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FDL Reads: Empty Hands

Cover image for Empty Hands, a MemoirEmpty Hands: One Woman’s Journey to Save Children Orphaned by AIDS in South Africa by Sister Abegail Ntleko

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Reference Specialist

Genre: Autobiography

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Empty Hands tells the story of Sister Abegail Ntleko, a nurse and health activist who was born into an impoverished family during the time of apartheid in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The second youngest of 13 children, Abegail’s mother died when she was about 3 ½. The remaining children were then split up, and soon, at a very young age, Abe found herself the sole caretaker of herself and her father, cooking, washing, tending to animals and crops. Abe has an intense desire to help people, and she wants to become a nurse, but her traditionally minded father does not believe in education for women. Finally entering first grade at age 14 when her father relented on Abe’s education, she went on to graduate from nursing school, adopting the first of her dozens of children while still studying nursing. Sister Abe brought together many people and resources to provide rural health care services. When the AIDS crisis hit, Sister Abe was in the thick of it, advocating for better training and education about the disease and offering care and comfort to the sick and survivors by providing or finding “psychological, medical, and legal assistance.” Sister Abegail received the Unsung Heroes of Compassion award from the Dalai Lama in 2009.

My Review: This is a powerful story, told in Sister Abe’s own matter-of-fact language. Despite innumerable obstacles, Abe worked tirelessly to help others throughout her long career, even through heartbreaking times when her own children died of AIDS. Early on in the retelling of her life story, Abegail introduces us to the concept of ubuntu, the “Zulu understanding that you are a person because of other people, and it is the reason for your helping others and others helping you. . . . a natural sense that we are all in this together, a sense of belonging to a community, that by doing for others, you help yourself.” This understanding seems to be Sister Abe’s foundation for the remarkable work that she did. What an exceptional woman!

Three Words That Describe This Book: inspiring, uplifting, humbling

Give This a Try if You Like…  real life heroes.

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

FDL’s Newspaper Subscriptions

Due to low patron usage of the Bloomington Pantagraph newspaper, Fondulac District Library has discontinued its subscription. The library seeks to make efficient use of its funds and has chosen to expand national news coverage by adding the Wall Street Journal to its newspaper collection. Patrons are invited to enjoy this and other newspapers that the library has to offer. A full list is available here.

Fine Arts at Fondulac District Library

Fine Arts at FDL expands the library’s mission by stimulating imagination and fostering lifelong learning, and gives local artists the opportunity to present new work in a public setting.

  • The library has display areas for both hanging and three-dimensional pieces of art.
  • All display areas are within the library and are publicly viewable during regular library hours.
  • The library encourages all artists in East Peoria and surrounding communities to submit an application for consideration.
  • Applications are welcome anytime and are reviewed on a rolling basis. To be considered, please review the information and policy and complete the online application available here.

FDL Reads: Universal Harvester

Cover image for Universal harvesterUniversal Harvester by John Darnielle

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

Genre: Weird Fiction, Horror

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: It’s the late 90s and Jeremy is working at a small video renal store in a small town in rural Iowa. Day to day life isn’t all that exciting until people start complaining that there’s something wrong with the video tapes they’re checking out. Jeremy decides to see for himself and finds parts of other videos spliced into the movies on the tapes. Weird videos. Creepy videos. His boss, Sarah Jane, gets involved. She starts coming to work less and less and doesn’t want to talk about the weird tapes. Jeremy doesn’t really want to either, but when one of the regular customers insists that someone nearby might be getting hurt, he takes reluctant action. And then things start to get weird.

My Review: I had to sit with this book for a while and think about it before writing a review. I had read it back in February. I originally thought of this book as horror. The first half of it literally made my skin prickle because it was so creepy. The book as a whole is creepy for sure, but without giving anything away, the story changes partway through into something that isn’t quite horror but also isn’t conducive to the warm fuzzies either. This book has elements of horror but it’s not a gore fest or supernatural in any way. It’s more of a meditation on loss and how loss shapes our lives. It’s about how some people go about their day to day lives dealing with loss and how others… don’t.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Creepy, isolating, sad

Give This a Try if You Like…  The Ring (movie), cults, music by The Mountain Goats

Rating: 4/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

FDL Reads: Salt to the Sea

Cover image for Salt to the sea : a novelSalt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Reviewed by: Susie Rivera, Reference Specialist

Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Four narrators bring each of Ruta Sepetys’s characters to life within the setting of WWII. 1945 brings the reader into the last stages of the war when the tide has shifted and the Russian army begins its encroachment into Germany.  Perspectives switch between a German, Polish, Prussian, and Lithuanian who are trapped, trying to escape the chaos that ensues.  Salt to the Sea has received quite a bit of praise in 2016 and 2017 by Booklist, Goodreads, YALSA, and others.  It is also on the 2018 Abe Lincoln Award list which includes books chosen by Illinois librarians, teachers, and high school students.

My Review: I enjoyed this book though I was a little thrown off at the very beginning.  Sepetys brings in all four perspectives very quickly and it was somewhat difficult to sort them out in my mind at first. Once acclimated, I found myself liking certain characters more than others, but I felt that the very short chapters led to bit of detachment I wouldn’t necessarily feel if Sepetys had focused on developing just one or two characters. The author does a nice job of weaving in a bit of mystery surrounding each narrator and revealing the truth behind these mysteries over the course of the novel. Though I felt this book did not quite live up to its hype, it was still a good read and brings light to a chapter during WWII that is not as well known.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Brisk, Tragic, and Dramatic

Give This a Try if You Like…  WWII fiction, historical fiction, Between Shades of Grey

Rating: 4/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

Drive Up Window & Outside Drop Boxes

The drive up window, located on the Richland Street side of the building, offers convenient services for library patrons. Pull up to the window, and press the speaker button for assistance.

  • Pick up and check out available items that have been placed on hold
  • Renew items or pay a fine
  • Ask a librarian to unlock items, such as DVD cases

Also located on the Richland Street side of the building are two outside drop boxes conveniently positioned to accommodate cars, trucks, and SUVs.

  • Most library materials can be dropped off 24 hours a day. Some items, such as Roku Streaming Media Devices and Playaway Launchpads, must be returned inside.

Items that are returned after hours to the outside drop boxes on their due date will not be considered late or incur a fine.

Please visit or call the library at (309) 699-3917 with questions.

FDL Reads: An Ember in the Ashes

Cover image for An ember in the ashes : a novelAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Children’s Department

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: 

The Martial Empire rules the land with an iron fist. Separated into classes, the Scholars are the lowest of the low. Leia and her family are Scholars, with her parents being killed by the Empire for being part of the Resistance. When her brother is arrested, Leia takes it upon herself to join the Resistance in an attempt to save him. It is on a special mission for them that she encounters Elias. Elias couldn’t be more of her polar opposite. Trained in the school for the Empire’s soldiers, he’s one of the best students and one of the most unwilling. Together, along with several other characters, they will discover things about both the Empire and the Resistance that could change everything.

My Review: Admittedly, I went into this a little hesitantly. It sounded like a million other YA and dystopian fantasy novels that are currently on store and library shelves. I am glad I read it, though, because I really would have missed out! Laia isn’t your typical Mary Sue character that has every power to right all the wrongs and make everything end happily ever after. She’s a girl like any other, living in fear of the Empire she lives under and trying to keep what’s left of her family together (and alive). Both perspectives the story is told in, from Laia’s point of view and Elias’s, are well written and engaging. Major scenes and action kept me wanting more when I had to take a break from reading. Even though this was originally meant to be a standalone novel, I’m glad the author has written a sequel and am really looking forward to further adventures in the world she has built.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Compelling, Fast-Paced, Brutal

Give This a Try if You Like…  Dystopian fantasy, Political Unrest, A Bit of Violence in your Fantasy

Rating: 4.5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

FDL Reads: Green Lanterns Volume 1: Rage Planet

Cover image for Green Lanterns. Vol. 1, Rage planetGreen Lanterns Volume 1: Rage Planet by Sam Humphries

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Library Volunteer

Genre: Graphic Novel, Superheroes

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz couldn’t be more different. Simon is brash and impulsive and Jessica is overwhelmed by anxiety. They are also the newest members of the Green Lantern Corps. They have been tasked with defending Earth while the original Green Lanterns are busy across the galaxy. This shouldn’t be a huge problem except that the Red Lantern Corps arrives on Earth intending to build a gigantic rage fueled tower.

My Review: I was initially skeptical about a new pair of Green Lanterns. After all we have had five Green Lanterns of Earth already. Other titles have suffered with DC’s “Rebirth” relaunching. This is one that has gotten better. Both Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are very three dimensional characters with whom I could instantly connect. Defying the super hero archetype, they both struggle with very real problems – Simon with the way his Muslim faith is perceived by the community at large and Jessica with crippling anxiety. However, they both manage to persevere and prove themselves worth of the Green Lantern mantle.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Dynamic, Exciting, Fun

Give This a Try if You Like…  Guardians of the Galaxy, Justice League, superheroes

Rating: 4/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

Printing Services at the Library

Scanning, Faxing, and Copying

The library offers self-service scanning and outbound faxing through its easy-to-use ScanStation. The Scan Station is capable of:

  • Scanning to a flash drive
  • Scanning to Google Drive
  • Scanning to email
  • Scanning to a printer (10¢ black and white or 25¢ color per page)
  • Scanning to a fax number ($1 per page) Note: Outgoing faxes only. Delivery confirmation is available by email only.

A flatbed scanner and a document scanner are available. The file can be saved or emailed in the following formats: PDF, searchable PDF, Word, JPEG, and TIFF.

Photocopier
Self-service copiers available for public use. Copies are 10¢ per page for black and white or 25¢ per page for color.

Printing & Mobile Printing

Printing is available from the library’s public computers and from personal laptops and devices connected to the library’s Wi-Fi. Patrons also can utilize the library’s mobile printing service to print remotely from smartphones, tablets, and computers and pick up their printouts at the library. The library’s mobile printing service is accessible three ways:

  • By visiting the Mobile Printing page
  • By emailing the print job to any of the email addresses below:
    fdl-bw@printspots.com (Black & White)
    fdl-color@printspots.com (Color)
    fdl-bw-2sided@printspots.com (Black and White 2-Sided)
    fdl-color-2sided@printspots.com (Color 2-Sided)
  • Downloading and using the PrinterOn Mobile App for iOS and Android devices.

Visit a print release station at the library to retrieve your mobile print job. Print jobs are available for 24 hours once submitted. If you need assistance, please see a library staff member.

Printing cost:
10¢ each for letter-size black and white printouts (20¢ for double-sided)
25¢ cents each for letter-size color printouts (50¢ for double-sided)

Patrons may bring resume paper for use in the printers. Please see a staff member before printing your documents for assistance.

For additional information, please visit or call the library at (309) 699-3917

FDL Reads: Howl’s Moving Castle

Cover image for Howl's moving castleHowl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynn Jones

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults,Teens, Tweens

What is the book about?: Sophie is the eldest child, a role she feels dooms her to failure.  After helping her sisters find their way, she resigns herself to running her late father’s hat shop.  But she crosses paths with the Witch of the Waste who puts a curse on her, making her an old woman!  So Sophie leaves home, seeking to remove her curse.  Along the way she meets and often helps many different people, including the terrible Wizard Howl.  But like Sophie herself, nothing is at it appears at first glance.  And it seems that almost everyone in this world faces a curse of their own.  Will Sophie be able to save herself, or anyone else?

My Review: My first intro to this story was the Studio Ghibli movie, which I loved.  But the movie is NOTHING like the book.  The only thing they have in common is character names and some very basic plot points.  The book gave us a deeper look at their world and the rules that magic follows.  It gave us a better rationale for Sophie’s actions, and her frustrations as well; we actually get to meet her family and to see how their drama affects her and causes some of the decisions she makes.  She’s not afraid to speak her mind or express her irritation with Howl.  We get a history on Howl that is surprising and makes him easier to relate to.  AND (the best part) this is book 1 of a series!

Three Words That Describe This Book: Magical, Funny, Satisfying

Give This a Try if You Like…  Howl’s Moving Castle (the movie), Harry Potter

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

imagine, inform, inspire