The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee

seven names

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

Hyeonseo Lee has had seven different names. Growing up in North Korea, she believed the lies that the Supreme Leader told: America is horrible, South Korea’s people are starving, North Korea is a prosperous country. For years she followed and believed, hardly ever questioning what was in front of her.

This all changed when she crossed a river into China and became a defector. Her life and the life of her family would never be the same.

Lee’s memoir is full of stunning information about living in North Korea, and how hard it is to become someone else in another country. As you learn each of her seven names, you understand another part of her extraordinary journey.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (951.93 LEE)

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

tidying

Reviewed by Jennifer Rude Klett (Library Staff)

I am not quite sure why this enormously-popular book has received the attention it has. After waiting 9 months on the library’s “hold” list, I finally got to read about “Kondoing” your home. While the author does make a few good points about de-cluttering, I had a hard time with the emphasis on using feelings when sorting through inanimate objects. Her trademark question, “Does this spark joy?” seemed a little strange, especially when evaluating the everyday items which fill our living spaces. To me, joy does not come from things. Plus, I have zero desire to fold my clothing into little rectangles. Marie Kondo would probably be horrified to see my socks are . . . gasp! balled up and not able to “relax” between wears. I guess you can count me in the Peter Walsh camp of organizing gurus as his books made more sense to me. Even so, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up DOES make you motivated to downsize your possessions. Read it and see for yourself.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (648 KON)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

FIre

Reviewed by Anonymous (Library Patron)

Catching Fire is the sequel to The Hunger Games. It continues to tell the story of Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire. She has survived the Hunger Games, but a uprising has begun and she is in the middle of it. It is a book I couldn’t put down.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC COLLINS)

Paris in Love by Eloisa James

Paris in Love

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)
Eloisa James’s life is about to change, at least a bit. Her mother has died of cancer, and she has been diagnosed with it, and although she is a survivor, she realizes she needs to clean out, step up, and decide what it is she really wants. What she wants is to live in Paris. After all, if she’s learned anything it’s that life can be short. She takes a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor and moves her Italian husband and two kids (11 and 15) and heads off to Paris. Her year is filled with fun, sadness, frustration, and is everything she needs it to be. I loved reading about the places I was familiar with in Paris, as well as those I was not – more exploring to do on the next visit. Enjoy the year with her, and if you’re not already in love with Paris, you, too, may be at the end.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (813.54 JAM)

The Book of Eli (2010)

eli

Reviewed by Jennifer Rude Klett (Library Staff)

Since Denzel Washington just picked up another Golden Globe award this week, I recommend The Book Of Eli DVD, a thinking-man’s post-apocalyptic action film released in 2010. Gary Oldman, Mila Kunis, Tom Waits, and Malcolm McDowell round out the cast. Then, pick up Crimson Tide, Glory, and Inside Man for a Denzel marathon. Don’t forget the popcorn . . .

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff

Witches

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

Because I enjoyed Stacy Schiff’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Cleopatra, I was excited to get my hands on The Witches: Salem, 1692. I read Cleopatra several years ago, but as I recall I found it particularly evocative of the time and place (first-century BC Egypt), and delightfully free of the judgments so many historians have attached to the famous queen. In Schiff’s hands, Cleopatra was neither a sex goddess nor a feminist Wonder Woman, but a woman of her time who made real choices based upon considerations we all would recognize–pride, duty, and love.

Schiff treats the Salem Witch Trials material in the same expository, largely non-judgmental manner. I found the book engrossing–the blow-by-blow narration of the accusations, trials, and executions makes for a page-turning read. I also appreciated Schiff’s deep research into the context of the trials. But I found myself ultimately a bit unsatisfied.

The problem is that the author never takes a stand: Schiff never firmly advocates for any particular cause or causes of the Salem Witch Trials. She gives a nod to several of the theories historians have put forth to explain the witchcraft furor of 1692–and from urban/rural economics to religious divisions to tainted rye, there are a lot of theories out there. And I found that a bit of a cop-out. Schiff was right not to impose an overarching theory on the life of Cleopatra, because a person’s life is not a narrative arc and does not always have a unifying theme. A single, discrete historical event, however, has a cause or causes, and it is the charge of the historian to tease out the threads of cause and effect. By declining to do so, Schiff ends up delivering what amounts to a fabulous book report.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (974.4502 SCH)

Jack Frost by William Joyce

jack frost

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

William Joyce has done it again! His Guardians of Childhood series continues with a spectacular picture book, Jack Frost. You know Joyce from his many quirky books for children, including the novels from this series about Nicholas St. North, E. Aster Bunnymund, and Toothiana. The beautiful pictures follow the tale of Jack, when he was called Nightlight, and saved the baby Man in the Moon from Pitch, the Nightmare Kind. At the conclusion of the battle, Nightlife fell to earth, and became lost. He could still sail and surf the icy clouds, but could no longer return to the sky. As he longs for the warmth he used to know, he turns all around him frosty, and becomes known as Jackson Overland Frost. The Man in the Moon shines down, and “As if carried by the light of the Moon, memories of courage and kindness surround Jack and guide him on…” Come for the illustrations. Stay for the story.

Located in Picture Books (E JOYCE)

The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

cabin

Reviewed by Judy B (Library Staff)

A Joss Whedon fan, I decided to take a chance on watching this “teen/slasher” movie that he wrote and produced in 2012. It starts out with a group of technicians in a control room, discussing how they are going to terrorize a group of randy teens at an isolated cabin in the woods. Director Drew Goddard jumps back & forth between the endless night of terror for the teens & the dispassionate partying in the control room. What is going on here?
The endless parade of supernatural creatures and an amazing amount of blood ensues in typical Whedon fashion. Does anyone survive?
Not a great film, but it was lots of fun seeing Chris Hemsworth playing a big dumb high school football player.

Located in Adult DVD (DVD CABIN)

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