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Staff Book Reviews

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman
Lee, Harper
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The latest Harper Lee book has had so much publicity and hype and I'm sorry to say that it is not warranted. I was really hoping that I would like it because I enjoyed her earlier book and the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird.
I don't want to give too much away in this review, but this book was missing the magic of the first book. The character of Atticus seemed completely different and not in a good way. Jean Louise (Scout) is now twenty-six and unfortunately was not someone that I could care deeply about. Very disappointing.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Genres:
Book Review: American Born Chinese
Yang, Gene Luen
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Not bad. I enjoyed every part of this book except for the monkey god sections. I don't know, those parts just didn't appeal to me. I rarely read graphic novels so maybe certain things were lost on me because of the format. Overall I was somewhat underwhelmed

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: At the Water's Edge
Gruen, Sara
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was my first Sara Gruen book and it was thoroughly enjoyable. I have not read many books from this time period set in Scotland, so it was interesting to see how they were living their lives. I liked the characters (well, except for Ellis, but I loved that I disliked him so much). A slight mystical element rounded out a truly good story.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
Bradley, Alan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Not my favorite of the series. SO many characters, I had a hard time remembering them all! I understand it must have been nice to have Flavia visiting his home country (the author is Canadian), but I preferred the books set in Bishop's Lacey, England.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: Show Dog
Dean, Josh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Very interesting inside look at the world of show dogs. You follow the progress of Jack, the Australian Shepherd, but the author also gives you a brief history of dog shows in general, different breeds, and even the evolution of the dog from wild animal to domesticated pet. Well written and fun to read (I finished it in just a couple of days), this is a great book!

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: Shadows Over Paradise
Wolff, Isabel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love dual timeline novels, as long as they are well done. This one alternate betweens Jenni, who is a ghostwriter who prefers to dig into other people's lives rather than deal with her own past, and Klara, a Dutch woman who was interned in a camp on Java during WWII. Jenni is an interesting character, but I felt like she was more of a foil for Klara's amazing story of survival. Very powerful book, one that will linger in my mind for quite a while, I'm sure.

Reviewer's Name: Krista
Genres:
Book Review: The Sock Thief
Crespo, Ana
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

My daughter and I really enjoyed this book, which was written by a local author. We learned about Brazilian culture and the role football (soccer) plays in various world cultures. Well written and illustrated, we definitely recommend this book!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Circus Mirandus
Beasley, Cassie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a heartwarming story of the relationship of Micah with his grandpa plus the magical aspect of the mysterious Circus Mirandus. Micah is a wonderful well-rounded character and you really feel his deep desire to help his grandpa at all costs. I loved this book and the writing style of its author, Cassie Beasley.

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Book Review: Natchez Burning
Iles, Greg
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was outstanding and I could not put it down. I have never read Greg Iles' work before and his book is a very suspenseful and interesting historical fiction involving past civil rights atrocities and current day efforts to uncover those crimes. A very believable account and page-turner to boot!

Reviewer's Name: Mary Kay
Book Review: House of Echoes
Duffy, Brendan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A great Gothic grabber! Struggling writer Ben Tierney flees New York city with his troubled family - bipolar wife Caroline, strange eight-year-old son Charlie, and baby Bub - for a tiny upstate village where his ancestors fought through the Revolutionary War. Before long, things start going downhill. The family encounters strangely obsessed villagers, a creepy, crumbling mansion, and SOMETHING IN THE WOODS that leaves dismembered animals everywhere and watches Charlie's every move. Kind of like The Shining meets Village of the Damned. It's an old formula, but Duffy makes it work well. I would have given it five stars save for a lapse in logic at the end. Still well worth the read.

Reviewer's Name: Alan
Book Review: When Fraser Met Billy
Booth, Louise
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is a very heartwarming book about the relationship of an autistic boy, Fraser and his rescued cat, Billy. Louise Booth, who is Fraser's mother as well as the author, describes the impact of Billy in terms of helping Fraser overcome many of his physical and emotional challenges.
Fraser comes out of his shell and Billy is a tremendous part of this positive change. Sometimes cats are portrayed as being standoffish, but Billy disproves this stereotype with his friendship with Fraser. A wonderful story!

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Book Review: The Terrible Two
Barnett, Mac
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I just loved this book. It was so funny - both the story and illustrations! It is about Miles Murphy who is a new student in Yawnee Valley (which is only known for lots and lots of cows and they are very proud of that). Miles' goal is to be the best prankster at his new school, but someone keeps coming up with better pranks than Miles - who could that be?

Reviewer's Name: Lisa
Book Review: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
Santat, Dan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

My daughter and I just LOVE this book. Beekle is beautifully illustrated, it's the 2015 Caldecott Award winner, but even more so, the story is wonderful. You feel for Beekle as he searches for his person, and rejoice when he finds her. Little details in the book make it interesting for adults when read multiple times. Beekle is sweet and beautiful, bittersweet and inspiring. A must-read picture book.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Book Review: The Book With No Pictures
Novak, B.J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is HILARIOUS!! My 5 year old loved it. Goofy, silly, and a laugh-fest all around. A definite must read to your child. Thumbs way up! As an aside, the author of this book is one of the creators of the televison show, The Office, so you know it's going to be good.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: Crazy for God
Schaeffer, Frank
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I grew up in the evangelical world. I witnessed first-hand the fanaticism of the believer. This book was interesting to me because it pulled back the curtain on the religious right, particularly in the 80s. Frank Zappa was right, there was indeed "50 million dollars in his heavenly bank account". I just wish there had been more pages devoted to this time in the author's life. Nonetheless, the author was honest and forthright about his upbringing and wrote with charisma.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories
Hemingway, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I really enjoyed "The Snows of Kilimanjaro", "A Clean Well-Lighted Place", and "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber". Overall, the subject matter was a bit too macho for me, but the writing, of course, was excellent.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Book Review: Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jesus, this was a horror story! A bloodbath! A children's book! I was kinda hoping it would end differently, but the ending was still good. Especially the adult perspective at the end. Chilling.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Genres:
Kim, Suki
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A very unique perspective of North Korea. Kim's descriptions are hauntingly beautiful and poignant. I found this book hard to put down once I started, the suspense of Kim's situation will pull you through her story. I became so attached to the student's stories that it made this book both gut wrenching and heartfelt.

Reviewer's Name: Mary N.
Hartman, Rachel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Seraphina is the music mistress living at court, but she has a secret. Beneath the layers of her carefully tied sleeves and around her waist are the scales of a dragon. Dragons and humans barely tolerate each other--despite their treaty--except when they fall in love. Seraphina's shape-shifting-dragon mother died in childbirth and Seraphina's human father tried to keep his daughter out of the public eye. As Seraphina becomes a teenager her intelligence, musical talent, and curiosity plunge her into the intrigues of the royal court and into the arms of a prince. How long will she be able to hide her true nature from the prince?

Reviewer's Name: Renee
Genres:
Rothfuss, Patrick
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For fans of his series, this novella may be a disappointment. It does not continue the main storyline, but focuses on Auri and her life in The Underthing instead. It is a short, quick read, but is beautifully crafted. It really lets you into the broken mind of Auri as she goes about her life, one day at a time. Rothfuss fully admits this book isn't for everyone, but I think his fans should at least give it a shot.

Reviewer's Name: Becca
Genres:

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