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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Haunted family

Cover of Bad Cree
A review of Bad Cree by Jessica Johns

Mackenzie is living and working mostly uneventfully in Toronto, Canada, until one morning, she awakes from a nightmare and notices something clutched in her hand. It’s the decapitated head of a crow, and besides being horrified by it, Mackenzie has no idea how it got there… except that she remembers it from her dream.

How did the crow's head make it from her nightmare into her waking life?

Dec 12, 2023

Finding hope in creation

Cover of Angelo
A review of Angelo by David Macaulay

David Macauley, a celebrated illustrator of non-fiction books such as Cathedral and The Way Things Work, applies his knack for drawing complex structures in this gorgeous, heart-wrenching celebration of an aging plasterer, Angelo. 

The story follows Angelo as he restores the facade of a massive cathedral and reluctantly befriends a wounded pigeon named Sylvia. Angelo's declining health makes for a melancholy tone, but Sylvia's lighthearted antics and the warm, chaotic illustrations of Italian vistas give the story an incredible range. 

Dec 8, 2023

Keiko Furukura is completely fine

Cover of Convenience Store Woman
A review of Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Sayaka Murata’s slim novel Convenience Store Woman is the Tokyo-set tale of self-described “foreign object” Keiko Furukura, a loner in her mid-30s who does not quite fit in with or understand the society around her, yet excels in her role as a konbini employee.

Murata’s themes and her oddball protagonist are similar to Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Even so, Murata’s is a wholly original story, with its own thought-provoking musings on what normal behavior and happiness can look like, despite the expectations of family and peers.

Dec 7, 2023

Crossing the Rubicon

Cover of A Fatal Thing Happened on
A review of A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Murder in Ancient Rome by Emma Southon

I'm a fan of true crime tv and podcasts and will listen to a wide variety of them, but when it comes to books, I'm a bit more particular. I think this choosiness has to do with being able to distance myself a bit from the content and for me, when I'm reading, it can feel so much more immediate. So for nonfiction crime books I gravitate to historical crime with the natural distancing of time making it more enjoyable. A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum really fit that bill.

Dec 5, 2023

Werewolves, whoopee cushions, bioluminescent frogs and a ball

Cover of A Most Agreeable Murder: A
A review of A Most Agreeable Murder: A Novel by Julia Seales

The small English township of Swampshire provides a most agreeable setting for murder, mystery, mayhem and mayhap a little melding of hearts. Too much? Well, that's what A Most Agreeable Murder excels at. The residents of Swampshire head to an autumn ball at the largest local estate in order to meet an eligible bachelor named Croaksworth. The guests must pass through swamps that boast of glowing frogs and squelch holes in order to join a group of friends and enemies at the seemingly lavish, but actually crumbling estate.

Dec 4, 2023

Unlikely allies working together

Cover of The Siren, the Song, and t
A review of The Siren, the Song, and the Spy by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Fans of The Mermaid, The Witch, and the Sea, rejoice! In this companion to her 2020 fantasy debut, Maggie Tokuda-Hall introduces a vibrant new cast of characters – although the magical world they inhabit and the colonial forces they resist will be familiar to readers of the author’s earlier work. Told through diverse perspectives woven together, this story is every bit as clever, queer, and generally delightful as its predecessor.

--reviewed by Ros

Dec 1, 2023

Power to those who can wield it

Cover of Jade City
A review of Jade City by Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee's Green Bone Saga has been on my radar and has had steady positive buzz since this, the first book, came out a few years ago. So I've known I wanted to read it for a while. But I also knew, given the subject matter, I had to be in the right reading mood. Well this weekend I was and wow! it definitely lives up to the hype.

Nov 30, 2023

Heartbreakingly beautiful

Cover of Stolen Words
A review of Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
Gabrielle Grimard

Compared to other types of books, picture books are simple, short, and accessible -- but that doesn't make them any less impactful. On the contrary, sometimes the simplest stories hit the hardest. And this is definitely the case with Melanie Florence's Stolen Words.

Nov 28, 2023

If you need inspiration

Lone Women book cover
NPR's Books We Love

If you're a bookie like me then this is the best time of the year. No, not because of the turkey and Black Friday sales (though those are a bonus), but because now is when NPR posts their Books We Love list and oh how happy it makes me to browse through all those possibles. Think of it as a cross between the library's Best Sellers and Too Good to Miss collections. There is something for everyone and every one of the titles is worth a look.

Nov 21, 2023


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