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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Who dares to become a god?

Cover of Divinity 36
A review of Divinity 36 by Gail Carriger

Here on planet Earth we may joke that our rock stars are gods, but in the universe of Gail Carriger's Tinkered Stars they really are. But to gain that status they first have to be recruited and then survive a competition (think American Idol competition, as opposed to the Hunger Games - no killing off the competition here) and prove they have the skill, artistry, and that certain something - call it stage presence or star power or charisma - that will make the audience worship them. Enter Phex.

Aug 1, 2023

More than camp songs and s'mores

Cover of Sunshine: How One Camp Tau
A review of Sunshine: How One Camp Taught Me about Life, Death, and Hope by Jarrett K. Krosoczka

There is something so pure and honest and sweet about Jarrett Krosoczka's young adult graphic memoirs. I expected a lot from this follow up to Hey, Kiddo about Jarrett's complicated home life growing up with a drug-addicted mother, an absentee father, and two loud and opinionated grandparents who thought they were done raising children. Sunshine does not disappoint. It's the perfect complement.

Jul 31, 2023

How do you feel about scary puppets?

Cover of How to Sell a Haunted Hous
A review of How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

Louise left Charleston behind when she moved away for college at sixteen and returning to her childhood home after the unexpected death of her parents sends her into the same negative space and patterns she escaped from decades before. Louise's estranged brother Mark notifies her of their parents' fatal accident nearly two days after it takes place. The decisions he's made in the time between their death and Louise's arrival sends her into a spiral of anger and confusion. And then there's the house.

Jul 24, 2023

A library mystery

Mrs. Biddlebox book cover
Cover of Mrs. Biddlebox
A review of Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith
Marla Frazee

I recently got a question from someone with a library mystery - a picture book they were looking for about a woman who bakes away her sadness. It was kind of dark, with a house on a hill... but they couldn't remember the title!

This didn't ring any bells for me, but we have a great team with lots of combined experience with children's books, so I put out a call to crowd source the title and one of my colleagues came up with the answer: Mrs. Biddlebox, which does indeed have a dark swirly cover and the title page features a house on a hill. 

Jul 21, 2023

Starting Over

Cover of The Ethan I was Before
A review of The Ethan I was Before by Ali Standish

Ethan and his family are getting a fresh start in the hot, coastal town of Palm Knot, Georgia, or at least they are trying to. While there's a promise of finding new friends and rebuilding family relationships, Ethan's guilt of who he was and what he did continues to haunt him. Whispered phone calls at night, family secrets and the secrets of his possible new best friend, Coralee, ultimately contribute to Ethan's understanding of the importance of remembering and forgiveness. This is a capably written story that discusses death, forgiveness, and the effects of guilt on a young mind.

Jul 20, 2023

Never too much

Cover of Knockout
A review of Knockout by Sarah MacLean

All her life Lady Imogen Loveless has been told she's "too much". And given her interest in blowing things up and lack of interest in any of the things a "real" lady does, she's convinced that she'll always live up to her name and remain single. But that fact doesn't stop her from truly liking (and lusting after) Scotland Yard inspector, Thomas Peck. For his lights, while Tommy may at times be very frustrated by Imogen, he's also totally fascinated by her. The only way in which she's "too much", as far as he's concerned, is in her station - she's an aristocrat and he a commoner.

Jul 19, 2023

What makes you strong?

Cover of Strong
A review of Strong by Rob Kearney

There are lots of ways to be strong. When Rob Kearney was a kid he was STRONG. He was able to lift heavy boxes and open jars with the tightest lids. He tried activities that tested his strength. His favorite sport was weightlifting and he felt mighty and powerful like a superhero!  In fact, he had dreams of becoming the strongest man in the world. 

Jul 14, 2023

All hail the snail!

Cover of Escargot
A review of Escargot by Dashka Slater

If you were charmed by Marcel and his shoes, meet this snail who hails from France. From his beret, red scarf and blue and white striped shirt, down to his trail of “shimmery stuff.” From his speedy race across a checked tablecloth to reach the delicious salad with very specific ingredients, “a salad with croutons and light vinaigrette and absolutely no carrots,” to his sad realization that no one chooses snails as their favorite animal.

Jul 12, 2023


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