Archive for January, 2021

A Deadly Education, by Naomi Novik

January 14, 2021


Just about the most fun you can have in a malevolent magical school where everything (and I do mean everything!) is out to get you, even your fellow students! If you survive long enough to get to graduation, you might wish you hadn’t.

If “magical school” makes you think of Hogwarts or Brakebills, get ready for something different. The Scholomance is theoretically a school, but really is more of a gauntlet. Students take their lives in their hands to go to the cafeteria (look out for the monsters hiding in the food on the line, and don’t sit with your back to any doorway, vent, or other opening), the library (you know those quiet study carrels? Not so quiet…), or shop class (half-built projects are almost sure to come to life), and it’s every one for themselves.

Our main character, El (short for Galadriel – yup, like that Galadriel), is some kind of dark magician who is doing everything she can to resist her natural alignment. Unfortunately, very evil, dark things are drawn to her. Luckily (?), the local hero Orion is on the scene to fight off deadly creatures. Of course, he has no idea that El could destroy even the worst of the monsters with hardly any effort at all…

Magical schools have become a genre of their own, and this one shares a lot of the characteristics: magic is unpredictable (so the idea of “learning” it is a bit tricky), there’s more than a little danger and a lot of it is tied into the school itself, a group of unlikely students become friends and face danger stronger together than any of them would be alone. What makes this one stand out is the over-the-top chaos and bizarre monsters, and the combination of El’s sarcastic, self-deprecating, evil power with Orion’s hero-complex, powerful, desperate attempts to save pretty much everyone. It’s a wild ride and I loved every page. Can’t wait for #2!

Find in our catalog: A Deadly Education
Ebook on Libby/OverDrive
Audiobook on Libby/OverDrive

Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C. Slaght

January 11, 2021


Did you ever hear of fish owls? Me neither before I read a little column about this book in a nature magazine.
In this book, the author details his research ( you might call it search first!) on the eastern fish owl in Eastern Russia, a bird that only exists there and in Japan, threatened by climate change and heavy logging. The colorful local characters he encounters and partners with to observe and help this species survive are all fascinating, making for a great non fiction read. I highly recommend the author. I read the audiobook version! Owls of the Eastern Ice is available at the Library and as an audiobook on Hoopla and on Libby/Overdrive.

Here is a youtube video of the virtual book launch for this book.

Owls of the Eastern Ice

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

January 8, 2021


There have been many re-imaginings of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, including Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern day adaptation, Eligible, and one of my favorites, Longbourn by Jo Baker, which tells the story of Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of Sarah, the Bennet’s housemaid. In the vein of Longbourn, The Other Bennet Sister is set in the world of Pride & Prejudice, but tells it from the perspective of Mary Bennet, the middle sister. In Pride & Prejudice, Mary does not fare particularly well. She is considered the unattractive, bookish, and socially awkward sister who either annoys or embarrasses the rest of her family. In The Other Bennet Sister you learn of the toll that her family’s dim view of her has taken on Mary, and how bleak the prospects were for an unmarried woman, even a woman of some means, in that world. The expectation was that Mary, as a spinster, would spend her life living as an awkward and uncomfortable guest in the homes of her sisters and their families. The book traces Mary’s attempts to gain some control over her life and her happiness, and in the process we are given new glimpses into some familiar characters, including Mr. Collins, Charlotte Lucas, Caroline Bingley, and the wonderful Gardiners. This was a lovely and engaging book. I listened to the audiobook on Hoopla, which was terrific. While this book will certainly appeal to fans of Pride and Prejudice and Longbourn, it is also just a great choice for fans of historical fiction about an interesting and smart and unusual woman.

The Other Bennet Sister is available at the Library, and on Hoopla as an audiobook.

The Other Bennet Sister