The following are book reviews submitted by Upshur County Public Library patrons during the 2019 Adult Summer Reading Program. The book titles are linked to our catalog where possible (some we don’t own, but if you are interested, please ask for them at the circulation desk).


Dear Mrs. Bird, by A J Pearce

(eBook link, not owned by Upshur Co.)
Submitted by Alice

Emmy Lake wants to help the war effort by becoming a journalist, doing Important Work. So when she applies then interviews at the London Evening Chronicle, she doesn’t really pay attention to the fact that she’s just be hired by a woman’s magazine and will be an assistant to the help letters editress. But with Bunty, her best friend, and a can do attitude, Emmy is determined to help as much as she can, wherever she can. I really liked this book – the story was cute without being saccharine, the plot interesting, and the ending satisfying.

A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs

(eBook link only)
Submitted by Heidi

I love the movie John Carter. While participating in the Summer Reading Challenge I found The Princess Mars (which I never would’ve found otherwise) a classic novel which the movie was based. The books are always so much better than the movies because they give the details that the movies lack. The book explores John Carters existence on Mars in detail, such as how he learns to communicate with the martians. His love for Dejah Thoris unfolds. What happened to Sola’s mother.

Cowboy Bold, by Carolyn Brown

(eBook link only)
Submitted by Joetta

This is a great book for more than one reason. Not only is it a wonderful romance it’s also a great guide to learning to deal with teenage girls. Not just how to survive the teenage years, but how to actually teach them discipline and respect. On the romance side of this book it is very real. It’s something that can actually happen, not just some fairytale that leaves women with unrealistic expectations. So if you have a teenage girl or any teenager and want a little romance in your life I recommend this book.

The Art of Communication, by Dan Waren

(Not owned by Upshur)
Submitted by Joetta

This is a well written book that teaches you how to really communicate with people. From learning to really listen to people to speaking where people can really understand what you’re trying to say. If you have a problem with communicating well with others I recommend this book.

Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich

Submitted by Joetta

This is an interestingly detailed book.It’s mysterious, funny, and at times weirdly intense. It’s about two men who are looking for some stones. Each stone has the power to make the person who has it do certain things such as being a gluten or hoarder. I didn’t like the way this book ended so I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Mind Connection, by Joyce Meyer

(Not owned by Upshur)
Submitted by Joetta

I love all of Joyce Meyer’s books I have read so far. This one is great especially for people who have problems with the way their wind works like focusing, thinking negatively, etc. I love that she puts her own life stories into it and she puts Bible scriptures throughout the book too. I definitely recommend any book written by Joyce Meyer.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum

Submitted by Serina

No matter how old I get, I never become tired of reading the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The children’s novel is full of creativity and suspense to engage readers to last a lifetime. The yellow brick road is alive and the world is my journey leadingl me home.

A Long Way Home, by Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose

(Note: Not available in Upshur)
Submitted by Joetta

It was a wonderfully educational non-fiction book about a young boy who was separated from his family in India. He ended up getting adopted by a family in Australia. Then many years later, he finally found his way back home. It was very sad reading about how Saroo and many other children in India live and what they go through on a daily basis. Unlike many children in India, Saroo was very lucky to have survived at such a young age after all he went through.


What is my Cat Thinking?, by Gwen Bailey

(Note: not available in Upshur)
Submited by Joetta

This book would be good for anyone who is wanting to get a cat or can teach someone who already has a cat(s) something new.


Daisies for Innocence by Bailey Cattrell

(Note: Not available in Upshur)
Submitted by Alice

Elliana is a gifted aromatherapist who can sense people’s moods and know which scents will influence them, a skill she learned from her grandmother and helps her in her shop, Scents & Nonsense. When she discovers her employee, Josie, dead, suspicion turns to her, not just because she found the body but also because Josie has started dating Ellie’s ex, who works hard to place the blame on her. I really liked this book. The writing was good, the characters likable, and the relationships believable. I liked that it seems like Ellie will be working, if not with, then at least not against the new detective in town, Lupe. Throw in a budding romance with her high school crush, and you’ve got the start of a great series.


Light it Up, by Nick Petrie

Submitted by Rachel

Peter Ash has PTSD as a former Marine. He’s drifted from job to job trying to keep out the white static in his head and find his way back in the world. He starts this book by doing a favor for a friend by helping out as security for cannabis companies. A previous set of employees at the security company vanished along with their vehicle. The pick up truck Peter was in got ambushed and Peter has to save the day. Very action-packed book.


The Lemon Sisters, by Jill Shalvis

Submitted by Rachel

Brooke and Mindy are sisters. Brooke has always been the free spirited one, so when Mindy shows up at Brooke’s needing help, Brooke is curious and surprised. As they both deal with life issues and things in their past, one by going home and one by taking a break from there, it gives way for both sisters to forge a new path of sister friendship and love. Kids, men and life goes along in the story for a feel good book.


No Exit, by Taylor Adams

Submitted by Alice

Holy thriller, Batman! This was amazing. This was fast-paced, full of tension, and a real nail-biter to the very end. Darby is a college student and admittedly bad daughter, trying to make it home to see her mother who was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when she is trapped by a snowstorm in a rest stop. While tryin to get a signal to send her mom a message, she sees a little girl trapped in the back of someone’s van. But who of the other four people at the rest stop is the kidnapper and who can she trust?


Blind Side: Evolution of the Game, by Michael Lewis

Submitted by Alice

I loved the movie, liked the book. I really liked the parts that dealt specifically with Michael Oher’s life. The other, in-depth football parts, eh, take ’em or leave ’em.


Caught Dead Handed, by Carol J. Perry

(link to eBook record)

Submitted by Isaac

The set-up of this cozy mystery was very intriguing – an Elvira-esque late night psychic tries to investigate who murdered her predecessor…In Salem…During Halloween. However, there were so many missteps along the way that the book was ultimately disappointing. The killer was easy to identify, the motive was unconvincing, and the characters unremarkable. The author created scenes that could’ve added depth and nuance to the story (i.e. a protest involving a coven of witches, a fundamentalist Christian group & PETA), but quickly moved on, focusing instead on serendipitous situations to foster the story. All told, this isn’t a book I would recommend or a series I would continue.


Finding Rose, by Angelina Brigance

Submitted by Anonymous

This is an inspiring and heartwarming novel that delves into the struggles and triumphs of those caring for and living with Alzheimer’s disease. Angelina Brigance has 25 years’ experience improving the lives of residents and it shows in this beautiful story. She shares practical tips and skills on how to communicate with those that are slipping from reality. She gives information on how to stay connected with the individual and I would recommend this book to anyone that has been touched by dementia.


My Not So Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella

Submitted by Anonymous

This feel-good novel is about Katie Brenner’s not so perfect life. A modern story with many laugh out loud moments. It shows the realities of life and how our expectations of life can be far from the truth. I love when a story presents sincerity and rawness with a hint of family/relationship issues.


The Reason I Jump: the Inner Voice of a Thirteen Year Old Boy with Autism, by Naoki Higashida

Submitted by Anonymous

This is an uplifting and inspiring narrative told by a thirteen-year-old boy with autism. Naoki answers questions about his autism through his eyes and reasons for some behaviors. He provides exceptional examples of his feelings and actions that the reader can relate to. He puts into perspective how he interprets the environment differently. He started using an alphabet grid for communication that was transcribed by someone and then translated into English, which I found amazing! The pictures illustrated throughout show nature as a metaphor for his feelings. To Naoki, nature is freeing and vivid, a place to escape, and a place where he is accepted.


America: The Essential Learning Edition (vol. 1), by David E. Shi

Submitted by Jessica

Shi does an excellent job in compiling the vast amount of American history from the colonists in the 16th century to the end of the Civil War. He does this in a manner that isn’t overwhelming and has a talent for engaging the reader in this detailed traditional narrative. It encompasses multiple arrays of topics, such as democracy, religion, economics, and freedom. It addresses all nationalities of humankind including women, African Americans, and Native Americans. It reminds us of the hardships early America faced, the multitude of viewpoints in different groups and sectors, and the controversial issues that still affect us today.


The Guardian, by Nicholas Sparks

Submitted by Jessica

Sparks is known for his many romantic stories set in North Carolina. This novel tells the story of a young widow, Julie, who is trying to overcome the loss of her husband while examining her romantic feelings for his best friend, Mike Harris. She turns to the support of her dog Singer, left to her by her late husband, to guide her path and protect her. Sparks doesn’t disappoint as he combines a steamy love story with a thriller with unexpected twists and jealousy.


Summer by the Tides, by Denise Hunter

Submitted by Trish

Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter is the perfect beach/poolside read.  Set in Sea Haven, North Carolina, the book is all about family.  Sometimes families don’t know everything about each other until they get together and talk.


The Hawaiian Quilt, by Wanda Brunstetter

Submitted by Carla

I really enjoyed The Hawaiian Quilt by Wanda Brunstetter. I learned about Hawaii, and also the Amish world. If you like Amish books I totally recommend it.


The Hot Young Widows Club: Lessons in Survival from the Front Lines of Grief, by Nora McInerny

Submitted by Maria

The club no one wants to join but will, eventually. Nora McInerny lost her father, her unborn baby and her husband in the span of a few short weeks. Each death was overwhelmingly tragic on its own but in succession, her devastation reached an unmeasurable level.
This book is her unfolding story of walking through grief and moving forward.
Grief is raw and unyielding and different for everyone. McInerny shares her experience honestly and with humor. She candidly discusses uncomfortable conversations, not knowing what to say or do, the disappearance of friends and family, and the choices (good, bad and ugly) that we make under the influence of grief.
You may not agree with her process, her beliefs, or even her advice – but that’s not the point. Without platitudes or lies, this author shows that we are not alone, we are not who we were and we will not always be this way.
Recommended for anyone who has experienced a loss or knows someone who has experienced loss, this guide is infused with grace, hope and an occasional colorful word or two.


An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helen Tursten (eBook link)

Submitted by Alice

Oh my gosh! This collection of short stories about Maud, an octogenarian living rent-free in an apartment in Sweden, which makes all her neighbors mad, but that doesn’t bother Maud in the least, is hilarious. At an age when most people are settling into their twilight years, Maud is enjoying herself and making sure that life goes according to her plan. Think Miss Marple meets The Killer Next Door. By the same author as the Irene Hess books, with definite dark humor.


A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck

Submitted by Alice

Bob and his sisters, Phyllis and Ruth Ann, are PK’s – preacher’s kids – and starting a new school in a new town may just be harder for them than other kids. Thankfully they have moved in next door to Mrs. Dowdel. She doesn’t do church, and she’s not much on neighbors, and she doesn’t give presents “because of inflation,” but she always seems to be there just when they need her and gives the gifts you never knew you needed.

A nostalgic middle-grade book that is reminiscent of Jean Shepherd’s In God We Trust, All Other’s Pay Cash, which was the basis of the cult classic, A Christmas Story.

Erma Bombeck: A Life in Humor by Susan Edwards

Submitted by Alice

Erma Bombeck has long been a favorite of mine as I started reading her books long before I ever thought of being married or having children. I loved reading about her beginnings and life. She started working for her small town newspaper while still in high school and worked her way up to being syndicated to over 700 newspapers, multiple bestsellers, being on Good Morning America, and TV shows based on her work. I completely recommend this for anyone who has ever enjoyed one of her books.


Summer of the Dead by Julia Keller

Submitted by Alice

In the third installment of the series, Bell Elkins and Nick Fogelsong fear that a serial killer may be targeting Aker’s Creek After two deaths of unconnected men.

This was an excellent addition to the series. Bell’s relationships are fleshed out more in this book, and the mystery was very good. The ending really surprised me. Definitely recommend.


Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes by Deborah Smith

Submitted by Alice

A book filled with funny little stories about growing up, living, and dying in the South. Some of the stories were better than others, although some were a little maudlin – like a Southern fried Chicken Soup for the Soul.


Gimme Some Sugar by Molly Harper

Submitted by Alice

A fun little romance. It was nice to revisit Lake Sackett and characters that we’ve met before. In this addition, it’s Cousin Duffy’s turn for love when his childhood best friend returns to Lake Sackett as a widow with a young son. Lucy didn’t miss her late husband, but is trying to do right by him and start a new business to support her and her son. Does she have time to fall in love with her first love?


A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Submitted by Alice

I can’t believe it took me this long to read a Sherlock Holmes. Now that I have, I can fully see the resemblance between Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot. This book also included back story into the murderer’s life and reasoning for his crimes, which was rooted somewhat in the relatively new religion of Mormonism. I will definitely read more of this series.


The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Submitted by Alice

The story of two young boys in Poland in 1942 – one who lives outside the fence and one who lives within the borders of Out-With. Their unlikely friendship and Bruno’s complete ignorance of what is happening makes an interesting book, and the ending was a complete surprise.

This is obviously written for a younger reader, but I would not recommend it for younger than 6th grade. It was well written, though, and adults can enjoy it, too.


Divided in Death by J. D. Robb

Submitted by Alice

Eve goes against the government powerhouse HSO to solve a murder where Roarke’s employee is accused of killing her cheating husband. When Roarke discovers that HSO agents were aware of Eve and did nothing to protect her as a child when she was being abused by her father, he and Eve are at odds – he wants revenge, and she fears she will no longer love him if he crosses that line.