Recent Reviews

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Go Lightly: How to travel without hurting the planet Cover Image
Go Lightly

This is a nice, visually attractive book to get the wheels in your brain turning about traveling sustainably. There are a handful of general trip ideas with lots of little tips and tricks to keep things as sustainable as possible. There's an emphasis on avoiding over-touristed destinations and ensuring that travel is reciprocal, meaning that travelers should give as much to the community they visit as they gain from their vacation. In each section, there's a short interview with a "conscious travel hero," but the selection of interviewees could have been much more diverse. I also took issue with the book's discussion around palm oil - it is not the devil incarnate; in fact, many African nations grow it sustainably, and it is an integral ingredient in certain cultural foods. Cultural context is extremely important, and that was one area where it was lacking. Recommended by Mary

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When I Sing, Mountains Dance: A Novel Cover Image
When I Sing, Mountains Dance

Irene Solà’s When I Sing, Mountains Dance is a gorgeous and masterful novel—I adored every page. Each chapter is narrated by a different member of a small community in the Catalan Pyrenees, be they people, animals, or nature. Folklore is steeped in a luscious brew of mountain air and poetry, and, as decades pass, the characters’ lives grow around a few central tragedies like plants searching for light. Solà’s unique storytelling through the nonhuman is so clever and utterly visceral. Recommended by Mary

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Sunny G's Series of Rash Decisions Cover Image
Sunny G's Series of Rash Decisions

Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions is sort of like Nick and Norah meets Scott Pilgrim with a dash of John Green and an incredibly diverse cast, including Sunny, its stuttering Sikh Punjabi leading man. The first of Sunny’s rash decisions is to cut off his beard and lose his turban. He finds himself chatting up Siri at prom when Mindii Vang upends his night in the very best way. They impulsively bounce around Fresno on her motorcycle, bonding over cosplay, cultural foods, and fiber arts, not to mention their respective grief for lost loved ones. Sunny G is an exploration of endings and beginnings, a tender story of contradictions, a cultural kaleidoscope, an up-all-night adventure that I didn’t want to end. Recommended by Mary

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Spear Cover Image

Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen and a Magician and some knights and a sword in a stone and a round table and ….. you know how this tale goes. Except now you don’t because this time it’s a little bit (lots) different. Where do I begin with how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book? Nicola Griffith has taken myths and tales so well known yet made them feel new but steeped in history at the same time. Characters are beautifully created and developed in a world of hills and trees and lakes, of towns and villages, of knights and tavern keepers. And at its heart is Peretur, on a journey to find herself and her destiny. And you’ll find yourself falling in love with her just as the other characters do. In this fantastical queer retelling of the Arthurian legends, Griffith has written a book that will pull you in and bind you to it, writing a story that is new, yet as old as time. Recommended by Hannah

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Sisters of the Forsaken Stars (Our Lady of Endless Worlds #2) Cover Image
Sisters of the Forsaken Stars

In this sequel to the Sisters of the Vast Black we rejoin the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita as they face the difficult task of deciding on their next step following earlier events. Having witnessed pain and destruction beyond what they thought possible they are forced to choose between speaking out about what they know, with all the risks that entails, or staying silent, knowing that to do so could lead to war and death. Along the way we see the sisters battle with their personal choices and roles as faces and voices from the past return to haunt them. The second book in this series continues the brilliant work of its predecessor. Strong character development and world building within the vastness of space sit alongside discussions of faith and relationships, all told in such a way that you will find it impossible to put the book down until you turn the last page. And then you’ll be desperate for the next book! Recommended by Hannah

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Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know Cover Image
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

Samira Ahmed’s Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know not only reclaims its title from the man it famously described—Lord Byron—but it also reclaims history by allowing a woman famously depicted in art and literature to finally tell her own story. French-Desi-American Khayyam is a non-hijabi Muslim girl. She longs to become an art historian, but a major misstep in a recent essay may have blown her chances. During her family’s annual trip to Paris, she wants to uncover something that will redeem her, earning her a spot at her dream art school back home in Chicago. Meanwhile, her boyfriend—not that he’d call himself that—isn’t responding to her texts, and a chance encounter with a cute Frenchman might help her in more ways than one. Between Khayyam’s research and troubles with love, readers hear from another young Muslim woman—Leila, the voiceless woman from Byron’s poem "The Giaour" and the Delacroix series it inspired. Khayyam’s and Leila’s stories are reflected in one another, and readers will delight as each is uncovered. From Byron to Delacroix to Dumas, readers take a tour of art history across mediums in this unique, feminist, multicultural book with lessons both ancient and modern. Recommended by Mary

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The Candy House: A Novel Cover Image
The Candy House

Jennifer Egan’s The Candy House recaptures the magic of its “sister novel” A Visit from the Goon Squad. At the beginning of the book, tech prodigy Bix Bouton invents a way for people to upload their entire consciousness to the cloud, creating a new frontier in social media. From there, Egan takes us on an impossible-to-summarize ride through a memorable web of characters, many of whom fans of Goon Squad will be happy to see again. Once again connecting lives in surprising ways through virtuosic linked stories, Egan asks big questions about privacy, tech, and how our lives overlap. Recommended by Danny

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Devil House: A Novel Cover Image
Devil House

John Darnielle’s novel Devil House turns true-crime inside out. (Fictional)(or is he?) author Gage Chandler follows a lead to Milpitas, California where an apparently satanic murder occured at an abandoned porn store in the 1980s. Chandler, in fact, buys the building to live in as he tries to puzzle through the crime. What he finds will challenge everything he thinks he knows about crime writing. Told variously through fictional excerpts, evidence, medieval texts (really), and more, Devil House is an ambitious page-turner from a writer who’s just as gifted with a novel as he is with a song. Recommended by Danny

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Jawbone Cover Image

Jawbone is an outrageously innovative novel of literary horror which weaves together classic literature, pop culture, and creepypastas with a running stitch of hyphens and a sprinkle of Ferrante. This is a book about fear and horror—this is a book about mothers and daughters. We follow panic-ridden Clara, a young teacher obsessed with becoming her dead mother, as she encounters Annelise and Fernanda, the sapphic leaders of a pack of teen girls who take over an abandoned building to make a game of worshiping a horrifying White God of their own invention. Mónica Ojeda traps readers between her teeth with never-before-dared depictions of ugliness and taboo, and Sarah Booker’s translator’s note is incredibly insightful—don’t skip it. Recommended by Mary

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Anatomy: A Love Story Cover Image
Anatomy: A Love Story

This one goes out to all the ladies who get a thrill from the fascinating science of the human body. A noble girl in 1800s Scotland dreams of becoming a surgeon, a feat neither possible nor permissible in her world unless she makes it so. Brilliant Hazel studies in secret using the only bodies she can get her hands on—dead ones dug up by a resurrection man who happens to make her insides flutter. Murder, mystery, romance, science—what more could you ask for? Even if you don’t often read YA—it’s just. so. good. I cannot wait to read more from debut author Dana Schwartz! Recommended by Mary