Staff Favorites

Leon Leyson
Reviewed by Sarah
The Boy on the Wooden Box image

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible … on Schindler’s List is a memoir by Leon Leyson. Leyson depicts his experiences as a Jewish boy in Poland at the onset of Nazi occupation. He describes life in the ghettos and labor camps, torn from his family members and from any sort of "normal" youth. Leyson was one of the fortunate ones that made it onto “Schindler’s List,” and -- probably solely for that reason -- survived World War II. A story of luck and perseverance, Leyson’s memoir once again opens our eyes to the horrors of the Holocaust. Though the book is recommended by the publisher for those 9 to 14 years old, I would definitely recommend this book for adults as well.

Darynda Jones
Reviewed by Donna D.

First Grave on the Right  by Darynda Jones is the first installment in the Charley Davidson series, the story of a part-time private eye and full-time grim reaper. That's right--from the moment of Charley's birth, she has been the portal to Heaven for lost souls. While most people tend to write her off as crazy when they see her talking to thin air, her special abilities have helped solve countless murders. The first novel begins with the slaying of three lawyers, all partners in their firm. As Charley is attempting to solve this case, she must also deal with the fact that she is being stalked by an evil, other-worldly entity known as Reyes Farrow. Once she discovers that he is the son of satan himself, Charley must make some tough decisions. Can she find the lawyers' killer and figure out what Reyes wants with her before it's too late? Find out by picking the book up at Acorn or requesting it through SWAN.

Lynn Sherr
Reviewed by Danielle
Sally Ride

Everyone knew Sally Ride.  No one knew Sally Ride.

In the recent biography, Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr, we meet a woman, a scientist, a daughter, a sister, a pioneer, a wife, a hero. We meet someone who succeeded in slipping earth's surly bonds while maintaining the firm grounding that defined so much of who she was. We meet an enigma understood by few but beloved by many.  We meet an introvert who held the world's attention with a quiet charisma and blazing intelligence. We meet a public woman who strongly guarded her privacy and her heart. We meet strength and integrity writ large in the gentle guise of a woman with a bright smile and eyes that looked with equal importance into the depths of the universe or into the eyes of a child whose dreams took shape beyond the stars. Seemingly made of equal parts earthy groundedness and star-filled wonder, she epitomized the best of both worlds and defined the word hero for me and countless others.

The book itself would, most likely, have made her uncomfortable in its honesty but proud of its content. Sherr considered herself a friend to Ride, and the respect and love inherent to that are evident throughout the book, but there was so much hidden in the depths of who Ride was that even those considered friends barely scratched the surface of this incredible woman. One of the depths that is given a lot of consideration in the book is the fact that Sally Ride, American hero and inspiration, was gay and in a nearly 30-year relationship that very few knew about until one line was printed in her obituary naming her partner. The author's journey to come to terms, herself, with this revelation about her friend works itself into many aspects of the book.

A simple look at the cover of the book reveals so much in the bright eyes and impish glee momentarily caught as we see a dream come true, the moment when the idea of dancing in the sky became a giddy and awe-inspiring reality. Growing up as she did during a time when the world told women exactly what they could and couldn't be, she quite simply said, "No." and did as she chose. That choice resounded through a generation and will continue to resound every time another little girl steps outside, looks up and says, "Yes, I can!". That, along with the place she holds in the hearts of those who knew and admired her, is her well-earned and well-deserved legacy...a legacy boldly written across the sky like a shooting star that burns bright, remains frustratingly unreachable but leaves in its wake a shining trail of stardust for others to follow.

Reviewed by Zach
Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe

Hailing from Glasgow, Scotland, Chvrches (i.e., Churches with a “v” instead of a “u”) have crafted a synthpop masterpiece in their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. I enjoyed this album so much that I quite honestly could not remove this album from my CD player. The songs are catchy to the point of infectious, and the energetic dance-inspired beats and the ethereal vocals are perfectly offset by the reflective, oftentimes melancholy, lyrics. Think Passion Pit, M83, Depeche Mode, and 80s-influenced electropop to get a general impression of what this band sounds like, but I suggest you check it out on your own if you have even the slightest interest in this music scene. The songs “The Mother We Share,” “We Sink,” and “Lies” come highly recommended as possible entry points.