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)

The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

The Circus of Stolen Dreams by Lorelei Savaryn was a quick, atmospheric read. Andrea’s brother disappeared three years ago, and she wishes she could just forget about it all. When she discovers Reverie, a magical circus in the woods, she thinks she’s found what she’s looking for. In the circus, children can experience all the dreams and fun they could ever want. However, Reverie turns out to be much more sinister than it initially appears.

I enjoyed this book. The concept was interesting and well-executed. The writing flowed nicely, and the characters learn to grapple with difficult things. I thought I would be able to predict the ending, but the it was better than what I had imagined. I also really enjoyed reading about the different dreams the children experience within the various circus tents. I would definitely recommend this book for middle-grade readers who like fantasy stories, family stories, and a mysterious circus atmosphere.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Kinder Poison by Natalie Mae

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

Something about this book fell a little flat for me, which was a bummer because I really wanted to love it. It was interesting and I wanted to know what would happen, but I wasn’t all that attached to the main characters. I actually was more interested in Marcus, Melia, and Maia—some of the various side characters. I also liked the setting and the magic system on which the world operates. I was intrigued by the book’s premise. However, the story as a whole felt underdeveloped. Many of the character relationships felt rushed and a little unrealistic (it is a fantasy novel, but I still expect the relationships to make sense). The big reveal surrounding one of the royal siblings was creative and interesting, but I didn’t feel like there was enough of a foundation established for that reveal to feel organic. There is supposed to be a sequel, so maybe this book was more about setting the stage for the main event. I will probably pick up the next book to see how everything comes to and end, but it won’t be high on my list of reading priorities.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC MAE)

A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer

Reviewed by Manasi K (Library Patron)

This book is truly magic. With twists and turns that are unpredictable. The main character is Brystal Evergreen. Her life started out as just a girl in a lonely village with no comfort. But as the years passed she and her friends made a big impression on the Northern, she discovered a big secret about Mrs.Weatherberry, and then she was entitled the name of the Fairy
Godmother. Also, she spoke to the Government about the unfair laws about what women can do and what they can’t. Brystal and her friends were just children who were abandoned by their parents but without that cruel act, her greatest achievements could not have been done. Brystal is Solicitous, Brave, and Assertive. She lets nothing get in her way even if she is hurt. Brystal is proud of herself yet has compassion towards others. This story is magnificent and if you like this book you will surely like others of Chris Colfers series. The genre of this book is fiction and has a bit of magic. I rate this book a 10/10 because it has a plot and the feeling you get reading the book is unique.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun by Guillermo del Toro & Cornelia Funke

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Much, much more than a novelization, Cornelia Funke’s illustrated adaptation of Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 award-winning Spanish film is spellbinding.

Set in 1940s war-torn Spain, this dark fairy tale introduces us to a young girl named Ofelia who is working on completing dangerous tasks in the forest to prove to a wily faun that she is the long-lost princess of an underground kingdom.

As a lover of the film, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I’ve been a Cornelia Funke fan since The Thief Lord (a magical Venetian adventure) and I was drawn like a magnet to this collaboration.

Slightly over-sized for a novel, with atmospheric ornamentation in the margins and stunning black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout, the book itself feels as magical as the text.
It shocks me to say this, but I think I actually love the book more than the movie! The film gets a little too gory for me at times and reading those scenes makes it easier for me to picture as much or as little of the disturbing imagery as I can handle.

Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, I recommend this book to anyone who relishes excellent storytelling and the bloodier side of fairy tales.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC TORO)

The Last Gargoyle by Paul Durham

Reviewed by Amanda K (Library Staff)

Penhallow is a gargoyle living in Boston who defends those who live in his area. When two other gargoyles are attacked, he begins to wonder if something more sinister is happening. With the help of a strange girl name Viola, he investigates who is behind these vicious attacks.

This book would be great for an older middle school child who like fantasy and horror mixed together. This is the first book in the series. It will be interesting to see where this series goes from here.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC DURHAM)

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

“Perhaps you think you’ve heard it all from the “Young Adult fantasy fiction” genre. Between the Twilight, Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.

You would be wrong.

Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel has been tearing up the literary world both for it’s brilliance as well as for the bidding war that it caused when released (a movie adaptation is already in the works, naturally).

Zelie Adebola is our heroine from the fantasy world of Orisha, where magic, once practiced and loved by its people, is now forbidden thanks to the evil King Saran. Zelie, along with her brother Tzain and a few friends and enemies along the way, venture from her homeland on a quest to bring back magic. The simple premise is anything but: issues of class, race, and systemic violence are all discussed and played out, sometimes to horrible effect.

Adeyemi is a young author and I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t show. She repeats herself a fair amount (i.e. the characters all have the same favorite curse words that are used ad nauseam) but I am really nitpicking here. Her writing was everything I want in a novel: I was racing to the finish to find out what happens while simultaneously dreading the inevitable wait for the sequel. A stunner.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC ADEYEMI)

If you liked Ready Player One by Ernest Cline…

…then try one of these other books!

Feed / M.T. Anderson

In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble.


Ender’s Game / Orson Scott Card

Six-year-old Ender Wiggin and his fellow students at Battle School are being tested and trained to determine whether they possess the abilities to remake the world — if the world survives an all-out war with an alien enemy.


Little Brother / Cory Doctorow

Computer hacker Marcus spends most of his time outwitting school surveillance, until the day that San Francisco is bombed by terrorists — and he and his friends are arrested and brutally interrogated for days. When they release Marcus, the authorities threaten to come for him again if he breathes a word about his ordeal; meanwhile, America has become a police state where everyone is suspect. For Marcus, the only option left is to take down the power-crazed Department of Homeland Security with an underground online revolution.

Neuromancer / William Gibson

The Matrix unfolds like neon origami beneath clusters and constellations of data. Constructs, AIs, live here. Somewhere, concealed by ice, Neuromancer is evolving. As entropy goes into reverse, Molly’s surgical implants broadcast trouble from the ferro-concrete geodesic of the Sprawl. Maelcum, Rastafarian in space, is her best hope of rescue. But she and Case, computer cowboy, are busy stealing data from the almighty Megacorps. If the Megacorps do not get them both, perhaps Case will fall prey to the cheap treachery of Linda Lee, someone as lost as himself.

Arena / Holly Jennings

A first woman captain of a team of gaming warriors participating in the world’s most elite competition discovers that the real and virtual worlds of the Virtual Gaming League are built around dangerous secrets


Insignia / S.J. Kincaid

Tom, a fourteen-year-old genius at virtual reality games, is recruited by the United States Military to begin training at the Pentagon Spire as a Combatant in World War III, controlling the mechanized drones that do the actual fighting off-planet.


The Impossible Fortress / Jason Rekulak

A 14-year-old boy pretends to seduce a girl to steal a copy of Playboy before discovering that she is his computer-loving soul mate against a backdrop of late-1980s teen pop-culture trends.


Daemon / Daniel Suarez

In a near-future run by thousands of autonomous computer programs, a dormant program activates after a legendary game designer’s premature death and launches a sinister effort to dismantle society and enforce a new world order.


Artemis / Andy Weir

Jazz Bashara grew up in Artemis , the only city on the moon. She’s a young, misanthropic, underachieving genius who side-hustles as a smuggler. One day, she takes on a job that proves too dangerous and finds herself wrapped up in murder and an interplanetary struggle for control over a new technology worth billions.

Press Start to Play / Daniel H. Wilson

Collects twenty-six short fiction stories that explore what video games can be from authors that include Holly Black, Chris Kluwe, and T.C. Boyle.