Recent Reviews

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Grown Ups: A Novel Cover Image
Grown Ups

Grown Ups is not just another book about the perils of social media.  Jenny, our heroine, clever and blunt, with a voice similar to Jojo Moyes’ Louisa Clark, is so hilarious that you may (nearly) pee yourself.  She explores love (the platonic, the obligatory, the unacknowledged, the doomed) and the concept of the mother, and from her fearful trek is formed the question, “Can you love something that doesn’t exist?”  For a book with a large focus on Instagram, the striking square cover photo is perfectly suited—just as with the app, I can’t stop looking at it. Recommended by Mary

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Amnesty: A Novel Cover Image
Amnesty

Amnesty by Aravind Adiga is “a day in the life” novel that kept me sitting in my car many times after arriving at my destination, listening and waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering if Danny would be caught - by immigration officials or by the murderer. I kept hoping he would do the “right thing”--and somehow escape the consequences he would face for doing so. From around 8:30 a.m. to 7:03 p.m. we are privy to Danny’s thoughts and fears, and learn his life story, from Sri Lanka to Dubai and finally Australia. A masterfully suspenseful and extremely timely tale of hope and hopelessness, Amnesty will keep you listening late into the night. Recommended by Nancy

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Heartstopper: Volume 1 Cover Image
Heartstopper

Online comic turned graphic novel series, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman is a sweet love story between two high school boys.  Volume one is beautiful, with a layout that ebbs and flows with Charlie and Nick’s relationship from friends to something more.  Endearing artwork delicately spills into whitespace to establish place, and it’s simple, much like the story. But its simplicity is what makes this story so exciting; there’s nothing to distract from the adorable, squeal-worthy budding romance.  There’s nothing more exciting than a budding romance!!! And a cliffhanger ending means I can’t wait to read the next volume! Recommended by Mary

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Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life Cover Image
Why Fish Don't Exist

DUE IN APRIL: Lulu Miller's Why Fish Don't Exist won't be categorized, and that's a central theme of the book, too. Part memoir, part biography, part philosophical treatise, and part natural history, the book explores scientist David Starr Jordan's colossal failures and undaunted persistence to categorize the world's fish even in the face of the Los Angeles earthquake. As does Miller, we want to find in Jordan the heroic sorter of life's chaos and the hope to persist even on our darkest days. But history, Jordan, and life itself will not be labeled and pinned down. This is a heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant journey to this ultimate truth. By its end, I found myself applauding the author and myself for our contentment with messiness and surprise. Recommended by Kelly

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Code Name Hélène: A Novel Cover Image
Code Name Hélène

DUE IN MARCH: Lawhorn's book knocked my socks off! This brilliant fictional portrayal of Aussie Nancy Wake, a member of the French resistance, will keep you up 'til the wee hours. Wake's resilience, courage, and selflessness in the face of danger and unspeakable loss is all the more astounding given the obstacles women had to overcome to take their rightful place as leaders. Lawhorn's book will remind readers once again of how perilously close we came to a world dominated by fascists and the gratitude we owe those who fought against them at great threat to themselves. Recommended by Kelly

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For Joshua: An Ojibwe Father Teaches His Son Cover Image
For Joshua: An Ojibwe Father Teaches His Son

DUE IN APRIL: Richard Wagamese's simple and yet hypnotic writing builds to a symphony of grief, regret, and ultimately gratitude for life and its lessons and gifts. Part confessional and part legacy of father to son, For Joshua is a tribute not only to Wagamese but also to the rich, healing tradition of the Ojibwe people whose way of being in the world offers a model for surviving, belonging. Recommended by Kelly

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The Keeper: A Novel Cover Image
The Keeper

DUE IN MARCH: Brit Jessica Moor emerges as an exiting new voice in the thriller genre with her quietly terrifying novel, The Keeper. Set in a shelter for abused women, the action revolves around the disappearance and suspected murder of one of the counseling staff. Carefully drawn characters and intricately woven stories creates a compassionate yet honest snapshot of domestic violence. Recommended by Kelly

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American Birds: A Literary Companion Cover Image
American Birds: A Literary Companion

DUE IN MARCH: At a time when even the most common backyard birds are beings not to be taken for granted, this anthology reminds American readers all that we still have to cherish and lose. They can trace the same thrill from 19th century writers like Henry David Thoreau who warms to the sound of the wood thrush right through to the writing of present day modern American writers whose ears, eyes, and hearts are still moved to hope, "the thing with feathers that perches in the soul." We owe a debt of gratitude to editors Williams and Rubenfeld for researching this beautiful connection through time. Recommended by Kelly

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The Only Good Indians Cover Image
The Only Good Indians

They weren’t supposed to hunt there, in the area reserved for the elders. But youthful recklessness and hubris lead these four friends to ignore the rules and tribal tradition, not understanding that broken rules and promises have a way of circling back. Two friends leave the reservation and two remain; none escapes the legacy of that day. Stephen Graham Jones takes us into a world of pain, guilt, revenge, fear, love. Of the metaphysical and of the flesh. The Only Good Indians, not for the squeamish, left me unnerved, yet uplifted with its perfect resolution of a chilling conflict. Recommended by Nancy

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Telephone: A Novel Cover Image
Telephone

Percival Everett’s Telephone will stay with you long after its final sentence. Zach Wells, an unremarkable paleontologist accustomed to putting together the pieces and finding the answers, is faced with the reality of his young daughter’s unsolvable illness. Unable to fix the situation, he attempts to escape it through various means, including a seemingly foolhardy attempt to help others escape. Escape wends through the novel as a dominant theme and carries it to an ending of hope and unresolved hopelessness. Perhaps that is how all of our stories end. Recommended by Nancy