The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

This incredible poetry book by Newbery Award winner Kwame Alexander is not to be missed. Originally performed for an ESPN program of the same name, “The Undefeated” highlights the struggles, the trauma, the perseverance, the persistence and ultimately the hope of the African American experience in the United States. Beautiful illustrations by Kadir Nelson show famous African-Americans (Langston Hughes, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, just to name a few) and highlight lesser known heroes as well (African American soldiers during the civil war, for example). A stunning title that stays with you long after you read it.

Located in Children’s Nonfiction (J 811.6 ALE)

In the Midst of Life: What Makes a Good Death? by Jennifer Worth

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Jennifer Worth’s memoir, Call the Midwife, was about her early experiences assisting births in post-war London. This book chronicles her later nursing career, caring for the elderly as they near death.

She shares her personal experiences how medical advances may keep a person alive, but also can prolong suffering at the end. Nurses and care workers work bedside and may know the patient’s wishes, while the paramedics and emergency room staff act on instinct – their only goal is to save the life. Advanced directives and Do not resuscitate paperwork help convey the patient’s wishes, but it is not a guarantee that the preferences will be honored.

This is not a morbid book, but rather gives insight for what will come for all of us. She refers to her country’s laws, but it is very similar to what is here. I am happy I read it.

I will finish this with a quote from the book:
The author wrote that “Life is sweet – and death always fearful” but her terminally ill friend disagreed. The friend wrote back to her that “on my opinion life in age becomes more and more fearful and painful, and death is – at least for me –a hopeful aspect.

Something for us to think about.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (2019)

Reviewed by Jen Bremer (Library Staff)

This film follows the complex romance between Leonard Cohen and his muse, Marianne Ihlen from their first meeting in the sun drenched Greek island of Hydra to Marianne’s death just months before Cohen’s in 2016. Personal photographs and home videos as well as intimate interviews with the pair’s inner circle are enhanced by the brilliant direction of famed documentary filmmaker, Nick Broomfield. Broomfield himself being intimately connected to the couple adds to the films poignancy. For any music lover, or 1960s bohemian fan, this film is a must see.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Lily’s Story: A Puppy Tale by W. Bruce Cameron

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Lily, her dog mom and puppy siblings are waiting to get adopted at the rescue shelter.

Maggie Rose’s mom is the shelter director, and ten-year old Maggie helps out there. Maggie Rose is the smallest of her family and her brothers call her a runt. Lily is the smallest puppy in the litter. Maggie Rose and Lily connect and fall in love with each other, but Maggie Rose’s mom says Lily must soon go to a new family.

Lily’s heart-warming adventures with Maggie Rose was a fun read, with a happy ending to boot. Young and adult readers will enjoy this book.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Since I read the previous 25 books of the Stephanie Plum series, I HAD to read the latest one. I am no quitter! I was pleasantly surprised, this one is better than #25. (The author must have read my last scathing review!)


We see a more loving side to Grandma Mazur and learn how much the entire family really cares for each other. Grandma tells Stephanie her life philosophy: “Happiness is a choice that you make. Even in terrible times. Sometimes you really gotta work at it.” Stephanie is wowed.


This one focuses on Grandma, who becomes a new widow 45 minutes after her marriage ceremony to an elderly mob boss. The wiseguys think Grandma has important keys from Jimmy. Grandma gets kidnapped and Stephanie is off on another adventure to rescue her.


This one gets three stars from me, just light reading with a character you know.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC EVANOVICH)

Beetlejuice: Original Broadway Cast Recording

Reviewed by Jen Bremer (Library Staff)

Classic flicks of the 80’s have been getting musical reboots in the last few years, and I’m on board. Beetlejuice: the Musical is full of newly written rock-y ballads, appropriately creepy lyrics, and irreverent humor, as well as the classics from the film like “Shake, Senora” and “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)”. Sophia Anne Caruso, as Lydia, belts out the track “Dead Mom” with enough angst, pain, and authenticity that makes the song stand out from the crowd. Actress Kerry Butler’s Barbara Maitland is an equal delight with her melodic and sweet voice, making it the perfect accompaniment to Caruso’s grittier sound. Overall, the soundtrack is a great listen, however, as the lyrics remind you, “this is a show about death.” If that’s something you’re sensitive to, this would not be a musical for you.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’ve recently been on a historical fiction kick that features women detectives or investigators. I was looking for a new series, and I stumbled upon the Royal Spyness series, which features Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, who is 34th in line for the English throne. I grabbed the first one in the series, Her Royal Spyness, and got started, and I’m glad to say that I have a new series to enjoy!

Georgie, aka Lady Victoria, is penniless due to the fact that it is frowned upon for someone who is in line for the throne to work a “normal” job. She sets out for London to try to survive on her own in 1932. She creates a new business cleaning houses of the wealthy (in disguise) and has even been asked to spy for her relative, the Queen. But things take a turn for the worse when she finds a body in her bathtub and she keeps having “accidents” that almost cause her demise.

The start of this series definitely captured my interest, especially because it features a plucky heroine who is trying to survive on her own in a world that doesn’t want to let her make it. For anyone who likes the Maisie Dobbs series, here is another historical fiction series to enjoy!

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Don’t Worry Book by Todd Parr

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Todd Parr is a superb children’s author. His honest, straightforward manner in speaking to children through his books is refreshing and fun. One of his latest books, The Don’t Worry Book does not disappoint. He lays out the reasons a child may be scared: maybe it’s thunderstorms or the dark or maybe they are scared mom and dad won’t come back. Then gives them gentle, practical advise to combat their fears (practice deep breathing or talked to a loved one). This book would be especially helpful for a child who suffers from anxiety. Parr lets the child know there is no stigma with anxiety and gives them a road map to help.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E PARR)

Wild and Crazy Guys: How the Comedy Mavericks of the ’80s Changed Hollywood Forever by Nick De Semlyen

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Through candid interviews with the stars, various producers, directors and staff, the author gave behind the scene looks at how the SNL and SCTV comedians got their careers launched.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Animal House are two of my favorite movies, so it was interesting reading about the making of the films.

I always thought that Chevy Chase was a family man, but he was a cocaine user, who ended up at Betty Ford for rehab. Eddie Murphy did not smoke, drink, or use drugs, which surprised me.

There was a lot of inside information that made it a fun read. If you enjoyed the comedy of the late ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, you will enjoy this book.

P.S. I did find one error in the book that drove me crazy, the author referred to Randy Quaid’s character in the Vacation movies as Uncle Eddie, that was wrong, he was Cousin Eddie!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (791.43 DES)

Pavarotti (2019)

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Although I have always loved his music, Ron Howard’s sublime documentary “Pavarotti”, about the same-named world-famous tenor, was a delightful treat and glimpse into his private life before his untimely death in 2007. Spanning from his childhood on, this movie pulls no punches and talks intimately about its subject, speaking to family members, friends, colleagues, and more. In one particularly compelling bit, his ex-wife speaks on his infidelity and its aftermath, revealing her ultimate forgiveness and ability to move on from tragedy. Of course, his soaring voice and ebullient smile shine the brightest in this wonderful film.

Located in Adult Nonfiction DVDs (DVD 780.92 PAV)

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