Book Recommendation: Firstlife by Gena Showalter

firstlifeGenre: Dystopia / Sci-Fi

First Released: 2016

Part of a Series?: Yup! This is the first book in the Everlife series.

Locked in an asylum for her refusal to let her parents dictate her afterlife choices, Ten Lockwood finds herself caught in a violent power struggle between the two leading Everlife realms that would do anything to claim her powerful soul.

Where can I find it in the library?
This will be on the second floor of the library in the Vortex.

Call Number


I enjoyed reading Firstlife! The concept is really intriguing. That there’s multiple afterlives and we can decide which one we want to end up in. Even more intriguing, departed souls can return to influence people who are still on their first-life on which afterlife to choose. They’re known as laborers. Tenley has two laborers, one from each afterlife pulling her in the other direction. Poor Tenley is stuck in-between trying to decide which to choose. Her parents want her to choose one way, but they put her in an asylum to force her hand. How does she know that’s the right decision?

My favorite part of Firstlife though isn’t the cool concept, it’s the fact that it doesn’t fall into the YA dystopian trend of MUST HAVE LOVE TRIANGLE. There’s two boys, yes, but it’s not a love triangle. You’ll see what I mean as you read! Both characters are really likeable too and pretty interesting, and stand on their own outside of Tenley. They aren’t just love interest #1 and #2! Squee!

Book Review: Caraval

By Stephanie Garber
Place a hold.

Caraval is a lavish performance. Caraval is an elaborate game. Caraval is a mystery and a fantasy where nothing is real. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t hurt you. Once a year, in a different locale, a man named Legend hosts Caraval, inviting a select few to participate in an utterly one-of-a-kind experience in which the players interact with each other and with actors to solve a mystery and win the grand prize–a granted wish.

Scarlet has dreamed of attending Caraval since she and her sister, Tella, were just girls. On her tiny island home, at the mercy of her cruel and manipulative father, Caraval seemed like a perfect escape. But an invitation never came.

Now that she is nearly grown anticipating an arranged marriage to a man she’s never met, Scarlet, Tella, and a roguish sailor are on their way to Caraval. But when Tella is kidnapped and placed at the center of the mysterious game, the dream becomes far too real and dangerous for Scarlet. She must solve the puzzle and find her sister before the nightmarish illusions of Caraval drive her mad.

*  *  *

I loved the imagery, the magic and the adventure of Caraval. I can easily see why Scarlet would dream of this experience. The whole idea is exciting and a little frightening, as is the story. Parts of the tale are intricate and beautiful while others are creepy and compelling.

I heartily recommend Caraval to fans of fantasy, romance, adventure, mystery, and suspense.


Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Realistic Fiction / LGBT+ Romance

First Released:

Part of a Series? No

Brief Synopsis: “Sixteen-year-old, not-so-openly-gay Simon Spier is blackmailed into playing wingman for his classmate or else his sexual identity–and that of his pen pal–will be revealed.”

Where can I find it in the library?

This will be on the second floor of the library in the Vortex.



It’s not often that I read realistic fiction, but I’m glad I picked this one up! I especially enjoyed the email conversations between Simon and Blue; they felt real but heartfelt. Simon was allowed to feel angst for his crisis without feeling whiny. There’s a thin line between angst and “oh my god shut up you character you” and Becky Albertalli gets it just perfect. I felt for Simon the whole time and his reactions were proportional to what he was going through. Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda was just the right mix of humor, drama, and romance.

Anime Recommendation of the Month: Princess Jellyfish

This month’s recommendation is the anime Princess Jellyfish.

princess jellyfishGenre: Comedy / Romance

Number of episodes: 11

Rating: PG-13

Language: English & Japanese with English Subs

Brief Synopsis:  “Amamizukan is an apartment complex where no boys are allowed. Kurashita Tsukimi, a girl who adores jellyfish, lives there happily with her friends who all have nerdy obsessions of their own. Their peaceful lives gradually start to change when a beautiful woman helps Tsukimi out of a pinch.”

Spoiler-free Commentary:

This is my hands-down all time favorite anime ever. I love it so much I’m not even quite sure just how to explain why I love it. Princess Jellyfish follows the adventures of Tsukimi and her friends after Tsukimi makes a new friend that (not so gently) pushes them far out of their comfort level to hilarious results.

It’s only failing is that it’s only 11 episodes! Once you get started, it’s far too easy to complete in a single sitting. My advice: take it slow. Savor it, because I loved this show to the point that the moment I finished it, I checked to see if there was going to be a second season. Unfortunately, like The Devil is a Part Timer, there is not. D: (You bet as writing this I double checked to see if that news changed.)

However! GOOD NEWS EVERYONE. There is a Princess Jellyfish manga! And like Fruits Basket, the manga continues on long after the anime ends. As of now, it’s up to 15 volumes in Japan! Thankfully, Kodansha Comics was awesome enough to pick up the license for the manga! In February of 2016, the first volume will be released in the US in English! Mark your calendars because I know I will be!

There was also a live-action version that came out in Japan last year! I have not yet had a chance to see it though, so respond in the comments if you have! I’d love to know your thoughts.

Itching to get started on the show? Check it out at the library today! Hulu also has the first two episodes available to watch for free.

Book Review: Anna Dressed in Blood

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Genre: Horror / Paranormal / Romance

First Released: August 2011

Part of a Series? Yes
Book 2: Girl of Nightmares

Brief Synopsis:

For three years, seventeen-year-old Cas Lowood has carried on his father’s work of dispatching the murderous dead, traveling with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat, but everything changes when he meets Anna, a girl unlike any ghost he has faced before.

Where can I find it in the library?
This will be on the second floor of the library in the Vortex.

Call Number: YA F BLAKE

anna dressed in blood

Commentary (spoilers, if any, will be notated):

Initial Thoughts:

Kendare Blake has a good writing style. There’s enough description so you can get a feeling for what is going on, but not so much that she is describing every blade of grass on the lawn either. It’s just enough to keep the reader interested. All words also mean what they should mean which is always a plus in my book!

The plot also moves at a good pace to keep the reader on reading. Books that drag on and on drive me bonkers, get to the point already! No useless lollygagging please! (Unless it’s funny, then it doesn’t bother me as much)

For those of you who are concerned that it is a part of the horror genre:

It’s supposedly a horror novel but it’s actually not that scary, it has few gross moments (you’ll know them when you get to them) but overall nothing too frightening. It feels more general paranormal based than horror. Trust me because I’m a scaredy cat. I have to watch Supernatural with the lights on.

The Twist (***spoilers in this section, skip over this if you don’t want to be spoiled!***):

The love story aspect between a ghost hunter and a ghost is cute. It’s something I hadn’t read before or even heard about very often (if at all, in the comments let me know if I’m mistaken!) so it was nice to see something different. As much as I love vampire novels, it’s nice to see it wasn’t a vampire love story. The main character is a boy, so it’s nice to see the romance from the boy’s perspective instead of the girl’s. The lack of a love-triangle is also really refreshing too!

Final Thoughts:

Would I read it again? Probably not, I’d rather watch an episode of Supernatural  instead. I would have liked to see more suspense and ghost-killing action.

Will I read the sequel? Most likely, I’d like to see what happens to the main character and Anna after the end of this one. Hopefully they’ll all get some more development!

Feel any differently than I do? Feel similarly? Tell us below in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.


Anime Recommendation of the Month: Witchcraft Works

April’s recommendation is the anime, Witchcraft Works.

Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Comedy

Number of episodes: 12

Rating: PG-13

Language: Japanese with English Subs (currently there is no dub available)

Brief Synopsis: “Takamiya Honoka is just an average student who just so happens to sit next to Kagari Ayaka, the “Princess” of the school, and has never said a word to her. However, one day when Takamiya’s life is put in danger, Kagari arrives to his rescue dressed as a witch. It is revealed that Kagari is what is known as a Workshop Witch within the city and Takamiya is under her protection and shall henceforth protect him from any danger that ensues…” – Crunchyroll

witchcraft works image


Spoiler-free Commentary

I discovered this anime by a crazy random happenstance last summer as I was browsing for something to watch. The description (provided above) seemed mildly interesting and it didn’t have seventy bajillion episodes to it, so I thought to myself, “why not?”

What I love about this show is that it is a total trope reversal! Tropes are common stereotypes you find in TV land such as how people are always extremely dumb in horror movies (See TV Tropes for more!  Quick warning, you could get lost on that site forever!).

The specific trope I’m referencing with Witchcraft Works is the one where a guy constantly has to rescue the girl because she is a helpless damsel in distress and can’t possibly save herself (see Kagome in InuYasha, Mario and Princess Peach in various Mario games, I could go on and on but I won’t). What’s different about this show is Takamiya, the male lead, is actually the damsel in distress! Kagari has to save him quite a bit in the show and this gender reversal is quite refreshing!

There’s also a lot of comedy and really cool action scenes with lots of magic going on as you’d expect with a show with “witchcraft” in its name; it definitely doesn’t disappoint. The romantic nature of the show is very sweet as well with Kagari showing her affection in rather unusual ways.

I highly recommend Witchcraft Works to anyone who is looking for something a bit different but with minimal time commitment. At only 12 episodes, you can watch the entire series in about 4-5 hours!

If you like romance with lots magic and action happening this is definitely the show for you! It is available to watch for free online on Crunchyroll.

The library also has plenty of anime available on both DVD and Blu-ray located on the second floor. Check it out!