The Rules of Magic – Staff Review – Haley

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Magic, witches, and the origin story of the crazy aunts from Practical Magic? Yes please! Alice Hoffman’s prequel to her beloved Practical Magic follows the lives of siblings Franny, Jet, and Vincent. From the summer of their youth spent with their aunt, through their lives, this is a wonderful addition to the stories of the Owens witches.
Having read most of Alice Hoffman’s books, and enjoyed them all, I was excited to start this book. True to the first novel, the siblings endure the curse all Owens witches must face, and while trying to avoid love, this is truly a love story at heart.

4 Stars

Ready Player Two – Staff Review – Haley

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Who’s ready to get sucked back into the world of virtual video games and pay homage to the 1980s? Ernest Cline’s follow up novel to Ready Player One picks up with Wade and the gang after completing Halliday’s quest and taking over his empire. And so begins Wade’s second quest.
I was terribly disappointed in this book. Having loved the first I had high expectations to enjoy this one as well, but it was a major let down. Fame and money have changed Wade’s personality, which, true it would, but he’s no longer an enjoyable character to follow on yet again, another too similar journey as book one;. The fun 80s references were not as eloquently woven through the story this time around and I found myself skimming sections, even in the John Hughes realm which I thought I would love!

1.5 Stars

The Last Thing He Told Me – Staff Review – Haley

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Request)(CloudLibrary)

One day your husband just disappears with nothing more than a note delivered to you by a child. No explanation or details, only his teenage daughter, who hates you, left to your care. Laura Dave winds the reader through the mysterious life of Owen, from the point of view of his wife Hannah and her stepdaughter Bailey. As the two struggle to learn where Owen has gone, they uncover a web of lies and secrets.
While the details of the story are unique, the overall concept felt like it could have been any number of books. It was a whirlwind story and by the end it seemed just too outlandish. Some books you expect to expand your frame of mind, but I thought this would have reeled it in to the realm of actually possible as it wrapped up the novel.

2 Stars

Dread Nation – Staff Review – Haley

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (Request)(CloudLibrary)

What if the American Civil war had not been just the northern and southern states combated against each other? What if the fallen soldiers began to rise from the battlefield to return as zombies! This is the premise of Justina Ireland’s novel, Dread Nation. Told from the perspective of Jane McKeene, a black girl who was sent from her home in Kentucky to attend finishing school at the infamous Miss Preston’s in Maryland where she learns zombie fighting skills as well as how to properly behave like a lady. The story follows Jane and her frenemy, Kate, from Ms. Preston’s through an unexpected journey taking them from Baltimore to a rural town where life is different from everything she’s experienced so far.

I truly enjoyed this book. Not only is the writing laugh out loud witty, Jane’s no apologies strength as a bi-racial woman is very refreshing. Zombie’s aren’t necessarily my first choice when choosing a book, but it worked really well for this historical fiction. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good laugh and a fierce woman lead. There is also a second book in the duology.

4 Stars

Homegoing – Staff Review – Donna

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Request)(CloudLibrary)

A family saga that tells two stories that keeps you hooked until the last page. It follows a family over 300 years, beginning in Ghana with two sisters, Effia and Esi, same mother but different fathers. One is sold into slavery, the other marries a British soldier. The chapters alternate between the next generation of each sister and ties them together in the last chapter. So, so good! I’d give it a 5 but it takes awhile to realize how the chapters are set up; dates would have really helped! I found I had to keep referring to the family chart in the front of the book to remember who was who!

4 stars

The Paris Library – Staff Reviews – Maddie

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (Request)(CloudLibrary)

In Paris 1939, young Odile Souchet has just started her dream job as a reference librarian at the American Library in Paris. Not long after,  WWII breaks out and the Nazis storm France, taking control of much of the country, including Paris. Soon, Odile and her fellow librarians find themselves joining the resistance; their weapon of choice: books. But not everyone finds resistance so easy.
Montana 1983: Lily longs for adventure outside of the small town she lives in rural Montana. Befriending her quiet, elderly neighbor Odile, Lily soon finds what she has been looking for. As the two become friends over their love of French culture, Lily stumbles upon a dark secret from the war. 
Based on the True story of the American Library in Paris and how its staff did their part to resist the Nazi occupation during WWII, this story shows hope, love and hardship during war times and how small, subtle acts can have a large impact. I enjoyed this book and the different perspective of wartime life that it provides. The characters come from a variety of backgrounds and countries yet are all united under their shared passions and experiences.

4 stars

Kiss Carlo – Staff Review – Anne

Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani (Request)(CloudLibrary)

What’s the secret ingredient in the tomato sauce?

I really enjoyed the book ‘Kiss Carlo’ by Adriana Trigiani. After World War II things are changing for the Italian families of South Philly, Roseto PA and Roseto Valfortore, a small town in Italy. This is a story that focuses on the importance of family, relationships, creativity and reconciliation. The reader will connect with many situations the characters are faced with, but probably not with changing one’s identity to escape the wrath of a former fiancee’s father.
Written well, the story had many stories within it. I got to know the characters and their relationships with each other and especially liked the relationship between Calla and Nick and the strength of Aunt Jo and Hortense Mooney. The story could have ended with the fiasco in Roseto PA but kept going, showing a richer character development and leading to finding their purposes in life.

4.5 stars

Rescuing the Planet – Staff Review – Joan

Rescuing the Planet Protecting Half the Land to Heal the Earth by Tony Hiss (Request)

A Canadian wolf gets a gets a radio transmitter and humans change their understanding of “range”, of borders, of saving species, land, and ourselves. It’s a new way to look at what earlier ecologists have said over time -but with a radio transmitter, it becomes very real that we have no idea of how we view preservation may need to be expanded, and fast. While it describes lots of research and ideas it’s very very readable. Good news, there’s a pretty decent start in getting to saving 50% of land by 3050.

“It was known that wolves wander. Pluie, considered a loner, might wander 60 or 70 miles. A month later came the bigger surprise, a real jolt. A civilian branch of NASA got in touch to say a satellite had picked up Pluie’s signal hundreds of miles to the southeast, down below the U.S border in Montana. Pluie hadn’t stopped broadcasting for a moment. The researchers hadn’t thought beyond their expectations and so weren’t looking nearly far enough away” for Pluie’s movements! Timely and informative, and importantly keeping things front of mind in today’s age!

5 stars

The Deep – Staff Review – Cherise

The Deep by Rivers Soloman (Request)(CloudLibrary)

When the mermaids remember what human’s have done to the world and their ancestors, they won’t just get revenge, they’ll take back what’s theirs.

The Deep is a story that’s been told again and again, from music, from writing, to more. The Deep by Rivers Soloman is another version of it and one that though short is very much worth the read. We follow Yetu, the historian of the wajinru, the decedent’s of the African Slaves thrown overboard while pregnant. Yetu carries the memories of her people, their pasts and how they came to be, but suffers under it. When given a chance to escape her role as historian, she takes the chance, knowing that the rest of her people will suffer under the weight.

I honestly love the messages this book has. I probably won’t be able to name them all and I apologize, but the main one I want to mention is the fact it brings up the case of remembering one’s ancestors as a way of giving thanks, but also knowing that there’s such generational trauma that it could truly hurt those who must live with these memories and suffer under them. And the way of balancing, this book allows the characters to balance it once Yetu is confronted by another character who is the last of her people, who is exactly what Yetu needs to remember she is honoring her ancestors and keeping them alive through those memories, at the cost of pain. Other characters in turn help Yetu as she helps them with balancing the heavy truth of the past, which is key. Yetu isn’t exactly the most loveable character, but this has to do with her getting weighed down and being forced to decide if she is allowed to live and be herself, or die under the heavy weight of these memories. By the end, you finally understand her more and the parts that make her tick as a person. Why she’s was so abrasive (which I get, as someone with sensory over stimulation that happens more than I want, this was the first time seeing a character truly show how overwhelming those feelings are) and why she chose herself over the others. It’s honestly a really important read with great representation with gender and sexuality, along with a cast of black characters learning to live and understand one another and their shared trauma.

3 stars

A Pirate’s Life for She – Staff Reviews – Maddie

A Pirate’s Life for She: Swashbuckling Women Through the Ages by Laura Sook Duncombe

A Pirate’s Life for She is a collection of short biographies on 16 female pirates throughout the ages and how they came to sail on or in command of their ships. History often overlooks women, especially female pirates, but Duncombe does these women justice in telling their stories and how they rose to power. This was a quick and read that I enjoyed.

3 stars

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