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Sunday Movie Matinee

Sunday, February 25 1:30 p.m. Join the Friends of the Villa Park Library for a screening of Hitchcock (© 20th Century Fox, 2012: PG-13, 98 minutes). Refreshments are served [...] Continue…

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Book Reviews

My Friend Dahmer
Derf Backderf
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Wisconsin, July 1991: Jeff Dahmer was arrested and confessed to the murder of 17 young men and adolescents, most met in clubs or on the streets of Milwaukee and Chicago. Titillating details came out – he had sex with some of the corpses. He kept trophies from the ones he found most attractive. One of his victims almost escaped, but two police officers helped Dahmer take him back to the apartment.

Years before this, Dahmer was known in high school as a little odd, a loner with a drinking problem, and the class clown. Graphic novelist Derf Backderf doesn’t claim to have the answer to what twisted his friend into one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Police and news reports, conversations with classmates, Dahmer’s interviews and confessions combine with Backderf’s memories to give insight into Dahmer’s teenage years: increasing isolation, family and financial issues, substance abuse, and the first stirrings of Dahmer’s necrophilia.

Backderf’s drawings are similar to Robert Crumb’s or Sergio Aragones, which fits the mid-1970’s setting of My Friend Dahmer. Tragedy and menace, informed by our knowledge of Dahmer’s future, play across the pages. This graphic novel was first published in 2012; the new edition includes photos from the 2017 movie and an introduction by the movie’s director.


Secret Life of Bees
Sue Monk Kidd
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This was a beautiful book all around, setting, characters and storyline. It is a story of a girl finding the love of family even when she thought she was unloveable. It is about finding out the truth she thought she wanted to know, and then finding out that sometimes the truth is worse than not knowing. It is about learning to live with the truth and forgiving. Lastly, it is about looking beyond racial lines during the civil rights movement and finding unconditional love and acceptance. This book is a must read for all ages.


Hellboy: Seed of Destruction (and other titles in the series)
Mike Mignola
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I finally made it back to my backlog of graphic novels, and the legendary Hellboy series was at the top of that list.  Born of an incantation by Rasputin (yes, that Rasputin) to bring about the end of the world, Hellboy is a demon who is raised by gruff U.S. Infantry from WWII and is trained to fight ghosts and other demons.  Most of the series are short stories based around the main plot of Hellboy’s destiny decked out with mythological and Lovecraftian overtones.  Does that sound cool to you?  It should.  Also, Mignola is one of the only graphic novelists that can pull off such an abstract art style and make it look damn good.


The Half-Drowned King
Linnea Hartsuyker
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Ragnvald spends a summer raiding in Ireland, to build a dowry for his sister Svanhild. But on the return journey home, he is betrayed, stabbed and forced into the cold sea by men in the pay of his stepfather. Rescued by a fisherman, Ragnvald vows revenge, and to rescue his birthright and his sister from his stepfather’s clutches. But things don’t go quite right at the local assembly, so Ragnvald throws in with the up-and-coming Harald of Westfold, who is determined to unite all the petty kings of Norway under his rule.

Meanwhile, Swanhild is desperate to avoid an arranged marriage to a much older man, an ally of her stepfather. But the man who offers her escape is Solvi, the man who tried to kill her brother and a sworn enemy of Harald – but also the man who captured her heart before she knew of his crime.

Set against the mystical and heroic backdrop of Viking-era Scandanavia, The Half-Drowned King is the first in a promised trilogy.


The Red Queen
Philippa Gregory
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Margaret Beaufort at age fourteen enters into a marriage arranged to solidify support for the ailing King Henry VI. Even as the Yorks gain the ascendancy in the Wars of the Roses, she keeps her faith and promotes her son and only child, the Lancastrian heir apparent to the throne of England.

As her family’s fortunes rise and fall, and as she is separated from her son and her beloved brother-in-law, Jasper, she does not waver in her support. Inspired by Joan of Arc, Margaret plots, prays, cajoles, and finally orchestrates a great rebellion to make Henry Tudor king.

This is the last book of Philippa Gregory’s series, The Cousin’s War, but it’s a good standalone read, too.


The Yiddish Police Man’s Union
Michael Chabon
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Set in an alternative history, this work can can be a bit slow going at first as the reader becomes acclimated to this new version of Alaska and fate of Jewish refugees following WII. As the characters and setting become more familiar, the mystery also takes off and steps up the pace. Peter Riegert, from Animal House and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, does a fantastic job reading the audio book and creating an atmosphere while also delivering the sarcasm and wit in the work. The audio is further enhanced by an interview with the author at the end. Unique and a bit unusual, but overall an interesting read that has drawn comparisons to Philip Roth and Mark Twain.


Andy Weir
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It’s an engaging, fast-paced book about a sassy and sarcastic female character, Jazz, who is always trying to get ahead, but seems to always be stuck in the one step forward, two steps back scenario. It’s also a witty story about a high-stakes caper with a cast of characters, making it a combination that was hard to put down. If you like a story that has you rooting for a likeable criminal (think Ocean’s 11), then Artemis is for you.


National Geographic Atlas of Beer: A Globe-Trotting Journey Through the World of Beer
Nancy Hoalst-Pullen and Mark W. Patterson
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Hey beer drinkers, do you remember when Coors was considered micro brew? National Geographic remembers!  Nat Geo’s Atlas of Beer is a milestone in how far the frothy and prolific beverage has progressed in the last few centuries.  Everything from spotlights on up and coming versus established breweries, historical timelines, and regional ingredients preferences are just scratching the surface of all the heady info stashed in this hardcover tome. [Obvious pro tip]: it is even more enjoyable to read while drinking some micro brew!


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