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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

More crazy rich everything

Cover of Sex and Vanity: A Novel
A review of Sex and Vanity: A Novel by Kevin Kwan

The magic mind behind the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy is back with a modern day retelling of A Room with a View that starts out in Capri, winds its way through the Hamptons and culminates on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Described by the publisher as a glittering tale of love and longing, I would add that it's a titanium coated scrutiny of isms: classism, elitism, ageism, sexism, and racism set with sapphires, diamonds and emeralds the size of goose eggs, served up with Peking duck and a side of dumplings.

Aug 6, 2020

Girl with a plan

Cover of Ignite Me
A review of Ignite Me by Taherah Mafi

The world has gone to hell. The environment has collapsed, as has the economy. World-wide, all governments have fallen to the martial law of the Reestablishment, which is run by a single Supreme Commander. The globe is divided into numbered sectors, each with a ruthless leader, all resources are seized, all citizens mercilessly catalogued and controlled.

Aug 4, 2020

Big Library Read

Darwin Affair cover
A review of The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason

Overdrive has a new Big Library Read title, The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason, and you can find a copy to borrow August 3-17th. The Darwin Affair is an historical mystery set in 1860 London with a mystery that has assassination attempts, murder, and a conspiracy centered on the publication of Charles Darwin's controversial On the Origin of the Species. Sounds like the perfect escape for these the doldrums of our summer.

Aug 3, 2020

What's in the book?

Cover of Open this Little Book
A review of Open this Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier

If you and your little ones love books, Open This Little Book is the perfect choice. It's a story within a story, a book within a book -- and it's all a lot of fun! Madison native, Jesse Klausmeier, along with illustrator-extraordinaire Suzy Lee, have created an imaginative and exciting picture book that will have your kids asking to read it again and again (really -- my three year old had to read it four times in a row the first day we brought it home from the library). But what's inside the book? You'll have to check it out and find out for yourself!

Jul 31, 2020

Enemies or lovers?

Cover of A Rogue of One's Own
A review of A Rogue of One's Own by Evie Dunmore

Evie Dunmore's debut novel Bringing Down the Duke made a splash last year both because of it's feminist love story and it's general sparkliness (is that a word?) both inside and outside. Inside was a sharp, funny, lovely story of opposites attracting and on the outside was a colorful, illustrated design that was part of a major trend in the publishing world.

Jul 29, 2020

Weather accuracy, the neverending goal

Cover of Storm Kings: The Untold Hi
A review of Storm Kings: The Untold History of America’s First Storm Chasers by Lee Sandlin

Though we've been lucky this summer, every Midwesterner knows its keening sound, a reminder that tornado season is upon us once again. Tornadoes remain something of an enigma today, even as technology and YouTube videos make the prediction and experience of storms more routine. But our knowledge of tornados is a very recent phenomenon, as Lee Sandlin chronicles in Storm Kings: The Untold History of America’s First Storm Chasers.

Jul 27, 2020

A little chill for a hot summer day

Cover of North of Boston
A review of North of Boston by Elisabeth Elo

Pirio Kasparov is a medical and biological anomaly. She survived for more than four hours in 40 degree water in the North Atlantic when the small fishing boat she was on was hit by a larger ship. Her survival in waters that would generally kill others within a short period of time is newsworthy, but for Pirio the much bigger issue is the fact that her friend Ned didn't survive the crash and she's beginning to suspect that his death was not an accident. The authorities conclude that the collision was an accident, but Ned's young son Noah is relying on Pirio to figure things out.

Jul 24, 2020

Things get ugly in the City of Brotherly Love

Cover of Such a Fun Age
A review of Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

What is the road to hell paved with? Such a Fun Age is like that. Over and over again.

Emira is 25 years old and about to age out of coverage from her parents health insurance. Her B.A. in English from Temple University in Philadelphia holds zero interest for her and her college friends are moving on to jobs with 401(k) plans, dental coverage and larger apartments with adult furniture. Emira works two part-time jobs that are okay but she's kind of lost and doesn't know what to do with her life.

Jul 23, 2020

The Fest goes on

Wisconsin Book Festival logo
A review of Wisconsin Book Festival by

The pandemic has put the kibosh on the library being able to offer in person events - something we've been missing in a major way - and this is true for the Wisconsin Book Festival as well. Though they hold events all year long, they've had to come up with a new way of doing things. So if getting to the Central library, finding and paying for parking, and then finding a seat for a popular event were often just too much or just not feasible, here's your chance.

Jul 22, 2020

Manga man with talent

Cover of The Man Without Talent
A review of The Man Without Talent by Yoshiharu Tsuge, translated by Ryan Holmsberg

One of my favorite things lately is Japanese cartoonist Yoshiharu Tsuge.

Active from the 1960s-1980s, Tsuge has had a lasting influence on Japanese culture. Among other accomplishments, he helped pioneer manga’s “I-comics” genre, creating fiction out of his personal life, domestic strife and declining mental health included. Big in Japan for decades, Tsuge is finally getting an American roll-out.

Jul 16, 2020

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