Reviews

Want to know what our librarians and staff are reading? Browse through a variety of reviews added to our catalog from a variety of genres.

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  • Larger than life a novella by Picoult, Jodi,
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 17, 2019

    Tagged: Fiction Animals and Nature

    This is obviously a short read but one that should not be under-estimated. The title 'Larger than Life' illustrates the bond between all life forms. Most specifically, Picoult highlights the salient and at times tumultuous bond between mother and child. Detailing Alice's undying love for rescued elephant, Lesego, underpinned by Alice's turbulent relationship with her mother, the reader is left with a book to remember for sure!

    And who wouldn't appreciate a book about elephants and Botswana. Smiling! 

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  • The boy with the cuckoo-clock heart by Malzieu, Mathias.
    ★★★☆☆

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 3, 2019

    Tagged: Fiction

    All in all this was a whimsical journey from 19th century Edinburgh to the land of Andalusia in search of love with a boy with unconventional heart strings. Notwithstanding Malzieu's particular descriptions of characters and events, I would have rated the book 2 stars. It was the fanciful depictions that saved the novel. 

    I would recommend for those with a propensity for love stories and magical realism.

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  • Life is so good by Dawson, George,
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 3, 2019

    Tagged: African American Biography & Autobiography

    As a 30-something African American, it's hard to imagine a time when non-whites were treated with such inhumane treatment and expected to consider themselves as less-than. Needless to say, I was appalled by certain parts of the book. But, Mr. Dawson's reaction to most situations overpowered the evilness he was faced. All who read this book will be better off because of it! This is one of those books that sticks with you through life and will make you feel a great need to work hard and do right by people- Mr. Dawson's motto!

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  • The hate u give by Thomas, Angie,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 3, 2019

    Tagged: African American Fiction

    "Brave doesn't mean you're not scared. It means you go on even though you're scared." 
    Provoking, Intriguing, Riveting....I couldn't put it down. This book is about using your voice. Taking a stand. Understanding your power. Teens need empowerment in the necessary tools, strategies and platforms to make their voices heard. This book places just another tool in that box for teens to pull from. Angie Thomas made her mark in the literary world but most importantly she established a literary compass in the works of African Americans on this topic. 

    I commend Angie for her bravery.

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  • The man who quit money by Sundeen, Mark,
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 3, 2019

    Tagged: Body, Mind & Spirit Personal Finance & Investing

    This book is rather memorable, dare I say thought altering. Before my daughters were born; money didn't really hold much importance in my life as I was only responsible for myself and I lead a very simple life. BUT, when my first daughter was born money to me became this worrying necessity. Will I ever have enough? What schools will she go to? Where will I live? All of these futuristic questions began to emerge and money was the underlying, unsteady factor.  I've since had another child and I've yet to get back to my simple care-free worry-for-nothing life. I understand that worrying goes hand-in-hand with motherhood. However, reading this book made me return to a point where money has not been personified. Money is an object a means to an end. I no longer worry about spending it or if I should have saved it. I feel more free in my decision making...less affected emotionally. Notwithstanding that I have an adequate salary and savings, I still believe that after reading this book I have released the grip money had on my psyche and for that I am grateful! 

    Given this account of Suelo's money-less lifestyle, am I intrigued enough to go full throttle? No, can't see that happening. However, his life is an inspiration and an eye-opener to things I could stand to change in my lifestyle. His way of life is no way conducive to child-rearing, as much as I can see. Once my children are older and self-sufficient I WILL however, sell my home for a smaller domain possibly get rid of my car and take other larger more apparent steps toward a more simpler lifestyle. Until then, it'll have to be the small things that count. 

    A must-read!

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  • White dog fell from the sky by Morse, Eleanor Lincoln.
    ★★★☆☆

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 3, 2019

    Tagged: Fiction

    This book was a disappointment:( The writing was superb no qualms about that but the storyline left MUCH to be desired. As a visitor of Botswana for about 2 months I appreciated the lethargic cultural analogies and her ability to smoothly integrate Setswana phrases, euphemisms and dialog. 

    Regarding the storyline; I wanted MORE! The white dog was not a main character not that I was expecting the dog to be but I at least expected the dog to be an integral part of the climax- not so. And what climax? The book simply fizzed to a halt. The white dog while endearing in the first 100 pages was left in a depressed state awaiting Isaac's return for the remainder 250 pages. I could have done without the intrinsic details of Alice's love life and she could have certainly left out the extra characters that only made the prose that much more shallow and forgettable. I rate this book 2 stars based on her innate writing abilities and the Botswana/South Africa backdrop but would not recommend this book.

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  • The hidden messages in water by Emoto, Masaru,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 3, 2019

    Tagged: Body, Mind & Spirit Environment & Nature House & Home Science

    The simple idea that water holds positive and negative energy and to see this materialize is quite astonishing. No doubt after finishing this gem, you will find yourself safeguarding the energies around you. The pernicious nature of negativity is no less permeable than in your water!

    Loved this and deserves to be re-read often. 

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  • In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Pollan, Michael.
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by LaBae D on Jan 3, 2019

    Tagged: Audiobooks Cooking & Nutrition Health & Fitness

    This book was okay. I am still riding high from Mark Hyman’s ‘Food: What the Heck Should I Eat’ rush. I did appreciate the succinct, unpretentious delivery of the subject matter. Many food related books feel the need to repute themselves with facts, figures, studies and statistics. This book based itself on modest phrases like ‘Pay more. Eat Less’ or ‘Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ This book was a defense of food and a defense of the culture of eating in America. In essence, Pollan is proposing that all of American culture slow down to appropriate the correct amount of time to prepare real food and eat this food with people. He references many cultures outside of the US to include Africa and China who “do it right”. He also stressed the importance of maintaining integrity of the relationship between the growers and eaters of food. Eat local. The shorter your food travels to you; the better. Go to farmers markets. Meet the people who grew your food. Ask questions. Even further, maintain your own garden. The most organic food we can have is the food grown in our own backyards. 

    Takeaways: 
    Make dinner with real ingredients. Eat slowly. Create a culture of eating with family. Eat food that has eaten real food. Pay more for quality ingredients. All food is much greater than the sum of their nutritional parts. Nutritionism was created as a result of backlash from the food industry to restrict certain foods as such scientists and journalist recommend certain vitamins and minerals opposed to actual foods. Do not eat anything that your grandmother would not recognize. Humans have not evolved to eat pure fructose/glucose/sucrose in the form of high fructose corn syrup. This salient form of sugar will make us sick. Food is not simply fuel. Do not treat your bodies like a gas station. Do not eat where you fuel your car. Stay on the outskirts of supermarkets. Do not eat anything that has a health claim on it. The small traces of B12 needed in the body can be found on dirty or almost expired fruits and vegetables. Meat is not necessary in the diet but one serving a day does not hurt. Eat mostly plants. Eat until you are 80% full. (Re)learn your satiety sensors. Use smaller plates. Use glasses that are taller; rather than wider. 

    Overall, the tips and guidelines offered while not the most comprehensive on the topic will certainly stick with me as I traverse this American food terrain. I certainly feel better equipped.

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  • Venom by Starring Tom Hardy
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Tamoul Q on Dec 24, 2018

    Tagged: Movies & Television

    This review contains spoilers! Click to reveal...

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  • Coding games in Python.
    ★★★☆☆

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Dec 20, 2018

    Tagged: Children Computers Science

    Great! You are ready to make a game! Me too; I really want to make some games that are similar or identical to the ones offered in this book, however I am so overly sensitive that the colors on the pages are too distracting and bright and the actual code is not portrayed the way it is on the screen so I don't feel this book is actually going to be useful or a favorite unless it is a parent-child combo of super collaborative people that are picture people. Your child is either going to love or hate this book. (If money and time were no object, one could photocopy the pages one chapter at a time so that they would be in black and white and see if your (child or sensitive person in question) can use the instructions happily then. (Aside for parents:: If you do try the photocopy hack and it works your child is sensititve to patterns and color and might have synesthesia or autistic level sensitivities) For an all black and white Python book I recommend Python in a Nutshell instead. The likelihood of 15 or less errors in the book is about 99%. I hope that these imperfections don't present too great an impediment to mastering python.

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  • Pre : the story of America's greatest running legend, Steve Prefontaine by Jordan, Tom.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Dec 20, 2018

    Tagged: Sports & Recreation

    This book was recently featured on our website in conjunction with the annual Philadelphia Marathon and I must confess I knew nothing about Steve Prefontaine and/or the history of professional running in America outside of the big names in Ultra-running. This book is sure to remain popular as it provides a glimpse of his running years in California and Oregon, covers his Olympic years and record setting, as well as his relationships with other record holders. From the years running before Nike was even around to his tragic death this memoir is at once a “who to beat” on the track…but also at the mental game of surviving success in life and running this book sticks to the facts and does not explore or hypothesize about what Prefontaine might have achieved had he lived longer.

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  • Running like a girl : notes on learning to run by Heminsley, Alexandra,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Dec 20, 2018

    Tagged: Biography & Autobiography Sports & Recreation

    I really enjoyed Running Like a Girl. Whether you are a professional or amateur or more of a couch potato here is finally a great running book for the ladies. I couldn’t appreciate enough Alexandra Heminsleys’ no holds barred approach to discussing the sacrifices we make for the sport. Some of her thoughts on sports bra technology seem to be slightly remiss and out dated as we now know that going bra-less can actually strengthen those tissues and slightly improve sagging in the long run however I digress. At once a memoir to running and also her life and fathers attachment to the sport it also chronicles a lot of the psychology of the self, the emotions that can be brought up when achieving something difficult. This book is less a chronology of races won, and more of a testament to all the bad ugly runs; the mile 11 tears, and who was alive and who wasn’t in your life at the time…a sort of benchmark mile marker. This is sure to be a continued favorite read for adults and I give 5 stars.

    #Memoir

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  • The cat who went bananas by Braun, Lilian Jackson.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Dec 20, 2018

    Tagged: Psychology

     

    Lillian Jackson Brauns’ The Cat Who series is perhaps one of the most pleasant, quirky, un-dangerous, 100% non-scary Murder mystery series known to mankind. I grew up reading these for their dry wit and comical names in the 1990's. Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter did not exist yet and The Cat Who series compromised the entirety of my relaxation strategy. 

    In this “episode” Qwilleran, Koko, YumYum and all the regular silly named characters are back, however Polly Duncan is extremely absent and that absence is felt by the reader through Qwillerans’ dol-drums throughout a huge part of the book. It is a great psychological exploration of suppressed loneliness, and much less a mystery. The real take-away from this book is the mystery of whether or not Qwilleran and Polly will survive this episodic workaholism entrenching most of Moose County, and much less about the actual new dangerous personality in town. Kudos to Mrs. Jackson Braun for her departure from the usual script and ascribing many of her personal emotions into main character Qwilleran. Kudos to Mrs. Jackson Braun for the gender swapping that went into characterizing “Polly Duncan” as the man and “Qwilleran” as Jackson herself “a crazy cat lady”. The psychology and nuances of this drama make it unique and one of the most successful books of the series. If you are new to the series I would read the earlier ones first, but if you’ve already read a handful of them and skipped this one this one is NOT TO BE MISSED !!!

    THIS IS A MYSTERY. TAG#MYSTERY

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  • I'll be gone in the dark : one woman's obsessive search for the Golden State Killer by McNamara, Michelle,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Nov 27, 2018

    Tagged: Literature Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Digital Collections Science

    When Michelle McNamera unexpectedly dies in her sleep at the age of 40 after half a life-time of researching the "Golden State Killer" (and dubbing him as such) the weight of printing her work is taken up nearly exclusively by Gillian Flynn. Here is the final published synopsis of what they, numerous investigators and the interwebs have produced after many decades of sifting through small details. This book is well researched; (read: compulsively well researched). The book went to print and subsequently Joseph DeAngelo former police officer is being charged in Sacremento in one consolidated Trial for the multiple 10+ successful murders and 50 successful assaults. This book is especially disturbing for it's lack of conclusion at the time of publishing and the gory details of which parts of the human body were hardest to recover due to the small fragment sizes. Why not immerse yourself instead in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which is at least...a revengefully poignant closed case. If you can't stomach a 2hr rated R film; then this real-life story is not going to sit well with you. I can't recommend this book to anyone, man woman or child prone to obsessive fear who wants to still sleep at night. With the printing of this book his very journal handwriting is given to the masses. In conclusion: sites like 23 and Me and Ancestry.com as well as good old-fashioned human sleuthing finally have nabbed the perpetrator however these sites are not mandated to cooperate with law enforcement therefore this is a classic case of a punctual, professional type with a gun getting away with Murder.

    #TrueCrime

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  • Whitney by Houston, Whitney.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Nov 24, 2018

    Tagged: Music

    The magic of Whitney is her distinct '80s synthetic pop backbeats combined with her tremendous voice. Didn't we almost have it all and I wanna dance with somebody are on this album. Need I say more?

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  • The witch elm by French, Tana,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Nov 24, 2018

    Tagged: Fiction

    Tana French is widely loved for her ability to immediately inject the reader into the scene at hand. Her ability to write a crime novel with truly cultured prose is un-canny and a great pairing. If you have never read a Tana French Novel why not start here.

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  • Little fires everywhere : a novel by Ng, Celeste,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Nov 24, 2018

    Tagged: Fiction

    Little Fires Everywhere is a 2017 novel by American author Celeste Ng. It is her second novel and takes place in Shaker Heights, Ohio where Ng grew up. She described writing about her hometown as "a little bit like writing about a relative. You see all of the great things about them, you love them dearly, and yet you also know all of their quirks and their foibles."

    The novel is about two families living in 1990s Shaker Heights who are brought together through their children. 

    The book was voted as the winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards for fiction in 2017. (Source::::Wikipedia)

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  • Splash
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Nov 7, 2018

    Tagged: Movies & Television

    Splash is one of the first Tom Hanks films, he was originally slated to play the role of the brother. Wonderful method acting was used to develop the scenes making it a must-be-seen for anyone in acting/theater/comedy. This is a film which is rich, hilarious, and the slap stick isn't too corny. They set you up for what you know is coming and then they tweak events ever so slightly to the right or left in a mind-blowingly satisfyingly unpredictable way. The flimsy plot is eclipsed by the real human characterizations and John Candy makes a wonderful 'older wiser' brother. Viewers who watched the Shape of Water will realize blatant copying of both themes in the abstract and certain scene shots which are a clear hat tip to this gem of a comedy.

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  • Accessory to war : the unspoken alliance between astrophysics and the military by Tyson, Neil deGrasse,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Oct 31, 2018

    Tagged: African American Biography & Autobiography Politics Science

    This timely walk through recent historical military and political moves as relates to engineering and astronomical science is immensely well crafted, researched and searing with the gravity of the consequences of war and a military mongering mindset. Here comes the truth about China's space program superiority, 9/11, CNN's un-positive news spins at every given opportunity, and many more going's on. This book is forged from the heaviest most lugubrious subject matter and molded expertly by Avis Lang into a piece which is edible, eloquent and will hopefully be a call to arms for anyone in any industry to care about the death of freedom and planet earth. We can still shape the end-times into something more manageable instead of mis-directing all of our talents to starting wars to keep people distracted and misplaced. You will want to take notes while you read this. 

     

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  • Fearless : how an underdog becomes a champion by Pederson, Doug,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Oct 31, 2018

    Tagged: Biography & Autobiography Sports & Recreation

    Uncover the hidden magic of the Philadelphia Eagles and coach Doug Pederson with this over-view cursory Autobiography of his time spent in the NFL as a Quarterback and everything leading up till summer 2017 season history. No stranger to disappointment Pederson presents his un-raveling as a player for Miami who got cut more than 5times, to a private football coach and then back to the NFL. There is a certain intrigue hearing who knows who/who has played with whom over the years which kills some of the mystique of The NFL. This is an excellent read for all fans, sports geeks and non-geeks alike. His career as a sort of wing man to Brett Favre during his time with Green Bay is explored as well as other anecdotal personal relationships discussed. He waives a religious banner alot in a "my God is for me" way which is disappointing but an accurate glimpse of his world view and sports view. Here's to Coach Pederson in the upcoming season!

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