read this book at least three times now and still find new ways to look at the super grudge match that starts with middle school rejection.  Mostly the story of Dr. Impossible and Fatale, nobody makes it out unscathed by their neurosis or made-up origin story.  Great stuff and probably my favorite audiobook.

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles  462 pp.

Count Alexander Rostov, a Russian aristocrat, runs afoul of the Bolsheviks and, in 1922, is sentenced to lifetime house arrest in his home at the grand Hotel Metropol across from the Kremlin in Moscow. He is removed from his lavish suite and moved to a small attic room with only the few belongings he can managed to fit there. There, he manages to make his life and retain much of his dignity through ingenuity, his hidden stash of gold coins, and the help of his friends on the staff. In spite of being watched over by the ever suspicious hotel manager, aka "The Bishop", Over thirty-plus years, Rostov's confined life grows into that of a lover, a father, a confidante, and much more. Towles has written an elaborate and richly detailed story where the minute details slowly combine to reveal more and more about Rostov and his life and the real reason for his imprisonment. The ending could be a sign of a sequel but I don't think the author will take it there because he doesn't need to. I hope Mr. Towles doesn't take another five years to write his next book.

Paper Towns

Paper Towns by John Green  305 pp.

I like John Green's books a lot and, because I expect so much from them, I found this one a bit disappointing. Quentin aka "Q" has loved Margo Roth Spiegelman since they were children growing up together. Margo.., who is tediously referred to by her full name throughout the book, has disappeared after taking Q on a crazy nighttime expedition to various abandoned and closed places in the Orlando, Florida area. Q becomes obsessed in finding her and enlists the help of his friends in following the clues she left. Eventually they track her to a "paper town," a town that doesn't really exist but was put on a map to protect against copyright infringement. Although the aim of the book is to solve the mystery of Margo..'s disappearance, it is really a buddy story about the friendship of Q and the friends he is graduating from high school with...whether or not they make it to the ceremony.  

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bad Monkey

Bad Monkey / Carl Hiaasen 317 pgs.

Hiaasen introduces a new character here, Andrew Yancey.  A former police detective who was busted for assaulting his then lover's husband, and is reassigned to be a health inspector.  Yancey wants nothing more than to get off "roach" duty and is losing weight after losing desire to eat at the restaurants he inspects. He gives a helping hand to the sheriff by transporting a disembodied human arm to Miami for an autopsy.  This leads to a new relationship with a hot medical examiner, Rosa.  Yancey wants to solve the murder and get his old job back.  The trail leads to the Bahamas where he meets the titular bad monkey.  Like other books by Hiaasen, you are laughing and wondering...the story is not as simple as it at first seems and there is a lot going on.  Yancey seems like a great new character and it is easy to say that Hiaasen has detailed the absurdity of life once again.

WE WON!!!!

After years of coming up short, UCPL has won the Missouri Book Challenge! Congrats to all our bloggers! Look for a special treat from me on All-Staff Training Day! You guys rock!

At the bottom of everything, by Ben Dolnick

Adam and Thomas become best friends when they are twelve and Adam begins to attend the same prep school. Thomas is “the smartest boy” in Adam’s new school, but obviously not without social handicaps.  Thomas has never really had friends but his oddness is part of the draw for Adam.  They spend afternoons together after school, have sleepovers, and Adam frequently has dinner with them, where he enjoys the stimulating intellectual company of Thomas’s parents.  His own more conventional mother and clueless stepfather are far less interesting.  When they are fifteen, the “incident” occurs that will change both of their lives forever.  Ten years later, Thomas has disappeared into a foreign country and his frantic parents beg Adam to rekindle his long-lost relationship with their son and bring him home.  Adam, himself floundering in adulthood, reluctantly agrees.  The first half of the book is delineates the special friendship of these two boys with sensitivity and insight, but the last half, the rescue, was less believable.  240 pp.

The ice queen, by Nele Neuhaus

The plot of this German suspense novel is convoluted, full of surprises and echoes from the dark past of the Nazi era.  It’s part of a series, but I hadn’t read the first two.  The characters include a somewhat too familiar sensitive and perceptive male detective, Oliver von Bodenstein, teamed with a more aggressive and rough-edged female assistant, in this case, Pia Kirchhoff.  Both characters, as well as the secondary cast of the police, are well-drawn.  When Holocaust survivor Jossi Goldberg is found shot execution style in his new German home --  he had returned to Europe after long living in the United States and becoming a citizen – it is the first in a series of interrelated murders.  Bodenstein and Kirchhoff, racing against time to prevent even more deaths, become aware that none of the victims is who he or she seems to be.  The final standoff in a ruined East Prussian castle brings yet more twists to the plot.  Intriguing, but a bit long.  342 pp.