FDL Teen Reads: Under the Never Sky

Cover image for Under the never skyWelcome to our first teen edition of FDL Reads and welcome to the Teen Advisory Board members providing these awesome reviews!

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Reviewed by: Bethany Brownfield, Teen Advisory Board

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Suggested Age: Teens

What is the book about?: In this futuristic world, the human population is divided into two groups: those who live in pod communities, and those who don’t. The pod-dwellers enjoy a posh life, completely protected from outside influence. They use a cutting edge technological device called a “smarteye” that allows them to virtually explore every “realm” imaginable. The outsiders live day to day, with none of the new technology of the pod-dwellers and none of the same protection from weather. The outside world is plagued with electrically charged storms called “Aether”, which pose a great danger to the outsiders. The main character, Aria, is a pod-dweller who begins to discover new things about the world she lives in, as well as new things about herself. But all her discoveries come with a price.

My review: This is the first book of a trilogy, so make sure to check out the other books once you have finished this one. Readers should be prepared for the numerous plot twists and the mildly frustrating characters. However, I found the futuristic aspect of this story very intriguing. I also thought it was interesting that the pods as a utopian society contrasted so severely with the outside world and its culture. Many connections can be drawn between the worlds in this book and the world that we live in today. Anyone who is interested in futuristic stories with a strong romantic aspect should definitely give this book a shot.

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: A Crown For Cold Silver

Cover image for A crown for cold silverA Crown For Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Assistant

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Twenty years agoCold Cobalt Zosia had done it all. She trapped demons, killed kings, and conquered kingdoms. She and her henchmen, the Five Villains, were the terror of the known world. But Zosia was a better general than she was a queen. Zosia and her villains went into retirement after there was nothing left to fight, and for twenty years, both the land and Zosia knew relative peace. Then one day, a regiment is sent to slaughter the entire village where Zosia has made her home. She doesn’t know why, but she’s sure this is the work of the Crimson Queen and Zosia is going to get revenge. But she needs help and she knows the Five Villains are still out there. So Zosia sets out to find them with her demon dog, Choplicker. It’s time to get the old gang back together, and this time they’re not messing around.

My review: I liked this book a lot. The point of view shifts from chapter to chapter but Zosia is still the main character. As a middle aged, female war lord, she’s quite unique. This book smashes a lot of gender, sexuality, and age stereotypes. Half of the characters are probably in their early 50s. Many are openly homosexual, bisexual, asexual, and/or gender queer and Marshall does a good job of not making that the point of the narrative. Marshall, whose name is a pseudonym, makes it very clear that the point of this story is the price of revenge – bloody revenge with pointy, stabby weaponry. Zosia isn’t the only one with a literal ax to grind though – everyone is out for someone else. This is a slow moving narrative but a story this broad and epic needs the time and space of more than 600 pages and sinking into it isn’t difficult. There are times when the narrative gets a little repetitive, and I really wish Marshall had included a map. But this is a great book, especially for those waiting on the next volume of A Song of ice and Fire.

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: God Help the Child

Cover image for God help the childGod Help the Child by Toni Morrison

Reviewed by: Barb Rude, Reference Assistant

Genre: Literary Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: This book is about childhood trauma. It’s about how that trauma shapes entire lives. It’s about Bride, a blue-black girl kept at arm’s length by her mother, who wouldn’t even let Bride call her Mama. It’s about Booker, who was happy with Bride until his own nightmarish past overwhelms him, makes him run. It’s about being broken and finding each other and navigating life with scars.

My review: I loved this book. The story takes us through all the ugly places of childhood through the eyes of several characters. Morrison is a master storyteller and the tale unfolds one painful memory at a time. To be honest, I had no idea how it would end—in a good way. I was so afraid for Bride that I had to keep reading, and finished this book in the span of 24 hours.    

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: Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution

Cover image for Girls to the front : the true story of the Riot grrrl revolutionGirls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus

Reviewed by: Laura Warren, Reference Assistant

Genre: Non-fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: This book is a history, as well as a group biography, discussing the Riot Grrrl Movement, which took place in the early 1990’s. In 1989, Kathleen Hannah was a junior in high school and had been doing some spoken word poetry. Upon meeting her icon, writer Kathy Acker, Kathy told her if she really wanted her voice to be heard she should start a band. Kathleen took this to heart, and would eventually put together one of the most famous Riot Grrrl bands, Bikini Kill. She would also begin a support system that would inspire young women all over the world to lift each other up, instead of tear each other down. Riot Grrrls all over the world would support each other, take part in political marches, create music, and write and distribute zines, which demanded to be taken seriously. Every girl is a potential Riot Grrrl, all you had to do was stand up and demand to be heard. In the beginning it was a very grass roots movement, and worked in small groups mostly near the Washington DC area, but as the movement grew, people began to take notice. Media and other factors would eventually take their toll on the movement, but those who were Riot Grrrls would be changed forever, and continue to fight in their own ways.

This movement was a feminist uprising that empowered women, especially young women, to take a stand and be heard. Feeling very left out of the punk music scene, as well as being fed up with sexual harassment, and feeling very isolated, a handful of brave female souls decided to take things into their own hands. Sick and tired of being expected to hold the boys’ jackets while they entered the mosh pits, these girls stood up, started their own bands, wrote zines about women’s issues, and refused to stay silent, in a scene that thought of them as the secondary citizens. The Riot Grrrl Movement is about much more than just music; though that was the stage much of this movement was played out upon. The Riot Grrrl Movement was about giving girls the power that had been stripped from them over and over. They created a community for girls, by girls, and it was a force to be reckoned with.

My review: When I came across this book, I was immediately drawn to it. I was in high school when the Riot Grrrl movement was at its peak, and though I knew of it, I was never able to be a part of it. It always called to me though, and as I read this book I found kindred souls in the girls discussed in this book. These girls were an inspiration, they refused to be pushed to the sidelines, of life and the things they love. They stood up, asserted themselves, and refused to be silenced. They became social activists for themselves, as well as the girls around them. The early 1990’s were an exciting time in music and music culture, but in many ways was not inclusive of women. This book is the stories of women who were not ok with this, and created a safe, and compassionate place for women to be, yet were as ferocious as any man in the pits at the local punk show. This book chronicles the stories of many women who took part in this Grrrl Revolution, as well as the story of the movement itself. This was a unique movement and the remnants of this movement still permeate many music scenes all over the world today. Girls to the Front displays the good and the bad sides of this movement, it shows the ups and the downs, that these girls endured. If you are a fan of music in the 90’s or consider yourself a feminist, this movement should spark interest.  If not, it is still a riveting discussion of music, strength, and what it means to be a Riot Grrrl.    

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: Lisette’s List

Cover image for Lisette's listLisette’s List by Susan Vreeland

Reviewed by: Amy Falasz-Peterson, Director

Genre: Historical Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: A young Parisian couple (Andre and Lisette) moves from Paris to the South of France in 1937 to help care for the ailing Pascal, grandfather of Andre.  Pascal possesses a love of art, as well as the Provincial countryside and has a small collection of paintings from Pisarro, Cezanne and Picasso.   Before the outbreak of the German occupation of France during World War II, Andre hides the paintings from the Nazis.  After the war, Lisette sets out to find the paintings.

My review: I dove right into the book and read about 100 pages right away.  You can tell that Vreeland has spent much time researching all the details of the book…the information about the artists, the Provincial countryside, what life was life during the German occupation.  I appreciated the details but I did feel like the book was a little long.  The character development was pretty predictable even though I did care for the characters.  There’s not much explicit language or adult themes here.

Rating: 3.75/5

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: Number the Stars

Cover image for Number the StarsNumber the Stars by Lois Lowry

Reviewed by: Jimi Roberts, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Historical Fiction

Suggested Age: Teens

What is the book about?: This book takes place during the Nazi occupation of Denmark in September and early October 1943.  The Nazis are just about to round up all the Jews in Denmark when the resistance hatches a plan to smuggle as many as they can across the sea into Sweden where the Nazis are not in control.  We take a unique journey through the eyes of a 10 year old girl who is forced to grow up very quickly and determine what she is capable of in the face of imminent danger to herself and her loved ones.

My review: I read this book for the first time when I was 10 years old and it blew my mind.  It showed me how powerful literature can be and was the first book I ever remember reading and truly enjoying.  It was a gateway book, of sorts, to all of the wonderful stories I have enjoyed since.  I anxiously and excitedly reread the story 24 years later because I wanted to include it in FDL: Reads on the chance that someone who has never experienced it before might be inclined to pick it up. Its every bit as good as I remember – perhaps even better.  There are twists and turns throughout the story and we watch the world transition from what it appears to be into what it really is and what is really going on from the perspective of a young girl.  We watch 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen grow up in a matter of a few days and transition from being a naive child to risking her life to help her friends and loved ones.  It is fascinating to read about the impact that a few brave people can have on the lives of others.  That concept is just as compelling for adults as it is for children and teens, and is applicable to many everyday situations beyond major events like the Nazi occupation of Denmark.  I would encourage anyone of any age to pick up this book and spend a couple hours enjoying this masterpiece.

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!

Musicians wanted!

musicians wantedMusically-inclined or know someone who is? The 2015 summer reading theme is “Read to the Rhythm,” and library staff is planning a “Summer Reading Finale Fun Fair” for all ages (Saturday, August 1, 11 am–5 pm) and wants to include live music. We are currently seeking bands/musicians that teens and adults could enjoy in the afternoon. (Don’t worry, kids! We’ve got you covered in the morning!) If interested, please contact genna@fondulaclibrary.org directly with your information, type of music, fees (if any), setup requirements, etc.

FDL Reads: The Kill Switch: A Tucker Wayne Novel

Cover image for The kill switchThe Kill Switch: A Tucker Wayne Novel by James Rollins

Reviewed by: Diane Soffietti, Reference Assistant

Genre: Adventure

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Tucker Wayne and Kane are partners, who work for an elite organization, called Sigma Force.  Kane is an intelligent Belgian Malinois: and with his handler, partner and friend, they see hazardous operations together. In this mission, a Russian biochemist has found a South African Boer’s record of a plant that dates back to prehistoric times and has a significance to modern issues. Smuggling the Russian out of the country and searching the diary of the South African botanist becomes the mission for Tucker and Kane. Will they both survive?

My review: The plot of the story was somewhat far-fetched with a menacing plant found during the Boer War at the end of the nineteenth century. Many villains and plot twists make for a fast read. I thought the most intriguing passages were with Kane working to help with the mission. The author included the dog’s mindset while doing his job to please his handler, Tucker. James Rollins has written other Sigma Force novels, but this is the first written with Grant Blackwood in a new series that feature a working dog and his handler. If you are interested in reading about military special operations type of adventure fiction, this one might be good for you to try. It is also a great choice for people who enjoy reading about how dogs are used to help soldiers.

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: Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story

Cover image for Jerry Lee Lewis : his own storyJerry Lee Lewis: His own Story by Rick Bragg

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Non-fiction, Biography

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: This is a biography of the rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, a star of the early rock ‘n roll era who had such hits as Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On and Great Balls of Fire. Lewis was one of the greats, who clawed his way up from poverty to become a sizzling performer, making both his piano and his audience shriek. Scandal followed him, not that he didn’t invite it sometimes. Failed marriages (including one to his young cousin) and the death of a son haunted him. But he still rocked the house, and no matter what his personal life was like, he’s still a legend in the world of rock and roll.

My review: I read this book solely because of who wrote it, so, full disclosure, this review will be less about the book’s subject and more about the writing that went into it. I have been hearing good things about Rick Bragg’s writing for a very long time, but all I’d read of his, prior to this, was his column in Southern Living magazine. I saw this biography on the shelf, and thought to myself, now that I’m a nonfiction writer myself, I should read a book-length work of Rick Bragg’s. He did not disappoint. I had zero interest in Jerry Lee Lewis, to tell the truth — I just read the book for Bragg’s writing. And it is gorgeous. It’s a southern boy writing about a southern boy, a hero to many, a demon to some. But Bragg neither lionizes nor demonizes — he just lets his subject speak for himself, and lets his audience draw their own conclusions about the man. He sat with Lewis for hours, listening to his stories so he could pass them on to us. There’s one sentence that just dropped me to my knees in sheer admiration for its beauty: “In time I came to understand that remembering, if you are him, is like playing catch with broken glass.” Bragg’s writing drew me in and MADE me care about Jerry Lee Lewis, and that is the mark of a great writer.

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: The Supernatural Enhancements

Cover image for The supernatural enhancements : a novelThe Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Assistant

Genre: Horror, Suspense, Slipstream

Suggested Age: Adults and Teens

What is the book about?: A young man, known only as A, has inherited a mansion from a second cousin twice removed. A didn’t even know he had a second cousin. But he and his companion, a mute teenager named Niamh travel to America anyway to take possession of both the house and A’s cousin’s considerable fortune. The circumstances of A’s cousin’s death are bizarre. He committed suicide by jumping out of a window – the exact same window his father had also jumped out of, and died. A and Niamh explore the house and the town of Point Bless, Virginia and find more than a little weirdness. Is the house haunted? What’s with the labyrinth out back? What’s behind that creepy door in the basement? And what exactly goes on during the yearly midwinter party held at the house? A and Niamh find the answers to these questions and a lot more – but that’s just the beginning of the story.

My review: This is a story told in scraps and pieces. You find out information little by little through A’s diary entries, his letters to Aunt Liza, audio and video recording transcripts, telephone bills, Niamh’s notebook, and other random documentation, including ciphered puzzles. The Supernatural Enhancements begins as a ghost story and then turns into a million other different things, including a bizarre global and subconscious scavenger hunt. I enjoyed this book a lot and related to both A and Niamh. My only complaint is that the book ended on a pensive note. Throughout, we learn the story of A’s second cousin twice removed but I feel like that needs a separate novel unto itself. I also want a novel about Aunt Liza. This book was weird and wonderful and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good mind bender – a haunted mind bender.

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