Book Reviews by Summer Readers

Check out what folks in Topeka and Shawnee County are reading this summer – and perhaps discover a book you’ll just have to read. Below you’ll find book reviews from our customers – both kiddos and grownups. With 5 weeks left in Summer Reading, your review could get featured. Keep reading and reviewing via

Adult Reviews

Things Come On: An Amneoir (Wesleyan Poetry Series) by Joseph Harrington
This memoir-poetic book is simply amazing, as Harrington explores the private alongside the public. Using documents, photos, lists, letters, and his poetry, Harrington’s collage of the Watergate scandal with the secrecy around his mother’s passing away – ironically, she passed away on the day of Nixon’s resignation – also examine memory. How do we recover from a loss not fully known? This amneoir [amnesia + memoir] may be difficult for many, but I recommend referring to the notes in the back as one reads each page. This helps in “showing” how different sources, political/public and personal, intersect. Thank you, Joe, for this beautiful book!
Reviewed by Dennis Etzel

The Haunted by Bentley Little
Reading this book was nice and frightening, a pleasant little jaunt into the scary world of Bentley Little. It certainly isn’t the kind of scary that would keep one awake at night, but it did keep me reading into the late night. The ending did seem a little trite, but it did wrap up the story nicely. A good summer read, you will be entertained and comfortably scared.
Reviewed by Vivian Mosier

Divergent by Veronica Roth
For anyone that has enjoyed the Hunger Games Trilogy, I highly recommend this start of a trilogy. Beatrice is 16 and must choose to stay in same faction she grew up in with her family or go to one where she can be her true self? Along the way she learns that she is “Divergent,” which makes her dangerous. This is a high paced read that is hard to put down. I’m on the waiting list for Insurgent and can’t wait to get started.
Reviewed by Melanie Lawrence

Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
Not my cup of tea. About halfway through, I was annoyed enough by the constant use of cliché that part of me wanted to put the book down and walk away, but there was just enough mystery and intrigue that I did finish the book. It was nice to get out of my usual historical fiction and have to read the pictures. The walking house at the end was kind of cool. If you are into graphic novels, you might enjoy it. I’m not in any hurry to check out the second book in the series.
Reviewed by Natalie Moreland

The Lions of Lucerne (Scot Harvath 1) by Brad Thor
This was an absolutely incredible book. The storyline and characters were very well written and developed. If you like Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, W.E.B. Griffith or Daniel Silva you will definitely like Brad Thor. Scot Harvath, former U.S. Navy SEAL-turned Secret Service Agent, is on assignment in Utah when an avalanche claims the lives of over two dozen Secret Service agents and the President comes up missing. This fast-paced story takes you from Utah to Washington D.C. to the mountains of Switzerland on a whirlwind attempt to find the President. Scot Harvath is a one-man wrecking crew.
Reviewed by Kyle Stueven

Bossypants by Tina Fey
You know those stories where the young, dorky-looking, outcast of a girl grows up to become a beautiful, put-together woman who changes the world? Yeah, that’s not really Tina Fey. This book is a nonfiction collection of essays by former Saturday Night Live writer and mastermind behind 30 Rock and Mean Girls, Tina Fey. There are roughly 25 essays ranging from childhood memories “Growing Up and Liking It” to biting comebacks to critics “Dear Internet.”This book had me laughing the entire time (one time with water shooting out my nose). And it isn’t just because Tina Fey is a talented writer and a wonderful comedian. It’s also because she doesn’t make herself out to be a benign, fight for a social cause, beautifully made up celebrity. She’s real. She’s always one beat away from a heart attack. She’s stressed. And she’s had some very bad haircuts. While some of the essays come across as random, I overall encourage everyone to read Bossypants.
Reviewed by Emily L Jennings

P.S., I Love You by Cecelia Ahern
This book can be read on two levels – on one level a pleasant summer read – a typical “chick lit” book. On another level this book deals with how an individual reenters the world after a loss. After seven happy years of marriage, Holly’s beloved husband Gerry is diagnosed with cancer and dies. Faced with an empty house, no job, and friends who are going on with their own lives, Holly is at a loss how to navigate her own life. With great love and foresight, Gerry has left for Holly 10 envelopes to be opened in the following 10 months. Each envelope has a suggestion and a love note. I recommend this book for anyone who is dealing with a loss.
Reviewed by Marsha Pankewich-West

Teen Reviews

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
I love this book, one of my favorites. It talks about a teenage guy going though teenage problems – how he tried to kill himself but ends up in the hospital going though rehab. He meets all these different people who he makes friends with in the end finding himself a stronger person.
Reviewed by Eboni

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Little Women is a great classic book. For those who have watched the movie, you are missing a lot of fun stories if you don’t read the book! Characters are just as you remembered them and reading makes you feel like you are in the room with them. I have to read this book for school, but ended up liking it so much I can’t let the opportunity to review it pass me by!
Reviewed by Chloe M.

Annapolis Autumn: Life, Death, and Literature at the U.S. Naval Academy by Bruce Fleming
This is probably my favorite book in the world! The author provides a good insight into life at the Academy, while still giving a personal opinion about certain rituals and traditions. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone looking for information about the Naval Academy.
Reviewed by Madeline

Amanda’s Story (Girls of Lighthouse Lane series) by Erika Tamar
This is a story of a 13-year-old girl in 1905. It’s about a girl who is in love with a 16-year-old boy, but her father doesn’t approve because she’s too young to have callers. In the end, he allows her to have a caller while supervised. I really, really liked it. It’s an innocent clean love story.
Reviewed by Susan

Bruiser by Neil Shusterman
It was an incredible and moving read. Neal Shusterman is my favorite author, and he might be yours too if you read his books. You feel pity for the poor boy who heals everyone he loves but takes on their pain.
Reviewed by Jessica

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Such a powerful and beautiful book! I felt empty after reading it, knowing that it told of a horror faced by millions of people whose story is rarely told.
Reviewed by Eboni

Kid Reviews

George’s Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl
I loved this! Roald Dahl is one of my favorite storytellers of all time. This book is so funny that when I read it out loud to my mom, she kept cracking up. Read it, you won’t regret it!!
Reviewed by David

Roscoe Riley Rules #1 by Katherine Applegate
Another really funny book. Roscoe finds some glue and glues his friends to a chair!! You will laugh a lot!
Reviewed by Cade

Kickoff by Donna King
Tyra Fraser’s world has just been turned upside down. Moving from sunny Florida to gloomy England means that she has to deal with a new school, no friends, and an annoying little sister with major issues. The only highlight is a chance to play soccer, but the school team hasn’t won a game in years. A new coach and Tyra’s striking talent means that the Fernbridge girls’ team finally has a shot at success. But one of Tyra’s teammates is determined to stop her from scoring – whatever it takes!
Reviewed by Madison

Scout by Ellen Miles
The main characters are Lizzie, Charles, Meg, and Casey and Scout the dogs. Scout lives with Lizzie and Charles who are taking care of her until they find a home for her. Meg owns Casey and they go to Mexico to help others from an earthquake. Casey is a rescue dog. Casey gets hurt in Mexico and Scout makes her feel better. It is exciting adventure!
Reviewed by Brooklyn

Readers participating in our Summerfest reading challenge are asked to submit a book review as part of the experience (and to win prizes). Sign up, if you haven’t already, and review a book you liked (or didn’t) via



Lisa is a former employee and shared the library story in many of her posts.

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