Book Reviews and Recommendations

Wondering what the WHPL Librarians have been reading lately? Here are reviews and recommendations from their recent reads!

Kim (April 2020):

My reading since we’ve been home has been a real miscellany. I’ve supplemented my stack of books with our excellent overdrive resources.  For mystery fans, I can recommend two historical series. The first is by Jessica Fellowes (daughter of Julian, creator of Downton Abbey) and is a series involving the Mitford family. There are three in the series thus far and are quite fun. The other is by CJ Harris who does a regency series that fans of Kate Ross and Anne Perry should enjoy. I also enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s YA bestseller Carry On on the recommendation of one of our teen patrons.  On the non-fiction side of things, I’m enjoying a digital copy of Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick in anticipation of the upcoming virtual book club on WCAI.

Margaret (April 2020):

Early on in the quarantine, I finished rereading the first two titles in Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials Trilogy:  The Golden Compass and  The Subtle Knife.  I had enjoyed reading them aloud with my children many years ago and found they more than held their appeal. Classic adventure fantasy, with characters I cared about.    I just finished reading Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel.  It’s a post-pandemic story, set in current times. Through a small cast of unlikely characters and before and after pandemic flashbacks, I was absorbed in the story of what a world could look like twenty years after collapse.  Highly recommended!

Jennifer (April 2020):

Since the early days of the quarantine when I finished up hard-backed mysteries set in New Zealand, Brittany, and Arizona, I have been binging on Rhys Bowen, all but one on Libby, all but two set in England. I will really have to stop soon, due to a surfeit of her “Royal Spyness” series. But I still have #8 in the series checked out on Libby so feel obligated to read it, though it may throw me over the edge. For variety I picked up an old copy of The Dog who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat. Some dog! I dabbled in Little Women, and again on Libby became quite immersed in Whitehead’s Underground Railroad and Richard Russo’s Chances Are which focused onADD  characters of my era, set in Margaret and Kim’s part of Martha’s Vineyard. Sooner or later I will have to address the heap of books next to my bed, but I find Libby so alluring!

Lauren (April 2020): 

Reading, perhaps more than ever, provides a welcome distraction, a sense of companionship and some structure to my days.  It feels especially important, lately, to cultivate an inner life of thoughts and ideas, and “reading”, for me, takes several forms.  I listen to audiobooks on the Libby app, saying things like: “I will rake leaves for 5 chapters.” One that stands out is ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing’, by Jesmyn Ward, a novel set in Mississippi that reaches deep into the lives of a family, across 3 generations.  I have been enjoying the podcast ‘Phoebe Reads a Mystery, in which the host, Phoebe Judge, reads a chapter a day of a mystery – so far, Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Styles and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.  It’s been a delight.  Most of the time, I have a towering pile of reading material by my bed and these past few weeks have offered a chance to delve in.  I have caught up on back issues of my favorite garden magazine, Gardens Illustrated.  A reread of The Summer Book by Tove Jansson transported me to a tiny island off the coast of Finland and a revisit into David Sedaris’s Calypso offered some much-needed laughs.  One recent read was Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. I was first drawn in by the quirky character, Lillian, who is down on her luck. She moves in with an old friend to help care for her children, and what follows is a story of family love, with a bit of the absurd, for good measure. Faced with more time at home, we have been cooking more, and Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat is an entertaining and insightful book to spend some time with.  Sometimes, it even materializes into something delicious for our table!  

More reviews coming soon!