This month’s focus was really on chapter books, and I ended up reading a lot more adult fiction than I intended.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein (juvenile fiction)
I loved this book. I had a ton of fun trying to do the puzzles alongside the kids (some were pretty easy to figure out, some were pretty challenging!) and the Willy Wonka-esque persona of Mr. Lemoncello was highly amusing. Plus, all the literary references he would drop as clues along the way were excellent. We’ll be reading it with my book club in July and I’m looking forward to seeing how the kids react!
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (YA fiction)
What I like about Jenny Han so much is that her YA plots always feel pretty realistic to me. The relationships and the conversations between characters are always authentic to my own experiences as an awkward teenager experiencing first loves and crushes, and I am appreciative that Han doesn’t seem to fall into the traps of the YA genre, with absurdly quirky characters and dramatically romantic plots. I felt truly frustrated throughout much of this book, seeing the relationship between Lara Jean and her new boyfriend Peter build up and degrade with such speed, but it kept me hooked. I hope there will be a third part to this series soon!
Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson (juv graphic fiction)
Phoebe finds a unicorn out in the woods one day and it grants her one wish. Phoebe’s request? That the unicorn be her best friend. Equal parts heartfelt and hilarious, I loved this easy-to-read collection of episodes in the life of the two new lifelong pals. The unicorn is delightfully vain and deadpan, a perfect counter to Phoebe’s youthful exuberance. Would highly recommend to anyone looking for a middle grade graphic novel.
Lumberjanes #1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson (juv graphic fiction)
Lumberjanes are basically the much more outdoorsy, away camp version of girl scouts. in this series, the five Lumberjanes encounter a lot of crazy animals and mysterious messages as they ditch their camp counselor and explore the forest. Though visually appealing, this novel featured the kind of low-contrast art style that makes it hard for me to read graphic novels, and I wasn’t as impressed with the plot as I thought it would be when I first heard the title of these books. In the end, I enjoyed reading this novel, but I’m not sure if I will continue on in the series.
Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George Thompson (non-fiction)
I ordered up this book after being blown away at an in-person training on the same subject back in March. I was thoroughly impressed with this common sense, easily adaptable guide to communicating effectively, crafted by an English PhD, double-blackbelt cop. Thompson’s advice is so simple it’s hard to argue with but universal enough to apply to almost all situations, and while I haven’t actually thoroughly put all of his teachings into place, I have become a more thoughtful communicator, almost unintentionally. I do think the training in-person was more educational than the book, but if you can’t attend a training this is a worthy replacement.
The History of Rock and Roll in 10 Songs by Greil Marcus
I had such mixed feelings about this book. I love the way Marcus describes the music he has chosen, and I loved the selections he chose. However, there were definitely times where he lost me in his explanations, and I had a really hard time seeing how all the 10 songs fit together, so in the end I was a bit disappointed.
Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson
I simply could not put down this thriller about a woman who wakes up every morning not knowing who she is, due to a traumatic accident, but who starts to put the pieces of her life back together with the help of a doctor and a journal. She soon realizes that there’s precious no one she can really trust. Though I was at first skeptical that the plot could turn into something unique, and though I definitely predicted the most major plot twist, I was still captivated all the way through and overall really was fascinated by learning about this woman’s life as she did.