When She Woke

When She Woke

by Hillary Jordan

Review by Rebecca Hoetger

This novel was a huge disappointment for me. I thought When She Woke had so much potential, but didn’t really deliver in the execution; it never made it past the “meh” stage, really. For me, this novel was all about the tease. You’re given a little bit of information, but not enough to be truly satisfied, though there were some really good parts—the futuristic world, its technology, the morality laws, etc. While I thought the America created by Hillary Jordan was interesting and thought-provoking, again I didn’t get quite enough of the backstory to really be a part of that world. 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

Kristy’s Great Idea

The Babysitters Club: Kristy’s Great Idea

by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier

Review by Angela DeMott

It took me a chapter or two to get used to the graphic novel format, but once I trained my eye to follow the sequences of the drawings and stopped roaming the page, I really enjoyed this version of the BSC. I love the details Raina Telgemeier puts into her artwork – her faces are so expressive! Continue reading

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels

Dr. Mutter's MarvelsDr. Mütter’s Marvels

By Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Review by Sarah Reisert

I can’t say if I’ve ever noticed the portrait of Thomas Dent Mütter hanging in his namesake museum on any of my previous visits.  Even if I had glanced at it amongst the walls of skulls and bottled tumors, I wouldn’t have known much about the man. I wouldn’t knowa bout the new plastic surgery method Dr. Mütter developed to help burn victims lead more normal lives. Nor how he was the first surgeon in Philadelphia to use ethyl ether anesthesia. I wouldn’t know about his weakness for splashy clothes that matched the color of his carriage, or how his students positively adored him until his untimely death at age 48.  Continue reading

Founding Brothers

Founding BrothersFounding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

by Joseph J. Ellis

Review by Angela DeMott 

Joseph Ellis’ Founding Brothers has a lot to say about the Revolutionary era. In addition, it is a commentary on our current political, economic, and social situation. By way of analyzing six significant moments in U.S. history, Ellis argues that there were as many, if not more, interpretations of the revolutionary spirit of 1776 (and what that actually entailed for the growing nation) as there are beliefs on what it means to be an American today; Ellis also argues that our first political leaders didn’t really know what they were doing (How could they have? There was no precedent!) yet their gut instincts and passion still lead us, eventually, to green pastures.  Continue reading

Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the DollsValley of the Dolls

by Jacqueline Susann

Review by Rebecca Hoetger

Valley of the Dolls fulfilled two separate book challenges: the Rory Gilmore Challenge and a book published in 1966 for TPL’s 50th Anniversary Book Challenge. I have to say, although 50 years old, it still seems very relevant today, considering the pressures of extreme fame that many celebrities face. I liked that the story is told from the perspectives of three strong women: Anne, Neely, and Jennifer. All rise in wealth and fame and deal with life’s pressures differently. Even with the novel’s depressing undertones—a very Mad Men feel—I couldn’t put it down. Continue reading

Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

By Charles Dickens

Review by Indumathi Rathakrishnan

The story revolves around Oliver who was born in unappreciable circumstances. Young ones are the most affected by the violence in the society which is well quoted in the story. I found characters in the story well built. Continue reading

The Explorer’s Guild Volume One

The Explorer's Guild Volume OneThe Explorer’s Guild, Vol. I: A Passage to Shambhala

By Jon Baird & Kevin Costner, with illustrations by Rick Ross

Review by Sarah Reisert

A wealthy member of the Explorer’s Guild accepts a challenge to find the Northwest Passage, but on the way he stumbles across a figure of legend: the city of Shambhala. He escapes with his life but falls terribly ill, and enlists his brother (and the rough-and-tumble regiment his brother commands) to help him figure out where on Earth the city will appear next. At least, I think that’s the story. Continue reading

Furiously Happy

Furiously HappyFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

Review by Cosette Elliott

Furiously Happy  is a fun beach read for someone with a quirky sense of humor. You must be okay with taxidermy and seeing the bright side of an otherwise depressing diagnosis. For example, yesterday I learned that I have contracted Lyme disease. It’s been great! I tell the kids, we can’t play outside now because the pills I have to take make me sensitive to sunburn. In addition to this, I am able to claim ongoing fatigue and inability to play with them. Most of my rest of my summer, as I see it now, will be spent lounging in bed explaining to my kids that I don’t feel well. If you can see the humor in what I just wrote, you are ready to enjoy Jenny Lawson.

By the way, this book is her second book. You can start with her first book, Let’s Pretend this Never Happened, so you understand the things she refers to in Furiously Happy. Or you could always read it second. I think special mention is the fact that Lawson informs the reader that by reading her book, you are reducing your likelihood for discovering a corpse in a bathtub. Personally, my favorite part of this book is it’s accessibility. You can put it down and pick it up later and you don’t have to remember what Amber was or where Richard was or what was the motivation for the killer that stalked Christine 20 years ago. This is a perfect read for someone who may be interrupted and might not be able to get back to reading for a while. That is, if you can handle a strange infatuation with taxidermy.

This title fits many categories for the 50 Books for 50 Years Challenge. It could easily fill the “Based entirely on the cover,” “Over 300 pages,” “Has an animal on the cover,” or “A guilty pleasure book” categories. Happy reading!

Check availability on Let’s Pretend this Never Happened

Check availability on Furiously Happy 

About the reviewer: Cosette Elliott is a Domestic Engineer that enjoys reading. You can usually find Cosette in the library picking up more books to read.

Horrorstör

HorrorstörHorrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Review by Angie Andre

I have lived in the hell many of you know as retail for over 20 years.  I appreciated the craziness, impossible expectations, prison like mentality, always selling, selling, selling. Horrorstör is a retail nightmare for its employees. This knock off Ikea superstore in Ohio is a strange place to work.  Unexplainable things happen. Sales are low and management wants to know why.  Three employees decide to stay overnight and figure out what is happening when the lights go off at night. This is where Hendrix lost me. Continue reading