This has been a very busy season of life. As such I've been gravitating towards my "easy brain" reading.
More graphic novels, fluffy romantic comedies, and nothing with too much emotional struggle.
Here's what I've read lately:
Guts, by Raina Telgemeir - A middle grade graphic novel that's about the author's own struggles with anxiety and being in middle school. Dealing with friends is hard, being a sibling is hard, figuring out what's expected of you, and how to control what you can is also hard. In this book Raina explores how she experienced stomach troubles that were prompted by anxious thoughts and discusses how she was able to (and in some cases not able to) confront them and figure them out. One of the best parts of this book, and there are a lot, is the lovely discussion and honest presentation of therapy. It is such a great book and I highly recommend it if you have a kid in your life period, but it would be especially helpful for a kid around 4th - 6th grade dealing with any friendship or emotional anxiousness. It's phenomenal.
Witches in Training, by Sam Davies - picked this one up at the kids most recent book fair and it is a cute story. Very short, it goes over one day at a veterinarian's office, except the vets and their assistants are also witches, so the creatures and animals they are dealing with are also monsters and spooky spooks. It's a delightful read that I enjoyed and I'm looking forward to the second one in the series.
The Unicorn Whisperer, by Dana Simpson - I was given an e-galley of this one (thanks to NetGalley) and it was just as great as all the other Phoebe and Her Unicorn books have been. I loved it. It was such fun to continue to see Phoebe and Marigold out for a romp, dealing with each others quirks in their evolving unicorn/human being friendship, and see Phoebe learn more about the world. It was just cute and made me happy to spend time in that world. Highly recommend. Not necessary to read the others in the series or to read the series in order, but it would inform some of the plot points in the other books if you do read them in order. This is the 10th book in the series and it will be out soon.
Sheets, by Brenna Thummler - This book is a phenomenally plotted and illustrated graphic novel. I'd heard a lot about it from all over the internet for a long time, but picked it up at the book fair recently. It blends two stories, the first of a very stressed out girl in middle school who has to keep her family's laundry business afloat while also managing a frustrating and isolating school experience, and the second of a ghost who's afterlife intertwines and happens to interfere at times with our main character's struggles. Ultimately the way these plots merge and help each other is incredibly moving. The illustrations in this book really hit me in the feels. Perhaps because I have a daughter who looks like the main character, but you could feel the anxiety and stress of the situation. Even while it works out by the end, it might be something to read first before you give it to your kid to read if they struggle with anxious thoughts of are going through a rough time. It would be a great one to discuss together.
Wonton Terror, by Vivien Chien - The newest installment in one of my favorite cozy mystery series, this book's plot for Lana Lee to solve involves the bombing of a food truck, and who knows what will be a target next! It is a joy to spend time in this world, I love the characters, though I did wish there was more Lana/Adam interaction in this one, and the plot is high stakes enough to stay involved and interested but not high enough that you're stressed out and nervous from it. A wonderful balance, but it will make you very hungry to read! Be prepared and make sure you have snacks.
The Wedding Party, by Jasmine Guillory - The most recent romance novel from the author of The Proposal, this is a cute contemporary romance that is fun to read because you know things will turn out alright by the end of the book. I found this to be a really charming read that felt different in tone to Guillory's other romance books. It spans more time, and the doors aren't as open as they are in The Proposal, so if that's something you like to know there it is. Perfect if you want to watch a romantic comedy by reading it. It's just right to take to the pool or the beach or read on the plane. ALso, the cover has actual glitter on it and that's always fun.
Best Friends, by Shannon Hale - Another graphic novel and from one of my favorite children's writers. Shannon Hale discusses the tricky parts of growing up and how difficult it can be to figure out the rules of school, church, parents, and to then balance those with your own personal expectations. Hale also confronts directly how those rules and expectations are often counterproductive and sometimes even hypocritical. I immediately gave this book to my daughter and wish it had existed when I was younger. I feel like these are things all women have dealt with and it is great to have representation of those discussions in books that are engaging so those conversations can become more normalized and frequently had. Loved it.
Evvie Drake Starts Over, by Linda Holmes - This book surprised me and I went into it very skeptical. Written by Linda Holmes who works in public radio, I was expecting this Read with Jenna book club pick to be frothy and not worth much time. Boy howdy was I wrong. This was an incredibly written, well paced, and entertainingly quiet book about a woman who starts over. I loved the relationships described in the story, the respect with which Holmes writes these characters and the time she took to build what feels like a reality based progression that you don't always see in fiction or in contemporary romances. It hit lots of feels for me in the best way and has a huge place in my heart. I am thinking of doing a reread which I almost never do because I want to spend more time in that world and with those people and with the thoughtful and attentive care of Holmes' writing. I listened to this on audio and the narration was wonderful. A lovely listening experience you'll find more chores for so you can keep listening.
The Okay Witch, by Emma Steinkellner - This book came out at the beginning of the month and is another graphic novel about a group of witches that flee the Salem Witch trials by creating their own reality. Specifically, the plot and immediate story deal with the one daughter from that group who chose to stay in the real world alongside other humans. She has a daughter who one day discovers she has some magical abilities. From there personal history is confronted, as is the history of the town and it's deeps roots that have implications much farther than imagined. To complicate matters, the daughter is performing a play about these witches for school and her best friend is related directly to the arch nemesis of the witches. It is lovely and perfect for reading during the upcoming Halloween season or anytime during the fall when there's a chill in the air. I loved it a lot.
Do you notice any patterns in your reading life? I'd love to know what they are if you have them, and as usual, feel free to tell me what you're reading these days!
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