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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

A different sort of World War II story

Cover of Clark and Division
A review of Clark and Division by Naomi Hirahara

After the hellish experience of the past few years, Aki Ito finally feels like it might be possible to be happy again. She and her parents are about to leave Manzanar, the California desert internment camp into which her family and other Japanese-Americans were forced by the government following Pearl Harbor, for an unfamiliar Chicago neighborhood the government has deemed acceptable for ‘resettlement’.

Jun 18, 2021

Meeting her match

Cover of The Heiress Gets a Duke
A review of The Heiress Gets a Duke by Harper St. George

I am shallow enough to say that I do sometimes pick a book by it's cover. So, confession made, I'll say if I knew nothing else about Harper St. George's new historical romance series, I would have picked up the books for the gorgeous covers alone. Luckily for me, the stories have fulfilled the promise of those eye-catching covers.

Jun 17, 2021

Heart full of everything

Cover of My Heart Fills with Happin
A review of My Heart Fills with Happiness by Monique Gray Smith and Julie Flett

This sunny, inviting board book is dedicated to the former Canadian Indian Residential School students and their families as encouragement to find happiness, love, joy, and celebration in big and small ways.  Contemporary children participate in cultural activities like baking bannock in an oven and universal moments like singing, dancing and walking barefoot in the grass.  Author Monique Gray Smith is of Cree, Lakota and Scottish descent and writes award-winning children's and young adult books.  She's also an international inspirational speaker and consultant working with Indigenous commu

Jun 16, 2021

Pintando un arcoíris / Painting a rainbow

Book Cover image
A review of ¿De qué color es un beso? by Rocio Bonilla

Cuando Mónica va en bicicleta, es más rápida que el viento, pero lo que más más más le gusta del mundo es pintar. Pinta muchas cosas con todos los colores, pero nunca ha pintado un beso. Pinta con cada color para ver cual sea mejor para pintar un beso, y descubre algo de color arcoíris. Perfecto para compartir con niños de 3-6 años, y seguir con un proyecto de arte.  

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Jun 15, 2021

For some it's history

Cover of Ground Zero
A review of Ground Zero by Alan Gratz

Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001?  I was at home, watching the news, I stepped away to help my young daughter and when I came back, the South Tower was gone.  

A few years ago, my son's fifth grade class read Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes. I read along with him, and it was one of the first times that I understood that to my children, and so many others, September 11, 2001 was not a powerful memory or a deep wound, but a historical event.  

Jun 11, 2021

Love, loss, and kimchi

Cover of Crying in H Mart
A review of Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Michelle Zauner, a musician who goes by Japanese Breakfast, has an interest in food. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It might however be a surprise that Zauner has written such a thoroughly lovely and reflective memoir, called Crying in H Mart, that celebrates Korean food among the sometimes strained bonds of family and cultural identity, in light of her mother’s unexpected cancer death.

Jun 10, 2021

Zigzagging to the end

Cover of The Other Black Girl
A review of The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

The publisher's blurb for this book mentions the movie Get Out and that's a fair comparison. But I recently heard author Zakiya Dalila Harris talking about the influences on her writing and she mentioned Stephen King and I can see that too. Those aside, debut author Harris puts her own fresh, unique stamp on her novel and takes the story to places neither of those others could or did go. What starts out as a skewering of the whiteness of the publishing biz is turned sideways when a building, unknown menace begins to infuse the story.

Jun 8, 2021

Fantastical Cairo

Cover of A Master of Djinn
A review of A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark

Agent Fatma el-Sha’arawi, special investigator with the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, knows she’ll need all those magical elements, and a few more, to get to the bottom of the latest investigation to cross her desk. The bodies of several prominent Cairenes, most European, are discovered burned to death at the mansion of a powerful Englishman, apparently gathered as part of a secret society. But these are not just any burns. The unfortunates had all their flesh burned away, but none of their clothing.

Jun 7, 2021

Finding peace

Cover of Murder Most Fair
A review of Murder Most Fair by Anna Lee Huber

In this the 5th (I cannot believe this is book 5 already) of the Verity Kent mystery series, author Huber marks a slower cadence to her story. Verity and her husband Sydney are visiting Verity's family home in the Yorkshire Dales for the first time since before the death of Verity's beloved brother whose plane was shot down during the war. And if that emotional quagmire weren't enough, traveling with them is Verity's Great Aunt Ilse who has left war-ravaged Germany and returned to England seeking some peace.

Jun 4, 2021

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