Staff Reads — July 2019

Book Projector Treble Clef

Subscribe to Staff Reads and other book newsletters.


  • Mr. Kiss and Tell: a Veronica Mars Novel by Rob Thomas: This came out in 2015, it’s the second book that takes place after the move. I figured I should read it before new episodes air on Hulu in July. If you like Veronica Mars, you should definitely pick up the books.
  • Lock Every Door by Riley Sager: So far I’m one for 3 with Mr. Sager. I really liked his second book. This one, I didn’t like as much. Mostly because it reminded me of a certain Lois Duncan book, and a certain Kate Hudson film.  I knew what was going to happen from the first chapter, and it took all the fun out of it for me. It as still a decent read, but if you don’t see the end coming, it’s probably better.
  • Sleep, Sheep by Kerry Lyn Sparrow: This is the cutest picture book. A little boy has a hard time going to sleep at night, he uses every trick he can think of to get out of going to bed. Until his mother tells him to try counting sheep. But one of those sheep might be more than what he bargained for.
  • Veronica Mars: Re-watched all three seasons and the movie, just in time for the new season coming out in July.


  • Letterkenny (Hulu) This oddball Canadian comedy series is full of hockey jokes, agricultural references and chain-smoking, hard-drinking, yogurt-eating small town yokels.
  • Captive State (DVD): This 2019 science fiction film is set in Chicago after ten years of occupation by an alien force.
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel: I just saw the musical adaptation of this classic graphic memoir. It was outstanding, and it made me want to go back and reread the original. Fun Home is a family tragicomic about Bechdel’s closeted father, his suicide, and her coming out as a lesbian.
  • Growing Things by Paul Tremblay: This collection of chilling and suspenseful short stories by the author of “The Cabin at the End of the World” and “A Head Full of Ghosts” was released on July 2nd.
  • Aug. 9 – Fog by Kathryn Scanlan: This bizarre, minimalist novella has a fascinating backstory. The author found a diary fifteen years ago at an auction. The diary belonged to an 86 year old woman, and Scanlan spent the next decade and a half reorganizing it into what would become this novella.




  • And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready, by Meaghan O’Connell: This memoir of O’Connell’s pregnancy and first year of motherhood was refreshingly honest. She writes openly about her doubts, questions, and struggles, but also about her victories, revelations, and joys. It made me feel seen!
  • March by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin; art by Nate Powell: This three-volume graphic memoir tells the story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of Congressman John Lewis. I enjoy the graphic element of memoirs like this as it can really add depth to the story without adding length, and in March it adds a wide range of emotion. The scenes showing violence were upsetting, but also showed vividly the horrible things that Lewis and others involved in the Movement were subjected to. It was a very powerful read.
  • Red, White & Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston: It’s an alternate not-so-distant future, and America’s first woman president is launching her reelection campaign. When her son Alex makes the wrong kind of headlines by starting a fight with Britain’s Prince Henry, the administration quickly starts damage control by demanding Alex and Henry act like best friends. The pair successfully avert an international PR nightmare, but complications arise when their bromance turns into a very real romance. It’s a sweet and hopeful love story, and a good dose of escapism!
  • Captain MarvelIt took me forever to finally see this, and when I did I really wished I had seen it on the big screen. It was awesome! Now I just need to finally get around to seeing Avengers: Endgame

Janet Z.:

  • Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen: Teen author Maya Van Wagenen moved with her family to Brownsville, Texas while she was in middle school. There, she embarked on an unusual social experiment by spending the eighth grade following a 1950s popularity guide. The book is often hilarious, especially the chapters covering pearls, girdles, and curlers, but it’s also touching as Maya offers readers of all ages her own modern example of confidence and kindness. I loved this book!
  • Dress Like a Girl by Patricia Toht: The girls in this picture book dress up all right! They dress like an astronaut, doctor, firefighter, construction worker, diver, and more!
  • Intimate Memories: The Autobiography of Mabel Dodge Luhan by Lois Palken Rudnick: This book, which is a compilation and condensation of Luhan’s voluminous diaries, reads like a who’s who of early 20th century American and European artists, writers, philosophers, journalists,  and anarchists. Think Gertrude Stein, John Reed, Emma Goldman, Margaret Sanger, Lincoln Steffens, and many more. If you’re interested in this time period, you’ll enjoy this book.
  • Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown: This book is set in New York City’s Jewish immigrant community in 1935 and was rich in details. What I didn’t expect were all the surprising plot twists. A great read!
  • A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall (digital audiobook): The authors purchased a lion cub at Harrods Department Store in London in 1969 (thankfully, this is no longer possible). This is the story of how they raised Christian in London and then the English countryside before arranging for him to be flown to Kenya to be cared for and reintroduced to the wild by lion expert George Adamson.


  • The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles: Freshman effort from the author of A Gentleman in Moscow.  Imagine The Great Gatsby taking place during the Great Depression, and none of the main characters are affected by the Depression. 
  • The Bride Test by Helen Hoang: This modern day romance takes place in the same universe as The Kiss Quotient but it’s not necessary to read the first title in order to enjoy this one.  This is a good twist on the concept of an arranged marriage and I appreciate that once again, one of the protagonists is not neurotypical.
  • The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley: The premise of this book, in which the narrator, the first of  adopted sisters embarks on a journey about her past after the death of her wealthy mysterious adoptive father, is intriguing but the execution doesn’t work.  The other sisters are not well developed and seem to be character tropes.  I imagine that they get more well rounded in their own volumes, but I’m not continuing.
  • How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs: I highly recommend this short story collection for readers who like a strong sense of place and identity.  Each story is told through the point of view of someone who are Jamaican nationals or first generation Jamaican-Americans.  Each story is different in tone and together make a complete and enjoyable volume.
  • This This This is Love Love Love by Jennifer Wortman: This intense and descriptive short story collection is beautiful and heartbreaking.
  • The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake, Read by Chloe Cannon (digital audiobook):  Lovely and quiet novel from the author of Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World.  Chloe Cannon, once again, does a great job at bringing Blake’s prose to life.
  • Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano, read by the author (CD): Gripping and powerful memoir by the woman who would become Maria on Sesame Street.  I grew up on Sesame Street and am very familiar with “Maria” and now very much appreciate the road that she traveled.
  • The English American by Alison Larkin, read by the author (CD): This is a touching, yet often very funny story about a woman who was adopted at birth by British parents and reconnects with her American Southern birth mother as an adult.  
  • Spiderman, Into the Spiderverse: I had heard good things about this animated film which is a nod to all of the comic book versions of Spiderman, most notably Miles Morales.  The movie exceeded my expectations and was the right combination of heart, humor, and fun.  Kudos to whoever cast Nicolas Cage as the 1930’s film noir version of Spiderman, because that was perfect.  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment