Queenie – by Candice Carty-Williams

reviewed by bookseller Mimi Hannan

A Jamaican English millennial in the same vein as Bridget Jones, Queenie is a young woman trying to connect with her true self in London. The pages fly by as she hilariously and tragically stumbles her way through an entry level career job at a newspaper while navigating the sexual and emotional fallout from a “break” with her long term boyfriend. Her family and friends do their best by her, alternately propping her up and bringing her back down to earth. Queenie will have you wanting to shake her by the shoulders, double over with laughter, and cry at the cruelties of her world. Queenie is a character you will never forget!

Gallery/Scout Press $15.20
March 19, 2019


The Immortalists – by Chloe Benjamin

reviewed by bookseller Anne Porter

If you could, would you seek out the date of your demise?  Chloe Benjamin’s second novel, The Immortalists, sets this question in motion with four siblings in Brooklyn, in the late 60’s.  Two brothers and two sisters, the Golds are a lively and inquisitive brood, and one hot, sticky summer day, they are persuaded by youngest Simon to visit a woman rumored to be able to foretell the date of one’s end.
At 29 years old, the author didn’t  live through the roughly fifty years of the lives of the Golds that she describes in the book, and she writes those decades like she was there.  Benjamin renders times and especially places with wonderful acuity, and the Gold siblings live solidly in these times and places. Their characters are recognizable and finely drawn.  As a witness to the glory and panic on Polk Street in San Francisco at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the early 80’s, I found Benjamin’s descriptions of that particular time and place especially fine, especially wrenching.
Existential philosophers have written about the courage it takes for conscious people to wake up every day and get on with their lives, knowing that some day, that life will stop.  How The Immortalists each grapple with their individual prophesies — trying to forget, empowered to take chances, disbelieving or afraid — each of the Golds represents how we might, or might not, take on the burden of knowing.

Hyperion $15.60
January 10, 2018
ISBN: 978-0735213180

Prince in Disguise – by Stephanie Kate Strohm

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

Finally, a royalty romance that depicts relatively normal and relatable characters. I could understand the different character motives, and their actions were not unreasonable given the circumstances. The main romance was not just an inexplicable attraction between two incompatible people and the conclusion was more realistic than wedding bells ringing for high schoolers. I appreciated the growth process of both sisters and how family support came into the story. Definitely enjoyable.

Hyperion $17.99
December 19, 2017

The Story of Arthur Truluv – by Elizabeth Berg

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

Different people find that being human gives them something in common and they become a family. A story about what it means to respect others and respect yourself, with a dash of old school chivalry thrown in. I loved how the relationships developed between people I would not have put together. A sweet read that really tugs at the heartstrings.

Random House $26.00
November 21, 2017

The End We Start From – by Megan Hunter

reviewed by bookseller Mimi Hannan

I’m not normally one for novellas or poetry but I found this story captivating. A woman gives birth to a son in London just as an apocalyptic flood takes effect and forces them to flee. Her otherworldly feelings about new motherhood and survival in a disintegrating world dovetail in the evocative prose of this first book from poet and short storyteller Megan Hughes.

Grove Press $22.00
November 7, 2017

Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon – by Henry Marsh

reviewed by bookseller Amy Hesselink

It is a rare thing today to encounter a person in a place of delicate power and knowledge who will readily admit to their mistakes. This scrupulous honesty is at the heart (and brain) of what makes ‘Admissions’ such a refreshing memoir. It’s author, retired British neurosurgeon Dr. Henry Marsh, describes his preparations for his own inevitable mortality while reflecting on the outcomes of the countless surgeries he has performed- successful and not-over his 35 years as a surgeon. While describing his voluntary work as a neurosurgeon in Nepal and the Ukraine Marsh reveals the anxiety of the operating theatre, the painful personal and professional mistakes he has made and his weariness that is soothed only by nature and handyman hobbies. The book reads in part as a confessional, but with warmth, insight and candor that will endear Marsh’s more existential and philosophical meanderings to the reader. “I have learnt that handling the brain tells you nothing about life-other than to be dismayed by its fragility.”

St. Martin’s Press hardcover $26.99
October 2017

All’s Faire in Middle School – by Victoria Jamieson

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

Loved the setting. Having a family that works at a Renaissance fair was very creative and I loved how the speaking went back and forth from normal talking to fun Shakespearean speech. I didn’t like how Imogene’s whole family gave her the silent treatment after she made her mistakes. She has never been to school before and she had no one to talk to that didn’t just tell her to challenge her peers to a duel! The ending also depended a bit too much on a deus ex machina event and let me quite unsatisfied..

Dial Books $12.99
September 2017

The Wonderling – by Mira Bartok

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

A mix of Little Orphan Annie and Oliver Twist. 13, later named Arthur, is belittled and abused at Miss Carbunkle’s Home for Wayward and Misbegotten Creatures. At each challenge Arthur must overcome his fears to move forward. Though confidence is a long time in coming and many misfortunes occur, the reader will rejoice with Arthur when he emerges triumphant and safe at the end.

[The character development of Arthur was very slow. This made the sad parts of the book very long. I would not read this book again if I had the option]

Candlewick Press, $21.99
September 2017

Girls Made of Snow and Glass – by Melissa Bashardoust

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

This was one of the best Snow White adaptations I have read. Lynet and Mina had a real relationship not just a bland mutual hate. Mina’s affinity with mirrors is explained as well as the “snow” in Snow White. Different pieces of the fairytale are pulled back so actions make sense and the feelings the characters have for each other can be seen. Since the focus is on different kinds of female relationships, there is no prince, but I found that to make sense within the story.

Flatiron Books, $18.99
September 5, 2017

Lie to Me – by J. T. Ellison

reviewed by bookseller Mimi Hannan

This is my first time reading Ellison’s work, and what a way to start! Lie to Me starts with a suspicious husband in a troubled marriage facing the disappearance of his wife, a familiar storyline to fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  But the second half of the book offers some gripping twists, and the character development throughout distinguishes this work from your run-of-the-mill thriller. Highly recommended!

Mira Books, $15.99
September 5, 2017

The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding:A Fiendish Arrangement -by Alexandra Bracken

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

Unlikely alliances are formed and familial betrayal abounds in a story about making deals with the devil … and the costs of those choices. Only a mutual need to survive binds high schooler Prosper Redding, the only unlucky one in a family bursting with luck and excellence, and the evil demon Alastor who has possessed him. By the end, the reader finds out that Alastor is not as wicked as he appears and Prosper reveals a courageous character more valuable than all the luck his family dishonestly obtained.

Disney Hyperion, $16.99
September 5, 2017

The Glass Town Game – by Catherynne M. Valente

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

With the beginning of school approaching, the Bronte siblings are about to be split up. Then their train transports them to Glass Town, the imaginary world they have created in their games. The world building in this book was amazing. The creative way the children’s imagination came to life, even in ways that surprised them, was delightful. I know that the places in Glass Town were actually places the Bronte children created, a realistic aspect I enjoyed. I didn’t like the character portrayal as much. Branwell irritated me the entire book and I had a hard time distinguishing between the characters of Emily and Anne. Charlotte was easier for me to identify but I would have liked a more defining character change. Overall, a very enjoyable read and I will definitely find myself visiting Glass Town in my own imagination.

Margaret K. McElderry Books, $17.99
September 5, 2017

Odd & True – by Cat Winters

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

Trudchen has grown up hearing magical stories about her family from Odette, her older sister. When Od returns after two years and invites Tru on an adventure, Tru has to decide what is real. I kept expecting things to take a turn for the fantastical. Instead, the layers of fantasy were pulled back and the reality was exposed. Definitely a book about facing the truth and deciding what you want and how you want to live your life. I loved how family was tied into the growth of Od and Tru. Lots of feels throughout the whole thing.

Amulet Books, $17.99
September 12, 2017

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match – by Elizabeth Eulberg

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

Sherlock Holmes becomes a middle school girl! Clever deductions and snarky comments abound. I enjoyed how Shelby and Watson were true middle schoolers with homework and parents. I liked how the kids followed their own agenda, tracking the case and making a difference, but still treated authority figures with respect. Consequences were real, forgiveness had to be earned and self understanding was clearly developed. All throughout were references to the original series from typical Sherlockian contempt to disguises and confrontations with Shelby’s new nemesis. A great adaption and an entertaining read!

Bloomsbury Publishing, $16.99
September 12, 2017

A Short History of the Girl Next Door – by Jared Reck

reviewed by bookseller Maggie Hills

Life doesn’t always resolve the way we want it to. This book deals with what happens when life doesn’t resolve at all. Wonderful communication of the frustration and heartbreak. I was with Matt and every action he took 100% of the book. Bittersweet ending message of valuing every little, silly, perfect moment we have with each other. *Sniff*

Knopf Books, $17.99
September 26, 2017