Staff Picks by Jessica

Jessica Staff Picks

Jessica is a huge fan of fantasy and science-fiction for readers of all ages especially when paired with characters who are people of color. Any adult books she reads tend to be non-fiction or historical fiction. Make sure to check out her audiobook recomendations here!

Newest reviews are at the bottom. 

Staff Pick Badge
Redemptor (Raybearer Book 2) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781419739842
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Amulet Books - August 17th, 2021

Empress Tarisi has a mission and she knows the odds are against her as a Redemptor: running an empire, preparing for a trip to the Underworld, and negotiating justice, all on top of balancing love and duty. But with the help of friends new and old, hope for change is on the horizon. Author, Jordan Ifueko, comes roaring back with a story of heart, courage, and action that will delight fans of Raybearer

(Young Adult Fantasy, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
The Girl from the Sea Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781338540574
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Graphix - June 1st, 2021

Molly has swirled together an amazing story of first love, changing friends, and environmental justice with a hint of magic and mystery. Fans of The Magic Fish and Heartstopper will find this a perfect new graphic novel for the teen reader. 

(Young Adult Graphic Novel, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Firekeeper's Daughter Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250766564
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - March 16th, 2021

A fantastic thriller for teen and adult readers that will keep you at the edge of your seat. The opening scene sets the stage for heartbreak, honesty, and healing. The ending will haunt you. 

Also great at a digital audiobook from Libro.fm

(Young Adult, ages 14+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
She Who Became the Sun Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250621801
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Tor Books - July 20th, 2021

Fate and power collide in this epic story of war, legacy, and love. The first pages gripped me by the stomach as I hungered with Zhu, then burrowed into my bones as grudges and prejudices were revealed; finally leaving my heart cracked open between anger and love. Perfect for fans of Song of Achilles and rich historical fantasy. 

(Adult Fantasy) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781534431485
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Aladdin - July 6th, 2021

Moth may be a witch, but her secret power doesn't prevent her from being bullied at school. When her grandmother witch accidentally reveals a bit of forbidden magic that has the ability to change Moth, the quest to fit in begins. As the changes start to take over Moth, the question becomes where does the real-Moth end and the invading magic begin? 

(Graphic Novel, ages 8+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Chunky Cover Image
By Yehudi Mercado, Yehudi Mercado (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780062972781
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - June 22nd, 2021

Readers will become a #1 fan of Chunky! Hudi doesn't see anything wrong with himself, but his doctors and parents want him to participate in sports in order to loose weight. With humor and a cheering imaginary mascot, Hudi takes on the challenge from baseball to soccer, swimming and football. With post-game interviews and play-by-play action, this is fun look at real issues involving body image, peer pressure, and being a team player. 

(Graphic Novel, ages 10+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Ten Spooky Pumpkins Cover Image
By Gris Grimly, Gris Grimly (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338112443
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Orchard Books - September 21st, 2021

With a swoosh and a creak, what monsters will we seek? Follow a brave young girl as she adventures in her town counting all the creatures that go bump in the night. With Gris Grimly's illustrations pairing perfectly with rhythm and rhyme, this will be the go to story time book for Halloween nights. 

(Picture Book, ages 4+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
A Discovery of Dragons Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781338714449
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Chicken House - July 6th, 2021

Action packed adventure awaits in the Discovery of Dragons! Simon is honored to be the cabin boy and sometimes assistant to the young Charles Darwin, but when a storm hits and Simon is marooned on an island not far from the Galapagos, exciting discoveries are waiting to be made. 

(Fantasy, ages 9+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars Cover Image
By Seth Fishman, Isabel Greenberg (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780062981783
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Greenwillow Books - May 19th, 2020

A beautifully illustrated non-fiction book that is perfect for those kids who always ask "why?". A perfect book for teachers but also sweet enough to read every night as a bedtime story. The more often you read it, the better you will be at reading large numbers! Has a wonderfully accessible back matter page. 

(Picture Book, ages 5+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Dragons and Marshmallows (Zoey and Sassafras #1) Cover Image
By Asia Citro, Marion Lindsay (Illustrator)
$5.99
ISBN: 9781943147090
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Innovation Press - March 14th, 2017

The scientific process for kids with magical animals! The cover alone is all your young reader needs to see with this adorable new early chapter book series. Zoey with the help of her cat Sassafras and her handy Thinking Goggles uses deduction and the scientific process to find the best way to help the magical creatures that come to their door in need of care and love. Cute black and white illustrations with a helpful glossary in the back for those carefully introduced scientific words like hypothesis. My new go to recomendation!

(Early Chapter Book, ages 6+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Amina's Voice Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781481492072
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for You - May 1st, 2018

A perfect book for young girls that are starting middle school. Amina is trying to figure out who she is and what she stands for as she learns about friends, bullying, and what it truly means to stand up for what you believe in. Lovely coming of age story. It also has such a stunning cover. 

(Contemproary Novel, ages 8+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
For Every One Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781481486248
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books - April 10th, 2018

Honest, down to earth, and powerful in its simplicity. This stunning letter/poem/note to self is something everyone needs to read. Easy to pick up, quick to finish, and sure to make an impression. I read it and immediately wished I had 50 copies so I could hand it out to everyone I know, plus keep one for myself. 

(All ages) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
The Reader Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780147518057
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Speak - September 5th, 2017

Reading is magic. Not just in some metaphorical sense, but in the true sense that you will experience a new and stunning world in this highly original fantasy. An amazing book that will capture any bookworm. Reminiscent of Cornelia Funke's Inkheart

(Young Adult Fantasy, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Homegoing Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781101971062
Availability: Backordered - Subject to availability
Published: Vintage - May 2nd, 2017

Generation after generation, both hope and sorrow hit the two families in this story hard. Gyasi uses the episodic nature to her advantage, in a way that inspires a fevered anticipation similar to the TV show Roots. A moving work that would be a great choice for book clubs and writing classes. 

(Adult Historical) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
The Rabbit Listened Cover Image
By Cori Doerrfeld, Cori Doerrfeld (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735229358
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Dial Books - February 20th, 2018

Children will be drawn in by the easily relatable animal emotions in this simple and sweet story. A great book to use as a teaching opportunity for toddlers and parents alike. 

(Picture Book, ages 3+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Drawn Together Cover Image
By Minh Lê, Dan Santat (Illustrator), Dan Santat (Cover design or artwork by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781484767603
Availability: Backordered - Subject to availability
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - June 5th, 2018

An amazing picture book that shows the power of art. Minh Le and Dan Santat (local author!) team up to create a powerful story about family, love, and strength. All with just a few words and a lot of action on the page. I loved the way the two drawing styles came together. 

(Picture Book, ages 5+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Power Forward (Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream #1) Cover Image
By Hena Khan, Sally Wern Comport (Illustrator)
$6.99
ISBN: 9781534411999
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - May 8th, 2018

Power Forward is the perfect story for young sports fans about balancing the ideal amount of school and play. I especially enjoyed this book because it featured a young Pakistani boy and his family going about their lives as Americans. Filled with sibling banter, school-work, home-cooked meals, and family-drama, this is a book that I would give to a young reader who wants to see themselves in a story as  basketball fan or as a Pakistani-American. 

(Early Chapter Book, ages 7+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
The Prince and the Dressmaker Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781626723634
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: First Second - February 13th, 2018

This book was a fantastic story about two kids discovering who they are and how they want to present themselves to the world. Frances is a daring seamstress who has caught the eye of Lady Crystallia a beautiful fashion trend starter. But the world doesn't know that Lady Crystallia is Prince Sebastian and Frances must decide if she wants the world to know about her work, even as it threatens to expose her friend's secrets to the world. Jen's illustrations captures the emotions of the character's so creatively. I also loved the information in the back of the book about her creative process. 

(Graphic Novel, ages 8+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Dragons in a Bag Cover Image
By Zetta Elliott, Geneva B (Illustrator)
$6.99
ISBN: 9781524770488
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Yearling - August 13th, 2019

A fast-paced adventure perfect for young fantasy readers who enjoy Magic Tree House and the Zoey and Sassafras series. Zax is not happy to be dropped off at Ma's house while his Mama goes to court. This snappy, white-haired lady turns out to be a witch and asks him for his help returning some baby dragons to the magical world before they cause trouble in Brooklyn. I can't wait to see what else Zax and this cast of characters will get into next!

(Fantasy, ages 7+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Spinning Silver: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399180996
Availability: Available to Order from Our Warehouse
Published: Del Rey - May 7th, 2019

A masterfully spun tale weaving together multiple voices in a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin that delves into the cost versus value of love, family, and power. Fans of a more nuanced fantasy and Novik's Uprooted will appreciate the amazing character development and detailed world.

(Adult Fantasy) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Front Desk (Scholastic Gold) Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781338157826
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - June 25th, 2019

A well-balanced book that shows one young Chinese girl's experience immigrating with her family to California. At times funny, heart-wrenching, and innovative, this book shows the difficulties of starting over in a new country in a way that a young reader would be able to understand. A great book to open our eyes to the different and sometimes unseen ways people struggle and how we can make the world a better place by being more inclusive and willing to listen to other's stories. 

(Historical Novel, ages 8+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Saving Winslow Cover Image
$6.99
ISBN: 9780062570710
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: HarperCollins - September 3rd, 2019

Saving Winslow captures an innocence and steadfast belief in miracles that are real and close at hand. Louie is determined to save the sick miniature donkey even though his past animal endeavors haven't turned out well. But he names him Winslow to show that he will survive and with the help of his family and some unexpected sources, maybe miracles can come true. A beautiful book for a family to enjoy together as a read aloud. 

(Contemporary Novel, ages 7+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Dry Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781481481977
Availability: Backordered - Subject to availability
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 3rd, 2019

Today's fiction, tomorrow's reality. Normal California life turns into a war-zone when the taps are turned off and Alyssa's family is torn apart by thirst as the world dries up around her. A gripping read from start to finish that hits close to home. I read it all in one night. A great book to discuss in a classroom or book club. I have never been more grateful for my water bottle next to me.

(Science Fiction, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
There's Something about Sweetie Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781534416796
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - June 23rd, 2020

I am unable to put into words how much I loved this book. Each of Sandhya's pervious books are wonderful (When Dimple Met Rishi and From Twinkle, With Love). I read this book all in one night and was so happy with it that I sat down the next morning to write down my thoughts but I felt so intimidated by how much joy this book brought me. Strange to belive, but I just don't think my words would be able to describe to you the sweet happiness, quiet power, and gentle love in this story. All I can tell you is that this book will leave you grinning from ear-to-ear. 

(Young Adult Romance, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781571313652
Availability: Available to Order from Our Warehouse
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 8th, 2020

Aimee didn't know it at the time (or maybe she did in her mystical way) but this book was written for me and all the other brown-skinned, nature-loving, quiet-questers in the world. This BEAUTIFUL package asks the reader to pick-me-up and go for a walk down memory lane where you will find essays on a diversity of flora and fauna from the dragon fruit to the narwhal and the corpse flower to the axolotl; all of which are gorgeously illustrated inside. Her writing asks everyone to find beauty and connection to the wonders that are nature's stories. 

(Essays) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You: A Remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316453691
Availability: Available to Order from Our Warehouse
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - March 10th, 2020

Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ibram X Kendi have made the perfect NOT history book for everyone hesitant/curious/eager/desperate to learn what it means to be an anti-racist. There are dates, there are names, there are facts, but mostly there is reflection. Policies, media, moments, are all looked at in a way that traces the lines of thought to action and in-action asking us to laugh, cry, pause, rage, and fight against racist and assimilationist thought. Approachable, engaging, and necessary, this is a book that will make change. 

(Non-Fiction, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Raybearer Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781419739835
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Amulet Paperbacks - August 3rd, 2021

Immerse yourself in a rich fantasy world with wishes to cheat death, struggles for power, and hopes to find love. Jordan Ifueko has given us the start of a series where peace may not be as it seems and who you are vs. who the world tells you to be can have life-threatening and history-shaping consequences. One of my favorite aspects is the chants, prayers, and songs that are essential to the story and the narrator rhythmically enriches the reading.

Listen to Raybearer as an audiobook!

 (Young Adult Fantasy, ages 12+) - Reviwed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
The Cost of Knowing Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534445451
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - April 6th, 2021

Love, grief, power, and family all come together in The Cost of Knowing as Alex struggles to live his life as a young Black man grieving over the loss of his parents and best friend. His grief must also contend with his anxiety and a mysterious power that allows him to see the future of anything he touches. When learning of an event that he would do anything to prevent, he must come to terms with the origins of his power and the consequences of his actions as a brother, boyfriend, and young Black teenager. Morris is able to dive deep into an emotionally nuanced story layering grief, masculinity, and generational trauma that will leave readers with a powerful message about regret, choice, and knowledge. A book to support with full hearts, unashamed tears, and powerful voices.

(Young Adult Contemporary, ages 14+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
The Trouble with Penguins Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250208484
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Roaring Brook Press - November 3rd, 2020

A roasted marshmallow opens this delightful new friendship story. Atmospheric illustrations beautifully compliment this warm-hearted story of community and sharing. Perfect for fans of marshmallows, penguins, and of course best friends! 

(Picture book, ages 5+) -Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Book Buddies: Ivy Lost and Found Cover Image
By Cynthia Lord, Stephanie Graegin (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9781536213546
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Candlewick - September 28th, 2021

A beautiful start to new friends and a new early chapter book series. In a tale reminiscent of Cordory's adventures, Ivy the doll discovers the magic of making new memories with children and fellow book buddy toys. The story balances a modern family with the classic-feeling black and white illustrations.  

(Early Chpater Book, ages 6+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Pre-Order Now Badge
Graceling (Graphic Novel) Cover Image
By Gareth Hinds (Illustrator), Kristin Cashore
$17.99
ISBN: 9780358250470
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Etch/Clarion Books - November 16th, 2021

Hinds' illustrations bring to life the characters that have lived in my heart since the original publication of Cashore's Graceling. I can't wait to share this with long-time fans and new readers!

(Young Adult Graphic Novel, ages 12+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Vespertine Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534477117
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - October 5th, 2021

Gray sisters, silver spirits, and white crows that scream warnings of the dead all come together in this haunting new novel from fantasy favorite Margaret Rogerson. Artemisia is the no-nonsense nun that you want on your side when malicious powers start to corrupt human and spirit alike. Fans of Rogerson's Sorcery of Thorns and Enchantment of Ravens will be thrilled with this new series starter!

(Young Adult Fantasy, ages 14+) - Reviewed by Jessica


Staff Pick Badge
Barakah Beats Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338702064
Availability: Recently On Our Shelves
Published: Scholastic Press - October 19th, 2021

Get ready for some amazing story beats with this debut middle grade book, Barakah Beats! Perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina's Voice, Nimra is starting a new school and winds up singing in the popular boy band. But will she be able to tell her new-found friends that sining conflicts with her faith?

I loved this book for the friendship and the honesty around the difficulty fitting in - even when you find your group.

(Contemporary Novel, ages 9+) - Reviewed by Jessica