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Staff Reviews by Rachel Hitt

Cover: 'All the Rage'

"All the Rage" by Courtney Summers

★★★★★ Romy Grey is an outcast and has been branded a liar because she accused Kellan Turner, the eldest son of the county sheriff and the head of a national automotive parts chain, of sexually assaulting her. The sheriff blamed Romy for what he deemed a consensual encounter—after all, she had been “chasing him,” and wasn’t her attire and inebriated state evidence...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, realistic

Cover: 'Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis'

"Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis" by Robert D. Putnam

★★★★★ Americans like to believe that anyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity for a fair start in life through education and hard work. This book explores the “opportunity gap” that exists between children of “working- class” parents (defined as those with whose education did not go beyond high school) and children of “upper-middle-class” parents (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers'

"Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers" by Nick Offerman

★★★★ Anyone familiar with Nick Offerman or his on-screen alter ego, Ron Swanson, will not be surprised to learn that he values gumption and those who embody it. In this book, Offerman provides profiles twenty-one Americans who inspire him with their gumption-fueled actions across a wide range of professions. For example, he includes founding fathers, writers (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'All the Bright Places'

"All the Bright Places" by Jennifer Niven

★★★★★ Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, and Finch calmly provides directions that bring Violet back to solid ground. Violet, in turn, directs him. Finch, who already has a reputation as a “freak” is content to let the world believe the Violet is the hero. Violet, who is struggling with the death of her sister the previous spring (as...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Field Guide to Awkward Silences'

"A Field Guide to Awkward Silences" by Alexandra Petri

★★★★ Washington Post columnist and twenty-something Alexandra Petri has never been afraid to embrace the awkward and to march to beat of her own eccentric drummer. This humorous memoir is composed of essays on a number of experiences that explore varying types and degrees of awkwardness. Experiences include participation in an international pun championship,...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, memoir

Cover: 'The Girl at Midnight'

"The Girl at Midnight" by Melissa Grey

★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Echo is resourceful, quick-witted, and quick on her feet, which serves her well as a pickpocket and a thief who is navigating the real world via methods of the magical world. Having fled abusive parents at a young age, then seven-year-old Echo’s path intersected with a mysterious figure, Ala, late one night at New York City Public Library...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Mosquitoland'

"Mosquitoland" by David Arnold

★★★★★ Her name is Mary Iris Malone (though she prefers Mim), and she is not OK. Why isn’t she ok? Events of the last year or so in order: her parents divorced, her dad remarried, her mom moved to Cleveland, and Mim reluctantly moved with her dad and step-mother to Mississippi, which she has dubbed Mosquitoland. She’s not allowed to contact her mom. Also, her dad...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The 5th Wave'

"The 5th Wave" by Rick Yancey

★★★★★ Cassie’s world is under assault by alien intruders. It is a world without electricity, which was knocked out by the first wave. The coasts were decimated by tsunamis in the second. Third was a bioweapon in the form of an illness with a 97% kill rate. The fourth wave is Silencers—assassins who exterminate any humans who survived. Cassie is convinced that...

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

Cover: 'This Shattered World'

"This Shattered World" by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

★★★★★ Captain Jubilee “Lee” Chase is a soldier serving on the politically volatile planet of Avon and tasked with keeping order and maintaining the current cease fire. Flynn Cormac is a leader within the rebel group, but he would rather negotiate than attempt a violent rebellion. Circumstances bring the formidable Chase and pacifist rebel together, and, despite...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'No One Else Can Have You'

"No One Else Can Have You" by Kathleen Hale

★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Kippy Bushman is reeling from the murder of her best friend Ruth, not to mention the revelations in Ruth’s diary. Ruth’s boyfriend—Colt Widdacombe—seems like the perfect suspect—he has a history of violent behavior and a sense of entitlement that might lead him to believe he could get away with it. However, Kippy is convinced that the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Truth According to Us'

"The Truth According to Us" by Annie Barrows

★★★★ After refusing to marry a wealthy, well-connected man, Layla Beck is cast out by her father, a U.S. Senator. He arranges for her to be hired by the Federal Writers’ Project. Her task is to write the history of a small West Virginia town for their upcoming sesquicentennial. She boards in the home of a once-prominent family—the Romeyns. Layla is drawn to...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dead to Me'

"Dead to Me" by Mary McCoy

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Alice has been waiting for four years for her older sister Annie to come home. Alice knew one thing—her wealthy, reputation-conscious, Hollywood-insider parents had not been truthful about the reasons for then sixteen-year-old Annie’s rebellious departure. Summoned to her comatose sister’s hospital bedside, Alice decides that she cannot...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'We Are All Made of Molecules'

"We Are All Made of Molecules" by Susin Nielsen

★★★★ This is the story of a modern blended family. Thirteen-year-old Stewart, his widowed father Leonard, and his cat Schopenhauer move into the home of Caroline and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Ashley. Caroline’s ex-husband lives in the Laneway home in their backyard. Academically gifted student Stewart is transferring from his private school where being...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, realistic

Cover: 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed'

"So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson

★★★★★ Has social media, particularly Twitter, become the modern day equivalent of the stocks or pillory as public shamings become commonplace on the web? That question leads Jon Ronson to explore the history of public shaming and its current manifestations on social media, where an admittedly ill-advised or inappropriate comment or photo can turn into a wave of...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Run You Down'

"Run You Down" by Julia Dahl

★★★★ In this sequel to "Invisible City", Rebekah Roberts—a twenty-three-year-old stringer for a New York City tabloid—is struggling to recover from the emotional trauma inflicted by her first investigation, which took her into the insular Hasidic community in Brooklyn, her mother’s hometown. Rebekah is Jewish by birth but still new to Jewish practice since she...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Love Letters to the Dead'

"Love Letters to the Dead" by Ava Dellaira

★★★★★ When prompted by her English teacher to write a letter to a dead person, Laurel writes a letter to Kurt Cobain, who was her sister May’s favorite musician. It proves to be a therapeutic and deeply personal exercise, so Laurel decides not to turn in the assignment and continues to write letters to a variety of dead people (such as Amelia Earhart, John Keats...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, yalsa top 10, award-winning

Cover: 'How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much'

"How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much" by Samantha Ellis

★★★★★ "How to Be a Heroine" is an engaging blend of memoir and literary criticism that was prompted by Ellis’ debate with her best friend over whom she’d rather be: Cathy Earnshaw (of Wuthering Heights) or Jane Eyre. This debate launched her into a re-evaluation of the heroines that had inspired her throughout her life. I enjoyed meeting her literary heroines (...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'March: Book Two'

"March: Book Two" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

★★★★★ "March: Book Two" is the second graphic novel in a trilogy that recounts the Civil Rights movement from the perspective of Congressman John Lewis, a key figure of the movement. This volume picks up the story in late 1960 in Nashville and recounts events including the Freedom Rides in 1961, Lewis’s incarceration in Mississippi, and the March on Washington in...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, graphic novel

Cover: 'Paper Towns'

"Paper Towns" by John Green

★★★★★ Graduation is rapidly approaching, and Quentin, a fairly well-adjusted senior, has his future planned out—skip prom (why bother?), go to graduation, and start at Duke University at the fall. He is not one to take risks or draw attention. Then his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, childhood playmate, current acquaintance, and long-time unrequited crush, comes...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl'

"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews

★★★★★ Greg Gaines is a high school senior who has mastered the art of blending into the social woodwork at school. He’s friendly with the many cliques and social strata while being careful not to appear allied to any single faction. His limited experience with girls in junior high was unsuccessful, so he’s given up on dating during high school. His only friend—...

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

Cover: 'If I Ever Get Out of Here'

"If I Ever Get Out of Here" by Eric Gansworth

★★★★★ Lewis Blake is a seventh-grader in 1976, and, as the only Native American student in his track for the second year in a row, he feels like he has a special force field that isolates him from his classmates. This year, there’s a new kid named George, and Lewis hopes this is his chance for a real friend. Being friends with someone off the “rez” is not going...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride'

"As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride" by Cary Elwes, Joe Layden

★★★★★ Fans of the movie The Princess Bride—this book is for you! Cary Elwes, whom fans of the movie know as Westley, shares memories and behind-the-scenes stories from the making of a movie that eventually became a classic. Many alumni of the movie, including Rob Reiner and the surviving members of the central cast, contribute anecdotes, and it is abundantly...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, movie tie-ins

Cover: 'Black Dove White Raven'

"Black Dove White Raven" by Elizabeth Wein

★★★★★ This is the story of Emilia and Teo, who are raised as siblings from infancy by their mothers, who were stunt pilots in the 1930s in the U.S. The name of the mothers’ act was Black Dove, White Raven, which refers to Delia (mother of Teo) and Rhoda (mother of Emilia), respectively. The lives of Em and Teo are changed in an instant when a bird strike causes...

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

Cover: 'The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook'

"The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook" by Kate White

★★★★ Have you ever found yourself wondering how to make Richard Castle’s pancakes or Kinsey Millhone’s peanut butter and pickle sandwich? If so, this is the cookbook for you! It showcases recipes from more than one hundred mystery authors, and chances are at least one of your favorite mystery authors contributed a recipe. Each recipe includes an introduction...

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, cookbook

Cover: 'Hush Hush'

"Hush Hush" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ Rejoice, Laura Lippman fans! Tess is back! Tess, now the mother of a three-year-old, has a retired “murder police” as her new partner and a complicated childcare schedule, but she’s still Tess. She’s not one to pull metaphorical punches (at least not without deliberate effort), her curiosity is difficult to suppress, and her food choices are occasionally...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction, mystery