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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Deadly doings at Donwell Abbey

Cover of The Murder of Mr. Wickham
A review of The Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray

Ever been tempted to wonder about literary might-have-beens? Say, if F. Scott Fitzgerald had lived and written during the Regency period, or Emily Bronte had imagined Cathy and Heathcliff marrying and living happily (or not) ever after? Author Claudia Gray (aka Amy Vincent) loves Jane Austen, and like a lot of other Austenites, she too wonders, what if? In this case, her what if? musings have borne fruit in The Murder of Mr. Wickham.

Jun 13, 2022

Living in the Moment

Cover of Now
A review of Now by Antoinette Portis

Antoinetter Portis' book Now is a beautiful and poignant look at childhood and all of its favorite things. Childhood is about discovering new favorite things, often that change daily and grown-ups will smile at the familiar shift from one favorite to the next like, "This is my favorite song, because it's the one I am singing." But to me this book is a light handed introduction to mindfulness and a guide to living in the moment.

Jun 10, 2022

Crazy Rich Asians meets Princess Diaries

Cover of Tokyo Ever After
A review of Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

Izumi lives in northern California with her single mother and behaves the same way so many high school seniors do: she hangs out with friends, they obsess over love interests, pancakes, style, and their present and future potential. Izzy, as she's known to her friends, has never met her father and doesn't even know his full name. She knows he's Japanese and went to Harvard with her mother but not much more. After some internet sleuthing to find likely candidates an exciting truth is uncovered: Izzy's dad is the Crown Prince of Japan.  

Jun 8, 2022

Babies at the beach

Cover of Splash!
A review of Splash! by Leslie Patricelli

Leslie Patricelli is a staple in this librarian’s house. She’s taught our two year old such valuable lessons already, like haircuts don’t hurt (Hair), how to make our mad go away (Mad, Mad, MAD), and possibly most important… that all toots are funny! (Toot) This summer, she’s back with an exciting trip to the beach in Splash!

Jun 6, 2022

A story of growing up and cultural immersion

Cover of Himawari House
A review of Himawari House by Harmony Becker

Beautiful illustrations and masterful storytelling await  as you step into the world of Himawari House by Harmony Becker. This graphic novel follows the story of three young people, Nao, Hyejung, and Tina, as they move to Japan to forge their own paths, attend Japanese language school, and discover themselves. Becker’s illustrations help to tell the story of Nao seeking to connect with her Japanese roots and how the three foreign exchange students struggle with language barriers, relationships, and everyday trials and tribulations.

May 31, 2022

Poetic plays on words

Cover of Marshmallow Clouds: Two Po
A review of Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech by Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek

Step into this wonderland of words! Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play among Figures of Speech by Ted Kooser & Connie Wanek, illustrated by Richard Jones, definitely feels playful, fun – and so delightful! Poems are grouped into four sections featuring the four elements (fire, water, air, and earth). They offer unique spins on everyday objects like trees, marshmallows, and flyswatters. Some poem titles include “Butterfly Luck,” “Why Pets Don’t Write,” and “Winter Ponies.” Softly painted illustrations add a dreamy feel to the collection.

May 27, 2022

Space western done very right

Cover of Ten Low
A review of Ten Low by Stark Holborn

In a recent review I made mention of how cozy fantasy novels have been a soothing mental escape in recent months (years?). Totally true. Also true is that I am finding mental solace in darker fare as well. The common thread for both of these forms of reading relaxation are places and stories that can transport me and protagonists with a strong sense of self and their own code of honor.

May 26, 2022

One angry casa

Cover of The Hacienda
A review of The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Ghosts may make their unwelcome presence in a house for any variety of reasons, but the specter haunting the Hacienda San Isidro is there for reasons so deeply rooted in the land that it might never be fully purged. In Isabel Cañas’ assured debut The Hacienda, the ghost of the eponymous home is meant to be a sanctuary for Beatriz, a young woman trying to piece some security together after her general father is killed as a traitor following Mexico’s brutal War of Independence.

May 24, 2022


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