book cover for Enduring Freedom

Enduring Freedom

By Jawad Arash and Trent Reedy
Star Rating

Rated by Kristen R
Jan 21, 2022

In Enduring Freedom we get the human side of war from two perspectives.  The novel shares how two people from different backgrounds react to the same events.  The setting takes place mainly in Farah, Afghanistan after 9/11.  Joe, a U.S. Army soldier from Iowa, is serving his first tour in Afghanistan when he meets Baheer, a sixteen-year old local.  There is a language barrier at first, but there is no mistaking that they both want to defeat the Taliban.  They forge a friendship in which they rely on each other's bravery and knowledge to make it through some tough situations. 

It is a great

Happy Galentine's Day!

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Feb 12, 2019

It’s a little hard to miss all the pink and red hearts present in every retail space right now, the ads for sparkly jewelry, and displays of roses and flowers, but let’s take a few minutes to honor another February holiday: Galentine’s Day, which falls on the 13th of the month.

For those unacquainted with the wonderful show Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day is a holiday invented by star Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, a dedicated public servant and unabashed supporter of all her friends. As she describes it, “Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our

The Reminders

By Val Emmich
Star Rating

Rated by Catherine G.
Nov 7, 2017

The Reminders is a story about loss, friendship, and recovery. It’s told in the alternating perspectives of Gavin, a man in his late thirties whose partner has recently died; and Joan, a 10 year old girl whose parents are old college friends of Gavin's.

Shortly after Gavin's partner dies he becomes overwhelmed by the reminders of their life together and throws their belongings into the yard and sets them on fire. A neighbor takes a video of it and it makes the news. Joan's parents happen to see this and insist that Gavin come and stay with them for a while.

Joan can recall every detail of

Lab Girl

By Hope Jahren
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Jan 3, 2017

Do not believe the title of this book. Jahren has a dog, but he isn’t a Labrador. (Coco is actually a Chesapeake Bay Retriever.) But read it anyway! You’ll learn so much.

There’s the harsh reality of how scientists procure funding, which Jahren explains eloquently. You’ll learn what a scientist does in the field, and how, with a dash of why. And how red tape can render that work all for naught. You’ll learn what true friendship looks like, and you might understand mental illness a little bit better.

Not to mention the trees, their leaves, and how they grow, drink, survive and reproduce. Best

The Museum of Heartbreak

By Meg Leder

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Aug 22, 2016

Penelope, Ephraim and Audrey have been friends forever, an inseparable threesome. But now that they are juniors in high school, things are changing. Penelope is devastated when for the first time ever, Eph and Audrey both ditch out on the fall festival. She is the only one of the three who has never been kissed, never had a romantic involvement. Audrey is expanding her social circle and encouraging Penelope to do the same, but Penelope doesn't want to. Change is hard. But it is also inevitable. As Penelope grudgingly begins to accept this, a new world opens up with new friends, a romantic

Museum Hours (DVD)

By Jem Cohen
Star Rating

Rated by Michelle H.
Jul 2, 2016

Johann is a guard at the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, where he meets Anne, a Canadian visiting the city. A friendship develops that is intimate though not amorous; the absence of passion allows the film to forage for unique material. Museum Hours wanders, both in conversation and through Vienna, but is in no way adrift. Every image is anchored with importance, from trash on the corner to the Bruegels inside the museum, as the friends each discover the other through the lens of looking.  They’re neither quick nor clever, but their powers of observation are tremendous, and they’re

A Man Called Ove

By Fredrik Backman
Star Rating

Rated by Catherine G.
Feb 23, 2016

A Man Called Ove is one of those stories where you initially hate the main character but fall completely in love with him by the end of the book. Ove (pronounced ooh-va) is a sad, lonely, and grumpy older man. He believes everything should have a purpose, and one should always follow the rules. Ove does not believe in exceptions, he never smiles, he has zero tolerance for small talk, and he'll tell you to your face if he thinks you're ignorant. According to Ove, almost everyone is - especially if they don't drive a Saab. As you're listening to Ove complain about everyone and everything not

When I Was the Greatest

By Jason Reynolds
Star Rating

Rated by Helen H.
Feb 21, 2016

It’s a tale as old as time: teens going to parties far beyond their years. For this Johnson County reader, the interest in Jason Reynold's When I Was the Greatest lies in the microclimate of Bed-Stuy in New York City.

For Ali and his friends Needles and Noodles, an invitation to one of MoMo’s infamous parties must be accepted, for it may never come again. At fifteen, the boys don’t belong there, and they realize it in short order when a fight breaks out and they all, but especially Ali, end up on the most wanted list of some dangerous dudes.

The ensuing events bring Ali and his family closer

The House You Pass on the Way

By Jacqueline Woodson
Star Rating

Rated by Becky C.
Dec 18, 2015

The House You Pass on the Way is a short novel--less than 100 pages--but it contains unusual depth and beauty. It's a pre-sexual love story about two fourteen-year-old cousins who don't yet know where they fit in. One girl, Staggerlee, is biracial--black and white. One girl, Trout, is adopted. Both girls are struggling with their budding sexuality. Are they gay? Are they straight? Does it matter? Woodson gracefully captures the confusion these two feel as they explore what it means to grow from girls to women. 

Their intense, platonic relationship reminds me of the two girls in Woodson's

A Hundred Summers

By Beatriz Williams
Star Rating

Rated by Heather B.
Oct 15, 2015

In 1931, Lily Dane is dragged along to a college football game by her best friend Budgie Byrne, where Lily instantly becomes smitten with Nick Greenwald. Despite the fact that Budgie is generally the popular one, Nick quickly falls for Lily as well. There is one major stumbling block to their happily-ever-after, however--Nick is Jewish, and while Budgie warns Lily that this will be unacceptable to their high society friends and family, Lily refuses to believe it. She concedes that her mother might be a problem, but Lily is convinced that even she can eventually be brought around. It is

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

By Jesse Andrews
Star Rating

Rated by Gregg W.
Jul 9, 2015

It’s a shame that Me and Earl and the Dying Girl gets lumped in with John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Even though both are excellent novels involving a person dying of cancer, both are about vastly different things. Both have a vastly different tone, too - instead of Green’s warmth and earnestness, here life is more confused and bitter and darkly funny and deeply personal, which is more like how I remember high school. An unmotivated senior, Greg Gaines tries to stay under the radar and just survive the day unscathed. His goal is to drift through the year and deliberately keeps himself

Into the White (DVD)

By Peter Naess

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jun 14, 2015

Into the White portrays the true story of soldiers aboard German and British fighter planes after they are shot down over the wilderness of Norway on April 27, 1940. The three German soldiers stumble upon an abandoned cabin after trekking through the snowy landscape for days only to find two British soldiers wanting to use the shelter as well. Out of pity, the Germans take the British soldiers in as their prisoners and they begin a push-and-pull for power as the days drag on. Cold, hungry and with one wounded soldier, all five men learn that in order to survive, they have to work together. In

Shotgun Lovesongs

By Nickolas Butler
Star Rating

Rated by Colleen O.
Apr 23, 2014

Shotgun Lovesongs​ revolves around Lee, Hank, Kip, and Ronny—four small-town friends in Little Wing, Michigan. They did everything together as kids and remained in each other's lives as adults, although they lead very different lives. Hank stays in Little Wing, marries his high school sweetheart, and takes over his family's farm. Ronny struggles with alcoholism, and an accident changes his life forever. Kip flees to Chicago to live the high life as a broker, but returns to Little Wing with his fiancée and buys the town mill. And Lee makes it as a successful singer, traveling the globe yet

Doll Bones

By Holly Black

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Feb 11, 2014

Zach, Poppy and Alice are at an age where they should be putting away such things as dolls. At least this is what everyone keeps telling them. By using their action figures, Barbies and dolls they have purchased from Goodwill, they have created their own unique fantasy world of pirates, ladies and one bone-china doll they have dubbed Queen. To save their friendship, Poppy takes Queen out of her mother's cabinet and strange things begin to happen. Queen convinces them to undertake their own quest where they take a bus trip, sail a sailboat and break into a library, all to fulfill what they

Aug 20, 2013

Coauthored by John Green and David Levithan, Will Grayson, Will Grayson follows the crossing paths of two high schoolers, who incidentally both happen to be named Will Grayson.  Their connection is sealed when larger-than-life Tiny Cooper, best friend to one, becomes the boyfriend of the other, and all of them learn about self-discovery and being a positive force in someone else’s life.

Narration bounces back and forth between the Will Graysons, and this book excels at expressing the internal insecurities of these young men as they navigate the choppy waters of friendship and relationships. 

May 8, 2013

Orphan Train is a story about two different people whose lives are connected in so many ways, yet they are separated in age by about 75 years. Ninety-one-year-old Vivian Daly lives alone in an old Victorian house, when 17-year-old Molly gets assigned to clean her attic as part of a community service project to avoid juvenile detention. The project that begins as a punishment for Molly turns into an unexpected friendship with Vivian. As it turns out, both of them were unwanted orphans that had been passed from one dysfunctional family to another. Vivian and Molly end up creating an unexpected

Sep 18, 2012

Will Grayson is your average high school student—just trying to get through school while not attracting too much attention. This plan doesn’t always work very well because his best friend, Tiny Cooper (who is not tiny, by the way), is loud. And Tiny is about to attract way more attention because he wants to put on a musical about his life . . . for the entire school.

On the other side of Chicago lives another Will Grayson, also in high school. His plan is a little more complicated. This Will Grayson wants to get through high school without anyone finding out he is gay. Will Grayson hates

Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Mar 16, 2012

Wither is Lauren DeStefano’s promising debut novel and is the first book in The Chemical Gardner Trilogy.  In this compelling dystopian novel, DeStefano portrays our world as one that got seriously altered by human genetic engineering. After the first sturdy and super healthy generation, all subsequent generations die at a young age because of an untreatable virus. All women only live to the age of twenty and men to the age of twenty-five. DeStefano creates a quite realistic world, where women are abducted and the “lucky” ones are forced into polygamous marriages to prevent the human race from

Private Life by Jane Smiley

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Mar 15, 2012

Private Life is the latest book by the Pulitzer prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley. In this brilliant, character driven novel, Smiley created an unforgettable heroine in a quiet devoted wife, Margaret Mayfield Early. Private life chronicles several decades of Margaret’s life, from her childhood in post-Civil War Missouri, through her married life on a naval base in California, up to the early years of World War II.

When reading Private Life, I alternated between reading the novel and listening to the audiobook, masterfully narrated by Kate Reading. I was absorbed by the elaborate account of

Crossed by Ally Condi

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jan 18, 2012

Crossed is the much anticipated second book in the young adult dystopian Matched trilogy. Crossed picks up where Matched left off. Ky has been relocated by the Society to an unspecified location in Outer Provinces to fight the enemy and Cassia is determined to find him. After spending some time in different work camps, Cassia manages to get on a transport that is heading for Outer Provinces. As she reaches one of the villages located in a desert area of Outer Provinces, she learns that Ky has escaped and that he is headed for an area called the Carving. Cassia sets off after him. As Cassia and

Practical Jean by Trevor Cole

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Dec 28, 2011

Ceramics artist Jean Horemarsh has just spent 3 months caring for her mother who is dying of a terrible cancer. The ordeal has left her exhausted and thoughtful. After her mother dies, Jean returns to her own home and her husband, Milt who is a substitute English teacher. Jean tells Milt that she wishes she had killed her mother before she got so sick. Thus begins an idea in Jean’s mind; because no one should suffer the indignities of aging and illness like her mother did, she will give each of her friends one final, perfect moment and then, one by one, kill them.

Her friend Dorothy, married

Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Nov 23, 2011

Ellen Hopkins is one of the most frequently challenged young adult authors of the 21 century. She is known for not being afraid to tackle controversial issues and taking on topics such as drug addiction, sexual abuse or teen prostitution. Her novels have been very popular among teens and adults alike. Ellen Hopkins recently visited the Johnson County Library to talk about her books. It was at her event, where I learnt about Triangles, Hopkins’ first novel for adults. As soon as I started reading the novel, I was captivated and blown away.

In Triangles, Hopkins offers a powerful realistic

Nov 16, 2011

In an attempt to broaden my reading horizons I set out to read international fiction, a genre I’m not familiar with. Once I began The Bible of Clay, however, I felt a little bit like I was cheating since it’s the kind of book I’ve read a lot of – intrigue, mild thriller, archeological finds, flashbacks to the past, even a Holocaust connection. But since the author, Julia Navarro, is a Spanish journalist, and the story takes place mostly in Iraq and Europe, I decided that it fit for an international fiction book. The bible of clay was supposedly the story of creation as told by Abraham to an

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Nov 9, 2011

Writer Sophie Flack is a former dancer of New York City Ballet and a new author to watch. In her debut novel Bunheads, Flack revealed the glamorous but hard lives of members of the ballet corps. Based on her insider experience, she wrote a fascinating, yet bittersweet story about the elite world of professional ballet. Her readers learn about the stunning performances, exhausting rehearsals and backstage drama. They discover fierce competition, but also camaraderie among the dancers. 

The heroine, nineteen-year-old Hannah, is a talented and hardworking senior corps member who hopes to become

Jun 29, 2011

This is Ally Carter's first book in her YA series, "The Gallagher Girls", about a prestigious school for exceptional girls who are becoming spies.  It is told from the perspective of 15 year old Cameron Morgan, a.k.a "the Chameleon", and daughter of the headmistress of the Gallagher school.  Cammie and her best friends, Liz and Bex, can handle anything thrown at them, literally.  They speak multiple languages, can hack high security computers, and can kill an enemy with their bare hands, but when Cammie meets a normal boy in the nearby small town of Roseville the friends are at a loss.  Their

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jun 2, 2011

Along for the Ride is an enjoyable read by a renowned YA author Sarah Dessen. Dessen has gained wide spread popularity by writing genuine stories about coming of age, friendship and love. Her characters are typically well developed and true to life. People can relate to her characters and their predicaments and that is what makes Dessen’s books so popular and loved. You will not find any paranormal creatures in her books.

Auden Penelope West is the central protagonist of Along for the Ride. She is an accomplished, highly intelligent girl who quite does not fit among her peers. Her adolescence

Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Mar 9, 2011

Naruto is a long-running series with all the power of hype that that entails.  It begins as the story of a clumsy, none-too-bright boy who wants to become the greatest ninja ever.  This is, as one might expect, not terribly easy.

I was more than a little leery of venturing into such a well-publicized manga.  I've been burned before by popular works that have all the texture and depth of fast food, but I figured I'd give it a try.  Fortunately, it is a long running series, so the initial toilet humor was easy to breeze past until the plot and characterization started kicking in.  Even then, I

The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jan 19, 2011

Set in 1941, The Lost Garden is a beautifully written story about a thirty-five-year-old English woman who volunteers for the Women's Land Army, an organization devoted to growing crops for the war effort. Gwen Davis, who works for the Royal Horticultural Society in London, travels to a country estate in Devon to oversee a group of girls who will be planting potatoes. Gwen does not have many close friends and prefers the company of plants to people. But during her stay at Mosel, she forms a close friendship with one of the girls and also falls in love with a Canadian officer who is temporarily

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Jan 18, 2011

This book meets my foremost criteria for a great book – I was very sorry when it ended. It is a long book and readers may feel they have become part of the story, therefore, making an ending for themselves as well as the story. Much has been written about this book by critics and experts in literature. I will say only how I feel about it. Owen Meany is one of the most interesting characters in literature. He is universally seen as a “Christ figure” and this could only be missed by the most unobservant reader. This is the story of Owen’s life, as told by his lifelong best friend, John. The tone

Poser by Sue Wyshynski

Rated by Library Staff (not verified)
Nov 1, 2010

poser.GIFSue Wyshynski’s debut novel Poser is a light hearted and funny page turner. Tallulah is a sophomore who has recently moved from Florida to California. She is eager to fit in at her new school and find new super cool friends. Little does she know that by dressing up like a surfer and lying about her superior surfing skills to Jenna, the most popular girl in school, will bring her huge embarrassment in front of Jenna and her hot older brother Corey. Thanks to her humiliation, Tallulah gains a title of the “Poser” and harassment from her fellow students, especially from Jenna’s best friends. It