Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

January 10, 2018 by

This is a beautifully written novel that follows several generations of a Palestinian family from the 1960s to the present. It focuses on the day-to-day impact of the huge historical events and struggles that surround this family as they move again and again from Palestine to Kuwait, Beirut, Paris, Boston, and more in search of a new and safer life. The challenges the different generations face to keep a sense of normalcy for their families, how much of their past to hold onto, and navigating new places as immigrants are heart-breaking at times, and will stay with you.


The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

January 9, 2018 by

This is the second book in a trilogy by Katherine Arden (the first book is The Bear and the Nightingale), and that can be a tough thing to pull off without seeming like filler between the first and last books. Katherine Arden really pulls it off! This book builds on the characters, particularly the main character Vasya, in interesting ways, takes them in unexpected directions, but would also work as a stand-alone book. The series is steeped in Russian fairy tales, and has a lovely, magical feel to it, although it it doesn’t spare you the brutality of life in medieval Russia. I love this series so far. Can’t wait for number 3.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

January 8, 2018 by


I actually picked up this book after reading Dark Tower #6 because of the title phrase “Turtles All the Way Down.” This bit of philosophical thought plays heavily into both these stories despite their vastly different content.

John Green does a good job delving into the main character’s psyche, making her relatable despite her severe anxiety and nauseating compulsions. This YA novel is great for an adult to pick up too despite featuring teenage characters– Green’s excellent writing brings you right into this girl’s life from her perspective. He presented her world in a way that was reminiscent of high school for me despite taking place (presumably) in 2017. (Age Disclaimer: I was not in high school during this millennium)

A page-turner, interesting.

Find this book in the Wiggin catalog to check availability or place a hold

The Circle, by Dave Eggers

January 7, 2018 by

[Lesley] In the same vein as some of William Gibson’s books (Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History especially) or Max Barry’s Jennifer Government and Company, The Circle is a spooky too-close-to-reality type of science fiction or alternative present (rather than alternative history). As the main character falls deeper into the cultural snare of The Circle, she moves from awe-filled enthusiasm to generalized anxiety to near-paranoia – and of course we know that sometimes paranoia is justified. While (& since) reading this book, I have been thinking a lot about our social-media-driven culture and some of the companies that have become monoliths (Google and Amazon, anyone?). This book reads both like a thriller and societal criticism, and the writing is engaging and smart – exactly what one expects from Dave Eggers.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Regan Barnhill

December 14, 2017 by


I loved so much about this book. It’s a fairy tale with twists: the witch isn’t a witch, the villagers aren’t as innocent as they seem, the elders aren’t wise so much as conniving, and the spiritual “center” is not at all what you would expect. At the center of it all though, is just what all fairy tales need – a fabulously strong, curious, and magical girl who can change the world. This is a kids book that is not just for kids.

Find this book in our catalog to check availability or place a hold


Women in Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky

December 11, 2017 by

[SAM] Look, I am here for all things Rachel Ignotofsky. I loved her women in science art long before it ever became her awesome first book “Women in Science.” So I was pretty sure I was going to like her follow-up “Women in Sports.” Then I opened to the first page and found the story of Madge Syers. Now, I know the story of Madge Syers, but I suspect you dear reader might not. And believe me, you want to know the story of Madge Syers. It might just change your opinion of her entire sport.

Oh, also the rest of the book is very good. You know, just in case you happen to not be as obsessed with Madge Syers as I am (not that I understand why, but hey people like what they like I guess). Filled with fifty stories and illustrations of amazing athletes. Learn a bit more about the awesome lives of Serena Williams and Simone Biles, and discover who Julie Krone and Patti McGee are. With one page of text on each athlete accompanied by an illustration surrounded with fast facts, this book makes it super easy to discover a new story each day! It’s definitely one of my favorite books of 2017. A great book for the whole family.


Boys in the Trees, Carly Simon

December 8, 2017 by

[Lesley] I give this 5 stars both for the writing/her story/her honesty and the amazing audio. The audiobook weaves music into the story in a meaningful and moving way. I didn’t know much about Carly Simon’s life – didn’t know her father was the Simon of Simon & Schuster for example. She is so thoughtful and honest and kind about her life and the people in it; wonderful.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

November 30, 2017 by


[SAM] November is family literacy month! One of my favorite new literary families is the Vanderbeekers! Siblings Jessie, Isa, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney find out five days before Christmas that their beloved old brownstone in Harlem will no longer be their home. The landlord, Mr. Beiderman, has refused to renew the family’s lease on their apartment. But to the Vanderbeekers kids this building is like a member of their family, and they won’t abandon it that easily. 


This is a great middle grade novel about family and the meaning of home. Chapters alternate perspective among all the siblings. You get very specific pictures of all five kids ranging in age from five to twelve. Their apartment and the neighbors around it are also lovingly described.


It’s not a Christmas book book per say, but has a little bit of Christmas in it, which makes it a fun family seasonal read! A perfect book for fans of The Penderwicks or The Silver Sisters series! Find it HERE

The Ninth Hour, by Alice McDermott

November 30, 2017 by

[Lesley] Great book by by one of my favorite writers. McDermott’s individuals, afloat in small seas of community, are compelling in their ordinariness. They are special and luminous in their ordinariness – how is that possible? As in many of her other books, the main characters in this story are revealed through the lens of an observer – in this case an observer connected through family relationships, but distant in time, the descendant of the mother and daughter in the story itself. Sparse yet lyrical writing carries the reader along from mystery to revelation to mystery.

3 Books Following People Trying to Do Things Better

November 10, 2017 by

[Lesley] Not sure if it’s cheating to include three books in one review, but I read these fairly close together and they definitely reminded me of each other in some ways.

I tend to like books that relate a project someone takes on, or a challenge they set for themselves, or new skills (or new whatever) they have set a goal to learn – with a deadline. Basically the genre: change your life in X days. But – I don’t like the ones that seem too good to be true, or that send the message if you just do everything exactly as that person did, you will be successful and happy for the rest of your life. I want the people writing these books to be honest, funny, self-deprecating, and to have the same obstacles most of us face (money, time, space, no personal trainer or full time domestic staff, etc.).

If you like this kind of thing too, you might be interested in one of these titles:

I loved the quirky “projects” each of these books details, mainly because the people involved were funny, real, and not shy about either their “wins” or their failures. I don’t read these books because I plan to try any of what they describe myself – but more as memoirs of just one piece of someone’s life.

I read Year of No Clutter and No Cheating, No Dying in print, and listened to The Marriage Test. I loved the audiobook which mirrored the book’s alternating voices/perspectives with two readers, a woman and a man. It made me feel like I was actually listening to the authors talk conversationally about their experiences – kind of like a Story Corps recording. Initially when I checked out No Cheating, No Dying I thought it might be too similar to The Marriage Test; but the voices were so different, and the authors at different parts of their lives and relationships that it wasn’t repetitive at all. In fact, it was more interesting to have the two stories on a wider spectrum.

Know of any other books of this type that I should put on my “to-read” list? Let me know!