Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

I think what initially drew me to Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home was that the dog looks just like one of my dogs, but I also can’t say enough good things about the story itself. In this wordless picture book, a young woman finds a homeless dog under a park bench. The dog is very timid and runs away. Over the course of the book, the woman tries to gain the dog’s trust. After days of trying, the story culminates in a fierce thunderstorm, and readers see whether or not the woman’s attempts were successful.

The artwork renders this heartwarming story beautifully, following the woman and the dog through a mix of small and large art panels. Not only that, but the wordless nature of the book gives children and parents the opportunity to interpret what the two characters might be thinking and/or feeling. I never thought a picture book could make me so emotional, and it has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. I highly recommend this book!

Available through the Bridges Library System

Sweet Dreamers by Isabelle Simler

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

I love ordering picture books – it seems the new ones coming out now are getting better and better. The illustrations are beautiful, and their accompanying words fit perfectly. Sweet Dreamers is just such a book. I ordered it based on a very favorable review, but as I read it, I was astounded by its depth. The animal pictures are created digitally, and are lovely lines of orange, white, ocher, green, and more. The short descriptions, of each featured animal are thought provoking and precise in their descriptions of the animals’ sleeping procedures. This is a lovely bedtime book and so much more.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E SIMLER)

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Following up her smash hit, Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi’s writing still flows off the page. However, I prefer the original to the sequel. The book picks up right where the cliffhanger of the last one left off: Magic is back in the kingdom of Orisha, thanks to the herculean efforts of gifted Magi Zelie and disgraced princess Amari. Unfortunately, their efforts have not only given magic back to the Magi but also to the corrupted nobility as well. Although the story is magnetic and the pace relentless, I found myself lost in a swirl of plot points that I couldn’t figure a way out of. Although I devoured the first third and eagerly finished the book, the middle third of the book is a bit muddled. Regardless, I will be seeing the series through when the third and final book is released.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC ADEYEMI BK.2)

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

If you’ve ever wondered about how your body functions, but don’t want to read an in-depth textbook, then The Body by Bill Bryson is the book for you. Bryson takes the reader on a tour of the human body, from the brain to the blood, and everything in between. While this book is full of facts, the way Bryson writes makes it digestible and easy to understand.

I’ve read a few other Bill Bryson books, so when I saw a new one was coming out that was about the body, I thought it would be an interesting and insightful read. I ended up listening to this as an audiobook which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially because it was read by the author. So if you are looking for an interesting book about the body and how it works, pick up this book!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (612 BRY)

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

The female led “Terminator: Dark Fate” dives us back into the ongoing story of Sarah Connor, destined to be the mother of the savior of the world, John Connor, who led the resistance against mindless robotic overlords Skynet. This movie picks up where the best movie in the franchise, sequel “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” left off and completely ignores the intervening movies (best that you should too. They are a big yikes.) Although the film slams you with some absolutely incredible action scenes (one particular scene on a bridge comes to mind), the rest of the film is your run of the mill action flick and somehow doesn’t reach the absolutely sky- high bar set by “T2”. Definitely worth a watch but not essential viewing unfortunately.

Located in DVDs (DVD TERMINATOR)

You Be You! The Kid’s Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family by Jonathan Brafman, illustrated by Julie Benbasset

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

This is a very factual and simply written book for children, discussing all kinds of things about love, attraction, marriage, the decisions about whether to have or not have children, as well as extensive information concerning gender identity. Written for children, it includes lots of colorful pictures, and does a great job of explaining phrases children may not have heard before. The chapters are short, and very easy to follow, and the entire book has a very kid-friendly vibe without being the least bit “cutesy.” I think this will be helpful to kids of all ages and their parents (and teachers.) I highly recommend it as a very good read about subjects that are often daunting to approach, approached in a very calm and informational manner.

Located in Children’s Nonfiction (J 305.3 BRA)

The Twenty-Ninth Year by Hala Alyan

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

It is clear to me that Alyan is a talented poet. I enjoyed one of her previous collections and found there to be many thought-provoking moments in this one. The Twenty-Ninth Year deals with difficult topics, such as anorexia, alcoholism, and tumultuous identity formation. Alyan’s descriptions are often quite unique: “Hunger enters me like another night, the sky a good dark meat, grilled with stars” (from “Gospel: Rumi,” p. 17). Another of my favorite moments in the collection occurs on the previous page: “I had never seen a true desert before: cactus beds and milk-white sand, sand that ran for days, the lipstick-red of dusk” (from “1999,” p. 16). Some of my other favorite poems throughout were “The Female of the Species” (p. 5), “Halfway to July,” (p. 13), and “Upstate II” (p. 78). Also, as a side note, the cover of The Twenty-Ninth Year is gorgeous.

I was disappointed, though, that I couldn’t connect to the collection as a whole. I felt far-removed from many of the collection’s experiences, rather than a part of them. It was gritty, vulnerable, and well-written—but just often not suited to my particular tastes in poetry. Many of the poems also were less lyrical than what I have come to expect from Alyan’s work, sometimes reading more like disjointed lists. I assume this was a deliberate choice (as it matches the chaos in the speaker’s life), and it certainly doesn’t mean that the poetry is bad. It’s just different from what I was expecting to read. While this collection may not be exactly my cup of tea, I would recommend anyone who likes contemporary poetry try this collection.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (811.6 ALY)

The Friends We Keep by Jane Green

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

I have read everything Jane Green has ever wrote. Some are absolutely superb (Jemima J, To Have and to Hold, The Other Woman) while others are less so. Regardless, they are usually a fun beach-y type read. Her latest, however, The Friends We Keep completely misses the mark. It follows three life-long friends, Evvie, Topher, and Maggie as the navigate first through their college years and into adulthood. As so often happens with these stories, the author breaks these friends apart, only to bring them back together at the end. And of course there are secrets, drama, and intrigue along the way. But the contrived nature of these “secrets” (which a reader could see coming a mile away) is what really grates. I did finish the book but was dissatisfied that I did so.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC GREEN)

Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon by Suzanne Slade

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

When I was 9 years old I heard the speech that President John F. Kennedy made to announce to the world, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” And I remember my mother and father being amazed at this proclamation, and my dad saying, “If anyone can do it, we can.” I lived through years of reports about the Apollo space missions, being sad about the defeats and happy when their efforts were successful. And then, within that decade NASA and the brave astronauts did what many believed to be impossible; they put not one, but two astronauts on the moon. Until now, I’m not sure there has been an adequate book for children about this feat, but there is now. That book, Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon, is one of the finest pieces of nonfiction I have read in my many years as a children’s librarian. Suzanne Slade and Thomas Gonzalez (author and illustrator) have provided a wonderful compilation of all the preparations and flights, from Apollo 1’s tragic beginning to Apollo 11’s triumphant moonwalk by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. This is a magnificent children’s book, written in a way accessible to all children, but definitely not just for children. It is a feast for all.

Located in Children’s Nonfiction (J 629.45 SLA)

All the President’s Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator by Barry Levine and Monique El-Faizy

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

The authors did their leg work. They interviewed victims and chronicled Trump’s life from boyhood, real estate developer, pageant show owner, reality show creator to his presidency. His history with women goes beyond the “boys will be boys” mentality. It is hard to read page after page. Unlike other rich and powerful men that were recently taken down by the #MeToo movement, he keeps side-stepping and denying the documented assaults.

All voters should read this book before the 2020 election. We have a president that is deeply disturbed while “leading” our country. His base does not care as long as the stock market rises and he assigns conservative judges and justices to the courts. We need to do better.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (973.933 LEV)

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