Orson Scott Card
Synopsis: Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who? Ender Wiggin. Brilliant. Ruthless. Cunning. A tactical and strategic master. And a child. Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender's childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. He excels in simulated war games. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender? Simulations are one thing. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battle School is just a game. Isn't it?
Brandon Says: When I picked up this book, I didn’t intend to binge read it, but I did. I simply couldn’t put it down. The characters were so interesting and realistic, the dialogue was excellent, and the story was engrossing enough to keep me turning the pages. I bought this book as a gift for my brother, and he said that the same binge happened to him, too. The story of Ender Wiggin takes the reader on a journey of a genius snatched from his childhood to prepare for war against aliens, while his siblings engage in covertly rising to the top in politics—Ender isn’t the only genius in his family.
Brandon's Past Staff Picks
Breath of Earth
Synopsis: In an alternate 1906, the United States and Japan have forged a powerful confederation-- the Unified Pacific--in an attempt to dominate the world. Their first target is a vulnerable China. In San Francisco, headstrong secretary Ingrid Carmichael is assisting a group of powerful geomancer wardens who have no idea of the depth of her own talent--or that she is the only woman to possess such skills. When assassins kill the wardens, Ingrid and her mentor are protected by her incredible magic. But the pair is far from safe. Without its full force of guardian geomancers, the city is on the brink of a cataclysmic earthquake that will expose the earth's power to masterminds determined to control the energy for their own dark ends. The danger escalates when Chinese refugees, preparing to fight the encroaching American and Japanese forces, fracture the uneasy alliance between the Pacific allies, transforming San Francisco into a veritable powder keg. And the slightest tremor will set it off.
Crystal Says: Beth Cato has found a way to blend alternative history, steampunk, and science fiction into an exciting adventure. As far as protagonist go, Ingrid Carmichael would be a compelling heroine in any universe.
Crystal 's Past Staff Picks
Synopsis: When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway's latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the best selling crime writer for years, she's intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pund, who solves mysteries set in disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan's traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job. Conway's latest tale has Atticus Pund investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she's convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.
Donna Says: Don’t be put off by the page count because you get two engaging mysteries in one book. I was drawn into the first contemporary mystery from the beginning but when it shifted into the classic mystery, I was really hooked. If you are an Agatha Christie aficionado then you will enjoy trying to catch all the references to her mysteries. A nicely done mystery to occupy your long December nights.
Donna 's Past Staff Picks
She Rides Shotgun
Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Polly is smart far beyond her years. But she's a loner. Her mother tells her she has 'gunfighter eyes', like the father she's never met. In prison, about to be released, Nate runs afoul of the powerful leader of the Aryan Brotherhood. Marked for death on his release, Nate soon realizes that everyone he has ever loved is a target - including his daughter, Polly. Now, forced into hiding by the greenlight placed upon them, Nate finds himself having to teach his estranged daughter how to survive in a kill-or-be-killed world, all the while observed by Polly's teddy bear, who is soon the only outlet for the little girl's emotions. Soon the two of them find themselves on a non-stop struggle for survival, and along the way, discover the bonds that eluded them for so many years.
Elizabeth's Past Staff Picks
The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Synopsis: In 1883, Thaniel Steepleton returns to his tiny flat to find a gold pocketwatch on his pillow. But he has worse fears than generous burglars; he is a telegraphist at the Home Office, which has just received a threat for what could be the largest-scale Fenian bombing in history. When the watch saves Thaniel's life in a blast that destroys Scotland Yard, he goes in search of its maker, Keita Mori--a kind, lonely immigrant who sweeps him into a new world of clockwork and music. Although Mori seems harmless at first, a chain of unexpected events soon proves that he must be hiding something. Meanwhile, Grace Carrow is sneaking into an Oxford library dressed as a man. A theoretical physicist, she is desperate to prove the existence of the luminiferous ether before her mother can force her to marry. As the lives of these three characters become entwined, events spiral out of control until Thaniel is torn between loyalties, futures, and opposing geniuses. Utterly beguiling, The Watchmaker of Filigree Street blends historical events with dazzling flights of fancy to plunge readers into a strange and magical past, where time, destiny, genius and a clockwork octopus collide.
Megan Says: You can’t even imagine the amazing journey you are about to embark upon when you pick up this book. My imagination has not been this engaged in a long time. All of the clockwork creations that appear throughout the story are magnificent. I was blown away by the superb imagery and unique storytelling found in this book. Natasha Pulley is exceedingly talented. I will definitely be reading more of her work.
Megan's Past Staff Picks
The Member of the Wedding
Synopsis: The novel that became an award-winning play and a major motion picture and that has charmed generations of readers, Carson McCullers’s classic The Member of the Wedding is now available in small- format trade paperback for the first time. Here is the story of the inimitable twelve-year-old Frankie, who is utterly, hopelessly bored with life until she hears about her older brother’s wedding. Bolstered by lively conversations with her house servant, Berenice, and her six-year-old male cousin not to mention her own unbridled imagination Frankie takes on an overly active role in the wedding, hoping even to go, uninvited, on the honeymoon, so deep is her desire to be the member of something larger, more accepting than herself. “A marvelous study of the agony of adolescence
Nina Says: No one captures the truth of adolescent girlhood like McCullers. Being unsure, frightened, awkward both outside oneself and in. The time when choices define your very being told in a story that’s drenched in the flavor of a Southern Gothic. Re-reading with older eyes, however, reminds us we can feel alien and other at any age.
Nina's Past Staff Picks
The Calculus of Happiness
Synopsis: What's the best diet for overall health and weight management? How can we change our finances to retire earlier? How can we maximize our chances of finding our soul mate? In The Calculus of Happiness, Oscar Fernandez shows us that math yields powerful insights into health, wealth, and love. Using only high school-level math, Oscar Fernandez uses everyday experiences--such as visiting a coffee shop to provide context for his mathematical insights, making the math discussed more accessible, real-world, and relevant to our daily lives. Every chapter ends with a summary of essential lessons and takeaways, and for advanced math fans, Fernandez includes the mathematical derivations in the appendices. A nutrition, personal finance, and relationship how-to guide all in one, The Calculus of Happiness invites you to discover how empowering mathematics can be.
Randall Says: In a fun, informal style, author Oscar Fernandez reveals how mathematics can be used to improve your everyday life. From tweaking your diet to balancing your budget, topics such as game theory, probability and exponential functions provide powerful insights to help you make the best decisions. The interactive calculators on the author’s website allow even the non-mathematically inclined to try out their own custom equations.
Randall's Past Staff Picks