Staff Reads

Check out what our staff have to say about these new titles in our collection!

Into the Mist by P.C. Cast

Review by Anya

I read Into the Mist by P.C. Cast this month, which was something of a departure from my usual reading choices. In an apocalypse brought on by biological warfare, after a bombing of all major US cities and armed forces bases, a strange green fog has begun to roll over the country. The fog seems to only kill men (in a very gruesome way), while somehow granting the women who are exposed to it supernatural powers and abilities. The story follows a group of female teachers in the immediate aftermath of the bombing who manage to escape the cloud of death with new powers. They band together to try and survive in the new world, facing all sorts of dangers, some familiar and some entirely new. P.C. Cast has written a lot of YA books, and at times this felt like it had a bit of a YA tone. I enjoyed the plot, though I must admit that I was planning to skip the last couple of chapters because I assumed I already knew how the story would end. Boy, was I wrong! The last two chapters caught me super off guard and made me glad that I actually finished the book. It was a fantastic ending and I’m looking forward to the sequel!

In One Shot Harry, the reader follows the story of Harry Ingram, an African American freelance photographer in the early 60s. A veteran of the Korean War, Harry and his buddies from the war get together to reminisce and play dominos together often and help each other out as needed. As a skilled photographer, Harry often finds himself invested in the affairs and lives of others with little regard for his own safety. Determined to avenge his buddy from Korea, Harry quickly finds himself entangled in a mess bigger than he could have imagined. One Shot Harry depicts the reality of what life was like for African Americans in a severely racist area and overcoming some of the biggest obstacles while preparing to cover one of MLK’s famous speeches. There are a few captivating storylines to follow in this novel, best put as “there is a little something for everyone.”

One Shot Harry by Gary Phillips

Review by Rebekah

One Upon a Tim by Stuart Gibbs

Review by Miss Fran

Tim is born a peasant and wants to do more in life. When Princess Grace gets kidnapped by the evil Stinx, Prince Ruprecht needs knights to help save her. This is Tim’s perfect chance to help rescue her and be knighted. This is a super fun book to read as the perfect cross between juvenile fiction and a graphic novel for middle readers. The IQ Word Boosters are funny and educational! I had to look up a couple of the words. It will be a great book for students to increase their vocabulary while enjoying a hilarious tale! Readers will be happy to know there is a sequel coming out called The Labyrinth of Doom.

I read Hell’s Half-Acre: The Untold Story of the Benders, a Serial Killer Family on the American Frontier by Susan Jonusas. Detailing the story of a family of killers in Labette County, Kansas in the early 1870s, Jonusas explores a post-Civil War America and how at least a dozen people went missing before the Bender family was found out. She goes on to detail how they seemingly escaped justice and vanished into the American wilderness, managing to stay ahead of law enforcement with the help of a gang of outlaws. Recounting this disturbing piece of American history, Jonusas does not shy away from the brutality of the crimes but retains an empathy for the victims that keeps the book from becoming something like the sensational news stories that chased the Benders into obscurity. I give this book a perfect 5/7 on my patented seven-star scale.

Hell’s Half-Acre: the Untold Story of the Benders, a Serial Killer Family on the American Frontier by Susan Jonasus

Review by Jesse

Funny Farm: My Unexpected Life with 600 Rescue Animals by Laurie Zaleski

Review by Alyssa

If I am being completely honest, I judged Zaleski’s debut nonfiction title by the cover (adorable, rescue farm animals), expecting that it would mostly be stories about how she ended up with 600 animals, where her animals come from, their personalities, and some funny stories. Sure, I expected that there would be excerpts that made me sad, knowing that most rescue animals usually come from a bad living situation and have suffered from neglect or poor treatment. What I was not expecting was an honest, raw account of Laurie’s childhood, how she grew up with basically nothing in the backwoods of New Jersey, and her incredible relationship with her mother, with some animal stories sprinkled throughout. That being said, Zaleski’s Funny Farm is a must read! Between her incredible job describing the extreme poverty she grew up in, her depiction of her mother’s unique personality, and her feel good animal stories, the book has something for every reader to take away. I definitely got more than I bargained for when I picked up Funny Farm, but I’m so glad I did.

Flip the Script by Lyla Lee is a YA contemporary following a teen girl, Hana, making her big break in the K-Drama industry. When the show airs and doesn’t do as well as they were hoping, everyone is desperate to find a way to increase viewership. Hana’s parents moved back to Korea for her to pursue her dreams, and she doesn’t want to let them down. So, when the showrunners suggest she and her co-star, Bryan, fake-date each other, she goes along with it. This decision throws her straight into the spotlight, where Bryan’s fans hate on her for dating their idol and her performance on the show is scrutinized even more. Hana’s feeling pressure on all sides, and the only person she can really turn to is her best friend, Minjee. But when Minjee is cast as Hana’s love rival on the show, things begin to change. The more the show tries to pit Minjee and Hana against each other, the more they come together. As time goes on, Hana feels her relationship with Minjee shifting, and wonders just how much longer she can hide who she truly is from the world. This book was a whirlwind, and I enjoyed every second of it! Lyla Lee is incredible at writing fun YA contemporaries that pull at real issues, and this book is no exception. With a cool insight to the K-Drama industry, the book isn’t one to miss. Any K-Pop or K-Drama fans should definitely check it out!

Flip the Script by Lyla Lee

Review by Dani

Early Morning Riser by Katherine Heiny

Review by Paige

Early Morning Riser, our upcoming Brandon Reads book club’s title for the fall, is a sweet story set in Boyne City, MI. The Michigan setting of the book was the draw for me, and the fun romance of it all made the read a worthwhile one. The story follows Jane and the many people in her life, but none take up space in her mind like the infamously handsome Duncan. Love plays strongly in this book, and the humor is fun, and the journey feels natural. With the ups and downs of dating and the ups and downs of finding community through tragedy, Early Morning Riser feels like a great comfort read to me. The dynamics of a small town and the connections that flow through make this a great read for Ortonville residents. I hope to see others read this all together this fall. I think we would all enjoy sharing this book with one another.