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Book Review Blog

The Serpent of Venice...By Christopher Moore

Call Number: PS3563 .O594 S47 2014
Reviewed by John Lamberth
John's Rating: 5/5

When you have already taken one Shakespeare story and turned it on its ear, it is only logical that the next step be to take TWO Shakespeare stories and turn them both on their ears. Oh, and smash them together with some Edgar Allen Poe. This is the premise behind The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore.

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, Even When It Is Off-Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and, Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood. By Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

Call Number: BF319.5 .F4 S76 2014
Reviewed by Kaeli Vandertulip
Kaeli's Rating: 4/5

The performance evaluation: every person whose had a job for more than six months has been there…captively sitting and listening to a laundry list of your faults or the infuriating, “You’re doing great,” with nothing added for improvement.  Or the worst—the “feed-back sandwich”—where your faults are wedged in between what you do well. The entire time, you are frozen in fear.  Then, you stew over the negative things said about you.  Then you complain about what a waste of time it’s all been.  Managers and supervisors are often trained, workshopped, and coached about how to give good feedback.  But the work is lost if the person they are evaluating isn’t receptive.

This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death...Edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki!

Call Number: PS648 .S5 T48 2013
Reviewed By: John Lamberth
John’s Rating:  4.5/5

The Machine of Death is a device that tells you how you will die. A simple needle prick of your finger provides the machine with a blood sample and then it ejects a small rectangular piece of paper with your death prediction printed upon it. Nobody really knows how the machine works, including the persons responsible for its creation, but it does work and it is always right. But it is just how you will die. Not when. And even then, the machine often has an ironic sense of humor. “Old Age” could mean you die at age 100 or it could mean you get hit by a car driven by an old man.

Princesses Behaving Badly...By Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Call Number: D107.3 .M38 2013
Reviewed By: Kate Wiant
Kate’s Rating: 3/5

As the mother of a three year old little girl, I was excited to read this book.  At home, I am inundated with Disney Princesses, but both my husband and I have encouraged our daughter to branch out.  So, it is not uncommon to see her running around wearing a tutu and wielding a lightsaber.  I think fantasy is wonderful, and it provides a much needed place for children to play and adults to escape the daily grind.

However, I think it becomes problematic when we fail to question the messages we receive through any medium, and the message we are sending to our daughters is perhaps the most important one to me at this point in my life.

Two Cheers for Anarchism...By James C. Scott

Call Number: HX826 .S35 2012
Reviewed By: John Lamberth
John’s Rating: 3/5

For most people, “anarchy” is what happens when a group of teenagers throw a house party while the parents are out of town: complete chaos with a side of destruction of property and maybe some violence. The likely reason for this negative public perception stems from more than a century’s worth of media coverage of events like the Haymarket Square Riot and the trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, books like The Anarchist’s Cookbook, and music from The Sex Pistols. These examples get more attention because they are exciting.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage...By Ann Patchett

Call Number: PS3566 .A7756 Z46 2013
Reviewed By: Dr. Kendra Irons

Do you ever get in those phases where you pick up a book and simply cannot put it down?

Well, lately I have been completely taken over by books even though piles of grading and numerous meetings vie for my attention.

I have been buried in an Ann Patchett world, devouring her new This is the Story of a Happy Marriage which, by the way isn’t really about marriage but rather is a collection of fascinating non-fiction narratives based upon her life experiences. It was my first Ann Patchett book and I enjoyed it (and her interview on NPR) so much I immediately loaded my Kindle with Truth and Beauty, Patchett’s earlier nonfiction book based upon her intimate friendship with Lucy Grealy (The Autobiography of a Face).

Horror Films FAQ: All that’s Left to Know About Slashers, Vampires, Zombies, Aliens, and More...By John Kenneth Muir

Call Number: PN1995.9 .H6 M65 2013
Reviewed By: Kaeli Vandertulip
Kaeli's Rating: 3.5/5

Horror is a fascinating movie genre. It is a fun-house mirror of society, showing what our culture fears, disdains, rejects, extols, and relishes.  Horror excels at punishing what society condemns, as indicated by the phrase “Vice precedes slice and dice.” Horror is also becoming a legitimate field for scholarship, with literary critics, social scientists, and culture wonks cranking out books, documentaries, and scholarly articles. Books such as The Philosophy of Horror or Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue examine this genre in a full historical context, showing the evolution of the horror film through our atomic power fears and xenophobia through to our infection and invasion fears.

30 Great Myths About Shakespeare...By Laurie E. Maguire and Emma Smith

Call Number: PR2976 .M36 2013
Reviewed By: Kate Wiant
Kate’s Rating: 4/5


Expertly written by Laurie Maguier and Emma Smith, both Oxford professors, this book illustrates the vast popularity of Shakespeare and the curiosity surrounding the fascinating playwright.  The authors point out that myths are often based truth, but these have often been overinflated.  Many of the myths in this text are discussed by other scholars, but Maguier and Smith provide short, well researched answers to these very pointed questions.  Each chapter is self-contained, so there is no need to read them in order.

Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity...By Emily Matchar

Call Number: HQ536 .M346 2013
Reviewed By: Kaeli Vandertulip
Kaeli’s Rating: 4.5/5

If you were to look at my Facebook feed on any given day, you are likely to see pictures of a new flock of baby ducks at my cousin’s farm, the latest batch of homebrew a friend started bottling, the homeschool projects of half a dozen kids, enough food for an army, and plenty of reposted articles about cosleeping and GMOs. I am smack-dab in the demographic for Emily Matchar’s book, Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity. I am a Gen-Y (or millennial) , middle-class, educated, white mother who cans, bakes, sews, cooks, makes, gardens, and has dreams of backyard chickens.  I see this steady drip of increasing domesticity in my peers and family.  I do not, however, see this in my mother’s generation.

The True History of Merlin the Magician...By Anne Lawrence-Mathers

Call Number: PN686 .M4 L39 2012
Reviewed By: Kate Wiant
Kate’s Rating: 5/5

Ann Lawrence-Mathers presents a very interesting and readable portrait of Merlin the Magician. Merlin was first popularized by Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britannea during the 12th century.  Later, works by Wace (Roman de Brut) and Layamon (Brute) draw on Monmouth’s 12th century text.  Though The True History of Merlin the Magician is generally intended for scholars familiar with the literary and historical texts that provide the central context for her discussion, she does a brilliant job in providing brief summaries of the various works she introduces.