Alone in the Woods by Rebecca Behrens

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends, and their annual joint family vacation to the Northwoods of Wisconsin has usually been a time of ritual fun (donuts and jumping off piers, anyone?) But this year Alex doesn’t seem like herself, and the trip gets off to a strained start as Jocelyn feels like Alex thinks her phone is more important than anything else. An argument leads to disaster on their rafting trip, and suddenly they have no one but each other to depend on in the woods.

This is a great story for people who like to read stories about friendships, adventure, or who like to explore feelings. The author grew up in Wisconsin, and you can feel how much she loves to go “up north.” Great characters and suspense will keep you turning pages!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC BEHRENS)

The 19th Christmas by James Patterson

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

In the 19th book of James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series, Lindsay Boxer and her friends are getting ready to celebrate Christmas. But when a criminal known as “Loman” starts planting false clues and using multiple criminals to mask his true intentions, Lindsay and her colleagues must use all their knowledge and expertise to try and figure out the true plans before Christmas.

I have now read all the books in the Women’s Murder Club series, and while they are all enjoyable, quick reads, I feel like the beginning books were much stronger than the last few. But I will still keep reading the series, because I love the four women characters and how they all come together to solve crimes.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC PATTERSON)

Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

Dixie Wheeler is a woman whose aura is permanently bruised by the fact that her father murdered her three brothers and mother, leaving her the lone survivor among a breakfast table of corpses. Wheeler, known as Baby Blue for the song playing on a continuous, ear-piercing loop when found by police, has since grown up but can’t scratch the itch that there’s more to her family’s morbid history than meets the eye. When her childhood home is on the market, she moves in and tries to recreate the past as best she can to aid her memory. When Wheeler begins hearing irregular sounds upstairs, sees objects in places she didn’t leave them and a particular pillow that ends up here, there, and then in the oven, she begins to think she’s losing her mind. I was exasperated for her, and wondered did she do it? Why doesn’t she remember? What’s up with these blackouts? I had serious doubts about the innocence of one of the main characters but the ending was more complex and satisfying than I could have imagined. This is T. Marie Vandelly’s first novel and I hope she plans to keep writing!

Available through Bridges Library System


One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Reviewed by Kelsey (Library Staff)

Five teens with seemingly little to no connection to each other serve detention together one day, but before their time is up, one of them is dead. The question that plagues the characters, as well as the reader as the point of view switches from witnesses Bronwyn to Cooper to Nate to Addy, is: Who is responsible for Simon’s death? The only other person in the room was their teacher; he had left to check on a car crash that happened right outside the classroom window just as Simon drank from a cup laced with peanut oil, to which he was fatally allergic. Secrets from each character’s life – Cooper, the jock; Addy, the princess; Bronwyn, the brain; and Nate, the criminal – are revealed as the story progresses, several of which come to light through Simon’s gossip blog. But how can these secrets be published when Simon, the only person with administrative access to the blog, is six feet under? In their attempt to find out the truth, the four survivors of that fateful detention become unlikely friends and allies as one of them gets arrested for Simon’s murder. This novel will speak volumes to teen readers about the implication of spreading truth and lies, and how to avoid the pitfalls of stereotypes.
Karen McManus drew upon her love of the film “The Breakfast Club” to create a modern-day reincarnation whose thrilling pace and intriguing character development will be sure to linger long after the reader finds out the truth – about everything.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC MCMANUS)

Dirty John (2018)

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

This TV series is adapted from an extremely popular true-crime podcast about John Meehan, a man who makes a career by lying. From fighting in Iraq to treating patients experiencing debilitating pain with his vast medical expertise, there is no line John isn’t willing to cross accompanied by a handy explanation or six ready in his back pocket to keep him out of trouble. He swoops into Debra’s beautiful, expensive life and in less than two months, moves in, deflects Debra’s children from seeing her, adds his name to her financial accounts and marries her. Aghast by their foolish mother, the daughters and her nephew do everything they can to tell Debra there’s something wrong with John, but she refuses to hear any of it. Even as the foundations the couple hastily built together begin cracking, Debra calmly and with a gratingly soft voice, chooses to ignore direct evidence of John’s harmful behavior towards her children and picks him over them numerous times. Vapid, entitled and equip with unfortunate California valley girl accents, it was the girls that kept me watching regardless. Slighted left and right, the siblings don’t give up on their mom and put themselves in harm’s way to keep an eye on her. Without spoiling anything, Debra couldn’t be more right near the end when she remarks, “this isn’t going to make me look very good.” It sure doesn’t, Debra.

Located in TV Series (TV SERIES DIRTY)

In the Woods by Tana French

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

Summer in an idyllic Dublin neighborhood means long, unfettered days spent outside, the fresh air carrying the jingle of children’s laughter, the smell of barbecue and the hum of locusts basking in the heat. Three inseparable children squeeze every minute of each day for time to play together in the woods surrounding their homes until one day, three go in and only one comes out.

Twenty years later, now a detective with a name no one can link to that boy, Rob Ryan’s most recent homicide involves the very woods he left his childhood in. He is forced to confront a past he could never successfully remember, one he had divorced himself of and all the while he tells the story, even from the beginning, with a rueful twist.

It felt very much like an in-depth episode of Law and Order. Every piece of evidence is presented for the reader who can’t help but absorbs the tension as the case fails to progress and feel Ryan’s immense resentment as he repeatedly hits investigatory blocks. I couldn’t put this book down and welcomed the ending that was also similar to many episodes of Law and Order. It does the book justice, answered my most pressing questions and doesn’t end with every one of life’s loose ends tied in a giant red bow.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC FRENCH)

The A List by J.A. Jance

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This is the latest book in the Ali Reynolds mystery series.

This book flashes back to 2012, when Ali was a Los Angeles TV newscaster and interviewed a desperate mother trying to find a kidney for her dying son, Evan. Since the mom used artificial insemination from a fertility clinic, the odds of finding a match were low. To their surprise a viewer saw the broadcast and had a son that looked exactly like Evan. Then more and more half siblings were discovered and a medical nightmare emerged, revealing that the fertility doctor used his own sperm, instead of anonymous donors.

Years pass and the doctor ends up in prison. He wants revenge for the people he feels were responsible for his conviction. His prison connections and his mother’s money enable him to put out hits; and now Ali is the last person alive on his arm-tattooed Annihilation List.

J.A. Jance is one of my favorite authors. This book includes tidbits from the previous story lines, so it can be read as a stand-alone. I highly recommend reading this fast-paced, page turning series.

Located in Fiction (FIC JANCE)

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Reviewed by Amanda K (Library Staff)

I normally don’t write reviews on adult fiction books but this novel by Alex Michaelides is so compelling that I wanted to share.

Alicia’s life seems idyllic. She is an accomplished artist and happily married to her husband. One evening her husband comes home and she shoots him in the face five times. She refuses to speak in her defense or ever again. She is sentenced to a mental institution.

Theo Faber narrates the story. He is a psychotherapist and engineers his way into becoming Alicia’s therapist. He is desperate to try and “help” Alicia. Why won’t she talk? And why does Theo feel so connected to her?

This is a gripping tale about mental illness and marriage. Do we really know anyone? This novel is so full of twist and turns that it will keep you guessing. This book is perfect for really anyone, but certainly those who love suspense and mystery.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC MICHAELIDES)

A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

I found Shari Lapena’s most recent novel An Unwanted Guest similar to Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, which encouraged me to try another of her novels, A Stranger in the House. It is similarly structured with short chapters and numerous characters that have plenty of motives. Reeling from injuries and amnesia caused by a serious car accident she can’t remember, Karen is in constant fear of…something. Even in her own home, the hairs on her neck stand up as she notices objects shifting positions by a hair’s breadth with no explanation. Police begin doggedly visiting her, alleging her involvement in a crime she also fails to remember. Karen battles her sanity, memory, and conscience which gradually become the only things that will ensure her freedom. This is excellently written and could bear a sequel if Lapena ever felt like continuing with these characters. I would be interested in Tom and Karen’s relationship, if they could make it to the other side still just as much in love with one another or if after everything they’d part ways.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC LAPENA)

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

Lars Kepler is the pseudonym chosen by the husband and wife duo that created the Detective Inspector Joona Linna series. Voyeuristically composed videos of women going about their daily routines in the privacy of their homes trickle into the Stockholm Police department hours before the women are brutally murdered. Divisions of power begin to form within the department as detectives try helplessly to sift connections from the rapidly gathering forensic evidence. I was reluctant to put this book down and was so concerned with solving the overt stalking that I didn’t even guess at what was bubbling beneath. This is an excellent novel for anyone who appreciates a good chill!

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC KEPLER)