by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
As listeners know, I have had quite the tumultuous year, and that has made reading very difficult at times - hard to find the time, hard to find the motivation, hard to find the headspace. So as I looked over the reading I've done recently, I wanted to share some books that helped me get my reading mojo back during a difficult and busy season of my life. Here are five of my favorites that I could not wait to get back to reading.
Emily Henry’s Book Lovers (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm): I've really enjoyed everything I've read by Emily Henry so far, but I think this one really caught my attention because of the sister relationship at the center of the book. Nora, a high-powered literary agent in NYC, works non-stop and spends no time building a life outside of her work. Her sister Libby focuses instead on building a family and is preparing for their next baby to be born. At Libby's insistence, the two sisters escape to a tiny town featured in a romance book that Libby loves. But upon arrival, Nora discovers that her work nemesis from NYC, Charlie Lastra, is oddly also visiting the tiny town. Although things don't go according to carefully constructed plans, this sweet story highlights the power of sibling relationships and the ways we can help each other. I was eager to get back to it to see what happened next!
Emiko Jean’s Tokyo Ever After (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm): I just shared a book review of this one because I recently finished Tokyo Dreaming, book two in this series (which was another one I could not stop reading!). I love so much about this series, and it's a perfect book if you're looking for something that is fast-moving and fun and full of discovery. When protagonist Izumi discovers that she is the illegitimate child of the crown prince of Japan, her small town American life takes an abrupt turn. I love seeing Japan for the first time through Izumi's eyes, and I appreciate the way that Izumi works to find herself and to discover her path forward. Such a great series!
Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm): To be honest, I was a little slow at first to really get hooked on this one. I'd heard such great things about this series, and I knew there were some serious fans, but I felt less than enthralled with the first book. Bad timing, perhaps. But I switched to audio for book two, and I was instantly absolutely hooked and burned through the rest of the series (including A Box in the Woods, which is outside of the original trilogy but features the same characters and still has Stevie as the protagonist) within a very short period of time. This one is a YA lit cozy mystery that focuses on an unsolved crime from the 1930s and the present day students who go to the residential school where the crime occurred. Stevie Bell is the fascinating young sleuth who has an acute ability to see what others have missed in order to solve crimes. Don't miss Jen's review of this series here.
Jason Reynolds and Jason Griffin’s Ain’t Burned All the Bright (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm): This one is a gorgeous graphic work that features the stunning artwork of Jason Griffin coupled with Jason Reynolds' powerful poetry. It is a moving, haunting work that they created during the height of the pandemic, and it captures so much of what we're living through during this time. You won't be able to put this one down, and its impact will stay with you. (I talked about this one for our episode on Books in Unusual Formats, which is a perfect choice for the 2022 Reading Challenge!) Oh, and if you don't already follow them, check out their shared handle on Instagram - the reels are phenomenal!
Jesse Q. Sutanto’s Dial A for Aunties (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm): I listened to this one and seriously could not stop listening, which has been a rarity for me given all the ups and downs of my life recently. In this romcom romp, protagonist Meddy feels a bit suffocated by her life with her mom and three doting aunties, all of whom expect her to be the photographer in their family wedding business. But when a date (set up by her mom, who pretended to be her on a social media dating app) goes suddenly and dangerously awry, Meddy finds herself in desperate need of her aunties and their special abilities to handle absurdly terrible situations. I laughed my way through this one and loved every minute. Jen talked about this one on our Cozy Mysteries Recommendations episode; check it out here. (Book two, which recently came out, is also fantastic! And Jesse Q. Sutanto is another great follow on Instagram.) What are books you've loved and couldn't put down? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
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