Sunday, May 31, 2020

June 1, 2020 - New Arrivals

June 1, 2020

Adult Fiction

(Im)perfectly Happy by Sharina Harris

Blurb about book.

When four college friends formed the Brown Sugarettes Mastermind Group, they had very different goals—but matched each other in ambition. Yet ten years later they can't help wondering what happened to the hopeful, confident, driven women they used to be—and how to get them back.

Kept Animals by Kate Milliken

After Rory's stepfather is involved in a tragic car accident, the lives of Rory, June, and Vivian become inextricably bound together. Rory discovers photography, begins riding more competitively, and grows closer to gorgeous, mercurial Vivian, but despite her newfound sense of self, disaster lurks all around her: in the parched landscape, in her unruly desires, in her stepfather's wrecked body and guilty conscience. One night, as the relationships among these teenagers come to a head, a forest fire tears through the canyon, and Rory's life is changed forever.

The Poet of Tolstoy Park by Sonny Brewer

"The more you transform your life from the material to the spiritual domain, the less you become afraid of death." Leo Tolstoy spoke these words, and they became Henry Stuart's raison d'etre. The Poet of Tolstoy Park is the unforgettable novel based on the true story of Henry Stuart's life, which was reclaimed from his doctor's belief that he would not live another year.


Adult Non-Fiction

Every Drop of Blood by Edward Achorn

By March 4, 1865, the Civil War had slaughtered more than 700,000 Americans and left intractable wounds on the nation. After a morning of rain-drenched fury, tens of thousands crowded Washington's Capitol grounds that day to see Abraham Lincoln take the oath for a second term. As the sun emerged, Lincoln rose to give perhaps the greatest inaugural address in American history, stunning the nation by arguing, in a brief 701 words, that both sides had been wrong, and that the war's unimaginable horrors—every drop of blood spilled—might well have been God's just verdict on the national sin of slavery. In indelible scenes, Achorn vividly captures the frenzy in the nation's capital at this crucial moment in America's history and the tension-filled hope and despair afflicting the country as a whole, soon to be heightened by Lincoln's assassination. His story offers new understanding of our great national crisis, and echoes down the decades to resonate in our own time.

Hollywood Double Agent by Jonathan Gill

Boris Morros was a major figure in the 1930s and '40s. The head of music at Paramount, nominated for Academy Awards, he then went on to produce his own films with Laurel and Hardy, Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, and others. But as J. Edgar Hoover would discover, these successes were a cover for one of the most incredible espionage tales in the history of the Cold War—Boris Morros also worked for Russian intelligence.


Easy/Juvenile/Young Adult/Graphic Novel

On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII's most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak.

Why We Keep Clean by Rosalyn Clark

How important is washing your hands and other body parts? Find out how keeping clean helps us stay healthy! Lively, carefully leveled text, age-appropriate critical thinking questions, and colorful photos help young readers learn about healthy habits.

*Summaries of books courtesy of Overdrive*

Brooke County Public Libraries    Wellsburg (304) 737-1551    Follansbee (304) 527-0860

Thursday, May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020 Staff Reviews

The Big Lie
By James Grippando
Release Date: February 25, 2020
*Audiobook Review*

3.5 Stars - Grippando’s political thrillers aren’t his best work, but still hard to
put this book down. Twists and turns abound. At times, the story arcs felt like a
square peg in a round hole but big fans of Jack Swyteck will enjoy this new entry.

It’s of my favorite series, but this won’t be one of favorite stories in it.
Grippando plays with political satire here that I don’t think he was up to task on,
shamelessly overdoing some aspects instead of truly funny or insightful. The story
feels like an outcry for a huge wave of policy change, hard for moderates and
conservatives to tolerate. Jack even feels out of place at times, trying to be the
voice of reason in a heated election battle where he isn’t directly involved. This
may have been better as a standalone novel and for Jack to have a case more his
style in another book. His client isn’t likable to anyone and comes off as dumb
verses sketchy or scheming. But it’s fun to see new scenes with Jack’s crew of
Andie, Theo, and company. And the ending had me truly surprised.

I think this would have benefited from another run through, draft, or editor’s look.
A small plot hole I encountered toward the end (regarding the candidate Stahl’s
wife) didn’t ruin anything but left me scratching my head. Some scenes felt cut
short. And the plot while fast moving could have used a trim in spots. Also for fans
of the audio series, disclaimer: Davis is not my favorite narrator. And he slips
here. Jack and Theo don’t always sound like their assigned voices. A different take
on some impressions of the politicians I think would have been a benefit. For casual
readers intrigued by the blurb, they will find a lot to like. There’s plenty of
excitement, red herrings, amusing remarks, and Miami atmosphere as always. I
considered this better than the prior two Swyteck novels but not on the level they
were ten years ago.

By Stephen King
Release Date: June 4, 2013
*Audiobook Review* 

Available from WV Reads! -

3.5 Stars - This book is more a summer drama story than spooky mystery but there’s
plenty of both! Excellent narration pairs with an immersing story that makes for
much more than a Southern amusement park and a creepy ride.

I was new to Stephen King as I have never been a horror fan. But I picked up on this
thanks to the small town North Carolina setting and lack of clowns. King’s narrative
really grabbed me as well as the narration by Michael Kelly. I was surprised to find
Kelly has few titles on audible because he was great, just enough inflection to suit
the story. I expected King’s writing to be moody and dramatic. However, I found it
here to be light and humorous. Sidenote: this book’s lack of chapters rankled me.
While I didn’t relate much personally to our hero, a barely grown college man in the
1970s, I liked him. And his summer coming of age tale is not my usual plot interest
but I was never bored. The mystery, like the killer, lurks in the background, almost
forgotten at times, until a climatic final scene. 

I found this to be a great summer read as Mr. King gives us just enough description
of the setting to paint the atmopshere. There are definitely shades of scarier tales
here as well, centered on the spooky funhouse. The amusement park itself seems to be
losing more people as time goes by for one reason or another. King approaches
difficult topics and there are some dark moments, but the overall feel wasn’t
dragged down by them. There’s a wistfulness to the way it’s written as well... full
of memories, some fonder than others. Some of the flashback moments even got a
little cheesy. While I won’t say I was enthralled at all times, the interludes of
scrabble games, carnival life, self-depricating jokes, and amateur sleuthing were
fun. And some scenes I thought were extra, usually turned out to have a true
purpose. This didn’t convince me to read the scarier stories by the infamous Mr.
King, but I learned why so many are fans. Both hardcore mystery fans and casual
readers could enjoy listening to this on a long car ride.

Friday, May 15, 2020

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May 15, 2020 Staff Reviews

The Other Mrs.
By Mary Kubica
Release Date: February 18, 2020
*Audiobook Review*

3 stars - Try to get past the narration if you’re listening. The story‘s more than
the blurb. Fans of the new domestic thriller genre and psychological thrillers will
find a lot to like. And it’s going to be a chilling tv series.

People online complained about the robo-voice narration, and it’s a poor decision in
my opinion. But there was enough inflection that I got used to it. Kubica has a
unique style. Her use of present tense was difficult to follow at times. But started
off reminding me of Agatha Christie’s description style with a modern Mary Higgins
Clark touch. Probably a little something for anybody. This was my first by Kubica
and I’d be open to trying more. I think she is perfect for the Netflix set. Our
heroine Sadie feels a bit whiny but given the circumstances, we can give her a pass.
Like most domestic thrillers, this family is dysfunctional. By the end, most readers
will feel shook by all the surprises.

Imogen the niece is the hardest to like but Will is a close second. Some moments it
feels predictable, other times engaging. Tate is written like a child younger than 7
at times, and poor Otto’s just a typical 14-year-old, except his family and home
life is completely changed. At times this felt a bit out of touch, teens smoking
cigarettes not vaping. Freshmen kids who don’t swear. I will admit I had a huge
hunch early on what was happening with Sadie and Will but I didn’t feel it was
because Kubica made it obvious. I think I just read a lot and people who haven’t
picked up a good thriller since Gone Girl will be into this for certain. It’s
possible this was formatted and more suited to a tv or mini series, less so a novel.
But it’s engaging with plenty of eerie atmosphere. 


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

April 30, 2020 Staff Reviews

The Winemaker's Wife
Kristin Harmel

A very captivating read, based on well researched world events. While it is fiction, the persons and events are true to what probably happened more than once in the eras it covers. Hard to put down..really draws you in so you want to know what happens next.


May 12, 2020 Staff Reviews

Country Strong
By Linda Lael Miller
Release Date: January 20, 2020
EBook Review - Available from WV Reads

3 Stars - Familiar Linda Lael Miller ground: beautiful Montana setting, world weary kids, and a slight mystery going back to the main character's young adult years. The parallel storylines between the heroine and the hero’s young charge is a fascinating twist. As always with Miller, there’s a feel-good story under the drama. 

Nothing grabbed me like her ‘Big Sky’ and ‘ Marriage’ series. Seemed to lack the usual heart. I noticed a slip in writing style. Sentences that seem rambling. A teen who says yokels and saloon. Sometimes like the time period was a bit undecided. Cord’s a likable hero, devoted to his ranch work and idea of finding the right girl. But not much distinguishes him from other cowboy heroes except maybe bad taste in women. Shallie, our heroine, is more memorable, with her books, overcoming her past, and her crush on Cord. However, these two don’t share a page until a quarter of the book goes by. There’s so much going on outside of their story.

And unfortunately, the gist of the story feels told by the halfway point. Also, I have issues when young people show up with so much resentment toward fathers who clearly didn’t know they existed. I find it especially exhausting in fiction. How was a dad supposed to know you needed him? A sixth sense? Maybe a dream? The unknown father part adds some spice to the story. At the same time, the girl’s attitude at parts of things grated on me. Shallie’s search for family comes off more heartfelt than her counterpart. There was more sunshine than storms in here though, like the dogs Smoky & Bandit, country music, talks of tattoos, outdated kitchens, and Cord and Shallie’s reconnection. If you enjoy modern western romance with a little mystery, this is a good pick. But if you’re looking for knock your-socks off, look elsewhere.


May 11, 2020 Staff Reviews

Cold Frame

By PT Deutermann
Release Date: July 14th, 2015
Audiobook review
Narrated by: Dick Hill

3 stars - Full of likable, quirky characters not usually found in
political thrillers, this is a fun ride. A lot of action and intrigue.
Though sometimes those aspects outweigh the plot details behind them. Be aware this should be rated R for the f-word usage and also for Republican ideas. I don’t mind politics though as long as there’s more thriller than politics, which in this case is true!

While conservative voters in this hot election year climate will probably find more to like than those with more liberal leanings, there’s more to the story. Our main character Av is just a stubborn cop with the (typical) penchant for getting weird cases and being accused of an authority problem. But his point of view is pretty fun, to say nothing of his crazy coworkers. And narrator Dick Hill does a great job with different voices and tones for all the characters. Av’s personal life has just enough detail where we can picture him in the real world with us. But he stumbles upon an exciting possible conspiracy where some of the Washington elite keep popping up dead.

I honestly didn’t find this to be the kind of mystery/thriller where I was keeping score or guessing who was up to what. I was just enjoying the fast pace and sinister vibe. Some of this story is pretty dark but no less scary than the news of late.
While this was written in 2015, I didn’t think it felt that dated. For those of you who liked the Cam Richter series by Deutermann, you will see a few enjoyable similarities but this is definitely a change from his other books with all the Washington atmosphere at times. Finally to say,
the ending was intense but fairly strange. If you consider robots and killer plants weird. Somehow it worked out okay for me.

Wild for You
Kendall Ryan
Release Date: April 20, 2020

3 stars - The first 50% of the book was at 5 stars. Felt like getting exactly what the blurb promised + more. Level-headed hockey team captain impulsively rescues a down on her luck heroine. They’re roommates with WILD chemistry. But after 51%, I was reading a totally different story. Although, this has one of the best everyday romance heroes I’ve probably ever read...Grant Henry ended up too good for this story’s sensitive heroine in my opinion. Some will even say he’s too perfect.

He offers her a room for free. Instead of offering to chip in, she picks the worst time to up and spread her wings. Ana doesn’t exactly rush into a fling with Grant. But while he is cautious yet devoted in their relationship, she is reckless and distant the majority of the time. And the suspense angle with her ex is out there as a potential plot device that’s never really used. It also lacks some of the hotness factor of many of Kendall’s prior works.

Spoilers ahead!!! There’s no way to avoid them... Grant basically tells Ana he will love her and protect her no matter what. He doesn’t care if her baby is his or her ex’s. And Ana runs away. Suddenly she needs to prove she can do everything by herself. Girl, the ship has sailed as they say. I think it was an effort to redeem

Ana as an independent, willful character but the effort falls flat. She was more likable as we rooted for her to find her way out of her terrible relationship and accept the help we all need sometimes. The pregnancy storyline could have been entertaining but it left so much to be desired.And that ended up being the entire plot of the second half, not them falling in love or avoiding her ex.