The Women by Kristin Hannah

Review by Irene Pearcey

Coronado Island, California May 1966

On a beautiful and peaceful California evening as family and friends said farewell to Finn McGrath, his sister Frances found herself alone in her father's study staring at the "heros" wall. A wall filled with the memorabilia of her family. "Men in uniforms, women in wedding dresses, medals for valor and injury, a triangle-folded and framed American flag that had been given to her paternal grandmother." Frances (Frankie) wanted to be a part of that wall, but while the path to honor was laid out for men, it was not so clearly defined for women.

Finn was leaving for Vietnam, to a war that raged thousands of miles from the peaceful golden sands of California beaches and Frances was finishing her nursing degree.

Frankie wrote to her brother every Sunday for six months and then one quiet November evening the doorbell rang and "two Naval officers in dress uniforms stood there at attention".

The Eyes and the Impossible by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris

Review by Sue Domis

The author Dave Eggers has written popular adult novels such as The Every, The Circle and A Hologram for The King. He is also the author of young readers' fiction such as Her Right Foot, and The Lifters. Dave Eggers is also the founder of the popular publication McSweeney's. His newest children's work is the book The Eyes & the impossible. This is an exciting read for readers ages 8 and up. The animals in his latest book are very bright, funny and engaging. People of all ages who appreciate good animal fiction will enjoy this read. Besides beautiful writing, the book is enhanced with classical landscape paintings with the main character, Johannes, added to each painting. Shawn Harris is the artist who added Johannes to the paintings.

The Eyes & the Impossible is not meant to be an allegory. In Eggers forward to the book, he writes that the book is fiction. "No places are real places, no animals are real animals." And that "no animals symbolize people. Here dogs are dogs, birds are birds, goats are goats, and the Bison Bison."

I'm Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Review by Cheyanne Stice

In the memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died, Jennette McCurdy grants us a view into her life. I admit, the biggest reason I picked up this book is because I knew Jennette from the Nickelodeon kid’s show iCarly when she played Sam Puckett. A lot of people have thoughts and ideas of what someone might be like outside of television. But little did I know that there are a lot of secrets to Jennette McCurdy’s life. She is more strong, brave, and compassionate than I ever imagined. And she had to be in order to survive what she did.

It was interesting and effective how throughout her book, she writes in the perspective of her younger self. For all the time that had passed, she did an excellent job recollecting and explaining her memories of her feelings and thoughts as a young child that a reader can make sense of.

She took on a full load of emotional and mental responsibilities as a young child. The parent is supposed to take care of the child. But Jennette based her life on taking care of her mother up until the day she passed away. She took on the responsibility of keeping her mother as content as possible. Though, keeping a manipulative and controlling person content was probably more challenging than she expected. She didn’t get to experience a normal childhood like making friends or going to birthday parties. Instead she spent her life working to achieve her mother’s dream, becoming an actress. She dedicates her time to auditions and classes, anything to get her more roles on TV and make her mother happy.

The Joy of Winter Hiking by Derek Dellinger

Review by Rachel Fowler

Winter is usually a dark and dreary time of the year, especially after the holidays.

Getting outside is usually something to be dreaded, but that is what author Derek Dellinger wants to change. His new book, The Joy of Winer Hiking: Inspiration and Guidance for Cold Weather Adventures, aims to do just that — make winter a time to look forward to and not just get through.

I love hiking and camping during all the other seasons of the year and have always been disappointed that it mostly stops for winter. I don’t know why I didn’t think of winter hiking as a viable option before now, but I’m glad Dellinger did and has a book of useful advice for getting started.

Bellies by Nicola Dinan

Review by Jules Gargan

In Bellies, an inspiring coming-of-age story by Nicola Dinan, Tom and Ming come face to face with the people they are becoming and the circumstances that shape their lives. As they grow as a couple and as individuals, they must look inward and ask themselves heartbreaking questions as their lives begin to lead them down vastly different paths: Is it possible to compromise who you are to save your relationship? And is it worth it?

Bellies is the type of story that continues to live in your heart long after you finish reading. It is full of both love and loss, inspiring tears of joy and sadness as the story unfolds. You can’t help but feel the aching pangs of loneliness, growth, and heartbreak that each character experiences. This book captured the very essence of what it feels like to shed the person society expects you to be in order to become who you truly are.

Dinan pulls us along on the journey of discovering queerness, young love, gender identity, and friendship. It is an ode to all those who are feeling lost in their twenties as well as an analysis of the struggles people face in areas of relationship, friendship, and culture.

My Name is LaMoosh by Linda Meanus

Review by Luanne Clark

I always get each member of my family a book for Christmas and I often find the perfect gift in the Holiday Catalog from Inklings. This year was no exception. My Name is LaMoosh was a perfect fit for my dad. He was raised in the 1940s in Klickitat, a little town about 30 miles west of Goldendale. One of the stories he’s fond of retelling is about going to The Dalles for appointments and entertainment, and about the adventure of taking the small car ferry from Dallesport to The Dalles, across the Columbia River, before the bridge was built in 1953. He watched the Indigenous People fish from the scaffolds at Celilo Falls before the area was inundated by The Dalles Dam and has collected photos and artwork of the area throughout his life. 

My Name is LaMoosh was a hit with my 88 year old father. In fact, several times during the festivities he had to be reminded to set the book aside— it was his turn to open another gift! My Name is LaMoosh is a fascinating, simple book written by an elder of the Warm Springs Tribe who grew up at Celilo Falls. The reading level is middle grades but can be enjoyed by everyone. It’s full of photographs of the area and the residents of Celilo Village. The book includes fact boxes that provide historical, cultural, and environmental context for Linda’s  personal story, along with a thought provoking set of discussion questions for a readers group. And all of this information is filtered through a living connection to the land and river that formsthe foundation of her culture.    

After the Forest by Kell Woods

Review by Anne Zastrow

1650, the Black Forest, Wurttemberg. Do those sound familiar? If you are a fan of fairy tales and legends, they might. How about Hansel and Gretel?

After the Forest by Kell Woods is an imaginative story of what happened to Hansel and Gretel (here Greta and Hans) 15 years after the gingerbread house and their encounter with the forest witch.

Their parents and stepmother are dead, Hans has too many gambling debts, and Greta's only way to keep them afloat is a secret book, "The Witch's Grimoire," which she stole on her way out of the gingerbread house.

The book speaks to her, and the gingerbread recipe is addictive. Keeping the villagers going back for more is the only way for her to make money. After everything that has happened though, witches are not seen kindly and if anyone were to find out she has magic, that could mean her death. Is "The Witch's Grimoire" good like her or bad like the witch that it first belonged to? Why is it helping her? And is it helping her?

Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry

Review by Nikki Maples

Growing up in this crazy place we call Earth, we tend to look for others who we feel like we can relate to. We look to them for guidance, love and advice on how to navigate through life. Sometimes that person may be a teacher, a grandparent, even a coworker and sometimes it may even be a character on a television show. That person for me was Chandler Bing, the late actor Matthew Perry. He was the character you could always count on to be there for you through and through. He was our friend when we needed him. And he needed a friend at a point or two on his own.

Cooking Healthy for the Family by Elaina Moon

Review by J.T. Menard

Local health coach Elaina Moon is back with a full plate of plant-based recipes for you to make at home in her new book “Cooking Healthy for the Family”.

I previously reviewed Moon’s first book Cooking Healthy Cookbook favorably in 2021 and my good impressions carry over to this book. Cooking Healthy for the Family has a wide array of recipes for every meal of the day. Some are very simple and easy to make, some are a bit more complicated, but each recipe is portioned to serve a family or large gatherings and is focused on using healthy and nutritious ingredients. As with her previous book, this cookbook provides the caloric and macronutrient information of each recipe.

I got to try out the new recipes in this cookbook over Thanksgiving. My girlfriend and I had a lot of fun browsing through the recipes, selecting a few, and going to the store together to buy the ingredients. We chopped up and baked some Crispy Parmesan Broccoli, which was a hit at our Thanksgiving gathering, particularly with a friend’s baby. We also cooked the Eggy Veggie Muffins, which were sublime. Other recipes we’re excited about, but haven’t gotten to yet are the potato pancakes, the homemade protein bars, the Korean ramen bowl, the red pozole, and the fudge.

Winter: A Solstice Story / The Snow Man: A True Story / The North Wind & The Sun

Review by Amy Halvorson Miller

This coming Thursday, the winter solstice occurs: the longest night of the year, but thankfully, the start of lengthening days. Looking beyond Christmas, I’ve enjoyed three new picture books to greet the season and add some new interest and fun to story time.

Winter: A Solstice Story by Kelsey E. Gross is a tale of forest animals in a dark woods, preparing to celebrate the coming gift of winter. Owl watches the waning light of the shortest day then calls, “Whooo can help me shine the light, and share a gift of hope this night?” One by one, creatures answer with sustaining gifts from the snowy land. They celebrate the first day of winter with a softly sparkling tree hung with gifts, illustrated with vertical, gate-fold artwork by Renata Liwska. An unexpected friend joins the dance and all share in the splendor.