“Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future” by A. S. King

Glory Obrien

Glory and her BFF (but not-so-much anymore) Ellie, find a dead, dried up bat which they end up mixing in some of their warm beer one night. The next day, the girls can see the past and future of any person they look at. Glory’s past includes a mom who stuck her head in the gas oven and killed herself when Glory was only four. The girls’ parents used to be close friends who started out together to create the non-commercialized counterculture commune) that is now owned by Ellie’s mom.

Glory is close to graduating high school but totally disengaging from her fellow students as well as her future, throwing away anything sent to her from prospective colleges. She is a loner who hides behind a camera, observing life around her rather than living it. Is she suicidal, like her mom? Her dad doesn’t help much, but sits on the couch most of the day with his laptop, assisting people with computer issues. Glory inherited her mother’s talent with a camera and has started using her mom’s basement darkroom. She discovers her mom’s photo journals, plus a secret hidden journal. Glory slowly finds her way back to a more normal, healthy lifestyle—literally developing a better life along with her photographs. Some sections of the book are pretty dark as Glory is struggling with depression; her thoughts and experiences are rather bleak for most of the book. Her new ability to see the future and the past is mainly a device to help Glory find a reason to care about others and her future. What she sees is pretty frightening—a future where women are unable to work via government decree, a second civil war with girls being kidnapped and taken across the border into rebel territory and counter-rebels using secret tunnels to sabotage the rebel leader and assist women and their children to flee to treetop refuges.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Mary Burns

“The Stepsister’s Tale” by Tracy Barrett

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The story of Cinderella is one that has been told and re-told in countless versions, across many cultures. Yet, Tracy Barrett still finds a way to put a new twist on this classic tale in The Stepsister’s Tale by having one of the “wicked” stepsisters narrate the book. The roles of the stepsister and Cinderella are seemingly reversed in Barrett’s story. Jane Montjoy lives in a crumbling mansion, her family’s fortune long since squandered by her father, and she struggles to keep enough food on the table for her mother and younger sister, Maude. After her mother remarries and her stepfather dies suddenly, Jane is also left with a stepsister to care for. Ella is spoiled, pampered and selfish, and is at odds with Jane and Maude from the time they meet.

The greatest strengths of The Stepsister’s Tale are Barrett’s descriptions of the Montjoy’s once grand mansion that is falling into ruin around them, as well as the forest and the forest people who befriend Jane. A terrific main character, Jane really sets this novel apart from other fairy tale retellings. She is strong and resourceful and you can feel her struggle to hold it together for the sake of her mother and sister, even when she has reached her lowest point. The book also ends with a satisfying change to the traditional encounter between Cinderella and the prince at the ball, and the ensuing search for the owner of the glass slipper. Highly recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Caitlin Connelly

“Jackaby” by William Ritter

Jackaby

Described as a cross between Doctor Who and Sherlock, I could not pass over this book by first time author William Ritter. Indeed, the character of Jackaby is best described as a Sherlock Holmes specializing in cases related to the supernatural and occult.

At the opening of the novel, Abigail Rook is newly arrived in America and looking for an adventure. She soon ends up by the side of Jackaby, a self- proclaimed detective, aiding him as he investigates a bizarre series of murders. Abigail proves herself an asset to Jackaby for her ability to notice the ordinary details that would be overlooked by others. She also gets the adventure she has been searching for as she is confronted with the existence of magic, banshees, ghosts, trolls and a whole host of other supernatural creatures; some of them friendly, some dangerous.

While the mystery at the heart of Jackaby is somewhat predictable, the characters are what make this book so enjoyable. Abigail is independent, resourceful and adaptable. She is quick to piece together clues, and shows real strength when confronted by a world of the supernatural that she did not even know existed. Jackaby is somewhat of a mystery himself, but any fan of Sherlock Holmes will enjoy his rapid deductions and eccentric manner. I look forward to more of his past being revealed in the book’s sequel. Recommended for fans of mysteries and the supernatural.

Check this book out or put it on hold.

-Caitlin Connelly