Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Last Grand Duchess

Turnbull, Bryn. The Last Grand Duchess. digital. 2022. 

Rasputin and Anastasia have long captured the world's imagination and are often the first two figures thought of in the doomed Romanov family. Bestselling author, Bryn Turnbull flips the script however, and instead focuses on the eldest Romanov child, Grand Duchess Olga Romanov, in this moving historical drama. Olga comes of age as a young woman during a very tumultuous time in Russia, her family's way of life is on the way out and she is struggling to come to terms with her family's place in it. The Russian people love her and her family, they are just and fair rulers, aren't they? As war looms, Olga and her sisters trade the glittering palace life for nursing and do what they can to help the wounded soldiers, but will it be enough for the Russian people. Equal parts gleaming and romantic, readers cheer on Olga's romantic exploits, while hoping that she will somehow escape her fate. The Last Grand Duchess slowly gets darker and gloomier, as the tragic end that readers know to expect, creeps closer. Expertly narrated by Mary Jane Wells, whose cadence and accent lends itself well to the esteemed Romanov court. A new take on an overtold and tragic story. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Flower Crowns and Fearsome Things

I'm a big fan of Greek mythology and I loved that this poetry collection was an ode to Persephone. This collection honors both her soft side as a goddess of spring and her fire as the Queen of Death. The poems alternate in their fierceness and sweetness. Another great collection from Amanda Lovelace filled with beautiful prose and illustrations. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Shine Your Icy Crown

Exceptional as always. Amanda Lovelace's poetry is empowering, insightful, and savage in the best possible way. Her poems are short, to the point, and will stick with readers long after the book is finished. The illustrations are also beautiful and add to the book. This is the second collection in the "You Are Your Own Fairy Tale" collection and I can't wait for the third. They keep getting better! 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Break Your Glass Slippers

I am sucker for all of Amanda Lovelace's poetry and I thoroughly enjoyed her take on Cinderella. Empowering and lyrical her short poems about taking the reins and finding your inner fairy godmother, will resonate with lots of readers. I thought the illustrations were also beautiful and added to the collection. I look forward to reading the others in this series - fairy tales can be empowering if we learn to look at them through another lens! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Unwrap My Heart

Ridiculous and funny, this young adult action "romance" is perfect for fans of zany humor and The Mummy. Sofia is just an average not so popular high schooler. She has one good friend and an overzealous dad, life is just peachy keen. That is, until she meets Seth, the school's newest hipster. He's skinny, gaunt, and covered in bandages, Sofia's heart is in overdrive. The two find themselves working together on a class project and the world will never be the same. Literally, they may have to save it. Also, Seth is a mummy. Can you kiss a mummy? Can you do "other things" to a mummy? These are burning questions that Sofia has. Over the top and fun. Not your average teen romcom. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

The Lady of Galway Manor

Annabeth De Lacy and her family have been sent to Galway to keep an eye on the Irish rebels. Without the English court to keep her entertained, Annabeth convinces her father to let her apprentice at a local jewelry shop. Annabeth is enthralled with the Claddagh design and it's meaning and she finds herself falling for Irish customs and ways of life. The only problem is that is putting her at odds with her English family who view the Irish as beneath them. The jewelry shop owner's son, Stephen, is an attractive young man with big dreams and a hatred of the English. He is initially appalled at having to take his new English landlord's daughter under his wing and show her the ropes of the business. Soon however, he finds himself falling for her and she for him. Can they place their prejudices aside and see what is right in front of them? A moving historical romance that inspirational readers will love. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century

Fu, Kim. Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. digital. 2022. Penguin Random House Audio. 

Twelve impossibly unique tales make up this short story collection of things that go bump in the night, that lurk in the shadows, and cavort in the daylight. Each short story introduces a different "monster," yet none are related or linked. The stories take place in our modern world; at a vendor show, a suburb, a dinner show, an old house. Kim Fu delights in giving readers monsters that defy expectations - they are wholly new and imaginative - the term monster is at times, loosely applied. A career woman can only fall asleep at night if she is visited by the sandman, a haunted doll that gives nightmares to neighborhood children, a girl on the brink of puberty sprouts wings on her ankles to the delight of her friends, and a bug infested house that steadily grows more and more unstable. Narrated by Piper Goodeve and Sean Patrick Hopkins whose calm, earnest deliveries make the stories even more intense. Thrilling, sexy, scary, and daring; Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century is a gem of a short story collection. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

When Katie Met Cassidy

This was a short and sweet queer romance that I read in two days. Katie is reeling after her fiancé, Paul Michael, has dumped her so she spends all her free time obsessing over work and drinking at home. While closing a big deal at work she encounters Cassidy. At first she assumes she is a man - but soon she is taken in by Cassidy's masculine and beautiful appearance. As the two find themselves crossing paths more often, Katie has to decide what her feelings are towards Cassidy. Cassidy is very open and proud about being a lesbian, but Katie only likes guys? Or does she? A romantic and honest look about trying to understand sexual attraction and be more authentic.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Enter by the Narrow Gate

A wonderful mystery debut that promises to be a fantastic series. In the same vein as Tony Hillerman and other southwestern mysteries, with a touch of Brother Cadfael; this suspenseful whodunnit set in New Mexico will garner lots of fans.

Father Fortis is on sabbatical at St. Mary's and arrives just after a young nun is found brutally murdered. Soon after his good friend Detroit Detective, Lieutenant Worthy, is sent out to investigate a missing girl. Father Fortis decides that it is no mere coincidence that the two of them find themselves in the Southwest at the same time immediately after an unsolved murder. Lt. Worthy is determined to stay focused on his missing persons case but is soon drawn in by the mysteriousness of the nun's death. Could the missing girl and the dead nun be linked? If so by what? Full of intrigue, religious oddities, and good ol' fashioned sleuthing, this novel reads fast and is impossible to put down. I can't wait for the next installment!

Friday, February 4, 2022

The Pages


Hamilton, Hugo. The Pages. digital. 2022. Penguin Random House Audio. 

A tattered old copy of Joseph Roth's, Rebellion, narrates its own history - from 1930's Germany, to the story itself about a barrel organ player, all the way to modern day New York. The novel's story weaves between readers of this particular first edition to a mystery included in it by one of the book's very first owners. The current owner of Rebellion, Lena Knecht, knows from her father that this edition was saved from a book burning in Nazi Germany and it is one of her prized possessions. She is determined to discover where the hand drawn map at the back of the book leads. When Lena misplaces the book it finds her way back to her via an unlikely ally and thus the book crosses another path. Rebellion delights in jumping timelines and telling the stories of those who have held this book in their hands. Some feature prominently and others are fleeting characters, just barely passing by - but all have been impacted by the book or have impacted the book itself. Brilliantly narrated by Nicholas Guy Smith, who delights in bringing a myriad of accents to life. At times, the narrative appears to get in its own way - but overall, a unique book about a book that bibliophiles will delight in. - Erin Cataldi, Johnson Co. Public Library, Franklin, IN

The Lightning Thief

I've been meaning to read this book for ages! I love Greek mythology and everyone always compares this to Harry Potter. Percy Jackson is your average 12 year old boy. He gets into trouble constantly and is sent from boarding school to boarding school. While on a field trip something.... odd happens - something he can't wrap his head around and he starts questioning everything. He discovers that he is a demigod and that as long as he is out in the world monsters and other creatures will try to find and kill him. He gets sent to camp half-blood to learn more about his heritage and to try and figure out why he seems to be a bigger target than most. It almost reminds me of a kidz bop version of American Gods. Fun - but I would have definitely enjoyed it more had I read this as a kid. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Guinevere Deception

Not my favorite re-telling of Camelot and King Arthur - but it was... ok. This didn't read as overly young adult, so I kept picturing the characters much older. Also, the pacing is slow, and the plot meandering. Guinevere is not who she appears to be. She is not the daughter of a king, she is the daughter of Merlin, and she is on her way to Camelot to wed King Arthur. She must pretend to be someone else so that no one will know that she is there to practice magic and protect the king. Since Merlin and magic were banished from the realm, something evil has taken root and Guinevere must protect King Arthur. An interesting take on Arthurian legend but I didn't love it enough to continue with the rest of the series. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Cross Her Heart

This suspense novel started off slow and I initially didn't think I would like it. But as the story developed and started to unravel - I found myself unable to put it down. Lisa and her teenage daughter, Ava, live a quiet, ordinary life. Ava enjoys being on the swim team and hanging out with her  group of three friends. Her mother works and worries over, Ava. Typical stuff. But is it typical?! Lisa is hiding something, an entire past that Ava knows nothing about. When a stuffed animal is left out in the rain and a favorite photo frame is smashed, Lisa is sure that everything is about to come to light. But what if her daughter has secrets too? Lots of twists and turns and red herrings. A story to keep you guessing.