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So it appears that I have been pretty stingy with the 5 star ratings so far this year. Here are the final titles that have been outstanding reads for me so far this year.
Be Not Far From Me by Mindy McGinnis: This brutal survival story is not for the squeamish! Ashley always felt right at home in the deep woods of the Smoky Mountains, so she was looking forward to what was supposed to be a fun night of camping and drinking. But, after finding her boyfriend with another girl, she storms off in a drunken rage. She takes a hard fall, but she’s too mad to worry. It’s not until she wakes up the next morning that she realizes she is alone, far from the trail, and injured. It’s a race against time, and the infection creeping up her leg, to get herself to safety. I am huge Mindy McGinnis fan and can’t wait to read what she offers next.
The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert: Marva Sheridan has been waiting to be old enough to vote for as long as she could remember. One election day she was the first in line at her polling spot. As she’s heading out to go to school she overhears a guy her age insisting he was registered, despite his name not being on the rolls. Marva steps in to intervene, and sets off a chain of events she never anticipated. She and Duke, the guy from the voting spot, set off to set the record straight and enable Duke to cast his first vote. The more time they spend together the more they learn about each and the more they learn the more they like each other.
The Voting Booth hits many hot button topics in the news-voter suppression, gun violence, police brutality-in one delightful, whirlwind tale. I have read everything Brandy Colbert has written and she never disappoints. This is a must read!
Slay by Brittney Morris: You don’t have to be a gamer to appreciate the fact that 17-year old programmer Kiera is a genius. Kiera Johnson is one of just a few black kids at her school, but after school she joins thousands of black gamers in the multi-player online role playing game called SLAY. What no one knows is that she is creator. She goes to great lengths to protect her identity, but when a murder IRL is connected to the game and a troll infiltrates the world of SLAY, Kiera’s safe and beloved world is in danger. Can she protect her creation and her identity? This is not my go-to type of book as I have not interest in online games, but I am so glad I picked this one up. Great characters and a thoughtful look at the need for black people to have safe spaces just for themselves.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei: Pair this nonfiction autobiography of the author’s childhood experience in Japanese internment camps with the Kiku Hughes’s fictionalized account of her grandparents’ experiences. Takei’s story is a harsh reminder that internment camps were part of our country’s RECENT past. There are people living today who were imprisoned for being Japanese and Japanese-American.
My last three 5 star reviews are parts of series.
The Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland: This sequel to Dread Nation picks up the story of Jane McKeene, a badass restless dead hunter, as she ventures West towards California. This alternate history duology takes place after the Civil War, when soldiers because rising from the dead and government decided that form slaves and black girls were the perfect people to battle the undead. It’s a wild ride!
The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson: This is the third and final book in the Truly Devious series. It is a completely satisfying end to the story of Ellingham Academy. Fans of true crime and My Favorite Murder will recognize the cases of hiding people Stevie mentions. Fans of Agatha Christie will appreciate the many nods to the queen of mystery stories. I can’t to see what Maureen Johnson has in store for us next!
The King of Crows by Libba Bray: This is the final book in the super creepy Diviners series. I was not expecting the tears at the end of this one. This final book in the series is a scathing commentary on our past wrongs and evils, a cautionary tale as our current political environment has shockingly repeating some of these wrongs, and also a hopeful and stirring love letter to true American patriotism. As I was having these thoughts I kept wondering if I was reading too much in to it, but the author’s note, which I recommend NOT skipping, confirmed that I was not. Oh, and there was a really awesome story about ghosts and monsters and people with powers and love and romance and running away to join the circus. Truly a masterpiece.
That’s all for my 5 star reads of 2020, but I have plenty of amazing 4 star titles to share in future posts. Stay tuned.
Throughout the past few weeks I slowed down on my reading a bit to dive into some tv shows and films, but now that I’ve nearly finished all three seasons of Hannibal (an amazing show and noteworthy if for nothing other than truly disturbing and beautiful cinematography) I’m getting back to my lengthy to-read list.
Hoopla has gotten some really great new graphic novels that I am so excited to read! Here are my top recently released graphic novels you can read right now on Hoopla- some were new just in the past month and some are releases from earlier this spring that I missed during the chaos that was April and May. Better to read late than never is a mantra I often tell myself.
From sci-fi adventures to superheroes (sometimes hero-ish? looking at you Catwoman) to stories about adorable cats, there is something for everyone in the titles above.
I also just snagged the first five single issues of The Low, Low Woods, a newer comic series put out as part of the Joe Hill presents Hill House Comics of DC. I am quite delighted to crack open issue #1- the series is by the author of one of my favorite short story collections, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado! If you haven’t read Her Body and Other Parties and you like weird feminist fiction- check it out now here on OverDrive! You won’t be disappointed. And since I generally love anything Joe Hill puts out or helps to publish, this should be a stellar series. Volume one is slated to be released this fall if you are more of a “wait for the collected volume” sort of reader *wink wink*.
Happy reading and stay safe out there!
I have been reading (and by reading, I mean listening to) a lot of true crime and thrillers lately, but I also read a good amount of YA books. I am the Teen Librarian, after all. Early in the Covid shut down I mostly revisited old favorites, but as I become accustomed to my new normal I am getting back into my old reading habits. So, here’s a quick review of some of my favorite YA reads of the year so far.
These are the first of my 5-Star reads of 2020.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks: I loved this charming graphic novel so much! Two high school seniors, “work” best friends, face the end of their time at the pumpkin patch they both love. The pair decide to brush off work and hunt down a long time crush. Hilarity ensues. This slim volume perfectly captures the excitement, sorrow, and uncertainty of leaving high school and embarking on the next adventure.
A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer: This is fun Beauty and the Beast retelling. Harper, the story’s Belle, is tough and determined, and constantly underestimated due to her cerebal palsy. Definitely an interesting addition to the fantasy genre and the world of retellings.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen: Ever Wong’s summer plans are cancelled when her parents inform her she is going to Taiwan to study Mandarin. It’s just the kind of thing they would do in their never-ending quest for the perfect daughter. What they don’t know is that this program is a notorious “meet-market”, nicknamed the Loveboat. Surrounded by teen prodigies and experience freedom for the first time, Ever sets out to break all the rules. You don’t have to be Chinese to relate to this nearly perfect coming of age story.
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed: A teen book about political canvassing?!? Yes, please! Jewish and Muslim representation, political activism, and romance blend into the perfect book for me. I love anything that inspires young people to get involved in politics!
Displacement by Kiku Hughes: Displacement is an exploration of the Japanese-American and Japanese immigrant experience in interment camps during WWII. Teenaged Kiku Hughes calls her brief trips back in time to experience what her grandmother and great-grandparents experienced displacements. Little is known about their time in the camps because they rarely spoke of it, but Kiku was able to live the confusion and fear, the hunger and grief, the impossible choices people made.
This memoir-based book is gorgeous. The art is simple and beautiful and panels are open, sometimes sprawling, like the inhospitable landscapes surrounding the camps. While the main focus is the past, the author pulls no punches when it comes to comparing Japanese internment camps and the political climate that allowed them to occur to our current political environmental. This is a powerful must-read.
Stay tuned for more 5 star YA titles!
It was such fun to look back on what I’ve read this past year and pick my favorites! Below you’ll find mostly adult fiction titles, including some standout graphic novels, as well as a stellar young adult novel (Wilder Girls!). 2019 was also the year I dabbled in reading outside my comfort zone of generally weird and spooky, venturing into the land of romantic fiction and true crime. Much to my surprise, I was so utterly charmed by a romance novel that it ended up on this list (I’m looking at you Chloe Brown). I hope that if you haven’t read one of these titles you will be inspired to stop by and check it out this winter. Maybe you will also find yourself pleasantly surprised by broadening your reading horizons *wink*. Wishing you a joyful holiday season and happy reading!
Every year I bemoan the fact that I didn’t read enough, etc, etc., but this year it seems truer than ever! I still, though, found quite a few books to sink into and enjoy; I listened to many through the Libby app. Below is my list, in no particular order.
The Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Inland by Tea Obrecht
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
Feast Your Eyes by Myla Goldberg
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson
Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Circe by Madeline Miller
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Cheers to another year of wonderful books. I would love to hear about your top ten for 2019. Stop by the Adult Reference desk and we’ll chat. Happy New Year!
It’s that time of year, again-the time when we reflect on our year of reading (mostly murder) and make a favorites list (so much murder). I have given up all pretense of creating a Top Ten List and have abandoned descriptions (follow the links for book details), which has helped ease some of my anxiety around this task. If you like mysteries, suspense, and thrillers there are quite a few here!
Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts
I loved reading the Wizard of Oz series when I was a kid. The MGM musical is one of my favorite movies. So, this historical fiction novel that traces the life of Maud Gage, later Maud Baum, touches on many themes that I enjoy. We get behind the scenes looks at how the creation of the first book and the classic technicolor movie might have happened. Maud’s mother Matilda Joslyn Gage, the most prolific suffragette writer, has a big influence on Maud and Frank. From the perspective of 2019 when there is a record number of women serving in the U.S. Congress (at 24%) it is fascinating to see the strength of women who fought for early women’s rights. This book really brings the history to life. I enjoyed that the story was told from Maud’s point of view, and I recommend that you check out this book too!
Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker
With a lot of examples professor Pinker proceeds to lay out his case that the world and the human condition are in fact getting better. Or at least with the problem solving tools of the Enlightenment we humans are capable of improving the world’s problems.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
This award winning graphic memoir about a father and daughter’s relationship is captivating. The fusion of visual and verbal language is some of the best out there.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
A book about Haig’s personal journey with depression. A book that makes sense to those dealing with depression. Short poems, lists, and essays have a refreshing informality.
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Dana is a black woman living in the 1970s who is mysteriously pulled back in time to the early 1800s. The book is a bit more fast paced than the Outlander series with back and forth time travelling.
Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
This is not only a book of essays and archival history about the musician Lead Belly, but a BONUS set of 5 CDs. He was a singer of folk tunes, blues, and an early influencer of rock & roll.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds
A teen frequently gets in trouble at school because his classmates make fun of the neighborhood where he lives, his ill-fitting clothes, the fact that his mother cuts his hair, everything associated with being poor. Can he adapt to the rules at track practice with Coach and find a place among the other young runners?
Hell’s Heart (Star Trek: Prey #1) by John Jackson Miller
The Jackal’s Trick (Star Trek: Prey #2) by John Jackson Miller
The Hall of Heroes (Star Trek: Prey #3) by John Jackson Miller
While waiting for new Star Trek TV content I read this trio of paperbacks. Beloved characters from the existing series and a handful of new well-drawn characters embark on a new adventure involving the Unsung and peril in the Klingon-Federation alliance.
The Public written and directed by Emilio Estevez