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Adult Summer Library Program 2018 Book Reviews

2018 Book Reviews

Click on the book title to view more information about the book or to place the book on hold:


Give Me Your Hand, by Megan Abbott
Rating: 4
A tense and suspenseful page turner. Fantastic book to binge read on the beach!


Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews
Rating: 5
Good help for animal spirit novices. 


Maybe A Fox, by Kathi Appelt & Alison McGhee
Rating: 5
A sad but good book. It focuses on life after a tragedy and how we grow and move on.


Finding Wonders, by Jeannine Atkins
Rating: 5
Inspiring stories about three women scientists (who I did not already know of). Written in prose it's easy to follow & very engaging.


The Essence of Hygge, by Brontë Aurell
Rating: 3
A small book with recipes explaining Hygge, or the internal feeling of being hugged. 

 

Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman
Quirky 63 year old woman leaves her husband and gets a job at a hockey rink in a forgotten town.  


Beartown, Fredrik Backman
Rating: 4
This book was better than I was expecting! Interesting take on small town politics and hockey. 


The Fallen, David Baldacci
Rating: 3
I listened to this as an audio book. I was disappointed in the book. I found it to be tedious, long, and repetitive. 


The Windfall, by Diksha Basu
Rating: 5
Set in India & America, details of a family who "move up" in society & the surprising consequences.


Cake & Punishment, by Maymee Bell
Rating: 5 
Couldn't put this 1st book in a new series down! Rich description and clever mystery!


The Swans of Fifth Avenue, by Melanie Benjamin
Rating: 3
Truman Capote's life in NY and the woman who surround him.


A Double Life, by Flynn Berry
Rating: 4
A gripping page-turner...and an interesting book. Highly recommend.


A Breath after Drowning, by Alice Blanchard
Rating: 4
I should have seen the ending coming. Regardless, a pretty good, suspenseful story.


The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian
Rating: 5
Loved this!! Historical Fiction at its’ best!



The 10 Biggest Civil War Blunders, by Edward Bonekemper
Rating: 5
Those blunders teach us what not to do in the next war.


Boston's Freedom Trail: A Souvenir Guide, by Robert Booth
Rating: 5
Can't get to Boston to walk the Freedom Trail? Sit back and read away and discover all the sights and history so close by.


The Indigo Girl, by Natasha Boyd
Rating: 4
An incredible true story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal and sacrifice.  This is a remarkable historical account of Eliza’s determination to introduce indigo as a staple crop in S. Carolina.

  

The Heart’s Invisible Furies, by John Boyne
Rating: 5
This book was equal parts heartwarming and hysterical, this book was my favorite read in awhile!

The Last Cowboys, by John Branch
Rating: 4
This is a nonfiction account of a ranching and rodeo family and how they’re adapting to a changing world. Very interesting!


Night Broken, by Patricia Briggs
Rating: 5
I love her books.

 

Suicide of a Superpower, by Patrick J. Buchanan
Tribalism is alive and well.

 

The Lost for Words Bookshop, by Stephanie Butland
Rating: 5
Sweet story of a young woman who would rather spend time with books than people & the people who "save" her. 


Alexander the Great, by Paul Cartledge
Rating: 5
A man with a planet size ego.

 

No Middle Name, by Lee Child
Rating: 5
Loved it!


Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie
Rating: 4
A solid mystery that holds the test of time. Once the setting is established this book moves at a fast pace.

 

SSN, by Tom Clancy
Rating: 3
The perfect book for a submarine warfare tactics geek.  There is virtually no plot or character development. But situation after situation of “How will the captain get out of this pickle.”  Not one of Clancy’s best and he’s still one of my favorite authors.


The President is Missing, by Bill Clinton & James Patterson
Rating: 4
This is not your typical James Patterson novel.  You can see the political influence the writing had from former President Clinton.  Together the authors weave a story that has all the essential ingredients to be a top-notch thriller that will keep the reader engaged for hours as they push through to the climactic ending.  Hopefully this duo will collaborate on another novel sometime. 

 

Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, by James Comey
Rating: 4
Ex-FBI Director recounts his career in the Justice Dept. and his ultimate firing by Pres. Trump.


Two Kinds of Truth, by Michael Connelly
Rating: 4
Another Harry Bosch, the almost retired detective, novel.  Two stories, one about a murder, and one from Harry's past.


Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey
Rating: 5
Fourth in The Expanse series. Great sci-fi with hard science. Realistic fantasy about space, keeps you guessing throughout.


Fools and Mortals, by Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 4
Enjoyable, well-researched work of historical fiction.

 

Look Alive Out There, by Sloan Crossley
Rating: 4
Witty, irreverent essays. Good beach reading.


Leonardo's Notebooks, by Leonardo da Vinci
Rating: 5
DaVinci is my favorite Renaissance genius.

 

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
Rate: 5
Beautiful story, characters and written. Is now one of my top favorites!


William Shakespeare's Star Wars Collection, by Ian Doescher
Rating: 5
If you like Star Wars and Shakespeare you will love it. I did.


Crime & Punctuation, by Kaitlyn Dunnett
Rating: 5
First in the Deadly Edits series and a wonderful intro to the town and the secrets it holds. Great mystery!


Pocket Guide to Spirit Animals, by Dr. Steven Farmer
Rating: 5
I found mine it can help you.


The Tumbling Turner Sisters, by Juliette Fay
Rating: 4
Interesting tale of Vaudeville in the 1920's before the popularity of movies. A family with 4 daughters decides to try vaudeville.


Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney
Rating: 2
Not my cup of tea - confusing psychological thriller with unlikable characters.


Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney
Rating: 3
This was a very confusing book. It held my interest but you never know who is real or who is made up. The storyline jumped around a lot to add to the confusion. 


The Woman in the Window, by AJ Finn
Rating: 5
If you are looking for a taut, well written, psychological thriller, this is it. 

 

This Time Might Be Different: Stories from Maine, by Elaine Ford
Rating: 3
Bleak but well-written short stories about mainly unhappy young women living hard lives in coastal Maine.


Nobody's Princess, by Esther Friesner
Rating: 5
Helen of Troy - I love her.


Varina, by Charles Frazier
Rating: 5
Captivating book about the wife of Jefferson Davis during and after the Civil War. Learned a lot of history about the south.

 

Eat to Live, by Joel Fuhrman, MD
Rating: 5
The secret and best ingredient in any and all food is fiber and the worst ingredient is any form of added sugar.

 

Food, by Jim Gaffigan
Rating: 4
A humorous overview of food by the comedian who is noted for having made "hot pockets" famous.


Written in My Own Heart's Blood, by Diana Gabaldon
Rating: 5
I love her Outlander books.

 

Friendship Bread, by Darien Gee
Rating: 4
An unexpected and anonymous gift of a bread starter to a woman depressed by the death of her son results in new friendships. 


The Memoirs of Cleopatra, by Margaret George
Rating: 5
I really love ancient history.

 

Final Sentence, by Daryl Wood Gerber
Rating: 3
I always enjoy trying a new cozy mystery series. This one was just OK, perhaps the 2nd one will be better!


Inherit the Word, by Daryl Wood Gerber
Rating: 4
2nd in a series and lots of characters leave you guessing as to "Who Done It"!

 

Can’t Help Myself, by Meredith Goldstein
Rating: 4
Witty, clever and warm memoir by Globe columnist. A light read, but smart.


The Home for Unwanted Girls, by Joanna Goodman
Rating: 4
Heartbreaking tale of a young Canadian girl who is forced by her parents to give up her daughter.


Less, by Andrew Sean Greer
Rating: 3
Entertaining read, witty writing, but I did not think it lived up to the hype.


Zipporah, Wife of Moses, by Mark Halter
Rating: 5
A great book for herstory lovers.

 

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 5
Set in the wilds of Alaska, a young girl's struggle to survive as she grows into womanhood. 


The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
Rating: 4
Vietnam vet moves his wife and daughter to Alaska for a new life told from daughters voice.


The Dry, by Jane Harper
Rating: 3
Outstanding sense of place, modern day Australian Outback during a drought.  Really liked the lead detective.  A thriller, not a mystery, not enough information provided to reader for a whodunit.  Characters have a lot of history and old murders mixed with new murder are in play in this book. 


Force of Nature, by Jane Harper

Rating: 3
Five Women are on a corporate team building hike, only 4 return.  Fed Agent Aaron Falk from the first book of the series, the Dry, returns.  The book follows the search for Alice and the parallel narrative that tells us what happened among the group of lost women as they struggle to survive in the bushland.  


Pandora Gets Jealous, by Carolyn Hennesy
Rating: 5
If you like mythology, quests and drama these books are for you.


The Devotion of Suspect X, by Keigo Higashino
Rating: 4
Great, fast read: A mystery within a mystery! You think it’s going one way ... until it’s not. Well done.


Under the Midnight Sun, by Keigo Higashino
Rating: 2
I found this book very difficult to read due to the numerous Japanese character names.

 

The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand
Rating: 5
Set in Nantucket, the first mystery by this author doesn't disappoint. Perfect summer read! 


The Perfect Couple, by Elin Hilderbrand
Rating: 4
The story unfolds through various characters’ perspectives and timelines.  It became clear that almost everyone in the book has a secret.  Big scandalous secrets.  Great beach read but with a mystery.


The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton
Rating: 4
Inspirational, tragic, sad commentary on the judicial system.  Uplifting in Mr. Hinton's eventual release from prison!


Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman
Rating: 5
Sweet, unique, surprising tale of a young heroine witha troubled past.


Southernmost, by Silas House
Rating: 4
This is a quiet, not traditionally suspenseful book, but I couldn’t put it down. The characters were so rich and interesting.

 

We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter
Rating: 4
This story is based on the lives of the author’s family during WWII.  They started out in Poland but the family was soon separated - took different but dangerous paths.  Not knowing who is alive or dead, individual or couples will do whatever it takes to survive. The author gives an update on her family at the end.

 

Frosty the Dead Man, by Christine Husom
Rating: 4
Perfect addition to the Snow Globe Shop Mystery Series!  Small town, mysterious death of the Mayor, and secrets abound...

 

Take Me With You, by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Rating: 5
Sweet story of a man on a trip to Yellowstone. He's asked to take along 2 young boys.Their memorable journey.  Loved it. 


Call Me American: A Memoir, by Abdi Nor Iftin
Rating: 4
Relevant, dramatic true story of a young Somali who emigrated to Maine to live his version of the American dream.


In One Person, by John Irving
Rating: 3
This was not one of my favorite John Irving books but the man knows how to weave a tale that you won't soon forget.


Until I Find You, by John Irving
Rating: 3
Story of a young boy and the women in his life.  Mom is a tattoo artist and is searching for the boys father who took off.


The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James
Rating: 4
Long tale of manners, marriage, morals and what it means to be an independent woman. You get to know the characters very well.


The Girl from the Train, by Irma Joubert
Rating: 4
The Girl from the Train spans around 15 years, from the time Gretl is 6 to 21.  During this time, Gretl learns to adapt to different environments and changes her identity as needed.  It’s a coming of age story.  It’s also about overcoming tragedy and resiliency.  I liked the characters and it was a quick read for me.

  

North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail Book, by Scott Jurek
Rating: 4
A great book for runner's about the challenges of running the App Trail in record time.

 

The Memoir Club, by Laura Kalpakian
Rating: 3
Six women take a night class in "How to Write Your Memoir" where they learn about themselves in ways they never expected.


Long Remember, by MacKinlay Kantor
Rating: 5
Very good book on my favorite subject. the Civil War

 
The Next Better Place, by Michael C Keith
Rating: 4
Father and son live in poverty while seeking a better life, surviving on wit & their bond with each other. Brutally honest read. 


Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong
Rating: 4
A surprisingly funny, sweet read about a woman who moves home to help her dad, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's.


Death and a Pot of Chowder, by Cornelia Kidd
Rating: 5
Fantastic entry into the new Maine Murder Mystery series. Rich description of the island in Maine, great mystery.


It, by Stephen King
Rating: 5
A page-turning story about a group of kids who have a monster living in their town. Excellent!


The Outsider, by Stephen King
Rating: 3
Typical Stephen King - the story pulled me in and it was a quick read. Pretty average King - not his best or his worst.

 

Pet Sematary, by Stephen King
Rating: 5
Creepy, unforgettable, and one of Stephen King's best!

 

Carousel Beach, by Orly Konig
Rating: 3
Not a bad beach read...a little slow at parts.


Restart, by Gordon Korman
Rating: 5
Restart is a great summer reading book. A full cast of dynamic and static characters show the many ways you can change.

 

Defending Jacob, William Landay
Rating: 5
A story about an attorney’s son who is accused of murder.  Couldn’t put it down.

 

The Couple Next Door, by Shari Lapena
Rating: 4
Interesting twists and turns.

 

Kombucha, by Stephen Lee
Rating: 4
As the title suggest, this is a book that explains how to make Kombucha.  While it does take a bit of time, it's not that hard.

 

The Road Home, by Beverly Lewis
Rating: 3.5
Lena and her nine siblings are left without a home when her parents suddenly die in a van accident in Michigan.  The siblings are separated and the eldest, Lena, is sent to work with relatives in Lancaster. The Road Home is about Lena trying to get home to her family.  You can never go wrong with a Beverly Lewis book if you are a fan of the Amish genre.


Who, When, Where in King Philip's War, by Edward Lodi
Rating: 5
If you like local history this book is for you.


The Solace of Trees, by Robert Madyrgin
Rating: 4
Young boy is rescued from war torn Bosnia and is adopted in US.

 

Tangerine, Christine Mangan
Rating: 3
Although it was interesting to read about Tangier and everyday life in a city in Morocco, the book left me with many questions.

 

Behold the Dreamers, by Imbolo Mbue
Rating: 4
Behold the Dreamers is a well written and timely work of realistic fiction.  Jende and Neni are Cameroonian immigrants trying to achieve the American dream.  Set against the backdrop of the 2007 Great Recession, the story illustrates the ripple effect that the crisis had on all members of society.  Beyond that, Imbolo Mbue created characters that were deeply flawed and deeply human. Behold the Dreamers is a book that will leave you pondering the characters and their choices well after you finish the novel.

 

My Ex-Life, by Stephen McCauley
Great summer read.  Good dialogue. Characters are all trying to do their best despite their shortcomings. 


Love and Ruin, by Paula McLain
Rating: 3
This book is about the passionate, stormy marriage of Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, who would become one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. 

 

The Season in Between, by Jane Harvey Meade
Rating: 3
Set in a fictional elementary school in Mass. focusing on the daily life of one of the teachers who has an abusive husband.

 

The Shape of Mercy, by Susan Meissner
Rating: 4
This is about a college student who is hired to transcribe the diary of a girl accused of being a witch in Salem.  The diary is fictional, but the historical events surrounding it are real and factual. The author of the diary, the college student and the 80 year old woman who owns the diary are all intertwined and learn a very important life lesson.  I enjoyed this book - it’s the third Susan Meissner book I’ve read. I also enjoyed A Fall of Marigolds and Secrets of a Charmed Life


Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Rating: 5
I routed for the whale.
 

Circe, by Madeline Miller

Rating: 5
A tale of a misfit goddess/witch who comes into her own power and an epic who’s who of Greek mythology. Couldn’t put it down!


The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
Rating: 5
Fantastic summer read.  I've always loved Greek mythology...if you do, this book is for you.


Radium Girls, by Kate Moore
Rating: 5
Eye opening account of the young girls who were exposed to radium in the 1920s while working in radium dial factories.


The Weathering of Sea Glass, by Karri Moser
Rating: 3
Set on the coast of Maine, two high school sweethearts in 1969 and their fatal mistake that changes their lives.


A Necessary Evil, by Abir Mukherjee

Rating: 4

Interesting read; good sequel.


Code Girls, by Liza Mundy

Rating: 4

Who knew that America's young women were part of code breaking during WWII? Bill Nye's Mom was one!


Spy! Anna Myers

Rating: 5

I love history. It's my favorite subject.

 

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
Rating: 5
Great book for young readers to think about the differences between people and how to make the world a kinder place.


Baking Cakes in Kigali, by Gaile Parkin
Rating: 5
A look into the multicultural society in Rwanda after the trauma of the holocaust there.

 

The Nordic Theory of Everything, by Anu Partanen
Rating: 4
Life in the Scandinavian countries is way easier than here in the US. The author explain how they do it.

 

Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
Rating: 2
I did not care for this book at all.  I did not relate to or care for most of the characters.  The story line jumped many years chapter to chapter. It didn’t go anywhere for me.  Many reviewers love the book. I did not!

 

Teatime for the Firefly, by Shona Patel
Rating: 5

A fascinating slice of the history of India just before independence from England through the eyes of a young, educated middle class woman.  She marries a tea planter and goes to live in the tea planting area of Assam.

 

The 17th Suspect, by James Patterson
Rating: 3.5
The latest in the Women’s Murder Club series.  This novel is focused primarily on Lindsey’s and Yuki’s current situations.  As the reader, you get to experience an insane and cringeworthy courtroom case with Yuki and a twisty serial killer with Lindsey.  Another great installment of the Women’s Murder Club.


The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta
Rating: 5
An amazing, thought-provoking book about what happens after a Rapture-like event uproots everyone's lives.


Freak the Mighty, by W.R. Philbrick
Rating: 5
A great story of old friends found again.  Easy to comprehend and honestly a nailbiter.

 

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult
Rating: 5
Fantastic book that forces the reader to take a hard look inward at how they feel about people that are different than them!

 

Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough
Rating: 3
Unrealistic ending.  Excessive curse word throughout.

 

Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinborough
Rating: 5
WOW! What a book - can’t put down thriller. Not what I expected! Read this book! 


Marcel's Letters, by Carolyn Porter
Rating: 4
Graphic designer finds letters written during WW2 and designs a font from the handwriting and has a quest to find their author.


Kermit's Garden of Verses, by Jack Prelutsky
Rating: 5
If you like the muppets you will love this book.


Alternative Side, by Anna Quindlen
Rating: 3
Alternate Side is a story about the haves and have-nots and neighbors on two sides of a serious issue.  I enjoyed the narrator, Nora, a strong woman, but disliked several of the male characters, including her husband.  Quindlen does nail the static existence of a long term marriage, the highs and lows of being almost empty nesters and relationships with quirky neighbors.


Alternative Side, by Anna Quindlen
Rating: 3
I liked this story about the relationships between a husband and wife and their neighbors in a small quirky NY neighborhood.  

 

Alternative Side, by Anna Quindlen
Rating: 4
I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into life in NYC and the relationships that exist between neighbors and husbands and wives. 


Alternative Side, by Anna Quindlen
Rating: 4
The families in a NYC neighborhood are forever changed after violent incident.


The Parliament of Blood, by Justin Richards
Rating: 5
If you like vampires, this book is for you.


The Serpent's Shadow, by Rick Riordan
Rating: 5
I love his books. Mythology is one of my favorite pastimes.


Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by JK Rowling
Rating: 5
Magical, whimsical, very descriptive. Riveting. Relatable.


Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by JK Rowling
Rating: 5
Magical and suspenseful, so full of wonderful detail not in the movies!


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by JK Rowling
Rating: 5
So much wonderful, magical detail, I felt like I was there through all the twists and turns! Brilliant!


Rating: 4
This is the closest I’ve seen to a book I think should be used as curriculum in schools, specifically for the 7-11 age range.  The “How to be a good friend” at the end of each section and the area for self-reflection are wonderful.  I truly wish identity-first language was used, i.e. “autistic person” rather than “with autism” and was shook by the phrase that doctors “don’t know why people get it.” An autistic child I know is bothered by things like that and “the risks of” language.  Otherwise a lovely activity book to introduce the challenges autistic people face, as well as the ways to be a great friend with them. 

 

You Were Made for This, by Michelle Sacks
Rating 4
I couldn’t put it down...the characters were twisted, damaged, did unspeakable things, but were fascinating.

 

Twisted Prey, by John Sandford
Rating: 4
Lucas Davenport is back in action, this time trying to prove that an "accident" involving a US Senator was actually an assassination.


Strange Tales of the Civil War, by Michael Sanders
Rating: 5
History buffs will love it - I do.


Stella Bain, by Anita Shreve
Rating: 3
Woman escapes abusive husband and goes to France to help as a nurse in WWI and suffers injuries. 


Moscow Rules, by Daniel Silva
Rating: 5
Another great thriller by Silva.


So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y'all Don't Even Know, by Marietta Sirleaf
Rating: 4
A humorous look at the author's life since becoming famous.


The Finishing School, Muriel Spark
Rating: 2
I was disappointed in this book. It was a quick, short read, but I never felt that the characters were believable.

 

Accidental Heroes, by Danielle Steel
Rating: 3.5
Accidental Heroes is a suspenseful book about a flight from NYC to San Francisco.  Steele gave readers a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes at an airport that we rarely know about to ensure the safety of passengers.  There are many heroes in this story - even during the most challenging times, courageous people step into help without even realizing that they are unlikely heroes. 


The Good Fight, by Danielle Steel
Rating: 3.5
This is a powerful story of a woman who lives her entire life with the goal of fighting the good fight.  It covers the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War - a turbulent time for our country. 

 

The Help, by  Kathryn Stockett
Rating: 5
Excellent novel! Couldn't put it down! I was drawn in by the narrative and captivating characters of the help of the 1960s.


Saints for All Occasions, by J. Courtney Sullivan
Rating: 4
Set in Dorchester & Hull between 1958 to the present about the lives of two sisters from Ireland & the choices they make. 


Wings of Fire, by Tui T. Sutherland
Rating: 5
 

If you like dragons you will love this book


The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
Rating: 5
Pertinent and well written novel with what is happening in the world today with Black Lives Matter. Couldn't put it down.


Hockomock: Place Where the Spirits Dwell, by Peter Tower
Rating: 5
Great book for history buffs.


Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles
Rating: 5
Delightful story of a 20-something woman in NYC in the 1920s. Charming, and text flows easily. Highly recommend. 


Testimony, by Scott Turow
Rating: 3
Interesting. 


Hungry Heart, by Jennifer Weiner
Rating: 4
A must read for Jennifer Weiner fans. Hilarious, autobiographical vignettes.


Educated: A Memoir, by  Tara Westover
Rating: 4
Gripping memoir. Reads like a novel. Honest, heart-wrenching and difficult to put down.

 

Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover
Rating: 5
A girl writes of her Mormon upbringing in rural Idaho with some abusive family members. No formal schooling and now a Ph.d.


Garden of the Purple Dragon, by Carole Wilkinson
Rating: 5
If you like dragons this is the book for you.

 

When We Were the Kennedys, by Monica Wood
Rating: 4
Author recounts living in a Mexico Maine paper mill town in 1963 and the life changing events that year.


The Last Star (The 5th Wave #3), by Rick Yancey
Rating: 2
Poor conclusion to a sci-fi alien invasion series. Struggled to finish the series with each book worse than the last.


The Storied life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin
Rating: 4
A very sweet story about a bookseller whose life changes after a prized rare edition of Edgar Allan Poe poems is stolen.