Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica

Reviewed by Jess B (Library Patron)

This is a rollercoaster ride of a book. The beginning is dark and grim, I wasn’t sure if I would read on but I am glad I did! Local Woman Missing is the story of two women and a six-year-old girl who goes missing, are the disappearances connected? Why these particular people from this otherwise peaceful town? The story bounces back and forth from the present day to eleven years ago when the people go missing. After eleven years the six-year-old girl shows up alive, what answers does she hold? The storyline keeps you guessing, are the women alive? If not who killed them and why? As you read, several individuals may be suspects however, be ready for a big plot twist you probably won’t see coming. This book is a page-turner and you become connected to the characters. A true thriller novel.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC KUBICA)

The Island by Adrian McKinty

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

Heather Baxter recently married a widowed doctor who has a young son and teenage daughter, and while they live in Seattle, they all decide to go on vacation to Australia. While out searching for some native animals, they stumble upon Dutch Island which is off-limits to outside visitors. Somehow they talk their way onto the ferry and head to the island but after an accident occurs, the family is thrust into an absolute nightmare with no way to escape. Heather must use all her childhood knowledge of surviving in the outdoors to stay one step ahead of the locals and make it off the island.

This was a suspenseful novel full of terror around every corner. Heather originally came off as weak and naïve, but as the story continued you were able to see how she is smart, strong, and capable. This book kept me on the edge of my seat and I would recommend it for the perfect summer/fall quick read!

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC MCKINTY)

Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Reviewed by Jen Bremer (Library Staff)

Neon Gods is the first book in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. What started out as a self-published book on Amazon’s Kindle, has turned into a publishing powerhouse. Neon Gods is a dark, contemporary retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone. Robert does an incredible job world-building a modern city that is Olympus and fills it with complex and page melting characters. I loved this book. If you like your dark romance novels on the spicy side, I think you’ll love it too.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

I refuse to believe that Black Cake is author Charmaine Wilkerson’s first novel. It is just too darn good to be her first try. I learned from reading the book jacket that she is a nonfiction writer of some standing, but her first novel showcases a mastery of fiction that few writers ever achieve.

The eponymous black cake is a Jamaican rum cake that Eleanor Bennett has left in the freezer for her children, Byron and Benedetta, to share after her death. She has also left them a recording that contains many revelations about her life, that she never chose to share with them while she was alive.

The story is told from several different characters’ points of view, and one of the greatest achievements of Wilkerson’s work is that each character’s voice rings true. The technique of multiple narrators is difficult for even seasoned novelists to manage, and rarely do all the narrators feel equally authentic. But Wilkerson writes the voice of an elderly Chinese-Jamaican man as easily as she writes a fortyish Black American woman.

The layers of symbolism are something else that one doesn’t expect to encounter in a first novel. The black cake itself, made from ingredients gathered to the Jamaica from around the world, is the concrete symbol of Caribbean identity (or lack thereof). Eleanor’s turbulent narrative highlights how she struggled to establish her own identity over and over again, while all of her children face identity crises in the aftermath of her death. Wilkerson beautifully integrates symbols and meditations on the theme of identity into every character’s arc.

My only concern about Charmaine Wilkerson is that Black Cake will be her first and last novel. Occasionally, a novelist produces an earth-shattering debut, then nothing (notable) ever again. These one-hit wonder novels are often semi-autobiographical–To Kill A Mockingbird, Bastard Out of Carolina–and seem to be the authors’ cris de coeur about the conflicts in their own lives. I desperately hope that Wilkerson can go to the well again and again, because I very much enjoy reading her writing.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC WILKERSON)

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’ve always enjoyed Harlan Coben’s standalone novels, but for whatever reason I was always hesitant to read his Myron Bolitar series. After multiple people told me I had to read them, I decided to take the leap and try the first one, and I am so glad that I did.

Myron Bolitar is a sports agent, and while he can be hotheaded, he is also compassionate. In Deal Breaker, Myron’s client, Christian Steele, is entangled in the disappearance and suspected death of his ex-girlfriend. Myron attempts to find out the truth of what happened and who is responsible while dodging the underbelly of the crime and sports world.

Clearly I should have read this series sooner because I’ve already finished the second one, and I’m about to start on the third! So if you are looking for a new series that has some mystery, action, sports, and memorable characters, try the Myron Bolitar series.

Available through the Bridges Library System

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Reviewed by Holly (Library Staff)

This novel was extremely depressing. The plot revolves around a so-called “old” man (57 yrs. old) who appears to have given up on life when his beloved wife died. The book chronicles his journey through the last portion of his life and how he only wants to be with her in heaven. He seems obsessed with the idea of ending his life. His attempts to end his life are always interrupted by someone and/or something that Ove views as nothing more than an interruption. As this becomes a chronic pattern, readers realize Ove has several people who care about him and who he cares about. It is not until late in the story that Ove realizes this obvious fact himself. Perhaps he realized it sooner, but he may have believed the people in his life liked him because he was a grouchy old man. Hard to tell. Anyway prepare yourself for a read that will have you thinking about life and the choices we make.

P.S. As a former, loyal, repeat Saab owner I understood the MANY Saab references, but the average reader would most likely get sick of the word Saab (except perhaps the last time it was used)

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC BACKMAN)

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

Booth, as the title would suggest, is a fictionalized biography of not just presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth, but his entire family as well. (And they were a particularly interesting family!) I think it was the author’s intent to show John Wilkes within his family milieu to both humanize him and suggest how he came to be an Angry White Man With a Gun. I don’t think the author entirely succeeds in this aim, and as a result the novel stumbles where it might have soared.

If you are not up on the nineteenth-century theater, you probably don’t know that John was merely the least of the Booth family members performing upon the stage. His father, Junius Booth, was considered the greatest tragedian of his time, and his brothers Junius Jr. and Edwin were well-regarded actors in their own rights. Even his brother-in-law, Sleeper Clarke, a comedian, was better known than John. Sisters Rosalie and Asia and a largely absent brother, Joe, round out the six Booth siblings who survived to adulthood.

Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different sibling, which gives the narrative a strange and halting gait. The sisters are by far the most compelling narrators, especially Rosalie, an invalid who hears the ghosts of her dead siblings and tipples gin in her tea. I would have like to see the entire book written from Rosalie’s point of view. The author also inexplicably chose to preface each chapter with a quotation and a short vignette from the life of Abraham Lincoln–John Wilkes Booth’s fated victim. This breaks up the cadence even more, with no benefit to the novel that I can discern.

The author has obviously done extensive research on the Booth family, and the descriptions of daily life are beautifully drawn and highly realistic. I think she might have had better luck writing a nonfiction biography of the Booth family, or else a less ambitious novel focusing on a single sibling (Rosalie is my pick, but Asia Booth Clarke would be good too).

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC FOWLER)

Love and Saffron: A Novel of Friendship, Food, and Love by Kim Fay

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

Joan Bergstrom of Los Angeles sends a fan letter to Imogen Fortier, a monthly columnist living outside of Seattle. What follows is a charming novel of friendship, food, and love, told through letters between the two characters.

I love epistolary novels (works of fiction that are written in the form of letters or other documents), and this one was short and charming. I loved seeing how the relationship between the two characters grew as time went on, and I also loved all the references to different types of food. This was the perfect, quick read for a warm spring evening.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC FAY)

The Secrets of Bones by Kylie Logan

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Jazz Ramsey, an administrative assistant at a Catholic Girls School, is passionate about cadaver dog training. She takes a certified dog to the girls’ career day and hides old bones into the unused fourth floor for a demonstration. Everything becomes unraveled when the dog finds a skeleton of a former teacher that supposedly left the school a few years before.

Jazz starts investigating into Bernadette Quinn’s past, and finds more suspects than the detective working the case. Her on again, off again cop boyfriend helps too.

This book was very predictable and I knew how it would turn out way before the end of the book. The storyline veered into many uninteresting directions . The bestselling author may have a devoted following, but the book just wasn’t for me.

I’ll give it one star – something to read on a rainy night, but I’m not clamoring for more.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Reviewed by Jess B (Library Patron)

She tied her husband to a chair and then shot him five times in the face, while waiting for the police to arrive she slits her wrists. At least that’s what everyone is saying, but she hasn’t said a word. A famous painter named Alicia Benson, who is accused of murdering her husband and then goes completely silent for six years, spending those years in a mental hospital called The Grove. Enter Theo Farber a psychotherapist who is more than he first appears. He is determined to make Alicia talk, he leaves his stable job to go to the sinking ship that is The Grove due to his obsession with getting Alicia to reveal her story. The story is told from Theo’s point of view but we get to see snippets of Alicia’s diary in the days leading up to the murder.

Michaelides’s writing is very gripping and always has you ready to learn more about these characters’ lives. It is a fast-paced book with short chapters. One thing I really loved about this book was that there were lots of ties throughout the whole book and little surprises that helped unravel all the twisted truths of this murder. The charm of this book is its plot twists and the steady unraveling of the relationships between the characters to keep you guessing until the big twist at the end. Even if you did put the pieces together before the book ended I’m sure you will still enjoy the journey this book takes you on. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC MICHAELIDES)