The Downstairs Girl and Frankissstein

These two books are actually part of my 2020 Book Review project I started back in January. I am pretty behind in this, not even sure I’ll finish it this year at this rate, but we’ll see. I have actually been reading quite a lot this summer (managed to read about 54 books/audiobooks between June-mid August), though not much off that list to be honest. I am excited because I am actually going to be joining a reader’s advisory group at the library that will talk about books, movies, TV shows, and more starting the first Tuesday in October!

#18. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

I had no idea that white slave owners had imported Chinese workers after the end of the Civil War to replace the free blacks in the South, though it kind of makes sense. Both groups were smart to leave though. Jo Kuan, a seventeen-year old Chinese girl, is part of this group still living in Atlanta with Old Gin, an elderly Chinese man who has been taking care of her since she was a baby. She is working at a hat shop, but gets fired from that job and is hired back as a lady’s maid for a prominent local family. She worked for them before as a companion for their daughter, and now she’s that daughter’s maid.

Jo has been harboring some secrets. She’s secretly the anonymous author of a local paper’s advice column, and has been talking about more and more hot-button issues for the time, like race and gender, and she and her grandfather have secretly been living under that paper owner’s house since she was little. Also Jo is trying to uncover the secrets of her own past, something that Old Gin has been keeping quiet about since her parents left her with him. Will she be able to find out who she really is and come into her own as a talented young lady? To find out, read this engaging historical fiction. Recommended for ages 14+, 4-1/2 stars.

#23. Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson

I actually listened to this book on audio back in July, but am just now getting to the review. Sorry people, but my life, just like everyone else’s has been pretty crazy lately. This book was really weird, but definitely made you think about a lot. I rather enjoyed it, especially Mary Shelley and Ry Shelly’s perspectives. I can’t describe this one succinctly but Jenna’s Goodreadreads review from April 7, 2019 sums it up the best: ““This is the story of Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein. It is the story of Ry Shelley, a transgender doctor living in the present day. It is the story of Lord Byron, Ron Lord, Dr. Polidori, Polly D, Victor Frankenstein and Victor Stein, a scientist developing AI. Jeanette Winterson takes us on a journey back to the past and into the future, masterfully weaving the stories of all these individuals, intertwining their lives and their thoughts and their souls. It is profound and it is funny. It is philosophical. It asks us to reflect on many questions: What is intelligence and what is life? Are we our bodies or are we just souls inhabiting physical matter? If we upload a human brain into a machine, would it be human or would it be machine? What, if anything, sets humans apart from other living beings? If we succeed in creating true AI, how will it feel about being created to serve us or about living amongst us?”

Book Reviews #1-2021

Well this year is off a to a good start, though it has taken me awhile to get things finished because I picked longer YA and adult books, so gotta throw some manga and children’s books in there to shake things up along with the adult ones.

This was hollywood

This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories by Carla Valderrama

I really enjoyed this brief glimpse into forgotten stars and stories of Old Hollywood, aka pre-1960s. I enjoyed learning more about the Nicholas Brothers, who were amazing dancers but I haven’t seen much of their work so I definitely want to remedy that, as well as movies by Sessue Hayakawa (most famous for “The Bridge of the River Kwai” which I have seen but it’s been ages), Lois Weber, and Eleanor Powell (who apparently was the only person that Fred Astaire thought was better than him, and that’s saying a lot). Vera Ellen’s story was super sad, but I always love a mention of Danny Kaye, who used to be one of my favorite actors growing up (and I loved her in “On the Town” with Gene Kelly). 4 stars.

The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan – I listened to it originally in Jan 2011, and re-listened to it with my son Nov 2020-Jan 9, 2021.

My original review: Ok, I was honestly skeptical about Rick Riordan trying his hand again at the world of Olympus after the great job he did with the Percy Jackson series. I kept thinking, could it really be a good book? Yes, despite the annoying memory loss thing in the beginning of the book which I think took a bit away from the story, I think he did a good job. I liked that the 3 main characters were older, unclaimed by their god parent and had some ethnic diversity. The story is basically Jason (who has lost his memory) is your typical blond hair/blue eyed hero who joins the story with Piper (half Cherokee/half white) girl and Latino Leo. They find out they are demigods and end up at Camp Half-Blood, but somehow Jason doesn’t belong. They end up going on a quest to free Hera from the clutches of the mysterious enemy (though I figured it out about 200 pages in or so). Overall the villains were surprising and had some interesting twists. I can’t wait for the next book!

*Spoilers* I thought Riordan was super clever to extend the series by dividing up the demigods into Greek & Roman. I figured out the SPQR and the 12 lines right away, but maybe that’s how the Roman camp is organized by legions. I had figured that Percy was abducted by Gaea’s group, but then when they mentioned that he was in the Roman camp, I was like “oh yeah, that makes total sense, since Jason is at Camp Half-Blood.” Now I am really curious to learn more about the Roman camp and see who this other girl is (Jason’s possible love interest), especially after I really liked getting to know Piper.

My review from the re-read (or in this case re-listen): My son thinks the characters were hilarious in the beginning, so a good start to the book. And the story as a whole was good. He liked Leo’s character a lot because he also has ADHD and likes to build things.

Falastin

Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi & Tara Wigley

Fascinating look at Palestinian culture and food, and in depth about the people and places that make the country great. It helps that one of the authors is from the country and is as passionate about his home as he is about the food. I had no idea they used that much chili in their food, though the tahini was a bit more expected. I have a lot of pages marked for recipes I want to try, so may actually have to buy this one. Highly recommended, 5 stars.

A journey through Greek myths

A Journey Through Greek Myths by Marchella Ward

Well you could tell this was the author’s first children’s book (she is a British university professor) because of the content of the stories, i.e. a fair amount of matricide, patricide, and random killing (not terribly graphic but still there). Granted Greek mythology stories are full of these and that’s cool, just maybe aim the book towards middle grade or teen if that’s the case. I enjoyed the selection of stories they included and a lot of them were ones that my son had never heard before, which is what I was aiming for, as his knowledge of Greek mythology was pretty limited at school and since we were reading all the Rick Riordan Greek books, it made sense for him to know a little bit more about the background stories. I liked that the whole book of stories was tied together by a map and two main characters, aka Night Owl (the grandfather) and Little Owl (his granddaughter), and that it included lgbtq characters as well. Also I loved the outside cover illustrations and the inside illustrations were gorgeous as well. Recommended for ages 9-12, 4 stars.

Once and Future

Once & Future (Once & Future #1) by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

I freaking loved this book! I have been wanting to read it forever but just finally got the time. How can I not love a queer King Arthur story in space?!? Plus the fact that the Arthur character is a Arab teenage girl named Ari and Merlin is a baby-faced teenager himself, or the rest of the inclusive LGBTQ+ characters that make up some of the Knights of the Round Table and the queen. And they’re going up against a corporation that is taking over the galaxy and forcing planets to buy their products to survive. Plus the humor was on point and I loved the romances, despite one of them getting significantly complicated. Highly recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

With Fire on High

With Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

I adored this audiobook! It’s like each book Acevedo does gets better and better. This novel is about Emoni Santiago, an Afro-Latina who is a fabulous cook and just happens to be a teenage mom. She is a high school senior living with her grandmother and daughter Emma (aka Baby Girl) in Philly because her father couldn’t stay after her mother died there giving birth to her. There are strained relations with her baby’s father Tyrone, who like most guys who have a kid seem to have some serious double standards for her when it comes to dating but it’s fine when he does it and his family doesn’t like her. Her school finally offers a culinary arts class whose end goal is to go to Spain for Spring Break, but with a new cute boy in the class and challenges she wasn’t expecting in the class, she’s not sure how she feels about everything. Things get more confusing when she becomes the fundraising leader for her culinary arts class and gets a compliment from a real chef, who invites her to work for her in the future. Will she be able to follow her dreams and be free to pursue her own future on her own? Or will things get in the way? Highly recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.

Rachel’s Top Books of 2020

Wow, this past year has been…something. I never knew how extroverted (or at least how much I craved human contact) I was until I was forced to stay home for extended periods of time and not see anyone but a few people that I was living with (thankfully I really like my boyfriend and my son). I managed to read 170 books in 2020, which isn’t too bad considering the pandemic, at the beginning of which I was so unfocused I had problems reading anything despite having lots of free time. This past year, weirdly enough, was the year of the excellent witty romance novels, and a lot of great YA books. I know I’ve been really bad at writing on this blog and with my reading challenge from last January, so for 2021 I made a list of books I want to read and if I get to them, great, if not, I will get to them eventually. Might post the reviews on here as I read them. (I apologize for the formatting – still getting used to this new WordPress system). 

Children’s Books

  • Planting Stories Review posted previously on the blog, 2nd one down.
  • Waa'aka' The bird who fell in love with the sunTong’vaa Native American moralistic creation story done in gorgeous watercolors. Highly recommended for ages 5-9.
  • Kenny and the book of beasts I rather enjoyed this. Kenny Rabbit is basically a teenager in this book and has all the conflicting feelings of one, including falling for one of your best friends (Charlotte the squirrel) and being angry with your another (Grahame the dragon) who you’re not seeing as much because an old friend of his has come to town. The illustrations were fabulous and really made this book, especially at the end. This book was worth the wait, 4 months, before I finally got to borrow a copy from the library. My son loved it too, as I read it to him as a bedtime story. Highly recommended for ages 8-12, 5 stars.
  • Frida Kahlo bioJust a gorgeous illustrated Frida Kahlo bio for kids 8-12, 5 stars!
  • Immigrant ArchitectI randomly found this book while I was doing book bundles at the library and instantly liked it (I’m always on the lookout for interesting biographies to add to the bundles!). It was a bit too long for our book bundles but I like learning about art and architecture and it seemed to be both. Rafael Guastavino is famous for creating fireproof vaulted arches all over the US and the world, and patenting the design. The book is about the Senior Guastavino and his son with the same name. I liked the ones they created for Boston Public Library, Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC, the ceiling at the Vanderbilt Hotel (now a steakhouse), and many more. I liked that they had the facts, but also secrets and other details. One of the most interesting children’s books I’ve read all year. Highly recommended for ages 8-12, 5 stars!
  • Perkins perfect purple I found this book through one of my many book reviews subscriptions and thought it looked fascinating. Purple is my favorite color, so why not learn about how the color came to be processed and created for everyone’s use (not just that of royalty). William Perkin’s story was intriguing, as was the story of the color purple itself. I find it pretty cool that the process came to him totally by accident after his experiment to create a cheaper form of quinine, used to treat malaria. Not only did he find a way to create the color cheaper and allow for everyone’s usage of it, but he also pioneered other medical advances like the cure for cholera and TB! Now I kind of want to read a biography on the man himself, hopefully with better grammar and a more concise explanation of the chemistry, which I thought might be a turn-off to some people. I liked the extra information on the man in the back, as well as the bibliography. Recommended for ages 9-12, 4 stars.
  • Before the ever after This book hits you right in the feels, but then makes you smile like an idiot. In other words, it’s the perfect mix of bitter and sweet, and what makes a great story. I honestly wouldn’t have picked this book up for the subject matter, what happens to professional athletes after their career has suddenly ended because of a traumatic brain injury, but I love anything Jacqueline Woodson has done ever since I read “Brown Girl Dreaming” and this book doesn’t disappoint. It talks about hard subject matter but does it in an age appropriate way that is sensitive and real. My favorite poems were “Before the Ever After”, “How to Write a Song for My Daddy”, “Friends” (because it seriously made me crave a grilled cheese sandwich), and “Apple from the tree”. Highly recommended for ages 10+, 5 stars.

Young Adult/Teen Books

  • The magic fish Loved this so much! I loved the fairy tales selected (though the second one was a bit violent), and the costumes in the fairy tales were awesome too! Tien knows he’s gay (and so do his friends and they are really supportive) but doesn’t know how to tell his parents, especially his mother who he is closest too. So he uses the power of fairy tales to do so. This book was totally worth the wait!
  • The firefly lettersThis was surprisingly good, but then again, Engle does write awesome novels as a general rule . It’s about Frederika, a Swedish woman who believes in women’s rights (pretty miraculous for the 1860s) who moves to Cuba to write about the slavery and women. She is given a translator named Cecelia, a fifteen year old pregnant African slave, who wants freedom for herself and her unborn child. The story is also about Elena, the daughter of Cecelia and her husband Beni’s owner, and how she yearns for something more than being locked in a pretty cage till she’s fourteen and of marriageable age. I thought it was interesting that the title of the book comes from the fireflies that lit up the pages Frederika’s letters back home to Sweden, and how she and Cecilia used to save and free fireflies from local children. Highly recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.
  • the-downstairs-girlReview previously posted on the blog
  • The poet xXiomara Batista is ruled by her controlling very Catholic mother and her more timid twin brother (who is secretly gay). But she has a lot to say about her body, her choices, and of course boys. She even starts to like a boy named Aman from school. And she finally manages to do this in the form of slam poetry because she refuses to stay silent. I really loved not only X’s character but also her attitude towards life after she discovers poetry.
  • BullThis verse novel was an ultra-cool new way of looking at the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, but told from the viewpoint of everyone involved, including a god, the king and queen, Ariadne, and Asterion the child that will later become the Minotaur. It kind of reminded me of a hip hopera, sort of like Hamilton, and I would be interested to see it set to music or at the very least done out loud by high school drama students. I really loved it. Recommended for ages 14+, 5 stars.
  • Banned Book ClubKim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that controlled through censorship and other gruesome methods. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she ends up being the youngest member of an underground banned book club. Will she be able to fight for her right to free speech and reading? Or will the regime have the last word? Recommended for ages 15+, 5 stars.
  • Frankly in LoveReview posted previously on the blog

Adult Books

  • Spoiler AlertHot male film and TV star with hidden depths who secretly writes fanfics for the TV show he’s in (which is apparently very against the rules and a major conflict of interest) meets sassy female plus-size cosplayer who also secretly writes fanfics for the same show (and both have secretly been in love with each other as writers for ages now) equals all kind of interesting fun. I loved that the author specialized in writing plus-sized romance and definitely knew how to write the genre while not being hokey about it.
  • Get a life Chloe Brown I really enjoyed this one, way more than I thought I would. Chloe was very identifiable with me and I loved Red’s character, and her grandmother was hilarious and honest. Am curious to see what Ms. Hibbert does with the next book, which I already got. Highly recommended, 5 stars.
  • Too muchThis was one of the best books I’ve read in awhile, something I don’t say often for nonfiction books. The book talks about women in regards to talking, having nerve, female friendship/love, weight/appearance, mental health, cutting, sex and female sexuality, cheating, loudness, and being old. She uses modern and Victorian literature and modern films and historical references to talk about the topics. As a woman who has been accused of being too much before, it was interesting to see where the origins of these ideas came from and how much they are still in play. Highly recommended, 5 stars.
  • AftermathLife DebtEmpire's EndThe Aftermath trilogy is set right after Return of the Jedi, and between it and The Force Awakens. I had learned about these books after I watched The Force Awakens, from one of the ladies in my Star Wars Facebook group who said they were awesome, especially if you liked Wedge Antilles. I especially liked the second book Life Debt, as the characters are more fully developed and you really get to see the storyline progress. Overall, they were excellent audiobooks to listen to, read as ever by the incomparable Marc Thompson who does so many Star Wars audiobooks.

Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment

Once again, this book is from my Book Review project for the year, list found here.

Zoes Terrific Colorific Experiment

Georgia’s Terrific, Colorific Experiment by Zoe Persico

This picture book was gorgeous and a cute story about an African-American girl named Georgia who loves science while all the rest of her family loves art. And they try to convince her to use art in her creations, but she doesn’t want to listen. She eventually discovers that science and art can work together to describe something beautiful, and the rest of her family helps her with that. Absolutely adored the illustrations, the colors were so beautiful and I loved that she was so into science. Recommended for ages 7-10, 5 stars.

Frankly in Love

I am continuing with the Book Review project, list found here. This is definitely my favorite book so far as well as Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre, which coincidentally just won a Belpre Illustrator Honor award.

Frankly in Love

Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love #1) by David Yoon

Summary from Goodreads: “High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.”

I listened to the audiobook version and I loved it! It was so hilarious and yet gave us a serious look at racism in America through the eyes of Korean-American high school senior, within and outside his culture. Also seriously made me crave Korean food.

Honestly it reminded me a lot of listening to my best friend in high school and college. She’s Pakistani-American and even though she was born in the States, there was so much familial pressure for her to get married, not only to a Muslim, but specifically a Pakistani Muslim man. She later discovered this did not work for her, and would prefer whoever she marries to just be a good honest man (preferably Muslim). I have talked with a lot of international immigrants, having worked with a lot over the years, and find that most that come to America face the same pressures from their parents.  And like Frank, they are almost forced to choose by being whatever their parent’s nationality is or American, but seldom both. Frank falls hard for Brit Means, and I think she was good for him as a first girlfriend but because of all the pretending he has to do to be with her, it probably never would’ve worked out anyways. He somehow never managed to tell her and I think she would’ve ended it sooner if she had found out. And then even when Joy and Frank get together they can’t make it because of their parents’ fighting, for completely different reasons. Highly recommended for ages 15+, 5 stars.

Guts and New Kid

Well I feel like I’m off to a good start reading-wise. I’ve read twelve books so far this year, with lots more planned. I just hope I can fit them all in. I’ve started on the easiest books for this year’s first reading list, found here, the picture books and graphic novels, with some of the books on e-audio as well. I’ve found that my son really likes audio books too so we are usually listening to one together, as well as one of my own when I’m in the car by myself.

Guts

Guts (Smile #3) by Raina Telgemeier

I’ve been wanting to read this book all last year but never got around to it, mostly because I hadn’t read the previous book, Sisters (Smile #2). So I picked up both of them when I was going to review this book. My son is reading the Smile series almost concurrently with me, so I get his impressions too. He liked Sisters more than Smile because he thought it was funnier (especially the snake trapped in the van), but I liked Smile better because I lived through braces and know how annoying/painful they can be (and I’m talking back in the day when you had the metal ones not the nice plastic ones they use now). Anyways, on to the Guts review.

Guts takes an awkward topic, i.e. getting nauseous or having other tummy troubles because you’re over-nervous about something (in Raina’s case, dealing with upper elementary/middle school life) and making it funny and acceptable. I especially like the part when they go to the doctor’s office and she’s says “you have irritable bowel syndrome or IBS and you just need to not get stressed” and both her and her mom crack up because that’s damn near impossible. I have probably been a worrier all my life, I just didn’t have a word for it. Anxiety can be debilitating. Sometimes it can manifest itself in overthinking, other times it can be prevent you from leaving the house because you’re so scared of what will happen if you actually make a move. The overthinking is the worst honestly, well that and getting nauseous/having irritable bowels.

Raina is trying to navigate her way through changes at home and school. She goes from sleeping with her sister in bunk beds and sharing a room, to her own room, to splitting a room with her parents so her grandmother can have the downstairs sofa. She’s starting to go through puberty but hasn’t had her period yet, though other girls her age have. There’s one girl that’s really mean to her and she’s getting bullied. Her best friend has just announced that she’s moving next year and going to school on the other side of town. Raina’s body just can’t handle it and reacts in a not-so-nice way. But eventually she figures things out, gets a counselor, and learns to accept the changes. Highly recommended for ages 8-12, 5 stars.

 

New Kid

Summary from Goodreads: “Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?”

I really wanted to like this book. It had great reviews and it just won a freaking Newbery (the only graphic novel to ever have done that)! But I just couldn’t get into it. For me it boils down to two things: I didn’t like the artwork and the story really dragged. I did like the relationship between Jordan and Drew, the other African-American kid in his class. I liked that the book was subtly introducing the idea of microaggressions (in reference to racism and biases) to kids, as this is something people of color have to deal with all the time, from everywhere. And Jordan’s hand-drawn comics were for the most part really funny. I’ll probably try to read again later when I’m not so swamped book-wise.

Dandy, Planting Stories, and Chapter Two is Missing!

These three books were taken from this list of books I plan on reading and reviewing on here this year. I grabbed these three picture books last week before I left work for New Years and read two of them the first day of the year and saved the last one to read with my son.

Dandy

  • Dandy written by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Charles Santoso: My son and I have been reading Dyckman’s books for a couple years now and love Wolfie the Bunny and this book seemed in the same vein as that, so I knew I wanted to read it. It was a very cutesy and understatedly hilarious book about what really matters in life. Sweetie, Daddy’s only child, has made a friend who just happens to be a weed named Charlotte that her dad wants to get rid of, which he tries to at every possible opportunity. When his daughter is off at swim practice, him and the other dads finally get the chance for revenge against the weed, only to have it foiled by an adorable drawing of Sweetie and her friend, and he makes a grave mistake. But he more than makes for it in the end. The illustrations by Charles Santoso are excellent and hilarious. Highly recommended for ages 5-9, 5 stars.

Planting Stories

  • Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre written by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar. I had obviously heard of Pura Belpre before as a librarian, but didn’t know anything about her. This charming biography gives you the low-down on why she came to America, how she met her husband, how she was the first Latina to publish folk stories from back home in Puerto Rico (like Martina the Beautiful Cockroach which I had first read after I finished library school though Carmen Agra Deedy’s version), and how this influenced storytelling in libraries. I loved the idea of “planting stories” and can’t wait to share this one with my book club. Highly recommended for ages 7-10, 5 stars.

Chapter Two is Missing

  • Chapter Two is Missing! written by Josh Lieb, illustrated by Kevin Cornell. I really wanted to like this one as it looked over-the-top dramatic and fun, but it was so long it dragged and lost my interest. My son loved it though. The narrator is here to tell us that “Chapter Two is Missing!” and Milo the book’s janitor needs to do something about it, and help him find the chapter. The narrator has already hired Detective McGarrigan, and helpfully provides her information several times. Will they be able to catch the culprit who did it and recover the missing chapter? It gets an extra half star because my kid liked it so much he actually read it out loud to me. Recommended for ages 6-9, 3-1/2 stars.

2020 Book Review project

used-books-store-2

Happy 2020 people! It’s been so far so good for me personally, helps that I had the first 5 days off work. I decided at the end of last year that I would start the year reviewing a list of 28 books that I discovered off various online professional reviews and blogs but did not have the chance to read. So here’s my list in no particular order and reviews will be forthcoming:

  1. The Good Thieves by Catherine Rundell (Children Fiction)
  2. Furious hours: murder, fraud, and the last trial of Harper Lee by Casey N. Cep (Adult nonfiction)
  3. Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (Adult nonfiction)
  4. The five: the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper (Adult nonfiction)
  5. You will be safe here by Damian Barr (Adult fiction)
  6. Guts by Raina Telgemeier (Children/YA Graphic Novel)
  7. New Kid by Jerry Craft (Children Graphic Novel)
  8. Tristan Strong punches a hole in the sky by Kwame Mbali (Children Fantasy)
  9. Frankly in Love by David Yoon (YA Fiction)
  10. Dandy by Ame Dyckman (Children Picture Book)
  11. Chapter Two is Missing! by Josh Lieb (Children Picture Book)
  12. Georgia’s terrific, colorific experiment by Zoe Perisco (Children Picture Book)
  13. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (YA Fiction)
  14. Planting stories: the life of librarian and storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Denise (Children Picture Book Biography)
  15. Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon (YA Historical Fiction)
  16. Wicked Fox by Kat Cho (YA Fantasy)
  17. The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu (YA Fantasy)
  18. The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee (YA Historical Fiction)
  19. Kiss Number 8 by Coleen A.F. Venable (YA Graphic Novel)
  20. The Line Tender by Kate Allen (Children Fiction)
  21. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi (Adult Fiction)
  22. They called us enemy by George Takei (Adult e-comic)
  23. Frankisstein: a love story by Jeannette Winterson (Adult Fiction)
  24. D-Day girls: the spies who armed the resistance, sabotaged the Nazis, and helped win World War II by Sarah Rose (Adult nonfiction)
  25. Spencer’s New Pet by Jessie Sima (Children Picture Book)
  26. All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker (Children Fiction)
  27. More to the Story by Hena Khan (Children Fiction)
  28. The Secret Commonwealth (The Book of Dust #2) by Philip Pullman

Best Books of 2019

It’s crazy to think that today is the last day of 2019. This year has flown by so fast it seems, though it was definitely slow during the summer for me. It’s a wee bit late for this but I wanted to list my favorite books of the year because I love sharing awesome books I’ve read. I did like some picture books but this list was already too long, so I just left them out. You can check out my reviews on Goodreads if you’re interested.

Children’s Chapter Books

Klawde

  • The Klawde series by Johnny Marciano: Started reading them to my son at bed and we love them. They are the most fun books to do voices for and completely hilarious, full of crazy puns my kid loves.

Never Say Narwhal

  • The Platypus Police Squad series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka: My kid and I really enjoyed this hilarious series and it was fun to listen to a bunch of platypus police detectives with NY accents living in Kalamazoo City, with a bunch of Panda and Narwhal gangsters running around trying to hijack the town.

MegaBat and Fancy Cat

  • Mega Bat series by Anna Humphrey: A sweet and super adorable series about a young boy and his adopted pet MegaBat. I enjoyed reading this one to my son.

 

Graphic Novels/Manga (all ages)

Princess Princess Ever After

  • Basically anything written/illustrated by New Zealand artist/author Katie O’Neill. So far I’ve read The Tea Dragon Society, Princess Princess Ever After, Aquicorn Cove, and The Tea Dragon Festival. [children]

Return of Zita the Spacegirl

  • Zita the Spacegirl series (#1-3) written/illustrated by Ben Hatke: Picked this series up for my son but got sucked in as well. It’s just a fun semi-wordless quick read that explores the adventures of the reluctant galaxy traveler Zita. I already loved Ben Hatke’s artwork from books like Julia’s House for Lost Creatures. [children]

Anonymous Noise 14

  • Anonymous Noise series (Vol 6-16) written/illustrated by Ryoko Fukuyama: Discovered the one season of the anime first, which only covers the first 5 volumes, so picked up number six and read all of them. It’s just the fluffy high school drama with a love triangle I want in a manga. I picked this one because it has Yuzu, one of my favorite characters on the front. Only two more volumes to go before the series is done. 😦 [YA]

Unnatural

  • The Unnatural series written by Mirka Andolfo – I discovered this series by accident but glad I was able to read it because it was just about as crazy as Saga. Per my review: “Lesley Blair is just a normal pig living in a totalitarian world that controls who you can mate with, down to governmentally selected dating services when you turn 21.” And stuff just gets weirder once she turns 21. Very graphic and adult but I enjoyed it. [adult]

Pumpkinheads

  • Pumpkin Heads written by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks: I love Rainbow Rowell’s YA and adult books and this one is no exception. Sometimes the most obvious thing is the answer to your question, as  Josiah learns from Deja. [YA]

America Vol 1

  • America Vol 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez written by Gabby Rivera – Shortly after I read Juliet Takes a Breath, I discovered this. And this new incarnation of Captain America is pretty badass! I know it had some mixed reviews but I enjoyed it. [was in Adult section but def 15+]

The Bride was a Boy

The Bride was a Boy written/illustrated by Chii – my review below: “Absolutely adorable manga about the author’s transition from male to female. The cutesy illustrations (my son said it reminded him of “Ouran High School Host Club’s” animation) helped move the story along, which helped especially as it got pretty technical with explaining in a non-condescending manner the terminology for gender, sexuality, and Japanese laws. Chii was lucky to find such a great guy who accepted her for who she was, and helped her along on her journey to womanhood. Highly recommended for ages 15+, 5 stars.”

The Adventure Zone

  • The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins written by Clint, Griffin, Justin, and Travis McElroy – This book was hilarious, and I know next to nothing about D&D or their podcast. [adult]

 

Young Adult

Rebound

  • Rebound by Kwame Alexander: I read The Crossover in April and surprisingly enjoyed it (a sports verse novel, who knew?) and then found this one and liked it even better. This one tells the story of Chuck Bell, the father of The Crossover twins, and how he came to play basketball. I managed to get a friend who was seeing Kwame Alexander at an event to get it signed for me!

 

Adult 

Juliet Takes a Breath.jpg

  • Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera: I am late to the Gabby Rivera party but I am in love with her stuff right now and can’t wait to read more. I think my review sums it up: “I freaking loved this book and its message was great and perfect for me in a way I really needed at this point in my crazy life. Highly recommended and 5 stars!”

Ayesha at Last

  • Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin – snippet of my review “It’s basically a modern Muslim interpretation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” with a bit of Shakespeare’s mistaken identity thrown in just to make things interesting.”

Born a Crime

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author – I loved this book and have been recommending it to everyone I know, but it is hard to listen to all the racism and apartheid policies of South Africa. It was also the most heartfelt and hilarious book I’ve read in a while. I love his mom and he is very lucky to have her. And the man is not afraid to cuss so make sure you’re not listening to it around kids and I do recommend the audiobook because he’s a great narrator.

Thrawn - Treason

  • Thrawn: Treason (Star Wars: Thrawn #3) by Timothy Zahn – This one harkened back to the first book as far as the awesomeness of the book and tied together events that happened in the show Star Wars: Rebels. I’ve been interested in Thrawn ever since I read the first book, then saw him in Rebels, and he is one of the most interesting characters of the Star Wars universe in my opinion. I know my son would just say “Why do you like the bad guys so much?” and to that I will say, they are usually just more complex and fascinating characters.

The Omega Objection

  • The San Andreas Shifter series by G.L. Carriger (aka one of my favorite authors in the world Gail Carriger): I haven’t read a lot of m/m romance fantasy werewolf books to be honest, but I loved this series. Honestly though I re-read the Parasol Protectorate series of Carriger’s books this year and they were even more awesome on audiobook.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows

  • Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal: No I promise it’s not all porn, though it does have some erotica in it. Nikki, a bartender and law school dropout, decides to teach a creative writing class that evolves into much more, including the liberation of older traditional Punjabi widows.

Crazy Rich Asians

  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: Yes I saw the movie but I thought the book was better.

Kill the Farm Boy

  • Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne: Another hilarious fantasy book, in the vein of Monty Python and The Princess Bride, by the author of the Star Wars: Phasma and the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles.