Here’s a look at what Rivertown staff are reading during the last days of summer.

Reporter Rebecca Mariscal

‘Mexican Gothic’ by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This book has been a potential “to read” for me for over a month. The vibrant cover first drew me in, but I was hesitant that the book would be too creepy for me. I usually don’t handle horror well, but I’m glad I took the chance with this one.

Moreno-Garcia crafts an enthralling gothic mystery in this book, turning some of the tropes on their head. Strange letters from her cousin Catalina send student and socialite Noemí to the ancient, isolated home of the Doyle family that Catalina has recently married into. She finds her once vibrant cousin withdrawn and ill, the family unconcerned and tight-lipped, and mysteries lurking in the walls of the now decrepit mansion.

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Multimedia editor Michael Brun

‘Indomitus’ by Gav Thorpe

On this surface, this sci-fi tale set in the far future of the 41st millennium is about super soldiers battling evil robots. But underneath the action set pieces and technobabble is an intriguing character study about ambition and hubris. Is it a soldier’s duty to openly question a commander that’s making a mistake, or simply to fall in line? If the latter, is that soldier any different than the automata they’re tasked with defeating?

Reporter Steve Gardiner

‘The Cold Vanish’ by Jon Billman

In 2017, a young cyclist named Jacob Gray left his bike on the side of the road and disappeared into Olympic National Park in northwestern Washington. Author Jon Billman joins Jacob’s father, Randy Gray, in a search for Jacob, and along the way, weaves in stories of dozens of other people who have simply vanished into America’s wildlands. He also looks at the many people who try to help -- dog handlers, search and rescue experts, psychics, Bigfoot researchers and others.

Billman, who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, has written for Outside and other magazines about the people who go missing, the friends and family left behind, and the park service officials and law enforcement officers who try to solve their mysteries.

Multimedia Sales Donna Kauffman

‘8 Perfect Murders’ by Peter Swanson

I picked this book up at the airport on my way to a beach vacation and very glad I did. This was a captivating read from start to finish. It is a psychological thriller about a bookstore owner and blogger who finds himself at the center of an FBI murder investigation because a killer has started using his list of “perfect murders” from mystery novels.

The list had been created years ago for a blog post. Now an FBI agent wants his help when some unsolved murders match up to his list. Many twists and turns in this great read.

Reporter Rachel Fergus

‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ by James Baldwn

This highly praised novel was first published in 1974. The basic plot is a modern love story that follows two young people through the joys and trials of life But Baldwin always writes books that are layered with meaning and story lines.

I picked this novel up after finishing “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” the RiverTown Reads book for August. I was so moved by Baldwin’s writing that I read his novel “Giovanni’s Room” (also fabulous) and I’m now starting “Beale Street.” In 2018 the book was adapted into a movie of the same name starring KiKi Layne and Stephan James.

News Director Anne Jacobson

‘Eyewitness to Power’ by David Gergen

My father lent me David Gergen’s “Eyewitness to Power” years ago. As we approach the 2020 presidential election, I find the reflections of this former White House adviser to four presidents -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- both enlightening and disturbing. Gergen illuminates the good and the bad actions, attitudes and attributes of these men as he delivers on the promise of the book’s subtitle: “The Essence of Leadership.”

Yes, the book was published in 2000, but as Nixon -- perhaps the office’s greatest student of political history around the globe -- discovered to his peril, leadership and power are never the same thing.

It’s up to the reader to apply these leadership lessons to the 2020 candidates for all offices as we head to the polls.