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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

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

Haunted family

Cover of Bad Cree
A review of Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

Mackenzie is living and working mostly uneventfully in Toronto, Canada, until one morning, she awakes from a nightmare and notices something clutched in her hand. It’s the decapitated head of a crow, and besides being horrified by it, Mackenzie has no idea how it got there… except that she remembers it from her dream.

How did the crow's head make it from her nightmare into her waking life?

Dec 12, 2023

Finding hope in creation

Cover of Angelo
A review of Angelo by David Macaulay

David Macauley, a celebrated illustrator of non-fiction books such as Cathedral and The Way Things Work, applies his knack for drawing complex structures in this gorgeous, heart-wrenching celebration of an aging plasterer, Angelo. 

The story follows Angelo as he restores the facade of a massive cathedral and reluctantly befriends a wounded pigeon named Sylvia. Angelo's declining health makes for a melancholy tone, but Sylvia's lighthearted antics and the warm, chaotic illustrations of Italian vistas give the story an incredible range. 

Dec 8, 2023

Keiko Furukura is completely fine

Cover of Convenience Store Woman
A review of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Sayaka Murata’s slim novel Convenience Store Woman is the Tokyo-set tale of self-described “foreign object” Keiko Furukura, a loner in her mid-30s who does not quite fit in with or understand the society around her, yet excels in her role as a konbini employee.

Murata’s themes and her oddball protagonist are similar to Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Even so, Murata’s is a wholly original story, with its own thought-provoking musings on what normal behavior and happiness can look like, despite the expectations of family and peers.

Dec 7, 2023

Crossing the Rubicon

Cover of A Fatal Thing Happened on
A review of A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome by Emma Southon

I'm a fan of true crime tv and podcasts and will listen to a wide variety of them, but when it comes to books, I'm a bit more particular. I think this choosiness has to do with being able to distance myself a bit from the content and for me, when I'm reading, it can feel so much more immediate. So for nonfiction crime books I gravitate to historical crime with the natural distancing of time making it more enjoyable. A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum really fit that bill.

Dec 5, 2023

Werewolves, whoopee cushions, bioluminescent frogs and a ball

Cover of A Most Agreeable Murder: A
A review of A Most Agreeable Murder: A Novel by Julia Seales

The small English township of Swampshire provides a most agreeable setting for murder, mystery, mayhem and mayhap a little melding of hearts. Too much? Well, that's what A Most Agreeable Murder excels at. The residents of Swampshire head to an autumn ball at the largest local estate in order to meet an eligible bachelor named Croaksworth. The guests must pass through swamps that boast of glowing frogs and squelch holes in order to join a group of friends and enemies at the seemingly lavish, but actually crumbling estate.

Dec 4, 2023


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