Favorite Quotes

"The test of literature is, I suppose, whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it."

— Elizabeth Drew

Reader's Link

Browsing all staff pick reviews written by 'ogradyj'

It's not easy

The Weight of Water

Title: The Weight of Water
By: Sarah Crossan

It's not easy moving to a new country, learning a new language, changing schools, making new friends, getting a new name because the teacher can't pronounce your given name. It's especially not easy when you are 12 going on 13 and your father has disappeared, maybe to the country you ... [Read more]

fiction, teen fiction, kids fiction

I didn't see that coming!

The Storyteller

Title: The Storyteller
By: Jodi Picoult

I just finished listening to The Storyteller, and there were times when I had to pull my car over to the side of the road because I was so emotionally involved with the story. Picoult tells a tale of three generations of a Jewish family, intertwining the horror of the ... [Read more]

fiction, audiobook

Who is the last runaway?

The Last Runaway

Title: The Last Runaway
By: Tracy Chevalier

Beginning in England, this is the story of Honor Bright, a young Quaker woman who travels to Ohio with her sister after a broken engagement. The sea voyage is terrible and Honor knows she can never face the sea again. However, upon landing in America, she is faced with many ... [Read more]


2013 Newbery Medal Winner

The One and Only Ivan

Title: The One and Only Ivan
By: Katherine Applegate

I read this book because it is the Newbery Medal winner this year and I was not disappointed! Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a mall/video arcade. This is Ivan’s story of his life and relationships with the other animals and humans at the mall. Sounds hokey, but it ... [Read more]


The new kid is just like you, but it takes awhile to realize that.


Title: Wonder
By: R.J. Palacio

Wonder is a remarkable first novel by R. J. Palacio. We have it in J Fiction, but I highly recommend it for readers of any age. Auggie - a child with severe facial deformities - is about to enter fifth grade at Beecher Prep after being homeschooled and protected all ... [Read more]

fiction, kids fiction

Baseball by Grisham

Calico Joe

Title: Calico Joe
By: John Grisham

Although John Grisham is best known for his legal thrillers, this small novel about a fictional baseball player brings out the best of his writing. Calico Joe has a breakout rookie season setting batting records right and left and gaining fans with each at bat. This is his story and ... [Read more]


Shanghai and Back Again

Dreams of Joy

Title: Dreams of Joy
By: Lisa See

This sequel to Shanghai Girls is every bit as gripping as the original. It picks up right where Shanghai Girls ended in Los Angeles and the reader is quickly transported back to Shanghai along with sisters Pearl and May's daughter Joy who is on a search for her birth father ... [Read more]

1 Comment

Homecoming, Family, and Miracles

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake

Title: The Homecoming of Samuel Lake
By: Jenny Wingfield

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake is a remarkable first novel. I was swept into the Moses family reunion and the fabric of their shared lives in 1950's Arkansas from the very first page. I wanted to know all the characters as they shared their everyday lives and their dreams, their ... [Read more]


Old Friends and Terrorists

The Weekend

Title: The Weekend
By: Bernhard Schlink

On the face, The Weekend is a novel about a reunion at an isolated German estate of old friends who haven't seen each other for years. They are brought together to greet Jorg who has been in prison for 24 years for unspecified acts of terror. Each guest has a ... [Read more]

fiction, audiobook

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

Title: The Glass Castle
By: Jeannette Walls

At once heartbreaking and heartening, Walls describes her peripatetic childhood taking on adult responsibilities at an extremely young age because her parents, though physically present, lived mostly in their own worlds. They obviously loved their children but felt no need to parent them in the conventional sense. At the age ... [Read more]

biography, audiobook

Madensky Square - A year in the Life

Madensky Square

Title: Madensky Square
By: Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbottson was known to me only as an author of children's books. After her recent death I decided to try some of her books for adults. Madensky Square has the same charm as her fanciful books for young people. Madensky Square takes place in pre-World War I Vienna. The ... [Read more]

1 Comment

Strength in What Remains

Strength in What Remains

Title: Strength in What Remains
By: Tracy Kidder

At once heartwarming and tearjerking, Kidder tells the story of Deo who arrives in New York City with $200 in his pocket after a harrowing escape from civil war and genocide in Burundi. This is a story of hope and survival in the face of man’s inhumanity to man. Deo’s ... [Read more]

non-fiction, biography

Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack

Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack

Title: Defending Baltimore Against Enemy Attack
By: Charles Osgood

The book is subtitled "A Boyhood Year During World War II." It is Osgood's memoir of 1942 when he was nine years old. The war was touching lives of those at home - victory gardens flourished, scrap metal was collected for the war effort, schoolchildren memorized the silhouettes of Japanese ... [Read more]


Jeepers Creepers It's Everywhere


Title: Creepers
By: Joanne Dahme

Ivy is everywhere. It seems to want to overtake the whole house. And no matter how much they try to pull it out and tear it off the walls it won't be eradicated. Courtney and her family move to their new home in remote Murmur, Massachusetts and the spookiness begins. ... [Read more]

fiction, mystery, teen fiction

Justice and Atonement and Capital Punishment

Change of Heart

Title: Change of Heart
By: Jodi Picoult

Change of Heart is a thought provoking and compelling novel about religion, murder, incest, organ donation, and the death penalty. As the characters in the book reevaluate their beliefs and feelings about these issues, the reader is compelled to do the same. Picoult skillfully weaves together a story of all ... [Read more]

fiction, audiobook
1 Comment

Friends Forever

The Girls from Ames

Title: The Girls from Ames
By: Jeffrey Zaslow

Imagine a group of friends that you have known literally all your life. You grew up in the same small town, knew each others' families, attended the same schools, went to the same parties, went off to different colleges and jobs, moved to different parts of the country, married, had ... [Read more]

non-fiction, audiobook

Book Kits

To help your book discussion group, we've gathered a collection of popular paperback titles and sorted them into kits which can be sent to you upon request.

Learn more... Browse titles...