Summer Reading List

Summer Reading

By Julie Carlson


BLACKHEARTS blackhearts-9781481432696_hr

By Nicole Castroman

Castroman’s novel is set in 17th century England. It features Edward “Teach” Drummond, who will later become the pirate Blackbeard. The other viewpoint in the novel is from Anne Barrett, a maid of mixed race, within the Drummond household. Both characters dream of escaping their everyday lives for adventure. Teach longs to return to the sea, and Anne yearns to discover her mother’s history. Readers may be disappointed that a novel about a young Blackbeard never leaves land. Instead, the book delves into racism, interracial relationships, abuse, and class. Readers may be skeptical that a man would fall for a girl of mixed race during a period of time when people of color were being brought to the west as slaves. Teach, however, is more culturally aware. The novel leaves with a cliffhanger that some readers may be content with. Others will hope Castroman continues Teach and Anne’s story.

4 Stars


AND THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE: TWO DECADES IN THE MIDDLE EAST and-then-all-hell-broke-loose-9781451635119_hr

By Richard Engel

Journalist Richard Engel gives readers a fascinating look into the unrest in the Middle East. We learn about Engel’s journey to Egypt as a college student yearning to find an undiscovered story in journalism. For over 20 years he’s covered events in the region, including the Iraq War, the Arab Spring, and the Syrian War. This book not only discusses the current state of the Middle East but the origins for the turmoil, the reasons behind the uprising of Al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the history of Islam. Engel even delves into his kidnapping in Syria by rebels and his subsequent release by Ahrar ash-Sham, a group formed after the Egyptian Revolution, who have risen up against the Syrian government. It’s an insightful book showcasing Engel’s understanding and love for the people of the region, and his real-life adventures on the most dangerous of front-lines.

5 Stars


THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT The Queen of the Night.Chee

By Alexander Chee

The Queen of the Night is an historical novel about a Paris opera diva during the reign of Napoleon III. Protagonist Lilliet Berne scores a role in a new opera, only to discover that it contains a secret about her past. Readers go on a journey alongside Berne to discover who revealed her hidden secrets. We learn about her life as an American struggling to make ends meet, to living her dream by working in a circus, to her life amid the glitz and glamour of Paris. The Queen of the Night is beautifully written, but some readers may be put off by the lack of quotation marks that usually surround dialogue. It makes it hard to know who is speaking and when. It’s slow pace and opera-heavy scenes also weigh down the novel. Yet, it’s worth a try, as Lilliet is a richly written character trying to achieve her dreams in a world filled with limitations.

3 Stars





When Breath Becomes Air

By Paul Kalanithi

Diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, after nearly completing a decade of training as a neurosurgeon, author Paul Kalanithi explores what makes a meaningful life.



By Penelope Ward

After co-inheriting a home left to her by her grandmother, a woman must share it with a man she dumped long ago.


Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right

By Jane Mayer

An insightful look into how super-wealthy donors use their money to change the landscape of American politics.



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