Dec 3, 2021

Me (Moth) is a coming of age story told in verse by Amber McBride. Moth lost her family in a tragic accident; she feels alone, scared to take up space. Enter Sani, a depressed boy looking for a place filled with constant love. The two take a road trip together, trying to outrun the feelings that weigh them down; maybe Sani can make Moth feel alive, and she can bring him happiness. I’m not usually a fan of poetry or stories told in verse, but McBride’s writing is absolutely brilliant. Her metaphors and attention to detail made the story incredibly tangible. That build-up only made the plot

Dec 3, 2021

The Canyon’s Edge is a kind of boring and an emotional realistic fiction novel by Dusti Bowling. This book is about a girl named Elenor. Ever since the shooting that killed her mom, she and her dad have isolated themselves from the world. After a year Elenor and her dad go to a canyon where no one goes. Elenor’s dad feels a canyon flood and pushes Elenor to safety, but he gets carried away by it, now Elenor has to find and rescue her dad.

I love the way the author tells the story as a poem, but I think the way the author presented the plot was kind of weak. I recommend this book to

Nov 23, 2021

15-year-old Frannie is dealing with the death of her father when she discovers that he had made her a 1000-piece puzzle. Frannie is then suddenly transported back in the past to learn more about her father.

I personally did not like this book. It felt way longer than it should have been. This book did not flow very well and felt fragmented.  The plot seemed odd also, considering how she randomly traveled back to the past. I didn’t really like the characters either, they did not seem very redeeming. I would rate this book a 2/5.

Nov 22, 2021

This story is centered around Morgan, who is grieving the loss of her boyfriend, Flynn. Guilt overwhelms her everyday, as she believes she could have prevented his death. Despite this, her best friend Toni, encourages her to post a picture of him on social media to have some closure. That is until the photo is tagged with someone who looks exactly like her dead boyfriend. Who is this “Evan Murphy”?

Forget Me is a mystery/thriller that has many twists and turns. I would give this book five stars, as I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a while. The concept is very compelling and the twists

Nov 18, 2021

When Mary’s father passes away, she decides to move from California to New York, in hopes of starting fresh. She is faced with balancing her old life, friends, and grief, all while forming romance. Is Mary able to face her past? Read more to find out!

I liked how the author portrayed serious themes such as grief in this story. The author managed to show how it’s not the same with everyone, and how serious it is. I enjoyed how Mary had interests and bonds that helped her cope with her grief. I didn’t really like the romance in this book though, I feel like it should’ve leaned more towards

Nov 17, 2021

The Line Tender is a sad and heartwarming fiction novel by Kate Allen. This book is about a girl named Lucy, her best friend Fred who dies in a quarry at midnight. Ever since Fred died Lucy’s been a mess, she finishes an assignment in honor of Fred and she suddenly gets interested in her mother's work. She gets her dad, her neighbor, her family friend and her mom's former colleague to help her figure out things about her mom's beloved sharks. I love the way the author portrays the characters, and how they act and respond to everything happening around them. I recommend this book to people who

Oct 21, 2021

Can’t Look Away, by Donna Cooner, is a realistic fiction book. Torrey Grey, an amazing beauty vloggers’ life changes, when her sister dies. After her sister dies, fans are blaming her for the death. Hate comments are bashing Torrey. Now, that she goes to a new school, can Torey trust the people? What if they know about her sister’s death?

I enjoyed reading this book because it has a really good plot. I also think that the title is creative. It was a good book because it included many details. Torrey is trying to deal with the hate comments, while she moves to another school, in a different

Oct 21, 2021

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan is a coming-of-age story that follows teenager Leigh Chen Sanders as she deals with the aftermath of her mother’s suicide. Shortly after her mother’s death, Leigh believes that she has been visited by her mother- in the form of a bird. She is convinced that she will be able to see her once again if she journeys to Taiwan to meet her grandparents. The classic teen-romance combined with fantasy and the emotional depth of the novel creates an engaging story that leaves the reader on the edge of their seat.

Oct 21, 2021

It’s been a while since Lydia’s mother died, but Lydia still finds herself reeling from the impact of the life-changing event. Following the plan that she made with her mother, Lydia uproots to her Aunt Brat’s Connecticut farm, where she finds two more adults — Eileen (Aunt Brat’s good-humored wife) and Elloroy (their quirky live-in landlord) — waiting for her with open arms. Lydia struggles to become accustomed to her new family, and the big yellow dog that her aunt adopted just days after her arrival isn’t helping either. It barks too much, escapes from its leash often, and has a habit of

Oct 21, 2021

Emory, a high school girl, was in a fatal car accident with her brother, Joey. The car accident ending up killing a friend of hers, Candy Mont Claire. Everything seems different after the accident— her friends are different, her life is different, and she feels like a different person. Now she must navigate her life and find out who she really became.

This book a wild array of emotions throughout the story. It’s amazing how the author managed to make us live vicariously through Emory by our emotions. Emory struggles with many similar things that teens go through, which makes this book so

Oct 21, 2021

While trying to drive back to her home, Rose Colter gets stuck in the Nevada Desert. Suddenly, her radio starts playing her deceased friend’s voice. She decides to follow a light that leads her to the town of Lotus Valley. There she discovers that she will cause a flood in three days due to a prophecy. Does Rose stop the flood? What will happen next? Read more to find out!

There are many dark themes in this book. There are themes of PTSD, grief, and panic attacks. This book is very well written, it was hard to put down, and contained realistic scenarios revolving mental health. The main

Sep 25, 2021

The Ghosts We Keep is a heartbreaking story that contains realistic scenes of death, love, and healing. Liam’s brother, Ethan, was killed in a hit and run. While the family grieves over the death of Ethan, Liam struggles with maintaining relationships with friends and dealing with grief. He seeks comfort in Ethan’s best friend, Marcus, and learns secrets about Ethan that weren’t known when he was alive. Though this book is contains tons of tragedy, it will leave you feeling empowered at the end.

This book is full of raw emotions; like sadness, loneliness, and grief. This story portrays

Sep 22, 2021

Emily, a strong and determined girl, used to be gifted with luck, until her mother died from cancer. Now, three years later, her bad luck doesn’t seem to stop. Until she and her new friend Blake, find a bucket list that had belonged to Emily’s mom. They both decide to go on an emotional adventure filled with love, fear and acceptance hoping to complete the bucket list. Do Emily and Blake complete their mission? Read more to find out!

This book is a good fit for those who are looking for a summer read. The Lucky List is a unique story about finding out who you are, and living life to the

Sep 1, 2021

When you start tuning in to winter, you realise that we live through a thousand winters in our lives--some big, some small.

Sometimes you find yourself reading a book so full of interesting, exciting ideas that the author has found a way to express so clearly and exquisitely that they are both familiar and revelatory, that the book continuously sparks moments of resonant discovery so that you find yourself stopping to have your own related ideas, pondering your own life in light of the new perspectives just gained from the reading, marking passages to revisit, taking notes to develop later

Sep 1, 2021

Karou finally knows who she is. She knows about her past life as Madrigal of the Kirin, executed for loving the enemy. But she also knows about Akiva’s betrayal and the suffering he has wrought upon her people and her world. Now, as the war between the Chimaera and the Seraphim explodes, Karou joins Thiago, the White Wolf, in crafting an army meant to inspire fear and bring destruction. Yet two questions remain unanswered: how far is Karou willing to go to protect her people — and is she even still one of them?

I absolutely loved this book! Laini Taylor’s writing was beautiful as always

Jul 2, 2021

Love and Gelato is about a young girl named Lina, who just lost her mom. Before her mom passed, she urged Lina to live with an old friend of hers in Florence, Italy. Lina was obviously hesitant about it, but she decided to go anyway. She discovers more about her mom's past than she ever thought possible. Her mom was gone, but it felt like she was right there with her. Plus, Lina meets the cute and sweet Lorenzo and they become fast friends, maybe even more.

 This book is like a slice of summer, even on the coldest of days. I give it 5 stars. The main characters are relatable, comedic

May 26, 2021

Logan, Shay, and Autumn are struggling. Each struck by the loss of someone they love, they’re unsure how to move forward. Music, the passion that once linked them, now brings back memories they’d rather forget. And they’ve turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms that leave them more and more alone. But while these characters seem buried by grief, they aren’t lost forever. As the story progresses, each comes to terms with the tragedy they’ve faced, building the courage to ask for help and slowly returning to music as an outlet for the hurt they feel.

This book’s shifting perspective offers

May 16, 2021

The book ​How to Make Friends with the Dark, by Kathleen Glasgow, is a realistic fiction novel. The main character, Tiger, has an unbreakable bond with her mother. Their mother-daughter relationship is deep and understanding, with a few quirks. Everything changes for Tiger when her mom unexpectedly dies. After Tiger loses the person she loves the most, her life goes into shambles. As the book narrates on, changing from first person point of view to second, we see how Tiger’s emotions play out. The best part of the book was the changing points of views, where the reader can understand the pain

The Boy in the Black Suit book cover

The Boy in the Black Suit

By Jason Reynolds
Rated by Kristen Re.
Apr 8, 2021

Matt Miller, a senior in high school, is dealing with the recent death of his mom to cancer.  Mr. Ray, Matt’s neighbor, offers him a job at the funeral home.  He is hesitant to take it but can’t pass up the good paycheck. So, Matt becomes the boy in the black suit because he starts wearing it every day.  In a way it brings Matt comfort to watch the funerals.  “I liked watching other people deal with the loss of someone, not because I enjoyed seeing them in pain, but because, somehow, it made me feel better knowing that my pain isn’t only mine.”

When he least expects it, Matt meets Lovey. 

Airplane over open water

After Elias

By Eddy Boudel Tan
Rated by Heather C
Jan 7, 2021

Truly one of the best books I've read this year. Very few books can balance heart wrenching grief as well as a mystery; a suspenseful thriller if you will.

Coen Caraway and Elias Santos are engaged to be married in a beautiful resort in Mexico. Just days before the wedding, with guests already en route, the plane Elias is co-piloting crashes into the ocean.  The last words heard on the 'black box' leave more questions than answers and Coen must now plan a memorial instead of a wedding.  

He tells friends and family that if they don’t believe in Elias’s innocence to not bother coming to

Dec 2, 2019

After Beverly's dog runs away she knows that she needs to leave, to get away from her drunk mother, her kind friends, and her dead dog. She doesn't know where she's going, but when she gets to a crooked little house by a crooked little sea, Beverly knows it is where she is going to stay, even if she won't admit it to herself. Beverly wants to keep to herself, but who knows if she will be able to keep away from the people who want to befriend her. The kindness inside of the book that is shown by all of the characters is super compelling. Although there is enough conflict to make the plot, the

Women's Voices Writing Contest Winner

By Virginia Brackett
Rated by Helen H.
Jan 11, 2019

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Virginia Brackett has won the open category of our writing contest on the theme of WOMEN'S VOICES with "Mrs. Cross".

Virginia Brackett, Professor Emeritus of English, retired in 2016 from Park University where she directed the Honors Academy and received varied teaching and service awards, including Faculty Member of the Year, 2013 for Exceptional Services to Student Veterans. She served as a discussion facilitator for the 2017 NEH-funded initiative for veterans and their families, Planting the Oar. Brackett serves on the Kansas City

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders
Rated by Chris K.
Oct 24, 2018

Strange, fascinating, moving, disturbing, challenging, poignant, and human. Oh, so very human.

Lincoln in the Bardo is a book that delves deep into the human condition and the particular human penchant for storytelling. It presents a myriad cast of characters, each obsessed with telling his or her own story to others. And to living it out, over and over. They are stuck in their stories. Limited by them. Blinded by them. Stories of regret, sorrow, and unfinished lives. Unhappy stories.

For the characters are ghosts. Or spirits or phantoms or souls or what you will. Trapped in a limbo of

Only Child

By Rhiannon Navin
Rated by Colleen O.
Jun 3, 2018

Only Child is told by six-year-old Zach Taylor, whose world is turned upside down when a gunman enters his school and kills nineteen children, including his older brother. The author has an uncanny ability to enter the mind of a small child and describe events as only a small child is able. The voice of innocence and wonder, sadness and confusion jumps out of every page as Zach tries to comprehend the tragedy that has befallen his family and the actions and despair of the adults around him, including his parents. Through his words, the reader learns about the family dynamic, issues they have

Dec 6, 2017

​They Left Us Everything is an emotional journey through Plum Johnson's grief and search for self after losing her parents and childhood home. After almost twenty years spent caring for her aging parents, Alex and Virginia, Plum is both liberated and burdened by their deaths, which happen just a mere three years apart. Though Plum loses them, and the loss is enormous, she finds them again through their belongings as she clears out their house, her childhood home, and prepares to sell it.

In packing her parent's belongings, she discovers who they really were, and also what it means to be

The Reminders

By Val Emmich
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

The Babadook (DVD)

By Jennifer Kent
Rated by Sheida B.
Oct 27, 2017

I admit that I watched this movie because of Essie Davis: our very own Miss Fisher. And I found her performance quite memorable in The Girl with a Pearl Earring.

In The Babadook, she is unrecognizable as Amelia, a frazzled, soft-spoken and accommodating single mom. Amelia works part-time at an old folks’ home while raising her six-year-old son, Sam (played by Noah Wiseman). She was widowed on the same night Sam was born. And Sam has major behavioral issues.   

The first half of the movie is from Amelia’s point of view. She is unhappy and exhausted, mentally and physically. One night, Sam

May 5, 2017

In July of 2007, Catherine Tidd lost her husband, Brad, in an accident and suddenly found herself a 31-year-old widow with three small children. In Confessions of a Mediocre Widow, Tidd chronicles her experience with sudden widowhood and the journey of self-discovery her husband's loss prompted. 

The first half of the book focuses on the loss and immediate aftermath of Brad's death. Tidd discusses her last moments with Brad, the shock of his death, how her mind (like so many other widows) could only process the loss in pieces, the crowds of people in the days after, and her new relationship

Jan 21, 2017

Mia, "Rabbit", Hayes is a fighter and the very heart of her adoring family. But so is the cancer slowly taking over her body. Rabbit, however, refuses to acknowledge that her diagnosis has just rapidly plummeted or share the news with her 12 year old daughter, Juliet. Neither of them is ready to say goodbye. Rabbit's family is amazing, particularly her strong tough Irish "Mammy" Molly, who fights like a tiger for her daughter's life. Rabbit's father, Jack, and her siblings, Grace and Davey, are believably drawn characters. At times, the imminent loss of Rabbit threatens to push the family

Thin Ice

By Irene Hannon
Rated by Lisa J.
Feb 17, 2016

Christy Reed has had a difficult year. First she lost both of her parents in a car wreck, then just a few months later her sister Ginny dies in a house fire. Just as Christy is starting to pull herself out of her grieving and begins to accept that she is alone in the world, an envelope arrives in the mail. The envelope is addressed in Ginny’s handwriting and is postmarked just a few days ago. What is going on, and where is Ginny?

Brand new FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor receives Christy’s call about the letter and reopens the case. There are many questions that need answers. Is Ginny