Dani Jacques

About Dani: 

For as long as I can remember, I've been surrounded by books.  I loved them so much, even as an infant, that my parents had some of them memorized.  Once I could read on my own though, I started devouring books of all types, transporting myself to fictional realms and historical locations alike.  To this day, I cannot live in a place without books. (I even brought my favorites with me when I was living in South Korea!)

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Shadow of the Batgirl Cover Image
By Sarah Kuhn, Nicole Goux (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781401289782
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: DC Comics - February 4th, 2020

Dani's February 2020 pick

I’m a sucker for origin stories, especially when they concern some of my favorite characters from comic book canon.  Shadow of the Batgirl is that, and by one of my favorite authors to boot!  Sarah Kuhn handles the origins of the second Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, masterfully and with plenty of tact.

    Set in Gotham City, Shadow of the Batgirl follows Cassandra “Cass” Cain as she learns who she wants to be and how to be a hero.  Though the tone is mostly light, Cass’ story is not for the faint of heart. Living in the shadow of her assassin parents, David Cain and Lady Shiva, Cass starts out as a teenaged assassin herself.  Before she can become Batgirl, Cass needs to learn that she is not her parents, or whatever they are trying to mold her into. Her new friends, Barbara Gordon, Jackie Yoneyama, and Erik are there to help.


    I also need to credit Nicole Goux, the artist for this graphic novel.  Her art is expressive and her character models are well suited to the story.  Frames are bright for events happening in the present, and flashbacks are dulled so the reader never gets lost in time.  The paneling makes action sequences and montages seem almost animated, even though the images are still on the page.  

    To fans of superheroes (especially DC), or people struggling to find themselves amidst the expectations of their parents, I highly recommend Shadow of the Batgirl.

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Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062957788
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - October 8th, 2019

Dani's January 2020 pick

Recently, I’ve had a bit of an obsession with comics.  I find the medium fascinating, mostly in the way that storytelling is so much different than in plain text.  In her book, Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere, Hillary Chute discusses this different type of literacy and the stories you can tell with it.   

    Chute breaks the book up into eleven sections: disaster, superheroes, sex, the suburbs, cities, punk, illness and disability, girls, war, queer, concluding with fans.  Through her analysis and historical account, we can see that comics is a medium that lends a voice to communities often left behind by traditional literature. Personally, I found the section on punk comics to be particularly interesting as it has as much to do with Punk subculture as it does with comics published in independent zines.

    I do need to give a couple of warnings with this book.  First, prospective readers should know that this book is dense.  It feels hefty, and the content is not light by any means -- it is very much an academic work and reads like it.  Second, there are full-color scans of comics in every section of this book.  Yes, that means the sections on sex and war too.  Everything is analyzed in an academic way, but the content is still there.

    If you are looking to understand the medium of comics better, have an interest in the history of the medium, or have been a fan for any stretch of time, I recommend this book to you. 

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Are You Listening? Cover Image
By Tillie Walden, Tillie Walden (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781250207562
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: First Second - September 10th, 2019

Dani's September 2019 pick

Are You Listening? No, really, are you?  Not just to the people around you, but also to the crunch of sand under your shoes, the wind in the trees, and that shape lurking in the woods.  Are you listening to yourself? If not, you should be.

Tillie Walden’s graphic novel, Are You Listening? is an emotional road trip.  Also a literal one. It is genre bending and beautiful in it’s exploration of humanity.  Panel lines follow emotional and tonal shifts within the narrative as well. Really though, all my praise will not do it justice.  All I can do is recommend it. And also that you listen.

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The Tea Dragon Society Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620104415
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Oni Press - October 31st, 2017

Dani's August 2019 pick, 1 of 2

When I was just a little girl, my grandmother introduced me to tea.  She taught me how to brew it, sparked my interest in this sometimes esoteric infusion.  To this day, I love brewing and sharing tea with my loved ones. It is tender, bittersweet, beautiful.

In it’s own way, The Tea Dragon Society replicates these feelings.  The character’s tenderness for each other, the declining art of caring for tea dragons, and the bittersweet recollections of past trauma and past love all speak to the experience of tea.  In addition, the story sits in a world that feels well developed. The art is gorgeous. Even the panel design helps to bring about this feeling of… well, of tea on a rainy day.

I hope you get to experience The Tea Dragon Society.  If not, at least consider sitting down with your loved ones and reminiscing over a steaming pot of your favorite brew. 

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Let's Make Ramen!: A Comic Book Cookbook Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399581991
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ten Speed Press - July 16th, 2019

Dani's August 2019 pick, 2 of 2

Ramen is a beautiful thing.  It is rich, salty, and full of umami goodness, whether that comes from meat or ferments.  I will forever remember my first bowl of real ramen -- tonkotsu, in New Orleans, in September -- as well as the first in Japan -- shoyu, in Kyoto, in January.  Ramen making is an art, an art that Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan attempt to distill for any plucky home cooks who want to try their hand at it.

Ok, flowery bits out of the way, this book is really useful.  Maybe the coolest thing about this cookbook is that it is also a comic book.  Sarah Becan’s art is absolutely delectable looking. In addition, Amano takes the reader through the history of ramen, ramen eating etiquette, and then through a ton of recipes for the pieces and parts of any good bowl of ramen.  Admittedly, the bit about etiquette reads a bit like the opening scene of Tampopo, but if you’re trying to eat with more mindfulness, that might actually be really helpful.  (Also, if you haven’t seen Tampopo and you’re interested in ramen, you definitely should.)  All of the instructions are laid out in an easy to understand manner as well, so home cooks should have little trouble with these recipes. So I say “Ramen tsukimashou!”  Let’s Make Ramen!

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The Demon King (A Seven Realms Novel #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781423121367
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - August 31st, 2010

Dani's June 2019 pick, 1 of 2

So…. I cosplayed a book character.  No, there wasn’t art, or a movie, or graphic novel.  I loved a bunch of words so much that I made a tunic and wore it to a convention.  That character was Hanson “Cuffs” Alister from Cinda Williams Chima’s The Demon King.  I would love to talk more about my personal journey with this book, but it is too long to talk about here, so I will reserve that for people who ask me in person.  For now, you’ll have to trust me. The Demon King, along with the rest of the Seven Realms novels, is fantastic.

The Demon King is told in the dual perspectives of our two main characters.  Cuffs Alister is the streetlord of a gang of thieves, but he’s trying to leave that life.  For as long as he can remember, he’s had these silver cuff bracelets on his wrists. He would have sold them to pay for food or medicine, except that they won’t come off.  Raisa Ana Mariana is a princess of the country Cuffs lives in, and she is next in line for the throne. Her parents are pushing her into a diplomatic marriage, but she would rather do her queenly duties without the restriction of a spouse.  Things are already complicated at the start of the story, but they become more so when Cuffs and Raisa meet. And…. anything more would be spoilerific so I’m going to stop. If you want to know more, you’ll just have to read it yourself.

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Wicked Fox Cover Image
By Kat Cho
ISBN: 9781984812346
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - June 25th, 2019

Dani's June 2019 pick, 2 of 2

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho doesn’t feel like a debut novel.  But it is.  I am impressed.  

Set in Seoul, Wicked Fox is the story of a young gumiho and the high school boy who becomes her friend.  Really this is only one of many plot threads in the novel, all of which were tied seamlessly together by the end of the book.  Oh, and don’t worry about not having the background knowledge to understand what’s happening in the book. There are interludes of Korean history and mythology to help readers who aren’t in the know (which I’m pretty sure is most of us.)

At first, reading Kat Cho’s writing, I thought she was exposition dumping.  About twenty pages in though, I realized that that was not what was happening at all.  She brings the city alive through description not only visual, but also auditory and (and I think this is where it really won me over) olfactory.  The last book I read that relied so heavily on the sense of smell was about a perfumier. It really helps to ground the reader in the setting, and never comes across as clunky.  She salts her scenes with character details as well, making them easy to visualize and lending them depth and complexity. For fans of supernatural romance, k-dramas, or Percy Jackson, this book is an excellent choice.  And I am definitely looking forward to the follow up.

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Somewhere Only We Know Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374310578
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 7th, 2019

Dani's May 2019 pick, 1 of 3

With groups like BTS and NCT127 becoming household names in the United States, it comes as little surprise that Kpop is entering young adult literature as well.  Maurene Goo's new book, Somewhere Only We Know, stars a dissatisfied Kpop idol named Lucky, and the cynical heir to a banking family who moonlights as a paparazzo.  Sounds like a Kdrama plot, right?  In spite of how it sounds, however, the relationship between these two characters is believable.  Their banter is humorous, and the characters, even with their extraordinary circumstances, are relatable.  The climax of their story left me shaking.

Plot aside, the themes of this book revolve around dreams and success.  The characters question whether it is worth it to follow your dreams, what those dreams are, and whether it is possible to find success doing what you love.  In both characters we see their dreams twisted almost beyond recognition.  As someone who has been struggling with their dreams, I heartily related to this, and would recommend Somewhere Only We Know to anyone who also finds themselves asking the question "What am I doing with my life?"

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I Love You So Mochi Cover Image
ISBN: 9781338302882
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - May 28th, 2019

Dani's May 2019 pick, 2 f 3

I Love You So Mochi is the story of Kimi Nakamura’s journey to Kyoto, Japan to discover herself.  Along the way she discovers Akira, dressed as a mochi mascot, who resolves to help her on her quest.  This book was fantastic. It’s great. Really, go read it.

    However, I also need to acknowledge my mistake in the ..ehem… location at which I happened to read the climax.  I may have started crying while I was substituting a class. One student noticed and offered me a hug. Perhaps this is a compliment to the writing in this book, as the depth of emotion was such that I couldn’t contain myself, even given the circumstances.

    This is an emotional rollercoaster of a book.  Sarah Kahn took me from generational conflict to meet-cute to the humor of old couples bickering and back again several times over.  I laughed, squeed, and bawled all during the course of this novel. Even the mochi motif itself is by turns adorable and poignant. Cutting through all of the cuteness is a realism that makes the story that much more believable.  I believe that art should make you feel things, all sorts of things. That is something that I Love You So Mochi does phenomenally.

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The Way You Make Me Feel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250308801
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - May 7th, 2019

Dani's May 2019 pick, 3 of 3

Maurene Goo, the way you make me feel is hungry.  

I’ll explain in a bit.  For now, an introduction: The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo is the story of Clara Shin, who sinks to expectations.  When one of her pranks goes horribly awry, she is sentenced to work for her dad’s food truck for the summer.  It is a wonderful journey of self discovery, and growth on the part of Clara, and her fellow food truck worker, Rose.  

As with Somewhere Only We Know, Maurene Goo is fantastically funny, her characters’ voices are distinct, and everyone feels real.  Something I have been noticing though, is that her real strength is in her understanding of place. Her descriptions of setting make the places she writes about come alive.  And by god the food. I just… I want to eat everything in her books. I got so hungry reading The Way You Make Me Feel.  Korean-Brazilian fusion?  Taiwanese shaved-ice? Toothpick Lamb?  Yes please! I could just smell the marinades and spices.  

For anyone who feels like they need a new perspective on life, I heartily recommend The Way You Make Me Feel.

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The Red Scrolls of Magic (The Eldest Curses #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781481495080
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - April 9th, 2019

Dani's April 2019 pick

I remember, back in high school when I started reading The Mortal Instruments I wasn’t in love with the writing, but the characters were fun to follow.  I was especially fond of the background adventures of Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood.  When reading The Infernal Devices, much to my surprise, Magnus was featured again, this time amidst a cast of mostly adult characters.  Now I must admit that I have not read all of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter novels, but even if you haven’t read any of them, you could read The Red Scrolls of Magic and not worry about missing too much.  

    The Red Scrolls of Magic follows the misadventures of Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood as they go on what was supposed to be a romantic vacation to Europe.  Unfortunately that romantic vacation becomes a quest to stop a demon worshiping cult to which Magnus is somehow connected. I couldn’t help but enjoy the sass each of these characters levels at each other and everyone else around them, and the portrayal of their relationship in all of its details was spectacular.  In her note, Clare talks about how her first book, City of Bones was banned.  The reason given was “explicit content,” but the content was Magnus and Alec’s (not explicit) relationship.  For so long those characters were side characters, but The Red Scrolls of Magic features them as the main cast.  She decided she was confident enough, and it was time.  I, for one, am glad that she did. Congratulations, Cassie Clare and Westley Chu, on a job well done.  #malec

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The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316310352
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - January 8th, 2019

Dani's May 2019 pick, 1 of 2

These books are dangerous.  No, really, I mean it. The readability of the novels of Holly Black is akin to the revels about which she writes.  They will pull you in, and enchant you, causing you to continue reading against your better judgement, and sometimes against your will.  They cast a glamour on the reader, one you may only escape if there is an unaffected party standing by to pull you out of your everapple wine induced haze.  Wicked King is surely one of Black’s most effective in this manner.

    Wicked King is the sequel to Cruel Prince, continuing the story of Jude and Prince Cardan.  As such, this serves as your spoiler warning. If you have not yet read Cruel Prince, stop reading this review and read that first.  Trust me, it is also fantastic.

    Cardan, as of the end of Cruel Prince, has been made High King of Faerie, and Jude his seneschal, or advisor.  However, Jude is actually the one in charge. Five months in, and Faerie is on the brink of war, people are trying to humiliate or remove Jude from her position of power, old prejudices against mortals still reign, and Cardan’s constant partying is starting to affect his land and people.  Jude also comes to realize that she may not be as in charge as she thought she was.  If there’s one thing she realizes, it is that power is easy to gain, but difficult to maintain.  Whether this is simply a story about faeries, one of compassion, or one of overcoming toxic family values, or maybe something else entirely, I leave to you.  I just know Wicked King is compulsively readable and definitely worth it.  Now you have to decide, can you trust a mortal, especially this one?

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The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316310314
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - December 4th, 2018

Dani's December 2018 pick

Holly Black has been my favorite author since I read the Spiderwick Chronicles in third grade.  To say I was unreasonably excited when I found out she had a new book series would be an understatement.  After reading Cruel Prince, I was not disappointed.  Black's world of faeries and magic, only separated from our own by a thin veil of glamour is beautifully and horrifically described through the eyes of our main character, Jude.  Jude is not, however, one of the fey she is enraptured and disgusted by.  Instead, she is human, a mortal attempting to find her place in the High Court of Faerie after having been stolen away as a child.  Jude is ambitious though.  She will not settle for marrying one of the Gentry of the High Court.  Through Jude's eyes, and the toxic relationships of the title character, Prince Cardan, the reader experiences the conflict of ambition versus family, and the ways in which these mingle, for better or worse. 

Cruel Prince is set in the same Faerie universe as Black's earlier works, The Modern Faerie Tales and The Darkest Part of the Forest.  I was very excited when characters from each of these appeared in this latest book.  You do not need to have read these previous books to understand what is happening in Cruel Prince, or the rules of the world in which it is set, but there is some subtext and irony that will be missed if you haven't.

Dani's November 2018 pick

Cookbooks are not normally books that people read all the way through.  However, this cook book is positively enthralling.  Redzepi and Zilber write with wit; giggles to keep the reader entertained.  In addition, they explain the processes of various fermentation methods, much of which brought me back to one of my favorite classes in high school, AP Chemistry.  Despite the complexity of the fermentation process, the authors have explained in layman's terms, so that anyone may experience the joys of fermented foods.  The various recipes within are augmented with photographs of the various steps for each recipe, and the look that the product should have every few days.  They also refer back to previous recipes in the book, so the reading does not get repetitive.  Throughout the book, in addition to the photographs included in the recipes are illustrations of the bacteria, yeasts, and other microbes involved in fermentation.  Unfortunately, these illustrations are not easily identifiable if you don't have a background in science.  Over all, this book is brilliant, and well worth reading all the way through.  I can't wait to try some of the recipes.