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FDL Reads: The Particular Sadness of lemon Cake

Cover image for The Particular Sadness of Lemon CakeThe Particular Sadness of lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Library Volunteer

Genre: Coming-of-age fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: Rose first tastes the emotion in cooked items as she nears her 9th birthday. She arrives home from school to find her mother preparing to bake a cake. On the counter are eggs, sugar, flour, lemon peel, chocolate icing, and rainbow sprinkles.  When the cake finishes baking, Rose sneaks a taste. The bite was initially delicious, but that impression is quickly replaced. Rose’s mouth filled “with the taste of smallness, the sensation of shrinking, of upset, tasting a distance [she] somehow knew was connected to [her] mother.” Her second taste – although yummy – includes “in each bite:  absence, hunger, spiraling, hollows.” These are Rose’s first bites of tasting the emotion in her food, food of any and all types made by and grown by all kinds of people of varying emotions from many places. It is, at first, a heavy and frightening burden, made worse because nearly no one believes what she is encountering.

My Review: I don’t normally like coming-of-age fiction, but the premise of this book – as well as the delicious cake on the cover – intrigued me. I ended being very glad that I read this book! It’s written in the first person, so you are immediately drawn into Rose’s life and what she is thinking and feeling. Page by page, her emotional tasting expands, leading her to learn unimagined things about her dysfunctional family:  a rather depressed mother who hasn’t found satisfaction in life, a father who is a good provider but retreats emotionally and a brother who echoes his parents’ dissatisfaction with life and emotional retreat. While my description here might make the book sound rather depressing to read, in fact it was quite interesting to read how each of the characters coped (or didn’t cope) with their lives and how Rose grows into her exceptional gift.  I was left at the end with a sense of hope that a person could learn to cope with exceptional gifts and daunting circumstances. It’s a creative and satisfying read!

Three Words That Describe This Book: Extrasensory, Imaginative, Psychological

Give This a Try if You Like… thinking about where food comes from or reading about psychic phenomena

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: Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury

Cover image for Hellboy: The Storm and the Fury by Mike Mignola

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation Specialist

Genre: Graphic Novel – Horror

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: Nimue, former consort of Merlin, has raised an army of displaced and disgruntled magical beings. They are intent on destroying the world of men and of summoning The Dragon. Hellboy is all that can stand against them, and both sides are pushing him to take up the crown and summon his army. Which crown, you ask? Either the crown of Hell or the crown of England; both are his by right of birth. Destiny is pushing, but Hellboy is having none of it. Will he be able to fight an army alone and save the world?

My Review: The previous 11 volumes of the Hellboy series, as well as several issues of B.P.R.D., Lobster Johnson and Edward Grey have been leading us up to this point. Little incidents prove to be the pebbles before the rock slide that catches up the world. You don’t have to have read them all, but it does fill in lots of gaps. This volume also seems to be the story line that will be the basis of the new Hellboy movie, slated to come out in 2018. Hellboy has had it rough. By this point, he’s been beaten more times that I can remember. He’s even died, although that might have been part of a hallucination (the pain was real enough for him to remember it). And as the story unravels, he learns of his heritage – the truth about who his mother and father are, and the purpose of his conception – and multiple versions of his destiny. He’s also found love in the form of Alice, a woman he saved from the fairies when she was a baby. I just want Hellboy to be happy, but it’s not in the cards.What surprised me with this is the tackling of the question free will and destiny/fate. Since the beginning, Hellboy has been told he has a destiny, that he was created for a purpose. He’s fought it every step of the way. Each person who tells him of his fate is usually met with a “screw you” response. Every person has also had different versions of what his destiny is, each one true, but not complete. This volume ties them all together and shows that no matter what path he takes, Hellboy was going to end up here. He takes on the task on his terms, but how much of it was his choice?

Three Words That Describe This Book: Wow, Exciting, Brutal

Give This a Try if You Like… Paranormal Adventure, Action Movies, Philosophical questions of freewill

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 Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

25150798The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Reviewed by: Susie Rivera, Reference Specialist

Genre: Historical/Cultural Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Li-Yan is a member of the Akha people, an ethnic minority in the remote hills of China. The Akha are known for cultivating tea, a practice that has been passed down for generations.  Li-Yan plans to follow in the footsteps of her mother and become a midwife, but when she meets and falls in love with another Akha boy, Li-Yan’s plans are forever changed.

My Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this novel by Lisa See.  I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by the same author several years ago and learned so much about the Chinese practice of foot-binding.  See has again done quite a bit of research for The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.  The details about the Akha culture and the art of cultivating tea are fascinating.  This novel is full of emotion as the author explores the relationships between mother and daughter, the pain of loss, and the joy of finding yourself.  I highly recommend this novel if you are interested in Asian culture and identity.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Heartbreaking, emotional, engaging

Give This a Try if You Like… Other books by Lisa See, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Leavers

Rating: 3/5

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 Clockwork Dagger

Cover image for The Clockwork DaggerThe Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Children’s Department

Genre: Steampunk Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Octavia Leander was orphaned by a never ending war, her parents killed in a bombing. Raised to embrace her gifts as medician by Miss Percival, she’s about to leave on her first real mission to heal a town ravaged by plague. However, she soon finds out upon boarding the airship that not everything is as clear cut as it seems. Political intrigue and secrets abound, and before the ship embarks, Octavia finds herself starting to doubt everything she thought she knew to be true.

My Review: The weaving of magic and science was remarkable compared to a lot of other magic-forward novels. I also enjoyed the amount of secrecy between characters, which runs alongside the overlying war plot. There were some negatives as well, namely how oblivious Octavia could be even when faced with overwhelming evidence toward a fact. Overall, I was left feeling like the character development was lacking compared to the great development of the world as a whole.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Mild, Underwhelming, Awkward

Give This a Try if You Like… Steampunk, Quick reads, Magic and Science Mixing.

Rating: 3/5

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: From Here to Eternity

34068481From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

Genre: Non-Fiction, Death/Funerary Practices

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: This book is like a travelogue of death. Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who owns her own funeral home and has been fascinated with death her entire life. In her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, she discusses her own experiences in caring for the dead. In this book, she takes readers around the world to examine some of the more unusual (to us) death and funerary practices of other cultures. Among other places, we visit a glowing electronic Buddha columbarium in Japan, the most beloved, favor granting ñatitas of Bolivia, and the small (but growing) human remains composting movement in America. Doughty interviews practitioners with each culture she introduces and looks at deathcare from their perspectives.

My Review: I really loved this book and took a lot of comfort from it. Doughty briefly discusses “big funeral” as an industry that has taken over death care, offering very few options for those whose loved ones have passed away. In America, we think that entombed burial or cremation are our only options, and largely that is true. Doughty’s look at the deathcare practices of other cultures is illuminating. She not only covers what these cultures do with human remains but how they feel about death and the people who have died. There is an overarching feeling for many of these cultures that literal care for a person does not end with that person’s death. I especially loved her chapter on the Bolivian ñatitas – skulls that spoke to their current caregivers from the grave to come get them and take care of them in exchange for favors. The ñatitas take on a second life in this new form that is unconnected to the life they lived when they had meat attached. Their caregivers worship and pamper them, lavishing them with clothing (beanies, sunglasses), cigarettes, and even money. That doesn’t seem like a bad post-death gig.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Enlightening, Comforting, Taboo-breaking

Give This a Try if You Like… Stiff (or anything) by Mary Roach, Beetlejuice, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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: Best Day Ever

Cover image for Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Suspense

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Paul Strom and his wife, Mia, are headed out of town for a romantic weekend, to spend some quality time together at their vacation house. It will be the best day ever, according to Paul. But Mia’s not so sure. What secrets are they hiding from each other?

My Review: This was a great nail-biter of a book. I love books with an unreliable narrator, and this was a good one. You got the feeling that Paul was up to no good, but just like Mia, you couldn’t put your finger on it at first … the author did a good job of building suspense and letting hints slip every once in a while that Paul was not the perfect husband he seemed to be. Then when you found out the depths of his treachery, that made it so much worse, because you thought for a while he was okay.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Creepy, unsettling, suspenseful

Give This a Try if You Like… Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris

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: Mort

386372Mort by Terry Pratchett

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Library Volunteer

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: It’s tough being an apprentice in Discworld – learning a new trade, getting along with co-workers, growing into your place in the world. Mort’s apprenticeship is not made any easier by the simple fact that he has been apprenticed to Death. On the surface an apprenticeship to Death seems like it would be all smiting the enemies of the world and learning the finer points of scythe sharpening. The grim reality is that it is a lot of hard work. This is a fact that will become apparent to all the first time Mort is sent out on his own only to bungle the death of a princess. Now it is up to Mort, with the help of Death’s daughter and maybe even some wizards to try to put everything right lest it wipe out all of reality. No pressure.

My Review: If you don’t like humor and fantasy to mix then this book is absolutely the wrong one for you. Terry Pratchett uses a very “real world” approach to the fantasy genre taking care to point out the weird little quirks of life and making the story feel real. Though this does take place on the magical land of Discworld, the characters, whether human or forces of the very nature of life itself, are the sort that you feel could meet in real life. This is the fifth of the Discworld novels, but a new reader would have no problem jumping right in. This story does not answer the bigger questions of death and reality – rather it takes them out and dances around them, but in a comfortably relatable way that is very down to earth… well as down to earth as Death himself can be.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Humor, Epic, Magical

Give This a Try if You Like… The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Squirrelgirl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson

 

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: Taming of the Queen

Cover image for Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Reference Specialist

Genre: Historical Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: English King Henry VIII (1491-1547) is infamous for his six wives. During his more than 30 year reign, he annulled two marriages, beheaded two wives, and was widowed once. His last wife, Catherine Parr (the central character in this book), survived the marriage. This was a remarkable feat considering the King’s prior marital history and the tumultuous period in which Catherine lived. Kateryn (note that Gregory uses an alternate spelling for Catherine) was twice widowed before she married Henry VIII, and there is evidence that she was in love with another man before Henry proposed. She dared not refuse the King. Much of Kateryn’s inner and interpersonal dialogue involves not betraying her love for another man and navigating a relationship with a King that she finds unpredictable and unattractive. During her reign as Queen, Kateryn becomes increasingly friendly toward the growing Protestant movement. This causes tension and concerns for Kateryn’s safety as Henry shows alternating favor between the Catholic-leaning members of his royal court and the Protestant-leaning members of the Court.

My Review: One of the things I like about Philippa Gregory’s writing is that her historical fiction is always well based in fact (check out the book’s bibliography for sources as well as further reading). Gregory has a talent for storytelling, bringing to life both pragmatic Kateryn and capricious Henry. Gregory brings out in readers a depth of sympathy for Kateryn, caught between love for another man, hiding that love, and trying to please the highly unpredictable King. Her depiction of the King is as interesting as Kateryn:  Thoroughly assured of his divine right to rule, Henry apparently liked pitting factions of his court against each other and enjoyed being the master manipulator with everyone, in the end, having to bow to his will. With its superb characterization and rich historical details, this is a page-turning read, even when you know from history that Kateryn survives her marriage to Henry VIII.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Enthralling, Egocentric, Monarch

Give This a Try if You Like… The Tudors, Wolf Hall, Reign, or The White Queen

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: World Trigger Volume 1

Cover image for World Trigger Volume 1 by Daisuke Ashihara

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Youth Services

Genre: Science Fiction, Manga

Suggested Age: Teens

What is the book about?: Four years ago, a mysterious gate opened over Mikado City. Strange beings, eventually named “Neighbors” came through and caused massive destruction. The weapons of Earth could not harm them. An agency called Border also mysteriously appears, but are able to fight the Neighbors. Flash forward to present day. A new student, Yuma Kuga, is starting at a school in Mikado City. He becomes friends with Osamu Mikumo – secretly a trainee agent of Border! But Yuma has a secret too – he’s actually a Neighbor, and a powerful one at that. When a gate opens over the school, Osamu springs into action to stop the Neighbor and save his classmates, but he’s not strong enough. Yuma borrows his trigger and obliterates the beast. Will Osamu keep  Yuma’s secret from Border? And will he survive Border’s questions about how the Neighbor at the school was really defeated?

 

My Review: I enjoy manga, and am always looking for a new series. I’d just finished up Gundam: Origins and wanted another sci fi romp. This popped up just in time! The story moves at a rapid pace; there’s a background character that gives us most of the exposition (by explaining it to Yuma); and I’ve already found a character I don’t like. I’m worried about the whole “high school drama” aspect that this series may have, but I’m hoping that as the threats increase, we will be spending less time in the school and more time in the field.​ I have additional questions about how triggers work, and how one is selected to join Border, but I’m hoping they will be answered in following volumes.

 

Three Words That Describe This Book: Action, Intrigue, Drama

Give This a Try if You Like… Transdimensional stories, sci-fi, “the power is in you”

Rating: 3.5/5

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 Waking Land

Cover image for The waking landThe Waking Land by Callie Bates

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Youth Services

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: 

Elianna Valtai was kidnapped at the age of five years old. Raised in a rival kingdom by a King she began to care for more than her own father, her world is ripped apart when she’s accused of regicide and forced to flee. As she is brought back to the country and family of her birth, she begins to learn the truth hidden from her all these years. The neighboring kingdom that had taken her had also tried to stamp out the very soul of her people. Lands that they treated as sacred ground were trampled and scraped dry of resources. People used as slaves and their innate magic ruled forbidden, until the magic users were hunted down to near extinction by witch hunters.

But acceptance doesn’t come easy for Elianna. The kingdom she was raised in is all she really knows, even though they branded her birth father a traitor and her people nothing more than mud-covered savages. She will have to come to terms with what she learns, and the magic that she’s long hidden, in order to help save the people of her homeland.

My Review:  

Elianna is spoiled, annoying, naïve… almost everything you’d expect a teen girl with Stockholm syndrome to be. When the first part of the book unfolds and she gets accused of regicide, I, as the reader, just had the uncontrollable urge to shake some sense into her. Now that I have that off my chest, I can gush about how much I loved the story. Ms. Bates just really hooked me in from the minute I read the summary on Goodreads. The world she creates is incredibly detailed, well thought out, and definitely something I want to read more stories in. Even minor characters play big parts in this story, as small happenings always seem to have a ripple effect into something bigger later on.

To be fair, I will admit that there are some dull parts. It’s so detailed that it can’t help but be a tad bit boring here and there. However, those are far between and you get back into the action fairly quickly. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: Immersive, Long, Engrossing

Give This a Try if You Like… Druids, Earth magic, Humming along to Carole King’s “I Feel the Earth Move” as you Read.

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