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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

At what point does a slow fire turn into a conflagration?

Cover of A Slow Fire Burning
A review of A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkin's latest mystery thriller takes the reader on a twisty tour down a London towpath full of murder and mayhem. A towpath in England is a path beside a canal or river, used by people or animals towing boats, also called a towing path. A considerable amount of action in this novel takes place on the towpath as characters travel to and from a neighborhood of houseboats. This provides a noteworthy setting. 

Nov 30, 2021

So much bookish goodness

Cover of Best Books Lists
Best Books Lists

With the announcement of NPR's Books We Love I realized it's that time of year. The lists of best books are pouring in and I know that not only are we interested in them as readers ourselves, they also give us great ideas for books to gift to the other readers in our lives. So for those of you searching for your next read or even more desperately searching for that perfect gift, here is a by-no-means-comprehensive best lists to give you a start.

Nov 29, 2021

Who was Peggy Smith?

Cover of The Postscript Murders
A review of The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

There’s nothing particularly unusual about Peggy Smith. She’s an old lady living in an assisted living facility beside the sea, spends her days noting passersby in her notebooks and reading her beloved crime novels that fill her apartment. Even her death isn’t out of the norm--sudden and apparently peaceful in her chair overlooking the sea. But something about the death unsettles her carer, Natalka. How could a woman who was still spry enough to climb flights of stairs die of heart failure when her pills were within reach? Why are so many of the books in Peggy’s apartment dedicated to her,

Nov 23, 2021

Here be ghosts

Cover of Ghostly Reads for Kids
Ghostly Reads for Kids

Longer nights have returned, so what better time to indulge with a gripping ghost story, or THREE!

If your family dares to read these three fantastic chapter books (suitable for most 9-10 year olds and older), you'll not only enjoy satisfying supernatural encounters, you'll also bravely face the uncomfortable truths revealed as past and present collide!

Titles are listed in order of both increasing length and thematic complexity.

Nov 19, 2021

Kent State more than 50 years later

Cover of Kent State
A review of Kent State by Deborah Wiles

To this day there is argument about what happened at Kent State on May 4, 1970. What's certain is that tensions were high. America was at war in Vietnam, the nation was divided in their support of President Nixon, young men were living in fear of the draft, and students were protesting the bombing of Cambodia by United States military forces. Many students at Kent State thought the bombing escalated a war that the United States was supposedly withdrawing from and were peacefully protesting on Friday, May 1 on the Commons, a large grassy area in the middle of campus.

Nov 17, 2021

Turn back now

Cover of The Collective
A review of The Collective by Alison Gaylin

Camille Gardner's life ended five years ago when her daughter died. The loss alone devastated her. But the lack of justice for her daughter has filled her with so much anger she doesn't have any room for anything else. And she has no outlet for all that rage. Until now. Alison Gaylin explores the depths to which someone might go in order to get justice (or is it revenge) and brings the reader along for the thrilling ride.

Nov 16, 2021

Who gets to decide?

Cover of Borders
A review of Borders by Thomas King

If you heard that someone got stuck when trying to cross the border, would you think of San Ysidro, El Paso or maybe Laredo? I admit, I did. But this story takes place at the Canadian-American border. This graphic novel, illustrated by Natasha Donovan, is an adaptation of Thomas King's 1993 short story. A Blackfoot boy in Alberta tells how when he was about twelve years old, his seventeen year old sister moved to Salt Lake City. The tension between Laetitia and her mother feels very real.

Nov 12, 2021

Buddha and bharal

Cover of The Snow Leopard
A review of The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen’s melancholic and metaphor-laden Himalayan travelogue, a true story, is an essential, definitional work of 1970s American literature. It is also one of my favorite books of all time.

Nov 11, 2021

The rain brings more than water

Cover of After the Rain
A review of After the Rain by John Jennings and illustrated by David Brame

The graphic novel adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor's short story "On the Road" takes the reader on a journey that connects the mind and body with an infinite past of cultural heritage. Chioma, a young Nigerian-American police officer from New York City, visits family in a small, rural Nigerian village during a terrible storm and unleashes an unidentified power. Chioma's western sensibilities try to reconcile what's happening but she struggles, even with the help of her family.

Nov 9, 2021

Something for the long nights

Cover of The Starless Crown
A review of The Starless Crown by James Rollins

From what I hear from other readers I'm not alone in, more often then I'd like, struggling with my ability to really sink into a book. I don't know if the attention deficit comes from work, too many devices, or the general stressiness of life, but often I find that I have to work to stick to a book, even if I was sure I'd love it. But one genre lately has really been working for me and that is fantasy fiction. Something about entering a completely different world has just been easier.

Nov 8, 2021


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