My 5 Star Top Ten List

2020 has been a year in which I read many trilogies:  Shades of Magic by Schwab, Lady Astronaut series by Kowal, Star Trek: The Janus Gate by Graf, The Broken Earth by Jemisin, and The Dam Keeper by Kondo and Tsutsumi

My top 10 list (in chronological order that I read them)

The Andromeda Evolution by Daniel H. Wilson

(A sequel to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, which takes the thrills to the next exciting step.)

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

(What makes us the wise man of the ape species?)

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

(Each of the three books in the ongoing series so far are 5 stars in my opinion. I love the alternative history space race that is firmly rooted in real science and math.)

Blacksad written by Juan Diaz Canales with art by Juanjo Guarnido

(This is a film noir detective story with animal characters. It is a bit like Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

(The middle volume with a sort of Olympics for Magicians is the peak)

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

(This is a slim steampunk adventure set in Cairo by a hot speculative fiction writer.)

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

(A classic text of the ’60s Civil Rights era that is still useful for understanding current racial tensions in America.)

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

(A great start to her Hugo Award winning trilogy with a couple nice twists near the end.)

The Dam Keeper: Return from the Shadows by Robert Kondo and ‘Dice’ Tsutsumi

(Perhaps this ending of the trilogy with its community joining together is the best part.)

Citizen Illegal by Jose Olivarez

(This is a poetry book recommended by the virtual book club on this blog as a book to start the conversation about immigration.)

-Byron

Virtual Book Club – Favorite Books with Dragons

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved dragons. Give me a book with a dragon in it, and I’ll devour it cover to cover. The Dragonriders of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey were probably my first introduction to dragons in ‘mature’ literature, and I instantly fell in love. If you, too, are a lover of all things draconic, or maybe even wished to have a pet dragon of your very own, check out some of my favorite fantasy novels featuring dragons! 

Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. I’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. 

His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik catalog link

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik – first book in the Temeraire series

Naomi Novik does not only pen fairy tales for adults – you may know her as the author of the witchy fairy tales Uprooted and Spinning Silver, but she got her start with an alternate universe history of the Napoleonic Wars. Her Temeraire series features an English Navy captain who accidentally bonds with a baby dragon and then must join the air force, where sentient dragons are employed as living airships.

His Majesty’s Dragon Overdrive link

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan catalog link

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan – first in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series

In Marie Brennan’s delightful Lady Trent series, a famous, distinguished scientist and lady of the peerage and pens her memoirs and recounts her humble beginnings as an ordinary young woman who discovers the long lost secrets and history of dragons. 

A Natural History of Dragons Overdrive link


Seraphina by Rachel Hartman catalog link

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – first in the Seraphina series

In this inspired take on dragon lore, the dragons aren’t gigantic scaly fire-breathers – at least not all the time. They can transform into human-shape and are nearly indistinguishable from regular humans, which is why they are treated like second-class citizens by fearful humans. When a prince of the realm is murdered, seemingly by a dragon, our hero Seraphina must solve the mystery. This young adult series is a treat for teens and adults alike!

Seraphina Overdrive link

The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker catalog link

The Bone Ships by R. J. Barker – first in the Tide Child trilogy

In this grimly realist novel, two nations have been at war for as long as anyone can remember. They make sailing ships out of dragon bone, but their ships are disintegrating and no one has seen a dragon in hundreds of years. When a dragon is spotted far out to sea, the two nations must race to see who can capture the dragon and win the war. 

The Bone Ships Overdrive link

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede catalog link

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede – first in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles series

Yes, this one is a children’s book, but it’s so much fun! In this irreverent fairy tale, Princess Cimorene is bored with living in a castle and decides that she doesn’t want the traditional princess life of being pursued by the princes from surrounding kingdoms, so she runs away to live with a dragon.

Dealing with Dragons Overdrive link

Dealing with Dragons Hoopla link

If you’re a dragon lover like me, any of these books will scratch that dragon itch. Share your favorite dragon books in the comments below!

Make sure to join us next week for a very spooky installment of the virtual book club!

I Read YA! Do You?

Regular readers will remember that I have already shared all of my 5-star YA reads of 2020. It’s now time to start sharing some of my 4-star recommendations.

American Panda by Gloria Chao. Seventeen year old Mei is a pre-med at MIT. Her whole life is already mapped out-become a doctor, marry a parents-approved, successful, Taiwanese guy with an Ivy League degree, and have babies. It’s the least she can do for her parents who have sacrificed everything for her and who have already been betrayed by her older brother. There are a couple of problems with this plan. She is a germaphobe. She loves to dance. Darren is not Taiwanese. This is a funny and heartfelt coming of age story about a young woman stuck between two cultures. It’s also about first love and family secrets and following your passions, all things teens of any ethnicity can relate to. A solid 4-star read.

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban. What happens when the scholarship dinner you’ve been invited to turns out to be a trap? This debut thriller reads like an Agatha Christie novel. The class valedictorian, the popular girl, the music geek, the stoner, the loner, and the star athlete all think they are being honored with a scholarship. Instead, they are locked in a room with a bomb, a syringe of poison, and a note that tells them to pick a person to die or they all die. The clock is ticking. This is an edge of your seat read that literally takes place over the course of an hour. Will they panic? Escape? Kill someone? This is a wild ride from a new voice in YA thrillers.

One of Us is Next by Karen McManus. Speaking of thrillers…If you aren’t reading Karen McManus, go do it now. This is the sequel to her hit One of Us is Lying. It’s been a year since the incidents at Bayview High and there is a new game circulating- Truth or Dare and this version is dark and dangerous. This is another strong addition to the YA thriller genre. I am definitely a fan of the author and look forward to more great reads by her.

Deadly Little Secrets by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Here’s another thriller and a sequel. I am a huge fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes and will read anything she writes. This one picks up where Little White Lies leaves off. If you like southern charm and wicked family secrets and secret societies, you really need to read the Debutantes series. What I love about all of Barnes’ books is that there is plenty of humor to cut through the tension of her rather dark tales.

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black. This one is actually the final book in the Folk of the Air trilogy. You’ll want to start with The Cruel Prince, followed by The Wicked King. I always think I do not enjoy stories about the fae, and yet, any time I decide to read one, I like it, so I guess I am wrong about myself! Holly Black knows her stuff. She is the queen of the fairy tale and she returns to her fairy roots with this brutal and twisty trilogy. It’s full of magic and betrayal and the ending is fantastic. Highly recommend.

~Megan

Nicole’s Top Ten of 2019

It was such fun to look back on what I’ve read this past year and pick my favorites! Below you’ll find mostly adult fiction titles, including some standout graphic novels, as well as a stellar young adult novel (Wilder Girls!). 2019 was also the year I dabbled in reading outside my comfort zone of generally weird and spooky, venturing into the land of romantic fiction and true crime. Much to my surprise, I was so utterly charmed by a romance novel that it ended up on this list (I’m looking at you Chloe Brown). I hope that if you haven’t read one of these titles you will be inspired to stop by and check it out this winter. Maybe you will also find yourself pleasantly surprised by broadening your reading horizons *wink*. Wishing you a joyful holiday season and happy reading!

The Familiars by Stacey Halls

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley

Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones by Micah Dean Hicks

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The Institute by Stephen King

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen by Marjorie M. Liu

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Winter Book BINGO: Spotlight on LGBTQIA

The Merry Spinster

by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg
RubyFruit Jungle

by Rita Mae Brown
Clariel

by Garth Nix
Less: a novel

by Andrew Sean Greer
So Lucky

by Nicola Griffith
Witchmark

by C.L. Polk

Lists of books with an LGBTQIA authors or character:

Winter Book BINGO: Spotlight on Graphic Novels

So you need to read a graphic novel in order to complete a BINGO, but you don’t know where to start. Let me help you. My own introduction to graphic novels was Bill Willingham’s Fables series. This epic series is a very grown-up retelling of classic fables and fairy tales. It’s still one of my favorite series. But you aren’t ready to jump into a 22-volume, Eisner Award winning series? No problem!

Try something cute, light, and funny:

Or maybe a graphic biography or memoir? We have books about familiar figures as well as ordinary people. Here are some of my favorites:

Ready to jump into a series? Let’s do it!

Maybe you’d like to try a classic:

Finally, let’s not forget the superheroes:

If none of these strike your fancy, come on in and browse our collection. Graphic novels are visual, you might just have to see them to find the one that’s right for you.

~Megan

Megan’s Favorites of 2018

Greg’s Top Reads of 2018

The Elements of Spellcrafting : 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery
by Jason Miller

A great read for any practitioner or follower of any path. Gives some very practical tips for spellwork and working with spirits.

The Chaos Protocols:Magical Techniques for Navigating the New Economic Reality
by Gordon White

A practical guide that is based in chaos magic but has some great tips for all. Looking about how one can use your individual spiritual/occult practice to deal with the practical concerns of life.

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The Invisibles
by Grant Morrison

Though this comic has been out for decades, it was only this year that I got to it. An absorbing graphic novel that explores themes of oppression, control, and the various prices of bucking the status quo.

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The Ballad of Black Tom
by Victor D. LaValle

A great example of not only building on top of but expanding the source material. This book starts with the framework of Lovecraft and addresses historical and contemporary issues.

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Sheila Hicks : Lifelines
edited by Michel Gauthier

A wonderful visual retrospective of the artist’s work, this volume explores every stage of the artist’s career. Hick’s is a master of color and form and her work is carefully reproduced here.

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Promethea
by Alan Moore

Again another graphic novel that had been on my radar but I hadn’t gotten to. Promethea is a story that not only explores mythology and the the last 100 years of occultism but seem to reflect many of the author’s own beliefs.

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The Power
by Naomi Alderman

Alderman’s work explores the dynamics of power and gender and how old patterns can reemerge when the world is made new again.

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The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror
by Daniel Mallory Ortberg

A collection of stories about stories, archetypes, and culturally created gender. These tales are filled with horror or uncanniness as Ortberg picks apart the very idea of a fairy tale and our own “norms”.

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Book one, The Crucible
by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Read the graphic novel that the Netflix show is based on. There are many differences from the show and this source material and it guaranteed to help tide fans over as they wait for season two.


Clive Barker’s next testament. Volume On
by Clive Barker

A truly terrifying look at what it would be like if our creator came back. An engrossing story, but Barker definitely maintains his horror aesthetic throughout.

Happy Birthday George!

Today is author George R. R. Martin’s birthday! Commonly known for his (still in progress) book series Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin has a long list of books including the Dreamsongs series, Hedge Knight series, Game of Thrones comic books and graphic novels, and the contribution to the Wild Cards series.

Grab one of his books in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section at the library and celebrate what amazing talent was born on this day, 68 years ago!

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One more fantasy title to add…

Our last Genre Book Discussion was about fantasy and Stacey has already posted the book titles that were shared to this blog. It certainly was a varied selection. Unfortunately, I didn’t turn my blurb in so that the book I read wasn’t included. I love fantasy (probably because I live in my own little world of fairy tales with happy endings) and I love books. I thought the book that I read was so fantastically wonderful that I just have to share it with all of you. The book I read was Among Others by Jo Walton and I loved it!

This book is more than a fantasy. It is a book about books (which I love), libraries (which I love), magic (which I love too) and a young girl struggling to find her own identity (I love these coming of age stories too). I even love the cover of the book too! Yes, I can honestly say that I truly, truly, truly loved this book!

Written in a journal form and set in 1979 and 1980, this is the story of fifteen year old Morwenna Phelps trying to move on with her life after her twin sister is killed. Morwenna and Morganna had teamed together to try to stop their crazy mother from using magic to harm others. In their battle with their mother, Morganna is killed and Morwenna is crippled. After going to live with her father, she is sent to a boarding school where she misses the magic in her life. However, if she uses magic again, will her mother be able to find her?

No matter what, Morwenna has books and as she writes in her journal, “I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books.” Thanks to Morwenna, I now have more titles to add to my reading list. I don’t think I will ever run out of books to read! Thank you libraries!

Besides The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I have read some really marvelous fantasy books. Check out our Reading Room for reviews of books by my favorite fantasy authors, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde, and Neil Gaiman. As Dr. Seuss has said “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”

Happy Reading!       ~Donna