Reader Review: Kill Shakespeare Volume 1

Posted on Friday, February 9, 2024 by patron reviewer

Kill Shakespeare book cover

Kill Shakespeare Volume 1: A Sea of Troubles” collects the first six Kill Shakespeare comic books and re-introduces us to some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters, but in new roles, as they hunt for Will Shakespeare, wizard god. Killing Will and securing his magical quill is the quest of the bad guys in power (Lady Macbeth, Richard III), while the rebellion, led by Juliet and backed by Othello, have put their faith in a Shadow King to find Will and save his followers. Being a fan of Shakespeare is not a requirement to enjoy the story — especially with the fantastic art by Andy Belanger — however, I suspect it’s more fun to know a bit about the characters and to pick up on the small Easter eggs, like the evening spent at the pub known as Midsummer Night’s Dram. Like all of Shakespeare, there’s comedy, murder, plotting, mayhem, romance, confusion, innuendo, and a great storyline with complicated characters. For those who struggle with the very idea of Shakespeare as an enjoyable reading experience, the artwork in this comic tells the story as much as the writing.

Three words that describe this book: Epic, Graphic, Literary

You might want to pick this book up if: You like twisted fairy tales such as those told in “Once Upon a Time” or the “Land of Stories.”

-Melody

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

Posted on Friday, February 2, 2024 by patron reviewer

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee book cover

To Kill a Mockingbird,” written from the point of view of a young girl in a small town in 1960s Alabama, is a poignant look at racism, classism and the basic human spirit. It certainly tackles difficult topics — unfortunately, these are topics that we are still struggling with today. However, seeing these issues through the eyes of a child gave it such a sweet simplicity that it gave me hope, like maybe if we all took a moment to think like young Scout Finch, we could really make things better. It was an excellent book that I look forward to reading again and again.

Three words that describe this book: Engaging, thought-provoking, charming

You might want to pick this book up if: I wanted to be reminded there are good people out there and that there is hope for change.

-Shelli

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: The Confident Parent

Posted on Monday, January 29, 2024 by patron reviewer

The Confident Parent by Jane Scott book coverI loved “The Confident Parent” because it gives a global perspective on parenting, which I think is so important these days. As a parent in the US, it is easy to get anxious and stressed out while making sure your child gets the best start, succeeds in school, and is a contributing member of society. However, our children need us to lead by example and can sense our anxiety while we are trying to get everything “perfect.” This book includes a lot of great strategies and ideals that are a confluence of many cultures due to the author’s experience living and parenting in many parts of the world. My main takeaways from this book are to chill out, lead by example, and enjoy the journey.

Three words that describe this book: global, practical, timely

You might want to pick this book up if: You are a parent, grandparent, or caregiver.

-Megan

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: A Man Called Ove

Posted on Friday, January 19, 2024 by patron reviewer

Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman book coverA Man Called Ove” tugged on all of my heartstrings. The main character, Ove, is unlikeable, truly. He is old and grumpy, and takes it out on everyone that he encounters, including the person trying to sell him an iPad. When Ove gets new neighbors, he is infuriated. Not only are they annoying, but the husband cannot back up a trailer. Ove, out of frustration rather than just being helpful, decides to help the couple back up the trailer. This is where the book really takes off, and Ove’s relationships with the people around him change. Ove reminded me of my own grandpa, who was quite grumpy, and thought his way was the only way. Ove also reminds me of my dad, so this character holds a special place in my heart. The book surprised me, made me laugh out loud, and made me cry while staying up late to finish it.

Three words that describe this book: Heart-wrenching, funny, and sad.

You might want to pick this book up if: If you are looking for something that will warm your heart while also breaking it, this is the book to pick up.

-Claire

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week

Posted on Monday, January 15, 2024 by patron reviewer

24/6 by Tiffany Shlain book coverIn the book “24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week,” Tiffany Shlain dives into the topic of technology use and the harmful impacts it has on us inside and out. Tiffany’s family takes a tech Shabbat every Friday evening to Saturday evening. The time and attention that they gain from unplugging is exactly what many of us want in our lives. I was so inspired that I implemented a modified tech Shabbat in my life before I was halfway through reading this book. I intend to have a full tech Shabbat every week from now on.

Three words that describe this book: Intriguing, Informative, Insightful

You might want to pick this book up if: You want to know more about taking time off from technology or why it’s so important to consider taking a tech break.

-Rebecca

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Ishmael

Posted on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 by patron reviewer

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn book cover I love gorillas. As a small child my grandfather would take me to the B&I shopping center in Tacoma, Washington where I would watch Ivan the gorilla for hours. Even that young, I felt sorry for him, but I was, at the same time, happy to be able to wile away literal hours watching him. He was funny, clearly smart, and so incredibly intimidating. It was obvious he was intelligent and it forced me to think about humans relationship with animals in a way I otherwise may not have done.

The book “Ishmael” follows the story of a gorilla named Ishmael who can “speak” telepathically, and communicate vast amounts of knowledge about the aforementioned relationship between men and animals. He advertises for students in the newspaper and the story is a chronicle of his tutoring of one such man that answers the advertisement.

I find it funny that the top three reviews of this book are not only one star, but are written by people that clearly took the book at it’s word and face value. Ishmael uses his time with the narrator to explain why man is on a crash course for self-destruction. While I don’t agree with every detail of Ishmael’s explanation, I do agree with the overall sentiment. Manifest destiny, etc. lend very heavily toward our precarious place in the circle of life. Our hubris and self importance will be our eventual downfall.

This is fiction and should be read as such, but it makes you think and makes you reexamine ideals and supposed knowledge. Isn’t that what all good fiction should do? If the reader is also entertained, it’s a win-win. My copy is littered with Post-It Notes. Ishmael says many, many things that I want to look into further things I know, but want to know more about.

Three words that describe this book: Thought-provoking, relevant, insightful

You might want to pick this book up if: You question humanity’s place in the world.

-Kandice

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: River of the Gods

Posted on Friday, December 29, 2023 by patron reviewer

River of Gods by Candice Millard book coverIn the mid-19th century, explorers wondered about the location of the source of the Nile River. Two English adventurers, Burton and Speke, led an expedition to find the final answer. “River of the Gods” describes the extreme difficulties of their exploration including lack of funding, disappearing workers, near starvation and life-threatening illnesses that made the trek nearly impossible.

The even more interesting story was the personalities of these two men. Burton as the leader was six years older, more experienced, better able to communicate with the African people he hired, better able to understand their culture. Speke was more aristocratic, less interested in scientific investigations, more interested in hunting the African animals. Not surprisingly, although the two men had supported each other through near-death diseases, they returned to England bitter rivals. The resulting argument was nearly as interesting as the fascinating tale already told.

Candice Millard gives a detailed and seemingly historically accurate description of this expedition and its aftermath. An amazing story told in an amazing way.

Three words that describe this book: historical, exciting, adventure

You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy true tales of adventure; you like geography; you like descriptions of interpersonal relationships and how they affect outcomes.

-Anonymous

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Shuna’s Journey

Posted on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 by patron reviewer

Shuna's Journey by Hayao Miyazaki book coverShuna’s Journey” is a parable about societies that lose control of what sustains them. In this case, as one might expect of Hayao Miyazaki, what’s lost is a connection to the natural world, particularly to agriculture.

The main and titular character, Shuna is a prince from a village in the periphery whose people have retained this connection, living impoverished agrarian lives. He desires a better life for his people, but unlike the manhunters and city dwellers seen elsewhere who live in symbolically lifeless deserts and enrich themselves with the labor of slaves stolen from the periphery, Shuna understands that that life must come from the natural world — from the fruits of agriculture. He seeks a better cereal crop, the golden grain that sustains the city, shipped in husked and lifeless from the land of the gods. A journey through geological time into that land proves surreal and, almost literally alien, full of lavishly illustrated horrors and wonders that Shuna only escapes with the aid of slaves he freed previously in his journey.

The story is a striking tale of courage and renewal. Despite the fact that it wears its origin as a Tibetan folk tale on its sleeve, Miyazaki’s identification of the source of modern energy, modern lifeless society — our “golden grain” — in the life force of natural epochs past is a powerful and thoughtful image that ties together movements for environmental protection, worker’s rights and decolonization.

If there is something lacking in this image, it is the modern analogue of Miyazaki’s hero, Shuna. We ourselves cannot journey through geological time to gain control of the golden grain, so Miyazaki’s tale leads us to no clear path of future action to save our world.

Three words that describe this book: imaginative, thought-provoking, breath-taking

You might want to pick this book up if: you loved Miyazaki’s work on the film “Princess Mononoke” which evokes many of the same themes in a far more historically and geographically grounded narrative.

-Shane

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Eva Luna

Posted on Monday, December 25, 2023 by patron reviewer

Eva Luna by Isabel Allende book coverIn the book “Eva Luna,” the title character is an orphan with a gift for story-telling. As she navigates the magical and sometimes ruthless streets of South America, she has only her wits and words to barter passage and build friendships. She sees the world through the lens of stories and views her fellow citizens as characters, swirling around in her mind providing inspiration for whatever necessary tale she needs to weave next.

Isabel Allende’s writing is dense and intricate, but if you give yourself over to the style you’ll find yourself woven into the tapestry of the world she creates. There is a supplemental collection of stories, “The Stories of Eva Luna,” where Allende shares the specifics of the stories Eva Luna crafted in the first novel, and it’s worth reading them one right after the other. I wished that the novel “Eva Luna” had gone into the stories instead of just alluding to them, but then reading the stories after the fact, I appreciate that I have a rich and detailed understanding of the context they were told in.

Three words that describe this book: Intricate, Romantic, Vibrant

You might want to pick this book up if: you are looking to broaden your reading experience and explore diverse authors and stories. Also, if you want to read a novel and then a book of short stories right after.

-Amy

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Bluebeard

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2023 by patron reviewer

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut book coverI read “Bluebeard” because Vonnegut is my daughter’s favorite author, this is her favorite of his, and I am working my way through her library. I was genuinely surprised at how very much I liked it.

Framed as an autobiography, writer Rabo Karabekian, apologizes to the reader: “I promised you an autobiography, but something went wrong in the kitchen…” He describes himself as a museum guard who answers questions from visitors coming to see his priceless collected art.

Circe Berman, a woman living near Karabekian instigates the story by saying “Tell me how your parents died.” He tells her and one thing leads to another. Soon enough she has moved in with him and his houseguest Paul Slazinger, a fellow artist. She is constantly asking him questions, disrespects his design choices and actively dislikes his modern art. She is a force to be reckoned with and the only place that is off-limits to her is the potato barn where Karabekian is storing some of his own work.

Karabekian’s story is one of a first generation American, child of immigrants, an artist’s apprentice, eventual artist himself, a soldier, failed husband and father, and eventual genius.

I can’t tell the tale as Vonnegut does, and why would I try, but the winding path leading to the eventual unveiling of Karabekian’s masterpiece was at turns funny, heartbreaking, and eventually breathtakingly beautiful. This is not something I expect from Vonnegut. I shed tears as I read the final pages, and so far this is by a mile my favorite of his.

Three words that describe this book: Funny, wry, satirical

You might want to pick this book up if: You like your humor to be on the serious side.

-Kandice

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year.