Staff Book Reviews

At Night All Blood Is Black: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Cristy
Posted: April 13, 2021

In this powerful supernatural novel, a Senegalese soldier in World War I, tormented by the brutal death of his closest friend, enacts a vicious revenge with terrifying consequences. Mocschovakis's translation was just longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, one of translation's biggest honors, and the way she reconstructs and recreates Diop's masterful prose is simply awe-inspiring.  

Time After Time: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Stacey
Posted: April 13, 2021

This highly improbable love story completely swept me up.  Joe works at Grand Central Station.  Nora was killed in a train accident there.  Under the right circumstances, she returns, again and again, and she and Joe fall in love and make a life for themselves, figuring out along the way which circumstances “let” Nora stay, and which cause her to disappear.  Being a native New Yorker, I loved the vivid descriptions of Grand Central, as well as the historical details. - Stacey

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Paradise: One Town's Struggle to Survive an American Wildfire Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: April 5, 2021

A gripping, edge of your seat read. Fire is so deadly, even on a small scale. But, on a large scale, it's downright terrifying. Here, the author has done a fantastic job of reporting the fire that devastated Paradise, California and described in detail, the terror and anxiety that the residents had trying to escape to safety. This is narrative fiction at its best. If you enjoy Patrick Radden Keefe's reporting, this is the book for you.

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The Bombay Prince (A Perveen Mistry Novel #3) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: April 5, 2021

Perveen Mistry is back and this book doesn’t disappoint. The tension, overall, is higher as students demonstrate and protest the English Prince’s visit to Bombay and England’s colonization of India itself. Perveen is so cognizant of her role as the first woman solicitor and her responsibilities. She counsels a student who is later found dead via murder. And as she navigates the legal system, the Royal visit and her family, she investigates the case. There is so much to like about these mysteries including the subtle class issues within Indian society and her soon to be forbidden romance with an Englishman from book 2. But most of all, society limits Perveen and as she pushes the boundaries, she is always aware as to how vulnerable she is. I can’t wait for the next installment.

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Afterparties: Stories Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: April 5, 2021

The Khmer Rouge’s slaughter of its citizens didn’t happen too long ago. Here, in this collection of stories are how the survivors are starting over in the United States and how their kids are coping and adapting to the generational trauma as well as a country that stereotypes Asians as a model minority. The Cambo ‘kids’ deal with complex issues of race, class and sexuality while also trying to understand the older generation. And despite these serious topics, there is more then a hint of humor in the telling. These stories are brilliant and also feel so personal. There is also more then a hint of poignancy since the author has since died.

The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: April 2, 2021

Wow, be prepared to stay up late and wake up early to read this gripping fantasy. The bone shard magic is both cool and creepy and the plot surprised me (in a good way) a few times. Lin, the daughter of the Emperor, seeks to regain her memory as well as her rightful place as her father's heir. She competes with her foster brother for the emperor's grace as he tries to keep together the fraying kingdom. The other POVs are from the perspectives of a smuggler (who has a great companion) as well as people part of the resistance. Perfect for readers who enjoyed Fonda Lee's Jade City and V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy.

Black Heroes of the Wild West: Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons: A Toon Graphic Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: March 30, 2021

Fun non fiction graphic novel about heroes of the American West. Contrary to the media, not all pioneers and cowboys were white. Many are Native Americans, Black (often formerly enslaved) and Mexican. Here, three people that had been erased, get their stories told, including Bass Reeves, who the Lone Ranger was based on. A mixture of graphic art as well as historical pieces, this is will delight any kid who loves Westerns.

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: March 29, 2021

This collection of essays form a rough memoir about the author and about the intergenerational harm and genocide that colonists perpetuated on to the Native people of Canada. While this is a Canadian author, the harms translate directly on to Americans as well. The author is so honest about what it's like, growing up in extreme poverty, floating between two worlds, yet not really fitting in either. With her white, mentally ill mother and her Haudenosaunee father who is the product of his people, the family moved often and was cognizant about avoiding social services, that have broken up so many Native families. Elliott brings up racial injustices, cultural genocide and forced separation in a way that is personal yet shows long lasting repercussions for her people. This collection of essays in nothing short of brilliant yet conveyed in a way that is understandable and approachable. In short, this is a must read.

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My Shanghai: Recipes and Stories from a City on the Water Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: March 29, 2021

Shanghai is one of the most glamourous cities in the world with some of the most delicious food. This cookbook will transport you to this magical city and its people and cuisine. The pictures are stunning and the recipes approachable. Local doctor Betty Liu, draws upon her family's recipes and traditions as well as the significance of cooking seasonally. You'll be amazed that ingredients, found in your house, put together in a different way, will draw out new flavors. These recipes will please all palates.

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The Chosen and the Beautiful Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: March 28, 2021

A lush and luminous retelling of the Great Gatsby that will take your breath away. It's the Gatsby that  I never knew that I was missing until I read this. It's filled with just enough magic to add to the setting that makes it seem real yet other worldly. Jordan's point of view enriches the familiar story since she is the ultimate outsider. Her observations of Daisy, Nick, Tom and Gatsby himself are sharp yet somewhat removed as she also contends with issues bigger then their narcissism. There's magic in the air that isn't just the romanticism of the time period and it's what all retellings should aspire to be.

 

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Libertie: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: March 26, 2021

“I saw my mother raise a man from the dead. It still didn't help him much..."  This brilliant, fascinating novel is set in Brooklyn and Haiti during the era of Reconstruction and is based on the real lives of one of the first female black doctors, a practicing homeopath, and her daughter. Kaitlyn Greenidge is a master storyteller and at its core, she has crafted a moving, ever-relevant, and unforgettable examination of freedom in all its forms.

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The Ninja Daughter Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: March 26, 2021

Move over Jack Reacher because Lily Wong can kick your a$$. Lily is so complex and so human as she strives to make up for the fact that she didn't answer her sister's phone call, before she was murdered. Here, she helps a woman and her son, flee an abusive relationship and finds herself entangled with city politics. She's also trying to navigate parental relationships and all that entails. And, as an extra bonus, there is delicious food talk that made me want to claw through the pages. I really hope this will be a continuing series because I am definitely hooked.

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