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Staff Book Reviews & Suggestions!

Need a new book to read? Check out what we are suggesting.

Non-Fiction:

The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe

  • Recommended by: Lynne
  • Non-fiction: History & popular culture

Mike Rowe at his finest and funniest in a series of short stories about actual people and events but with a twist that never fails to surprise and entertain. 

Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty by Diane Keaton

  • Recommended by: Ceres
  • Non-fiction: Biography & Actresses

Diane Keaton talks about her personal and professional life with the quirkiness and humor that have come to define her.  She dedicates her book “To All the Women Who Can’t Get to Right Without Being Wrong.”  Her opening discussion about successful women quickly transitions to more personal conversations about her romantic and platonic relationships; her roles as mother, daughter and actress; and the emotional and physical challenges in aging.   I see in Keaton someone who has chosen to mature gracefully.  

Her book is an easy, funny and sometimes poignant read.


Fiction:

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christine Lauren

  • Recommended by: Bree
  • Genre: Romance

Fun romance between a straight laced Korean hero and proudly weird and quirky heroine. Hazel has fun inner dialogue and there are plenty of hilarious failed dates. A friends to lovers plot that inspires all the warm and fuzzy feelings.

Circe by Madeline Miller

  • Recommended by: Bree
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

Miller brings to life those great characters of myth, like Circe and Odysseus, and makes them human. The imagery is dreamy and lyrical without softening or sugar coating any  harsh and difficult topics. Basically a greek urn brought to life.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

  • Recommended by: Sharon
  • Genre: Historical Fiction

 The extended Levin family summers on Nantucket.  Three generations of stories unfold and weave together, drawing you into the summer ice cream days, and starry bon fire nights along the shore with the locals, summer residents and visitors.  Hilderbrand brings together the privileged and the not-so-privileged, and doesn’t disappoint.

Brother Cadfael Series by Ellis Peters

  • Recommended by: Ceres
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Number of books in series: 20

In her Brother Cadfael series, Ellis Peters details the life of a soldier turned Benedictine monk in the 12th century.  Formerly a soldier in the Crusades, Brother Cadfael turned to the monastic life, seeking peace. He acquired the skill to treat illnesses and to help solve crimes.  

The sudden arrival of two Benedictine monks is the center of An Excellent Mystery.  In Brother Cadfael’s Penance, my favorite, the monk is confronted with a potentially life-altering decision that may cost him the monastic life he cherishes.

Peters language is lyrical and rich in imagery.  She is a master storyteller.  Few characters have stayed with me as has Brother Cadfael.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

  • Recommended by: Sharon
  • Genre: Romance

Olivia Rawlings is looking for a bit of a change, she’s a pastry chef in Boston, but is running from a sticky situation of her own making.  Her closest friend, Hannah,  is her haven, and she pulls her car and dog into a sweet life and temporary job in Guthrie, VT, where Hannah lives.  Small town talk, opinions, and feelings, and new baking traditions have Olivia questioning her return to the big city.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

  • Recommended by: Sharon
  • Genre: Immigration Fiction

Life in NYC is just what this young family from Cameroon dreams of, a better life, but is it really?  Jende and Neni live in Harlem.  He works for an executive at Lehman Brothers.  She is studying to be a pharmacist.  Then the financial world is upended by the fall of the Lehman Brothers.  Jende and Neni’s world is left hanging in the balance.


YA Fiction:

The Selection by Kiera Cass

  • Recommended by: Bree
  • Genre: YA Romance

Dystopian monarchy meets Bachelor. This is a fun, easy summer read with one of the sweetest YA hero love interests ever. Has excellent world building that is informed by America’s, the protagonist, perspective and always relates back to the character’s main conflict: deciding what her goal is and how she wants to achieve it.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

  • Recommended by: Bree
  • Genre: YA Fantasy

Great summer book to escape into. Black transports the reader into the magical, deadly world of faerie courts, and shows why it is so dangerous for humans. Jude, the protagonist, is bold, angry, and ready to take control of her life even though she is not sure how she is going to do it.


Movie Review

Anthropoid

  • Recommended by: Ceres
  • Genre: Drama, historical

Anthropoid is a heart pounding, soul-wrenching movie, based on true events.  The film focuses on Jan Kubis and Josef Gabcik, two of seven agents slated by the Czechoslovak government in exile to assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich.  Heydrich, the “Butcher of Prague,” was the third top official in the Third Reich, and the highest-ranking officer to be killed during the war.

Jamie Dornan and Cillian Murphy render powerful performances as Kubis and Gabcik, respectively.  Despite the dark subject, Anthropoid is a tribute to the daunting courage of the agents and resistance fighters, and to the citizens who harbored them.  Most of all, it is a testament to the valor of a nation which fought fiercely to reclaim its democracy during a dark and ruthless era in history.

Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter gives greater breadth to these events.


Book Talks with Sarah:

Check out Sarah’s videos as she discusses different books. More can be found on the library’s YouTube page.