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FDL Reads: Monstress Volume 2

Cover image for Monstress vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie M. Liu, Illustrated by Sana Takeda

Reviewed by: Susie Rivera, Reference Specialist

Genre: Graphic Novel – Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: The story of Maika Halfwolf continues in this second installment of Monstress.   Joined by a talking cat and a child with a fox tail, 17-year-old Maika journeys to Thyria to uncover the mysteries surrounding her mother and the monster within her. The Monstrum, an ancient being with the power to destroy worlds, has a seemingly insatiable appetite for blood.  Maika tries to resist its urge to murder and eat people, while hoping to find a cure at the same time.  On her journey for answers, she meets new characters, including her goddessfather, Seizi, and the powerful Shaman Empress. We also learn more about the political turbulence between the Arcanic and Cumean societies while Maika’s own troubled childhood is revealed slowly through a few flashbacks.

My Review: Majorie Liu expands the universe she introduced in Volume 1, adding to the already impressive world-building of this steampunk fantasy.  The illustrations of the various settings and anthropomorphized characters are gorgeous as well as immersive. The reader is presented with a few answers, but there are still mysteries left unsolved such as the identity of Maika’s father and more about her past that will hopefully be explored in later volumes. I didn’t enjoy this volume as much as the first, but that is probably because the story is not over yet and I was left wanting more.   I’m sure the next installment will be worth the wait.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Mythical, Imaginative, Macabre

Give This a Try if You Like… Fantasy with extensive world-building, steampunk

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: One for Sorrow

Cover image for One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn

Reviewed by: Elizabeth Anderson, Communications Assistant

Genre: Horror

Suggested Age: Tweens, Teens

What is the book about?: When Annie starts attending a new school, one of her classmates, an outcast named Elsie, claims her as her very best friend. Elsie is unusual, dishonest, and unpleasant. Annie is quick to extract herself from the relationship in order to fit in with the other girls in the class. When Elsie dies of the flu, her vengeful spirit possesses Annie, forces her to do her bidding, and does her best to claim Annie as her friend for always.

My Review: This story contains elements of Hahn’s flare for historical fiction as well as ghost stories. Set at the end of World War I, the book contains well integrated facts and details about the time period and the influenza epidemic. Hahn’s novels typically craft characters that are imperfect, but lovable. This novel was no exception when it came to the flawed aspects of the characters, but it struck me as one of her more extreme works in terms of the mean spiritedness and sometimes downright hateful and disrespectful behavior of the core group of characters. While I typically wince at a character’s mistake and continue to root for them, I found myself a bit detached from the characters in this book because none of them had many endearing qualities, nor did the events of the story seem to cultivate positive traits in a genuine way. This novel exchanges characterization for a fairly solid and eventful plot, however, so if a reader is more interested in the story itself than the characters, this book will not disappoint. While it is not a “scary” ghost story, it is a troubling narrative in terms of the cruelty and malice of the characters, as well as the frustrating and upsetting ramifications of Annie’s possession by Elsie’s ghost.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Hatefulness, insanity, illness

Give This a Try if You Like… The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall and Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn, and The Ghost of Ernie P. by Betty Ren Wright

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: Oathbringer

Cover image for Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson

Reviewed by: Jessica Reeves, Reference Specialist

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: This is the third book in Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series. In each book, Sanderson focuses on one character’s past through flashbacks while also furthering the plot in the present. This book focuses on Dalinar Kholin’s past, one of the current political leaders. Throughout the first two books we see Dalinar as a man of honor who follows The Codes set forth in the titular book The Way of Kings (also the name of the first book in this series). Throughout this book’s flashbacks, we see a very different man: harsh, rash, unconcerned with decorum and the lives of others. We see his absolute lowest points and the devastating catalyst for the change into the better man he strives to be in the present.

As far as the current plot (without giving spoilers for the first two books), it focuses on the ongoing war between the Alethi, the human inhabitants of Roshar, and the Parshendi, humanoid inhabitants of Roshar with marbled skin and thick shell growing out of their bodies. There’s a bit of everything in this book: murder mystery, politics, love triangles, battling inner demons, and the multiple layers of war.

My Review: I read almost exclusively through audiobooks these days. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to start over and listen again. At 55 hours long, however, I decided to maybe give myself a breather. Michael Kramer and Kate Reading are amazing narrators, and the few inconsistent pronunciations/accents from the first couple of books were corrected in this book. I’m sure it’s hard to keep it all straight between two narrators in an epic level fantasy series dealing with made up cultures and names. The pacing in this book was good, though I did find myself drifting in a few places waiting for people to make decisions. After the epic climax of the last book, we needed some down time to recuperate before the next epic climax of this book, and it did not disappoint.

I will say I was disappointed by some reactions from characters that I felt were, well, out of character and unrealistic. I can’t really go into that without spoilers, but it involved the fact that Sanderson changed the ending of the second book post-production, and that was not updated in the audio version. Even with the change, though, I felt certain reactions were still unrealistic on some characters’ parts. You’ll have to tell me if you agree or not!

Three Words That Describe This Book: Epic, Exhilarating, Fantastical

Give This a Try if You Like… Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Skyrim, Lord of the Rings.

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: Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye

574955Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation Assistant

Genre: Mystery

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Abby Cooper is a psychic intuitive in the suburbs of Detroit. Her intuitions are usually spot on, but they didn’t warn her about the impending death of a client. Now Abby wants to help solve the case, but her career as a detective might not make it past case one!

My Review: Abby starts out great! She’s believable, not just as a woman, but as a psychic. The processes that Abby uses are described throughout the book along with why she uses them. It lends the story more gravitas than I thought it would. Her interactions with her friends, clients and family are relateable. But when it came to her interactions with handsome Detective Dutch Rivers…wow does she blow it. Abby cuts him off before he gets chances to explain or apologize; she takes it out on him when he steps back for professional reasons (not sure what weird ethics/conflict of interest regulations they broke but I’m sure that figured in to his decisions); despite his help, she doesn’t thank him. And while I know attraction makes people irrational, this was a bit too far. The story and setting were well done. I felt like the clues were revealed in appropriate ways, and at a pace that kept you interested. They were easily spotted but hard to put together, just like real life. Unlike some cozy mystery detectives, Abby doesn’t come across as overly nosy or butting in where she shouldn’t. Her rationales are believable and sympathetic. This was book one – I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the rest!

Three Words That Describe This Book: Fun, Flirty, Fast

Give This a Try if You Like… Supernatural reads, cozy mysteries, sassy female leads

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: David and Goliath

Cover image for David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

Reviewed by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

Genre: Non-fiction, Social Science

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: Malcolm Gladwell has written a lot of social science oriented books that take human behavior and attempt to look at them from different angles. He does the same in David and Goliath, and specifically looks at situations where an individual appears to have a clear disadvantage when facing adversity and ends up triumphing despite, or perhaps because of, their supposed disadvantage. Gladwell looks at multiple cases, from mega-rich entrepreneurs who grew up with dyslexia to the phenomenon of super successful and powerful adults who suffered the hardship of losing one or both parents. Gladwell also looks at how too much of a good thing can become detrimental.

My Review: A patron once asked me for this book and referred to it as a “thinking book.” I really like that description. This is a book that isn’t a very long or difficult read, but will make you rethink the way you perceive certain aspects of life. I very much enjoyed reading about the people in this book as individuals. But I think that Gladwell misses the mark in lumping them all together in a single book claiming that disadvantages can be beneficial. It’s true that they can – in some circumstances. But I didn’t feel that there was enough of a holistic approach to telling the stories of the people in this book. Gladwell only looked at their disadvantages. It’s not necessarily correct to say that x leads directly to y without examining all of the letters before and after. So, while this is an interesting and perhaps inspiring book, it’s important to read it with a grain of salt.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Thoughtful, Inspiring, Emotional

Give This a Try if You Like… Freakonomics, Penn and Teller: Bullsh*t!, underdog sports movies

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: Artemis

Cover image for Artemis by Andy Weir

Reviewed by: Jonathan Richardson, Reference Assistant

Genre: Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: In the near-future, humans have colonized the moon and turned the city of Artemis into a booming tourist attraction.  Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara is one of the city’s permanent residents, scraping by after a few poor life choices.  Jazz works as a courier, making deliveries throughout the city, not all of them exactly “legal.”  Her reputation as the best smuggler on the moon leads to her being approached by a wealthy businessman with a fiendish plan, and the promise of a huge payout that would mean the end of her troubles.  Of course, things never work out as planned…

My Review: Andy Weir’s first novel, The Martian, was a huge success, so there was a lot of excitement for Artemis long before it was released.  The two books are similar: both books incorporate large amounts of scientific facts and current technologies to create a realistic and believable sci-fi story, both books focus mainly on a single, relatable character and their point-of-view, and both books throw a never-ending series of seemingly over-the-top complications in the protagonist’s path.  However, I don’t think this book lived up to the hype surrounding it.  There are a few instances where the plot is a tad generic (even if it *is* on the moon) or that you wish the characters were maybe a bit more complex.  That said, it is still a good read.  Weir does a great job of presenting how a lunar base would be designed, how its systems would function, and how its inhabitants would live.  There are also plenty of moments where Jazz channels her inner MacGyver to get out of a sticky situation.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Nerdy, Fan-Fiction, Heist

Give This a Try if You Like… The Expanse (SyFy Television Series), Moon (2009 Movie), Michael Crichton novels, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

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: Sailing Alone Around the Room

Cover image for Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Library Volunteer

Genre: Poetry

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: You might know former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins from his creation of Poetry 180, a project Collins started to make poetry more accessible and acquaint high school students with the finest poets of our times. In Sailing Alone Around the Room, Collins’s poems touch on all aspects of life.  His poignant “In Memoriam” dedication of the book to his late mother and father sets the tone for the volume, as the poems examine everyday life in quiet or unexpected moments, grief and joy.

My Review: We all have things we enjoy doing. I enjoy reading, although I’ve never considered myself a poetry person. But I love the poems in this collection!  Filled with humor, irony, and imagery, the poems in Sailing Alone Around the Room are short – many just one page – but exquisitely crafted and emotionally engaging. Witness, for example, the sentiment in the poem “Another Reason Why I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House,” which begins:  “The neighbors’ dog will not stop barking.”  And perhaps during a wakeful night you, like me, can identify with the feelings in the poem “Insomnia”:  “someone inside me will not / get off his tricycle, / will not stop tracing the same tight circle / on the same green threadbare carpet.”

Although sometimes people can find reading poetry to be difficult, Collins excels at describing thoughts and feelings that we all have in common. Don’t be afraid to check out this book and read a poem or three or the whole book! You’ll enjoy it!

Three Words That Describe This Book: emotion, humor, thoughtful

Give This a Try if You Like… Gabbie Hanna or Tracy K. Smith (current U.S. poet laureate)

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: To Know a Fly

1714723To Know a Fly by Vincent Dethier

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biology

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Vincent Dethier, a biologist working in the 1960s, wrote this charming little book as a popular look at the research he was doing at the university at which he worked (the name of the institution is not mentioned in the text). The book is a lively look at the experiments Dethier did with common houseflies, and what they can tell us about fly biology and behavior.

My Review: “Although small children have taboos against stepping on ants because such actions are said to bring rain, there has never seemed to be a taboo against pulling off the legs or wings of flies. Most children eventually outgrow this behavior. Those who do not either come to a bad end or become biologists.” With an opening sentence such as this, you know the author has a sense of humor about his subject, even if that subject is the lowly housefly. This book was one of many science-oriented books that lay around the house when I was a kid — my father was keenly interested in science of all kinds, and he brought home a LOT of books. I read this in grade school — really, I mostly picked it up because of the title, and because when I flipped through it, curious as to why it was titled so, I saw there were cartoons. But the science I found in this book was accessible even to a kid in fifth grade. Dethier wrote with an easy style — he seemed to know that people would be more likely to read a book on housefly biology if it was presented with more humor than stodgy facts. The facts are there, but they are coated with an undeniably humorous approach that makes them go down way easier than most books about insects.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Light, approachable, interesting

Give This a Try if You Like… feeling smart, but don’t want to wade through the boring parts of a science book.

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 Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.

32075825The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Library Volunteer

Genre: Science Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: Arthur C. Clarke once wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In the case of the shadowy government agency, D.O.D.O, that statement is backwards. The problem is that magic as we know it has not been in the world since the mid-seventeenth century, due to the advancement of photography. Academic linguist Melisande Stokes and government agent Tristan Lyons have been tasked with bringing magic back specifically for the development of time travel. The pair soon learn this task is far more complex than they had originally thought. The intricate chain of events the team goes through in order to complete their mission causes their timeline to alter itself in many unpredictable ways, from changes in the names of government facilities to the elimination of certain brand names from existence even the ransacking of a Walmart by Vikings. Can magic be brought back? Can it survive bureaucracy? And why are banks so interested in it?

My Review: This book is definitely not light reading, but I don’t for a moment mean that as a negative. This book is written as interview transcripts, office memos and ancient manuscripts (one of the most fascinating chapters is just an internet search history) from a super secret government agency. So, the plot isn’t linear and the time travel makes thinks difficult, so the reader has to do some “heavy lifting “ for all of the twists of the plot to reveal themselves, but it is well worth the effort.

I am admittedly a big fan of Neal Stephenson’s work. I like the way he starts with simple concepts and the builds them into something huge to create a whole new world. My only complaint about his previous work is that big concepts can cause his writing to be a bit dry. In this case, historical fiction author Nicole Galland has taken the reigns to keep D.O.D.O. fun and engaging. The combination of the two styles is perfect.

Some may find the length of this book (at 768 pgs.) a bit intimidating but in all sincerity, I wish it were even longer as several of the themes that are introduced absolutely fascinate the imagination, and inspire thought even after the book is put down.

Three Words That Describe This Book: science, complex, original

Give This a Try if You Like… Cryptonomicon by Neil Stephenson, A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, La Jetee by Chris Marker

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

FDL Reads: The Fifth Child

546644The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing

Reviewed by: Jacob Roberts, Adult Services Reference Assistant

Genre: Horror

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: A young couple, David and Harriett Lovatt, meet at an office party in 1960 London. They both hold far more conservative ideas than both their colleagues and relatives. They soon fall in love and get a loan from David’s wealthy father to buy a large, Victorian house in a small town right outside London. Soon after they get married and purchase their dream home, they have their first child, Luke. Family parties and get-togethers soon follow, and so do more children. They appear to have everything they ever wanted—their dream home, small town, four children, and loved-ones near. Yet, soon after they make a resolution to postpone their fifth child, they find out Harriet is pregnant once more. This time the child appears to be growing too fast and makes Harriet ill. Numerous doctors’ appointments blame Harriet for being reckless and assure her that it is all in her head when she tells them this child is not like the rest. Once the fifth child is born they name him Ben, and everyone soon finds out how right Harriet had been all along.

My Review: I love this short novel by Lessing, because it forces the reader to rethink the conventions set forth by society. It comments on the masked voice of women in literature, as Harriet’s voice goes unheard and unheeded repeatedly by those around her. It also challenges the reader to ask what it truly means to be a family. While the novel is classified as Horror Fiction, it proves to be misleading to many readers. It holds much more political emphasis than what its genre entails. It displays some unsettling moments, yet the true “horror” of the novel is not the sharp descriptions, nor the action that takes place in the novel, rather it is the unspoken truths that it brings to light in our society that haunt the readers long after they have turned the last page.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Haunting, Political, Tragic

Give This a Try if You Like… Feminism, Tragedies, Quick reads

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