Staff Favorites

Where We Belong
Lynn Austin
Reviewed by Andrea

The following book review was submitted by patron Janice Visser

Where We Belong by Lynn Austin brings the reader on a worldwide tour for much adventure with the sisters Rebecca and Flora based on Scottish sisters, Agnes and Margaret Smith born in 1843. The sisters live out their faith as they wrestle with questions that most women have regarding marriage, children or adoption, finances and finding out God's purposes for their lives. The sisters have a favorite saying "God knows when the end of our days will be. We have nothing to fear." Austin wove that motto into their worldwide adventures and causes the reader to think about how we spend our time on earth now and how to face the present and future. The book constantly had flashbacks to the past to explore the background of the sisters and 4 other main characters: Edmund Merriday, Kate Rafferty, Soren Petersen, and Professor Timothy Dyk. This novel wove in some important historical events such as the discovery by Constantin von Tischendorf of the Sinaiticus text, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and the discovery of the "hidden Gospels." As always, Austin does a beautiful job of describing her characters and making the reader yearn to find out more what happens to all of the characters and the relationship they have with one another. I highly recommend this book!

Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption
Benjamin Rachlin
Reviewed by Andrea

The following book review was submitted by patron Janice Gintzler:

I just finished Ghost of the Innocent Man, by Benjamin Rachlin. In 1988, Mr Willie Grimes, of Hickory, North Carolina, is imprisoned after the real culprit of a rape gets off free and eventually attacks a dozen others.

If there is a moral to the story, it is that any District Attorney, police district, or prosecutor who does not act with justice in mind, and sloppily does not test evidence in a national database, nor gives fingerprints in evidence may be putting the community at great risk, by taking the easy way out and summarily fingering an innocent person.

The trial is a sham, the defense attorney is not provided any evidence that police collected, which was not much at all. But two fingerprints are recovered. They match the real real culprit, but are never analyzed to figure out to whom they belong. The main "evidence" is an ID of Willie by the raped woman's neighbor, who gets $1000 for IDing a person she thinks did the rape.

Willie has a watertight alibi, but the jury focuses instead on the paid ID, and convicts Willie.

A woman who was a juror at Willie's trial later becomes a lawyer. Clerking for a judge, she sees evidence of injustice in the court system. So she begins the North Carolina Innocence project. It takes a while, but eventually, the commission she creates turns to those already in jail. Willie Grimes writes to any and all organizations he can to get help with his fake conviction. Chris Mumma, the innocence lawyer, finally hears about Willie. Meanwhile, in prison, Willie joins a Bible Study organized by Jehovah's Witnesses. He is baptized into the religion. This helps him immensely to deal with his life in prison for a crime he never committed. Willie keeps getting penalized for never "coming clean" about his crime in prison.

After 25 years, an investigation begins by the Innocence Project. The investigation is thorough.

Please read this mesmerizing book.

Cylin Busby
Reviewed by Michelle
The Year We Disappeared: A Father-Daughter Memoir

  John Busby's VW beetle was infamous because of all the bullet holes it was riddled with after a life-changing incident. An off-duty copy, John was ambushed and shot in the face while in his car. The harrowing story of one family trying to hold it together, and seeking justice is told in alternating viewpoints. 

  John tells his story of recovery, and wanting revenge, while Cylin gives her persepcitve of a 9 year old on the situation. Fearing for their safety, we get a sense of a family on the verge of falling apart. We also see how strong they are together.  Will John and his family get justice for what was done to them? Read this book and find out! It is a fast-paced story you won't be able to put down. 

Kate Karyus Quinn
Reviewed by Michelle

Lennie’s dad is an infamous robber who left her in a Chuck Cheese 11 years ago and then mysteriously disappeared. Now at 17, Lennie is dealing with the untimely death of her best friend. Throw in a couple of uncles who make a magic-wish-granting moonshine and a return from the dead of Lennie’s best friend and you have an interesting story. At first Lennie does not realize how special the moonshine is, so she makes a big “oops!” by supplying it at Michaela Gordon’s party of the year. Unfortunately, for these teens being drunk and making come-true wishes is pretty much a disaster! And let’s not forget to throw in a couple of bad guys/are they really that bad-bad guys?
It is a guarantee that you won’t want to put this book down and Quinn’s unique story-telling abilities will leave you begging for more. Quinn is a master at sarcasm. Lennie is a viable character, it’s hard not to feel for her. Quinn somehow masters humor, with some heartbreaking real life teen-angst. Of course, with any good YA novel, there is a super interesting love-interest subplot. Oh and a surprise ending that will leave you shaking your head but happy you read this book. The title suggests that either Lennie is “down” with Shine in a cool kind of way, or she’s over it. Read the book to find out!