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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Brave the cold, it'll be worth it

Marlon James photo
Wisconsin Book Festival Event

Author Marlon James will be at the Central Library tonight at 7 pm to talk about his novel, Black Leopard, Red Wolf.

The epic novel, an African Game of Thrones, from the Man Booker Prize-winning author of A Brief History of Seven Killings. In the stunning first novel in Marlon James's Dark Star trilogy, a Finalist for the 2019 National Book Award, myth, fantasy, and history come together to explore what happens when a mercenary is hired to find a missing child.

Feb 13, 2020

To the stars and beyond

Cover of Stars Beyond
A review of Stars Beyond by S. K. Dunstall

As with the first book in this series, Stars Uncharted (definitely start with that one first), this newest space opera from the Dunstall writing duo is a slow build. It requires the reader to settle into the universe and the science part of the science fiction being presented here, but the journey to the action-packed conclusion is worth it.

Feb 11, 2020

A book that is but isn't

Cover of The Beautiful Ones
A review of The Beautiful Ones by Prince with Dan Piepenbring

Prince was working on THE rock memoir of all time with journalist Dan Piepenbring when he unexpectedly died in April of 2016. Random House held the rights to the book but there wasn't enough content to complete it at that time. After a number of years and change in direction, the book was finally published under the prestigious Spiegel and Grau imprint this past October. The book is a stunning tribute but not the rock memoir it could have been.

Feb 10, 2020

2020 Newbery Award Winner

Cover of New Kid
A review of New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid by Jerry Craft is the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Award. Craft also won the Coretta Scott King Author award. He stated in a Publisher’s Weekly article that he wrote books he wished a 10-year-old Jerry Craft could have had that might have made him read at an early age. At that young age, there weren’t any books that were right for him or had a character that looked like him.

Feb 6, 2020

Toronto mom truths are basically the same as Madison mom truths

Cover of Cat & Nat's MomTruths: Emb
A review of Cat & Nat's MomTruths: Embarrassing Stories and Brutally Honest Advice on the Extremely Real Struggle of Motherhood by Catherine Belnap and Natalie Telfer

Cat and Nat are best friends and mothers with seven kids between the two of them. They are urban Canadians and have husbands named Mark and Marc. They've created a massive online community of moms of which I am not a part and quite frankly, know nothing about, but I regularly listen to comedy books while commuting to and from work and this book on audio fit that bill perfectly. Cat and Nat narrate and they are hilarious. You can tell this by the book cover that features a wine glass with an upside down Barbie doll in it.

Feb 3, 2020

Double award winner

Cover of The Undefeated
A review of The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Alexander and Nelson garnered multiple awards with their moving ode to African Americans throughout US History. Shining a spotlight on artists, athletes and activists, The Undefeated has been recognized with two prestigious medals for Nelson’s illustration, the Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Medal for illustration, in addition to a Newbery Honor award in recognition of Kwame Alexander’s distinguished writing.

Jan 30, 2020

Escape to paradise

Cover of The Unhoneymooners
A review of The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Every reader likely has their own idea of an escapist read, but for me, there’s a few prerequisites: a location completely unlike the environment I’m currently occupying, a storyline worlds away from current headlines, and characters that I can root for. Christina Lauren’s romantic comedy The Unhoneymooners fits the bill perfectly. It’s a classic enemies-to-lovers story that can be easily devoured in a couple of long winter evenings, boasts snappy and fun dialog, but still has a bit of substance to it. 

Jan 29, 2020


Cover of Love and the Rocking Chair
A review of Love and the Rocking Chair by Leo Dillon

The beautiful and hearfelt final collaboration of amazing illustrators, Love and the Rocking Chair echos the intergenerational love of Robert Munsch's Love You Forever. Partners in life and art, artists Leo and Diane Dillon received Caldecott and Coretta Scott King medals, among many other awards, and Love and the Rocking Chair is both a precious gift to parents and grandparents as well as a fitting memorial to Leo (who died in 2012). Keep your tissues handy and prepare for tears of love, gratitude, and hope!

Jan 24, 2020


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