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Book Reviews

The Handmaid's Tale
Margaret Atwood
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With dystopian works of fiction now a large part of mainstream entertainment, think Hunger Games and Divergent, reading a very different and earlier take on this genre is an interesting and worthwhile endeavor. Devoid of the action in the previously mentioned works, this story brings out a very possible future and even though this work was written in 1985, many of the political themes and issues it presents are still relevant. Claire Danes does a remarkable job as narrator, using tone and pace to clearly indicated Ove Fred’s movements from passionate to scared to indifferent. With the new TV series and the resurgence of feminist fiction and non-fiction this is a read that is relevant and a discussion piece.


The Builders
Daniel Polansky
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A rag-tag band of ex-mercenaries who backed the losing side in a dynastic struggle gets back together after five years of lying low. But now they have regrouped, a little worse for wear, to take revenge on the comrade who betrayed them.

Oh, and the characters are all anthropomorphized animals. But this isn’t Disney! A bloody, bawdy, dark tale with fully realized characters, it’s like Watership Down meets The Hateful Eight in the Sonoran Desert.


X-O Manowar
Robert Venditti

Valiant Comics, a new-comer to the comics game, has begun to make waves with some of their flagship characters like X-O Manowar.  In a nod to Marvel, X-O Manowar is Valiant’s own version of Iron Man and Thor rolled into one hero with a wildly different origin story, character development, and demeanor.  The protagonist who dons the X-O Manowar armor is an unstoppable anachronism fighting against the cosmic and corporeal forces that toss him around time and space like a sailor adrift on an ethereal sea.  Also, there are some really monolithic battles, laser beams/swords, and epic team ups with other Valiant heroes.  If you are looking for some fresh super-hero action, give this a try.


Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic : Reggie, Rollie, Catfish, and Charlie Finley's Swingin' A's
Jason Turbow

The ‘Swingin A’s’ were the last great dynasty of the last great era of baseball. Turnbow details the rise and fall of the A’s under their outrageous Charlie Finley.  From his purchase of the team in Kansas City, to their move to the Bay Area where they won three World Championships, and to the team’s ultimate demise with the arrival of free agency.



American Gods
Neil Gaiman
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Remember learning about gods and goddesses in school–their fantastic lives, their exploits, their trials and tribulations? What if it turned out that the gods still walked amongst us? Gods from the old country, and the New World, wanting only to be remembered, but realizing that people who worship the old gods are becoming fewer and fewer. In their place are the new gods, mostly unnamed but who live in the world of technology: computers, internet, media, and more.

In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, this is the world that main character Shadow Moon encounters when he is released from prison a few days early due to the death of his wife. On a plane to his wife’s funeral Shadow meets a gentleman who says his name is Wednesday. Wednesday wants to hire Shadow to be his bodyguard, but Shadow is leery. When Wednesday shows up in place after place that Shadow visits, Shadow realizes that he may as well give Wednesday a try. The ensuing story follows them as they travel throughout America, meeting with people from Wednesday’s past to attempt to bring them together for a plan Wednesday is hatching.

American Gods is part mythology, part travelogue, and part historical fiction. Readers who are looking for a good story that sometimes might be a challenge to read, should check this book out.


The Dinner
Herman Koch
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A disturbing novel about what is right morally and wanting to protect your child at all costs. The characters are not likeable and the author does a great job of twisting readers’ opinions about compatibility with these characters. Just when you think you have the “villain” strongly in hand, there is a flip and suddenly the tolerable become intolerable and vice versa. If you liked Defending Jacob, this may be for you.


Readers Advisory Staff

Looking for that great new read? The Villa Park Public Library has a fantastic Readers Advisory staff that is happy to recommend novels. Whether you’re looking for new authors like your old favorites, or you’re ready for something completely new, our RA staff is here to help. They run reading groups and book discussions to help make reading a more social experience. These folks know their stuff!

Looking for a Recommendation?

If you’re looking for a recommendation you can contact one of the readers advisory staff.

dan c

Favorite Genres:

Primary Source Historical Texts, Horror
Dan’s bookshelf on goodreads

Favorite Genres:
Mysteries, Graphic Novels
Denise’s bookshelf on goodreads

Favorite Genres:
Romantic Suspense, Scifi-fantasy
Jean’s bookshelf on goodreads


Favorite Genres:

Historical Non-Fiction, Women’s Literature
Jawahir’s bookshelf on goodreads

Favorite Genres:
Alternate History Fiction, Suspense
John’s bookshelf on goodreads
kandice k

Favorite Genres:

Chick Lit, Suspense, and Mysteries

lesley c

Favorite Genres:

Mysteries, Audiobooks, History
Lesley’s bookshelf on goodreads

Favorite Genres:

Historical Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Michelle’s bookshelf on goodreads


Favorite Genres:

True-life biographies, Non-fiction
Sean’s bookshelf on goodreads

Favorite Genres:
Fantasy, Film