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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Reading getaways

Cover of Escapist Fiction
Escapist Fiction

Every January (like many people who fear failure), I set an easily achievable reading goal in a popular book tracking app. Then, I read. Sometimes I read a lot. Sometimes I go weeks without picking up a book. Sometimes, now that I’m older, I start a book and decide not to finish it. Sometimes I read books that prompt me to examine the way I live my life, to learn about the ways other lives are lived, to acknowledge the ways I use my power to the advantage of people I love.

Nov 23, 2020

On the reservation, the past is never behind you

Cover of Winter Counts
A review of Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Virgil Wounded Horse tells himself he is doing the right thing. The half Lakota, half White Virgil is the Rosebud Reservation’s unofficial enforcer at the heart of David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s literary crime debut Winter Counts. For a few hundred dollars, Virgil will provide families with some sense of justice, delivering with his fists the verdicts that will never come from a federal government that neither allows the Lakota to hold their own trials, and rarely prosecutes in federal courts those crimes committed on reservation lands.

Nov 20, 2020

Oh the angst

Cover of If His Kiss is Wicked
A review of If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman

I'm a fan of historical romances but it's getting harder and harder to find the meaty, complicated ones that I sometimes like to sink into. Current publishing trends seem to have veered more towards lighter, sparkly fare (which I also enjoy, don't get me wrong). So in order to get my angsty fix, I decided to delve into the backlist of an author I enjoy.

Nov 19, 2020

Art comes to life

Cover of Anna at the Art Museum
A review of Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins
Anna is BORED. The museum is full of stuffy art, and all the fun things one can do to stay occupied - like climbing on the kids stuff, and eating one's afternoon snack - are strictly forbidden and enforced by the museum security guard. But then Anna is let in on a little secret at the museum, and everything changes. 
 
Nov 18, 2020

Sleepwalking into danger

Cover of The Girl from Widow Hills
A review of The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Arden Maynor was six years old when she wandered away from home in the middle of the night. A terrible storm with flooding rain swept her away without a trace resulting in a massive community search. Days later she was found hanging onto a storm drain grate from inside an old mining tunnel and after a harrowing ordeal, finally rescued. She was horribly injured, dehydrated and unable to recall how she got there.

Nov 16, 2020

All Aboard for Fun!

Cover of Old Tracks, New Tricks
A review of Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Peterson

Wooden train tracks are good for more than just trains, and this story proves it. It's told in rhyme, with a combination of text boxes and word balloons, and illustrated with colorful photos. The train tracks and toy trains themselves can speak, and the tracks prove to the trains that they have lots of different uses. There's a bonus section at the end showing how you, too, can recreate the fun experiences shown in the book. This is a great STEM read that should inspire lots of play and creativity.

Nov 13, 2020

Ho, ho, ho, deja' vu

Cover of In a Holidaze
A review of In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Tradition means a lot to Maelyn Jones, especially the annual Christmas gathering with her ‘chosen’ family, along with her parents and brother, in Christina Lauren’s holiday romance In a Holidaze. Gathering at the Park City, Utah cabin has been a constant even through her parents’ divorce, the upheaval of cross-country moves and the shifting relationships. And then there’s Theo and Andrew.

Nov 11, 2020

Her moment to shine

Cover of The Other Bennet Sister
A review of The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow

Jane Austen (like Arthur Conan Doyle) has had her books and characters re-imagined more times then I could possibly count. And for me I think, the retellings and re-imaginings of Jane Austen's books and characters have more often been a miss then hit. The Other Bennet Sister is that rare thing for me, not only a hit, but one that has been knocked out of the park. The titular sister is the one most often overlooked, middle-sister Mary. Granted I've always had a soft spot for the socially awkward, stern Mary, so to say I was sympathetic from the start is fair.

Nov 9, 2020

Alligators, bears, and chickens, oh my!

Cover of Little Red Cat Who Ran Awa
A review of Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned his ABC's (the Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell

Grab your running shoes - we are off!  A little red cat sees an open front door, runs out, and the adventure begins. He is chased by an alligator, then a bear and a chicken - in that order. This nearly wordless book it so much fun on a couple of different levels. Each page has a letter, both the upper and lower case, and a delightful picture the relates to the letter. The reader has to figure out what word is being illustrated. But your job is not done there, you also have to figure out the plot of the book. Plot in an ABC book? Yes, there is a definite story to this book.

Nov 6, 2020

The cost of solitude

Cover of The Stranger in the Woods:
A review of The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

What a discussion this book makes. One mention of the Maine Hermit and people are either outraged or enthralled. I'm relatively enthralled, not with the Maine Hermit per se, but with the details shared in this book. There is great investigative writing here, and interesting historical research. The story and details of a man who hid out in the Maine woods for more than 27 years without getting caught or sick or eaten by a bear is a compelling one, to say the least. 

Nov 4, 2020

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