Finish your #BookBingoNW2021 card with some Peak Picks

Need to fill a couple of spots on your Book Bingo card, and looking to get a book quickly? The Peak Picks display at your Library may have just what you need to get at least one bingo line or, perhaps, an entire blackout. Although we think all Peak Picks should be on a reading list, for the sake of time (and finishing as much as you can for Book Bingo), we’re featuring titles that are either relatively short, or readily available now. It’s down to Book Bingo business for these next eight days…

Romance: Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron:  “A fake engagement sparks real romance on the set of a cooking contest in this delightful rom-com. Reena Manji, an aspiring baker, is initially charmed by the flirtatious smile and ‘brown Captain America’ good looks of her new neighbor, Nadim Remtulla—until she discovers that their meeting was not serendipitous but the result of a business deal between their fathers. Reena immediately rejects the idea of an arranged marriage with Nadim, but when an opportunity arises to appear on a Toronto cooking show for couples, she turns to him for help. Equally sweet and spicy, this is sure to leave readers smiling.” – Publishers Weekly.
Also: One Last Stop.

Small Press: We Hereby Refuse written by Frank Abe and Tamiko Nimura; artwork by Ross Ishikawa and Matt Sasaki: Three Japanese American individuals with different beliefs and backgrounds decided to resist imprisonment by the United States government during World War II in different ways. While certain stories of Japanese American resistance during WWII imprisonment are well-known (Gordon Hirabayashi, for example), these three stories show that people of many different walks of life felt the urge to resist the unjust actions of the US government. Published by Chin Music Press in tandem with the Wing Luke Museum.

Beach Read: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reed: Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit Riva are household names in 1983, as much because their father is pop star Mick Riva, as for their surfing talent. None of them wanted to live in the spotlight, but, despite Mick taking off long ago, they do. Then it’s the night of the annual Riva party, where everybody wants to be—except maybe responsible Nina—and anything can happen. Over the course of 24 hours, the Riva siblings will have to decide if their futures will be driven by the legacies of their parents or if they’ll share the secrets that might let them choose their own paths.
Also: The Other Black Girl; The Guncle. 

Made You Laugh: The Guncle by Steven Rowley: “No longer the star of a hit TV series, Patrick could not have imagined that his next leading role would be as caretaker of his brother’s young children, but when Greg checks into rehab following the death of his wife, there seems no one better suited to help Maisie and Grant process the loss of their mother than the man who had been her closest friend. Culture shock doesn’t begin to address the adjustments the kids must make when they spend the summer… in Patrick’s opulent Palm Springs home. Rowley’s sensitive and witty exploration of grief and healing soothes with a delectable lightness and cunning charm.” – Booklist 
Also: Broken; You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey; A Is for Aunties. 

Black Joy: The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman: On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. Taking the stage after the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, Gorman captivated the nation and brought hope to viewers around the globe. Including an enduring forward by Oprah Winfrey, this keepsake celebrates the promise of America and affirms the power of poetry.
Also: Yoke.

Coming of Age: House of Sticks by Ly Tran: “‘We arrive in the blizzard of 1993, coming from rice paddies, mango trees, and the sun to February in the Empire State,’ writes Tran in the opening passage, recounting how she came to the U.S. with her parents and three siblings. Progressing from their rough times during the ‘sweatshop days,’ the family moved on to own a nail salon, and the children dedicated themselves to their education while also working to support the family in their spare time. As the only daughter, Tran describes her troubled relationships … as well as the trauma of her father’s PTSD. A brutally honest, ultimately hopeful narrative of family, immigration, and resilience.” – Kirkus Reviews
Also:  The Chosen and the Beautiful, Somebody’s Daughter, Raft of Stars, Libertie

Comics or Graphic Novel: Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness by Kristen Radtke: “An exploration of loneliness, the troubling ways we’ve studied it, and the subtle ways we strain to avoid it. Radtke’s second graphic memoir feels almost custom-made for the social-distancing era: She explores our need for connection and touch (‘skin hunger’ is the psychological term) and the negative social and personal effects of isolation. But the book is a much broader and deeply affecting study of loneliness, uncovering the host of ways our craving for community manifests itself in ways that are sometimes quirky and sometimes terrifying. In clean, graceful renderings and a constricted color palette, Radtke expresses her own experiences with loneliness, as a child and in relationships, and gets people to open up about theirs. Superb. A rigorous, vulnerable book on a subject that is too often neglected.” – Kirkus Reviews
Also: We Hereby Refuse, The Secret to Super Human Strength; Secret Seattle.

Activism or Social Justice: The Second“Emory University history Anderson takes an illuminating look at how U.S. laws and customs around gun ownership have been used to subjugate Black Americans. Arguing that the primary function of the ‘militias’ mentioned in the Second Amendment was ‘controlling the Black population’ in the South, Anderson compares 18th-century insurrections such as the Whiskey Rebellion…to contemporaneous slave uprisings. The well-informed historical discussions provide essential context for recent events, including the 2016 deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. This is a persuasive and eye-opening look at the intersection of gun rights and racial injustice in America. – Publishers Weekly 
Also: We Hereby Refuse. 

QTBIPOC: The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo: “Vo’s extraordinary full-length debut draws readers into a fantastical reimagining of the world of The Great Gatsby. In Vo’s version, magic is as regular as Jay Gatsby’s soirees, prohibition bans covered demon blood as well as alcohol, and star golfer Jordan Baker can turn cut paper into enchantments. Jordan and Daisy Fay became friends when they were children. …Jordan navigates New York City’s social scene as an accepted outsider, kept at arm’s length for her Vietnamese heritage. The plot unravels tantalizingly slowly, and Vo’s immersive prose never ceases to captivate.” – Publishers Weekly 

Mystery or Crime: Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia:  “This seductive neo-noir thriller from bestseller Moreno-Garcia (Mexican Gothic) draws on the real-life efforts of the Mexican government to suppress political dissent in the 1970s. Maite, a 30-year-old secretary in Mexico City… escapes from routine by reading the magazine Secret Romance, oblivious to the political upheaval around her. When her beautiful neighbor, Leonora, disappears, Maite… begins a search that takes her into the world of student radicals. Meanwhile, 21-year-old Elvis, muscle for a clandestine, government-funded shock troop, longs for something more. When Elvis’s boss assigns him to track down Leonora, his search crosses that of Maite, with whom he becomes fascinated. This is a rich novel with an engrossing plot, distinctive characters, and a pleasing touch of romance.” – Publishers Weekly 
Also: While Justice Sleeps, Arsenic and Adobo, When the Stars Go Dark, The Survivors

Cli-Fi or Environmental Non-fiction: Homewaters: A Human and Natural History of the Puget Sound by David B. Williams: Puget Sound and its future health now depend on a better understanding of the region’s ecological complexities. In conversations with archaeologists, biologists, and tribal authorities, Williams traces how generations of humans have interacted with such species as geoducks, salmon, orcas, rockfish, and herring. He sheds light on how warfare shaped development and how people have moved across this maritime highway, in canoes, the mosquito fleet, and today’s ferry system. Witty, graceful, and deeply informed, Homewaters weaves history and science into a fascinating and hopeful narrative.

Poetry or Essays: White Magic by Elissa Washuta: Washuta delivers a fractal examination of the connections between her personal struggle with loneliness, abuse, and addiction, and the devastation of Indigenous communities swindled by colonial settlers, white developers, and foisted treaties rarely honored. Lured by the possibilities of fulfilling her desire to be loved and getting help for the hard work of recovery, Washuta is both drawn to and conflicted about modern witchery. But this is not a book about witchcraft or the occult. Topics and tone sweep from private introspection viewed through strange and often humorous lenses of Twin Peaks to unvarnished examples from the painful histories of injustice and loss for many Pacific Northwest Indigenous communities.” – Library Journal
Also: Yoke; The Hill We Climb. 

Asian American or Pacific Islander Author: Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So: “So (1992–2020) conjures literary magic in his hilarious and insightful posthumous debut, a collection that delves into a tightly knit community of Cambodian-American immigrants in California’s Central Valley. What makes the stories so startling is the characters’ ability to embrace life and all its messy beauty despite the darkness of the past. Characters have weddings, play badminton, fall in love, read Moby-Dick, and sometimes quip, surprisingly nonchalantly, about their national traumas—‘there were no ice cubes in the genocide!’ yells a father in ‘Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts.’ Some leave home…; others want to stay, despite how little their region has to offer. After this immersive introduction to the Central Valley community, readers won’t want to leave.” – Publishers Weekly
Also: The Committed, She Who Became the Sun, The Chosen and the Beautiful, House of Sticks, Arsenic and Adobo, Dial A for Aunties, Things We Lost to the Water, We Hereby Refuse, Start-Up Wife, Gold Diggers, Keep Sharp.

SAL Speaker: Klara and the Sunby Kazuo Ishiguro: “Nobel laureate Ishiguro takes readers to a vaguely futuristic, technologically advanced setting reminiscent of his Never Let Me Go for a surprising parable about love, humanity, and science. Klara is an Artificial Friend (AF), a humanlike robot designed to be a child’s companion. She spends her days watching humans from her perch in the AF store, fascinated by their emotions and hungry to learn enough to help her future owner. Klara is eventually bought by teenager Josie. Klara’s quiet but astute observations of human nature land with profound gravity. This dazzling genre-bending work is a delight.” – PublishersWeekly
Also: The Secret of Superhuman Strength, The Committed

Speculative Fiction: Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian: A teenager growing up in the Bush-era Atlanta suburbs, Neil Narayan is authentic, funny, and smart. He just doesn’t share the same drive as everyone around him. Mostly, Neil just wants his neighbor across the cul-de-sac, Anita Dayal. But Anita has a secret: she and her mother Anjali have been brewing an ancient alchemical potion from stolen gold that harnesses the ambition of the jewelry’s original owner. 
Also: She Who Became the Sun; Klara and the Sun; Project Hail Mary; The Chosen and the Beautiful.

BIPOC Food Writing: The Food of Oaxaca: Recipes and Stories From Mexico’s Culinary Capital by Alejandro Ruiz: Every region of Mexico proudly claims its own unique cooking style, but the southern state of Oaxaca offers some of the nation’s best food. Ruiz grew up in a Oaxacan family dogged by tragedy, but he persevered and became a hotel chef before launching his own local restaurant chain. He celebrates the cooking of Oaxaca, relying on the freshest local ingredients as the cuisine’s fundamental stars. In that vein, he explains in detail how to make masa at home, nixtamalizing raw corn to produce dough for tortillas, tamales, and more. Color photographs show not only Ruiz’ handiworks, but the vibrant cultural milieu that they nourish.
Also: Crying in H Mart, Arsenic and Adobo, Pepper Thai, Nadiya Bakes.

Olympics Host City: The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen (set in Paris): “The sequel to Nguyen’s The Sympathizer is an exhilarating roller-coaster ride filled with violence, hidden identity, and meditations on whether the colonized can ever be free. The fractured, guilt-ridden narrator, a veteran of the South Vietnamese Army, where he was a mole for the communists… has survived reeducation and a refugee camp and is now living in early 1980s Paris… selling hashish for a Viet-Chinese drug lord. The book works both as sequel and standalone with Nguyen careful to fold in needed backstory. Pleasures abound, such as the narrator’s hair-raising escapes. Nguyen continues to delight.” – Publishers Weekly

Sports: The Secret of Superhuman Strength by Alison Bechdel: “Bechdel makes a welcome return with this finely wrought deep dive into her lifelong fixation with exercise as a balm for a variety of needs. Bechdel’s early, whimsical efforts to adopt various regimens such as running and karate bloom in adulthood into often obsessive attempts to achieve enlightenment. Bechdel’s ever-elegant drawings, with nuanced coloring provided by her partner Holly Rae Taylor, perfectly match the tonal shifts of her kaleidoscopic narrative, alternating between soul-searching angst and dry self-satire. Grappling with the desire for spiritual transcendence in the most intensely personal terms, Bechdel achieves a tricky – even enlightening – balance. – Publishers Weekly

Two Books in a Series, which can be two books in the same series or two books that just happen to be in a series. We’re going with the latter interpretation here so we can stay with two Peak Picks that launch two winning new series: Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala (a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer…) and Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto (an accidental murder, 2,000 wedding guests, a three-generation curse and four meddling aunties who come to the rescue).  

To see which titles are available at your branch, consult this full list of Peak Pick titles in our catalog.


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