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Check These Out! Titles to Look for at the Library

Daryl M., Librarian, West Valley Regional Branch Library,
3 new book covers

At Check These Out!, each month you will find a few recently published or upcoming titles that are worth “checking out” from the library. All titles are either currently available or have a record in the catalog where you can place a hold and be among the first to read them when they hit the library's shelves. For many of these titles, you will also find interviews with the author on the LAPL Blog and/or a longer, more in depth review on LAPL Reads.

Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems
Goss, Theodora

A professor of literature and writing at both Boston University and the Stonecoast MFA program, Theodora Goss is also the award-winning author of The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club trilogy. Snow White Learns Witchcraft, is a collection of her fairytale-themed poems and short stories, and it is glorious.

“Fairy tales fractured, reinvented, re-imagined, retold,” is how Jane Yolen perfectly describes this collection in her introduction. Some entries are well-known stories, recast and imagined in ways that are unexpected. Others are stories that are completely new and yet feel well-worn and comfortable, like something known since childhood and rediscovered recently.

This is a fascinating, heart-warming and bone-chilling collection of stories—whether in prose or poetry—of how women survive, and thrive, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Snow White Learns Witchcraft will leave you breathless, whether from anticipation, shock, wonder, or laughing out loud. It is the result of a master applying her skill to material that she loves. And it is a MUST read for those that are drawn to our ancient stories.

The Haunting of Tram Car 015
Clark, P. Djèlí

P. Djeli Clark, winner of the 2019 Alex Award for his novella The Black God’s Drums, returns to the alternate Egypt he created for his short story “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” in The Haunting of Tram Car 015, and it is marvelous! This is a story that ranges from frightful to hysterical and back again several times over the course of its scant 130 pages. And Fatma el-Sha’arawi, another investigator from the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, and the protagonist of “A Dead Djinn in Cairo,” makes a brief cameo at the end of the new story.

This is a quick but wonderful read!


The Reign of the Kingfisher: A Novel
Martinson, T. J.

In The Reign of the Kingfisher, debut author T.J. Martinson takes the basic elements of Batman’s mythos and spins from them a markedly more realistic and darker crime thriller. While it is nearly impossible not to see the parallels between the characters in Martinson’s tale and those of the Batman, it is those parallels that make this story so compelling. There are no clear cut answers to any of the questions posed and nothing is so simply defined as being black or white, right or wrong. Everything and everyone in this story falls somewhere on a spectrum of grey and, by the end of the story, readers may feel the need to adjust where they initially placed the characters on that spectrum. While there are no comic book heroes, these heroes are far more believable, with real foibles and a tremendous amount to lose, which makes them all the more admirable as the story progresses.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Richardson, Kim Michele

In The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Kim Michele Richardson tells two stories that have, until now, been overlooked in most fiction and history: the story of the blue people of Kentucky and the story of the Pack Horse Librarians of the 1930s, both of whom are incredible examples of the resilience to triumph over difficult circumstances.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a love letter to the women who daily risked their lives delivering books and other reading materials to those far removed from the traditional realms of “book learning.” It is also an ode to a group of people that, as with all racism, were subjected to terrible treatment and crimes because of the color of their skin. Richardson does an admirable job of portraying the inhabitants of the Kentucky Mountains with grace and dignity. It is never easy to write about those on the “outskirts” of society without falling into pity or condescension. Richardson does neither, but realistically conveys the extreme challenges faced by these small communities during the depression. The result is a compelling and enjoyable read about one young woman’s determination to be the best possible person she could be and how that made her the invaluable resource her community desperately needs.

The Sentence is Death
Horowitz, Anthony

In the second book in the Daniel Hawthorne mystery series, author Anthony Horowitz, and his fictional doppelganger, tackle solving who killed celebrity-divorce attorney Richard Pryce with a £3,000 bottle of wine and then painted a three digit number on the wall. And, most importantly, which of Pryce’s many, many enemies would have been motivated to murder him? The mystery presented is top notch, the writing is sharp, the humor is wickedly pointed and the resolution is more than satisfying. This series is off to a marvelous start!

If you like this type of advance, or near advance, notice about upcoming titles, you can send a comment through the Contact Us page at LAPL.org and let us know. Also, if you read one of the recommended titles, send a comment and let others know what you thought of the book. In both cases, be sure to put Check These Out! in your message.