Current Picks: Book Reviews

Laura

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (2013)

dadisfatI just listened to Dad is Fat on audio. Read by author Jim Gaffigan, it is a laugh-out-loud collection of essays of what it is like to be the father of five kids and their adventures of living in New York City. The humor is universal and the love for his family comes through in each chapter.
Denise

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017)

thugI definitely understand why this book is so popular. The Hate U Give is powerful, engaging, thought provoking, and topical. It is a well-written, realistic story with diverse, well-developed characters. Author Angie Thomas addresses uncomfortable issues such as racism (both intentional and unintentional), white privilege, and police brutality.

I loved the main character, Starr, a teenage girl who witnesses her friend being killed by a cop. The rest of the story revolves around the effects of this tragedy on Starr and her family (who are all wonderful characters), friends, and community. At times I felt angry, at other times I felt sad, and then there were times I was laughing. All in all, it was a very emotional read, and one I highly recommend!
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Mary P.

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith (2018)

goodpilotAlexander McCall Smith’s latest standalone opens on an English farm as the Americans enter WWII and fly into the English air bases. When Val rescues a border collie named Peter Woodhouse from his owner who was mistreating him, she gives the dog to Mike, a U.S. pilot living at the base. The American G.I.s become so attached to Peter that they begin taking him along on missions, acting as their mascot.

When disaster strikes, Woodhouse finds himself face-to-snout with Ubi, a German corporal. Ubi is tired of war and death and spares the lives of the pilots, changing the narrative of the war for the Americans. The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse is a charming and beautiful story that reaffirms even when life goes in an unexpected direction, things can still work themselves out.
Lora

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland (2018)

needtoknowVivian works for the CIA as a counterintelligence analyst focusing on Russia, trying to uncover their spies in the United States. One day, while doing her work, she finds information that hits close to home and leads her to question the last ten years of her life. Not really knowing who she can trust or turn to puts her on edge, especially when her children's lives are threatened. Karen Cleveland’s Need to Know is a fast-paced tale for readers who enjoyed Chris Pavone's The Expats and the television show The Americans. It's also the perfect book for your summer beach bag.
Jennifer

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig (2017)

ginnymoonFive years after being taken from her abusive mother, 14-year-old Ginny is in a forever home. And yet, not everything is proceeding smoothly. Narrated entirely from her perspective, Ginny Moon features the inner thoughts and interactions of this lovable yet troubled young autistic girl. The adults around her don’t understand why Ginny won’t let go of the baby doll left behind in her birth mother’s apartment, and Ginny doesn’t get why the adults won’t take action—leaving the reader trying to figure out the mystery.

Debut novelist Benjamin Ludwig will capture your attention with this moving and heartwarming story. If you loved Eleanor in Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, I think you’ll also enjoy Ginny’s story.
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Heather

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2015)

fishinatreeA fascinating and enlightening story, Fish in a Tree follows a sixth grade girl who always struggled in school, but never could understand why until a persistent, caring teacher finally helps diagnose her with dyslexia. The author herself experienced a similar childhood to Ally, which gives so much depth of perspective to the character's struggle with an inability to read and write. Once diagnosed, Ally begins to discover through perseverance that a learning disability does not define who she is or her intelligence.

I only knew the basic symptoms of dyslexia prior to reading Fish in a Tree; however, I now feel a whole new appreciation for those who struggle with this and similar learning disorders on a daily basis because of Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s thoughtful and personal testimony incorporated into her novel.

Fish in a Tree is among the 2019 Bluestem Award nominees for the State of Illinois, designed for students in grades 3-5.
Nancy R.

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline (2018)

afterannaLisa Scottoline’s latest novel is a fast-paced family drama with numerous twists and turns. Noah and Maggie, both in second marriages, are confronted with lies, manipulation, and guilt. I never expected the ending! Check out After Anna today.
Katie

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (2018)

princedressmakerWhen Frances creates an outrageous new dress for a client, her talent is noticed by the royal palace. But her position isn't what she originally expected...it turns out that Prince Sebastian wants her to design dresses for him to wear as the wonderful Lady Crystallia.

Frances and Sebastian strike up an understanding immediately, with Frances designing the most extravagant dresses, making Lady Crystallia a fashion icon in Paris.

Jen Wang's illustrations are a thing of beauty. I adored this graphic novel that features acceptance, fabulous dresses, and love. (No, seriously, I hugged it after finishing it. I didn't want to bring it back to the library!) Lucky for all our patrons, I did. The Prince and the Dressmaker is available to check out in our Teen Lounge.
Mary P.

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian (2018)

flightattendantA self-destructive alcoholic, Cassie Bowen is a mess who binge drinks until she blacks out. After a flirty flight to Dubai, she joins an American businessman for a private party in his hotel room. When she wakes up, he is dead and she is covered in blood. What happened?

Cassie panics and lies—to her airline and the FBI. And just when you think she’s hit rock bottom, Cassie finds a way to make it worse. Full of twists and turns, The Flight Attendant is a fascinating story that’s even more suspenseful than The Girl on the Train. Check out Chris Bohjalian’s latest gripping, thought-provoking read today.

Want more psychological suspense? Check out our list of recommended reads.
Jennifer

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (2018)

kissquotientPretty Woman with a twist: The Kiss Quotient is a delightfully frothy and hot romantic comedy. In her debut novel, Helen Hoang introduces two lovable yet troubled characters. 30-year-old Stella excels professionally (as an econometrician) yet struggles socially, in part due to her Asperger’s Syndrome.

After a not-so-subtle hint from her parents about grandchildren, Stella employs her trademark logic, hiring an escort to help her improve in the sex and relationship department. Michael struggles with debt, and cynicism, and his boisterous Vietnamese family, and, well, this is a romance: happily ever after happens, but not before the pair hit a few roadblocks. Their journey is delightful, and shows a couple realistically coping with the challenges of neurodiversity. This story is a perfect summer read.
Jez

Comics for a Strange World by Reza Farazmand (2017)

comicsstrangeworldYou’ve likely seen Reza Farazmand’s work floating around the internet, even if you’ve never heard his name. His newest book, Comics for a Strange World, is the second collection from his popular webcomic series Poorly Drawn Lines. Organized by theme, you can consider these short comics the “best of the best” of Farazmand. His humor is offbeat, tongue-in-cheek, and occasionally bleak, but his commentary on technology, humanity, and society will absolutely resonate with a wide audience, especially among Millennials.poorlydrawnlines
IPPL Staff

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer (2017)

scribeofsienaIn the present day, neurosurgeon Beatrice travels to Siena after her brother, a medieval historian, dies. Somehow, Beatrice travels in time to medieval Siena during the plague (around 1350). As you read The Scribe of Siena, you’ll feel that you were there too—the writing and descriptions are so vivid. Check out Melodie Winawer’s captivating debut novel today. For fans of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.
Mary S.

Annie Leibovitz: Portraits, 2005-2016 by Annie Leibovitz (2017)

annieleibovitzDelight in 150 color and black-and-white photographs of actors, artists, athletes, politicians, and distinguished people from various nations taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. The unretouched, compelling portraits capture each subject’s personality in interesting and meaningful settings. In Annie Leibovitz: Portraits, 2005-2016, there is a distinctive photo of Jack Nicholson on Mulholland Drive and Queen Elizabeth on the steps of Windsor Castle with her corgis and dorgis. The Library of Congress named Annie Leibovitz a living legend.
IPPL Staff

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn (2018)

womaninthewindowA suspense-filled, attention-grabbing story that kept me riveted from beginning to end. I couldn’t wait to get back to The Woman in the Window when I wasn’t listening to it on CD. Check out A. J. Finn’s debut novel today if you enjoy psychological suspense or Hitchcock films. For similar novels, check out our list.
Katie

Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me by Lorina Mapa (2017)

When Rina learns that her beloved father has passed away unexpectedly, she flies to Manila to attend his funeral. This graphic novel memoir is told in flashbacks as Rina recalls aspects of her childhood growing up in the Philippines.

Lorina Mapa skillfully illustrates emotion in her panels which change between grief and humor, always with love for her family, friends, and country. I laughed out loud more than once as I recalled some of my own memories of growing up -- who didn't have a pop culture inspired haircut that didn't quite work out? (Mine was the bangs from The Secret World of Alex Mack.)

I would recommend Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me for fans of Lucy Knisley, Ramsay Beyer, and Alison Bechdel.