Shadow and Bone – Staff Review – Maddie

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Request)(CloudLibrary)

The once great nation of Ravka is surrounded by enemies and cut off from other parts of the world by the Fold- an enveloping darkness in which flesh-eating monsters hide in waiting for ships that try to pass through it, making any attempts fruitless.

Alina Starkov grew up an orphan and with no other prospects, joined the army . When her regiment is attacked while trying to cross the Fold, her dormant power emerges in time to save her friend from imminent harm. Once her power reveals itself, Alina is whisked off to court to train with the Grisha, other magically gifted warriors. But not everything in the Grishaverse is as it seems and with great power, comes even greater responsibility.

Without going too much into detail about this book for fear of spoiling details, I really enjoyed Shadow and Bone. Bardudo quickly pulls readers into the world of the Grishaverse and leaves you on the hook at the end of the novel, setting the scene for the sequel in a way that has similar elements to other dystopian novels but is also unique to Shadow and Bone. As a bonus, if you like this book and its sequels, Leigh Bardugo has other series set in the Grishaverse and Netflix recently made Shadow and Bone into a t.v. series on their site.

4 stars

A Pho Love Story – Staff Review – Maddie

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le (Request)

Linh and Bao’s parents have owned competing Pho restaurants across the street from each other for years. The two teens and their families have avoided each other at all costs. That is until a chance encounter brings Linh and Bao together and sparks start to fly. They wonder why it took them so long to connect before remembering their family feud.

A Pho Love Story is a fun ya rom-com with hints of a modern-day twist on the Romeo and Juliet-esk story.

3 stars

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie – Staff Review- Maddie

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict (Requests)(CloudLibrary)

In 1926 Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days, with her car found abandoned. A national manhunt of unprecedented scale ensued with people across England claiming citings. Her husband caught in the crosshairs, everyone wanted to know where was Mrs. Christie?

Though Mrs. Christie claimed amnesia and never revealed what happened or where she was during those eleven days, many people have speculated and written about it over the years. Marie Benedict writes a great (fictional) story of what could have happened and how Christie could have had a hand in the ordeal. The story reads like a classic Agatha Christie novel and does Christie justice. I will say that this novel starts off a little slow and may take readers 50-75 pages to really get into, but once you do, you won’t be disappointed. And you don’t need to have read any of Agatha Christie’s books to read this one, though it may make you want to after.

3.5 stars

The Weight of Ink – Staff Reviews – Maddie

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

London 1660s: Ester Velasquez is an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for her blind rabbi in the years before the bubonic plague when he can find no male to do the job.
London 2000: Helen Watt is an aging historian and professor, who along with her graduate assistant, Aaron Levy, is invited to assess a cache of 17th century letters found during the renovation of a historic house. The letters, written by Ester, are a groundbreaking discovery that could change the two scholars’ lives.

Told from both Ester and Helen’s perspectives, The Weight of Ink tells the story of two women separated by centuries but somehow drawn together through letters and their shared struggles of the heart and mind. Throughout the story, Kadish gives each woman an equal voice and draws readers in with their stories and the challenges they have to overcome.

4 stars

You’ll never believe what happened to Lacey

You’ll never believe what happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar (Request)

You ever thought you had a really bad day at work? How about throwing in some casual racism?

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar chronicles anecdotes from Lacey as told to her sister about the often casual and blunt racist behavior she has been subjected to and exposed to in her professional life as well as her private life. Told in a narrative that takes the form of a conversation between the two sisters it adds a nice humorous touch to an otherwise serious and depressing subject.

4 Stars

The Other Black Girl – Staff Review – Haley

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris (Request)(CloudLibrary)

All the hype for the best book of summer 2021, but was it really worth the praise? The debut novel from Zakiya Dalila Harris draws a bit from her own experiences in the world of publishing, as her main character, Nella Rogers, works as an editorial assistant in a prestigious NYC publishing house. As Nella is beginning to feel the lack of upward mobility and frustration of being the only black woman in the company, a new black co-worker is hired. Eager to have an ally, Nella is caught off guard as the alliance between her and Hazel is not what she had hoped for.

My preconceived ideas of what this book was about, based on the reviews stating this book in the next “The Devil Wears Prada”, were very mistaken. The first half of the book unfolds as an office drama, with a few odd inserts about seemingly unrelated characters thrown into the mix. Then the book flips on its axis and moves the reader into the realm of horror/fantasy. Had I known that upfront I wouldn’t have chosen this book to read. However, I stuck it out and while it wasn’t my cup of tea as they say, if you like a wild ride with a little horror thrown in, this may be your flavor.

3 Stars

The Hazel Wood – Staff Reviews – Maddie

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Alice has spent most of her life moving from place to place with her mother to escape the ‘bad luck’ -as her mother calls it- that always seems to follow them no matter where they go. Though Alice never knew her grandmother, the woman wrote a dark fairytale book Tales of the Hinterland years ago that has amassed a cultish following. When Alice’s mother is kidnapped by someone claiming to be from the Hinterland, the bad luck takes a turn for the worse. Teaming up with a fellow classmate and Hinterland fan, Ellory Finch, Alice embarks on a journey to find the hinterland and her mother. But she may find more than she goes looking for.

Melissa Albert spins a dark story with fairy tales unlike the ones you grew up with as a child. I was initially drawn in by the air of mystery around certain characters and how the author jumps into the story. For those who enjoy The Hazel Wood, there are two more books in the series, one of which is the actual Tales from the Hinterland.

3 stars

The Rules of Magic – Staff Review – Haley

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Magic, witches, and the origin story of the crazy aunts from Practical Magic? Yes please! Alice Hoffman’s prequel to her beloved Practical Magic follows the lives of siblings Franny, Jet, and Vincent. From the summer of their youth spent with their aunt, through their lives, this is a wonderful addition to the stories of the Owens witches.
Having read most of Alice Hoffman’s books, and enjoyed them all, I was excited to start this book. True to the first novel, the siblings endure the curse all Owens witches must face, and while trying to avoid love, this is truly a love story at heart.

4 Stars

Ready Player Two – Staff Review – Haley

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline (Request)(CloudLibrary)

Who’s ready to get sucked back into the world of virtual video games and pay homage to the 1980s? Ernest Cline’s follow up novel to Ready Player One picks up with Wade and the gang after completing Halliday’s quest and taking over his empire. And so begins Wade’s second quest.
I was terribly disappointed in this book. Having loved the first I had high expectations to enjoy this one as well, but it was a major let down. Fame and money have changed Wade’s personality, which, true it would, but he’s no longer an enjoyable character to follow on yet again, another too similar journey as book one;. The fun 80s references were not as eloquently woven through the story this time around and I found myself skimming sections, even in the John Hughes realm which I thought I would love!

1.5 Stars

The Last Thing He Told Me – Staff Review – Haley

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (Request)(CloudLibrary)

One day your husband just disappears with nothing more than a note delivered to you by a child. No explanation or details, only his teenage daughter, who hates you, left to your care. Laura Dave winds the reader through the mysterious life of Owen, from the point of view of his wife Hannah and her stepdaughter Bailey. As the two struggle to learn where Owen has gone, they uncover a web of lies and secrets.
While the details of the story are unique, the overall concept felt like it could have been any number of books. It was a whirlwind story and by the end it seemed just too outlandish. Some books you expect to expand your frame of mind, but I thought this would have reeled it in to the realm of actually possible as it wrapped up the novel.

2 Stars

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