Staff Reads

Check out what our staff have to say about these new titles in our collection!

The Secret to Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel

Review by Paige

The Secret to Superhuman Strength is a graphic novel full of exploration, love, wit, philosophy, and exercise. Alison Bechdel is known for her LGBT+ themed autobiographical comics and graphic novels (including the plays that have been made out of them!), as well as the famous feminist ‘Bechdel Test’ used to analyze film and tv. This novel is nothing out of the ordinary for her; The Secret to Superhuman Strength is brilliant. The reader learns about life alongside Bechdel’s own growth through the years, with exercise and philosophy (typically Eastern philosophy) to guide and ground where she would find meaning throughout her life. Fads in exercise come and go just as relationships in Bechdel’s life change her trajectory as well. The comics are illustrated in watercolor, though personally not my favorite style, but the end of each chapter brings about really lovely whole page spreads with so much detail to absorb. Not too serious and not too light, The Secret to Superhuman Strength is a great comfort to read and I would highly recommend it. Don’t you want to find out the secret to superhuman strength?

This past month I read Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham. The story focuses on the city of Kithamar and happens during a confluence of events: the ruling prince of the city, Prince Ausai, has died. During this same period the main character, Alys, discovers that her brother Darro has been murdered. These two seemingly unrelated events set a chain of correlating events off as Alys works to uncover her brother’s killer with the help of her friend Sammish. Sammish is also in love with Alys but that is largely beside the point, even if it is Sammish’s sole reason for helping her. (Don’t ask if they end up together: you know the answer). Abraham does an excellent job weaving the story into the city and weaving the city into the story. The book expertly explores the simple plight of the downtrodden, set against the political intrigue of the city’s upper crust and the gods that are walking the streets. If you love a fantastically built world alongside an intriguing whodunit, Age of Ash is the book for you. I give it a rare 7/7 on my patented 7-star scale.

Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham

Review by Jesse

Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J. Perry

Review by Dani

Cameron Battle and the Hidden Kingdoms by Jamar J. Perry follows a young boy discovering the truth behind his family’s old stories. It’s the start of summer, and Cameron is ready for a fun, sun-filled vacation with his two best friends, Zion and Aliyah. Instead, it’s cold and rainy, and a power outage stops them from being able to do anything remotely fun. Whilst searching for a way to get the power back on, Cameron and his friends accidentally activate a magical book passed down through his family for generations, and end up inside a magical country called Chidani. Cameron is descended from Chidani’s people, and it’s up to him and his friends to keep the country from falling into the hands of the evil Princess Amina, who wants to take down the barriers and conquer both worlds. Inspired by traditional Igbo mythology, this book is a breath of fresh air in the fantasy genre. The creatures and the magic are different from anything I’ve ever read, making it fun and exciting to learn about as the story progresses. The story is entertaining and very quick to get through, with just enough action to keep readers on their toes the entire time. I think any middle grade reader looking for a fantasy book to fall into will surely love this one!

This amazing book is jammed packed with 50 awesome experiments students will learn so much from and really enjoy! The four major topics are: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle; Animals and Plants; Water and Land; and Air. All of the materials come from your “junk drawer” or other places in your home, no cost to you. They are very simple and easy to follow. There is a list of materials needed, clear step by step instructions, a section that tells the science behind the experiment and a science for all ages descriptions and outcome. The students will learn so much about our world and ecology from completing these experiments. This is a great book for homeschoolers, elementary and middle school teachers and even librarians to use for programs. I would definitely give this a five star rating!

Junk Drawer Ecology by Bobby Mercer

Review by Miss Fran

SkinnyTaste: Air Fryer Dinners

Review by Alyssa

If you are as obsessed with your air fryer as I am, then reading Gina Homolka’ SkinnyTaste: Air Fryer Dinners is a MUST! Even if you are new to the air fryer fad, this cookbook is still for you—it opens with an “Air fryer essentials” section, as well as a Q&A. The chapters of the cookbook include veggie mains, poultry, beef/pork/lamb, seafood, and sides and the book wraps up with a chart that includes the conventional oven cook times for all the recipes in the book (in case you see something yummy but don’t have an air fryer!). All of the recipes include well-known, easy to find ingredients, as well as easy to follow steps, start to finish. A few recipes that I can’t wait to try are her Spicy Fried Chicken Crunch Wraps, Jalapeno-Cheddar Turkey Burgers, Veggie Loaded Stromboli, and Smashed Potatoes. One of my favorite parts of the cookbook is Homolka’s icon key for each recipe, which includes quick recipes, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, and freezer-friendly. I honestly never thought that air fryer cooking could get any easier, but SkinnyTase: Air Fryer Dinners proves it can!