The Hippo


Jul 4, 2020








 Where do you get your books?

1. Amazon
2. New Hampshire libraries
3. Barnes & Noble
4. Gibson’s Bookstore
5. Second-hand, either from friends or used book sales/stores
What was your favorite book growing up?
1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. Books by Dr. Seuss
3. Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by 
Betty Smith
5. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Who’s your favorite New Hampshire author? (in no particular order)
Robert Frost: He taught at Pinkerton Academy in Derry and also lived at The Frost Place in Franconia during the summertime. He won four Pulitzer Prizes, was United States Poet Laureate and wrote iconic works like “The Road Not Taken.”
John Irving: The Academy Award-winning screenwriter and bestselling author was born in Exeter and studied at the University of New Hampshire. He’s known for novels like The Cider House Rules, A Prayer for Owen Meany and The World According to Garp.
Dan Szczesny: Besides having co-founded The Hippo, Szczesny has written three books: The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie, The Nepal Chronicles and Sing, and Other Short Stories.
J.D. Salinger: Salinger lived in Cornish for most of his adult life and is best known for The Catcher in the Rye.
Donald Hall: Hall lives in Wilmot and served as U.S. Poet Laureate for one year. He’s written poetry, essays, children’s literature and memoir; his latest is Essays After Eighty.
Jodi Picoult: Picoult, who lives in Hanover, has about 14 million copies of her books in print worldwide.
Dan Brown: Best known for his books featuring Robert Langdon, including The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. He lives in Exeter.
What was your favorite book you read this year?
From both poll and bookseller/librarian inquiries, there were a few standouts. All the Light We Cannot See, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and is set in occupied France during World War II, was especially recommended highly among librarians and booksellers. 
Other responses, picked among many, include Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck! by Jeff Kinney (Tara D. of Derry said it was “hysterical, relatable and wonderful,” and that her elementary school students adored it), The Nepal Chronicles by Hippo Associate Publisher Dan Szczesny, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan Phillip Sendak, Pelican by Emily O’Neil, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin,Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum.
Where’s your favorite place to read in the summertime?
1. The beach
2. On a patio/deck/dock/porch
3. By or under a tree
4. Someplace shady
5. On a hammock

Hot Reads
A look at this summer’s best beach books

By Kelly Sennott

Once again we put out calls for book recommendations, and New Hampshire librarians and booksellers responded with fervor. They sent us information about their favorite mysteries, thrillers, fantasies, children’s books, young adult and historical fiction novels from 2014 and 2015. (There were so many replies, in fact, that we had to cut the story down to books only released from summer 2014 onward.)

To spice things up, we also asked you, Hippo readers, a few questions via an online poll. What was your favorite book growing up? Who’s your favorite New Hampshire author? Where’s your favorite place to read in the summertime? Where do you get your books? You can find some of the results from these inquiries scattered throughout the next few pages.
Picture books
Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
Plot: A tiny, spotted elephant tackles the challenges of city life in this illustrated tale.
Published: August 2014 
Recommended by: Jill Sweeney-Bosa of Water Street Bookstore. “How does a sweet little elephant like Elliot make it in the bustling metropolis he calls home? With a lot of pluck and some sweet encouragement: cupcakes and a new friend. … First in a series.”
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora
Plot: Mom and Dad Bunny are over the moon about newly adopted (and aptly named) Wolfie, but big sister Dot worries carrots won’t satisfy him for long.
Published: February 2015
Recommended by: Jill Sweeney-Bosa. “A funny, charming, and wonderfully illustrated look at what makes a family.”
Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien
Plot: When his dinner plans go repeatedly and hilariously awry, Hoot Owl employs super-stealthy plans and costume changes to get the job done.
Published: February 2015
Recommended by: Jill Sweeney-Bosa. “A sure-to-please read aloud for the younger crowd.”
Nobody’s Perfect by David Elliott, illustrated by Sam Zuppardi
Plot: About how focusing on the positive has its own rewards.
Published: February 2015
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins, owner of MainStreet BookEnds. “Newest picture book fun from Warner’s own.”
Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Plot: Poetic bedtime book.
Published: September 2014
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. “Mary Lyn's lovely poetry matched with Neal's amazing art.”
See You Next Year by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Todd Stewart
Plot: A girl’s annual summer beach week is altered when she meets a new friend who shows her how to dive under the waves and spot satellites in the night sky.
Published: March 2015
Recommended by: Nicole Giroux, Derry Public Library. “A perfect choice for anyone feeling nostalgic about summers past or looking forward to the present one.”
Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre
Plot: Photo-illustrated nonfiction picture book about the wonders of rain.
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Nicole Giroux. “The often rhyming text of the book reads like poetry with lyrical lines like, ‘Rain plops. / It drops. / It patters. / It spatters,’ while close-up photographs of raindrops in a variety of natural settings with plant and animal life show details often overlooked by the naked eye.”
Ice Cream Summer by Peter Sís
Plot: The history of ice cream through one boy’s summer vacation adventures, from sculpting sand at the beach to doing math problems around scoops of his favorite frozen treat.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Nicole Giroux. “Sis’s soft watercolor illustrations use a bright palette reminiscent of rainbow sprinkles. Young readers will delight in the images, seeing how many ice cream cones they can find on one page or trying to find the hidden ice cream shapes in other objects.”
The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Plot: From the writer of One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories and The Office, the book, not surprisingly, is void of pictures, but it does encourage the reader to say silly sounds in ridiculous voices. (Blork. Bluurf. Blaggity, Glibbity Globbity.)
Published: September 2014
Recommended by: Carrie-Anne Pace, Aaron Cutler Memorial Library. “This silly picture-less picture book is a surprisingly great read aloud that pokes fun at the reader.”
Kids, middle-grade
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Plot: Three stories about hope, destiny and family woven together in an intricate tale.
Published: December 2014
Recommended by: Sue Carita, Toadstool Bookstore of Milford.
The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm
Plot: A new boy in 11-year-old Ellie’s class looks like her grandfather when he was a kid, which is strange because her grandfather was a scientist obsessed with immortality.
Published: August 2014
Recommended by: Carrie-Anne Pace. “This light-hearted story is about the wonder of scientific discovery, friendship & family.”
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
Plot: Fifth-grader Albie is not good at anything and has low self-confidence until his new babysitter shows him his strengths.
Published: June 2014
Recommended by: Carrie-Anne Pace.
Young adult/Coming-of-age novels
Kissing in America by Margo Rabb
Plot: After Eva's father dies in a plane crash, her relationship with her mother is strained. She falls in love for the first time, takes a road trip across America with her best friend, has adventures both fun and awful and finds the meaning of great love.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Ryan Foley, Gibson’s Bookstore. “This book is as laugh-out-loud funny as it is bittersweet and romantic.”
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
Plot: A young girl is ostracized and is forced to live on the streets after her father is suspected of causing a nuclear meltdown in Vermont, leaving her orphaned and homeless.
Published: July 2014
Recommended by: Barbara Schuler, Goffstown Public Library. “A compelling tale of loss, resilience and transformation from a master storyteller.”
Also recommended by: Sarah Basbas, Manchester City Library. “A heartbreaking and thoroughly engrossing novel that is Bohjalian, bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls, at his best.” 
I Remember You by Cathleen Davitt Bell
Plot: Juliet and Lucas are falling in love, but when Lucas “remembers” things about Juliet he couldn’t possibly know, Juliet begins to wonder if something’s wrong.
February 2015
Recommended by: Tammy McCracken, Toadstool Bookshop of Milford.
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Plot: A girl who feels shadowed by her older brother, now in prison, becomes drawn to another family, where she experiences unquestioning acceptance for the first time.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Sue Carita. “Dessen has a wonderful way with the feelings and voices of teenage girls.”
Charisma by Jeanne Ryan
Plot: A cripplingly introverted teenage girl gets the opportunity to try a gene therapy drug called Charisma that gives her just that. Her life changes overnight as she finds herself able to have casual conversations with strangers, flirt with her crush and speak publicly. It’s too good to be true.
Published: March 2015
Recommended by: Ryan Foley. “I loved Charisma. It's exciting and tempting and unnerving and fascinating. Great for teens who are looking for some sci-fi.”

Fell of Dark by Patrick Downes
Plot: This story revolves around two mentally ill teens, Erik and Thorn. As they succumb to their individual delusions, they embark on a collision course toward one another with an inevitable and harrowing conclusion.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Erin Robinson, Derry Public Library. “The characters and images are so authentically rendered that this book will stay with you for a long time to come.”
The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig
Plot: The Hunger Games meets Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. No. 1 in a post apocalyptic trilogy. Every person is born with a twin, and of each pair, one is an Alpha — physically perfect in every way — and one is an Omega, burdened with deformity.
Published: August 2014
Recommended by: Mat Bose, Hooksett Public Library. “Another great dystopian fiction novel. I enjoyed the mystery and adventure aspects of this worthy addition to the genre.”
Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy
Plot: Elite teen fighter pilot Chase Harcourt (call sign Nyx) is one of two pilots capable of testing the new, experimental Streaker Jets. But as the Streaker trials approach, Nyx unlocks a dangerous military secret.
Published: March 2015
Recommended by: Erin Robinson. “For readers who want full-tilt action, hardcore ladies, and breathtaking suspense.”
Thor’s Serpents by K.L. Armstrong & M.A. Marr
Plot: The latest in the Blackwell Pages series. A couple of pre-teens are working to battle fierce monsters who are working to bring out the apocalypse.
Published: March 2015
Recommended by: Kerri Antosca, assistant librarian at the Aaron Cutler Memorial Library. “Follow the modern descendants of Norse gods in this action-packed race to prevent Ragnarök, the end of the world!”
Fairest by Marissa Meyer
Plot: Part of the Lunar Chronicles series, which gives old fairy tales new life. This one is about Queen Levana, a ruler who used glamour to gain power.
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Kerri Antosca. “If you haven’t started reading The Lunar Chronicles, get on it! This series is massively popular at our library; one of my patrons describes it as Star Wars meets Cinderella.”
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Plot: In a fantastical world, a girl is taken every 10 years by a wizard, known as the Dragon, who lives in the Wood. The next choosing is fast approaching, and protagonist Agnieszka is fearful that the chosen one will be her beautiful, graceful and brave best friend Kasia.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Jill Sweeney-Bosa. “You will feel the weight of the Wood’s glare, the dust of ancient tomes on your fingertips, and frissons of spells cast from darkened corners. Novik has crafted an astoundingly good tale of magic, sacrifice, and the ties that bind.”
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Plot: A brother and sister live in Fairfold, where humans and faeries live side by side. A boy who’s been sleeping in a glass coffin in the woods wakes up and the world as they know it turns upside down.
Published: January 2015
Recommended by:  Liz Gotauco, Merrimack Public Library.
Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson
Plot: One morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear but particular to them: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work.
Published: August 2014
Recommended by: Sean Johnson, Toadstool Bookshop of Milford.
Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
Plot: Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea with only one good hand.
Published: July 2014
Recommended by: Mat Bose. “The start to another great fantasy series by Abercrombie.”
The Whites by Harry Brandt (Richard Price)
Plot: A New York City police detective is under siege by an unsolved murder, his past and a violent stalker seeking revenge. 
Published: February 2015
Recommended by: Sarah Williams, Nesmith Library. “Price, writing as Harry Brandt, adds to his collection of gritty crime dramas. The characters are real, fleshed out, flawed people.”
You by Caroline Kepnes
Plot: Google gives a dangerous stalker all the information he needs to step into and take over Guinevere Beck’s life.
Published: September 2014
Recommended by: Jessica Sheehan, Goffstown Public Library. “This fast-paced psychological thriller will not only keep you turning the pages, it will keep you guessing until the very last twist.”
Also recommended by: Sandy Whipple, Goffstown Public Library.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Plot: A private school girl endures a shocking public humiliation that leaves her desperate to reinvent herself with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe and handsome fiancé. But she’s still hiding a secret buried in her past.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Deb Wenzel, assistant manager at Barnes & Noble, Manchester. “Slated to be the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.”
Descent by Tim Johnston
Plot: A vacationing family gets a call that their teenage son has been hurt during a hike.  When they ask if their daughter was also injured, the police tell them the boy was found alone. 
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Jessica Sheehan. “Descent is a dark journey with a heart.”
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Plot: A girl sees something shocking on a commuter train, and after offering information to the police, worries she’s done more harm than good.
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Barbara Schuler, Goffstown Public Library assistant. “A page-turning, psychological thriller that will keep you guessing.”
Also recommended by: Beverly Pietlicki, Josiah Carpenter Library, and Sandy Whipple
Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon
Plot: A stay-at-home dad’s worst nightmare comes true when there’s a school shooting at his kid’s school. His son Jake is the only kid missing.
Published: February 2015
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin, Manchester City Library. “It raises the question of, how much can parents be held accountable for the actions of their children? It also touches upon relationships, stay-at-home dads, and social expectations and norms.”
World of Trouble (The Last Policeman No. 3) by Ben H. Winters
Plot: Two weeks before a deadly asteroid hits the planet, Detective Hank Palace has one last case to solve.
Published: July 2014
Recommended by: Jessica Drouin, Derry Public Library. “I enjoyed the first two well enough; however, I was very impressed with the last. Winters didn’t pander or lose momentum as we drew towards the end of the world. … It was not sappy or contrived, but believable and haunting. … P.S., it takes place mostly in Concord, New Hampshire.”
Fear the Dark by Chris Mooney
Plot: No. 5 in the Darby McCormick series; a murderer in Colorado targets entire families in their own homes. 
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Brian Woodbury, Toadstool Bookshop. “This new Darby McCormick forensic investigation will leave you emotionally raw and numbingly cold. Perfect for a heat wave.”
A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
Plot: A family whose daughter displays signs of acute schizophrenia agree to be stars of a reality TV show called The Possession in order to pay the medical bills.
Published: June 2015
Recommended by: Ryan Foley. “Picture The Exorcist as a reality television show. …  Dual unreliable narrators, psychotic breaks, demonic possession, and more.”
Her by Harriet Lane
Plot: A seemingly innocent friendship between two women develops into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
Published: June 2014
Recommended by: Sarah Williams. “So, so, so exciting. It’s an ambient psychological drama. … Lane captures every minute detail, and brings it all together for a heart-pounding conclusion. Loved it!”
Historical fiction
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
Plot: A look at four generations of one family anchored by a Baltimore house.
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Beverly Pietlicki.
A Slant of Light by Jeffrey Lent
Plot: Set in the aftermath of the Civil War in the Finger Lakes region of New York, the book centers about two men: one has committed a horrific act but is revealed to be a man of integrity, while the other is seemingly righteous but has a lust for power.
Published: April 2015
Recommended by: Holly and Willard Williams, co-owners of the Toadstool Bookshops of Peterborough, Keene and Milford. “So effective is his storytelling and historical detail, reading Jeffrey Lent’s new novel set in upstate New York just before and after the Civil War is a thoroughly compelling and immersive experience not to be missed.”
The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton
Plot: After seeing his brother die in a terrible home accident, a boy and his mother are sent to live with his grandfather for the summer in Medgar, Kentucky. Meanwhile, his grandfather and others in town are trying to rally citizens against a massive mountaintop removal operation that’s blowing up hills and filling hollows.
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin. “I loved this book for the innocence and nostalgia of a summer of adventures in the mountains combined with the reality of tragedy, change, and coming to terms with both.”
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
Plot: Follow-up to bestselling book Life After Life. The book follows Teddy, the brother of Life After Life protagonist Ursula, as he flies bombers over Germany during World War II and builds a life in England after the war.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Water Street Bookstore manager Stef Schmidt. “This follow-up … does not disappoint. … It's a beautiful, character-driven story by one of our finest living writers.”
Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell
Plot: Wyatt Earp’s story of the O.K. Corral, the most famous 30-second gunfight in the Wild West.
Published: March 2015
Recommended by: Mat Bose. “This book is historical fiction at its best. I enjoyed the more realistic portrayal of the characters and events surrounding the famous shootout at the O.K. Corral.”
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Plot: Two sisters try to survive the Nazi occupation in France during World War II. One is a frightened mother, trying to hold her family together in her husband’s absence.  The other is daring and gets involved in the French resistance.
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Sarah Basbas, Manchester City Library.
A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
Plot: Eleventh in a series about Maisie Dobbs, investigator and psychologist, which starts with her time as a World War I nurse and continues through the inter-war years up to 1937.
Published: March 2015
Recommended by: Susan Brown, Derry Public Library. “Winspear is expert at creating a sense of place, as well as complex characters I really care about. Although I have read extensively about this period in history, I always learn from her books and come away with a deeper understanding.”
Girl at War by Sara Nović 
Plot: Civil War in Yugoslavia affects everything in 10-year-old Ana Juric’s life in Croatia in 1991. Her only chance for survival is to escape to America.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin. “Without being overwhelming or depressing, the dialogue and emotions are so real … you might forget it is a work of fiction.”
Local authors
Chasing the Milky Way by Erin E. Moulton
Plot: Lucy Peevy has a dream to get out of the trailer park she lives in and become a famous scientist, but it’s difficult when her mother doesn’t always take her meds.
Published: June 2014
Recommended by: Jessica Drouin. “Mental illness is not a popular subject in literature for youth and Moulton handles it in a straightforward, empathic, and legitimate way. …  She isn’t heavy-handed with the material, yet you come away with a better understanding of what people may be experiencing on both sides of the issue.”
Welcome to Frost Heaves by Ken Sheldon
Plot: Written by Sheldon, better known in New Hampshire as Fred Marple from the Lake Wobegon-like theater show Frost Heaves, the book is a compilation of Marple’s funny-but-true stories about life in a small town.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Holly and Willard Williams. 
The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
Plot: A book about the emotional and physical world of the octopus.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: Michael Herrman, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore. “A fascinating journey into the minds of creatures that are separated from us by half a billion years of evolution.”
Also recommended by: Holly and Willard Williams. “Successfully foists her enthusiasm on all readers, even those who might not have initially shared her love.”
Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall
Plot: Essays by former United States Poet Laureate.
Published: December 2014
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin. “Do not be deceived by the title; this collection of essays can be enjoyed by all ages. It gives younger people the ability to see inside the head of an ‘old’ person, and the challenges they face, as well as gives insight into what to expect.”
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by John Krakauer
Plot: While Krakauer chose to investigate Missoula, the deeper message is that this town is quite average compared to the national average regarding rapes.
Published: April 2015
Recommended by: Sarah St. Martin. “It was eye-opening to read the complications that arise from acquaintance rapes, including that the rapist is a likable and normal person, the guilt and persecution the women face if they come forward, and the large role the police and prosecutors play in whether or not cases are pursued.”
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
Plot: Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing and storing.
Published: October 2014
Recommended by: Nathan Robbins, Barnes & Noble, Manchester. “Every chapter of this book is an epiphany that teaches us to part with things in our life that no longer spark joy. Life-changing indeed!”
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Plot: A conglomerate of personal stories (both funny and not funny) and real-life advice.
Published: October 2014
Recommended by: Grace Larochelle, Hooksett Public Library. 
In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World by Joey Graceffa
Plot: Confessional memoir about 23-year-old YouTube personality.
Published: May 2015
Recommended by: John Avera, Barnes & Noble, Manchester. “This funny, warm-hearted memoir represents a shift from the typical ‘let's-print-out-my-blog’ Web-to-page tome in favor of a heartfelt telling of what it's like to be a young person finding success as one of America's most popular YouTube stars.”
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Plot: A woman uses falconry to grieve in this blend of memoir and nature writing.
Published: July 2014
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. 
Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — and the World by Rachel Swaby
Plot: From Nobel Prize winners to major innovators and lesser-known scientists, this book of profiles spans centuries of courageous thinkers.
Published: April 2015
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. “Wonderful, inspiring role models.”
Sustainable Happiness: Live Simply, Live Well, Make a Difference edited by Sarah van Gelder
Plot: The book contains articles from Yes! Magazine about achieving happiness that lasts. 
Published: January 2015
Recommended by: Katharine Nevins. 
As seen in the June 25, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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