Reader Review: How to Sell a Haunted House

Posted on Friday, September 22, 2023 by patron reviewer

How to Sell and Haunted House by Grady Hendrix book coverAfter her parents’ deaths, Louise goes back to her home where she must sort out selling their house with her estranged brother, Mark. However, when they ask a real estate agent to come take a look at the house, she refuses to list it because she has a personal policy against selling haunted houses. In order to un-haunt the house, Louise and Mark need to face up to the ghosts of their family’s past, the most vicious of which is Pupkin, their ventriloquist mom’s favorite puppet.

I love how well “How to Sell a Haunted House” dealt with complex family dynamics, and the way family secrets come back to haunt us.

Three words that describe this book: Quirky, complex, emotional

You might want to pick this book up if: You want to read about a post 9/11 radical puppet collective.



This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: The Supernatural Enhancements

Posted on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 by patron reviewer

Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar CanteroWhen A. unexpectedly inherits a ton of money and Axton House, a mysterious mansion in Virginia, from a dead relative he’s never met, it quickly becomes apparent that the house comes with its share of secrets and supernatural occurrences. The house is definitely haunted, but that pales in comparison to the mystery surrounding the secret society that meets there every Winter Solstice. Through a series of clues left by the house’s former owner, A. and his friend Niamh need to uncover what the secret society is chasing. Though the atmosphere is that of a horror novel, the plot of the book is much more mystery-driven.

I read “The Supernatural Enhancements” because it was recommended by the Book Oracle, and it is one of the best book recommendations I have ever gotten. I loved the pace at which the mystery unfolded, which was steady without ever feeling slow. I stayed up well past my bedtime because I could not go to sleep without finishing it (which was always my favorite summer reading feeling as a kid).

Three words that describe this book: Atmospheric, Puzzling, Strange

You might want to pick this book up if: you are looking for something similar to “House of Leaves,” or you like solving puzzles.


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Symphony of Secrets

Posted on Monday, September 18, 2023 by patron reviewer

Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb book coverEarlier this year, I read Brendan Slocumb’s first novel, “The Violin Conspiracy,” and was blown away by its authenticity and power. Slocumb himself is a POC and classical musician, and the book was very much inspired by his own experiences and coming-of-age. He excels at writing about music in a way that makes it come alive even for the non-musical like me.

I eagerly awaited his recently released second book, “Symphony of Secrets.” It is similar in theme (exploring race and the classical music world) but seems less directly personal to Slocumb. I was still drawn in by the mystery, characters, and tension and would certainly recommend it. I’ll be excited to see where Slocumb’s talents take us next.

Three words that describe this book: Mystery, music, race

You might want to pick this book up if: You want something a bit different from your standard mystery/thriller that challenges and inspires but still entertains.


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Home Fires

Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2023 by patron reviewer

Home Fires by Julie Summers book coverThe book “Home Fires,” the inspiration for the BBC television series of the same title, explores the activities of Britain’s National Federation of Women’s Institutes during World War II. It begins by touching on the founding and purpose of the Institutes before going on to describe how members worked with evacuees, grew and preserved incredible amounts of food, made and mended clothing, and took over jobs usually done by men. All while dealing with rationing, widespread lack of running water or electricity, and the wondering about or grieving the loved ones more directly involved in the war.

This nonfiction book combines facts and figures with notes from organization records and anecdotes from wartime members and their children. While quite organized, there were a few places that I felt like it rambled a bit or revisited topics that I thought had been covered already. Note that it’s not a short book; the audiobook is about 12 hours long, but overall I found it a fascinating look at a group of remarkable “normal” rural women. It certainly put my own efforts in some of these areas into perspective!

Three words that describe this book: historical, stories, WWII

You might want to pick this book up if: you’re interested in the domestic side of WWII.


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Exiles

Posted on Monday, September 11, 2023 by patron reviewer

Exiles by Jane Harper book coverI am not a fan of the thriller/mystery genre, per se, but a fan of good writing, good characters, complex relationships and a good story line. Jane Harper does all of these good things in her Aaron Falk Series. All the stories are set in rural Australia and center on Federal Agent Falk.

When I read “The Dry,” I was captured by the landscape (dry), a compelling storyline, and a complex main character. It was quickly turned into a movie of the same name, which was a top-grossing film in Australia. The second book, “Force of Nature,” was set in an entirely different part of Australia, a thickly-forested mountainous area, which was as much an element of this story, as was the outback in the previous novel. The story was entirely different and yet hugely compelling. It is set to be released as a movie this fall.

I just finished the third (and supposedly last) novel in the series, “Exiles,” which is set in a rural area north of Melbourne. It is my favorite of all three novels. Again, the setting is hugely important to the feel and plot of the novel; Agent Falk is still complex, developing even more in this novel, and the plot is a thrilling build-up to several unexpected conclusions.

Three words that describe this book: compelling, beautifully-written, complexly-charactered.

You might want to pick this book up if: you want to go to a setting you’ve never experienced, learn about complex family and small-town relationships, feel carried away by a well-developed plot.


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: Nimona

Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 by patron reviewer

Nimona by ND Stevenson book coverThe book “Nimona” is about a girl who wants to become the best villain sidekick ever. The reader quickly finds out there’s more to Nimona than meets the eye, as the character reveals her shapeshifting powers. The relationship between Nimona and the ‘villain’ Ballistar Blackheart is so charming as they warm up to each other. I enjoyed how their struggle against society was portrayed, despite how light that touch was. The setting was also delightful: a medieval futuristic mashup!

Three words that describe this book: Funny, Endearing, Exciting

You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoyed the Netflix animated movie, have fun with graphic novels/comics, like silly puns, love seeing LGBTQ+ representation.


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: The True Love Experiment

Posted on Monday, August 21, 2023 by patron reviewer

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren book coverThe True Love Experiment” is the love story of the year! The main character Fizzy is an effervescent joy! Her unabashed truth-telling and lust-having makes her the juiciest lens with which to view falling in love. So often, I find the female leads to be so reserved and passive and that doesn’t inspire me the way fearless Fizzy does. The main male character Connor is an earnest, wonderful man that a I couldn’t help but also fall for through the eyes of Fizzy.

Author Christina Lauren is an absolute legend when is comes to dynamic connections and emotional expressions. I legitimately highlighted more of this book than I ever have any other book, simply because the prose was so beautiful. Even the spicy parts were gorgeously poetic!

Three words that describe this book: Romantic grumpy/sunshine comedy

You might want to pick this book up if: This book is SPICY and hilarious! Not recommended if you don’t enjoy shocking, crass humor. If you do, this will be an absolute delight!


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. We will continue to share reviews throughout the year. 

Reader Review: The One and Only Ivan

Posted on Friday, August 18, 2023 by patron reviewer

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate book coverThe first time I read “The One and Only Ivan” it upset me. I grew up spending many, many hours watching Ivan the gorilla at the B&I shopping center in Tacoma, Washington. My grandfather would take me on errands with him, then get himself a coffee and each of us a donut, so we could sit with Ivan for a while before going home. I read all the articles pasted on the walls, saw all the photos, and mostly just enjoyed my time with Ivan. Even as a small child, I knew he didn’t belong there.

Ivan was such a character. Some days he just sat around doing nothing. Other days he threw me balls, wiped boogers on the glass, made faces and played. The days he was quiet I was incredibly sad for him, but the days he was active are some of my happiest memories. He placed his hand on the other side of the glass from mine many, many times. I like to think he recognized us, but that may be a pipe dream. As an adult, I have a sense of guilt about enjoying his captivity as much as I did. I wasn’t the one that captured him. I never teased him, and I always loved him, but I still sat there and enjoyed seeing him. Was that wrong? Probably, but as a child, even though I knew better, my NOT watching him would not have freed him. It’s an eternal dilemma.

My childhood created a lifetime fascination with gorillas. I recently purchased prints of a few of Ivan’s paintings. Upon their delivery, I fell down a rabbit hole of research. This is not the first time I’ve fallen down this particular Ivan deep dive, but it did lead me to reread this book. Having a bit of distance made me more appreciative.

This book upset me the first time I read it because it painted Ivan in abject misery. I didn’t want that to tarnish my happy memories of him. But that’s selfish. How could he have been happy there? I was complicit in his captivity, and although I could have done nothing about it, I can’t be pleased with my nostalgia. Author Katherine Applegate first made me feel guilty, then made me think. That made me mad at first, but isn’t that what good writing is supposed to do? Especially with literature aimed at youth? Continue reading “Reader Review: The One and Only Ivan”

Reader Review: A Cosmology of Monsters

Posted on Friday, August 11, 2023 by patron reviewer

A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill book coverA Cosmology of Monsters,” Shaun Hamill’s debut novel, is an instant horror classic. The book is a perfect mix of creature-feature horror and a dark, modern fairy tale. The story keeps the reader guessing — just when you think it’s going one way, the story zags in a whole different direction. Yet, the narration is always easy to follow and neither the pacing nor tension ever slacken. Fans of Eldritch Horror will enjoy all the references to H.P. Lovecraft’s short fiction.

Be advised, possible content warnings include: Suicide, mental health, and an adult/minor relationship. There are also a couple of sex scenes. If the story were a film, I’d give it an R-rating. Although the book deals with dark, disturbing subject matter, these subjects are not described with explicit language or overly gory detail. In fact, the juvenile nature of Hamill’s prose is my only complaint about this book. I often felt like I was reading a YA novel right up until the content reminded me that I was in fact not. “A Cosmology of Monsters” is an unpredictably thrilling novel, perfect for fans of the fantasy/horror genre.

Three words that describe this book: Exciting, Clever, Creepy

You might want to pick this book up if: You’re in the mood for a good horror novel.


This reader review was submitted as part of Adult Summer Reading. Submit your own book review here for a chance to have it featured on the Adults Blog. 

Reader Review: In the Shelter

Posted on Monday, July 31, 2023 by patron reviewer

For years I’ve been a listener to the podcast “On Being” with Krista Tippett. I’ve listened to the podcasts while sitting in the front yard pulling weeds from my garden, as well as in overflowing classrooms with others who have been mesmerized by her interviews and her thoughts “on being” those questions about the meaning of our existence on this earth, how we make sense of it, how we find community, how we make sense of the physical and spiritual essences in our lives. So I was intrigued to discover the first spin-off from the On Being Project, a podcast called “Poetry Unbound” hosted by Pádraig Ó Tuama.

I love poetry, but this podcast has taken me deeper and opened my eyes to phrases and words that I would have missed completely in fact, it has opened the bounds of poems and poetry for me. All of this is because of the way Ó Tuama introduces a poem, reads it beautifully for us, then, after a few seconds of a simple music interlude, begins opening up the poem. He will read a phrase, add a bit of background, nuance, thought, then pause for another musical interlude. After the thoughts are shared, he ends by reading the poem one more time. The podcast is brief, just enough time to sweep the garage or wash the dishes, but oh, the sense of peace it brings, the new thoughts that come to life, the feeling of being alive to the world, to being itself, rather than just going through the chores of a day. Continue reading “Reader Review: In the Shelter”