News and Reviews

Winter’s Bone

Winter’s Bone

By Daniel Woodrell

Review by Pam Blittersdorf

Author Daniel Woodrell creates a memorable heroine in 16 year old Ree Dolly. Ree desparately wants to escape the poverty of her Ozark community and enlist in the Army (“where you got to travel with a gun and they make everybody help keep things clean”), but she feels duty-bound to her family. Her meth-cooking dad has posted the family home as collateral, then jumped bail. To save her younger brothers and mentally ill mother, Ree has to ask some tough questions about her father’s fate. The folks with the answers to those questions don’t take kindly to being asked. The language of the novel is gritty, genuine and suspenseful. Ree’s grim humor and determination are certain to catch you up in her story. Continue reading

I Shall be Near to You

I Shall be Near to You

By Erin Lindsay McCabe

Review by Angela DeMott

I Shall Be Near to You is one of the rare cases where the novel itself lives up to the author reviews and jacket cover blurbs. While primarily a love story (a moving and realistic one at that), I Shall Be Near to You surprised me with its terrifying and riveting portrayal of 19th century life during war. The two main characters (Rosetta and Jeremiah) were extremely well-drawn, and Rosetta’s narrative voice was every bit as unique, engaging, and believable as any in the literary canon. Throughout the novel, I kept thinking, “I really wish Rosetta could somehow share a meal and conversation with Ada Monroe.” Continue reading

You

You

By: Caroline Kepnes

Review by Lois Plale

Guinevere Beck (“Beck” to her friends) is an aspiring author, who drops into a bookstore run by Joe Goldberg, who immediately believes she is The One for him.  After she makes a purchase and leaves, he Googles her name from her credit card and discovers she is on both Facebook and Twitter.  Joe finds out everything he needs to know about her and gradually and obsessively takes control of her life – convincing her that he is the perfect man for her.  He sets up and orchestrates a series of events to make sure she falls for him, removing anything and anyone who gets in his way – even if he has to kill to do it.  Continue reading

The Nix

The Nix

By Nathan Hill

Review by: Linda Parkyn

The Nix is a great rambling family saga, alternating chapters between a mother and son. The majority of the mothers’ life is told in five chapters that take place in 1968 and the five chapters primarily about the son take place in 2011.  The chapters alternate and often enlighten each other. The story is huge, it tells the dynamics in their familial relationships as well as both of their underlying reasons for how they interpret the world. Continue reading

Eileen

Eileen book coverEileen

By Ottessa Moshfegh

Review by Jonathan Trice

As a former bartender I have had more than a few patrons share stories that were extremely personal, many seemingly too personal to share with a server you met only an hour ago.  You don’t have to be tending bar to experience this, there have probably been times at parties or on a flight where a conversation with a stranger reveals more about themselves than you’re comfortable hearing.  Remember that feeling and you will understand how I felt while reading the novel Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh. Continue reading

Under the Banner of Heaven

Under the Banner of Heaven book coverUnder the Banner of Heaven

By Jon Krakauer

Review by Rebecca Hoetger

For non-fiction, this book captivated me right from the very beginning. The title! This is the true story of the double murder of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month old daughter, Erica, at the hands of Ron and Dan Lafferty (the older brothers of Brenda’s husband). I would have liked more information on the actual Lafferty case; that being said, Krakauer does an amazing job relating the gruesome details that we have. Continue reading

Testimony

Testimony

By Scott Turow

Review by Roberta Earle

“Life had taught me a cold truth, that the long-savored dream, when tested by reality, rarely approached expectations.”

Bill ten Boom decides to quit his lucrative job as a partner in a law form, leave his life in the U.S., and take a job with the International Criminal  Court in The Hague.  At 54 years old, he is not sure where his life is going and he is hoping that the ICC, a permanent war crimes tribunal charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity, will help give his life some meaning and purpose.    Continue reading

The Westing Game

The Westing Game.Puffin Modern ClassicThe Westing Game

By Ellen Raskin

Review by Kate Boyle

Perfect for anyone with an interest in reading a classic, a Newbery Winner, and a frequently challenged book! Young readers looking for an introduction to mystery novels need look no further than The Westing Game. Additionally, seasoned mystery lovers will also delight in this complex tale. The novel revolves around the last will and testament of a wealthy man named Samuel W. Westing. Sixteen people attend the reading and learn they could become millionaires if they can win a game created by Mr. Westing. Paired off and given differing sets of clues, the potential heirs hunt to find the solution to a game they don’t really understand. No one knows why Mr. Westing would choose these people as his heirs; a group that includes a possible murderer! Continue reading

Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told YouEverything I Never Told You

By Celeste Ng

Review by Zoey Mills

I was recommended Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng based on my enjoyment of Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things. While both novels are arguably different, Celeste Ng cited Roy’s 1997 work as inspiration—and I quickly picked up on subtle similarities. In Everything I Never Told You we follow the story of Lydia Lee, the events leading up to and after her sudden, gruesome death, and how her family copes with their loss. The novel seems almost as though it were written backwards, by beginning with Lydia’s death and then jumping to the beginnings of the Lee family. Ng, like Roy, jumps around on the timeline of the story and explores how the family’s past and present influenced the events leading up to Lydia’s death. I’m not much of a mystery reader, but Ng had me instantly hooked and I finished the book in two days (despite my finals desperately begging for attention). Continue reading

Sister

SisterSister

By Rosamund Lupton

Review by Gretchen Chamberlin

This debut novel by British author, Rosamund Lupton, is a mystery which builds incrementally, relentlessly and brilliantly to its well plotted and harrowing conclusion!

At the opening of the book, I was slightly disoriented as Lupton plunges the reader headlong into the story. But, in short order, you come to understand that Bee’s younger sister, Tess, has gone missing and is later found dead. Was it a suicide as the police surmise, or was it a murder? Bee flies from New York to London and tries to uncover what happened. Continue reading