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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Glorious fun

Cover of Fortune's Pawn
A review of Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

A co-worker recommended Rachel Bach's trilogy to me since she knows I enjoy military SF. And I thank her right now for the suggestion. Fortune's Pawn introduces mercenary soldier Deviana Morris. Devi's ultimate goal is to join the elite special forces of her planetary kingdom, but to do so she can either spend years in the military slogging her way up the ranks, or go mercenary and get the needed bad-ass experience that way. A friend suggests she get a job on The Glorious Fool, a ship that has seen a lot of action.

Oct 10, 2023

Sharing something beautiful

Cover of Just Like Grandma
A review of Just Like Grandma by Kim Rogers
Julie Flett

This sweet story shares the special bond between Becca and her grandmother. Becca wants to be just like Grandma - she learns beading, dancing, painting, and develops a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature from her grandmother. In turn Grandma learns to be just like Becca, learning basketball moves and supporting Becca as she tries out for the team. This intergenerational story celebrates loving relationships between grandparents and grandchildren. The back includes a letter from the author, as well as an explanation of beadwork, and a glossary of terms.

Oct 9, 2023

Making the leap

Cover of On All Fronts: The Educati
A review of On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist by Clarissa Ward

I’m a person who likes to read books that reflect what’s happening in my own life at the time. For example, having just changed careers and started a new job here at the library, I became interested in other people’s experiences with big changes in their lives. Perhaps this inclination was what drew me to pick up Clarissa Ward’s On All Fronts, which follows Ward when, immediately following the events of 9/11, she decides to make the leap into a new career as a war reporter.

Oct 5, 2023

Charting a friendship

Cover of Friends Beyond Measure
A review of Friends Beyond Measure by Lalena Fisher

This picture book requires multiple readings. You can read it as a sweet story of two girls who meet and become instant best friends. They spend hours playing, have grand Halloween adventures, and learn to manage disagreements. Until one day, when Harwin announces that her family is moving - really far away. You can also read it as a celebration of neurodiversity, Ana has ADHA and Harwin has dyslexia. They sometimes have different needs, and figure out how to find something that makes them both happy.

Oct 4, 2023

Weaving time

Cover of The Unmaking of June Farro
A review of The Unmaking of June Farrow by Adrienne Young

June Farrow has started hearing and seeing things that aren't there - at least they aren't as far as anyone else can tell. Though the realization that she's perhaps imagining things worries June, it isn't surprising. According to town lore, June's mother went mad and then disappeared when June was young, leaving her to be raised by her grandmother. Now her grandmother has died and June fears that the mental illness that took her mother will take her too.

Oct 3, 2023

Building dreams

Cover of A Girl Can Build Anything
A review of A Girl Can Build Anything by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Pat Zietlow Miller
Keisha Morris

This is a sneaky, beautiful little book. Just when you think it’s all about girl power (and power tools!) to build and construct bookshelves, parks, community gardens, and a community center - take a closer look at the illustrations. You’ll see an amazing progression of time, of six girls growing together into strong women - sisters in their shared love of building and making. There are so many things to love about this book: great friends, great building vocabulary (drills, drivers, levers, sheetrock!), and an empowering message to build, fail, and try again.

Sep 29, 2023

A deeper understanding

Cover of Unequal Affections
A review of Unequal Affections by Lara Ormiston

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has a difficult hurdle to overcome if it is to distinguish itself from all the other retellings, homages, inspireds by, etc. And if I tell you dear reader that Ormiston succeeded in that feat? I would only be relaying the truth.

Sep 28, 2023

Madams, morality and the mob

Cover of Empire of Sin: A Story of
A review of Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist

Empire covers New Orleans history and culture from the 1880s to the 1930s and reading it while situated in a world that seems obsessed with the vice of others made for a nicely synergistic experience. Krist focuses on the New Orleans vice district, Storyville, and the far-reaching impact the it had on the city's politicians, power-brokers, mobsters and the black population who saw New Orleans fall under the worst of what the Jim Crow south had to offer.

Sep 26, 2023

Discomfort is the point

Cover of Leave the World Behind
A review of Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Alam starts his novel on the most ordinary of notes. Amanda and Clay and their two kids, Archie and Rose, are headed to a rural area of Long Island for a summer vacation. They've rented a house, a very nice one, on an isolated country road and plan on limited contact with the world. For the next few days they swim in the pool, hit the small local grocery store and make a trip to the beach. Nothing too exciting, but that's the goal. Late on the third night that goal is upended when there's a knock on the door.

Sep 25, 2023

Gift of learning

Cover of Rivka's Presents
A review of Rivka's Presents by Laurie Wallmark
Adelina Lirius

Set during the 1918 flu pandemic, “Rivka’s Presents” brings us into the world of a little girl who wants nothing more than to learn. Rivka, a young Jewish girl, isn’t able to go to school because her Papa is sick with the flu, and her Mama has to work at the shirtwaist factory in his place, leaving Rivka responsible for her younger sister, Miriam. Rivka is desperate to learn and makes deals with her neighbors, trading her work for lessons in reading, mathematics, and American history. In the end, Rivka receives the greatest gift of all, knowledge.

Sep 22, 2023


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