One by One – Staff Review – Haley

One by One by Ruth Ware

The employees of music app Snoop set off for a week-long corporate retreat in a gorgeous ski chalet located on a remote French mountain top. Plans for the team to discuss the future of their company while also hitting the slopes goes wrong when an avalanche hits and one person goes missing. As the remaining employees and the two chalet staff members hunker down to wait for help, their numbers start to dwindle, one by one.

I am a fan of Ruth Ware’s whodunit style storytelling and her newest book did not disappoint. The entire premise was fun. Trapped in a ski chalet with no power, not knowing when help will come, and stuck with your co-workers who you thought you knew, but do you really? This novel kept me guessing until the very end and it was one I didn’t see coming.

4 Stars

A Study in Charlotte – Staff Review – Maddie

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Jamie Watson didn’t want a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school an hour away from his estranged father, but finds himself attending anyway. As he adjusts to living back in the United States and at Sherringford, he runs into Charlotte Holmes. Yes, the couple times great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes. Despite childhood dreams about the two of them one day becoming best friends and solving mysteries, Jamie and Charlotte don’t get along. But repeat run-ins and then a fellow student’s murder being pinned on them have the pair working together to solve the case and clear their names before the killer strikes again.

A Study in Charlotte is a fun, quick-paced modern take on the famous Holmes & Watson duo. Though some original Sherlock Holmes stories are briefly referenced, the characters are new and taking on their own adventure (with more to come in the series).

tw: mention of sexual assault and some drug use

4 Stars

Mobituaries – Staff Review – Maddie

Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving by Mo Rocca

CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Mo Rocca shares his love of obituaries and by creating his own for people (and places/things) who have long fascinated him. From names you’ll recognize like Audrey Hepburn and Thomas Jefferson to dragons, Mo Rocca brings these deceased people back to life by sharing highlights of their greater and lesser known accomplishments. And if you didn’t already know it, Mo also has a Mobituaries podcast.

The author is a great storyteller and delivers his story with a good mix of facts and light humor that make this book both enjoyable and educational.

3 stars

The Lions of Fifth Avenue – Staff Review – Haley

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

In Fiona Davis’s newest historical fiction novel we are taken between the 1910s and 1990s, as well as between two characters, Laura Lyons and Sadie Donovon, both of whom are intertwined with the New York Public Library. In 1913 Laura Lyons was living in the apartment which was built into the NYPL with her husband, the library’s superintendent, and their two children. Mrs. Lyon’s is an aspiring journalist applying to the Columbia School of Journalism. In 1993, Sadie Donovan, the granddaughter of Laura Lyons, worked at the NYPL and landed her dream job as the curator the Berg Department. In both timelines things take an unexpected turn as rare books from the library turn up missing. Sadie’s investigation into the missing books reveals family secrets kept by her grandmother.

This novel was my favorite to date from Fiona Davis. All of the characters are fictional, not loosely based on a historical figure as some of her other novels, however there was a family who lived in the library when it first opened. That concept was what initially drew me to reading the book. I was quickly caught up in the mystery of the missing books and really enjoyed Laura Lyon’s storyline as she struggled to be accepted as more than just a wife and mother. There were a few small plot details I thought were a far reach, but overall it was a fun read.

3 stars

The Glass Hotel – Staff Review – Haley

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Normally I would give a description of what the book is about, however, there is so much going on in the novel it’s hard to know where to even start. A woman goes missing off of a container ship, there is a ponzi scheme, and there are several main characters whose storyline we follow as the narrative changes constantly. Additionally, the time frame jumps around a lot. The book wasn’t necessarily hard to follow, but you really had to pay attention and leave some room for not being able to connect the dots until the very end. It was like reading a puzzle. You eventually get all the pieces, but you’re not sure how they go together. Once you are finished, you feel you’ve accomplished a great deal.

3 stars

Ring Shout – Staff Review – Maddie

Ring shout : or hunting ku kluxes in the end times by P. Djeli Clark

Set in Georgia 1922, Ring Shout takes on the story of the Ku Klux Klan with a twist; In this novel, A Birth of a Nation was a spell created by a sorcerer to unleash demons that feeds hate like that spread by the KKK. Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magical sword, some old fairy tales and a good group of friends to fight these demons they call the ‘Ku Kluxes’. She’ll also have to travel between worlds and face her past if she is to be successful. The question is, can she and her friends defeat the hate being spread in time to save the world?

I enjoyed the way P. Djeli Clark incorporated science fiction, history, and African tradition and stories in this novel. It all blended together really well and had me looking up other books by the author. Clark created an interesting and powerful story to read that also had an important underlying message. I read this book in two days.

4 Stars.

These Violent Delights – Staff Review – Cherise

These violent delights by Chloe Gong

This book was one of those books I was super excited about. I’m not a fan of Romeo and Juliet, but a retelling set in Shanghai in the 1920s? PLUS a supernatural mystery? I was extremely here for this book. This story did start out strong, however I felt that the book dragged on in the end and could have ended a 100 pages sooner, much of the plot repeated again and again. I fell in love with the characters. Juliette is a character that you instantly love because she’s strong and doesn’t care about being nice. You realize there’s a lot behind this, a lot of trauma that made her become cold and ruthless. Roma on the other hand I didn’t care for that much. He fell flat. He was technically the same as Juliette, but with a softer tone to him. He was a gangster unwilling to kill. There were times I liked him, I liked what he stood for, but by the end he felt like he got in the way more than anything. I loved the representation in this book, Kathleen being a transwoman and Marshall a gay man. The author wrote them both well, not letting those things rule their characters and be their sole trait. Did it play a big part in both of them? Kathleen at least, yes. Marshall, not so much. Being part of both the gay and trans community, I did love seeing this inclusion in a book set in the 1920s, when people like to pretend that no one was gay back then. As for the plot, it did suck me in at first. Two rival gangs, a madness spreading through their city, members of the gang dropping quickly. That the two ex lovers now must work together to solve it. I do love a good enemies to lovers. And this book took it a step further, from enemies, to lovers, to enemies, to dealing with each other, and finally lovers again only for it to sour once more. Personally I would have preferred if the romance had held out a little longer. It just didn’t fit with the fact the two of them. It felt a little forced.

So my final thoughts. It’s an enjoyable story, though it didn’t fully live up to the hype I had for it. It fell flat in a few places, but I am interested to see what book two gives us.

3 Stars

In Five Years – Staff Review – Haley

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

After accepting a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Dannie Kohen falls asleep and wakes five years in the future, in a different appartment, with a different engagement ring, and a different man. After only spending an hour in 2025 she is brought back to 2020 and her reality. Trying to ignore the experience and move on with her life, all is fine until four years goes by and she comes face to face with the man she envisioned in the future.

I loved the premise of the story. Serle immediately had my attention and I became invested in the characters and wanted to know how everything would eventually work itself out to make sense. There were twists I didn’t expect and when I was finished it left me thinking about it. While some have put this book into the romance category, it is truly about the love between friends.

4 stars

The Nickel Boys – Staff Review – Cherise

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Going into this book you know it’s not going to end well. There’s no way a story about the institutions that were once common place as the one in this book. And yet, you have a hope. Because the book gives you small peek into the future of Elwood. Elwood survived. He wasn’t one of the boys buried on boot hill out back of the Nickel Academy. You’ll go through it with him, live the trauma and abuse he experienced in the time of the Civil Rights Movement, of Jim Crow. Elwood is a smart kid who’s life was just starting, he was going to be the first person in his family to go to college, and early at that when he stuck out his thumb to hitch a ride on his first day of class. He wouldn’t know until the cop was pulling them over that the car was stolen. It didn’t matter he was only hitchhiking. He was sentenced to Nickel Academy. There, Elwood learns the hard way to keep his head down, to not cause problems even if it’s for the betterment of others. He is beaten and watches boys disappear. He sees the difference in how the white boys are treated and how those of color are treated. He befriends Turner, another boy there and they keep each other sane while watching out for the other.

This book is important, it’s part of the history we need to acknowledge and do better about. We still throw away boys of color into institutions like this, not giving them a chance to become men. We see the man Elwood turns into, how careful he is now, how he still tries to keep moving up and not let his past get him, but even he sees the patterns and knows that he’s broken and can’t exactly move past it. In the end, when the truth comes out and the bodies are found on boot hill Elwood has to face the truth and come forward as who he really is. But he doesn’t have to do it alone, though he’s avoided the boys from Nickel all this time. I highly recommend this book, though it will set your gut in knots. It’s too important to not to read. The author brought together this story that might not be fully true, but it’s true in the sense that Elwood is the boys from schools like this. He is real in the fact his trauma lives on in the others who lived this life and those now who face jail time for minor offenses at such a young age. And the end? It’ll leave you gasping and wanting to yell out at the twist you don’t see coming.

5 Stars

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