Books Read in July 2021

Picture Books

Fox at Night
Corey R. Tabor
Read for Librarian Book Group

Fox finds a lot of things scary. In the meantime, readers get to guess what things are are scaring Fox.

Tag Team
Raúl the Third, Elaine Bly
Read for Librarian Book Group

El Toro and La Oink Oink get (as my father would say: you don’t have to, you get to!) to clean up the Caliseo after their big match. This is all thanks to Mal Burro and Peeky Pequeño who have skipped out on their obligations. This book was mostly written in English, with Spanish written in purple. Sometimes the English or Spanish was repeated, sometimes phrases were used alone.

I was mostly annoyed that El Toro and La Oink Oink cleaned the Caliseo.

Training Day
Raúl the Third, Elaine Bly
Read for Librarian Book Group

El Toro isn’t up for training until Kooky Dooky finds a way to motivate him.

Middle Grade

Finding Junie Kim
Ellen Oh
Read for Librarian Book Group

I had a goodly amount of whiplash as the book flipped back and forth between Junie’s story of a depressive episode and her grandparents’ time in Korea during the Korean war. But ultimately enjoyed details of all the stories.

Korean War books are few. Authors need to get on that, STAT!

Young Adult

The Box in the Woods
Maureen Johnson

We reunite with Stevie and it’s the summer after she’s solved the Ellingham mystery. She’s back at home and experiencing the comedown that is normal life. (I felt her deli-ham-slicing pain.) Luckily, she is whisked off to a summer camp where she is supposed to solve a 1978 murder of four teenagers.

Props to Maureen Johnson for the fun tech bro details and the many period details about the mystery.

I really love this series.

E.K. Johnston

The versatile Johnston tackles sci-fi with the story of Pendt, who grows up on her family’s space cruiser. She’s the runt of her family and her life is shaped because of that.

Johnston is great at writing books that stick with me.

This is Not a Love Scene
S.C. Megale

Maeve is a powerhouse who knows how to get things done—including the student film she’s directing. This is an interesting and engaging #OwnVoices story about being a teenager. And also living with muscular dystrophy.

Our Year of Maybe
Rachel Lynn Soloman

Best friends Sophie and Peter have been close since they were children. But when Sophie gives Peter one of her kidneys, his world opens up and their friendship changes.

An excellent exploration of how relationships are formed and the personal growth that comes when they flex.

Goodbye Perfect
Sara Barnard

What happens when your best friend runs off with her boyfriend? Sara Barnard plumbs the emotions of friendship. I’m excited to read more from her.

Along for the Ride
Sarah Dessen

Auden is saddled with terrible parents (they are currently winning the 2021 award for worst fictional parents who are not physically or psychologically abusive) and keeps to her studies and herself. When she flees to her father’s house, she spends the summer meeting her new sister, learning that people are complex, and that bicycles are freedom.

This is Sarah Dessen at her best.

The Truth Is
NoNieqa Ramos

There was a dark cloud over this book. That dark cloud was instantly recognizable when I finished reading and realized Ramos also wrote the Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary. Enjoyable and hard, that book was.

In this book, Verdad has boxed herself off and is lonely after her friend dies. But when she meets Danny her relationship with her mother goes south and her friendship world opens up. So many uncomfortable feelings!

Destination Anywhere
Sara Barnard

Payton takes a desperation flight from her home in Great Britain to Canada because it’s the only way she can think of to escape her parents’ insistence she attend school. Her attempts at travel are guided by a bunch of tourists she meets. As she gains confidence, we learn more about her lonely life and what happened the previous year.

Barnard goes hard into heavy feelings, and just as hard into the joys and miseries of of travel and forming friendships.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder
Sara Barnard

The U.S. of A. doesn’t tend to turn out a lot of selective mute children (we trend toward the depressed or the ADHD diagnosis) but Steffi (a Brit, not an American) has been working to overcome her selective mute diagnosis for years. When she’s paired up with Rhys because he uses British Sign Language and she has some passable BSL skills, her world changes.

I was interested in the way BSL was depicted in bold in the novel and wondered how someone fluent in BSL would feel about that. I think the author did it to show Steffi’s progress mastering the language, but I’m curious how others felt.

Young Nonfiction

The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought for Justice with Art
Cynthia Levinson, Evan Turk
Read for Librarian Book Group

I think the art was supposed to make a point about the subject’s style, but I found it messy and off-putting.

Sunrise Summer
Swason and Behr
Read for Librarian Book Group

Spend the summer in Alaska, fishing for salmon on a small, family-owned piece of land. There were many interesting details and great back matter.

Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Jeff Gottesfeld and Matt Tavares
Read for Librarian Book Group

Who are the people who guard the tomb of the unknown solider and why do they serve? There are a lot of great close-up details and expansive views in this picture book.

Grownup Nonfiction

The Anthropocene Reviewed
John Green

I’m a bit of a John Green completionist (Vlogbrothers, Dear Hank & John, novels, the Anthropocene Reviewed podcast) so I’d heard Green reading versions of many of these essays on his podcasts. I appreciate the podcast version more, but the essays are fine in print form.

By the way, I’m writing this review while listening to a YouTube livestream from February where Green was autographing one part of the 250,000 first printing pages. I preordered, so I got a signed copy. It was a green signature, and the pen was clearly on the downslope. I gave my John Green autograph 2 stars.

Grownup Fiction

The Duke and I
Julia Quinn

A day at the beach and I had finished my book. What to do, what to do? Instead of downloading another ebook, I wandered into Seaside’s Beach Books and found a perfect beach companion.

Lady Whistledown—an excellent device for delivering backstory! And who doesn’t love a big family, romance between wealthy people, and the Regency period? Well, maybe not you, but I’m a fan.

I’m excited to see if I can beat the next season of Bridgerton and finish all eight of this series.

Kindling the Moon
Jenn Bennett

Bennett’s debut novel featured pacing that didn’t quite crackle along, but this urban fantasy had all the sexy romance markers.

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