Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Reviewed by Taylor (Library Patron)

Did you know that dragons love tacos? Well, they do! Just make sure that you don’t ever (and I mean, EVER) put anything spicy in their tacos! As long as you don’t put anything spicy in the tacos, you can invite the dragons over for a taco party. Sounds fun, right? Well, maybe not quite as fun as you expected…

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin is a funny picture book about what happens when you invite dragons over for a taco party. Nobody really knows why dragons love tacos so much, but the dragons are always ready to eat and party. The illustrations are colorful, featuring highly expressive dragons of different shapes and sizes. If you love dragons and tacos and are looking for a fun read, pick this one up! And if you like this one, there is also a sequel!

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E RUBIN)

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan

Reviewed by Taylor (Library Patron)

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan is an intriguing, fast-paced, and discovery-filled middle grade novel. It uses the events of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne as a foundation, reimagining them and then exploring their implications over a century later. After an unspeakable tragedy, Ana and the rest of her freshman class are forced to make a run for it across the ocean, all while being stalked by their enemies. Their enemies are after something, and Ana isn’t sure what they want. I really enjoyed the discoveries Ana and her classmates make along the way and found the discussions of alt-tech to be interesting. Some may not enjoy the more technical descriptions, but I didn’t feel like they bogged the story down at all. It only took me a few days to read because I wanted to know what happened.

My only complaint is that it’s hard to imagine a group of high school freshman being capable of such feats. For example, they build two fully functional submarine torpedoes from parts they scavenged off other torpedoes. The students are essentially geniuses who attend a specialized school, but everything in the book still seemed like a lot for them to accomplish, especially since they only had a year or so of training at this point. However, I liked the story enough to suspend my disbelief. It was actually the first novel I’ve managed to finish reading in months. If you like ocean adventure, suspense, and sci-fi, this definitely one to pick up!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC RIORDAN)

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

This picture book is hilarious. Pokko is a mischievous little frog who lives in a mushroom with her parents. Her parents often make poor gift-giving decisions (one time they gave her a llama), and this time, they give Pokko a drum. The shenanigans that ensue made me laugh out loud while reading.

The illustrations are also great. The book uses a soft but vibrant color palette. Sometimes you have to look closely, but Forsythe uses the frog family’s eyes to showcase their feelings. We see surprise, mischief, and more. If you are looking for a creative, funny picture book, pick this one up!

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E FORSYTHE)

The Secret Recipe for Moving On by Karen Bischer

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

It’s the beginning of senior year and Ellie’s boyfriend, Hunter, has just dumped her. To make things even worse, he immediately starts dating someone else—and their relationship may have started before the breakup. Ellie has to watch the two of them be all lovey-dovey during their shared home economics class, and it becomes her goal to beat them in the home ec competition. However, her group consists of Luke, AJ, and Isaiah, people who many in the school would consider social misfits. What follows is a semester of shenanigans, surprises, and mishaps.

I loved this book. Ellie’s journey of figuring out who she is without Hunter was done very well. The characters felt like real people, and the romance is both sweet and believable. Ellie and her love interest have a lot of chemistry. If you are looking for a feel-good YA novel, I highly recommend this one!

Available through the Bridges Library System

The Renunciations by Donika Kelly

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

The Renunciations by Donika Kelly is a powerful book that deals with trauma, heartbreak, and healing. It was a difficult read at times, but the poems in this collection are beautifully written. The poems depict nature and relationships, while also carrying and undercurrent of mythology. The “oracle,” in addition to the speaker and the speaker’s father, is a prominent figure throughout. The poems are divided into different sections: three sections are titled “Now,” one is titled “Then,” one is titled “Then—Now,” and one is titled “After.” This helps a reader move through the collection with a distinct awareness of the timeline.

My favorite poems in the collection include “Dear—” on page 45, “Self-Portrait in Labyrinth” on pages 56-57, “Dear—” on page 76, and “The moon rose over the bay. I had a lot of feelings.” on page 89. I have never read a collection quite like this before. It is a necessary exploration of trauma, and it seems like it may have even been a vessel for the poet herself to start healing. There is pain, struggle, and grief. But the poems are also a story of survival.

A word of caution: Many poems do explicitly discuss the abuse at the hands of the speaker’s father, which could be upsetting for some readers.

Available through the Bridges Library System

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)

One Jar of Magic by Corey Ann Haydu

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

Rose Alice Anders is meant to be just like her father. He is the most magical person in their town of Belling Bright. She is Little Luck and will catch more magic than anyone on New Year’s Day. But then she doesn’t. She only catches one small jar of magic, and her entire world turns upside-down. She loses her friends, her father can’t accept who she is, and she learns that some people are just not meant to catch and use magic.

I liked this story. I’ve never read anything quite like it. As a brief warning, though, this book does deal with parental abuse, which may be upsetting for some readers. (Rose doesn’t recognize or question the abuse right away, so the book’s discussion surrounding it is pretty subtle throughout most of the book.) As a character, Rose was a bit annoying at times, but this is because her father has been drilling certain ideals into her mind from day one, meaning that her character is accurately portrayed. Her brother Lyle is a quiet, steady character and a great support for Rose. I think this story is important for middle grade readers. It’s about learning to accept who you are, regardless of the expectations others have for you.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC HAYDU)

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

Ever dream of winning the lottery? In The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Avery Grambs does just that. However, it’s not the lottery in the traditional sense. Instead, she finds out that a billionaire has just left her with nearly his entire fortune, a billionaire she has no known connection to. What follows is a completely new life for her, filled with paparazzi and the billionaire’s unhappy (and potentially dangerous) relatives. Avery and the billionaire’s four grandsons also discover that he left a web of puzzles behind for them to figure out, puzzles that may reveal why he chose Avery.

I definitely enjoyed the twists and turns in this book, and I wanted even more (good thing there’s a sequel). I thought the characters were interesting. They each had their own distinct personality and reasons for doing things. As Avery began to unravel the family secrets, I was right there with her, eager to learn what she was discovering. My only complaint is how the characters deal with the person who tries to have Avery killed. If you like puzzles, mysteries, and a little of bit of danger and romance, this is a book for you!

Located in Teen Fiction (TEEN FIC BARNES)

Tales from the Hinterland by Melissa Albert

Reviewed by Taylor H (Library Staff)

Tales From the Hinterland by Melissa Albert is a magical, dark, and highly imaginative collection of fairytales. These fairytales were first introduced in Albert’s duology (The Hazel Wood & The Night Country) and are here fully revealed. They are reminiscent of old fairytales—the ones that contain warnings, the ones that are both creepy and fascinating at the same time. Think of fairytales before Disney took them and always promised a happy ending.

I liked Albert’s duology and knew I had to read the full tales. I was not disappointed, enjoying every story. They were all unique and unlike other fairytales I have read. My favorite story has to be “The Sea Cellar”: “At the edge of a great wood, on the shore of an inland sea, is a house where daughters go to die” (p. 145). I was intrigued from that very first line, and, without spoiling anything, I loved the way it ended. In addition to the writing, the book itself is beautiful. The beginning of each story features a red, black, and white illustration. The following pages are decorated with a border that relates to the story. Overall, this book is fantastic. If you like twisted fairytales where even Death himself can’t make things stay dead, this is definitely a book for you!

Available through the Bridges Library System

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

X
X