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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  • McGraw-Hill Education preparation for the GED test : your best study program for the new exam
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Feb 21, 2019

    Tagged: Test Preparation

    This is a very hefty over 800 page Test Preparation book for the GED. Depending on which Library branch you request it from you will be getting the 2015 or 2018 version. If you do even just the pre-test sections in all five subject areas you should be prepared and on your way to passing the GED. If by some chance you have concentration issues and require drilling and drilling the material more than five times through then this book is one stop shopping. If it were me I would study, take the Post-Test in the back of this book. Then Register for the GED. Then I would use this book to go back and study my weakest areas and re-take only the subject areas that I did not do well in. Due to the weight of this book it's going to be hard to use it on the go or at work. For those instances I would get the GED app. MHE FLASHCARD APP FOR THE GED TEST

    Go to mhprofessional.com/GEDTest click downloads & resources | click flashcards

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  • The GED crash course
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Feb 21, 2019

    Tagged: Test Preparation

    If reading is your strong suit and you hate graphs, tables, charts, snazzy colors and the like than this book is going to be your ideal book. It explains much of the theory behind the different test sections and how different components are put together. If you use only this book to study however, I feel your highest score might not be achieved only because it doesn't contain the maximum number of raw-whole tests and for the mathematically disinclined (or simply anxious!) I would go with the McGraw-hill Test Preparation series book. If you are not in a rush to take the test and you have time to dip your toes in the water slowly than this could be a great starting point.

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  • House of Flying Daggers Shi mian mai fu
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Feb 21, 2019

    Tagged: Movies & Television

    This is an epic Kung-Fu (GongFu) love story triangle. Full of love, lust, betrayal, lies, jealousy and mythical powers loyalty in the face of death is explored. To what ends would you go to save someone and risk your own life in the process? What if; eventually you made the wrong move and in the blink of an eye you mis-calculated and lost out on the great Chess game of life? This film will bring up many thought provoking philosophical questions regarding your approach to love and attachment. The technique for the physical stunts is impressive. A joy to behold!

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  • The personality brokers : the strange history of Myers-Briggs and the birth of personality testing by Emre, Merve.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Feb 18, 2019

    Tagged: Databases & Electronic Resources Psychology General Research

    Here is the true story of Katharine Elizabeth Cook, co-creator of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which has remained intact for decades. This is a satisfyingly thorough telling of her early,mid, and later years and educational and other factors that affected her mindset and ambitions. Interesting annecdotal information on how she treated her children as live test subjects for behavior conditioning which interested her naturally and intrinsically incorporated her 'research' into her life as a new mother. The publication of this book is a tremendous achievement for Merve Emre and the University of Oxford. Bravo. Well done.

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  • Ballers
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Feb 18, 2019

    Tagged: Movies & Television Sports & Recreation

    Ballers season three has some true gem laugh out loud moments, including but not limited to a very satisfying dinner party fight, pro-football client emotional bipolar post concussion drama and cannabiniod problems for one of Spencers’ clients when he fails the leagues urine test. One could almost keep up with the drama if Spencers’ top lady weren't on the opposite side of the biggest deal of his life, and one didn't feel for his anxiety over his fertility issues and waffling over whether or not to take a break and do family instead. As luck would have it, all the usual swag and the rest of the supporting cast really are given a chance to shine, perhaps foreshadowing decisions to be made in future episodes.  While not the most feminist show and certainly not the most PG-13rated episodes there's still plenty of 'powerhouse' female roles and dry wit aka top notch screen writing to keep viewers happy.

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  • The Matrix
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Jan 21, 2019

    Tagged: Movies & Television

    The Matrix is the film that really catapulted the Wachowski brothers (now sisters) into fame. Interesting facts on what influenced them to construct this film and have the foresight to envision the modernization of technology and AI decades before it was dinner place conversation are listed on Wikipedia (fyi) including author Herman Hesse. I get particular encouragement from their respective life stories that they both were in college and were willing to both drop out in order to foci their energy and support a common interest in creating this storyline and footage. What would the world have been like without the creation of the Matrix? What message do their respective sex changes and status as cultural icons send to the world? Only you can decide. I am a fan. But I cannot convince you with my verbosity to walk through life as an enlightened geek dedicated to science technology and the truth. I can only present you with the red pill and the blue pill (The chance to rent this movie for free representing the red option.) Only you can choose to walk through the door.

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  • Nature.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Jan 21, 2019

    Tagged: Movies & Television

    Animal Odd Couples by PBS is easily one of the top 10 movies in the entire collection. This is a cute 1 hour tour of animal science documented cases of pair bonding between radically different species. This also includes interesting partial narration by Temple Grandin and footage of how research is conducted on monkeys. Why not enjoy a movie that will appeal to the whole family across generations and show the FreeLibrary that films on animal science and the crossover into field research on animal psychology are in high demand by giving this one a try. Regardless of whether it irks you that Temple Grandin has the limelight or does a controversial job of presenting as an autistic career woman, there are some eye-boggling moments not to be missed and this film has one of the broadest appeal bases of all time.

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  • Harry Potter and the deathly hallows.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Jan 21, 2019

    Tagged: Movies & Television

    Here is the cinematic condensed version of how our top notch team of wizards are able to put all the magic that they have learned throughout their lives to work for their friendships and the betterment of the world. The inability to return to Hogwartz becomes their chance to demonstrate the best of their talents, both seperately and apart in an attempt to ensure the freedom of the magical and muggle world. Interdependency in the face of dark times is the moral of the story and it is great to watch the characters/actors mature and ripen on screen together. Unfortunately it is a very long 'school year' and the cinematographer had a hard time squeezing all the action in so it ends on a very unfinished and unsettling note. (Unsettling because there are at least 5 Horcruxes still missing, and instead of having just his parents to avenge, now Dumbledore has died so Harry has a seemingly impossible odds to beat, all the weight of adulthood and a loss of innocence is upon him and cannot be shaken.) Riveting. Truly riveting.

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  • Murder on the Orient Express
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Ellen A on Jan 21, 2019

    Tagged: Movies & Television

    Interesting 'personnages' and well crafted scenery from start to finish here is a classic dinner theater plot a murder has taken place on the train and the viewer feels like they are on the train and despite all the action and personages it's not clear who the culprit is or if the train is secure at all. The only part of this which felt extremely awkward is the dialect. Poirot sounds appropriate but due to the different native accents it just feels all over the board. However; the average audience viewer will likely be able to overlook this and there are some powerful scenes, and feels not entirely fluffy; but I can't help wondering what a truly modernized version would have looked like. (cellphones and such) There are so many big names in this film it is distracting from the actual crime and it works in the films favor.

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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! I had high hopes for this book because I really wanted 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 (Pycharm/IDLE etc) 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 but it's an adult level manual. 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. (Put another way; this book has errors in the code but the solutions are readily findable online if you have the patience to look; and it takes that level of patience to code so that's why this book is getting 3 out of 5 stars.)

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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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