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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Between heaven and earth

Cover of The Secret Lives of Church
A review of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is a collection of nine stories featuring black girls and women struggling with what it means to be good, bad, loved, feared, and everything in between. The stories span four generations of black women from the daughter of a woman having an affair with the married pastor of their church to a woman whose mother struggles with her daughter's sexual identity, and instructions for Christian husbands.

Aug 4, 2021

Starring in her own story

Cover of Portrait of a Scotsman
A review of Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore

Hattie Greenfield has, with her friends, been part of the suffragist movement in London. But until now her participation has been on the fringes and, let's face it, a bit half-hearted. Yes she supports the general idea that women should have more rights, but she's never sure just how far to push things. So when a personal adventure lands her in a rushed marriage to financier Lucian Blackstone, Hattie is more than a little stunned and very unhappy. The powerful, agressive Scottish businessman is the last person she would have chosen.

Aug 2, 2021

Find your cohort

Cover of Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidde
A review of Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers by Francesca Davis DiPiazza

This is written for teen readers, but actually a good overview for anyone interested in the alternate world that is fandom. Included are brief interviews with fic writers, as well as short histories or back stories of how fandom evolved ranging from masquerades to Arthur Conan Doyle to Star Trek (which really increased both the number of people involved and the visibility of fandom in popular culture).

Jul 30, 2021

Pause for a little chanting

Cover of Happiness Becomes You: A G
A review of Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good by Tina Turner

Rock icon and sensation Tina Turner shows anyone how they can overcome whatever life obstacles are thrown their way. Combination spiritual primer and autobiography, this little guide shares Tina's journey through the practical principles of Buddhism as she struggled with her marriage, career, and numerous health crises. She provides spiritual tools and advice to help those looking for more guidance on their inner journey. 

Jul 27, 2021

Chilling on a summer day

Cover of Paletero Man
A review of Paletero Man by Lucky Diaz

Latin Grammy award-winner, Lucky Diaz, has written a tribute to his childhood LA neighborhood. On a hot summer day in LA, a young boy grabs his money and heads off down the street to find the Paletero Man, with his cart full of frozen treats, colorful paletas in so many flavors. Following the cart’s “Ring Ring,” the boy runs along, passing his friends’ food carts, the bike shop, the park and more, and treating readers to a beautiful day in his neighborhood. Alas, he is unaware that he is dropping his money along the way.

Jul 26, 2021

Doing justice

Cover of Razorblade Tears
A review of Razorblade Tears by S. A. Cosby

Sometimes when I read a book that is stellar I'm a little nervous about writing a review. I fear that I will not be able to capture the magic of the book and do it justice. Razorblade Tears is just such a book. And yet here I am and here's the deal: It's a book that is getting all the buzz, being named on all the "best of the year so far" lists, and will definitely be an award-winner (in fact it may already be nominated for something). So whatever I write here, know that this is a book you should read.

Jul 23, 2021

Embracing your super self

Cover of Measuring Up
A review of Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte and Ann Xu

Cici's family moves from Taiwan to Seattle when she's twelve and it's a shocking adjustment. They leave her A-má (grandmother) and many traditions behind. Cici is determined to bridge the gap by exploring more American customs and cuisine and by vowing to bring her A-má to Seattle in time for her 70th birthday. 

Jul 21, 2021

Refugee Life

Cover of Where will I live?
A review of Where will I live? by Rosemary A. McCarney

People all over the world are often forced to leave their homes. Sometimes they leave because of war, hunger, or disaster. Sometimes they leave to find better opportunities. But the question that comes next is always “Where Will I Live?” In this photo-story children from all over the world are depicted as they leave their old homes and journey to find new ones. No matter where someone comes from we all need the same things: a place to sleep, food to eat, and someone to love us.

Jul 15, 2021

Finding and found family

Cover of The Opposite of Everyone
A review of The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

Since I came across gods in Alabama a dozen or so years ago, I’ve been a fan of Joshilyn Jackson. Her writing is so enjoyable, witty and astute, her characters unconventional but winning, that I always look forward to her books. The Opposite of Everyone didn’t let me down. The narrator, Paula Vauss, is a hard-edged, biracial divorce lawyer in Atlanta, known for making the bad guys pay up.

Jul 13, 2021

Sensory delight

Cover of Palace of the Drowned
A review of Palace of the Drowned by Christine Mangan

Christine Mangan's first novel Tangerine had Patricia Highsmith vibes. Fair commentary. A description even more true I'd say in this, her sophomore effort in which author Frances "Frankie" Croy travels to Venice to lick her wounds and meets an engaging young woman who inserts herself into Frankie's life with dire results.

Jul 12, 2021

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