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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Too Good to Miss - July 2024

Too good to miss photo
Too Good to Miss Collection

Every month there are new titles purchased for the Too Good to Miss collections at our libraries. If you're not familiar with TGTM (as we call it here in library-world), it's a special collection of popular books that are truly too good to miss. Some are new and popular titles, others are older titles that might not have had as much media attention as a bestseller or celebrity book club selection but are still great reads that deserve another look.

Jul 12, 2024

Collective strength

Cover of The North Wind & the Sun
A review of The North Wind & the Sun by Phillip Stead

In a battle between the blustering north wind and the warm shining sun, who do you think would win? Would anyone win? In this Aesop's fable, re-imagined by author/illustrator Philip Stead, three sisters go out in their patched-up coats—colored yellow, blue, and red—to take a walk before the weather changes. At first, the sun shines sweetly upon them, but then the grouchy north wind takes over, blowing cold, harsh air across the sisters' path and the whole world! Will the north wind manage to turn the sisters' coats to rags after all? Or will the sun's rays prevail?

Jul 11, 2024

The one for the job

Cover of Basil's War
A review of Basil's War by Stephen Hunter

Sometimes I'm looking for a book that works as a total escape for me and that's just what I got with Stephen Hunter's WWII thriller.

Basil's War introduces British special agent Basil St. Florian who spends his off time drinking and sleeping with film stars and his work time being sent into Nazi-occupied France on secret missions during WWII. If all that sounds a bit flashy? It is. Basil's newest assignment is to enter occupied France and gain access to a manuscript kept in the archives in a Paris that swarms with the German military.

Jul 10, 2024

Narrated by a typewriter

Cover of Olivetti
A review of Olivetti by Allie Millington

Yes, you read that correctly. This novel is narrated by a typewriter. And it is everything I wanted and needed. Also, did you know that books are despised by typewriters because they are attention hogs?!? Makes sense.  

Jul 8, 2024

Changing states

Cover of In Between
A review of In Between by April Sayre, with Jeff Sayre

As a person who loves seeing the return of all our plant and animal pals when the weather gets warm again, I was happy to find the late April Pulley Sayre's In Between among the picture books at Central Library. Filled with beautiful close-up photographs of all kinds of plants (some native to Wisconsin!) and animals—from grey hairstreak butterflies to baby squirrels to sleepy gulls—Sayre tells a gentle poem-like story of different kinds of in-betweenness, illustrating each one with a perfectly apt creature portrait.

Jul 3, 2024

What the dead forget

Cover of The Dead Cat Tail Assassin
A review of The Dead Cat Tail Assassins by P. Djeli Clark

Clark introduces readers to a new fantasy world in this latest novella and I'm so here for it.

Eveen is a an undead assassin. When she died she was offered a chance at an undead life - though she has no memory of how that came to be or why she would have made such a choice. As part of her deal she owes her goddess years of service as an assassin. As the goddess's assassin she has to follow 3 rules:

Jul 1, 2024

Summer sock detectives

Cover of Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All
A review of Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All by Chanel Miller

Ten-year-old Magnolia Wu's parents own Bing Qi Ling Bubbles Laundromat in NYC. Instead of going to the ocean or taking a trip to an amusement park, Magnolia usually spends the summer helping out around the business and sneaking popsicles that are intended for paying customers. She is not happy about summer and wishes her life were more adventurous.  

Jun 28, 2024

Shaped by our world

Cover of Deep Creek: Finding Hope i
A review of Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country by Pam Houston

I am an urbanite to the bone, I like the bustle, noise and plethora of activities available. I do not hike, camp, fish, backpack, etc. because for one insects (one and all) appear to think I am the best buffet they have ever come across. I am allergic to wool (that natural fabric so often used in outdoor life); at best it gives me a rash—at its worst if there are loose fibers floating around, I have come close to not breathing.

Jun 27, 2024

The distaff side

Cover of Our Woman in Moscow
A review of Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams

In 1951 two British government officials, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, left on a boat sailing from Southampton to France and then disappeared. Though there were suspicions that they had defected to the Soviet Union, this wasn't confirmed until five years later when they appeard at a press conference in Moscow. In the years after this it became clear that they were not the only two British "gentlemen" to have been recruited by the KGB, there were at least 3 others and they all became known as the Cambridge Five.

Jun 25, 2024


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