Towson Library's Quick Picks
Library staff review some of their favorite books
In the first installment of our new column, Towson Library staffers pick and review some of their favorite new books. All of them are available on the library's extensive shelves. And remember, the library has a full calendar of events. For that, keep tabs on our calendar or on the library's website.
Room by Emma Donoghue
Reviewed by Sam O'Heren
Jack is a very precocious little boy. He has just turned 5 years old, but his vocabulary is that of a child nearly twice his age. He loves Dora the Explorer, but also the medical dramas of the Discovery Channel. He can read any of his books, but he prefers to have them read to him by his Ma. He loves fruit and hates vegetables. What is so special about Jack? He lives with Ma in an 11 by 11 foot room that has no windows and a locked door, and he has never been outside of it.
In Room, Emma Donoghue allows Jack to tell his story in his 5 year-old voice. In his world, there is only his Ma, his television "friends", and Old Nick—the man who makes the door beep and the bed squeak at 9pm every night while Jack hides in the wardrobe. He knows reality only as "real" or "TV," and he is not aware enough of his captivity to be angry or sad. Slowly, Ma makes him aware of the larger world outside Room, and that there are people who love and miss them. Reluctantly, Jack agrees to a plan to trick Old Nick and escape Room. How they both react to the changes in their lives is compelling and will keep the reader laughing and crying in turns.
Donoghue does a masterful job of conveying this harrowing tale with a sense of innocence and discovery. The relationship between Jack and Ma is a unique one, in that they are literally each other's entire world. The audio version, read in the child's voice, is highly recommended.
The Siege by Steven White
Reviewed by Kim Borofka
The author of this book, Stephen White, is a clinical psychologist and his novels reflect his experience in this field. I started reading his books out of order with Kill Me which involves the issue of assisted suicide, but with a twist. After reading this novel, I was hooked and went on to read many of his others. Kill Me is part of Steven White's popular series about a clinical psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory.
The Siege, however, is a standalone novel. The action takes place on the Yale campus. Unidentified attackers quietly take over a building belonging to one of Yale's secret societies and they transform it into a fortress holding an unknown number of student hostages. As officials become aware of what has happened, the response escalates, but these hostage takers are completely unpredictable. They make no demands, agree to no negotiations and execute or release hostages as they choose. I won't give away the twists in the plot so you can read it yourself. This is a sophisticated thriller and page turner that will keep you involved and wondering to the last page.
Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies by Andrea Beaty
Reviewed by Paula Willey
Like "Captain Underpants" for a slightly older crowd. Or like "Friday the 13th" for a slightly younger, slightly less blood-thirsty crowd. Like the Lunch Lady graphic novels but with giant omnivorous telepathic alien bunnies as the bad guys instead of librarians, substitute teachers, or children's book authors. Light and fluffy, fast-paced and full of kooky details, kids will find it exceptionally weird, and they will like it. Terrific illustrations by Dan Santat pep up an already peppy tale. Try it for second, third, fourth, fifth graders.
Next week: "Meridian" by Amber Kizer and "The Tiger" by John Vaillant