What have Scotch Plains and Fanwood cardholders been reading so far this summer? Reviews may be edited for length.
The Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Cotterill
Love mysteries? Try one set in newly Communist Laos in 1976. Dr. Siri is a 72 year old medical doctor assigned to be the country’s coroner. He has a dry sense of humor, a non-compliant attitude and a quirky staff. The characters are well drawn and the time/place adds interest.
Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank
A good beach read–engaging, a good story, a happy ending.
If it Bleeds by Stephen King
Good short stories, by the master of the horror genre. My favorite is “RAT” – reminiscent of a Grimm’s fairy tale! King’s horrific ending leaves me cowering under the bedcovers, as I did as a child. King is an intelligent writer. He sprinkles his prose with references to the current media, as well as classic films and important novels of the past. He amazes me with his extraordinary knowledge. Reading him is effortless, he could write in any genre and be equally successful. His characters are relatable, both to the good in human beings and the macabre. This anthology is a winner.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Fun Home by Alison Bechdel is a graphic novel that provides a dark look into Bechdel’s family. With each page turn, Bechdel airs out another massive family secret to all readers. My jaw literally dropped as I turned pages of this book. I don’t even know how to adequately describe how blindsided I was by this book’s revelations. Bechdel also compares her family to many works of classic literature and theater. AP Lit students & teachers, as well as theater aficionados, will love all of the allusions that this book contains.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Difficult to read because it is so relevant and honest, but so worth the emotional roller coaster. Highly recommend.
Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home by Nora Krug
A unique format – graphic memoir! The writer delves her family’s activity in WWII Germany and the concept of home.
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Very interesting insights into South Africa as it was transitioning from an apartheid state to a free state. Noah, born of an African mother and European father, does not fit into any of the many racial categories that SA has elaborated and that are so twisted: e.g., Chinese are classified as colored, whereas Japanese are classified as white, since the South Africa wanted to have trade relations with Japan. Each category has certain privileges and restrictions. The book is also about his mother, who is in some ways the heroine of the book. She broke out of her family mold and was an independent and bold spirit. I listened to the audio book which is great because the author reads it and does all the accents of the various characters so convincingly.
Wunderland by Jennifer Cody Epstein
A fascinating book about friendship and betrayal-would definitely recommend.
The Black Book edited by M.A. Harris (original edition co-edited by Toni Morrison)
The archival information is informative and disturbing.
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
The story centers around a frame of time when Elizabeth was known as Plane Crash City, a time when three commercial planes all crashed into residential areas of Elizabeth en route to Newark Airport. Although it’s a work of historical fiction, it’s full of references to real and familiar places: Newark Penn Station, Spirito’s Pizza in Elizabeth, Shackamaxon Country Club. It was intriguing to spot these places and learn how much (or in some cases, how little) has changed in the last seventy years….
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
I liked it a lot — and the movie is coming out on Disney Plus!
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
This was fun and unique! Yelena wasn’t exactly as cool as I’d been led to believe (often a damsel in distress), but she was smart and eager to learn. While the ratings for the next two books in this trilogy are lower and the reviews are worse, I am intrigued to follow Yelena’s story as least for another book!
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
I liked this just as much as I liked Poison Study. Both were good, but also had similar plots. Yelena basically learned some things, then used what she learned to defeat some evil characters. She was just in Sitia, rather than Ixia. I really enjoyed learning about Sitia and Yelena’s family in this book. I also liked exploring Yelena’s magic alongside her and meeting new characters like Moon Man and Kiki.
The Blood Spell: A Ravenspire Novel by C.J. Redwine
I really just devoured this book. Redwine is a master at re-creating the classic fairy tales many of us grew up reading as children! She has such a refreshing take, which is complemented by her use of rich imagery and creation of complex characters. I was instantly transported to this stunning, fantasy world and I fell in love with Blue, her grandmother, Kellan, and Nessa. I really connected with Blue, especially, because of her love for science and for helping the less fortunate. For goodness sake, she wanted to learn how to make gold in order to provide for the homeless! So genuine and wholesome. Not to mention, she was very brave, outspoken, and learned sign language to communicate with Nessa. Speaking of, it was wonderful that there was disability and brown-skin representation! The romance was super sweet, too. The connection was realistic, the banter was fiery, the honesty and communication were there…everything was perfect! So yeah, this was fun and thrilling to read.