Stellar Reads, Part 6: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

The 2019 Summer Challenge continues this July! Here’s a few recent books that our Adult participants enjoyed reading.


L. H. on Not in My Neighborhood by Antero Pietila:

Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods, but did you ever think how those neighborhoods were formed? It’s easy to look at the conditions of blighted areas around the city and blame the current residents.

In Not in My Neighborhood you will learn that there were real and law-based, enforced practices that not only segregated the city of Baltimore but destroyed homes, development and created the very crime, blight and other issues that plague us all today. Red lining, criminal and deceptive real-estate practices and forced compliance are all in this book. You will never look at Baltimore and the people that live here the same again.

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Kennedy M. on Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine:

I would recommend this to any Black person engaging with white supremacy today. Reading Rankine’s work, I felt so seen and so heard.

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Allie P. on The Other Americans by Laila Lalami:

Framed around an investigation of a hit-and-run, this is a gripping story about what it means to come home. Lalami subtly illustrates what it means to be American today.

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Sarah B. on Skyscraping by Cordelia Jensen:

When 1993 teenager Mira catches her dad with his male lover, it marks the beginning of her family’s unraveling as she struggles first with her parents’ secrets, then her father’s contraction of HIV.

The writing evokes lovely imagery, especially surrounding astronomy and the New York City setting, while laying Mira’s conflicted emotions bare and sugar-free. The tone shifts halfway through as Mira’s family issues evolve with her perspective. The free-verse narrative style makes for a relatively fast, but not light, read.

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Charles H. on The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose by Chris Wilson:

Love this book. Such an inspiring autobiography of how to choose a life of faith over a life of fear. Also an excellent Insider’s view on how to make improvements in the justice system in this country.

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.

Stellar Reads, Part 5: Fiction Picks from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

More good news about books from Adult Summer Challenge participants….


Catherine C. on The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante:

This is the second book in the Neopolitan series, and it’s a riveting page-turner that spans the young adult years of best friends Lenu and Lila as they try to negotiate their dreams against the harsh realities of the impoverished neighborhood they grew up in.

Taking place in Naples, Italy, in the 1960s, this book illustrates, with stunning detail, the struggle of feminine creativity in a strictly patriarchal world. The two close friends, now in their late teens, continue down the divergent paths that began in My Brilliant Friend, each one hoping to transcend their poverty and live lives that are better than their parents’. But it’s far from easy, and as they confront the social and historical forces at work in their world, they become increasingly disillusioned and cynical, but also practical, resilient, and cunning. This series so far has been perfect; a true epic.

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Dell W. on Before We Were Wicked by Eric Jerome Dickey:

Highly sexual young couple trekking their path as a married couple, parents, students, and descendants of Africa, while living in America all falls to pieces.

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Brooke J. on The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides:

What an unexpected ending! I have been surprised by endings before but never like this. Definitely a great psychological thriller with a mind-blowing twist.

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Jane S. on The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon:

Fellow readers of Donna Leon’s Venice series featuring the charming, principled, classics-loving Commissario Guido Brunetti won’t be disappointed with this 2018 addition. As always, the narrative reveals as much about contemporary Italy—Venice in particular—as it does about the crime. Always a pleasure to be in the company of Brunetti, his colleagues, and his family.

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Nancy P. on Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens:

A wonderful book full of beautiful images of life in the backwater marshes of North Carolina with a storyline about the life of a wild child of that environment. Part drama, part adventure, part science. Loved it!

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.


Stellar Reads, Part 4: Nonfiction Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

From biographies to how-to and self-help books, Nonfiction has something intriguing to offer so many readers. Here’s a look at Nonfiction books that our Adult Summer Challenge participants are enjoying.


Robert B. on The Ghosts of Johns Hopkins: The Life and Legacy That Shaped an American City by Antero Pietila:

The author introduces this well-researched volume by noting that Johns Hopkins destroyed his private papers so thoroughly that no credible biography exists.

He then continues by stating that the purpose of his book is to analyze how Hopkins’ legacy, the hospital, medical school, and university “became the defining factors that they are today, the largest private-sector employers in the city and the state, with a robust worldwide reach.” The Ghosts of Johns Hopkins definitely fulfills the author’s purpose but there is more.

As Pietila states, “a main goal of this book is to help the reader understand the idiosyncracies and complexities of Baltimore.” And here he succeeds magnificently. This is an essential book for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of how Baltimore got to where it is today. Pietila creates an amazing mélange of politicians, crooks, police commissioners, and local characters in a historical tour de force.

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Kyla R. on Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-Shirt by Megan Nicolay:

This is a cool and crafty book about turning T-shirts into one-of-a-kind styles. It’s my favorite DIY clothing book. Techniques feature cutting apart and reassembling shirts for beginners and more experienced crafters.

I must say that there are lots of casual, fun, and even insightful designs to make in this book. Great if you want to start making your own clothes.

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It’s not too late to join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.

Stellar Reads, Part 3: More Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

What book have you enjoyed lately? Here are some favorites of our Adult Summer Challenge participants:

Melina T. on Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng:

I loved this book—it begins with fires and then works its way back to lead up to the event that opens the book. The author cleverly weaves in story elements slowly, building up and helping you understand the reason for the fires. It’s a slow build but done with such care and great writing.

She switches the point of view frequently, helping to develop the different characters and ultimately what assumptions you make at the beginning of the book are completely crushed by the end of the book. It’s a great read, totally engrossing, and you’ll love characters you thought you couldn’t, and find empathy lurking in every corner.

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Helen B. on When All Is Said by Anne Griffin:

Join 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan as he makes final toasts to each of the five people who mattered most in his life. By turns humorous, tender, and shocking, his reflections paint a vivid picture of a man acknowledging his mistakes and appreciating his blessings.

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Holly T. on The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman:

Neil Gaiman takes the “Sleeping Beauty” story and transforms it into something rich, sinister, and strange. The 66 pages of this novella feature intricate drawings by Chris Riddell that perfectly illustrate the chilling horror of this telling. Startling and unexpected, this is NOT the story you heard growing up.

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Jedidiah S. on Level Up by Grace Luen Yang:

Thien Pham’s artwork is lovely, and Gene Luen Yang’s writing is really powerful. It sneaks up on you—I wasn’t expecting to be moved, but I was.

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Aaron B. on You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian:

The viral hit “Cat Person” is only one of the stories in Roupenian’s debut collection. A fascinating series of examinations on evolving gender roles, one that’s funny and twisted, bizarre and honest.

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.

Stellar Reads, Part 2: Reviews from Adult Summer Challenge Participants

The 2019 Summer Challenge is heating up! Here’s a look at a few books some of our Adult participants are enjoying.

Rachel D. on The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai:

Excellent book, a real page-turner. I felt connected to art and all its possibilities and to the trauma of the generation of young men lost to AIDS, but in a way that left me hopeful and optimistic. Great read!

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Daryl M. on Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey:

Perhaps the best so far of the eight books in the Expanse series, full of excitement, tension, joy, and pathos following the trials and tribulations of the four main characters whom fans of the series have come to know and care about. A space opera for the Twenty-Teens.

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Himani S. on The Friend by Sigrid Nunez:

How can the death of a dear friend completely derail an intelligent, highly intellectual writer? You are about to find out. And despite the moribund topic—there are so many chuckles along the way. The author is so gifted in her delivery that as the reader, I was able to suspend my anger and criticism of the main character and fall in love with her and share in her pain and grief.

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Julia D. on Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid:

This book is gripping. I started it in the morning and literally did not put it down until I finished it that night. Pithy, productive, visceral writing. You will think this is a real band.

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Emily A. on Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan:

Fun, breezy summer read with interesting footnotes.

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Join the fun! For a chance to win fabulous prizes in the Adult Summer Challenge, create a free Beanstack account and log each book you finish between June 12 and August 14.