Clean Getaway – Maddy – Staff Review

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

11 year old Scoob was looking forward to his Spring break trip until it got cancelled because of some trouble at school, which he thinks is totally unfair because it wasn’t his fault. So when his grandma (G’ma as he calls her) shows up in an RV inviting him on a cross-country road trip, he grabs his suitcase, leaves his phone and hops in. But as Scoob soon finds out, this isn’t a conventional road-trip. Using G’ma’s trusted greenbook, the two trek across the southern states and Scoob learns that the South hasn’t always been kind and welcoming to people with his skin color and that not everything is as it seems, including his G’ma.

Clean Getaway is a fun middle grade book about a road-trip adventure that also touches upon heavier subjects like segregation and the Civil Rights movement. 

4 stars

The German House – Maddy – Staff Review

The German House by Annette Hess

Eva Bruhns doesn’t really remember WWII as it ended when she was a small child and no one in her family likes to discuss what happened in great detail. Her father served in the war, but now and her mom run a successful restaurant. Eva works as a translator and is hired to translate for the 1963 Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, which are war crime trials in which former Nazi officers are being tried for their crimes. As Eva becomes more involved in the trials, she begins to question her family’s silence about the war and her father’s service. She also tries to come to terms with what she learns at the trials and what she has learned/ heard in the past.

Though the German House is a work of fiction, it is based on real events and the real trial of Nazi officers. Annette Hess does a wonderful job of capturing the mood during this time and bringing in different perspectives. For anyone looking for a good historical fiction, I recommend this book. It also counts towards the Fall reading challenge (West or East Europe categories)

4 stars

Tales from the Ant World – Terry – Staff Review

Tales from the Ant World by Edward O. Wilson

Tales from the Ant World by Edward O. Wilson is an engaging and entertaining read on the world of ants and ecology. The writing is scientific and educated, however with use of everyday language and explanation that talks to the reader in a tone that is as much for an expert as for someone new to the field of entomology. Included are a number of scientific drawings to illustrate a few of the species, as well as a glimpse into fieldwork in the world of ant scientists.

5 stars

The Guest List – Haley – Staff Review

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The novel takes place during a wedding weekend on a remote island off the coast of Ireland. Friends of the famous couple join together for what is to be a lavish event. Between the past experiences of the wedding party, the alcohol and the ominous storm setting in, the wedding becomes anything but festive. After a body is found dead, the wedding turns into a nightmare.

I was not a fan of the book at all. I found the characters of the wedding party to be dislikeable and was not vested in their story. A few of the weaves of the tangled storyline web were too far fetched to make the overall novel realistic. While I have enjoyed other novels by Lucy Foley, this one is better left on the shelf.

2 stars

The Book of Longings- Haley – Staff Review

The Book of Longings by by Sue Monk Kidd

The Book of Longings follows the life of Ana, the fictional wife of Jesus, as she matures from a young girl living in her father’s home, into womanhood.

Ana, longing for a life worth meaning, is something I think everyone can relate to. Her journey introduces the reader to many endearing characters such as her brother Judas, her Aunt Yaltha, and best friend Tabitha. Ana yearns a life filled with more than just the role required of woman during that time. Her desire to make an impact, in her own way, is parallel to the desire of her husband, Jesus, and his passion to spread the love of God. In this novel Jesus is written as just a man, a carpenter by trade and a follower of John the Baptist.

This book is a breathing taking work of fiction and I relished getting to know the author’s interpretation of these biblical characters. Do not read if you are looking for accuracy with the historical or theological details.

5 stars

How to Die in Space – Staff Review – Terry

How to Die in Space: A Journey Through Dangerous Astrophysical Phenomena by Paul Sutter.

How to Die in Space is a fun, somewhat morbid, educational review of astrophysical phenomena written within a framework that is both a “traveler’s guide” and astrophysics lecture. The book is written in an engaging tone, with use of everyday language backed by scientific explanation. The chapters of the book are loosely related, each being a self contained lesson or lecture in itself which makes for easy reading.

4 Stars.

The Lost Girls of Paris – Staff Review – Maddy

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

In Manhattan 1946, Grace Healy finds an abandoned suitcase tucked under a bench at Grand Central Station on her way to work. Curious, she opens it to find a handful of photographs of different women hidden inside. The suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Tripp who helped lead a network of female secret agents that were sent to infiltrate occupied Europe during World War Two but never made it home.

Switching between the narratives of Grace, Eleanor and Marie Jenoff reveals a story of espionage, mystery, comradery and deceit.

I really enjoyed the way the author wove the three womens’ narratives together to reveal a larger story. For readers who enjoy WWII era historical fiction, I would recommend the Lost Girls of Paris.

4 Stars

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees – Staff Review – Terry

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson

Buzz is a book for the nature minded and science minded alike.  It is an informative and humorous foray into the world of bees as well as their close cousins and look alikes.  The language and writing that Hanson uses is scientific but with a naturalist outlook, making for an enjoyable and personable read.  Hanson clearly has a love for the subject as well as knowledge and is also willing to share some personal experiences in both the scientific field of entomology as well as his own personal nature experiences with his own family exploring nature trails.  Overall a great read.  

5 Stars

The Second Home – Staff Review – Haley

The Second Home by Christina Clancy

The Second Home is the debut novel for author Christina Clancy. The story of the Gordon family jumps between the time periods of 1999 to 2015, as well as switching from their home in Wisconsin to their summer house on Cape Cod. The majority of the novel follows the three Gordon siblings Ann, Poppy, and Michael, told during their teenage years and in their thirties.

While initially this may be considered a beach read given the setting in Wellfleet, MA and the focus on the house itself, as you delve deeper into the book it reveals itself to be a dark family saga. The plot line was good, however the characters reactions to the events seemed unrealistic and left me not connecting to the story or invested in the characters. The most enjoyment from the book was its imagery of Wellfleet and the Cape.

3 stars

Midnight Sun – Staff Review – Haley

Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Midnight Sun is the companion novel to the book Twilight told through the perspective of Edward Cullen, the protagonist vampire.

Fifteen years ago, as a young woman in my mid twenties, I first read Twilight and was hooked from the first page. Twilight was the first pop culture novel of vampire/human romance that most people had ever read, myself included. In 2008, chapters of Midnight Sun were leaked on the internet, much to the satisfaction of fans, who devoured the love story told by Edward. After 12 years, the Midnight Sun novel was released this month in it’s entirety. Having been a fan back in the mid 2000’s I was keen to rejoin these characters and their world.

Well, a lot can change in 15 years and I was bored from the get go. Even knowing the story-line would be much the same as Twilight, it was just too similar. I felt the author did not include enough unique perspective as Edward to keep the reader entertained. More than halfway through the 658 pages I kept wondering, “When is this going to get good?” Perhaps it is because Meyers pioneered the way for what is now an over saturated market, there isn’t any fresh appeal to include in the novel. Or perhaps, as a woman now starting my forties, it just no longer interests me. I am sure there are many fans of the series who would disagree, but I had hoped for more.

2 stars

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