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MADreads

Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

A caper for the film crowd

Frames book cover
A review of Frames by Loren Estleman

Pity poor Rudolph Valentino. No, not that one. It’s not just the name and the visage that brings to mind the defining heartthrob of the silver screen, Valentino also happens to make his life in the film industry, which means he’s forever correcting people in the industry who take his name at face value. One of the few UCLA film archivists laboring to preserve Hollywood’s silver screen past, Valentino has made film his life.

Mar 24, 2020

A different time of crisis

Salvage the Bones book cover
A review of Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

The Pinney afternoon book group recently read the book Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. Most of us knew before reading it that it was a National Book Award winner and it took place in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina. The book was a real look at living in poverty in Mississippi and what it means to be a family. As with many reads, the group had mixed feelings about the book. Some people felt like it was a great book. Others thought that it was too challenging to read and didn’t finish it.

Mar 23, 2020

Check out a book from your couch

Wisconsin's Digital Library
Audio and Ebooks Online

Most area libraries have been closed for a few days now and many of you are social distancing and staying home (and washing your hands, natch). And if you're like me your anxieties and stresses are many, and perhaps among them is 'will I have enough books to read?' Sure, this may seem like a minor consideration in the grander, global scheme of things, but for me right now distraction of any kind helps me in de-stressing. I'm guessing the same may be true for many of you.

Mar 20, 2020

Murder done light

A review of Mr. and Mrs. North Series by Frances and Richard Lockridge

How about some light-hearted fun and mayhem? This mystery series dates from the mid 20th century, and begins with The Norths Meet Murder. The Norths are a couple living in New York City who inadvertently get involved in homicide. Of the two, Pam North is easily the more interesting character in that her thought process appears to jump from A to G and back to B but somehow she is almost always correct in her assessments and since she also leaps before she looks this is a concern for her publisher husband Jerry.

Mar 13, 2020

The language in this book shocked me and I grew up listening to George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy

Cover of Dear Girls: Intimate Tales
A review of Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, and Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong

This book is written as an advice letter from comedian and Hollywood star Ali Wong to her daughters to read one day, presumably after they are grown, because holy smokes, it is explicit. This is described as "unfiltered" in the book blurb. Like I wrote in the title to this review, I grew up listening to George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy (one of Ali Wong's favorite comics and someone she also listened to as a kid). If you don't know who these comedians are and/or think they are old fuddy-duddies, then you are the perfect demographic for Ali Wong.

Mar 10, 2020

More than she bargained for

Cover of A Front Page Affair
A review of A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

The Lusitania has recently been sunk. World War I is ongoing and the United States is trying to stay neutral. That is the setting for a new historical mystery set in 1915 New York City. The main character of A Front Page Affair is a privileged young woman journalist who has started working at the New York Sentinel. Capability Weeks, aka Kitty, works for the Ladies page editor as an apprentice. Her first assignment is to cover a society party, the Independence Day gala north of the city. At the party a man she has interviewed has been shot and killed.

Mar 3, 2020

Dynamic duo

Cover of The Janes
A review of The Janes by Louisa Luna

Alice Vega is something of an enigma to those who know or have heard of her. But one thing that is known about her is that she's good at her job as an investigator and in particular she is excellent at finding the missing. So though it might be unusual to be hired by a police department to look into the deaths of two unidentified girls and how they relate to other missing girls who are being trafficked, Alice is willing to take on the job. Two Jane Does have been found in San Diego and it's clear that they were sex trafficking victims and killed by the same person.

Mar 2, 2020

OK nihilist

Cover of Fathers and Sons
A review of Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

In 2020, we have boomers vs. millennials, at least according to every other clickbait article and meme on the internet (not to mention my uncle Marv’s neverending Facebook posts). In mid 19th century Russia however, it was liberals vs. nihilists. And so it seems that while philosophies and descriptors vary, the schism between generations remains evergreen, immune to time and place.

Feb 25, 2020

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