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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  • The Inquisitor's Tale, or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Gidwitz, Adam
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Jan 10, 2017

    Tagged: Children

    Set in France in 1292 this book tells the story of three children who are brought together by circumstance.  William who is "part-Christian, part-Muslim; part-European, part-African" is a tall very dark skinned young monk.  Jacob is a Jewish boy whose parents have been murdered when his village is set on fire.  Jeanne is a peasant who suffers from epilepsy, but is thought to be possessed by evil spirits.  Jeanne is traveling with a white greyhound named Gwenforte who has died and come back to life.  Gwenforte is loosely based on the Legend of Guinefort, one of the "faithful dog" legends.  Gwenforte guides and helps the children as they join forces with another monk, Michelangelo di Bologna, to save all the Talmuds in France from being burned by King Louis IX.  

    So, I love the Middle Ages and The Inquisitor's Tale does an excellent job of capturing the history of the time in which it is set.  A lengthy author's note details the truth behind many of the events portrayed in the book.  And, more importantly, it has, as a central character, a greyhound and a historic one at that!  So why, then didn't I like this book more?  To be honest I am not a fan of slapstick humor and there is a fair amount of it here.  For me, this detracted from the story, but I'm sure it will make the book more interesting for the intended audience.  All in all a very well written story with some surprising twists and turns that are quite clever and unexpected.  

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  • Loner by Wayne, Teddy
    ★★☆☆☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Jan 10, 2017

    Tagged: Fiction

    I had to give this book two stars since I kept reading until the end...I kept hoping something would happen to make it worth the time investment.  I picked it off the 2016 NPR Book Concierge list so I was hoping for something a bit more engaging.  Loner tells the story of a young man, David Federman, who has worked all his life to get into Harvard.  His work has paid off and he begins his freshman year.  David has never quite fit in, but he tries.  He goes to bonding activities.  He seems to be making progress as the members of his new group of friends seem to truly like him.  When he sees Veronica Morgan Whelk at a social gathering he is smitten from the first minute he lays eyes on her.  When she turns out to be the roommate of one of his cadre of friends, Sara, he begins to deepen his relationship with Sara in order to get closer to Veronica.  He begins a stalking campaign to remain close to Veronica in the hopes that she will notice him.  He goes so far as to write papers for Veronica just so he can spend time with her.  But as time goes on his plan begins to backfire and, in the end, he discovers Veronica is using him as part of a social experiment she is doing for a class.  When he learns the truth about his place in Veronica's life he vows revenge.

    David is a thoroughly unlikable character as is the haughty Veronica.  I really didn't care about what happened to either of them.  I'm sure David's methods of stalking have been described accurately according to obsessive behavior.  I just became very tired of reading about his endless ploys to get close to his object of desire.  When he ruins his life and Veronica's in the end I really didn't care.

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  • Butcher Bird by Sykes, S. D.
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Dec 16, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Oswald de Lacy has another mystery to solve at Somershill Manor when a baby is found impaled on a thorn bush.  With many twists and turns and other mysteries along the way, the solution to this crime is not what the reader could ever imagine.  Oswald, at age 19, is beginning to grow up, but he is challenged at all turns as continues in his role of Lord of Somershill.  He misses his studies and the intellectual conversations at the monastery.  He finds life managing an estate in the wake of the plague difficult as more and more tenants move in order to gain higher wages.  Vacillating between doing what he knows is right for his tenants and holding to the Statute of Labourers which made it illegal to raise the wages higher than pre-plague levels, Oswald changes his mind again and again.  It is only upon the resolution of the mystery that he finds his way to do the right thing.  

    Excellent period detail and thorough research make this series a pleasure to read.  I'm hoping as Oswald grows to be a man, he will become a completely sympathetic character.  But presenting him as flawed and morally ambiguous at times lends more credence to the story.  I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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  • Black Chalk by Yates, Christopher J.
    ★☆☆☆☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Dec 4, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Insufferable.  I made it through about 75 pages before I gave up.  Switching between the present and the past, Black Chalk tells the story of "One Game, Six Students, Five Survivors."  This premise sounds intriguing, but the characters are thoroughly unlikable.  Jolyon, who begins the novel comes off as a whiner and his musings are torturous.  The flashbacks are slightly more engaging, but switching back and forth between the two advances the story extremely slowly.  I just couldn't stomach it for long.  I really didn't care which student didn't live nor did I care to find out more about what happened fourteen years ago when they were all playing "the game."  Sorry, NPR, you let this one slip through.

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  • Kings Rising by Pacat, C. S.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Dec 4, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Kings Rising is an absolutely fantastic ending to the Captive Prince Trilogy!  It is full of intrigue and honor and kept me guessing until the final pages.  Adventure abounds and just when the reader thinks all hope is lost a clever solution comes along.  Everything is believable, however.  I was reminded again and again of the adventures of Alec and Seregil in Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series, another series I thoroughly enjoyed.  And, just as I longed for more stories of Alec and Seregil, I now long to read more about Laurent and Damen. I was so sad to turn the last page in this trilogy.   

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  • Crosstalk by Willis, Connie
    ★★★☆☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Nov 22, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    If I could rate this book by half I would give the first 300 pages two stars and the last 298 pages four stars.  I had to average it out at three.  The premise is interesting--a future time when couples can have brain emplants so that they can communicate all feelings instantly and honestly.  But when Briddey and her social climbing boyfriend, Trent, decide to have it done, there are "unintended consequences."  The first part of the book is about two hundred pages too long--all the set up and description of Briddey and her wacky Irish-American family and their intrusion into her life goes on for far too long.  I grew weary of the stereotypical Irish-ness which was, I suppose, intended to be humorous.  If this had been just about any other author I would have given up long before reaching the half-way point.  That would have been a mistake since the second half of the book was everything the first half wasn't--gripping and compulsively readable.  After the midway point I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was happy I'd persevered (slogged) through.  

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  • Prince's Gambit by Pacat, C. S.
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Nov 22, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Damen and Laurent set out for the border between Vere and Akielos on what seems a fool's errand.  Laurent must use all his resources to outsmart his uncle, the Regent even is one of those resources is his slave, Damen. It soon becomes apparent that Damen is no ordinary slave.  He has significant military knowledge and Laurent grows to trust him.  As the two grow closer Damen is haunted by the knowledge that revealing his true identity would forever break the bonds between the two men.  

    Where Captive Prince was centered around the palace culture of Vere, this book leaves that behind.  It is full of honor and tragedy.  I found this book to be totally captivating (ha! ha!) and one that I won't soon forget.

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  • The sleeping beauty killer by Clark, Mary Higgins,

    Reviewed by Tamoul Q on Nov 3, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Casey Carter has paid her dues for killing Hunter Raleigh III even though she maintained her plea of innocence.  Later the story fascinates a journalist who vows to help Casey clear her repetition.  It’s a vow that places both Laurie Moran and Casey’s lives in danger.

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  • The award : a novel by Steel, Danielle,

    Reviewed by Tamoul Q on Nov 3, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Sixteen year old Gaëlle de Barbet sees her best friend and her friends family marched off to an unknown fate by French soldiers. Later, German soldiers kill her father and brother while commandeering her family estate. Suddenly, long- time friends and supports become the new enemy and her mother descends into madness.  Taking her fate into her two hands, Gaëlle joins a resistance cell dedicated to delivering Jewish children to safety.

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  • Two by two by Sparks, Nicholas,

    Reviewed by Tamoul Q on Nov 3, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Beneath the surface of Russell Green’s perfect life...everything is falling apart. In a matter of months, he finds himself a jobless single parent. Throwing himself into to a new and baffling reality, Russ embarks on a journey both terrifying and rewarding-one that  tests his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.

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  • Night of the dragon by Knaak, Richard A.

    Reviewed by Tamoul Q on Nov 3, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Sequel to Warcraft: Day of the Dragon, Night of the Dragon sees a band of desperate misfits:  a mage, a red dragon and their friends race to free Alexstraza, the Red Dragon Queen held captive by the Orcs of Grim Batol.

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  • The Perfect Horse : The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Letts, Elizabeth,
    ★★★★★

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Oct 24, 2016

    Tagged: History

    If I could give it more than five stars I would!!!

    The Perfect Horse is a magnificent book.  The author, Elizabeth Letts, has done extensive research on her subject--the rescue of Lipizzaner and Polish Arabian horses by American soldiers at the very end of WW II. Had not the Americans stepped in the horses would have been slaughtered for food by the advancing Russian army and their bloodlines would have been lost forever.  A few men from both sides of the conflict took great risks to assure the safety of the precious horses.  Far from being a dry and boring war book, the author conveys the depth emotions these magnificent horses engendered in war weary men who were willing to risk their lives to save them.  The author thoroughly understands the bonds between horse and rider, especially the horses and riders of the Spanish Riding School of Vienna.  

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  • Plague Land by Sykes, S. D.
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Oct 24, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Set in 1350 Kent, Plague Land reveals the changes the Black Death has wrought upon the English countryside and how those changes are unraveling the very fabric of life.  Oswald de Lacy, the youngest son of the Lord of Somerhill Manor, has been called home from the monastery where he's lived since he was seven years old.  At the age of eighteen the care of the manor and all its lands and inhabitants has fallen on to his woefully unprepared shoulders.  With him at Somerhill is his mother and sister and a priest from the monastery who fled to avoid the plague that had broken out there.  The book begins with the mysterious death of Alison Starvecrow.  When the local parish priest insists she was murdered by the Cynocephalus, men with the heads of dogs, Oswald knows he must find the real killer.  He has no belief in the Cynocephalus.  Before his investigation has barely begun there is another murder, Alison's sister, Matilda.  Neither his mother, nor his sister, Clemence, has faith in Oswald's ability to find the killer.  Through a series of twists and turns many secrets are revealed and the killer is unmasked.  But, the book ends with a cliff hanger.  Time to read the next book in the series, The Butcher Bird!

    The historical setting is extremely well realized.  The plight of the landed gentry after the plague has ravaged the countryside has been delineated with skill.  I only wish Oswald had been a more likable character.  He wasn't unlikable, but I didn't particularly like him either.  By the end of the book he is maturing so, perhaps, in the next book he will rise in my estimation.  

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  • Quiet Neighbors by McPherson, Catriona
    ★★★☆☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Oct 24, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    Jude is fleeing from London and ends up in Wigtown, one of Scotland's "Book Towns," where she had previously traveled with her husband, Max.  What she is fleeing from is a mystery, but it is serious enough that she is traveling without any possessions beyond her passport and her phone.  When she arrives in Wigtown she takes refuge in the Lowland Glen book shop.  She is instantly befriended by the shop owner Lowell.  Her offers her a job organizing the shop and a place to live.  Just as she is settling in another guest arrives and things begin to change.  What is Jude running from?  Why is she so afraid of the police?  Through several unforeseen twists and turns, the truth about Jude, Lowell's past and the identity of the mysterious visitor is revealed.  The truth is not what anyone expected.

     

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  • Warcraft : official movie novelisation by Golden, Christie.

    Reviewed by Tamoul Q on Oct 13, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    The world of Draenor is dying.  To escape the loss of all they hold dear, the orc clans must band together and use a portal created by the great sorcerer Gul’ dan.  Joining the Hord, Durotan, leader of the Frostwolf clan, finds that all is not what it seems or should be.  Arriving on the other side of portal lands the orcs on a vibrant new world, but it is one already inhabited by a people willing to resist the orc invasion.  Durotan finds his allegiances torn upon learning that the death of Draenor was caused by Gul’dan’s use of an evil power called the fel and that what befell his home world will soon be the new world’s fate if Gul’dan is not stopped.

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  • The Raven King by Stiefvater, Maggie
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Aug 30, 2016

    Tagged: Teens

    So many questions! Will Gansey find Glendower, and if he does what will it mean? Will Gansey survive the year? Will Blue's kiss truly kill him? Will Maura return? What will Blue learn about her father, Artemus? Will Noah ever be at peace? Will Adam come to terms with his abusive father and enabling mother? Will Ronan destroy himself, or learn to live with the secrets he's uncovered about himself and his family? Is Henry Cheng friend or foe? Questions, questions, questions as Maggie Stiefvater brings her Raven Cycle to a close. If book three, Blue Lily, Lily Blue was a bit slow paced, The Raven King makes up for it in spades.  

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  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Stiefvater, Maggie
    ★★★☆☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Aug 30, 2016

    Tagged: Teens

    Blue Sargent's mother has disappeared. The mysterious Mr. Greenmantle comes to take Barrington Whelk's place as Aglionby Academy's Latin instructor. When he and his diabolical wife, Piper, begin to endanger Cabeswater and the lives of those who love it, the Raven Boys must devise a way to get rid of him for good. Professor Malory arrives from the U.K. with a canine companion known only as Dog. As tragedy strikes, the lives of 300 Fox Way are forever changed.

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  • The Dream Thieves by Stiefvater, Maggie

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Aug 30, 2016

    Tagged: Teens

    Continuing the story begun in The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves reveals the secrets kept by both Niall Lynch and his son, Ronan. Ronan also learns the secret of his schoolmate and bitter rival, Joseph Kavinsky. Ultimately their shared secret creates a bond between the two that only death can sever. The Gray Man takes a more prominent role as a visitor to 300 Fox Way. But for every secret revealed, there are more questions. The cliffhanger ending leaves the reader wanting to know more and quickly!

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  • The Boston girl : a novel by Diamant, Anita,

    Reviewed by Tamoul Q on Jul 7, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction

    I loved this book! I read it all day Friday, couldn’t put it down! The story brought back memories of other stories told by my grandmother and mother. The plot helped me recall stories of my family living down the street, around the corner, or two blocks away, but always together. That I was a part of that group, part of that family life in the 40s made this book touching in many ways, from memories from of grade school to high school and on to World War II. The author is wonderful.

     

    Read by Doris Grossman –  The Watermark

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  • The Raven Boys by Stiefvater, Maggie
    ★★★★☆

    Reviewed by Teresa G on Jul 7, 2016

    Tagged: Fiction Teens

    Blue Sargent's entire family is psychic.  Blue's only power is to amplify the abilities of others.  Growing up in Henrietta, VA, Blue has a great life with her mother and other female relatives who share the big house at 300 Fox Way.  But one night while helping her mother record the names of the people from Henrietta that will die in the next year she sees a boy and hears him speak his name.  He is one of the "Raven Boys" who attend a local prep school for the ultra elite.  Typically arrogant and privileged, the Raven Boys are despised by the residents of Henrietta.  When a group of them seeks out psychic help from the residents of 300 Fox Way, Blue is drawn into a mystery involving ley lines, Welsh legend, and the disappearance of another student several years before.

    The writing is great and the story is very well developed.  There are many twists and turns and, of course, it ends on a cliffhanger leaving the reader eager for the next installment.

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