The Silent Wife


The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison
Review by:  Heidi Rhea, Librarian

If you enjoyed “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn, then you’ll find this book to be quite similar with a little less drama, more likable characters, and maybe a tad more believable.  It’s a little heavy on the psychology talk, but if you can get through Jodi’s thoughts and definitions, you’ll find an interesting story here.   

After being a good wife for 20 years, Jodi does all she can to save her marriage to Todd.  Todd is a serial cheater, but Jodi overlooks it…until she can’t.  Todd waivers between all his loves confusing Jodi even more. Eventually, Jodi has a big decision to make, and the end just might surprise everyone.


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eleanor & park


eleanor & park By: Rainbow Rowell
Review by: Lisa Pallardy, Reference Assistant

I LOVED this book.

Set in the 1980s, ‘eleanor & park’ is a beautifully written story of first love. Eleanor is 15 and the new kid at school. She is extremely smart, but has a horrible home life with an abusive and alcoholic step-dad, and deals daily with bullying at school because she is overweight and dresses in outrageous outfits because there isn’t enough money to buy new clothes. Park is a half-Korean boy who goes to the same school. Park has a wonderful and loving family, and although he struggles with acceptance from his father because of his slight build and feminine (“pretty”) features, it is apparent that both his parents love him. Even though Park has lived in the same town his whole life, he still feels like an outsider.

Eleanor and Park ride the bus to school every day, and their relationship slowly and innocently blooms, beginning with their shared love of comic books, alternative rock music, and feelings of being different. When an explosive situation finally happens at Eleanor’s house involving her step-father, Eleanor and Park’s relationship is tested, and Park must make a painful decision to help Eleanor.

The story is told in narrative points of view from both Eleanor and Park, and I immediately fell in love with their innocence. Although this is a “YA/Young Adult” novel, I think that anyone who has ever been a teen can relate to these wonderful characters.

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Still Alice

still alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Reviewed by:  Heidi Rhea, Librarian

A brilliantly told work of fiction that will have you thinking about and questioning how you treat others with an illness.   The novel centers around Alice who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the young age of 50.  Told from her point of view, it’s interesting what she sees, hears, and desires as she battles through the progression of the disease. Forgetting things is really only half the battle.  Alice has three children, a husband, and a very successful teaching career at Harvard.  As her disease unfolds, it’s interesting how others react to her and how she reacts not only to the news, but to everyone around her as well. 

I did not find this book sad or depressing, but instead thoughtful and poignant.  Because we get to experience what Alice is going through, it keeps a human face on a disease that can be so dehumanizing.   This would make a fantastic book club book because there is so much to talk about!  I thought the portrayal of the husband was spot on, but maybe others would expect differently of their spouse?  There’s also the question of being tested for the Alzheimer’s gene. Would you want to know before you began showing symptoms or even before you began having children? This was a fast read and one I couldn’t stop thinking about…great for discussion or to simply get a new perspective on how illnesses effect a person and how you react to people who are ill. It’s all fiction, but it seems so real.

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NOS4A2 By: Joe Hill
Reviewed by: Heidi Rhea, Librarian

This is a supernatural suspense novel by horror writer, Joe Hill, son of famous author Stephen King.  I’ve never read a Stephen King novel and I’m not a big horror book fan, but the reviews for NOS4A2 were just too good to pass by.  So, I gave it a shot and found it to be a decent, readable story.  I think the sci-fi element to this story kept it from every being “real” in my mind, so I could enjoy it as just a story.  Not even the slightest chance for nightmares for this gal (and I can be such a chicken, sometimes!).  The idea of kidnapping children and taking them to “Christmasland” is disturbing, but there’s much more to this story.  I would have liked it better if Bing, Manx’s “helper” who is a sexual deviant but harmful to “bad” adults only, would’ve been left out of the story (or at least his sexual exploits), but  thankfully the author doesn’t dwell on Bing’s acts.   

It was fun to ride with Victoria McQueen as she crossed her old covered bridge to find lost things and meet new people.  The scrabble playing librarian is a fun character and Victoria’s husband is quite lovable.  There is also a reason Manx kidnaps the children and transports them in his car to a place where they can always have fun and feel happy. His thinking is twisted, and it really only serves to keep Manx alive, but it does provide a storyline that helps tie the story together.  Being the only child to ever scape Manx, Victoria’s life hasn’t been easy, but she’s a mom through and through and stops at nothing (and she goes through a lot!) to keep her son safe. 

I’m glad I didn’t let the book cover description and kidnapping idea stop me from reading this book.  It has an interesting story to it with some really likeable characters.  And, it’s summed up nicely at the end.  I was looking for something different and certainly found it in NOS4A2.

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a grown-up kind of pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

a grownup kind of pretty

Review by Lisa Pallardy
Reference Assistant

I LOVE it when someone recommends a particular book or author, so last summer, when an Alpha Park patron couldn’t say enough good things about author Joshilyn Jackson, I knew I had to check out her books.  I’ve read four of her books in the past 12 months and have loved every one of them.  Her characters are spirited and gutsy and determined…the kind of people you’d want to have for your best friends.  They are far from perfect and don’t always make the best choices, but they all have the biggest hearts!

In her latest novel, “a grown up kind of pretty,” Joshilyn Jackson tells the story of 3 generations of women, each born just 15 years apart.  Ginny, the matriarch of the family at 45; Liza, Ginny’s 30-year old daughter, born when Ginny was just 15; and Mosey, just 15 years old, born when Liza was only 15.

Shortly after Mosey’s birth, 15 year old Liza runs away from home.  She lives a drug-filled life before finally returning home with a now 2-year old child.  Ginny opens her heart and home to both her daughter and granddaughter, welcoming Liza back and helping her get her life in order. 

Just before Mosey’s 15th birthday, Liza suffers a stroke, and is unable to speak or communicate, so when a small grave is unearthed in her backyard, Mosey is determined to find the answers to the secret Liza is keeping.  And even though Ginny doesn’t know the whole truth about the secret Liza is keeping, she knows she must do everything in her power to keep it hidden.

The story is told from the perspective of each of the 3 women:  Ginny, Liza, and Mosey.  This book has a mixture of love and heartache, family commitment and loyalty, along with some intrigue, including blackmail, kidnapping, and attempted murder.

It’s a fabulous summer read!

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Diary of a Mad Fat Girl

Diary of a Mad Fat Girl
By Stephanie McAfee
Reviewed by Heidi Rhea, Librarian

If you’re looking for a fun, light read and you like a character with a lot of spunk – you’ll enjoy Ace Jones and her friends as they journey through their lives one situation at a time. Ace is the type of person who says it like it is and it sometimes gets her into trouble. She also tends to jump to conclusions and react without thinking. This makes for a fun read as she tries to solve a few of her life’s mysteries including her love life. Ace Jones reminds me of a spunky Stephanie Plum and there are a lot of other characters in tow that you’ll find interesting. And, if you’ve ever wanted to give someone the “what for”, you’ll rejoice at the books ending. There’s also 2 more books in this series!

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Toledo, Peoria & Western Railroads

This is a group review, rather than a stand-alone book review. It reflects my particular enthusiasm, and my search for quality publications. The enthusiasm? Trains and different aspects of railroading. As for the publisher—read on.

Morning Sun Books, the brainchild of Robert Yanosey, was founded in 1986. Yanosey left a career in railroad management in order to preserve what he saw as a vanishing part of American life: trains, railroad companies past and present, along with their unique depots, equipment, and operations. With a stable full of authors and photographers, Morning Sun provides a huge collection of books, chock-full of photographs, at least 99.9% of which are in color.

Now, I am not the only person in the world who is a railfan, and many libraries house dismal collections of books about trains. Therefore, in my time at Alpha Park, I have created a quality collection of railroad books, many of them published by Morning Sun. I usually choose books that survey the Midwest and/or Illinois in particular. Thus, at APL you will find Illinois Terminal in Color, Trackside around Granger Country 1952-1955, and multiple books about the Rock Island, whose “Rockets” used to deliver passengers to downtown Peoria, or whisk them away to Chicago. And then there’s Toledo, Peoria & Western in Color, co-authored by a resident of the library district. (See book jacket, above.)

If there is a railroad that has a particular following, I branch out. Consider Trackside on the Rock Island in Oklahoma 1959-1980. Yes, it’s Oklahoma, not Illinois, but many rail fans mourned the death of the Rock Island R.R., and remain Rock Island fans. So we allow Oklahoma a spot in our collection.

Lest anyone think I buy these books only for my enjoyment, Morning Sun titles have been checked out by many local folks, and sent via interlibrary loan to rail fans in other states. In other words—they’re a hit. I hope that all railroaders/railfans will take advantage of what the library has to offer. Feel free to make suggestions for future purchases, too!

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