From the publisher: “Wear your heart on your sleeve.” That’s the saying. But in BONDING, people wear their anxiety on their chests – in the form of a parasite that shows everyone just what you’re feeling on the inside …
From the Archives: Digitizing VHS
Thanks to some wonderful volunteers and student workers, we’ve started a project to digitize the VHS tapes in the special collections.
The tapes include everything from old news broadcasts, high school graduations, interviews and more. Check out this one, a library presentation from 1992. See any familiar faces?
If you’re interested in helping with the digitization project, or want to volunteer for other projects in the archives, contact our archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Review | Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton
From the publisher: Summer has come to Niflheim. The lichens are growing, the six-winged bat-things are chirping, and much to his own surprise, Mickey Barnes is still alive—that last part thanks almost entirely to the fact that Commander Marshall believes that the colony’s creeper neighbors are holding an antimatter bomb, and that Mickey is the only one who’s keeping them from using it. Mickey’s just another colonist now. Instead of cleaning out the reactor core, he spends his time these days cleaning out the rabbit hutches. It’s not a bad life. It’s not going to last.
Antimatter Blues is a sequel, and although you probably can read this book without reading the first, I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll get a lot more out of Antimatter Blues if you’ve read Mickey7. In the first book, one man (Mickey) is an expendable. This means his consciousness is downloaded so that when he is killed doing something dangerous, a clone can be produced and his consciousness uploaded. This is not a popular job, and by the end of book 1 Mickey has managed to retire from being an expendable. But space is a harsh place. Various people trying to inhabit various planets in both books have learned that the hard way. In Antimatter Blues, new perils and an unsympathetic commander complicate and endanger Mickey’s life.
There is a sentient, intelligent species already living on the planet that Mickey and friends are trying to colonize, and we learn a lot more about them in Antimatter Blues. I personally love meeting intelligent alien species who don’t immediately want to vaporize humans. This book was a lot of fun, and while some things were predictable, it kept me guessing. At one point I surprised myself by putting the book down for a breather when things got a little tense. There’s some humor and some romance, Mickey is a likable narrator, and the dialog is realistic and the banter snappy. Maybe it’s not treading new ground, but I like going over old ground sometimes. (That’s why I enjoy watching all the Star Trek series!)
Is there going to be another book in the series? It seems like there is plenty of room for growth with this cast of characters and their struggle to survive on a hostile planet, but Antimatter Blues also wrapped up very neatly. If there is another book in the series, I will eagerly read it.
I read an advance reader copy from Netgalley.
If you are looking for something to read while waiting for the next book in the Murderbot Diaries, you might enjoy Mickey7 and Antimatter Blues. The Galesburg Public Library owns Mickey7 in print, digital, and audio and will own Antimatter Blues in the same formats when it is published in March.
Book Review | Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: The High Country by John Jackson Miller
From the publisher: When an experimental shuttlecraft fails, Captain Christopher Pike suspects a mechanical malfunction—only to discover the very principles on which Starfleet bases its technology have simply stopped functioning. He and his crewmates are forced to abandon ship in a dangerous maneuver that scatters their party across the strangest new world they’ve ever encountered.
Strange New Worlds: The High Country is a pretty darn good Star Trek novel. I’m a huge fan of Star Trek TV series and movies, but I don’t read a lot of the books. I’d say I’ve found more of them to be disappointing than satisfactory.
This is the first book in the Strange New World series and I enjoyed it. Author John Jackson Miller does a good job of presenting the new crew of the old Enterprise. The characters we see most are Captain Pike, Lieutenant Spock, Lieutenant Commander Chin-Riley, and Ensign Uhura. The best parts of the novel are when two or more of them are interacting. My one complaint about the book is that there is an overly long stretch when they are separated, and we spend way too much time watching Captain Pike build towers and ride horses and cowboy it up while trying to get along with the local people (who we don’t know and will probably never see again). Yawn.
The book opens with the four mentioned above in an experimental shuttle. It’s quite a stretch to have Pike AND Number One AND Spock all leave the Enterprise at the same time, but the author does the best job he can explaining that away. I love Uhura on the new show; the actor is terrific, and the author of this book does a good job capturing how Uhura is portrayed. She has a wonderful storyline with a new species that involves some creative communicating. It really spotlights what Uhura brings to the table.
The plot is complicated and has a lot of throwbacks to previous Star Trek incidents. Many of the plot devices are familiar ones; I would have liked a bit more originality in terms of how the species running the planet behaves behind the scenes. But overall, I felt the novel did a good job portraying the characters we know from the series. There’s a good chance I will read a second Strange New Worlds novel.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds: The High Country is available now in print and as an ebook from the Galesburg Public Library.
Book Review | The Golden Spoon — Jessa Maxwell
From the publisher: A killer is on the loose when someone turns up dead on the set of a hit TV baking competition in this darkly beguiling debut mystery.
I gobbled up The Golden Spoon in one afternoon. A cast of characters assembles for Bake Week, a long-running reality TV show that challenges six chefs to make desserts. The current season’s cast includes a former journalist running from a trauma at her last job; a young prodigy from Minnesota who bakes pies for the local diner; a precise, detail-oriented math teacher from New York; a bored millionaire former CEO of a tech startup; a retired nurse who specializes in traditional recipes; and a hobbyist baker whose day job is restoring old buildings. The characters weren’t as distinct as I would have liked, but they are a diverse cast.
The six contestants gather at the palatial home of America’s Grandmother, Betsy Martin, who started the show and has been judging it for nine years. Much to her annoyance, joining her this season is the host of a cutthroat cooking show, Archie Morris, who is fighting off middle age but still a smooth charmer.
The Golden Spoon is not about the mystery, many aspects of which I guessed long before they were revealed. It’s about the show. I don’t watch reality TV, and I have to guess this book will appeal even more to people who understand the baking terms and how challenging some of the desserts are to make. I do love dessert, and this book made my mouth water.
Although a prologue tells the reader someone is dead, two weeks of activity take place before we return to the crime. There are current mysteries, and a mystery from long ago. The Golden Spoon is a frothy dessert, full of sweets, friendship, and found families. Is this a great book? No. Is this a fun read? Yes. Unlike the book’s publicity, I personally would not put it in the same category as books by Anthony Horowitz and Richard Osman, but a TV series is in development, and with the right cast it will probably be terrific. I read a print advance reader copy.
This debut novel is available at the Galesburg Public Library in print, in audiobook, and as an ebook.
From the Director’s Desk — How Green Is Your Library?
We are about a year away from moving into our new facility and are taking steps to ensure the library is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable in our new space. Some of the sustainable initiatives we’ve taken include planning for an electronic vehicle charging station in our future parking lot, building a skills lab with tools for patrons to use and share, and adding solar panels to our roof through the Solar for All program. In the meantime, there are several ways we are practicing environmental responsibility for our library and our community.
Libraries, by the very nature of our existence, reduce waste by sharing materials with our communities. We own over 134,000 items that can be accessed by and shared among our community members, including items that can be borrowed, like books, movies, music, magazines, toys, games, hot spots, etc., and items that are shared within the library like public computers, newspapers in print and on microfilm, and a public meeting room. Lending and sharing reduce consumption and waste, save our community members money, and create more equitable opportunities for all Galesburg residents.
Some of the items we lend encourage and allow library users to reduce their environmental impact, including bike locks to support cyclists and Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitors. Our seed library provides fruit, vegetable, and flower seeds available to the public at no cost, and we provide many paths for patrons to recycle, share, and rehome their own materials, including our blessing box, our annual Halloween costume drive, and, new this spring, a puzzle and board game swap.
Outdoors, our Monarch Waystation supports butterfly migration and survival, and we plan to include another at the new library location. The windows of our new building will have bird-safe glazing to reduce bird strikes and lessen our impact on migration patterns.
If you are interested in discussing the environment and sustainability with other community members, please consider joining the Food for Thought Book Club which meets monthly at Cornucopia and discusses books about food, climate, and the environment. The current read is Wastelands by Corban Addison, which is available for check out at the library, and the next meeting is Thursday, March 30, at 11:30.
Book Review | The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden
From the publisher: It’s 1852 and Margaret Lennox, a young widow, attempts to escape the shadows of her past by taking a position as governess to an only child, Louis, at an isolated country house in the west of England. But Margaret soon starts to feel that something isn’t quite right. There are strange figures in the dark, tensions between servants, and an abandoned east wing. Even stranger is the local gossip surrounding Mrs. Eversham, Louis’s widowed mother. As Margaret’s history threatens to catch up with her, it isn’t long before she learns the truth behind the secrets of Hartwood Hall.
I love a good Gothic novel, and this is one of the best I’ve read recently. It opens with a one-page prologue that teases events that are to come. It’s hard to build suspense and mystery in a novel, but the author does a good job here.
Narrator Margaret is a bit annoying as she allows herself to be bullied by another servant, but as we find out as the book goes along, she has Been Through Things, so her fear and timidity are not out of character. She lost hearing in one ear as a young woman, and in Victorian England, for a woman with no family and no money, that physical imperfection is a concern.
The house is beautifully described – I could imagine it quite well inside and out – and overall the atmosphere is a great combination of haunting and ordinary. Of course there is a distrustful village. Of course there is a handsome gardener. Of course there is a closed off wing to the mansion. But I thought the author deployed the stereotypical elements of a Gothic novel very effectively. All in all, The Secrets of Hartwood Hall is just a lot of fun. (And although it is definitely in the tradition of the Victorian Gothic novel, this book believably imparts messages about female strength and empowerment.)
I look forward to future works from author Lumsden. I read an advance reader copy of The Secrets of Hartwood Hall from Netgalley.
The book is scheduled to be published on February 28, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it in multiple formats.
Book Review | I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
From the publisher: Rebecca Makkai has crafted her most irresistible novel yet: a stirring investigation into collective memory and a deeply felt examination of one woman’s reckoning with her past, with a transﬁxing mystery at its heart. Timely, hypnotic, and populated with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is at once a compulsive page-turner and a literary triumph.
Is this a great book? No. If you ask me about it a month from now will I be able to tell you many details? Also no. But did I scarf it down like a bag of Nacho Doritos after a hard workout in the summer? You bet. Makkai is a good writer, which kept me going despite what I see as some flaws in the story.
Our unreliable narrator Bodie was a poor kid from Indiana who got a charity case ride to a high school boarding school in New Hampshire. Her junior year, her roommate was Thalia Keith, an It girl who had rich kid friends (which decidedly did not include Bodie). Bodie’s senior year, Thalia was murdered. Head athletic trainer Omar Evans, a 25-year-old black man, quickly became the official and only suspect in the case. He confessed under pressure and was put in prison.
Years have passed, and Bodie returns to Granby to teach a mini course on podcasting. She’s a true crime podcaster who naturally has an interest in the murder of her former roommate, and in whether justice was served. She has been obsessed with the case for years. Eventually she sounds positively unhinged.
Part I of the book is good. Bodie convinces herself that justice was not served – that Omar is innocent, and that someone else got away with murder. She has a clear suspect in mind, and that’s the person for whom she Has Questions. With a little nudge, the students in her podcasting course decide to investigate Thalia’s murder.
Makkai really hammers home the violence that women face. Her narrator reminds us of cases, so many cases that we can’t remember them all or the names of the women involved. But I found her message confused and ambiguous. I was frankly puzzled by whatever message Makkai was sending on sexual inappropriateness and violence toward women. There’s also a suggestion that Mean Girls have it just as hard as every other girl, which I don’t buy. Just because you aren’t as privileged as you’d like to be, it doesn’t excuse being awful to others who are even less privileged than you are. There’s a lot of unremarkable commentary on social media and how awful it is, and on how awful so many boys/men are.
While teaching, the narrator refers to a lot of movies and directors and specific scenes and techniques. I’m not a film buff so most of them meant nothing to me and didn’t advance the story. A reader who is a big movie fan may love all the movie references and find some meaning in them. Some of the plot twists, when it came to trying to prove that the wrong man was convicted, were difficult to believe, and the racism in how he was railroaded into confessing almost seems like an afterthought. And Part II is a letdown. The book is too long – I was ready for it to end about 50 pages before it did – and Part II really drags. The ending is not surprising and not especially satisfying.
Still, this book is thought provoking and will no doubt find its readers. I read an advance reader copy of I Have Some Questions for You from Netgalley.
The book is scheduled to be published on February 21, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it in multiple formats.
Book Review | Miss Newbury’s List by Megan Walker
From the publisher: Before Rosalind weds, she wants to experience ten things. Meeting Charlie wasn’t on her list.
Miss Newbury’s List by Megan Walker is a clean romance set in the Regency period from Shadow Mountain Publishing’s Proper Romance line. A happily ever after is assured, and behavior will be more or less appropriate to the times.
The story is narrated by Rosalind, who has agreed to marry a duke in order to bring a title to her family. He is marrying her to recover a plot of land sold to her family years ago. They have literally no feelings for one another – good or bad.
Years ago, inspired by her aunt’s wedding, Rosalind made a list of ten things to do before she marries. Although the wedding is fast approaching, she has done none of them. So she enlists her best friend Liza and Liza’s ne’er-do-well cousin to help her to truly enjoy her final days before becoming a duchess. But participating in a set of adventures with an attractive man is not necessarily the safest way to arrive successfully at one’s wedding day to a groom one does not love.
Previously I read Walker’s book Lakeshire Park, and the author’s writing has matured since that book. There is humor (like her best friend’s footman refusing to allow Rosalind into their home) and genuine feeling between characters. It is neither a series of misunderstandings nor refusal to have frank conversations that keeps the lovers apart, but the genuine obstacle of being already engaged. I do still think Walker’s stories could benefit from being written in third person instead of first.
This book has an absolutely gorgeous cover. There is a whole host of side characters, including the disappointed duke, who could receive books of their own if the author decides to make this the first in a series. I definitely consider Megan Walker a Regency romance author to watch.
I read an advance reader copy of Miss Newbury’s List from Netgalley. The book is scheduled to be published on February 7, and the Galesburg Public Library will own it. We also own Walker’s book Lakeshire Park.
Book Review | Waco Rising by Kevin Cook
From the publisher: A news-making account of the war between David Koresh’s Branch Davidians and the FBI, and how their standoff launched today’s militias.
I don’t know why two books are being published in January 2023 on the standoff that took place in Waco, Texas in 1993, but they are and I read them both.
I found Waco Rising by Kevin Cook to be the more engaging, and the more frightening, of the two. Waco by Jeff Guinn is good but not great. Waco seems exhaustively researched; it is very detailed and at times repetitive. Waco Rising, on the other hand, included information I’d never heard or read before. For example, Guinn talks about the Branch Davidian dogs that were shot by agents, but Cook talks about the eleven tiny puppies that were inside, not outside in a pen, the chickens, and the “hunger-mad goose” penned up with the dead dogs. Details like these really brought the setting to life.
Cook’s retelling of what happened in at the Branch Davidian compound in the spring of 1993 moves at a much brisker pace, and without as much repetition (although there is still repetition – a good editor could have tightened up both of these books). Cook’s book is much more critical of the decisions made by the ATF and especially the FBI. Cook draws a direct line between Waco to Oklahoma City to Alex Jones to January 6th. FBI negotiator Gary Noesner calls Waco “a self-inflicted wound for the FBI. It contributed to a broad antigovernment sentiment that’s out there today.” (p. 157 of the advance reader copy)
If you want to know more about the standoff between government agents and the Branch Davidians, and how the event is affecting the United States today, you may find either or both of these books worth reading.
I read advance reader copies of Waco and Waco Rising from Netgalley.
Waco and Waco Rising are available for checkout from the Galesburg Public Library.