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Book Reviews

pink background with illustrated face of blonde woman with glasses
Lessons in Chemistry
Bonnie Garmus
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

A witty and empowering novel that blends science and social commentary through the life of Elizabeth Zott, a quirky, brilliant chemist turned unconventional TV cooking show host in the 1960s. With sharp humor and poignant insights, the author creates a story that challenges gender norms and celebrates resilience and intellect.

-Michelle
Posted 5/25/2024

blue book cover with title in large yellow text and illustrated versions of main characters
If The Shoe Fits
Julie Murphy
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Cindy wants to get her foot in the door as a shoe designer. But she can’t step up her dreams without money. Enter her stepmom, Erica Tremaine, showrunner for the nation’s most popular reality TV show, Before Midnight. Little does Cindy know, she’s already met this season’s suitor in a happenstance travel encounter. Now, she must toe the line between her dream come true and her happily ever after. This fresh, funny, size-inclusive reimagination of Cinderella is sure to have any reader fall head over heels.

-Hannah
Posted 5/21/2024

Cover of David Sedaris book featuring colorful letters spelling out title
The Best of Me
David Sedaris
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5 Stars

From “Glen’s Homophobia Newsletter” to his most hilarious columns in The New Yorker and elsewhere, NYT Bestselling Author David Sedaris curates a collection of his favorite and most personally rewarding essays from a career spanning more than 25 years. While perhaps best known for his spoken-word “Santaland Diaries,” in which he pays the bills by working as a Macy’s Christmas elf who threatens overly demanding parents, this compilation of some of his funniest work will delight readers unfamiliar with his stories while reigniting joy among existing fans. As an author who sells out theater-size audiences around the world, Sedaris relies on sardonic wit, delightful and ridiculous family stories, plus tales from life on tour, from a uniquely twisted yet humble perspective. (And yes, his sister is Amy Sedaris, whose extensive work merits its own discussion.)

-Jeffrey
Posted 5/21/2024

blue cover with fish on it and the author
The Uncollected David Rakoff
David Rakoff
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5 Stars

Though released posthumously following Rakoff’s heartbreaking yet hilariously documented battles with cancer, this collection of short stories comprises many of the author’s featured tales from National Public Radio’s “This American Life” and “Fresh Aire,” as well as variations of previously published essays. As a bonus, the book includes the entirety of Rakoff’s final opus, a novel-in-verse titled “Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish,” a brilliant play on the legendary “Scorpion and Frog” fable. A touching foreword and farewell by humorist Paul Rudnick is the perfect first course to the menu of Rakoff’s deliciously told stories.

-Jeffrey
Posted 5/14/2024

green and blue cover featuring a photorealistic horse
You Dreamed of Empires
Alvaro Enrique
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

This novel is a psychedelic retelling of the arrival of Hernán Cortés to Tenochtitlan, and his subsequent meeting with Moctezuma. The use of multiple narrators and occasional breaks with time and space tell a compelling story based on the pivotal moments surrounding their historic clash. Stylistically woven with multiple perspectives, the story becomes increasingly larger than the two leaders, giving complexity to the events with a bite of humor. Depicting the dreams of these characters, often tinged with hallucinogenic effects, this story reflects on the possibilities of what the Aztec empire could have been.

-Margaret
Posted 5/8/2024

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Darling Girls
Sally Hepworth
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4 Stars

As young girls in the foster care system, Alicia, Norah and Jessica were brought to live together at Wild Meadows. Through happenstance sisterhood, the girls endured years of physical and emotional violence by the owner, Miss Fairchild. Years later, the women reunite to shed light on secrets and a corpse exhumed from the past on the property. This gut-wrenching, twisted domestic thriller poses the question: what happens when the place you live makes you want to die?

-Hannah
Posted 5/6/2024

red cover of book featuring a photo of the author
A Very Punchable Face
Colin Jost
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4 Stars

In this hilarious and heartfelt memoir, noteworthy Saturday Night Live writer Colin Jost cleverly reveals his not uncomplicated upbringing. Showcasing his Harvard Lampoon-worthy wit and storytelling prowess, Jost humbly entertains readers with his awkward childhood, unlikely academic accomplishments, and present-day hijinks. This is a fun and charming read that will entertain fans of comedy and celebrity culture, while poking fun at both.

-Jeffrey
Posted 4/8/2024

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Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow
Gabrielle Zevin
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

This masterfully woven novel creates a moving narrative that lingers in the mind long after the final page. With its inventive premise and likable and well-developed characters, this book offers a fresh perspective on the nature of relationships and the passage of time. The author’s meticulous attention to detail and lyrical prose invites readers to ponder the complexities of existence and the timeless power of love.

-Michelle
Posted 4/8/2024

book cover featuring hands covering a partially obscured face and a black bird
Your Shadow Half Remains
Sunny Moraine
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

The end of the world is in sight… but if you look in its eyes, you become infected. Riley has shuttered herself away to protect from sightless rampages after an apocalyptic pandemic. She’s removed all mirrors, shops virtually and lives as a recluse. That is until Ellis, a new neighbor, moves in. Ellis and Riley are inexplicably drawn to each other in dangerous ways. Will Riley forgo caution to forge connection? Written as a gruesome and beautifully-gripping novella, sometimes the most horrifying part of humanity is being seen.

-Hannah
Posted 4/4/2024

red cover with a man in a black suit
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Jonas Jonasson
Find in Catalog

3 Stars

A delightful, whimsical tale that follows Allan Karlsson’s unexpected adventure after escaping his nursing home on his 100th birthday. This charming story blends history with humor as Allan encounters a cast of eccentric characters, making for a thoroughly entertaining read that keeps you guessing until the very end.

-Michelle
Posted 3/13/24

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.
Aurora
Favorite genres:
Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult Literature
Aurora’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
Nancy
Favorite genres:
Literary Fiction and Regional American History.
Nancy’s bookshelf on Goodreads
Sandy
Favorite Genres:
Fantasy, Film
sean_final
Sean
Favorite Genres:

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

 

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