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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

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

Something strange on the morning commute

Cover of The Haunting of Tram Car 0
A review of The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

Something is very wrong with tram car 015. Unlike the other trams that wiz above Cairo’s bustling streets powered by djinn magic, something in tram car 015 is angry, and it’s up to Agent Hamad Nasr and his new partner Onsi Youssef in The Haunting of Tram Car 015 just what that something is. It’s not the easiest of propositions: in the Cairo of 1912, it’s been decades since the power of djinn has been harnessed and turned Cairo into a world power.

Nov 2, 2020

A Very Punny Graphic Chapter Book

Cover of All Paws on Deck
A review of All Paws on Deck by Jessica Young

Haggis (a Scottish Terrier) and Tank (a Great Dane) are two very imaginative doggy friends.  They spend most of their time in a back yard, but sometimes they go on adventures in their minds.  In “All Paws on Deck” Tank decides to deck out their little red wagon as a pirate ship.  They sail off into a land of make-believe and have many adventures together!  The format for this book falls right between graphic novel (there are lots of full-color illustrations with speech bubbles) and chapter book (there are also blocks of text, though never more than a quarter of the space on a page is filled

Oct 30, 2020

Yacht rock rules

Cover of Not Like the Movies
A review of Not Like the Movies by Kerry Winfrey

It's not easy being Chloe Sanderson, especially when she's so hard on herself. It's understandable. She's been taking care of everyone since her mom left when she was in fourth grade. She's working, putting herself through business school, providing for her dad's care in an Alzheimer's facility and trying to keep it together. So much so that she's bound to snap.

Oct 28, 2020

Longing to be heard

Cover of The Girl with the Louding
A review of The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

Adunni is a fourteen-year-old Nigerian girl who dreams of finishing her education and becoming a teacher. And as she narrates her story in the colloquial English of her small village, you can feel how she yearns. Her mother wanted an education for her as it would be the only way for her to get a "louding voice". That louding voice was meant to arm her so that she could control her own destiny. But the death of her mother has left Adunni at the mercy of a spendthrift father who only sees in her a way to get money to pay the rent.

Oct 27, 2020

Finally nice to meet you, Mr. Kimdaichi

Cover of The Inugami Curse
A review of The Inugami Curse by Seishi Yokomizo, translated by Yumiko Yamazaki

It’s a classic setup:  a powerful and wealthy businessman has died, and his family and retainers gather at his imposing and isolated villa for the reading of his will. Knowing the will has some very peculiar stipulations and familiar with the strained family tensions, the man’s lawyers, call in sight unseen a highly recommended private investigator to ward off potential bloodshed. But in an atmosphere primed for murder, the inevitable happens, and the unorthodox PI soon finds himself trying to solve seemingly impossible killings committed by a culprit who will strike again.

Oct 26, 2020

Power of food

Cover of The Taste of Empire: How B
A review of The Taste of Empire: How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World by E. M. Collingham

This is really an amazing book. It's easy to read as each chapter looks at a specific time period and specific food, but cumulatively there is a lot of information to absorb. The Western world does not come out looking all that good since, in their desire to benefit a few, they ran roughshod over the bodies of a lot of people all over the world. Not that the rest of the world have angelic histories, but because Western countries pride themselves on their culture and education and when looking at the details it doesn't look so swell.

Oct 21, 2020

Graphic is good

Cover of Sapiens: A Graphic History
A review of Sapiens: A Graphic History: The Birth of Humankind, Volume 1 by Yuval Noah Harari, David Vandermeulen and Daniel Casanave

We've all got them. Books we think will make us smarter but that are just a bit too daunting every time you go to pick them up and read. Mine in recent times has been Yuval Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I placed it on hold, had the hold come in, checked it out and then returned it unread. I think that probably happened a couple of times.

Oct 19, 2020

Caliente y respetuosa

Cover of You Had Me at Hola
A review of You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria

Soap opera actress Jasmine Lin Rodriguez has landed a starring role alongside telenovela star Ashton Suarez in a bilingual Netflix-like series called Carmen in Charge. The show is important to Jasmine and Ashton for different reasons and they both desperately want it to be a success. For Jasmine, this is her first starring role. For Ashton, this is his chance to show that he's leading man material in a different entertainment market.

Oct 12, 2020


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