Taste: My Life Through Food – Staff Review – Haley

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Who doesn’t adore Stanley Tucci, or food! Put them together and it is once again a perfect combination. In this food based memoir Stanley Tucci provides a glimpse into his life story and how food has been at the center of it since he was a small boy. It’s filled with wonderful stories and family recipes.

I love him as an actor and use his cookbooks as well. This was an extra special treat getting to hear about his upbringing as well as a peek at his life today. Written during the pandemic, it really humanized this famous actor. Hearing about him caring for his family, especially the little ones while trying to work remotely, and making a family meal every night was very relatable.

4 Stars

The Last Guest – Staff Picks – Haley

The last guest By Tess Little (Request)

This slow burn keeps you guessing right till the end! Like the main character, you may even think the killer wasn’t human…. Actress Elspeth Bell attends the 50th birthday party of her ex-husband Richard Bryant, the famous movie director who launched her career, and during the festivities, one person ends up dead.

While not quite the same as a locked room mystery, the elements are similar. This has a deep dive into a small group of characters who are in attendance of the party and we learn throughout the novel their darkest secrets. If you are a fan of the slow burn, Agatha Christie style mystery, this would be a good choice.

3 Stars

The Shadow – Staff Pick – Terry

The Shadow by James Patterson and Brian Sitts (Request)(CloudLibrary)

The Shadow by Brian Sitts and James Patterson is an interesting use of the 1930s radio serial character “The Shadow” who ends up suddenly in a dystopian future setting.  The book follows both Lamont Cranston (The Shadow), and Maddy Gomes, a teenager who works with Lamont and serves as an interesting set of perspectives on this with Lamont being from the past and Maddy being from the current future.  Anyone familiar with The Shadow drama series will see a few other familiar characters as well as some of Lamont’s skills and abilities, but prior knowledge of the character is not necessary to enjoy the book.  Overall a good read.  

4 stars

The Whispering Pines – Staff Reviewed – Maddie

The Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski (Request)

A year ago, Rae’s father disappeared and while she knows what happened to him- he was actually taken- no one believes her. When her mom decided to move the family across the country, Rae wasn’t thrilled but figured it could be a chance at a fresh start and normalcy. But Whispering Pines is anything but normal, which is clear from the town’s rules.

Caden is all too familiar with the weirdness of Whispering Pines, having lived there his entire life and occasionally partaking in his mom’s paranormal business. When multiple students start to go missing only to show up again without their eyes, the two realize there may be more to the case than they realized… but can they stop whatever’s taking their fellow students before it comes for them?

The Whispering Pines is a middle grade (juvenile) fiction that can be a little scary at times for younger readers, but is a fun read overall. I liked the paranormal elements brought into the story, especially reading it so close to Halloween. If you enjoyed this book like I did, check out the next book in the series, Infestation, which just came out this year. Whispering Pines is also a 2021-2022 Maine Student Book Award nominee.

4 stars

The Wife Upstairs – Staff Review – Haley

The Wife Upstairs By Rachel Hawkins (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Looking for a fresh take on a classic? This retelling of Jane Eyre is for you then! Set among a wealthy neighborhood in Birmingham, Alabama, this thriller will have you on the edge of your seat. The story is told from the perspective of Jane, a dog walker new to the area, with a few secrets in her past. Jane meets Eddie and the two quickly begin to fall for each other, despite Jane having to live in the shadow of Eddie’s recently deceased wife, Bea.

I really enjoyed this novel and couldn’t put it down. The characters were pretty shallow and you don’t connect with them on an emotional level, however the plot twists keep you very interested until the final pages. It had been a long time since I’ve read Jane Eyre so I wasn’t constantly comparing the two novels and was able to appreciate it on it’s own. A great thriller!

3 Stars

Running with Sherman – Staff Review – Maddie

Running with Sherman by Christopher McDougall (Request)

When Chris McDougall was approached about taking in a donkey from a hoarding situation, he thought it would be no different than any of the other farm animals he and his family had taken in since moving to a farm in the Amish Country of Pennsylvania. Little did he know the condition the donkey-later named Sherman- was in. Chris was told donkeys’ need a job to give them purpose, which is where he came up with training Sherman to compete in a burro race* in Colorado. Little did Chris know much training and time this would involve or the amount of people whose lives would be touched by Sherman’s journey.

*Burro racing is a form of racing dating back to the 1800s mining times. It consists of racers and donkeys competing in teams. It has become a popular sport out west.

Running with Sherman was both a heartwarming and at times funny story. I loved reading about Sherman’s journey and all the people involved in making it a success. I also enjoyed learning about burro racing, which I had never heard of before and found to be an interesting sport. I recommend this book to anyone who loves animals or just needs a feel-good story. 

5 stars

Last night at the Telegraph Club – Staff Review – Maddie

Last night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Seventeen year old Lily Hu is trying to come to terms with the feelings she is developing for her classmate Kathleen. Feelings that come to recognition at the Telegraph Club, a lesbian bar that opens her eyes to another world she didn’t know existed. But in 1954 with the Red Scare of communism at its height and the threat of deportation looming over her family’s shoulder, Lily has to decide how much she’ll risk for love. 
Last Night at the Telegraph Club is a sweet young adult novel that shares the narrative of a young woman trying to find acceptance in an unkind world. 

3 Stars.

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

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