SpecFic Saturday | #CYBILS2023 Reviews 12.16.2023

Is it too corny to say this week’s SpecFic Saturday selections are out of this world? Probably not if you ask our reviewers! Whether it was Alysa Wishingrad’s Between Monsters and Marvels or Sacha Lamb’s When Angels Left the Old Country, the words “wonderful,” “delightful,” and “rich” repeated shemselves within reviews and across them.

Read on. See for yourself.

Summary excerpts come from Goodreads. Click the cover to add this book to your TBR.


Gina @ Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – I really loved this story, and while that alone is a great reason to pick up a book, the thing that really made it memorable for me weren’t the monsters or the marvels, but rather Dare, herself. Going along with her to not only uncover the truth about her father, but her own truth, was a quest worth taking, risks be darned, for as much as hunters enjoy the chase, they also like a place to call home.  A great adventure for middle grade readers and beyond with so much heart, and so many secret truths to discover, you won’t want to miss out!

Katy @ A Library Mama – This book contains a wonderfully dark Edwardian atmosphere, complete with a secret society, an old sailor with a mysterious background, striking factory workers, a child theater star, an adorable and cuddly animal of indeterminate breed and origin, a murder mystery, and a prickly heroine who is set on figuring things out for herself, no matter what anyone tells her.  It has larger themes of the power of stories to shape beliefs, and what happens when traditional stories are challenged.  

Mark @ Mark My Words – Readers can form analogies between this story and the real world. The rich and powerful often control the narrative concerning issues so their lies may seem to be the truth. Rules don’t apply to them until someone refuses to let injustices go unchecked. Young readers will enjoy Dare’s character and her intriguing battle against influential people and politicians performing shady, loathsome atrocities. Overall, I highly recommend you give this book a shot!


Stacey @ Book:30 – Sacha Lamb’s debut novel, When the Angels Left the Old Country, is a poignant, funny, adventurous story filled with Jewish folklore, dark realities of the immigrant experience, and the blossoming of unexpected love. This book had such a delightful innocence and honesty to it, even as tendrils of wickedness and danger coursed through much of the story. I want to say this book is part historical fiction, as the author does an amazing job of detailing the perils of the characters’ journey from Poland to Ellis Island and New York City. I was totally invested in the way these characters fought for each other and their fellow Jewish immigrants. After getting over my initial disorientation with [cultural and folkloric contexts], I found myself enveloped in the rich, enchanting world of this story and these characters.

Sondy @ Sonderbooks – This book reminded me of the wonderful book The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker, with some of the same naivete of the angel in dealing with people. At the same time, this book is very different, surprising, and refreshing. It’s the kind of book I couldn’t resist talking about because it so captivated me. And I don’t need to tell you all that happens. But it’s an imaginative, wonderfully-spun historical novel about an angel and a demon working together to help people who need help, with much danger to themselves along the way.

TheNextGenLibrarian @ Goodreads – This YA book was filled with queerness and so many Jewish references! I was here for all of it and thought the audiobook narrator did a fabulous job. I wish I understood more about Judaism to be able to fully immerse myself in this novel It has won multiple awards and honors, for good reason. It was a different read, for sure, but I wonder how many teens will stick it out and get all the deeper meanings it goes into. I believe it read more like adults who enjoy reading YA books. CW: antisemitism, xenophobia, fire

Kristen Harvey @ Goodreads – Fantastic audiobook, a must read.