Archive | FDL Reads: Reviews RSS feed for this section

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!

FDL Reads: The Ninth Wife

Cover image for The ninth wife : a novelThe Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Reference Specialist

Genre: Romantic Contemporary Fiction

Suggested Age: Adult

What is the book about?: Rory and Bess have known each other only a few months before Rory proposes. Bess wants to know more about the man she is deeply in love with. She knows that his wife died and encourages Rory, on the day he proposes marriage, to tell her more about his wife:

“Wives,” [Rory] mumbles.

Bess takes a moment. “Wives?” she cries. “Plural?”. . .  “And what does that mean, anyway? Two? Two wives?”

Rory doesn’t answer.

“Rory? How many?”

“Eight.” . . .

“You’ve been married eight times?” . . . Now she’s hyperventilating. The room is spinning. She has to sit down. . . . “I just want to be sure I get this right: I’d be your ninth wife.”  

What is she supposed to do now? Run out? Wouldn’t any sane woman do that?

My Review:  I was intrigued by the title and premise of this book, and author Amy Stolls delivered an intriguing read. Stolls deftly and realistically changes voices from Irish-born Rory to folklorist Bess, with Rory explaining the history of his multiple marriages to Bess and the fact that he is, at heart, a romantic:  “I dream of everlasting love. I dream of that with you.” Stolls also deftly brings out Bess’s pragmatism and caution, which are balanced against the not-so-harmonious 65-year-long marriage of Bess’s grandparents. This caution leads her to contact some of Rory’s ex-wives. The book is an interesting and amusing look at the ups and downs of relationships and how relationships both mirror who we are and force us to grow. I loved the story and the characters!

Three Words That Describe This Book: quirky, out-of-the-ordinary, romance

Give This a Try if You Like… romantic fiction / chick lit

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: The Radium Girls

Cover image for The Radium GirlsThe Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

Reviewed by: Genna Buhr, Library Director

Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: In the early years of the last century, young women in locations across the nation took to the working world by becoming painters of clock and gauge faces. Using paint designed to glow by the addition of recently discovered radium, the women skillfully hand-painted dials in factories using materials and techniques provided to them by the management. The women enjoyed the independence and friendships the work provided. However, many eventually started having extreme medical issues and suspected it was due to the working conditions that they were told were safe. The Radium Girls tells the stories of some of these women, the distress they experienced, and the fight they led to ensure that justice would be upheld.

My Review: The story of the radium girls wasn’t new to me. I grew up near Ottawa, Illinois, where a good portion of this book is set and also grew up hearing decades old gossip and whispers about the glowing ladies. The courthouse still stands directly across from my favorite pizza place, and as I read the book, I wondered how the lives of these women many have intertwined with my family members that came before me. One of the women was from my hometown, and my great-grandmother worked at a clock factory where many of the dials were shipped. The stories of these women have been told in bits and pieces, and I was really excited to learn that Moore was writing their story cohesively and in a way that it could be shared and consumed by a larger audience. Moore doesn’t disappoint and works hard to show the strength and resilience of these women and the depths of their struggles in fighting for their health, for their places in their communities, for their futures, and for justice. The Radium Girls presents a well-paced, personal look at those everyday women whose lives strengthened the movement for safety in the workplace and whose experiences led to labor legislation still in effect today. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: Empowering, Enlightening, Inspiring

Give This a Try if You Like… Erin Brockovich, Hidden Figures, Erik Larson’s books

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: Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert

Cover image for Ripper : the secret life of Walter SickertRipper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation Assistant

Genre: True Crime, Non-Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: We all know about Jack the Ripper.  Or rather, we know of​ him.  Being that he was never caught and no confession​ accepted as truth, he remains a fascinating subject to this day.  And author Patricia Cornwell knows that.  She has released 2 other books about Saucy Jack, and her research keeps bringing her back to one man: English artist Walter Sickert.  This volume fleshes out her theory on Jack’s true identity, and backs it up with forensic evidence.  The rapid development of technology has allowed for new testing of letters that were supposedly from Jack – handwriting, paper watermarks and composition, even the blood stains are put to the test with surprising results.

My Review: I read the first of Cornwell’s Ripper books when I was in college.  (Fun note there: I read it in one sitting while working an overnight shift in a haunted building.  I was the only one in said building, but I kept hearing voices and things moving around.  Needless to say, I didn’t sleep easy the next day.)  I found her theories about Sickert to be fascinating.  I’d never heard of him before that, but her evidence was compelling.  This book expands on that.  In the 15 years since that first book (Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed), Cornwell has been doing deeper research.  Thorough detective methods weren’t applied at the time, and there is little to no physical evidence remaining, but modern forensics can still put pieces together.

Cornwell’s experience as a novelist keeps this book moving at rapid, entertaining pace.  You won’t need to have read her previous books to fall head-long into this one.  I burned through the first quarter of the book in a little under three hours (with repeated interruptions from my son and cats).  Chapters are relatively short and focused, and are interspersed with photos and documents, making reference easy.  The sympathy that she gives to all concerned, excepting Sickert himself, is tangible.  This is a woman who wants to see justice for those that the Ripper killed, as well as those who were falsely accused.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Insightful, Approachable, Fascinatingly-Morbid

Give This a Try if You Like… CSI, To Catch A Murderer, Serial, Jack the Ripper

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: Ink and Bone

Cover image for Ink and boneInk and Bone by Rachel Caine

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Youth Services

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Imagine a future where the Great Library of Alexandria never burned down and all the books in the world are under the control of the Library. Personal ownership of books is illegal. Jess Brightwell is from a family of book smugglers, but he values the books more than most. Instead of taking his father’s place in the family business, he’s sent to go through the testing to become a Scholar within the Library. What Jess and his fellow Postulates soon discover, is that within knowledge is power, and the Library will do anything to keep a firm grip on their power.

My Review: This book captured me with a fascinating concept and by appealing to my love of dystopian fantasy. It had a bit of a slow start, but the latter half of the book had me totally hooked. Jess and his group of Postulates (aspiring Scholars of the Library) are diverse and interesting. It was especially fascinating to see them grow as people as they go through the trials and tribulations of their schooling and other unexpected situations. The climax and ending had me begging for more, with a twist that I really wasn’t expecting. I can’t wait to dive into the second book of what is definitely going to be a worthwhile series.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Adventure, Deception, Intrigue

Give This a Try if You Like… Harry Potter, Alternate History,  Dystopian Fantasy

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: Dead Until Dark

Cover image for Dead until darkDead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Supernatural/Mystery

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in the small Louisianna town of Bon Temps. Her life is fairly normal except for one thing – she’s a telepath and can read the thoughts of others. This makes life difficult for Sookie, so when a vampire walks into the bar she works in and she can’t hear a single thing he’s thinking, she feels relief. Vampires have “come out of the coffin” all over the world and Sookie is to drawn Bill (the vampire) for both his mental quietude and his exotic nature. However, as Sookie and Bill fall for each other, humans are getting murdered in Bon Temps and it appears that vampires are to blame. Is Bill’s appearance in Bon Temps a coincidence, or are he and his vampire friends killing humans and jeopardizing the lives of vampires who want to live mainstream lives?

My Review: I am a little late to the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood party, but better late than never. I had a lot of fun reading this book. Charlaine Harris might not be the best, most literary writer, but this book was entertaining and presents a thought provoking alternative world. What would we all do if vampires and other supernatural beasties were real? Would we welcome them into mundane human life or push them away? I think Sookie and Bill (and eventually Eric) are fun characters. I enjoy them as individuals and I enjoy their romance. This book as a whole is surprisingly nuanced and overall good enough for me to keep going with the series. I’m currently on book 6 and plan on finishing them all.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Fun, Sexy, Toothy

Give This a Try if You Like… Bram Stoker’s Dracula, deadpan humor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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: Phoebe and her Unicorn

Cover image for Phoebe and Her UnicornPhoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

Suggested Age: Tweens, Teens

What is the book about?: This fun, energetic graphic novel series takes a different look at childhood. Phoebe goes to her thinking spot to escape the latest unfairness of being a kid, and skips a rock as she sulks. The rock hits a unicorn who’s been gazing at her own loveliness in the pond. Granted a wish, Phoebe wishes for the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, to be her best friend. What happens next is a Calvin-and-Hobbes style friendship, reinvented for the 21st century.

My Review: Just as the adventures of Calvin and his stuffed tiger transcended cartoons and appealed to adults too, this series isn’t just for kids to enjoy. I found it interesting that although comparisons to the older cartoon are inevitable, there are significant differences — for example, Phoebe’s parents are perfectly capable of seeing Marigold and having conversations with her. Marigold interacts with every other character – not just Phoebe. (And Phoebe is much less of a holy terror than Calvin was.) A nifty addition to the books can be found in the back pages, where the author puts extra fun stuff, like drawing lessons and recipes. I fully intend to make Unicorn Poop Cookies for my next birthday party. Why should ten-year-olds have all the fun? I binge-read all five of the books in this series one Friday afternoon, sitting on the porch swing with a glass of juice. Every once in a while, it’s fun to lose yourself in a book, pretend you’re ten, and have a unicorn for a best friend.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Funny, light-hearted, sly

Give This a Try if You Like… Calvin and Hobbes

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: Spill Zone

Cover image for Spill zone. 01Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Library Volunteer

Genre: Science Fiction (Graphic Novel)

Suggested Age: Tweens, Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Collectors are paying top dollar for Addison’s photography, and for good reason. The photos she takes are of the reality warped weirdness of the Spill Zone – an area devastated during the cataclysmic event that claimed her parents and struck her sister mute. She has successfully skirted the law so far but when she is tasked by an eccentric millionaire to acquire something from within the Zone she will have to break the rules for survival one last time, but at what cost?

My Review: This is a graphic novel that really takes advantage of the medium. Using a seemingly simple technique of “coloring outside the lines” Puvilland’s skillful color use contrasts the “real” world with the Spill Zone, providing a quasi-abstract feeling that heightened my sense of unease in a way that can only be done in a comic. The stunning art enhances bestselling author Scott Westerfeld’s masterful storytelling in which he weaves a tale that in less skilled hands could quickly fall back on genre tropes and become forgettable. If there is any downside, it would be that this book feels more like the first chapter of a longer epic then a standalone book. Though the critique of “I want more” is not a bad problem to have.

Three Words That Describe This Book: color theory, mysterious, intense

Give This a Try if You Like… Stranger Things, Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, original X-Files

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: Salad Cookbooks

FDL Reads Special Edition! A message from Dawn Dickey, Reference Assistant:

It’s too hot to cook, so I’ve been checking out cookbooks. I mostly prefer cookbooks that have nutrition information for each recipe, plenty of photos, and ingredients that are relatively easy to find.-Dawn Dickey, Reference Assistant

Cover image for Cooking Light : big book of salads.Cooking Light Big Book of Salads

Shaun Chavis, ed. 288 pp.

The editors of Cooking Light know how to publish recipes that catch the eye of cooks and consumers. This well-rounded cookbook includes

  • Pictures with every salad recipe + nutritional analysis of each salad
  • Ingredient guides; “100 Calorie Salad Boosters” (like 1 Tablespoon crunchy Chinese noodles); and “Shout-out” sections for various ingredients, like couscous, mangoes, or artichokes
  • Try: Soba noodles with chicken and vegetables p. 123; Greek chicken and barley salad, p. 155

Three Words that Describe this Book:  colorful, helpful, mouth-watering

Give this a try if you like to try easy-to-make recipes that will likely please your palate!

Rating:  5/5 – top notch!!

 

Cover image for Tossed : 200 fast, fresh, and fabulous saladsTossed:  200 Fast, Fresh, and Fabulous Salads

by Jane Lawson. 432 pp.

This cookbook has an intriguing title, but for me, the intrigue stopped there. I think the cookbook tries to be trendy but falls short on practicality. For example, the “poolside” section has a recipe for “marinated baby octopus salad,” not something I’m going to take to the pool any time soon – ditto for recipes asking for quail eggs and smoked trout. Not all the recipes have photos, and the text, interspersed with extra-large words, is annoying. And there is no nutrition information for the recipes – an essential for me. Interesting recipes to try:  chicken with mixed rice, golden raisins, and cashews (p. 254) or Thai-style chicken salad (p. 329).

Three Words that Describe this Book:  trendy suburban eats

Give this a try if you don’t mind slogging through uninspiring text/font to find some interesting recipes.

Rating:  3 out of 5 because of the annoying things & lack of nutrition information

 

Cover image for Salad as a meal : healthy main-dish salads for every seasonSalad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season

by Patricia Wells. 360 pp.

The title of this book is a bit misleading. The author writes:  “In my own personal definition, a salad as a meal does not need to include lettuce or greens; it can simply be a light and refreshing salad-related entity.” This runs counter to my own definition of “salad” and means that the cookbook contains many types of main dishes. The recipes reflect the author’s location in southern France. For a Midwesterner in the U.S., this poses a challenge in locating ingredients such as fresh mackerel or mussels or buffalo-milk ricotta cheese. There is no nutrition information, and, although there are photos, the photos are often artful garden photos and not photos of the actual dishes. Try:  Provence on a Plate (p.92).

Three Words that Describe this Book:  fresh, flavorful, unique

Give this a try if you like … cooking with a French flair, especially seafood

Rating:  3 out of 5 for interesting recipes but lacking in practicality

imagine, inform, inspire