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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Making the list

Cover of The Duke Who Didn't
A review of The Duke Who Didn't by Courtney Milan

The hero and heroine of Courtney Milan's newest historical romance (this one late 19th century, rather than early) have known each other since they were children. And not only have they known each other for years, they have loved as well. But their very different personalities and coping mechanisms have meant that they haven't yet figured that last fact out and have been operating at cross purposes for a few years. Until now.

Jan 4, 2021

Season of the witch

Cover of Hurricane Season
A review of Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophia Hughes

Hurricane Season, a novel about the unexplained murder of a "witch” in a bottomed-out Mexican village, as told by several unreliable narrators, does not have paragraphs. If this is a deal breaker, move it along. Author Fernanda Melchor did not come to coddle, she came to slay.

Dec 30, 2020

Aghybogey life

Cover of Big Girl, Small Town
A review of Big Girl, Small Town by Michelle Gallen

Majella O'Neill lives in the small town Aghybogey in Northern Ireland that has been torn apart by The Troubles that have only recently "ended". To say that the Troubles have ended is a bit of a misnomer. Certainly the violent attacks between Catholics and Protestants have stopped for the most part, but the lingering divide between the factions continues. As the townsfolk go about their lives in this recovery period Majella observes it all from her job in a chip shop (the Catholic one, naturally).

Dec 29, 2020

Not every friend is meant to stay

Cover of The Girl and the Ghost
A review of The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf

Suraya has always found it hard to make friends and being a new student doesn't help. She does have one good friend, although it comes in the form of a grasshopper. It’s a pelesit, a spirit familiar that serves Survaya, inherited from her estranged grandmother. The book begins with the reader being empathetic of lonely Suraya and welcoming of her pelesit. You’ll be rooting for them thinking, “I’m glad he’s there to protect her from those bullies!” But soon things take a wicked turn, reminiscent of a popular horror movie when awful things start happening to Suraya herself.

Dec 28, 2020

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Dec 23, 2020

Hard on the head and the heart

Cover of Before the Ever After
A review of Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson's latest novel-in-verse for middle grades is a timely and tough read. Twelve-year-old ZJ's life turns upside down when his dad, a professional football player, starts suffering headaches, memory loss and personality changes. According to lore, Zachariah 44 (for his jersey number), suffered more NFL concussions than any other player, even with a helmet on.

Dec 21, 2020

Something strange in the neighborhood

Cover of When No One is Watching
A review of When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

The Brooklyn community of Gifford Place has seen its rough patches to be sure, but Sydney has always relished how her neighbors have banded together to help each other and hold the more insidious threats out of the historically Black neighborhood. But since Sydney has moved back to the venerable brownstone she’s always shared with her mother after a bruising divorce and mental breakdown, something has been off.

Dec 18, 2020

No things to hate here

Cover of Ten Things I Hate About th
A review of Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

When I read that Loretta Chase's (a favorite historical romance author) newest novel would be a take-off of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, I wasn't super-enthused. Taming is not a favorite of mine and thus I came into this novel with only middling expectations. Those expectations were exceeded in pretty much every way. This is Chase's best outing in a number of years.

Dec 16, 2020

Hillbilly, French twist

Cover of The End of Eddy
A review of The End of Eddy by Edouard Louis

Édouard Louis’s The End of Eddy is a brisk and brutal roman à clef about a white gay teen growing up in rural 1990s France. Alcoholism, racism, violence, and impugnable choices abound. Gross and upsetting things happen in riveting ways. Yet its ending is oddly uplifting. A bestseller in France, its young author is now regularly called upon by popular media to explain the advent of French populism and the alleged moral stagnation of France’s white underclass.

Dec 15, 2020

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