Reader Review: Pirate Women

Posted on Monday, June 27, 2022 by patron reviewer

Pirate Women book coverAhoy, mateys! Arrr ye ready for a voyage through history? Inspired by this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, I read “Pirate Women: The Princesses, Prostitutes, and Privateers Who Ruled the Seven Seas.” Tis always been a pirate’s life for me, but I never before heard tales of ladies taking to the high seas. Thanks be to author Laura Sook Duncombe, for catchin’ me up on the stories of the many women who sailed beneath the jolly roger.

Spannin’ from the bronze age through the 21st century, Duncombe takes us on a voyage through the lives of dozens of women pirates. She also explores the cultural biases held by the landlubbers who recorded the stories of these pirate ladies. Like a well-honed cutlass, Duncombe cuts through the fog of historical revisionism and legend with a perfect mix of information sharin’ and storytelling.

I did find me self wondering about Duncombe’s definition of piracy. Her answer stirred something deep within the depths of me soul: “The heart of piracy is freedom.” Tis this sentiment that drove all the featured lassies as they sailed under a black flag, pillaging across the seven seas. Avast me, hearties! Pick up “Pirate Women” and set sail for the shores of knowledge. Tis time I shoved off. Fare thee well, mateys!

Three words that describe this book: Informative & entertaining

You might want to pick this book up if: You like reading the untold stories of women from history. Especially if those women happen to be pirates.

-Joe

 

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. Submit your own book review here for a chance to have it featured on the Adults Blog. 

Reader Review: A Curious Beginning

Posted on Friday, June 24, 2022 by patron reviewer

A curious beginning book coverSet in England in the late 19th Century, “A Curious Beginning” follows the unexpected journey of lepidopterist, independent woman and budding lady detective, Veronica Speedwell. While this is the first adventure on which we join her, she has traveled the world in search of butterflies and experienced what the world has to offer in ways uncommon for a woman of her time.

This book is a light, fun, spunky page-turner that chronicles her unlikely alliance with Stoker, a grumbly fellow natural historian who begrudgingly joins forces first as a “protector” and then as a partner. They run from police and other opponents with mysterious and dark intentions, ultimately uncovering the truth about Veronica’s identity as well as solving a murder mystery. This book was a delight to read and perfect for a summer reader looking to balance a smart, feminist story, with a light and lively tone!

Three words that describe this book: Light, spunky, smart

You might want to pick this book up if: You’re looking for a smart, fun, page-turning summer read!

-Sara

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. Submit your own book review here for a chance to have it featured on the Adults Blog. 

Reader Review: Parenthesis

Posted on Thursday, June 23, 2022 by patron reviewer

Parenthesis book coverOne of the best things to happen to storytelling through sequential art is the advent of the graphic memoir. From celebrities to travelogues to regular folks’ personal journeys, graphic memoirs allow readers to experience an illustrated slice of someone else’s life. I stumbled upon “Parenthesis” by Élodie Durand while perusing Hoopla’s Bonus Borrows for May. Translated from the French by Edward Gauvin, this graphic memoir follows the years Durand spent living with epilepsy. Durand’s art style is simple, leaning toward the abstract. Yet, it powerfully conveys both the story of her life and the emotions she felt while that story unfolded.

For those who don’t often read comics, this graphic memoir could be considered an intermediate level read. The text and dialogue are easy to follow, but much of it is written in a cursive font that isn’t the easiest to actually read. Fortunately, the artwork meshes perfectly with the text. This aids the conveyance of Durand’s personal and emotional experiences as she learned to live with epilepsy.

Of note, this book counts toward Task #23 (read a book by a disabled author) of this year’s Read Harder Challenge. It could also be used for Task #24 (pick a challenge from any of the previous years’ challenges to repeat), as read a graphic memoir was one of the tasks in recent years. This is the perfect book for anyone who wants to step out of their comfort zone and read something new and unique. “Parenthesis” offers readers a glimpse into life in another country while taking them through Durand’s moving journey from illness to recovery.

Three words that describe this book: Hopeful, Inspiring, Informative

You might want to pick this book up if: You like graphic novels, memoirs, or translated works.

-Joe

Reader Review: The Salt Path

Posted on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 by patron reviewer

The Salt Path book coverThe Salt Path” is a memoir about a homeless couple who walk the South West Coast Path in England. The author tells and describes the journey so that it is easily imagined and felt. It has so many layers to it sadness, happiness, life, death all in the theme of taking a walk. There was no way I was able to figure out how it might end which made me keep reading it to find out. The whole metaphor of being “salted” was interesting as it developed throughout the book. The book had its gut-wrenching moments with the couple and the author did a great job of giving history about the places they were seeing along with some environmental issues that were happening at that time. I think at its baseline it’s about humanity and how we treat one another in our own family as well as each other globally, especially those who are less fortunate or who are perceived as such. I would read this book again and again.

Three words that describe this book: Magical, Mythical, Heartbreaking

You might want to pick this book up if: It was an award winner and I tend to pick up books if the cover catches my eye which this one did.

-Cindy

Reader Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune

Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2022 by patron reviewer

The Empress of Salt and Fortune book coverThe Empress of Salt and Fortune” is a novella that focuses on a team collecting information about the former empress who is now deceased. Through a collection of artifacts, the subtle plotting of the northern princess is revealed as to how she was able to send communications, raise an army, establish an heir and take over the kingdom. What I liked about this story was how cleverly the characters were portrayed and how subtle the evidence was of what the princess was doing. Side characters, small details, and the artifact lists are really important in this when usually you expect them to be such throwaway accents; here it is central to the plot.

Three words that describe this book: Short, clever, sneaky

You might want to pick this book up if: If you like fantasy books, you’d enjoy this plotting to take over a kingdom; if you enjoy shorter books, this doesn’t take long to read but still has many rich details and a full story inside; if you like figuring out puzzles and noticing small details and not having everything spelled out for you, you’d like this novella.

-Melissa

Reader Review: Instructions for Dancing

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 by patron reviewer

Instructions for Dancing book coverEvie has given up on love, in the real world and in her once-beloved contemporary romance novels. How can she when her parents have just gotten a divorce? When she suddenly acquires the ability to see the end of a couple’s relationship (and as Evie will tell you, they always end) it only confirms her belief that love isn’t worth the time because no one gets out unscathed. And yet, when Evie gets partnered with X at the La Brea Dance Studio, she can’t help herself from noticing all his positive qualities, and she can’t walk away. So now Evie must navigate a world where she is confronted by love and visions of its subsequent heartbreak everywhere she goes, while trying to keep herself out of its snare.

I loved so much about “Instructions for Dancing.” The premise is a little goofy (suddenly she can see the whole “lifespan” of a relationship when she watches a couple kiss?), but it lends itself well to the challenges Evie is facing as she grapples with love and the risk that it is. Yoon is a great writer; she breaks from a standard storytelling mode to seamlessly integrate Evie’s visions and texts with friends in a way that moves the story along without it feeling awkward.

Three words that describe this book: Delightful, unique, heartwarming

You might want to pick this book up if: You might pick this book if you enjoy Nicola Yoon’s other works, YA romance, romantic comedies or dancing.

-Sarah

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading 2021. We will continue to share these throughout the year.

Reader Review: First Comes Like

Posted on Friday, May 27, 2022 by patron reviewer

First Comes like book coverFirst Comes Like” is about a young, single woman who also happens to be a fashion influencer. As seems to be the case with on-line communications, she becomes engaged in a flirtatious convo with somebody and alllllll the things go askew. I loved this fun romp … it was light-hearted and easy while still being substantial enough to thoroughly enjoy. I also really appreciated the multi-cultural considerations when it comes to dating, love and marriage.

Three words that describe this book: fun, funny, thoughtful

You might want to pick this book up if: You’re in the mood for summer fluff with nutritional value.

-Kate

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading 2021. We will continue to share these throughout the year.

Reader Review: The Ministry for the Future

Posted on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 by patron reviewer

Ministry for the Future book coverThe Ministry for the Future” by Kim Stanley Robinson took much longer to read than I expected. This book weaves several compelling fictional stories together with descriptions of real-life responses to climate change in a way that captured my attention for several weeks. I would read 30 pages and then need a day to think about what I had read before tackling another section — and I normally devour books whole! I highly recommend this book for readers who are willing to take a deep dive into what climate change will mean for people, and the many different ways that we can choose to think about addressing it.

Three words that describe this book: Thought-provoking, challenging, wide-ranging.

You might want to pick this book up if: You might pick up this book if you are concerned about climate change and want to think outside the box.

-Sarah

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading 2021. We will continue to share these throughout the year.

Reader Review: People We Meet On Vacation

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2022 by patron reviewer

People We Meet on Vacation book coverPeople We Meet On Vacation” introduces us to Poppy and Alex, who have been friends since college when they traveled home together to the small town they grew up in. Since that trip home, they became best friends — the type that have nothing in common but take a trip together every summer. At first, these trips were done with little to no budget, but now Poppy is living in New York and writing for a travel magazine and able to use the magazine’s money for these trips. But the last trip Poppy and Alex went on together, left them not speaking. Poppy is miserable and determined to get her best friend back, so she decides they need to take another trip together like they did in the old days.

Three words that describe this book: Fun, Sweet, Summer-y

You might want to pick this book up if: You want a fun summer read! It’s perfect to read by the pool or when you are on vacation!

-Rebecca

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading 2021. We will continue to share these throughout the year.

Reader Review: The Vapors

Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2022 by patron reviewer

The Vapors book cove Whatever its reputation may be now, for much of the last century Hot Springs, Arkansas was a wide-open town and the undisputed gambling mecca of America, surpassing even Las Vegas. “The Vapors,” which takes its title from a Hot Springs casino that featured nationally known celebrities, fine dining and, of course, gambling, intertwines the author’s own family history with a chronicle of the gambling and vice-saturated culture of Hot Springs from the 1930s through the 1960s. Interestingly, gambling was never legal in Hot Springs, but as the book details, nonetheless operated completely in the open and seemingly dominated every aspect of life in Hot Springs — political, business and cultural — through the 1960s. Hot Springs was a company town, and, like Las Vegas today, gambling was the company. And, because gambling was illegal (though open and obvious), this small town in Arkansas also attracted some of the most notorious organized crime figures in the country. It’s a fascinating story told well.

Three words that describe this book: Absorbing, journalistic, historical

You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy reading about 20th Century American culture or organized crime.

-Jeff

 

This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading 2021. We will continue to share these throughout the year.