Recent Reviews

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Itch Cover Image
Itch

Polly Farquhar embodies the voice of Isaac, an eleven-year-old boy stricken with an unpredictable psychosomatic disorder, with genuine sweetness and heart. The sixth grade is a confusing time of change in the lives of kids and we often forget how difficult it was once we have become adults. Itch reminds us of how cruel children can be to each other and themselves while they are trying to figure out the transitional periods of their lives. Farquhar, speaking through the mouths of babes, demonstrates how much we will always have to learn from the resilience and kindness of the children in our lives. Recommended by Jack

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Diana: Princess of the Amazons Cover Image
Diana: Princess of the Amazons

DUE IN JANUARY: Not yet Wonder Woman, eleven-year-old Diana needs a friend. The only kid on her island, she doesn’t feel belonging among her Amazon warrior relatives. Struggling to live up to the expectations of her mother, Diana wonders if she’s even an Amazon at all.  When her miracle best friend becomes her worst enemy, Diana’s identity is put to the test. Will she have the strength of a true Amazon, or will she fail to save her homeland from destruction?  An endearing graphic novel about the power of believing in yourself, Diana: Princess of the Amazons is an inspiring tribute to the original feminist princess. Recommended by Mary.

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On Swift Horses: A Novel Cover Image
On Swift Horses

DUE IN NOVEMBER: Shannon Pufahl's new novel, On Swift Horses, is a stunner. Set in the 1950s, its gritty yet nonetheless lyrical writing is reminiscent of the 20th century's best tales of the era. The novel's two queer narrators, Muriel and Julius, remind readers just how harrowing living their truth must have been for thousands of closeted Americans. Transplants to the new racetracks, gambling halls, and sawdust-strewn suburbs of California from rural Kansas, both walk a dangerous line of chance that threads throughout the narrative. For people in their situation, embracing moral ambiguity in both ambition and love proves the only possible way forward. Highly recommended by Kelly

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Running with Sherman: The Donkey with the Heart of a Hero Cover Image
Running with Sherman

DUE IN OCTOBER: I defy anyone to put Running with Sherman down once they've started reading about beloved long-shot, Sherman, the donkey. McDougall's skill as a journalist lends this tale of Sherman's rescue from an animal hoarder's barn to a position in a national donkey race a lift into the magical. Not only will readers thrill to read of Sherman's amazing recovery, but they also will be reminded once again of the miraculous power of interspecies connection to both heal and redeem. Highly recommended by Kelly

 

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The Body: A Guide for Occupants Cover Image
The Body

Imagine Bill Bryson with tongue firmly in cheek: Of course, he couldn't include everything known about the human body. The resulting book would be too heavy to lift, but he deftly manages to condense an impossibly huge topic into something the average reader can fit neatly on a coffee table or beside the bed. Think of The Body as you would the wise-cracking crib sheet for the medical textbook Gray's Anatomy. It will answer most questions you had and many you didn't about each part of these marvelous vessels we call home. Recommended by Kelly

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The Only Child: A Novel Cover Image
The Only Child

DUE IN FEBRUARY: Mi-ae Seo’s The Only Child skillfully connects the worlds of Silence of the Lambs and Sharp Objects. When asked personally to interview serial killer Yi Byeongdo, protagonist Seonkyeong is left wondering why he will only speak to her. Her world is further tilted as her husband’s young daughter comes to live with her after losing her mother and grandparents. Seo carefully reveals both storylines, bringing them together with well-placed suspense and classic elements of a psychological thriller. By including some characters’ cruel childhoods, the fear that Seo instills in readers is a play on nature vs. nurture: Are killers born that way, or could they be saved from a dark fate? Recommended by Nikita

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Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You Cover Image
Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You

Trans+ is an expansive guide for teens across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, especially those who are trans and/or non-binary, and their allies. Everything you need to know about living your gender identity is explained in a clear, uncensored, and accessible text meant to arm you with knowledge and to help you feel loved. Topics include gender, the body, transitioning, sex and relationships, and so much more. For allies like me, there is no better resource available for educating yourself about how to better understand and advocate for your peers. Recommended by Mary

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Folktales for Fearless Girls: The Stories We Were Never Told Cover Image
Folktales for Fearless Girls

DUE IN FEBRUARY: Why are the women of fairy tales are so often damsels in distress waiting to be saved by a prince?  Told and retold, folktales teach us about our world, and when we reclaim the narrative, we encourage future generations to show up for themselves.  Folktales for Fearless Girls is a collection of stories where girls take the lead, outsmart the wicked, refuse to be silenced, and save the day.  This feminist anthology will inspire girls who are capable of fending for themselves in a world were they are objectified and persecuted.  Read alongside Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls to kindle your feminist fire. Recommended by mARY

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The Second Biggest Nothing (A Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery #14) Cover Image
The Second Biggest Nothing

Dr. Siri Paiboun, retired national coroner of Laos, returns for his 14th outing in Colin Cotterill’s The Second Biggest Nothing.  This latest entry in Cotterill’s wonderful series delivers some pretty hard punches as we see Siri trying to tie clues from his own past to a series of deaths in the present: the politically and socially unsteady Laos of 1980. Through it all, this beautiful human being putters along with his amazing wife Daeng by his side, occasionally chatting with the souls of the dead, and musing ironically on the fatal condition of life.  If you have read the other books in this series, this novel will settle upon you as a comfy old friend.  If this is your first Cotterill mystery, you will be inspired to start at the beginning to enjoy Siri in all of his eccentric wit and wisdom. Recommended by Sarah

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The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Women Who Pursued Him, and the Murder That Shocked Jazz-Age America Cover Image
The Ghosts of Eden Park

In The Ghosts of Eden Park, Karen Abbott gives us the fascinating story of “the Bootleg King,” George Remus, whose flamboyant but illegally funded lifestyle with his dazzling wife Imogene in the upper echelons of Cincinnati society during the 1920s made him both notorious and enthralling. Remus’s criminal activity inevitably brought him to the attention of prosecutor Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who was determined to bring him down.  The resultant investigations, sex scandals, murder, and trials read like Hollywood thriller material, but the details are all taken directly from transcripts and documents related to the Remus/Willebrandt battle.  This book is a thrill-ride-- hard to put down, and even harder to forget. Recommended by Sarah