Thursday, March 27, 2014

Burial Rites

Author: Hannah Kent
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Lydia

Burial Rites is a grim yet extremely powerful story which details the story of the last woman to publically beheaded in Iceland before capital punishment was abolished. Hannah Kent’s tireless research reveals the life and death of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a fiercely independent yet emotionally wrecked woman accused of murdering two men. Burial Rites does not argue her guilt or innocence; rather, the story focuses on Agnes’s last days of forced labor on a countryside farm and her relationships with those around her.

Kent’s writing vividly captures 1830’s life in the brutal and unforgiving Icelandic landscape. As Agnes’s date of exaction looms closer, both the story’s characters and the reader/listener simultaneously become closer to Agnes. I listened to the audiobook version of this novel, and the narrator does an excellent job of capturing all the character’s emotions.

By the end of the story I felt sympathy forAgnes and those around her. I believe that her story was very well-drawn, although certain other characters remained weakly defined throughout the novel. That, combined with a somewhat slow narrative pace makes me award the book 4 out of 5 stars. Regardless of any shortcomings, the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir is a powerful rumination on life, love, friendship, and death which will stay with you long after the last page.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Author: Brian Floca
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Aleece$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:2287276/one?qu=locomotive+brian+floca&lm=ROUND_LAKE&dt=list

Summary: Learn what it was like to travel on the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s.

Review: Locomotive takes you on a journey across the country in a train, not just any train, one of the first trains to cross the country. The book is full of facts and natural scenery that is found along the railroad tracks. The watercolor pictures are absolutely wonderful and seemed to come to life off of the page.

This book has so much potential for classroom use and is wonderful for older readers. While the illustrations can classify this book as a picture book it is so much more and has so much more text than expected. This is a very long book but has so much information to offer. While the book crosses the country and explains about needing to change out engines, I found this book a little too long but overall was absolutely wonderful. Kids that love trains (probably older rather than younger) will just eat this book up.

This book won the 2014 Caldecott Award.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Top 5 of 2013

Favorite Five Books from 2013
Reviewer: Robert

5. Sixkill by Robert B. Parker
This is the last of the Spencer series from the late Mr. Parker. I spent a lot of time with Spencer and Susan Silverman in 2012-13, and was sad to see them go. Yet, Sixkill was a hopeful note for an overall satisfying series. (And, though no one book jumped out at me, I wrangled through Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct series as well. Time well spent.)

4. Archie Meets Nero Wolfe by Robert Goldsborough
Some years ago I made one of the best decisions of my life, to read through the Nero Wolfe detective series by Rex Stout. What a rich world to spend time in, and how comforting to know that Nero and Archie Goodwin will be there when I go back. In the meantime, Mr. Goldsborough sometimes dabbles in Wolfe’s world, and he did it well enough here to bring me to tears at the end, knowing the lives of Archie and Nero yet to come.

3. The Introvert’s Way by Sophie Dembling
A life changing book for me; hey, I’m an introvert – and it’s okay. Ms. Dembling helped me to discover why I act the way I do a lot of the time, and more importantly, to let me know – it’s okay. (Excuse me now – I need to go read a book.)

2. Song of Kali by Dan Simmons
The main character of this book does NOT LIKE CALCUTTA. After spending time with Simmons mulling this creepy dank miasma of foulness and rotting death, I don’t think I like it much either. Simmons really knows how to establish a mood.

1. Watership Down by Richard Adams
And speaking of establishing a mood, the characters I most bonded with this year, the ones who showed me true humanity in splendid highs and tragic lows – yep, to quote Lost’s Sawyer: It’s about bunnies. Adams created a wonderful world and worlds to come. When the stranger says to Hazel, “You’ve been feeling tired,” it gave (gives) me an indescribable feeling of heartbroken joy. Another thankfulness for lives spent and lives yet to come.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Forest Fairy Crafts

Forest Fairy Crafts
Author: Lenka Vodicka-Paredes
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Reviewer: Helen$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:2243667/one?qu=forest+fairy+crafts&lm=ROUND_LAKE
Summary: Learn easy crafting skills, such as hand sewing, finger knitting, sewing buttons and sequins and using patterns to create forest fairies, gnomes, etc.
Review: This book has easy to follow step-by-step  instructions and colorful illustrations. There are 28 projects to choose from—simple fairies, pirate, mermaid, pocket keepers and animal shaped pouches. Not only are these fun activities, but this is a great teaching book, learning various sewing stitches, how to use patterns, using paint and glue to embellish the projects. There lots of good ideas and the creativity of the projects will inspire children and adults to craft. This is a very creative book.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Balloon Trees

Balloon Trees
Author: Danna Smith
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Sue

Summary: Did you ever wonder how a balloon is made?  This wonderful book illustrates the process of balloon making – from collecting the sap from rubber trees, to the factory, and then all the way to the store.  Bright, colorful illustrations and simple rhyming text make this book an educational treasure!  This book will inspire your child’s curiosity about where things come from. 

Review: I love this book!  The illustrations tell so much of the story, along with the rhyming text (and who doesn’t like rhyming text?).  There is a little green bird to follow on all the pages, just in case the balloon making process isn’t enough for you!  At the end of the book is a section called “For Creative Minds”.  It has some good ideas to further expand the discussion of balloon making.  A wonderful book, with a lot of information told in a very fun way. Also available in Spanish at the Round Lake Area Public Library.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Lemonade War

The Lemonade War
Author: Jacqueline Davies
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Reviewer: Aleece

Summary: Evan and his younger sister, Jesse, react very differently to the news that they will be in the same class for fourth grade and as the end of summer approaches, they battle it out through lemonade stands, each trying to be the first to earn one hundred dollars. Includes mathematical calculations and tips for running a successful lemonade stand.

Review: This was a really quick read and the story is very relatable for kids.  The fighting between siblings and the rivalry that takes place makes the characters seem very realistic.  It was hard to decide who to root for (Jesse or Evan) because both characters are so likable.  The story was very fast paced and kept interest high throughout each twist and turn that the characters faced.  Overall, the book was very enjoyable and had very realistic and likable characters.  This book makes me want to read the rest of the series to find out how the characters have evolved and continued to grow.

This book was on the Bluestem 2014 Master List.