The Stacks

What is a dog

How much do dogs really affect our lives? Chloe Shaw takes us on a heart breaking journey of healing and self discovery in her recent book, What is a dog? After the death of her family’s dog Booker, she recounts the influence every dog in her life since childhood up until the moment of their beloved Bookers death. Shaw describes her journey from birth to adulthood with a canine joining her for each season of life. 

What is a dog? is relatable story for any dog lover. Shaw’s work will cause you to think back on lovingly on the life of every dog you have ever owned and shed a tear for their absence. Shaw calls us to reflect on our four legged friends and release the grief of their passing out into the world. 

I write this review as my dog zooms and runs around my appartment, causing mischief and mayhem. Much like me, this book may cause you to hug your pups a little tighter.  I can only recommend this book if one of your hobbies includes crying over a book from your local library. 

Base notes

Is anyone entirely good or entirely evil? Lara Elena Donnelly makes us question this with their new book, Base Notes. The cost of rent is soaring across the country and is becoming a crushing burden to many, especially in New York City. A perfumer, Vic Fowler, has no choice but to rely on new steams of income to make ends meet. After receiving an offer they couldn’t refuse, Vic must convince (threaten) a few friends to assist in a bloody errand. Willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to further their business, no one is safe from Vic’s dangerous ambitions. 

I found the character of Vic to be very enthralling. For years I have wanted a story from the perspective of the villain and I may have found that in base notes. At the start, Vic is a very enjoyable and sympathetic character but as the story progresses we see Vic making more questionable choices until everyone  they know and love pay the price. Apart from Vic, all characters are extremely rich and dynamic. As a reader, you wont find a single character in Base Notes, that is entirely good or evil. Even the most likable of characters have their dark sides. 

Even with the most obvious antagonists in the story, its hard to pin down the real villain and it’s even more difficult to find the hero of the story. That may be why I found Base Notes to be such a great read. The biggest threats in story aren’t assassins in the middle of the night but crushing medical debt, student loans, and the ever rising cost of rent.

A history of wild places

Shea Ernshaw creates a mystery for all readers in, A History of Wild Places.We meet Travis Wren a psychic detective tasked with tracking down Maggie St. James, an author who has gone missing after her recent novel leads to the death of a young teenager. Just as he finds a hot lead and is right on her trail, he disappears just like the woman he has been tasked to find.  It’s not until a man (Theo) living in a near by community in the woods finds an abandoned truck and becomes curious that we begin to get some clues. Soon we are led down new path full of unanswered questions. Questions about: the missing man, the missing woman, and all the secrets that lie within a small town hidden in the woods. 

Our main characters: Theo, Calla, and Bee each have a  unique character arch. As a reader, it was quite the journey to see how each characters relationships with each other, their community, and their community’s leader changed over the course of the novel. Watching each of them work through the mysteries and questions they each encountered took me on a journey that surprised me at every turn. I particularly enjoyed how Ernshaw tackled the main characters “de-programming” themselves from their leader and community’s teachings and lifestyle. Every time I thought I could guess where the story was going, I was surprised. Nothing about Ernshaw’s work was completely un-predictable and I found that to be very enjoyable. 

A History of Wild Places is a journey of secrets, tragedy, and self growth. A great read for any true crime or cult documentary enthusiast….just be careful not to get lost along the way. 

A Flicker in the Dark

Mystery and tragedy  find themselves in A Flicker in the Dark, a thrilling novel by Stacy Willingham. We meet Chole Davis a young psychiatrist who happens to be in the  final stages of planning her upcoming wedding to the man of her dreams. All her worst night mares come true  when a local girl goes missing…Then another girl goes missing. Nearing the anniversary of her fathers crimes, she finds herself fearing that a copycat killer has begun to terrorize her hometown. With no one to trust, she fears the worst in everyone around her and begins her own investigation. Eventually she finds that the real monsters can be hiding silently behind any corner. 

I frequently found my self “on the fence,” with the character of Chole, she is a character who often has very questionable or unethical  judgment. In all, she is far from the typical, “perfect heroine,” which made her much more interesting character. However, all her faults and previous mistakes made her much more thrilling to follow in the story. However, Some of her character flaws were a bit too much and not always believable. She was stupid at times and it wasn’t always endearing. She made some poor and illegal choices that sometimes took the story to unnecessary and some times irrelevant plot lines.  

A Flicker in the Dark is a very thrilling read. Each twist and turn of the story was completely unpredictable. Even with all of the main characters flaws I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a thrilling mystery. I wont give away any spoilers but if you give Willingham’s work a try you will find yourself completely engulfed in her story, unable to put it down. 

The Last Winter

How many winters will I experience? What about my children or grandchildren? Porter Fox travels across the globe in writing “The Last Winter” to learn why winter as we know it today may cease to exist. From raging forest fires across the pacific north, to the French Alps, and glaciers in the Alaska and Greenland, Potter introduces us to numerous experts in the field who live with and study the catastrophic effects of global warming every day.

Global warming is a difficult topi to write about, its especially difficult to predict may affect our future lives. Long term threats like global warming and disease, much like the pandemic we are experiencing right now are very difficult to conceptualize. Potters‘s  travels and narrative  helps the reader see how global do warming is affecting the planet right now from the perspective of those facing and studying it everyday. 

This is a fantastic first start for someone just bringing their learning journey about climate change and global warming. Potter does an exceptional job, describing how global warming and climate change will: affect the availability  of drinking water, disrupt growing seasons and subsistence hunters, destroy homes, and (as the title suggests) forever change winter as we know it.

One of my biggest complaints about the book is that it is just a beginners course. Fox does provide additional suggested readings at the back of the book but I would have liked to see a little more data and a little less personal side stories from the author.

In all, the “Last winter” is a great preliminary reading for someone wanting  to learn more about climate change. While I loved Fox’s style of narration, I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone expecting a quick read. The Last Winter requires more thought and attention from the reader, but it is definitely worth the extra time. Keep in mind,  Fox’s work isn’t a call to action but rather a mirror to show us: what was, what is, and what could be. 


Deep in the mountains of Tennessee a mysterious deity slumbers. In Daryl Greggory’s work Revelator, we meet a long like of women, all (supposedly) born out of wedlock, with striking physical characteristics, and a long line of secrets to protect. Stella should have been next in line to serve as the next revelator, until a tragic accident causes her to run from the only real home and family she has ever known, vowing never to return again. After the death of her “grandmother” she returns to find a young girl (Sunny), with an odd appearance, and very peculiar behavior.

The character arch of Stella is a fantastic literary journey that would entrap the interest of any reader. Stella’s return to the cove is an enticing page turner. Her determination to protect and shelter Sunny from the oppressive nature of her family’s religion makes her an incredibly interesting character. Her journey from young religious prophet to a morally gray bootlegger is a fantastic view into the life of a woman struggling for control of her own life.

Greggory’s work felt like is an interesting take on familial relationships and the potential destructive nature of blind faith. The long line of revelators are used as pawns for the spread of the family’s religion and the profit of their family’s pastors. Every page leaves the reader rooting for Stella and Sunny to escape their family’s grasp and leave to find a better life. The Revelator is a spine-chilling journey no reader will be able to put down.

All These Bodies

All These Bodies by Kendare Blake begins with a killing spree across the midwest that stops in the small town of Black Deer Falls, Minnesota. This is where we learn that a small family of four was attacked, leaving three killed and only one surviving infant. In the midst of all this carnage a young teen girl (Marie) is found covered in the blood of the diseased. Is she the victim or the perpetrator? How did she come to be in the middle of this carnage? The sherif’s son (Michael) , is the only one who she will tell her story too. After a rollercoaster of an investigation, the reader is left with more questions than answers.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story is the unidentifiable monster in the closet. There was a string of murders so there was clearly a killer but the killer themselves were never the most prominent part of the story. While I was reading Blake’s work, it appeared that the biggest villain in our story, was fear and the want for speedy, but neglectful, justice. The town of Black Deer Falls was terrified of whoever or whatever brutally murdered one of their own. They wanted to justice, not to wait around for a fair and speedy trail (even if it meant harassing and abusing Michael’s family and friends to get it).

While the idea of the story is very interesting and had a lot of potential, the book itself could have had a little more substance to it. I found the characters to be one dimensional, unsympathetic, unreliable, and at times a little infuriating. For example: Marie our main suspect, seemed to be hostile and uncooperative for no real reason and seems to act only as an antithesis the prosecuting attorney (Benjamin Pilson). Whereas, Michael’s (the story’s protagonist) squeaky clean image wasn’t relatable and we don’t really know much about him apart for his future aspiration to become a journalist. His character fell flat, I wasn’t sure why he was given the authority he had throughout the novel, it was simply unbelievable. All three of these characters mash up into a very unsatisfying story. After I read Blake’s work I was left with more questions than answers. Was the killer a vampire? Was Marie a vampire? Was Marie innocent or was she lying the whole time? Who can really be trusted?


A story of self discovery and healing is told through Bruised by Tanya Boteju. We begin the story with Daya, who recently lost her parents in a car accident. After meeting a few new friends at the skate park, Daya tries out for a roller derby team to help distract her from her grief. After realizing that roller derby is much more than getting knocked around and bruised, Daya finds herself on a journey of healing and self discovery.

The cast of characters presented in Bruised are nothing but diverse and supportive. Boteju’s characters are relatable to readers of all ages. Daya; the main character; is a teen girl who just wanted her parents to be proud of her ( a feeling all of us have experienced at one point in our lives). One of the most refreshing aspects of the book is that it normalizes characters of different sexual orientations and gender expressions. Bruised, shows young teens and young adults that having a supportive community can help one though the most difficult of circumstances.

Bruised provides a brilliant depiction of a good community support system. Daya’s extended family and friends support her during a time of self discovery and devastating grief. In addition, they support her passions and outlets while holding her accountable for her detrimental habits. Boteju shows readers of all ages the support we should be giving our loved ones and the support we all deserve in times of hardship.

Why You Should Read Children’s Books Even Though You Are So Old and Wise

When was the last time that you read a children’s book? Do you think you are too old to read them now? Why You Should Read Children’s Books Even Though You Are So Old and Wise by Katherine Rundell discusses why reading children’s books into adulthood may allow you to become more imaginative, creative, and develop a new perspective of the world around you.

While many would assume that children’s books may not carry as much weight as an adult novel, who is to say that children’s literature can’t have a similar deep and profound message? Rundell argues just that, children’s books are one of the first places we learn about big and profound feelings and emotions like: bravery, kindness, empathy, understanding, and forgiveness. As adults we might benefit from revisiting those old tales to re-learn and experience the lessons from our youth.

Rundell’s work is unapologetically eye opening with a sprinkle of politics. Its not enough that adults re-incorporate children’s books into their reading list. Rundell argues that we need to evolve and change the stories and fairy tales of our youth to make them more enriching, inclusive, understanding, and accessible (through public and school libraries). Students need be able to access and see themselves in the literature that we are providing to them. Because as Rundell states, “Fairy tales are for everyone.”

The King of Infinite Space

Hamlet as you have never imagined before, The King of Infinite Space by Lyndsay Faye is a modern retelling of Shakephere’s classic with a plethora of modern twists and turns. Centered around three lovers and friends: Ben, Lia, and Horatio as they confront their changing relationships, addictions, and illnesses all the while working to solve the mystery sounding the death of Ben’s father.

The King of Infinite Space, is like no other Shakephere reboot that you have read or watched before. All of Faye’s characters are so rich and dynamic with mysterious backstories, it leaves the reader yearning to keep turning the page. Each chapter of Faye’s work is so uniquely formatted that I provides a dynamic view into the mental state and development of the star cast. Each chapter centers around a singular characters plot line and hints about their future plot collisions.

Faye’s writing style is engaging and dynamic. Each chapter is uniquely written to allow the reader to become better acquainted with each of the characters mental state, conflicts, and plot lines. Every reference to Hamlet is a pleasant little tidbit to be enjoyed by any Shakespeare fan ( previous reading of Shakespeare is not a requirement for enjoying Faye’s work). The King of Infinite Space keeps even the most well read Shakespeare fan on their toes and repeating, “just one more chapter…”