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Staff Reviews by Ashley Colstad

Cover: 'Vincent Paints His House'

"Vincent Paints His House" by Tedd Arnold

★★★★★ This book transports us to Vincent's house on the day he decides to paint it. This book pays homage to the artist himself, Vincent van Gogh. As Vincent begins painting his house he encounters various animals who also live on his house that have differing opinions as to which color to paint it. Not only are all the colors of the rainbow mentioned as options...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, read-alouds

Cover: 'What Is Punk?'

"What Is Punk?" by Eric Morse, Anny Yi

★★★★★ Did you grow up listening to Punk music and wish to share it with your kids or reminisce about it? "What Is Punk" covers the rise of the Punk movement, the various bands associated with it, and its fashion. Experience this book in all its glory as you learn all about the Ramones to The Slits to the Descendents in a fun story that rhymes and is illustrated...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places'

"Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places" by National Geographic Society

★★★★★ This book will give you more than enough ideas and inspirations to feed your wanderlust. National Geographic lives up to their reputation by giving you amazing destinations to visit broken down into categories of things to see around the world: nature unbound, hand of man, sea & shore, mountain majesty and town & country. As if that isn't enough,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, travel

Cover: 'A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat'

"A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat" by Emily Jenkins, Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This is one of the best picture books that I have read in a long time! Just as the title suggests, the book follows one recipe for Blackberry Fool through different centuries and families. The recipe is generally made the same in each family, however, the technology used and family preparing the recipe are vastly different. Historically this book shows...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, historical fiction

Cover: 'The Great British Bake Off: Christmas'

"The Great British Bake Off: Christmas" by Lizzie Kamenetzky

★★★★ Who doesn't love a Christmas cookbook? This particular Christmas cookbook comes with recipes from participants of a British reality TV cooking program. The food is somewhat different that what we are used to seeing here in the United States, however it is not too different that you would not enjoy all of the recipes. The Shepherd's Pie looks great, as well...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook, holiday

Cover: 'The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2016: The Year's Best Recipes, Equipment Reviews, and Tastings'

"The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2016: The Year's Best Recipes, Equipment Reviews, and Tastings" by America's Test Kitchen

★★★★★ Straight from the America's Test Kitchen comes their newest collection of recipes from the last year. They are known for their precise recipes, having tested each recipe a variety of ways in order to get the best possible outcome for each dish. This book does a superb job explaining why you make each dish a certain way and includes illustrations for more...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'The Rest of Us Just Live Here'

"The Rest of Us Just Live Here" by Patrick Ness

★★★★ Mikey and his small, close knit group of friends live in a world where extraordinary and unbelievable things happen on a regular basis. As Mike and his friends navigate their senior year of high school, strange supernatural events continue to occur while a bunch of other kids systematically die. Although his group is never the hero of the story and their...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'I'm Trying to Love Spiders'

"I'm Trying to Love Spiders" by Bethany Barton

★★★★★ For the record, I do not like spiders. However, I am trying to pass on a better view of them to my daughter. This book is very helpful for any young reader who would like to unmask the mystery of these sometimes creepy insects. The writing is simple so that anyone can learn about spiders in a fun way. Not only that, but the illustrations do a great job to...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer'

"Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer" by Antonia Murphy

★★★★★ Meet Antonia and Peter, a couple who move from America to New Zealand and end up becoming farmers of a sort. This is the story of how this couple traveled to New Zealand in a sail boat, how they started a family and then became hobby farmers. The hobby farm grew one animal at a time as their family constantly fell in love with the idea of a new animal to...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)'

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)" by Felicia Day

★★★★ For those of you out there who are wondering who Felicia Day is, once you see her picture you will wonder where you know her from. Many are familiar with her online presence from various geek-doms and others will know her from television and commercials. She reveals a lot about why she became a gamer and how she grew to love that culture. Let's get real...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Summer's End'

"The Summer's End" by Mary Alice Monroe

★★★★ The final book of Monroe's Lowcountry Summer Trilogy fills in the remainder of the story of the three Muir half sisters as summer comes to the end. All of the girls living at Sea Breeze have life-changing decisions to make as summer comes to a close. Harper finds her purpose, Dora looks ahead, Carson accepts herself, and Mamaw finds life again in this well-...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels'

"The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels" by John T. Edge

★★★★★ Don't let the title of this book fool you; yes, it is a cookbook but it is also a book about food trucks in major cities across the country and where to find them. All the food looks and sounds delicious! Good thing I live close to two of the cities highlighted here in the Midwest; Minneapolis and Madison. Not only does this book give you an inside look and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens'

"Well Fed, Flat Broke: Recipes for Modest Budgets and Messy Kitchens" by Emily Wight

★★★★ I enjoyed this cookbook and its approach to eating well on a tight budget. Most of us can relate to the author needing to prepare meals on a budget. This cookbook does a good job of giving you new ideas of what to cook that you can add to your repertoire at home. The layout of the book is easy to follow and pictures help give you an idea of what a dish...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Sheet Pan Suppers'

"Sheet Pan Suppers" by Molly Gilbert

★★★★★ Are you as sick of playing the crock pot game as I am? Do you have better success with roasting? My answer to these questions is yes! This book is amazing and has so many wonderful recipes! I had started to mark pages that I wanted to photocopy, however it turned out to be most of the book! This will simply have to be a purchase for my personal collection...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'The Summer Wind'

"The Summer Wind" by Mary Alice Monroe

★★★★ In this sequel to the book, "The Summer Girls", we continue the story of three half-sisters spending a summer together at Sullivan's Island. In this book, the second in the series, we follow the lives of Harper, Carson, and Dora during the middle part of their summer back at Mamaw Muir's house. The girls though different in so many ways, find how to love...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods'

"The Geeky Chef Cookbook: Real-Life Recipes for Your Favorite Fantasy Foods" by Cassandra Reeder

★★★★★ Calling all fellow geeks out there! Have you ever pondered how the food from your favorite TV shows, movies and video games would taste? Here is your chance to experience what was once a mystery! This book is full of unofficial recipes from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda... just to name a few. I am a self-proclaimed geek, and...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Sam and Dave Dig a Hole'

"Sam and Dave Dig a Hole" by Mac Barnett

★★★★★ Sam and Dave are determined to dig a hole until they find something spectacular. What unfolds in this story is a wonderful mix of what is happening in the story and what is happening in the illustrations. This book is a 2015 Caldecott Honor Book for a good reason. The book as a whole, the writing and the illustrations, play off of each other so well that...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, award-winning

Cover: 'Monsters Love Colors'

"Monsters Love Colors" by Mike Austin

★★★★★ Such a fun book to read with your kids if they are interested in learning about colors! The monsters in this book love colors and love to mix colors. Not only that but they love to scribble, mix, dance, and wiggle. Kids will have such a fun time learning about primary colors and how they mix to make other colors. My three-year-old wanted to read this book...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader, picture book

Cover: 'Tony Baroni Loves Macaroni'

"Tony Baroni Loves Macaroni" by Marilyn Sadler, Lucie Crovatto, Chris Robertson

★★★★★ Tony Baroni loves macaroni so much that he eats it for every meal! His Nonna, or Grandma, tries to persuade Tony to eat a variety of other pastas in order to have him eat something else until he finally decides to eat something different entirely. This is such a light hearted book with some very beautiful illustrations! My three-year-old loved this book,...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader

Cover: 'The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook: Irresistible Cupcakes, Cookies, Confections, and More'

"The Biscoff Cookie & Spread Cookbook: Irresistible Cupcakes, Cookies, Confections, and More" by Katrina Bahl

★★★★★ I have loved Biscoff Spread ever since I first saw it next to the peanut butter at the grocery store. I am also an avid baker and confectioner. Now, I have found a book to fuel my addiction to this spread and the cookies from which it originated. The author originally developed the recipes to provide her son, who is allergic to peanut butter, with delicious...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Unseen London'

"Unseen London" by Mark Daly, Peter Dazeley

★★★★★ Have you ever been curious about what different buildings might look like from the inside? What about historic buildings in one of the most famous world cities? This book is a gem with really wonderful pictures of some very iconic and historic buildings of London. It is very interesting to see the different styles and architecture that lay behind closed...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, travel, photography

Cover: 'I Was Here'

"I Was Here" by Gayle Forman

★★★★★ Cody has a best friend who decides to commit suicide, seemingly out of nowhere. She goes on a journey of discovery to learn what drove her friend to such a decision while also meeting many others who are also affected by the same loss. What Cody learns about deciding to exist in her new world is the beautiful revelation of this wonderful book. The author of...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Yes Please'

"Yes Please" by Amy Poehler

★★★★★ Are you ready to laugh, learn, and cry? Amy delivers all of this and more in her debut book. Anyone who is a fan of Amy from her television work and comedy will definitely appreciate her humor and stories about trying to make it in the business. She covers her childhood through her time on "Parks and Recreation." What I found to be the best part of this...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography, memoir, humor, celebrities, television

Cover: 'The Hundred-Foot Journey'

"The Hundred-Foot Journey" by Richard C. Morais

★★★★ Take a journey through food with the Haji family that spans the globe from Mumbai, London, and Paris. Any foodie or person who loves to travel will enjoy following the main character, Hassan, through his life of travel and food. Hassan is brought up in Mumbai learning to cook from his family. Although turmoil touches his family, which prompts them to move...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, food

Cover: 'These Broken Stars'

"These Broken Stars" by Amie Kaufman

★★★★★ Tarver is a brave and decorated soldier from a low-class family. Lilac is an intergalactic debutante from the richest of families. These unlikely companions become the lone survivors of a spaceliner crash on an unknown and strange planet. The story follows their journey across this alien landscape trying to survive the landscape and one another. What they...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, science fiction, fantasy

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