Monday, August 31, 2020
By Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Del Rey, 2019. 338 pages. Science Fiction
The rest of the world is living it up during the Jazz Age, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors and taking care of her wealthy grandfather. It seems that her dreams of leaving her small Mexican town will never come true, until one day when in an act of rebellion, she opens a curious wooden box and sets free the spirit of the Mayan god of death. Casiopea must help the god recover his throne from his treacherous brother, and journeys from the jungles of the Yucatan to Mexico City, Baja California, and the Mayan underworld in hopes of saving herself and the world.
This was a wonderful mix of Cinderella, Percy Jackson, and Mexican geography with beautiful language, strong characters, and a moving tale of redemption. Casiopea is strong, brave, and makes sacrifices to protect her family and others. She is down-to-earth, but wants more than what life has given her and is willing to fight for dreams that she didn’t know she had. The descriptions of Mexico and Mayan mythology are expansive, accurate, and beautiful at the same time. The romance is slow-building, but realistic, and the ending was authentic and true to Casiopea’s character. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys historical fantasy, dark fantasy, or descriptive fiction.
For those that enjoyed James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series and books the mix magic and technology, this should be the next book on your list! The way the author mixes magic and technology is profoundly interesting. Not only that, but he takes that technology to its political, moral, and religious extreme to set up the universe spanning conflict.
Wednesday, August 26, 2020
By Zetta Elliot
Brown Books, 2020. 96 pages. Poetry
Monday, August 24, 2020
by Kiku Hughes
First Second, 2020. 288 pgs. Young Adult Graphic Novels
Kiku is on vacation in San Francisco with her mother when she finds herself pulled back in time, or displaced, in the 1940s. She knows the basics of prejudices against Japanese-Americans during this time, but she experiences firsthand the hardships as she follows her late grandmother to the internment camp in Topaz, Utah. Through living at camp, Kiku begins to understand how the lives and future generations were impacted by the denial of civil liberties, but she also learns that a sense of community and resistance was also cultivated in the camps.
This is a heart-wrenching story that highlights the intergenerational impact of the WWII Japanese internment camps in the style of Octavia Butler. In the midst of our current discussions of immigration and civil liberties, books like this and They Called Us Enemy by George Takei remind us of the power of memory. The illustrations and story evoke strong emotions of struggles, strength, and resilience in the face of uncertainty and hatred. I have visited Topaz and learned about the internment camps during history class, but this brought the story to life in ways that were new and interested, and made me feel more connected. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys graphic nonfiction, historical fiction, or new perspectives.
Thursday, August 20, 2020
Friday, August 14, 2020
Thursday, August 6, 2020
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
Monday, August 3, 2020
By Erik Larson
Crown, 2020. 464 pgs. Nonfiction
Larson recounts Churchill's first days as prime minister and follows his life and the lives of his family during the worst of the Blitz in Britain. Not quite a complete view of WWII, this book describes the Royal Air Force and many air battles between Germany and Britain, but sometimes pivots to Churchill's home life, the dramas of his family members, or the efforts to raise America's help. At times, I felt that this book wasn't sure what it wanted to talk about. If you can accept that this will take a bit of a meandering view of this era of Churchill's life, you will find many fascinating stories and interesting glimpses of things you've never known about Britain during the Blitz. Erik Larson is known for weaving compelling nonfiction narratives, and this book is no exception. A recommended read for any who may be going through difficult times and who might be heartened by hearing how previous generations dealt with crises.
Saturday, August 1, 2020
by Christina Dalcher
Berkley, 2018. 326 pages. Sci-Fi
When the United States government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, it's only the beginning. Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. As a mother of four and a cognitive-linguistic scientist, Dr. Jean McClellan will reclaim that voice, fighting against the broken system she did nothing to correct as she saw it being installed.
This dystopian novel for adults obviously deals with sexism: citizens are denied rights based on their gender, and women are legally viewed as lesser than men. But it also shows a dark, possible future where the boundary between fundamentalist religion and government has been completely erased: the basis for this double-standard has roots in religious extremism. The fast pace makes this a quick read and a good thought-piece, although it's not without some strong language.
by Rani Shah
Dey St., 2020. 126 pages. Nonfiction
We could all learn a thing or two about living in balance from our friends in the plant and animal kingdom. Take, for example, the jellyfish, one of the most energy-efficient animals in the world, moving through the ocean by contracting and relaxing, with frequent breaks in between. We need look no farther than nature for small and simple things we can do to slow down, recharge, and living more thoughtfully, lovingly, and harmoniously.
This book was such a delight to read. Each chapter was short and to the point, making it a fast and easy read. Each animal or plant that the author highlighted has qualities that we all desire in order to become our best selves. Not only are you learning about how to improve yourself but you are also learning interesting facts about some of the animals and plants that inhabit our earth. Besides the jellyfish you will learn qualities from the porcupine, octopus, the sunflower, the vervet monkey, and the sloth, just to name a few of my favorites. This is one of my new favorite self-help books.