Girl A – Staff Review – Cherise

Girl A by Abigail Dean

I went into Girl A not fully remembering what the book was about. All I knew that I wanted to read it. And I’m so happy I did. This book really kept me guessing. I wasn’t expecting the twist, despite having thought more books should have that sort of twist to it.

Lex is one of seven children. She is Girl A, the one that escaped her father and the house of horrors where she and her siblings were being held captive, tied down, and starved. We see current Lex and past Lex, living through her memories of that life with the death of her mother and her mother’s final wishes for Lex to carry out her will. Within it, we meet Lex’s siblings and the lives they are now trying to live despite the horrors they experienced, some worse than others. There’s Ethan who has profited off his past, who is about to be happily married. There’s Delilah, who has seemingly moved forward with her life, she’s married and has found her faith once again. There’s Gabriel who has been dealing with his trauma and the fact he wasn’t set up to succeed due to the family that took him in after. There’s Noah who was a baby when it all happened and has no memory of it. He’s a happy teenager completely unaware of what had happened. And then there’s Evie, the younger sister that Lex loved the most. They had shared a room together during all of this and they forged a bond. It’s Evie who convinces Lex that they should turn the house of their pain into something good, a community center. She just has to get her siblings to sign off on it.

This book is full of twists and horrifying details including a lot of abuse, trauma, PTSD, alcoholism, drug use, and so much more. Despite that, I somehow ate up this book. It went by so quickly, and as I mentioned, I didn’t see the twist coming, which I normally try to keep an eye out for in books like this. I think I enjoyed it because Lex is morally gray. You can’t say she’s fully a good person, but that she does try to be for the most part. She isn’t trying to be anyone’s friend. But she does slowly come back to her family, to look past the horrors and how her siblings had managed to survive after it all. She finds her own happiness in the fact she has amazing foster parents and a good job and slowly, her family, even if she has to face a hard truth that she’d been avoiding since the day she got free.

3 stars.

Robert E. Lee and Me – Staff Review – Maddie

Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner’s Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause by Ty Seidule

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the myth of the lost cause, it’s origin dates to the 1890-1920s and claims the Southern states seceded for states rights, when, in fact, they left over slavery.
Ty Seidule is a retired soldier and former head of West Point Military Academy’s history department who grew up in Virginia looking up to and almost worshipping General Robert E. Lee and the Lost Cause myth. It wasn’t until he was an adult that he learned the truth about the Civil War and why Lee, among other confederate soldiers, left the union. This left him with more questions than answers and he would spend years researching the history and why so many confederate soldiers are commemorated across the country with monuments. Many readers may be surprised to hear that many of these statues weren’t erected until the 1890s-1930s or later. I highly recommend this book to those who have been interested in the controversial subject of the removal of confederate statues in recent years or that want to learn more about the Myth of the Lost Cause.

4 stars.

Bunker – Staff Review – Terry

Bunker by Bradley Garrett

Bunker by Bradley Garrett is a cultural exploration into the world of “preppers”, people who do everything from build backyard bunkers to creating off-grid homes and communities. The author delved right into the people he reported and studied, taking part in their day to day lives as well as asking sometimes difficult questions about why they “prep” and why they feel a need to prepare for what they see as coming danger. The author even went as far as to look into communities like this in other countries, where the mindset for creating fortification and disaster preparation is different than their North American counterparts.

4 Stars

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.

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