Archive | FDL Reads: Reviews RSS feed for this section

FDL Reads: From Here to Eternity

34068481From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

Genre: Non-Fiction, Death/Funerary Practices

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: This book is like a travelogue of death. Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who owns her own funeral home and has been fascinated with death her entire life. In her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, she discusses her own experiences in caring for the dead. In this book, she takes readers around the world to examine some of the more unusual (to us) death and funerary practices of other cultures. Among other places, we visit a glowing electronic Buddha columbarium in Japan, the most beloved, favor granting ñatitas of Bolivia, and the small (but growing) human remains composting movement in America. Doughty interviews practitioners with each culture she introduces and looks at deathcare from their perspectives.

My Review: I really loved this book and took a lot of comfort from it. Doughty briefly discusses “big funeral” as an industry that has taken over death care, offering very few options for those whose loved ones have passed away. In America, we think that entombed burial or cremation are our only options, and largely that is true. Doughty’s look at the deathcare practices of other cultures is illuminating. She not only covers what these cultures do with human remains but how they feel about death and the people who have died. There is an overarching feeling for many of these cultures that literal care for a person does not end with that person’s death. I especially loved her chapter on the Bolivian ñatitas – skulls that spoke to their current caregivers from the grave to come get them and take care of them in exchange for favors. The ñatitas take on a second life in this new form that is unconnected to the life they lived when they had meat attached. Their caregivers worship and pamper them, lavishing them with clothing (beanies, sunglasses), cigarettes, and even money. That doesn’t seem like a bad post-death gig.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Enlightening, Comforting, Taboo-breaking

Give This a Try if You Like… Stiff (or anything) by Mary Roach, Beetlejuice, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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 Reads: Best Day Ever

Cover image for Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Suspense

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Paul Strom and his wife, Mia, are headed out of town for a romantic weekend, to spend some quality time together at their vacation house. It will be the best day ever, according to Paul. But Mia’s not so sure. What secrets are they hiding from each other?

My Review: This was a great nail-biter of a book. I love books with an unreliable narrator, and this was a good one. You got the feeling that Paul was up to no good, but just like Mia, you couldn’t put your finger on it at first … the author did a good job of building suspense and letting hints slip every once in a while that Paul was not the perfect husband he seemed to be. Then when you found out the depths of his treachery, that made it so much worse, because you thought for a while he was okay.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Creepy, unsettling, suspenseful

Give This a Try if You Like… Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris

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: Mort

386372Mort by Terry Pratchett

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Library Volunteer

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: It’s tough being an apprentice in Discworld – learning a new trade, getting along with co-workers, growing into your place in the world. Mort’s apprenticeship is not made any easier by the simple fact that he has been apprenticed to Death. On the surface an apprenticeship to Death seems like it would be all smiting the enemies of the world and learning the finer points of scythe sharpening. The grim reality is that it is a lot of hard work. This is a fact that will become apparent to all the first time Mort is sent out on his own only to bungle the death of a princess. Now it is up to Mort, with the help of Death’s daughter and maybe even some wizards to try to put everything right lest it wipe out all of reality. No pressure.

My Review: If you don’t like humor and fantasy to mix then this book is absolutely the wrong one for you. Terry Pratchett uses a very “real world” approach to the fantasy genre taking care to point out the weird little quirks of life and making the story feel real. Though this does take place on the magical land of Discworld, the characters, whether human or forces of the very nature of life itself, are the sort that you feel could meet in real life. This is the fifth of the Discworld novels, but a new reader would have no problem jumping right in. This story does not answer the bigger questions of death and reality – rather it takes them out and dances around them, but in a comfortably relatable way that is very down to earth… well as down to earth as Death himself can be.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Humor, Epic, Magical

Give This a Try if You Like… The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Squirrelgirl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

 

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: Taming of the Queen

Cover image for Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Reference Specialist

Genre: Historical Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: English King Henry VIII (1491-1547) is infamous for his six wives. During his more than 30 year reign, he annulled two marriages, beheaded two wives, and was widowed once. His last wife, Catherine Parr (the central character in this book), survived the marriage. This was a remarkable feat considering the King’s prior marital history and the tumultuous period in which Catherine lived. Kateryn (note that Gregory uses an alternate spelling for Catherine) was twice widowed before she married Henry VIII, and there is evidence that she was in love with another man before Henry proposed. She dared not refuse the King. Much of Kateryn’s inner and interpersonal dialogue involves not betraying her love for another man and navigating a relationship with a King that she finds unpredictable and unattractive. During her reign as Queen, Kateryn becomes increasingly friendly toward the growing Protestant movement. This causes tension and concerns for Kateryn’s safety as Henry shows alternating favor between the Catholic-leaning members of his royal court and the Protestant-leaning members of the Court.

My Review: One of the things I like about Philippa Gregory’s writing is that her historical fiction is always well based in fact (check out the book’s bibliography for sources as well as further reading). Gregory has a talent for storytelling, bringing to life both pragmatic Kateryn and capricious Henry. Gregory brings out in readers a depth of sympathy for Kateryn, caught between love for another man, hiding that love, and trying to please the highly unpredictable King. Her depiction of the King is as interesting as Kateryn:  Thoroughly assured of his divine right to rule, Henry apparently liked pitting factions of his court against each other and enjoyed being the master manipulator with everyone, in the end, having to bow to his will. With its superb characterization and rich historical details, this is a page-turning read, even when you know from history that Kateryn survives her marriage to Henry VIII.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Enthralling, Egocentric, Monarch

Give This a Try if You Like… The Tudors, Wolf Hall, Reign, or The White Queen

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 Reads: World Trigger Volume 1

Cover image for World Trigger Volume 1 by Daisuke Ashihara

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Youth Services

Genre: Science Fiction, Manga

Suggested Age: Teens

What is the book about?: Four years ago, a mysterious gate opened over Mikado City. Strange beings, eventually named “Neighbors” came through and caused massive destruction. The weapons of Earth could not harm them. An agency called Border also mysteriously appears, but are able to fight the Neighbors. Flash forward to present day. A new student, Yuma Kuga, is starting at a school in Mikado City. He becomes friends with Osamu Mikumo – secretly a trainee agent of Border! But Yuma has a secret too – he’s actually a Neighbor, and a powerful one at that. When a gate opens over the school, Osamu springs into action to stop the Neighbor and save his classmates, but he’s not strong enough. Yuma borrows his trigger and obliterates the beast. Will Osamu keep  Yuma’s secret from Border? And will he survive Border’s questions about how the Neighbor at the school was really defeated?

 

My Review: I enjoy manga, and am always looking for a new series. I’d just finished up Gundam: Origins and wanted another sci fi romp. This popped up just in time! The story moves at a rapid pace; there’s a background character that gives us most of the exposition (by explaining it to Yuma); and I’ve already found a character I don’t like. I’m worried about the whole “high school drama” aspect that this series may have, but I’m hoping that as the threats increase, we will be spending less time in the school and more time in the field.​ I have additional questions about how triggers work, and how one is selected to join Border, but I’m hoping they will be answered in following volumes.

 

Three Words That Describe This Book: Action, Intrigue, Drama

Give This a Try if You Like… Transdimensional stories, sci-fi, “the power is in you”

Rating: 3.5/5

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: The Waking Land

Cover image for The waking landThe Waking Land by Callie Bates

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Youth Services

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: 

Elianna Valtai was kidnapped at the age of five years old. Raised in a rival kingdom by a King she began to care for more than her own father, her world is ripped apart when she’s accused of regicide and forced to flee. As she is brought back to the country and family of her birth, she begins to learn the truth hidden from her all these years. The neighboring kingdom that had taken her had also tried to stamp out the very soul of her people. Lands that they treated as sacred ground were trampled and scraped dry of resources. People used as slaves and their innate magic ruled forbidden, until the magic users were hunted down to near extinction by witch hunters.

But acceptance doesn’t come easy for Elianna. The kingdom she was raised in is all she really knows, even though they branded her birth father a traitor and her people nothing more than mud-covered savages. She will have to come to terms with what she learns, and the magic that she’s long hidden, in order to help save the people of her homeland.

My Review:  

Elianna is spoiled, annoying, naïve… almost everything you’d expect a teen girl with Stockholm syndrome to be. When the first part of the book unfolds and she gets accused of regicide, I, as the reader, just had the uncontrollable urge to shake some sense into her. Now that I have that off my chest, I can gush about how much I loved the story. Ms. Bates just really hooked me in from the minute I read the summary on Goodreads. The world she creates is incredibly detailed, well thought out, and definitely something I want to read more stories in. Even minor characters play big parts in this story, as small happenings always seem to have a ripple effect into something bigger later on.

To be fair, I will admit that there are some dull parts. It’s so detailed that it can’t help but be a tad bit boring here and there. However, those are far between and you get back into the action fairly quickly. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: Immersive, Long, Engrossing

Give This a Try if You Like… Druids, Earth magic, Humming along to Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” as you Read.

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: Ray and Joan

29430060Ray and Joan by Lisa Napoli

Reviewed by: Genna Buhr, Library Director

Genre: Biography

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Ray & Joan is the story of the Krocs, the couple that grew the global brand of McDonald’s. The book covers their lives before they were a couple, the story of their somewhat tumultuous relationship, and how their fortunes were made and used. While the book does speak some to the business, its focus shines a light on the private lives of the couple, their relationship with each other, and their relationship with money.

My Review:  This book goes beyond Robin Leach and the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous treatment. It gives an intriguing, investigative look into the lives that built an icon of American life and reminds us that money doesn’t equal perfection or happiness and that it can both help and complicate matters. In reading the book, I found the drama in the lives of both of these strong personalities to be palpable at times. Napoli depicts their lives with an even brush, neither villainizing or deifying.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Interesting, Encompassing, Golden (like the arches or the fries)

Give This a Try if You Like… Empty Mansions, Biography (television show), Big Macs

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: Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 1

Cover image for Fullmetal alchemist. 1Fullmetal Alchemist vol. 1 by Arakawa Hiromu (translated by Akira Watanabi)

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: This first volume of Fullmetal Alchemist introduces us to the Elric Brothers – Edward and Alphonse. The brothers belong to a government organization called Alchemists – those with the power to transmute substances for the purposes of war. Edward is one of the most famous government alchemists, but he appears to be awfully young and Alphonse is a suit of armor. Just a suit of armor, with nothing inside. This first volume explains how Edward came to be one of the smartest alchemists of his age and the dangerous mission he and his brother are on – why Alphonse seems to be only a suit of armor, and why Edward is knows as the Fullmetal Alchemist.

My Review:  I’m not really a manga fan, but I read this book as part of a book club and to get a better grasp on manga since people who come into the library like it so much. I didn’t expect to like it very much at all but I ended up loving it. The premise starts off in a bit of a goofy way. It’s clearly a hero’s journey/special chosen kid narrative. But little character moments throughout turn it into a story that is more driven by character than plot. I ended up really caring about the Elric brothers (who are named after Michael Moorcock’s famous albino warrior). I read the first three volumes of the series and am now invested in how everything turns out.

Three Words That Describe This Book: surprisingly sweet, occasionally grim, a little too real.

Give This a Try if You Like… the television show Supernatural, The Iron Giant, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.

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 Reads: River of Teeth

Cover image for River of teethRiver of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: In the early 20th century, the United States government actually had a plan to release hippos into the swamps and bayous of Louisiana as an alternative meat source. (It’s a good thing this never historically happened, because hippos are a whole lot meaner and nastier than most people realize.) This book is set in the late 1890s, in an America that DOES have feral hippos wandering southern Louisiana. Hippo wrangler Winslow Houndstooth has a mission to deal with these hippos. He’s also out for revenge.

My Review:  Wow, what a fun, FUN book! This book has the action and careless disregard for personal safety of a really well-written western. (Probably because of the time period and the action.) It’s a believable piece of alternative history, and oh my goodness, it has teeth. The characters are completely original and completely unexpected. And the author leaves the ending wide open for a sequel. (In fact, that’s my only beef with the book: it’s very short, and it has the feel of an unfinished longer novel.)

Three Words That Describe This Book: Bloody exciting adventure!

Give This a Try if You Like… Westerns, adventure

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: Strange the Dreamer

Cover image for Strange the dreamerStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Volunteer

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Moths that invade dreams, a nameless city, trapped ghosts and blue skinned gods all await Lazlo Strange as his legend unfolds. Seemingly trapped at the bottom rung of the world’s social ladder in a dull grey library monastery, the orphaned boy’s world erupts into color as mystical barbarians from ancient stories march into town looking for people to go on a long journey to a place besieged by the magic. Sarai’s people have been brutally wiped out. She and a few traumatized survivors are living atop a tower that looms above the very home of the man who perpetuated this violence. These characters’ stories intertwine to create an interesting narrative.

My Review:  The world that Laini Taylor has created is lush and vibrant, full of original and relatable people and creatures. It is truly a well thought out world that is not only filled with vibrant color but also several shades of grey morality. Her world-building and character are unparalleled. The pacing and plot however are not. While absolutely gorgeous the prose is also very slow. A quarter of the book passes before anything starts to happen, and when it does the flow is either racing or crawling with little in-between. The plot does rely on tropes and clichés at times. From star crossed instant romance to the blatant hero’s journey set up – while interesting, these plots are still predictable.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Exotic, Beautiful, Epic

Give This a Try if You Like… Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, Seraphina by Rachael Hartman, The Mighty Thor by Walt Simonson

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!

imagine, inform, inspire