Assembly – Staff Review – Haley

Assembly by Natasha Brown (Requests)

Do you keep an inner monologue running in your mind? Assembly gives us a brief glimpse into the inner thoughts of our narrator, a black British woman getting ready to attend a garden party at the home of her boyfriend’s parents. It is a very short and stark perspective on race, class, and gender. It’s unique structure of prose may not be for everyone, but I found once I started reading it became easier to follow. Books are all stories, this was more like opening someone’s mind to take a little peek.

3 stars

Yours Cheerfully – Staff Review – Haley

Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce (Request)

As the daunting Mrs. Henrietta Bird has taken leave from Women’s Friend magazine, can Emmeline Lake finally become the wartime journalist she has always longed to be?  For anyone who was a fan of Dear Mrs. Bird, this sequel will not disappoint.   Immediately following the conclusion of the first novel’s story line, we join our same group of characters into a whole new adventure.  Emmeline, still working on the advice column at Women’s Friend Magazine, gets a enormous surprise and boost in her career.  

I loved this book just as much as the first one.  The story is a bit heavier in topic, but not in delivery.  There is an excellent balance in serious content vs. comedic delivery. For a fun, feel good read, you can’t go wrong with AJ Pearce.  

4 stars

The Other Black Girl – Staff Review – Haley

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Request)(CloudLibrary)

All the hype for the best book of summer 2021, but was it really worth the praise? The debut novel from Zakiya Dalila Harris draws a bit from her own experiences in the world of publishing, as her main character, Nella Rogers, works as an editorial assistant in a prestigious NYC publishing house. As Nella is beginning to feel the lack of upward mobility and frustration of being the only black woman in the company, a new black co-worker is hired. Eager to have an ally, Nella is caught off guard as the alliance between her and Hazel is not what she had hoped for.

My preconceived ideas of what this book was about, based on the reviews stating this book in the next “The Devil Wears Prada”, were very mistaken. The first half of the book unfolds as an office drama, with a few odd inserts about seemingly unrelated characters thrown into the mix. Then the book flips on its axis and moves the reader into the realm of horror/fantasy. Had I known that upfront I wouldn’t have chosen this book to read. However, I stuck it out and while it wasn’t my cup of tea as they say, if you like a wild ride with a little horror thrown in, this may be your flavor.

3 Stars

The Rules of Magic – Staff Review – Haley

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Magic, witches, and the origin story of the crazy aunts from Practical Magic? Yes please! Alice Hoffman’s prequel to her beloved Practical Magic follows the lives of siblings Franny, Jet, and Vincent. From the summer of their youth spent with their aunt, through their lives, this is a wonderful addition to the stories of the Owens witches.
Having read most of Alice Hoffman’s books, and enjoyed them all, I was excited to start this book. True to the first novel, the siblings endure the curse all Owens witches must face, and while trying to avoid love, this is truly a love story at heart.

4 Stars

Ready Player Two – Staff Review – Haley

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Who’s ready to get sucked back into the world of virtual video games and pay homage to the 1980s? Ernest Cline’s follow up novel to Ready Player One picks up with Wade and the gang after completing Halliday’s quest and taking over his empire. And so begins Wade’s second quest.
I was terribly disappointed in this book. Having loved the first I had high expectations to enjoy this one as well, but it was a major let down. Fame and money have changed Wade’s personality, which, true it would, but he’s no longer an enjoyable character to follow on yet again, another too similar journey as book one;. The fun 80s references were not as eloquently woven through the story this time around and I found myself skimming sections, even in the John Hughes realm which I thought I would love!

1.5 Stars

The Last Thing He Told Me – Staff Review – Haley

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Request)(CloudLibrary)

One day your husband just disappears with nothing more than a note delivered to you by a child. No explanation or details, only his teenage daughter, who hates you, left to your care. Laura Dave winds the reader through the mysterious life of Owen, from the point of view of his wife Hannah and her stepdaughter Bailey. As the two struggle to learn where Owen has gone, they uncover a web of lies and secrets.
While the details of the story are unique, the overall concept felt like it could have been any number of books. It was a whirlwind story and by the end it seemed just too outlandish. Some books you expect to expand your frame of mind, but I thought this would have reeled it in to the realm of actually possible as it wrapped up the novel.

2 Stars

Dread Nation – Staff Review – Haley

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland (Request)(CloudLibrary)

What if the American Civil war had not been just the northern and southern states combated against each other? What if the fallen soldiers began to rise from the battlefield to return as zombies! This is the premise of Justina Ireland’s novel, Dread Nation. Told from the perspective of Jane McKeene, a black girl who was sent from her home in Kentucky to attend finishing school at the infamous Miss Preston’s in Maryland where she learns zombie fighting skills as well as how to properly behave like a lady. The story follows Jane and her frenemy, Kate, from Ms. Preston’s through an unexpected journey taking them from Baltimore to a rural town where life is different from everything she’s experienced so far.

I truly enjoyed this book. Not only is the writing laugh out loud witty, Jane’s no apologies strength as a bi-racial woman is very refreshing. Zombie’s aren’t necessarily my first choice when choosing a book, but it worked really well for this historical fiction. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a good laugh and a fierce woman lead. There is also a second book in the duology.

4 Stars

Malibu Rising – Staff Review – Haley

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Request)

The newest novel from the author of the hugely popular Daisy Jones and the Six. This is a family saga told from the perspective of four siblings living in Malibu and the story of their parents. While most of the book revolves around the incidents taking place in one evening, an annual party thrown by the siblings, it does incorporate the entire journey from childhood to adulthood for all six of these characters told in flashbacks.

This novel felt like watching a soapy television show. You know there’s something you should probably be doing that is more productive, but you just can’t put it down. The character’s weren’t wonderful, but they were good enough that you still want to follow them through their journey to see the ultimate outcome for the Rivas family. As a fan of TJR’s previous works I knew it wouldn’t let me down, but it wasn’t her best either.

3.5 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

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

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