January Book Reviews


A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

I’m glad it worked out that I read this in the week between Christmas and New Year's, because A Court of Frost and Starlight was basically a ACOWAR holiday book. I definitely ain’t mad about it! It was fun to finally spend some time in Velaris, see the characters take a respite for once, and get even more backstory. Maas clearly had fun setting up the next book/books and has me definitely wanting to continue reading!

This new graphic novel series was such a delight to read. A young girl joins with a rare and heartwarming creature (a Galdurian) to find her missing grandfather, and it echoes some of my favorite children’s stories like The City of Ember and Labyrinth. Probert also addresses anxiety - how it can overwhelm kids at times, and also empower them. It ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, and my daughter is chomping at the bit for the next installment.
If you have fans of Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi in your household, or fantasy graphic novels, you should definitely pick up this book.

Tomorrow Will be Different is an absolute must read. Her story about coming out as trans, working in politics, meeting and then dealing with the loss of her husband is a roller coaster of emotions. But I felt relentless optimism and faith in humanity undergirding the entire book.
It’s also so informative, and made me so much more aware of the perspective from a trans person’s point of view - from assumptions made about their sexuality, about the right people seem to have in asking about their bodies, about their given names, or the myriad tasks of daily life that are made difficult as trans in order to avoid confrontation.
Most importantly, we should all be loved for who we are, not who we could have been. Trans people are no different.
I’m excited to see McBride’s intelligence, charm, and optimism carry her far - since the publication of this book, she’s already become the first transgender state senator.
Oh, and some guy named Joe Biden wrote the foreword and it made me like him that much more. 

Writers and Lovers by Lily King
“I squat there and think about how you get trained early on as a woman to perceive how others are perceiving you, at the great expense of what you yourself are feeling about them. Sometimes you mix the two up and a terrible tangle that’s hard to unravel.”
Gahhhh. I loved this book! I hesitated for so long to read it, thinking it just didn’t sound like something I would enjoy, even though the hardcover of Euphoria sits on my all time favorite books shelf. I started to think perhaps I loved that novel because I seem to gravitate towards crazy books about a stranger in a strange land, like The Poisonwood Bible and State of Wonder (also on the revered hardcover shelf). But then I realized I adore Patchett and Kingsolver even when they aren’t taking me to the depths of the jungle, and I HAD to pick up Writers and Lovers by Lily King.
Like the aforementioned authors, her writing is so lovely and accessible, shocking me at times, and just made me feel some type of way.
It’s a slice of life and a beautiful coming-of-age story arc, wherein I wanted to hug the protagonist and the whole book when I was done. It can be bleak at times, especially when examining the grief over her mother’s death, yet it’s an immensely satisfying and, dare I say, happy ending? I think we could all use one of those.

Greenwood by Michael Christie
“All the rings of inner heartwood are essentially dead, just lignin-reinforced cellulose built up year after year, stacked layer upon layer, through droughts and storms, disease and stresses, everything that the tree has lived through preserved and recorded within its own body. Every tree is held up by its own history, the very bones of its ancestors.”
Greenwood was such a moving and thoughtful novel (and reminded me of another great book: This Tender Land, set after the great depression, a protagonist jumping the railways). Christie’s story ties to the future in a clever narrative structure, set up like a cross-section of the rings of a tree. It begins in 2038, hops to 2008, 1974, 1934, 1908 and then forward through those same years back to 2038.
The bulk of the story is told in the year 1934 with a cat and mouse chase between protagonist Everett Greenwood who saves a baby abandoned in the woods, and the wealthy RJ Holt who fathered the baby out of wedlock, sends a lackey to retrieve the baby and keep things under wraps.
While compelling and suspenseful, with books that span great swaths of time, I tend to get invested in some characters and wish more time was spent with them. At times the cat and mouse chase seemed to drag, but when the plot did come back around to characters from the later years, I was moved to tears. It’s a beautiful and heart wrenching reflection on the environment, what makes a life, and a family. Bonus points for a gorgeously rendered depiction of the PNW.

Seance Tea Party by Reimena Lee
Another fantastic middle grade graphic novel! Seance Tea Party is a poignant coming of age story about that in between time when kids still just want to be kids and play, while many of their peers are exploring more mature pursuits.
Lora is such an easy protagonist to empathize with, as I was definitely a kid who was not interested in growing up fast, and my daughter seems similar at almost 11: still running around on playgrounds, still acting silly, still loves animals and fuzzy things. But it is bittersweet, because we know what is inevitable. We both give this one two big thumbs up.
The book does such a wonderful job illustrating Lora’s very gradual shift in viewpoint on what it means to grow up. Her friend Alexa the ghost is a melancholy, but beautiful message about the privilege of aging. Highly, highly recommend for tween readers and fans ofRaina Telgemeier's books or The Babysitters Club!


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