Archive | FDL Reads: Reviews RSS feed for this section

FDL Reads: Ink and Bone

Cover image for Ink and boneInk and Bone by Rachel Caine

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Youth Services

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Imagine a future where the Great Library of Alexandria never burned down and all the books in the world are under the control of the Library. Personal ownership of books is illegal. Jess Brightwell is from a family of book smugglers, but he values the books more than most. Instead of taking his father’s place in the family business, he’s sent to go through the testing to become a Scholar within the Library. What Jess and his fellow Postulates soon discover, is that within knowledge is power, and the Library will do anything to keep a firm grip on their power.

My Review: This book captured me with a fascinating concept and by appealing to my love of dystopian fantasy. It had a bit of a slow start, but the latter half of the book had me totally hooked. Jess and his group of Postulates (aspiring Scholars of the Library) are diverse and interesting. It was especially fascinating to see them grow as people as they go through the trials and tribulations of their schooling and other unexpected situations. The climax and ending had me begging for more, with a twist that I really wasn’t expecting. I can’t wait to dive into the second book of what is definitely going to be a worthwhile series.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Adventure, Deception, Intrigue

Give This a Try if You Like… Harry Potter, Alternate History,  Dystopian Fantasy

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: Dead Until Dark

Cover image for Dead until darkDead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Supernatural/Mystery

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress in the small Louisianna town of Bon Temps. Her life is fairly normal except for one thing – she’s a telepath and can read the thoughts of others. This makes life difficult for Sookie, so when a vampire walks into the bar she works in and she can’t hear a single thing he’s thinking, she feels relief. Vampires have “come out of the coffin” all over the world and Sookie is to drawn Bill (the vampire) for both his mental quietude and his exotic nature. However, as Sookie and Bill fall for each other, humans are getting murdered in Bon Temps and it appears that vampires are to blame. Is Bill’s appearance in Bon Temps a coincidence, or are he and his vampire friends killing humans and jeopardizing the lives of vampires who want to live mainstream lives?

My Review: I am a little late to the Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood party, but better late than never. I had a lot of fun reading this book. Charlaine Harris might not be the best, most literary writer, but this book was entertaining and presents a thought provoking alternative world. What would we all do if vampires and other supernatural beasties were real? Would we welcome them into mundane human life or push them away? I think Sookie and Bill (and eventually Eric) are fun characters. I enjoy them as individuals and I enjoy their romance. This book as a whole is surprisingly nuanced and overall good enough for me to keep going with the series. I’m currently on book 6 and plan on finishing them all.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Fun, Sexy, Toothy

Give This a Try if You Like… Bram Stoker’s Dracula, deadpan humor, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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: Phoebe and her Unicorn

Cover image for Phoebe and Her UnicornPhoebe and her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Fantasy (Graphic Novel)

Suggested Age: Tweens, Teens

What is the book about?: This fun, energetic graphic novel series takes a different look at childhood. Phoebe goes to her thinking spot to escape the latest unfairness of being a kid, and skips a rock as she sulks. The rock hits a unicorn who’s been gazing at her own loveliness in the pond. Granted a wish, Phoebe wishes for the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, to be her best friend. What happens next is a Calvin-and-Hobbes style friendship, reinvented for the 21st century.

My Review: Just as the adventures of Calvin and his stuffed tiger transcended cartoons and appealed to adults too, this series isn’t just for kids to enjoy. I found it interesting that although comparisons to the older cartoon are inevitable, there are significant differences — for example, Phoebe’s parents are perfectly capable of seeing Marigold and having conversations with her. Marigold interacts with every other character – not just Phoebe. (And Phoebe is much less of a holy terror than Calvin was.) A nifty addition to the books can be found in the back pages, where the author puts extra fun stuff, like drawing lessons and recipes. I fully intend to make Unicorn Poop Cookies for my next birthday party. Why should ten-year-olds have all the fun? I binge-read all five of the books in this series one Friday afternoon, sitting on the porch swing with a glass of juice. Every once in a while, it’s fun to lose yourself in a book, pretend you’re ten, and have a unicorn for a best friend.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Funny, light-hearted, sly

Give This a Try if You Like… Calvin and Hobbes

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: Spill Zone

Cover image for Spill zone. 01Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Library Volunteer

Genre: Science Fiction (Graphic Novel)

Suggested Age: Tweens, Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Collectors are paying top dollar for Addison’s photography, and for good reason. The photos she takes are of the reality warped weirdness of the Spill Zone – an area devastated during the cataclysmic event that claimed her parents and struck her sister mute. She has successfully skirted the law so far but when she is tasked by an eccentric millionaire to acquire something from within the Zone she will have to break the rules for survival one last time, but at what cost?

My Review: This is a graphic novel that really takes advantage of the medium. Using a seemingly simple technique of “coloring outside the lines” Puvilland’s skillful color use contrasts the “real” world with the Spill Zone, providing a quasi-abstract feeling that heightened my sense of unease in a way that can only be done in a comic. The stunning art enhances bestselling author Scott Westerfeld’s masterful storytelling in which he weaves a tale that in less skilled hands could quickly fall back on genre tropes and become forgettable. If there is any downside, it would be that this book feels more like the first chapter of a longer epic then a standalone book. Though the critique of “I want more” is not a bad problem to have.

Three Words That Describe This Book: color theory, mysterious, intense

Give This a Try if You Like… Stranger Things, Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, original X-Files

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: Salad Cookbooks

FDL Reads Special Edition! A message from Dawn Dickey, Reference Assistant:

It’s too hot to cook, so I’ve been checking out cookbooks. I mostly prefer cookbooks that have nutrition information for each recipe, plenty of photos, and ingredients that are relatively easy to find.-Dawn Dickey, Reference Assistant

Cover image for Cooking Light : big book of salads.Cooking Light Big Book of Salads

Shaun Chavis, ed. 288 pp.

The editors of Cooking Light know how to publish recipes that catch the eye of cooks and consumers. This well-rounded cookbook includes

  • Pictures with every salad recipe + nutritional analysis of each salad
  • Ingredient guides; “100 Calorie Salad Boosters” (like 1 Tablespoon crunchy Chinese noodles); and “Shout-out” sections for various ingredients, like couscous, mangoes, or artichokes
  • Try: Soba noodles with chicken and vegetables p. 123; Greek chicken and barley salad, p. 155

Three Words that Describe this Book:  colorful, helpful, mouth-watering

Give this a try if you like to try easy-to-make recipes that will likely please your palate!

Rating:  5/5 – top notch!!

 

Cover image for Tossed : 200 fast, fresh, and fabulous saladsTossed:  200 Fast, Fresh, and Fabulous Salads

by Jane Lawson. 432 pp.

This cookbook has an intriguing title, but for me, the intrigue stopped there. I think the cookbook tries to be trendy but falls short on practicality. For example, the “poolside” section has a recipe for “marinated baby octopus salad,” not something I’m going to take to the pool any time soon – ditto for recipes asking for quail eggs and smoked trout. Not all the recipes have photos, and the text, interspersed with extra-large words, is annoying. And there is no nutrition information for the recipes – an essential for me. Interesting recipes to try:  chicken with mixed rice, golden raisins, and cashews (p. 254) or Thai-style chicken salad (p. 329).

Three Words that Describe this Book:  trendy suburban eats

Give this a try if you don’t mind slogging through uninspiring text/font to find some interesting recipes.

Rating:  3 out of 5 because of the annoying things & lack of nutrition information

 

Cover image for Salad as a meal : healthy main-dish salads for every seasonSalad as a Meal: Healthy Main-Dish Salads for Every Season

by Patricia Wells. 360 pp.

The title of this book is a bit misleading. The author writes:  “In my own personal definition, a salad as a meal does not need to include lettuce or greens; it can simply be a light and refreshing salad-related entity.” This runs counter to my own definition of “salad” and means that the cookbook contains many types of main dishes. The recipes reflect the author’s location in southern France. For a Midwesterner in the U.S., this poses a challenge in locating ingredients such as fresh mackerel or mussels or buffalo-milk ricotta cheese. There is no nutrition information, and, although there are photos, the photos are often artful garden photos and not photos of the actual dishes. Try:  Provence on a Plate (p.92).

Three Words that Describe this Book:  fresh, flavorful, unique

Give this a try if you like … cooking with a French flair, especially seafood

Rating:  3 out of 5 for interesting recipes but lacking in practicality

FDL Reads: Donner Dinner Party

Cover image for Donner dinner partyDonner Dinner Party (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales) by Nathan Hale

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Historical Fiction (Graphic Novel)

Suggested Age: Tweens, Teens

What is the book about?: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales is a graphic novel series that describes events from history in a way that makes them easy to understand and very, very entertaining. It helps that the author chooses stories that really have the potential to hold an audience’s interest … things like the Donner party tragedy. You say history is boring? Not when Nathan Hale is here to tell those hazardous tales! The secret is that there are two Nathan Hales. Nathan Hale the Revolutionary spy tells the stories, while Nathan Hale the author writes them all down.

My Review: This is some seriously entertaining stuff about some serious subjects. The point of this series is that Nathan Hale, a spy hanged during the American Revolution, puts off his execution, Scheherezade-style, by telling the hangman and the British officer in charge of the hanging tales from American history. It’s a macabre premise for a series, but boy does it work. And the stories Hale shares border on the macabre too. I started off with Donner Dinner Party, curious to see how this could possibly be in any way funny. Hale (both the storyteller and the author) does manage it. Other stories include Harriet Tubman’s story (not macabre but intense), the Battle of the Alamo, and the First World War (Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood).

Three Words That Describe This Book: Funny, informative, thrilling

Give This a Try if You Like… History and/or graphic novels.

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: Landline

Cover image for LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell

Reviewed by: Susie Rivera, Reference Specialist

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Landline is about a marriage in trouble and a magic phone that might have the power to save it.  Georgie and Neal have been together since their college years.  They love each other, but there have been problems in their relationship that have been festering for some time. Georgie is a T.V. show writer in Los Angeles who is very involved with her job.  Neal is a stay-at-home dad who takes care of their two small children. Georgie’s demanding career seems to always come first, and Neal has had enough. The book begins when Neal takes the children away, leaving Georgie behind. Georgie goes to stay with her mom and when she tries to call Neal from a landline phone, she discovers she is talking to Neal in the past. Will this magic phone help fix their marriage before it even starts?  Can she even change the future at all?

My Review: I read this book for FDL’s Out of the Box book club.  We had a great discussion about it.  I was very excited to see it on the upcoming reading list because I have read Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  I had very high expectations for Landline because I loved Eleanor and Park so much.  That book was one that I couldn’t put down, and I remember staying up past 1:00 a.m. to find out what happens.  Landline didn’t seem to have the same effect on me. Though I loved Georgie’s character, it was just an okay read.  Overall, I felt the author could and has done better work.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Realistic (except for the magic phone), Romantic, Funny

Give This a Try if You Like… Contemporary fiction with a twist of magic realism, Books about complicated relationships

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: Scythe

Cover image for ScytheScythe by Neal Shusterman

Reviewed by: Joscelyn Lockwood, Youth Services

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Humanity has reached the point that immortality is no mere dream. Nanos in the bloodstream mute pain, heal, and have the ability to make a person young again with proper manipulation. Suicide has become an activity that teens do for entertainment, and governments have been replaced by the all-knowing Thunderhead.

Rowan and Cita are normal teens chosen to become apprentices to a Scythe. This means they have to learn the one method of population control that society has left, sanctioned killing. Neither of them particularly want to become Scythes, and they know only one will be chosen at the end of the year long term.  Which begs the question, can one ever become okay with the idea of taking lives?

My Review: I cannot contain my excitement for this book. My expectations were a little low, given the recent rash of Young Adult books that seem to all follow the same blueprint. Mr. Shusterman just blew that right out of the water. The world he has created and the depth of the characters are wonderful. Rowan and Cita’s perspectives and thoughts are engrossing, and you really feel empathetic towards them. Each Scythe they meet in their journey is unique, and their outlooks towards death transcended the book and made me think about how our own culture views death and the possibility of immortality. Far more than your average YA romp, this novel is, thankfully, free of awkward love triangles. I really wish more writers could be this creative while still staying within the genre. It was a treat to read.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Action, Suspense, Thought-provoking.

Give This a Try if You Like… Any type of YA, dystopian worlds, unexpected twists and turns.

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: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

Cover image for Courtney Crumrin and the night thingsCourtney Crumrin and the Night Things by Ted Naifeh

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation

Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Suggested Age: Teens

What is the book about?: Courtney and her parents are moving out of the city and in with her great-uncle Aloysius in his creepy house.  Her new classmates are snobbish and mean.  Her parents are wrapped up in their own concerns and in climbing the social ladder.  And the one kid she started to make friends with just got eaten by a goblin.  But Courtney isn’t taking that kind of thing lying down.  She’s snuck a look at her uncle’s study and he has books about these creatures.  Courtney is going to meet the Night Things head on.

My Review: I started this series back in ’03 when I was working at Waldenbooks and absolutely adored it.  Then life kept happening and it got forgotten.  I remembered it again after cruising through a Goodreads list and decided to give it another go.  It’s held up surprisingly well – a dark fantasy world with a teen witch finding her way, discovering that everything has a price, and  who retains what makes her her.  The art work is stark and highly reminiscent of Mike Mignola, and gives great atmosphere to the tale. Courtney has a bad attitude and refuses to change who she is.  14 year old me would have adored her; 34 year old me still does.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Dark, Magical, Intriguing

Give This a Try if You Like… The Addams Family, Gunnerkrigg Court, The Dresden Files

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: Stranded: A Story of Frontier Survival

Cover image for Stranded : a story of frontier survivalStranded: A Story of Frontier Survival by Matthew P. Mayo

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Western

Suggested Age: Adult

What is the book about?: A young girl, on her way to Oregon with her family, is stranded for the winter in a valley at the foot of the Rockies.​ Her father and brothers have gone off to hunt buffalo in preparation for their journey over the mountains. When the men don’t return, Janette must find a way to survive. She must battle not only loneliness and hunger, but the wild animals who prowl the valley looking for prey.

My Review: This book has a Western sticker on the spine, but if you’re not a fan of westerns, do not let that put you off reading this book! Stranded is an adventure tale above all. Told in the form of a diary kept by Janette Riker, this is actually based on a true story. Janette Riker was left behind to guard the wagon when her father and two brothers went off to hunt. When they didn’t return, she had to find a way to survive the winter. The real Janette didn’t keep a diary, but if she had, it may have been filled with grit and determination, just like this book.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Powerful, raw, awe-inspiring

Give This a Try if You Like… The Revenant by Michael Punke, or the movie based on the book.

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