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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 Get Caught Reading in May

“Get Caught Reading” is a nationwide campaign to remind people of all ages how much fun it is to read.  May is the official  “Get Caught Reading” month, though the campaign lasts all year.  Many celebrities have participated including Alicia Keys, Drew Carey, Rosie O’Donnell, and many more.

This week several members of the library staff volunteered to promote reading by agreeing to have their pictures taken with favorite books.  Contrary to what many may think, librarians or library staff do not read books all day at work.  Rather, our main focus is connecting our patrons to books they will enjoy as well as information.  We love to talk about books and give recommendations. Just ask! We would be happy to help you find your next great read.

Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist, couldn’t decide on just one book.  She recommends…

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley: “I like this book because it’s a fun supernatural thriller with the best female friendship ever – Myfanwy and Shante forever!”

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire: “I like this book because McGuire looks at fantasy book heroes in a whole new way and asks what happens after they’re done saving the world.”

 

Joscelyn Lockwood, Youth Services Assistant, recommends The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka.

“The Stinky Cheese Man was my first exposure to fractured fairy tales. It’s a great book that can get laughs from both children and adults alike. Even at 29, I love reading this to the kids in my family.”

 

Sylvia Shults, Circulation Assistant, recommends The Tao of Vegetable Gardening: Cultivating Tomatoes, Greens, Peas, Beans, Squash, Joy and Serenity by Carol Deppe.

“Show your garden some love and peace this year. Zen veggies are happy veggies!”

 

 

Sarah Baker, Circulation Assistant, recommends Maskerde by Terry Pratchett.

“This is one of my favorite Discworld books by Sir Terry Pratchett.  A twisting plot, lots of laughs, and theatre references galore. The Witches’ stories also seem to have the best real life advice and knowledge of human nature. ”

 

 

 

 

Post by Susie Rivera

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.

#FDL: Notable New Nonfiction

These nonfiction titles are heating up the bestseller lists  this month.  Click on each cover to view them in our catalog.   If  an item is unavailable, you can place a hold using your Fondulac District Library card number and PIN (password).  Call us at 309-699-3917 if you don’t know your PIN.

Title: The Operator: Firing the Shots That Killed Osama Bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior

Author: Robert O’Neill

In his memoir, Robert O’Neill chronicles his life growing up in Butte, Montana and his growing desire to become a part of the military’s most elite special forces team.  O’Neill became a SEAL and was involved in many operations, including the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. This operation was later dramatized in the film, Captain Phillips. After many deployments in the Middle East, O’Neill’s career peaked when he fired the deadly shots that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Title: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

Author: David Grann 

By the 1920s, many members of the Osage Indian nation in Oklahoma had become rich after oil had been discovered in their sacred lands.  Then, several Osage began to die suddenly and of questionable circumstances. After more than twenty deaths, the newly formed FBI took notice and began to investigate the murders.  What was eventually uncovered led to the discovery of one of the most shocking and grisly conspiracies in our history.

Title: The Black Hand

Author: Stephan Talty

Talty’s new book recounts the beginning of the mafia in the U.S.  1903 brings us to a time in New York City’s history when crime peaked.  Important political figures were threatened, bombs were set off, and innocents were murdered.  Joseph Petrosino, a brilliant detective, was assigned to find the perpetrators who left the symbol of a black hand at each scene.  A movie adaptation of this book is currently in pre-production with Leonardo DiCaprio as Patrosino.

Title: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Most notable for being the host of Nova ScienceNow,  Neil deGrasse Tyson brings us a book that tackles big topics in a way that anyone could understand.  He touches on our place in the universe, the nature of space and time, as well as the search for life beyond Earth.   A Kirkus review praised the book stating that it is “masterly….A sublime introduction to some of the most exciting ideas in astrophysics that will leave readers wanting more.”

Post by Susie Rivera, Reference Specialist

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.

#FDL: 5 Fictional Weird Libraries

5 Fictional Weird Libraries

Libraries are great. I love them. But some libraries are bizarre and operate a little differently than your friendly neighborhood public library. In this installment of #FDL, I’m going to take a look at some of the fictional, weird, and maybe creepy libraries I’ve come across in reading, listening, and viewing (in no particular order).

  1. The Night Vale Public LibraryThe NVPL is a terrifying place full of malevolent, hooded, eyeless librarians who might eat you, but will definitely cut off your hands for not returning books on time. But you really shouldn’t let this discourage you from visiting the library. They have a great biography section comprising 33 copies of Helen Hunt’s biography. They also run an amazing educational program for illiterate spiders. And their summer reading program for teens and tweens is the most competitive in the area, boasting its first survivor – intrepid teen, Tamika Flynn. She managed to complete her sticker chart *and* kill one of the librarians.
  2. Dunsmouth High School Library. Harrison Harrison travels with his mother to Dunsmouth so she can do some marine biology science. But he still has to go to school and Dunsmouth High School is weird. The library within the high school is also weird. No one ever goes in there and none of the students are really even sure where it is. But Harrison finds it and the librarian inside. Prof. Freitag is constantly looking for something in the library but doesn’t know what or where that thing is. He also doesn’t ever touch anything… weird.
  3. The Library at Mount Char. Well, this library isn’t really open to the public. It serves as the home and school of 13 child apprentices, each tasked with learning a certain aspect of the world, including all of its secrets. Father runs the library and raises and teaches the children. But one day, Father disappears, and it’s up to the now grown children to figure out who will take his place.
  4. The Palace. The Palace of the High Ones has a kind of library, unlike anything on the World of Two Moons. The Palace is home to the Scroll of Colors, a visual account of all that has been, all that is, and all that will be. It forever changes, based on the actions of elves, humans, and well – anything. While it is impossible to know the entirety of the Scroll due to its vastness and ever changing information, it’s been a useful tool for the elves in understanding themselves and their purpose in the universe.
  5. RuPaul’s Drag Race. This library isn’t fictional, but it can be weird. In the grand tradition of Paris is Burning, the library is open! This is a library where you go to read, and get read. To filth. Reading at this library takes a wicked wit and a thick skin. Reading is what? Fundamental!

Post by Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.

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.

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!

#FDL: Reading Habits

Put the book down! It’s okay! (It really is.)

Today, I’m going to write a little bit about reading habits, specifically whether or not it is ever okay to give up on a book. Spoiler alert – it totally is. Personally, I have major book abandonment issues and giving up on a book will always be a little bit difficult for me but I have learned that it’s all right. I’m also here to tell you that it’s okay to quit a book. Would you continue eating something that grossed you out with every bite? Why should you do something similar with a book? Here are five things I have learned about book commitment and putting down a book at the right time.

  1. Trust your gut. Some people have formulas for how many pages they give a book before they give up on it – like, divide the page number by your age and add 50. If that works for you, great. But if you’re ten pages into a book and something throws you off or doesn’t feel quite right, and you really just don’t want to pick it up again, let it go. It doesn’t matter whether or not you can explain why you put it down – if the book doesn’t feel right, don’t force yourself to keep going.
  2. Some books are the right book at the wrong time. Have you ever started a book knowing that you should love it and just don’t? Personally, mood has a lot to do with my reading selection. Maybe the book you want to love didn’t come along at the right time. Putting a book down and giving it a second chance later is a better option than trying to force yourself to read something that you might love in a different mood but end up resenting now.
  3. Just because everyone else loves a book doesn’t mean you will. OMG have you read that new bestseller? That classic from high school? The book your mom really loved? Wait, what do you mean you didn’t like it? Don’t let peer pressure force you into reading a book that you don’t want to read. It’s okay to not be interested in the same books as everyone else. As an addendum to this, don’t feel that you have to read the books your favorite shows are based on. If you want to, that’s so cool. But if you don’t have time for 4,000+ pages of A Song of Ice and Fire and over 20 years of waiting for new books in the series, don’t sweat it.
  4. It’s okay to love an author without loving all of their books. All books are not written equally. When I feel guilty for not liking all of an author’s work, I tell myself that even Shakespeare had some stinkers. Because he did. Do you like every episode of a television show? Every dish on a menu? Nope. It’s okay to not like every book an author puts out.
  5. Librarians aren’t going to judge your reading habits. Librarians love to recommend books to patrons, but none of us are offended if those books turn out not to be your cup of tea. Book recommendations are part of our job and we enjoy the puzzle of helping you find books you love. It’s okay to tell your librarian that a book wasn’t for you – that can generate some great conversations about what books are for you. We want you to be happy in your reading!

Post by Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.

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!

imagine, inform, inspire