Elisabeth Jewell

About Elisabeth: 

You'll never catch Elisabeth in the literary fiction-- she's the one skulking in the fantasy section, or riffling through pages in the Young Adult department! She's also a fan of humor writers and cultural history (she devoured Cake: A Global History in two days). Our events coordinator, Elisabeth lives with her husband, too many cats, and two small tiny overlords.

Staff Pick Logo
Mage Against the Machine Cover Image
ISBN: 9781534403048
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Saga Press - October 30th, 2018

Elisabeth's October 2018 pick

Exhilarating and fresh, this book is part fantasy, part post-AI-apocalyptic dystopian. Two story halves (one a young mage Edge Guard in his idyllic hidden pocket of the world struggling to reconcile young love and duty, and one a young Resistance fighter struggling to save the human race from their genocidal robot overlords after the A.I. uprising 13 years previous) crash together in a shocking second act.

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Heartless Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250044655
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Feiwel & Friends - November 8th, 2016

Elisabeth's December 2016 pick

For teens and lovers of Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass. (No sex in this book, although there's some forbidden romance and kissin’.) A fractured fairy tale, the story of how young Lady Catherine turned from a sweet young woman (and talented baker) into the bitter and jaded “off with their heads!” Queen of Hearts that we are familiar with.

The Queen of Hearts, she baked some tarts, all on a summer’s day. The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, and took them clean away. He stole her heart too.

Adulthood Is a Myth: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection Cover Image
ISBN: 9781449474195
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Andrews McMeel Publishing - March 8th, 2016

Elisabeth's September 2016 pick

There's something about a *Sarah's Scribbles* comic that cuts straight to the truth, espeically if you're an introvert. Each comic is hilarious and insightful, and makes you think "Yes. Someone out there gets me."

The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451466808
Availability: Special Order
Published: Roc - September 29th, 2015

Elisabeth's September 2015 pick

The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher

I challenged a co-worker to a cage match in order to get this Advance Reading Copy. (She declined. The publisher's rep had two copies.)
Reading a new Butcher book is always an emotional experience, in that you early want to suck down the pages, to find out WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, but each page consumed brings you another page closer to the dreaded end of the book, and it will be at least a year before another new volume arrives to thrill you. I rejoiced with each page turn, and mourned as the unread section of pages got slimmer and slimmer.

This was a lovely new offering from Butcher, new series that has it all. Sky pirates (ahem, privateers), cats, sword fights, espionage, war, world building, genial wizards (of a sort) whose brains are too full of the magic of the ether to remember mundane things like how to work a doorknob or wear pants, sky battles, a subtle romance, politics, humor, and cats. Did I mention cats? Rowl is my favorite character. Butcher writes a cat's perspective very well.

An ensemble cast of characters provides chapters from multiple perspectives, even some from the (surprisingly sympathetic) enemy, and keeps the story moving without bogging down. As you observed each character from their companion's perspective and from their own thoughts, it was easy to get attached.

Did I mention the cats? Seriously one of the best parts. (I'm leaving out something very big here, so you can have the delight of discovery that I did when they appear about 20 pages into the book.)

The Rosie Project: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476729084
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 1st, 2013

Elisabeth's November 2013 pick

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion

A hilarious romp narrated by Simon, a brilliant geneticist who, despite his lack of understanding social cues, embarks on a scientific campaign to find a wife, reasoning that companionship would be practical and convenient. His method of evaluating candidates, a lengthy questionnaire to ensure compatibility before investing time and effort, turns away several fantastic candidates, and his inability to pick up on social cues turns away several beautiful and brilliant and definitely interested women.

It is Rosie, a wholly inappropriate candidate (according to his questionnaire) who begins to mold Simon in to regular life as they work towards solving the mystery of Rosie's father (he's a geneticist, remember?). 

The author is very careful not to label Simon as autistic, although autism and Asperger's Syndrome are mentioned, because the label would flatten this rich character into a two dimensional figure. Simon does have many characteristics that only he does not seem to notice, and has a very particular way of viewing the world that makes for a fascinating narrative, and it makes him a sympathetic and likeable character even as you scream at him to notice what is going on around him.

The Rithmatist Cover Image
By Brandon Sanderson, Ben McSweeney (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780765320322
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tor Teen - May 14th, 2013

Elisabeth's May 2013 pick

Sanderson's worldbuilding ability shines in this novel, a first YA offering from this fantasy giant. An alternate earth contains just enough place names and events to provide a sense of familiarity to ground the alternate history and the fantastical events of this novel, and the physics and math based magic provides a credibility that "Abracadabra" just can't match. The characters of this novel suit the late middle school crowd of readers, but the serious tones of the novel will still hold the interest of a high schooler.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465021765
Availability: Backordered
Published: Basic Books - October 9th, 2012

Elisabeth's January 2013 pick

A fascinating look into the ways our cultures have shaped the way we handle and interact with food. The tools are and technologies we use are just as influenced by our societies as our societies are influenced by our tools.
Particularly fascinating is how different things were 500, 100, even 20 years ago. Women were rarely the cooks for large houses or castles back in the days of open hearths, due to the danger of death from skirts catching fire. Forks were considered effeminate until about 200 years ago. The modern potato peeler, now an indispensable tool, only appeared in the 1990's!

The Storm Makers Cover Image
By Jennifer E. Smith, Brett Helquist (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780316179584
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 3rd, 2012

Elisabeth's June 2012 review 

Ruby and Simon, twelve-year-old twins, are passing their first summer at their family's new farm in Wisconsin, when a mysterious man shows up to explain that the strange weather they've been having is attached to Simon's mood and that Simon is the youngest (and potentially the most powerful) Storm Maker the world has ever seen.
A delightful middle-grade reader with a girl narrator telling the story, but centered around her twin brother (thus making it palatable for readers of either sex).
It is a delight to read a book that has average protagonists. Normal teens with normal tantrums and intelligences, confusions, and fears. Thrust into overwhelming and frightening situations, they act like twelve-year-olds, not politically saavy adults or exceptionally gifted and talented wonder-kids. It is no mysterious family secret or hidden bloodline, just chance that gifts Simon with his powers.
Written well for the age group, not dumbed down ("for kids") but rather written with an age-empathic vocabulary and sentence structure.

The Song of Achilles Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062060617
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ecco Press - March 6th, 2012

Elisabeth's March 2012 pick

Delightful! An awkward boy and an awkward friendship with the already heroic preteen Prince Achilles, and its organic growth into the magnificence that steals the stage in the Iliad. What a wonderful side to the epic, that at last receives the attention it deserves. Bravo to Ms. Miller is her tender and sympathetic treatment of these two heroes.

The Fault in Our Stars Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525478812
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - January 10th, 2012

Elisabeth's February 2012 pick

I wept.

I wept and I would still read it again. I am tempted to leave the review at that. "I wept." This book is wonderful and terrible, and well-written. John Green has the singular ability to write like people (teenagers especially) feel, to distill into words a feeling, an impression, in a very non-literary sort of way. He is also excellent at sympathetically channeling the singular misery and drama that teenagers feel. Give this to the teenager in your life who might also like Jodi Picoult.

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312641894
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Feiwel & Friends - January 3rd, 2012

Elisabeth's January 2012 pick

Cinderella set after World War IV, in New Beijing, with the protagonist as a cyborg (and thus a second-rate citizen). Throw in a deadly and very contagious plague reminiscent of the Black Death, and inter-galactic political difficulty between the Earth and the independent Moon. Instead of a glass slipper, the heroine accidentally leaves behind her cybernetic left foot.

I loved this book. I confess that when I picked it up, and even after I read the back cover, I wasn't expecting much. Too weird, I thought. How do you translate Cinderella into such a strange setting? Well, I read it in one evening. I couldn't put it down. The characters are three dimensional and interesting, and inspired emotional reactions (I wanted to shake the step-mother for being such a petty, horrible person). The love story was sweet and unforced. The heroine was no Mary Sue! The writing style was light and easy to read, making this a quick read. Entirely enjoyable, I would definitely recommend this book for someone who liked The Hunger Games for its downtrodden, flawed heroine in tough life-or-death political circumstances, but who is looking for something less bloody and gory to read.

King Hugo's Huge Ego Cover Image
ISBN: 9780763650049
Availability: Backordered
Published: Candlewick - July 26th, 2011

King Hugo's Huge Ego is a delight! Written in rhyming quatrains, each page has the bouncing, contagious feel of a limerick (not a dirty one, thank you very much) which trips and rolls off the tongue. This story was a lot of fun to read to children.

The Hunger Games Cover Image
ISBN: 9780439023528
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - July 3rd, 2010

This book may be classified as a YA novel, but I've definitely recommended it to just about every adult I know. An excellent pick for young adult reluctant readers, because the story really is that engaging. Chosen by lottery to compete in an annual televised battle royale, where the winner is taken care of for life and the losers are brutally slaughtered by other contestants for the viewers' cruel amusement in the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen just hopes to survive long enough to make it home, and to avoid becoming one of the human monsters she is fighting against. The story is horrifying and shocking, but I couldn't put it down, wondering what would happen next. I made the mistake of bringing this book on my honeymoon, thinking to read it on the beach. My husband had to threaten to hide it in order for us to go snorkeling.

Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana's Story Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250060556
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Feiwel & Friends - January 27th, 2015

Preorder your copy of Fairest: Levana's Story today to receive a Fairest hidden-message pocket mirror and a limited edition poster while supplies last! (On Sale January 27, 2015)

Stay tuned for news of a Lunar party!