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FDL Reads: The Trespasser

Cover image for The trespasserThe Trespasser by Tana French

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Adult and Reference Services

Genre: Mystery

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Antoinette Conway is both the only female in the Dublin Murder Squad and a newbie. At the end of an all-night shift, Conway and her partner, Steve Moran, are called to investigate a murder case. The victim, Aislinn Murray, who appears to have been living a squeaky clean life, has been found dead in her apartment after an anonymous phone call alerted the police to a woman who had “fallen and hit her head.” Conway’s position on the squad is tenuous. Except for her partner, the other detectives do not like her, they want her gone, and she has been subjected to harassment. This uncomfortable position forms the foundation of Conway’s inner dialogue, and it also adds to the intrigue of the plot. Conway must not only find out who killed Aislinn Murray, she must also discover who is behind the harassing and who amongst her squad is giving her truthful or false information about the case.

My Review: Conway is a flawed character with a hot temper, but that is part of what makes this book such an engrossing read. Since the book is written in the first person point of view, the reader “hears” all of Conway’s thoughts:  outrage, anger, frustration, disappointment, puzzlement. This makes Conway into a sympathetic character. The inner dialogue and complicated work situation together make for a taut, gotta-finish-this-soon mystery!

Three Words That Describe This Book: gutsy, complex, believable

Give This a Try if You Like…  Lynda La Plante mysteries, especially Prime Suspect (Jane Tennison mysteries) or La Plante’s Anna Travis mysteries.

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 Killer of Little Shepherds

Cover image for The killer of little shepherds : a true crime story and the birth of forensic scienceThe Killer of Little Shepherds by Douglas P. Starr

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation

Genre: Non-Fiction, True Crime

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: At the end of the nineteenth century, a killer stalked France.  Yes, all of it.  His name was Joseph Vacher, a former soldier and patient of 2 different mental asylums. In his wanderings as a vagabond he killed at least eleven people in locations all around the country.  His favorite targets were young shepherds, isolated and helpless.  His attacks were violent and brutal. During this same time, the new fields of forensic science and psychology were developing at a rapid pace.   Dr. Alexandre Lacassagne, the preeminent head of forensics in France, was investigating more accurate and thorough methods for autopsy and for determining the age and physical aspects of unknown corpses.  Methods for tracking repeat offenders were being developed, as were set procedures for crime scenes.  The causes of criminality (nature vs nurture, the “inherent criminality” determined by physical traits, and even mental illness) were being put under the microscope as well. These worlds were brought together after Vacher was caught, and the full weight of scientific evidence was used to determine his guilt, and his competence to stand trial.

My Review: This was eye-opening.  I knew that forensic science had to begin sometime, and Starr did a great job showcasing its beginnings and the obstacles it had to overcome.  This book also raised the question of how one could determine sanity, especially in light of apparent sane-ness and or episodic madness.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Engrossing, Intriguing, Informative

Give This a Try if You Like…  CSI, Sherlock Holmes

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 Nightingale

Cover image for The nightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Reviewed by: Susie Rivera, Reference and Adult Services

Genre: Historic Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: The Nightingale focuses on the lives of two sisters, Isabelle and Vianne. Isabelle enjoys the city life in Paris, while her older sister is happy living in the country with her family. But, the sisters’ lives are changed forever at the outbreak of World War II. Vianne’s husband is sent to the front while Isabelle is forced to flee the city.  Soon France becomes occupied by the Nazis who bring oppressive conditions to the French.  When Isabelle and Vianne get a hint of Hitler’s plans for the Jews, they find themselves in situations that are unexpected and that test their courage.

My Review: I listened to the audiobook of this novel, which received an Audie Award in 2016. Polly Stone narrates and does an impeccable job with the French and German accents.  The narrative goes back and forth between the sisters’ perspectives and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish one from another, but it doesn’t take long to figure it out due to the setting or circumstances described. I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of iconic locations in Paris contrasted with the idyllic small town of Carriveau in the French countryside.  I truly felt connected to and cared very much about the main characters as well as the plight of women during this time period.  I did not know much about the French Resistance or underground and was excited to learn more about this aspect of WWII.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Engaging, Relatable, Enlightening

Give This a Try if You Like…  Lilac Girls, All the Light We Cannot See, and Firefly Lane

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 One Good Thing

Cover image for The one good thingThe One Good Thing by Kevin Alan Milne

Reviewed by: Diane Soffietti, Reference and Adult Services

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: This book has been written from the perspectives of different characters from two families in present day Texas. The principal character, Nathan Steen, is in his pastor father’s fourth grade Sunday school when he meets Maddy by throwing a spit wad at her face. In the present day, Nathan now has two children, Ty and Alice with his wife Halley. Ty is a popular athletic high school student, and Alice is a diminutive junior high school brain and blogger. Alice named her blog ‘My Own Little Wonderland,’ because she is constantly bullied at school with the nickname of Alice in Wonderland. Following Nathan’s sudden accidental death, his acts of kindness toward others, as well as secrets are revealed through a dedicated Facebook page. Nathan had a habit of moving six small stones from one pocket to the other as he completed these gestures throughout the day; and he always said that one good thing can lead to another. After Nathan’s funeral, each family member reacted to the secrets and lies that are discovered through one of the Facebook’s posts from Maddy, now known as Madeline Zuckerman.

My Review: I enjoy stories that have worthwhile characters, as I have said before in my reviews. Therefore, one of my favorite books of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I have read (but didn’t really like) Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and The Goldfinch. All of these were acclaimed novels that had some good qualities, but the characters were detestable in my opinion. I think all of the characters in the book, The One Good Thing are drawn true to life and affable. Nathan Steen was a well-liked man, who had his flaws yet you want him to be redeemed by his family in the end. You want Alice, Ty, and Halley to remember Nathan fondly and to pass on his legacy of unselfishly doing the right thing to help people when they need it… the one good thing.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Inspirational, heartfelt, and redeeming

Give This a Try if You Like…  Barbara Delinsky’s Blueprints or While My Sister Sleeps; Donna VanLiere’s The Good Dream; Beth Hoffman’s Looking for Me; Lauraine Snelling’s Reunion

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: Soulless

Cover image for SoullessSoulless by Gail Carriger

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Childrens Department

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Miss Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster in Victorian England facing more issues than just her lack of marriage prospects. Besides being a tad too old, a tad too strong willed, and a tad too Italian, Alexia is also a preternatural. You see, in this version of Victoria’s Britain, vampires and werewolves walk among the normal humans. A preternatural, also negatively called a “Soulless”, is a person lacking a soul, and who therefore cannot be changed from human to vampire or were. A series of disappearances in both the werewolf and vampire communities cause fingers to start being pointed Alexia’s direction.  Will she be able to prove her innocence?

My Review: I am big fan of strong female characters, and Alexia definitely fits the bill. She often disregards her mother’s worries over her spinster status in favor of high tea with her friend Ivy, and doing everything she can to drive the local werewolf Alpha bonkers. The supporting characters also bring their own fun to the party in the form of a flamboyant vampire, crazy step sisters, and a bookish beta werewolf that is both nerdy and adorable. The events that take place and make up the bulk of the mystery in the book are interesting without overwhelming the main storyline. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the series is like.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Sassy, Hilarious, and Very Fashionable (for the Victorian Era, of course.)

Give This a Try if You Like…  Headstrong women, gratuitous descriptions of both food and fashion, and a little mystery thrown into your paranormal novels.

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 Men With The Pink Triangle

391661The Men With the Pink Triangle: The True Life-And-Death Story of Homosexuals in the Nazi Death Camps by Heinz Heger

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation

Genre: Non-fiction, History

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: In 1939, our author is called to an interview with the SS.  He is accused and arrested on the spot.  His crime?  He is a homosexual.   From there, Heger begins a horrific journey – to prison and then to the death camps.  His tale covers his years in those camps, and the day-to-day life of a prisoner, as well as how he survived.

My Review: I was made aware of this book through a discussion on Tumblr of the Holocaust.  The comment that cemented it for me was something to the effect of “I wondered why there weren’t more books from survivors.  Then I read it, and I don’t wonder anymore.”

The homosexuals that were arrested in this time were male – lesbians were subjected to their own persecution (and is a subject I will be following up on at a later time).  Life in these camps was even more brutal than I had previously thought.  The forms of work these men were forced to do were intensely grueling and a huge number of them died in the process, a fact that didn’t bother their captors in the least.  Heger describes regular sexual assault from the officers, who didn’t see this as a moral shortcoming of their own – after all, these were prisoners and “queers,” so they didn’t really count.  He spares us a lot of details in all but a few cases, which is merciful.  The details he does give us are horrifying, and leave you asking yourself how humans could treat other humans this way.  The account is very matter-of-fact, but it doesn’t lessen its impact in the least.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Heartbreaking, Enlightening, Eye-Opening

Give This a Try if You Like…  Schindler’s List, LGBT History

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 Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck

Cover image for Life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck : how to stop spending time you don't have with people you don't like doing things you don't want to doThe Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Self-Help

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: I didn’t realize this at first, but this is actually a parody of another self-help book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo (which, full disclosure, I have also read). (What? I read self-help books. If only to find out what I’m doing wrong.) The original was about keeping house. The parody is about keeping sane. In the original, Marie Kondo suggests taking a look at every one of your possessions and deciding if it does indeed bring you pleasure to own it. If not, thank it for its service, then discard it. In the parody, Sarah Knight takes much the same approach — only this time, it’s people, habits, obligations that are under the microscope. If there is a relationship that is no longer working for you, get out of that relationship! If a bad habit is dragging you down, change it! The author tells us that it is, in fact, quite all right to just not CARE about the things society tells us we SHOULD care about, things like, oh, attending graduation parties or baby showers when we really would rather stay home and do something else, perhaps something productive. The author argues that it is in our best interest, for our own mental health, to concentrate on doing things that bring us joy, pleasure, and sanity, rather than suffering through things that we don’t … well, that we don’t give a darn about.

My Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck was, in my opinion, a much more useful book than the original. Sure, we all have those evenings (especially this time of year!) when we’d rather stay home and snuggle on the couch with our cats or work in the garden than go out and subject ourselves to karaoke with people whose company we don’t particularly enjoy. It is so freeing to be told — in black and white! — that this is perfectly acceptable, and even something to be encouraged. The book is presented in a light-hearted way, of course — with a title like that, you know the author’s not going to take herself too seriously — but it really does have some pertinent advice for our overscheduled, obligation-filled lives. The book’s message is that it is okay to bow out of doing things you don’t want to do. The further message is to find things that DO excite you — things about which you do give a … darn, and turn your attention and energy to them, instead of wasting your energy on doing things that really don’t bring you joy. We can giggle with guilty pleasure about skipping out on our grade-school reunion. But the book’s real takeaway is this … find things to do that bring you fulfillment. And go out and DO them.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Freeing, encouraging, (and yes, seriously,) life-changing.

Give This a Try if You Like…  Self-help books that don’t take themselves too seriously.

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 Vision Volumes 1 and 2


Cover image for The Vision : little better than a beastThe Vision Volume 1: Little Worse Than a Man 
by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez WaltaCover image for The Vision. 1, Little worse than a man
The Vision Volume 2: Little Better Than a Beast by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Library Volunteer

Genre: Superhero Science Fiction (Graphic Novel)

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Moving into a new neighborhood can be challenging. This can be made made more difficult when you and your family are androids. In an effort to achieve a sense of stability after facing the deletion of memories of his previous family, Vision (of Marvel’s Avengers) has built a new family from scratch and moved them into the picture-perfect suburbs. Unfortunately, cracks in the stability he hopes for quickly present themselves as each member of the family struggles with feelings  of “otherness.” Kicking off with a supervillain attack (which will prove the least of Vision’s problems) we watch as Vision and his family strive for normality while being pulled into a dark suburban abyss of their own making.

My Review: I have to confess that when I first heard about this miniseries I quickly dismissed it as a shallow cash grab from Marvel. Fortunately I was persuaded to give it a try and I was completely blown away. While you don’t need prior knowledge of the character, the story does highlight just how strange Vision’s back story is and how trauma takes a toll even on androids. All of the unspoken horror of the suburbs is highlighted by the desperation of the Vision to maintain his happy family. The story is told in a very introspective first person. Walta’s art is perfect for this story, channeling the vibrancy of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Existential, Chilling, Reinventive

Give This a Try if You Like…  The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, Powers by Brian Michael Bendis, Edward Scissorhands, Franz Kafka

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library! (Volume 1) (Volume 2)

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: Born a Crime

Cover image for Born a crime : stories from a South African childhoodBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Adult Reference Services

Genre: Autobiography

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Some of you might recognize Trevor Noah as the host of The Daily Show. But before he took over from Jon Stewart, he had a successful comedic and television career in South Africa, where he was born. This book is about Noah’s life as a child and teen, growing up in South Africa, a mixed race child of a black mother and white father at the end of apartheid. Noah’s very existence was a crime in apartheid South Africa and he discusses the challenges of early life where being seen in public with either of his parents could have gotten them arrested. He also tells of his and his parents’ lives immediately after the legal end of apartheid, paying particular attention to his mother and the sacrifices she made to raise him and his brothers with love and care.

My Review: Noah tells the story of his childhood with both humor and grace. He looks back from a personal perspective, infusing dire situations with humor as only an adult can when they are perhaps surprised that they survived those situations. Noah also discusses the political and social aspects of this early childhood and teen years. One of the things I appreciated about this book was that Noah prefaced each chapter with South African history and politics for context. While one of his stories might have been humorous on the surface, the added information gave the story layers, allowing readers to better understand what was at stake when Noah did something as seemingly innocent as steal chocolate from a convenience store. Noah’s book is an entertaining read but it also gives much needed perspective to those who only know the basics of South African history from a long ago high school class (like myself). I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. You don’t need to know Noah from The Daily Show as this book is written about his early life. It’s already one of my favorite books of both 2017 and all time.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Humorous, Educational, Emotional

Give This a Try if You Like…  David Sedaris, Key & Peele, District 9

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 Twilight Wife

Cover image for The twilight wifeThe Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Adult Reference Services

Genre: Suspense

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Kyra Winthrop is a marine biologist who was involved in an accident while diving with her husband in Deception Pass, Washington. Now suffering from amnesia, she has no memory of the accident. Even worse, she has lost her memory of the last few years and has no recollection of marrying her husband, Jacob, or moving to the island where the two have their home.  Soon, however, odd dreams and what could be flashes of memory begin to appear. The memories conflict with what people are telling her about the accident. Kyra must find out for herself what is true and what isn’t.

My Review: The Twilight Wife is suspense-filled and a quick read. Banner is good at making us feel Kyra’s dismay and her anxiety and confusion about her situation. Jacob’s over-protectiveness makes both Kyra and the reader uncomfortable, adding to the tension. Adding to the ambiance is the misty, rainy setting on an island in the Pacific Northwest.  My only complaint about this book is that it is a bit predictable and too short. I would have liked more detail, more mystery for Kyra to solve. This book would make a great “B” movie – tense but not too threatening, not too long, and everything is resolved pretty neatly at the end.

Three Words That Describe This Book: amnesiac, identity, deceptive

Give This a Try if You Like…  Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson.

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!

imagine, inform, inspire