This is the first book in a new Amish series by Marta Perry. The story begins with three women, cousins, sorting through their grandmother’s attic to prepare her for a move. One cousin, Rebecca, happens upon a diary written by Anna, one of her ancestors. Rebecca becomes entranced with this diary as she works through tragedy and struggle in her own life. Anna waits for word from her beloved who has gone off to serve in the war while Rebecca morns the death of her husband and faces challenges of keeping his dream alive. The story goes back and forth between Rebecca’s life and the life of Anna seamlessly. Both women need to draw on their own strength, faith and courage to get through this time in their life. Will love prevail? I am looking forward to the next book of this series.
Reviewed by Brenda Rodammer
Grace and Ted are a literary power-couple. Ted is a bestseller and Grace is a style icon and perfect wife-hosting parties and serving on the boards of charitable institutions. Life is perfect- at least from the outside looking in. Ted’s assistant has recently resigned and left Grace with more work than she can handle with her heavy volunteer schedule. Along comes Beth out of nowhere- the perfect person at the perfect time to help. She seems to be just what Grace needed…but something about her just isn’t setting well. Soon, Grace’s life begins to unravel and she needs to get to the bottom of what Beth’s true reason for being there is.
Reviewed by Kim White
A Sudden Light tells the story of a lumber baron’s family and the mansion they built in the late 1800’s. The house is almost a character with its many rooms, secret passages, and a ballroom on the third floor. The author, Garth Stein, even has a website with a drawing of the house and grounds. There is information on the themes of the book – including a real ghost story the author experienced while on a book tour. (See the site at: www.asuddenlight.com )
Trevor Riddell is fourteen the summer his parents decide on a trial separation. His father, Jones, has lost his job and house in rural Connecticut. He and Trevor travel to the Seattle area to return to the Riddell family mansion. Jones has not been there since his mother’s death when he was a teenager. Trevor has never met his Grandpa Samuel and Aunt Serena. He has never been told the family history. He discovers much through dreams, old diaries and journals, and even newspaper articles on microfilm at the library.
Reviewed by Fiona Swift
The Forgotten Seamstress stitches past and present into a delightful tale about love in its various forms. When orphans Maria and Nora are selected to become seamstresses at Buckingham Palace, the best friends’ lives drastically change for the better. The royal household’s sewing room on the eve of King George V and Queen Mary’s coronation offers a purpose and importance previously only dreamed about, especially for Maria. However, an encounter with the captivating Prince of Wales leads Maria’s path to change yet again.
Generations later, Caroline Meadow’s intrigued by a verse embroidered the back of a quilt passed down to her from her grandmother. As her own life becomes increasingly complicated, Caroline surrenders to the lure of discovering the quilt’s secret past and what happened to Maria.
Told alternating between Maria and Caroline, Trenow reminds readers that there are many ways to preserve and pass on history.
Reviewed by Jennie Tuttle
As influential as the founder of the Mormon faith was, journalist Alex Beam makes the case that Joseph Smith’s most significant role in history was that of a martyr. No one was ever convicted of his murder – which happened at the hands of a mob in broad daylight – but the repercussions of it were felt well into the 20th Century, if not right up to the present.
Beam places Smith’s life squarely in the context of the Second Great Awakening, a time of intense religious fervor throughout the country. The charismatic leader published the Book of Mormon in 1830 and made many converts to his new church in the following years, but the Mormons were driven out of Ohio and Missouri because of their unconventional beliefs. Eventually, they settled the town of Nauvoo, Illinois – which, for a time, had a Mormon population that rivaled the size of the new city of Chicago. Famous names like Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas figure into the narrative as Beam explores the rising influence of Smith’s followers on Illinois politics.
The death of the Mormon prophet in the spring of 1844 led many of Smith’s followers to set out for a land that was then outside the control of the United States. Their religion prospered in Utah without interference but Beam argues that, without the focus given by the events surrounding Smith’s death, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might have followed many other 19th Century religious societies into extinction.
Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp
Through an examination of the lives of four women spies who actively but secretly participated in fighting the Civil War, Abbott brings an entirely new dimension of understanding to this momentous era. Whether they relied on pillow talk to obtain the strategic secrets of the enemy, masqueraded as male and actually fought, or used whatever means at their disposal to pass along encrypted intelligence, these women made a huge impact on the war efforts of both the Union and the Confederacy.
At a time when women had no official political voice, and when the traditional female role was largely relegated to taking care of household affairs and having children, these women chose to take charge of their own lives and to fight for their beliefs by means far outside the societal norm.
Abbott brings each page alive in this rigorously researched and beautifully written book.
Reviewed by Kate Tesdell
Loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead, Euphoria tells the story of Nell Stone, her husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, anthropologists studying the native peoples along the Sepik River in New Guinea in the 1930’s who encounter each other at key points in their careers. Nell and Fen are recovering from a brutal encounter with the fierce Mumbanyo tribe, and Andrew, our narrator, is recovering from a period of depression that led to a failed suicide attempt. Meeting the dynamic couple breathes new life into Andrew, and when he introduces them to the peaceful, matriarchal Tam tribe he sets them all on a course of discovery, passion, exploration, obsession, and yes, brief moments of euphoria.
Beautifully written, powerful and earthy, with characters that stick with you long after you’ve finished reading, Euphoria is the best kind of historical novel: one that transports you in space and time, and makes you want to learn more about the real people who lived there.
Reviewed by Beth Hale
For lovers of art, historical fiction, and France, Vreeland’s passionately written novel will satisfy on many levels. Covering a time frame from pre-World War II through the Nazi occupation of France and ultimately the collapse of the Axis, the story focuses on a young Parisian, Lissette Roux, her life in Paris and predominately in the rustic village of Roussillon in Provence.
Lisette and husband Andre are an endearing couple who must leave Paris for southern France to care for Andre’s ailing grandfather, Pascal. The heroine, who is passionate about art, fears that in the quiet French countryside she will never have the life of her dreams, to work in a Paris gallery. Little does Lisette know that in the pastoral Roussillon she will encounter magnificent works of art by Camille Pissarro, Paul Cezanne and Pablo Picasso owned by Pascal; and she will come to know the renowned Marc Chargal and wife Bella when they are hidden near her village by the French Resistance.
Lisette’s journey into womanhood is one of exquisite love, heartbreaking loss, danger, and risk-taking. Readers will find it one worth following.
Reviewed by Neica Dey
The Quinn family of Nantucket isn’t exactly having the happiest of holidays. Kelley Quinn, the owner of the Winter Street Inn, has just discovered that his second wife leaving him for Santa; his youngest son has been deployed to Afghanistan; his middle son is involved with the French housekeeper; his oldest is a hedge fund manipulator; and his only daughter is waiting impatiently for her boyfriend to push the commitment button. Maybe wife number one can help them sort everything out just in time for Christmas Day.
Reviewed by Kimberly White
This is a wonderful list of children’s books that we know you will enjoy reading with your little one. The votes are in, and Goodreads readers have selected the following list of 100 books.
100 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime
As Bella takes her dog for a walk across the pages, he disappears into the crack (the gutter) down the middle of the book. As others come along to offer her some assistance, they also disappear in the same way. The reader is then called upon to save the day by shaking and wiggling and shaking the book some more to let everybody out. The story ends with a cute note to the reader to tell the book not to be so naughty next time.
Reviewed by Michelle Zimostrad, Hoyt Library
Recommended for ages 3-6
“FIRE wants to BURN. WATER wants to FLOW. AIR wants to RISE. EARTH wants to BIND. CHAOS wants to DEVOUR.” Warned about the dangers of magic his whole life by his father, Callum Hunt does everything possible to fail the Iron Trial so he doesn’t have to attend the Magisterium, a school to teach youth with magical talents. Callum is utterly confounded when Master Rufus chooses him as an apprentice despite having the lowest score. Is magic really as evil as his father would have him believe? The first in a new series by two bestselling authors ends with a delightful twist leaving readers filled with questions and begging for next title.
Reviewed by Jennie Tuttle, Wickes Library
Recommended for grades 4-7
This biographical picture book introduces elementary age readers to one of America’s most beloved figures. More than just a president, Jefferson held many and varied interests from gardening, to art and music. The book outlines his interests and accomplishments without glossing over the fact that he was also a flawed man. A perfect introduction to one of our greatest presidents appropriate for young readers and a great book for reading aloud.
Reviewed by Kim White, Hoyt Library
Recommended for ages 6 – 10
For Younger Readers
Dinosaur Thunder by Marion Dane Bauer (for preschool – grade 1)
What If…? by Anthony Browne (for preschool – grade 2)
When Lions Roar by Robie H. Harris (for preschool – grade 2)
Some Things Are Scary by Florence Parry Heide (for preschool – grade 2)
Black Dog by Levi Pinfold (for preschool – grade 3)
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds (for preschool – grade 2)
Bedtime Monsters by Josh Sneider (for preschool – 1)
The Dark by Lemony Snickett (for preschool – grade 2)
For Middle Grade Readers
The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kathy Barnhill (for grades 4 – 7)
Doll Bones by Holly Black (for grades 4 – 8)
Infestation by Timothy Bradley (for grades 5 – 8)
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (for grades 3 – 6)
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (for grades 4 – 7)
Professor Gargoyle by Charles Gilman (for grades 4 – 7)
The Orphan of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves (for grades 4 – 7)
Raven’s Gate by Anthony Horowitz (for grades 5 – 8)
Home Sweet Horror by James Preller (for grades 3 – 5)
Literally Disturbed: Tales to Keep You Up at Night by Ben H. Winters
(for grades 3 – 6)
Kathleen Flinn’s earliest memories revolve around a life of rural poverty near Davison, Michigan. Little Kathleen didn’t realize how cash-poor her family was, (possibly because her mother told her they were shopping in the ritziest store in Flint, when in reality they were buying used clothes at a thrift store) but also because the Flinns ate delicious food they made from scratch from their own harvest. They couldn’t afford to buy processed products at the grocery store. Flinn’s book mixes rollicking stories about her various relatives’ misadventures canning, deer hunting, and fishing with recipes for the comfort food she grew up loving. This is a funny and heartfelt book about food and growing up in mid-20th Century Michigan that many readers can probably relate to.
Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp
To view the entire list click here.
Abuelo by Arthur Dorros
Together, a young boy and his Abuelo go camping, ride horses, get lost and found, and even confront a mountain lion. When the boy’s family moves to the city from the country, away from Abuelo, it is his memories that help him adjust to his new life.
Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey Kyle
Gazpacho for breakfast, gazpacho for lunch, gazpacho for dinner, for snack and for brunch, which is the only thing that Nacho wants to eat. He won’t even try other dishes —until he discovers the miles and piles of mouthwatering vegetables at the market.
Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
Yellow is masa, tortillas, and sweet corn cake. These are just some of the featured objects in this fun-to-read rhyming book of colors. The rich boisterous illustrations reinforce the beautiful colors found in every child’s day.
Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz
Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime.
Caminar by Skila Brown
A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.
The Death of Fidel Perez by Elizabeth Huergo
On July 26, 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Moncada Army Barracks raid that sparked the Cuban revolution, something unexpected happens. When Fidel Pérez and his brother accidentally tumble to their deaths from their Havana balcony, the neighbors’ outcry, “Fidel has fallen!” is misinterpreted by those who hear it. That wishful mistake quickly ripples outward on the running cries of the people, and it gloriously reawakens a suppressed city.
Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
A triumph of storytelling, Henríquez pulls us into the lives of her characters with such mastery that we hang on to them just as fiercely as they hang on to one another and their dreams. This passionate, powerful novel will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.
Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester
Andres suspects his wife has left him—again. Then he learns that the unthinkable has happened: she’s been kidnapped. Too much time and too many secrets have come between Andres and Marabela, but now that she’s gone, he’ll do anything to get her back. Or will he? Set in Lima, Peru, in a time of civil and political unrest, this evocative page-turner is a perfect marriage of domestic drama and suspense.
Cubop City Blues by Pablo Medina
Poet and novelist Pablo Medina’s Cubop City Blues, fuses raw, passionate language and elegant lyricism to breathe life into a musically disguised New York City, shaped by jazz masters, refugees, and storytellers. Our guide into Cubop City is the Storyteller, born nearly blind and shrouded in his mother’s guilt.
Stubby was a stray Boston bull terrier who became the mascot for the Army’s 102nd Infantry division. His Master, J Robert Conroy, smuggled him to the front lines of battle in WWI France. This is the story of how Stubby helped the soldiers in the trenches by warning of gas attacks and sniffing out the enemy. Wounded in battle, he later cheered injured soldiers in the Army hospitals and assisted in finding wounded soldiers on the battlefield. Once, Stubby even captured a German soldier! A true story of one of America’s bravest dogs, filled with period photographs and artifacts, Stubby the War Dog is sure to delight fans of history and animal-lovers alike.
Reviewed by Kim White, Hoyt Library.
Recommended for grades 5 and up.
“The day I discovered I could fly, I knew that I was special.” So begins a tale of a young
superheroine and the development of her superhuman strengths. With each one she
discovers, a variety of exhilarating achievements and troubling setbacks occur. All of it leads
the masked hero to wonder “if my parents could tell – if they knew about my superpowers.”
The answer is revealed one day when her powers short-circuit, and Mom must step in
to save the day. While the sparse text relates the girl’s impressions, the masterfully simple
illustrations reveal a more ordinary reality. Pair this title with Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis
and David Soman for a storytime of every day superheroes.
Reviewed by Jennie Tuttle, Wickes Library.
Recommended for preschool – 3rd grade.
Everyone knows that once a lemur takes a liking to you, there isn’t much you can do about it. So when a lemur starts following the young boy in this story, he knows there isn’t much he can do about it, but he tries anyway.
He tries ignoring the lemur, hiding in a tall tree, riding his bike as fast as he can to get away, but that doesn’t work, AND the lemur is joined by his lemur friends—so now the boy has a whole passel of lemurs following him around. He tries being upfront and honest and telling them to leave, but alas that doesn’t work either.
The boy had no choice but to continue trying to get away—he bought a ticket on a fast train, drifted across a lake in a boat, took to the skies in a hot air balloon, traveled across a scorching desert, climbed the highest mountain in a blizzard—but all that running got the boy was lost. And alone. But as he looked around, he started to see some familiar faces who guided him back home, realizing that lemurs aren’t so bad after all, and maybe they could be friends, because as everyone knows. . .
Once a lemur takes a liking to you, there is not much that can be done about it.
Reviewed by Kathy Thornhill, Zauel Memorial Library.
Recommended for preschool-1st grade.
Coretta Scott King award winner Tonya Bolden investigates the story of Sarah Rector, a Cherokee freedman’s daughter, who became the richest girl in America due to the discovery of oil on land she owned as part of the land allotment she received in the breaking up of the Oklahoma Indian Territories. Sarah’s wealth put her in great danger from those who would profit off her land. Newspapers reported that Miss Rector was missing and may have been done in for her fortune. Those stories set off an alarm leading to the search for Sarah Rector.
Bolden uses primary source materials to investigate what really happened to Sarah Rector and shows that a little bit of investigative research can help you solve history’s mysteries.
Reviewed by Kim White, Hoyt Library.
Recommended for grades 5 – 8.