Book Review: Mystic by G. Willow Wilson and David López

33282561In a vaguely steampunkish world, magic is taught almost exclusively to the nobility, until two orphans learn a bit on their own from the headmistress’s library. In the hopes of being chosen as an apprentice, Giselle and Genevieve go to the palace in disguise. When Giselle (who was pretty ambivalent about the whole magic thing to start with) gets chosen and Genevieve (who was really the one eager to learn magic) is left behind, Genevieve takes up with a set up revolutionaries. All this puts a serious strain on their friendship. Can they reconcile and save the world at the same time?

I picked this up because I love Wilson’s Ms Marvel. This work is based loosely on a previous Mystic series, and maybe the fact that this is a reboot makes it harder to hear Wilson’s voice in the work. While it lacks the charm of Ms. Marvel, Mystic is a fun little book. The artwork especially is very good, with a diversity of character design not often found in popular comics.

Review by Jessica A.


Friday Reads: Women in STEM

March is Women’s History Month, so all month we will be highlighting the work of women, both in our Book Reviews and Friday Reads entries. Since next week marks the beginning of our Girls Who Code program (There’s still time to sign up!), I thought we’d start with books by and about women working in STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Math) jobs. All of these books are available in the SHARE Catalog.


61cj0lfcggl-_sx326_bo1204203200_The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson

Published in 1951, The Sea Around Us is one of the most remarkably successful books ever written about the natural world. Rachel Carson’s rare ability to combine scientific insight with moving, poetic prose catapulted her book to first place on The New York Times best-seller list, where it enjoyed wide attention for thirty-one consecutive weeks. It remained on the list for more than a year and a half and ultimately sold well over a million copies, has been translated into 28 languages, inspired an Academy Award-winning documentary, and won both the 1952 National Book Award and the John Burroughs Medal.This classic work remains as fresh today as when it first appeared. Carson’s writing teems with stunning, memorable images–the newly formed Earth cooling beneath an endlessly overcast sky; the centuries of nonstop rain that created the oceans; giant squids battling sperm whales hundreds of fathoms below the surface; and incredibly powerful tides moving 100 billion tons of water daily in the Bay of Fundy. Quite simply, she captures the mystery and allure of the ocean with a compelling blend of imagination and expertise.Reintroducing a classic work to a whole new generation of readers, this Special Edition features a new chapter written by Jeffrey Levinton, a leading expert in marine ecology, that brings the scientific side of The Sea Around Us completely up to date. Levinton incorporates the most recent thinking on continental drift, coral reefs, the spread of the ocean floor, the deterioration of the oceans, mass extinction of sea life, and many other topics. In addition, acclaimed nature writer Ann Zwinger has contributed a brief foreword.Today, with the oceans endangered by the dumping of medical waste and ecological disasters such as the Exxon oil spill in Alaska, this illuminating volume provides a timely reminder of both the fragility and the importance of the ocean and the life that abounds within it. Anyone who loves the sea, or who is concerned about our natural environment, will want to read this classic work.

9780375508707_custom-a67e4f0b23653a62553daa4ea02d1c4dfe7ba8a4-s400-c85Angel of Harlem: A Novel Based on the Life of Dr. May Chinn by Kuwana Haulsey

Inspired by the extraordinary events of Dr. May Chinn’s life, Angel of Harlem is a deeply affecting story of love and transcendence. Weaving seamlessly scenes from the battlefields of the Civil War, during which her father escaped from slavery, to the Harlem living rooms and kitchen tables where May is sometimes forced to operate on her patients, this fascinating novel lays bare the heart of a woman who changed the face of medicine.

A gifted, beautiful young woman in the 1920s, May Edward Chinn dreams only of music. For years she accompanies the famed singer Paul Robeson. However, a racist professor ends her hopes of becoming a concert pianist. But from one dashed dream blooms another: May would become a doctor instead–-the first black female physician in all of New York.

Giddy with the wonder of the Harlem Renaissance and fueled by firebrand friends like Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, May doggedly pursues her ambitions while striving to overcome the pains of her past: the death of a fiancé, a lost child, and a distant father ravished by the legacy of slavery. With every grief she encounters, a resilient piece of herself locks into place. At times risking her life–attending to men stabbed in their homes and women left to die in filthy alleys–May struggles to carve out a place for herself within a medical world that still teaches that a “Negro” brain is not anatomically wired for higher thinking. Yet against the odds, she achieves her goal, starts her own practice, and becomes one of the first cancer specialists in the city.

Alive with the pulse of black unrest in 1920s New York, this beautifully textured novel moves with fearlessness and grace through a history that is by turns ugly and sublime. With Angel of Harlem, critically acclaimed author Kuwana Haulsey gives poetic voice to the story of a remarkable woman who had the courage to dream and live beyond her era’s limitations.

From the Hardcover edition.*

*Description taken from Goodreads.

x500Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox

In 1962, Maurice Wilkins, Francis Crick, and James Watson received the Nobel Prize, but it was Rosalind Franklin’s data and photographs of DNA that led to their discovery. Brenda Maddox tells a powerful story of a remarkably single-minded, forthright, and tempestuous young woman who, at the age of fifteen, decided she was going to be a scientist, but who was airbrushed out of the greatest scientific discovery of the twentieth century



517ma9qmv7l-_sx362_bo1204203200_Grace Hopper: The First Woman to Program the First Computer in the United States by Christy Marx

When the first electronic computer was created in 1942, it filled an entire room and took hours to do one simple calculation. It has taken thousands of people many years to develop the handheld, lightning-speed computers that we have today. Back in the 1940s, Grace Hopper was one of the few people who had the foresight to see how important computers could be to us and how advanced they could get.*

*Description taken from Goodreads.

9954709Strong Force: The Story of Physicist Shirley Ann Jackson by Diane O’Connell

Shirley Ann Jackson sees the unseen. She’s an expert in the invisible particles that make up everything in the universe, including you. Shirley is a theoretical physicist, a scientist who studies the subatomic world using only paper, pencils, computers and the most important tool of all: her imagination. Shirley’s passion for science blossomed during her childhood, with bumblebee experiments and go-cart races. But it’s her talent for math and her drive to succeed that have taken her career in amazing directions. Shirley uses her knowledge of electrons, neutrinos, and other particles of matter to better the lives of othersa “from solving important technology problems to teaching college physics to making nuclear power plants safer. A natural-born leader, Shirley has always seized opportunities and broken down racial barriers, not only for herself but for others. Strong Force is the compelling story of an African American scientist and her science. To tell this true story of courage, author Diane O’Connell drew on firsthand accounts from Shirley and her friends, family, and colleagues. How did a young bee collector grow up to be a world-renowned physicist? The life story of Shirley Ann Jackson will intrigue and inspire readers of all ages.*

*Description taken from Goodreads.

51vazgqdmll-_sx329_bo1204203200_Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age by James Essinger

Behind every great man, there’s a great woman; no other adage more aptly describes the relationship between Charles Babbage, the man credited with thinking up the concept of the programmable computer, and mathematician Ada Lovelace, whose contributions, according to Essinger, proved indispensable to Babbage’s invention. The Analytical Engine was a series of cogwheels, gear-shafts, camshafts, and power transmission rods controlled by a punch-card system based on the Jacquard loom. Lovelace, the only legitimate child of English poet Lord Byron, wrote extensive notes about the machine, including an algorithm to compute a long sequence of Bernoulli numbers, which some observers now consider to be the world’s first computer program.

51pzvrvzcyl-_sx314_bo1204203200_Math Doesn’t Suck: How To Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail by Danica McKellar

From a well-known actress and math genius—a groundbreaking guide to mathematics for middle school girls, their parents, and educators

As the math education crisis in this country continues to make headlines, research continues to prove that it is in middle school when math scores begin to drop—especially for girls—in large part due to the relentless social conditioning that tells girls they “can’t do” math, and that math is “uncool.” Young girls today need strong female role models to embrace the idea that it’s okay to be smart—in fact, it’s sexy to be smart!

It’s Danica McKellar’s mission to be this role model, and demonstrate on a large scale that math doesn’t suck. In this fun and accessible guide, McKellar—dubbed a “math superstar” by The New York Times—gives girls and their parents the tools they need to master the math concepts that confuse middle-schoolers most, including fractions, percentages, pre-algebra, and more. The book features hip, real-world examples, step-by-step instruction, and engaging stories of Danica’s own childhood struggles in math (and stardom). In addition, borrowing from the style of today’s teen magazines, it even includes a Math Horoscope section, Math Personality Quizzes, and Real-Life Testimonials—ultimately revealing why math is easier and cooler than readers think.*

*Description taken from Goodreads.

18775337Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr

The definitive biography of Sally Ride, America’s first woman in space, with exclusive insights from Ride’s family and partner, by the ABC reporter who covered NASA during its transformation from a test-pilot boys’ club to a more inclusive elite.



51p9-l7mi3l-_sx377_bo1204203200_Chien-Shiung Wu: Pioneering Physicist and Atomic Researcher by Stephanie H. Cooperman

Chien-Shiung Wu overcame tremendous discrimination and hardship in her lifetime. As a female child in China, it was difficult for her to get a proper education, so at the age of twenty-four, she moved to the United States to study physics. She eventually became an authority in her field, well known for her findings in her study of physics and specifically her work as an atomic researcher.*

*Description taken from Goodreads.


Note: All images are from Google Images and all book descriptions are from SHARE unless otherwise noted.

What’s New at the Library?



See what’s new this week at the Danville Public Library at:

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There are two new bestsellers, two new movies, one new children’s book, and 14 other new books.

The new bestsellers this week are “Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times” and “Dr. Death and the Country Dentist: A True Story of Corruption and Injustice in the American South.” The new movies this week are “The Florida Project” and “All I See Is You [Blu-ray].”

Book Review: Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, and Rembert Browne

51VeK3CIl8L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Whether or not you’ve kept up with the current continuity of Black Panther comics, this is a great supplemental book which focuses on the background stories of a few of the female characters as well as revisiting a character we haven’t seen recently. The stand-out story is Gay’s five issue arc about Ayo and Aneka, the two warriors who basically start a rebellion of the Dora Milaje against King T’Challa (A.K.A. Black Panther). The story shows how they met and become lovers and their growing dissatisfaction with the way T’Challa rules Wakanda. (The three invasions in a row really didn’t help matters.) Next we have Harvey and Coates’ story about the mysterious Zenzi and her strange powers. Lastly, though he hasn’t really been seen since Christopher Priest’s run on The Crew ended in 2004, we find Kaspar Cole focusing on making detective when T’Challa asks him to take on the White Tiger persona again as a favor.

As I said, the best part of this is Ayo and Aneka’s story. Theirs is not an easy romance, as Aneka is constantly concerned with always doing the right and proper thing, and Ayo is a little more brash, to say the least. Still, it’s sweet to watch the two women fall in love. Through this story, we can see exactly why the Dora Milaje lost faith in their king over time, leading us to where the story starts in issue # 1 of Black Panther (2016-). If you’ve been reading Black Panther, you absolutely should read World of Wakanda. I’m just sorry that the series was cancelled after only 7 issues, because I really would have liked to read more stories from Wakanda.

Review by Jessica A.