FDL Reads: Go Set a Watchman

Cover image for Go set a watchman : a novelGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Reviewed by: Genna Buhr, Public Services Manager, Interim Co-Director

Genre: Literary Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: In Harper Lee’s sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout – now 20 years older and more often called Jean Louise – has returned home from New York to visit Maycomb and her family. She struggles to understand changes she’s noticing of those closest to her, changes she’s witnessing in her hometown, and changes she’s feeling within herself.

My Review: 

I’ll preface my review with the a few notes. I read Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird nearly twenty years ago and decided not to reread it before Go Set a Watchman. I enjoyed the experience of reading Mockingbird immensely and felt the book was worthy of the praise it had received over the decades. However, I don’t think I am as emotionally invested in the story or the characters as much as many Mockingbird lovers are. I was aware of the controversies regarding the release of Watchman and its storyline. That being said, I tried to approach the book open-minded, but somewhat aware that it wasn’t going to be the same as Mockingbird. I decided to read it for the story and characters, but not necessarily from the viewpoint of social commentary.

Now, onto my review. I enjoyed Watchman. I don’t read a lot of fiction; I’ve always been more of a non-fiction reader. However, as I got into the book, I found myself having the same reading experience that I remembered having with Mockingbird, enjoying Scout’s internal monologue and Lee’s first-person narrative. I was excited to have my next opportunity to sit down and continue with the book, as I was anxious to find out how the story would progress. I was intrigued to learn each character’s opinion of a situation and how they would come to terms with the others’.  I didn’t find myself categorizing the characters as “mensch” or “unmensch,” but was fascinated by how Lee portrayed them each as human – flawed as we are – and how she had them explain their individual reasoning.

I would agree with some critics that opine that the storytelling and use of language isn’t as strong as Mockingbird (although it probably isn’t fair, given the history of the manuscript, to expect it to be). However, I didn’t find that some of the minor clunkiness was detrimental to my enjoyment of the book. There were also several cultural and historical references with which I wasn’t familiar, so I would go so far to suggest that an Internet connection is a handy reading partner for this book.  While I enjoyed this novel, it is one that has potential to be fairly divisive amongst readers. Read it for yourself, recognize your own situation, background, and biases going into it, and take the unexpected opportunity to experience Harper Lee for a second time.

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: Rat Queens vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery

Cover image for Rat Queens. Volume One, Sass and SorceryRat Queens vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis K. Wiebe, art by Roc Upchurch

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Assistant

Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Hannah the foul-mouthed elven mage, Violet the unstoppable dwarven fighter, Dee the atheist elder gods style cultist and Betty the drug addled smidgen thief are the Rat Queens. They’re an adventuring team out to keep the city of Palisade from harm! If by “keep from harm” you mean instigate bar fights and destroy public property… not everyone is perfect. In order to make up for transgressions against the city, the Rat Queens are sent on a quest to clear goblins out of a nearby cave. However, this quest is a lot more dangerous than the Rat Queens have bargained for and none of them are stupid. Someone set them up to fail. The Rat Queens are going to find out who, and make them pay!

My Review: I loved this book so much that I immediately went out and bought volume two. Rat Queens is both a mockery of and homage to all things Dungeons and Dragons. While the basic plot has the trappings of a D&D campaign, Hannah, Violet, Dee, and Betty become real complex real fast and they’re easy characters to love either despite or because of their foul mouths and do-what-I-want attitudes. It’s nice to see believable, relatable female characters in the realms of swords and sorcery – characters who stand on their own two butt-whomping feet, who make their own decisions, and who will eat drugs and candy for breakfast if they want to, thank you very much. Wiebe tells an excellent story and Upchurch brings all of the smart, sexy, sassy fun of Rat Queens to life with his illustrations. This is a must-have for anyone who loves comic books or adventure gaming.

Note: Rat Queens is full of violence, profanity, nudity, drugs, and other adult themes. Do not read if these things make you uncomfortable.

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: Armada

Cover image for Armada : a novelArmada by Ernest Cline

Reviewed by: Jimi Roberts, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults and teens

What is the book about?: Zack Lightman is by all accounts any 18 year old high school gaming addict.  One day while daydreaming in class, he sees a spacecraft from his favorite video game flying around outside of his classroom window.  He begins to wonder if he is going insane and hallucinating or if he is truly seeing some type of alien spacecraft.  Zack longs for some type of zombie apocalypse or alien invasion to happen in his life while pondering what to do after high school.  Has that moment finally arrived, or is he having the same mental breakdown his father supposedly had 17 years earlier?

My Review: Armada is the second novel from the author of Ready Player One.  I would encourage anyone who has read his first novel to go into this one with an open mind and try not to compare the two; they are very different novels.  Armada is heavily influenced by the big science-fiction franchises of the late 70s and early 80s:  Star Wars, Star Trek, The Last Starfighter and Alien, amongst others.  It pays homage to these films while crafting a new and exciting tale out of the pieces that all these films have in common.  In my opinion, that’s what makes this so much fun.  Of course, there are sci-fi cliches in this book – that’s the point.  This all will seem familiar to both the reader and the characters by design.  These characters are familiar with the same movies as the reader.  If I had to nit-pick one thing it would be the length.  I felt like another 100 pages could have gone a long way towards fleshing out some of the supporting cast, which would have given the story a little more depth.  This novel is certainly full of action – some of it is the best action writing I’ve read to date, but I found the story to really hit its stride in the more intimate moments.  There’s a section in the middle that can only be described as “going X-files” and it was fantastic.  I could have easily read 2 or 3 more chapters of that part and been ecstatic.  That said, this was a great, fun (really quick) read and I think any fan of the sci-fi genre will get a kick out of it.  If you go into it expecting Ready Player Two though, you will likely be disappointed.  If you go in as a fan of 80s sci-fi, you will probably leave wanting more.  

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 Wrath and the Dawn

Cover image for The wrath & the dawnThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Reviewed by: Barb Rude, Reference Assistant

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens

What is the book about?: The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of 1001 Nights. Shahrzad’s best friend has been murdered by the king, so she volunteers to be his next bride—and possibly his next victim. She’s determined to find out why he kills his brides, and she’s also determined to kill him. Her desire for revenge starts to melt as she gets to know him. Love is complicated and secrets are dangerous.

My Review: I like this book. The setting and characters are brought alive through vivid descriptions. Shahrzad is quick, fierce, and bold. The story unfolds with strong emotions. The changes between characters happen with enough depth to feel authentic, and the story develops at a strong pace. My only quibble was the use of magic. Shahrzad discovers she has a powerful talent but never uses it, which was unsatisfying. As this story is the first of two, I imagine we’ll see more magic in the next book. Otherwise, I really enjoyed the story.

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 Magician’s Nephew

Cover image for The magician's nephewWelcome to another edition of FDL Teen Reads, brought to you by the Teen Advisory Board!


The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

Reviewed by: Hannah Reed, Teen Advisory Board

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens, Kids

What is the book about?:  The Magician’s Nephew is the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia. Digory and Polly are sent out of our world with magic rings by Digory’s Uncle Andrew. The first place they visit is sort of like a world-between-worlds. Then, after figuring out how to travel with their rings, they visit Charn, where they meet Queen Jadis. The Queen had destroyed everybody and everything in Charn and when the kids go back to our world, Queen Jadis follows them, wanting to rule our world since there is nothing left of hers. In London, where the children live, The Queen causes nothing but trouble so Digory and Polly get her out of our world as quickly as possible. In the world-between-worlds, the children jump into a random pool, planning to leave Queen Jadis there. They find themselves in an empty world, along with Queen Jadis, Uncle Andrew, a cabby, and his horse. Soon after arriving in the empty world they start to hear singing, then they see The Lion Aslan and as he continues to sing they witness the creation of Narnia. In Narnia, animals talk and trees are alive. Digory pleads with Aslan for something to heal his mother, who is deathly ill. Aslan sends Digory, Polly, and Fledge, who was the cabby’s horse but now talks and has wings, to a garden in the mountains for a golden apple. Digory does not understand how an apple will help his mother, but he does as he is instructed. Upon returning with the apple, Aslan tells Digory to toss it to the river bank, there blossoms an apple tree covered with golden apples. Aslan tells Digory to take an apple off the tree and give it to his mother. Digory, along with Polly and Uncle Andrew, returns to London. Digory rushes to give his mother the apple, and after she eats it, she quickly becomes well again. Digory plants the apple core in the back yard, where it grows into a normal apple tree. After years have passed the apple tree is blown down in a storm, so Digory uses the wood to make a wardrobe.

My Review: The Magician’s Nephew is a very inspiring book. It taught me that it’s okay to have an imagination, as long as you can decipher between what is real and what is imaginary. After I read the book, my mind opened up and I became much more imaginative and creative. I’ve always wanted to be an author but before I read The Magician’s Nephew, I never had the imagination or creativity to write a good story. C.S. Lewis has opened up a whole new world for me. Another reason I love The Magician’s Nephew is because of the tone it was written in. C.S. Lewis wrote the book as if the events he describes have actually happened, and if you open up your imagination, they have happened. The Magician’s Nephew was written to teach kids to use their imaginations. I absolutely love The Magician’s Nephew and all of its characters. It is an amazing read was written by an extraordinary author

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!

Fun Fair on 8/1

Summer reading 2015 fun fair poster webFondulac District Library announces its first-ever Fun Fair, which celebrates the end of its popular “Read to the Rhythm” summer reading program with a day of live music, activities, food, and fun. The free, all-ages community event will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, August 1, 2015, outside at Fondulac District Library in East Peoria, Illinois. The event is open to all. (Participation in the summer reading program is not required in order to attend.)

Entertainment and activities will run throughout the day and include performances from The Boogers, a highly-acclaimed children’s punk rock band, and SideTracked, a local musical group that plays a “smooth mix of jazz, pop, and soul.” Library staff will be on hand with kids’ crafts, as well as hands-on technology-based music activities.

Playing two sets – the first at 11:30 a.m. and the second at 1:30 p.m., Chicago-based The Boogers make developmentally-appropriate rock music for kids and their families to enjoy together. About.com music expert Warren Truitt notes, “The Boogers bring a breath of fresh air to the kids music scene.” Monte Melnick, author and Ramones Tour Manager, says “If the Ramones had ever decided to make a children’s CD, this is what it would have sounded like. There will be no stoppin’ the kiddies from hoppin’ after listen to this music.” The group has played venues across the nation and have won praise and awards in both the music and parenting industries.

A favorite at events and establishments in central Illinois, SideTracked is a Peoria-based band that plays an eclectic mix of jazz, pop and soul. The group will play for two hours starting at 3 p.m.

Concessions will be available for purchase from local service organizations. The Kiwanis Club of East Peoria will offer a pork chop and hot dog cookout from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. All proceeds from the cookout will benefit the all-accessible playground at East Peoria’s Neumann Park. The Friends of Fondulac District Library also will have a popcorn stand from 1 to 4 p.m., with proceeds supporting library programs, services, facilities, and collections.

As the event will held outside, attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets for a day of fun in the sun. (Entertainment and activities will be moved indoors in event of inclement weather.)

For more information about this special event, visit the Fun Fair webpage or call (309) 699-3917.

FDL Reads: The Library at Mount Char

Cover image for The Library at Mount CharThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Assistant

Genre: Horror, Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Carolyn can look and talk like a regular American when she really works at it. She did spend the first eight years of her life as one. But on Adoption Day, the day her parents and entire neighborhood were decimated by a several megaton bomb blast, Carolyn and 11 other children went to live in a vast library with a mysterious man known only as Father. Father trained each child in a specialized catalog of information. Carolyn’s catalog is languages. She understands any language that has ever been spoken in the history of time, from the poetry of storms to her once native English. Carolyn’s world has been her studies for the last 25 years. But one day, Father goes missing and Carolyn and her siblings are barred from the Library that has taught them everything they know. They have the powers of gods, but with no direction and no one to stop them, will they use their knowledge to find Father and restore order or try to take over the library for their own ends?

My Review: I really liked this book a lot and I want to read more books like it. It was dark, but surprisingly funny at times. The plot took a number of unexpected turns and I liked that too. I enjoy a book that can surprise me. This book is also really weird, which I love. Several references are made in regard to a vengeful glacier named Q-33 North, zombies hang out in the neighborhood around the Library, and Carolyn is not on good terms with Father’s friend Mithraganhi who also happens to be the sun. For the most part, Hawkins did a great job with world building, but I wish I had known more about Carolyn’s brothers and sisters and the catalogs they studied. What Hawkins does tell us in terms of the all encompassing library is completely fascinating. This book was a dark but fun ride. Parts were pretty terrifying but other parts where amusing and all of it was fascinating. It’s a bizarre little gem that I hope more people discover.

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: Sharp Objects


Cover image for Sharp objects : a novelSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Reviewed by: Laura Warren, Reference Assistant

Genre: Suspense

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Camille is a newspaper reporter living in Chicago, where she covers some of the darker cases that plague the Windy City. Almost a year ago a young girl was killed in the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri, and now another young girl has vanished. Wind Gap just happens to be Camille’s hometown, where the rest of her family still resides. Camille’s editor, sends her back to her hometown, to investigate the murder and disappearances of the girls. As Camille returns to Wind Gap, so do the demons, which she fled to Chicago to escape. Her memories of this town are not fond, and history already haunts her emotionally and physically. As Camille digs deep into the case, Wind Gap’s skeletons refuse to remain in the closet, and they may just lead Camille back to her childhood home.

My Review: When I began reading this book I felt that it was a little formulaic. I was enjoying it, but it seemed like a typical murder mystery. What I was not expecting was the character study that would follow. Though the mystery in this book is interesting, and has some twists, it was the main character that kept me turning the pages. When reading, I long for a flawed main character, and if you love a flawed main character, Flynn definitely delivers. Camille takes us to sinister, dangerous, deep places, we are not certain she will ever truly escape. Sharp Objects explores the experiences which create dreadful behavior as the protagonist navigates the dark side of Wind Gap. This book fearlessly delves into the dark and shame-filled places few people are comfortable going. It not only discusses the dark place the killer resides, but it also drags us kicking and screaming to that dark place that resides in all of us.

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 Teen Reads: Half Bad

Cover image for Half badWelcome to another edition of FDL Teen Reads, brought to you by the Teen Advisory Board!


Half Bad by Sally Green

Reviewed by: Katelyn Kern, Teen Advisory Board

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens

What is the book about?: There are two kinds of witches. There are the Whites Witches that are supposed to be all sugar, spice, and everything nice. Then there are the Black Whites that are said to go around eating people’s hearts and killing babies and they’re just the worst…not really. Nathan is a black witch on his father’s side and his mother was a white witch. He lives with his Grandmother, his sister Jessica, his brother Aaron, and his other sister Deborah. Everyone tells him he is a black witch, not a white witch, simply because he is a half of each. He is also the only one said to be able to kill his father, Marcus, the most Black of all the Black Witches who eats the heart of other witches to gain their abilities. On your seventeenth birthday witches have to be given three gifts, one of which has to be the blood of a relative to receive your ability. If you do not receive the gifts you will die. Nathan’s only living relative that he can safely get in touch with is his father. Half Bad tells the story of Nathan going through his torment, of him growing up and being victim to cruel white witches one of whom he has fallen in love with, and him on his journey to find a way to escape the path that has been laid out before him.

My review: I want to give this book a solid 5 so bad, but Nathan is so focused on his “immeasurable love” for the white witch unbearably annoying. All of his choices go back to her, and how the outcomes might affect her. If he only thought about her half as often I would give this book a six.

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 Little Prince

Cover image for The little prince.The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Translated by Richard Howard

Reviewed by: Mike Joseph, Reference Assistant

Genre: Adventure

Suggested Age: All Ages

What is the book about?: The Little Prince is told through the eyes of an unnamed pilot.  The pilot has crashed his plain in the dessert and is trying to repair his downed aircraft.  With only 8 days of water the pilot begins work on his plane, and at the end of the first day he falls asleep.  He is suddenly awakened by a little boy.  “Please…draw me a sheep.”  The pilot draws several different sheep that don’t suit the boy.  In frustration he draws a box and says that the sheep the boy wants is inside.  The boy is delighted.  The pilot returns to work on his plane, while the boy asks numerous questions, but doesn’t answer any questions the pilot has for the boy.  Little by little the pilot pieces together where the boy comes from, an asteroid named B-612. The pilot works for the next several days, listening to the little prince, learning where he came from.  He learns that the little prince has a flower on his planet that talks to him.  He learns that the little prince has to carefully uproot baobab trees or his planet will fall apart.  He learns that the little prince left his home because he was sad, but being away from his home has only made the little prince realize how important his little planet was. The Pilot leaves his aircraft and begins walking, hoping to escape or be rescued.  The little prince returns home, having changed the pilot’s life.

My review: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is quite possibly the best book I have ever read. It isn’t a grand saga or an epic tale. The author didn’t invent whole languages or build a detailed universe for his story. However, any man who can make me feel so moved in such a short amount of time, make me fall in love with his characters and cry after only 85 pages is an author that everyone should read.

The Little Prince is sold as a children’s book, and it can certainly be read as one.  On the surface the content is simple and easy to digest.  However, if you read The Little Prince as an adult you will see deeper meaning behind the story, and you will reflect on your life.  The watercolor illustrations are not expertly done, but are enjoyable and pleasant to look at in addition to fitting in with the story. It is short and simple, and very impressive.

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!

imagine, inform, inspire