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.

Something About the Sky by Rachel Carson and Nikki McClure

Review by Amy Halvorson Miller

Back in the early months of the pandemic, Olympia artist and writer Nikki McClure was approached by Orion magazine about illustrating portions of a script Rachel Carson wrote for television more than sixty years ago. Of course, she immediately agreed, making arrangements with Carson’s estate to create a picture book titled Something About the Sky, which was published last month.

Rachel Carson is known for her classic book, Silent Spring, which revealed how humans were poisoning Earth and creatures were dying as a result–most notably from the pesticide DDT. The alarm she sounded was crucial for us to hear during the formative years of the environmental movement.

In words and art the author and illustrator, having never met, help us understand that Earth has two oceans: one of seawater below and one of vapor above. Both carry and nourish life. Both move in currents, often with similar patterns shaped like waves, eddies, or ripples. Carson explains the water cycle and cloud types accurately and poetically. Fog, rain, snow–stormy or gently fleeting–are constantly reforming with no end nor beginning.

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon

Review by Jules Galgan

I know they say not to judge books by their covers, but after one look at Samantha Shannon’s A Day of Fallen Night, I felt certain that a book that beautiful had to be filled with something great. I have never been more right. A Day of Fallen Night is one of the most epic fantasy novels of our time and has easily joined the ranks of my all time favorite books. It is a saga saturated with adventure, romance, and intrigue that makes the pages fly by.

The story takes place hundreds of years before Shannon’s other novel, the infamous Priory of the Orange Tree. As far as reading order goes, these two can be read as stand alone novels or the reader can view Priory of the Orange Tree as the main novel and read A Day of Fallen Night as a prequel. I personally feel that reading A Day of Fallen Night allows the reader to get a handle on the intricate world-building and makes Priory of the Orange Tree an even more enriching experience. Both books are rich and vibrant with a full cast of characters and exceptional pacing.

Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering

Review by Nikki Maples

Books have always been a huge part of my life. I have memories of curling up on the couch and sitting there for hours just reading. I remember begging my parents to take me to the bookstore so I could get the next book in the series I was currently obsessing over. I had to get the books the second they came out. Today, that is still true. I added Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering to my ‘to-read’ shelf on Goodreads and impatiently waited and waited for its release.

The day it was released, I slapped my debit card down on the sales counter at Inklings Bookshop and got my very own copy. That night, I went home and curled up with my comfiest blanket and stepped into the thriller that is Bye, Baby.

A lost friendship. Jealousy turned into a fit of blinding rage. A stolen baby. Carola Lovering introduces readers to her newest bestseller and gives the term ‘toxic friendship’ a whole new meaning. Bye, Baby thrust the reader into the lives of Billie and Cassie, two women who would once do anything for each other, who are now strangers passing by. Desperate to gain her best friend back, Billie pushes herself back into her friends life after Cassie gives birth to her first child. Past secrets start to emerge between the two and in a blackout moment of jealousy, Billie kidnaps Cassie’s daughter on their balcony ledge. The story then takes a drastic turn from there and has you at the edge of your seat.

UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government's Search for Alien Life Here—and Out There by Garrett Graff

Review by Chris Saunders

UFO: "Unidentified Flying Object". Recently rebranded “UAP” for “Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon,” or “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomenon.” Apparently “UFO” had some marketing problems.

As proud Pacific Northwesterners know, the first official sighting of otherworldly aircraft didn’t happen at Roswell, New Mexico, but rather, near Mount Rainier on June 24th, 1947, by a 32-year-old rescue pilot named Kenneth Arnold, who landed in Yakima later that day and told a lot of people about the “saucer-like craft” he saw. (I never knew any of this until I went off to college, and I’ve always wondered why stick-in-the-mud Yakimites don’t talk about this at all, while other communities are quick to cash in on the notoriety associated with UFO sightings. Even if it’s too late to attract tourists at this point, how about a plaque or a mural on the airport wall, or just something commemorating it?)

For what it’s worth, Yakima is first mentioned on page 4 of UFO, the 518-page book by investigative reporter Garrett Graff, whose previous subjects have included Watergate, September 11th, and the Cold War. Shortly after Arnold’s story appeared in newspapers, it seemed like everyone was seeing glowing aircraft everywhere during the Summer of ’47.

A Wild and Heavenly Place by Robin Oliveira

Review by Luanne Clark

When author Robin Oliveira was a younger woman, her family vacationed yearly on San Juan Island.

On its most northern tip, Oliveira found the ruins of a gray stone house, much different from the other architecture on the island. She became intrigued with the ruins and tried to research the lonely little cottage’s history. Failing at that, she created her own history of the little house. And that invented history became her latest novel, A Wild and Heavenly Place.

The story begins in Glasgow, Scotland, 1878, with orphan Samuel Fidess, a young man of poverty, and his younger sister. They live from hand to mouth in one of the many tenements in the city, far from the upper crust homes of polite society. Weekly church services are the one place where lives may cross.

It’s at church one week when Samuel first notices Hailey and is captivated. When circumstances allow Samuel to rescue Hailey’s little brother from a carriage accident, he is invited to their mansion for dinner. From those simple beginnings, a love blossoms that will carry both Hailey and Samuel 3,000 miles to the Pacific Northwest and a brand-new Seattle.

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Review by Jules Galgan.

Sometimes you read a book and you think to yourself, “Oh my goodness. Someone sat down and created this absolute masterpiece with nothing but their mind and their research.” Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is that someone and that book is Chain Gang All Stars. This book was stellar. The story kicks off in a dystopian America in which inmates in the prison system can opt out of their sentence and instead fight other inmates to the death. These fights are put out as entertainment for all and advertised as the newest sport. If the allstars survive their matches for three years, they then earn their freedom. 

Chain Gang All Stars is the perfect bridge between the reality of the prison system in the United States today and a far off dystopian world in which animosity is turned into entertainment for the masses. This made the message all the more powerful as it was both a warning and prophecy. Adjei-Brenyah uses footnotes to cite the sources for real world examples of people who experience the very same things these fictional characters experience, things like solitary confinement and the effects it has on people’s minds, forced labor for next to no pay, forced labor conditions that are dangerous, etc. all with an emphasis on how the prison system disproportionately affects and targets people of color. 

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