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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Sewn with hate

Cover of The Poison Thread
A review of The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell

When describing this book to my husband, I summarized as the story of two women in Victorian England: Ruth, a seamstress who believes she can hurt and kill others through her sewing, and Dorothea, a member of the gentry who visits Ruth in prison, believing that phrenology (the study of the contours of the human skull to describe a person's personality) holds the clues to Ruth's innocence or guilt. It sounds a bit wacky, I'll admit, but the story is so much more complex than that.

June 17, 2019

I'm just so curious

Cover of The Rook
A review of The Rook by David O'Malley

A week or so ago I saw a trailer for a new tv show and as it flashed across the screen in quick shots (as trailers do) it seemed so familiar and I thought, is it? Could it be? Yes it was. Starz has a new show starting at the end of June about one of my favorite fantasy novels, The Rook. I read the book a while ago but I'm re-upping my review to tie it in in with the show to come.

June 13, 2019

I take this hot dog to be my..

Cover of Food: A Love Story
A review of Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

Oh, this is Humor. With a capital "H." Jim Gaffigan is clearly not getting married to a hot dog, as he already has a wife and five small children, and he's not that kind of weirdo, but he really does love the cured meats. Like, loves loves loves the cured meats. Hot dogs. Bologna. Bacon. All sausages, especially bratwurst. I did not think I could laugh more than I did while reading Dad is Fat, Gaffigan's take on parenting all those small children in New York City with a two bedroom, fifth floor walk-up, and here I am, laughing away as I think about Food: A Love Story.

June 10, 2019

Power plays

Cover of The Right Swipe
A review of The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Rai's latest series tackles the intersection of technology and modern love, where an app developer and a rival company's spokesman end up filming a series of promotional videos and fall in love in the process. Rhiannon, Gabe's sister from Rai's Forbidden Hearts series, returns as the creator of Crush, an app that works similarly to Bumble. She had a brief fling with Samson, a spokesman for Matchmaker that ended with Samson ghosting Rhiannon. When Rhiannon attempts to buy Matchmaker, she ends up reuniting with Samson, to Samson's delight and Rhiannon's reluctance.

June 7, 2019

Stories we tell

Cover of The Rest of the Story
A review of The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

There was a time when I discovered Sarah Dessen and did a deep dive into her young adult novels. And once I'd caught up on her backlist I'd read each new one when it came out. But then I stopped doing an auto-read of her books. Can't really tell you why, though I'm guessing there were just too many other things on my TBR radar (a constant challenge in my life), but there it is. What's funny is I can't tell you why I decided to try her newest and why, when I decided to do so, I was kind of nervous. Would it be as enjoyable as the earlier ones were? Had I grown out of my love for her books?

June 6, 2019

Eye of the beholder

Cover of Little Dancer Aged Fourtee
A review of Little Dancer Aged Fourteen: The True Story Behind Degas's Masterpiece by Camille Laurens

What is art? What attracts or repulses the viewer? The colors, setting, images, tactile feel of textiles/sculpture? Does knowledge of the artist or the subject influence the viewer? All these questions and more are addressed in this surprisingly slim and amazing new book by the French novelist Camille Laurens detailing her fascination of one artist, Edgar Degas, and one work, his now iconic sculpture of a young dancer. 

June 5, 2019

Iron Age girl

Cover of Ghost Wall
A review of Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

Imagine an Iron Age reenactment that takes place in a boggy northern England wood as part of a university archaeology experience course. Now imagine that you are a teenager attending this field experience with your father and mother and you are there as the Iron Age workers, not the students. The students sleep in waterproof tents, are sneaking off to the pub, eating candy, skinny dipping, etc. while you are up with the sun, gathering roots and nuts, hunting rabbits, and tending to the fire at all times. The immersion week culminates with a simulated sacrificial ceremony.

June 4, 2019

Foodie's rejoice

Cover of The Best American Food Wri
A review of The Best American Food Writing 2018 edited by Ruth Reichl

Just reading the introduction by Ruth Reichl made me miss Gourmet magazine anew, since in a lot of ways my favorite parts of the magazine were the articles on travel and food trends. If you enjoy food, whether eating it, making it, or both, you will find something in this book for you. And fortunately for us readers, Reichl has gone beyond that and picked articles that explore school lunches, the place of women chefs in the restaurant world, the appropriation of barbecue from its African American roots, and much more. I look forward to the next volume in the series.

May 30, 2019

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