Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Middle School and Other Disasters: Worst Love Spell Ever! by Wanda Coven and Anna Abramskaya - HIGH

Middle School and Other Disasters: Worst Love Spell Ever!
by Wanda Coven, illustrated by Anna Abramskaya
, 322 pages. Middle Grade, Simon and Schuster, 2023 .$15 

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



Heidi is at Kettledrum Academy, a boarding school that caters to witches-in-training and nonmagical kids alike. Heidi is totally enamored with Hunter "McCutie" and wonders how she can cast a love spell to get him to notice her since she thinks of herself as boring and invisible. What could go wrong? 

True confession: I almost didn't get past the first few pages. There are so many words all in caps and an overabundance of exclamation points. However, if you can channel your inner middle school angst that most of us try to smother with a pillow, it's actually pretty relatable to the target audience. The book does bring up some real issues, like why being yourself is important and that perhaps all first crushes don't work out and that's ok. So while you can practically hear girl screams about boys in your head, it would actually be a fun read for tween girls. Culture or race is never specified. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years by Shubnum Khan - ADVISABLE

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years
by Shubnum Khan
, 320 pages. Viking/Penguin Group, 2024. $25

Language: PG-13 (14 swears;  0 'f');  Mature Content: G (kissing); Violence: PG-13 (bloody death) 



15yo Sana moves into a decrepit large house in Africa with her father. The other residents say it’s haunted and this makes Sana curious. She asks the other residents questions about the house and its past and she explores everything and every place in the house. In the attic, Sana discovers a diary and she reads until the ending. What she finds, haunts her and she hopes there’s more of the story to unravel.

The Djinn Waits a Hundred Years is slow and builds the setting and characters until the second half when the mystery piqued my interest and grabbed my attention. I found it fascinating that Sana was a conjoined twin but she’s the only one who survived and now Sana sees and hears her dead sister. I loved discovering the background of the haunted home that is the setting for this story. The ethnicity is Indian and African with some white. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Library

City Spies: Mission Manhattan by James Ponti - ESSENTIAL

Mission Manhattan (City Spies #5)
by James Ponti
, 423 pages. Aladdin Paperbacks, (Simon and Schuster), 2024. $19 

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



Book five in the City Spies series shines some love on 13yo Rio, who is a skilled street magician on top of being one of the City Spies. The group of spies travels to Venice, Italy to protect a teen environmentalist during a demonstration and her speech to the UN conference. When Rio spots a bomb, he is hailed as a hero, but finds that there are a lot of sinister powers in play. 

Another engaging spy novel that will suck you in. There are a lot of characters to root for, and the Venice and Washington, DC settings make it even cooler. Yes, the young spies seem almost superhumanly gifted, but who wouldn't want to be them? Plus Cairo's mom, who seems to be the City Spies' enemy, is lurking in the shadows and figures to play a bigger role in the future. I shall anxiously await further missions! City Spies represent a variety of ethnicities. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Monday, January 29, 2024

A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft - OPTIONAL

A Fragile Enchantment
by Allison Saft,
384 pages. Wednesday Books. 2024. $18

Language: R (25 swears 8 'f's); Mature Content: PG-13 (petting); Violence: G 



18yo Niamh is invited to the Avalon palace as head seamstress for Prince Kit’s wedding preparations. He’s as haughty and rude as ever and much more than Niamh expected. 19yo Kit is angry at the world but Niamh has no idea why. Sinclair, Kit’s lifelong best friend, is the first and only person that treats Niamh kindly and as a friend instead of some lowly servant. The three of them become friends and help each other break down the personal barriers they’ve put up but political pressure, intrigue and scheming threaten to crush everything they’ve gained. 

A Fragile Enchantment is full of interesting characters. The author approaches self care and mental health graciously. Political intrigue dominates the book and creates a nice mystery. Beautiful descriptions are found throughout the book. Humor is used perfectly. Ethnicity falls to white. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Library

Mixed Up by Gordon Korman - OPTIONAL

Mixed Up by Gordon Korman
, 244 pages. Middle Grade Scholastic Press (Scholastic), 2023. $18 

Language: G (no swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G 



12yo Reef and Theo are completely different people, living in different towns. But lately, their memories seem to be playing tricks on them. Reef has flashes of memories that aren't his, and Theo recognizes a school he's never been to before. As they gain new memories that aren't theirs, their own are fading. Reef can't bear losing his memories of his mother. Finding each other and a solution becomes a race against time before their memories slip away forever. 

Reef and Theo are both experiencing their own difficulties. Theo has an overbearing father who wants Theo to be something he isn't, and Reef is grieving the death of his mother and living with a family who has taken him in and their son who bullies him, so it has some heavy themes mixed in with the memory loss. As long as you can suspend your disbelief at the premise, it makes for an interesting read and begs the question of how important memories are, even the bad ones, and what you'd do to get them back. Characters default white.

Michelle in the Middle 

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Blood! Not Just a Vampire Drink by Stacy McAnulty and Shawna J.C. Tenney - ESSENTIAL

Blood! Not Just a Vampire Drink by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Shawna J.C. Tenney. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Godwin Books (Macmillan), 2022. $19. 9781250304056



The Vampire walks into the smoothie shop for a little blood to end his day.  However, the server behind the counter tells him all about how important blood is for humans, instead. 

McAnulty has taken something as basic as blood and turned it into fun! I would have loved this as my text for any science class on any level! She has such a talent for turning information into something intriguing.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Of Princes and Promises by Sandhya Menon - OPTIONAL

Of Princes and Promises (Rosetta Academy #2) by Sandhya Menon, 310 pages. Simon, 2021. $20

Language: R (40+ swears, 7 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



After comforting Caterina at the winter dance, socially awkward Rahul really thought he had a chance with her.  Caterina, as snobbish as ever, even after humiliation, doesn’t see it happening. However, she needs a date for the very important Hindman Gala, so she takes Rahul under her wing. He is, of course, willing. It isn’t until they are fitting Rahul for his glam threads and the boutique owner gives Rahul a special (VERY special) hair gel that Rahul - or, please call me RC - emerges as a much closer to a prince. But are Rahul and Caterina relying too much on the RC character - could Rahul be losing his sense of self? Who does Caterina really want to spend her time with - the suave RC, or the endearing Rahul?

This one is much more loosely based on the Frog Prince tale than Menon’s first Rosetta Academy was to its fairy tale. The secondary story about Caterina and Mia, a new girl who enters her life and seems to glide past all of Caterina’s defenses is distracting. Not as strong as the first.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book by Tonya Bolden and Eric Velasquez - ESSENTIAL

Going Places: Victor Hugo Green and His Glorious Book by Tonya Bolden and Eric Velasquez. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. HarperCollins. 2022. $18. 9780062967404



In the early 1900’s, traveling while black was a risky proposition. But with automobiles becoming more accessible, Blacks wanted to travel just as much as anyone.  Victor Green, a mailman in New York, saw the need for guidance - safe towns, good motels, welcoming restaurants - and created his first booklet in 1936 and it quickly grew to cover the entire US and even international destinations.

The beginning of the book is quite wordy and seems to try to be poetic. As a teacher, I would skip Green’s personal history and go straight to why there was a need for The Green Book.  The end also glosses over the fact that the Civil Rights Act didn’t actually end the need for The Green Book.  I am curious why the last Green Book was published in 1966 - seems to me its advice could come in handy even today.

Victor Greene and most of the other people in the illustrations are Black.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Of Dreams and Destiny by Sandhya Menon - OPTIONAL

Of Dreams and Destiny (Rosetta Academy #3)by Sandhya Menon, 261 pages. Simon, 2023. $20

Language: R (50+ swears, 25+ ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



DE (Daphne Elizabeth) is still reeling from her “break-up” with Alaric - she may have only been a “side piece” to him, but for DE the investment was real. When Xander arrives near the end of the year - a mysterious, new boy - her friend group tries to point her in his direction. Xander doesn’t have time for the beautiful, sad girl - he is only at Rosetta Academy to solve a decades old mystery that has brought only misfortune to his family. When students around the school start falling asleep, with no known way to wake them up, DE and Xander must combine forces to solve that mystery and Xander’s personal mystery, if there is any chance to save them all.

Definitely liked this one better than #2, but I was not amused by the amount of “f’-words thrown around - very grating. Not a single thing would have been lost from any of these books without the swearing. For the series as a whole, leave it for HS libraries with strong fantasy circulation.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Friday, January 26, 2024

Meet Me on Mercer Street by Booki Vivat - ADVISABLE

Meet Me on Mercer Street
by Booki Vivat
, 192 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Scholastic Press (Scholastic), 2024. $13 

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



Kacie Sitthiwat is a soon to be 6th grader and an aspiring artist. Life seems as uneventful as ever in her boring neighborhood, but then things start to change. Her best friend, Nisha, and her family disappear and the adults in town seem on edge. Kacie decides to investigate with her sketchbooks and observational skills. 

Change affects all of us and can be overwhelming when it seems out of our control. Kacie is an engaging character and I found myself cheering for her and the residents of Mercer Street,. This is a delightful read with a great message, and the residents of Mercer Street represent a nice cross section of cultures. 

Michelle in the Middle

Those We Drown by Amy Goldsmith - NO

Those We Drown by Amy Goldsmith, 403 pages. Delacorte (Random), 2023. $19

Language: R (50+  swears, 10+ ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (lots of teen drinking mentioned) ; Violence: PG (undescribed deaths)



Liv and Will kind of thought it was a joke when they were both accepted into the exclusive SeaMester program - the chance to spend six weeks living and learning on a cruise ship just feels like a dream.  But from the outstart Liv feels that something is off about the whole cruise. When Will disappears, she can’t shake the bad feelings, but she also can’t find answers.  The only person who even kind of believes her is spoiled rich boy Constantine. By the time Liv finds actual answers, it will already be too late for several people on board.

I was actually bored with this book. The author spends so much time keeping the mystery shrouded from us and Liv - in fact Liv is clueless until 388 pages in. And then after wanting to get off the ship for so long she suddenly doesn’t want to leave it. You should read Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson  instead - a much better modern take on Mythology.  Or Hide by Kiersten White 

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Your Time Has Come by Magnus Myst, - OPTIONAL

Your Time Has Come (
The Bad Little Book 3by Magnus Myst, 171 pages. INTERACTIVE Delacorte (Random House), 2023. $11 

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



The Little Bad Book is back again and needs a reader who is gutsy enough to travel through time with him and possibly face down the Time Wolf. 

 The art really is stunning; it's vibrant and well laid out. As an interactive book, it is nonlinear and jumps around a lot. There are puzzles to solve that lead the reader to different pages. It's not an in-depth read, but it can be fun to solve the puzzles with the story. 

Michelle in the Middle

It takes Guts by Jennifer Gardy and Belle Wuthrich - ESSENTIAL

It takes Guts by Jennifer Gardy and Belle Wuthrich, 137 pages. NON FICTION. Greystone Kids, 2021. $20

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (Just talks about what happens inside your body. There are no real pictures); Violence: G



Gardy walks you through step by step what happens in your body when you eat. First, it gave an overview of all the different organs that are in your digestive system. Then talked about how food moves through your esophagus. Then it explained how your stomach turns food into chyme. After, it explained the process of throwing up during a retroperistaltic wave. Lastly, it talked about the small and large intestine. 

I really like how clear Gardy made things and broke down the information. It also had good illustrations and diagrams. Lastly, I liked the author’s writing style.

Student Reviewer: SR, 9th Grader Reviewer

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Shipwrecked! By Martin W. Sandler - ADVISABLE

Shipwrecked! by Martin W. Sandler, 144 pages. NON FICTION. Astra Young Readers, 2023. $25

Content: G



Sandler explains many major shipwrecks from history. First, the Antikythera shipwreck was found by sponge diving. Next, the Cape Gelidonya shipwreck was found on the coast of Turkey. The Shinan shipwreck had lots of porcelain in it. The Mary Rose shipwreck was a ship used by King Henry VIII. It also told the story of the Sao Jose Paquete De Africa which was a slave ship taking slaves to be traded. It went on to explain lots of other shipwrecks and the technology that has been developed.

I liked that Sandler talked about a variety of shipwrecks and showed how the technology improved. I also liked all the pictures and diagrams that were included. One thing I didn’t love is how each wreck had a chapter, but at the end, there were a bunch of short excerpts of other wrecks but no conclusion.

Student Reviewer: SR, 9th Grade Reviewer

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Maybe It’s a Sign by E. L. Shen - ADVISABLE

Maybe It’s a Sign by E. L. Shen, 240 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan Publishing), 2024. $18.

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



13yo Freya’s dad died eight months ago, but the pain is still fresh—especially because Freya is struggling to enjoy playing her viola. Her dad loved that she played the viola. As she struggles to make decisions moving forward, Freya looks for a sign that her dad is still there. And he shows up—as a pair or lucky red birds.

Through Freya’s story, Shen tells readers it’s okay to not be okay. Another important message conveyed is that finding reasons to be happy and chasing new dreams while the world feels like it’s falling apart are good things. As humans, punishing ourselves for the sake of grief can feel like the right thing to do, even when it isn’t. Using support systems and moving forward with life helps more than self-punishment and guilt.

Freya and her family are Chinese, and Gus and his family are Korean. The violence rating is for mild description of blood and fantasy violence in a movie that triggers Freya, as well as some non-serious mentions of murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily McCully - OPTIONAL

Dreaming in Code: Ada Byron Lovelace, Computer Pioneer by Emily McCully, 164 pages. BIOGRAPHY. Candlewick Press, 2019. $10

Language:  G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (abuse mentioned, not described).; Violence: G



Ada Byron Lovelace grew up a very curious girl who loved adventure. Ada grew up without really having a connection with her mother and never knowing who her father was. She loved mathematics and science and she loved to read books and invent and try things such as flying machines . As she grew older she got married and had kids. She then started work with Charles Babbage on the Difference Engine.

I liked how McCully had a lot of detail in the book. It went through her life and really made me there and imagine what she would do and what it would look like if I were here. I struggled with the explanation of the machine she worked on as an adult. 

Student Reviewer: Sarah- 9th grade

Monday, January 22, 2024

Give by Jen Arena and Rahele Jomepour Bell - ESSENTIAL

by Jen Arena, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
. PICTURE BOOK Alfred A. Knopf, 2023. $19. 9781524714994 



When a girl loses her hair ribbon, a boy gives her the ribbon from his gift box. The girl gives what she can to the next person who needs it, and on and on, creating a beautiful circle of giving kindness. 

The simple text and rich oil illustrations work together beautifully. For me, this was an impactful reminder to give, whether it's giving when someone has less or giving comfort. The children and adults were illustrated with diverse ethnicities. 

Rachel, Elementary Library Specialist 

Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross - HIGH

Divine Rivals
by Rebecca Ross
. 368 pages. Wednesday Books, 2023. $12 

Language: PG (5 swears 0 'f'): Mature Content: PG (kissing and implied sex) Violence: PG-13 (grenade explosion in battle; bleeding from chemical weapons) 



18yo Iris works at a newspaper to help support her mother after her brother Forest was sent to war. She dropped out of college to work and she’s hoping for a promotion to columnist. 19yo Roman, Iris’ competitor for the columnist promotion, is rich and discovers that he’s been betrothed to a daughter of his father’s business acquaintance completely against Roman’s will. Iris and Roman have an unusual connection that he soon discovers but Iris is oblivious to. The mythological war soon takes over their lives and they have to fight to stay alive and get closer to the battle than they ever expected. 

I adore the slow burn romance. The fact that this book has very few swears is refreshing. I love Roman and Iris and enjoyed getting to know them and I also enjoyed the mystery of the letters. Falls to white and the Bed and Breakfast owner has light brown skin. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Library

Sunday, January 21, 2024

That's Not My Name by Megan Lally - OPTIONAL

That's Not My Name
by Megan Lally
, 304 pages. Sourcebooks Fire, 2023. $12 

Language: R (156 swears 83 'f');  Mature Content: G;  Violence: PG-13 (bloody hitting and bloody death) 



A 17yo young woman wakes up in a ditch and has no idea how she got there. A police officer drives by, sees her, helps her and takes her to the police station where he questions her and realizes that she has lost her memory. She has a flashback of standing by a cluster of postal mailboxes and big hands grabbing her but she remembers nothing else. Soon after, a man arrives asking the police officer for help in finding his missing daughter. Alternately, a community is searching for a missing teenage girl that disappeared while walking home. Could this be the same girl?

The mystery kept me glued to the pages. The characters are an interesting and diverse set of personalities. The mystery unravels cleverly. The ethnicity falls to white. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Songs of America YRE by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw - ADVISABLE

Songs of America YRE: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music that Made a Nation by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw, 221 pages. Delacorte (Random House), 2019. $25



Song has always been an essential part of human life and the birth of America and its history is no exception. Meacham, with a small assist from country star Tim McGraw, has created a wide ranging and insightful look at American history through its iconic songs. With more than 200 songs mentioned, Meacham has created a very satisfying panoply of music. 

Now I need to read the original version of this book!  While it is billed as Young Reader’s Edition, I don’t think many of our students will sit and read the entire book. But the adults around who teach American History will LOVE it! Buy a copy just to share with that whole department. The Hudson Public Library has created a playlist of all of the songs mentioned, some with several different versions, in the order the songs are presented in the book.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Friday, January 19, 2024

Her Dark Wings by Melinda Salisbury - OPTIONAL

Her Dark Wings
by Melinda Salisbury
, 336 pages. Delacorte Press, 2023. $10

Language: R (25 swears; 21 'f'); Mature Content:G; Violence: PG (hitting) 



17yo Corey discovers that her boyfriend is cheating on her with her best friend Bree. This devastates her and she feels like they’ve been laughing at her behind her back the whole time. Corey is so hurt and angry that she wishes Bree would die and soon after, Bree drowns. Now Corey regrets her wish and wants Bree and their friendship back. When Corey thinks she sees Bree and chases after her, she falls into the Underworld and her life is turned inside out.

I didn’t like Ali, the boyfriend, because of his selfishness. The character development is well done. Fantastic world building. The ethnicity falls to white. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The Enigma Girls by Candace Fleming - ADVISABLE

The Enigma Girls by Candace Fleming, 325 pages. NON-FICTION. Scholastic, MARCH 2024. $20

Content: G



From the very beginnings of WWII. England had to find a way to crack the codes created by the German Enigma machines if they wanted any chance of surviving, if not winning, the war. Hundreds of young women from all over the country were called up and hired as computers, cipher crackers, and radio operators. Not only during the war, but after also, they weren’t allowed to breathe a word about their essential jobs. 

Fleming has created a beautiful, highly readable book about these mostly teenage women. I often forgot that I was reading a non-fiction book, as the words and action flowed along. While it is chunky at 300+ pages, it is a book you could hand sell in a school that covers the topic. Or send this out to your history teachers to help them build their personal background knowledge.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The Getaway List by Emma Lord - HIGH

The Getaway List by Emma Lord, 314 pages. Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press), 2024. $20.

Language: R (137 swears, 48 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: G



High school has been just okay with Riley’s best friend, Tom, having moved to New York City shortly before they would have started together. They made big plans for meeting up during breaks, but something always came up, so they added the activities to their “getaway list.” Now having both graduated, Riley is going to New York to do all the things on their list—but four years apart have changed things, and it seems like everyone has a secret.

Riley has inspired me to want to go on some mini adventures—too bad my town doesn’t have the same kind of opportunities as readily available as fictionalized New York. Nevertheless, I think it’s important to go out and do fun things with other people because you want to figure out who you are—no matter your age. The characters, their adventures, and little mysteries along the way are written in a dynamic way that made the book itself feel like it had personality. I enjoyed my time spent reading it.

Riley and Tom are depicted as white on the cover. Mariella is Puerto Rican. Jesse is part of the LGBTQIA community. The mature content rating is for underage drinking, innuendo, and for mentions of drugs, illegal activity, and sex.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane - HIGH

Alma Presses Play by Tina Cane, 319 pages. POETRY.  Make Me A World (Random House), 2021. $18.

Language: R (21 swears, 3 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG



Typical school days, typical time at home, and typical hang outs with her friends are starting to get complicated. Alma (13yo) doesn’t know what to do with new feelings for a boy or what to do about her parents arguing or how to stop her friend from moving away. She makes lists, listens to music, and writes letters that will never be responded to as she tries to make everything simple again.

The entire book is written in poems, and I was struck by how much you can learn about a person with only snippets of their thoughts and of the major events going on in their lives. Alma’s struggles and disjointed thoughts are relatable as she deals with loss and confusion—loss of different kinds of relationships and confusion regarding several different topics. Beauty is in how her thoughts on the different topics start to overlap. Some endings are final, but others allow for the opportunity of a new beginning.

The characters are a wide variety of ethnicities. Josh is part of the LGBTQIA community. The mature content rating is for mentions of alcohol, drug use, innuendo, partial nudity, and mentions of condoms, prostitutes, rape, and sex. The violence rating is for mild assault and mentions of guns and death.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, January 15, 2024

Our Divine Mischief by Hanna Howard - ADVISABLE

Our Divine Mischief
by Hanna Howard
384 pages. Blink, 2023. $18 
Language: PG (7 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (bloody death) 



In Fuiscea, 17yo Aila wants to participate in the Goddess Trial. She wants to discover her purpose in life and what her occupation will be, according to the gods. Her trial isn’t normal and she doesn’t meet the goddess on the island. Instead, she meets an enthusiastic dog that becomes her companion. The two of them head back home to face the community leaders who don’t know what to make of the failed trial. The leaders create challenges for Aila and she must participate in the rest of the trials, together with her dog, and await the verdict of their future. 

A sweet, clean romance read. A cute fantasy full of perseverance and love. I love that the author uses fun words like squidgy and lolloping. Ethnicity is a mix of copper, tanned, white, and black skin 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Library, Delta, Utah

Sunday, January 14, 2024

A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft - NO

A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft, 384 pages. Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press), 2024. $20.

Language: R (26 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG



Due to her hard-earned reputation, Niamh (18yo) has been hired by the palace to make clothes for Prince Christopher leading up to his wedding, which will pay her well enough for her mother and grandmother to retire. But the prince throws a fit upon her arrival, declaring he would rather go to his own wedding naked than to wear anything Niamh makes. Prince or no, Niamh means to win this battle of stubbornness.

With civil unrest hovering under the surface, I was surprised that the politicking was so well integrated in the story that it wasn’t boring. The happy ending was great, of course, but getting there was a chore because I disagreed with so many of Niamh’s decisions along the way. Furthermore, at least one of the obstacles to be overcome was entirely avoidable, and I didn’t like how it was forced into the story. On top of that, the sexual content was unnecessary.

Niamh and Christopher are depicted as fair skinned on the cover, and Rosa is described as having olive skin. Several of the main characters are part of the LGBT community, but naming them would include spoilers, so I will refrain. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, innuendo, nudity, and sex. The violence rating is for mentions of genocide and massacre.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Shinji Takahashi: Into the Heart of the Storm by Julie Kagawa - ESSENTIAL

Shinji Takahashi: Into the Heart of the Storm (Society of Explorers and Adventurers #2) by Julie Kagawa
, 324 pages. Disney/Hyperion, 2023. $17 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (peril, dangerous situations) 



13yo Shinji and Lucy are invited to accompany a group from SEA who are headed to a recently discovered shipwreck. Shinji is still trying to learn how to control his recently acquired Guardian powers, and the longish ship voyage seems the perfect place for him to work with Phoebe, a member of the society who has some powers herself. But when Hightower interferes with the mission, and the group - which has acquired a stowaway, a thief named Roux - finds themselves on an uninhabited island, Shinji and the kids get caught in an active volcano and Shinji releases an angry guardian, a giant Boar Spirit who is looking for revenge. 

This is an exciting series - I love the magical elements and the "Indiana Jones" style explorations with secret pathways and collapsing rooms that chase the kids into more danger. They have intelligent, caring adults with them (although the kids often slip their supervision and get into trouble.) Shinji is Japanese American. 

Lisa Librarian

Friday, January 12, 2024

Queen Bee by Amalie Howard - ADVISABLE

Queen Bee by Amalie Howard, 343 pages. Joy Revolution (Random House), 2023. $19

Language:  G (5 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



Three years ago Lady Ela was a naïve young girl who was betrayed by her jealous best friend and doubly betrayed by family and friends who refused to believe her innocence. Sent to the hinterlands to a remote boarding school, Ela plots revenge and reinvents herself as Miss Lyra Whitley - ready to sweep into the receiving rooms and ballrooms of the ton of London and exact her revenge.

Loved it!  I’m just not sure how strong Regency-style romances are in your libraries. A couple of years ago I had a group of girls who wanted scandalous books and this completely fits the bill.  And bonus - it is a clean read - which seems to be harder and harder to find in YA nowadays. Ela/Lyra shows us the machinations of London society and is a strong character (with a little deux ex machina), who learns real lessons, besides finding love. Ela/Lyra is South Asian, her love interest is described as having dark skin; most of the characters are default white

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Never Coming Home by Kate Williams - HIGH

Never Coming Home by Kate Williams, 304 pages. Delacorte (Random), 2022. $19

Language: R (60+  swears, 20+ ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (body parts mentioned, some drinking); Violence: PG-13 (ten deaths by various means, a couple are described)



10 young social media influencers are the first guests for a remote luxury resort’s grand opening. And then they start dying.

Williams’s take on Agatha Christie’s classic novel is a refreshing remake with a very modern look. I doubt 90% of the teens who read this will have read the source material, so that won’t matter to them at all. The characters are default white.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Rules to Follow by Kim Spencer - OPTIONAL

Rules to Follow
by Kim Spencer,
 176 pages. Orca Book Publishers, 2022. $13

Content: G


Mia and Lara are two 10yo girls growing up in the 1980s who are best friends. They live in Prince Rupert, Canada. Mia often compares her life with her friend Lara's. Mia's family is indigenous to Canada, Lara is Mexican Hungarian. 

Mia feels that she is treated differently because of her Indigenous background. There is no real plot in this book. It is more of a glimpse of the life of these two girls told in vignettes. I enjoyed this book but I think that it is geared toward 6th graders and students in middle school. Younger students may get bored with the lack of plot. Also, Mia's parents drink a lot and the book shows how this affects Mia. Older students may handle that part of the book better. Mia is Indigenous Canadian. Lara is Mexican Hungarian. 

Tracie, Elementary School Librarian

The Little Match Girl Strikes Back by Emma Carroll and Lauren Child - OPTIONAL

The Little Match Girl Strikes Back by Emma Carroll and Lauren Child, 189 pages. Candlewick, 2023. $20. 

Content: G (mentions of real-life conditions and actions from each time period)



Just like the main character in Mr. Dickens's story from the newspaper, Birdie is a match girl in Victorian England.  She and her family barely eke out an existence, even though they work hard all day long. One night, after disaster has followed her all day, Birdie strikes her last three matches and sees wonders - wonders that help her realize that she is going to have to fight for a better life if that is what she wants.

While I appreciate Carroll using The Little Matchgirl story as a framework about life in Victorian England and the power of a strike to create change, the novel feels like only the beginning of what could have been a better story. Includes magical realism. All of the characters are white, and from England.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Drama with Doomsdays by Scott Reintgin - ADVISABLE

The Drama with Doomsdays (Celia Cleary #2) by Scott Reintgin, 351 pages. Aladdin (Simon), 2023. $18

Content: G



Celia has saved Jeffrey’s life but at the cost of her beloved grandmother’s life. As she is coming to grips with her new powers of prophecy, she runs into a whole new level of problem - a doomsday curse.  If she can’t identify the center of the curse, the caster, and the receiver, her entire 8th-grade class could be doomed with bad luck forever. 

Celia is such a fun main character and Reintgen is so good at plotting an interesting story. I love Celia’s faith in her friends and her willingness to listen and learn. While I marked the first book in the series only for elementary school, I am going to start recommending the whole thing for middle school too.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Tell Me My Name by Amy Reed - NO

Tell Me My Name
by Amy Reed
, 336 pages. Dial Books. 2021. $12 

Language: R (58 swears 22 'f'); Mature Content: PG-13 (implied sex, petting, drug use, drug abuse, underage drinking) Violence: R (bloody deaths) 



18yo Fern is bored with her life until she meets famous Ivy and then her world is turned upside down. Ivy and her rich acquaintances have no interest in right and wrong but only in doing what they want, no matter who gets hurt in the process.  Drugs, alcohol, partying, affairs and crazy behavior are what their days are made of. This topsy-turvy story shows shallowness, entitlement, and lack of shame. It bends reality and makes the reader question everything. 

The story is confusing and has some disjointed and choppy writing. The dystopian setting that’s not too far ahead of our time makes it more believable. The characters struggle with themselves and their insecurities, which is relatable, but I didn’t care for them at all, except for Ivy after she explained her past. I was expecting more from this book and ended up disappointed. The ethnicity is mixed. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian

Monday, January 8, 2024

The Ever Storms (Wilderlore #3) by Amanda Foody - ADVISABLE

The Ever Storms (Wilderlore #3) by Amanda Foody, 368 pages. Margaret McElderry (Simon), 2023. $

Content: G (some danger)



Barclay and the other apprentices are headed into the Desert Realm for their Symposium - a series of classes and training to sharpen their magical powers and get them ready to take their licensing exams. They will meet different apprentices of different magical specialties from all over the realms. Besides the classes, there is also a secret prank competition that Barclay is not interested in, but it may involve him despite his protests. But danger also lurks - Keyes is still out there lurking and magical storms are endangering everyone in the realm.

I want to love these books, but I always feel like I am only getting half of the information I need to really understand them. Am I reading too quickly? No, because other fantasy books cruise along and feel complete. Foody keeps trying to do too many things all at once. The action and adventure are the only things holding everything together. Plus Barclay is pretty endearing as a main character.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow - OPTIONAL

Starling House
by Alix E. Harrow
, 320 pages. Tor, 2023. $19 

Language: R (172 swears 63 'f'); Mature Content: PG13 (implied sex, off-page) Violence: PG-13 (self harm for blood sacrifice)



26yo Opal fiercely takes care of Jasper, her teenage brother, and has been his guardian since their mother drowned twelve years ago. Opal is bound and determined to give Jasper a promising future away from Eden, Kentucky. She earns money with part-time jobs until she starts cleaning for Arthur Starling, the owner of Starling House. She knows there’s something off about the house but she doesn’t care. Opal just wants to earn money for Jasper to attend private school and Arthur pays nicely, even though the longer she stays there, the more she sees the strange goings on and can’t seem to pull herself away. 

I love Opal’s tenacity, bravery, and loyalty to her brother. Then I was pulled into the story because of the mystery surrounding Starling House. I like how the author shared the background of the community, characters and Starling House. The ethnicity falls to white Jasper has a brown skin father. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian

Sunday, January 7, 2024

The Bewitching Hour by Ashley Poston - OPTIONAL

The Bewitching Hour by Ashley Poston, 341 pages. Hyperion (Disney), 2023. $19.

Language: R (50+ swears, 3 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (burned at stake described some; pierced skull)



17yo Tara and her family have packed up and moved to Hellbourne, Vermont.  Yeah (not) - new high school! Kids are dying around school - and even though Tara wasn’t there when it started, she has become the scapegoat.  Unfair - all she wants to do is keep her head down and survive. Hellbourne’s problem dates all the back to the town’s first witch-burning and Tara will need a lot of help to stay alive, especially because not only is her magic glitching, but her father has forbidden her to use it. 

As much as I like a good Buffy prequel or retelling, I haven’t seen any interest in my students. Very appealing for Buffy fans, though.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Protecting Her Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen - ADVISABLE

Protecting Her Heart by Nancy Campbell Allen, 288 pages. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2024. $17.

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



Charlotte (26yo) had been studying and working abroad when she received an odd letter from her dying father. Rushing back home to England, Charlotte hoped to understand what he meant, but he died before her arrival, leaving her with a hundred unanswered questions. While her detective friends are willing to help, someone is doing everything they can to make sure she leaves England without the answers.

Action-packed both mystery-solving-wise and romance-wise, Charlotte’s story keeps readers on their toes. Despite long periods of time passing in the story and a few predictable elements, Allen’s writing was still engaging through to the happy ending.  There were several references to the previous books in the series, but reading them was not necessary to enjoy this installment.

Nearly all the characters mentioned are English, with a couple Americans and a Scottish man. The mature content rating is for alcohol use and mild innuendo. The violence rating is for illegal activity, blood and gore, assault, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, January 6, 2024

The Last Rose (Sisters Ever After) by Leah Cypess

The Last Rose (Sisters Ever After) by Leah Cypess, 236 pages. Delacorte (Random), 2023. $18.

Content: G



When Darina is kidnapped by the Beast in the castle in the woods, Mera knows that it is all her fault - the Beast really wants her, because of the secret she has been keeping all this time. When she finds her way to the castle, though, Darina seems to be happy to be there - how can that be?

Cypess adds a werewolf twist to the classic Beauty and the Beast tale this time. Based a bit on the Disney version, but with lots of differences. A young reader retelling, that is high on action and low on holding all of the facts together well (Darina’s protests that she loves the Beast don’t come off as sincere- we just have to take it on faith, for example).

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS