Friday, December 12, 2014

Guest Review: Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva

Guest Review of Moscow Rules (2008) by Daniel Silva [Review by Shirley Ayres]

       In this next continuing saga of Gabriel Allon, art restorer and spy, he goes to Russia to try to stop arms dealer, Ivan Kharkov, from selling deadly missiles to al-Queda agents.
      As usual, this book is crammed full of action as our hero travels from London to Tel Aviv and every city and country in between.  And, as usual, this book kept me reading late into the night until I either finished it or fell asleep, which ever came first.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thank You, Gentlemen!

If you're reading this blog, it's safe to assume you "get it" in regard to libraries. Recently two of our most popular writers spoke eloquently about what libraries meant to them:


"Libraries are the mainstays of democracy. The first thing dictators do when they take over a country is close all the libraries, because libraries are full of ideas and differences of opinion, all the things we want in a free and open society. So keep 'em, fund 'em, embrace and cherish 'em." 


"I was terrified of librarians -- at first -- because these were people who wanted their books back. But I learned that they answered questions and hey would find books for me. The librarian went off and investigated and I realized 1. these people are as mad about books as I am and 2. books in libraries have to be ordered by someone."

What do you think?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I heard this poem on The Writer's Almanac and knew it was just right for this time of year. 
It's by Jonathan Galassi and appears in his book Left-Handed (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012). 

The last swim of summer 
ought to be swum
without knowing it,
afternoon lost to
re-finding the rock

you can stand on
way out past the
raft, the flat one
that lines up four-
square with the door
of the boathouse.

Freestyle and back-
stroke and hours on
the dock nattering
on while the low sun
keeps setting fin-
gers and toes getting
number and number ...
how could we know
we were swimming the
last swim of summer?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Another Round of Super Short Book Reviews!

1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This book deals with the ethical debate surrounding euthanasia while acquainting us with an unforgettable, Bridget Jones-like main character who finds herself caring for quadriplegic man whose misery seems insurmountable. This book will run you through the gamut of emotions.

2. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A beautifully written story with well-crafted characters. Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a small island nearly half a day's journey from Australia's coast. He falls in love with a girl on the mainland, and the two start their life together on the isolated island. They weather several miscarriages before the day a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a baby. What happens next will alter their relationship and change the course of their lives forever. Stedman's characters are three dimensional, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ending.

3. Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks

This is your typical Sparks novel- he explores heartbreak, hope, and forgiveness while weaving the story of two middle-aged individuals who fall madly in love during a weekend stay in Rodanthe. Sparks has a bad habit of telling as opposed to showing and of creating characters that are caricatures. The plus side: his novels are a guaranteed warm-fuzzy escape from reality.

4. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

This novel is set in the South in 1964 and tells the story of Lily Owens, a young white girl who has had her share of tragedy. When Lily's nanny, a proud black woman named Rosaleen, is arrested after insulting a group of racist white men, she decides to take matters into her own hands by springing Rosaleen from jail. After the escape, the unlikely duo are taken in by a tight-knit trio of sisters who own a beekeeping operation. This is a heartwarming story about womanhood and empowerment during the civil rights movement.

5. The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

Dabney Kimball Beech, a well-known matchmaker on Nantucket Island, is dying of pancreatic cancer, but, before she goes, she's determined to find the perfect matches for the people that she loves the most including her husband, her daughter, and, wait for it, her lover! This is not Hilderbrand's best work. The characters are nearly as ridiculous as their names!

6. Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison by Piper Kerman

This is a memoir and a surprisingly good one. I watched the TV series (which I loved) prior to reading this but had low expectations for the book. Memoirs can be self-indulgent, but Kerman spends less time over-analyzing herself and her situation and more time exploring the relationships that she forms with her fellow inmates. Kerman is engaging, great at highlighting instances of white privilege, but is sometimes too careful, too polite. Overall, this is an interesting read that will give you a glimpse into America's prison problem.

Have you read anything lately? Tell us how you felt about it by emailing We'll post your review on our blog!

Sharlene  Edwards

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In a recent Brainpickings post , Maria Popova celebrated Robert Dawson's recent book, The Public Library: A Photographic Essay
“A library is many things,” E.B. White once wrote in a letter to the children of a little town to inspire them to fall in love with their new library. “But particularly it is a place where books live, and where you can get in touch with other people, and other thoughts, through books… Books hold most of the secrets of the world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had.”
"As the daughter of a formally trained librarian and an enormous lover of,collaborator with, and supporter of public libraries (you may have noticed I always include a public library link for books I write about; I also re-donate a portion of Brain Pickings donations to the New York Public Library each year) I was instantly enamored with The Public Library: A Photographic Essay by photographer Robert Dawson— at once a love letter and a lament eighteen years in the making, a wistful yet hopeful reminder of just what’s at stake if we let the greatest bastion of public knowledge humanity has ever known slip into the neglected corner of cultural priorities. 
"Alongside Dawson’s beautiful photographs are short reflections on the subject by such celebrated minds as Isaac AsimovAnne Lamott, and E.B. White. From architectural marvels to humble feats of human ingenuity, from the august reading room of the New York Public Library to the trailer-library at Death Valley National Park, braving the glaring sun at one of the hottest places on earth, from the extraordinary vaulted ceilings of LA’s Children’s Library to the small shack turned into a book memorial in the country’s only one-person town, the remarkable range reveals our elemental need for libraries — as sanctuaries of learning, as epicenters of community, as living records of civic identity, and above all as a timelier-than-ever testament that information and human knowledge belong to everybody; not to corporate monopolies or government agencies or ideological despots, but to the people."
It's a beautiful book. You can explore it through Brainpickings  or take it out from your friendly neighborhood library. Either way, it's a chance to celebrate one of our nation's most invaluable and distinctive institutions: the free public library! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guest Review of "A Death in Vienna" and "Prince of Fire" by Daniel Silva (Gabriel Allon, Book #4 & #5)

This guest review is by Shirley Ayres.

A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva

Israeli spy/art restorer Gabriel Allon is sent to Vienna to investigate a bombing that killed an old friend, Max Klein.  It seems that Max had seen a very prominent Vienna citizen but recognized him as an SS killer from the death camps.
Now Max is dead and Gabriel is trying to prove that Herr Vogel the businessman is really Erich Radak, the Nazi killer.
Again, Silva looks into a disgraceful and horrible past and points fingers at everyone involved or at least complicit in the murder of millions by the Nazis.

Prince of Fire by Daniel Silva

 Gabriel Allon, Israeli spy, is working in Venice restoring a Bellini altarpiece when a powerful car bomb in Rome takes out the Israeli Embassy.  Then, four men in a follow-up car shoot survivors coming out of the wreckage.  The PLO takes credit for the mass killings.  Later, in a raid on a PLO flat in Milan, evidence is found that they know Gabriel’s identity and where he worked in Venice.  Gabriel is ordered back to Israel immediately, never to finish the Bellini restoration.
            In this book, Yasir Arafat, leader of the PLO is shown to be behind most of the worst terrorist-based murders, including the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, Germany in 1972.  The author gives the reader the geography and history of the area once known as Palestine.
Silva writes with an exciting style that keeps the reader interested and informed.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Guest Review of "The Confessor (Gabriel Allon, #3)" by Daniel Silva

This guest review is by Shirley Ayres.

The Confessor (Gabriel Allon, #3) (2003) by Daniel Silva

Israeli Mossad Agent Gabriel Allon is in Venice restoring a 16th century altarpiece by Bellini located in the San Zaccaria church.  Allon, using his undercover name of Mario Delvecchio and speaking only Italian, learns about the murder of his old friend, Professor Benjamin Stern, who had been working secretly on a book about the Catholic Church during World War II.
Gabriel’s search for the assassin takes him throughout Europe and the Vatican.  Even the Pope is a character in this spy thriller.
Silva knows how to keep his readers on the edges of their seats, turning pages late into the night.  Very good reading with great characters.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Reading Fun!

          It's summer at the Bradley Beach Library and you know what that means: Summer Reading!! The kickoff party was last weekend, but if you missed it, don't worry--there is still time to sign up.
          This year, everyone who signs up for the program gets a passport booklet and all sorts of other cool things. Every week, if you come into the library with your passport, a librarian will stamp it and enter your name into the weekly raffle for that week's super awesome prize. Some examples of the prizes include gift cards to local restaurants like Fins, light-up lanterns from Stewart's Hardware and a top-secret mystery basket. You could win those prizes just by coming in and visiting us at the lovely library! 
         If you want to win even more prizes, you can read and color in the pictures in the passport. Each picture represents either one book or thirty minutes of reading and is worth five points. There are prizes to be won at different intervals. For example, when you reach 50 points, if you come in and get your passport stamped, you will get a prize. The same goes for 100, 150, 200, 250, 400 and 500 points.
          Even if you don't read as much as you'd like, or if you just want to earn even more points, there are all sorts of neat activities that you can do, such as attending a library program or making a homemade bird feeder that will get you closer to earning a prize.
          Every week is themed to a certain genre of book and while you do not have to read books of that genre, many of the activities of the week will be centered around that theme. For example, this week's theme is horror and today's afternoon movie is "Jaws."
          On August 16 at 11:00 am, we are having our Summer Reading Finale, where we will celebrate the achievements of everyone who participated in the program and play some fun games.
          So, come into the library to get your passport and start your summer reading today!

Guest Review: Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire by Paul Sorrentino

[This review was written by Rita Campbell]

Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire
by Paul Sorrentino

Stephen Crane told his stories in printed prose, color always emphasizing the mood of the protagonist, the bleakness or beauty of the setting. 
Like music stirs the human heart, color enhanced the telling of his tales.
"Maggie of the Streets" ambles along the bleak, black streets of the NY Bowery searching, searching for happiness. The street lights outline her figure as she slinks along, despairingly. 
Or "Red Badge of Courage," the young, frightened soldier Henry Fleming stares at the smoke-filled sky and battlefield cluttered with dead soldiers, grey and red-stained lying all about. Through the mist of dark clouds a host of white light, the rounded Sun draws his eyes, fills him with a sense of a new day. 
Color in moods; color that framed the tale, the wonder of color, is Stephen Crane. 

[Thank you, Rita!]

Friday, June 13, 2014

Guest Review: David Baldacci's Will Robie Series

1. The Innocent (2012) by David Baldacci
[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]

Will Robie, a paid government assassin, fails to take out his target.  However, his back-up finishes the job in front of Robie, causing Robie to flee the scene, knowing the back-up is targeting him.  Robie escapes and gets on a bus which, after Robie leaves the bus, blows up.  Robie pulls a 14 year old girl named Julie Getty off the bus just before it explodes, killing all who remain on it.  FBI Special Agent Nicole “Nikki” Vance teams up with Robie and Getty to find the one who blew up the bus, not knowing that Robie was the target of the explosion.  Plots intertwine and lots of people are murdered before the stunning climax.  The book is very fast paced and I hated to stop reading.

2. The Hit (2013) by David Baldacci
[Guest Review by Shirley Ayres]

Will Robie, Nikki Vance and Julie Getty are together again in this intriguing mystery.  The real story is between Will Robie and paid government assassin, Jessica Reel.  Reel is given a target but, much like Robie, does not complete the assignment.  Robie is sent to kill Reel even though he trained her to be a competent assassin.  As Robie gets close to her, Reel can almost predict his every move and eludes capture every time.  This is a very good story of two intelligent killers after each other and what happens to them.

Thanks, Shirley!

If you have a review for a book that you would like us to include on our blog, e-mail

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Short Book Reviews

Super Short Book Reviews!

1. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

 Shannon was heralded as the next J.K. Rowling, but her debut fell short of my expectations. The Bone Season is a dystopian novel set in 2059. Paige Mahoney possesses a rare talent- she is a dreamwalker, a very special sort of clairvoyant. Her "gift" is highly sought after, and soon Paige is captured and is forced to serve as a soldier in the Rephaim's army. Her training is supervised by her keeper and master, Warden. Here are my two main gripes with this book: 1) Shannon makes up words, but they aren't well-crafted nor do they add anything to the plot (she's no Shakespeare), and 2) the tale of the natural born enemies who fall in love feels old.

2. My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Smart was abducted from her Salt Lake City bedroom on June 5, 2002, at the age of fourteen. She spent eight months in the possession of two religious fanatics who subjected her to physical and emotional abuse. Unfortunately, this book lacks any real emotional depth, and I found myself becoming frustrated by Smart's inability to take matters into her own hands instead relying on her faith to eventually set things right.

3. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

This historical novel is based on the lives of two sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, who advocated for abolition and women's rights. Kidd allows you a peek inside the minds of two characters from very different walks of life: a strong-willed slave, Hetty, and her compassionate but discouraged owner, Sarah.  Kidd's characters jump off of the page and thump you on the chest, and the story that she crafts is powerful. This book has universal appeal.

4. Tell Me by Lisa Jackson

This is the third book in the Savannah series, but it can be read as a standalone novel. Blondell O'Henry has just been exonerated after a twenty-year stint in the pen for murdering her daughter. Her son, Niall, a key eyewitness, has recanted his earlier testimony. Nikkie Gillette, reporter and childhood best friend of the victim, is determined to get the real scoop. There are a lot of characters in this thriller and, consequently, a lot of suspects. Of course, as it happens in many mysteries, the protagonist, Nikki Gillette, makes several questionable decisions that put her in tricky situations. 

5. The Death Class: A True Story About Life by Erika Hayasaki

Each year, Kean University offers a popular course called Death in Perspective taught by Professor Norma Bowe. This nonfiction book follows the shocking stories of four students who have registered for this course. This is an interesting read, BUT the author loses her journalistic subjectivity as she builds a personal friendship with her subject, which, in some ways, takes away from this heartbreaking book.

6. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

Krakauer gives us a firsthand account of the 1996 disaster on Mt. Everest. Eight people lost their lives in a two-day period on the tallest mountain in the world due to poor planning and a powerful blizzard that enveloped the area. I couldn't put this book down. Krakauer is like a less funny Bill Bryson....or perhaps there's just nothing amusing about killing yourself for bragging rights.

7. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Quick tells a unique love story that enfolds between two individuals who are dealing with mental illness. However, this is one of those rare books that you can skip if you've already seen the film. 

8. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

A patron recommended, actually insisted that I read, this book. It's not something that I would normally pick up, but I'm glad that I did. What would you do if you bumped your head, lost memory of the ten most recent years of your life, and now you're getting divorced from the man you're crazy about and have three kids you don't recognize? This is a light read with some heavy questions.

Happy Reading!
Sharlene Edwards

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Thinking About Linear B

I hadn't given a lot of thought to the tablets -- known as Linear B -- that were excavated in Crete at the beginning of the 20th century.

In the course of reading Margalit Fox's excellent book, The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code, I thought about them a lot.

The tablets themselves are fascinating. Clear evidence of a written civilization well before the Classical Age that were impenetrable for decades. Unlike the Rosetta Stone, there were no clues as to what these massive and detailed tablets meant. So, scholars and archaeologists worked for decades to crack the code.

The Riddle of the Labyrinth focuses on two people who dedicated most of their lives to "cracking" Linear B: Michael Ventris, an English architect who is credited with deciphering the tablets, and Alice Kober, a classicist at Brooklyn College who's vital contribution has been largely ignored.

Among her accomplishments, Fox wrote obituaries for The New York Times, so her narrative has that sense of an entire life told. I enjoyed learning about the code, cheering for the ultimate decoders, and admiring Fox's efforts to give Alice Kober her due.

Check it out:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Guest Review of "NYPD Red" and "NYPD Red 2" by James Patterson & Marshall Karp

1. NYPD Red (c2012) by James Patterson & Marshall Karp 
[Review by Shirley Ayres]

It is the beginning of “Hollywood on the Hudson” week in Manhattan and all the film stars and VIPs from both Hollywood and New York are in town for all the gala openings and A-List parties.  Also in town are The Chameleon and his partner in crime, girlfriend Lexi.

Detectives Zach Jordan and his partner Kylie MacDonald are part of a Special Unit called NYPD Red that protects the rich and famous, and this week promises to be a doozy.

Written, at times, in Jordan’s voice, the book is action-packed and celebrity-laden.  Ten years ago, Zach had a passionate affair with Kylie, but they broke up due to Zach’s inability to commit to a more permanent relationship.  Kylie fell in love with and married television producer Spence Harrington and, ten years later is assigned to NYPD Red and is Zach’s partner.

The Chameleon and Lexi write movie scripts for every crime they commit.  He uses disguises to get into places unnoticed so that he can kill his victim and get away without detection.  After the crime, he and Lexi critique their “movie” and work on the next one.

The characters are believable and well defined.  This is a really good book, written with very short chapters and imaginative dialogue.

2. NYPD Red 2 (c2014) by James Patterson & Marshall Karp
[Review by Shirley Ayres]

Once again, NYPD Red Special Unit Detectives Zach Jordan and Kylie MacDonald are called upon to help solve the “Hazmat Killer” case.

Someone has tortured, videotaped, and killed three people in Manhattan.  The tapes were made public and the victims, dressed in Hazmat suits, confessed to crimes no one knew about.  When a fourth person suffers the same fate, NYPD Red is called in.  The victim was rich and famous.  Now, all four crimes are being investigated by Red.

A lot more crimes are committed, a lot more “confessions” are broadcast, and a lot of high-speed chases are filling up the pages before the crime is solved.

The chapters are short and keep the reader’s attention better than the usual long chapters in most books. 
The book is easy to read with lots of blood and gore to keep any one turning the pages all night long.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Signs of Spring

In honor of Spring and Poetry Month, here's a beautiful poem by Haiku Master Buson: 

Springtime rain -- 
a little shell on a small beach, 
enough to moisten it.

Learn more about Buson's poetry and art 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review of "A Time To Kill" and "Sycamore Row" by John Grisham

Review of Grisham's A Time To Kill by Shirley Ayres

Carl Lee Hailey’s 10 year old daughter is kidnapped, brutally raped and beaten, and left for dead in the woods.  The three criminals are caught but before they can come to trial, Carl Lee kills them in the very courthouse where they had been arraigned.  Lawyer Jake Brigance takes on the case.  Carl Lee is black and the murdered men were white so in rural Mississippi, the specter of the Ku Klux Klan once again raises its ugly head.  Anyone who takes the side of Carl Lee becomes a target for the Klan, and Jake is the number one target.

Review of Grisham's Sycamore Row by Shirley Ayres

This book is considered a sequel to A Time to Kill and there are references back to that book so I guess it is a sequel.
Once again lawyer Jake Brigance is handling a case in his home town in Mississippi.  This time, he has to defend a second hand-written will from a client who committed suicide.  The new will leaves out his two children and their children and leaves 90% of his sizable holdings to his maid, who was in his employ for the past three years.   Did his maid have an undue influence over his wishes when it came to his will?  Or is there another, more complex reason for his second will? 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review of "The Trumpet of the Swan" by E.B. White

Review of The Trumpet of the Swan by Alana Gerdes, student at Bradley Beach Elementary School

A trumpeter swan without a voice is a tragic thing.There can be nothing worse! But for Louis, it is his life. The Trumpet of the Swan, a classic children’s novel by E.B White, is a fine fiction book about Louis, a trumpeter swan, and his struggle to find a voice. 
In this book, the main characters are Louis, the determined swan without a voice; his encouraging parents; and Sam the kind-natured boy who helps Louis. Sam lives relatively close to Louis’s peaceful home pond in the spring and summer. In the spring and summer, Sam and his dad go camping near Louis’s home pond. Once Louis finds his mate his children will be raised there too!
This book has many major plot events including when Louis found his mate, Serena. The first major plot  event was the private conversation between Louis and his father to find out if Louis really does have a hidden voice. At that moment, Louis’s father discovers that Louis truly could not trumpet like the other swans. After that, the family flies to their new home and Louis runs away to find Sam. 
Once Louis finds Sam, he tells him he wants to go to school to learn to read and write. Miraculously, Louis learns to read and write, but to his dismay the other trumpeter swans couldn’t understand his writing. Then he sees Serena  and he knows that they are two halves of the same heart. But poor Louis can’t get her attention. Shortly after that, Louis’s father knows he has to help his son. So, he sets off to town to get a trumpet for his son. With a bang and a crash, Louis’s father broke into a music store and stole a trumpet. When he returned, the family heard about his stealing and felt bad. Then Louis learned to play the trumpet, found Sam, and got a job at camp Kookoookoos to make money to pay of the stolen trumpet. 
I recommend this award-winning book to all readers for its interesting plot -- with twists and turns -- and its beautiful descriptions.
Here is one example: “A long word,' he thought, 'is really no harder than a short one. I'll just copy one letter at a time, and pretty soon it will be finished. Besides, my life is a catastrophe. It's a catastrophe to be without a voice.'" 
In conclusion, The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B White is an amazing book that everyone should read. It is a true classic. Like John Updike, an author, said, “We are lucky to have this book.” 

Review of "Allegiant" by Veronica Roth

Review of Allegiant  By Kiliko Lowe, seventh grader at Bradley Beach Elementary School

Veronica Roth’s Allegiant is the third book in a series about a sixteen year old Dauntless girl named Tris Prior. Tris has been in a revolution, has been in jail twice, and has danced with death countless times. Now that she’s outside and away from the fence that contained her family for generations, she will do whatever it takes to find out the truth.

    Allegiant takes place in multiple settings: Erudite compound, Abnegation compound, and  Dauntless compound, which are all inside the Chicago experiment. The Chicago experiment is a program by the Bureau of Genetic Welfare to monitor people who live in factions inside the fence. Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless, and Amity are all the different Factions. The Bureau of Genetic Welfare controls people who are Genetically disabled (GD). The book also takes place at The Fringe, the rundown section of the United States which contains all the genetically disabled people from experiments that failed in the past.

    The main character in this book is Beatrice (Tris) Prior. She was born in Abnegation and later switched to Dauntless. But she  is Divergent. Divergence is where you can resist things such as the truth serum or simulations. You are also qualified to join all the factions based on your aptitude results. In the first book Divergent,  there was a Civil War because of that. Tris is extremely stubborn and doesn't like being talked to condescendingly. Tobias (Four) Eaton is Tris’s boyfriend. He was born in Abnegation and later switched to Dauntless. Tobias was thought to be divergent in the test because he could resist Simulations. He later finds out in the Bureau that he is not actually Divergent. Four is a very independent person. He never asks for help. So being with Tris is tough for him because he is very independent and Tris never wants to be in the dark. 

    The Factions have just finished a war. The Divergent were being killed off by Jeanie Matthews, and her assistant Caleb (Tris’s brother). The factions were able to stop her and the new leader is Evelyn (Tobias’s Mother) a factionless woman. Tris does not like being in the fence and wants to leave, but doesn't know how. A group called the Allegiant confront Tris and say that the can't take her and whoever else she wants outside the fence. They are able to escape outside of the fence and they come across the Bureau of Genetic Welfare.The Bureau treats Genetically Disabled (GD) people and Genetically Pure (GP) people differently. They believe that GP’s are better than GD’s. The Bureau started to realize that the Chicago experiment- where Tris and Tobias came from- started to fail so they decided that they were going to erase the minds of everyone in the experiment. Tris wasn’t about to let this happen so she decided that she was going to get a group to try and stop the Bureau from erasing the minds of all their loved ones by erasing the minds of the experimenters. 
In order to do this Caleb is going to go on a suicide mission to get the memory serum out of the weapons lab. Tobias, Christina, and Peter are going to go inside the city, to try and resolve the problems that were happening inside. Tris and Matthew are going to escort Caleb to the weapons lab. When it comes time to carry out the plan, Caleb is caught by guards, Tris takes off running towards the weapons lab in an attempt to get the memory serum. And ... well you will just have to read the book to find out what happens next.
 I found this book and the entire series amazing. There were lots of twists, and I felt like I was a part of the book, inside the experiment fighting the same battles as Tris did. This book is meant for teenagers, because they can relate to the feelings and experiences of Tris and Tobias. This book is for people who feel like they don’t belong, or who are just trying to find a place for themselves in this world.

Review of "The Hallowed Ones" by Laura Bickle

Review of The Hallowed Ones  By Annalise Giuliano, eighth grader at Bradley Beach Elementary School

In the action-packed book The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, Katie, a teenage Amish girl, is on the verge of adulthood, ready to partake in Rumspringa with friends and her boyfriend Elijah.  Rumspringa is the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there. It is killing people without faith; and it is bloodthirsty.
The main characters in this book are the narrator Katie; Elijah, the boy Katie is planning to marry; Alex, a boy Katie found outside the Amish gate; Joseph and Seth, Elijah’s brothers who go missing; Katie’s loving but stern parents; Ginger Parsall, an English woman who gets trapped inside the Amish gate when the world goes haywire; Katie’s sister Sarah; The Hexmeister, who listens to and helps Katie; and the Elders who run the Amish community, including the stubborn and ignorant Bishop who puts the community in danger.
I found The Hallowed Ones to be a fast read that was  impossible to put down due to the suspense of seeing which characters would and would not survive in this new world. I would recommend this book to teenage girls who enjoy futuristic stories that are set in a post-apocalypse world.  I give this book a five-star rating, and I am really looking forward to reading the sequel. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Review of "Ashes" by Isla J. Bick

Review of Ashes  By Annalise Giuliano, eighth grader at Bradley Beach Elementary School

How would you feel if you were out hiking one day enjoying the beautiful wilderness in Michigan, when all of a sudden you feel a zap like a laser scorching your brain?  After you pick yourself off the ground and wipe the blood off of your face, you come to realize that whatever zapped your brain killed a good part of the population and turned the young people into flesh-eating zombies.

This is what happened to the main character Alex in Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick. Alex is one of the “lucky” few who survived the electromagnetic pulse unharmed. She embarks on a journey to find closure for her parents’ deaths and to come to peace with the fact that she has an inoperable, terminal brain tumor. Along the way, she meets an angry, eight year old girl named Ellie, and her dog Mina, the only link to Ellie’s father, a soldier who died in action. The two struggle to survive in this new world where people have turned into the top predator, no electronic devices work, and food is scarce. Alex and Ellie are saved from a pack of wild dogs and a zombie by a young soldier named Tom, who is also running from traumatic events in his  past. The trio join together to form a type of family. On their journey, they face killer zombies and untrustworthy humans that cause them to be separated against their will.

I found Ashes to be an awesome book and a fast read. It was difficult to put the book down since it was very exciting and suspenseful. Each chapter seemed to end with a cliffhanger that was not always answered until the next chapter. The characters in the story were put through many hardships, obstacles, and emotional losses which helped to make the book riveting. This book was a coming of age novel that effectively included elements of science fiction and the apocalypse. The target audience for this book are boys and girls, ages 13 and over who enjoy horror and suspense novels. I would give this book five stars. I cannot wait to see what the sequels bring!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Please tell us what you think

We are very interested in what you think of the books you get from your library. So interested that we came up with a scheme to make it easier to share your views. We call it book reviews, Bradley style. 

We have been pasting stickers into new books  

like this 
that ask you describe the book you just read in one word. 

It is surprisingly hard to do. (True confessions: I cheated on my first one and used two words :) It's also causes you to pause and think about what you've just read in a very interesting way. 

Here are a few one-word reviews: 
  • George Washington's Secret Six (Kilmeade): Illuminating
  • Horns (Hill): Macabre
  • Humans of New York (Stanton): Beautiful  
  • Leaders Eat Last (Sinek): Inspiring  
  • The Lowland (Lahiri): Gorgeous 
  • Ten Years in the Tub (Hornby): Wide-ranging
  • The Way of All Fish (Grimes): Boring
  • What If... (MacLaine): Shirley makes us think!

We hope you'll join in book reviews, Bradley style. 

If you would like to write a longer review, please email to to or drop it off at the desk. 

We want to know what you think!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

More Brief Book Reviews!

There were some great reads in this bunch!

1. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen Year Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida: This is a quick read and, more importantly, a touching insight into the world of an individual who has been diagnosed as autistic. While it is hailed as a must-read for those whose lives have been touched by autism, it also serves to facilitate understanding and acceptance for those who have no experience with this disorder. Higashida's thought process isn't always coherent, but this is revealing in itself. 

2. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender: Bender is a master at marrying the depressingly mundane and the absolutely outrageous,which I thoroughly enjoy. With that being said, this is a quirky novel and will not be well-received by everyone. Bender beautifully captures the unique bonds between a family burdened by highly unusual abilities as well as standard, run-of-the-mill familial issues. The plot is slow and occasionally seems nonexistent, and the lack of quotation marks might drive some mad. 

3. Rape: A Love Story by Joyce Carol Oates: Teena Macguire and her daughter, Bethie, are violently attacked by a group of men on their way home through the park one fateful summer night. Through Teena and Bethie's story, Oates highlights the stigma of rape as well as the glaring flaws in the justice system. Like most of her work, this novel will make you uncomfortable with its raw portrayal of humanity.

4. Wonder by R. J. Palacio: Auggie is about to start fifth grade at a new school. He's your average, Star Wars-loving ten year old boy except for one thing- Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity. This is a sweet, uplifting story about acceptance that is told from a variety of different perspectives.

5. Horns by Joe Hill: This is my favorite book of 2013 (even though it was published in 2010). Hill tells us the story of Ignatius Perrish, a young man who is suspected of the rape and brutal murder of his girlfriend, Merrin Williams. Alienated from his former friends and townspeople who are convinced of his guilt, Perrish falls into a deep depression only to awaken one morning with a pair of horns growing from his temples. These horns give him the power to learn the darkest secrets and desires of anyone with whom he comes into contact. Perrish decides to use his terrible new power to exact his revenge and to find out who is responsible for Merrin's death. The premise is intriguing even if the jury is still out on what it all means. 

6. The Good House by Ann Leary: A pleasant enough read about an alcoholic Realtor, Hildy Good, who is coping with her disease while struggling to extract herself from a toxic, scandalous relationship between two mutual friends. 

7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: Dare I say it? I liked Rowell's version of teenage romance better than John Green's in The Fault in Our Stars. Eleanor and Park are two misfit teens who find comfort and joy in one another especially as Eleanor's world crumbles around her. This book is charming. 

8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: Oh, Neil Gaiman, how could I have overlooked you for so long? This is an odd and wonderful story about a man who is allowed a glimpse at something terrible and beautiful as a child. Gaiman seamlessly merges childhood innocence and old knowledge, which is telling in itself. This is a thin novel that is lush with ideas. Just read it already!

Happy Tuesday!

Sharlene Edwards, Program Director