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

A lab of one’s own – Staff Review – Terry

A lab of one’s own : one woman’s personal journey through sexism in science by Rita Colwell, PhD and Sharon Bertsch McGrayne

A Lab of One’s Own: One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science by Dr. Rita R. Colwell and Sharon McGrayne is one part personal memoir and one part history lesson on sexism and misogyny in the sciences. Dr Colwell (who was the director of the National Science Foundation from 1998 to 2004) recalls not only her own personal experiences with sexist behavior she experienced in the field but also pulls back the curtain of the “Boys Club” nature of higher academics, sharing stories of her colleagues both female and unmarried males (who by her account are seen as “undedicated to the field” by their married counterparts) in a documented tone that leaves no doubt as to her diligent work in exposing as much of this unprofessional behavior as possible. Overall a good read, and an eye-opening one that leaves room for hope that the fields of science and higher academia can make progress in becoming more egalitarian.

5 out of 5 Stars

Malibu Rising – Staff Review – Haley

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Request)

The newest novel from the author of the hugely popular Daisy Jones and the Six. This is a family saga told from the perspective of four siblings living in Malibu and the story of their parents. While most of the book revolves around the incidents taking place in one evening, an annual party thrown by the siblings, it does incorporate the entire journey from childhood to adulthood for all six of these characters told in flashbacks.

This novel felt like watching a soapy television show. You know there’s something you should probably be doing that is more productive, but you just can’t put it down. The character’s weren’t wonderful, but they were good enough that you still want to follow them through their journey to see the ultimate outcome for the Rivas family. As a fan of TJR’s previous works I knew it wouldn’t let me down, but it wasn’t her best either.

3.5 Stars

Black Water Sister – Staff Review – Cherise

Black Water Sister by Zen Cho (Request)

Spirits don’t always stay dead. Jess finds this out the hard way when her Ah Ma comes to her and demands her to finish her unfinished business. But how do you do that when you don’t know who you can trust? And who is this mysterious Black Water Sister?

We follow Jess as she and her parents move back to Malaysia. What she didn’t expect is to start hearing a voice that claims to be her Ah Ma. Ah Ma wants revenge on a man that happens to be the 5th richest man in the country. Jess, just simply trying to do as her Ah Ma wishes to get her to leave her alone, ends up getting possessed by her Ah Ma and nearly kills the man’s son. We find out that there’s more to this story and to her mother’s side of the family that she didn’t know, including the fact, her Ah Ma did some rather illegal things while alive while the god Black Water Sister peeks her head in, after all, Ah Ma had been her medium while alive. Now Jess is faced with becoming the next one while not wanting her life tied to the god who demands blood.

I loved every second of this book. We get to know these characters along with knowing some of the beliefs in Malaysia (though it didn’t touch on the large Muslim population, simply the old beliefs of the Malaya people, Christianity, and Chinese gods). Then there’s the fact this book has a lot of diversity within it. Shreng is mixed race, part Chinese, part Indian. Jess’s girlfriend is Indian. And then there’s the fact Jess is gay and has to live with keeping this a secret from her family because she fears them finding out. There weren’t really slow parts because this book had bigger events tied to it and Jess as a character is extremely relatable in my opinion. She wants to do right by her family and not stir the boat or make them worry. Of course, that doesn’t exactly work for her as her mother finds out about the god. As for what this story is about at its heart, it’s about those who want to get rid of the old ways. After all, there’s a fight for the right of the land that has Black Water Sister’s shrine on it. Ah Ku is a medium and on the board of the temple. It’s about the rich wanting to gentrify everything because they feel they have a right, specifically those of Chinese descent because they get a boost simply for being Chinese. What happens to the old ways and the old gods when their shrines are destroyed to be made into a coffee shop?
Please go read this amazing book. I highly, highly recommend it.

5 stars.

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