Bus Reads for December

Commuting to Seattle by bus five days a week gives me a lot of reading time. Here’s what I read on the bus in December:

Sal by Mick Kitson. A beautiful book despite its tough subject matter. The sisters, Sal and Peppa, are adorable and charming. Sal, the oldest, has been taking care of her younger sister for years as her mom drinks the days away. Her mother’s boyfriend uses the mother’s addiction to his advantage and sexually assaults Sal numerous times. Despite this Sal is tough and getting prepared because the boyfriend has made it known Peppa is next. With Sal’s resourcefulness and determination the girls will flee to the woods and start a life of self-sufficiency. ​Also, there is so much hope in this novel! Continue reading “Bus Reads for December”

Holiday Reads for the Rest of Us

To get into the holiday spirit this year I’ve been cranking up the Christmas tunes, decorating the Christmas tree, and drinking hot cocoa while watching Home Alone, but when it comes to books I need something a little less sparkly and bright. I like to read realistic fiction – nothing against a good cozy mystery or a holiday themed romance, but I enjoy the struggle of real life in my reading. It helps me recognize what I’m thankful for and helps me feel less alone if I’m having a hard time. Here are some fiction reads, for however you spend the season, to bring some empathy, understanding, and maybe a little chaos.

Disgruntled: A Novel by Asali Solomon: “Kenya is teased mercilessly by her Philadelphia grade-school classmates for her Kwanzaa-celebrating family’s odd ways—and they don’t know the half of it.  Her father preaches “black anarchy” as the volatile leader of the Seven Days, a group he and Kenya’s mother, Sheila, who grew up in the projects and who supports her family as a librarian, has pulled together. Preternaturally observant and mordantly funny, Kenya is a hypnotic narrator coping valiantly with an increasingly bewildering life.” (Booklist) Continue reading “Holiday Reads for the Rest of Us”

Heist Fantasy: Magic, Action & Adventure

I have realized that some of my favorite recent fantasy reads have featured an elaborate heist adventure at the center of the story. Heist fantasies offer the magic, action and adventure that will keep you turning pages while they also feature characters on the margins of society, grifters and scrappy survivors whose struggles and high-stakes schemes and scrapes propel the narrative. While these fantasies offer characters you will root for, they present the thrill and danger of life lived on a knife’s edge. Here are some examples of heist fantasies I enjoyed:

image of book cover for Six of CrowsLeigh Bardugo’s teen fantasy duology Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom introduce a motley cast of characters led by Kaz, a mysterious young man known as Dirtyhands who masterminds a den of thieves in Ketterdam’s Dregs. While the characters are teens, this is a dark fantasy world of deep class distinctions and the youth in Kaz’s crew have all encountered very adult, traumatic events in their lives. Their mistreatment by the world bonds them as they undergo a suicide mission trying to break out a man with valuable secrets from the most heavily guarded stronghold in the land. Continue reading “Heist Fantasy: Magic, Action & Adventure”

Food Comics and Manga

I’ve been reading a lot of food-focused manga and comics recently. Maybe I’m just a hungry person? I do like food, but really, while these manga and comics share the culinary theme they span some wildly different story-telling territory; from D&D-esque dungeon crawlers, to queer slice-of-life stories, to cooking competitions. Some of these stories even include actual recipes (though a few use fictional ingredients).

Delicious in Dungeon by Ryoko Kui
Follow a band of adventurers as they attempt to rescue a party-member from the dungeon’s infamous red dragon, but not before killing and cooking up other monsters along the way. You can try to make these recipes at home, but you’ll have a difficult time finding all of the ingredients…

Get Jiro! by Anthony Bourdain Continue reading “Food Comics and Manga”

10 Novels We Loved This Year

We love all of the end-of-year “top ten” book lists, but the ones we use to guide our own reading  (and gift giving) are always the ones prepared by librarians. These lists tend to have a wider range of titles, genres, and distinct voices. They’re not necessarily bestsellers (although six on this list were Peak Picks) and they’re not all award-winners (although they should be). What they are: Well written, excellent books that librarians loved — and love to share with readers.

We asked our adult services librarians to nominate/vote for their favorite novels to recommend (all published in 2018). Here are 10, starting with our top pick and then going in reverse alphabetical order,  because we liked the way the covers looked this way, which is so un-librariany …

Let’s start the list with the book that was mentioned and championed most by Seattle librarians. The intersecting stories in Tommy Orange’s There There, his character-driven debut novel, chronicle the lives of Native Americans living in Oakland, California. Seventy percent of Native people live in cities in the U.S., yet contemporary fiction rarely focuses on that experience. Novelist Colm Toibin reviewed it in the New York Times when it first came out, and the NYT headline said, rightly so, “Yes, Tommy Orange’s New Novel Really Is That Good.” It is. Continue reading “10 Novels We Loved This Year”