Welcome to Jen's recommendations! Check out what Jen has been reading below.
Villains beware! The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck are sure to foil your outrageous plans. When Benjamin Franklin and other notable geniuses are kidnapped, it's up to France's superheroes to save the day. With the help of two precocious children, our heroes uncover multiple secret societies and a most heinous plot to take over the world. Matt Phelan has done it again with another lively novel and wonderful illustrations throughout.
Once Upon a Camel is a heartwarming story about Zada, the last camel in Texas. When a big storm hits the desert, Zada is charged with watching two baby kestrels until they can be reunited with their parents. To pass the time and to keep everyone calm, Zada begins to tell the little ones stories of her life, and as Zada says, "even storytellers need stories." Once Upon a Camel is a soothing balm for story time and Zada is a character you're unlikely to forget.
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!
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!
What marvelous book! An exquisite blend of history and biography, Maiden Voyages takes you on a cruise to a part of women's history that is not often discussed. Sian Evans highlights the unsung sheroes of the day as well as giving the reader a truly informative book.
The Beatryce Prophecy is a heartfelt medieval tale of prophecies and courage, friendship and stories, love and loyalty, not to mention the best goat ever! Kate DiCamillo delivers another charming novel with enchanting illustrations by Sophie Blackall. The Beatryce Prophecy deserves a spot on your bookshelf.
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!
Wallace Price is dead, and he's not happy about it. When his reaper delivers him to the ferryman so he can cross over, a tea shop is the last place he expected. Hugo Freeman, proprietor of Charon's Crossing and ferryman to the dead allows Wallace to stay as he adjusts to life beyond life. Along the way, Wallace learns what it truly means to live and love. TJ Klune delivers a though provoking and utterly charming novel about life and death, love and loss. Make sure you have your favorite tea on hand while read this!
The Moon, the Stars, and Madame Burova is your ‘beach read’ for the fall, with delightful characters and the ever-enchanting Madame Burova, who will surely be your new best friend.
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!
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.
Mary, the daughter of French and Greek immigrants, has the weight of her parent's expectations on her shoulders. As Mary struggles to find her voice and claim her life for herself, she discovers old letters that her parents wrote during World War I; letters so beautiful and heartbreaking she may come to see her parents in a new light. Loosely based on the authors grandmother, Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a profoundly beautiful historical YA novel in verse that will stay with you long after you finish.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!!
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.
This middle grade novel is a sweeping coming of age western. When Silas's father is taken by men with ill intentions, Silas decides to disobey his father's orders to stay home and go after him. With a ghost for a companion and a mysterious Pony, Silas sets out to rescue his father. At times heartbreaking and tenderhearted, Silas's bravery and determination will win you over. R.J. Palacio's new novel has an Odyssean quality to it that made it all the more unputdownable!
A charming picture book about finding your truth and accepting the uniqueness of you. The world would be a little less bright without Mister Fairy! I hope you enjoy this whimsical and clever picture book as much as I did.
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!
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!
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.
My new favorite Owl! Knight Owl is a delightful picture book about a brave owl who wants to become a Knight. His first task is to guard the castle from dragons! Is Owl clever enough to outsmart the dragons? Can he be brave enough to face them alone? Superb illustrations from the author as well as a story that is sure to be a bedtime favorite!
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.