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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

A generation lost

Cover of After Francesco
A review of After Francesco by Brian Malloy

Before there was Covid-19, the world experienced another epidemic that seemed to come out of nowhere. The first cases of what would become known as AIDS were diagnosed in June of 1981. Forty years ago. Think about that. The beginning of the AIDS crisis is now a historical time period. Mind boggling. But also so important to remember.

Jan 2, 2024

Do we have a preposition for you

Cover of Catside up, Catside Down:
A review of Catside up, Catside Down: A Book of Prepositions by Anna Hrachovec

Oh, those pesky prepositions….In, Out, Up, Down, In Front, Behind….there are only so many ways to illustrate these concepts, right? Well, if including adorable, chonky knitted kittens is one of those ways, then we agree. Anna Hrachovec is a long time designer of tiny creatures known as “Mochi Mochi”, knitted (rather than crocheted) Japanese inspired toys known as Amigurumi. She has written several books of adorable patterns which can be found at Madison Public Library.

Dec 29, 2023

Hidden charm (and depth)

Cover of Quartet in Autumn
A review of Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

I’m so happy I’ve discovered Barbara Pym, and slightly ashamed that it took me this long to find her. She writes characters you’d never guess you were interested in knowing more about, but it turns out, you are. Quartet in Autumn, along with the rest of Pym's novels, could be described as being about nothing in particular, but it's written so well that you might come away feeling that it’s actually about everything, a profound plumbing of everyday life.

Dec 26, 2023

Cheese and applesauce

Cover of The Lost Library
A review of The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead

Rising sixth graders Evan and Rafe discover a little free library that appears overnight filled with books that belonged to Martinville Public Library.  There has been no public library in Martinville their entire lives so there is much excitement and intrigue surrounding the library built with a crate and cabinet doors that smell like cheese and applesauce.  Who built it?  Where have the library books been all these years?  Why was one of the books checked out by Evan's dad over and over again?  What is the name of the cat who is guarding the books?  Some people call the cat Goldie.  Other

Dec 21, 2023

Love and cheeses

Cover of The Princess and the Grill
A review of The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz

Lady Camembert has never wanted a husband. In fact, she flat-out refuses to ever have one. But when her father dies, she must confront an ugly law of the kingdom of Fromage: women cannot inherit wealth or property. Determined to take on the family wealth while avoiding marriage to a man, she burns the evidence of her life as Lady, moves to the kingdom’s capital, and reinvents herself as the dashing Count Camembert. In this new life, hiding her true identity is vital – but as Cam begins to fall for Princess Brie, she finds that her secret may not be so easily kept.

Dec 15, 2023

Secrets of a small town

Cover of The Searcher
A review of The Searcher by Tana French

Cal Hooper is a retired Chicago police detective who is recently divorced. Those two major life changes have prompted him to make a third. He's bought a rundown farmhouse (from an online posting) in a rural part of Ireland and is determined to live there bothering no one and bothered by none. His first weeks in his new home live up to that ideal. He heads to the local village when he needs supplies or to stop in the pub for a drink, but otherwise is keeping to himself. His solitude is disrupted one day when he realizes someone is watching him.

Dec 14, 2023

Extra pinch and sparkle

Cover of Behind the Seams: My Life
A review of Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones by Dolly Parton

One of Dolly Parton's best colors is what her husband Carl Dean calls "pinch" or peachy pink. It's one of my favorite colors, too. I used to call it melon. But it's more than that. The cover of this beautiful tribute to the iconic personal style of Dolly Parton over the years is pinch. Isn't that a clever way of naming a color? It just fits. It's logical, yet fancy. Just like Dolly.

Dec 13, 2023


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