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Book Reviews

Idol, Burning
Rin Usami
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

This book examines the toxic obsession that comes with fanaticism. The story is told from the perspective of a high schooler and superfan named Akari after her favorite pop star punches a fan. This character-driven narrative examines the effects of social media, adolescence, and obsession. The author and translator have crafted atmospheric prose that makes relatable aspects of the story suddenly slip away and brings the reader back to the disturbing irrationality of Akari’s fanaticism. This story is especially poignant in our social media era, where people perform curated online lives very different from their real-world life and can fall into parasocial relationships with those they idolize online.

-Caitlin
Posted 1/18/2023

Ghosts
Dolly Alderton
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Nina Dean is about to take her first foray into the rugged, raucous world of modern online dating after the end of a 7-year relationship. With Lola, her perpetually single friend, in tow as a capable navigator, the pair journey to find their better halves. All the while, Alderton’s prose envelopes you in a great big hug through love, loss, shifts in connection with friends and family and the empowering thought that the memory of ghosts only lingers as long as you let them.

-Hannah
Posted 1/16/2023

I'll Be You: A Novel
Janelle Brown
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Identical twins Sam and Elli rocket to superstardom at a very early age. While Sam thrived, Elli was eager to retire from acting. Elli then creates a picture-perfect life for herself while Sam goes off the deep end. The sisters lose contact with one another… that is, until under the guise of a wellness retreat, Elli finds herself entrapped. Now, it’s up to Sam to piece together the mystery and use her strongest asset– her mirror image– to save her sister. A nuanced thriller about fame and family makes this novel hard to put down.

-Hannah
Posted 1/13/2023

Maniac of New York, Vol. 1: The Death Train
Elliott Kalan
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

A satirical spin on the classic slasher tale, Maniac of New York presents an alternate reality where a masked villain named Harry slaughters hundreds of victims throughout New York City. After years of failed attempts to capture the seemingly unstoppable serial killer in their city, New Yorkers accept and adapt to their new normal as the authorities largely ignore the problem. Fed up by those in charge, two women with vendettas of their own decide to go against the system–and take down Harry once and for all. Featuring delicate watercolor artwork that beautifully contradicts the brutality on the page, this timely horror comic is not one to be missed.

-Amity
Posted 12/28/2022

The Peach Keeper: A Novel
Sarah Addison Allen
Find in Catalog

3 Stars

A lovely story about true friendship and finding your way in the life you have been given. It is also a story about lifetime secrets and the cost and value of keeping them. And finally, it is a story about trusting yourself enough to find your true path.

 

-Michelle
Posted 12/22/2022

Into the Riverlands
Nghi Vo
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

This high fantasy story is one of three standalone novellas in the world of the Singing Hills crafted by Vo. This story follows cleric Chih as they make their way through the Riverlands of the Singing Hills, doing their work as a historian to observe and record the stories of life there. Soon, Chih gathers companions, and the group makes their way together into the unknown, possibly dangerous territory. Chih gets the chance to observe and record history as it happens, but also to record the stories from oral storytelling by their new comrades regarding the renowned figures that hail from the Riverlands. This novella is action-packed with banter-filled dialogue and magical elements that draw the reader in for a fun read.

-Caitlin
Posted 12/20/2022

Another Brooklyn
Jacqueline Woodson
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

This book is a character-driven, issue-oriented portrayal of adolescence. We follow August as she ages, examining the dynamics of her friend group of four girls and the other relationships in her life. The characters are authentic and relatable, from varying races and socioeconomic levels, which are major themes throughout the story. The introspection of August, paired with the realistic adolescent narrative, brings the reader to a place of bittersweet reflection throughout. Woodson molds sympathetic, well-developed characters with a candid and engaging writing style to effectively construct an emotionally intense and nostalgic story.

-Caitlin
Posted 12/20/2022

Just Like Mother
Anne Heltzel
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Maeve escaped a cult at a very young age, leaving behind everything and everyone she knew – including her beloved cousin, Andrea. Now in her thirties, she reunites with Andrea after years of searching—and soon befriends Andrea’s friends, who convey to her the importance of motherhood as every woman’s privilege and right. Despite Andrea’s refusal to speak of their shared childhood, faded memories start to reappear, and it looks like Maeve’s past may be catching up with her. This novel is a pulpy thrill ride with some horrific imagery; the use of technology, in particular, works as a powerful contrast to the traditional gothic setting. Fans of cult horror and the works of Jennifer McMahon will find a lot to like in this intricately plotted, compelling story.

-Amity
Posted 12/9/2022

Night of the Mannequins
Stephen Graham Jones
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

This disturbing horror story is told from the main character’s point of view in a conversational yet urgent tone that keeps your attention and instills suspense. Throughout the fast-paced rising action, it is revealed that the perspective we are receiving may not be so accurate after all. Jones crafts most of the narrative around descriptive scenes of gritty violence that is truly haunting and reminiscent of Michael Myers’ point-of-view scenes in Halloween. It is an engaging and unsettling quick read.

-Caitlin
Posted 11/29/2022

Into the Drowning Deep
Mira Grant
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Seven years ago, a media team set out to the Mariana Trench to make a mermaid mockumentary but found the very real, violent monsters that are mermaids. Rescuers had found no survivors and a frightening video showing a mermaid attack against those on the ship. This story follows the media company from that trip and a bunch of scientists with diverse, sometimes conflicting, motives for joining this new voyage to explore that area. The intensifying pace of the story heightens suspenseful unease in the reader. It hits a dramatic stride as gruesome deaths start to pile up. The characters are well-developed, entirely believable, and range in personalities, giving the reader distinct emotional reactions to different suspenseful scenes or deaths throughout the book.

-Caitlin
Posted 11/23/2022

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.

Amity
Favorite genres:
Horror, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult Literature
Amity’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Caitlin
Favorite genres:
Fantasy, Thriller/Mystery, and Historical Non-Fiction
Caitlin’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Denise
Favorite Genres:
Mysteries, Graphic Novels
Denise’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Hannah
Favorite Genres:
Contemporary Romance, Mystery and Thrillers, and the occasional Young Adult novel
Hannah’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

Michelle H.
Favorite Genres:

Historical Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
Michelle’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Michelle J.
Favorite Genres:
YA, Fantasy, and anything LGBTQ+
Michelle’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Nancy
Favorite genres:
Literary Fiction and Regional American History.
Nancy’s bookshelf on Goodreads
sean_final
Sean
Favorite Genres:

True-life biographies, Non-fiction
Sean’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Sandy
Favorite Genres:
Fantasy, Film

Val
Favorite Genres:
Fiction, Non-fiction, Romance
Val’s bookshelf on Goodreads

 

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