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Staff Reviews by Julie Kinney

Cover: 'The Invisible War'

"The Invisible War" by Ailsa Wild

★★★★ World War I was a time of great changes when it came to warfare - from mustard gas to the Browning Automatic Rifle, the way the world fought wars had changed. Unfortunately, medical science hadn't caught up with many of these changes. Soldiers suffered from debilitating wounds that often led to a slow, painful death or traumatic amputations. Many soldiers...

Audience: Teens, Tweens | Genre: Graphic Novel, Nonfiction

Cover: 'Norroway'

"Norroway" by Kit and Cat Seaton

★★★★★ Once upon a time, a mother with three daughters decided it was time for them to marry. "Look out the back door and the first thing you see is your destiny." The first daughter sees a wealthy farmer.  The second daughters sees a fine prince.  The third daughter sees a large black bull.  So begins the fairy tale, "The Black Bull of Norroway...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Cover: 'Oh My Goth'

"Oh My Goth" by Gena Showalter

★★★★ Ever since Jade Leighton's mother died in a car crash, she's been working hard on shutting down and blocking people out, convinced that making connections with people would only cause her more pain.  Feeling like an outside, Jade dresses as a goth, with plenty of black, and has made "friends" with other outsider goth students at her school....

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Slice Of Life

Cover: 'Pandemic'

"Pandemic" by Connie Goldsmith

★★★★★ I love a good book about pandemics. For whatever reason, they fascinate me. Learning the reasons behind the Black Death or Ebola can be an adventure story and "Pandemic" covers everything you need to know.  This book was very readable, with great pictures of viruses, bacteria and  insects, as well as interesting side notes that help clarify...

Audience: Children, Teens | Genre: Nonfiction, Epidemics, Health

Cover: 'The Price Guide to the Occult'

"The Price Guide to the Occult" by Leslye Walton

★★★★★ Rona Blackburn's daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters have lived on Anathema Island for many years. Rona's powerful witchcraft has been passed down to each daughter, yet each one only inherits one of Rona's mysterious powers. Nor Blackburn wants to live a quiet unremarkable life, so when she's gifted with the ability to hear the plants,...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Witchcraft

Cover: 'The Ravenous'

"The Ravenous" by Amy Lukavics

★★★★★ To outsiders, the Cane girls are a lovely group of five sisters.  Transferring from base to base, following their itinerant father, who is often gone, the girls stick together no matter what.  So what if their home life is chaotic and dysfunctional.  As long as everything looks ok, it will be.  Juliet is the oldest, a pianist who gave up...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Realistic, Family Drama, Horror

Cover: 'We Sold Our Souls'

"We Sold Our Souls" by Grady Hendrix

★★★★★ Kris bought her first electric guitar with her savings, never imaging that she would eventually become the guitarist for a semi-famous heavy metal band.  But on the eve of their big break, the lead singer, Terry, did something more horrible than selling out, and while he went on to achieve fame and glory, the rest of the band disappeared into...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Adult, Horror, Heavy Metal

Cover: 'Sadie'

"Sadie" by Courtney Summers

★★★★★ Sadie is alone in the world.  Her sister was murdered and her mother has abandoned them.  With nothing to lose, Sadie sets out to find the person she believes is responsible for her sister's death.  Told from two perspectives, Sadie's own and from the perspective of a podcast producer/narrator, this novel is an intricate puzzle.  The...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Realistic

Cover: 'Fat Angie'

"Fat Angie" by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

★★★★ Angie has issues:  her parents'' divorce, her annoying older brother, her missing presumed dead sister, the bullies at school, her weight.  Angie''s life changes  when KC arrives at school.  KC is everything Angie''s not, but that doesn't stop them from becoming friends.  As their friendship blossoms into a romance, Angie must...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Witch Boy'

"The Witch Boy" by Molly Knox Ostertag

★★★★★ Aster wants to learn how to be a witch, but the men in his family are supposed to be shapeshifters and warriors. Aster doesn't care about those things; he just wants to learn witchcraft with the girls. He spies on them, jotting down notes and teaching himself spells. His mother warns him that what happened to his great uncle could happen to him, that his...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Identity

Cover: 'The Changeling: A novel'

"The Changeling: A novel" by Victor La Valle

★★★★★ One night, Apollo Kagwa's wife, Emma, chains him to a chair, kills their infant son and disappears.  Was it postpartum depression or something much worse?  He sets out to discover whether his wife is still alive and what exactly happened to his son.  Apollo has some baggage of his own that he has to grapple with along the way,...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Fiction

Cover: 'Oddity'

"Oddity" by Sarah Cannon

★★★★★ Any book that starts out with fifth graders defending themselves against leopards (again) during a safety drill promises to be fun.  Oddity is a small town that's...well...odd.  Except to Ada Roundtree and her friends and family who have spent their whole lives there.  When Ada's sister Pearl disappears after "winning" the town sweepstakes,...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'Spill Zone'

"Spill Zone" by Scott Westerfeld

★★★★★ In the early 70’s the Soviet science fiction authors, Arkady and Boris Sturgatsky, wrote ”Roadside Picnic” about the changes in the environment in places around the world after what is assumed to be an alien visitation. They wrote about a changed world, where artifacts from these locations displayed unusual and bizarre properties and effects, and the ways...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction

Cover: 'Slade House'

"Slade House" by David Mitchell

★★★★ David Mitchell is well known for his intricate plotlines and storytelling, especially in novels like “The Bone Clocks” and “Cloud Atlas.”  In “Slade House,” Mitchell brings his brand of storytelling to the haunted house genre.  Opening in 1979, the novel tells the linked story of mysterious disappearances that happen in an alleyway.  Every...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Literary, Haunted House

Cover: 'The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy'

"The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy" by Peggy Caravatnes

★★★★★ Most people recognize Josephine Baker as that dancer in the banana skirt.  But Josephine Baker was a far more complex character than can be summarized in one sentence.  Starting life in the poorest slums of East St. Louis, Baker went on to gain international fame dancing and singing on stage and eventually on screen.  An extravagant dresser...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Biography And Memoir, Nonfiction

Cover: 'Strong Female Protagonist'

"Strong Female Protagonist" by Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag

★★★★★ I don't always cry while reading books.  Mostly my sniffles are reserved for a good romance, but the graphic novel "Strong Female Protagonist" got me sniffling. "Strong Female Protagonist" tells the story of Alison Green, AKA Mega Girl, a former superhero turned college student.  After Alison is confronted by the damaging results of her...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Superheroes

Cover: 'The Daylight Gate'

"The Daylight Gate" by Jeanette Winterson

★★★★★ It's the best time of year for a suspenseful, spooky story and Jeanette Winterson has just the book for you! "The Daylight Gate" is a fictionalized account of the Trial of the Pendle Witches. In short chapters, Winterson relates the story of Alice Nutter, former student of the great alchemist John Dee and wealthy widow, who is accused of witchcraft, along...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Cover: 'After the Woods'

"After the Woods" by Kim Savage

★★★★ Almost a year ago, Julia and Liv went for a run in the woods. Seeing her friend attacked launched Julia into action, attacking the man and allowing Liv to get away. Julia ended up spending two mysterious days with this man. The novel opens almost a year later, with Julia struggling to remember what happened, how she got away and learning to deal with the...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly'

"The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly" by Stephanie Oakes

★★★★★ When the reader first meets Minnow Bly, she is being arrested for beating a homeless man. From that moment on, we are swept into the world of Minnow Bly. When Minnow was young, her family joined a the Cult of Kevin. Being a Kevinian meant believing the stories that the Prophet told about God and the outside world, including the fact that the those on the...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Award-Winning, Morris Award Winner, Realistic

Cover: 'Forgotten Bones:  Uncovering a Slave Cemetery'

"Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery" by Lois Miner Huey

★★★★★ I'm always curious about the past and how important it is recognize the impact the past has on the present. This book, "Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery" really piqued my curiosity. I enjoy reading about how these relics from the past are discovered and analyzed. In this case, the cemetery is located near Albany, NY, and discovered during an...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Nonfiction

Cover: 'Black Earth:  The Holocaust as History and Warning'

"Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" by Timothy Snyder

★★★★★ Timothy Snyder's book "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning" attempts to place Hitler and Nazi Germany within a political and cultural context. Starting with Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and tracing how Hitler's opinions expressed there found fruition in the Nazi state, Snyder explains how Hitler's negative views of Jews became one of the main thrusts...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Nonfiction, History

Cover: 'The Imaginary'

"The Imaginary" by A. F. Harrold, Emily Gravett

★★★★★ A.F. Harrold's book "The Imaginary" opens with Christina Rossetti's poem, "Remember," an eloquent plea for the speaker's beloved to remember her after she has died. While readers might be baffled by the author's choice of this poem, those readers who chose to return to the poem after the book ends, will understand exactly what Rosetti and Harrold meant...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction

Cover: 'V is for Villain'

"V is for Villain" by Peter Moore

★★★★★ Brad Baron has a lot to live up to: a father who was a superhero, a brother currently on one of the most popular superhero teams and a genius mother. Enrolled at an elite school for children of superheros, Brad is a disappointment. With the exception of his genius level intelligence, he has nothing else super to recommend him: no super strength, no super...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Diverse

Cover: 'Kingdom of Little Wounds'

"Kingdom of Little Wounds" by Susann Cokal

★★★★★ Susan Cokal's "Kingdom of Little Wounds" is not for the faint of heart. Some reviewers have proclaimed that this is not a book for teens, in spite of its Printz Award. The book charts the course of the imaginary Scandinavian kingdom of Skyggehaven beginning with the oldest living daughter's wedding to seal a treaty. At the wedding feast, the queen rips the...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Award-Winning, Printz Award Winner, YA Fiction With Adult Appeal

Cover: 'Injustice: Gods Among Us #1'

"Injustice: Gods Among Us #1" by Tom Taylor, Jheremy Raapack, Mike S. Miller, Tom Derenick, David Yardin

★★★★ "Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 1" is the first in a mulitvolume exploration of the five years before the video game of the same name. In this opening volume, the Joker sets off an atomic bomb that destroys Metropolis and at the same time tricks Superman into killing the pregnant Lois Lane. After killing the Joker during Batman's interrogation, Superman...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Superheroes

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