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Book Reviews

The Hunt
Faye Kellerman
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

While this final book in the 27-book Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series was rough and explicit at times, being familiar with the characters, it was not shocking. Kellerman’s well-developed characters were complex, flawed, and likable (mostly), and I will miss them. Compelling and attention-grabbing, the story is disturbing, emotionally intense, and moving. This series is one of my most recommended, and its ending is bittersweet. The first book in this series is The Ritual Bath, and I recommend reading it in order.

-Michelle
Posted 9/29/2022

Queerly Beloved
Susie Dumond
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4 Stars

Amy is just trying to make it in Tulsa as a financially sound baker and in love. She meets a cute woman during a closing shift, and they set up a date. Her high about the date is dashed when her boss somehow finds out she is gay and fires her for it. Through setting up her own professional bridesmaid business, fighting with best friends, and love on the rocks, the reader follows Amy on a relatable journey of self-discovery that pushes her towards a happy ending after all. Dumond creates an effective vision of what it was like to be gay in the Bible Belt before federal gay marriage passed in June 2015 with the authentic LGBTQIA+ diverse characters and Oklahoma setting.

-Caitlin
Posted 9/27/2022

The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice
Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget Cook
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5 Stars

This book is a highly emotional, personal account of the disturbing abuse Rebecca Musser endured and witnessed while being raised in a religious cult. Forced to marry the leader as a teenager, Musser became the 85-year-old man’s 19th wife. She was not his last, and the wives kept getting younger, even 14 years old. This book shows that there are webs of real human monsters that utilize the guise of religion to manipulate people and prey on them. The chronological story starting with her childhood effectively shows the sinister, calculated, long-term nature of the manipulation, abuse, and trauma it created. The truth becomes apparent to Rebecca over time until she escapes and heroically works to stop the predators and bring them to justice. There is also a mini-series on Netflix about this called Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey.

Trigger Warnings: childhood abuse and sexual assault

 

-Caitlin
Posted 9/22/2022

Greetings from Utopia Park: Surviving a Transcendent Childhood
Claire Hoffman
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5 Stars

Enter the unsuspecting town of Fairfield, Iowa—an unlikely center for the U.S. transcendental meditation movement. After the closure of a small liberal college in the 1970s, a guru named Maharishi Mahesh Yogi purchased the campus of a defunct liberal arts college and encouraged followers to join him in building a “Unified Field Based Civilization.”

In “Greetings from Utopia Park,” journalist Claire Hoffman paints a portrait of her uncanny childhood experience growing up in a spiritual community at odds with the small midwestern town it inhabits. Hoffman shares anecdotes about her mom’s dreams of “flying” and the hard-to-ignore capitalist undertones that priced followers out of the movement.

-Colleen
Posted 9/22/2022

1776
David McCullough
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5 Stars

This nonfiction title is an impressively comprehensive, yet still concise, play-by-play of the warfare of 1776 between the ‘rebel’ colonists in North America and England. McCullough uses letters and diary entries from many different people, including George Washington, to reveal the intricacies of the ups and downs of the not-yet-American, underdog militia led by Washington in 1776. Richly detailed without extensive military jargon, McCullough explains how the rebel colonists conquered the uphill challenge of achieving independence from England in this Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

-Caitlin
Posted 9/20/2022

The Butcher and the Wren
Alaina Urquhart
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5 Stars

The hunter… the hunted… and the impending horror if their paths cross in this most dangerous game. Jeremy is a stone-cold serial killer; Wren is a methodical medical examiner and yet, one couldn’t exist without the other. Will his actions make or break her? Or can she break him before he takes another life? This gruesome and gripping dual-perspective mystery leaves readers wondering.

-Hannah
Posted 9/19/2022

Hex
Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

Black Springs seems like an ordinary small town, except for Katherine van Wyler: sentenced to death in the 17th century for witchcraft, she still watches over residents hundreds of years later and curses them never to leave. Still, everyone makes the most of the situation… until a group of tech-savvy teens decides to take matters into their own hands. What follows is an atmospheric, bleak tale filled with disturbing imagery that stays with the reader long after finishing the story.

-Amity
Posted 9/14/2022

A Spindle Splintered
Alix E. Harrow
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Fairy-tale-obsessed Zinnia Gray has just turned twenty-one and is staring down the last few weeks of her life​, thanks to a rare genetic disorder. At her Sleeping Beauty-themed birthday party, she finds herself thrown into an alternate dimension where she encounters a princess straight out of her favorite story. She begins to wonder: is this her chance at a happily ever after? Pitched by the author as “The Spider-Verse but with Sleeping Beauties,” this briskly paced novella is written in a breezy, conversational style packed with pop culture references and emotion. Readers who enjoy the works of Leigh Bardugo and Neil Gaiman will find plenty to like in this entertaining fairy-tale retelling.

-Amity
Posted 9/12/2022

Bitter Orange Tree
Jokha Alharthi
Find in Catalog

4 Stars

This novel follows the main character, Zuhour, after she moves from Oman, located in the Arabian Peninsula, to Britain for college. The reader follows as Zuhour reflects on her generational family dynamics. The focus is mostly on common struggles women face, from invisible labor to abusive relationships, which can be heavy and evoke strong emotions. The striking juxtaposition of the character-driven, issue-oriented plot’s serious subject matter against Alharthi’s beautifully flowing prose full of vivid metaphors and imagery makes for a uniquely captivating read.

-Caitlin
Posted 9/8/2022

Daisy Jones & The Six
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Find in Catalog

5 Stars

Set in the mid-sixties to the late seventies, the story of Daisy Jones and The Six transports readers into the age of sex, drugs, and Rock n’ Roll. Told via interview transcripts, we hear from band members, friends, and family as they all recount the rise and fall of the famous band. Each character exposes the troubling details surrounding the band before their seemingly overnight split. A truly raw and vivid story filled with complex characters with whom you can’t help but feel a connection.
Trigger warning: alcohol and substance abuse

-Val
Posted 9/2/22

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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