Another graphic novel to keep January going strong. If you haven't ready the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, what are you waiting for? This and it's sequel are a spin-off series focusing on Cinder's android friend, Iko. It's so fun to be back in the world and visiting with favorite characters again! I can't wait to read volume 2.
Karen McManus mysteries/thrillers always keep me engaged, but this one is her best yet (in my humble opinion). The two point-of-view characters are so well done and flow together really well. The other characters are flushed out and easy to love (or hate). The story is great, the twists and turns are surprising, and I both loved and hated the ending. There's a reason this author is as big a name in YA as she is. Definitely pick this one up!
2023 off to a strong start
Normally I try to end the year with a handful of graphic novels, but this year I decided, let's start strong with some quick, fun reads! Wash Day Diaries did not disappoint. It's a great story about 4 friends, about racial diversity, about hair diversity, and about self-love. Highly recommend!
How to be Ace was a more emotional read, but still great fun. I'm in my 30s and while I knew Ace was a thing I didn't really understand it. This graphic memoir is so informative! I learned a lot, and have a lot of empathy for this young character. What a strange world to grow up in if you have no interest in physical touch.
My first audio book of the year was a thrilling listen. Hotel Magnifique is a young adult fantasy novel. The hotel is a safe place for magic and an incredible way to see the world, as it travels to a new destination every night. But if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Full of laughs, love, twists, and magic of course, this will have you on the edge of your seat!
My Favorite Reads of 2022
2022 was full of great reads and fun listens. I served on the ALA Listen List committee which highlights 12 of the best audio books each year. I also served on the New Hampshire Teen Reads Award committee which creates 2 lists of 10 books each for teens across the state to read and vote for their favorite each year. Let's dive into my favorites!
This was such a fun summer romance. The main character and the love interest meet at a family wedding. There's an intense game of assassin. Supposedly there are lots of Taylor Swift references so now I feel like I need to read it again because I somehow missed them! The main character is charming, the love interest is great, and the game of assassin is a romp! I love the grandparents too; there's just so much love in this book!
This is an alternate history of the Russian Revolution featuring The Grand Duchess Anastasia and I loved it so much! I highly recommend listening to the audio book; I think hearing correct pronunciation of Russian words adds to the story. Also this YA novel somehow has *almost* no romance! There's like a hint of something maybe at the end but wow! Two strong female characters lead this incredible story.
I'm not sure how I've made it this long without reading Kate Quinn, but I get it now. The hype is worth it. She's an incredible writer and this story is amazing. It's based on the real life of Mila, a Russian mother and librarian turned spy. Again, I highly recommend the audio book for amazing Russian accents. If you love historical fiction or spy stories, definitely pick this one up.
This is the most charming and heartwarming book I read in 2022. I don't think the title does the story justice at all. We meet Iona and the other characters while they're commuting, in fact they meet each other that way as well, but the story of friendship, joy and love is so much bigger than Iona's rules for commuting. This book will make you laugh, cry, roll your eyes, and recommend it to everyone you know. Enjoy the ride!
I don't read a lot of nonfiction but this one was engrossing. Yovanovitch's life has been incredible, and she shares her story with such power and purpose. She narrates the audio book and I highly recommend listening; I could listen to hear speak all day. This book brings to light a lot of issues with our government but also a lot of beautiful things our ambassadors are able to do with our allies overseas. I learned so much while reading this and spent some time after researching more.
In this contemporary romance full of laugh-out-loud moments, Zoey Caldwell is on the trip of her dreams to Alaska. She meets Graham, a local diner owner who openly hates tourists despite his thriving business. Graham notices something special in Zoey and makes an exception to his "no tourist" rule and Zoey makes different memories in Alaska than originally planned. But what is Zoey's rich best friend up to on this trip? And what happens to this "relationship" with Graham when Zoey's two week vacation is over?
This book will be a hit with anyone looking for a heartwarming rom-com. If you're looking for some hot sex scenes, you'll want to look elsewhere. While the book takes place during the summer, the Alaskan setting makes for a fun winter read.
You Need a Budget by Jesse Mecham
I have struggled with money my entire life. I'm pretty young, so my entire life is shorter than many, but it's still a long time to deal with the stress of finances. My husband, Alex, and I started using the You Need a Budget (YNAB) software last month and when I found out that the founder wrote a book, I knew I needed to check it out. I needed to hear from someone who has a healthy relationship with money, because that person doesn't exist in my family, nor my husband's.
I've learned a lot from using the software, but I really enjoyed getting explanations and examples in the book. YNAB is based around 4 rules and seeing those rules broken down into not only bite sized pieces but with real life examples really helped get me in the right mindset.
If you're struggling with money, whether it's paying your rent or saving for vacation, definitely give this book (or the YNAB podcast) a try. Mecham's ideas around money are very comforting in that it feels like you'll be ahead in no time!
This is My America by Kim Johnson
If you enjoyed Dear Martin, Just Mercy, The Hate U Give, Anger is a Gift or any other recent book exploring racial injustice, you'll want to add this to your TBR pile. This story was really captivating. I couldn't put the book down. The main character is a powerful, strong, determined and inspiring young black woman. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, with no idea how the two storylines would coincide or even if they would.
While this is a great read, it comes with a lot of trigger warnings: murder, lynching (historical), racism, white supremist groups, and maybe more that I hadn't considered. It's not a light read, but it is full of hope.
Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
I LOVED THIS BOOK. Oh my goodness, so much love for this. If you need a contemporary romance, if you loved To All The Boys I've Loved Before, if you need a good laugh, then you need this book. I learned about the Asian community (I knew so, so little, and still know barely anything), which is always a great thing. I was fully invested in the characters and all of the relationships. While there were plenty of things in this book I could not relate to at all, there were still plenty of moments and relationships that I completely understood.
Dual point of view, college age protagonists, child-parent relationships, touching moments, and fake dating really make this story stand out.
Grab this book. You won't be disappointed!
The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg
I really enjoyed reading The Insomniacs by Marit Weisenberg. I feel like mysteries and thrillers are hard to find in the YA space without adding in fantasy elements. I started reading this on Halloween and it was the perfect amount of spooky-ness for the day. I was fully invested in the characters and while I had some idea of how the story would end, I did not predict the journey. The love-story was really well done too, with just enough to satisfy your need for a teen love story, without taking over the mystery and the atmosphere. I'd definitely read more of Weisenberg's books and I hope they keep writing.
If you enjoy Karen McManus, or adult thrillers, you'll enjoy this fast paced read.
Where I got It: Library
Literary Rating: 3.5 stars
Popularity Rating: 4 stars
Publication Date: July 28, 2020
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Page Count: 224 pages
If you need a quick, page turning thriller/mystery, this is the book for you. It is full of suspense and not a single page feels unnecessary. It's short, to the point, and will have you on the edge of your seat.
Our main character, Savannah, is kidnapped after a fight with her mother's boyfriend. The story focuses around Savannah trying to escape her kidnapper, with another girl Jenny, who was kidnapped 10 months earlier. The narrator shifts between Savannah, Jenny, Savannah's mom, the boy Savannah has a crush on, and a number of other characters who all bring the perfect perspective at the perfect moment.
My Latest Adventure: A New Library Job
2020 has certainly been a heck of a year so far. In the midst of a global pandemic, I decided to leave my Library Director position for an Assistant Director position. It's a little farther from home, but the library, community, salary and room for growth are all bigger and better!
I've been in this new job for almost 3 months and I'm still loving it as much as I did my first week. Starting a public facing job during a pandemic is strange; I've only met a handful of patrons and I've never seen the library truly busy. But it's also given me a chance to get to know the staff really well, and do some collection maintenance.
I love the New Hampshire Library community, and I'm so glad I'm able to continue to be a part of it.
Here you'll find book reviews, library stories and thoughts from Justine