Staff Reviews of New Releases
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad (publication date: November 7, 2017)
Allie's Review:(5 out of 5 stars) It's a very rough biography (meaning it's not for the faint of heart) but it deals with the personal resilience of the body, soul, and what it means to be a woman (particularly the inherent danger and uncertainty) during a time of war.
The Milk Lady of Bangalore by Shoba Narayan (publication date January 23)
Mary's Review:(4 out of 5 stars) Entertaining, humorous, and touching. About a woman of indian heritage who spent most of her life in New York but moved back to Bangalore to care for her aging parents. Revolves around her relationship with the milk lady she befriends. I found myself learning a lot about India, the customs, and the importance of cows in their lives in a very readable manner.
Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth (publication date February 6)
Jill's Review:(5 out of 5) I just finished Only Killers and Thieves, and I’m heartbroken to be at the end. I was hesitant to read it, because it's clear by reading the description that this wild west saga set in 19th century Queensland will be violent & cruel which is not my favorite.
Even though there is brutality which is painful to read, this is a gorgeous story. I was especially impressed by how convincingly the different characters were written.
Tommy is a teenager searching for himself and a place to belong in terrible circumstances, and I was completely wrapped up in his story. Even though his experiences ripped my heart out, there was so much beauty is his perspective even in hellish circumstances.
Noone is a tremendously complex villain, and he added depth because even though he was full of violence and his actions were disgusting, he saw through everyone and knew what motivated them and I couldn’t help respecting him in some kind of twisted way.
A perfect ending is so rare. Often a good book ends up disappointing by the end, but this bittersweet end was perfect in my opinion, and I read the last paragraph several times. I loved this book. It goes on my favorites shelf.
Katherine's Review:(4 out 5 stars) I am not generally a fan of westerns, or of violent books, so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this one. I ended up enjoying it more than I expected. There are beautifully written parts of this book and I loved how the location is described. I really felt immersed in the setting - the dry heat, emptiness and the desolation. Such a hard place to try to survive.
I found the violence in the book very hard to read, but I enjoyed seeing Tommy's character develop and evolve. Noone's character I found fascinating and, of course, disturbing. He is the perfect villain - sanctioned by the law, able to see into your motivations, intelligent, and able to twist scientific reasoning to justify his actions. Such a complex character.
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story by Jennifer Roy, Ali Fadhil (publication date February 6)
Tirzah's Review:(4 out 5 stars) The unique title is what made me research this book. When I found out it was based on a true story of a boy who had survived Operation Desert Storm, I knew I had to read it. I haven’t read any literature on that particular historical event and I was glad to see that this book was specifically geared towards the younger audience. I was a toddler during Desert Storm, but when the Second Persian Gulf War took place, I was old enough to be aware of the situation and remember it. Some children today may not be informed about Desert Storm and Saddam Hussein, so I think this book is a great way for teachers and/or parents to educate children. While there are heavy themes of war (i.e., bombing, shooting, reference to torture), it is told in a non-graphic tone that makes it appropriate for children approx. 3rd grade+ to handle (unless they are sensitive readers in which I suggest parents/guardians read it first). It was interesting to me as an adult and American to learn some of the Iraqi culture and be shown some first person accounts of how many innocent people suffered and died during this ruthless time. Besides the tragedy of war, there are shining moments of friendship and family bonds. Recommend for teachers and history buffs, young and old.
Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes (publication date: September 14, 2017)
Joyce's Review:(4 out of 5 stars) The Downton Abbey connection drew me to this book which combines a real murder with a fictional heroine in 1920s England. A truly enjoyable read reminiscent of the “golden age” of mysteries (think Agatha Christie).
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi (publication date: February 13)
Katherine's Review:(4 out 5 stars) I always appreciate reading books that are as unique as this one. It would be impossible for me to categorize it and nearly as difficult to describe it to someone. I believe each reader will interpret this book in their own way. Is this book about a woman with mental illness who has been repeatedly traumatized and who has reacted to these events by creating separate personalities to help her cope, or about a woman who is also a God and has spirits trapped inside her? It all depends, I suppose, on your own understanding and beliefs.
Jill's Review:(5 out of 5 stars) I picked up this book on a whim never having heard of it or the author before. The book description is accurate, but this book is so much more.
The Ada, as the alternate selves refer to their body, transforms from a victim of sorts to something much more powerful. I especially loved the conversations in the marble room which refer to the internal conversations between the selves and Asughara’s conversation with Christ. This book is certainly a stretch of the imagination but it is unique and full of strength. It reminds me of how full of mystery our spirituality is.
I will be watching for more from Akwaeke Emezi.