The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Reviewed by Holly (Library Patron)

This is a classic who dun-it mystery. As I read the book I was reminded of how much detective work has advanced in recent years. The book was written in a different time and place. Of course, Christie’s excellent writing transports the readers to that time and place. The characters are well developed and keep you guessing if they did it. I found myself playing a perpetual game of CLUE in my head. The ending was not an easy guess as it is in some murder mysteries. I found it to be a very pleasant read.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Retreat by Sarah Pearse

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

After devouring The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, I had high expectations for her second novel titled The Retreat; however I have mixed feelings after finishing it. Was I compelled to finish the book after getting to know all the characters? Yes. Was I thinking all along that the novel seemed suspiciously similar to her first one? Yes. That disappointed me and I can’t mention much so I don’t spoil anything but it seems she stole the recipe from her first novel and just chose the exact opposite setting, a summer beachside instead of winter mountains and in/on a suspicious location.

There was one small detail that surprised me near the very end but I’d say The Sanatorium packs more chills. Of the two Pearse has written, I’d recommend trying that one, or if you already have, skip this in favor of any of the other titles currently buckling your bookshelf. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent mystery but I had higher hopes.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC PEARSE)

Where’s the Elephant? by Barroux

Reviewed by Diane Basting (Library Staff)

Some picture books work on different levels and this is one of those stories. On the surface it’s about finding the three animals hidden in each illustration which becomes easier and easier each page of the book. Below the surface it’s about lost habitat and what happens to animals when the place they lived no longer exists and they can no longer hide? I picked up the book because who doesn’t love a hide and seek book and while I enjoyed reading it and finding the animals older picture book readers will get the message long before the Author explains why he wrote the story.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E BARROUX)

The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

I am not a regular reader of romance novels, but when a book gets very popular it can sometimes pique my interest. So it was with The Spanish Love Deception, by Elena Armas. More than 100 people on the holds list can’t be wrong, can they? As it turns out, they can, and I wish to save you from being deceived by The Spanish Love Deception.

The description on the back of the book promised the usual rom-com delights of an enemies-to-lovers fake-dating scenario, set at a wedding in sunny Spain. But the first two hundred pages of the book take place in boring New York, and the reader is equally bored with the supposed tension between zany Lina and stern Aaron. The author underscores the fact that the two hate each other so frequently that I was never able to fully buy into the change of heart that eventually happened–once they finally got to Spain.

Once the soon-to-be-lovers get to Spain, a switch is flipped and they are suddenly not only extremely attracted to one another, but also more communicative, more social, and generally nicer people. I got the feeling that the author originally wrote the New York part of the book and the Spain part of the book as two completely different stories, then tried to combine them into one narrative arc. It doesn’t work; the main characters truly seem like entirely different people in the second half.

And the one place where they seem the most different from their former selves is in the bedroom. Chatterbox Lina is suddenly a tongue-twisted, melting damsel, while gruff, terse Aaron suddenly turns tender and also uses lots and lots of words that I am not at liberty to share here. I’m no expert, but I don’t think people’s communication styles usually change that much when their clothes come off.

Speaking of communication, I have one more quibble to share. The dialogue occasionally felt stilted and unnatural. I think the author, like her character Lina, is not a native speaker of English, so I’m willing to give her a pass on less-than-perfect syntax. If the book could have passed under the eyes of a skilled editor, the dialogue might have been ironed out and seemed more realistic. But, alas, the days of actual human copy editors have passed.

Don’t waste four weeks of your life waiting for your name to creep to the top of the holds list for The Spanish Love Deception. There are lots of better options in the genre, without the wait. If you are in the market for a cute enemies-to-lovers story in a fun, exotic location, I recommend Shipped, by Angie Hockman.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC ARMAS)

What Happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

What Happened to the Bennetts is Lisa Scottoline’s latest novel about a family who suffers a great injustice and the lengths the father, Jason Bennett, will go to right the scales as best as can be done given the circumstances. Parents have been known to exhibit otherworldly strength in times of crisis and Bennett is one of them. There is an apt quote at the beginning of part two, “The fight don’t stop until the casket drop.”

When numerous people in positions of power turn on Bennett instead of helping him, which, by law they are required to do, he feels hopeless to protect the ones he loves. He’d been a relatively complacent man before his family’s tragedy, he didn’t rock the boat, he chose a safe life. However, his hopelessness morphs into anger and anger can be productive. Jason has never in his life had more of a reason to fight and he needs to rise to the occasion because this fight really won’t stop until someone’s casket drops. The book asks the reader to consider, would you shelter in place waiting, hoping people will do the right thing to save the lives of your family or would you do anything you could to fight back?

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC SCOTTOLINE)

And the Train Goes by William Bee; Safari Friends by Treesha Runnells

Reviewed by Diane Basting

And the Train Goes
Many people ride the train in this delightful noise color blocked story for many reasons I loved reading this one out loud with my great nephew and any train loving child will get a kick out of this train trip!

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E BEE)

Safari Friends
Guessing books, lifting flaps, and animals all add up to be excellent in the car books! I love the two clues easy fold/unfold flaps that let my great nephew hold the book and manipulate it while we read in the car. Simple bold illustrations designed in 4 quadrants.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E RUNNELLS)

The Self-Made Widow by Fabian Nicieza

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

My fingers were itching to get Fabian Nicieza’s newest title, The Self-Made Widow after reading his first novel, Suburban Dicks. What can I say? The man has a way with catchy titles.

Andrea Stern is a former FBI profiler who’s been juggling five children and a growing sense that she chose the wrong direction in life. Stern lives and breathes profiling. A tragic incident in her childhood forever altered her outlook on the world, she approaches things with a hard cynicism and couldn’t change the way her mind is wired even if she wanted to. Stern takes in all details, each angle, considers every possibility and does so in seconds flat. Her husband does not see her anymore, seems to be up to something nefarious, again, and discourages her from following the work she was born to do. When Andrea is confronted with the shady circumstances of her friend’s husband’s sudden death, she has to choose if finding the truth is more important than steamrolling all the people it will hurt in the process.

I like this novel because it’s honest and gritty. Parents don’t like their kids all the time, relationships are messy and hard work, time changes how people feel and, sometimes, it’s all you can do to hold still long enough to ask yourself if your life is what you want it to be.

If you liked Suburban Dicks, you will enjoy the mysteries in The Self-Made Widow. If you haven’t read either one, read both!

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

The Woman They Could Not Silence is author Kate Moore’s follow-up to her bestseller The Radium Girls, and I found it just as compelling as its predecessor. I stayed up past midnight to find out what would happen at the end, which is something that doesn’t happen often with nonfiction books!

The titular “woman they could not silence,” Elizabeth Ware Packard, was a housewife and mother of six in 1860 when her husband, a Presbyterian minister, forcibly committed her to an insane asylum. The evidence he provided was that she was disobeying him and not following his religious instruction. At the time, it was possible for a husband to have his wife committed without any medical or judicial determination of her insanity–if he said she was insane, she was. Elizabeth eventually spent three years in the asylum at Jacksonville, Illinois.

She learned in the asylum that she was one of many entirely sane women who were committed by their husbands, generally for disobedience and free thinking. She also learned that women who were truly mentally ill were regularly abused and their conditions left entirely untreated in the so-called hospital. When she supported other women’s charges of abuse and attempted to better their conditions, she was herself punished.

When she eventually gained her freedom–due to some combination of her own efforts and the asylum superintendent’s frustration with her–she devoted herself to exposing the horrific abuses in the asylum system, as well as changing the unjust laws that allowed husbands total legal control over their wives. She wrote books, went on speaking tours, and lobbied legislators for the rest of her life.

I found Elizabeth Packard’s story both horrifying and uplifting, and told in Moore’s signature narrative style it was up-put-down-able. Anyone interested in women’s rights–in the past and today–will find it a compelling read.

Located in Adult Nonfiction (303.48 MOO)

The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Viji believes that she and her sister Rukku are in danger at their home and decides that the best way to avoid that danger is to leave. They find that living on the streets of the big city is harder than she thought it would be. They do find some friends and helpers along the way, including Muthi and Arul, boys who have been living on their own for some time.

I thought the writing in this story was beautiful, and at many points in the tale I did not want to put the book down. There were both mean people and kind people that the girls meet, and it’s not always easy to tell who is who when you encounter them. I did enjoy reading this book, but it is a bit sad, so just know that going in! If you liked The War That Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley or A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata then you would probably like this book as well. Don’t miss reading the author’s note at the end!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC VENKATRAMAN)

The Snatchabook by Helen and Thomas Docherty

Reviewed by Diane Basting (Library Staff)

Reading at bedtime and losing your place in your book is bad enough but to have the book snatched out of your hands and nowhere to be found would be a nightmare, which is what happens in a woodland neighborhood. Rabbit puts on their detective hat and tracks down a Snatchabook; who just wanted someone to read them a story. Sweet story with vignette illustrations.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E DOCHERTY)