The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, illustrations by Sophie Blackall

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

We shall all, in the end, be led to where we belong.

We shall all, in the end, find our way home.

These words are the first words that Beatryce writes in the presence of the brothers of the Chronicles of Sorrowing, but they bring only questions rather than sweet answers. Who is this Beatryce, who came to them sick and alone? Why did she make such easy friends with the goat Answelica, who seems to despise all of the brothers? How did a girl learn to write? (It is, after all, forbidden by the law.) And, what should happen to her next?

Kate DiCamillo has once again given us a beautiful story with surprising twists and turns, wonderful characters, and sparse text that sparks our imagination. If you have enjoyed her other stories, such as The Tale of Despereaux or The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, you are sure to be delighted by this one.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC DICAMILLO)

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)

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)

Darling by K. Ancrum

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Darling turns the classic Peter Pan story into a mind-blowing and fast-paced dark thriller.

New to Chicago, Wendy Darling is enticed out of her bedroom window by the sexy and sinister Peter, who invites her to a warehouse party. What follows is a treacherous adventure through the city where Wendy must navigate the shifting dynamics of a large cast of characters and their relationships to the protective and predatory Peter. Ancrum imposes the familiar elements of the Peter Pan story so thoughtfully and brilliantly into modern times–for example, the Mermaid Lagoon is a drag club and the pirates are the police force taking liberties with their power, helmed by ruthless Detective Hook.

The bright spark of dangerous glamor drew me into the story, but the ever-unexpected and continually rising stakes propelled me through to the end. Absolutely astonishing.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes by Kate DiCamillo

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

One of the joys in life is seeing your child discover the love of reading. My daughter began easy chapter books this year and has been flying through series as she tries to find her reading niche. One of her absolute favorite series she found was about Mercy Watson the pig, by award-winning author Kate DiCamillo. Mercy is the beloved porcine wonder “daughter” of Mr. and Mrs. Watson and certainly gets into shenanigans with some of her colorful neighbors: Baby and Eugenia Lincoln, Leroy Ninker and Francine Poulet. The flowing repetitive text made for easy reading for her and the beautiful illustrations by Chris Van Dusen brought to life each larger-than-life character. This last one in the series is a particular highlight and we didn’t want to see it end. Couldn’t recommend highly enough for the emerging reader in your life!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC DICAMILLO)

Time Travel for Love and Profit by Sarah Lariviere

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

I really wanted to love Time Travel for Love and Profit by Sarah Lariviere. The premise is great: Nephele “Fi” Weather has a terrible freshman year, so she invents a time travel app on her phone to give her a do-over. However, something goes wrong, and so she keeps trying, repeating ninth grade ten times. Overall, I liked the story’s plot, but I was certainly confused throughout. The science behind everything didn’t make sense to me, but science is not my strong point, so I wasn’t too concerned about that. I’m also not sure how the characters come to their big realizations and breakthroughs throughout. I just couldn’t follow the logic at times. (The book also creates science that doesn’t currently exist, so that probably added to the confusion).

Unfortunately, I didn’t really like or understand the main character either, which is probably the main reason this book did not succeed for me. At first, she attempts to redo freshman year to get her best friend back, but when she finally finds new friends, she pushes them away. And sometimes, she is just plain mean to people for no reason. Part of the problem here may be that the book does a massive time jump. In a book about time travel, that would normally be expected, but here we don’t see anything from the majority of Fi’s repeat freshman years. This causes readers to miss out on a huge chunk of her character arc. Because of this, it seems like her entire arc is crammed in the tenth redo, rather than occurring over the span of those ten years. Maybe that’s the case, but I would have thought there would have at least been some gradual change over that time. If you don’t mind massive time jumps and science concepts that are difficult to understand, this is an interesting read. Unfortunately, though, it just wasn’t my favorite.

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Reviewed by Lia (Library Patron)

Henry Montague, also known as Monty, is a young aristocrat in 1700s England. We learn early on that Monty isn’t very pleased with his life, especially hearing the constant disappointment from his father for “mucking around with boys.” He decides to put a little distance between them for a while and take a Grand Tour. Monty is accompanied by his best friend and secret crush Percy, and his little sister Felicity, who he isn’t very fond of. In this book, the three of them face adventure, love, and the occasional enemy.

I think that this is a great read for both teens and adults. It is a relaxing and enjoyable book. It also has fun-loving characters who grow tremendously throughout the book and the action and fighting sequences towards the end of the book are exciting. Something that I commend the author for is tapping on the issues of racism, gender equality, and sexual preference. I think it’s unusual to see these things addressed so directly in the genre of fantasy or historical fiction. I don’t read much historical fiction but this book was really fun to read. Both my sister and I liked it enough that we encouraged my mom to read it and she liked it enough that she read the sequel right away.

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC LEE)

Fable by Adrienne Young

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

Fable by Adrienne Young is a fantastic young adult novel, filled with action, high-seas adventure, and slow-burning romance. After being abandoned by her father on a dangerous island, Fable has to learn to survive among ruthless traders, merchants, and deep-sea divers. Her goal: to make enough money to pay for passage to her father’s headquarters. Along the way, she finds herself trying to fit in with a tiny ship crew, all of whose members are around her age—an odd thing for this world of dangerous deals and violent storms. This was a book I had a hard time putting down. It kept me interested from beginning to end. The side characters were intriguing, and I enjoyed learning every bit of information Fable discovered about them. I also enjoyed watching as the friendships and relationships evolve. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait to read its sequel!

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC YOUNG)

The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

The Sisters of Straygarden Place by Hayley Chewins is a strange little book filled with magic, mystery, and sisterhood. After their parents left seven years ago, Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine live alone in a house that takes care of all their needs. It feeds them, clothes them, and even cleans up after them. As long as they do not venture into the tall, silver grass that surrounds the house, everything will stay as it is and the house will continue to take care of them. However, one of them breaks this rule and gets sick with an illness that seems to have no cure.

I read a YA book a while back about a magical house and liked it, so I figured I’d like this one too. I was right. The story is mysterious, intriguing, and a bit strange—all things I love in a book. At times I felt things were a bit underdeveloped, but the book is meant for a younger audience and moved along at a fast pace, so it didn’t really bother me. The big reveal was interesting, even if it wasn’t entirely how I wanted the story to go (and I’m honestly not sure exactly how I was hoping it would go). The ending was sweet and tied everything up nicely. Overall, I enjoyed the story a lot, and I’d recommend this book for middle-grade readers who love magic and stories about family bonds. It is a great, fast-paced read that is sure to leave readers turning page after page.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC CHEWINS)

The Echo Park Castaways by M.G. Hennessey

Reviewed by Jane Oliver-Purton (Library Staff)

The simple description is: Three foster siblings band together to help their newest brother. But it’s never that simple. Nevaeh (who’s black), Vic (who’s Salvadoran), and Mara (who’s Latinx) know the ropes of the foster-care system, and they’re in a pretty great situation with their current foster mom, Mrs. K. But their newest arrival, Quentin (who’s white), doesn’t know that, and with his Asperger’s, he finds his new family overwhelming. All he wants is to track down his mother, who is fighting cancer. Vic, who identifies as a kid secret agent, decides the way to help Quentin is to take him on a quest to find his mom in the hospital (a few towns away), and he’s the person for the job. What he doesn’t count on is little Mara tagging along and Nevaeh taking it upon herself as the oldest to bring them all home. The narration alternates among three of the four kids (Mara only speaks Spanish, and doesn’t get to tell her side of the story). Each child has a specific role in the group, and they each contribute to what makes them…a family.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC HENNESSEY)

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