Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The 13th Floor : A Ghost Story by Sid Fleischman

This story takes place with an orphan named Buddy Stebbins who makes his way to an abandoned building. While exploring the place he reaches the 13th floor and then gets transported to a leaky pirate ship in a roaring storm, 300 years in the past. As the ship lands, he washes up in New England where he finds a ten year old ancestor Abigail in witchcraft mania. She’s caught up in a lot of controversy and is about to be hanged to death. There is a new surprise in nearly every page in the book and I love a good ghost story.

This book stood out to me because it involved a lot of ancestry and fantasy. It’s like falling into a deep dream and dreaming 1,000 different dreams. As if you’re being put on another world.

This book is recommended for those who love fantasy books and are interested in time travel. The book is very descriptive with the story and it was interesting to hear about New England 300 years in the past.

Review written by Devon W.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Later by Stephen King

Jamie Conklin can see dead people. Yeah, kinda like that one kid in that one movie, with an interesting difference: ghosts must answer truthfully when questioned by Jamie. Raised by a single mom, Tia, a literary agent, Jamie is warned by his mother from an early age that others may try to take advantage of his secret ability. If only Jamie could also see the future. 

I’ve always enjoyed King’s characters, but I’m particularly fond of the way he writes kids and young adults. It’s as if King remembers what it’s like to be a kid as if it were yesterday, which, and I try not to think about the reality of this, has not been the case for King for a hot minute. With Jamie as our narrator, I found the dialogue engaging and funny. 

A line that caused me to laugh out loud and merit the stares of my fellow MetroLink riders: a character says that if a particular event happens, that character will “eat his hat.” When the event does indeed come to pass, Jamie, in what to me felt like a Shakespearean-style aside, says he wanted to ask the character “…if he wanted salt and pepper on his hat, but…nobody loves a smartass.”

Prepare to feel emotions for characters you likely won’t feel deserve said emotions, but such is the way of complex characters. Even the ghosts are, at least, not flat characters; Later’s ghosts all seem to have a particular emotion unique to themselves…but I won’t delve too far into that; I’ll let you discover that aspect for yourself, Dear Reader, as King frequently refers to his readers. 

If you enjoyed Stephen King’s Colorado Kid or Joyland but wished they were a little more “IT” or “The Shining,” I highly recommend you check this book out sooner rather than…well, you know.

You can find more of Laura's reviews here.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Stamped is a non-fiction book that traces racism through the view of history. There’s many political, literary, and philosophical narratives that have been used to justify slavery, oppression, and genocide. The book goes back to the first racist person and slowly leans into the empowerment we all know about. It dives into religious beliefs within each race, type of racists, and well-known moments of racism. Being a book that talks so much about the one thing we avoid the most, this book is more entertaining and formal to the reader.

Jason Reynolds narrates the story in his own words that hooks a reader’s attention. Not only does he capture the slang that his readers talk and know most about, he’s teaching our racial time lapse in a more comedic manner that interests the reader just enough to want to see what’s next. As if we all hopped in a time machine and took a look at how racial pride has been such an issue over the years and reacted in the present time. 

This book is recommended for anyone who wants to find out more about how this mess all started. 

Review written by Devon W.

Modern Herstory by Blair Imani


Are you looking for something to read for Women's History Month, but aren't sure where to start?  Then check out Modern Herstory, an illustrated history by Blair Imani.

Taking an inclusive approach to recent history, this book celebrates seventy women and nonbinary people who have changed the world we live in for the better.  And though all of their contributions were great, the accomplishments of the people in these pages have too often been overlooked.  So Imani's writing and the bold, beautiful illustrations of Monique Le shine a spotlight on the important stories of people who are changing our world right now- and inspire readers to do the same.

I thought that this was a fun, breezy approach to women's history!  It highlights a few familiar people, but also spotlights the stories of many important, but less well known, figures from all backgrounds.  The biographies are all fast and easy reads accessible for all ages, and the art in this book in particular really shines.  If you're looking for a Women's History read, this is one I would definitely recommend!

Friday, February 5, 2021

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi


Are you looking for some nonfiction to read for Black History Month?  Then you should check out this amazing American history by Ibram X. Kendi.

In this deep history of racism, Kendi takes us through the lives of five major figures from US history to demonstrate how racist ideas have shaped America's past.  From puritan ministers through to modern-day activists, this book shows how people in this country built a nation steeped in racial inequality, how they fought to oppose or maintain that inequality, and how we came to be where we are today.  

This book is a great way to brush up on your history and rethink the stories that we all think we know.  Kendi is a great writer and historian, and the way he uses a few pivotal figures to tell the story of the country makes it all very compelling.  He manages to tell the story of America's history of racism and still come out with a little hope for the future, a feat that I can't help but admire. 

Friday, January 22, 2021

Spoiler Alert by Oliva Dade

Are you a fan of romances, hidden identities, or nerd culture?  Then you should check out Spoiler Alert, the latest romance novel by Olivia Dade!

April Whittier has kept her nerd love of high fantasy hidden from the rest of her high-powered life for years, but no more.  When she posts a photo cosplaying her favorite character, it goes viral - but not everyone supports her plus-size interpretation.  When the star of her favorite show steps in and asks her on a date to silence her critics, it seems like her life has turned into something straight out of fanfiction.  However, heartthrob Marcus Caster-Rupp has his own fandom secrets.  He spends his free time writing fanfiction anonymously, working out his frustrations on how the showrunners treat his character without getting fired.  Halfway through their date he realizes that April is his closest online friend.  He feels a real connection with her, but with his career on the line can April and Marcus stop hiding and find their epic happy ending? 

On top of being a sweet and witty romance, this book is a love letter to fandom culture.  Fans of epic series like Game of Thrones or Harry Potter will recognize and love a lot of the tropes and experiences Dade draws on.  I would definitely recommend this quick, funny, nerdy read!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Slay by Brittney Morris

Are you a fan of video games, or young adult fiction?  Then you need to check out Slay, Brittney Morris's debut novel.

In real life Kiera Johnson might be a quiet honors student but online she rules over SLAY, a massive game built on African beauty and culture.  No one knows that Kiera is the game developer- not her friends, not her family, not even her boyfriend.  She's happy to keep her worlds separate, but that becomes impossible when a murdered teen who played her game turns SLAY into a global controversy.  Now every news channel has an opinion on her work and one player is threatening to sue her over the game.  Can she protect her game and her secret identity without losing everything she's worked for?

This book is so much fun to read!  It's got the gutsy heart that makes any good YA novel great.  Morris also writes really wonderfully about nerd culture- the good, but also the bad that can come along with being Black and a girl in those spaces.  It's the kind of quick read that will suck you in, so it's perfect if you've made a new year's resolution to read more! 

Friday, January 8, 2021

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse


If you are a fan of high fantasy but you're looking for something a little outside the time-honored tropes of the genres, then you definitely need to check out Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse's epic first installment in a new series inspired by pre-Columbian America.

In the holy city Tova, the sun priest and her followers prepare for the celebration of the winter solstice.  A solar eclipse that will coincide with this festival promises to make this year a time of power and rebalancing the world, and forces swarm across the city waiting for a new world to be born.  At the same time a ship sets sail for Tova.  Its captain is a woman who can calm the seas with a song, and her single passenger is a young, blind pilgrim.  This traveler seems harmless, but as he and the eclipse close in on Tova, a dangerous destiny begins to converge as well.

This series has a lot to offer fans of epic fantasy novels, with its prophesies, intersecting character sagas, and innovative systems of magic.  Roanhorse also clearly set out to push at the boundaries of what you'd typically find in this genre.  As an indigenous writer she was very upfront about wanting to set a fantasy novel outside a typical, vaguely-European setting, and the world she created is so much fun to read about.  I liked the feeling of discovering a new place that you get from Black Sun, and each of the three main characters we follow has a story that I loved to bits.  I cannot wait for the sequel, and cannot recommend reading this enough!