Books Read in January 2021

Picture Books

A Pig, a Fox and a Fox
Jonathan Fenske
Read for Librarian Book Group

Fox tries to play jokes on pig, but is thwarted at every turn in this rhyming beginning reader.

Don’t Worry Little Crab
Chris Haughton
Read for Librarian Book Group

I mean, I feel like Very Big Crab wasn’t really respecting Little’s Crab’s boundaries, but the illustrations were great.

This Old Dog
Martha Brockenrough and Gabriel Alborozo
Read for Librarian Book Group

An old dog/young child story that headed in a different direction than I thought it would.

What About Worms?
Ryan T. Higgins
Read for Librarian Book Group

The tiger is afraid of worms in this early reader. Very fun illustrations.

The Magical Yet
Angela DiTerlizzi and Lorena Álvarez
Read for Librarian Book Group (maybe?)

Beautifully illustrated book about the thing you aren’t quite yet.

Middle Grade

The Magic Fish
Trung Le Nguyen
Read for Librarian Book Group

A graphic novel that takes the fairy tale retelling trend in a different direction. It also shows a mother/son relationship and what coming out looked like in the 90s.

Young Adult

American Royals
Katherine McGee

This book breaks my first book series rule: each book in the series should have an ending! If I’m going to read w hole book, especially one with a long list of holds on the sequel, I need that book to tie everything up.

The idea of a monarchy in the United States of America was profoundly disturbing to me. I have enough trouble with fiscal policies that allow the generational transfer of large amounts of money, not to mention policies that mean the US has as many billionaires as it does.

That said, this was interesting book with characters I got invested in.

p.s. George Washington had no direct descendants so I’m interested in why they were still called the House of Washington. I don’t understand how those monarchical houses get named.

p.p.s. Someone asked this question on Goodreads and the author answered it: In the world of American Royals, the succession goes through GW’s nephew George Steptoe Washington, son of Washington’s younger brother Samuel. (George Steptoe Washington had three older siblings but none of them lived long enough to become king–in real life they all died before GW’s death in 1799). George Steptoe Washington, aka King George II in the world of American Royals, was a fascinating character in real life! He eloped with Lucy Payne (Dolly Madison’s sister!) when she was 15 and he was 22. Their families were originally outraged but later reconciled. So of course, in the world of American Royals she became Queen Lucy!

Black Girl Unlimited
Echo Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group

Required reading both for the down-on-the-ground perspective and for the interesting way of putting together a story. This one will stick with me.

It Sounded Better in my Head
Nina Kenwood
Read for Librarian Book Group

A relationship anxiety tour de force!

Natalie was an immediately relatable character and due to the ebook format I wasn’t prepared for it to be over.

This was also a book that caused several loud chuckles. Kenwood is great at low-key humor.

The Black Kids
Christina Hammonds Reed

Really astute (and amusing) observations of a well-off L.A. Black girl during the Rodney King Riot in the 1990s.

I read this first as a short story in One Teen Story and I’m looking forward to more of Christina Hammonds Reed’s work.

Clap When You Land
Elizabeth Acevedo
Read for Librarian Book Group

Two girls, one in New York City and one in the Dominican Republic, are both affected by a plane crash.

I have my novel-in-verse favorite authors and Acevedo is one.

Getting the Girl
Susan Juby

A mystery that hasn’t aged well. Guys who are “into the ladies,” even severely inexperienced ones, feel kind of ick now.

Still, with Juby’s sparking prose there were redeeming things about this book.

Julie Buxbaum

The college cheating scandal exposed by Operations Varsity Blues was my big schadenfreude story of 2019. The obsession with “the best” college! The willingness to call your child, already the product of an expensive private education, too dumb to get in via normal channels! The nerve!, as Julie Buxbaum said in her afterward.

This is the story of a not-book-smart teenager who finds herself one of the many children of rich people who found out that their acceptance letter didn’t arrive due to their efforts alone. Told in now/then chapters we see Chloe pick through her responsibility, her parents efforts, and how she feels about the aftermath. This was engrossing fiction.

You Know I’m No Good
Jessie Anne Foley

Bad girl! Out of control! Expensive rehab place!

Plus Foley’s usual astute characterization and writing.

Darius the Great Deserves Better
Adir K. Khorram
Read for Librarian Book Group

Darius is back and, while his life has improved, a lot of the daily life things still require negotiation. I love a good in-depth novel about emerging male sexuality and Darius’s categorization of things is amusing. This was really well done.

As with the first book, man has Khorram missed the mark with Portland high school names.

It Only Happens in the Movies
Holly Bourne

As someone who loves romantic comedies while also giving them a lot of side eye, Bourne’s book hit the spot. Early relationships provide a lot of learning opportunities, and that is the case in this novel.

While the journey is great, the ending was so good I gave Boyfriend Matt a complete rundown of the plot, just so I could say, “See! This book was amazing!” He agreed. The afterward includes a list of 10 movie that made the author who she is today.

Young Nonfiction

All Thirteen
Christina Soontrnvat
Read for Librarian Book Group

This is the way nonfiction should be written! Using clear prose backed with great photos and illustrations, we get an up-close look at the rescue of the soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Grownup Nonfiction

Happy Money: Understand and Heal Your Relationship with Money
Ken Honda

Another woo-woo finance book. This provides suggestions for shedding your money baggage and making all your money happy money.

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