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Book Reviews

Good Neighbors: A Novel
Sarah Langan
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Former pageant-queen Gertie Wilde moved her family to Long Island for a fresh start. She thought she had found that on idyllic Maple Street. Her family may not fit in perfectly, but things are looking up when she befriends Rhea, the Queen Bee of the block. However, after a misunderstanding, Rhea drops Gertie from her life. And when Rhea’s daughter falls victim to an unfortunate sinkhole accident, Rhea will stop at nothing to lay blame on the entire Wilde family.

This novel about the everyday horrors of suburbia and how rumors can quickly spiral out of control is tense and compulsively readable. The flawed, complex characters who make up the main cast are not always sympathetic, and their actions are often uncomfortable to read. Still, the framing narrative of interviews and news articles that refer to the “Maple Street Murders” will surely keep readers hooked until the dramatic conclusion.

-Amity
Posted 2/11/2021

The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories
Joy Williams
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories is an essential read for fans of short stories. It is a career-spanning collection of forty-six stories by American writer Joy Williams. These are stories of dark humor and impeccable prose. Characters are often troubled and find themselves in situations that border on the absurd. This strangeness of plot can lead to a perplexing reading experience. Thus, these stories of death and loss are not for all tastes. Readers that appreciate imaginative fiction, though, will discover writing of the highest caliber.

-Brian
Posted 2/11/2021

The Midnight Library
Matt Haig
Find in Catalog

4.5 Stars

Angst filled and bittersweet, The Midnight library is the story of Nora and complex choices. Nora has a chance to begin a new life through her missed opportunities, but is that what Nora truly wants? A story filled with heartache and happiness, Nora takes a look at her own life’s regrets and realizes that missed opportunities often best left alone.

-Michelle
Posted 2/11/2021
Where the Lost Wander
Amy Harmon
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

With a strong sense of place, this moving story of a family’s journey west in a wagon train has the reader hooked from the beginning.  While Naomi and her family face harrowing trials on their journey west to California, they also experience moments of joy.  An epic story of strength and courage filled with likeable and authentic characters, the reader will get lost in this story of love, loss and the will to move forward.

-Michelle
Posted 1/13/2021

Malcolm Gladwell
Talking to Strangers: What we should know about the people we don't know
Find in Catalog

3 Stars

By looking at several well-known incidents covered at length by the media, Gladwell, explores our interactions with strangers and why they often go wrong in this thought provoking work.

-Sean
Posted 1/13/2021

Magic Lessons
Alice Hoffman
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

We know from Practical Magic the Owens family curse begins with Maria.  In this prequel, we learn this curse starts with Maria falling in love. Mystical and sad, readers will be taken in by Maria as she learns the lessons of magic and that love is what matters the most despite the cost.

-Michelle
Posted 1/13/2021

At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails
Sarah Bakewell
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

At the Existentialist Café is an engaging look at the lives and work of the individuals associated with the twentieth-century intellectual movement known as existentialism. Beginning in the 1930s, philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty examined “questions of human identity, purpose, and freedom.” Their influence extended to the liberation movements of the 1950s and ‘60s, and author Sarah Bakewell makes a convincing case for existentialism’s relevance in our fractious contemporary times. Bakewell blends biography and historical context with readable philosophy, making existentialism’s complex ideas accessible to the reader. Covering over seven decades, Bakewell arguably packs too many colorful personalities into one book. Nonetheless, At the Existentialist Café is a stimulating investigation into existentialism and an entertaining dramatization of the lives devoted to the movement.

-Brian
Posted 11/12/2020

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Michael Finkel
Find in Catalog

3 Stars

The incredible true story of a man living isolated in the wilderness for 27 years, The Stranger in the Woods is a fascinating account of survival and solitude. In 1986, at the age of 20, Christopher Knight suddenly left the modern world and disappeared into the Maine woods. For nearly three decades, he had virtually no human interaction and survived by stealing food and supplies from nearby vacation homes. Author Michael Finkel provides compelling details about Knight’s inventive survival techniques and living conditions (which included freezing winters). When Knight is forced to return to the world, the reader is invited to consider ethical issues and what it means to be a member of society.

-Brian
Posted 10/20/2020

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, Books about unusual animal friendships
Amity’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Brian
Favorite genres:
Classic Literature, Film, and Philosophy
Brian’s bookshelf on Goodreads.
Denise
Favorite Genres:
Mysteries, Graphic Novels
Denise’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Erin
Favorite Genres:
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Young Adult Literature
Erin’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
Favorite Genres:

Historical Fiction, Psychological Thrillers
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

Suzanne
Favorite genres:
Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult Literature
Suzanne’s bookshelf on Goodreads.

 

 

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