Category Archives: Jez

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (2016)

Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts and she’s got far bigger problems to deal with than falling in love. Daniel is an incurable romantic who puts his faith in fate and poetry. The two teens couldn’t be more different, but when they keep crossing paths, they learn that they may have more in common than they first thought.

Alternating chapters between the two characters, with interspersed sections written from an omniscient narrator about the teens, their families, and the universe, this beautifully written YA book tackles big issues like deportation, second-generation immigrants, familial expectations, racism, and the existence of love and fate. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon will make you cry tears of sadness, joy, and laughter, and leave you feeling a little glow in your heart.

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (2017)

Need more Wonder Woman and don’t want to wait two years for the next movie? Worry not, because Leigh Bardugo’s new novel Warbringer is everything you need.

Diana knows not to meddle in the affairs of mortals, but against her better judgment and the advice of the Oracle, she saves the life of a young shipwrecked girl, Alia. Alia is a “warbringer,” a woman descended from Helen of Troy, whose blood will bring about a world war if she reaches adulthood. Determined to change fate, Diana takes it upon herself to deliver Alia to Greece where she can be cleansed of the warbringer line—but Alia doesn’t believe in such stories and just wants to return home. The two must learn to trust each other if they are to survive the lies, assassination attempts, divine intervention, and expensive galas as they race against time to save the world.

Full of lovable, flawed, and beautifully diverse characters, this action-packed and humorous coming-of-age novel makes a great read and an even better listen with the audiobook, read by Mozhan Marno, which will leave fans desperate for more.

everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jomny Sun (2017)

Based on Jomny Sun’s popular tweets, this delightfully simple and precious graphic novel follows a young “aliebn,” Jomny, as he first visits Earth and learns about life on our planet, including making friends, making art, and being yourself. Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too is a soothing balm for the tired soul, sure to get you to smile and immediately force the book into a friend’s hands.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (2015)

From the shore, Paris’s floating “book barge” may look like little more than a bookstore, but in reality, it is a literary apothecary where its owner Monsieur Perdu prescribes the right novel for any emotional ailment. Perdu, however, is not so good at treating himself and literally runs away when his heartbreak starts to catch up with him—taking his bookshop with him. Along for the ride is literary boy genius Max Jordan, a bestselling author who doesn’t quite know who he is yet. Stumbling through France’s waterways, the two men go on many small adventures, pick up stray travelers, and learn to heal their emotional bruises, all the while sailing towards the truth of Perdu’s lost love.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is a quirky, yet gentle tale for fans of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared that will warm your heart and suggest a few good books along the way.

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (2016)

Eighth grade is hard enough for any kid, but at times it feels almost impossible for Lily Jo McGruther, a girl born into a boy’s body. As Lily struggles with her transition, figuring out who she is, and wishing her father would accept her as Lily, not Tim, she also makes a new friend. Dunkin (birth name Norbert) has just moved to Florida from New Jersey and is fighting his own battle, one against himself and his bipolar disorder. Between school bullies, doctors, parents, and grandparents, Lily and Dunkin come together to try to save their favorite tree, which is due to be cut down. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart is a beautiful coming-of-age story about love and acceptance that’s sure to leave you with a warm heart and a big smile.

Arena by Holly Jennings (2016)

In the not-so-distant year of 2054, virtual reality games have become the biggest sensation in televised sports. The players on each team must not only be excellent video game players, but in top physical condition, as the RAGE tournament games mimic real-life abilities. In her early career as a RAGE competitor, Kali Ling fights to become the first female team leader in a male-dominated world. But while Kali can prove herself in a fight, this world demands more than she can handle. Her every move is dictated by sponsors and team management; a teammate recently died of a drug overdose; his replacement is difficult to work with; and her own grasp on reality is getting weaker with each trip into the virtual world.

Packed with intense and cinematic action scenes, a love story, and diversity in multiple forms, Arena by Holly Jennings is a must-read for adult and older teen fans of Ready Player One and The Hunger Games.

The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (2017)

Ranking as the happiest country in the world three years running, the Danish know a thing or two about creating pleasant environments. A Dane himself, there is perhaps no one more qualified to write on this topic than Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. One of the reasons for their happiness is hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), which loosely translates to a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. Some of the ways you can achieve hygge are warm blankets, crackling fireplaces, good conversation, homemade sweets, and candles—lots and lots of candles.

This little book’s pages are packed with ideas for nights on your own or with others; recipes; happiness research; history; travel tips; and Danish wisdom. Check out The Little Book of Hygge today.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova (2015)

In the US, there are 37,000 individuals affected by a neurodegenerative disease called Huntington’s. This number is relatively low compared to the overall population, but make no mistake, it is a death sentence—a diagnosis made worse by it being considered a “family disease” with a high genetic likeliness that more than one generation in a family will be affected.

This is the case with the O’Briens, an Irish Catholic family, comprised of Joe and Rosie and their four children, all in their twenties. Joe is an old school Boston cop who puts a lot into tradition, but his life is changed when he’s diagnosed with Huntington’s and soon can’t control his behavior or keep his body from doing things without his consent. Throughout the novel, we see Joe’s condition worsen, but we also watch each of his children struggle with the choice to be genetically tested to know if they will develop the disease in the future, or remain ignorant.

The book can be heartbreaking at times, but is leavened by clever humor and sweet family moments. Like Lisa Genova’s other novels, Inside the O’Briens puts a very personal face on a relatively unknown or misunderstood neurological disease, educating the reader through a compelling family story.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016)

Colson Whitehead’s newest novel seeks to answer one question: what if the Underground Railroad were an actual railroad? This is, unfortunately, where the fantasy ends and the cruel truth of our country’s past sets in. Cora is a young woman who grew up in slavery on a Georgia plantation. When she was a child, her mother escaped, leaving Cora bitter and orphaned and later an outcast. When another slave, Caesar, approaches her with a plan to escape, at first she refuses, but eventually the two set out for freedom together, taking an underground steam train to northern states. Though the planation is behind them, other horrors await as each state is like its own world, not to mention a famous slave catcher is hot on their trail.

The Underground Railroad is by no means an easy read, but it is a rewarding one. Whitehead makes the journey personal through Cora and the people she meets along the way, and his narrative style is unmatched. Additionally, Bahni Turpin’s excellent narration really brings everything into focus. By the end, it will be clear to see why this book has won so many awards and distinctions, including the National Book Award.

I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi (2016)

imjudgingyouPopular blogger Luvvie Ajayi (Awesomely Luvvie) tells it like it is and gives voice to a generation that has mastered the perfect side-eye. I’m Judging You is a collection of humorous essays that will have you laughing out loud or nodding your head in agreement. Some of the topics she tackles are pop culture, dating, racism, fame, and social media.

Growing up in Nigeria and living her adult life in Chicago, Ajayi has a unique view of culture in America, but it will feel familiar to readers all the same. In fact, you’ll likely find that you’ve thought some of the same things to yourself!