Book Buzz Episode 52 – Undefeated & Clever Creatures of the Night

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Air date: June 2, 2024

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Clever Creatures of the Night

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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz. 

Today's two reading recommendations are a sports biography and a YA thriller. 

First, we’re going to hear from Celeste, library associate for Library on Wheels, for a story that pays homage to a sports legend. Over to you, Celeste. 


After spending time in Smithsonian museums on spring break, my family learned about Jim Thorpe. He is considered the greatest all-around athlete of his age and probably any other, participating in 15 Olympic events during the 1912 Stockholm Summer Games, yet these records were stripped due to rules of amateurism. It would be 110 years before those Olympic records would be reinstated and his family would receive these medals.  

Because of this new awareness, my son’s choice for a souvenir was to buy “Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team” by Steve Sheinkin. But this is not just an underdog story. It’s an unflinching look at the persecution of Native Americans and its intersection with the beginning of one of the most beloved — and exploitative — pastimes in America, expertly told by nonfiction powerhouse Steve Sheinkin.  

When superstar athlete Jim Thorpe and football legend Pop Warner met in 1904 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.  

Kick off your journey in the history of football by reading “Undefeated” by Steve Sheinkin. 


Thanks, Celeste! Sports fans and sports-indifferent readers alike will enjoy this one.  

Next, let’s hear about a group of friends with dark secrets, from Kerry, cataloging and acquisitions assistant. Take it away, Kerry. 


“Clever Creatures of the Night” by Samantha Mabry is an intensely subtle thriller. Taking place over the course of 24 hours, the book opens as college student Case Lopez is on her way to visit her friend, Drea, who has been staying with classmates in a remote location in rural Texas. Case hasn’t heard from Drea in a while and is eager to confirm her friend is safe and sound, after a mysterious event has disrupted normal life everywhere.   

When Case arrives at the house, Drea is nowhere to be found. Drea’s friends, who aren’t particularly welcoming, don’t have any satisfactory answers about where Drea might be, or why she would have left the house after having invited Case to stay. There is a foreboding tension in the air, and Case must work quickly to unravel the secrets looming over the strange place she has come to. Case’s instincts tell her something is very wrong. What on earth could have happened to her friend? How far must Case go to discover the truth?  

This is a brilliantly structured story, and practically demands to be read in one sitting. If you enjoyed “I’ll Be There” by Holly Goldberg Sloan, “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart, or “Under This Red Rock by Mindy McGinnis, then “Clever Creatures of the Night” by Samantha Mabry is the book for you. 


Thanks, Kerry! You don’t have to be a teen to enjoy this YA novel. 

Our recommendations this week are: “Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team” by Steve Sheinkin and “Clever Creatures of the Night” by Samantha Mabry. 

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations — interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.   

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.  

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER. 

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