Book Reviews from Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena.  Deena was a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team who recently retired.  She has generously continued to share book reviews with us.  Thank you, Deena! 

Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page

Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles   DB105197

As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it.  I grew up in a town along the Lincoln Highway and at one point in my life our kitchen window faced the highway.

1954: Emmett has just been released from a juvenile detention center and the warden brings him home due to the death of his father.  Emmett needs to take care of his precocious eight-year-old brother, Billy.  Unbeknownst to Emmett two of his ne’er-do-well friends have sneaked into the warden’s trunk and they change Emmett’s plans. Emmett and his brother have decided to go to California to find their mother who abandoned the family.

The friends Duchess and Wooley want to go to New York to claim Wooley’s inheritance.  So, the adventure begins and it not smooth sailing. Before they get out of Nebraska, Emmett is urged to make a stop.  Duchess says he will return in five minutes and when he does not return, Emmett goes after him. Wooley and Duchess take off with the car and leave Emmett and Billy stranded with no money and they have to hop a train to New York to get the car back. There are many mishaps on their journey.

This book reminded me a bit of This Tender Land only darker. If you like road trips this book might be for you. There are several famous landmarks mentioned in the book.

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman  BR19607, DBC02517 

I loved this book! Lenka and Josef fall in love in Czechoslovakia and marry. Josef is going to America and promises to secure Visas for Lenka’s family also.  Josef is unable to get the Visas and Lenka refuses to go without her parents and little sister. Josef leaves with his parents and sister and while awaiting their visas Lenka and her family are sent to a work camp. Josef loses contact with Lenka.  As the war drags on, Josef eventually marries, but never forgets his first love. Lenka after surviving a concentration camp, marries an American soldier. They meet again 60 years later at a dinner for their grandchildren.

The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson  DB101366

I was not a big fan of John Lennon or head over heels for the Beatles, but this was interesting story about how the group evolved and their relationships with each other. If you are true Beatles fan and have read a number of things about them, I am not sure that this book uncovers any new details.

Book Reviews from Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena.  Deena was a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team who recently retired.  She has generously continued to share book reviews with us.  Thank you, Deena! 

Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page

Unorthodox: the Scandalous Rejection of my Hasidic roots by Deborah Feldman  DB74459
Deborah grew up in the Hasidic community of Williamsburg, Brooklyn New York. Even as child she longs for the freedom her religion prevents her from experiencing such as dressing fashionably and reading books.  Deborah was raised by her religious grandparents.  Her father suffered from mental illness and her mother abandoned her family.  She attends a private Jewish school and all of her classmates seem to have more than she does.  When she graduates, she becomes a teacher in a Jewish school teaching sixth grade. After about a year, she is matched with a religious Jew and they marry.  There are many problems in the marriage as Deborah still longs for being able to read what she wants and to get an education. To find out more about Deborah’s story read the book and watch the movie “Unorthodox” on Netflix.

The Homecoming by Earl Hamner  BR1474, LT8270
For those of you old enough to remember this is a trip down memory lane.  This was the pilot for the Waltons TV series, although most of the names are different from the TV series, this has the same folksy, family-oriented feel.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult  DB76311
Like a lot of Picoult’s books this book has several story lines.  The present day is of Sage Singer, a baker, who works nights in a bakery. Sage meets and befriends, Josef, an elderly gentleman who was in the bakery. Sage’s only family nearby is her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor.  As Sage gets to know Josef, he confides in her he was an SS officer in the German military. Sage has mixed feelings about this as she likes Josef and he is respected in the community, but her grandmother survived being in a concentration camp. This book has many twists and turns and typical of Picoult a surprise ending. Very well-written, excellent story.

Library Chat Podcast: April 2022

Clip art image of headphonesIn April’s Library Chat Podcast, we continue our new format where we invite a different library staff members to join us as a special guest.  They will choose the topic to be discussed during Library Chat and we will talk about what they do on the library team, as well as books and podcasts around their chosen topic.  For April’s Library Chat Leslie Heinzler, Special Services Librarian joins us to talk about the 2022 All Iowa Reads titles.  For more information about the library and our podcasts go the library’s blog.

Podcast Discussed:

Unlikable Female Characters Episode 57

Books Discussed:  2022 All Iowa Reads Book Lists

Winners

Adult Title
The Butterfly Effect by Rachel Mans McKenny  BRN28392, LT13353, DBC19960

Teen Title
What I Carry by Jennifer Longo  YA BR Lon, YA LT Lon, DB103425

Children Title
The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O’Shaughnessy  JBR O’Sh, JLT O’Sh, DBC19978

2022 All Iowa Reads Shortlists (other titles considered)

Adult Titles
How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang  DB99144
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore  DB99620
The Monsters We Make by Kali White  DBC19959
Barn 8 by Deb Olin Unferth  DB98859
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal  DB95922
Love, Zac: small-town football and the life and death of an American boy by Reid Forgrave  DB101188

Teen Titles
Slay by Brittney Morris  DB99185
Displacement by Kiku Hughes
Camp by L.C. Rosen
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore  DB93530
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf  DB94195

Children Titles
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte  BR23598, DB102083
Stand up, Yumi Chung! By Jessica Kim
Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez  BR22981, DB94118
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks  JRB Mar, DB98670
Itch by Polly Farquhar

Book Reviews from Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena.  Deena was a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team who recently retired.  She has generously continued to share book reviews with us.  Thank you, Deena! 

Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page

Look Me in the Eye: my life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison  DB64970
John Elder Robison tells the story of his life as a person with  Asperger’s and how he felt socially inept and did not fit in, thus the title “Look me in the eye”.
He came from a dysfunctional family.  His father was an alcoholic and beat him and his brother and his mother was mentally ill.  John found his niche in electronics and worked building circuits and special effects for the band KISS, among others. After several years of that he decided he needed a “real job” and used his electronic abilities to get another job. He married his high school sweetheart and became a father. It wasn’t until in his forties, when he learned he had Asperger’s that felt he fit into the world. Recommended for KISS fans, and anyone wishing to know more about people with Asperger’s and their reactions and how they think.

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson BR18651, DB69104
Lia’s best friend, Cassie just has died as a result of Bulimia.  Lia is Anorexic and continually sets goals to lose five more pounds.  Cassie comes back to haunt Lia and urge her to join her.

Alibi Man by Tami Hoag   BR16909, DB63498
Elena Estes, a former cop, now works at a horse stable.  She goes for a walk and discovers a groom, Irina that she works with dead in a canal.  Elena investigates Irina’s death and helps the police.  Irina was Russian and the Russian mob appears to be involved.  This was a page turner with an unexpected ending.

The Loop by Nicholas Evans  LT5749, DB46713
I really did not think I would like this as much as I did. This takes place in Montana where wolves were reintroduced to the area.  Helen Ross works to put radio collars on the wolves to track and protect them.  The ranchers in the area are against the wolves because they have killed cattle.  Luke, the son of the leader of the ranchers, assists Helen with the wolves, much to the embarrassment of his father.  It all comes to head when Luke is caught trying to save some wolf pups. Recommended for animal lovers and environmentalists.

Library Chat Podcast: March 2022

Clip art image of headphonesIn March’s Library Chat Podcast, we continue our new format where we invite a different library staff members to join us as a special guest.  They will choose the topic to be discussed during Library Chat and we will talk about what they do on the library team, as well as books and podcasts around their chosen topic.

For March’s Library Chat, Karen Cunningham, our Instructional Materials Center Librarian joins us to talk about inspirational titles and autobiographies.

Books we discussed:
Book List From Podcast

Podcast we discussed:
Gretchen Rubin’s More Happier Podcast, March 5, 2022

 

Book Reviews from Deena

Heart shape filled with books on shelvesCheck out these book reviews from Deena.  Deena was a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team who recently retired.  She has generously continued to share book reviews with us.  Thank you, Deena! 

Let us know if you would like any titles added to your booklist or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page

An Ocean in Iowa by Peter Hedges DB47261
Scotty Ocean turns seven.  His mother leaves him and his two older sisters. Scotty tries various ways to get his mother to return to the family.  Some are funny and some are embarrassing. If you are interested in a humorous book about a young boy growing up in Iowa, I would suggest The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (DB63131).  This is a laugh out loud read that takes place in Des Moines.  The one thing I did like about An Ocean in Iowa is that a lot of the places mentioned in the story are very close to my home.

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf  DB79095
Ellen Moore has been a social worker in Iowa, working with abused or neglected children for many years.  One day when she is running late for work the unthinkable happens.  Ellen is investigated and arrested.
Meanwhile, Ellen’s mother. Maudene while working at a restaurant runs across a young girl all alone.  Jenny gets sick at the restaurant.  Maudene later sees Jenny walking alone.  She asks if she can take her somewhere and ends up taking Jenny to her grandmother’s house, she finds out the grandmother has died.  Maudene, tells her daughter about Jenny and Ellen urges her to call a social worker. This book handles some tough subjects with sensitivity.