Friday, September 30, 2022

Twin Cities by Jose Pimienta - ESSENTIAL

 Twin Cities by Jose Pimienta. 250 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. RH Graphic (Penquin Random House). 2022. $21.

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content PG (character pressured to sell marijuana); Violence: G



Hispanic twins, Fernando and Teresa, get to decide which middle school they want to go to. Fernando decides to stay local in Mexicali, Mexico, and Teresa decides to cross the border into Calexico, California. This decision has a bigger impact on the twins than they thought and both middle schools present a different range of challenges for the twins, who find themselves becoming more separated than they thought. 

Loved the juxtaposition of the two cultures separated by a border. This book also explores what it means to be part of a family and what part heritage and culture play in one’s life. It also raises questions about where loyalties lie when there’s more than one culture vying for attention. Based on the author’s experience growing up, this is a fascinating look at a border city and the people who live on both sides. 

Michelle in the Middle 

In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore - ADVISABLE

In the Shadow of a Queen by Heather B. Moore, 335 pages. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2022. $27.

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G



Princess Louise is Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter and, as such, has many responsibilities to the crown and her country. But Louise pushes back on the norm, persuading her mother to let her practice as a sculptor, despite it being a man’s field, and secretly supporting the women’s suffrage movement, since her mother doesn’t approve.

The story told by Moore is based on a lot of research, which was really interesting when it came to the nuances of royal living but also made Princess Louise’s story less dramatic than I was expecting. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading about the princess’s determination. She continued to hold onto hope when her father died, when her siblings were on opposite sides of war, and when her search for a husband took unexpected turns.

Princess Louise and her family are English, and all of their spouses were European, including German, English, and Scottish. The mature content rating is for innuendo and for mentions of scandal and prostitutes.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Stories to Keep You Alive Despite Vampires by Ben Acker - HIGH

 Stories to Keep You Alive Despite Vampires by Ben Acker, 186 pages. Simon & Schuster. 2022. $18. 

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content PG; Violence: G



According to the book, you are trapped in a dark and strange house with vampires and the only way to survive is to tell them stories.

This book delves into urban legends and turns some of them on their ears. The seemingly disparate stories intertwine and I ended up enjoying the wry observations from the narrator. Fun read that will keep you hooked. No idea what ethnicity the narrator is and the ethnicities vary in the stories.

Michelle in the Middle

Oliver: The Second-Largest Living Thing on Earth by Josh Crute and John Taesoo Kim - ESSENTIAL

 Oliver: The Second-Largest Living Thing on Earth by Josh Crute, illustrated by John Taesoo KimPICTURE BOOK. Page Street Books, 2018. $18. 9781624145773



Oliver is a huge sequoia tree, among the largest on the planet. Unfortunately, he isn't as large as Sherman. He knows what he has to do to get even bigger and tackles his task with gumption. He works hard but eventually learns a valuable lesson about no matter how hard we try, it might not be enough. Oliver learns that the most important things might have been right next to him the whole time. 

Crute has a great story of acceptance and kindness while introducing readers to the largest trees in the world. Readers will related to the feeling of being unnoticed when we anticipate we should be in the spotlight. We learn great lessons from Oliver in acceptance and understanding of something larger than just ourselves. The illustrations are captivating and readers will be enticed to learn more about sequoia trees.

Mariah Gerlach, MLS 

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone - ESSENTIAL

Sky Song by Abi Elphinstone
, 325 pages. Aladdin (Simon and Schuster), 2020. $18 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (peril, battles - not graphic - melting) 



Erkenwald is a kingdom ruled by the evil Ice Queen. She has kidnapped all of the adults, imprisoned them, and stolen their voices. Now, she just needs the voices of the children to become immortal and permanently take the power from the Sky Gods. But Eska, who was captured with her father, is rescued by Flint, an inventor from a warrior tribe (where his brother is now chief). If Eska and Flint can reunite the tribes, perhaps the children of the land can fight for their parents' freedom and defeat the queen. 

Sky Song is a stand-alone, but is similar in style to the Unmapped Chronicles. Elphinstone writes magical adventures so well, I loved her pacing - perfect for a read-aloud because something is always about to happen. Sky Song is also a story about belonging and friendship and being brave. Eska's memories were stolen, and she had to make her own tribe (of 3, 4 if you count her eagle). What a great message for our kids. 

Lisa Librarian

Vampires, Hearts, and Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston - ADVISABLE

Vampires, Hearts, and Other Dead Things by Margie Fuston, 339 pages. Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2021. $19.

Language: PG13 (28 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG



Victoria (18yo) and her dad have always loved vampires – even before one showed up on the news to show the world they exist. While her dad has always said that he’d rather be a werewolf than a vampire, Victoria would rather he be alive. Chemo has stopped working, and Victoria is determined to not give up hope while her dad still breathes. If anyone can find a vampire in New Orleans, it’s Victoria – she just needs to get there.

I was at war with myself throughout this entire book about whether I wanted vampires to be real like Victoria believed or to be a skeptic like her friend, Henry. The not knowing kept me on the edge of my seat even as I worried with Victoria about her father. Fuston discusses grief through Victoria’s denial and through several other characters who try to help her throughout the book. Emotions are complicated and intense, but that doesn’t mean that they are bad.

Victoria and her mom are described as having pink skin, her dad and Jessica are described as having an olive complexion, and Henry is part Japanese. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, mention of drugs and nudity, and innuendo. The violence rating is for mentions of vampire feedings and murder as well as for blood.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Camp Scare by Delilah S. Dawson - HIGH

 Camp Scare by Delilah S. Dawson, 278 pages. Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House). 2022. $17. 

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content PG; Violence: G



Parker Nelson is excited to go to summer camp as a way to get away from bullies at her school. Because 7th grade was a disaster. Unfortunately, one of the mean girls from school is in her cabin. Parker tries to fit in but seems to be blacklisted by her fellow campers. The only one who listens to her is an increasingly strange camper named Jenny, and something terrible that happened at camp years ago seems to be resurfacing.

Loved the premise about a ghost camper that wants revenge, and there was some nice tension. However, Parker goes through a major pity party in practically every chapter that began to get old and it slowed the pacing.. By the end of the story, there were no likeable characters to root for, though the ending was satisfactory and anyone who has been to a summer camp can relate to the activities. Characters default to white, with nothing to note actual ethnicity and white sounding names.

Michelle in the Middle

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson - AVERAGE

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson
. 395 pages. Delacorte Press (Random), 2022. $19

Language: R (150 swears, 4 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (Underage drinking and drugs, sex mentioned); Violence: PG-13 (car wreck, domestic violence, child hit w/blood)



Brook Donavan is dead and her boyfriend has been arrested for the murder. Here's the deal: the facts don't seem to be lining up. As Alice, beauty queen of the school, and Iris, who's tutoring Alice for money, investigate the crime under the guise of studying, it becomes increasingly clear that Steve cannot be the murderer. Right? There are multiple fishy suspects and as the cops restrict their focus to Steve, it is up to Iris and Alice to solve the crime before the wrong person is sentenced for a crime they might not have committed.

Glasgow and Lawson have written a fun murder mystery that fans of Agatha Christie, and even those who haven't read her work, will enjoy. The characters refer back to Christie's works and her detective's tactics to solve crime, implementing it in their own investigation. While I wasn't a huge fan of the writing and didn't always find the characters completely believable, it was a pleasant read that both crafted a fun story and lightly explored a few heavier issues such as domestic violence or the power dynamic between the upper and lower class.

Sierra Finlinson 

The Supernatural Society by Rex Ogle - OPTIONAL

The Supernatural Society by Rex Ogle, 283 pages. Inkyard Press 2022 $17. 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G Violence: PG (monsters) 



12yo Will has just moved to a new town. He's not excited to be there, he and his mom are making a fresh start after his parents got a divorce. On his first day of school, Will notices that people in the town look like monsters, and it seems he is the only one who can see them. But, when there's a rash of missing pets in the town, including Will's own dog, Fritz. Will thinks there may be a connection between the pets and the monsters, so he teams up with Ivy (who can see the monsters, too) and her genius brother Linus to see if they can figure out what's going on. 

While Rex Ogle wrote The Supernatural Society, his narrator is a monster who claims to be the "actual" writer. The monster talks to the reader a lot - it doesn't really add anything to the story. Ogle knows the names of lots of different monsters, and often lists them in an alliterative way - I feel like this raises the vocabulary expectations of the reader. The Supernatural Society is clever, but the lists were too much, and I got really tired of the monster who wrote the book telling me what I’m thinking. I will pass on this purchase.  Will is Latinx, Ivy is Korean. her brother Linus is black.

Lisa Librarian

Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston - ADVISABLE

 Amari and the Great Game (#2) by B.B. Alston, 423 pages. Balzer + Bray (Harper), 2022. $19

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



Amari is so excited for her next summer training as a Junior Agent , so she is taken by surprise when she receives a letter telling her not to come. Even when things are straightened out, things are out-of-control weird at the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs – Merlin and the rest of the Council are stuck in a time freeze and magicians, like Amari are the chief suspects. The League of Magicians isn’t any better. Dylan, her sworn enemy has escaped his unescapable prison and Amari is forced into a secret battle for the Crown. She has to lie to her friends, escape Acting Prime Minister Bane and his evil Director Harlowe, while juggling way too many deathly events that she is no way prepared to prevent.

Kid readers will enjoy the next book in the series. I did not as much. Amari is thrown directly into life and death situations which she has not had any training to handle and so no possible way to succeed. The evil is on more than one side and it all feels like preparatory to book three – a typical failing of second books and second movies – all action and little heart. Amari is pictured on the cover as black; other characters are various ethnicities, but that figures very little into the story.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS 

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw - HIGH

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw
, 320 pages. Disney Press, 2022. $15

Language: G (0 swears,0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (child kidnapping); Violence: PG-13 (ripping dolls apart)



Sally is the happiest she’s ever been, now that she’s Jack’s new bride. She is unsure of how well she will do as queen even though Jack reassures her. After their honeymoon travels, Sally ventures into Dream Town and accidentally leaves the door open. A monster travels to the different towns causing everyone to sleep. Even her beloved Jack, the Pumpkin King, won’t wake up. Sally feels guilty for causing this problem, especially because she had wished to be alone since she felt too inadequate to be queen. She goes to Dream Town hoping for the community to help her bring the monster, the Sandman, back but no one wants to talk about him. Then she’s summoned to the Governor’s house and her world changes. 

I love the descriptions of the holiday towns. Each holiday has a completely themed town based on its holiday events and colors. Dream Town is all about cozy sleep with its lavender crops, Dream Sand Factory and Lullaby Library. I love the description of Dream Sand: a blend of stardust, moonbeams, and a pinch of yawns. Such a cozy, fun read with a bit of suspense and a nice twist!

 LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian 

It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi - NO

It All Comes Back to You by Farah Naz Rishi
, 432 pages. Quill Tree, 2021. $18

Language: NC-17 (100+ swears, 23 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (religious person tricked into drinking alcohol)



When Kiran hears that she sister is going to marry a man she’s only known a few months, Kiran is sure something is up. Especially because the man’s brother is Deen, the boy who ghosted Kiran 3 years ago. Now freshly graduated senior Kiran is on a mission - expose all of Deen and Faisal’s secrets, no matter the cost, no matter how long it takes, no matter whose hearts get broken.  After all, Kiran’s heart was broken, so Deen and his brother should pay.

OMG! I hate Kiran so much. Not only does she get Faisal to break his personal religious vows, but after her Kiran-created disaster happens, she gets off scot-free, no consequences, everyone forgives Kiran. Faisal is the real victim here, but by all means, let’s feel sorry for Kiran. Kiran is a despicable person and that comes through very clearly in the story. This is not a love story, it is a revenge tale. All of the people in the story are of Indian descent.

Cindy, Library Teacher 

The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar - ADVISABLE

The Patron Thief of Bread by Lindsay Eagar
, 438 pages. Candlewick Press, 2022. $16

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (theft, grooming for a gang); Violence: G (mild danger)



The opening is told in the gargoyle’s point of view and the statue sees a young woman carrying her baby while running from men. As they almost capture her, she jumps into the river while holding onto her baby. Eight years later, Duck is a young girl within a group of traveling thieves. She’s trying to prove that she’s helpful and ends up as a baker’s apprentice to infiltrate the bakery and steal from inside. She continues to give bread to her thief group, the Crowns, but doubts more and more that she’s doing the right thing because she’s feeling loved by the baker. As the stakes rise, Duck will have to make some tough choices and decide who her family is and who she’s loyal to.

I like the baker;mshe’s tremendously generous and kind. I appreciate the author’s writing of Duck’s conflicts between right and wrong and in finding her sense of belonging. This is a clean read with a good message. Ethnicity is predominantly white.

LynnDell Watson; Delta HS Librarian 

Monday, September 26, 2022

How to Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine - AVERAGE

How to Survive Your Murder by Danielle Valentine
, 296 pages. Penguin Random House LLC, 2022. $18 

Language: R (118 swears, 16 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (teens drinking, older man with underage girl); Violence: R (bloody deaths, mutilations, gore, actions if psychotic killer mentioned) 



If Claire is embodiment of laughter, parties, and bright lipstick, Alice is her opposite in every way, spending her nights alone with homework and a horror film or two. Regardless, the two sisters are the best of friends. After Claire is murdered at a Halloween party, Alice is more than ready to testify against her sister’s killer. She knows it was him. She saw him do it. But did she? When given a chance to review to events of that night first hand, Alice will encounter facts and events that directly contradict everything she thought she knew about her sister's death. 

This was a thoroughly enjoyable novel! The character development was well-paced and believable as well as the characters likeable and the plot pacing both interesting and suspenseful. It remarkably felt similar to a scary movie, regarding the feelings of anticipation that the author manages to create with her structure and pacing within just a chapter or even paragraph! Beware, however, as there are many graphic scenes with explicit descriptions of gore and violent deaths. There is also the mature themes of underage drinking as well as an older man sleeping with young high school girls. 

 Sierra Finlinson 

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther - HIGH

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther
, 360 pages. Sourcebooks Fire, 2021. $10 

Language: R (22 swears, 7 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (implied sex, teens drinking,); Violence: PG (hitting) 



Meredith heads to Martha’s Vineyard for a family wedding; she’s with her mother and father and they’re all missing Claire, Meredith’s deceased sister. On the ferry ride to the vineyard, Mer accidentally kicks a guy in the face when she’s climbing down. Later, she’s going to talk to her grandparents at the farm on the vineyard when she sees that same guy already talking to them; his name is Wit - the stepbrother of the groom. The wedding couple want to remember and honor Claire so they’ve planned a game of Assassin and everyone will fight to win with water guns. Mer and Wit decide to help each other with info as needed during the game. As Mer learns to deal with her grief, she’s able to repair relationships and build new ones. 

I liked the cute romance in the story. The dynamics between Mer and Wit are charming. I also enjoyed the large family events that are traditional. It portrays a sense of belonging. Ethnicity of the characters is predominantly white. 

LynnDell Watson; Delta HS Librarian 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Hocus Pocus by A.W. Jantha and Gris Grimly - ADVISABLE

 Hocus Pocus by A.W. Jantha, illustrated by Gris Grimly, 231 pages. Disney Press, 2022. $25. 9781368076685 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (danger and witchcraft) 



When the Sanderson Sisters were hanged in 1693 for witchcraft, they swore that they would return. Then 16yo Max lights their candle on Halloween in 1993 and awakens the sisters, who wreak havoc on the unsuspecting Salem. Max, his little sister Dani, and the babysitter, Allison, are the only ones standing in their way – with a lot of help from Binx – the soul of a boy from 1693 caught within a body of a cat. 

Gris Grimly’s illustrated version echoes the movie without trying to match it. The text is Jantha’s original novelization – fun to read and reminiscent of the movie with skillfully added details. 

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS 

I Guess I Live Here Now by Claire Ahn - HIGH

I Guess I Live Here Now by Claire Ahn
, 408 pages. Viking (Penguin), 2022. $17

Language: R (23 swears, 1 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (underage marijuana use); Violence: PG (arguing)



Melody, Korean American, is caught by a police officer smoking her first joint with her friend Sophie. The next day she discovers that her parents have decided that they all need to be together so she’s moving with her mom to Korea and away from New York City. Melody and her mom have a close relationship but everything in Melody’s life changes once they’re in Korea. Her father is strict and gruff, her grandparents seem cold, distant and uncaring. She does make some friends and her Dad encourages socializing, which helps ease the family tensions and the homework stress. Her relationship with Sophie is strained too and Melody wants to figure out how to pursue her dream of becoming an interior designer while mending relationships with the people she cares about and navigating two countries as her home.

I love the descriptions of each setting the main character is in. I also like the relevance of family contention and teen angst that takes place as Melody’s father tries to completely control her and she discovers her mother keeping secrets. She sees her grandfather treat her father the same way her father treats her and she wonders why he does that to her when he seems to dislike being treated like that. Great insight into Korean culture through Melody’s experiences as she visits places and tries new foods. I also liked the mix of ethnicities.

LynnDell Watson 

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace - HIGH

Belladonna by Adalyn Grace
, 416 pages. Little Brown for Young Readers, 2022. $15

Language: PG (3 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (Alcohol addiction and drinking prevalent throughout, lusting, descriptions of sex) ; Violence: PG-13 (Poison and many descriptions of poisonings)



19yo Signa Farrow was born into one of the wealthiest families imaginable. But one day, her mother dies of poison, and she is forced into bouncing around guardians, all her wanting her for one thing, her inheritance. Strangely, every guardian that Signa has been with dies mysteriously. Until Signa finds herself at Thorn Grove. It's a beautiful manor with many secrets, including a mourning ghost that only Signa can see. Signa will have to use her gifted sight to find a killer- before time runs out.

Belladonna is set in a victorian like Europe, with imagery of ballgowns, tea parties and proper manners. It's a beautiful setting, and perfect for one of mystery, intrigue and love. And although this isn't a perfect book by all means, I think the author executed what she wanted to - the message, setting and characters were thought out. What I am not a fan of, is the fluff in the middle- it didn't add anything to the plot and made it harder to get through the book.

Kenzie Hoehne 

Go Hunt Me by Kelly deVos - HIGH

Go Hunt Me by Kelly deVos
, 304 pages. Razorbill (Penguin), 2022. $18

Language: R (32 swears, 24 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (abstinence mentioned); Violence: R (bloody scenes, decapitation)



High school senior Alex is in the hospital recovering from injuries and a police inspector wants to know what happened from the beginning of Alex’s trip to Romania until the present time and her reason for traveling there. She and her boyfriend Jax go to dinner and check their film school letters together. Jax has been accepted. Alex has been placed on the waitlist. From there, Alex and her six friends travel to Romania planning on creating a film that will get Alex into her dream school and help her become a movie director. What starts as an exciting adventurous idea quickly turns into a deadly few days as someone hunts them down. 

Things I didn't like: Parents are worried and upset about the trip to Bucharest but not one of them will take time to go with them. Why couldn’t they work together to help with plans? Alex is wishy-washy about her boyfriend Jax. She either thinks he’s so perfect or accusing him of lying to her again. She needs to use common sense. Things I like: One third of the way into the story and I was hooked! I enjoyed the snippets at the end of each chapter building the characters backstories and the investigation evidence. The ending is jaw-dropping!

LynnDell Watson; Delta HS Librarian 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart - HIGH

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart
, 320 pags. Delacorte Press (Random), 2022. $12

Language: R (26 swears, 1 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (underage drinking and smoking, attempted rape); Violence: PG-13 (death)



In an entitled and predominantly rich, white society, Carrie is the oldest of three sisters. When the youngest sister Rosemary drowns, the three remaining sisters must follow the family motto and not show any grief. The next summer, their cousin Yardley brings her boyfriend and his two best friends to the island. They’re funny and help lighten the mood on the island. Carrie and Pfeff are interested in each other but he keeps being inconsiderate and annoys Carrie. Pfeff also turns out to be self-centered and when the cousins see him kissing Carrie’s sister Penny, things become precarious.

I enjoyed Pfeff’s humor. Humorous parts with Pfeff- changing lyrics of Mary Poppins song: Step In Time:

“Take no prisoners, do some crimes
Know your math facts! Step in time.”

Every time he sang this, I chuckled. The writing is exemplary! I felt firsthand what the characters were going through because of the details.

LynnDell Watson; Delta HS Librarian 

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle - HIGH

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle
, 310 pages. Simon and Schuster Teen, 2022. $16

Language: R (83 swears, 7 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (making out, twerking, suggestive jokes, drugs mentioned; Violence: PG-13 (bullying)



All of Danielle Ford's life she's been skeptical about love. Romantic movies, books and songs never have struck her fancy. Until Prince Jones, a high school radio host who is savvy in the love industry, attempts to sweep her off her feet. Taking her to exciting, romantic and unique dates all to prove that love and chivalry isn't dead. As Prince and Danielle start spending more and more time together will Danielle be able to guard her heart or will she fall for the smooth talking radio host?

Love Radio is the perfect book to cuddle up in a blanket, in your basement. It's just so cute! Danielle and Prince have such good chemistry and the scenes are so original, they aren't just your typical romcom tropes. My one complaint is that the main characters were complex and fun to read about, but the side characters were flat and static. I know that they are side characters but a bit more thought into creating them would've been nice. Danielle Ford is described with "chestnut" skin and she has wavy black hair that is usually kept in braids. Prince is described with "dark" skin and he has dark hair as well. Both of their friends, family members and every character in the book has either "dark", "chestnut" or "chocolate" skin.

Kenzie Hoehne 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd - OPTIONAL

Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
, 384 pages. HarperCollins Publishers, 2018. $10

Language: PG-13 (13 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: R (drinking blood, blood-letting, graphic deaths, abuse theme)



In a Paris where magic is alive and well, Anouk has been turned into a human. She doesn't know what animal she used to be, and she doesn't quite care. Her days are pleasantly spent in the service of her witch as she acts as cook, maid, and butler all in one. However, when the witch is murdered, Anouk and the other animals-turned-human must seek for a way to lengthen the enchantment placed upon then assuring their humanity, as three days after a witch dies, her spells fade and they will revert to their animal state.

Shepherd's book was a bit of a roller-coaster. There was so much happening and issues being created that I felt didn't need to be thus resulting in quite a bit of frustration during reading. I was torn, the whole time, trying to figure out if this novel was intended for older or younger audiences as initially it came off as for younger, but had heavy themes of abuse and violence that would be unsuitably for such. This book was quite LGBTQIA+ friendly.

Sierra Finlinson 

It's All in How You Fall by Sarah Henning - OPTIONAL

It's All in How You Fall by Sarah Henning
, 320 pages. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022. $12

Language: R (37 swears, 2 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG



Caroline, a 15yo, gymnast has to stop competing due to an injury. Her brother’s friend Alex tries to help her find something else that’s active but not harmful to her back and is enjoyable for her, so they try several different sports to see what Caroline likes. Alex has a crush on Caroline’s friend Sunny so she’s trying to set the two up without being obvious. Everything is going fine until she realizes she’s developed a crush on Alex.

Henning writes a super cute story that builds on friendship and appreciation and turning into more. A very cute, young adult romance! I love the two main characters, Caroline and Alex. They both have set goals in their everyday lives, working towards their futures and they both have integrity and compassion. The character development grew throughout the book and made me like these characters even more. This is a very cute, clean young adult romance. The characters and predominantly white, with a few other minor roles for other races.

LynnDell Watson, Delta HS Librarian, Delta, UT 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Fairy Tale by Stephen King - HIGH

Fairy Tale by Stephen King
, 598 pages. Scribner (Simon), 2022. $20

Language: R (100 swears, 19 ‘f’); Mature Content: G ; Violence: PG (shooting, electric shock, a giant killing minor characters)



Charlie Reade lost his mom when he was a young boy and his Dad was so heartbroken that he became an alcoholic and lost his job, so Charlie prayed for help and offered to do kind deeds in return for helping his family out. Charlie hears a dog howling and finds the elderly local neighborhood scary guy, Howard Bowditch, hurt; he’s fallen off a ladder and broken his leg. Before he’s released from the hospital, Howard tells the staff that Charlie is the only person he wants staying at his house while he recovers from surgery and Charlie agrees. The two become confidantes and Howard tells Charlie unbelievable things but sets forth a mission for Charlie to complete. Charlie goes on the mission and he’s tested in every way and learns to believe in magical things and realizes that fairy tales aren't all fluff and happiness. 

The writing pulled me in with hints of mystery and foreshadowing. Kind, brave main character and gruff older man help and care for each other and the dog, Radar, bonds them together. I enjoy the mysterious feel throughout the book and Stephen King wields words to encompass the reader! The illustrations are detailed and help bring the story to life. The setting is the present day America and Other realm and the ethnicities are white and Other realm characters.

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah 

These Twisted Bonds by Lexi Ryan - HIGH

These Twisted Bonds (These Hollow Vows #2) by Lexi Ryan
, 481pages. Clarion Books, 2022. $20

Language: R (15 swears, 2 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (vaguely described sex, female parts described); Violence: PG-13(blood, guts)



Brie is trying to get Sebastian and Finn to form an alliance to stop the queen who wants to imprison and enslave Unseelie Fae. Brie tries to learn to trust those around her and when she discovers her lineage, she finds her place. Brie and Finn learn they’re tethered, meaning they draw power from each other and give each other strength. The long sleep, where children sleep and never wake up, is affecting the Unseelie children because their kingdom is dying. Finn is willing to sacrifice everything for his kingdom and Brie is willing to do the same. If the two of them can get Sebastian to help then they just might save everything. Romance, adventure and fantasy all wrapped up in one!

I love the main character, Brie and how much she cares for her sister. Brie has tremendous integrity, strenght and compassion for others. Finn's backstory is interesting and I enjoyed reading about his past struggles and finding out why he is in his current situation. The ending is completely satisfying and perfect for the duology to end. The characters are a mixed of mortal ethnicities and fae.

LynnDell Watson, Delta HS Librarian 

If the World Were 100 Animals by Miranda Smith and Aaron Cushley - ESSENTIAL

 If the World Were 100 Animals by Miranda Smith, illustrated by Aaron Cushley. PICTURE BOOK. Crown (Random House), 2022. $18. 9780593372357



Imagine all of the animals of the world represented by 100 - then come on a journey to explore those animals. From where they live to how many are extinct, see snapshots of the creatures who share this planet with us.

Excellent thinking by Smith and engaging pictures by Cushley. Together they first paint an engaging picture of the animals around the world and then end with information of extinction and the coming extinction of so many more. Any level class that touches on the natural world and/or endangered/extinct animals should embrace this.

Cindy, Library Teacher 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Mystery of Monarchs by Barb Rosenstock and Erika Meza - ESSENTIAL

 The Mystery of Monarchs by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Erika Meza. PICTURE BOOK/NON FICTION. Knopf (Random House), 2022. $19. 9781984829566



Fred was always fascinated by bugs and as an adult he made studying them his life's work - the monarch butterfly in particular. In his day, no one knew where the monarch disappeared to each fall - did they die off and leave eggs behind? Fred came up with all ways to mark monarchs, getting help from his wife, also a scientist. It wasn't until citizen scientists got involved in large ways that the mystery was finally solved.

While there are other books about the monarch's long journey, I love this one about Fred's scientific method and the contributions of citizen scientists - there is even a picture of the junior high kids and their teacher who tagged the exact butterfly that were found in the jungle! Rosenstock also talks about threats to the monarch butterfly and ways that the people of Mexico are preserving the butterfly habitat. So many different ways to use this in any science curriculum.

Cindy, Library Teacher 

Life in Hot Water by Mary Batten and Thomas Gonzalez - ESSENTIAL

 Life in Hot Water: wildlife at the bottom of the ocean by Mary Batten, illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. PICTURE BOOK/NON FICTION. Peachtree, 2022. $19. 9781682631522



Batten takes into the deep ocean trenches where life exists where there is no light. Plants and animals feed on the chemicals spewed from the earth's core in a process called chemosynthesis and there's a snail with a shell made of iron!

I was fascinated by all of the things I didn't yet know as I read this incredible picture book! Then I discovered that The Scientists in the Field series has a book about these scientists written all the way back in 2006. How did I miss it? Definitely a picture book that reads up to middle school and high school, too.

Cindy, Library Teacher 

Monday, September 19, 2022

It Ends in Fire by Andrew Shvarts - OPTIONAL

It Ends in Fire by Andrew Shvarts
, 368 pages. JIMMY Patterson Books; Little, Brown and Company, 2021. $25

Language: PG-13 (55 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (alcohol, implied sex); Violence: R (bloody stabbings, decapitations) 



Alka wants revenge on the Wizards for killing her parents ten years ago and Lady Alayne is the key. After dueling with Alayne, Alka retrieves Alayne’s invitation to Blackwater Academy of Magic so she can go in her place and infiltrate the Wizard power and exact her revenge. Fylmonela Potts befriends Alka and the two form an alliance preparing for the intense competitive Blackwater Academy, where one third of the students will drop out or die instead of graduate. Alka gains allies and friends and when their order competes in a school challenge, they try a daring stunt to beat the competition. This makes the ruling order angry but the rest of the school feels empowered. The second challenge doesn’t go down as planned and when a friend dies, Alka knows the end is coming. She’s got to make a plan that will take the biggest toll of all. I enjoyed the writing and the intensity of the story. 

I love the main character Alka, her loyalty, strength, perseverance and integrity! I like how the story unfolds with suspense. Characters default to white, but there is a strong colored male character involved with the main character. The main character is bisexual and there is a non-binary secondary character.

LynnDell Watson, librarian of Delta HS 

Mere Mortals by Erin Jade Lange - HIGH

Mere Mortals by Erin Jade Lange, 368 pages. HarperTeen (HarperCollins), 2022. $18.

Language: R (33 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Vampire life is to die for – too bad Charlie and Reg messed up. Their punishment: banishment to mortal life in Nowhere, Iowa. Being mortal is bad enough, but their caretaker has enrolled the siblings in high school too. Charlie is determined to get her vampire life back, even if it kills her.

I love this new take on vampires and vampire slayers – excuse me, vampire healers. The discussions that the various vampires and slayers have about immortality versus being human are thought-provoking, and the war Charlie has within herself about what she really wants is so real. While readers might guess how Charlie’s story will end, her journey is definitely worth the read.

Charlie and Reg are White, Dexter is described as having “tan” skin, and their other friends are implied White. The mature content rating is for innuendo and mentions of sexting. The violence rating is for mentions of vampire feedings and suicide, blood, and use of stakes to kill vampires.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Saving Sophie by Debbie Schrack - OPTIONAL

Saving Sophie by Debbie Schrack, 292 pages. Fire and Ice Young Adult Books, 2022. $14.

Language: R (108 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG



Everything has gone downhill since Gabe’s brother, Josh, caused a fatal accident as a drunk driver. Not only has Gabe (17yo) had to deal with rumors at school, but his mother is pushing Gabe to forgive Josh as if Gabe is the one in the wrong, and he’s being forced to visit Josh in jail on Thanksgiving – his favorite holiday! The only bright spot has been tutoring Sophie after school, but even that is complicated: Sophie is the only survivor in her family from the accident Josh caused, and she doesn’t know that Gabe and Josh are related.

Forgiveness is hard, whether giving it or asking for it. Gabe struggles throughout the book on both sides of forgiveness, and it’s easier to see why others should forgive than why he should. Schrack invites readers to learn with Gabe on this journey of forgiveness. However, I found it frustrating to see Gabe procrastinate making good decisions, which made reading the last half of the book more painful to read than it should have been as I waited for the dramatic consequences I knew would follow.

Gabe is half Italian and shown as White on the cover, Sophie is described as “pale” multiple times in the text but appears to have darker skin on the cover, Matt is White, and Jess is Black. The mature content rating is for drug use; underage drinking; mentions of sex, condoms, boners, and rape; discussions of abortion; innuendo; and sexting. The violence rating is for fist fighting, discussions of a bad car accident, and mentions of gun use.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Epic Story of Every Living Thing by Deb Caletti - HIGH

The Epic Story of Every Living Thing by Deb Caletti, 416 pages. Labyrinth Road (Random House), 2022. $19.

Language: R (247 swears, 58 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG



Harper (17yo) is her mother’s perfect daughter, Ezra’s girlfriend, and an adventure Instagrammer with lots of followers and hearts but without the actual adventures. Secretly, Harper has been trying to figure out who she is by figuring out who her sperm-donor father is. Once she starts learning, though, it’s impossible to un-know what Harper finds.

Living in our post-pandemic time, Harper leans on her phone for support and connection with people from a safe distance. Caletti has captured the addictive nothingness usage of social media in Harper’s stream of consciousness narration. I loved watching Harper’s change as she makes decisions about her life, from how she wants to interact with social media and her phone to what she’s willing to stand up for and make important.

Harper and her relatives are White, and Ezra is Jewish Cuban. The mature content rating is for underage drinking; drug use; mentions of menstruation, condoms, sexual harassment, genitalia, and rape; discussions of sperm and in vitro fertilization; and sex. The violence rating is for mentions of bombs.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, September 16, 2022

Taaqtumi by Neil Christopher - OPTIONAL

Taaqtumi by Neil Christopher, 184 pages. SHORT STORIES. Inhabit Media, 2019. $17.

Language: R (32 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



These nine horror stories are set in the Canadian arctic and range in genre from realistic to zombie apocalypse to scifi. Secrets lie in the dark and cold, just waiting to pull you in and keep you forever.

As the title indicates, several of the stories include Inuktitut words, which are defined in the book’s glossary. Seeing the different ways of life highlighted by these stories from a region of the world I’ve never been to was interesting. Some of the stories were fun to read (even though there are no happy endings to be found here), others were disturbing, and most were confusing. Overall, though, the couple of interesting ones weren’t worth slogging through the others.

The mature content rating is for alcohol use, scary elements, and mentions of genitalia and pornography. The violence rating is for gun use, mention of suicide, cannibalism, and blood and gore.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Secret of the Storm by Beth McMullen - HIGH

 Secret of the Storm by Beth McMullen, 288 pages. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2022. $18

Language: PG (1 swear, 0 “f”); 

Mature Content: G;

Violence: PG



Middle school student Cassie King feels like the universe has it out for her. But after she gets caught in a sudden, unusual and extreme storm, she finds herself with a new friend of sorts, plus a little lost kitten to take home and love. But things, including her new kitty, definitely aren't quite as they seem. Cassie and her new friend Joe have a mystery to solve, an obsessed bad guy to evade and a seemingly impossible mission to accomplish, all while learning about and protecting their new not-so-feline pet.

McMullen writes a fast-paced, high-adventure and just plain fun. I really appreciated the developing unlikely friendship between Cassie and Joe, especially in contrast with the disintegrating friendship Cassie experienced with her long time best friend Mia. It was a very relatable, realistic representation of middle school relationships. In the story, Cassie also deals with grief after the death of her father, and navigating life with her mom whose grief is overwhelming and limiting her ability to function. Mixing these real-world topics with the fun and fantasy of dragons makes this an excellent book that I'll enthusiastically recommend to my upper elementary students.

Angie Campbell

Girl Who Heard Demons by Janette Rallison - ESSENTIAL

 Girl Who Heard Demons by Janette Rallison, 281 pages. Rally Point Press, 2017. $10

Content: G



High schooler Adelle Hansen can hear and see demons. She has moved from school to school to get away from severe bullying. finally her family sends her to her aunt in Kentucky to finish her senior year of High School. She is determined no one will will find out her secret. When she overhear the demons excited about the death of the handsome quarterback, Levi, Adelle has to do some thing. Will she be successful? Will Levi believe her? Will he just make fun of her?

This is the beginning of a fast paced book full of adventure, mystery and romance. The book was very well written with believable, strong characters. Adelle is a strong girl, she attends church every Sunday, does not drink or do drugs, even though other characters in the book does all of those things. Janette Rallison managed to write a believable book about high schoolers, violence, mystery, attacks without resorting to swear words or super graphic explanations. The book was fast paced and really great! I could not put it down, and I read it in one sitting. I found it really refreshing that an author today could write such and amazing story without bowing to all the political correctness, woke culture, swear words and violence and racism found in so much of todays children's and YA books. I really like the spiritual aspects, that Adelle went to church, worked hard, did her best in school and was a real friend that honestly cared about the people around her. If you are looking for a great read - pick up this book. It is awesome!

Ellen-Anita, Librarian 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird and David Small - ADVISABLE

 Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird, illustrated by David Small, 244 pages. Knopf (Random), 2021. $17

Content: G



12 yo Suzy Bowles is tired of her boring life on the farm. Every day is the same. Chores, Chores and more chores. She yearns for adventure and she wants to see the world. Her uncle moves in with them, supposedly to help with chores. Instead he leaves the farm really early every morning. One day Suzy decides to follow him. Come to find out, he works for the mystery lady in their town, Madame Maranette who used to work for the circus. Suzy want to work for Madame too, and talks her way into training the orneriest ostrich on the farm, Gaucho. Suzy has a lot to learn, but she is determined to learn to ride Gaucho. Suzy is a spunky, fun, hard-working girl ready for adventure and she refuses to give up.

I really enjoyed Suzy's story and learned a lot about ostriches. Suzy gets to know Madame, and learns some of her story. Madame gives her lessons on how a young lady should behave. I laughed out loud several places in the book. Suzy pulls on your heartstrings. I read the book in one sitting. The book is also full of delightful illustrations that are also full of expressions. I recommend reading this, even reading it out loud to your class or your children. Follow Suzy on her grand adventure and read on to the exciting conclusion.

Ellen-Anita - Librarian 

Two Degrees by Alan Gratz - ADVISABLE

 Two Degrees by Alan Gratz, 365 pages. Scholastic , October 2022. $18

Language: G (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (Burned bodies mentioned)



Four kids from around the world are caught up in major level calamities exascrebated by the consequences of climate change. Amira is caught in a wildfire in the mountains of California, Natalie’s family is trapped by a hurricane and swept away as they try to escape, Owen and George don’t realize that the disappearing ice shelf will bring polar bears right into their backyards.

Gratz’s aims are noble - trying to bring to life the very real effects of climate change. Each story is full of danger and near death moments, which kid will grab onto. But, 99% of all humans will lose interest in the climate change rally at the end. While the consequences are big, it is hard for us to see how little changes in our lives can bring the world back from the brink.

Cindy, Library Teacher 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor - ADVISABLE

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor
, 391 pages. Razorbill (Penguin), 2022. $19

Language: PG (16 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



The Hotel Magnifique has arrived in their town and 17yp Jain is determined to get herself and her 13yo sister Zosa jobs in the traveling hotel. Sosa is thrilled with her new role as a singer, but Jani is relegated to housekeeping, putting her in contact with Bel, the doorman, who lied to Jani about what would happen to the sisters. Slowly Jani realizes that there is something rotten about Magnifique, but has she found out too late to save herself and Zosa?

A pretty average piece of fantasy. It took me several days to finish, as I was never sucked in far enough to read for long stretches. If you have a large fantasy readership, they will enjoy this at some point.

Cindy, Library Teacher 

Ravenous Things by Derrick Chow - ADVISABLE

 Ravenous Things by Derrick Chow, 311 pages. Disney, 2022. $17

Content: G (Mildly scary)



12yo Reggie Wong has transmuted his grief at his father’s death into anger, causing trouble at school and home. Then the Conductor offers his a chance to be with Dad again, and Reggie is ready. The train is filled with 100’s of other kids, including Reggie’s nemesis, but deposits each kid at their own door. For all of the them the initial reunion is all they can hope, but Reggie quickly realizes that something is very wrong. Only with the help of a new girl and his nemesis can Reggie have a chance to set things right for everyone.

A nice remix of the Pied Piper tale, without being so obvious at the beginning. Not super scary, but the creep vibes are enough for many of your younger reads. The main characters are described as various ethnicities.

Cindy, Library Teacher 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra by Stuart Gibbs - ADVISABLE

Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra by Stuart Gibbs
, 367 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2022. $18

Content: G (Mild danger)



13yo Charlie is on the hunt and on the run again. This time she is in pursuit of her own aims - a treasure that Cleopatra supposedly left behind for her progeny. But the CIA aid after her, so are some Egyptians, and of course the remaining criminals who wants want access to Einstein’s Pandora, which only copy of which exists inside Charlie’s brain. Cue the danger and the drama!

How can Gibbs write so many high energy series and keep them all straight!? Will Charlie, Ben, and Teddy meet up sometime? 

Cindy, Library Teacher  

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion - ADULTS

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
, 256 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2011. $16

Language: R (50+ swears, 30+ ‘f’); Mature Content: R (Contemplates sex, repeated drinking, underage sex, mentions the girl when quite young sleeping with an older man for money); Violence: R (Multiple zombie and human mutilations, "killing schools" for both zombies and humans, detailed descriptions of gore)



R is not your average zombie. He may be a white male, although his skin is more gray than anything at this point in his decomposition, however, he seems to be having somewhat of a crisis. This crisis's name is Julie. After eating the brains of Julie's ex-boyfriend and experiencing his memories, R finds himself falling in love with this vibrant, eccentric girl who simply radiates life (something R seems to be lacking). In this post-apocalyptic world, R, the philosophical zombie with eloquent, poetic thoughts and a craving for life, will have to fight for the type of existence he wants and will face changes both mentally and physically along the way.

This is the most beautiful book I have ever read. Between the language, characters, world building, and both world and character development I have found myself reading and re-reading this novel many times over. It is a remarkably enjoyable post-apocalyptical retelling of Romeo and Juliet, although one must be aware of the mature themes, violence, and strong language very prevalent throughout this book. Regarding the mature themes, there are conversations about sex, multiple scenes with drinking, and one character that contemplates suicidal thoughts. Strong language is found all throughout the book including a great many f-words, and there are many gory descriptions of the zombie's physical descriptions as well as activities.

Sierra Finlinson 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Clementine: Book One by Tillie Walden - HIGH

Clementine: Book One by Tillie Walden
, 256 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Skybound Comet. 2022. $15

Language: R (31 swears, 6 “F”); Mature Content PG; Violence: PG-13 (murder, maiming)



17yo Clementine is a teenager looking to put her traumatic past behind her. All she really knows is that she wants to journey North, though her crutches and amputated leg make it difficult. Clementine meets a naive Amish boy named Amos, who she reluctantly travels with to Vermont. There they meet up with other teens who are trying to build a walker-free settlement in the frozen snow.

Clementine is a downer of a book, though perhaps knowing this is a post-apocalyptic zombie read, you wouldn’t be expecting sunshine and flowers. Clementine is carrying a lot of baggage and none of the characters are particularly likeable. The world she inhabits is gloomy and depressing. The ending is a bummer and the black and white drawings make it a little tricky to follow the storyline. However, fans of The Walking Dead will most likely eat it up like zombies on brains.

Clementine seems to be white; the other characters have a variety of skin tones, but that has little to do with the action.

Michelle in the Middle 

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, Joe Caramagna, and Anu Chouhan

Content G



12yo Aru Shah wants to impress her friends, who thinks she lies, though she feels she is just stretching the truth. In order to impress them, she lights an ancient lamp in a museum and in so doing, unleashes the Sleeper, a demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction.

Based loosely in Hindu mythology, this is a seriously fun and engaging adventure. The humor is delightful and the pictures bright and well-drawn. Themes of friendship, duty, fate and destiny intertwine to make for great read, while you find yourself rooting for the protagonists and gearing up for book two. Aru Shah is East Asian.

Michelle in the Middle