Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

badmonkeyI have an embarrassing admission…

I’ve never read anything by Carl Hiaasen before.  I’ve never read Hoot or Skinny Dip or Native Tongue.  And I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I picked up his newest novel, Bad Monkey.  With reviewers calling the novel a “misadventure” and described Hiaasen as a “premier humorist”,  my expectations were high.  I was not disappointed.

Bad Monkey introduces Andrew Yancy, a former Miami Police detective and soon to be former Monroe County sheriff’s officer, who now spends his days counting the cockroaches in local restaurants as a restaurant inspector.  Wanting to leave behind his “roach patrol” duties, Yancy believes he may have found his way back onto the force when a tourist fisherman pulls in a human arm and the scandal adverse county sheriff declares the arm’s loss an accident.  Yancy believes that there is more going on than meets the eye, so he begins his own investigation.

There is a lot going on in this book, but it never feels weighted down or overly ambitious.  The stories weave together in a way that feels natural, and Yancy is perfectly imperfect in the way of all the best anti-heroes.   Employing a dark sense of humor, Bad Monkey is moralistic without ever coming off as preachy and weird without forgetting reality.  Revenge fantasy at it’s best, Bad Monkeyis a seriously fun read.  I feel kind of lucky that I have such a backlog of Hiaasen books to read until his next book is released.

 

Upcoming Books – May

Here are some of the new releases from popular authors that are coming out in April. Reserve your favorites today!

pirate alleydead ever after bannon brothersflorazero hourinferno

 

 

Dan Brown – Inferno

Stephen Coonts – Pirate Alley

Clive Cussler – Zero Hour

Janet Dailey – Bannon Brothers: Triumph

Richard Paul Evans – A Step of Faith

Gail Godwin – Flora

Charlene Harris – Dead Ever After

delicate truthophelia cutlost daughterssilken prey deeply oddand the mountains echoed

 

 

Khaled Hosseini – And the Mountains Echoed

Dean Koontz – Deeply Odd

John Le Carre – A Delicate Truth

John Lescroart – Ophelia Cut

Mary Monroe – Lost Daughters

John Sandford – Silken Prey

Jeff Shaara – A Chain of Thunder

Fay Weldon – Long Live the King

For more new titles, be sure to check out Upcoming Releases on the Davenport Public Library webpage!

 

Upcoming Books – April

Here are some of the new releases from popular authors that are coming out in April. Reserve your favorites today!

mayas notebook

the hittapestry of fortunesdaddys gone a huntingstarting now

 

 

 

Isabelle Allende – Maya’s Notebook

Kate Atkinson – Life After Life

David Baldacci – The Hit

Elizabeth Berg – Tapestry of Fortunes

Mary Higgins Clark – Daddy’s Gone a Hunting

Debbie Macomber – Starting Now

12th of never

midnight at marble archmystery womanwhiskey beachparis

 

 

 

James Patterson – 12th of Never

Anne Perry – Midnight at Marble Arch

Amanda Quick – The Mystery Woman

Nora Roberts – Whiskey Beach

Edward Rutherfurd – Paris: the Novel

Stuart Woods – Unintended Consequences

For more new titles, be sure to check out Upcoming Releases on the Davenport Public Library webpage!

 

The Diviners by Libba Bray

divinersOne of my favorite Young Adult books that I’ve read recently is The Diviners by Libba Bray.  Set in the Roaring ’20s, it’s about a teen girl named Evie O’Neill who is sent away from her Ohio hometown after an incident at a party.  Shipped off to live with her uncle in New York, Evie is secretly thrilled at the prospect of life in the big city.  The excitement begins immediately when the police seek out the help of her uncle, the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, in the hope that he can help solve a series of disturbing occult-related murders.  The possessor of secret supernatural gifts, Evie gets more than she bargained for when she is quickly tangled up in the investigation and begins to suspect that the killer is no ordinary man.

Despite all the glowing reviews I read, I was hesitant to pick up this book at first because it is HUGE.  Luckily we had a copy of the audio book on shelf, which seemed less daunting, and I am so glad that I decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed the setting and thought that Libba Bray did a great job of making the time period come to life for the reader.  I’m not usually up for creepy stories at all, but from minute one I was completely hooked on this engrossing tale couldn’t wait to find out what happened to the compelling characters next.  The Diviners is the first book in a planned quartet, and I can’t wait for the next installment in the series!  While I’m waiting, I think I’ll have to pick up a few of her other books like A Great and Terrible Beauty, Going Bovine, or Beauty Queens.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

seraphinaRachel Hartman’s Seraphina is my new favorite book of dragon fantasy. In it, dragons – an unfeeling, coldly mathematical species which can fold themselves into human shape – have shared an uneasy peace with Seraphina’s homeland of Goredd for 40 years. Prejudice and naked hatred between the two races exists everywhere, and on the eve of the peace treaty’s fortieth anniversary, tensions are running high. Add to this mix a murdered prince (whose missing head strongly suggests dragon involvement) and a smart, curious young woman with a unique ability to understand dragon culture and you have a recipe for intrigue. Seraphina is a gifted musician and the assistant to the court composer, which makes her a minor member of the royal court. Her talent is making her famous, but she has secrets to keep; preserving those secrets while at the same time investigating a royal murder and befriending the presumptive heirs (Princess Glisselda and her fiancé, the bastard Prince Lucian) puts Seraphina in a lot of tight spots. Her friends; her life; her sanity; her secrets – what will Seraphina sacrifice to protect the peace?

I have no complaints about this novel; it’s perfectly paced, gorgeously written, and well imagined, all of which shines through a multi-layered and complicated plot that never gets out of Hartman’s control. The characters are inspirational in their intelligence and bravery yet relatable in their worries and failures. There’s intrigue and mystery as well as philosophy and breathless action, and even a bit of romance. Seraphina’s romance with Lucian is wonderfully subtle and genuine – a true meeting of the minds. Hartman is so busy writing about their meaningful conversations and compatible personalities that I’m not even sure I know what Lucian looks like! Seraphina has more important things to think about than the color of his eyes.

Upcoming Books – December

Here are some of the new releases from popular authors that are coming out in December. Reserve your favorites today!

 

 

 

Tom Clancy – Threat Vector

Joy Fielding – Shadow Creek

Aaron Elkins – Dying on the Vine

Earlene Fowler – The Road to Cardinal Valley

W.E.B. Griffin – Empire and Honor

 

 

 

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles – Blood Never Dies

Greg Iles – The Bone Tree

James Patterson – Private London

Douglas Preston – Two Graves

Karen Robards – Shiver

Barbara Vine – The Child’s Child

For more new titles, be sure to check out Upcoming Releases on the Davenport Public Library webpage!

DVDs for December

December 4

Hope Springs – Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones

Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple who have been married for 30 years and now are sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the doctor’s intense week-long marriage counseling session. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion. PG-13

Dark Knight Rises – Christian Bale, Ann Hathaway

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. PG – 13

Odd Life of Timothy Green – Jennifer Gardner

When a childless couple buries a box with all of their wishes for an infant in their backyard, their wishes are granted. However, their child, Timothy Green, is not all that he appears PG

 

Beast of the Southern Wild – Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry

Hushpuppy is a six-year-old living in an isolated bayou community. When her father Wink becomes ill, she sets off for the outside world in an attempt to help him. The journey to save her father is delayed by a ‘busted’ universe that reverses weather patterns and brings about long-extinct animals. Can Hushpuppy save the day?  PG – 13

December 11

Ted – Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis

As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett’s teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John’s side ever since. Their friendship is tested when Lori, John’s girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship. R

 

Bourne Legacy – Jeremy Renner, Scott Glenn

Aaron Cross is an agent groomed by the government program that also unleashed Jason Bourne, but with a few new wrinkles. Cross is busy training in Alaska when he’s caught in a tsunami of hurt, thus beginning a frantic search for answers to who and what he is. PG – 13

Ice Age – Continental Drift – Ray Romano, Denis Leary

Scrat’s constant quest for an acorn causes a shift in the ice. Manny, Sid, and Diego end up stranded on an iceberg in the middle of the sea. A group of misfit pirates are determined to stop the trio from ever returning home. PG

 

December 18

Total Recall – Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale

Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid, even though he’s got a beautiful wife who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. PG – 13

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days – Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn

When Greg Heffley’s dad threatens to send him to military school if he doesn’t stay out of trouble, Greg finds all-new ways to land himself in the doghouse! For starters, Greg’s in over his head when he pretends to work at the swanky country club where Rowley’s family has a membership. Things don’t go much better on a father-son camping trip with the Wilderness Explorers, and then there’s the Heffley’s new dog, Sweetie, who fetches even more trouble for Greg. PG

Trouble with the Curve – Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams

Gus Lobel has been one of the best scouts in baseball for decades, but, despite his efforts to hide it, age is starting to catch up with him. Nevertheless, Gus-who can tell a pitch just by the crack of the bat-refuses to be benched for what may be the final innings of his career. The one person who might be able to help is also the one person Gus would never ask: his daughter, Mickie, an associate at a high-powered Atlanta law firm. PG – 13

December 21

Resident Evil: Retribution – Milla Jovovich

Alice fights alongside a resistance movement in the continuing battle against the Umbrella Corporation and the undead. R

 

 

Premium Rush – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.PG – 13

 

Arbitage – Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon

Robert Miller is a New York hedge-fund magnate who appears to have it all: money, power, a loving wife, and a devoted daughter working by his side. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is running on borrowed time, trying to unload his crippled trading company before his frauds are revealed. A deadly error throws Miller’s life into a tailspin, raising the suspicions of a detective and threatening the future of his financial empire. R

Killer Joe – Matthew McCoughney, Emile Hirsch

‘Killer’ Joe Cooper is a Dallas detective who doubles as a hitman with the charm of a Southern gentleman. Chris hires Joe to kill his mother in order to collect her life insurance and pay off his debts. When Chris is unable to pay for the service up front, Joe takes Chris’s sister Dottie as a retainer until he can be paid. R

 

Illusion by Frank Peretti

guest post by Georgeann

I love magicians and I love Frank Peretti, so I figured this book would be a winner and it was! It was incredible! Astounding!  Oh no, wait, that was from the magician’s poster.

Seriously, Illusion is a great book. I was completely hooked and totally puzzled by page 8. The story begins with the death of a beloved wife and moves into the perplexing story of a young girl waking up with no memory of how she arrived from a trip to the county fair in 1971 to the same spot, dressed now in a hospital gown, in 2011.

How she copes with her new life, how her story intertwines with the widower’s, and how together they figure out what happened is the rest of the story.

Mandy is a delightful character, full of life, joy and determination in spite of her baffling circumstances. The widower, Dane, is strong, faithful and true. This is a beautiful love story, a story of love that refuses to be defeated and will not give up. At once a story of mystery and love, is also a story of time travel, science gone too far, and bad guys who will stop at nothing to achieve their ends. Lest that sound too pat, remember, it’s a story of magic and surprises. I was intrigued from beginning to end, and thoroughly enjoyed this story!

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

Award winning mystery writer Louise Penny is back with her eighth book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery series.  The Beautiful Mystery is a bit of a departure (as far as the location) from her previous books, but it just as captivating and engrossing as her previous titles.  I hold a soft spot for Three Pines, the quaint and picturesque village where the previous books are located, and even though I was a little leery of the new setting, it is definitely another superb mystery.  The book takes place in a remote Quebec monastery where 24 monks live in complete isolation and silence.  Ironically, the rest of the world has just discovered this group through their voices and a recording of their haunting and beautiful chants that have been released to the world with rave reviews.

The Beautiful Mystery opens with the shocking murder of one of the monks, Frere Matthieu, the choirmaster of the group.  Matthieu has been a champion of releasing the chants to the world in order to raise much needed funds for improvements to the monastery. Chief Inspector Gamache and his right hand man, Jean-Guy Beauvior arrive on the scene to interrogate and question the monks, attempting to piece together the puzzle of which of the remaining monks could possibly commit murder.  In addition to solving the crime at the monastery, Gamache and Beauvoir confront personal issues and demons that could have the ability to tear apart their own lives.

The Beautiful Mystery is intriguing enough on its own but if you want to start with the first book in the series pick up Still Life.

 

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

Charles Todd’s A Duty to the Dead (the first mystery in the Bess Crawford series) has far too much life and vigor for the god-awful cover design it’s been dealt. It’s really a hideous cover: the image, the colors, the fonts, they’re all drab and uninteresting. But if you can look past them, this is an engaging mystery novel with a heroine anyone would love.

Bess Crawford is a gentleman’s daughter and an Army nurse in the Great War (if you’re thinking of Lady Sybil Crawley right now, you’re not alone!). She’s injured when the hospital ship Britannic is sunk, and during her convalescent leave, she visits the family of Arthur Graham, a wounded soldier she befriended, to deliver the deathbed message he begged her to pass on to his brother. What she finds in the Graham hometown of Owlhurst is a web of secrets and lies that the all-too-British neighbors have happily swept under the rug while they keep calm and carry on.

Bess is in-demand in Owlhurst for her nursing skills, and before long she is pressed into duty caring for a shell-shocked soldier and a possible lunatic. The effect of witnessed horrors and repressed violent memories on the mind is a big part of this novel, which is as much psychiatric as it is suspenseful. In a time when mental health was imperfectly understood, Bess’s intuitively modern understanding of the way our brains work is a mark in her favor.

While you’re waiting (and waiting… and waiting … ) for Downton Abbey to come to US shores next January, this novel can help fill the gap. Its shared setting, dealings with the same issues (the affect of the war on families back home), and the similarities between Sybil and Bess will keep you in the mindset of Downton while you wait for season 3.