Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by Alison Weir

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’ve always had a fascination with Henry VIII and his six wives, and I’ve been interested in this series by Alison Weir, where she writes about one wife in each book. But the books are long, so I’ve never picked them up before. When I saw the first audiobook available on Hoopla, I knew I had to dive in and start listening!

The first book follows Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, from when she first arrives in England at age 16, to her first wedding with Arthur, and finishes with her tumultuous marriage to Henry. I knew a some of her life story, but through this book I learned a lot more and I enjoyed getting to know Katherine (even though she frustrated me with her decisions at times). If you like Philippa Gregory, or other historical fiction novels about real people, I would highly recommend starting this series!

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC WEIR)

Suburban Dicks by Fabian Nicieza

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

Fabian Nicieza’s debut novel alternates between the perspectives of Kenny Lee, a washed up reporter and Andrea Stern, a retired FBI profiler who is pregnant with her fifth child. Andrea’s tired. She’s the size of a house and desperately missing the career that gave her life purpose when she waddles into the center of a crime scene. With a wildly perceptive eye, Andrea makes astute connections which hint at a crime long buried and with Lee’s help stirring up the media, the unlikely pair seek long overdue justice.

I enjoyed the quick pace and the rawness of both the main characters. I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up another book by this author and hope he continues to write more.

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC NICIEZA)

Devil’s Candy by Bikkuri

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Devil’s Candy takes place primarily at Hemlock Heart Academy, a high school for demons. The story follows Kazu Decker, a science-loving boy, his friends Nemo and Hitomi, and the girl Kazu created for a biology project, Pandora, as they navigate school, their feelings, and teaching Pandora how to live in society.

This slice-of-life manga has splashes of action and lots of comedy that complement the cutesy art style well. It’s a fun, quick read for teens.

Located in Teen Manga (TEEN MANGA BIKKURI)

Made in Abyss by Akihito Tsukushi

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Made in Abyss follows Riko, a twelve year old girl living in Orth, the city that rests on the rim of a great pit. Her goal is to become a white whistle, a cave raider who traverses the vast depths of the abyss in search of rare and valuable treasures. Currently, she is a red whistle, an apprentice only allowed to explore the first layer of the abyss. On one of her expeditions, she finds a mechanical boy, Reg, who she smuggles home.

This first volume sets up Riko and Reg’s journey into the bewildering and dangerous abyss in search of answers to Riko’s questions about her mother and Reg’s questions about his past and purpose.

The thing that really sets Made in Abyss apart from other manga works is its worldbuilding. The mysteries are set up wonderfully and seeing the creatures and relics of the great pit are enticing enough to keep me reading. That said, some of the art and dialogue are a bit… awkward. There were some questionable choices in terms of representing these minor characters in compromising situations which can be uncomfortable to see/read. As stated on the back of the book: this manga is for older teens and adults due to explicit content.

Located in Teen Manga (TEEN MANGA TSUKUSHI)

Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Have you ever thought that a little lie would help you fix a problem, or make a friend? When eleven year-old Jo meets a basket carrying dog that she dubs Pawcasso, he seems to be the answer to helping her make some friends nearby. The trouble is, the stories she has to keep inventing get bigger and bigger, until they are way beyond her control. In the meantime, the neighborhood gets caught up in a big fight over changing the leash law, and both sides make judgements about the other. Can Jo bring peace to the neighborhood and still keep her new friends?

I like how the author uses thought bubbles help us see what Jo is thinking as she wrestles with when and how to tell the truth, and how it can be tricky to make friends, especially when we are worried about what they will think of us. Pawcasso is an endearing character, and the human characters are all wonderful, too. Kids who like stories about animals, friendships, and easy mysteries might enjoy this book. Bonus: there’s an ice cream recipe that’s suitable for dogs at the end!

Located in Children’s Graphics (J GRAPHIC LAI)

Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

A beautiful, haunting story, Firekeeper’s Daughter is a story you won’t be able to put down. The story follows Daunis, a Native American teenager bound for college when tragedy strikes her family and community. Given the chance to help, Daunis takes the weight of the world on her shoulders when she agrees to help the FBI with an investigation into drug deaths in her community. Touching on topics like racism, homophobia and poverty, Boulley pulls no punches in her writing. The notable weak spot is, unfortunately, the ending, as the frenetic pace of events strains credulity. Still, heart wrenching and harrowing, Daunis’ journey will live with you long after you read the last page.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN BOULLEY)

Call of the Night by Kotoyama

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

Call of the Night is about Nazuna, a vampire woman, and Ko, a human boy. At the beginning of the story, Ko finds himself suffering from insomnia and apathy. He no longer attends school, has no friends, and decides to start going out in the middle of the night. When he meets Nazuna, he decides to become a vampire, since the nightlife is far more exciting than being awake during the day. Unfortunately, in order to be turned by Nazuna, he has to fall in love with her. And just the word “love” makes Nazuna squeamish.

I enjoy the humor of this manga. It isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, but it is enjoyable and a quick read. The art is wonderful and stylish and the characters are likable. I’m definitely looking forward to reading volume two.

This manga is meant for older teens and adults as there is some suggestive content.

Located in Teen Manga (TEEN MANGA KOTOYAMA)

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

In Chattana, all of the light is held and created by one man – the Governor. Pong, who was born in prison, believes that light is the key to freedom and hope. As the story progresses, he comes to realize that first impressions can be deceiving. Similarly, the prison warden’s daughter, Nok, must come face to face with what she believes about the world, and about herself. The setting feels both familiar and otherworldly, and draws the reader in gently.

This book has something for many different kinds of readers. If you like adventure, fantasy, mystery or books about friendship, this might be your next read. There are also themes of justice, hope, self-discovery, and bravery. I highly recommend this 2021 Newbery Honor book!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC SOONTORNVAT)

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Kate (Library Patron)

It took a while for me to realize why this is a thriller, but wow it is. It reads like a contemporary fiction, psychological thriller, social commentary, and mystery simultaneously.

Cole uses uncomfortable truths in history and modern day to create a really uncomfortable, yet thoroughly enjoyable, story. The more I think about this book, the more I like it, and I think it takes a really good author to create a book that does that!

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC COLE)

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland was an intriguing and interesting, but ultimately underwhelming, story. When they were little, the three Hollow sisters (Grey, Vivi, and Iris) disappear without a trace and then reappear a month later with no recollection of what happened. They reappear with strange identical scars and the ability to control others. Grey, the eldest sister, seems to know more about what happened than she lets on, but when she disappears again, Vivi and Iris are in a race against time—and a mysterious man wearing a bull skull—to find her.

The atmosphere was fantastic, the characters were interesting, and the buildup was creepy and exciting. However, I just felt underwhelmed by the story’s big reveal. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I was just expecting more from the finale. Maybe I was expecting it to be more like a twisted fairytale. It’s marketed as a dark fairytale, but the ending felt more zombie-esque than anything else. Overall, I did enjoy the story, but something just fell a bit flat for me.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC SUTHERLAND)