unRequired Reading Blog

02/16/2011 - 3:31am
Grendel, by John Gardner

Lurking in the shadows of the Dark Ages is the howling form of Grendel. He is the monster of midnight, the bone-gnasher, the ardent hunter of warriors who strews their bones and howls his fury to the world as he wreaks havoc on the safety of civilization. No hall fire burning brightly, no line of armed men can keep him back when he desires destruction. But as John Gardner tells of Grendel, this was not always so. For the bane of the Hrothgar’s hall has a soul much tormented by his desire for good and fellowship with the humans even as his demonic appearance frightens them into violent action. To them, he is a thing, and so he becomes what they believe him to be--an adversary whose fame has spanned the centuries.

02/14/2011 - 3:30am
Cupid by Julius Lester

Just in time for Valentine's Day, here is Cupid, by Julius Lester.  In this retelling from Greek mythology, we are introduced to Psyche.  She is the daughter of a king and so beautiful that every time she walks outside people stopped and stared.  They even stopped working.  In fact, it was getting so bad that it was affecting the infrastructure of her community--and not in a good way.  Her father, the king, felt  it was in the best interest of his kingdom and his subjects to restrict  Psyche from her daily walks.  He decreed that she could only walk outside the castle gates once a month.

Word quickly reached Mount Olympus about the young beauty and the effect she was having on the other humans.  Venus, the goddess of love, was not pleased at all when she learned of this young woman, She viewed her as a threat and decided to dispatch her son, Cupid, to do away with her.  Never one to disappont his mother, Cupid quickly plans how he will get rid of this pesky human.  However, when Cupid lays his eyes on Psyche, he is immediately stunned by her beauty, and he falls in love with her himself.  He vows that she will become his wife, but he is reluctant to let his mother in on his little plan as she is a formidable force with which to be reckoned. 

02/09/2011 - 3:30am
Sabriel by Garth Nix

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.

Sabriel by Garth Nix
Sabriel, daughter of the necromancer Abhorsen, must journey into the mysterious and magical Old Kingdom to rescue her father from the Land of the Dead.

If you liked the Abhorsen Trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen), you'll also want to try (if you haven't already) some of Garth Nix's other series such as the Keys to the Kingdom and the Seventh Tower.

Also, here are a few other fantasy titles you may enjoy:

The Amulet of Samarkand
The Amulet of Samarkand
: Book One of the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand.

 

 

Artemis Fowl
Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer (first in a series)
When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.

 

 

Dragonsong
Dragonsong
by Anne McCaffrey (part of a series)
Forbidden by her father to indulge in music in any way, a girl on the planet Pern runs away, taking shelter with the planet's fire lizards who, along with her music, open a new life for her.

 

 

02/08/2011 - 3:31am
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

Dateline: Hampstead, London, 1851

Twenty-something drawing master William Hartright was passing a pleasant evening en route to his next assignment as a live-in tutor for two young ladies at Limmeridge House when he was accosted by a young woman oddly garbed all in white who begged for his help. She refused to tell him her name, from whence she came or to where she was going. Being a gentleman, he escorted her, as was her design, to the nearest cab stand. Along the way, they chatted—The Woman in White, oddly intense and excitable, and he, curious to find out what he could about this very determined lady in distress.
 
What he did discover was that she knew the family who had hired him but, warm as her feelings seemed to be to the Fairlies, she was sufficiently troubled by another horror to bolt into the procured cab and race off towards her unstated destination. A few minutes later, Mr. Hartright saw another carriage driving recklessly and pulling up short near a policeman. The men in the carriage shouted to the officer—had he seen a woman in white? She had just escaped from their private insane asylum.
02/07/2011 - 9:09am
The King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett

Telemachos, the son of Odysseus, must go in search of his father whom he has never met.  In the book The King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett, we join Telemachos on his journey.  He was just a baby when his father left the island of Ithaka, but lately the residents have decided that Odysseus must be dead and it is time to find a new king. They want to decide who that will be.  This would also mean that the queen Penelopeia (his mother) would have to marry that person. Telemachos decides that he will set sail to find his long-missing father. There are a few obstacles that he will have to overcome. One is that he hates the sea. The other is that he has no idea where to begin searching. In order to find the right direction to go in search of his father he must consult Daisy.  Daisy is old...really old and, oh, yeah...she has three heads.  She is also really mean, and, when you go to see her, you run the risk that she will kill you.

Telemachos has to be very careful in his approach to Daisy. He decides that he will bring an offering to Daisy in an order to appease her. He brings a basket of eggs and tiny baby rats. Despite the stench of decay, Telemachos finds Daisy and asks her counsel on how to find his father the King. Daisy tells him  to "return to the place that is not on the day that is not bearing the thing that is not." With that cryptic message, he sets sail with his best friend Brax, who is a Centaur, despite his mother's protestations that Brax will eat all the food. After having set sail for a day or so Telemachos and Brax discover that they are not alone on the ship. Hopefully, the food holds out.

06/08/2011 - 2:29pm
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Book #1 in the Mortal Instruments series)
Suddenly able to see demons and the Darkhunters who are dedicated to returning them to their own dimension, fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is drawn into this bizzare world when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a monster.

If you like City of Bones you'll want to read the rest of the Mortal Instruments series: City of Ashes, City of Glass and City of Fallen Angels.

City of AshesCity of Glass

Here are some other books you might also enjoy:

Angelology
Angelology
by Danielle Trussoni (Adult Fiction)
When twenty-three-year-old Sister Evangeline accidentally stumbles upon some mysterious letters exchanged between the late mother superior of her convent and the famous philanthropist Abigail Rockefeller, she is thrust into an ancient conflict between the Society of Angelologists and the monstrously beautiful descendants of angels and humans, the  Nephilim.

 

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
Blood and Chocolate
by Annette Curtis Klause
A beautiful teenage werewolf falls for a human boy and must battle both her packmates and the fear of the townspeople to decide where she belongs and with whom.

 

 

The Blooding by Patricia Windsor
The Blooding
by Patricia Windsor
Maris is spending the summer working as an au pair for a couple in England. She discovers that the husband is a werewolf intent on blooding her and making her one too.

 

 

Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan
Cirque du Freak
(Book #1 in the Cirque du Freak series) by Darren Shan
Two boys who are best friends visit an illegal freak show, where an encounter with a vampire and a deadly spider forces them to make life-changing choices. There are many more in this series.

 

01/31/2011 - 3:30am
Dark Water by Laura McNeal

Sometimes we make choices that have unexpected and devastating consequences. In Dark Water by Laura McNeal, 15-year-old narrator Pearl begins her story with just such a dark foreboding. Then, page by page, chapter after chapter, the shocking story unfolds.

Pearl and her mother live in the modest guesthouse of her uncle’s southern California avocado ranch since her parent’s messy divorce. Passing groups of day-laborers on her daily commute to school, Pearl is drawn to Amiel, an older boy with a talent for mime. After convincing Uncle Hoyt to hire Amiel, she learns that he lives alone in a makeshift hut in the woods, evading la migra, the border patrol. Throughout that dry, searing summer, Pearl watches Amiel, fascinated by his mysterious inability to talk.
01/26/2011 - 8:19am
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Sometimes you love a book so much that it becomes like an old friend. When you need the memory of that book, it comes back to you and comforts you from time to time. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman is like that for me.

Two years after the September 11 attacks, I decided that my 13-year-old son didn’t read enough books during his summer school breaks. I decided to host a book club for him and four of his best friends. We always met at fun places to discuss the books we read – poolside, pizza parlors, water parks, etc. We read about five books that summer, but the book we all loved the most was Green Angel. The book is about Green, a moody 15-year-old girl. She was the daughter of a farmer who grew produce which the family sold in the city. One day, after a fight with her family, she insists on staying home when they go into the city. There is a huge explosion in the city which causes her to lose some of her vision, and ash keeps falling for days.

12/09/2014 - 2:40pm
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance.

If you liked The Westing Game you might like:


The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie King
The Beekeeper's Apprentice, or On the Segregation of the Queen
by Laurie King
Sherlock Holmes takes on a young, female apprentice in this delightful and well-wrought addition to the master detective's casework. In the early years of WW I, 15-year-old American Mary Russell encounters Holmes, retired in Sussex Downs where Conan Doyle left him raising bees. Mary, an orphan rebelling against her guardian aunt's strictures, impresses the sleuth with her intelligence and acumen. Holmes initiates her into the mysteries of detection, allowing her to participate in a few cases when she comes home from her studies at Oxford. The collaboration is ignited by the kidnapping in Wales of Jessica Simpson, daughter of an American senator. The sleuthing duo find signs of the hand of a master criminal, and after Russell rescues the child, attempts are made on their lives (and on Watson's), with evidence piling up that the master criminal is out to get Holmes and all he holds dear. (Publishers Weekly Review)
 
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
Chasing Vermeer
by Blue Balliett
When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal.

 

 

Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams
Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Myster
y
by Peter Abrahams
Welcome to Echo Falls. Home of a thousand secrets, where Ingrid Levin-Hill, super sleuth, never knows what will happen next. Ingrid is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or at least her shoes are. Getting them back means getting involved in a murder investigation rivaling those solved by her idol, Sherlock Holmes, and Ingrid has enough on her plate with club soccer, school, and the plum role of Alice in the Echo Falls production of Alice in Wonderland . But much as in Alice's adventures down the rabbit hole, things in Ingrid's small town keep getting curiouser and curiouser.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Egypt Game
by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
A group of children, entranced with the study of Egypt, play their own Egypt game, are visited by a secret oracle, become involved in a murder, and befriend the Professor before they move on to new interests, such as Gypsies.

01/25/2011 - 9:51am
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck

Kerry Williamson is 15 years old and suddenly has been selected by three of the most popular girls in school to be a part of their group.  In Richard Peck's book Three Quarters Dead, we meet Tanya, McKenzie, and Natalie, the three girls who rule the school and are the meanest girls around.  Kerry is surprised by this sudden attention from these three who previously ignored her.  They sit with her at lunch, they include her in their shopping expeditions, and she is invited to their party preparation meetings.  Tanya is clearly the ring leader of the group.  She is in charge of all the activities and the wardrobe decisions.  While at lunch with Tanya, Kerry begins to notice that time seems to stand still and lunch goes on much longer than it has in the past although the clock has not stopped.  There are several significant occurrences like this that Kerry notices but she is so happy to be part of the group that she ignores any signs that things may be weird.

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