Category Archives: Staff Recommends

Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here REVIEW

scarlettAvailable in Print & eBook.

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her weed-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

This book is not something I would have picked up for myself but that being said, I did enjoy it. It’s a more contemporary modern story about an average teenager in high school. Not my normal genre at all. It was part of my book subscription series from Uppercase but I’m always pleasantly surprised with Uppercase’s selection.

That being said, I really enjoyed this author’s writing style. She was witty and sarcastic in all the best ways. Her style kept me engaged in the story even when I wasn’t that interested. This is Breslaw’s debut novel but I think, given time, she’ll come into her own as a writer.

My biggest qualms were with the plotline and characters. Which yes, I know that’s well, the whole book, but like I said, the author’s writing style was great. However, the plot seemed rushed and major characters were left one dimensional or seriously underdeveloped. This book could have used another 100 pages to really beef things out a bit. The plot points were easy to guess and I could see what was coming from a mile away.

I would still recommend this book is you want a light and fun read. I polished this one off on a Sunday afternoon while battling my mongoose cough from a case of bronchitis. This delightful little read helped me forget about my aches and pains for a little while. I will probably keep tabs on this author to see what she does next. Like I said, storyline aside, the writing was awesome and I think Breslaw shows some real potential as a writer.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

The Witch Hunter Series REVIEW

witch hunterGuest review from Beth, a children’s librarian at the Nora branch.

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Available in Print & eBook.

Set in an alternative version of England in the 16th Century, Elizabeth Grey is the only female Witch Hunter in the kingdom of Anglia. Witches are not only feared, they are put to death for practicing magic, and it’s the Witch Hunters who bring them to “justice”. However, when Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she finds herself very alone, until an unlikely ally helps her escape. As she recovers from her ordeal, the world around her is no longer the halls of the palace, but the house of someone she considers her enemy. As she regains her strength, she begins to see who the real enemy is, and what she needs to do.

The Healer by Virginia Boecker
Available in eBook.

John Raleigh lost his mother and sister to the Witch Hunters. He also has healing magic, and is determined to carry on their legacy. When a Witch Hunter is brought to him in need of healing, he struggles between his job as a healer and the wounds of the past.

The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

Available in Print & eBook.

Elizabeth thought she had faced her greatest fear. She thought not only was a curse lifted, but the wizard who created it was also defeated. Not only was she wrong, she is now to be judged by those she thought were her friends. Tasked with completing what she started, she is hampered by a change in one of her friends, and the appearance of those she thought never to see again. Elizabeth races to complete her mission, even as war closes in.

I enjoyed the way this series was fast moving, but took time for some great character development. There are all sorts of great aspects of historical life, including pirates, without bogging down the pace with too much detail. The magic is an important part of the story, without taking over. A great read!

The Killer In Me REVIEW

killer in meAvailable in Print.

This book reminded me of an X-Files episode with Lily Tomlin. Obscure reference, right? But it fit the setting perfectly. ‘The Killer In Me’ revolves around Nina, a teenager with a strange connection to a man she doesn’t think she’s ever met. The premise starts out strange and only gets stranger from there.

Nina believes she is seeing visions of a real serial killer in her sleep. She has been having the visions for years and has finally worked out a plan to gather evidence and stop the killer for good. With the help of her friend Warren, who may or may not believe her, they set off on a cross country road trip to New Mexico. Once they arrive to carry out their mission, the story and the truth only get stranger and stranger. Nina must come face to face with her fears, the truth and the killer.

I liked this story. It was captivating and even though I could start to guess some of the plot points, the author did a great job of keeping me intrigued and providing details that helped develop the story. This is Harrison’s first novel and I’m looking forward to seeing what else she writes in the future.

If you enjoy crime stories and psychological thrillers or at least binge watching old episodes of X Files or Fringe, then this story is a must for you.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

Wink Poppy Midnight REVIEW

wpmAvailable in Print, eBook, Audiobook & eAudiobook.

This book was whimsical, magical, mysterious and mystifying. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the characters and their intricacies. The bulk of the story revolves around the actions of the three title characters. Wink is a quiet and ethereal girl with much mystery about her. Poppy, at first glance, is your typical high school ‘it’ girl. She’s bossy, mean and she knows it. Midnight is the unassuming ‘boy next door’. But he means more than he knows to Wink and Poppy.

This story is best described as a mystery. A mystery with elements of fairy tales, thrilling danger, heroes, villains and battles. I was enraptured the whole way. Just when I thought I knew what each character’s next move was, they threw in a curve ball.

Each main character has their flaws and weaknesses and even when you think you know who you are supposed to love and hate, they surprise you with their many layers of personality and backstory. No character, no matter how small the part, is left with just one dimension. Each character’s life and personality are explored by the author and their impact on the main characters are evident.

I don’t know how else to summarize this story without spoiling it. But it’s a lovely story that will keep you engaged the whole time. If you enjoy a little mystery and intrigue, this story will not disappoint.

Happy reading!
Warren Branch

Harmony House REVIEW

harmony houseAvailable in Print & eBook.

Jen Noonan’s father thinks a move to Harmony House is the key to salvation, but to everyone who has lived there before, it is a portal to pure horror.

Do you like scary stories? Creepy old houses? Supernatural activity? Then I’ve got the book for you. ‘Harmony House’ is one part Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’ and one part ‘The Haunting’ movie and all other movies that make you jump when you see a shadow in your house.

This book is a great read if you want something a little spooky but don’t want to get slogged down with a behemoth novel. It’s a quick read you could finish in one sitting, on a dark and stormy night, when suddenly the power goes out…

Mostly, I enjoyed this book for the same reason I enjoy horror movies. I could sit there yelling at the character, ‘No! Don’t run upstairs! Now you’re trapped, dummy!’ just like I do watching movies. The story was not overly complex, hence why it’s a short read. But it did provide some interesting backstory on the house and all the ‘evil’ that’s tainted it. My only gripe was that one early backstory moment was never fully flushed out. It felt like it was just left in there and then forgotten about for further explanation.

So if you a fan of horror movies and thrilling YA, give this book a read. If you can’t watch horror movies without all the lights on and during the middle of the day, well, then you should probably pass on this one…

Happy Reading!
Warren Branch