Friday, August 10, 2007

Harry Potter and and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

The wait is over. The speculation has ceased. The final chapter of the seventh book of the Harry Potter series has been read and relished. Rowling did not disappoint. If you’re one among the jovial crowd that waited in line at midnight last Friday and eagerly started reading while you stood in the check out line, you already know this. If on the other hand, you are one of those who scratch their heads and wonder why Harry Potter costumes come in adult sizes, perhaps this review can create enough interest that you see beyond the frenzy to the classic elements that make Harry’s saga a true hero’s journey. There are no spoilers here, so if you haven’t finished the book read on without fear.
From the first book, Rowling established Harry as an unassuming hero raised in neglect and contempt that belie future greatness. There’s also no doubt from the start that Harry has a destiny linked inexorably to the powerful dark wizard from whom he bears his famous lightening bolt scar. Honing magical skills and facing interim challenges from He Who Must Not Be Named over the past six years, Harry is coming of age. Along with his best mates Hermione and Ron, Harry is on a search for horcruxes, those significant, but unknown items where the Dark Lord has hidden pieces of his soul that assures he can always rise from the dead. If war is days of boredom broken up by spaces of sheer terror, the companions are indeed at war. As in previous volumes, things are rarely as they appear. Help comes from unlikely sources, former enemies provide surprising assistance, minor characters play pivotal roles, and loyal friends return kindness shown in the past. In the larger scheme, Rowling underlies the action with a message of the power of love. Not the sappy, shot through the heart kind, although we see a sprinkling of that, but the larger brotherhood of mankind love, the kind of love that allows you to give your life for another. War is not without losses. Strength comes after hardship and pain. It’s after you’re willing to give all that the true magic happens.
Rowling’s success doesn’t lie in showing us a magic world different from our own, but one so similar that we can see ourselves being tested to the very limit as Harry is tested and hoping that we, too, are up to the challenge. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is available at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main Street.

Reviewed by Suzi Worthen 8/3/2007

FreeFire by C. J. Box

Readers of C.J. Box’s novels all hoped that Joe Pickett wouldn’t be out of the action for long and our hopes have been fulfilled in Box’s new book “FreeFire”.
Joe Pickett, the game-warden protagonist of six previous C.J. Box novels, was fired from his post at the end of the last book in the series and many readers wondered what could happen in the future. Joe is back, albeit as a “special projects” warden working “without portfolio” for the walk –on-the-wild –side Governor of Wyoming. He is sent to investigate murders in the so-called “Free Fire Zone” or “Yellowstone Zone of Death”. The premise behind this aspect of the book is that there is a zone in Yellowstone National Park where a crime can be committed and there are no people to form a local jury for the criminal’s trial due to a loophole in Federal, District and State jurisdictions.
This is a very thought provoking subject and is handled well by Box in the development of the story.
Given the diversity of the park that the author has chosen as backdrop for his book, there are several ideas with which he works. Corrupt government officials, unscrupulous bio-engineering companies out to exploit the park’s unusual resources and the vast wonderland that is Yellowstone are the main themes.
The book has all the action that readers have come to expect of Joe Pickett, but one wonders if Joe is losing his moral compass as he is exposed to ever-increasing violence and murder. Joe Pickett’s conflicting emotions when faced with a moral dilemma in the fulfillment of his duties is one aspect of the character that readers enjoy most, but he seems to have lost that in this book.
There is, however, no conflict in knowing who the bad guys are in the story. Mr. Box seems to have fallen prey to the popular idea that readers won’t be able to differentiate between good guys and bad guys without the foul language spewed by the latter. The author should give the readers credit to be able to recognize the black hats by their deeds and actions without the overuse of foul language.
That said, C.J. Box has crafted a familiar and complex character in Joe Pickett and the new book “FreeFire” provides as much enjoyment as the previous books in the series. This book is recommended for anyone who enjoys action, thought-provoking plot elements and the Western landscape.
C.J. Box lives outside of Cheyenne and is a native Wyomingite. All of his Joe Pickett novels are available at the Uinta County Library.

Reviewed by Carol Archer 6/22/2007

Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney

Three winter days in 1951 change the course of Ronan O’Mara’s life forever. A lone traveler seeks shelter at the O’Mara home. He is a Seanchai, a teller of tales and stories of Ireland’s rich past. This brief connection with the Storyteller sets Ronan on a path that inevitably redefines his entire reality. Thus starts Frank Delaney’s Ireland: A Novel.

With carefully arranged chapters that mix historical tales with the plot, Delaney crafts a novel of a people irrevocably linked to their land, their culture, and their Technicolor history. What seems at first to be merely a pleasant entertaining read quickly becomes much more as the Storyteller begins the story that is Ireland. Even readers reluctant to pick up a history text will find themselves transported by stories of Newgrange, Saint Patrick, Brendan, Finn MacCool, the Book of Kells, Brian Boru, and the Battle of the Boyne. Historical facts are accurate and well-researched. Characters are thoughtfully developed and believable; there is a realistic mix of angst and joy, sorrow and happiness, urban degeneration and bucolic rural flavor. Ronan O’Mara and his family prove to have lives full of secrets. Just when you think you’ve figured out why the plot has turned a certain direction, the author reveals a crucial detail that suspends all conjecture. Why is Ronan's mother so cold toward him? What is the truth withheld from Ronan which threatens to shatter his reality? What unspoken secret lingers as Uncle Toby leaves a gold ring in John O'Mara's casket? Will Ronan succeed at finding the Storyteller again after so many years of searching for his would-be mentor? These questions and others keep the pages turning.

Frank Delaney, born in Tipperary, Ireland, has enjoyed a career spanning more than 30 years' work as a broadcaster for RTE Radio and Television, the Irish State Network. Contributions include work on documentaries, music programs, and time spent as a newsreader. Five years of work as current events reporter with the BBC in Ireland led to a move to London where Delaney took up arts broadcasting. Other credits include film writing, hosting his own talk show, and creation or writing of hundreds of other broadcast programs. Since writing his first work in 1979 (James Joyce's Odyssey), Delaney has penned five additional non-fiction titles, nine novels, one novella, and numerous short stories. He currently lives in New York and Connecticut.

Ireland: A Novel is available at the Uinta County Library. Call 789-2770 for more information. You can find us online at

Reviewed by Leslie Carlson, Uinta County Library 6/8/2007

Graphic Novel Nancy Drew Series by Stefan Petrucha

Remember reading the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene? Wish you could get your kids interested in such fun, clean books? Try the new Graphic Novel Nancy Drew Series by Stefan Petrucha, based on the books of Carolyn Keene. They are great books for teens and pre-teens, and you might even like them just as much as the original series. This new series gets better with each new release. If you’re still not so sure about them, keep reading. By the time you finish this article, you may want to read the whole series!
Parents may not find the idea of graphic novels appealing for your teens. The name itself can strike fear into the hearts of parents. They are called graphic novels because they are one part graphic, or drawn, and one part novel, or story. Think along the lines of a book length comic, but don’t call them that! A lot of people think that graphic novels are all picture with little story, but this is not true. The images are just as important to the story as the text. Graphic novels are also a faster read, and for those teenagers who don’t like to read a lot the graphic novel may be the perfect book.
Some of you might remember reading Nancy Drew as a teen or a pre-teen. Carolyn Keene’s Nancy was a teen girl, always willing to help those in need, especially if it involved a mystery. Stefan Petrucha’s Nancy Drew is pretty much the same, except that she’s been modernized for the teens of today. The mysteries themselves are still creative and enjoyable, and there’s usually a good laugh tucked into the story too.
In The Charmed Bracelet, the latest in the Graphic Novel Nancy Drew series, Nancy becomes involved in the mysterious disappearance of an important computer chip. Nancy receives a charm bracelet with clues to the whereabouts of the chip, hence the name. With the help of her friends, Bess and George, Nancy takes the case and sets out to find the missing computer chip. On top of that, Ned Nickerson, Nancy’s boyfriend, is thought to be a thief! It’s a great story and has an interesting ending.
All the novels in this graphic series are pleasant, exciting, and highly recommended, and all are available at Uinta County Library at 701 Main St. Check out the new Nancy Drew in Graphic Novel form today!
Review by Kim Walter 4/2007

Beka Cooper: Terrier by Tamora Pierce

Winter doldrums got you feeling a bit stale? For a breath of fresh air, try picking up one of the new books from the Young Adult (YA) section on your next trip to the library. Although the target audiences for these books are teens, adult readers will also enjoy many of them, Terrier, the newest offering from Tamora Pierce, is a good one to choose.
The main character is Beka Cooper, and her life’s ambition is to be a good “Dog,” as the city’s law enforcement officers are called, in the underbelly of the city Corus. This area is known as the Cesspool for good reason, and it is where Beka was born and spent most of her childhood. Fortunately for Beka, the Provost, who runs the city’s law enforcement, pulled her from a life of poverty and its traps. Young Beka reveres him as a father figure and eagerly embraces his sense of duty towards their city.
As she is just a novice, still being trained in the skills she will need, Beka is known as a “Puppy” and sent out to learn the ways of the streets with a pair of experienced “Dogs.” Her eagerness for the work and her uncanny abilities to communicate with ghosts combine to set her squarely in the dangerous tangle of kidnapping and murder that is plaguing the Cesspool.
One of the most enjoyable things about this book is the author’s clever use of language. An example of this is the metaphor of “Dogs” for the forces of law, and “Rats” for the criminal element. Pierce stays consistent in the details, too. For instance, a “Puppy” is a youth in training to be a Dog, the home station is called a “Kennel,” and Rats” are “fetched” to the “cages.” By the book’s end, Beka herself has earned the nickname of Terrier, a type of dog originally bred to catch rats.
Not all of the magical details flow smoothly, but the use of pigeons as temporary carriers for the souls of the dead is fascinating and well crafted. The action clips right along, and although some readers may figure out who the guilty parties are before the final reckoning, the story of Beka’s growing comprehension and competence makes the trip worthwhile. The questions left by the bare-bones explanation of Beka’s childhood, and the nature of the character herself, leave the reader hoping for more to be written about Beka and her career as a Dog.
Those who like “Terrier” and can’t wait for a sequel may wish to read the many other books by Tamora Pierce. She has written more than a dozen books, and they can be found in the Young Adult (YA) section of the Uinta County Library.

Review by Nonie Proffit 3/2/2007

The Shape Shifter by Tony Hillerman

After a wait of over two years, Tony Hillerman is back. In The Shape Shifter, Joe Leaphorn is again at center stage. Shape shifters are a part of Native American transformation myths. There is a name in Navajo mythology for their worst kind of witch. In one translation it comes out “skinwalker,” in another “shape shifter.”
Joe Leaphorn, recently retired from the Navajo Tribal Police, is drawn into this latest case when he receives a note with an interesting enclosure from an old acquaintance. Melvin Bork and Leaphorn were fellow westerners who became friends in the east at the FBI academy many years earlier. Their paths had not crossed often over the years. With the note was a picture of a Navajo rug that had appeared in a recent copy of a magazine called Luxury Living. In the magazine picture, the rug was hanging on the wall of an upscale home in Flagstaff. Hillerman’s description of the rug and the story behind its weaving are an added plus. This particular rug, known as “Woven Sorrow,” was priceless, one-of-a-kind and supposedly destroyed in a fire at a trading post many years earlier. The investigation of this fire and the death it caused was one of the first cases Leaphorn worked on as a rookie. He still has unanswered questions about it.
If the rug was authentic and had not been destroyed, perhaps some of those questions demanded answers. As Leaphorn recalled the case, there were other unsolved cases in the area at the time. One particular case, involving grouchy old Grandma Peshlakai and the theft of two buckets of pinyon sap, came to mind. After paying her a visit, he had more questions rather than answers.
Leaphorn finds himself quite alone in this investigation. His colleagues, Jim Chee and Bernie Manuelito have recently married and, though back from their honeymoon, are still on leave. Being retired, Leaphorn no longer has access to the resources of the Navajo Tribal Police. As he traces the threads of the investigation, the passage of time has obscured many details but it has also given a few clues. The conclusion may surprise longtime readers of this mystery series.
Because this book does not keep the standard of writing and editing Tony Hillerman set for himself, longtime fans of may not find this their favorite, but they will not want to miss it. Readers new to Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee mystery series may want to read titles as they appear in the series beginning with The Blessing Way, then Dance Hall of the Dead, Listening Woman, and People of Darkness. The Shape Shifter is the eleventh in this series.
Hillerman was brought up among Native Americans and has spent most of his life among them. He expresses in his writing an extensive knowledge of and respect for their customs, religions and folklore.
Tony Hillerman is a former president of the Mystery Writers of America and has received their Edgar Award in 1974 for Dance Hall of the Dead and Grand Master Award in 1991. He has also received the Silver Spur Award for the best novel set in the West.
The Shape Shifter and earlier Hillerman novels are available at the Uinta County Library.

Reviewed by Claire Francis 1/4/2007

The Gift of Valor by Michael M. Philips

On November 10, 2006 President Bush announced that Marine Corporal Jason Dunham would be the second American serviceman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq. Michael M. Philips’ book The Gift of Valor tells the story of this Marine, his comrades and family. It tells the story of Cpl. Dunham’s heroic actions, but it also tells the story of the heroic actions of medics, nurses and doctors, of social workers, friends, families and communities. The book ties together the effects of war on not only the combatant, but also those that support him. It does not stop with the action on the field but also shows the stress of the families who have loved ones serving during a time of war.
Phillips, a Wall Street Journal reporter, is embedded with the 3rd Battalion, Seventh Marines. He strives to tell their story as a reporter and without bias. He does not attempt to glorify men or war, nor does he vilify politicians or strategy. He simply reports. This leads to a book that shows Americans in extreme situations who are determined to do the job they have been assigned, and in many cases their actions can seem heroic to the reader. But the book does not just glorify people, it also shows some who make poor decisions and even others being forced by the situation to make the agonizing decision to allow one Marine to die, so that others may receive medical aid and live.
Not only does Phillips tell the story of Marines in the field, but he also tells what happens when they become wounded and enter the medical evacuation system, from rudimentary aid stations, to field hospitals, to military hospitals in Europe, and finally the US. This journey shows other Americans who fight a war of their own, not with guns and bullets, but with needle and sutures. This trip through the medical chain is often eye opening and heart wrenching.
Finally the book tells of the anguish that the families live through, knowing their loved ones are in a combat zone. It shows the fears that become realities when Marines become casualties. And it tells the frustrations that families feel, trying to get information, the worst situation being not knowing. Conversely, it shows friends, families and communities pulling together to offer support to the affected.
These multiple facets originate with a small group of Marines, but then spread, like ripples on a pond, encompassing others, from medical personnel to friends and family. The book shows Marines in battle, doctors and nurses striving to keep the wounded alive and families waiting by the phone. It stretches from dusty streets in Iraq, through Germany, to a small town in upstate New York. In many ways the book shows the horrors of war, the agony of the survivors and the tragedy of death. But it also shows goodness in people, faith and sacrifice, unity and strength. It is a story that needs to be told, and has been, well.
The Gift of Valor is available at the Uinta County Library in both book and book on CD formats.

Dale Collum, Uinta County Library 2/2007

Under Orders by Dick Francis

Dick Francis is back! After a six-year hiatus in his writing career he rides again. Sid Halley, the star of three former novels, is an ex-champion jockey. A crippling injury forced him into retirement in Whiphand. Sid hasn’t appeared since 1995 in Come to Grief.
Dick Francis has written more than 40 books in his career, and most are involved with the English horseracing scene. Although the racetrack is central to each story, the books also involve such diverse topics as meteorology, banking, painting, and kidnapping. There is always something interesting to be learned from a Francis novel. In Under Orders, DNA mapping is introduced. In Proof, it’s the wine business, and in Smokescreen, film production is paired with racing.
The action starts at Cheltenham, a very popular racecourse, with three deaths on Gold Cup Day. The Gold Cup is a famous race offering a substantial purse. Thus begins a rather unusual for a day at the races, even for Sid Halley. He discovers the body of jockey Huw Walker, with three bullets in him, shortly after being asked to investigate a possible race-fixing scheme. Race-fixing is a chronic problem in high-stakes racing, and is coupled with the newer concern of internet gambling in another on-going investigation of this remarkable story.
This is Francis at his classic best, with excellent characterizations, fast pace and full of suspense. The ending has a nice twist and even a nice bit of romance involving Halley’s new significant other person. This book is highly recommended—as are all forty others of his as well.
Under Orders is available at the Uinta County Library. Call 789-2770 for more information. You can find us online at, or just type WYLD on your search bar and check out Wyoming’s information portal! From the WYLD site you can access your account, renew your books, put books on hold, and look at all the new databases.

Reviewed by Mary Hipol, Uinta County Library 11/17/2006