Monday, January 27, 2020

Book Reviews - Fantasy, Family, and POSSUMS!

Oh, hey. For this round, it was quite the mix of reads. First off, there was a book about a possum that I obvs loved. Then, there were two about some complicated relationships in two very different ways. Finally, there was a little fantasy from one of my favorite authors. Read on and see what might be your jam y'all!

Appleblossom the Possum by Holly Goldberg Sloan was just an absolute delight of a read! I chose this read for my January reading challenge to read a book about woodland creatures. Y'all show know (and/or already know and this is just a reminder) I love possums, so this book was likely going to be my jam. This was such a wonderful story. The story focused on a family of possums. Mama Possum is teaching her possums (who all have A names they've selected) how to survive in the world. She has rules of what they should and shouldn't do except Appleblossom is so darn curious about the world. She ends up falling down a chimney and is put right into the center of a family. Throughout Appleblossom's adventures, there is an interspersing of facts about possums. They flow in so seamlessly with the story that you almost don't realize you're learning which is a major bonus for kiddos reading. Given my own admiration of possums, I loved the way this book showed them as friendly animals. This also just had the best humor throughout. In illustrations and misadventures, this just had the most wonderful heart. The character of Appleblossom was a delight as she tried to figure out the world around her. Sometimes you just need a "feel good" read, and this was so, so much that.

File this under: Middle Grade, Woodland Creatures, Light-hearted, Fun

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell was just a great book. I love the writing of Rainbow Rowell, and I loved getting to experience that joy I get from her writing in a new genre. If you're not familiar, this is a story that came out of Fangirl. She took a fandom detailed in that book and wrote the source material. This is the story of Simon and Baz, roommates and enemies. They are at the Watford School of Magicks to build their school. Out in the magick school, the threat and evil of the Insidious Humdrum looms. This was just such a captivating set of characters and a wonderful fantasy world that was created. Oh, and the way the relationships evolved was just fantastic! I loved how this one built this world of Simon and Baz, but also was so full of the realest of feels. I'm excited I waited so long to read this one only because I can check out the sequel right now. I want so much more of this story y'all!

File this under: Fantasy and Made-Up Stuff, All the Feels, Love Story

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao was so different than what I was expecting. The story begins with Gwendolyn's older sister Estella poisoning and killing their entire family. From this gathering, Estella is the only survivor. The story then treks back through what got things to this point. What I thought was going to be a thriller was really a story about the complexities of family and relationships. Estella goes back through her memories as she wonders which event was a tipping point. The stuff that happens throughout is kind of a bummer. There are bridges that have been burned (figuratively), frustrations with love (or lack thereof) and strained relationships. Again, this isn't so much a thriller, but a dramatic trek through stuff in life that really takes a toll on someone. That said, this is a heavy read. It's beautifully written throughout, and the words used painted such captivating pictures. Story aside, that beauty made this one worth the read. Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my review.

File this under: Drama, Family, Heavy Reads

Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen is a book I read in college for my Women in Literature course. I've also wanted to go back and re-read, and 16 years later, I finally am! Above all else, this book has one of my favorite quotes of all time:

"This is what she thinks later; that there are moments when the zippy narrative of your life lets up, and swampy reflection sinks in. There are moments when you begin to feel ending. Maybe it's just seasonal wear and tear. But there are moments when the inevitable shrinking of the days makes you miss people who have not left you."

For some reason, that quote just always gets me in the feels, and it's just forever with me. Beyond this quote, this is the story of Mona who is navigating identity on many levels. She is navigating what it means to be Chinese American as she wants to honor her history, but also be a part of her present. She's also exploring the Jewish faith. Additionally, she's working through romantic relationships, friendships, and family. Each layer of this story is complex as it's interwoven with the identities of the characters. I'm glad I finally got to go back to this story once more.

File this under: Relationships, Identities, All the Feels

And onto the next ones!