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Staff Reviews by Rachel Hitt

Cover: 'Homegoing'

"Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi

★★★★★ Two half-sisters were born in two different villages in Ghana in the 18th century. Effia, who is married to one of the English slave traders, eventually learns of her half-sister’s (Esi) existence, but not of her fate. Esi is captured, imprisoned in the dungeon below Effia’s castle home on the Gold Coast, and sent to the U.S. as a slave. Homegoing is the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Enchantment Lake'

"Enchantment Lake" by Margi Preus

★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Francie bolts from an audition and hops on a plane from New York City to Minnesota after receiving a troubling call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette. She hasn’t visited her aunts’ home in northern Minnesota since her father’s death seven years prior, but she has fond childhood memories of Enchantment Lake. However, she cannot...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Caraval'

"Caraval" by Stephanie Garber

★★★★★ Scarlett Dragna has dreamed of attending the mysterious Caraval, an annual, multi-night, and itinerant event in which the audience participates in the magical spectacle and competes for a prize. She’s written to Master Legend, the mysterious creator of the event over the course of seven years. Soon to be married to a man whom she’s never met (but sees as...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'As Brave As You'

"As Brave As You" by Jason Reynolds

★★★★★ Eleven-year-old Genie is nervous to be spending a whole month of his summer vacation (with his older brother, Ernie, Jr.) at his paternal grandparents’ house. Not only is this Brooklyn native unprepared for life in the country (no cell signal or internet?!), it’s the first time his family has seen his grandparents in ten years, and there’s a lot of...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Passion of Dolssa'

"The Passion of Dolssa" by Julie Berry

★★★★★ Dolssa de Stigata is a young noblewoman of eighteen who draws the attention of church authorities when they learn that she is telling family members and friends of the bond she shares with her beloved Lord. Sentenced to death along with her mother, she is mysteriously freed before she is to be dragged into the flames and begins a life on the run hiding from...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars'

"Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars" by Nathalia Holt

★★★★★ This book is an account of women who were human computers (and later computer programmers and engineers) at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in California. Rather than choose one of the occupations most commonly pursued by women of their time (teacher, nurse, or secretary), these women put their math and science skills to work in order to generate equations and...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'A Study in Charlotte'

"A Study in Charlotte" by Brittany Cavallaro

★★★★★ Jamie, a descendant of John Watson, is still adjusting to life at his new boarding school and recovering from a recent and disastrous encounter with Charlotte Holmes (descendent of Sherlock Holmes) when the pair become prime suspects in the death of a fellow student. It seems someone is intent on framing the duo, but who could it possibly be? They weren’t...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Dark Matter'

"Dark Matter" by Blake Crouch

★★★★★ It was family dinner night when Jason left to put in an appearance at a party at the neighborhood bar for his former college roommate Ryan, who had been granted a prestigious academic award for his research in neuroscience. Had Jason decided to forego fatherhood after the surprise pregnancy of his then girlfriend (now wife) Daniela, he may have been the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Girl Waits With Gun'

"Girl Waits With Gun" by Amy Stewart

★★★★★ Constance Kopp and her two sisters (Norma and Fluerette) live quiet, isolated lives on their small farm in New Jersey. Their peaceful life comes to an abrupt halt when their buggy is struck and overturned by an automobile while on a routine trip into Paterson. Constance, a tall and formidable woman, politely demands the contact information for the driver (...

Audience: adults | Genre: historical fiction

Cover: 'Jane Steele'

"Jane Steele" by Lyndsay Faye

★★★★★ At first glance, Jane Steele’s life mirrors that of the heroine of her favorite book, Jane Eyre. Both are orphaned, treated poorly by their extended relations, sent to oppressive boarding schools, and seek employment as a governess. (Don’t worry, Bronte fans. There’s a Mr. Rochester, albeit in the guise of a traumatized British doctor born and raised in...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Missing, Presumed'

"Missing, Presumed" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★ Manon Bradshaw loves her job as a detective sergeant in the Cambridgeshire Major Incident Team and excels at it, but her personal life is unfulfilling. She has grown weary of the internet dating scene, even as she plays the game of shaving a few years off her actual age (39) and cribbing her hobbies and interests from other people’s profiles. In her latest...

Audience: adults | Genre: mystery

Cover: 'Gemina'

"Gemina" by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

★★★★★ "Gemina", the second installment of the Illuminae Files, jumps to the intended destination for the survivors of the Kerenza attack—Jump Station Heimdall. At Heimdall, preparations for the annual Terra Day Celebrations and scheduled maintenance of the wormhole are underway. Hanna, the often-indulged daughter of the widowed commander, is running late for the...

Audience: teens | Genre: ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'Crosstalk'

"Crosstalk" by Connie Willis

★★★★★ Briddey Flannigan is thrilled when her boyfriend, Trent, proposes that they both undergo a relatively new and popular surgical procedure that enhances one’s ability to experience a romantic partner’s feelings. Sure, it’s literally brain surgery, but who wouldn’t want to share such an emotionally significant moment as a marriage proposal at a deeper level...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'The Girl From Everywhere'

"The Girl From Everywhere" by Heidi Heilig

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Nix has only known life as a time-traveling vagabond on her father’s Portuguese tall ship. (Yes, it looks like a pirate ship.) Her father, Slate, has a special ability to navigate to any location at a specific point in time, even mythical locations, as long as he has an authentic map created on that date. Nix has been to 21st century New...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lock In'

"Lock In" by John Scalzi

★★★★★ It’s twenty-five years since an illness that became known as Haden’s Syndrome swept the world and left 1% of those afflicted in a state known as “lock in.” Those in lock in are aware of the world but unable to move or otherwise respond to their environment without the implantation of neural networks that allow them to connect to a virtual, Haden’s-only...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'The Weight of Feathers'

"The Weight of Feathers" by Anna-Marie McLemore

★★★★★ This is a story of feuding families, superstition, love, and a hint of magic. While it may strike familiar chords, this is a beautifully written story not to be missed. The Corbeau family, descendants of tight-rope walkers, has a traveling act that showcases their balancing skills as they artfully jump from one slender branch to another in the tallest trees...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, teen awards, morris award winner

Cover: 'How It Went Down'

"How It Went Down" by Kekla Magoon

★★★★★ Tariq Johnson hurried down the sidewalk, hunched over a bit carrying stuff and wearing a hoodie. A shopkeeper calls after him, and a bystander steps in to stop him, thinking Tariq stole something from the corner store. Someone says, “He’s got a gun,” and the bystander steps back, arms raised. He doesn’t see a gun when two shots are fired and Tariq Johnson...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, realistic

Cover: 'All Is Not Forgotten'

"All Is Not Forgotten" by Wendy Walker

★★★★ In a small, wealthy community in Connecticut, Jenny Kramer is violently assaulted in a wooded area outside a high school house party. With her parents’ consent, she is given a relatively new drug that erases her memories of the traumatic event, in hopes of sparing her emotional distress. Unfortunately, the emotional trauma remains, and those emotional...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Shadow Hour'

"The Shadow Hour" by Melissa Grey

★★★★★ This follow up to "The Girl at Midnight" did not disappoint! Echo and her diverse crew may have survived their quest to discover the firebird, but the promised peace is a distant promise at best. Hidden away in a London safe house, they’ve escaped the detection of the two warring races (the Avicen and Drakharin) who covet the firebird and consider them...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, action adventure, fantasy, romance

Cover: 'Grunt'

"Grunt" by Mary Roach

★★★★ In this book, science author Mary Roach investigates the challenges the military tries to address in order to protect combat troops and provide the tools they need. She brings her trademark sense of humor, curiosity, and empathy to a wide range of topics that you never thought to be interested in. Frankly, some of them you may not rather think about, as...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Every Last Word'

"Every Last Word" by Tamara Ireland Stone

★★★★★ Samantha is not looking forward to the start of her junior year of high school. She enjoys the freedom of summer, particularly the freedom she finds on her summer swim team, where she can be “Sam” and can escape the scrutiny of her cadre of cool girl/mean girl friends, the Crazy Eights, who insist upon calling her Samantha. Then she meets Caroline, who is...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Summer Before the War'

"The Summer Before the War" by Helen Simonson

★★★★★ Beatrice Nash arrives in East Sussex late in the summer of 1914 as the newly hired Latin teacher for the school at Rye and the first woman appointed to the post. Lady Agatha advocated for the hiring of Beatrice, and she is prepared to do all in her power to ensure that Beatrice is a success. This may be a bit of a challenge since Beatrice does not fit the...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City'

"Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Matthew Desmond

★★★★★ This book is the result of an ethnographic study undertaken by Matthew Desmond, an associate professor of Sociology at Harvard (who earned his PhD at UW-Madison). Desmond researched the impact of eviction on distressed families in Milwaukee, WI. Over the course of 2008-2009, he lived in a substandard trailer park, whose tenants were largely white, and in an...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Forbidden Orchid'

"The Forbidden Orchid" by Sharon Biggs Waller

★★★★★ As the eldest daughter of ten in a rural village in 1861 England, Elodie knows and fulfills society’s expectations by helping her mother and caring for her younger sisters. Her father, who hunts exotic plants in China, is rarely home except for his annual Christmas visits. Elodie shares his interest in science and botany and makes the small greenhouse at...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal

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