I give this book:
A highly compelling and well researched story, The Heretic's Daughter is about the real life persecutions of an alleged witch, Martha Carrier, and her family that occurred in colonial Massachusetts in the early 1600s during the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
As an actual descendant of the real Martha Carrier, Kent does a tremendous job of telling her ancestor's story, as well as that of the hundreds of other men, women and children who were accused, "tried" and/or executed for supposedly practicing the devil's magic during this historical time of mass hysteria and paranoia.
I actually read this book over spring break while I was on a road trip down south. Toward the end of the trip when I was starting to get a little "vacationed out," I found myself looking forward to the end of each day when I could return to the hotel room and lay in bed just to read this book.
Read any great books lately — historical fiction or otherwise? Tweet me!
In addition to all of the different book reviews I am required to write for my readers' advisory course this semester, I also have to produce two book talk videos of titles from a genre of my choosing. For the first of my book talk videos, I chose the historical fiction bestseller, The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent.
When I first signed up for my readers' advisory class, the genre I was looking forward to reading the absolute least (well, besides maybe western) was hands down romance. Now, anyone who knows me is well aware that I am an emotional person and can cry over just about anything. That being said, I'm not really into all that mushy gushy stuff, so I had just sort of dismissed the genre for that reason. But in reality, most romance books are much more steamy than they are lovey dovey. And while I can definitely appreciate a good sex scene in my novels, I find it a bit overwhelming when they are practically the entire premise of the book. But now that I've learned a little bit more about the different types of romance novels out there, it turns out some of them might not be so bad!
The required romance novel for the entire class to read was Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan – a regency romance set in 1841 England filled with a whiny male lead and way too many petticoats for my liking. While it was refreshing (and a little unexpected) to find so many Feminist themes in this book, it was my most disliked out of any that I had read for the class thus far. After all, you (or at least I) can only read about someone's pants stiffening so many times before it starts to get a little old ...
Hopefully there aren't upcoming titles for this class that I like even less, because that would be a pretty difficult feat to accomplish. Lesson learned: Regency romances are not for me! All that being said, I was surprised to find myself actually quite enjoying the contemporary romance novel I picked to read this week, called Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey. Below is my review.
If you enjoy light reads like Yours to Keep, be sure to check out the other books in Stacey's Kowalski Family series. Looking for another contemporary romance filled with family drama, humor and a fake boyfriend? Too Good to Be True by Kristan Higgins follows the story of 30-year-old Grace Emerson, a history teacher who was dumped by her fiancé for her sister two weeks before their wedding. Desperate for something to say when people keep questioning her about her love life, Grace invents a new boyfriend of her own … one who just happens to look a heck of a lot like her new neighbor that she may or may not have called the cops on and beaten with a hockey stick.
Overall, this week of class gave me a newfound appreciation for the romance genre and the millions of people who read it. Fun fact: Romance books generally outsell all other fiction genres, making up approximately 13% of the fiction sales market! Who knew?!
It's that time of year again folks, National Library Week! This year's theme "Libraries Transform" could not be any more accurate of what libraries do. Looking to improve your health? Libraries have tons of books about healthy eating, diets and exercise. Want to make your daily commute more productive (and fun)? Check out an audiobook and listen to it on your way to work! Searching for technology classes to better your computer skills? Libraries offer many *FREE* programs (both technology-based and otherwise) for patrons of all ages. Not only libraries transform their patrons, they also transform their communities!
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. This year's celebration is April 10-16. The week designates a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and advocacy. All types of libraries – be it school, public, academic or special – are recognized and participate in this honorary week of recognition.
Celebrations during this year's National Library Week include the following:
Western week in my readers' advisory course was certainly an interesting one. I am not – nor have I ever been – a fan of westerns. I went into the week knowing that, and I came out of the week believing that even more strongly (haha). Considered a small and somewhat dying genre, the westerns being written today are embracing the idea of the genre-blend – incorporating elements like mystery, romance and the super natural from their respective genres and tying it into a more traditional western plot. Not only does it spice up life in the Great American West, it also makes non-western readers (me!) more likely to give the genre a shot. Based on my impressions from this weeks' readings, it looks like next time I will have to rely heavily on a good genre-blend if I'm to make it through another western ...
For this week's assigned title, the class read Doc by Mary Doria Russell, a novel about the famed dentist-turned-gunslinger, Doc Holliday. While a few members of the class with great interest in the OK Corral and Holliday's life raved about this book, I found myself agreeing with others who found it slow and hard to get through. It's well-written and thoroughly researched, but if you're not into westerns or the beginning of popular American dentistry – don't bother.
The book that I opted to read this week is a classic western: Hondo by Louis L'Amour. Again, I found myself struggling to get through it because of its slow pacing, but readers of the genre claim it is one of the best. It's definitely a "must-read" selection as far as westerns go, but nothing I would naturally recommend to the casual reader. Below is my review of the acclaimed Hondo – a great book, but one that I did not personally enjoy.
For another western about a gunslinger with a deep understanding of Native American culture, check out Hombre by Elmore Leonard. After being raised by the Apache, John Russell finds himself on a stagecoach bringing him to his new life in the white man’s world. His fellow passengers want nothing to do with him until a band of outlaws shows up and the outsider becomes an unlikely leader.
As for this cowgirl, I don't see myself picking up another western any time soon ... there's just too many other good books out there waiting to be read!
The next genre covered by my Readers' Advisory class was thrillers. Similar to mysteries, but usually quicker-paced and more suspenseful, thrillers are the types of books that get your pulse pounding. With recent hits like Gone Girl (2012), The Good Girl (2014) and The Girl on the Train (2015) [Wow, lots of 'girl' power here!] breathing some new life into the genre, thrillers seem to be more popular than ever.
The required text for whole class was One Shot by Lee Child (2005). While I found the main character of this ninth installment of the Jack Reacher Series a bit too cheesy to handle, I can see how some readers find great appeal in the series. The other thriller I read for this genre week was The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos (2006). Below is my review of the book.
If this sort of book sounds like something you'd enjoy I would also suggest Echo Park by Michael Connelly, another book that gives a detective the opportunity to reopen a cold case that has haunted him for years. The 12th book in the Harry Bosch Series, this mystery/thriller follows the detective of the same name after someone has reportedly confessed to a brutal murder that took place 11 years prior. When Bosch learns that his partner may have overlooked key evidence before the case went cold, the detective is left questioning himself, his colleagues and the truth of the proclaimed killer’s confession.
Read any great thrillers lately? Leave a comment or tweet me @TessaFoxReads or use #TessaFoxReads.
The second genre we focused on in my Readers' Advisory course was mystery. Prior to this semester, I had actually never read a mystery book – I know, "for shame!" Despite growing up playing the Nancy Drew computer games (I surprisingly never picked up the book series), I had sort of discounted the mystery genre. But after reading a few mystery titles lately, I just may be changing my mind.
As I mentioned in my previous post, each week of the course focuses on a different genre, with one title being assigned for the entire class to read and another title picked out individually by each student. For mystery week, our assigned reading was Alan Bradley's The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009), which is the first installment of the Flavia de Luce Series. The quirky, inquisitive and poison enthusiast 11-year-old that is the protagonist Flavia de Luce is really what makes the first book so enjoyable, and no doubt the rest of the "cozy mystery" series as well. It's worth noting that I listened to the audiobook version of this title, and I think it was the narration that really captured Flavia's character and made me want to read the rest of the series.
But enough about young Flavia - I'd rather talk about the mystery book I selected to read: the late Robert B. Parker's first book in the Spenser Series, The Godwulf Manuscript (1973). Below is my review.
Another mystery series that puts its primary character in similar moral dilemmas as Spenser is the Prey Series (also known as the Lucas Davenport Series) by John Sanford. Sanford’s Lucas Davenport character fits into a similar mode as Spenser and has some borderline connections. The first book in the series is Rules of Prey, although the books can be read out of order.
If like me, you haven't done much mystery reading, I highly suggest you start sleuthing around the genre, you never know what you might discover – maybe your next great read!
It's been a while since I've posted a book review on here, and this will surely be one of many during the coming months. In my Readers' Advisory course, we focus on a specific genre each week (historical fiction, mystery, thriller, western, romance, women's fiction, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, mainstream fiction and nonfiction). Each student is required to read two books for each genre – one assigned title read by the whole class, and another selected individually on an individual basis.
As someone who tends to read more historical fiction, mainstream fiction and nonfiction, this class is exposing me to many types of books I have yet to experience. While I'm a little surprised to find myself enjoying mysteries and thrillers, I just haven't bought into the romance or western genres. Regardless, becoming familiar with popular titles of all genres – even those you don't particularly enjoy – is an essential part of being a good librarian.
The first genre the course covered is historical fiction. The required book read by the class was Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (1999), and for the title of my choosing I picked Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005). I've read a couple of See's other books (she tends to focus on historical fiction about Chinese women) and have enjoyed them all immensely. Below is my review of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which I listened to on audiobook - which I highly recommend!
If you've read other works by Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is sure to live up to the high caliber of writing one can expect from her. For a read-alike suggestion of another book about a young bride’s trials and tribulations set in an exotic location, check out Honolulu by Alan Brennert (2009).
In a few days' time I will be starting my third semester of the Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee's School of Information Studies. I can't believe this is already going to be my last semester as a full-time grad student! That means I'll only have one online class and the capstone project to complete during the summer term before graduating, and then I'll be done with school FOREVER – I mean it this time!
I'll be honest. Last semester wiped me out completely! Taking three of the four required courses in one semester (especially on top of working two part-time library gigs and dealing with some personal issues) was a HUGE no-no. To be fair (as my fiancé likes to remind me) I was told at orientation not to take all of the required courses during one semester ... but I figured taking a mere three of them would be OK – not so much. Oh well ... I survived, but I would strongly discourage anyone else from choosing to put themselves through that undue stress mess. But I guess all the insanity I went through last semester turned out to be worth it because ...
THIS SEMESTER IS GOING TO BE AWESOME!
I mean it. I'm only taking three classes this term (which sounds like a vacation!), and they are all pretty spectacular. Here's a look at which courses I'll be taking this semester:
Management of Libraries and Information Services (INFOST 524 – online): This elective course focuses on the library/information center as a service organization. It particularly deals with management of the library/information center including planning, budgeting, decision making, leadership styles, motivation, communication, personnel and financial management. Considering I hope to be a youth services supervisor and eventual library director, taking this class will definitely pay off!
Managing Library Collections (INFOST 520): According to the course catalog description, this class is all about "the theory and practice of collection management across formats including selection tools and criteria, acquisition and evaluation of collections, deselection, preservation, and other collection development topics." Put more simply, it's largely about how and why librarians decide to put certain items on the shelves (or online) and – as I'm getting a TON of experience doing at my internship – choosing which items to take out of the collection.
And here's the class I am most excited about taking ... Drum roll, please!
Special Topics in Information Science – Readers and Readers' Advisory (INFOST 691 – online):
This elective deals with serving adult reading needs that addresses popular fiction and nonfiction, audiobooks, illustrated books and other popular media, as well as research on readers, readers’ advisory, and the readers’ advisory interview. So what does the syllabus say? Read good books. For the homework? Review good books. For the discussions? Discuss good books. Having an academic obligation to sit around and read for fun ... somebody pinch me! It sounds like this class will be hard to top!
Here's to another fun, educational and formative year of library school at UWM! More importantly, I'm one step closer to graduation and my first real, big-girl job as a professional librarian! Paid sick time, personal days, vacation time, and health and dental insurance, here I come!
Hello, dear readers! I find myself making excuses yet again for delayed postings (I've only managed one a month since October!), but this is always such a busy time of year. On that note, I hope everyone had a happy holiday. I can't believe that tomorrow is already the last day of 2015, but you know what that means .... it's time to rank the best books of the year!
Now there are countless "best books" lists and while there's usually some overlap, there is almost never two identical lists. But there's one source that I find myself coming to year after year for the best, best books rankings: The Goodreads Choice Awards.
One of the reasons I love the top books of the year as declared by the Goodreads Choice Awards is that they're chosen by average readers like you and I! No snobby critics with potential motives for selecting particular titles, just bookworms who know the good stuff when they see (or read) it. How cool is that? Since there's voting involved, it's also fun to get to choose your favorites (or at least try to predict the winners) during each round and see if your selections make it all the way to the winner's circle.
A little over one year ago I published a post about the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards winners being announced, so I figured I'd continue the now-annual tradition and highlight this year's champion titles:
The 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards winners
It looks like I'm more on my game this year - I've already read, wanted to read, or at least heard of the majority of these titles before the voting for the awards began back in the beginning of November. But of course, that is not at all surprising considering I now have more than a full year's worth of experience working in the magical public library world to help fuel my literary fire!
As you can see, I've already marked my "want to read" selections. And while there are still a few titles from last year's Goodreads Choice Awards that I have yet to get around to reading (oops), I'm not opposed to tacking on a few more books to my ever-growing "to-read" list! I hope this post helps you find a few titles that interest you as well – particularly if your New Year's resolution is to read more books!
Tessa Fox is the Early Literacy Librarian at the Kenosha Public Library. After working in the journalism and publishing fields, Tessa decided to dedicate her life to books and public librarianship, and went back to school to get her Master's in Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she graduated in December 2016. Tessa has been working in public libraries since 2014. Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine alone and do not reflect those of my employer.
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