Welcome to Jen's recommendations! Check out what Jen has been reading below.
Garlic and the Vampire is an adorable graphic novel about an anxious little garlic tasked with confronting the vampire that has moved into the neighborhood. She puts on a brave face and heads out towards danger. Along the way, Garlic will discover just how brave she truly is. Bree Paulsen delivers an original graphic novel with the most delightful vegetables you'll meet!
Maite is a lowly secretary at a law firm. Her romance comic books and music collection are what keep her warm at night. When her beautiful next-door neighbor, Leonora, knocks on her door one night, Maite does not know what to expect and finds herself taking care of Leonora’s cat while Leonora is out of town. When Leonora does not return, Maite sets out to find her with the hope that she can finally get paid for her pet sitting. However, Maite will soon realize she has become entangled in something she has no business to be involved in. Enter Elvis - his boss wants him to find Leonora at all costs. It turns out Leonora is a radical activist with incriminating photos of a powerful politician. Elvis and his crew are not the only players in town, either - there are other government agents involved, and everyone is coming for the last person to see Leonora alive: Maite. 1970’s Mexico City is volatile, and you can either keep your head down and stay small, or you can light the match. Silvia Moreno-Garcia delivers a first-rate, red-hot noir based on historical facts, and I loved every moment!
A poignant novel set in New Mexico, The Five Wounds follows the lives of the Padilla family: 33 yr. old Amadeo, his pregnant 15 yr. old daughter, Angel, the family matriarch Yolanda, and Tio Tive, who has initiated Amadeo into the hermandad and casted him to portray Jesus in their reenactment of the crucifixion. Jobless, living with his mother, and estranged from his teenage daughter, Amadeo searches for purpose and perhaps redemption. His daughter Angel has shown up unannounced and eight months pregnant, and Yolanda returns home with a life-altering secret. Amadeo and Angel’s fragile relationship starts to mend as they navigate through daily life and welcome the newest member into the family. Kirstin Valdez Quade tells a captivating story about family, loss, redemption and the power of faith. I could not put this book down! You will laugh, cry, get angry, and want to hug these characters. Masterful storytelling!
Paletero Man is a lyrical feast for the senses! Inspired by Lucky Brand's song, Paletero Man follows a young boy as he rushes through his Los Angeles neighborhood to buy his paleta from the Paletero Man. In his excitement to get to Paletero Jose, he races past the neighborhood vendors with no time for small talk. But his money has fallen out of his pocket along the way, and he does not discover it is missing until he is in front of Paletero Jose's cart. What is he to do?! Joyful, brilliant illustrations and a catchy song make this a wonderful addition to family story time.
In a world of monsters and evil wizards, there's Barb, the last Berzerker. It is up to Barb and her yeti pal Porkchop to save the people and monsters of the land. As Barb and Porkchop embark on their quest to save her tribe warriors, they encounter (and sometimes cause) chaos all around them. But never fear, Barb will save the day! Dan & Jason give readers an entertaining, laugh-out-loud adventure graphic novel!
An agender tea monk looking for solace as they go on a soul-searching quest and a robot who has never met a human before become unlikely travel companions as they ponder questions that humans have been asking since the beginning of time. A Psalm for the Wild-Built is a welcome change from the doom and gloom of post-apocalyptic novels. Like a warm summer breeze, Becky Chambers gently eases the reader into an optimistic sci-fi fable. Make your favorite cup of tea and settle into the beauty of this book!
It is going to be a busy summer for star pitcher Gayle Briar. Gayle and her mom have moved to Martha’s Vineyard to open an ice cream stand, but the grand opening has been put on hold since Gayle broke her arm in a baseball game. Not to mention the biggest news, Hollywood has descended on Martha's Vineyard! Here to film a shark movie and hold a youth film festival, this small community is overrun with shark talk. When Gayle learns that there is a big cash prize for the winner of the film festival, she gets to work, along with Elijah Jones, future cinematographer, and Maddie Grey, director, who is set on uncovering the islands’ darkest secret. Shark Summer is a lively read with engaging characters and fantastic artwork.
Bear Is a Bear is the most heartfelt picture book I've read this year! A tender story about childhood with your most treasured toy with gorgeous illustrations by Dan Santat. This is a picture book for all ages, guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings. Grab your teddy bear or favorite stuffed animal and read this at once.
When a young woman arrives to interview reclusive pianist Julien Dubois, she is treated to not only Julien’s story but the story of a true genius, Francois Samson, as well – Julien’s rival for accolades in the classical world as well as a rival for a beautiful woman. Spanning decades in the life of a famous pianist, Ballad for Sophie is an operatic triumph with sensational illustrations.
She Who Became the Sun is a captivating rags-to-riches tale of war and vengeance, power and fate, love and identity. Set in 14th century China, this historical fantasy follows a girl fated to nothingness. After bandits have killed her father, the girl is determined to avoid her fate and will do what it takes to not just survive but to reach greatness; her name will be known for the next ten thousand years. She takes her brother’s identity and joins a monastery to escape starvation and poverty. From monkhood to commander of the Red Turban rebellion against the Mongols, Zhu’s path to power is brutal and emotional. Shelley Parker-Chan debuts an epic queer reimagining of the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty in glittering and magnificent proportions!
Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit are the children of the world-famous crooner Mick Riva. However, they may know him best through celebrity magazines. Raised by their mother June, the siblings grow up in Malibu and bond over surfing. Told in two parts, we learn the family's history from the mid-fifties to late seventies and then of the day of the Riva's annual end-of-summer party in 1983. Each chapter reveals a new heartbreak, all leading up to the most explosive party the siblings have ever hosted. Taylor Jenkins Reid sets the scene for family drama and manages to transport you to Malibu's past effortlessly. I was mesmerized by the Rivas, my heart breaking with them at one turn, and laughing out loud at the next, especially at Kit's astute observations. Make an 80's surfing playlist and add this to your summer read pile!
The Memory Theater is the tale of Thistle and Dora, captives in a land where time does not exist and the lords and ladies of the realm have gone mad and cruel. In order to be free to return home, Thistle must be given his true name. Dora, a child of the earth, is not bound by the same rules as Thistle is in this sinister world and so appoints herself as Thistle’s protector. As they make their escape, they must track down the one person who can set Thistle free. Crossing the multiverse and encountering creatures of other worlds along the way in a race against time. At times frightening and hopeful, reading this felt like a modern Grimm’s fairytale - dark and magical!
A long time ago the world flooded. Cities have drowned, money is a thing of the past, and the only "land" to live on is a floating mass of garbage. According to Tetley Abednego, it is the most wonderful and magical place to be. You could say she is hopelessly optimistic, or perhaps she is the only one who truly gets it. Either way, Tetley is the most hated girl in Garbagetown when she decides to destroy something for the greater good. If only the people of her beloved home could see what she sees. Tetley Abednego truly is the most loved girl in Garbagetown! The Past is Red is an insightful, heart-rending, and hopeful novella; there is so much packed into it, and Tetley is just the character to guide you through - imagine if Pollyanna lived in a post-apocalyptic world.
Narrated by a young woman who’s fixed on suicide, past loves, family, and everything in between. Trying to find her way in life, our protagonist moves to Scotland where she becomes an au pair, reads all day, and starts to hate the color green. Next, she tries her hand at teaching Spanish to businesspeople in Brussels and has a love affair with her client that she must put a stop to once marriage is proposed. I've never read anything like this. Permafrost is sharp, poetic, philosophical, and raw, with many fleeting moments. Eva Baltasar breathes a memorable and discerning character to life!
Reeling from the discovery of her husband's affair, Caroline Parcewell decides to go to London on what was supposed to be an anniversary vacation. One afternoon she takes part in mudlarking and discovers a curious vial which reignites a long-buried passion for history. As Caroline embarks on uncovering the vial’s secrets, she discovers more about herself and her marriage. Meanwhile, in 18th century London, there's a hidden apothecary dealing in poisons. Nella is the heir of the apothecary. What used to be a place where all could go for health and healing is now something more sinister. Nella now works in the shadows, helping women right the wrongs done to them by men. The rules are simple: the poison must never be used to harm another woman, and the names of the murderer and her victim must be cataloged in the apothecary's register. A definite page turner that kept me up late just to find out what happens next!!
LGBTQ advice columnist John Paul Brammer delivers an earnest and quick-witted memoir with stories about his life, from growing up in rural Oklahoma and being bullied in middle school to moving to New York City and finding his voice. ¡Hola Papi! has that fresh memoir experience where each chapter is a response to a reader's question. Reading this was like being invited in and staying a while; there was a connectedness I felt while reading about JP’s experiences, whether it was being able to relate to growing up mixed race and not speaking Spanish or commiserating with him as meets “the one.” Do yourself a favor and luxuriate in the warmth of each chapter.
This is the story of a young girl called Sankofa, the adopted daughter of death. In a past not so distant she used to be Fatima, a daughter and younger sister with a loving family - before she lost everything. Set in not-so-distant future Ghana, a child discovers a mysterious object while playing on the family's shea farm. This green glowing seed will forever change Fatima and all she holds dear; she will forget her name at seven years old and take on the name Sankofa. She travels the land searching for the seed that was lost long ago, bringing death wherever she roams. The people of Ghana either fear or worship her. A memorable and beautiful futuristic folklore of a novella with the depth of an epic fantasy. I loved the world building, the characters, everything! The talent of Nnedi Okorafor knows no bounds!