100 Crushes by Elisha Lim

100 crushes

Originally published in: 2014

What it’s about: A collection of excerpts from several different series of comics. Each focuses on the lives and identities of different queer and gender-nonconforming people and their relationships with the the author.

What made me pick it up: It sounded cute and I liked the cover. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My favorite things: I love the artistic style! It reminds me of those filters you can use to make a photo look like a painting. There is also a great range of topics, from crushes to fashion to pronouns, each handled with both lightness and care. This reads like a beautiful celebration of queer identities.

Who it’s great for: Anyone looking for graphic novels with diversity in gender and sexuality. Fans of Bechdel’s graphic memoirs.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: After their son dies unexpectedly, an estranged couple continue his friendship and Boy Scout project to assist an old woman.

What made me pick it up: It was listed along with A Man Called Ove in a reader’s advisory request we got at the library. In making sure my recommendations of The Rosie Project, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk were on the money I had to do a little research. That led to checking out the audiobook and here we are.

My favorite things: This book is an excellent blend of old lady recounting her history like in Lillian Boxfish, unique individual who sees the world different and behaves oddly like Rosie Project, and heartfelt relationship building and personal transformation like in Ove. There is so much to like, but it is tempered a bit by the fact that the loss here is of a young child. More than anything though I loved how much this author illustrated that we are all fallible humans trying our best while living unavoidably messy lives. We might do anything for those we love but maybe not the best way, or maybe not at the right time. It is heartbreaking story of loss but also of hope.

Who it’s great for: Fans of any of the books listed above. Readers looking for solid fiction.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find a copy at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love by Kathleen Collins

interracial love

Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A previously unpublished collection of stories by the multitalented late writer Kathleen Collins on love, family, and relationships.

What made me pick it up: I’d heard good things about the collection and it was nice and short so I knew I could get through it quickly and easily.

My favorite things: Collins seamlessly moves through different voices and perspectives, lending each an air of honesty and authenticity. Her stories sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes mundane, but always moving

Who it’s great for: Readers looking for stories about love and relationships that don’t ignore the complexities of race, gender, class, and sexuality.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


Manfish by Jennifer Berne

man

Originally published in: 2008

What it’s about: Legendary marine biologist and filmmaker Jacques Cousteau.

What made me pick it up: As a child I was enamored with Cousteau and hellbent on becoming a marine biologist just like him.

My favorite things: The illustrations in this book are fantastic. It’s a great introduction to Cousteau for younger readers. I especially enjoyed how clearly his curiosity came across on the page. Also, I had forgotten he invented scuba! I’m smitten all over again.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Cousteau. Kids who like animals of all varieties, but especially sea creatures. Anyone brimming with natural curiosity.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What made me pick it up: P&P is one of my favorite books ever so I knew I should read this. Needing a new book on vacation made it finally happen.

My favorite parts: This book is straight up fun. Lizzy and her sisters enjoy more independence and autonomy due to the present date and their story lines reflect this, including interracial relationships and LGBTQ characters. I really enjoyed their increase in agency and how the small changes Sittenfeld made to modernize the story actually removed some of the unnecessary drama from the original. CrossFit and reality TV are also incorporated into the story.

Who it’s great for: Austen fans. Fans of modernized classics. Independent women or lovers of them. Anyone up for a good fiction romp.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Pick up a copy of this book at Amazon or your local library.


 

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

darkOriginally published in: 2017

What it’s about: Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield as a young boy who wants to travel to space, but is afraid of the dark.

What made me pick it up: I’m a huge fan of Hadfield. He was so informative and entertaining while in space, and he is such a supporter of science and humanity now that he’s back on the ground. I highly recommend his great TED talk.

My favorite things: I got this as an ebook with narration read by the author, so I got to have it read to me which made it even more fun. I really enjoyed the all-too-familiar kid who is afraid of the dark storyline and how he realizes he’ll have to face that fear to go into space like he dreamed when he grows up. It’s a simple, sweet story.

Who it’s great for: Fans of Hadfield. Kids who dream of being astronauts. Littles afraid of the dark.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.


 

A Hope More Powerful Than The Sea by Melissa Fleming


Originally published: 2017

What it’s about: A Syrian refugee and her many tales of suffering and escape.

What made me pick it up?: It was on one list or another about refugees.

My favorite things: This book is stunning. I cannot believe how much struggle this woman has gone through. The author tells the story of Doaa and her family and their experiences masterfully. I couldn’t stop turning the pages. If you or someone you know doesn’t fully understand the crisis in Syria it will be indelibly etched in your brain after reading this. It will make you feel powerless and driven to enact change all at once.

Who it’s great for: This has horrifically violent scenes so it’s better suited for mature teens or adults. Anyone interested in learning more about the refugee crisis or the long war in Syria.

Erica’s rating: four-and-a-half-shells


Find this book on Amazon (affiliate link) or in your local library.