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2019 Adult Summer Reading Reviews

2019 was a great year for Adult Summer Reading.  Dover adults submitted reviews on 897 books.  You can download the entire list or checkout the highlights below.

Most Read Books

Highest Rated Books

Highest Rated Book Reviews

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling5.0

5* At age 11 Harry Potter finds out that he is a wizard and is accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But along with learning all about being a wizard, Harry and his friends become involved in a dangerous mystery.

I read Harry Potter for the first time when the 5th book in the series was released. I was one of the resisters who didn’t want to read it because it was so popular and ended up really enjoying it. It’s been quite a long time since I read it so I listed to the audiobook. Although I still loved the story just as much I thought the voices the narrator did for Harry and Hermione did not do the characters justice and made them sound a lot brattier than they actually are."
5* Intro to a different world.
5* Story of a boy who finds out he is magical. It’s an awesome book but even better sharing it with my son this time around.

The Valedictorian of Being Dead by Heather Armstrong5.05* So good! Funny and very well written. Very interesting medical topic
5* THE mommy-bloger, Heather B. Armstrong, writes about her struggles with depression and the clinical trial that saved her life - where she was sedated to the point of being clinically brain dead ten times. It's a fascinating read, while also being full of heart and compassion. I am SO grateful DPL added this book to their collection. It is a must read for anyone dealing with mental illness, whether their own or a loved one's.
The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda5.05* Read this in 2 days. Perfect thriller to start off a teacher's summer vacation.
5* A moving story that delves into how memories effect us, learning to forgive when betrayal changes your path in life and discovering what home means to you. Wonderfully written characters.
There There by Tommy Orange5.0

5* Orange's book is the story of several Native American and mixed-race people in Oakland, California, culminating at a pow-wow.

I can't think of enough superlatives to describe this book, which captures so many different points of view in a beautiful meditation on identity and belonging. What does it mean to be Native American if you live in Oakland? Or were adopted by white parents? Or have one white parent? Or your parent never really taught you about being Native?

I overheard Orange's interview with Writers on a New England stage, and I agree with his confusion? Discomfort? at those who call the ending sad. It's tragic, certainly, but something like hope glimmers there for the reader, in the form of the book itself.
5* This novel follows the story of disparate individuals from the Native American community as they all convene at the Big Oakland Powwow.

Orange has a distinct voice and presents glimpses into the lives and realities of the urban Native American community. Each character feels distinct, with their own attitudes, feelings, and speech patterns, and yet Orange masterfully weaves these stories together to create something that is more than the sum of its parts.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck5.05* Moving portrayal of war and its impact on three women, Resistance widows, and the "family" they create in the ruins of a Bavarian castle. An outstanding WWII historical novel.
5* Excellent book dealing with post-war Germany; interesting relationship between characters; good character build-up; fascinating period in German history - the assassination attempt on Hitler (7/20/1944) and the aftermath - good read!
Wonder by R. J. Palacio5.05* This is the story of a 5th grade boy with a facial deformity who is starting school for the first time after being home schooled. He faces discrimination and bullying but his spirit and attitude are what I loved. The power of friendship and being nice to others can truly make a difference.
5* I read this to my 11 year old. Great book with wonderful lessons
The River by Peter Heller5.05* This beautiful, short book is about two young men who take a canoe trip in Northern Canada. It starts as a peaceful trip, but the pair encounter some nefarious characters on one side and a wildfire on the other. Read this book in a sitting. Loved it!
5* Exciting outdoor adventure down a river by two best friends. Not all good things happened. Excellent & exciting read - couldn't put down til finished (one day)
Refugee by Alan Gratz5.05* Follow the story if there refugee families through there different time periods. This book may change the way you feel about refugees.
5* Telling the gripping story of three refugees across different eras, Gratz weaves together a story of hope. Josef and his family are running for the Nazis, Isabel and her family are escaping Castro and Mahmoud and his family are running from ISIS a d the Syrian civil war.
My Antonia by Willa Cather5.05* Pioneer midwest life as experienced by orphaned Jim who goes to live with his grandparents. I live the simplicity and difficulty of life back then.
5* This is a classic for good reason, but it's hard to explain why in a plot summary. It's essentially a bildungsroman, both of the narrator and of the title character...but it's much more than that. The writing is lyrical. The novel explores and reflects on themes from memory and family, to marriage, friendship, and historical shifts in the culture and landscape of America. Despite the centrality of time and its passage, the book itself is timeless.
One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood5.05* An 11 year old boy becomes friends with an 104 year old lady while he does Boy Scout errands for her. His father takesover after his son dies and their friendship blossoms.
5* An 11 year old boy and a 104 year old woman--an unlikely love story which expands to others in their lives. An adventure on so many levels beautifully told. Just finished this book and I held it to my breast. I, too, fell in love.
Failure is an Option by H. Jon Benjamin5.05* This memoir takes the form of a number of isolated stories from H. Jon Benjamin's life. Often incredibly awkward and always hilarious, I found myself recounting a large portion of the stories to others or even reading parts of them aloud to my significant other. Unfortunately for him, my voice sounds nothing like H. Jon Benjamin.
5* A fast, funny, light read - much needed in the middle of heavier, deeper stuff. Laughed out loud.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling5.05* Its Harry's second year at Hogwarts and there are attacks at Hogwarts which Harry and his friends investigate. It was a great continuation of the Harry Potter story.
5* Really getting to know the intricacies of the world.
The War that saved my life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley4.75* A suggestion for a Book Group read, this is a Young Adult book about WW11and it's impact on English life. Ada is 10 years old and was born w/ a club foot which was never corrected. Her mother is ashamed of her and confines her to their one-room flat even while her beloved younger brother plays w/ his friends. When the children are evacuated from London, Ada and Jamie go to a cottage in Kent where their life opens up and changes forever, even while Ada has a hard time accepting the changes fearing that they will be ultimately taken away. Ms Bradley presents a great deal of very readable history along w/ her complex characters. I immediately started the sequel.
5* The book kept me intrigued the entire time I was reading. I liked how each chapter ended with a cliffhanger and it ended unexpectedly! The story was about a girl with a clubfoot and her younger brother who lived with their mother in London. Their mother treated the girl, Ada, terribly and prized the boy. Then WW2 started and she sent them away to the countryside in case London was bombed. There they had a host woman who took them in and was nice to them and started to love the children as her own. Their mom tries to get them back but then tells them that she never wanted them and so their host fights for them and they go back to the countryside with her.
4* A real page turner... emotionally complex and realistic. The reader really grows to care for Ada and Jamie, and wants to see them find healing. The ending felt a little forced and dramatic, but it was still an excellent read.
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green4.55* This book is eye opening about anxiety and OCD, as the main character Aza fights through daily battles with these disorders all while trying to live a normal life and help her friend find his missing father.
4* This was a book about a young teen with mental illness and the everyday struggles that she endures. It was an interesting story that shows how the main character copes with her illness while trying to maintain a normal lifestyle.
Ghosted by Rosie Walsh4.55* After spending just a week together, Sarah and Eddie part ways to return home, hopeful to continue the love that they found. But when Sarah does not hear a single word from Eddie, she begins to look for clues as to where he may be. They soon discover that they both share a secret that could be the reason he had never responded or could end up bringing them closer together.
4* Real twist at the end as to who was guilty
Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman4.55* A very fun read with terrific characters
4* Very light, fun reading
Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin4.5

5* Really fun modern day retelling of Pride and Predjudice using contemporary Muslim characters.
4* This book is promoted as a modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice. It was entertaining and funny at times. Ayesha is a substitute teacher something she isn't particularly passionate about. She would rather write poetry but is scared to take the leap and sees it as a hobby not a profession. She needs a good paying job to pay back her wealthy uncle for all his financial help since her father passed away.

Ayesha has to deal with her immature, indecisive younger cousin Hafsa who has many marriage proposals to consider. Ayesha wants to meet someone but not through an arranged marriage setup by her family. She meets Khalid a very strict Muslim who has a long beard and wears a white robe to work. Ayesha feels he is judgmental and doesn't think she takes life or her religion seriously.

Khalid is also dealing with racism at work. His boss think he is a radical Muslim and her goal mission is to fire Khalid and throw him under the bus. Khalid is also not very passionate about his career and this allows him to find a more full-filling job in a surprising company.

Ayesha discovers her cousin is engaged to Khalid and is surprisingly jealous and hurt by this announcement. During this time she must work alongside Khalid to raise money for the mosque which is not doing well financially. She switches places with her flighty cousin Hafsa whose job it is to help raise the money for the mosque and is no where in sight. So Khalid knows her as Hafsa not as Ayesha. Throughout the book they develop feelings for each other but also can't accept each other for who they truly are. But they also can't accept themselves for who they are.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng4.55* A bi-racial couple gives up their dreams to get married and start a family. Putting their dreams onto their children proves too much for the daughter, who suicides. Extremely well written.
4* While I preferred Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, I really enjoyed Everything I Never Told You. It is the story of a family left to pick up the pieces after losing their middle daughter—their golden child, the one the family seems to revolve around. The book is beautifully written and both heart wrenching and hopeful.
The Nightingale by Kristen Hannah4.45* Excellent writing. ""In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are."" ""The Nightingale is a historical fiction novel, written by Kristin Hannah and published in 2015. It tells the story of two sisters in France during World War II, and their struggle to survive and resist the German occupation of France.""
5* Story dated back to the 1940s during WWII, a family torn apart by war. Details of their struggles to survive. A different point of view from each family members experience. Powerful points of how woman dealt with their husbands off to war and how they have to keep things going on the homefront. Germans all over town, taking over everything they have all worked so hard to have. One woman gets involved with assisting fallen airman get back to their safe zones so they can continue fighting. This part of the story was a nail bitter as you don't want her getting caught. Getting caught meant death. This book will keep you on your toes and wanting to read more.
4* Two sisters lead parallel lives during World War Two, one with a Nazi living in her house and another secretly bringing downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees. It was a great story and beautifully told.
4* Vianne and Isabelle are two sisters surviving in world war 2 Paris. Both find their way to make a difference despite the pain and tragedy around them. This fantastic has drama and intrigue and well as romance. Definitely a great read.
4* This book is about two sister struggling to survive, and live according to their personal values, in German occupied France during WWII. Their paths are different and their relationship strained, but they are family and come to see that maybe they are not so different after all.
The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern4.35* So good!! Excellent imagery and detail. Loved the interwoven plots through time. Truly a delicious escape read!
4* Very intriguing story about a circus that magically comes to town in the late 1800's - only open thru the night. Much intrigue and suspense - keeps one interested to the end.
4* Two competing magicians at the turn of the 20th century train proteges for a challenge with unclear rules and an unclear endpoint. The venue for the challenge is a magical circus. This book was a fun read, though I felt the writing style was at times too aware of itself, and honestly the amount of "fantastical" circus attractions became exhausting.
Summer of '69 by Elin Hiderbrand4.25* Elin's summer book is always the beginning of my summer! This book does not disappoint - she follows the story of many members of one family during the summer of '69.
4* Great characters! A family spends a summer at the grandmothers house in Cape Cod. The 3 girls have relationships with boys and all are devastated by the sons draft in the Vietnam War. Great beach read!
4* A family on the Cape is ravaged by their sons deployment to Vietnam. While the mother is grieving and drinking the 3 other girls are left on their own. Well written, enjoyable.
4* Elin Hilderbrand is my favorite for a beach read. This book is a bit of departure as it's historic fiction and is set in Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. It touches on all the events of summer 50 years ago: Monday landing, Vietnam, Woodstock, Chappaquidic, women's rights, race relations, but not too heavy.
4* Great summer beach read with history!
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens4.15* Wonderful story! Set in the south with deep, moving backstory and current story of main characters. Highly recommend!
5* WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is a gentle yet symbolic depiction of the valiant survival of Kya Clark—a reclusive young girl who has been abandoned by her parents, siblings, school system, the entire town surrounding her, and what ultimately feels like life itself.
5* Excellent. Marsh girl abandoned and alone at 6 years, grew up, learned to read, and became an accomplished author.
4* In this book, Kya Clark is abandoned as a child and must learn to survive on her own in the marshes of North Carolina in the 1960s. She goes through extreme isolation and has trouble trusting others, which in the end gets her in more trouble than she bargained for. This book is graceful, slow, and pulls you into it's beautiful world. However, it sometimes falls into old tropes (two small town detectives, a girl who has never once been to a dentist or doctor but is somehow just the image of beauty) and the end is somewhat unorganized and rushed.
4* I was surprised this was the Author’s first novel! The book was a fun mystery to read. I also very much enjoyed the story of a young girl abandoned to grow up in a marsh on her own, trying to learn how to make money to survive and figuring out how she did or did not fit into society.
4* Kya is a poignant character developed from childhood to maturity. This was a book I could not put down, not only because of the story but it’s vivid revelations about Carolina swamp and marsh biology.
4* A child raises herself in marsh country. She is wary of others but is befriended by a few people. She learns the ways of the marsh and its creatures, eventually publishing books. It is amazing to think of someone so in tune with her surroundings. Of course mosquitos were only mentioned once!
4* I loved this book. It was a murder mystery but mostly about a girl who grew up in the marsh and about nature around her
3* “Marsh Girl” Kya survives abandonment by her parents and siblings, raising herself from the age of six, and becomes an award-winning author and illustrator of books related to North Carolina marsh ecology. Hmmm...it was possible to suspend belief and be immersed in the story for about the first third of the book, then it got a little too fantastic. Quick and entertaining.
3* I love books about the south. Delia Owens is a poet with her words. I read the book because it got so many great reviews. While I liked the book I felt that the plot dragged on like a slow summer day. Still it wasn't the worst book I've read.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson4.05* Really great story with interesting historical context that was new to me and author gave a great rundown of some of the facts at the end of the book,
5* Such a fantastic book! I had no idea that the pack horse library ever existed.
4* Wonderful story about a 19 year old who is blue-skinned, last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry in Kentucky. The lonely life she lives is so poignantly written, but she is so brave and resilient. She finds her passion and kindness to give to others in the Appalachian mountains of the people in remote areas by participating in the WPA program historical Pack Horse Library project. Her love of books and adventures she finds is spread through her mission of bringing books to others. This book is well researched & written - there is every emotion experienced: love, heartbreak, joy, sadness, grief, etc. I highly recommend this book, especially if you love books & people.
2* Cussy, a.k.a. “Bluet”, rides the hollers of Kentucky during the Great Depression delivering reading material in her role as a pack horse librarian. (Though she rides a mule.) She dispenses care and comfort as well. Oh, and she is blue...a plot twist that allows for no end of abuse. I wanted to like the book, but found the formula a little too trite.