Zephyr's April 2023 pick
I would argue this is a modern classic, worthy of rubbing shoulders with the likes of H.G. Wells, Ray Bradbury, or even Orwell. This book filled me with a level of existential dread that I didn’t believe possible to find within myself. Yet, at the same time, sparked the small light of quiet hope and optimism.
Ray Nayler asks us to dive into the unknown, the place which humanity, as a collective, fears. Yet, even as we dive deeper into those unknowable depths, it is here that we begin to ask those important questions. What makes us “human” or conscious? What does that mean? And who has the right to dictate what is and what is not?
Is it us?
Casting a critical eye on our modern culture of destruction and excess. This book serves as a door into a possible future of ourselves, as humans and of this planet we inhabit. In truth, this novel echoes what is happening now in our modern world. Ray Nayler merely asks us one question: what if we are not the only ones? Not in space, but living on this planet. Given how we react, to not only relatives of our own clade but other species, the prognosis one may assume is poor. However, I would say to read and find the hope within, as I did. For it is a poignant and stark warning of what is to come when we treat the world we’re tied to with such malicious indifference.
Zephyr's March 2023 pick
Lewis believed in Mothman, and I think you will too. He is real, I promise. He is tall, with big red eyes and takes the color from the world when he appears. He also is polite enough to write letters back to Noah. Even if they are only pictures.
Noah has had a hard time, since Lewis has been gone and feels alone, like I think Mothman is. Do you feel like that? I know I do sometimes, I wish I could be a cryptid. I think about it alot. Anyways, I was talking about Noah and Lewis.
Lewis believed in cryptids, especially Mothman. Now Mothman is special; he helps kids like us. Kids who feel like monsters, kids who get told they are monsters by scared people. People who are afraid of what they don’t know. That is okay I guess. Secretly, sometimes I wish I could be like Mothman. I wouldn’t have to go to school, or do homework. I could fly around at night and live behind a waterfall.
Maybe you don’t believe in Mothman. That’s alright. I wasn’t sure at first. Now, I definitely believe he is out there even if we can’t see him or he is too shy to talk. Maybe if you leave a letter by the woods he’ll write you too.
~ A Fellow Cryptid
Zephyr's March 2023 pick
Raz and Bon are not like normal humans, in fact they are not humans at all. To add to that Melody isn’t even their child, they just found her in the woods one day. Now neither one of them wants to give Melody up and they have to work together to bring this kid up as the “normal gay couple who are part of an arranged marriage who moved in outside of Lacivill”. It is a lovely story about magic, bettering yourself for those you love, trust, reconciliation, understanding, and sacrifice.
Zephyr's June 2023 pick
There are few collections of poetry that resonate with the very chords that make up my being as this. “Negative Money”, through Lillian’s concise musing and poetic prose, touches upon the struggles of everyday life and overarching societal failures that feed them. Anyone unsure of where to start their own poetic journey, as I was, or seeking to enhance it, I cannot recommend these works enough.
Zephyr's February 2023 pick
Under the Banner of King Death is a historical fiction that cleverly merges the spaces between our understanding of the myth and reality of pirates and the Golden Age. It is a tale of rising-up against a tyrant merchant king’s wanton cruelty and the oppressive regimes that emboldens and protects them. While the tale’s ending is bitter-sweet, it leaves the reader with the beliefs and hopes of the characters that still ring true today.
As a graphic novel, it is well-executed with appealing composition and design. It flows well and is easy to follow and understand. In addition to the nicely styled art and visuals, the authors provide additional context to understanding the story both within the forward and the afterword of the book. The book gives the reader a clear understanding of why they capture our imagination and why society still needs pirates today.
Zephyr's October 2022 pick (1 of 2)
Mina is willing to do anything for her family, especially her brother. So when Sim Cheong, the love of her brother’s life, is going to be sacrificed in a yearly festival to be the bride of the Sea God Mina is compelled to intervene. She gives herself to the dragon only to find herself very much alive in the Spirit Realm. Discovering the Sea God has been cursed in a century’s long slumber it falls to her to break this curse. It is now a race against time as she can only stay in the Spirit Realm for one month, after which she dies and she is being stalked by assassins. No pressure.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a wonderful retelling of the Korean story of Sim Cheong. As someone who doesn’t usually have an appetite for books with a romantic aspect, I was impressed and enjoyed it thoroughly . Axie Oh does a great job balancing the action, danger, mystery and intrigue with the few dashes of romance to tie this story together in an amazing fashion. If I could equate this story in a single sentence then it would be this. Think Spirited Away if Chihiro and Haku ended up being together at the end. I would definitely recommend giving this book a read!
Zephyr's October 2022 pick (2 of 2)
The word endling is scary, especially if you are Byx the last of the Dairne. It is made even worse when, in a single night she has lost her family, her freedom, and any hope she has had for the future. The only thing she has now is a foul smelling horse (to a sensitive nose), a cliny Wobbyk called Tobble, and a cryptic girl who pretends to be a soft-spoken and clumsy boy in public, and a small rumor. A rumor that she may not be the only Dairne. One that many want to remain as such, an unverifiable rumor at any cost. Even if that means killing the last Dairne.
Endling: The Last, a harrowing tale about a young hero who learns to fight, be her own person, and to lie (trust me it is important). While the story begins sad you can’t help but hold on to hope for our little endling. It is a wonderful book to read with a strange and beautiful world to match.
Zephyr's July 2022 pick (1 of 2)
A story of magic and mystery. It is like Watership Down meets Redwall and Warriors. The story follows the life of Brigidbelle, a hardworking rabbit who, while she longs for more, understands the duty of her station and place in the world. However, on the heels of the death of a dear friend and companion at the hands of the increasingly aggressive Fox clans, in open defiance of a treaty set generations ago, something is coming to the valley, something that could bring back the horrors of the ancient and forgotten world before they were able to talk, before their society when beasts controlled fire and destroyed the world and themselves.
This book is amazing and I am eagerly anticipating when I can get my hands on the second and third graphic novels when they release this year. The world feels alive, with history, lore, culture, and intrigue. An amazing graphic novel I would recommend for anyone who is a fan of Erin Hunter, Jacques Brian, Tui T. Sutherland, and many others. It kept me glued to each page and I only wish it was longer and that the other books were out already.
Zephyr's July 2022 pick (2 of 2)
Reggie had everything... that was until this day his dad passed away, they moved, and his mom began to hide from the world. Now, Reggie has bullies and anger, neither of which will go away. However, one day a mysterious and ratty stanger offers him something that could fix everything. The catch is, be at the train station at midnight tonight. Maybe then his deepest wishes will be realized? Or will the price be just too high?
Ravenous Things is a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale, “Pied Piper of Hamelin”. An endearing book about anger, friends, and coming to terms with loss and grief. Reggie is a fun and relatable protagonist and you are rooting for our would-be hero as he join a band of other kids to survive monstrous shadows, a crazed rat man, a city of murderous brain-washed adults, and very hungry rats.
Zephyr's June 2022 pick
This is the book on Evolution that your parents won’t let you read (or at least they will blush). BITCH is a no-hold-bar analysis of the “passive female” in all her forms; revealing just how ruthless and powerful she can be in the game of evolutionary gains. Far from the pensive and non-combative stereotype; science examines the Queens of nature, be they benevolent matriarchs or tyrannical despots.
Lucy Cooke shows the research and advancement of fellow scientists who have been buried and trodden down by the ingrained patriarchal scaffolding that Darwin built (or more correctly cemented by the red pen of a certain daughter…). These unsung and invisible heroes are heralds of a scientific evolution revolution, one that shows females can be just as fearsome and competitive as males when at the wheel. She reveals the warts and flaws that come from the corrupted tendrils of archaic Victorian thinking that has molded and cemented our ideas in science, culture and beyond.
This book is sassy, crass (at times), and all around a joy to read. We get to peek into the lives and loves of researchers, their interests and passions. You don’t have to be an expert (or have a degree) in the field of ecology or biology to understand and enjoy the book (though it is cool to see these changes and events first hand). Cooke created a marvelous book spanning decades of research. This isn’t your grandparents' or even your parents' book on evolutionary theory.
Zephry's May 2022 pick
A powerful start for what I eagerly hope to be the beginning of a series written by Xiran Jay Zhao. A story of belonging and finding yourself all the while having the pressure of the First Emperor of China telling you what to do.
Ying Ziyang, or Zachary Ying, is a kid with problems we have all faced: the struggle to fit in. This is made all the harder as a first generation immigrant who just moved to a brand new school. Suddenly his world is thrown into more chaos when the First Emperor tries and fails to possess him. Now with his mother’s life at stake, Zachary must navigate a world far different from his own and known only by association of heritage. On top of the time-crunch to master his new found powers and abilities, he must learn to have the strength and confidence to be himself even with the pressure of his family history and society crushing down on him.
This is a story that hits the ground running and you'd better hold on for the globe-trotting ride. Well written and beautifully paced, with each momentary lull giving just a moment to breathe while still building tension for the coming storm. This is a book that I would highly recommend and has rekindled my love for fiction. I could not put it down.
Zephyr's April 2022 pick
This is one of those books that I have always meant to read. The movie by Don Bluth was my childhood and so memorable and now after years of procrastination I have finally read it. I can say with confidence that it was worth the wait and I wish I had read it sooner.
A charming tale of a widow, Mrs. Frisby, as she struggles to survive as a small field mouse on a farm. A farm with vicious cats, and hawks, snakes, and even more terrifying giant rats who live in the rosebush next to the farmer’s home. Timid but determined, she’s desperate for a solution to save her youngest child who has caught pneumonia, but the farmer is going to till up the field where they belong any day now and her son is too sick to move. As she faces her fears she discovers all is not as it seems on the farm and there are secrets about her husband she never knew.
Likely available, but must be ordered by email/phone
Zephyr's March 2022 pick
What happens when you mix true crime, natural history, and conservation? You could very well get a book like this. Feather Thief is a harrowing tale of humanity’s desire to own the beautiful, the rare, and unobtainable at all costs. It pulls back the curtain on a very dark and difficult part of human nature that we all know far too well.
The book is a dizzying whirlwind of one man’s budding hunger to seek the truth in a hope to mend what was once broken. Fast pace, sarcastic, and quirky at times. Kirk Johnson seeks answers for the heist of one of natural history’s most forgotten scientists, Alfred Russel Wallace (this man never could catch a break). A book that I feel carves out a niche for the co-discoverer of natural selection.
Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin (Paperback)
Zephyr's February 2022 pick
Yes, it is about books bound in human-flesh and, no, this book will not teach you how to bind a book using your best friend or enemy. It is a little more nuanced than a “how-to-guide” on making the Necronomicon. Megan, an intrepid and voracious bibliophile, librarian, and historian speaks more about the people who had been turned into books embarking upon a global hunt into this strange world. She faces the great challenge of the era common to “Anthropodermic Bibliopegy” (fancy title to such books earning this terrific distinction), anonymity. In a time when doctors ousted women from the role of doctors, healers, and midwives, and viewed themselves as above the law became the stuff of nightmares. Bogeymen and bodysnatchers who would steal you loved ones away indescrimate of who you were and made all the more horrific as their palate changes from recently executed murders of death-row to that of the more numberous marginalized and poor.
This book takes us down the macabre rabbit-hole of the origins and myth of Anthropodermic books from the first discoveries, to testing and determining these books fates, and even what the fate of some may be when we too pass on. We learn about the dark days of medicine and the evolution of informed consent that, for many, is ingrained into the public psyche. We also get a window into the caretakers of such strange pieces of history and their appreciation/reverence for such artifacts of our complex past that is more than just skin-deep.
Zephyr's February 2022 pick, 2 of 3
A book about finding yourself and having the courage to not be bound by your own past, and that we can be more than what history defines us as. A timely book for children who are just beginning to determine how they wish to define themselves, and which provides them with encouragement to be themselves.
Zephyr's February 2022 pick, 3 of 3
Stacy is an intelligent young girl who gets the opportunity to express herself and her love of the written word in the annual Spelling Bee Contest. She is excited, but, when her bully who also is good with words is a contestant, Stacy must use her biggest words, like courage, humility and perseverance to find her voice. A sweet and endearing book that I would recommend for anyone with children, as a heartwarming tale of finding yourself and not being afraid to make space for yourself.
Zephyr's January 2022 pick, 1 of 2
This book is written in a way that is both charming and informative, pulling back the curtain on a relatively unknown member of our home, Planet Earth (save from the calamari on our plates). Staaf provides a comprehensive history of cephalopods beginning with their earliest ancestors and bringing us to the present but, more importantly, what the future could hold for such a keystone species in a dramatically changing world. Introducing us to the inquisitive and astonishing nature of this “slimey” and hidden world. We get to learn of new research and how our understanding has broadened through the years and how we can help prevent the extinction of our more delicate neighbors. For those who are interested in this mysterious group of animals, I would recommend it. It is an eating digestible (pun intended) to read, understand, and comprehend. Perhaps it will give you pause to ponder the squid on your plate while you read.
Zephyr's January 2022 pick, 2 of 2
Strong, poignant, and unfiltered are the words that come to mind. In a graphic novel series that takes a look at the history of the Civil-Rights Movement of the 60s as told by the last of the “Big Six”, the late John Lewis. The story within this trilogy of graphic novels is biographical in nature and takes us on the journey through the life of John Lewis and the Jim Crow South. A book that I recommend everyone to read and to face the darkness of our own history so that we can move towards a bright and more just future.
The trio of novels follow John Lewis as some of the greatest triumphs of the Civil-Rights Movement occur but, we are also there for the grim darkness and terror that came to those who were brave enough to stand up for liberty and justice for everyone. These novels are presented in a way that can only be described as the rights of your classic superhero but made all the more amazing to know that these superheroes were real. A recommended series with the fourth, Run, being released, makes a great introduction to anyone wishing to begin to learn and understand the history of Civil Rights in America over the shoulder of the “Moral Compass of Congress”, John Lewis.