Hoopla Overdrive
Coffee & Cardigans



10 Cozy Fantasy Reads for Decompressing

We all love books- you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t. Sometimes, though, a daunting epic isn’t exactly what you’re looking for. Dune looks intimidating. The Priory of the Orange Tree seems like… a lot. Moby Dick is just taking so long to read (did you know they don’t even get on the book for nearly 100 pages??). My GoodReads counter is laughing at me because it’s only March and I’m three books behind on my reading goal for the year. Sometimes I just need to chill out, and maybe another 3-hour binge of The Office isn’t going to leave me as fulfilled as I’d like. What’s a reader to do? 

Cozy Fantasy is really in right now- probably for all of these reasons. This is due (in part) to the massive success of one Travis Baldree (don’t worry, that book is listed here), but cozy fantasy has been around for a long time now, it just didn’t have such a succinct name. 
For your struggles and your inner peace, here’s a curated list of cozy fantasy reads, for when you want to escape but not be so stressed out about it. Well, maybe you’ll be a little stressed with some of these but at least the book is really good and it’s so dang cozy! And rest assured, in one way or another your library brings all of these titles your way. 
1. The House in the Cerulean Sea (TJ Klune) 
In my opinion this book should be on like 90% of book lists. This is the book equivalent of playing Harvest Moon on your work break and wondering if you have a distant relative who’s going to leave you a farm to escape to with a tiny cozy community to fall in love with. T.J. Klune is a master of cozy fantasy and the public consciousness really took notice of that with this one. One of our employees, Melissa, considers this an all-time fave; I read it at her behest and I’m so glad I did. If you haven’t read this one, do yourself a favor and check it out! 

Image title

eBook: Libby 
eAudiobook: Libby 
Physical: FCL, Greenbrier, Vilonia 

2. A Psalm for the Wild-Built (Becky Chambers) 
Psalm is technically rather sci-fi, but it’s also built around myth and I have heard nothing but good, cozy reviews for this one. Grab your favorite cup of tea while a robot and a monk give you hope for the future. This will be great for fans of The Wild Robot (soon to be an animated feature!) or The Iron Giant. If you love this, be sure to check out its sequel- A Prayer for the Crown-Shy. 
 Image title

eBook: Libby 
eAudiobook: Libby, Hoopla 
Physical: FCL 


3. The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches (Sangu Mandanna) 
Secret societies? Librarians? Witches? Grumpy/Sunshine? Found Family??? Why haven’t I read this one yet? This is a very promising read, according to its 4.12-star rating on GoodReads. The reviews rave about how heart-warming this one is- one person even says, “Do you need a hug? Read this book.” For an extremely cute and warm evening, pick this up after work or getting the kids in bed! 
 Image title

eBook: Libby 
eAudiobook: Libby 
Physical: FCL, Mayflower 

4. The Cat Who Saved Books (Sosuke Natsukawa) 
This is for all you cat lovers out there. If a talking cat told me to help him save a bunch of lonely books, I’d drop everything I was holding to assist. The main character of this one takes refuge in books just as much as we do, too! The publisher promises that this is a great read for those who know that books are so much more than words on paper. 

Image title

eBook: Hoopla 
eAudiobook: Libby 
Physical: FCL 


5. Legends & Lattes (Travis Baldree) 
I told you we’d get there! Travis Baldree cracked the book-world wide open with his novel of high fantasy and low stakes. Join an orc adventurer as she hangs up her sword and opens a coffeeshop! This is an absolutely perfect book to enjoy at your leisure with a cup of your favorite coffee and a warm pastry. Maybe your treat won’t be as perfect as a cinnamon roll as big as your head made by an adorable ratkin named Thimble (I know!), but you can pretend. Watch out for the prequel that came out in late 2023, Bookshops & Bonedust! 
 Image title

eBook: Libby 
eAudiobook: Libby 
Physical: FCL, Greenbrier 


6. Half a Soul (Olivia Atwater) 
So this was described as Pride and Prejudice plus Howl’s Moving Castle, and I want to know why I had to find out about this from recommendations on StoryGraph and not from a friend or loved one who knew I had to know about it??? Magic, Regency society, and a Darcy-an wizard come together for a cozy book about breaking curses and finding love, and I’m reading this ASAP. Oh, if you hear faint crying that’s just my TBR, it gets like that sometimes. 

Image title

eBook: Libby 

7. Hakumei & Mikochi: Tiny Little Life in the Woods (Takuto Kashiki) 
What’s cozier than a Miyazaki movie? That’s rhetorical because the answer is pretty much nothing. Recreate that cozy fantasy vibe with this Arrietty-esque story about two tiny friends in a big forest! They live in trees, use leaves for umbrellas, and ride bugs for transportation. How cute is that? Download LibraryPass and sign in with your library card to read this comic and many more.

Image title

eBook: LibraryPas

8. The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy (Megan Bannen) 
Say hello to another read that reminds people of Miyazaki and of Howl’s Moving Castle! Take You’ve Got Mail and mash it together with a bit of The Dead Romantics and a lot of Studio Ghibli charm and you’ve got this novel by Megan Bannen! Boasting a 4.11 on GoodReads, this cozy read is as pretty as it is bingeworthy. 

Image title

eBook: Libby 
eAudiobook: Libby 
Physical: FCL 

9. A Marvellous Light (Freya Marske) 
A Marvellous Light comes to you from a pretty new author and from our friends at Tor.Com publishing who manages to put me under their spell with every new release. This book is all magic and sprawling Edwardian homes but combine it with an adorable Grumpy/Sunshine pairing and a curse that threatens the life of one of the main characters and magical artifacts that threaten the entire world of magic. Also for the TikTok girlies… This has a healthy dose of spice. Keep an eye out for another upcoming book from Ms Marske, Swordcrossed, set to hit shelves in October of 2024, which is described to be swords and low stakes. I’m super normal about The Last Binding book series and I will not descend upon Swordcrossed as if it’s the last book on earth, I totally promise and am definitely not lying. 

Image title

eBook: Libby 
eAudiobook: Libby 
Physical: FCL 

10. Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop (Roselle Lim) 
A book about second chances, tea, magic, and matchmaking, but put it in Paris! Readers rave about all the yummy food descriptions and cozy vibes in this one, so however you decide to read it, be sure to have some snacks on hand! A cup of tea too, maybe? I’d recommend not trying to read your tea leaves- you know, just in case.

 Image title

eBook: Libby 
eAudiobook: Libby 
Physical: FCL 

That’s all for now. Did I miss your favorite? Do you need more? Let me know! 
Yours in coze and prose, 



Our Summer Book Selection For All Your Vacation Reads

Image title

It’s summertime! You know what that means: our brains immediately switch to vacation mode. Summer vacation looks a little different for all of us. For the kiddos and teens, it’s a period to unwind from the deadlines and busy times of school. For a lot of us adults, there’s still that work grind involved, but during this season we can find ourselves being blissfully whisked away to a relaxing getaway full of dopamine-inducing experiences. Or at least, that’s the goal! Whether that dream destination is sipping on a cocktail in the tropics or migrating to a cooler climate to shred the snowy mountain slopes, a likely part of your itinerary is taking the time to read a good book. After all, what’s a beach trip without a beach read?

Here at the library, summer is the liveliest–and arguably the greatest–time of year with our endless array of programs, activities, and new books lined up on the shelves! We realize these options can be overwhelming, so to help give you a good place to start your search, we’ve assembled a diverse list of our favorite new (and newer) summer reads that you or your children may love! Comforting, hilarious, mortifying, hopeful–all of the feelings we absorb from a well-written novel are there. Even more fitting, many of these books take place during the summer. Quite a few of our staff have personally read several from the lists, so trust us when we say that, like Harriet and Wyn, you’ll find your happy place with one of these! 

Adult Fiction
Happy Place by Emily Henry - Speaking of finding happy places, this glittery novel has the audacity to describe the complexities of adult life in a way that’s funny and charming. A couple goes on vacation with their friends–except they actually broke up months ago (but they’re still joyfully together if you squint!). What could go wrong?
Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum - What’s a good island resort without a little mysterious murder? And is that a body underneath the boardwalk? This one is for our thriller fans who enjoy dark plots in sunny settings.  
Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree - An Orc mercenary suddenly decides to give up the plundering life and run a coffee shop–say that again?? Wholesome, subtly romantic, and sapphic: it doesn’t get much better than this. 
Sunshine Nails by Mai Nguyen - A Vietnamese-Canadian family will do whatever it takes to keep their nail salon open when the competition heats up–even if that means good old-fashioned sabotage. This light-hearted novel on gentrification and the immigrant experience showcases the resilience of community to create the ultimate summer comeback.
In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune - Described as an adult combination of Swiss Family Robinson, Wall-E, and Pinocchio, this novel of a strange sci-fi world features a delightfully dysfunctional family of robots (and one human) who embark on a rescue mission to save one of their own. Full of witty banter and a desperate need for love, this book will make you both laugh and ugly cry.

Adult Graphic Novels
Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe - If you’re looking for a stylish and contemporary reimagining of Greek mythology that isn’t Percy Jackson, this is it. Intriguing, sharply perceptive, and utterly human, these graphic novels spill all the tea of what goes on behind the scenes in this pantheon.
The Color of Always by Brent Fisher - Here’s an anthology that highlights the full spectrum of LGBTQIA+ experiences in love, loss, heartbreak, and most importantly, discovering who you are and feeling good about it! Featuring a number of queer writers and illustrators, this graphic novel is brimming with poetry, color, and fearless expression. 
Paper Planes by Jennie Wood - Former best friends attempt to navigate their way through a summer camp for troubled youth after a life-altering incident. And they can mostly only communicate through sending each other paper planes. Will they be able to make it through so they have another chance at a normal high school life, or will their friendship and futures be threatened? 
Spider-Punk: Battle of the Banned by Cody Ziglar - In this anti-fascist spinoff, it's up to Spider-Punk, his trusty Converse, and his band of rockin’ heroes to protect Earth-138! Will all the chaos win, or is this rebellious gang perfect for handling it? Can we also talk about how he uses his guitar as a weapon? This storyline could be the best one yet.
Why Are You Like This? by Meg Adams - In this collection of comics with a millennial take on marriage, adulthood, self-care, and so much more, Meg Adams asks the most important questions, like: is my partner really upset or just hangry? Chalk full of bizarre musings and dorky existentialism, these comics explore enjoying the little things life brings. 

Young Adult Fiction
Chaos Theory by Nic Stone - Inspirational and completely relatable, this book tells a heart wrenching tale of two outsiders forming a powerful pact of friendship and creating their own universe amid chaos in the world surrounding them. This is a classic story where love truly conquers all!
The Queens of New York by E.L. Shen - Perfect for college students or fans of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, this cinematic, slice-of-life book tells of an unbreakable bond and one life-changing summer between three friends that takes them miles apart, but ultimately brings them closer together. 
We Ship It by Lauren Kay - This contemporary rom-com contains fierce girl energy, exciting adventure, and awkwardness all in one! Perfectionist Olivia has a detailed plan for her life, and it certainly doesn’t involve going on a cruise and meeting a boy who–dare she say it–makes her feel like she can have fun. Do you ship it? We definitely do. 
House Party by various authors, edited by Justin A. Reynolds - A team of critically acclaimed POC authors deliver a fresh collection of interconnected stories that follows a group of teens saying goodbye to high school and hello to life’s next chapter, whatever that may be–but not without throwing the most epic house party first!
Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler - This is another novel in the alternate timeline genre that you don’t want to miss! Natalya has 24 hours to decide between two options: stay in NYC for the summer with her dad and go for the girl she’s always wanted, or travel to LA to be with her estranged mom and meet the guy she never saw coming. How do you choose? She can’t, and so both summers end up playing out in coexisting realities. Turns out, there’s more than one path to happily ever after. 

Young Adult Graphic Novels
Girl Taking Over: A Lois Lane Story by Sarah Kuhn - Lois Lane didn’t come to play! And in this graphic novel, it’s not all about Superman. The ambitious small town girl tackles a summer in the city as a corporate intern, but when her boss demotes her to coffee-fetcher, her career plans go awry. However, as Lois uncovers a dramatic scandal, she comes to discover what she really wants and learns to embrace life’s messiness. 
Twelfth Grade Night by Molly Booth - Heartstopper fans, this one’s for you! This imaginative retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy full of star-crossed love and mistaken identities takes place at a high school, where the main character gets roped into helping plan the Twelfth Grade Night dance. What she also doesn’t expect? Getting roped into a love triangle. 
Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka - In this sequel to memoir Hey, Kiddo, Jarrett brings his audience back to Camp Sunshine, a place for ill and disabled kids and their families, where he spends the summer as a camp counselor. Through meeting extraordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances, he learns about the freedom a safe space can bring. 
Other Ever Afters by Melanie Gillman - In this fantasy collection with a twist, fairytale characters who have typically sat on the sidelines now take center stage through retellings of classic stories. What if your one true love wasn’t who you expected? Or what if the definition of  “happily ever after” took on a whole different meaning? 
Squire by Nadia Shammas - In this alternative historical fiction, Aiza dreams of becoming a Knight, her only pathway to citizenship as part of a subjugated minority in the Bayt-Sajji Empire. Enlisting in the competitive Squire training program, Aiza finds it’s not what she expects, and she’s faced with choosing between her heritage and her loyalty to the Empire. 

Juvenile Fiction
The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan - Featuring two of the most popular characters in the Percy Jackson saga, demigods Will and Nico can overcome any obstacle or foe together…or at least, that’s been the case so far. But a few dreams and prophecies suggest trouble ahead, and it’ll be up to the pair to go on a challenging quest whether they like it or not. 
Ghosts, Toast, and Other Hazards by Susan Tan - This middle-grade novel is about a girl who must overcome her fears in order to discover the truth about her town’s urban legend. These fears may involve ghosts, and not toast per se, but things that can catch on fire, like toasters. Scary, right? But as battling these and other hazards opens up a rich world of history and answers to burning questions, she’ll have to learn to live life a little dangerously. 
Conjure Island by Eden Royce - Set on the coast of South Carolina comes a story of a girl forced to spend her summer with the great-grandmother she’s never met, only to discover that she runs a school for Southern conjure magic. Del knows this is going to be a weird summer, and not only that, she finds out the magic is actually real. Why had her family never told her about this place? Read to find out!
The Human Kaboom by Adam Rubin - From the author of Dragons Love Tacos comes another irresistibly, unpredictably fun ride with stories featuring different artists and–you guessed it–things that go “kaboom!” There’s plenty of mystery and mayhem, daring and danger, and yes, some explosions here and there. 
The Braid Girls by Sherri Winston - Business rivals, family drama, and a summer camp full of locs that need attention–sounds like a job for The Braid Girls! But the journey for Maggie to earn enough money for ballet lessons won’t be easy, and she’ll have to navigate surprising upheavals in her life, like the addition of a half-sister she’s never known. Maggie is determined to prove herself and her skills in this unforgettable novel about friendship, belonging, and fabulous hair. 

Juvenile Graphic Novels
Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo - All Sue wants is to just have a relaxing summer reading and making comics with her friends. Instead, she gets stuck traveling to Honduras to visit relatives, and the worst part is, there’s no Internet! The trip becomes even less ideal for Sue when her mother announces her plan to host a surprise quinceañera, which is the LAST thing Sue wants.
Grace Needs Space! by Benjamin A. Wilgus - In this exciting space adventure, Grace is ready to get away from her overbearing mother and take a journey to Titan for an important mission involving a delivery. But when things go sideways, it’s up to Grace to save the day, and she might have to recruit her mother for help. 
Hotel REM by Zack Keller - This delightful story arc reminiscent of Spirited Away and Hotel Transylvania features a magical hotel where the people and creatures in our dreams go to hang out after we wake up, and owner Rem attempts to run the business smoothly and handle the wild guests in order to make his parents proud. But what happens when a celebrity dream guest arrives and threatens to ruin everything he’s built?
Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz - Fans of Roller Girl and Smile will appreciate this graphic novel about two unlikely friends who save each other’s summers while solving their neighborhood’s biggest mysteries. While they’re on the case of a boy’s missing pet gecko and facing challenges, the girls must also work to solve an even greater mystery: what it means to be a friend. 
Dog Man: Twenty Thousand Fleas Under the Sea by Dav Pilkey - Doggonit, Dav Pilkey’s done it again! In this latest installation, Dog Man and his feline sidekick are back to battle Piggy’s most diabolical plot yet, and they’ll do so in the most epic, heroic, action-packed way!

Easy Readers
*The World Belonged to Us by Jacqueline Woodson - It’s summertime in the city, and that means playing double dutch and chasing ice cream trucks! In this exuberant and nostalgic children’s book, Brooklyn is the place to be, where a sunshine state of mind rules the streets!
*Mario’s Big Adventure by Mary Man-Kong - With the new Super Mario Bros. Movie now out, kids will be sure to love this easy reader with engaging characters and easy-to-follow plots. This is the perfect book for kids getting ready to read on their own!
When Lola Visits by Michelle Sterling - For one young girl, summer is a special time full of mango jam, funny stories, and the company of her grandmother who comes to visit from the Philippines. This is a sweet cultural narrative evoking imagination and all five senses that makes for a wonderful multi-generational read. 
Oscar’s Tower of Flowers by Lauren Tobia - This wordless picture book for the little ones–featuring lots of green!--celebrates community, gardening, and sharing beauty with the world. When Oscar stays with his Nana for the summer, she shows him how to take care of plants and make them bloom!
The Mermaid and the Shoe by K.G. Campbell - If you’re looking for another cute mermaid tale (pun intended), this is the one! Minnow has a million questions about what lies beyond the sea kingdom, and she embarks on a journey to answer those, while discovering her own remarkable skill: the gift of storytelling. 

*These books are currently not in our collection, but can be made available upon request. In the meantime, check out other books by these authors!


Today's Bestselling Female Authors in Honor of Women's History Month

In March we celebrate Women’s History Month, a movement that was spearheaded by the National Women’s History Alliance and gives recognition to the women, past and present, who have devoted their lives to producing art, pursuing the truth, and showcasing their talents to create a better world for all. This year’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories”, with a focus on women who have been active in the multimedia industry: podcasters, pioneering journalists, teachers, playwrights, and many more. Through the accomplishments of influential women, the voiceless were given voices and a new wave of information and entertainment broke into the mainstream, reaching critical heights in the pathway to progress. The theme of 2023 goes hand in hand with what libraries strive to do–sharing stories that expand our understanding and strengthen our connections to each other. 

From the homemakers to the career movers and shakers, this blog post is an ode to all women through the sundry amalgamation of stories presented in 12 books. Featuring some of the most prolific women writers and profound characters of 2022 and 2023, these are the books that should belong on your TBR (To Be Read) list! 

Image title

The Faraway World 

Patricia Engel, a Colombian-American writer who has been a Reese’s Book Club pick, shares a collection of short stories in this book set across the Americas, linked by the themes of class distinction, migration, sacrifice, and moral compromise. In her sensitive portrayal of human relationships, these stories highlight the vibrancy of community and the underrated, quiet moments of love that hold the power to change everything. 

Image title

Someone Else's Shoes

This novel is about–you guessed it–walking in someone else’s shoes. What would it be like if two women of vastly different economic statuses were forced to swap lives? With a contemporary, relatable setting, this touching story gives thoughtful examination to the effects of depression and the complexity of family dynamics made with well-rounded, three-dimensional characters. This is a great read for fans of The Devil Wears Prada or the Finlay Donovan series!

Image title

Old Babes in the Wood 

Written by internationally acclaimed dystopian author Margaret Atwood, this latest book makes a return to her short fiction for the first time since 2014. Filled with wit and intellect, the title story explores alienation and miscommunication with a classic folklore twist. At the heart of the collection are seven stories that follow a married couple across the decades, where the themes of uncommon love and loss are prominent, and what it means to work together to solve the question of what spending a life in unity looks like. True to her tone, this book brings readers both devastation and illumination.

Image title

Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age 

Author and podcaster Katherine May’s spellbinding self-help memoir shows readers how they can marvel at the goodness in the world during times of high anxiety and uncertainty. Full of inspiration for when you feel exhausted or directionless, this book–among her others–has been deemed a good read for women in their twenties and beyond who may be grappling with existential issues or who are overwhelmed in the grind of constant change. Blending lyricism and empathy, Enchantment reminds us of the magic that can always be found within the mundane. 

Image title

*Strong Female Character 

Scottish comedian Fern Brady weaves an intertwining tale of womanhood and neurodiversity in this top-rated memoir about life after being diagnosed with autism. Using her voice as a working class woman, Brady challenges societal expectations placed on women and brings the conversation on domestic abuse and mental health to the forefront. This book comes with a healing message on traumatic experiences that’s full of sharp humor and unflinching vulnerability. 

Image title

Carrie Soto is Back 

Taylor Jenkins Reid, a familiar favorite at our library, doles out another riveting beach read in this story of a tennis legend keen on defending her record and her legacy in the sports world despite pushback due to her age. This novel alludes to the double standards women can face for showing ambition and the determination to win when it comes to their goals. The moral of the story can best be summarized by the words of actress Michelle Yeoh, “don’t let anybody tell you you’re ever past your prime.” If you like historical fiction and epic heroines, this is the book for you!

Image title

What My Bones Know 

Malaysian-American investigative journalist Stephanie Foo interviews scientists, tests out a variety of innovative therapies, studies the effects of immigrant trauma, and uncovers family secrets in this memoir about healing from and destigmatizing PTSD. Combining the topics of culture and race with mental health, this book is a brave narrative imbued with self-awareness on one woman’s ability to reclaim agency in her life and over her mind. 

Image title

*The Illustrated Woman 

With her trademark infusion of wild adventure and vivid imagery, this stunning anthology by award-winning poet Helen Mort features a raw and honest collection that celebrates the beauty and resilience of women’s bodies. This book tells a tender story about the joys and struggles of being a woman throughout the different stages of life, from adolescence to motherhood. Insightful, confessional poetry like this will be sure to hit straight to the heart with its powerful prose! 

Image title

American Mermaid 

Magical realism meets feminist literature meets so much more in this genre-defying debut novel about a writer determined to turn her mermaid story into a big-budget action film, who believes her character has come to life to take revenge for all of Hollywood’s violations. Facing pressure from a ruthless industry, this book follows a young woman in search of truth, love, and self-acceptance without compromising her integrity or giving up her voice in order to tell her own story.

Image title

*Any Other City

Set to officially release on April 18, 2023, this unique novel by librarian Hazel Jane Plante is a two-sided fictional memoir of a punk musician who takes us on a personal chronological journey from fledgling artist (Side A) to semi-famous big city rocker (Side B), like a cassette tape in book form! This book is about finding your community, taking risks, and letting go of the past all in one iconic, intimate story. Masterfully depicting the plurality that is woven into the lives of trans women and said to be “a love letter to art”, this is a novel for our LGBTQ+ readers that you won’t want to miss! 

Image title

After Sappho 

In this historical reimagining, women trailblazers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are given alternate timelines to their stories–ones where they battle for liberation, justice, and control over their lives and forge a new, independent path for themselves. Featuring Rina Pierangeli Faccio, Romaine Brooks, and Virginia Woolf as the main triad of characters, among many other notables, this book celebrates daring women of the past (with a twist!) and offers hope to the women of the present and future. 

Image title

I’m No Philosopher, But I Got Thoughts 

All of the great thinkers of the world have written books on their discoveries and beliefs: Aristotle, Socrates, Voltaire–and now, Chenoweth. This autobiography by the beloved actress and Broadway star shares inspirational quotes, engaging prompts, and musings on creativity, connection, and closure. Full of lessons for personal growth and cheeky banter, this book is a perfectly pink pick-me-up for those who need a little laughter and encouragement!

*Please note: these books are not in our collection. If you’d like to read one of them, visit us at the front desk and we will submit a request to our cataloguer!


We See You, Taylor Swift: A Staff Review of Her Latest Album Midnights

Image title

Dear Reader,

Many of you may have stayed up at midnight that night eagerly awaiting. You know the night we’re referring to. The night that, after two years of radio silence, Taylor Swift took her fans on a trip of pure nostalgia and surprise disclosures with new recordings, honing in more closely on her career and personal life. 

Songs from Taylor Swift’s highly anticipated 10th album, Midnights, flooded the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making Swift the first artist to fully occupy the Top 10 spots. If that doesn’t tell you how great of an album it is, we don’t know what will!

The country-made-pop singer released Midnights on Oct. 21, 2022 after two years of no new releases. Fans anticipated the new music and followed along as Swift released track titles leading up to the album. The marketing gimmicks and social media posts left people putting puzzle pieces together. 

Have you been on the fence with whether or not to give this new album a shot? Well, welcome to our first review, where several of our staff give their (professional) opinions on her most recent work. 

Check out what staff member Andy had to say after listening to the album for the first time:

“I’ll admit that at first listen I didn’t think the album lived up to all the hype it got pre and post release. I definitely expected a different sound rather than what she gave us, which felt like songs meant for radio (iykyk). The more I listened, the more I changed my mind and grew fond of the work. Even so, with 13 songs and 44 minutes of listening time, I found several songs to fixate on for the following months. “Midnight Rain” stood out to me from the start. It sounded different than any other song on the album and I’m all for unique music. Other favorites include “Maroon,” “Anti-Hero,” and “Karma.” Swift has a way of coming up with catchy and sassy lyrics which I love. I won’t go in depth with the “Midnights (3am Edition)” but I will say that “Would’ve, Could’ve, Should’ve” and “Bigger Than The Whole Sky" stayed on repeat. 

In “Bigger Than The Whole Sky,” it seems as though Swift is referencing miscarriages and child loss. A heavy topic, I think Swift did a beautiful job portraying the emotion behind such a tragedy. In the song she asks, 'Did some force take you because I didn't pray? Every single thing to come has turned into ashes.' The singer/songwriter describes the questions and guilt that pairs with grief, and many fans related to the lyrics, making them go viral on Tiktok. This just goes to show how powerful music is to many. I also use this song as a reminder that Taylor Swift doesn’t only write songs about her love life and boyfriends. She pulls from other life experiences of her own and others. Truly, she does the dang thing! 

The one song on the album I skip every time is “Snow On The Beach” featuring Lana Del Rey. Like many fans, I was so excited to hear Swift mix her sound with that of another artist. Listening to the final product, I think it sounds bland and boring, like it’s putting me to sleep. I also don’t think the feature added much to the song and wish we’d heard more of Rey. 

Coming from someone who absolutely adored the vibes of “Evermore” and “Folklore,” this album wasn’t my favorite by Swift. I remember thinking, ‘hmm, this isn’t what I expected.’ That said, I still applaud Swift for making new hits. From a Swiftie that sadly did not get Taylor Swift tickets, I will continue streaming Midnights and waiting for the re-releases of her older albums.”

Here’s what another staff member had to say about Midnights

“I did not think that ‘becoming a Taylor Swift fan at age 36’ would be on my bingo card set, but here we are. I’ve had the song “Karma” stuck in my head since listening to the album. She goes from a synth pop sound to lofi beats and soft production, and you can tell by the instrumental transition that this is a more serious album. It’s a testament to her ups and downs, and also a celebration of overcoming them. She’s leveled up in this one.” - A.
Also previously skeptical of Taylor Swift’s popularity, A has grown to appreciate the singer’s fresh lens on love. 

“She’s become a stronger and wiser version of herself,” says staff member K in agreement. “Her songs in Midnights are more reflective and come from a place of emotional maturity. I remember when critics of hers would say things like ‘Taylor Swift needs to recognize that maybe she’s the problem in her relationships’, which to me can come off as one-sided, but then in "Anti-Hero" you hear her sing ‘it’s me, hi, I’m the problem’ and I was just like ‘whoa! This is completely different.’ She focuses inward, and with this album she’s all about setting an atmosphere of inviting her listeners to see her vulnerabilities and flaws, rather than setting trends or giving subtle name-drops in her lyrics. 

I also love that the music sounds more moody and subdued than her past albums, almost like it’s a tone that’s self-aware. She asserts her creative agency, using the album as a conduit to help her own her problems, and then begin the process of changing them. It makes perfect sense that this album is titled "Midnights." When do we tend to have the most intricate, inversive, and often painful thoughts that linger and lead us to question the way we do things? In the late hours. 

It’s a beautifully written album. Even if you’re not a TS fan, you’ll surely admire the flowery vernacular and deep examination.”

Convinced to give it a listen? Stream it on our Hoopla app or download it here.