The Looking Glass by Janet McNally

Reviewed by Avery H (Library Patron)

I really enjoyed this story of falling in love, experiencing heartbreak at the ends of tragedy, all the while being on a quest to search for answers. In this novel, Sylvie, a ballerina, sets out to find her older sister, Julia, who left a year ago leaving no clues or any traces of where she’s gone behind. When Sylvie receives a package in the mail from her, everything changes. The book follows her on a journey that ends up changing her forever. I think this story is beautifully written with it’s touches of magic here and there and the way it goes deep into Sylvie’s past to show how she develops as a character. I would categorize this novel as fantasy/fiction. Anyone who loves a good mystery with touches of romance and fantasy, this one’s for you.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC MCNALLY)

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Reviewed by Anonymous (Library Patron)

The first book in the Truly Devious trilogy by Maureen Johnson is a unique mystery filled with unsolved crimes and new dramas. It takes place at Ellingham Academy, a school started by the great for the great. Stevie Bell, a new student there, has a fairly normal experience until a project goes wrong. I enjoyed the book because it was able to hook me in and I want to read the rest of the trilogy. The main character, Stevie, loves true crime and it’s the reason she is at the academy, this makes her character very relatable and seem like an ordinary person who got to experience her dreams of being a detective. I love mystery stories and I would recommend this series to people who like to be the detective as they read.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC JOHNSON)

Snails & Monkey Tails by Michael Arndt

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Snails & Monkey Tails is a lively masterpiece of graphic design but I don’t think you need to be a design or language nerd like me to enjoy it. In clever layouts presented in bold red, black and white, Michael Arndt offers up history and fun facts for punctuation and symbols that we overlook every day. In some ways the topic is pretty niche (I noticed I didn’t have a whole lot of competition on the hold list for this brand new book) but in other ways it is so universal–everyone uses punctuation but most are not privy to how the symbols evolved into our current use of them. The downside to reading this book is that I am now quite disappointed in our culture for referring to “@” as the “at symbol” when we could be calling it a monkey’s tail (German), a little mouse (Taiwanese) or a cinnamon bun (Swedish).

Available through the Bridges Library System

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Reviewed by Holly (Library Staff)

This novel was extremely depressing. The plot revolves around a so-called “old” man (57 yrs. old) who appears to have given up on life when his beloved wife died. The book chronicles his journey through the last portion of his life and how he only wants to be with her in heaven. He seems obsessed with the idea of ending his life. His attempts to end his life are always interrupted by someone and/or something that Ove views as nothing more than an interruption. As this becomes a chronic pattern, readers realize Ove has several people who care about him and who he cares about. It is not until late in the story that Ove realizes this obvious fact himself. Perhaps he realized it sooner, but he may have believed the people in his life liked him because he was a grouchy old man. Hard to tell. Anyway prepare yourself for a read that will have you thinking about life and the choices we make.

P.S. As a former, loyal, repeat Saab owner I understood the MANY Saab references, but the average reader would most likely get sick of the word Saab (except perhaps the last time it was used)

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC BACKMAN)

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’ve always enjoyed Harlan Coben’s standalone novels, but for whatever reason I was always hesitant to read his Myron Bolitar series. After multiple people told me I had to read them, I decided to take the leap and try the first one, and I am so glad that I did.

Myron Bolitar is a sports agent, and while he can be hotheaded, he is also compassionate. In Deal Breaker, Myron’s client, Christian Steele, is entangled in the disappearance and suspected death of his ex-girlfriend. Myron attempts to find out the truth of what happened and who is responsible while dodging the underbelly of the crime and sports world.

Clearly I should have read this series sooner because I’ve already finished the second one, and I’m about to start on the third! So if you are looking for a new series that has some mystery, action, sports, and memorable characters, try the Myron Bolitar series.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Thirty Talks Weird Love by Alessandra Narvaez Varela

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Academically-driven Anamaria is an awkward, earnest 13-year-old with homework and friend drama, supportive parents, and all the truths she thinks she knows about her life and the world. When a woman shows up claiming to be her 30-year-old self, Anamaria does not welcome the woman’s cryptic advice from the future, especially her advice to “just love you.”

Everything about the 1990s Mexico setting and vibrant characters came to life in the author’s rich verse, but the conversations between Anamaria and Thirty were my favorite part. They had such an interesting dynamic and it made me think about having conversations with my past or future selves. I’m happy to report that I found the unique premise to be deftly executed in this novel in verse.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC NARVAEZ-VARELA)

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Reviewed by Katy Zignego (Library Staff)

Booth, as the title would suggest, is a fictionalized biography of not just presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth, but his entire family as well. (And they were a particularly interesting family!) I think it was the author’s intent to show John Wilkes within his family milieu to both humanize him and suggest how he came to be an Angry White Man With a Gun. I don’t think the author entirely succeeds in this aim, and as a result the novel stumbles where it might have soared.

If you are not up on the nineteenth-century theater, you probably don’t know that John was merely the least of the Booth family members performing upon the stage. His father, Junius Booth, was considered the greatest tragedian of his time, and his brothers Junius Jr. and Edwin were well-regarded actors in their own rights. Even his brother-in-law, Sleeper Clarke, a comedian, was better known than John. Sisters Rosalie and Asia and a largely absent brother, Joe, round out the six Booth siblings who survived to adulthood.

Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different sibling, which gives the narrative a strange and halting gait. The sisters are by far the most compelling narrators, especially Rosalie, an invalid who hears the ghosts of her dead siblings and tipples gin in her tea. I would have like to see the entire book written from Rosalie’s point of view. The author also inexplicably chose to preface each chapter with a quotation and a short vignette from the life of Abraham Lincoln–John Wilkes Booth’s fated victim. This breaks up the cadence even more, with no benefit to the novel that I can discern.

The author has obviously done extensive research on the Booth family, and the descriptions of daily life are beautifully drawn and highly realistic. I think she might have had better luck writing a nonfiction biography of the Booth family, or else a less ambitious novel focusing on a single sibling (Rosalie is my pick, but Asia Booth Clarke would be good too).

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC FOWLER)

We Never Learn Vol. 1 by Taishi Tsutsui

Reviewed by Jess H (Library Staff)

In order to secure a full-ride to the college of his choice, Nariyuki Yuiga must tutor three of his classmates: Rizu Ogata is an ace with math and science, but can’t grasp humanities, Fumino Furuhashi is a humanities genius but can’t wrap her head around equations, and Uruka Takemoto is a swim star but struggles with academics in general.

We Never Learn is a cute slice-of-life/rom-com manga with some pretty funny gags and likeable characters. I’d recommend this to folks who like Nisekoi and Horimiya.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

A cross between a novel and a picture book, this illustrated 145-page retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses is such a delight. I picked it up after finishing the author’s recent book, Medusa (also lavishly illustrated), looking for more elegant, lyrical writing and I was not disappointed. Burton reimagines my favorite fairy tale with humor and compassion, bringing us strong characters and a fabulous updated ending that literally had me grinning. You won’t regret dancing the night away with this one.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Secrets of Bones by Kylie Logan

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Jazz Ramsey, an administrative assistant at a Catholic Girls School, is passionate about cadaver dog training. She takes a certified dog to the girls’ career day and hides old bones into the unused fourth floor for a demonstration. Everything becomes unraveled when the dog finds a skeleton of a former teacher that supposedly left the school a few years before.

Jazz starts investigating into Bernadette Quinn’s past, and finds more suspects than the detective working the case. Her on again, off again cop boyfriend helps too.

This book was very predictable and I knew how it would turn out way before the end of the book. The storyline veered into many uninteresting directions . The bestselling author may have a devoted following, but the book just wasn’t for me.

I’ll give it one star – something to read on a rainy night, but I’m not clamoring for more.

Available through the Bridges Library System