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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 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 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!

FDL Reads: Wolf Hollow

Cover image for Wolf Hollow : a novelWolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Suggested Age: Teens, Tweens

What is the book about?: Annabelle, a girl growing up just after the Great Depression, must face a bully who terrorizes her friends, including a WWI veteran.

My Review: Okay, this book rocked my world. Think To Kill A Mockingbird, only with a smaller scope … and the heroine gets to interact with Boo Radley throughout the book, not just at the end. Do not be fooled by the fact that this is a children’s book. It has adult themes–death, war, PTSD–but they are treated head-on, like a part of life. The death is traumatic, to be sure, but it doesn’t break up the main character’s life, the way it does in Bridge to Terabithia. This is a powerful, muscular book that is not in the least afraid of roughing up its characters. It is well worth the read.

Three Words That Describe This Book: thought-provoking, terrifying, compelling

Give This a Try if You Like…  To Kill A Mockingbird.

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: Howl’s Moving Castle

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

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults,Teens, Tweens

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

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

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

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

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

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

FDL Reads: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Cover image for The long way to a small, angry planetThe Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Adult and Reference Services

Genre: Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer as the ship’s clerk. This is her first time living out in the vastness of space and she’s not doing it just for fun. The Wayfarer is also a special sort of ship – the kind that makes black holes, which serve as interstellar superhighways for all of the sapient races in the universe. The Wayfarer’s crew is a jumbled mix of members, from the reptile/bird-like pilot Sissex, to the scatterbrained human techs, Jenks and Kizzy, to the ship’s AI, Lovey, to Ashby, the human captain who wants the best for everyone. We journey with these crew members, among others, as they take the biggest job of their lives – creating a black hole in uncharted space for a warlike tribe who can’t seem to keep their aggression under control. Along the way, we learn about all of the crew, including the secret that sent Rosemary to work on the Wayfarer in the first place.

My Review: This is very much a character driven book. Plot happens, but it happens and is resolved episodically, much like a television show. Many people who have reviewed this book liken it to the show Firefly, and I would agree. I enjoyed this book, but it took me a little while to get used to how it was written. Rosemary is only kind of the central character. The book skips around from one character to another and large sections go by without us seeing one or more of the people on the Wayfarer. But I eventually came to enjoy reading about the day to day lives of the people on this ship and their personal conflicts. The large overarching story – that of building a space highway near a hostile planet, doesn’t really kick in until quite late, much like the season finale of a television show. But if you’re a more character driven reader, you’ll like this book a lot. Also, this books looks like hard sci-fi, but it isn’t, so don’t be intimidated or turned off by talk of black holes and interstellar travel. The bulk of the book is about the characters.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Character-driven, compassionate, warm and fuzzy

Give This a Try if You Like…  Firefly, Star Trek TNG, Mass Effect

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!

Star Wars Day 2017

Fondulac District Library announces Star Wars Day, which celebrates reading and the stories of one of the most popular sagas of all time. The all-ages event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 8, 2017, at Fondulac District Library in East Peoria, Illinois.

Free activities and programs for all ages will run throughout the day and include a new, expanded Jedi training, crafts, a sketch workshop with artist Kiley Beecher, games, Star Wars Bingo, prize drawings, and much more. Special guests from the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion, and the Mandalorian Mercs costume clubs will be in attendance and available for photographs. Additionally, members of the East Peoria Robo Raiders and Retro Robotics, local First Tech Challenge (FTC) teams, will participate in a presentation and demonstration of the real-life “droids” they design, build, and take to competition. The library also offers Star Wars-related books and movies on display and available for check out.

For more information about this special event, visit www.fondulaclibrary.org or call (309) 699-3917.

Special Activities

10:15   Star Wars Bingo
11:00   Star Wars Sketch
11:30   Jedi Training (both Jedi training sessions are the same)
12:30   Jedi Training
2:00     Real-Life Droids: East Peoria Robo-Raiders and Retro Robotics

Ongoing Activities

I Spy with My Jedi Eye: Starting at the Children’s Information Desk
Craft Cantina: Children’s Department: Story and Craft Room – Darth Vader lantern and paper bag Wookiee
Star Wars Puppet Theater: Children’s Department
Photo Booth: Children’s Department
Jedi Training Obstacle Course: Children’s Department & Atrium
X-wing Miniature Game: Library Lobby
Video Arcades: Second Floor (Teen Space)
Tattooine Tattoo Parlor: Second Floor
Perler for Padawans: Second Floor
Boba Fett’s Badge Factory: Second Floor
Force Fair: Atrium – Star Wars Bowling, Star Wars Angry Birds, and Blast-a-Trooper.
Star Wars Science Station: Atrium
Admiral Ackbar’s Snack Bar: Treats for sale from the Friends of the Library

Spring Newsletter Available

The latest issue of Community Connection, Fondulac District Library’s quarterly newsletter, is now available! It is mailed to residences within the library district and also is available for download and printing from our website. Printed copies can also be picked up at the library.

Whether you are into history, writing, gaming, music, science, or crafts, we’ve got something planned for everyone at the library this spring! Please take a moment to review the newsletter and mark your calendars with the great lineup of programs happening at Fondulac District Library through June. Enjoy!

Download this file. (PDF, Unknown)

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!

imagine, inform, inspire