In a season when wildfires are raging throughout the Western United States, it is fascinating to read this account of firefighting – specifically airborne firefighting – written by someone with years of experience. Jason Ramos began his career at age 17 when he volunteered with the Riverside County Fire Department. The last 16 of his 26 years of firefighting have been as a smokejumper.

Smokejumpers fight remote wildfires by parachuting into the area. They arrive at the fire quickly and must carry any equipment needed with them. Smokejumpers must be in top physical condition and undergo rigorous training – so rigorous that as many as half of the trainees drop out before completing the training program.

Ramos intersperses chapters of fascinating information about the history of wildfire fighting with the riveting story of his own career and adventures. Readers will come away with a better understanding of wildfires and the approach to containing them, and a real respect for the men and women who devote their lives to this combat.
Reviewed by Kate Tesdell

LAST ONE HOME by Debbie Macomber

Growing up with two sisters myself I could really relate to the dynamics of the
story. Cassie grew up in a tight-knit family and was her father’s favorite until one
fateful night when she makes a life altering decision. This decision drives a wedge
between her and her family and she finds that it has cost her dearly. Years later
after leaving a broken marriage, Cassie strives to make a life for her daughter and
herself. She meets Steve, a widower, through Habitat for Humanity while working
to earn her own house. Although their first encounter has left them with a guard
up, they soon form a friendship that blossoms into a new beginning for both of
them. A surprise phone call from her sister brings all the memories back for Cassie
though, including the regret she feels. She finds strength with Steve’s help to face
her past and reconnect with her sister. When they see each other they find out
that life isn’t always what they perceived it to be and that forgiveness starts with
yourself. This is a wonderful read, especially if you are a Debbie Macomber fan.
Reviewed by Brenda Rodammer

THE SILENCED by Heather Graham

This is the latest installment in Graham’s psychic FBI series Krewe of Hunters, and it features a political slant involving the death of a beloved politician. Meg, a newbie FBI Academy graduate, receives a mysterious text message from her best friend, Lara, who has been working as a congressman’s media assistant in Washington, D.C. The congressman has been involved in crafting legislation with the politician who died. Lara tells Meg she is disillusioned and is leaving town and politics. When Lara fails to reappear and doesn’t contact Meg again, Meg decides to try to find her.
Meanwhile, women are being found murdered, mutilated, and dumped in water – and the women fit Lara’s description. Meg, who has had psychic experiences since childhood, senses Lara contacting her, and fears she is a victim of the serial killer. The FBI has recruited Meg for their Krewe of Hunters special psychic unit. Partnered with Krewe member Matt, they travel a psychic Civil War trail through Richmond, Harpers Ferry and Gettysburg hunting for both the serial killer and for Lara.
Graham delivers mystery, romance, and a touch of the paranormal in this solid entry in the series.
Reviewed by Kate Tesdell

UPROOTED by Naomi Novik

Uprooted is an enchanting read in all the best ways. It is an original fairy tale that captures both the wonder and danger of the best of the classic fairy tales. Drawing deeply on her Polish roots, Novik has created Polnya, a kingdom dominated by the Wood, a semi-sentient evil forest which villagers must constantly battle in order to preserve both their lives and homes. The Dragon is the mysterious wizard guardian of the Wood, who keeps mostly to himself except when he emerges to choose one young peasant woman to be his servant (a twist on the old tale of a young maiden sacrificed to appease a dragon). The book’s heroine, Agnieszka, is certain the Dragon will choose her best friend, Kasia, the most beautiful girl in the village. But when the Dragon discovers Agnieszka has magic, he is forced to choose her and train her in sorcery. The plot unfolds as Agnieszka learns not just about sorcery, but about love, politics, bravery, loyalty, danger, fear, friendship, and, eventually, the true nature of the menacing Wood. The story is dense but moves along quickly, and the author draws you deeply into her world and its fascinating characters. Uprooted will appeal to both fantasy lovers and non-fantasy lovers alike, and comes highly recommended by many other best-selling authors.
Reviewed by Beth Haleuprooted

SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen

Sydney has always felt invisible. She’s used to her brother, Peyton, being the focus of attention. Now, after a drunk-driving accident that crippled a boy, handsome and charismatic Peyton is serving some serious jail time, and Sydney is on her own while her father retreats to his work and her mother obsesses over making Peyton’s jail time more like a summer camp than lock-up.
When Sydney meets the Chatham family after transferring to a new school, she experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time, finally feeling like someone can see her.
Saint Anything is Sarah Dessen’s deepest and most psychologically probing novel yet, telling an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, and herself.
Reviewed by Kimberly White

ICE TWINS: A NOVEL by S.K. Tremayne

The Ice Twins begins in London, but quickly moves to a remote island in Scotland. Reeling from the loss of one of their twin daughters, Sarah and Angus relocate to the island Angus inherited from his grandmother with the hope that a new start will be better for everyone – – including their surviving twin daughter Kirstie. The only problem . . . Kirstie has started claiming she is the dead twin Lydia. As the story progresses and the weather turns colder, things begin to heat up. A particularly rough Scottish storm leaves Sarah and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) isolated on the island alone. But are they really alone? This page turning suspense novel will keep you guessing as to what really happened the day that Lydia (or was it Kirstie?) fell to her death.
Reviewed by Jennifer Harden

THE POCKET WIFE: A NOVEL by Susan Crawford

The Pocket Wife slowly draws you into the manic world of Dana Catrell. When her neighbor, Celia, turns up dead, Dana is not sure who is to blame, but she relentlessly works to find out the truth. Wafting in and out of sanity, Dana works tirelessly to put together the pieces of Celia’s death. Along the way, she meets a bevy of interesting people, all who seem a wee bit guilty and elusive about the role they may, or may not, have played in Celia’s murder. This book draws you into Dana’s teetering on the edge of sanity and keeps you cheering for her throughout. But is she a murderer?
Reviewed by Jennifer Harden

1920: The Year that Made the Decade Roar

The Roaring Twenties stir up an immediate mental image of flappers, speakeasies, and a life that seemed devoted to putting behind the misery of World War I. Eric Burns, former NBC News correspondent, revisits the events of the first year in that infamous decade – and does so with insight and vivid style.
From the terrorist bombing of Wall Street to the rising tide of anti-immigrant feeling, the passage of Prohibition to the strengthening of the organized crime movement, Burns demonstrates that this first year after the armistice was anything but peaceful. The turmoil of social change was felt in the passage of the 19th Amendment, allowing women to vote, and in an upsurge in the hateful activities of the KKK. Robber barons were dealing with strikes, commercial radio broadcasting was born, and Harlem came alive with literature, art and that wonderful music called jazz.
Burns will take you on a fascinating and wild ride through 1920. There will be times when you wonder if you’re reading an account of something that happened nearly a century ago or looking at today’s headlines.
Reviewed by Kate Tesdell

TWISTED SISTERS by Jen Lancaster

What do you get when you put a New Age healer, a television psychologist, a hairdresser and a mom into a book? You get a seriously funny book! I listened to the audiobook version in my car and I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to just sit in my car to continue the book. This story is about Reagan, a psychologist, daughter and sister who thinks pretty highly of herself and is not afraid to let others know it. She is constantly belittling her two sisters and feels like no one gives her the credit she deserves, especially her family. She finally achieves the fame she so desperately seeks when her show goes to network television but finds it still doesn’t impress her family. When Diva, her New Age healer friends, helps her out with a few guests on the show, Reagan decides that the method they use can help her in her own life. Of course it doesn’t go the way she planned and she learns a thing or two about herself – not good things either. Can it be that she hasn’t given her sisters nearly enough credit and herself way too much? Lancaster has a way with words and the quips in this book are laugh out loud hilarious. You must read this book. Or better yet, listen to the audio book.

Reviewed by Brenda Rodammer


THE BOOKSELLER by Cynthia Swanson

Kitty owned a Denver bookstore with her best friend, Frieda. It was 1962 and both were unmarried. Their store wasn’t getting as many sales as they used to, because the streetcar lines changed. Kitty started to question her choices. Then one night she had a vivid dream of herself in a new life as Katharyn – her given name. She was a wife and mother, living in a new house in the suburbs. She discovered if one day of her life had gone differently, it would have changed everything. This is a fun book to read. There are a lot of details about 1962-63, such as book titles, popular music and clothing styles. It can be interesting to wonder what could have been, especially if it helps you realize what you might try now.

Reviewed by Fiona Swift


With advice for parents of every income bracket, personal finance columnist and father Ron Lieber addresses many familiar parent-child interactions regarding money. Mr. Lieber provides common motivations and reactions, concrete advice, and real-life stories illustrating how what parents teach their children about money also develops important character traits. A wonderful bibliography is included for parents seeking additional resources.
Reviewed by Jennie Tuttle


In 1987, Cary Elwes was a young, unknown actor about to embark upon his biggest leading role yet. The part was Westley, a swashbuckling Man in Black, in a “romance, adventure, fantasy, drama, comedy, action” film called The Princess Bride and it changed his life. Though the movie had an underwhelming theatrical run, it found an audience on home video and today it’s a beloved, and oft-quoted, classic.

Elwes’s memoir of the making of the film is as warm and wickedly-funny as William Goldman’s screenplay. He happily shares backstage antics (a couple of which sent him to the emergency room) and gushes over his costar, Robin Wright. The closest Elwes comes to dishing dirt is fondly telling a few drinking stories about André the Giant, who played Fezzik. Sidebars written by Rob Reiner, Mandy Patinkin, Billy Crystal, and other members of the cast and crew make it clear that everyone involved in production knew they were part of something special.

If viewing The Princess Bride puts a smile on your face, this book will, too.

Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp

Refire! Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz

Larry and Janice are a couple who feel their lives have gone stale as they’ve gotten older. They go to a counselor and after each session Dr. Jeffrey sends them to meet a couple who have embraced the principle described in the chapter. The conversations sound like little lectures, and the format would be annoying if the content weren’t so good. The truth is, this book is a dynamic exploration of how to refire yourself emotionally, intellectually physically and spiritually. The concepts are easy to understand and the book successfully challenges the reader to take stock and try new things. Especially useful is the short series of reflections and action steps at the end of each section. Although aimed at those of retirement age, this book will be of value to anyone who feels that life has become routine and unfulfilling.
Reviewed by Kate Tesdell


Dana Nolan was on the fast track to success as a TV reporter until she was captured by a serial killer who wanted to make her his 9th victim. “Where there is life, there is hope” becomes Dana’s mantra and she conquers this killer only to find out that this is just the beginning of a very long road back to her new normal. Suffering from closed head injuries, Dana goes back to her hometown to stay with her mother and step-father while she recovers. Still plagued by nightmares and missing memories, Dana decides to focus on a cold case from her past, the disappearance of her childhood friend Casey Grant. Dana will soon learn that things aren’t always as they appear and sometimes those closest to us are the most dangerous. The author offers a very insightful look at the misconception and agony of PTSD through Dana’s challenges. This well-written book will keep you on the edge of your seat and you won’t want to put it down.

Reviewed by Brenda Rodammer

CARE AND MANAGEMENT OF LIES by Jacqueline Winspear

This is a story of the beginning of World War I from a woman’s perspective. Kezia has married the brother of her childhood friend and moved to his farm in Kent, England. She is the daughter of a vicar, and has never cooked a meal or kept a house. She settles into her new role in her own particular way, not worrying too much about what others think. Two months later, England declares war on Germany. Soon Kezia’s husband, Tom, has enlisted, leaving her to run the farm with two remaining farmhands (who are unable to enlist.) Her friend and sister-in-law, Thea, also joins a medical unit as an ambulance driver and is off to war after Christmas. Kezia doesn’t want to worry Tom about changes taking place on the farm – she has been ordered to cut down the apple orchard to grow wheat for the army, for example. She fills her letters with imaginary meals that she has prepared for him, not mentioning any food shortages. There is a lot of detail about the food they ate. It was a charming story, but it ended rather abruptly.
Reviewed by Fiona Swift


You will know what’s for dinner after perusing this title. Popular blogger Jessica Fisher’s third cookbook is stuffed with dishes to delight kids and parents alike. The over 200 recipes are organized into 70 complete meals and include important designations such as meatless, dairy-free, gluten-free, slow cooker, make-ahead, and freezer-friendly. Helpful tips to reduce your food costs are also scattered throughout the text. Watch out, the rich photos will have your stomach growling!

Reviewed by Jennie Tuttleeats


lightIn 1964, Jimmy Raye came from a segregated high school in North Carolina to play quarterback for Michigan State. Just a few years later, he was playing to a national TV audience in the Rose Bowl and later led the Spartans to a share in a national championship before moving on to a career playing and coaching in the NFL. In his foreword, former NFL coach Tony Dungy credits Raye for opening doors for him and other African American players and coaches.


Shanahan uses Raye and the 1965-66 Michigan State football program as a jumping off point to explore racism and sport in this book. It is a story bigger than just one player or team, but he chose to focus on the Spartans because head coach Duffy Daugherty actively recruited Southern black players at a time when the major college football programs in the South were still all-white. In the mid-1960’s, when civil rights couldn’t be taken for granted, Michigan State fielded fully integrated teams that won big and helped change the face of college sports forever.


Reviewed by Lynn Heitkamp

GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

Some are comparing it to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window; others are comparing it to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl; I think it deserves to stand on its own. Rachel Watson travels the same train line every day. As she nears a particular strip of homes, she cannot make herself turn away from the daily rituals and relationships she watches unfold from a distance. We soon learn that part of Rachel’s draw to these homes has to do with her former life and her ex-husband. Wafting in and out of reality, Rachel fights many of her own demons daily, but soon finds herself fighting for the truth. What exactly did Rachel see and what does it mean? This book follows the lives of three women (Rachel, Megan, and Anna), weaving a web that binds them together in life . . . and in death. This chiller will keep you turning pages until the wee hours of the morning.


Reviewed by Jennifertrain Harden

FOOTSTEPS IN THE SNOW by Charles Lachman

Sycamore, Illinois in December 1957 was the quintessential Midwest small town. It was safe, secure, happy, and full of “Father Knows Best” families. In Sycamore no one locked the doors, and it was commonplace for children to go outside to play with friends. Commonplace, that is, until 7-year old Maria Ridulph simply vanished from her own street while her friend, Kathy, had gone inside to get her mittens. The town was galvanized into action. The men formed search teams and combed the area with guns and dogs, wives and mothers made coffee and sandwiches for them, and children were swept up and into the safety of families who would never see life quite the same way again. And after all the searching, the only clues seemed to be Kathy’s account of meeting a friendly man named Johnny, Maria’s doll, found in a neighboring yard, and some mysterious footsteps in the snow.

5 months later, in Galena, Illinois (some 120 miles from Sycamore), mushroom hunters came across the decomposed body of a small child who was determined to be Maria. Despite the efforts of the Illinois State Police, the case remained unsolved, and went cold for the next 55 years. The break in the case finally came via a startling deathbed statement which resulted in an eventual arrest and conviction.

Lachman has done a masterful job of bringing this true story alive. Sycamore is vivid, and so are the inhabitants of the town and all involved in the search for Maria’s killer. Footsteps in the Snow is riveting and highly recommended for true crime fans.

Reviewed by Kate Tesdellsteps


goldenIn a future where mankind has spread to inhabit the moons and planets of our solar system, humans are divided into castes designated by color: from Reds, who mine beneath the surface of Mars, up to Golds, the super-humans who lead the entire society. In Pierce Brown’s Red Rising we met Darrow, a smart and tough Red who, after his young wife is murdered by Mars’ leader, agrees to be transformed into a Gold in order to bring down the caste system from within. Darrow successfully navigates the challenges of the Golds’ brutal Institute then, in Golden Son, launches into his adult life. Quickly thrown into politics and intrigue at the highest level, Darrow begins to emerge as the leader the lower castes desperately need. Golden Son is a high action page turner that is nearly impossible to put down, with a doozy of a cliffhanger ending and non-stop twists and turns throughout. Darrow is a complex and intelligent character, and he is surrounded by a colorful cadre of friends and enemies. With all the ingredients of a first rate sci-fi classic, Golden Son manages to be the rare book that improves upon its predecessor.
Reviewed by Beth Hale

Noteworthy & New

New Website Coming Soon!

We are working hard to revamp the Public Libraries of Saginaw website and will be doing the changeover in September. The new site will be cleaner and easier to use for you. It will also view nicely on phones and tablets.


The Public Libraries of Saginaw responds to FOIA requests in compliance with Michigan Freedom of Information Act. Depending upon the extent of material requested, a fee may be charged. Persons who wish to place a FOIA request must direct them to the FOIA Coordinator, who is the Library Director and must do so in writing. FOIA requests may be submitted by any means (mail, e-mail, fax). Click on the links below for more information.

Written Public Summary

Policy Procedures and Guidelines

FOIA Forms