The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 1926, 88 pages
Reviewed by: Katie Bava

Another exciting mystery with the famous Hercule Poirot! Agatha Christie manages to once again create an almost unsolvable mystery. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd involves murder and blackmail. The number of suspects and frequent plot twists will have readers eager to finish. I have read several Agatha Christie novels and this ending was one of her best. I highly recommend this book!

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Paper Towns

Paper Towns
Paper Towns by John Green
Speak, 2009, 305 pages
Reviewed by: Katie Bava

I found John Green’s newest film adaptation, Paper Towns, disappointing. The Fault in Our Stars did not impress me, but I thought I would give Green another try. However, Paper Towns was worse. The characters were boring (Q) or annoying (Margo), and the book dragged on. It wasn’t believable that Q would spend so much time looking for the runaway Margo, missing important events in his own life, when he wasn’t even good friends with her. The book’s message was good (we all have unrealistic ideas about people we don’t really know), but the overall book (especially the ending) was a letdown.

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Quirk, 2011, 352 pages
Reviewed by: Sheryl Walters

Jacob, a young man who has lost his grandfather, travels with his father to a remote island in Wales in order to find out the mystery of his grandfather’s life. He meets a group of strange children and quickly learns they have fascinating secrets. He becomes involved in their world and learns about their unique gifts as well as those possessed by his grandfather that were passed along to him. He finally feels normal and decides to live in this new world with people for which he can relate.

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Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
Penguin, 1999, 242 pages
Reviewed by: Rebecca van Kniest

I liked this one. I actually had decided not to finish it about 100 pages in because it’s not really my kind of book. Virtually anything is forgivable with sufficient character development, and Vreeland’s form – a series of loosely linked vignettes – doesn’t exactly lend itself to the art. I had it in my bag when I needed something to read, however, so I picked it back up and got sucked into the story with “Morningshine,”; it’s really all downhill from there. Girl in Hyacinth Blue is beautifully written, and Vreeland captures characters and scenes like you might with a competent brush and a unerring eye for what really matters. I might even look for another.

Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web

Detecting Bull

Detecting Bull: How to Identify Bias and Junk Journalism in Print, Broadcast and on the Wild Web by John H. McManus
Createspace, 2012, 312 pages
Reviewed by: Jane Theissen

On a very timely topic, McManus provides a thorough exploration of the state of current journalism in all its formats, including some history to bring us to where we are today. Helpfully, he explains his own bias as a journalist and journalism instructor for many years in the introduction before pointing out the biases common to journalism as we know it. In eleven chapters, he discusses bias in news media from several different angles, and gives readers a tool to use in their own evaluation called the SMELL test. SMELL stands for Source, Motive, Evidence, Logic and Left out. A useful appendix: How to Evaluate the News, rounds out the book.

My favorite is chapter nine, “Detecting Bias in Images”. A picture tells a whole story without using words, and it is important to think about what is behind the presentation of that picture to get the whole story. McManus makes a number of great points here that I had never really thought about – What’s left out of the image? What part of the event was not the focus? Why? Who are the people included? Why were they included and others left out? Who/what is in the foreground? background? Why?

I have recommended this book to my information literacy students and anyone who is interested in staying up-to-date on information evaluation will find this a thought-provoking read.

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Grain brain : the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–your brain’s silent killers

Grain Brain

Grain brain : the surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–your brain’s silent killers by David Perlmutter
Little, Brown, and Company, 2013, 336 pages
Reviewed by: Jane Theissen

An interesting treatise on the evils of carbohydrates in our diet. Perlmutter provides all manner of statistics and anecdotes to demonstrate his thesis that grains, sugars and other carbs are really bad for us, flying in the face of standard medicine and nutrition practice of our day. Sensitivity to grains, he believes, is responsible for everything from ADHD to migraine headaches to diabetes. I must give him credit for his holistic approach. The book includes a four week program to help readers make strides to improve their health. Each week has a different focus – food, sleep, exercise and “pulling it all together”. While his premise is intriguing, it seemed a bit extreme to me. Read it, and decide for yourself!

The Nomad Harp

The Nomad Harp

The Nomad Harp by Laura Mathews
Signet, 1993, 224 pages
Reviewed by: Sharon McCaslin

Philip is wounded in the Navy and before he is fully recovered he discovers that his two cousins have both died, making him Viscount Pontley and cancelling his career as a sea captain. When he tells Glenna, his fiancée, she breaks the engagement because she was planning on exercising her independence while her husband was at sea. Glenna is a harpist and she first moves it to her friend’s home in a vicarage while she tries to comfort Philip’s aunt, who has a very nasty personality and is not at all in need of comfort. Then, when Glenna’s father dies, Philip asks her to renovate one of his estates, even though he has now been pressured into a highly inappropriate engagement with a childlike and poorly behaved relative of his aunt’s. The harp moves back and forth across the English countryside with Glenna’s wavering fortunes, but eventually finds a permanent home. (This is a romance novel after all.)