Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Originally published in: 2010

What it’s about: A little pea who must finish dinner before he can have dessert.

What made me pick it up: Amy Krouse Rosenthal was a prolific author with a distinctive style but I don’t feel like I’ve sampled enough of her work. So I checked this out.

My favorite things: The illustrations are great. It’s like a more mature and subdued Veggie Tales. It was the story that I enjoyed most though. This pea doesn’t like what’s for dinner, and has to force himself to choke it down, even though dinner is CANDY! I enjoyed so much that it tips common child-hates-dinner experience on its head. In the end (spoiler!) Little Pea finishes his candy so he can have his favorite dessert – spinach!

Who it’s great for: Littles who don’t like what’s for dinner or have trouble eating their veggies. Parents who want a brief, humorous story to read.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


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


 

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: How Sandberg found resilience while grieving the sudden death of her husband. It also has personal stories from other individuals, as well as psychological research on what helps build resilience.

What made me pick it up: This got a lot of good reviews and I’m a big fan of Grant’s (if you haven’t, pick up Originals).

My favorite things: This book is so raw and honest I was in tears in places. Sandberg manages to effectively write about her grieving process and do so while providing hope for others in grief. It was a beautiful combination of vulnerable personal storytelling and incorporation of useful research.

Who it’s great for: Anyone grieving a loss or recovering from trauma. Readers who enjoyed Sandberg’s previous book, Lean In.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


Find this book at Amazon or in your local library.


 

Providence Act 1 by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

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Originally published in: 2016

What it’s about: A reimagining of many of HP Lovecraft’s stories through the lens of Robert Black. Black is a journalist and would-be author living in the 1919 world of Lovecraft’s fiction. Act 1 compiles 1-4 of 12 issues in the Providence series.

What made me pick it up: I just rediscovered it on my bookshelf, it was next on my TBR list at some point last fall.

My favorite things: The art is bleak and ominous. There is an unsettling recurring theme hinting at the coming rise of Nazi power in Europe. I love the inclusion of journal entries and paraphernalia from the world Robert Black is exploring.

Who it’s great for: Devotees of Lovecraft’s stories and fans of Alan Moore’s comics and graphic novels. Readers looking for a short but captivating creepy series to become immersed in.

Abby’s rating: four-shells


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

My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl

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Originally published in: 2015

What it’s about: Legendary chef, restaurant critic, and foodie magazine editor-in-chief Reichl detailing the year after she lost her job when her beloved magazine Gourmet folded during the recession.

What made me pick it up: I was looking for a new audiobook so I was scrolling through new arrivals on Overdrive and there it was. It was also less than seven hours, which is perfect.

My favorite things: I shouldn’t be surprised that such a prolific and talented writer was able to write a memoir and seamlessly incorporate recipes into the story, but it is still so admirable. Reichl writes very honestly of how hard it was to lose her job and face purposelessness and how cooking brought her back to herself and gave her a new focus in life. Also, fans of Gourmet will adore all of her recipes and want to concoct and devour them as she lays them out. I personally can’t wait for summer to put together her Apricot Pie. It is read by the author, so you get an added treat of being told the story by the writer herself.

Who it’s great for: Foodies. Cooks and wannabe cooks. Anyone going through an unexpected life situation who needs a positive role model.

Erica’s rating: four-shells


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


 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Originally published in: 2017

What it’s about: A teen girl watches her oldest friend as he is murdered by the police. She contemplates Tupac’s concept of THUG LIFE (The Hate U Give Little Infants F***s Everyone) while struggling to stand up for her community.

What made me pick it up: This has been getting crazy good press so I scooped it up as soon as I could.

My favorite things: Starr’s voice is genuine and her heartbreak palpable. Thomas captures the essence and urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement without exploiting or forgetting the real lives that have been lost. The current movement is tied to the past through more than Tupac’s words; reminiscent of the response by Bloods and Crips to the Rodney King verdict, local opposing gangs band together to protect their communities and join in protest against the violence they face at the hands of the state. The overall effect is both breathtaking and devastating.

Who it’s great for: Teens and adults looking to understand and process the violence faced by communities of color in our society.

Abby’s rating: five-shells


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

100 Crushes by Elisha Lim

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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.