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  • Writer's pictureAlaina

Staff Favorites of 2023 - Alaina's Picks

Alaina is the assistant director at the library and oversees our young adult collection. Check out some of her favorite books that she read this past year!

Shark Heart

by Emily Habeck

I'm not sure how to even begin to describe this book, so I'll just share a snippet of the book blurb:

For Lewis and Wren, their first year of marriage is also their last. A few weeks after their wedding, Lewis receives a rare diagnosis. He will retain most of his consciousness, memories, and intellect, but his physical body will gradually turn into a great white shark. As Lewis develops the features and impulses of one of the most predatory creatures in the ocean, his complicated artist’s heart struggles to make peace with his unfulfilled dreams.

I know this book sounds weird - and it is - but it is also incredibly beautiful and moving. Personally, I was completely on board the second I heard the word "shark", but I know magical realism isn't for everyone and a lot of people will be turned off by the unusual premise. If it helps, think of it this way - Habeck uses a fictional (and fantastical) illness as the basis for this story, but the struggles the characters go through will be relatable to anyone who has been a caregiver for an ill family member or lost a loved one to an aggressive illness. This would be a great book to read with a discussion group or as a buddy read with a friend as it will leave you questioning how you would handle things if you were in Lewis or Wren's positions.

Under the Whispering Door By TJ Klune

Every now and then - if you're lucky - you stumble across a writer who is so perfectly matched to your reading taste that it almost seems like they're writing just for you. That's how I felt earlier this year when I read my first TJ Klune book. Klune's writing is a like a warm hug to the soul. This absolutely magical queer romance is about found family, love, death, and what it means to live. Klune is able to blend humor with heartbreak, and this beautiful story left me grinning from ear to ear while simultaneously bawling my eyes out. (Seriously.)

The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

by Deya Muniz

This queer romance is so adorable and wholesome that it had me kicking my feet in sheer delight. In a nutshell, this story follows Lady Camembert (or Cam) who disguises herself as Count Camembert after her father dies in order to avoid being forced to marry. While in disguise, she meets (and falls in love with) Princess Brie. Yes, this book is ridiculous, and it's absolutely chock full of cheese puns, but it's also an unbelievably sweet and uplifting story with some truly loveable characters. Cam in particular stole my heart. The art in this graphic novel is so cute and colorful, and I love the mishmash of past and present. Just when you think it's historical fiction, Cam flops on her bed to play video games on her Switch.

Other favorites:



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