Staff Reviews by Rachel Hitt

Cover: 'I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy'

"I’ll Have What She’s Having: How Nora Ephron’s Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy" by Erin Carlson

★★★★ This book provides readers with a brief history of Ephron’s life prior to her filmmaking years, but the main focus is a behind-the-scenes tour of the writing, filming, and releases of Nora Ephron’s three classic romantic comedies: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail. While the spotlight is on Ephron and her transition from...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

Cover: 'Emma in the Night'

"Emma in the Night" by Wendy Walker

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Cass stands on her mother’s doorstep, steeling herself. Her mother and the police must believe her—Emma’s life depends on it. It’s been three years since she and her older sister Emma, then age 17, disappeared. Her story—that she and Emma, who gave birth a few months after they disappeared, were held captive by a reclusive couple who had...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Sunburn'

"Sunburn" by Laura Lippman

★★★★★ Polly Costello is a striking, self-possessed woman with a complicated past who left her husband and young daughter behind at the beach, claiming to need a break from the sun, but she’s really looking for a fresh start. She stops in a bar in a small Delaware town for a drink and meets Adam, an intelligent, handsome man also just passing through, and sparks...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Educated'

"Educated" by Tara Westover

★★★★★ Tara Westover has an impressive academic pedigree that includes Harvard and Cambridge, but she did not set foot into a classroom until she enrolled at Brigham Young University at the age of seventeen. This compelling memoir immerses the reader into the isolated world in which she was raised in rural Idaho as the youngest of six children. Her father, a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

Cover: 'Moxie'

"Moxie" by Jennifer Mathieu

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Vivian plans to keep her head down and avoid making any waves as she rides out her last two years of high school in her small town Texas high school. However, after seeing the new girl face humiliation after a sexist incident in class, she finds inspiration in her mother’s “My Misspent Youth” box, which is filled with Riot Grrrl materials....

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Death and Life of the Great Lakes'

"The Death and Life of the Great Lakes" by Dan Egan

★★★★★ Dan Egan, a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, provides a comprehensive portrayal of the Great Lakes, past and present, and a thorough analysis of the challenges the lakes have endured and continue to face. After establishing a portrait of the Great Lakes as they would have been experienced by the first European explorers, Egan traces the history...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

Cover: 'The Wife Between Us'

"The Wife Between Us" by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekkanen

★★★★★ Vanessa can’t believe that her ex-husband Richard is remarrying so quickly! She thought her replacement was going to be a short term fling, but news of their impending wedding has her in a tailspin. She’s barely holding it together as it is—she’s living in her aunt’s spare room, living off commissions as a saleswoman in a swanky department store (where she...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'American Fire'

"American Fire" by Monica Hesse

★★★★★ American Fire is the true story of a five month arson spree in rural Accomack County, Virginia that started in November 2012 when four fires were set in a 24 hour period. By its conclusion, more than 60 fires were set. Hesse, a Washington Post reporter, provides a compelling account of the crimes, the public hysteria, and efforts by law enforcement to...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

Cover: 'Renegades'

"Renegades" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Nova’s world is ruled by the Renegades, a group of Prodigies (humans that possess a special ability/superpower), who used their abilities to defeat Ace Anarchy and his Prodigy compatriots who were responsible for creating fear and destruction during the Age of Anarchy. Despite Renegade promises to protect them, Nova’s parents and sister...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Sing, Unburied, Sing'

"Sing, Unburied, Sing" by Jesmyn Ward

★★★★★ Thirteen-year-old JoJo is eager to prove himself as a man in the eyes of his grandfather, Pap, whom he considers his true father figure. Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, who thrives on his nurturing attention, live with their African-American grandparents, who have raised them in their rural Mississippi home in the absence of their incarcerated white...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Manhattan Beach'

"Manhattan Beach" by Jennifer Egan

★★★★★ Anna Kerrigan is an observant twelve-year-old who enjoys going with her father, Eddie, on his visits for his work, unaware that he works as a bagman for an Irish gangster. She knows something is different when they visit the home of Dexter Styles, a nightclub owner with syndicate ties and a society marriage, for the first and only time at Manhattan Beach....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir'

"The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir" by Jennifer Ryan

★★★★ As the men are heading off to war in 1940, the small village of Chilbury is subject to the ramifications of encroaching war, but a free-spirited female professor of music decides (to the shock of many) that the village choir need not be a casualty and forms a ladies’ choir to take its place. Through journal entries, letters, and other written correspondence...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

Cover: 'Janesville: An American Story'

"Janesville: An American Story" by Amy Goldstein

★★★★★ Janesville, Wisconsin was home to the longest-operating GM plant in the world at the time of its closure in December 2008. This book provides a narrative account of life in Janesville after the closure of the plant, including long term effects, and includes the stories of employees of the GM plant and the local suppliers that supported it, their families,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction

Cover: 'Magpie Murders'

"Magpie Murders" by Anthony Horowitz

★★★★★ With this book you get two mysteries to solve—one is a classic whodunit (Magpie Murders) that brings to mind Agatha Christie, and the other is a modern day mystery surrounding its author and manuscript. Susan Ryeland is an editor at a small publishing house whose fortunes were built on the success of prickly author Alan Conway’s Atticus Pünd series, and she...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Jane, Unlimited'

"Jane, Unlimited" by Kristin Cashore

★★★★★ Eighteen-year-old Jane is adrift. After the recent death of her beloved Aunt Magnolia, who raised the orphaned Jane, she dropped out of college and is working at the campus bookshop when she gets an unexpected invitation. Her former tutor, Kiran Thrash, invites her to the spring gala at her family’s island estate, Tu Reviens. Jane might not have accepted...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Salt Line'

"The Salt Line" by Holly Goddard Jones

★★★★★ In this future version of the United States, a deadly tick-borne disease has driven the population to live in regional zones. These safe areas are separated from the out-of-zone area by bands of scorched earth and large, vibrating walls—the salt lines. Life in-zone is dominated by technology and the digital world, and it’s a regimented but safe existence....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Eliza and Her Monsters'

"Eliza and Her Monsters" by Francesca Zappia

★★★★★ In real life, Eliza strives for invisibility at school, where she’s known for being quiet, awkward, and (in the eyes of her classmates) a freak, and at home, where she’s the unathletic anomaly. In the digital world, she’s Lady Constellation, the creator of a wildly popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea, and her two best friends (Max and Emmy) are the keepers or...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here'

"Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here" by Anna Breslaw

★★★★ Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Epstein is crushed when her favorite television show, Lycanthrope High, is cancelled. A popular author of fanfic related to the series, she mourns the loss of a creative outlet as much as the series itself. Her online fanfic friends encourage her to get a life “IRL” (in real life) and to expand the scope of her creative writing....

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Persons Unknown'

"Persons Unknown" by Susie Steiner

★★★★★ Motivated by a desire to protect adopted twelve-year-old son Fly from potentially bad influences (and the frequent friskings he was subject to as a hoodie-clad black youth) and to find a better work-life balance as she anticipates the birth of her child, Mannon Bradshaw has moved back to Cambridgeshire with Fly, her sister Ellie, and Ellie’s toddler son,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Lincoln in the Bardo'

"Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders

★★★★★ Lincoln in the Bardo finds its inspiration in a brief moment in history—a February night in 1862 when President Lincoln visited the grave of his recently deceased eleven-year-old son, Willie—and transforms it into a complex reflection on grief, loss, uncertainty, and regret. Young Willie finds himself in the bardo, a state between the death of his physical...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Hate U Give'

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Starr has become adept at navigating life in two distinct worlds. One is her black urban neighborhood of Garden Heights, where her father operates a small grocery store. The other is her suburban prep school in which she is one of a handful of black students, which lends her a certain cachet that overrides the income disparity between her...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Anna and the Swallow Man'

"Anna and the Swallow Man" by Gavriel Savit

★★★★★ Seven-year-old Anna did not realize it that morning in Krakow, Poland, that when her father left her in the care of a pharmacist friend, he would not return. It was November 6, 1939, and her father, a linguistics professor, was one of the many Polish intellectuals summoned by the Gestapo, arrested, imprisoned, and ultimately sent to concentration camps. Her...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Pearl Thief'

"The Pearl Thief" by Elizabeth Wein

★★★★★ Fans of Code Name Verity will appreciate the opportunity to get to know the nearly sixteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart as she is enmeshed in a mystery at the estate of her late grandfather, the Earl of Strathfearn, in 1938. She’s not looking forward to saying good-bye to the Scottish estate, which has been sold to pay off family debt, but she’s happy to...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Underground Railroad'

"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

★★★★★ "The Underground Railroad" is the story of a young woman named Cora, who is a third-generation slave on a Georgia plantation where she never quite fit in since her mother abandoned her to flee to the North. Cora does not suffer fools, but she suffers at the hands of others, including those of her owner’s family. Given an opportunity, she flees with a young...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'A Darker Shade of Magic'

"A Darker Shade of Magic" by V.E. Schwab

★★★★★ Prepare to enter a world with multiple Londons, each defined by their level of magic or lack thereof. In Red London, magic is vibrant and strong, and home to Kell, a young man adopted by the royal family. Kell is an antari, a blood magician, and one of the few that can travel between the Londons. White London is dying, as those who possess the waning magic...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction

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