What we’re reading in March…

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland

The Floating Feldmans: A Novel by Elyssa…

What happens when a waspy mother, her shopping addict daughter, marijuana growing son, and their families are all stuck on a luxury cruise ship together? The dysfunctional family trip of a lifetime, of course! The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland is the perfect lighthearted companion to bring the comic relief you need on your next family vacation. Beth

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon

Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon is set in Laos during the Vietnam War, when the country was continuously bombed in a covert attempt by the CIA to wrest power from the communist Pathet Lao, a group allied with North Vietnam and the Soviet Union. Three teens, Alasik and siblings Prany and Noi have lost their parents to opium and violence, and are surviving by working at a makeshift hospital, driving motorbikes to make deliveries, tending to patients and staking out paths between the unexploded bombs. Yoon’s spare, exacting prose expresses their hopes, their friendship, their humanity in the midst of heartbreaking events. Beautiful, just beautiful – I couldn’t stop reading it. Dori

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

This spooky supernatural thriller follows 20-year-old Carly Kirk as she ventures to upstate New York, having recently lost her mother to cancer, determined to solve the mysterious disappearance of her aunt Viv at the Sun Down Motel 35 years ago. Viv worked the overnight shift at the motel and completely vanished one night in November of 1982- her body was never found by authorities and her family basically wiped her from their collective memory. Carly herself signs on for the same graveyard shift at the motel, and soon discovers that the town of Fells, NY seems to have had a number of never-solved murders of local young women immediately preceding Viv’s disappearance. Readers experience the story in alternating narratives, from Viv’s point of view in 1982 and Carly in the present, with both characters experiencing terrifying moments at the motel as they dig deeper into the motel’s secrets. I haven’t made it to the end yet, but I can’t wait to see how this wraps up! Mystery and horror fans will definitely want to pick this up. Nicole

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli

This is the political rom-com I did not know I needed. Jamie Goldberg is happy to volunteer for his local senate candidate. His cousin is the campaign manager and Jamie himself has political aspirations, which will never happen because he just can’t talk to people. Maya’s life is falling apart–her parents are separating and her best friend is too busy working and getting ready for college. When her mom runs into Jamie’s mom the two mothers hatch a plan for the teens to canvass together. What’s in it for Maya? A car at the end of the summer. The reluctant duo start knocking on doors and before they know it a new friendship has developed. Jamie and Maya expertly handle their roles as activists, but the issue of cross-cultural romance is not so easy a topic to navigate. A rare YA book with present and supportive parents as well as normal and realistic friendships. While the relationship between Maya and Jamie is cute, the book doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to addressing racism, Islamophobia, and white supremacy. Megan

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Marianne and Connell are high school seniors and clandestine lovers. Both are star students, however, Marianne is an outcast, raised by her widowed mother in a wealthy home ridden with dysfunction. Connell is a popular star athlete, raised by his unwed mother, in a working class home, yet is nurtured by a caring, wonderful mom. The twist… Connell’s mother works as a maid at Marianne’s home. For the next four years, the reader follows Marianne’s and Connell’s intense yet complicated relationship that’s repeatedly muddled by secrets, miscommunication, and anxiety about their their place in the social hierarchy. As a reader, you will get mad at those two, you will root for those two, in the end, you will understand those two. If this review doesn’t draw your interest, at least treat yourself to a book taking place in Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Mary

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Journalist Lulu Randolph heads to Nassau in 1941 to investigate the governor, actually the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, for a popular New York magazine. Soon Lulu falls in love with Benedict Thorpe, a British scientist who is captured by the Nazis. Told in alternating chapters, It’s also the story of Benedict’s parents, Elfriede and Wilfred decades earlier. This is an exceptional historical novel full of romance, spies, intrigue, racial tension and murder. Emma

What we’re reading so far….

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House is a story of siblings, Danny and Maeve Conroy, their obsessive connection with the iconic family house they lived in as young children and how their lives unfolded over the years.  The story is told through the eyes of Danny, younger of the two siblings.  We, as readers, watch Danny realize his life is peculiar, his childhood home is extraordinary, and the rooms and people of his childhood are more complex than he thought.  At times, the story resembles a fairy tale, with stepchildren and evil step mother, however, author, Ann Patchett, with such great compassion and wit, brings the story so alive that one can’t help but get hooked.  Get yourself on the holds list for this right now.  It was my favorite book of 2019.  In the meantime, treat yourself with any other book by Ann Patchett. Mary

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

VanderMeer quickly became one of my favorite authors after I read his amazing Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) so I began reading Borne with high expectations. I’m happy to report that Borne does not disappoint and delivers more of the weird, literary, dark, dystopian science fiction that I had hoped for. In a destroyed city that is never named, readers meet the smart and resourceful scavenger Rachel. She tries her best to survive in the city with her partner Wick, gathering relics from abandoned buildings, rebuilding biotech, and trying to evade the gigantic, monstrous bear, named Mord. Mord enjoys flying above the city, eating whatever and whomever he pleases, and generally destroying all in his path. Mord is the creation of the evil and ominous Company, who appear to be responsible for not only Mord’s terrible presence but also the general collapse of the city and all of the terrifying and strange creatures who live there. Rachel finds a curious blob-like creature entangled in Mord’s fur one day while scavenging, and quickly discovers the blob is intelligent, talks, and is also growing at a rapid rate. She names the now tentacled discovery Borne, and things only get weirder from there. Nicole

That Darkness by Lisa Black

That Darkness by Lisa Black

That Darkness is the first in the Gardiner and Renner series. Maggie Gardiner is a forensic investigator for the Cleveland Police Department. Jack Renner is a homicide detective working a series of murders with the same cause of death but no other obvious connection. The more Maggie pores over the evidence, the more she suspects a vigilante killer who possibly has ties to the police department. When the evidence finally points to Jack, Maggie is confronted with a moral dilemma. Will she reveal Jack’s secret? Lisa Black is a former trace evidence specialist for the Cuyahoga County coroner and current CSI in Florida, and the crime scene details of the book are meticulously written and described. Jack’s vigilante serial killer story is introduced but not completely explained. Readers will have to continue the series for more details! I did, in fact, binge the series in it’s current entirety and it definitely gets better as they go along. Maggie and Jack tackle cases involving the murders of journalists, corrupt politicians, and teens living in a county facility. As they cover different cases they have to navigate the huge secret that defines their relationship. I look forward to more stories of fictional Cleveland crimes from Lisa Black.  Megan

Loom by Sarah Gridley

Loom by Sarah Gridley

I’m reading a book of poetry, Loom, by Sarah Gridley, which came out in 2013.  I had Sarah as a poetry teacher when I was briefly a student at Case, and she was wonderful for many reasons, so I could be biased.  But sometimes I think Sarah’s poetry is a kind of well-kept secret, not only in CLE but elsewhere as well, and that she deserves a wider audience.  Like other poets I love, including John Ashbery and Anne Carson, Sarah’s poetry gets pegged as “difficult,” but in a pejorative way – it’s too weird, people say, too interior, too lacking in narrative maybe, customary guideposts, something like that. But that’s exactly why I love Sarah’s poetry.  It is a kind of startling confrontation, because it forces you to trust your intuition, your heart, your own senses and your own mind, and encounter the poem without any preconceptions about what a poem should do, think, imagine or be.  Sarah’s poems are profoundly intelligent, open, spacious, deeply feeling-full, generous, fun, imaginative, and creative.  And the music of her poetry is her own – funny, wondering, modestly immodest, intimate. Check out Loom from RRPL, if you’re interested, and stay alert – her latest book of poems, Insofar, which won the Green Rose Prize from New Issues Press, chosen by Forest Gander, who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry last year, is coming out later this year in April.  Andrew

Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin

Recently I decided to take advantage of our large collection of digital audiobooks through ClevNet Overdrive to listen to audio versions of fantasy novels I haven’t yet read. I began with the iconic Earthsea Cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. I am 4 books in and have enjoyed listening to each one immensely. Already being a fan of audio books, I have found this digital format very convenient as I am able to switch from device to device and pickup where I left off. Audio books have allowed me the chance to catch-up on books that I have been meaning to read. Would high recommend this series and this format. Greg

The Furies by Katie Lowe

The Furies by Katie Lowe

Violet begins the fall term as the new girl at Elm Hollow Academy, the site of witch hangings in the 17th century and the mysterious death of a student years later. Her home life has been unhappy since her father and sister died in a car crash, and her mother never mentally recovered from the tragedy. She expects to be a loner, like she has been since the accident, but is immediately taken under the wing of a wild and charming girl and her group of friends. They are part of an advanced study group with a teacher who studies ancient history and mythology as well as the rites and spells of the witches from long ago. Taught as history not practice, the girls nevertheless are drawn towards the idea of powerful women and powerful magic. They become increasingly wild and reckless as they learn the secrets of the women who came before them and begin to feel the power these women held. When one of the girls is violated, they swear revenge, and Violet is no longer sure of what is real, what is make believe, and what is magic. Sara

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Journalist Lulu Randolph heads to Nassau in 1941 to investigate the governor, actually the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, for a popular New York magazine. Soon Lulu falls in love with Benedict Thorpe, a British scientist who is captured by the Nazis. Told in alternating chapters, It’s also the story of Benedict’s parents, Elfriede and Wilfred decades earlier. This is an exceptional historical novel full of romance, spies, intrigue, racial tension and murder. Emma

Sara’s Top Ten of 2019

It was fun to look back and see what I was reading all year long–some of them feel like I finished them so long ago, and some I remember every detail like I read them yesterday. It was another year of suspense and mystery for me, with a little fantasy thrown in. Not usually my favorite genre, but I may be changing my mind a little. In no particular order, please enjoy ten of my favorites that I read this year!

Pieces of Her

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter This is about to be a Netflix original, and you will be riveted by it.

The Hiding Place: A Novel

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor Another book about a homecoming gone wrong by the author of The Chalk Man.

Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper An amazing tale of love, death and survival in the Australian outback. One of my favorite authors who also wrote The Dry.

Watching You: A Novel

Watching You by Lisa Jewell No one’s secrets are really secret. Someone is always watching.

The Witch Elm

The Witch Elm by Tana French A stand alone from the wonderful author of the Dublin Murder Squad series.

I Know You Know

I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan A twenty-year-old murder and a podcast questioning whether the man convicted actually did it–what could go wrong?

I Let You Go

I Let You Go by Claire Mackintosh As usual, this author has you suspecting everyone until the bitter end.

A Better Man (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Chief Inspector Gamache Series #15)

A Better Man by Louise Penny You probably won’t find a list of mine without Inspector Gamache on it, and I hope it remains that way for years to come.

Crimson Lake by Candace Fox A suspense-filled novel set in Australia which is the beginning of a series– some of the most interesting characters I’ve ever met.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi The first of a fantasy trilogy that is a must read for adults and teens. I’m on the holds list for the second book which just came out!

What We’re Reading Now…..

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Fleishman Is in Trouble: A Novel by Taffy…

Meet recently separated Toby Fleishman, medical professional by day, kids every other weekend, newbie bachelor exploring the the singles scene through a dating app on his phone. Toby’s life has been turned upside down by his ex-wife’s disappearance.  Has she truly disappeared, is she avoiding Toby and their shared responsibilities with their kids, or is she having a nervous breakdown?  Toby will embark on a desperate search for his ex-wife while juggling his career and trying to parent 2 unraveling kids.  Don’t pass this book up.  From the outside it seems like another “Bridget Jones ” type story, but there is much more here to enjoy and explore. This book is witty, fast-paced, with sharp observations about marriage, divorce and parenting in today’s world.  Mary

The Tale of the Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

Cover image for

This is the tale of the ‘shining’ Genji, the favorite son the Japanese Emperor, and Genji’s many romantic dalliances and the resulting political consequences. While a bit of slog at roughly 1200 pages and with an unsympathetic main character, this novel, argued by many to be the world’s first novel, fascinatingly details the intricate court life of a thousand years ago in Heian Period Japan. Trent

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

High school dropout Galaxy “Alex” Stern has narrowly escaped her disastrous Los Angeles past of drug dealer boyfriends and violence, awakening in a hospital bed the sole survivor of a gruesome multiple homicide. While recovering, she is offered a strange but irrefutable second chance: attend Yale completely free of cost if she serves as the new “Dante” for Lethe. Lethe is the Ninth House of the Houses of the Veil, secret societies at Yale that generally practice magic to ensure their own professional success and financial security. Alex is responsible for overseeing the rituals and magic of the other eight houses, assuring everyone involved survives and that no dangerous magic escapes. Soon though a young woman is found brutally murdered on campus and Alex suspects magic was involved. Wildly atmospheric and emotional charged, this page-turner is highly recommended for fans of dark adult fantasy. Nicole

The Topeka School by Ben Lerner

The Topeka School: A Novel by Ben Lerner

Lerner is one of my favorite contemporary novelists.  Whenever I read one of his books, I feel that he is describing aspects of my own experience, but much better than I could ever do – sort of giving me the words, or some words, I guess, that make sense to me, and help me understand my own life up to this point.  The Topeka School is a fictional take on Lerner’s adolescence – he grew up in the Midwest, Jewish, white and privileged, but also experienced anomie, rootlessness, angst, all the blues that come with being a teenager.  The novel is very smart, poignant, and incisive, as well as experimental in ways I find really interesting and exciting. Recommended as a fascinating study of violence, whiteness and maleness, that is not afraid to be both honest and compassionate.  Andrew

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Nebula and Hugo Award winning Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a quick placed novella that introduces the reader to Binti as she leaves home to study at the most prestigious university in the galaxy, Oomza University. The author propels the reader into a futuristic world where marvels of technology live as the everyday and intergalactic travel is routine.  At times the amount of new information and fast pace can be a bit overwhelming, but when enjoyed as a whole series (there are two sequels that expand on many of the terms, concepts introduced) the reader is presented with a rich narrative that explores heroism, growth, and family.  Greg

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

The Woman in the White Kimono by Ana Johns

It is 1957 and Naoko Nakamura wants to marry American serviceman Jimmy Kovac. Her family has other plans for her including an arranged marriage. Pregnant Naoko leaves her family’s home to marry Jimmy. When Jimmy is away, Naoko finds herself in a maternity home designed to take care of unwanted pregnancies, namely mixed-race children. Eventually Naoko escapes from the maternity home and her sickly baby is born. Decades later in Ohio Jimmy’s daughter, Tori, is given a letter from her father on his deathbed to be given to Naoko in Japan. Tori is determined to find her half-sister. This is an enjoyable well-researched piece of historical fiction.  Emma

Inland by Tea Obrecht

Inland by Tea Obreht

Two lives unfold in the late 19th century American West in Inland by Tea Obrecht. A duel narrative, we hear the story of Lurie, a former outlaw and a man haunted by ghosts, lost souls who always want something from him. Lurie’s mysterious traveling companion hears his story. Meanwhile, Nora awaits the return of her sons and her husband in drought stricken Arizona while conversing with her daughter, who died in infancy. Haunted by their pasts, Nora and Lurie do what they can to survive. I listened to the audiobook, which was transporting, with talented narrators who really captured the characters. Dori

El Norte: The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America by Carrie Gibson

El Norte: the epic and forgotten story of…

A deep detailed history of the Caribbean and North America with a little coverage of major events in Meso and South America. The Spanish have older roots here than the English. Written records like diary entries and letters by government and church administrators are quoted as often as possible. Gibson is specific also about the different ingenious cultures (ex. Tainos, Maya, Apalachee, and Zuni) encountered. It is a thick history book and is taking quite a commitment of time to work through it, but I am finding it constantly fascinating.  Byron

What We’re Reading Now….

The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison Dickson

The Other Mrs Miller by Allison Dickson

This captivating domestic thriller leaves the reader questioning the motives of every character. Phoebe Miller, the only known heir to her father’s empire, seeks refuge in her mansion after her father’s darkest secrets hit the press. The burden of living with her father’s predatory legacy strains all aspects of her reality as she feels more isolated within the confines of her walls. After a new neighbor moves in and forges a friendship with the hermit Phoebe, things quickly escalate as secrets spiral into dark truths. Beth

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

A tense classic novel about attempted perfect murders. I loved Alfred Hitchcock’s contemporary adaptation of the thriller from 1951, so I was curious to read the source material. There are, of course, some changes in details such as character names and Guy’s profession. In the movie he’s a tennis player, but in the book he’s an architect. In both cases Guy is the upstanding character who is tormented and trapped by Bruno’s plan to swap murders when they meet on a train. Highsmith is excellent at describing the inner workings of her characters’ minds. The book builds and builds throughout with Bruno’s drunken childish manipulations and Guy covering up the crimes, so that you just wait for the consequences to catch up to them. Also the audio book is well made, if you like your books in that format. Byron

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

Mistress of the Ritz by Melanie Benjamin

This is the story of Claude Auzello and his American wife Blanche Ross. They are playing hosts to Nazis that have taken over the Hotel Ritz during the German occupation of Paris in the 1940’s. Both husband and wife are separately and secretly participating in the French Resistance. Claude makes up affairs in order to leave his wife alone nights. Blanche pretends to spend her time drinking with friends. This is the fascinating tale of the little-known story of Blanche & Claude Auzello. Emma

Occult America : the Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped our Nation by Mitch Horowitz

Occult America: The Secret History of How…

In Mitch Horowitz’s Occult America readers are given a wide overview of New Thought and Mysticism in United States history and culture. Horowitz gives an accessible tone to a complicated history and how these different movements and faiths shaped the lives of leading figures. Additionally the author shows how many spiritual movements lead to icons of popular culture, like the Ouij Board. A well researched and well paced book that gathers the many threads of these many overlapping movements. Greg

Witches of America by Alex Mar

Witches of America by Alex Mar

Witches of America is a fascinating and often amusing memoir of Mar’s personal five-year exploration of modern Paganism in America. Her vantage point as a journalist and a self-described skeptic searching for her own faith make for a very approachable entry for readers such as myself, who know little to nothing about Wicca and it’s many subdivisions. Touching on Paganism’s roots in 1950s England, the first Wiccan covens in America, and the many magical societies existing today, Mar provides fascinating histories and context for contemporary readers. She visits Pagan gatherings in hotel convention centers, participates in massive circling rituals with hundreds of witches, and eventually decides to train in a coven herself. Though at times her tone comes off as slightly judgmental to me, overall this is an objective and intelligent look at Pagan religion and occult interests in the United States today. Nicole

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

At the beginning the reader meets Romy Hall, a 28 year old woman in prison facing down two consecutive life sentences. As the book advances we learn about Romy’s youth in San Francisco, her young son, Jackson, and the many difficult and disjointed relationships in her life. This is a hard story about prison life, and an equally unsettling story about Romy’s past. This book takes on hard topics of incarceration, foster care and poverty in urban dwellings. It’s a tough read but also an important read. Mary

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

Two cousins take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise that promises to be paradise with entertainment for the grownups and activities and babysitting for the children, until they go ashore on an excursion in Central America and the kids go missing. Tempers and suspicions flair as the couples blame themselves and each other for not keeping the kids safe, but the seemingly helpless children discover strength and courage that no one knew they possessed. Sara

What we’re reading now…..

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Cover image for The Nickel boys :

Whitehead’s harrowing story about a reform school in Florida during the Jim Crow-era is fictional, though based on real life accounts.  The story does not dramatize the violence and horrors of the reality, rather lets the circumstances speak for themselves.  It is a powerful story regarding the very real racial inequality of our country in the not so distant past.  Beth

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell

Cover image for

This is the second short story collection I have read by author Karen Russell. Just like her other anthology Vampires in the Lemon Grove : Stories, Orange World offers the reader a variety of stories where everything seems similar and yet uncanny. In a USA Today interview Russell has said that her work isn’t so much magical realism as it is “magical thinking” writing. Highly recommend for fans of Ray Bradbury, Neil Gaiman, and Victor Lavelle. Greg

Russell’s third collection gives readers eight amazing stories that span a variety of subjects and experiences, all beautifully written, insightful, and often wonderfully weird. Each work is wildly creative, whether you are transported to a future Florida ravaged by rising ocean water and climate change, joining two young women as they attempt to survive an evening trapped in a haunted ski-lodge, or following a widowed farmer as he recklessly returns to a life of raising tornadoes on the Nebraska prairie. Russell skillfully weaves tales that combine both the supernatural and mundane, crafting subtly creepy and emotionally resonant stories. A highly recommended volume for fans of her prior collections, as well as those who enjoy darkly humorous literary fiction. Nicole

The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

Cover image for

I recently read the stage play The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail by writing partners Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. It was first published in 1970 during the Vietnam War era, a time when many young people were protesting the American involvement in that conflict. In the play Henry David Thoreau, as a young man, engages in Civil Disobedience by not paying his taxes to show his disapproval of the Mexican-American War. The parallel is clear. The play also shows Thoreau’s relationship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and allows the character to express several themes that he would write about in his middle age before he died at the age of 44. The script is often dream-like with multiple flashbacks from the jail cell used to highlight moments from Thoreau’s development as a thinker who would not just “go along” with the status quo. Byron

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal

Cover image for

This is the story of Edith and her sister Helen who have been estranged for decades when Helen convinces their father to leave the family farm to her. Helen uses the money to rebuild the Blotz beer brand with her husband Orval Blotz. When granddaughter Diana’s parents are killed, Edith raises her. Together they barely scrape by. Diana has a talent for making beer and eventually buys a small brewery. With Diana’s talent, perseverance, and the help of her grandmother and Edith’s elderly friends, the brewery is successful. This is a hopeful and heartwarming story of take-charge women when the going gets tough. Emma

 

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

Cover image for The last romantics :

In the Spring of 1981, the four young Skinner siblings lose their father to a heart attack and soon to follow will lose their mother to severe depression, a time period that the siblings will refer to as The Pause.  Caught between the easy & comfortable life they once had and an uncertain future, the children navigate The Pause with fear and resentment, only to become fiercely loyal to each other.  Two decades later The Skinners find themselves again confronted with a family crisis that will test the strength of these bonds and force them to question the life choices they’ve made and what exactly they will do for love.  This book was much like Commonwealth by Ann Patchett.  If you like family drama, like I do, I recommend this book. Mary

The Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson 

Cover image for

is convinced that her best friend’s death is not part of a suicide pact that has already claimed the lives of the school’s two most popular mean girls. When she finds a mysterious grimoire with a too good to be true solution to her problem, she sets out to resurrect Riley. Of course things don’t go as expected–instead of bringing back Riley to get answers to her murder, she resurrects her bestie AND their bullies, the newly dead mean girls June and Dayton. To make matters worse, none of them have any memory of their deaths. Mila has one week to figure it all out while keeping her zombies out of sight. Surprisingly deep and insightful, this body-positive witch tale is a fun exploration of bullying, friendships, and redemption. Megan

Follow Her Home by Steph Cha

Cover image for


Juniper Song has no experience as a detective.  The closest qualification she has when asked by her best friend to investigate whether his father is having an affair is that she is a Raymond Chandler super fan.  However, this lack of practical training does not deter Juniper from taking the role of Phillip Marlowe and agreeing to do some light snooping.  Following the tradition Marlowe long ago set, Juniper is quickly knocked out soon after she begins looking into the matter.  Only, when Juniper wakes up, the stakes have risen when she also finds a dead body in the trunk of her car.  Great noir that, while paying homage to Chandler, looks to update and add to the genre. Trent

Watching You by Lisa Jewel

Cover image for

I read this quick moving thriller in a few sessions. Told from the points of view of a few “watchers”: a young, restless newlywed living with her brother and his wife has her eye on the handsome older neighbor who is the new school principal; the awkward teenage principal’s son has his eye on most of the neighborhood; the crazy lady next door is sure EVERYONE is watching her, and her daughter has heard terrible rumors about her new principal and is befriending his son to find out if they are true. This voyeuristic neighborhood is thrown into turmoil when someone is brutally murdered. Everyone saw something, but can anyone put it all together? Sara

The Religion of Tomorrow: A Vision for the Future of the Great Traditions by Ken Wilber

Cover image for

Wilber is a philosopher and transpersonal psychologist, and this is one of a few tomes he has written, all wonderful, about helpful ways of thinking about more out-there topics like mysticism, consciousness, and spirituality.  Wilber is also a Buddhist, but his critiques of religion are applicable to Western and Eastern approaches.  I have been reading him for some time now, and have always found him very insightful.  For anyone interested, a great place to start to understand his framework, which is called “AQAL” – standing for “all quadrant, all level” – is his Integral Psychology from 1994.  Andrew

What we’re reading now….

Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Cover image for

This is a slightly twisted thriller that takes place in the suburbs of Boston.  Henrietta and her husband Llody move to a new suburb for a change of scenery.  Before they know it they are attending a dinner party at their neighbor’s house, and Hen stumbles on a suspicious clue that potentially links her neighbor to a murder in their old town.  Things quickly escalate as the story unfolds, and nothing is quite like it seems.  Beth

Silent City by Alex Segura

Cover image for

Due to his drinking, Pete is barely holding on to his dead-end and unfulfilling sports editor job with the Miami Herald, and his social life is a mess.  Pete is half-in-the-bag and skipping on work when he accepts the request from the Herald’s washed-up columnist to search for his missing daughter.  Not really remembering why he agreed to help, Pete figures he will make a few calls to mutual acquaintances and ends up stumbling around and stirring up trouble as he plays detective. Silent City is Segura’s first in the Peter Fernandez series.  The recently published fourth installment, Blackout, is nominated for the Anthony Award to be announced in November. Trent

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Cover image for

I am reading this for our Classic Book Discussion on Monday, August 12, at 7pm.  I have just finished part one and started part two (there are three parts).  The novel was written in French and published in 1856 (I am reading the more recent translation into English by Lydia Davis); when it was first published, in serialized form, the government brought an action against it for immorality (!) – the charge was acquitted.  The book is absolutely marvelous – the writing is really uncanny and exquisite, almost perfect in a way, and is the first example of what is called “literary realism,” a technique that we are now habituated to experience when reading novels, but was in many ways inaugurated by Flaubert.  Put simply, the book is about a dissatisfied and romantic heroine, Emma Bovary, who seeks to escape the boredom and banality of her life through increasingly desperate acts.  If you are interested, please procure a copy of the book, read it (and hopefully enjoy it), and come on August 12 to discuss.    Andrew

 The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Cover image for

This is the story of Martha Storm who volunteers at her local library. She lives in her childhood home surrounded by her dead parents’ possessions along with various projects she plans to finish for others. Martha receives a mysterious book signed and dated by her grandmother, Zelda, who supposedly died years before the date of inscription. Martha is determined to understand what happened and uncover any family secrets. This is a charming story with a happy ending.  Emma

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love by Dani Shapiro

Cover image for

In 2016 author, Dani Shapiro, on a lark, decided to submit her DNA for analysis at a genealogy website.  Soon after she received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father.   Dani Shapiro urgently begins a quest to unlock the story of her own identity.  She unfolds many secrets kept for a myriad of reasons.  He journey is a compelling story of paternity, identity and belonging.  This story is more a personal journey than a scientific journey.  I did find the author to be self absorbed at times, however, I am empathetic with the tremendous emotional upheaval this discovery caused the author.  A quick and interesting read.  Mary     

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep 

Cover image for

This the story of the murder of Willie Maxwell, a southern preacher who was accused of murdering five people in order to collect the insurance money, the lawyer who defended the both Reverend Maxwell and the man accused of murdering him, and Harper Lee, the author seeking to write her own In Cold Blood.  This book reads like three separate stories, beginning with Willie Maxwell,  his alleged victims, and rumors of voodoo. Tim Landry, his charismatic lawyer is introduced to readers as the man who won acquittals in five murder trials. It is Harper Lee that ties these stories together. Readers are treated to a detailed biography of Nelle Harper Lee, including tales from her childhood, accounts of her friendship with Truman Capote, and details of her complicated writing career.  This is a real treat for true crime lovers and fans of Harper Lee.  Megan

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Cover image for

Andrea Cooper knows her mother Laura–a strong woman who has protected, loved and taken care of her for her whole life. Andrea, after an unsuccessful attempt at making it big in New York City, has come back home to her small childhood town of Belle Isle, GA to take care of her mother who has been diagnosed with breast cancer . She thinks she knows everything about the sleepy town and her never changing mother–until a mall shooter almost kills them both, and Laura takes him down like some sort of NAVY seal operative. It turns out her mother used to be someone else, and if Andrea doesn’t figure out who that person was, why her mother is in hiding or who is after her, they both may not make it. Sara

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Cover image for

This is a story about a poor teen who joins a city wide track team. He’s never been part of a team before. His mother is working and putting herself through college. He frequently gets in trouble at school because his classmates make fun of the neighborhood where he lives, his ill-fitting clothes, the fact that his mother cuts his hair, everything associated with being poor. Can he adapt to the rules at track practice with Coach and find a place among the other young runners? Reynolds writes in a way that definitely gets inside the head of this teenager. I became interested in this title when I heard the author speak as part of the PBS Great American Reads series, and it is another part of my effort to read books from more diverse voices. So far it is very relatable even though I never participated on a sports team in school myself. Byron