Review: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy, a gripping account of his experiences working with wrongfully convicted death row prisoners, was chosen as the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Go Big Read book in 2015. I had the privilege of facilitating several discussions, both in public libraries and online, about this book. The book had a very strong impact on its readers,… Continue reading Review: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming is an autobiographical YA book in verse about her experience growing up first in North Carolina, and then New York City, in the 1960s. Brown Girl Dreaming is a Newbery Honor book, a Loretta Scott King Award winner, and a National Book Award winner. Jacqueline begins by painting a picture of her extended… Continue reading Review: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray is a beautiful, emotionally draining book about the genocide of the Baltic people by the Soviet Union during World War II. I had never before read any books addressing this horrific aspect of the war; in fact, I'm not sure I even knew that this genocide had taken place. After being… Continue reading Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One has been wildly popular as crossover science fiction--that is, science fiction that is enjoyed by both adults and young adults alike. Gamers and "nerds" who lived through the 1980s will appreciate the many (many) '80s pop culture and gaming references, and young adults will love the tech-savvy teenage protagonists and the novel's kids-against-the-establishment mentality.… Continue reading Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Review: One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Seeing as I recently moved to Wisconsin, Amy Timberlake's One Came Home, set in the fictional Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, appealed to me. It follows Georgie Burkhardt, a tough, thirteen-year-old girl whose older sister, Agatha, has just turned up dead after running away a few days prior. Or has she? Georgie is not sure that the… Continue reading Review: One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

I read this book out loud to my girlfriend over the course of several months. The slow reading pace was nice, because the plot moves along at an easy pace. The novel is character-driven and hauntingly atmospheric; creepy, but not scary; heavy, but not depressing. In The Little Stranger, the upper class is in decline in post-WWII Britain.… Continue reading Review: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Review: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle

Lately I've been very interested in books about North Korea. It's a fascinating, secretive, and tragic country, and I've sought out books from a variety of perspectives: one by a defector, one by a Korean-American woman who taught high school English there, one by an American journalist. So when I read about Guy Delisle's Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, I was… Continue reading Review: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle

Review: Blankets by Craig Thompson

Craig Thompson's graphic novel Blankets caught my eye at the public library a few weeks ago. It was in the Staff Picks section, and it had a yellow, foot-shaped post-it note on the front. On the foot was a glowing handwritten review about how beautiful the story and illustrations of Blankets are. And a plus: the story is set… Continue reading Review: Blankets by Craig Thompson

Review: New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell

I love Gail Caldwell. I first realized this while reading Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, which is about the death of her best friend, fellow memoirist Caroline Knapp. (You can read that review here. Or the review of Caroline's memoir here.) She just seems so down-to-earth, wise, insightful. She's overcome her share of hardships. She's interesting.… Continue reading Review: New Life, No Instructions by Gail Caldwell

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Sigh. I wanted to love this book. I expected to love it. I've done my fair share of fangirling. Or at least, for a while I considered myself "active" in the Glee fandom. I wrote fanfic (and read tons of it), had a Tumblr, talked to other fans online, etc. It was fun. (It was also terrible, because Glee is terrible, but… Continue reading Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell