MADreads

A review of Roughneck Grace: Farmer Yoga, Creeping Codgerism, Apple Golf, and Other Brief Essays From On and Off the Back Forty by Michael Perry

Michael Perry’s latest book, Roughneck Grace, is a compilation of his weekly Wisconsin State Journal columns of the same name. He treats us to an inside view of Wisconsin farm life; life on the road as an author/entertainer; relationships with friends and family; reflections on aging; and gratitude for life’s experiences. For those who have trouble committing to novel-length text--good news! There is no story in this book longer than 3 pages. But Perry makes masterful use of ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
December 19, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli

If you’re a non-scientist like me, the idea of reading a book about physics might seem a little dizzying. I was heartened by the fact that Seven Brief Lessons on Physics is written specifically for non-scientists who want to understand a little more about current scientific work in the field of physics (and it didn’t hurt that it has the word “brief” in the title, proven true with only 81 pages of text, including pictures!). While this book won’t help you decipher complex scientific ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
December 6, 2016 | 1 comment
Book cover
A review of Color Me Purple by Ellie Schatz

This book came to our library at just the right time. Local author Ellie Schatz and local artist Donna J. Parker collaborated to produce this beautiful book for children and adults, with 52 pages packed full of wisdom and practical lessons about diversity. Extraordinarily well-researched, this book is clearly the brain-child of educators, artists, and activists. Intended to be read with children, the book introduces us to eight children of different colors and ethnicities, who demonstrate eight ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
December 2, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of Below stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir that Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" by Margaret Powell

Admit it. You’re in Downton Abbey withdrawal. I won’t try to convince you that Margaret Powell’s first-hand account of Downton-esque, downstairs life as a kitchen maid nearly a hundred years ago is anything like the BBC soap opera, but you should read it and like it for other reasons. It is not spectacularly written, but that’s a testament to the authenticity of the author’s experience. It is unapologetic, matter-of-fact, and blushingly sassy for its time. Though Powell passed away long ago, I ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
June 7, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of Love that Dog by Sharon Creech

April was poetry month! If you’re like me, poetry can sometimes seem lofty and inaccessible, and if I’m not assigned it for school, I often don’t seek it out. Love that Dog is a fantastic piece by Sharon Creech, and though aimed at kids, it is a great reminder to readers of all ages that poetry can be just as accessible as you want it to be. Using the format of an elementary school boy’s responses to his assigned school poetry journal, Creech gives credence to our sometimes inner- ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
May 4, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Delightfully sardonic, Dear Committee Members employs the epistolary format to convey cutting commentary about the state of higher education in the liberal arts. Using the ubiquitous recommendation letter as a platform, the author delivers such zingers as these: “Iris Temple has applied to your MFA program...and has asked me to support...her application. I find this difficult to do, not because [she] is unqualified...but because your program...offers its graduate writers no ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
April 25, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of Wake Up, Spring by Katherine and Florian Ferrier

It’s March 21st at the Hotel Strange, but its motley cast of characters have overslept their hibernation because Mr. Spring hasn’t arrived to wake them up. Join Kiki, Celestin, Marietta, Mr. Leclair, and Mr. Snarf as they search for Mr. Spring to restore order to the community in this brightly illustrated first in its graphic novel series. This is a great adventure for the winter blues, with sights set on spring. ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
March 23, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

Having read Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, I was left with a desire to hear more about the controversial church’s practices from its actual members. Leah Remini’s new autobiographical account of leaving the church of Scientology after over 30 years, provides just that insight. A first-hand account of Remini’s upbringing in Scientology, work in the church’s exclusive Sea Org ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
February 29, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of Lizzie and the Lost Baby by Cheryl Blackford

Cheryl Blackford’s debut children’s novel is an expertly layered tale of two siblings evacuated from their hometown in England during World War II, to live with strangers in the Yorkshire countryside. Lizzie and her brother Peter do not feel at home with their brusque new guardian Madge, wife of the local policeman. And things only get more complicated when Lizzie discovers an abandoned baby and takes it home to Madge. Exploring the parallel child’s-eye-view accounts of Lizzie and Elijah, a ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
February 11, 2016 | 0 comments
A review of We are not ourselves by Matthew Thomas

At over 600 pages, this isn’t a light read, but Matthew Thomas uses the pages to plunge us deeply into a life’s story--spanning the time from before Eileen Tumulty was born to Irish immigrants in 1941, through the adulthood of her son in the 2000’s, in Queens, New York City. Using historical and cultural context, Thomas shows us how much a product of our environment (family, history, politics, society) we are, and how much our expectations are shaped by these influences. He also shows us how ...read more

Reviewed by Carra on
January 25, 2016 | 0 comments