The Evergreen Collection by Larry Clark and Adriana Janovich

Review by J.T. Menard

The Evergreen Collection: Exceptional Stories from Across Washington State is a collection of stories that have appeared in Washington State Magazine, the official magazine of Washington State University.

Collected and edited by the magazine’s editors, Larry Clark and Adriana Janovich, the stories are arranged geographically and highlight the state’s people, places and products that are uniquely “Washington State.”

We live in an exceptional place. I’ve always been struck by the vast diversity of Washington. As many corners as I have explored, there are many more to go! It’s impressive to realize that the majesty of the Olympic peninsula, the bustle of Puget Sound, the imposing Cascades, and the sweeping valleys and basins of Eastern Washington all exist within the same geographic boundary. Truly, we are blessed with an exceptionally diverse state, one we should be proud to call home.

The Fireborne Blade by Charlotte Bond

Review by Avis Downs

Fantasy takes on a greater definition in The Fireborne Blade, something that is mostly unseen today, where the element of magic and mystery take a backseat. However, that is not the case for this glimpse into a riveting world of ancient dragons, gallant knights, cunning mages, and sapphic love. This book includes an unlikely companionship, snippets of the vast and complex lore, and a knight scorned by a manipulative former lover. Before reading this book, I believed I was a fantasy reader, but Charlotte Bond snapped me into the understanding of what a true fantasy book is supposed to encapsulate, and it was a refreshing change of pace from my usual read. For a novella of just one-hundred and sixty-four pages, Bond crafted truly complex and realistic characters, each with their own motivations and background. 

Perfectly Nice Neighbors by Kia Abdullah

Review by Luanne Clark

“When your dream home comes with nightmare neighbors, how far will you go to keep your family safe?”

There is a lot to unpack in this roller-coaster of a thriller. In suburban England, Salma Khatun and her family of Bangladeshi heritage move into a more “comfortable” neighborhood. Everything is going smoothly until her teenage son, Zain, stakes a Black Lives Matter banner in their front lawn. Salma happens to be looking out the window when she sees next door neighbor, Tom, pull the banner from the ground and throw it on her lawn. Salma  immediately confronts Tom, who claims his action wasn’t racially motivated; it’s against HOA covenants to display flags or banners in the yards of the neighborhood. Salma moves Zain’s banner inside the home, to be displayed through the front window. The next morning the outside of her window has been smeared with paint, so the banner is no longer visible. And it begins…

Schrader's Chord by Scott Leeds

 Review by Nikki Maples

Tales of monsters and anything that goes bump in the night has always caught my attention when it comes to reading stories. Growing up in the Yakima Valley and in the PNW, I would hear ghost stories about Shorty, the residential ghost at the Capitol Theatre, to Jake the Alligator Man in Long Beach, Washington. I have never had any personal experience of anything like ghosts or any zombie outbreaks thankfully but I know I can always find a good book to get a bit of thrill into my life.

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Review by Elisabeth Martin Rogers

Demon Copperhead tells the life of Damon, who among everyone else in the novel, has a nickname - Demon. He has fiery red hair and a world of trouble resting on his shoulders. He grows up in the Appalachians at first with his mother, then gets tossed into the whirlpool of foster care. I immediately got attached to Demon and wanted nothing more than to see him find some peace in life. The novel is fiction, but it addresses some very real struggles people face in life, particularly with addiction and trauma.

Pet by Catherine Chidgey

Review by Jules Galgan

The mark of an exceptional novel is that it makes you feel that you have been transported to another time or place entirely. This story did both for me with such ease I forgot I was reading. Pet is the story of twelve year old Justine, as she processes the recent death of her mother in 1980s New Zealand. When she goes back to school after a summer of grief and growing up too early, she meets her stunningly beautiful new teacher, Mrs. Price. Within moments of meeting the charismatic new teacher, Justine and the rest of her classmates have fallen in love and everyone is willing to do anything in order to win her favor. As the story unfolds, Justine finds her way into Mrs. Price’s good graces and becomes, of course, her pet. But just when things seem like they couldn’t get any better, strange things begin to happen in the classroom. My eyes were glued to the pages as I witnessed the betrayals, manipulation, and odd circumstances that Mrs. Price seemed to bring with her.

Under the Mountain Shadows by William D. Frank

Review by Phil Lamb, a local retired country lawyer of Yakima

Kay Kershaw. A local force of nature. An institution. Bright, energetic, articulate, fiercely independent.1907-1996. 

This is a biography of a girl growing up in the Upper Yakima Valley, as part of the Kershaw family. Working in the orchards, outdoorsy, learned to fly, Red Cross Nurse in World War II. Built and operated the Double K with her successive partners Pat Kane and Isabelle Lynn. The Double K was basically a dude ranch at Goose Prairie; no electricity, no phones.

Funny Story by Emily Henry

Review by Bridget Keller

Emily Henry did it again! Another beautiful rom-com book that fills the hopeless romantic in you. The book contains tropes such as fake dating, forced proximity, friends-to-lovers, opposites attract, and so much more. You see character development as well as realistic flaws within each of the characters. Funny Story was definitely one of my most anticipated books of 2024 and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Worry by Alexandra Tanner

Review by Bridget Keller

Worry, written by Alexandra Tanner, tells the story of two sisters, Jules and Poppy. Anxious Jules has an addiction to social media and is constantly trying to appease the people around her. She’s stuck in a constant cycle of hating her job, checking up on her “Facebook mommies'' and wanting more out of her current life in Brooklyn. Then, spontaneous Poppy arrives at Jules’s doorstep claiming she needed a place to stay for a few weeks. These weeks turn into months. Their lives change; Jules begins to reflect on the situation she was in before Poppy moved in. Poppy begins creating roots, yet she remains on her air mattress instead of moving into the prepared bed that Jules had bought her. Their difficult relationship with their mom gives them something to build their friendship upon. The two women argue just as much as they get along, yet their relationship only grows stronger.

Solito by Javier Zamora

Review by Elisabeth Martin Rogers

Solito is the first memoir I sat down and read cover to cover since reading Anne Frank’s Diary in middle school. Javier Zamora tells his story of migration from El Salvador to “La USA” at the tender age of 9. He is in this liminal space throughout the book because he left family in El Salvador to be with his parents in the USA. He was supposed to be gone for 2 weeks but the trip took him 2 whole months. He had no contact with either ends of his family, but made a family of his own out of the people he traveled with.

The most fascinating aspect of this book is that Zamora tells the story as if he were 9 years old again. There are things he describes with naivety, but as an adult reader, we can understand the underlying circumstances. He talks about how everyone describes “La Migra” (the migration officers) with fear and hate, and how he pictures them as comic book bad guys that he is supposed to run from at all costs. We step into his fear and discomfort when he talks about how grimey and unknown everything was. It pains me to know that he and his family tried multiple times to cross legally, but was rejected every time. This trip of his was the last ditch effort to reunite him with his parents.