Sunday, September 24, 2023

Royal Blood by Aimee Carter - HIGH

Royal Blood by Aimee Carter
, 368 pages. Delacorte Press (Random), 2023. $12

Language: R (50 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (attempted sexual assault)



17yo Evangeline (Evan) is the illegitimate American daughter of the British king and has been kept out of the public eye her entire life so Britain royals don’t suffer from a scandal. She has bounced around to several boarding schools since her mom was diagnosed with fragile mental health and her grandmother (her only other relative) passed away. When Evan gets in trouble, a British royal advisor swoops in to whisk her away to the Windsor Castle in London for her protection but the royal family is irate that she’s in London, let alone the palace. Evan tries to see the situation from their perspective and even though she’s kind and not to blame for her father’s actions, her stepmother and half sister are cruel to her. She just wants to make it to her eighteenth birthday so she can be on her own and get away from the disdain. As much as Evan tries to blend in and please the royal family, things spiral when a death occurs.

The storyline is interesting. I enjoyed the intense parts. Great characters. Great quote from Queen Victoria. Predominantly white. Gia has dark skin. Louis is Black.

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah 

A Warning About Swans by R. M. Romero - ADVISABLE

A Warning About Swans by R. M. Romero
, 381 pages. Peachtree Publishing, 2023. $18

Language: PG (1 swear 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (Kissing, the idea of meeting your soulmate and your bodies fitting together perfectly) Violence: PG-13 (impaled on cross bow abuse mentioned and briefly described)



16yo Hilde and her 5 sisters were dreamed up by the god Odin and were given the magical ability to make wishes come true- especially dreams that make the world a better place. Odin tells his daughters to stay within the confines of the forest, that to venture forth where men dwell is too dangerous. Odin then gives them each a cloak that allows them to transform into beautiful swans, and give them each a different type of magic to help protect the forest. Hilde, is given the power to guide souls into the afterlife- mostly animals that can't find their way. But when dying animals and soothing broken hearts becomes too much for Hilde to bare, she does the unthinkable and meets a boy. She even makes a deal with him - she will grant his wishes of wealth and power if he introduces her to the human world and how to survive in it. Satisfied with the deal, the boy, Richter, shows Hilde his world- and when her magical cloak suddenly vanishes, Hilde must decide, to stay by Richter's side or return to the woods without her most prized possession.

A Warning About Swans, is a very whimsical novel written in prose, which at first I was hesitant because books that pretend to be poetry have never really been my forte. But this book was just the right amount of poetry balanced with storytelling. I enjoyed the fairy tale twist and I thought the overall execution of the book was well done. What I didn't enjoy from the book was the lack of characters - there were only about 3 main characters and very few plot points- and it often times dragged on. The main characters are Scandanavian. Kenzie Hoehne Reviewer 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Secrets of Stone Creek by Briana McDonald - OPTIONAL

The Secrets of Stone Creek by Briana McDonald
, 394 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2022. $19. 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some dangers)



7th grader Finley Walsh is upset that her best friend Sophie is making new friends and that her mom always underestimates her by asking her older brother Oliver to be in charge. To make things worse, she and her two siblings are being dropped off during their spring break at an estranged relative's house while their mom goes on a business trip. Because Finley wants to be remembered as a female adventurer, she decides to pass the time in Stone Creek by solving the mystery of a local woman who sent missing over 20 years ago. During her investigation, Finley reestablishes her relationship with each of her brothers and learns that making mistakes is part of growing up.

I enjoyed learning about all the female adventurers that are described at the beginning of every chapter and watching Finlay as she develops more confidence in herself. Finley stops worrying about proving herself and begins to move forward leaving her grudges against others behind. All of the main characters are default white. Sophie's brother, Oliver, reveals that he is gay as he can't hide his attraction to another male character.

Paula B. , Teacher Librarian 

The Legacies by Jessica Goodman - OPTIONAL

The Legacies by Jessica Goodman
, 336 pages. Razorbill (Penguin), 2023. $15

Language: R (89 swears, 51 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (drug use, mentions self-pleasuring - no details. underage drinking, descriptive sex); Violence: PG-13 bloody death



The Legacies are selected from six different high schools each choosing six senior students. 17yo Bernie is hiding that her mom is possibly missing. Skyler, Bernie’s boyfriend, and Isobel are keeping a mutual secret and he’s also providing her with prescription drugs. Lee is Isobel’s boyfriend and is fairly laid back. Kendall Kirk, their classmate, is the fifth senior chosen and Tori Tasso, at Excelsior on scholarship, is the sixth. The Legacy competition is overwhelmingly intense and when someone dies, everyone becomes a suspect.

I like the alternating timelines between before and after the Legacy Ball. The characters are complex and represented realistically. I enjoyed the mystery. Bernie is white, the other characters are a mix of ethnicities.

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah 

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins - OPTIONAL

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins
, 240 pages. Dutton Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2021. $10

Language: R (104 swears, 30 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (implied self-pleasuring); Violence: R (bloody shootings and murder, implied rape and murder, kidnapping)



18yo Josie and 18yo Neena are going on a hiking trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachian Trail. They want to make this last trip together before they head different directions when college starts. The two best friends start off excited about the hike until they become unsure of the trail. When Josie falls in a sinkhole and Neena leaves to get help, they’re both visited by men that may or may not want to help them. Their friendship, determination and perseverance are put to the test and they have to rely on their intuition to get back home.

I enjoyed reading about the description of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I like how the strength of friendship is portrayed. A creepy thriller that gave me chills. The ethnicity falls to white but includes East Asian hikers, Josie is white and Neena is Indian American.
 LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah 

Mae Makes a Way by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Andrea Pippins - ADVISABLE

Mae Makes a Way: The True Story of Mae Reeves, Hat & History Maker by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, illustrated by Andrea Pippins
. PICTURE BOOK  BIOGRAPHY Crown Books for Young Readers, 2022. $19. 9780525645856 



Mae grew up in the segregated South where there were not many opportunities for Black families to do what they dreamed. In the 1920’s Mae became a teacher. Mae was also a newspaper writer who found ways to celebrate the beauty amid ugliness and hurt in her community. She fled the persecution of the southern segregated cities and decided to do what she loved. She went to school at the Chicago School of Millinery where students were not segregated. She was so thankful to a Black owned bank that lent her $500 to start her own hat shop on South Street in Philadelphia. She loved serving the humble woman as well as the wealthy. Mae “lifted as she climbed,” raising money to help others in her community, and finding many ways to help everyone she could. A mother, successful entrepreneur, and community advocate, Mae made the way. Her contributions to Black history are monumental, and Mae now has a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

Mae Makes a Way captures the strength of the human spirit amid roadblocks and challenges. Mae’s life story of fashion entrepreneur and civic organizer engaged and warmed my heart . What an incredible person! Pippins simple, graphic and beautiful storytelling illustrations enhance the warmth and energy of the story. The book is about Mae Reeves, a Black fashion entrepreneur who followed her dreams amid segregation and discrimination. 


SIsters in Science by Linda Elovitz Marshall - ADVISABLE

 Sisters in Science: Marie Curie, Bronia Dluska, and the Atomic Power of Sisterhood by Linda Elovitz Marshall and Anna and Elena Balbusso. PICTURE BOOK. Random House, 2023. $19. 9780593377581 



Bronia and Marie was best of sisters, teaching themselves at home first, and then attending a secret school together to learn more. While Bronia went off to Paris to become a doctor, Marie supported her. When it was Marie’s turn, Bronia supported her - even introducing Marie to her future husband, Pierre Curie. A sweet book that introduces as to the sister we had no idea Marie Curie had. 

Marshall portrays beautiful sisterly relationship - a friendship that continued their entire lives. Not short on scientific information about Curie’s discoveries either. A good addition to a women in science collection. Really love the endpapers. Bronia and Marie are Polish. 

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS 

Moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Julia Sarda - HIGH

Moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion
by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Julia Sarda
, PICTURE BOOK NON-FICTION Candlewick Press, 2023. $20. 9781536215885



John "Minnie" Moore found a silver mine in Idaho when his dog dug up a gopher hole. He sold the mine to an Englishman named Henry Miller, who became a very wealthy man with the silver mine. He married a local girl named Annie. He sent Annie off to England to enrich her mind and while she was gone, built her a beautiful three story Victorian mansion. Henry and Annie lived there happily for years and welcomed a son, Douglas. Around the turn of the century, sadness came to the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion when Henry died. Things got worse. Annie was tricked by a crooked banker and lost all her money. She tried to raise pigs to make a living, but the town wouldn't let her have them in her yard. So Annie had to choose her mansion or raising pigs. What did she choose? 

Dave Eggers has written a funny and enjoyable history of the people involved in making and moving the Millers' Minnie Moore Mine Mansion. Instead of just retelling the facts, he has added western rustic humor. Sarda's illustrations are masterful, funny, and transport us to an amusing old west.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Accountable by Dashka Slater - HIGH

Accountable: The True Story of a Racist Social Media Account and the Teenagers Whose Lives It Changed
by Dashka Slater,
472 pages NON FICTION Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR), 2023. $19 

Language: R (63 swears 28 'f'); Mature Content: R (Racism, bullying, trauma, PTSD) Violence: PG (Broken arm) 



HS Junior Charles starts a private instagram account with the sole purpose of amusing his friends; unfortunately, the humor that they've latched onto is disturbingly racist and sexist and often targets their own classmates. Soon, news of the account and its followers are leaked, and the girls who are victims of the account face the impact of betrayal, racism, and the accompanying trauma. This true story explores the fall-out of the event from disastrous reconciliation meetings, to riots, to national headlines. Slater presents all sides of the story and explores what to do when the worst happens after a "joke" is shown for the racism it is. 

The best thing about this book is how Slater manages to make you feel compassion and empathy for every person involved in the story. She never excuses the choices of the boys who made and followed the account, but she gives voice to their stories. She also unapologetically shares the trauma of what it's like to be a victim of racism and sexism. She addresses the science behind justice and punishment and how most - if not all - of these individuals are not rotten at their core. However, I would caution that HS teachers might want to keep an eye on who reads this book and perhaps follow-up with them; it has some heavy content. Nowadays, real accounts of racism are riddled with political tension, and that might make this book controversial. This books contains an ensemble group of Black, Asian-American, Latino, and LGBTQ+ students 

L Jones HS ELA Teacher

House of Roots and Ruin by Erin A. Craig - OPTIONAL

House of Roots and Ruin
 (Sisters of the Salt) by Erin A. Craig
, 544 pages. Delacorte Press/Random House Children's, 2023. $15 

Language: PG-13 (12 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG-13 (passionate kissing; implied sex); Violence: PG-13 (bloody death) 



17yo Verity is tired of staying home at the Highmoor estate and when she receives an invitation to paint portraits for a family in Bloem, she’s absolutely thrilled. Her older sister and caregiver adamantly denies Verity any hope of leaving. This suffocates Verity and when she asks Camille why she’s denying her any hope of freedom and adventure, Camille confides that Verity talks to ghosts everywhere they go, no one else can see them and this makes her and the family look crazy. Verity denies this accusation until proven wrong when told her nanny has been dead for twelve years and Verity had no idea because she talks to her and receives help from her every day. When Verity sneaks away in the night, she feels truly alone for the first time in her life and what awaits her is beyond anything she can imagine. 

I love the author's writing style. The character development was fun to read. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding the family in Bloem. The ethnicity is mixed.

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

The Brilliant Calculator by Jan Lower and Susan Reagan - ADVISABLE

The Brilliant Calculator: How Mathematician Edith Clarke Helped Electrify America
by Jan Lower, illustrated by Susan Reagan.
PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY Calkins Creek (Astra), 2023. $19. 9781662680069 



Born in 1882, Edith Clarke loved math and engineering and wanted to use it to make modern life better. But those paths were closed to women. She persisted in her own way first teaching, and then attending college, even if she was older than the others, and teaching more and heading back to school herself. In 1921 her Clarke Calculator helped electric engineers complete needful calculations faster and landed her a job as America's first female electrical engineer, improving electrical transmission and telephone lines for all. Clarke never stops teaching, never stops inventing, and never stops learning. 

I love a good biography that tells the story of another woman who forged ahead despite the odds - and brought her name out from obscurity. While a longer read for a picture book biography, it is not unwieldy. Lots of information about Edith is easily available on the Internet. Combine with the many female picture book biographies available for a great unit of study. Edith is white. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS.

Blade Breaker (Realm Breaker #2) by Victoria Aveyard - HIGH

Blade Breaker (Realm Breaker #2)
by Victoria Aveyard
, 592 pages. HarperTeen, 2022. $10 

Language: R (10 swears 2 'f');  Mature Content: PG-13 (passionate kissing; implied sex, no details); Violence: R bloody deaths 



17yo Corayne and her mismatched crew are reeling from the battle to close the Spindle as they observe dead Galland soldiers and sea serpents surrounding them. As they move on, forty Ibal soldiers approach and tell the crew they have orders from their king to take Corayne to him, and the crew travels along because they’re staying together. The group has no idea what to expect when they meet the Ibal king. Erida continues to take kingdoms by force with the help of Prince Taristan and wizard Ronin, both of whom are occupied by the demon What Waits, and when she kills a fifteen-year-old princess, she gains another kingdom. A new Spindle is found and when Corayne reaches it to close it, she discovers a trap. Will evil or good conquer the realm? 

I love the world-building and the character development. I enjoyed the intensity of the conflicts. I appreciate how this book and series feel like an epic fantasy. The characters are described with various shades of skin from pale to brown. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Foxglove (Belladonna #2) by Adalyn Grace - HIGH

Foxglove (Belladonna #2)
by Adalyn Grace,
464 pages. Little, Brown BFYR, 2023. $15 

Language: PG-13 (27 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: R (petting; descriptive sex); Violence: PG (death by poison) 



Fate kills Lord Wakefield and then nonchalantly blames Elijah Hawthorne in a room full of witnesses who watched Elijah give the Lord a drink that’s later found to be laced with cyanide. Fate reveals that he’s Death’s brother and has never forgiven Death for taking his one true love and now he wants revenge. 19yo Signa and Death are trying to help prove Elijah’s innocence by finding the true killer. The situation grows much more complicated and truths are revealed that surprise everyone. Signa begins to doubt who she really is when memories surface from a past life and she’s unsure of her fate. 

I love the world-building with the wonderful descriptions and the prose. I enjoyed Blythe’s spunk. Signa’s strength and kindness is an inspiration. Signa is white. Death is fair-skinned. Fate has bronze skin. Blythe is white. Everett has brown skin. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah

Stars of the Night by Caren Stelson and Selina Alko - ADVISABLE

Stars of the Night; The Courageous Children of the Czech Kindertransport
by Caren Stelson, illustrated by Selina Alko
. PICTURE BOOK NON-FICTION Carolrhoda (Lerner), 2023 $20. 9781541598683 



The children of Prague weren't sure what was going on, but their parents were whispering and making plans as Adolf Hitler and his Jewish war machine tightened their grip on their country. With the help of an unknown (to the children) man, they are given papers and loaded onto trains into the unknown - to safety. At the end of the war, the children return to Prague to find their parents, but very few of them do. 

I love every precious book I read about the Holocaust and believe that we need to start younger and explain the time to our children. Stelson makes me cry and you will cry too when you watch a bit of the BBC segment showing Nicholas Winton (the unknown man) meeting an audience full of the children (now adults) whom he saved. I only didn't rate this ESSENTIAL, because not every school has a teacher who teaches about the Holocaust. But where you do, make sure you buy this one! 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Monday, September 18, 2023

A Pretty Implausible Premise by Karen Rivers - OPTIONAL

A Pretty Implausible Premise
by Karen Rivers
, 384 pages. Algonquin Young Readers (Algonquin Books), 2023. $19.

Language: R (126 swears, 39 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG



Hattie (17yo) and Presley (18yo) are living tragedies: separated parents, lost Olympic dreams, and dealing with grief over deaths close to them. Do two tragedies equal a happily ever after or a bigger disaster?

Rivers translated Hattie and Presley onto the page very well, which has its pros and cons. Readers have the opportunity to know and connect with the characters on a deep level, but the characters’ thoughts and emotions became discombobulating—which made sense for the characters but made for a difficult reading experience. Furthermore, Rivers is honest in the title, and I felt how implausible the story was being set up to be and lost interest. Until the end. The ending came together beautifully, and the more I think about it the more I like it.

Hattie is implied White, Presley is Scottish-Canadian, and Calliope is implied Black. The mature content rating is for underage drinking, partial nudity, innuendo, and mentions of genitalia, condoms, and sex. The violence rating is for mentions of suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, September 17, 2023

The Name Drop by Susan Lee - HIGH

The Name Drop
by Susan Lee
, 304 pages. Inkyard Press, 2023. $20.

Language: R (84 swears, 45 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: G



Jessica (18yo) has learned the hard way that success takes money. Since she doesn’t have enough, Jessica’s plan is to make the right connections at her New York internship with the Korean company her father works for. Elijah (19yo) is expected to take over as CEO of the family business one day, but he doesn’t want anything to do with it. The only positive thing about this forced internship is that his dad agreed to let Elijah go to the New York office. Through a series of mixups, these struggling new adults have the opportunity to get everything they want out of the summer.

Feeling just like a Kdrama, Jessica and Elijah’s story hits all the right misunderstandings, humor, and budding romance moments. Their story is full of hope and encouragement—even with an unexpected ending. Books and movies too often tell us that happily ever after means getting the perfect ending. While the ending for Jessica and Elijah is anything but perfect, everything does work out. And happily ever after can still exist in that.

The majority of characters are Korean. The mature content is for innuendo.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Border Crossings by Sneed Collard III and Howard Gray - ADVISABLE

Border Crossings by Sneed Collard III, illustrated by Howard Gray
. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Charlesbridge, 2023. $18. 9781623542382 



A male ocelot heads south in search of a mate, but is stopped when it encounter a tall, long wall that is too high to climb and too close to wriggle through. While some places are still open, too much is now creating an artificial barrier that stops not only humans, but animals also. 

Collard brings to life how the border wall effects more that humans, with no solutions, only worry about what will happen if the whole thing is actually built. The afterward touches on the human toll and more about how much human politics effects animal life. An easy fit for science class, but if I had a modern government class in my school, I would take this to the teacher immediately. 

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS 

Great Carrier Reef by Jessica Stremer and Gordy Wright - ADVISABLE

Great Carrier Reef by Jessica Stremer, illustrated by Gordy Wright.
NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Holiday House, 2023. $19. 9780823452682 



The old carrier ship may be of no use on top of the waves any more, but it is about to start a new life on the ocean floor as an artificial reef – a new home for ocean life of all sorts. 

Stremer has filled a hole in the science picture book spectrum with this simple, true book about a single carrier becoming an artificial reef. Whether you are teaching a unit on ships, or ecosystems, or human-nature interactions, I can think of lots of ways to use this book. And a simple Google search yields articles and sites about artificial reefs from history. 

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS 

Friday, September 15, 2023

Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem by Melissa Stewart and Rob Dunlavey - ESSENTIAL

 Whale Fall: Exploring an Ocean-Floor Ecosystem by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Random House, 2023. $19. 9780593380604 



When a whale dies, their carcass falls to the ocean floor, where a new ecosystem springs up – animals and plants using the nourishment of the whale to grow and live in succession over fifty years. 

Stunning, reverential, and full of information I had never heard before. Dunlavey’s illustrations are the perfect dreamy blues and includes insets with enlarged looks at some of the new denizens. LOVE IT! 

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS 

Secrets of the Lost City by Sandra Markle - ADVISABLE

Secrets of the Lost City: a scientific adventure in the Honduran rain forest by Sandra Markle
, 49 pages. NON-FICTION. Millbrook (Lerner), 2023. $32 



Rumors of a Lost City, La Ciudad Blanco, have circulated for decades through Honduras. The land around it, however, is the wildest rain forest in all the world. It isn’t until 2010 that scientist Steve Elkins puts together the money for a lidar (light detection and ranging) search of a small area of the rain forest and finds conclusive proof of ancient human habitation. Even with that proof, physical expeditions are expensive and dangerous. 

I was fascinated by the use of lidar in aiding archeological exploration in remote territory. The information on the scientists’ investigations in to the flora and fauna were also detailed enough to be valuable as supplemental material in almost any science class. 

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS