Tazewell County Public Library

Staff Picks

The Son by Phillip Meyer
Reviewed by Lena Powers

In the 1800s, teenager Eli McCullough is taken captive by Comanche while living with his parents in Texas. Eli quickly makes a place for himself in his new home, learning the arts, language, and hunting styles of the people around him. When the tribe faces problems with settlers taking over their land, Eli is forced to return to living in the world he grew up in. Soon, Eli joins the Texas rangers, fights for the South in the American Civil War, and eventually, establishes a massive ranch in South Texas. Eli is ruthless, coldhearted, and cunning in his quest for money and power. This book tells the story of Eli, his son, and the impact that a villainous man can have on his family.

This is a good book for anyone who likes western sagas like Lonesome Dove and There Will Be Blood. The book has also been adapted into a new television series on AMC.

Available at TCPL: Book | Large Print | Book on CD | Digital Audiobook

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
Reviewed by Amanda Miller

As the daughter of a famed wedding planner, Louna Barrett has become an expert on romance.  When it comes to love, however, past tragedy has left her cynical. When a happy-go-lucky serial dater named Ambrose joins their wedding planning team, he encourages Louna to give “epic” love another chance. Soon she must decide weather to open herself up again even if there’s a possibility of being hurt.

Romance, humor, and just the right amount of painful reality makes this the perfect read for anybody who is looking for a sweet and charming story filled with lovable characters and happy-ever-afters.

Available at TCPL: Book | Digital eBook | Digital Audiobook

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti
Reviewed by Cassie Ogle

Loo spent her early childhood moving from place to place, usually on a moment’s notice. Belongings often left behind in the middle of the night, except for the guns and the shrine. Samuel Hawley has been running from a past that Loo knows nothing about. Hawley, seeing that Loo needs a more permanent home, goes to the last place on earth he is welcome – the hometown of his deceased wife. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley follows Loo as she grows from a child adjusting to small town life to a young woman, while also telling the stories of each of Hawley’s twelve bullet scars. Loo is a strong willed child that becomes an even more headstrong young woman. Each of Hawley’s stories give a glimpse of how a parent’s past can unknowingly shape their child’s future. This book was a fantastic read and I was sad when it ended. I wanted to stay in Loo & Hawley’s world just a little bit longer.

Available at TCPL: Book | Book on CD

Ruined by Amy Tintera
Reviewed by Laken Lester

War has ravaged the land of Ruina. Emelina Flores’ parents have been killed and her sister kidnapped, leaving her with nothing except the burning desire for revenge. Although she is a useless Ruined-completely devoid of any magic-she plans to infiltrate the enemy’s kingdom, disguised as the crown prince’s betrothed, and kill the king and royal family.

However, the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. The guard she placed around her heart slowly falls. The saying quotes “all is fair in love and war,” but opening her heart could be her deadliest mistake.

Available at TCPL: Book

Final Girls by Riley Sager
Reviewed by Jami McDonald

While attending college, Quincy Carpenter became the sole survivor in a mass killing spree that left her five best friends dead. Ten years have passed, Quincy is now recognized as one of three famous “final girls” (a term popularized by certain types of horror movies that commonly end with only one lead female character having survived). Despite her traumatic experience, Quincy seems to be doing well for herself in the opening of the book. She is involved in a healthy relationship with her boyfriend and runs a successful blog about creative baking techniques. Things take a dramatic turn, however, when Lisa, another “final girl” who survived an equally disturbing experience, dies in an apparent suicide. Lisa’s death forces Quincy to reexamine her own tragic past, leading to a very exciting ending in this fast-paced thriller.

Told in segments that focus on either Quincy’s present life or the night that her five friends were murdered, Finals Girls is a novel that will appeal to fans of John Carpenter and Wes Craven films.

Available at TCPL: Book | Large Print

Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris
Reviewed by Jade Crabtree

If you think your holiday experiences have been crazy, just listen to David Sedaris recount some of his best (worst) memories. I highly recommend listening to this on Overdrive (read by Sedaris himself) in order to get the full effect. Sedaris’ writing is biting and laugh out loud funny. The author covers everything from his time as an elf to spending Halloween in the medical examiner’s office. You will laugh, cry and maybe pee a little listening to this.

Available at TCPL: Overdrive Audiobook

The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
Reviewed by Linda Shroyer

I love birds and art so when I stumbled upon the novel, The Bird Artist by Howard Norman, I was intrigued. The story opens with a confession, “My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay Newfoundland….I am a bird artist and have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself.” That is the reader’s first glimpse into the lives of the people living in a remote coastal village in 1911. I chuckled at Fabian honing his art skills via a correspondence course with the testy artist Isaac Sprague. The townspeople are quirky but endearing: Enoch Handle, who pilots the mail boat, his red-headed daughter Margaret, whose methodical bookkeeping skills run contrary to the way she lives her life—with gusto and abandon. And I loved the spirited Mrs. Paulette Bath who oversees the town’s library housed in her living room. Curl up on the sofa with a hot cup of tea and enjoy Fabian Vas’s story of what drove him to the lighthouse that dark night and how it altered the course of his life.

Available at TCPL: Book

Picture Books: Space Books
Reviewed by Lisa Tyson

The Space Shelf in the children’s library features books about the moon, the stars, being an astronaut and more. Five, four, three, two, one… Lift Off! Travel in a rocket to the moon with the book On the Moon by Anna Milbourne and Benji Davies. The combination of colorful illustrations and NASA photographs provides a unique view of a trip to the moon. The book includes simple facts that kids can relate to: “You can jump really far-much further than you can at home.” Young children will appreciate this interesting introduction to space.

I Want to be an Astronaut by Byron Barton is a clear, colorful overview of the experience of astronauts in outer space. As the astronauts float in zero gravity, try ready- to-eat meals and fix a satellite kids can imagine themselves in space eating freeze dried ice cream. The bold illustrations and simple text give space lovers a first look at life on a space shuttle. Sure to fuel little imaginations!

The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
Reviewed by Tammy Powers

The Fact of a Body is a non-fiction book that is a mix of a memoir and a study of a murder. Alexandria is a Harvard Law student who has always been against the death penalty. She accepts a summer internship at a Louisiana firm that defends men accused of murder and who are on death row. The case that she is assigned, Ricky Langley, will cause her to question her values. After watching old tapes of him discussing the crime, she immediately wants him to die. Ricky is a convicted child molester who strangled a six year old neighborhood boy. Her reaction is so distressing that after she graduates from law school, she decides to investigate the crime starting with the childhood and life of Ricky. She is overcome with the need to understand Ricky and the crime, to find the truth. The truth of the tragedy is more complex than the raw facts that are revealed at trial. As she uncovers facts from Ricky’s life, she is forced to face the truths of her childhood and the family secrets that have impacted her life and beliefs, but are a part of who she has become, just as with Ricky. I would highly recommend this book. The emotional descriptions of events in both lives are gut-wrenching and chilling. The interweaving of the facts of the case, Ricky’s life, and Alexandria’s life creates a story that will make you angry and distressed, but also hopeful and amazed at what people suffer and survive

Available at TCPL: Book

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Reviewed by Erica Hall

For readers who enjoy Greek mythology, The Song of Achilles is a must-read retelling of The Iliad. While many other interpretations focus on Achilles or Hector, this book follows the life of Patroclus, particularly with respect to his relationship with Achilles. Beginning when they are both young boys and concluding with the tragic end that we all know, Miller fills in the gaps that Homer and other interpreters have left surrounding Patroclus’ life. As Achilles’ closest companion, Patroclus is certainly a major figure in the Trojan War, and here his story is beautifully fleshed out. One might even find themselves sympathizing with Achilles, who frequently comes across as brattish in other interpretations.

Available at TCPL: Overdrive Audiobook

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