Melanie's Picks

If We Were Giants by Dave Matthews

This story is full of humanity and life lessons, adventure and the art of community. Kirra, our protagonist, leads us through her loss and onto her healing. You won't want to miss this page turner with a strong nod towards ecology and working together as community.

The Magnificent Monsters of Cedar Street by Lauren Oliver

Cute monsters, scary monsters, and monsters who don't even know they are monsters abound in this adventurous tale with themes of grief and belonging and friendship.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Loved this! Circe is one strong independent woman/witch/nymph. We get to travel with her through her immortal life and experience the choices she made and her loves and losses. This book is equally good for the neophyte to mythology as for the scholar.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

I loved this intense story of two sisters and the choices they made. The author seamlessly shifts from present day to the past at a perfectly easy to read pace. A gritty side of Pittsburgh is the setting, where one sister is searching for one gone missing. Police corruption, violence against women, drug addiction, and family struggles are some of the subjects covered. So well written and smooth. Don't miss it!

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Machesy

Charlie Mackesy wrote a truly gentle and beautifully, inspirational, graphic novel. It's deceptively simple words and drawings encourage the reader to fill in the lines. This book would be a precious gift to yourself or a dear friend.

Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

A tense, fast-paced, thriller! Intriguing plot and interesting characters make this one come alive! Time is up for a grand old house and the secrets it holds.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

A humorous but pointed look at race, privilege and our motivation to act. Never preachy, Kiley Reid studies human nature, her debut is a literary novel that reads like suspense.

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates is a hero to many women and children. She is a successful business woman, philanthropist, mother and wife. She is clearly aware of how she is received and is an example of a woman empowering women. Her writing is inspiring and friendly without moralizing. Don't miss this one.

Full Throttle by Joe Hill

For me, the introduction was completely worth the price of admission! Don't skip it! I thought I would just read one or two of these short stories but I just couldn't stop reading! Each one was unique and interesting and they all were well written and tense and provocative. There is a bonus at the end of a little follow-up by the author on the motivation for each story. My favorite one speaks to the book hoarder in all of us, whose greatest fear is leaving this earth with a book unfinished...

Becoming by Michelle Obama

This book spoke to me as a daughter, wife, mother, woman, human, earthling. Michelle wrote so personally of her hopes, dreams, successes and mess ups that most of the time, I was in tears of sympathy and understanding or laughing out loud. I like these people, for their decency, their honestly, their hope and their humility.

Akin by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue does not disappoint, in her newest book, Akin, or ever. A completely readable and satisfying story. Using the dual themes of photography and family, we experience a new relationship between an elderly man and a young boy as they contemplate what family means and how it molds them.

All the Impossible Things by Lindsay Lackey

Lindsay Lackey's debut Middle Grade novel is spectacular! A young girl finds herself being tossed about in the foster care system. When she meets the Grooves she has developed a very hard protective shell. With love, trust, farm animals and friends, our girl finds her true ohana (family).

The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter

My first Karin Slaughter book, completely readable as a stand alone, although part of a series. I was compelled to drop all my responsibilities to read this book in less than 24 hours! I learned more about militant right wing neo nazi groups than I want to know, unfortunately, this is current and foreboding.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coats

This book begs to be read slowly and savored, every single word. The authors voice sings out in my mind and each line is poetry. Meet Harriet Tubman and other heroes compelled to help "conduct", and experience life in the south for people called "tasked". Beautiful and painful.

A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson

Engrossing and fast paced Swedish legal thriller told from three different perspectives. Insights into the Swedish legal system!

The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

I enjoyed the writing style of Lisa Lutz, her characters were flawed and believable. This is a story of extremes in the age old battle of the sexes that is absolutely current.

Chances Are... by Richard Russo

Richard Russo has done it again! This is a completely satisfying book with wonderfully developed characters, plot and setting. A story of college roommates, meeting up after 40 years and the stories we keep and the truths we believe.

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

This "nail- biter" about the glass ceiling in corporate America is a well thought out mystery, apropos of today's news stories. Women united are a strong force!

Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

A bittersweet coming of age story about memory, with characters so real I had to keep reminding myself they were fictional. Set in the 1980's in Niagara Falls, Canada. Reminiscent of Stand by Me.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

A witchy book with historical references and some wonderful characters. Interesting and enjoyable.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Perfect summer read. Light romance with sturdy characters and wonderful settings. Enjoy!

The Cabin at the End of the World by Pal Tremblay

Very dark and disturbing, the tension was so heavy, sometimes I had to put it down just to breathe and remind myself that I didn't have to make these awful decisions. This is unputdownable, block out some time.

Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Interesting easy to read book about friendship other things important to middle school kids. Light science fiction.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

This easy to read, book is an engrossing beach read. This book is current and hits on almost every issue important to women.

Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Fun book, it was like sitting down with good girlfriends and having a great big heart to heart talk! I really like these women and enjoyed their book!

The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

Fun paranormal read set in old New Orleans. Interesting plot and vivacious characters.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon

This story reminded me of The Shining. Some characters become enthralled in their work to the point of obsession. I didn't know who to trust and who not to trust until the very end!

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Backman knows human motivation. His stories have heart and hope, pain and despair. As with Ove, I laughed and sobbed. Backman's ability to write settings that are universal is awe-inspiring, Beartown could be any small town, very relatable and his descriptions of jr. hockey and the costs were impeccable.

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman

I love this book! It's so funny and precious and inspirational.... and there's CAKE!!!

Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick

Loved this literary fiction book and its Russian words and descriptions of daily life so different from my own. Fast paced and so well written switching back and forth between Russia and Louisiana. When Russia gets too cold, Fitzpatrick moves us to Louisiana to warm up!

Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key is my absolute favorite Ruth Ware book yet! Scary, suspenseful, and atmospheric! This author gets better and better!

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Another roller coaster ride from Blake Crouch! Don't miss this one!

The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard

The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard An honest but tender look at how dementia affects the inflicted and those who love and care for them. Never bossy or condescending she tells her story and retells others’ stories of journeys with this rapidly growing disease in a comforting and informative voice. In her forward, Gerrard compares her writing to asking for forgiveness. I understand her feelings and I found great comfort and support and hopefulness in this book.

Looker by Laura Sims

Gritty, dark, page turner to read in one sitting!

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

What fun! Well written and quite fascinating to find the stories are based on real sisters!

Caregivers by Nell Lake

Real stories from caregivers to dementia/Alzheimer's patients. Endearing and eyeopening.

Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Author Phaedra Patrick is expert at the feel-good, heartwarming, "coming of age" novels for the 50ish set of late bloomers. Her colorful characters are relatable and quirky. In her latest book, we meet Martha, who is suffocating from her need to be needed, until a kind-hearted bookshop owner finds a book he thinks she will like. The book motivates her to find the answers she has been searching for and begin her life anew!

Ghost Clause by Howard Norman

Two marriages, one house in Vermont, one cat, one missing child, and one ghost. This endearing and lovely story will gently worm its way into your emotions and settle there like a cat curls up on your lap.

If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura

A lovely small book about what holds power over us versus what is truly valuable.

How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery

Animal lovers will delight in this charmingly written and illustrated memoir of a woman challenged by her parents to stay in their preferred lane. With the love and support of creatures, she thrives in a different lane!

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

A poetic gift, a story of a man's life and his devotion to his friends, family and two very special cats, that will restore your faith in humanity, and maybe make you sob like a baby!