To Be Taught, If Fortunate – Staff Review – Terry

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Would you give up the life you know to go explore other planets?

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chamber is a novella that centers around an exploratory crew visiting exoplanets in the near future. The main focus of the story is mostly focused on the way the crew deal with the stresses and challenges of the places they visit as well as the isolation of not only being far from Earth, but that they will not return for many years and have no contact other than pre-recorded messages that take years to arrive. A very interesting read into the ethics and purpose of space exploration.

4 Stars.

War Lord – Staff Pick – Haley

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell (Request)

War Lord is the epic conclusion of Cornwell’s thirteen Saxon Stories book series. In 2004 Bernard Cornwell introduced readers to Uhtred of Bebbanburg. Over the past seventeen years fans have followed Uhtred’s journey from a young boy captured by Danes to a man long in years and battle scars. The vivid writing of this series was so well received it was adapted for television and can be seen on Netflix.

I put off reading this book for several months because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Saxon Stories, but I shouldn’t have doubted the power of Cornwell’s writing. While bittersweet, War Lord was his perfect mix of fiction, history, humor, and battles. Our journey with Uhtred, changing as a person over the span of his life, was perfectly concluded in this final novel. The ending was fitting and tied the entire series together.

War Lord – 4 Stars
Saxon Stories Series – 5 Stars

How I Became a Spy – Staff Pick – Haley

How I became a spy : a mystery of WWII London by Deborah Hopkinson (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Are you looking for a book to enjoy with your middle reader? How I Became a Spy is a fun mystery filled with action, ciphers, and a group of unlikely heroes. Bertie Bradshaw and his dog, Little Roo, embark on an accidental adventure when they meet Eleanor, an American girl, during an air raid. With the assistance of Bertie’s friend David, the three must work together to find a missing secret agent.

This book is well written, fast paced, and draws you in to the adventure. In addition to the historical relevance, there are also deeper story lines which explore the feelings of friendship, loss, and forgiveness, but at the same time it keeps a light tone. Added bonus, the book also teaches about ciphers and there are a few with instructions on how the reader can solve them.

4 Stars

Finding Freedom – Staff Review – Maddie

Finding Freedom by Erin French (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Erin French grew up in the small town of Freedom Maine, slightly north of Belfast. SHe saw her fair share of hardships, struggling with addiction, being a single mother, abusive relationships, and running a business when the cards were stacked against her. Despite everything thrown her way, she has overcome the challenges and succeeded in running a pop-up dining experience out of an air-stream trailer, and later operating a restaurant that people from all over the world come to visit.

Having grown up in, but never having heard of the Lost Kitchen until last year I was intrigued to read about how it came to be such a phenomenon. French tells a compelling story about how her dreams came to fruition in a way that keeps readers engaged throughout the story. Her memoir is well written and not at all dry as some memoirs and biographies can be. 

4 stars

Little White Lies and Deadly Little Scandals – Staff Review – Haley

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Request) (CloudLibrary)

Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Four debutantes in ballgowns sitting in a police holding cell?  You know this is going to be a wild ride!  This first of the duology, Little White Lies, introduces Sawyer Taft, an 18 year old auto mechanic who gets a surprising visit, and offer, from her estranged grandmother.  What follows in book one, and two (Deadly Little Scandals) is nothing short of a whirlwind family saga with more twists and turns than a roller coaster.  
This was a nonstop read for me, finishing both books over a long weekend.  I just could not put either book down.  Swayer’s adventure into the daily life and routine of high society is laugh out loud funny and you never know what is about to happen.  I was guessing, wrongly, throughout both novels.  If you are a fan of CW TV shows, these two books are perfect for you.  

4 Stars

Dear Evan Hansen – Staff Review – Maddie

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Based on the Broadway play which is also being turned into a movie, Dear Evan Hansen is a story about how a misplaced note can alter the lives of many people. TW: Teen suicideSeventeen-year-old Evan Hansen doesn’t have any school. When a letter he wrote to himself as a homework assignment from his therapist lands in the hands of a grieving family, he is given the chance to feel like he belongs to something. But is belonging worth secrets and lies he’ll have to keep?

3 stars.

Assembly – Staff Review – Haley

Assembly by Natasha Brown (Requests)

Do you keep an inner monologue running in your mind? Assembly gives us a brief glimpse into the inner thoughts of our narrator, a black British woman getting ready to attend a garden party at the home of her boyfriend’s parents. It is a very short and stark perspective on race, class, and gender. It’s unique structure of prose may not be for everyone, but I found once I started reading it became easier to follow. Books are all stories, this was more like opening someone’s mind to take a little peek.

3 stars

Yours Cheerfully – Staff Review – Haley

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce (Request)

As the daunting Mrs. Henrietta Bird has taken leave from Women’s Friend magazine, can Emmeline Lake finally become the wartime journalist she has always longed to be?  For anyone who was a fan of Dear Mrs. Bird, this sequel will not disappoint.   Immediately following the conclusion of the first novel’s story line, we join our same group of characters into a whole new adventure.  Emmeline, still working on the advice column at Women’s Friend Magazine, gets a enormous surprise and boost in her career.  

I loved this book just as much as the first one.  The story is a bit heavier in topic, but not in delivery.  There is an excellent balance in serious content vs. comedic delivery. For a fun, feel good read, you can’t go wrong with AJ Pearce.  

4 stars

Adobo and Arsenic – Staff Review – Maddie

Adobo and Arsenic by Mia P. Manansala (Request)

Lila Macapagal recently moved back home after a nasty break-up to help her aunt and grandmother run their restaurant, which is at risk of being closed. When an old classmate and local food critic dies suddenly at her family’s restaurant, Lila becomes the prime suspect in the investigation. She suddenly has to solve the case in order to clear her name and save her family’s restaurant.

Adobo and Arsenic is a fun cozy-mystery with a diverse cast of characters. Cozy mystery books are lighter mystery stories that don’t have a lot of violence and tend to have food or animal themes. This story was also a quick read, only taking me about two days, and is the first book in a new series. (The second book sounds like it’ll be good as well!)

3 stars

Nine perfect strangers – Staff Review – Maddie

Nine perfect strangers by Liane Moriarty (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Nine strangers sign up for a ten-day health retreat at the Tranquillum House, a resort that promises to change visitors’ lives. Some like Frances go to improve their health and lose weight, others go for the spiritual aspect or for reasons unspoken. The question guests will all be asking is whether Tranquillum House and its owner really fulfill their promises? And are these nine guests willing to pay the costs?

Though Nine Perfect Strangers started off a little slow as the author introduces all the characters and setting, it picked up as things took a turn for the darker. Moriarty sets readers up for a good psychological thriller.

3 stars,

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