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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Roadkill and witches

Cover of Snapdragon
A review of Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Local legends and lore abound in this middle grade graphic novel about a young girl named Snapdragon who befriends the town witch. It turns out the elderly witch, Jacks, is a licensed animal rehabilitator who also assembles roadkill skeletons and sells them for profit on eBay. This is wonderfully weird, but not exactly otherworldly. 

May 4, 2021

Chirli and me

Cover of The Bitch
A review of The Bitch by Pilar Quintana

If you have ever wondered what a gritty and meanly funny version of Marley and Me would look like, Pilar Quintana’s The Bitch has you covered. It is the story of Damaris, who gets a dog. Damaris lives with husband Rogelio on a Colombian hillside, surviving off fishing and keeping house for absentee homeowners. Wife and husband long for a baby that will never come.

May 3, 2021

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.

May 2, 2021

Always something to say

Cover of Nimoshom and His Bus
A review of Nimoshom and His Bus by Penny Thomas

This is the story of a kind, friendly school bus driver named Nimoshom who has something to say to the children every day on the way to and from school. Nimoshom means grandfather in Cree. Sometimes Nimoshom teaches the kids a new word in Cree. He greets the students with tansi (hello), wishes them mino kisikaw (have a good day), asks them to api (sit down) if they bounce around in their seats, and smiles and says ekosani (thank you) when the kids bring him gifts.

Apr 27, 2021

Let's read some poetry part 4

Cover of New Poetry Books
New Poetry Books

National Poetry Month was launched by the Academy of American Poets to remind "the public that poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters." To help myself (and you) out I've put together some lists of poetry from last year and some new titles from the the first quarter of this year. This is the last of four lists. Let's read some poetry!

Apr 26, 2021

Love letter to the funk-rock sound of the 1980s

Cover of MPLS Sound
A review of MPLS Sound by Joseph Illidge and Hannibal Tabu

This is a gorgeous purple graphic novel inspired by the Purple One. Theresa Booker dreams of being a musician and knows that there are many barriers to success for a black woman on the Minneapolis music scene in 1982. She puts together an amazing band with a singular vision but there's nowhere for Starchild to play. Talent and drive are not always enough. 

Apr 23, 2021

Put your thinking cap on

Cover of Project Hail Mary
A review of Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

When he wakes up at the beginning of the book the hero doesn't have a clue as to who he is or where he is. All he knows is that he's hooked up to a lot of tubes and a computer voice is asking him what 2 + 2 is. When he's finally able to answer that question, the computer allows him to progress in his recovery. As he gets stronger physically, he begins to have flashes of memories (including his name, Ryland Grace). Oh and he discovers there are two people long dead in the beds next to his and that he's in a ship in space. Ryland is all alone and millions of miles away from home.

Apr 22, 2021

Siblings at their best and worst

Cover of Twins
A review of Twins by Varian Johnson, illustrated by Shannon Wright

Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and inseparable until the start of sixth grade. Maureen doesn’t understand why Francine doesn’t want things to be as they always have been. Francine’s acting different now. She wants to be called Fran, starts joining other groups, she cares about being stylish, and wants to run for class president?! Tired of not being the ‘smart twin’ and with a twinge of anger at Fran, Maureen decides to run for class president too. Can they be competitive and still be loving sisters? It’s going to be a bumpy election with lessons to be learned on both sides.

Apr 21, 2021

Adventure time / Hora de aventura

Cover of Olivia, volume 1: Y el gen
A review of Olivia, volume 1: Y el genio sinvergüenza by Thom Pico, illustrated by Karensac

In this Spanish language graphic novel for school age kids, Olivia is bored out of her mind after moving to a small town from the city. Things quickly begin to change when she starts exploring the woods that surround her new home. There, Olivia meets a strange old lady who gives her a dog. Immediately, Olivia and her dog, who she names Peluso (Fuzz), begin getting into all kinds of wacky adventures. Shortly into their relationship, Olivia and Peluso meet a genie who offers to grant Olivia's wishes, but Olivia quickly realizes that wishes can go very, very wrong.

Apr 16, 2021

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