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A Novel Idea


Welcome to SU Libraries' 2019 summer book review contest!  


We will be accepting submissions on June 1st - so stay tuned!

Dive right in and explore some titles that your fellow alums have read - below - plus a few that current staff/students/faculty have chimed in about! 


If you wish to submit your own review, the submission tab is at the top of the page,
as are our FAQs and contest basics. 




Girl in Hyacinth Blue

This is a very different story that starts in present time and moves backwards in time down through the centuries.

Lost And Found


Lost and Found is a tale about a little girl who lives in Australia. She is left in in a department store by her mother and told not to leave. Her mother would be right back. As anyone can see, the future of this little girl is not going to be the same. She is inquisitive, endearing and lovable.

The Girl On The Train

The Girl on the Train is a must read for anyone interested in thrillers. I really enjoyed and appreciated how Paula Hawkins chose to write this novel because we get a first-person perspective from three different characters.


This book is sure to inspire you regardless of who you are and where you live. You may have already seen the movie featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, but in my honest opinion, the books are always better because they provide more detail. In Stronger, Jeff Bauman documents his life before, during, and after the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013.

Secrets of a Charmed Life

Two half sisters, Emmy and Julia are raised by their mother in London during the German Blitz of WW II. Somehow these two sisters are separated and spend a long time searching for one another.


If You Come Softly

First penned in 1998 by National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson, this twist on Romeo and Juliet is years ahead of its time, touching on topics and events that so often make their way into the news today.

All The Light We Cannot See


I have just finished another book. A wonderful tale of love, lost love, living and dying.

Teach Like A Pirate

Dave Burgess is an award-winning and nationally recognized teacher who travels to all kinds of conferences, keynote lectures, and campuses to spread his word and enthusiasm for teaching. He inspires colleagues, fellow teachers, and even his own students by using the creative acronym PIRATE. If we “Teach like a pirate,” Burgess strongly believes our students’ engagement will increase, our own creativity will rise, and our life as educators will be transformed for the better.

A Bend In the Road


It may be one of Nicholas Sparks’ few books that have not been adapted into a movie, but A Bend in the Road is still great nonetheless. It grabs your attention immediately in the prologue because it is written in italics by a mystery speaker; somehow, this person is going to recall a story between Miles Ryan and Sarah Andrews, and somehow, they also play a role in all that happened.

Schindler's List

I had seen a least parts of the movie, Schindler's List, but I never knew what became of Oskar Schindler or those he saved. The image I had of Mr. Schindler was of Liam Neeson who played the part in the movie, probably a good fit for the role. I was fascinated by how Oskar operated during WWII. He wasn't the only person who worked diligently to rescue Jews from the camps in Poland, but most likely the most opportunistic.

American Wife: A Memoir of Love, War, Faith, and Renewal


















American Wife is an absolute MUST read for anyone who is a military spouse, knows a military spouse, is currently serving or previously served in the U.S. military, or any fans of Chris Kyle and his story behind American Sniper. Perhaps you have read his novel or seen the movie starring Bradley Cooper as Chris and Sienna Miller as his wife, Taya. In this novel, Taya sums up her life in four words: love, war, faith, and renewal (although the book also involves three more chapters: fame, shattered, and despair).

The Woman In The Window

The Woman in the Window was written for readers who enjoy thrillers, plot twists, and interesting characters. It has 100 chapters in all, but each are very short, making for an easy read. The novel is slow to get started, but once you get to "the good part," you truly can't put it down.

The Daughters of Mars

Don't let the title fool you. This is a tale that spans the entire European theater during WWI. Two young women from Australia volunteer to be nurses. They sail from Australia to Egypt up to France and England. Their personal and connected experiences create an epic tale. The sisters, Sally and Naomi, share a secret...

Ship of Theseus

With notes marked within the margins of the text, the reader must dissect not only the traditional story narrative of “Ship of Theseus,” but understand the often out of place margin scribblings between a discouraged grad student and hopeful senior as they write notes back and forth to one another in this university library book.

The Fix

Decker is a member of an FBI team who uses his special abilities to help solve cold cases. However, in this book, he is called on to solve a current case with a short time frame for resolution. This mystery thriller involves a leading Defense contractor who shoots an unknown woman directly in front of the Hoover Building, and then shoots himself. The task is to find out why these people were involved, and why it occurred in the first place. Espionage is suspected but proves difficult to pin down.

The Poet X

Xiomara, also known as X, is no stranger to anger or frustration. Her big hair and curves draw unwanted attention. Her mother’s Catholic routine and father’s strict expectations don’t work for her. She’s consistently a target for slurs and slander her Afro-Latina heritage makes it difficult to fit in at her Harlem school. Her only saving grace from her growing defeat is the leather journal gifted by her twin brother so that she can express her emotions with her words, rather than with her fists.

Me Before You

Me Before You is an enticingly heartbreaking novel that captures readers interest from the very beginning and holds it all the way through the epilogue...

Running Like a Girl

I love that Heminsly started from scratch. She's not a professional athlete or a once high school athlete. She has a desk job, a roommate, and and average set of everyday activities. She decided to run simply to prove to herself that she could and signed up for the London Marathon having hardly ever set foot on pavement.


Robert Langdon is back in what is possibly Dan Brown’s most thought-provoking novel yet. In true Dan Brown fashion, Origin wonders aloud whether God will survive science and sends the beloved Harvard professor on another trail of symbols, clues, and heart-pounding danger...


Quiet Girl in a Noisy World

Growing up as the quiet girl can be hard. There is a constant battle between wanting to be chatty enough to fit in and wishing that everyone would just stop talking. Illustrator Debbie Tung can certainly relate, as is evident in this autobiographical collection of short cartoons.

Talking As Fast As I Can


A genre that I’ve recently grown to love and look for is the “successful and funny women writing about their successful and funny lives” genre. I enjoyed reading the tales of Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling but nothing filled my heart quite like the witty and relatable stories of Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can, which I’ve admittedly read more than once. 

She Is Not Invisible

Laurenth knows that her father is missing, even if the rest of her family isn't convinced. He's taken off to New York City in pursuit of proper research for his newest novel and back home in England, Laurenth begins to gather evidence and put the pieces together.

Sailing Lessons

Do you love chic lit, beach reads, or family drama (safely within a book of course)? Then you will thoroughly enjoy Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon. Last summer, I read all of Nancy Thayer and Elin Hildebrand’s books, perfect beach reads set in places like Nantucket and Tuckernuck that involve families surviving turmoil and coming together. This summer, I will be reading Hannah McKinnon, whose work I was recently introduced to with Sailing Lessons.

Life is Short

Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein have been inspiring people across the globe for over a decade. You may have seen them on their reality TV show "The Little Couple," but this book opens your eyes to so many life lessons and will encourage you to look at the world a little differently.

Dreamland Burning


















We don't know that we always have biases until something happens which opens our eyes. If a person has some good in them, they will most certainly examine their conscience. Two main characters, Rowan and William do just that.

An American Marriage

I feel this book is an instant classic, right beside 'The Great Gatsby" and 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

Whether a male or female teen, each would find this a great book, especially part two. Avi has written a book that girls could relate to just for the sheer joy of reading about a strong willed girl. It is also a book full of imagination about seafaring that a boy would love.

Shattered Mirror

Iris Johansen's Eve Duncan books are a very intriguing series. While basically mysteries, there are elements of magic, psychic forces, and other unexplainable manifestations sprinkled throughout the novels. Shattered Mirror is the 23rd book in this series. There is plenty of forensic reconstruction ( a staple of all Eve Duncan novels), danger, intrigue, criminal activity, and close calls in this book! It certainly keeps one involved and captivated until the successful conclusion is reached.


Recurring character Bennie Rosato, lawyer extraordinaire, is convinced to take on a juvenile case in a nearby town during the days of no tolerance. She is fired for developing a relationship, within a weekend, with the victim’s bully’s uncle (say that three times fast) and the kid she was hired to defend needlessly languishes in jail incurring all kinds of mental problems and a future on a wrong path. She forever feels guilty.



Whoa! This Young Adult novel, written from the viewpoints of identical twins in poetic prose, was an intense story of lives gone horribly wrong. Sixteen year old twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne are exact opposites, one a far too compliant favorite of Daddy’s, the other a self-destructive rebel. Mother is a politician, and absent. The only support for the girls is their abusive father. Raeanne turns to sex and drugs to fill the void. Kaeleigh works at a senior citizens’ center, and prays every night that Daddy’s footsteps walk past her bedroom door.



the curious incident of the dog in the night time


When I decided to read this book I wasn't certain if I would like it or not. I have taught students who were identified with autism. I will honestly say that they are not an easy group to reach much less teach. I often wonder what was going in their minds and I think this book brought home some points. As you can guess, the book is basically about an autistic teenager. It really surprised me, because the reader really gets to know what the main character is like. It is from his point of view.



Rescue Road


There is a lot more to rescue than most of us will ever realize. Many people own animals, without really thinking about the morals and ethics involved in pet ownership, buying a pure bred or picking up a dog at a shelter, usually without putting too much thought into it or without thinking about their pets’ backstories. Upon adopting his first family dog as a rescue, after long being against pet ownership, author and writer Peter Zheutlin gets curious and decides to follow the same path their 2-3-year-old rescue Lab mix, Albie, took to get to their family and his second chance at life. He learns more than he bargained for, completing changing his outlook on life and growing as a person, as he embarks on a journey that includes traveling from Texas to Pennsylvania, in a truck with 40-60 dogs.


Definitely Not Mr. Darcy

A single mom, in the throes of a custody battle with her ex, leaves the US for England in an attempt to win money to save her failing business. What she thought was going to be an extensive Jane Austen trivia competition turns out to be a version of the reality TV show The Bachelor, set in 1812.

The Longest Ride

An elderly couple, Ira and Ruth, have their life story told in flashback fashion after Ira runs his car off the road during a snowstorm and becomes stranded. His wife, who has passed away years before, appears to him in the car and through multiple "conversations" imparts to Ira the will to survive.

In a Dark, Dark Wood


















When an invitation to spend a weekend away to celebrate the upcoming marriage of an old friend arrives, lonesome writer Leonora is reluctant to accept.

The Reason I Jump

Written by then 13-year-old Naoki, "The Reason I Jump" is a wonderful collection that answers the never-ending slew of questions regarding autism. Naoki has autism; he has a hard time communicating and every day social situations make him nervous and frustrated. But his language isn’t stunted. He's intelligent, charming, and driven to achieve his goals and dreams.



The Talk-Funny Girl


"The Talk-Funny Girl" by Roland Merullo (author of "Breakfast with Buddha") is a riveting story of a teenage girl’s survival and coming of age in backwoods New Hampshire. She talks the way her parents speak with a broken English dialect that invites teasing among her peers and curiosity from adults. Marjorie (or Majie as her parents call her) is tough both physically and mentally. She is a loner isolated from the world until she’s allowed to attend school starting at age 9 and does well in school despite her poor communication skills. She practically raises herself since her mother seems incapable of parenting. Her saving grace is finding a job assisting a young man who is designing and constructing a cathedral in a small town not far from where Marjorie lives.


Gone Girl

One summer evening Amy Dunne mysteriously disappears. It is her and Nick’s fifth wedding anniversary. Nick soon becomes the one to blame for his wife’s disappearance although he claims he has no idea what happened to her. Nick begins to search for his wife on his own and begins to find clues she left for him. Is Nick Dunne really the killer everyone suspects or did Amy plan her disappearance and death?

Death By Water


Phryne Fisher is an Australian heiress who is quirky, fiercely intelligent, deeply kind, fearless, and possessing a keen eye for both a perfectly-cut dress and a perfectly-cut set of male abdominals.  While her behavior might raise a few eyebrows in today’s day and age, her behavior and morals set lots of eyebrows flying into the stratosphere and tongues wagging in 1920s Melborne, which is the time and place of this delightful book series by Kerry Greenwood.