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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Best books for a not so best year

Book covers
2020 Best Books Lists

If you ask anyone they'd probably tell you that 2020 wasn't their best year. I won't get into all the ways in which it was not good and really it was probably not good for each of you in different ways. But what was good was the books that were published. It's really been a stellar year for reading as demonstrated by all the awesome "best" lists that are coming out. If you don't believe me - and I'll admit to being a bit biased as I was on a panel that helped select some of the titles on one of these lists - take a look at a few of the lists that have come out so far.**

Dec 2, 2020

Remembering the way she was

Cover of We Keep the Dead Close: A
A review of We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Centurey of Silence by Becky Cooper

When Becky Cooper first heard the story as a student at Harvard, it seemed both unbelievable but still entirely feasible: in early January 1969, a Harvard professor killed a female archeology grad student after she threatened to expose their affair. After she failed to show for her general exams, she was discovered in her apartment with red ochre and necklaces arranged ritualistically over her bloodied, naked body. Harvard smothered the investigation, the murder remained unsolved, and the professor was still teaching in the same department, fully tenured.

Dec 1, 2020

Reading getaways

Cover of Escapist Fiction
Escapist Fiction

Every January (like many people who fear failure), I set an easily achievable reading goal in a popular book tracking app. Then, I read. Sometimes I read a lot. Sometimes I go weeks without picking up a book. Sometimes, now that I’m older, I start a book and decide not to finish it. Sometimes I read books that prompt me to examine the way I live my life, to learn about the ways other lives are lived, to acknowledge the ways I use my power to the advantage of people I love.

Nov 23, 2020

On the reservation, the past is never behind you

Cover of Winter Counts
A review of Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Virgil Wounded Horse tells himself he is doing the right thing. The half Lakota, half White Virgil is the Rosebud Reservation’s unofficial enforcer at the heart of David Heska Wanbli Weiden’s literary crime debut Winter Counts. For a few hundred dollars, Virgil will provide families with some sense of justice, delivering with his fists the verdicts that will never come from a federal government that neither allows the Lakota to hold their own trials, and rarely prosecutes in federal courts those crimes committed on reservation lands.

Nov 20, 2020

Oh the angst

Cover of If His Kiss is Wicked
A review of If His Kiss is Wicked by Jo Goodman

I'm a fan of historical romances but it's getting harder and harder to find the meaty, complicated ones that I sometimes like to sink into. Current publishing trends seem to have veered more towards lighter, sparkly fare (which I also enjoy, don't get me wrong). So in order to get my angsty fix, I decided to delve into the backlist of an author I enjoy.

Nov 19, 2020

Art comes to life

Cover of Anna at the Art Museum
A review of Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins
Anna is BORED. The museum is full of stuffy art, and all the fun things one can do to stay occupied - like climbing on the kids stuff, and eating one's afternoon snack - are strictly forbidden and enforced by the museum security guard. But then Anna is let in on a little secret at the museum, and everything changes. 
Nov 18, 2020

Sleepwalking into danger

Cover of The Girl from Widow Hills
A review of The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Arden Maynor was six years old when she wandered away from home in the middle of the night. A terrible storm with flooding rain swept her away without a trace resulting in a massive community search. Days later she was found hanging onto a storm drain grate from inside an old mining tunnel and after a harrowing ordeal, finally rescued. She was horribly injured, dehydrated and unable to recall how she got there.

Nov 16, 2020

All Aboard for Fun!

Cover of Old Tracks, New Tricks
A review of Old Tracks, New Tricks by Jessica Peterson

Wooden train tracks are good for more than just trains, and this story proves it. It's told in rhyme, with a combination of text boxes and word balloons, and illustrated with colorful photos. The train tracks and toy trains themselves can speak, and the tracks prove to the trains that they have lots of different uses. There's a bonus section at the end showing how you, too, can recreate the fun experiences shown in the book. This is a great STEM read that should inspire lots of play and creativity.

Nov 13, 2020


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