Saturday, September 29, 2012

FLASH(back) REVIEWS: '80s Picture Books

As we wrap up our Awesome 80s month here at BCPL, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of the best picture books from the 1980s. How many of these titles do you remember fondly? Which do your children or grandchildren still love today?

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illus. by Michael Martchenko
Year: 1980
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Picture Book– Fairy Tale/Humor
After a dragon burns down the castle and kidnaps her fiancĂ©, Princess Elizabeth is slightly singed and has nothing to wear but a paper bag. But Elizabeth doesn't let the loss of her finery stall her for long as she intrepidly goes off to rescue her Prince, armed with nothing but her wits. This is a quick, lighthearted read with plenty of humor and a twist at the end. The drawings—especially the characters' expressions—perfectly reflect the text. This is a great book for teaching resourcefulness and independence. Budding young feminists (and their like-minded parents) will love it. Ages 3 to 5.

Doctor De Soto by William Steig
Year: 1982
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Picture Book– Humor
Doctor De Soto will make a great story to build up a child's courage before a dreaded dentist visit. Dr. De Soto is a very dedicated mouse-dentist in a world where animals act as humans.They drive cars, push baby strollers down the road, and visit a mouse-dentist for their toothaches. Of course, Dr. De Soto wisely refuses to treat animals—such as cats!—that might be tempted to eat him. That is, until the day a fox, in tears from the pain, begs Dr. DeSoto for his help. The story is slyly humorous and engaging from beginning to end. The kiddos will be fascinated by the ludicrous size discrepancies: Dr. De Soto uses a ladder to treat large animals and a pulley, operated by his wife/assistant, is necessary to reach the extra-large ones. He even climbs inside their mouths, "wearing rubbers to keep his feet dry" and is able to do such delicate work that his patients "hardly feel any pain."  Subtle visual cues, like the separate large and small staircases outside the office, keep the size theme running throughout. And of course there is plenty of amusement to be derived from Mr. Fox's guilty desire to snack on his dentist and the De Sotos' clever plan to outfox the Fox. This is one of the shortest books (32 pages) ever to be named a Newbery Honor Book; it also shared the 1983 National Book Award for Children's Books with Barbara Cooney's Miss Rumphius. Ages 4 to 7.

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood, illus. by Don Wood
Year: 1985
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Picture Book– Humor
King Bidgood apparently loves a good bath, and instead of dealing with the business of the kingdom, he decides to hold all his meetings and events in the bathtub. Meanwhile, various members of the court are attempting to persuade him to come out. I had a huge smile on my face all the way through this one, beginning with the copyright and dedication pages, which shows a young page lugging a large, leaking cask of water up the winding castle stairs. The story is delightfully silly, and the illustrations are amazing, with plenty of little details to linger over. There is the Duke baiting a hook with a wiggling worm while fish watch eagerly; the page always pictured off to the side, watching and cleaning up after the court's antics; and, of course, the members of the court, clad in elaborate Elizabethan dress, emerging drenched and dripping from their failed attempts to lure the King from his bath. Unsurprisingly, this delightful book was a 1986 Caldecott Honor book, losing out only to the much loved book The Polar Express.

More Great Picture Books from the '80s:
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Arachambault, illus. by Lois Ehlert (1989)
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff  (1985)
by Chris Van Allsburg (1981)
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China
by Ed Young (1989)
Miss Rumphius
by Barbara Cooney (1982)
The Mitten
by Jan Brett (1989)
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
(1984)The Napping House by Audrey Wood (1984)
Owl Moon
by Jane Yolen, illus. by John Schoenherr (1987)
The Polar Express
by Chris Van Allsburg  (1985)
The Relatives Came
by Cynthia Rylant, illus. by Stephen Gammell (1985)
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
by Jon Scietzka (1989)
The Very Busy Spider
by Eric Carle (1984)
Where's Spot?
by Eric Hill (1980) 
Where's Waldo? by Martin Handford (1987)

What's your favorite '80s picture book? Did I leave your personal favorite off the list?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall 2012 Giveaway!

It's time for our annual Fall Cleaning—because once a year just isn't enough! Lucinda and I have once again bravely faced up to the piles of ARCs invading our offices and homes, and we've ruthlessly decided to part with the bulk of them. The good news for you? We've got dozens of ARCs up for grabs, just waiting for you to claim them!

Rules of entry are at the end of the post. Please note that all prizes must be picked up at a BCPL location. Contest ends on Friday, October 12, 2012.

Here are the titles we have up for grabs!

Adult Fiction 

Live By Night by Dennis Lehane (October 2012)
In 1926, during Prohibition, Joe Coughlin defies his strict law-and-order upbringing by climbing a ladder of organized crime that takes him from Boston to Cuba, where he encounters a dangerous cast of characters who are all fighting for their piece of the American dream. –NoveList

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton (October 2012)
Classic Morton: 16-year-old Laurel Nicolson sits dreaming away in her childhood tree house when she spies her mother speaking to an unknown man. Later, Laurel witnesses a terrible crime. But it's not until 50 years have passed that she can ask her mother the pertinent questions—which leads to a story involving three strangers in wartime London. Morton's best-selling work is always classy and nuanced; great for reading groups.  –Library Journal

The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony (October 2012)
In this stunning debut from the pseudonymous Anthony, King Louis XIII’s ban on lace gives rise to a black market that weaves together the lives of four women in 17th-century France and Flanders. Katharina Martens is a Flemish lace maker who considers it her God-given duty to craft the “exquisite, beautiful” fabric, never mind that her work—often conducted without firelight or lanterns, in order to keep the lace clean of soot and ash—has left her hunched and nearly blind. As the end of her lace-making career draws nigh, to be followed by the sordid existence of former craftswomen relegated to a life of “doing... vile things,” her sister, Heilwich, struggles to save enough money to buy Katharina’s freedom from the abbey where she works. Meanwhile in France, Lissette Lefort and her cousin Alexandre must procure a length of forbidden lace to pay off the conniving count of Montreau, who threatens to reveal Lissette’s father’s role in an attempted assassination of the king. As beautifully fashioned as the sought-after lace, this story is sure to impress.  –Publishers Weekly

The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde (October 2012)
Thursday Next #7
Forced into semi-retirement after an assassination attempt, Thursday Next finds her recuperation challenged by the personal and professional struggles of her children and Goliath's constant attempts to replace her with synthetic duplicates. –NoveList

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers (September 2012)
In the midst of a bloody battle in the Iraq War, two soldiers, bound together since basic training, do everything to protect each other from both outside enemies and the internal struggles that come from constant danger. –NoveList

Thy Neighbor by Norah Vincent (August 2012)
Losing himself in drugs and alcohol for years after the violent deaths of his parents, Nick Walsh pursues a relationship with an enigmatic woman while conducting a spying campaign on his neighbors as part of his obsessive drive to come to terms with what happened. –NoveList

The Pleasures of Men by Kate Williams (August 2012) 
When a murderer strikes the city, ripping open the chests of young girls and stuffing hair into their mouths to resemble a beak, the press christen him the Man of Crows. Catherine becomes obsessed with the grim crimes, and as she devours the news, she discovers she can channel the voices of the dead, and comes to believe she will eventually channel the Man of Crows himself. –NoveList

The 500 by Matthew Quirk  (June 2012)
Former con artist and Harvard Law student Mike Ford accepts a position with the DC-based Davies Group, a consulting firm whose specialty is pulling strings for the five hundred most powerful people inside the Beltway. –NoveList

A Once Crowded Sky by Tom King (July 2012)
Tom King's debut novel opens in an imaginative world of comic book superheroes struggling to take on normal lives after sacrificing their powers to save the world. –From the Publisher

Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon (May 2012)
Baring her soul in an anonymous survey for a marital happiness study, Alice catalogues her stale marriage, unsatisfying job and unfavorable prospects and begins to question virtually every aspect of her life. –NoveList

A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois (May 2012)
Abandoning her life when her father succumbs to Huntington's disease, Massachusetts native Irina discovers an unanswered letter from her father to an internationally renowned chess champion and political dissident, whom she decides to visit in Russia. –NoveList

Arcadia by Lauren Groff (May 2012)
In a haunting story of the American dream, Bit, born in a back-to-nature commune in 1970s New York State, must come to grips with the outside world when the commune eventually fails. –NoveList

Carry the One by Carol Anshaw (March 2012)
When a car of inebriated guests from Carmen's wedding hits and kills a girl on a country road, Carmen and the people involved in the accident connect, disconnect and reconnect throughout 25 subsequent years of marriage, parenthood, holidays and tragedies. –NoveList

Wayward Saints by Suzzy Roche (2011)
Mary Saint, the rule-breaking, troubled former lead singer of the almost-famous band Sliced Ham, has pretty much given up on music after the trauma of her band member and lover Garbagio's death seven years earlier. Instead, with the help of her best friend, Thaddeus, she is trying to piece her life together while making mochaccinos in San Francisco. Meanwhile, back in her hometown of Swallow, New York, her mother Jean struggles with her own ghosts. When Mary is invited to give a concert at her old high school, Jean is thrilled, though she's worried about what Father Benedict and her neighbors will think of songs such as "Sewer Flower" and "You're a Pig." But she soon realizes that there are going to be bigger problems when the whole town--including a discouraged teacher and a baker who's anything but sweet--gets in on the act. –NoveList

A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison (2011)
Orphaned and homeless after a tsunami decimates their coastal India town, 17-year-old Ahalya Ghai and her 15-year-old sister, Sita, are abducted and sold to a Mumbai brothel owner, where they endure a torturous existence before they are helped by a Washington, D.C. attorney who is able to combat human trafficking. –NoveList

The Rafters by A.C. Montgomery (2011)
Sonambulist Saga #1
The Rafters visits an arcane world, where at crucial intervals, Callings of varying power and purpose are brought into being. Unaware, each is connected to a Messenger who alone can lead them to their true identity. Follow a Calling, who due to memory loss, runs ever further from his Messenger, into an underworld hungry to claim his power for its own villainous purposes. The scenery and elaborate personalities construct a complex web of plotting and intrigue. –NoveList

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (2011)
The story of a woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own past.  –From the Publisher

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See (2011) 
A continuation of "Shanghai Girls" finds a devastated Joy fleeing to China to search for her real father while her mother, Pearl, desperately pursues her, a dual quest marked by their encounters with the nation's intolerant Communist culture. –NoveList

Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth (2009)
In 1914, as the nations of the West are making a play for political power and oil in the Middle East, Somerville, a British archaeologist, finds his excavation of a long-buried Assyrian palace threatened by construction of a new railroad to Baghdad. –NoveList

So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwartz (2008)
Thirty years after a vengeful plot destroys a family, the implications of that act continue to reverberate as Jon must decide whether to end his affair or his marriage, and his wife becomes involved with an older man linked to their families' past. –NoveList

The Mayor's Tongue by Nathaniel Rich (2008)
Follows the dual stories of two men--young Eugene, a passionate reader who devotes himself to an adventurer writer, and elderly Mr. Schmitz, who in a series of ominous letters to a missing friend describes his growing desperation about his wife's deteriorating health. –NoveList

Adult Nonfiction

A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor (January 2012)
Chronicles the life of a former slave to James and Dolley Madison, tracing his early years on their plantation, his service in the White House household staff and post-emancipation achievements as a memoirist. –NoveList

Death in the City of Light by David King (2011)
Documents the World War II effort to catch a physician serial killer in Paris, describing the covert information network that the chief French detective built with such groups as mobsters, nightclub owners, and Resistance fighters. –NoveList

Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever who Saved Him 
by Luis Carlos Montalvan (2011)
"Tuesday has a personality that shines. I am not kidding when I say it is common for people to pull out their cell phones and take pictures of and with him. Tuesday is that kind of dog. And then, in passing, they notice me, the big man with the tight haircut. There is nothing about me--even the straight, stiff way I carry myself--that signals disabled. Until people notice the cane in my left hand, that is, and the way I lean on it every few steps. Then they realize my stiff walk and straight posture aren't just pride, and that Tuesday isn't just an ordinary dog. He walks directly beside me, for instance, so that my right leg always bisects his body. He nuzzles me when my breathing changes, and he moves immediately between me and the object--a cat, an overeager child, a suspiciously closed door--any time I feel apprehensive. Because beautiful, happy-go-lucky, favorite-of-the-neighborhood Tuesday isn't my pet; he's my service dog." Captain Luis Montalvan returned home from his second tour of duty in Iraq, having survived stab wounds, a traumatic brain injury, and three broken vertebrae. But the pressures of civilian life and his injuries proved too much to bear. Physical disabilities, agoraphobia, and crippling PTSD drove him to the edge of suicide. That's when he met Tuesday - his best friend forever. Tuesday came with his own history of challenges: from the Puppies Behind Bars program, to a home for troubled boys, to the streets of Manhattan, Tuesday blessed many lives on his way to Luis. Until Tuesday unforgettably twines the story of man and dog." – Provided by publisher.

This Is Not the Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson (2011)
The author details what happened when her husband of over twenty years told her he wasn't sure he loved her anymore and wanted to move out. And while you might think you know where this story is going, this isn't the story you think it is. Laura's response to her husband: I don't buy it. 

Love Is a Four-letter Word edited by Michael Taekens (2009)
Presents true stories of heartbreak and bad relationships, reflecting on the contributors' breakups with humor, regret, insightfulness, and nostalgia. –NoveList

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson (2009)
The humorist and advice columnist for "Ask Amy" describes her inspirational, haphazard experiences with divorce, traveling throughout the country, and resettling in her hometown, where her extended family helped her to raise her daughter. –NoveList

Fiction for Kids & Teens

What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton (October 2012)
*2 Copies Available*
Before the ski trip, sixteen-year-old Cassidy "Sid" Murphy was a cheerleader, a straight-A student, and a member of a solid trio of best friends. When she ends up on a ski lift next to handsome local college boy Dax Windsor, she's thrilled, but Dax takes everything from Sid—including a lock of her perfect red curls—and she can't remember any of it. Back home and alienated by her friends, Sid drops her college prep classes and takes up residence in the AV room with only Corey "the Living Stoner" Livingston for company. But as she gets to know Corey (slacker, baker, total dreamboat), Sid finds someone who truly makes her happy. Now, if she can just shake the nightmares and those few extra pounds, everything will be perfect...or so she thinks. –Book Jacket

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (October 2012)
Astrid Jones copes with her small town's gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she's sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they'll know what to do with it. Maybe it'll make them happy. Maybe they'll need it. Her mother doesn't want it, her father's always stoned, her perfect sister's too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There's no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she's trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love--and asking the right questions--will affect the passengers' lives, and her own, for the better. –From the Publisher

The Golden Door by Emily Rodda (October 2012)
Three Doors #1
At night the skimmers fly over the Wall looking for human prey and the people of Weld huddle in their houses, but after his two brothers set out through the magic doors in an attempt to find the Enemy and don't come back, young Rye knows that he must follow and find them. –NoveList

Every Day by David Levithan (August 2012)
Every morning A wakes in a different person's body, in a different person's life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. –NoveList

Soulbound by Heather Brewer (June 2012)
Legacy of Tril #1
Seventeen-year-old Kaya, a Healer who wants to learn to fight, must attend Shadow Academy where fighting by Healers is outlawed, and so she asks two young men to train her in secret, leading to a choice that will change their lives forever. –NoveList

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage  (May 2012)
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a cafe and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder. –NoveList

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (January 2012)
Lunar Chronicles #1
As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story. –NoveList
Lucinda's Review

The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (2011)
When a mysterious threat reenters the lives of twins Ben and Sheere, separated as babies and reunited as teenagers in 1930s Calcutta, the siblings must confront an unspeakable terror, with the help of their secret society of fellow orphans. –NoveList

Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne (2011)
When life at home becomes too difficult, eight-year-old Noah sets out to see the world and have an adventure, and in the forest he meets a toymaker who has a story and some advice to share. –NoveList

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (2011)
When seventeen-year-old Alex starts dating Cole, a new boy at her high school, her two closest friends increasingly mistrust him as the relationship grows more serious.

Sisters Red by Jackson Pierce (2010)
Fairy Tale Retellings #1
After a Fenris, or werewolf, killed their grandmother and almost killed them, sisters Scarlett and Rosie March devote themselves to hunting and killing the beasts that prey on teenaged girls, learning how to lure them with red cloaks and occasionally using the help of their old friend, Silas, the woodsman's son. –NoveList

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (2009)
Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up with no memory in the middle of a maze and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape. –NoveList

Spellbinder by Helen Stringer (2009)
Spellbinder #1
Twelve-year-old Belladonna Johnson, who lives with the ghosts of her parents in the north of England, teams up with an always-in-trouble classmate to investigate why all of the ghosts in the world have suddenly disappeared. –NoveList

Rules of Entry

1. To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below. To be eligible for the drawing, you are required to log in to the widget with your e-mail address or Facebook account AND leave a comment at the bottom of this post stating which ARCs you would like to receive. (Choose up to ten. You are not guaranteed to win your top choices, but we do our best). Click "+1 Do It!" and "Enter" on the widget after you have posted your comment below. After completing the first task, you can also earn bonus entries by following the directions in the widget.

2.  All ARCs must be picked up at a Bullitt County Public Library location. Winners will be notified via e-mail and will be posted on this blog. Contest ends Friday, October 12, 2012.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

REVIEW: I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genre: Crime Fiction/Suspense
Audience: Older Teen/Young Adult
Series: Jasper Dent #1

Summary: What if your father is the most notorious serial killer of the century? What if you were trained to be the perfect killer from the time you were a child? Seventeen-year-old Jazz, son of the infamous Billy Dent, has to live with that reality every day. Jazz never truly understood how wrong his childhood was until the day Billy was arrested four years ago. As a child, Jazz played with human teeth like dice; by nine, he knew how to dissolve a body in quicklime. His father brainwashed him to believe that Dents are superior and above the laws that govern the rest of mankind. For Jazz, it is instinctive to size up his "prey," quickly assessing the best ways to charm and immobilize his victims. But Jazz hasn't killed anyone. Yet. Or, at least no one that he remembers.

Jazz's greatest fear is ending up a killer like "Dear Old Dad." Ever since his father's arrest, Jazz has been living as normal a life as possible, despite the fact that his grandmother/official guardian suffers from dementia and is notoriously strange. But now a new serial killer in on the loose in Lobo's Nod and Jazz fears his past is coming back to haunt him. So he decides to use his inside knowledge of a serial killer's mind to be on the side of good, launching his own investigation into the identity of the "Impressionist," whose crimes are eerily similar to those of Billy Dent.

First Line: "By the time Jazz got to the field outside town, yellow police tape was everywhere, strung from stake to stake in a sort of drunken, off-kilter hexagon."   

Tracy's Thoughts:
Do you love Dexter and Criminal Minds? Or maybe Chelsea Cain's Archie and Gretchen series is your cup of tea? Perhaps you wish there were more (or, any) books like this in the YA genre? Then you won't want to miss the first installment of Barry Lyga's Jasper Dent series! It's deliciously twisted—taking an all-too-realistic look at the thoughts and actions of a sociopath—without becoming overly explicit. But the restraint regarding gratuitous blood and gore actually makes I Hunt Killers all the creepier.

The mystery aspect of this book is compelling if not wholly original. For me, the true appeal was in the characterization of Jazz. Every dark thought and insight into the mind of the killer causes him to wonder if he is destined to become a killer himself. While he doesn't mind using his childhood lessons to his advantage—Jasper is a master of reading and manipulating people, knowing exactly how to smile and push the right buttons to get what he wants—he can't help feeling a prickle of guilt at the ease of it and worry that one day he will step over an invisible line he can't come back from.Still struggling (understandably) with the brainwashing of his childhood, Jazz has a personal mantra to keep himself human: "People matter. People are real." He considers it a way of "casting a shield against his own evil." And  even more intriguing than the who-is-the-killer plot thread is the mystery of Jazz's past. His mother disappeared years ago and Jazz is almost sure is father killed her, but he can't know for certain. Also, there are those events from his past that Jazz can't quite recall.

Unsurprisingly, given its parallels to other popular TV shows, I Hunt Killers may also be coming soon to the small screen—it was optioned by Warner Bros. for development early on. As for book two in the series? We'll have to wait until April 2013.

Friday, September 14, 2012

FLASH REVIEW: New Halloween Books

Just in time for Halloween we have received some new, very readable Halloween books that kids of all ages can enjoy.

The Monster who Lost his Mean by Tiffany Strelitz Haber
Rating: 3/5 stars
Genre: Picture Book 
When Monster looses his custom made "M" he becomes Onster, a monster without his mean.  As such he is ridiculed by the other monsters and this distresses him greatly until he realizes being a "M"onster who is mean is not as enjoyable as it used to be.  Instead he finds joy with some new human friends to whom he is Onster, the nice monster down the street who can be a helpful friend. I really enjoyed this lighthearted look at being a monster.  With its bright, colorful illustrations this book is engaging and will bring out the "Onster" in your little reader!

Zombie in Love by Kelly Dipucchio
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Genre: Picture Book
Poor Mortimer, a zombie is looking for love in all the wrong places until he finally meets Mildred at Cupid's Ball.  Then it is "love at first bite".  This charming little picture book struck me as a clever read-aloud for our Trick or Treat storytime.  Following the trend for Zombie/post-apocalyptic settings in new books, this storybook follows the trend with humor, and a sweet tale of zombie love.  The illustrations are sure to make older preschoolers/kindergartners laugh and the tale is endearing without being sappy.  On the whole a fun read for all!

Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy
Rating: 4/5 starts
Genre: Picture Book
In the ultimate of Granny Makeovers, a little girl takes her "different" witch granny and makes her into a "normalish" granny.  However, with this change, all involved discover that they don't like this new granny and with a flick of her wand, Granny becomes her usual, quirky self.  This books message of loving family members for themselves is delivered in a fun manner, with rhyming text and fun colorful illustrations.  Granny herself is a hoot and the book wraps up with a fun beach vacation accompanied by all the cats, bats, and frogs is just funny.  Kiddos will enjoy the concoction of the gloopy soup which includes such ingredient as slime and "froggy poop".  Of the three books that I have reviewed here, I think that this one is my favorite as it is fun, has a good message, and well, just reminds me of spending time with my Granny when I was a little girl.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

REVIEW: Sex on the Moon by Ben Mezrich

Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genre: Adult Nonfiction, True Crime, Popular Science  
Audience: Older Teen/Adult
Format: Audiobook

Summary: Banished by his family at the age of nineteen, Thad Roberts was headed for a dead-end life when he suddenly grasped onto the unlikley dream of becoming an astronaut. By that time he was well into his twenties, but with the combination of hard work, natural intelligence, and a hefty dose of charm he eventually made his way into an elite NASA co-op program. But Thad's need for constant challenge, paired with a desire to impress his new girlfriend, led him to risk everything by orchestrating the theft of a priceless lunar sample, aka moon rocks.

First Line: "It had to be the strangest getaway in history."

Tracy's Thoughts:
Despite a few quibbles, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audiobook of this "amazing story behind the most audacious heist in history," read by Casey Affleck. The story of Thad Robert's background and his improbable rise to such a coveted position is fascinating. I also enjoyed the "space geek" aspect of the book; I loved the descriptions of the Johnson Space Center, its work culture, and its accomplishments. In fact, the lead up to the robbery itself was so compelling that the actual theft and its aftermath were a bit of a letdown. The first half of this book is definitely the highlight, though caper fans may still find something to enjoy in the heist itself. Personally, I felt crucial details were glossed over and Thad's motives were somewhat underdeveloped. (Although, in Mezrich's defense this is based on a true story, and sometimes criminals' motives aren't exactly rational.) It is interesting to note that this book is written by the author of The Accidental Billionaires, and the team at Sony behind its film adaptation (The Social Network) have optioned the film rights to Sex on the Moon as well.
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