Welcome to Jen's recommendations! Check out what Jen has been reading below.
You usually hear about books that are crossovers for YA – well, I think this book should be considered a crossover for adults! A stunning, historical epic set in pre-Columbian Mexico based on the life of Nezahualcoyotl. Not only are there beautiful illustrations from Amanda Mijangos, but David Bowles incorporates Nezahualcoyotl's surviving poetry into the novel as well. The Prince and the Coyote is a rich and layered story about one of the Americas’ greatest heroes. I was mesmerized from beginning to end!
Fantasy world? Check. Books? Check. A smart-mouthed Gnome? Check. Adventure, romance, and humor? Check, check, check! Bookshops & Bonedust had everything I didn't know I wanted. A prequel to Legends & Lattes that can be read as a standalone, Travis Baldree packs a punch in this delightfully cozy fantasy.
Make a Move, Sunny Park! is a delightful middle grade novel about Sunny Park, a seventh grader with social anxiety who loves to dance, loves K-Pop, and is navigating her first friendship breakup. Jessica Kim does a great job exploring the ups and downs of friendships and how to navigate and recognize healthy as well as unhealthy relationships. This is a companion to Stand Up, Yumi Chung! but can read as a standalone. I look forward to Kim's next novel in this universe!
The Thieves' Gambit is a thrilling, action-packed adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat! Ross Quest has spent her whole life training with her mother to be the best thief there is. The family motto is to trust only a Quest. But what if you want to have a normal life as a teenager? Perhaps go to a gymnastics summer camp and not steal priceless jewels? Ross plans to leave her mother and the life of a thief after one last job. Unfortunately, it goes horribly wrong and Ross is forced to stay in the game a little longer. In order to save her mom, Ross Quest must win the Gambit, a cut throat international competition that will grant the winner one wish. To win, Ross may have to trust someone other than a Quest. You'll definitely want to read this before the movie comes out!
Mrs. Plansky's Revenge is a fun novel about something many of us may have fantasied about - tracking down someone who has scammed you. Fast paced, funny, and interesting characters throughout, Spencer Quinn's Loretta Plansky reminded me of The Unexpected Mrs. Polifax. And who doesn't want to root for an older woman ready to show the world she still has what it takes to take on the bad guys?
Galaxy Jones loves her little corner of deep space, and helping her dads run their inn and hearing fantastical stories from the guests used to keep Galaxy busy all day. Lately, the universe has been expanding, so much so that they don't see many travelers at the inn - that is, until the Royals stop by, followed by space pirates. It's up to Galaxy Jones and an annoying Prince to save the day.
After her boyfriend tells her he's getting married to someone else, Takako quits her job and takes up her uncle's offer to work at his secondhand bookstore. Set in Jimbocho, a famous bookstore district in Japan (it's a real place and I must go there!), Satoshi Yagisawa delivers a delightful love letter to books and bookstores. I was instantly transported to this delightful neighborhood and utterly charmed by this short and sweet novel.
Rebecca Stead & Wendy Mass weave a tale of ghosts, secrets, a diligent guardian cat, and the power of books. Evan's town does not have a library; it mysteriously went up in flames a long time ago. One day, a little free library (guarded by a large orange cat, no less) suddenly appears, so Evan decides to take two books. This decision will set Evan and his best friend, Rafe, on a course to solve some mysteries. Unfortunately, no one wants to answer their questions. Told through alternate points of views between Evan, the cat, and a ghost, I found The Lost Library to be one of the most charming middle grade books I've read this year!
Set in 1840s Mexico, Vampires of El Norte is powerful historical fiction with a supernatural twist! It’s a
Something, Someday is an all-around beautiful book. Amanda Gorman's latest picture book shows the power one person can do to make a change with charming illustrations by the wonderful Christian Robinson. A special picture book for the whole family.
Stacy DeKeyser’s latest middle grade novel is inspired by a true event - a polar bear escape at the Milwaukee Zoo! Nick and his friends Ace & Penny have a busy summer ahead of them. Not only are they trying to solve the mystery of how a polar bear escaped, but they also have to contend with bullies, a summer job, a feisty monkey, and all the frozen custard you can eat. Simply delightful, treat yourself to How to Catch a Polar Bear (and some frozen custard) this summer!
A charming picture book about anxiety. Mole has been invited to Rabbit's party, but Mole is unsure if they should go. In fact, Mole has a lot of what ifs about the whole thing. As Mole navigates how to handle going to Rabbit's party, Mole meets a new friend along the way. A delightful, read-out-loud family picture book.
I'm a sucker for doggie picture books so naturally I had to read A Pack of Your Own, and I'm so glad I did! It's a
Zilot & Other Important Rhymes is such a fun read! It took me back to a time when I was reading Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic as a kid and couldn’t put it down. A delightful book of poems with wonderful illustrations, this father-daughter duo has delivered something special that I’m sure will be read often by kids who love silly, whimsical, heartfelt rhymes.
Dave Eggers’s latest middle grade novel is so pure and wonderful! Johannes is a free dog living in a park on an island. He’s the eyes for the bison who rule and keep the park in harmony. Strange things are happening in the park and Johannes has a big idea. A touching and thought-provoking novel with an irresistible character. The Eyes and the Impossible is truly a delight, I loved seeing the world through Johannes’ eyes.
The Apology is a remarkable story and Jeonga Cha is an unforgettable character! The youngest of 4, 105-year-old Jeonga Cha receives a letter from a relative in Ohio which sets off a series of unexpected events and revelations. Most notably, 10 days after receiving the letter, Jeonga will die. Having to solve family problems in the afterlife just got a lot more complicated. Jimin Han delivers a thoughtful and emotional novel - I enjoyed every chapter.
Jon Klassen’s The Skull has a sinister feel in the best possible way! Inspired by a Tyrolean folktale, Klassen tells the tale of a runaway girl who happens to meet a talking skull in an abandoned castle in the woods. With Klassen’s signature illustrations and mischievous storytelling, The Skull is sure to be a favorite to read on a gloomy night by the fire.
A family saga set in Hilo, Hawai’i, Hula follows the women of the legendary Naupaka family. Narrated by a chorus, Hakes delivers a nuanced novel about family, home, and healing. A dynamic read!
A Day of Fallen Night is a glorious return to the breathtaking world we were first introduced to in The Priory of the Orange Tree, taking place over 500 years prior. This epic is rich in mythology with magnificent dragons and brave women sacrificing it all to save the world. Samantha Shannon delivers another exquisite fantasy novel you won't be able to put down!
Shakti is an enchanting middle grade graphic novel about a young Indian American girl, Shakti, who discovers her new school has been put under a spell by the mean girls or HEK as they are known. Shakti must learn her family’s ancestral magic to defeat HEK. One small problem - Shakti has a strong connection to Kali and releasing Kali could have dire consequences. SJ Sindu delivers a charming graphic novel about being true to yourself and taking care of your loved ones. Add to your reading list this summer!
The Last Tale of the Flower Bride is a lush fairytale draped with gothic undertones. Curl up in front of the fire and lose yourself in Chokshi's elegant prose about a bridegroom and his wife's secrets.
Get ready for a most wonderous adventure on the Indian Ocean with the best Pirate Queen of the 12
The Duck Never Blinks is a playful and interactive picture book that will have young readers laughing out loud. Can you get the duck to blink? Read and find out!
We Are Going to Be Pals is a delightful novel about friendship between a talkative egret and a silent rhinoceros. Teague’s bright and fun illustrations bring to life a day between the seemingly unlikely duo. A clever read that’s sure to be a hit!
Jesse Q Sutanto’s latest novel is a charming mystery with an unforgettable amateur sleuth, Vera Wong. I enjoyed every moment and found myself rooting for Vera at every turn.
One of my favorite picture books this summer! The Red Jacket is an engaging picture book about Bob, a lonely seagull who is given a red jacket. Bob's new red jacket instills a confidence in him that helps him speak up and make friends. A wonderful story that deserves a spot on your bookshelf!
Being a little sister is tough, especially when you feel your big brother gets his way all the time. McGhee’s Dear Brother is a tender and funny epistolary middle grade novel told from the little sister’s point of view. Fast paced with great illustrations!