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Ivy's Reviews

Ivy grew up very close to Santa Cruz and is a UC Santa Cruz graduate. She is the head of the Hardback section, History, and helps with Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Her voracious reading appetite can include anything from history, fiction, graphic novels, and anything in between.



Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar

Felix attends a very prestigious art school and is struggling with his identity when he gets targeted by an anonymous transphobic bully and everyone becomes suspect. I really appreciated Felix’s candor as he works through the various threads of his life. Being a teenager is hard and Felix doesn’t always get it right. This is a great read for all teens, especially for those trying to find their place in the world.

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ISBN: 9780062820259
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - May 5th, 2020

An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein & Jenn Jordan

Life is hard enough after college, and living in a world filled with magic doesn’t make anything easier. In this very relatable graphic novel, Rory, after a rough breakup and a cancelled trip to save endangered dragons, has no idea what she wants out of life. Even her best friend, her new magic-studying housemate, and her familiar can’t save Rory from her own destructive behavior. The color palette is deceptively simple and lovely. I found myself pulled into the witchy drama despite myself. 

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An Embarrassment of Witches Cover Image
ISBN: 9781603094627
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Top Shelf Productions - March 3rd, 2020

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

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The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1) Cover Image
By Nghi Vo
ISBN: 9781250750303
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: - March 24th, 2020

Nghi Vo is an impressive storyteller and is about to take the fantasy world by storm. Her short stories have delighted for years and I cannot wait for everyone to read her new novella. This promising debut author delivers lush settings, intriguing magic, and political intrigue. When an Empress dies, a young monk travels to record her straightforward history, but they find a complex legacy instead. Every twist and turn surprised me. This is an author to watch. —Ivy

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385348713
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown - February 25th, 2020

Larson is a master at taking history and bringing it to life. Many people know about the London Blitz, but through the use of diaries, letters, and official documents, a lost and very human narrative begins to emerge. Clerks and secretaries helped form history as much as the giants we all know. I found myself leaning into the story, worried about what would happen next, even though I knew the outcome. Brilliant and engaging, this isn’t one to miss.  —Ivy

Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA by Neil Shubin

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Some Assembly Required: Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101871331
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - March 17th, 2020

“Nothing begins where you think it does.” This includes our very existence. Humans didn’t just spring forth fully formed like Athena, but rather through chance and many years of intense evolution. Shubin manages to take the smallest part of us, DNA, and show just why it looms so large in everything we do. My mind was blown more than once and I raced to find the next revelation.  —Ivy

Miriam at the River by Jane Yolen

A young girl sets her baby brother, Moses, in a basket to float down the Nile River to an uncertain future. Not everyone thinks about Miriam and how she felt losing her brother, but this book does. Every page is worthy of a frame—the art is that good, it gave me goosebumps, and the beautiful poetic text brought tears to my eyes. While religious in origin, this story touches on universal fears, hopes, and dreams.

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Miriam at the River Cover Image
By Jane Yolen, Khoa Le (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781541544000
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Published: Kar-Ben Publishing (R) - February 4th, 2020

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim

Yumi yearns (and fears) to be heard for who she is by her parents. She wants to be a standup comedian while her parents want her to pursue academic excellence. After an incidence of mistaken identity, Yumi is secretly following her dream, but it can come crashing down at any moment. I wanted nothing more than for Yumi to find her voice, and her worries became my own. Fans of The First Rule of Punk will love this book!

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Stand Up, Yumi Chung! Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525554974
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Published: Kokila - March 17th, 2020

Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

After unnecessary escalation by school administration, Donte, who is Black, finds himself in the back of a cop car and suspended from school. His white-passing brother, Trey, doesn’t understand why people treat Donte differently, but both find ways forward from an unlikely place. Complex and raw, this book challenged me in the best way and showed me a new perspective on racial injustice. Perfect for kids not quite ready for The Hate U Give.


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ISBN: 9780316493802
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Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - March 3rd, 2020

Friday Night Wrestlefest by J.F. Fox

LET’S. GET. REAAAAADY. FOR. FUN!! In one corner, we have Dangerous Daddoo and in the other, the Tag Team Twins (with special guest Big Bald Baby). Who will come out on top? Can the kids squash the chance of bedtime? With surprising twists and incredibly dynamic art, this is one you don’t want to miss. I had a grin for every page. Perfect for humor fans of all ages.


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By J. F. Fox, Micah Player (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781250212405
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Published: Roaring Brook Press - February 18th, 2020

All Sytems Red by Martha Wells

In a future where security is run by sophisticated AIs, one robot just wants to be left alone to watch soap operas. Murderbot (a name they gave their self) has to work very hard to keep humans unaware of their own agency to avoid being wiped back to factory settings. Also, someone is trying to kill the people in their charge. I loved this fresh take on the future of AI. - Ivy

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All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765397539
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: - May 2nd, 2017


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