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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Aghybogey life

Cover of Big Girl, Small Town
A review of Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

Majella O'Neill lives in the small town Aghybogey in Northern Ireland that has been torn apart by The Troubles that have only recently "ended". To say that the Troubles have ended is a bit of a misnomer. Certainly the violent attacks between Catholics and Protestants have stopped for the most part, but the lingering divide between the factions continues. As the townsfolk go about their lives in this recovery period Majella observes it all from her job in a chip shop (the Catholic one, naturally).

Dec 29, 2020

Not every friend is meant to stay

Cover of The Girl and the Ghost
A review of The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

Suraya has always found it hard to make friends and being a new student doesn't help. She does have one good friend, although it comes in the form of a grasshopper. It’s a pelesit, a spirit familiar that serves Survaya, inherited from her estranged grandmother. The book begins with the reader being empathetic of lonely Suraya and welcoming of her pelesit. You’ll be rooting for them thinking, “I’m glad he’s there to protect her from those bullies!” But soon things take a wicked turn, reminiscent of a popular horror movie when awful things start happening to Suraya herself.

Dec 28, 2020

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Dec 23, 2020

Hard on the head and the heart

Cover of Before the Ever After
A review of Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson's latest novel-in-verse for middle grades is a timely and tough read. Twelve-year-old ZJ's life turns upside down when his dad, a professional football player, starts suffering headaches, memory loss and personality changes. According to lore, Zachariah 44 (for his jersey number), suffered more NFL concussions than any other player, even with a helmet on.

Dec 21, 2020

Something strange in the neighborhood

Cover of When No One is Watching
A review of When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

The Brooklyn community of Gifford Place has seen its rough patches to be sure, but Sydney has always relished how her neighbors have banded together to help each other and hold the more insidious threats out of the historically Black neighborhood. But since Sydney has moved back to the venerable brownstone she’s always shared with her mother after a bruising divorce and mental breakdown, something has been off.

Dec 18, 2020

No things to hate here

Cover of Ten Things I Hate About th
A review of Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

When I read that Loretta Chase's (a favorite historical romance author) newest novel would be a take-off of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, I wasn't super-enthused. Taming is not a favorite of mine and thus I came into this novel with only middling expectations. Those expectations were exceeded in pretty much every way. This is Chase's best outing in a number of years.

Dec 16, 2020

Hillbilly, French twist

Cover of The End of Eddy
A review of The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis

Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy is a brisk and brutal roman à clef about a white gay teen growing up in rural 1990s France. Alcoholism, racism, violence, and impugnable choices abound. Gross and upsetting things happen in riveting ways. Yet its ending is oddly uplifting. A bestseller in France, its young author is now regularly called upon by popular media to explain the advent of French populism and the alleged moral stagnation of France’s white underclass.

Dec 15, 2020

Existential angst in a superhero world

Cover of Hench
A review of Hench by Natalie Walschots

Anna Tromedlov hasn't had a gig in weeks from her temp agency so she jumps at the chance for a data entry position that might last a few weeks - even though she'll have to work on site (she prefers working from home). An offer to do some field work is unexpected but makes for a nice change of pace and she is promised that it's safe. Only it's not so much and what should have been a routine press conference by her villain boss turns into a violent attack when a hero crashes the event.

Dec 10, 2020

Most. Dramatic. Main. Squeeze. EVER.

Cover of One to Watch
A review of One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

Bea Schumacher has had some rough mornings, but nothing quite like the one she wakes to after a particularly harrowing wine-filled evening. The plus-size fashion blogger and One to Watch heroine wakes after her hazy, booze-fueled tweet storm righteously demolishes the premiere of the popular Bachelor-esque dating show Main Squeeze, calling out the reality show’s obviously unreal portrayal of women’s bodies and beauty. Reeling from a heartrending breakup, Bea expects the resulting Twitter furor to blow over, but to her surprise, she gets a call from the show’s producer.

Dec 8, 2020

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