Book

Illustrated hyena with multicolored background.

Down Days

By Ilze Hugo
4
Rated by Maryana K.
Oct 19, 2020

Ilze Hugo’s debut novel Down Days was written before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe, so the eerie similarities between her fictional version of Cape Town, South Africa and the real world today seem prophetic. Readers are introduced to Sick City ( formerly known as Cape Town )  7 years after a pandemic has affected the entire world. The slang term for the virus is called “the joke”, named for it’s symptom of uncontrollable laughter, but the other symptoms are no joke — a fever followed by organ failure leads to death. Although there is no cure for the infected, a vaccine is administered

Oct 19, 2020

Rafe Khatchadorian is a 6th grader at Hills Village Prison-I mean Middle School. Rafe loathes school and has enough problems to deal with at home including a stepdad that acts like a bear. Luckily, he has the perfect plan to have the best school year possible. Rafe and Leo, his imaginary friend, devise a plan to break every rule in the book. Can Rafe overcome a school bully, a teacher called the dragon lady, a strict principal, a school bully, a bust soda business, pass his classes, and can Rafe get Jeanne Galleta to like him while trying to have the best school year ever? I guess you’ll have

Why Do We Cry?

By Fran Pintadera
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Oct 15, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has left many searching for a way to cope with daily struggles.  Fran Pintadera’s picture book on the concept of crying serves as a unique tool to explain to all audiences how tears are an essential outlet for facing the various stages and phases of life.  With exquisite full color illustrations by Ana Sender, there is an aura of compassion in the poetic text as a mother explains to her young son why people cry. 


Young Mario spends an afternoon with his mother at the park.  When he asks the all-important question of why people cry, his mother closes her eyes

Cover of The Cafe By the Sea: shows scene of outdoor cafe seating in European village

The Café By the Sea

By Jenny Colgan
4
Rated by Emily D.
Oct 13, 2020

London based paralegal, Flora, has desperately pined over her American boss for years. He doesn’t know she exists. Flora has all but resigned herself to unrequited love, until one day he calls her into his office. But the love affair of her dreams doesn’t start there, instead she is sent on assignment to the island of her origins, Mure. The Scottish island is not somewhere she planned on returning, but maybe she’ll get a love affair after all.  


Continue Flora’s story along with her brothers and friends in Colgan’s sequel: The Endless Beach. The story just gets sweeter in this follow-up to 

Oct 7, 2020

After 15-year-old Leigh Chen Sanders finds that her mother has committed suicide, her world is turned upside down. However, after seeing a huge red bird with her mother’s voice, Leigh is positive that her mother’s spirit is still in this world. Grief-stricken, she decides to travel to Taiwan with her father in hopes of solving the puzzle of her mother’s past and finding the elusive bird. While there, Leigh meets her maternal grandparents for the first time and walks down a twisted, complex path of untold stories and unshared memories. She realizes how little she actually knew about her mother

Photo of sunrise coming over hundreds of shanties built on top of a huge public dump in Cambodia

The Rent Collector

By Wright, Camron Steve
5
Rated by Lisa H
Oct 7, 2020

When I saw the book cover of The Rent Collector, with a photo of tin and cardboard shanties built on a HUGE mound of garbage, I was curious and intrigued. The book cover was well worn, as it seemed to be a book that had been checked out and read by many. After reading The Rent Collector, it is now one of my favorite reads of the year.


The Rent Collector, by Camron Steve Wright, is a fictionalized account of a real family who live on the Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in Cambodia. Sang Ly and her husband Ki Lin are pickers at the dump, scavenging recyclables to sell to earn

Sep 30, 2020

“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.” - Lucy Gray Baird


Suzanne Collins bring us another installment of the Hunger Games.  This time she takes us back in time to the Tenth Annual Hunger Games (64 years prior to The Hunger Games trilogy, before Coriolanus Snow was President). 


Snow, eighteen-years-old, is doing what he can to hold what’s left of his family together and keep up with the status quo in the Capital.  Money is tight in the Snow house, and he is afraid he won’t be able to afford University.  An opportunity presents itself when he is assigned as mentor to the

Sun rays behind blue moon

The Book of Two Ways

By Jodi Picoult
5
Rated by Heather C
Sep 28, 2020

"After my son Kyle Ferriera van Leer declared his major in Egyptology at Yale in 2010, he mentioned the Book of Two Ways in passing. Without knowing a thing about it, I said, "That's a great title for a novel." It was only after he began to explain what it actually was that I realized what I needed to write about - the construct of time, and love, and life, and death"--Jodi Picoult 


This book had me at Egypt and did not disappoint. 


Dawn Edelstein is a Death Doula, she specializes in helping her clients find peace and comfort in the last days of their life.  Dawn was drawn to this work

Sep 25, 2020

Mark Dunn’s realistic fiction novel narrates the life of Ella Minnow Pea through letters as she tries to survive on her dystopian-like island run by a tyrannical council. Ella lives on the fictional island of Nollop, named after Nevin Nollop, the author of the sentence “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” A statue of Nollop with his famous sentence engraved on tiles resides in the town. When tiles, each bearing one letter begin to fall, the heads of the island; the Council, takes it as a sign from Nollop’s ghost to eliminate all use of the fallen letters. Members of the island must

Sep 23, 2020

“When did you realize poetry could be your companion? Your release?” 


In this episode of the Johnson County Library podcast Did You Hear, Dr. Randall Horton and Anishinaabekwe poet Louise K. Waakaa’igan discuss poetry both as a lifeline and as a discipline.  It’s a discussion between two people who share a gift for and love of poetry; but it’s also a discussion between two people who share a common language that only those who have been “inside” can fully understand.  


An unrelenting advocate for personal voice and perfect line breaks, Dr. Horton is equally passionate about eradicating

Sep 23, 2020

You Should See Me in a Crown follows our main character, Liz Lighty, through her senior year of high school in a small Midwestern town. In order to afford her dream university, Liz enters into the running for prom queen. At her school, the winners of prom king and queen get $10,000. Which is exactly how much money Liz needs for college.We follow Liz as she faces hardship, a new relationship, making new friends, and as she steps out of her shell. To me, the most compelling part of this book is all it represents.Liz, the main character, is black and only her close friends and family know she is

Vase of flowers in front of a window

Still Life

By Louise Penny
4
Rated by Hilary S.
Sep 19, 2020

Louise Penny has written a heart warming mystery series set in Canada. Murder and heart warming might not seem like they go together, but it works here. The series features Inspector Armand Gamache, a charming and quiet Chief Inspector of homicide. First called to the remote village of Three Pines, we meet the main characters of the town, but also Gamache’s team. There is a lot of character development and rich descriptions of the settings, which are  the real draw of the series. There seems to be an alarming amount of murder in the quaint town of Three Pines, Quebec. We find ourselves here

Cover of Open Season by C. J. Box

Open Season

By C. J. Box
3
Rated by Charles H
Sep 15, 2020

In 2001, C.J. Box released his first novel featuring Joe Pickett, a game warden from Twelve Sleep Wyoming. Establishing Pickett as a man with a strong moral compass and fierce devotion to his friends and family, it isn’t hard to see why Box has written nineteen additional stories featuring this classic western archetype.


As an introduction to Joe Pickett, Open Season drops the reader into one of his first days on the job as the new game warden in town. Somewhat bumbling, but with a clear respect for the rule of law above all else, he is not well liked in town. This is to be expected, coming

Aug 27, 2020

Fangirl is a 2013 young adult novel written by Rainbow Rowell. Rowell is also known for Eleanor & Park (2012) and Carry On (2015). Fangirl is her second published work. The book focuses on Cath, a college freshman, as she transitions to living on her own for the first time. Cath, who is very introverted, expects to live in a dorm with her twin sister, Wren. But her plan for college changes when Wren decides not to share a dorm with Cath. Instead, Wren wishes to live an independent life away from her sister. Cath has to navigate college on her own. Fangirl is a great example of how many changes

Aug 27, 2020

A Court of Thorns and Roses​ is the first installment in an ongoing book series by Manhattan author, Sarah J. Maas. It was first published in 2015. The series has four published books, with another, ​A Court of Silver Flames​ , expected to publish in January 2021. ​A Court of Thorns and Roses​ is a retelling of ​Beauty and the Beast ​ with a very dark twist. Nineteen-year-old Feyre’s world is split in two. The immortal faeries to the north are deadly and vicious, while mortals have their own sort of cruelty. The only thing separating the two races is The Wall, an impenetrable force built

The Widows of Malabar Hill book cover

The Widows of Malabar Hill

By Sujata Massey
4
Rated by Karyn H
Aug 13, 2020

Reading mysteries that feature smart, resourceful and bold lady detectives is one of my favorite pastimes.  I have quite a few favorites, including Phryne Fisher, Miss Jane Marple, Precious Ramotswe, Agatha Raisin, and Maisie Dobbs, to name a few.  I’m always on the lookout for more fabulous femmes of detection.  Meet Perveen Mistry, daughter of a wealthy and prominent Zorastrian family and the first woman solicitor (British for lawyer) in 1920s Bombay (modern-day Mumbai), India.  India was controlled by the British government in the 1920s.  The period of direct British rule over the Indian

Book Cover of The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova

The Biggest Bluff

By Maria Konnikova
5
Rated by Jack V.
Aug 11, 2020

Maria Konnikova's family was going through a rough patch. Her grandmother passed away, her mother lost her job, and Konnikova herself was diagnosed with an unknown immune disorder that left her in constant pain. Chance had reared its ugly head, in a way that couldn't be mitigated by professional success or personal resolve. What does that say about individual agency? Can any of us actually take our fate into our own hands?


The Biggest Bluff is Konnikova's attempt to come to grips with this dilemma. The book chronicles her project: one year devoted entirely to the study of poker. It's not a

Outrun the Wind

By Elizabeth Tammi
4
Rated by Anne G
Jul 22, 2020

"Ugly words don't always mean ugly feelings."
― Elizabeth Tammi, Outrun the Wind


Elizabeth Tammi shows that she is a talented writer with this story about the Greek myth Atalanta. I enjoyed that this book addresses the harsh realities of Ancient Greek womanhood while also giving the women of steel protagonists a happy ending. There is not any shaming of women who are not as physically capable as the strong female Atalanta, which was a breath of fresh air. It is definitely a slow burn romance about Greek gods and goddesses, but the ending is worth it. If you grew up reading books about

English Tea Murder

By Leslie Meier
3
Rated by Josh N.
Jul 22, 2020

"In for a penny, in for a pound."


I've read a variety of mystery novels over the years, but never a cozy mystery. Which is strange because I generally prefer lighter, brighter stories to grim and gritty, and I'm not big on gore. And I love puns, and a lot of cozy mysteries have punny titles. I decided to try my first cozy mystery and chose English Tea Murder by Leslie Meier at random. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting from the genre (no punny title, for one thing) but to cut to the big reveal, I liked it.


Having never read a cozy mystery, especially one by Leslie Meier, here's what

The Goose Girl

By Shannon Hale
5
Rated by Anne G
Jul 10, 2020

“... If we don't tell strange stories, when something strange happens we won't believe it.”
― Shannon Hale, The Goose Girl


The Goose Girl is a nice Grimm fairy-tale inspired piece of fiction. The fantasy fiction is well written, and quite creative in its own way. I stayed up all night reading this leisurely paced book. This is absorbing, exciting, and has a descriptive writing style. It is a slow moving tale at first, and some might be tempted to stop reading in the opening chapters where we are introduced to the excessively timid Princess Ani. Ani is a girl taken from her position as

The Broken Girls

By Simone St. James
4
Rated by Hebah A.H.
Jul 6, 2020

One of the best things about working in a library is the regular opportunity to talk about books (and other media) with people. Often, I can provide a recommendation for something else to read or try in those conversations, but it isn’t always a one-way street. Sometimes, patrons put books on my radar that I overlooked, either because the cover or description didn’t grab me, or it’s just outside my usual genre preferences. One of these books was Simone St. James’s The Broken Girls.


As a story with a historical fiction subplot and an intrigued journalist starring in the other main plotline,

Jul 2, 2020

British aristocracy has an interesting hold on many people around the world, the closer to the Royal Family and the more intense this interest and scrutiny becomes. 


Lady Glenconner served as a maid of honor at the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, and was Extra Lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II's sister, Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon, from 1971 until the Princess died in 2002.


Life among the titled is not all high teas and hunting parties; as this book will show, titles and privilege do not always guarantee a happy life, although more often than not, it is an interesting

The Undefeated

By Una McCormack
4
Rated by Anne G
Jun 24, 2020

In The Undefeated we have a lovely novella with a leisurely pace by Una McCormack. This space opera is an introspective reminiscent view of a sixty-year-old's life. The novella blends science fiction life on other planets, colonialism's rise and fall, and an eerie near-apocalyptic setting.
The science fiction novella in the far future in which a woman travels to her childhood home as war looms between humans and modified humans called "jenjers" that humans have enslaved. Much of the story is the protagonist Monica and her homecoming.  I enjoyed the lyrical writing style and the journey

Jun 22, 2020

(I discuss the novel, but I have avoided spoilers as best as I can.)


George Eliot’s Middlemarch regularly ranks as one of the greatest Victorian, greatest British, greatest English-language, or just plain greatest novels of all time. It seems to fare better on critic lists than reader lists, but if it’s a list of 100, Middlemarch is usually on there. The first time I took special notice of it was about fifteen years ago when I saw this quote: “He distrusted her affection; and what loneliness is more lonely than distrust?” I remember making a mental note that maybe one day I should read the

Akata Witch

By Nnedi Okorafor
5
Rated by admin
Jun 9, 2020

“Lesson one,” Anatov said. “And this is for all of you. Learn how to learn. Read between the lines. Know what to take and what to discard.”
― Nnedi Okorafor, Akata Witch


This young-adult culturally diverse fantasy, set within the modern times, centers on Sunny Nwazue, an adolescent born to Nigerian parents in the United States. A couple of years before our story begins, Sunny's family moved back to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where our primary woman of steel currently lives with them just outside a tiny town. Sunny “confuse[s] people,” she explains in her own voice, not only thanks

Books by Karen M. McManus

By Karen M. McManus
5
Rated by admin
May 26, 2020

Mystery fans looking for a new author to binge will want to know the name Karen M. McManus, who hit the New York Times and International Bestseller Lists with her first three published mysteries One of Us is Lying, Two Can Keep a Secret, and One of Us is Next. Haven't heard of McManus and wondering why? It could be because her novels are published under the TEEN umbrella. But don't let that stop you from picking up a copy! McManus is a gifted mystery author who crafts top notch whodunits that are tightly plotted with gasp worthy twists! Just because her protagonists are teens, doesn't mean

Atomic Habits

By James Clear
4
Rated by admin
May 21, 2020

There are a lot of things I start but never finish. I have a lot of good intentions that never really get going. On the flip side, I have some bad habits I have a difficult time breaking myself of. It's easy to feel discouraged and lazy when I can't get myself to follow through and stick with something or to quit something that hinders your life.


And then along comes James Clear to make keeping and losing habits more understandable and more attainable. Atomic Habits grew from posts on his blog and having them all in one book is easier to digest and refer back to than jumping around his blog

The Calculating Stars

By Mary Robinette Kowal
4
Rated by Hebah A.H.
May 19, 2020

One of my personal reading goals I set when Covid-19 first started turning things upside down was to read more of the books on my own personal shelves, things I'd bought but not read yet. I wasn't counting on my reading mojo plummeting, and truthfully, as far as timing went, I might have chosen a bit more wisely than to read a book that begins with a cataclysmic event that will likely be a human extinction event in time. So while I was fairly certain I would ultimately enjoy Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars, first book in her Lady Astronaut series, it took a bit for me to fully

May 18, 2020

For Lydia Bird, love can overcome anything, even death.  


When Lydia's fiance, Freddie Hunter, is tragically killed in a car accident she cannot imagine life moving on without him. Unable to sleep, her mum finds a doctor who is conducting trials on a new sleeping pill. This magical pink pill allows Lydia to fall asleep and jump back into her old life with Freddie. Her dream life with Freddie is continuing on without her.  


New things are happening to the couple and the people around them. Trying to juggle these two worlds is overwhelming and difficult at first. However, Lydia cannot

Opioid, Indiana

By Brian Allen Carr
5
Rated by Meghan F
Apr 29, 2020

After finishing Opioid, Indiana, I immediately wanted to read it again. Even though it's a fairly short book, Brian Allen Carr handles the difficult subject matter with so much insight and empathy that I was disappointed I didn't get to spend more time with all the characters.


Seventeen-year-old Riggle lives with his uncle in rural Indiana after his parents passed away years earlier. When Riggle gets suspended from school and his uncle disappears on a drug binge, Riggle must spend the week looking for him before the rent comes due on Friday. He interacts with several unique locals along the