FDL Reads: Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral

Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish

Reviewed by: Joan Herron, Reference Assistant

Genre: Fiction

Suggested Age: Adult

What is the book about?: After Annie’s death, her good friend Katherine receives a mysterious UPS package. The letter inside explains that Annie is sending her ashes packed in her favorite red tennis shoes, along with detailed instructions for what is to follow. As Annie’s son is quoted in her obituary: “Mom’s gone, but believe me, she is not done – not done at all.” Katherine and four other women are asked to embark on a “traveling funeral” of sorts, and along the way they learn much more about Annie, themselves, and each other.

My review:  Have you ever thought much about what you want your friends to remember about you, or learn in the process? While we tend to avoid any thoughts of our own demise, it is intriguing to experience this somewhat painlessly following Annie’s journey. Relationships are so important to all of us, and even when we lose someone close, there are lessons to be learned and a future to be experienced. Each chapter of the book is concentrates on a different friend’s story, and the reader feels like a part of the trip. Where would you fit in? How would you handle each situation? To complicate all the feelings evoked on the trip, Annie has included an audio tape to be played at each location. Imagine hearing your departed friend’s voice after the fact. The friends’ additions to “the funeral book” give us insight to the development of their own stories and their combined story. As Marie says, “these women are a jumble of fineness.”  Along the reading path, we all find books that never grow old and deserve to be revisited.  Annie Freeman is one such volume.  I dare you to join the traveling funeral!

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 Tuesday 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: mental_floss

mental_floss magazine

Reviewed by: Genna Buhr, Public Services Manager

Genre: Entertaining and Educational Facts

Suggested Age: Adult (but most content is appropriate for high schoolers, too)

What is the book about?: First up, mental_floss is a magazine, not a book. As a magazine, it offers articles – both long and short – on a seemingly endless variety of topics presented in entertaining and often humorous ways. Currently published 9 times each year, it covers science, the arts, entertainment, literature, health, language, history, and other mysteries with the approach of answering questions you’ve always had…or didn’t even know you had!  Here’s a sneak peak at some of its more recent stories:

  • “The White Whale” – Moby-Dick made Melville a legend – and sank his career.
  • “Miracle on ice” – Scientists scale glaciers to study miniscule and elusive ice worms.
  • “13 secrets of ice cream science” – Get the inside scoop (ha!) from one of Ben & Jerry’s elite food scientists.
  • “The Barnum of Baseball” – Charlie Finley had some doozies when it came to ideas for bettering baseball.
  • “Inside Star City” – Once a top-secret military base, this remote Russian campus has become a playground for space-bound billionaires.
  • “Hop to it! Who invented India Pale Ale?” – Hint: It wasn’t an Indian.

My review: As far as magazine’s go, mental_floss is my fave. As a non-fiction reader and trivia lover, it’s perfect. As someone who doesn’t get to read as much grown-up stuff as she likes, it’s perfect. It’s interesting, it’s funny, and it’s quick. It gets me thinking, without making me snore. They used to have a slogan – “Where Knowledge Junkies Get Their Fix,” and they’ve moved on to “Feel Smart Again!” If you’re a sucker for BuzzFeed type lists, but want some with a little more heft, check out their website at mentalfloss.com. They also publish great compendium books that are easy to pick up and put down as needed; FDL owns many you can borrow.  Speaking of borrowing, FDL not only subscribes to the print magazine, but also offers the digital version of the print magazine through the library’s Zinio downloadable magazine service. (If you need help getting started with Zinio, click the link at the top of the Zinio page or stop by the library with your device.)

Heads up: Beware of their website…it can be somewhat addicting! (At least with the magazine, there’s an end.)

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library! Download full issues from 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 Tuesday 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: Dad is Fat

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

Reviewed by: Amy Falasz-Peterson, Library Director

Genre: Memoir

Suggested Age: Adult

What is the book about?: Jim Gaffigan is a well-known “Hot Pockets” loving comedian. He also happens to be the father of five children.  This book is written as a love letter to his wife and details their adventures in parenting five small children. In a two bedroom walk up in New York.

My review: I personally find Jim Gaffigan to be rather entertaining.  He was on one of my favorite short lived TBS comedies, My Boys.  As the mother to only two young people, I enjoy reading about other people’s parenting experiences.  And, the funnier the better!  It’s a really quick read but rather uplifting!

Heads up: You will snort with laughter.

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 Tuesday 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: Cat’s Cradle

Cat's CradleCat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Reviewed by: Laura Warren, Reference Assistant

Genre: Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Adult

What is the book about?: Jonah has set out to write a book called The Day the World Ended, which chronicles the activities and thoughts of important Americans on the day the atomic bomb was dropped.  Jonah contacts the children of Dr. Felix Hoenikker, the father of the atomic bomb, and their story begins an unexpected journey full of both self-discovery, and humanity. Jonah is whisked away to a seeming Caribbean paradise in a plane full of bizarre characters. The island of San Lorenzo, its inhabitants, and those Jonah arrived with teach him about science, religion and truth. He also learns of Ice-9, Dr. Hoenikker’s final legacy, which could ultimately change the destiny of the planet Earth. Will this unlikely group learn from Bokonon, the mysterious, outlaw, religious leader of San Lorenzo, or will their folly change the fate of mankind?

My review: For such a small book, Kurt Vonnegut packs each page with an insightful, satiric punch. Though originally published in 1963 the social issues discussed throughout this novel are as relevant today as the first time Vonnegut put these ideas to paper. This novel frankly debates science, technology, truth, lies, and religion, in a way little fiction does. He is brutally irreverent, but shines a light on humanity, relationships, and the machine we all are a part of every day. He discusses religion with bravery as well as compassion. He encourages happiness as well as awareness, but with an ever present pessimism. This book is full of characters that are walking contradictions, just as we all ultimately are. The first time I read this book I was blown away by the discussion, insight, and dark comedy with which Vonnegut tackles very delicate issues that plague our minds daily. His insight and wit had me hooked in a way no other author hasduplicated. I return to this book often and come away with new thoughts and ideas each and every time. Kurt Vonnegut saw the atrocities human kind is capable of as a prisoner of war during the bombing of Dresden. Though this experience scarred him forever, he still roots for humanity, encourages us not to take ourselves too seriously, and above all asks us to be kind.

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

FDL ReadsAbout FDL Reads

Welcome 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 Tuesday 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: Ready Player One

Ready Player OneReady Player One by Ernest Cline

Reviewed by: Jimi Roberts, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Adult (with crossover/Young Adult appeal)

What is the book about?: On Earth, in the near future, the economy has collapsed.  Most of humanity has turned to a virtual world called the OASIS for solace.  The OASIS began as a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG), but rapidly became a fully immersive virtual world that most people spend so much time in; they consider it their real life.  In the OASIS, you can be anyone.  You can create a character and live your life almost completely within the virtual world – and most do.  This creation made the eccentric, reclusive, 80s obsessed creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, a billionaire many times over.  Everyone was happy living in their virtual utopia until the day James Halliday died.  With no heirs to his estate, he created a Quest – an elaborate system of riddles, games and puzzles within the OASIS.  Whoever could solve them all and reach the Egg at the end would inherit James Halliday’s entire fortune.  The catch – the only way to make it to the end is to become a true expert on nearly every imaginable pop culture and entertainment topic from the 1980s.  It has been 5 years since Halliday died and no one has been able to crack even the first clue.  Until now…

My review: Let me start by saying that this has quickly become my go-to book.  I read it for inspiration and comfort the way others might read a religious manuscript and snuggle up with a blanket and pillow.  Okay enough of the mushy stuff.  I’ve read the book 3 times now and listened to the audiobook twice, in addition to the countless times that I’ve referenced various sections and reread specific chapters.  The audio book is also incredible.  Wil Wheaton reads it, and if that name means anything to you, I can nearly promise you that this book is for you.  If you were between the ages of 5 and 25 at any point during the 1980s (and look back on the time fondly), this book is for you.  It’s a lovingly nostalgic joyride down memory lane set against the backdrop of a virtual world that is probably only a few years from becoming a reality.  I will admit I am the definitive target audience for this book, but I feel like it has a broad appeal across various genres and age groups.  If you enjoy immersing yourself in a story that feels familiar yet is new and exciting, do yourself a favor, and give this book a try.

There is some mild violence that takes place “off camera” but the descriptions of the events are not overly graphic.  If this book were targeted towards teens, I would consider the content very mild.  Given that it’s targeted to adult readers, I don’t see any cause for concern.

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

FDL ReadsAbout FDL Reads

Welcome 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 Tuesday 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!

School Supply Drive

School Supply DriveFondulac Library is collecting school supplies at the library for East Peoria District #86 and Robein District #85 from July 21 through August 16.  If you would like to donate, click on the link below for their supply lists.

School Supplies Needed 2014-2015

FDL Reads: Chestnut Street

Chestnut StreetChestnut Street by Maeve Binchy

Reviewed by: Diane Soffietti, Adult Services

Genre: Contemporary women’s relationship fiction, short stories, Irish culture at the end of the 20th century to current times

Suggested Age: Adult

What is the book about?: As always with a Binchy book, there are a multitude of characters of different ages. Each chapter deals with their lives behind the closed doors of their homes on Chestnut Street. Different situations and problems are handled with different life skills or lack of skills.

My review: I like all of the Binchy books. Her style of short chapters that concern one of the characters is similar to short stories. Usually the cast of characters come together in the end to a happy conclusion. These books give me an idea of what life is like in Ireland. I was saddened when I learned that Maeve Binchy died last summer, and I was glad that there was another book of hers to savor. If you like learning about another culture in a short story format, please try Chestnut Street or one of Maeve Binchy’s earlier books. Some of her titles do concern the same characters or family members from previous books, but it is not necessary to read them in order to enjoy reading them.

Although the book deals with marital affairs and unwed mothers, it does not contain strong language or graphic scenes.

Rating: 4/5

Find it at the library!

FDL ReadsAbout FDL Reads

Welcome 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 Tuesday 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 Painted Table

The Painted TableThe Painted Table by Suzanne Field

Reviewed by:  Sylvia Shults, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Listed as Inspirational, but it’s really literary fiction.

Suggested age:  Adult

What is the book about?: This is actually the story of two women: Joann, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, and Saffee, her own daughter. Joann grew up on the frontier, and lost her mother at an early age — finding out much later that her mother died in an insane asylum. Joann, not all that stable mentally to begin with, worries at that information until it drives her completely around the bend. (From the narrative, it looks like Joann’s mother had been committed for distress at losing her youngest child, and wasn’t actually insane as we would recognize it today.) One of the defining moments of Joann’s life revolves around hiding under a dining room table. Joann later inherits the table, and projects all of her issues onto it, obsessively painting and repainting it over the course of the rest of her life. Saffee, Joann’s daughter, assumes that she is destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become mentally ill herself. But she manages to break free of the generational curse of mental instability, and strike out on her own. She goes to college, meets a great guy, and makes a solid, stable life for herself, despite her mother’s mental issues.

My review: I really enjoyed this book. It started out rather slowly, building a life from Joann’s perspective. I found the details of Saffee’s life to be much more interesting to read … and that’s really as it should be, since the reader is supposed to cheer for Saffee and her gradually dawning realization that she is not necessarily doomed to a life of mental instability like her mother (and her unknown grandmother). Mental health issues are a very personal, important subject for me … so it was a real pleasure to read a book in which at least one of the main characters triumphed over her difficulties.

Rating: 4/5 because it does take a while to really get rolling.

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

Welcome 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!

We’re hiring!

We're hiring!Love the library? Why not work here?!

Fondulac District Library is currently seeking enthusiastic, tech savvy, and fun qualified applicants for several positions.

Please see the Library Job Openings page for information about positions, job descriptions, qualifications, and more.

FDL Reads: The Flight of the Silvers

The Flight of the SilversThe Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price

Reviewed by:  Carey Gibbons, Adult Services, Reference Assistant, YA Program Coordinator

NOTE:  Chat with the author and discuss this book  7 p.m. July 7 at Fondulac District Library. Everyone is welcome to attend the library’s Skype conversation.
Genre: Science fiction, alternate reality

Suggested Age: Adult, but with YA crossover appeal

What is the book about?:  This book focuses on six very different people whose lives are spared as the world comes to a very literal crashing end. They don’t know why they were chosen to survive, but each was given an otherworldly silver bracelet that protected them and transferred them to Alt-America, where cigarettes are illegal, money is blue, and people have the ability to manipulate time. These six strangers band together to find out why they were saved, who saved them, and how to use the time manipulation powers they seem to have gained with their salvation.

My review: This book starts with the end of the world. How do you even move forward from there? Price spins an amazing story from the ultimate worst case scenario. Alt-America is a fully realized place with floating restaurants and common household appliances capable of freshening rotten fruit by rewinding it in time. His characters are also fully realized, complete with flaws that make you want to slap them on occasion even as you root for them. I love this book, because it’s straight up adventure, but will also bend your brain in ways you never thought it could bend. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

While this is an adult book, mature YA readers could potentially identify with the teen characters Mia and David. I would limit this to mature YA readers however, due to violence, some gore, non-explicit sex, and strong language.

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

Welcome 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