All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker is a wonderful story about the power of art while also discussing depression in a masterful way, all in the package of a middle grade novel.

When Olympia’s dad runs off and her mother falls into a deep depression, she turns to art to keep herself functioning. From drawing monsters for her friend to creating dioramas of her life with her dad’s partner, Olympia distracts herself by escaping into the world of her imagination. A realistic fiction novel set in the 80s with a hint of mystery, Tucker has written a book with so much heart. I wanted to hug Olympia and tell her that everything would be alright. This message of this book, that it is okay to talk to people about the problems in your life, is so deeply important. I love a good middle grade with a moral that doesn’t hit you over the head with it.

4-stars

Such a Fun Age is absolutely brilliant. Kiley Reid has a beautiful way of writing about absolutely terrible every day horrors in a way that is almost too easy to read. She explores both sides of a working relationship. Alix is a white, upper class woman who hires Emira, a 25-year old black woman, to work as a babysitter for her son. After Emira is accused of kidnapping Alix’s son one night at a grocery store, events unfold that show the ways in which casual racism permeates the world. I finished this book with a smile and was immediately hit with a wave of “oh man the world is a truly horrible place.” Reid has created amazing, three-dimensional characters that make you feel for all of them, causing me to change loyalties with each chapter. This book deserves all of the attention it is getting.

5-stars

Immigration and border issues between the US and Mexico are incredibly important to me and this book did such a beautiful job of explaining to the world why we should care more. Villasante has created such complex characters and shows the lengths people will go to for the hopes of safety. Marisol, the main character, is only seventeen yet she is willing to give up her health and happiness just to make sure that her younger sister has a better life. I want to hug each and every one of this characters. I want to make sure that they are safe and happy. Unlike some YA novels, the romance plot line seemed like a happy side effect rather than taking over the story. Definitely make sure to pick this one up.

4-stars

LITTLE WEIRDS by Jenny Slate was a case of the book not living up to the beautiful cover.

I’m a fan of Jenny Slate’s so I was really excited when a galley of her new book came in. And then I was so disappointed by the content. This feels like a book that is trying way to hard to be literary and special. It is incredibly overwritten, filled mostly with confusing metaphors and I found myself getting to the end of each piece feeling empty. What she is trying to say gets so lost behind the language she is using. Many of the essays (if they can be called that) revolve around her feelings of being alone and lonely. It felt like she needed to write this book to deal with those feelings but, seeing as they are not unique feelings, I don’t believe that it needed to be put out into the world Every once and a while a piece would work for me (usually when Slate stepped back from her flowery writing and just let her thoughts stand on their own) but I would immediately be let down by the next one. I recommend picking this one up to look at the beautiful cover art (there are some fun things hidden in there) and then putting it down and getting something else.

2-stars

I don’t think that I have ever been as spooked as I was when reading Hollow Kingdom and there was an exact description of my apartment. So weird!

This apocalypse book told mainly from the perspective of a crow was so bizarre and fun. Starting the moment the apocalypse beings, Hollow Kingdom follows the reactions to the animals as the human race quickly falls. Buxton nails on the head everything that is wrong with society while taking an in-depth look at what makes nature so magical. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I read it, remembering vivid characters (including my favorite, Genghis Cat) and thinking about Buxton’s commentary on society. I quickly learned though that it was not a good book to read on my lunch breaks because boy oh boy was it graphic. Be warned that, as the book goes on, the number of just disgusting and bloody descriptions grows. I read this book slowly, wanting to live in each and every moment with ST the crow as he tried to figure out what was going on in the world.

4-stars

If I had to describe my favorite genre, it would have to be goofy dysfunctional family stories. And There’s a Word for That by Sloane Tanen perfectly fits the bill. I originally picked this one up because the cover called to me and I’m so glad I did. After years apart, Marty and Bunny find themselves pulled back together when they end up at the same fancy rehab facility. What follows is a comedy of errors featuring both of their families. Fame, family, and love are dealt with using humor in a way that makes even the least relatable things relatable. Tanen has created such realistic yet messed up characters and I loved every moment I spent with them. My biggest complaint is that it ended. Definitely give this one a read. This is the perfect beach read with depth and substance.

5-stars

This book is a master class in dramatic irony. Bridget Collins has created a book that explores what the world would be like if books weren’t made for reading and instead were vessels that stored away memories that people don’t want to remember. She explores deep questions like morality and the importance of learning from the past while also writing a great love story.

Her world, while not incredibly different from the real world, is so well thought out. Every aspect of the binding world is explained beautifully and she shows characters with many different views about the good and bad of binding. With three very distinct parts to the story, she keeps the reader on their toes.

This book is beautiful and dark, magical yet very realistic, and filled with so much love, hate, and anger.

4-stars

It’s 1921 and gun moll Alice has run away from her life in New York, carrying very little with her apart from a bullet wound, and finds herself a guest at The Paragon Hotel, a black hotel in Portland, OR.

Faye explores the racial tensions of Oregon at the beginning of the 20th century, starting each chapter with a shocking quote from a variety of sources that she found during her research.  She takes a topic that we believe to be very Southern, the KKK, and explores what was happening in the Pacific Northwest.  Spoiler: it’s shocking and upsetting.  She flips between two story lines, exploring the mysteries in each.  I was sucked in right away and the crazy cast of characters kept me hooked.  Faye’s writing is just a joy to read.

4-stars

Bianca Marais has knocked it out of the park again with her new novel If You Want to Make God Laugh.  Taking place in South Africa from the day Nelson Mandela is elected onward, following three very different women as they deal with the changing world around them.  Race and class are explored, as well as tensions that came from the ending of apartheid.  The characters are strong, powerful women and I rooted for them on each and every page.  Marais left me picking up the pieces of my broken heart multiple times.
5-stars

In The Storyteller, German-Lebanese author Pierre Jarawan has created a work of art that explores the importance of family and nationality in the creation of an identity.  Jarawan fills the book with stories of the Lebanese civil war, teaching the history of the country and the event without making it feel like you are learning anything or reading a history book.  Samir, the main character, is incredibly relatable in his search for understanding of himself even though his circumstances are not something even close to anything I have experienced.  Jarawan creates a cast of characters in which I cared about each and every one of them, despite their faults.  A definite must read.

4-stars

Holy crap this book is amazing! I can’t handle the book hangover I am currently experiencing.  Hamlet meets drag queens who are also incredibly teenage thieves.  What more could you want?

Margo Manning is a rich, LA socialite with a secret.  In her spare time, she dresses up in drag with a group of her guy friends and pulls of incredible heists.  But while her social life is full of intrigue, her family life is falling apart.  Her father is sick and her mom lives in Italy.  What is a girl to do?

Roehrig has created amazing characters who you root for the entire time, even when they are doing things that are less than legal.  And boy oh boy is this book stormy.  I just want someone to look at me the way these characters look at each other.  This book is such a delight to read.  I can’t even handle how much I love this book.  I wish it was longer because I didn’t want it to end.  Make sure to pick this one up the second it comes out on January 29th.

(Want a signed copy?  Order it HERE and put what name you want it signed to in the comments!)

5-stars

This debut novel by Dutch author Jaap Robben is absolutely beautiful.  Robben is a poet and children’s book author and you can see the influence of both of those writing styles in the books,  His writing is poetic yet sparse.  You Have Me to Love tells the story of a young boy, Mikael, as he grows up on a remote island.  Robben really explores what it would be like to go through puberty in a void, away from other teens and with his mother as the only female in his life.  I feel completely in love with Mikael and only wanted the best for him.  The entire time I was reading it, I just kept telling everyone at work, “You have to read this.  It’s amazing.”  A tough but definitely worthwhile read that will have you thinking about it for a long time after you finish reading it.

5-stars