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Mystery Readers

Thursday, December 28 7:30–8:45 p.m. Join Lesley Cyrier for a discussion about Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel. Visit the first floor service desk to pick up [...] Continue…

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Book Reviews

And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie
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Everyone of Agatha Christie’s books prove why she is truly the “Queen of Crime.” Christie is able to make this elaborate plot of ten people on a private island dying based on a poem, complicated, yet understandable with an ending and twist the reader will never see coming, even though she gave you the clues all along. What makes this specific edition remarkable is Dan Stevens’ narration (Stevens played Matthew Crawley in “Downton Abbey” and the beast in the newest live action version of “Beauty and the Beast”). Stevens delivers with a enormous range of character voices, all done with authentic accents. Furthermore, he uses tone and pace that clearly indicate the wide range of emotions these characters encounter. The narration truly turns this remarkable work into a full performance that elevates the work to a whole new level.

-Lesley

God's wolf : the life of the most notorious of all crusaders, scourge of Saladin
Jeffrey Lee
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God’s Wolf is a fresh look on the medieval crusader Reynald de Chatillon and his notorious escapades during the Second Crusade.  Most other media that I have seen on Reynald (both academic and fictional) place him at the evil end of the ethical spectrum, from the movie Kingdom of Heaven to other secondary source books on the Crusades.  Utilizing primary sources, Jeff Lee makes a strong argument that Reynald was less of a sadist butcher and more of a victim of circumstance and financial opportunist.  The Crusades and Jihads of the time were rife with carnage and barbaric acts seldom seen in modern times and it is difficult to judge our antiquated predecessors through the same lens that we today utilize for similar issues.  Regardless of opinions, the actions of Reynald and his contemporaries echo throughout history and affect many aspects of our lives today.  From a writing perspective, Jeff Lee keeps this historical biopic from being a slog and maintains fresh, interesting, and educated narrative chapters, similar to a print version of the Hardcore History podcast.

-Dan

Red Sparrow
Jason Matthews
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Red sparrow is written by ex-CIA agent Jason Matthews. He uses authentic spy terminology and scenarios, which creates a very believable and readable novel. It is so believable, I found myself wondering how Mr. Matthews was allowed to reveal the techniques he did. Red Sparrow is pretty even paced, holds the reader’s attention, and gives characters that we care about. The first novel of a trilogy, that leaves the reader wanting to know more. It is a story of spy recruitment and double agents, taking place both in the United States and Europe, with a little romance thrown in. It is also a story of a Russian woman coping with life disappointments. If you liked Eye of the Needle, Red Sparrow may be for you.

-Michelle

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.

-John

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.

-Sean

 

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.

-Denise

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

Dan
Favorite Genres:

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

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

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

 

Jawahir
Favorite Genres:

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

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

Kandice
Favorite Genres:

Chick Lit, Suspense, and Mysteries

lesley c

Lesley
Favorite Genres:

Mysteries, Audiobooks, History
Lesley’s bookshelf on goodreads

Michelle
Favorite Genres:

Historical Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Michelle’s bookshelf on goodreads

sean_final

Sean
Favorite Genres:

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

Sandy
Favorite Genres:
Fantasy, Film

 

 

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