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This is a group for library patrons and staff to review books they've read and share what they are currently reading.


Non-Fiction Reviews: (View All)

  • Mao and Me
  • Author: Chen Jiang Hong
  • User Rating: 4
  • Review: Teton Co Call No: J 951.056 Chen J
    Julia's rating: 4 stars

    I've long been intrigued with the cover of this book and its placement in the library. A book about growing up in China under Mao - for children? I wondered.

    Finally, I sat down to read this curious picture book. And, I am so pleased that I did because this thoughtful, informative and sometimes sad book serves as yet another reminder that children's literature is simply not just for kids. And, that picture books may not always be aimed at the youngest of children.

    The story, written and illustrated by Chen Jiang Hong, is a memoir about the author's life growing up before, during and after Mao's Cultural Revolution. It's a beautiful story about traditions, family and survival, while also a bracing reminder about sacrifice, survival and mortality. The illustrations are magnificent, too.

    I would recommend this book for high school students - and anyone older - interested in learning about modern Chinese history. It's a brief look but one with depth and scope.
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  • Great Big Book of Children's Games
  • Author: Debra Wise
  • User Rating: 4
  • Review: J 796 Wise D.

    Kay's rating: 3.5 stars

    This is a good resource for parents, grandparents and early childhood & elementary teachers. The games included in this book will get children moving and will take them outdoors; perfect for summer time fun.
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Fiction Reviews:(View All)

  • Samurai Awakening
  • Author: Benjamin Martin
  • User Rating: 4
  • Review: TLC CALL #: J MARTIN B
    Chris’s Rating: 3.5 Stars

    David (an exchange student to Japan) struggles both to understand the language and culture of the country he is visiting. Then one day his host family invite him to a special ceremony to bless a sword. When no one except David is able to see an approaching golden tiger, the young American bravely throws himself at the beast to save one of the family members. The next thing he knows he wakes up from unconsciousness understanding Japanese and learns that his body has been joined by the off-shoot of a Japanese God/elemental…thing. Even though his language barriers have been removed, he still struggles to grasp the culture differences, battles the being within him for control of his actions and is tasked with keeping his situation secret (told he is to become a Jitsugen Samurai – a protector against evil in Japan’s time of need) lest he be destroyed by Japanese ghosts or monsters before he is strong enough to contend with them…and fight them he must, not only to save himself, but those he is closest to.
    David is a likable enough character, and despite the power he gains (which saved his life) I can’t help but cringe at the idea of being constantly possessed by a foreign creature with appetites and a personality so different—there is definitely a price for power. The struggles he goes through, even at his strongest moments don’t turn him into one of the overpowered characters too common in literature for youth, although sometimes he gets…lucky…which is good for the continuation of the story. The book is possibly too long (or I was just too tired) and it was not always easy for me to keep the names straight (likely because they were not names I am accustomed to). Overall I didn’t enjoy the drama created between David, Kou (the being possessing/joined with him) and Natsuki; but it added to the conflict and was a fundamental part of the story. A book written primarily for teenage boys (possibly girls) with an interest in Japan, Samurai and magical elements.
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  • Eye of the Crow (The Boy Sherlock Holmes, #1)
  • Author: Shane Peacock
  • User Rating: 3
  • Review: TCL CALL #: J PEACOCK

    Young misfit, Sherlock Holmes, frequently skips school to wander the streets, observing those around him and reading about local crimes. Holmes become infatuated with the murder of an actress and can’t keep away, despite the fact that he promised his parents he would reform and go back to school. Unfortunately the boy’s activity at the murder scene is observed and he finds himself implicated in assisting with the act. He manages to break out of jail (with some aid) and begins with even greater gusto to solve the mystery, clear his name, and save an accused innocent.
    Before reading too much into my rating, I must introduce that I have a bias against present tense. It is harder for me to enjoy and feels awkward to me. So what did I like and dislike?
    Pros: 1. the author has done his research (while Holmes does not mirror his adult form, it is easy to conceive how this child could become the Great Sherlock Holmes), it also felt like a real Sherlock Holmes story; 2. Plenty of detail (conversely sometimes too much); 3. Seems to properly reflect prejudice of the time and note that “good guys” can be hurt/killed too.
    Cons: 1. First person present tense was awkward to read; 2. Moments of slowness
    Overall, the book didn’t elicit the need to continue the series (as did the series by Andrew Lane, starting with Death Cloud), but as a librarian I have TONS of books on my to-read list. Good for Sherlock enthusiasts and those who like mysteries set in a roughly Victorian era.
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