The Bookshelf Corner

Book reviews, creative writing, and more!


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2020 TBR List

(*) = recently added titles

ARCs
Don’t Read The Comments by Eric Smith (Jan 28)
Blood & Ash by Deborah Wilde (Jan 14)
Feather by Olivia Wildenstein (Jan 16)

 

MANGA
Yona of the Dawn (Volumes 1-3) by Mizuho Kusanagi*
The Demon Prince of Momochi House (Volumes 8-12) by Aya Shouoto
Vampire Knight (Volumes 15-19) by Matsuri Hino, Translated by Tomo Kimura
Kamisama Kiss (Volumes 1-25) by Julietta Suzuki
Seraph of the End (Volumes 1-15 of 19) by Takaya Kagami, Art by Yamato Yamamoto, Storyboards by Daisuke Furuya
Snow White with the Red Hair (Volumes 3-5)
The Royal Tutor (Volume 12)
Black Butler (Volume 28)
Days by Tsuyoshi Yasuda (Volumes 1-15)*
The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Hey, How About Treason?) by Toru Toba (Volume 1)*
Suppose a Kid from the Last Dungeon Boonies Moved to a Starter Town by Toshio Satou (Volume 1)
86—EIGHTY-SIX by Asato Asato (Volume 1)*

 

MIDDLE GRADE
Spark by Sarah Beth Durst
After Zero by Christina Collins
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez*
OCDaniel by Wesley King*
Escape To The Mesa by StacyPlays*
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia*
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban
Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

 

YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett*
Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons*
The Sword and the Dagger by Robert Cochran*
Fantasy of Frost by Kelly St. Clare*
Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin*
Storm Siren by Mary Weber*
Fireborne by Rosaria Munda*
Ship of Smoke and Steel by Django Wexler*
The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano*
The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco
The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
Return of the Temujai by John Flanagan
These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater*
Angel Mage by Garth Nix*
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson
Furyborn by Claire Legrand
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Angelbound by Christina Bauer
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau-Preto
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Starling by Lesley Livingston
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
Heartless by Marissa Meyer
So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

 

Young Adult Contemporary Romance
The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
If I Stay by Gayle Forman*
Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman*

 

YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION
LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff
Thirteen Rising by Romina Russell
The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

 

ADULT CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Christmas Cowboy Hero by Donna Grant*
Cowboy, Cross My Heart by Donna Grant*
The Bridal Suite by Donna Grant*

 

PARANORMAL ROMANCE
Hot Blooded by Donna Grant
Firestorm by Donna Grant
Blaze by Donna Grant
The Demon Lover Juliet Dark

 

FANTASY
Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames
Dragon Mount by Jennifer M. Eaton
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb
The Starless Sea by Eric Morgenstern*

 

LGBTQ YA/Adult – Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Brothersong by TJ Klune
The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
I’m A Gay Wizard by V.S. Santoni*
Sebastian by Sam Argent*
The Doctor’s Secret by Heidi Cullinan*
The Wolf At The Door by Charlie Adhara*
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller*
Ruin of Stars by Linsey Miller*

 

FICTION
Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo*

 

SCIENCE FICTION
Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff
All Systems Red by Martha Wells*

 

ROMANCE THRILLER
The Cost of Honor by Diana Muñoz Stewart*

 

NONFICTION
Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty


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Book Review: “Brave” by Svetlana Chmakova

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Berrybrook Middle School #2
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: In his daydreams, Jensen is the biggest hero that ever was, saving the world and his friends on a daily basis. But his middle school reality is VERY different – math is hard, getting along with friends is hard…Even finding a partner for the class project is a big problem when you always get picked last. And the pressure’s on even more once the school newspaper’s dynamic duo, Jenny and Akilah, draw Jensen into the whirlwind of school news, social experiment projects, and behind-the-scenes club drama. Jensen’s always played the middle school game one level at a time, but suddenly, someone’s cranked up the difficulty setting. Will those daring daydreams of his finally work in his favor, or will he have to find real solutions to his real life problems?

 

My Review:
Another crazy drama-filled adventure at Berrybrook Middle School! Brave is a great read that centers around the issue of bullying and the obvious signs and subtle signs.

Jensen is clearly being bullied but he doesn’t see it that way (is in denial). Brave depicts bullying from all sides and how it effects the person the person being bullied and the bully (also wickedly called “lizard brains”) through a physiological lens. Svetlana Chmakova does a great job weaving this heartbreaking issue into the story in a non-patronizing way, an accessible way.

Every character is dynamically crafted and undergoes some or total change throughout the story. I like that other than bullying, the book also touches upon so many things, such as friendship, self-esteem, civil disobedience, and credible journalism. A lot of topics really but without being to weighty.

I was totally engrossed in the story and couldn’t put it down. I was wholly invested in Jensen’s story and how he dealt with being bullied. Brave is a fantastic story that everyone should read because bullying transcends middle grade age. This book will help someone who is going through the same experiences as Jensen.


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Book Review: “Big Nate Makes The Grade” by Lincoln Peirce

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Graphic Novel
Series: Big Nate: Comics
Rating: 2 out of 5 (DNF @ pg.114)
Recommend to Others?: No

 

ABOUT: Self-described comic genius Big Nate keeps parents and teaching on their toes in this hilarious……Nate Wright is known to his pals and teachers for many things, his penchant for mischief and his school record for detentions being the foremost. But beating out brainiac Gina’s grades is not one of those things! In Big Nate Makes the Grade, the school life goings-on of Nate, his pals, and his long-suffering teachers are recounted in hilarious detail……

 

My Review:
I wanted to read this book because it was a popular series for this age group and I wanted to know why. It looked like a good read. It’s a very character driven story. Nate’s character holds a lot of presence.

However, I couldn’t finish it because of Nate’s character. He’s very unlikable, oblivious, and too troublesome. He’s not the best academically (which is fine) but he doesn’t try out of sheer laziness it seems. He’s quick to blame everything and everyone else for his troubles. If this wasn’t a graphic novel, I’d say Nate was an unreliable narrator.

The comic art style is great and done in such a classically nostalgic way. The writing is really good. There were a few times here and there when I was actually liking the story because of the dialogue.

I just couldn’t care enough to finish and I don’t think Kid Me would have finished it either. The book has a few merits but not enough to keep me reading.


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Book Review: “Middle School Misadventures” by Jason Platt

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Jason Platt’s debut graphic novel, Ferris Bueller meets Calvin and Hobbes in this hilarious and embarrassing middle school caper that asks the important questions–like how long can one kid vamp before he embarrasses himself in front of his whole school?

Newell is always getting into trouble–whether it’s showing up tardy for most of the year, or mocking his teachers while authoritarian Mr. Todd is standing right behind him. When disaster strikes and Newell finds himself on track to summer school, he’s given one last minute option to get out of it–participating in the upcoming Talent Show. The only problem is that he doesn’t technically have a talent to show. Yikes.

In this fun and imaginative full-color graphic novel, Jason Platt sends a fast-talking, daydreaming, middle school kid on a desperate quest to pull off a great show and save his summer.

 

My Review:
Middle School Misadventures follows the unintentional troublemaker Newell as he scrambles frantically for a way to get out of going to summer school.

Newell is a great main character for this story. He’s kind, funny, and imaginative. He is such a dynamic, idiosyncratic character. Every laughable thing that happens to him is only something that would happen to a kid like Newell. And when he breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader it just adds to his charm.

He has a great relationship with his dad and his best friend, Collin. When you read about Newell’s dad, you immediately see where Newell gets some of his eccentric behaviors. I like that Collin is the voice of reason in his friendship with Newell. It’s a good contrast to have paired with. They even have an epic handshake.

The principle, Mr. Dodd, and subsequent arch enemy of Newell kind of reminds me of the really too-nice teacher, Mr. Simmons, from the Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold!. Actually, the characters in Middle School Misadventures remind me of the quirky kids in Hey Arnold! and I love that.

Middle School Misadventures is an oddly amazing book to read.


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Book Review: “Sunny Rolls The Dice” by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm, Watercolor by Lark Pien

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Sunny #3
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Too cool for school . . . or the least groovy girl in the grade?

Sunny’s just made it to middle school . . . and it’s making her life very confusing. All her best friend Deb wants to talk about is fashion, boys, makeup, boys, and being cool. Sunny’s not against any of these things, but she also doesn’t understand why suddenly everything revolves around them. She’s much more comfortable when she’s in her basement, playing Dungeons & Dragons with a bunch of new friends. Because when you’re sword fighting and spider-slaying, it’s hard to worry about whether you look cool or not. Especially when it’s your turn to roll the 20-sided die.

Trying hard to be cool can make you feel really uncool . . .

 

My Review:
Now this is what I have been waiting to read in this series: the middle school / middle grade aspect of Sunny’s life. She’s such a cute character that I really wanted to know more about her life in late 70s Pennsylvania. You definitely get a better sense of the kind of person Sunny is – she’s a pretty cool person.

Sunny faces two conflicts: growing up and staying true to herself. Sunny is who she is but she’s concerned that who she is and what she likes is not the way to go. Everyone young and old can relate to this universal internal conflict and peer pressure.

I liked seeing Sunny play Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve never played the game but learning about it was fun. It seems like a fun game to play.

Again I’m in love with the art and the cultural references. Sunny Rolls The Dice was definitely a step in the right direction. I hope there are more books about Sunny in the future.This is a great middle grade series and graphic novel.

 

More Sunny series:
Sunny Side Up – book 1
Swing It, Sunny – book 2


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Book Review: “Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous” by Keith Calabrese, Illustrated by Juana Medina

Full Title: Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: In the tradition of School’s First Day of School, debut author Keith Calabrese and Pura Belpré Award winner Juana Medina share a sweet, universal story about a clever little girl whose shoes are nervous about the first day of school.

Today is a big day! Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem…

Lena’s shoes are nervous.

Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave?

~~~~~~~~

My Review:
What a neat story about first day of school anxiety for kids! What makes this story stand out from other books on this topic is that the author has personified Lena’s outfit. It presents a two-fold meaning: Lena’s shoes are nervous or Lena is acting out her nervousness through her shoes. A well-placed juxtaposition.

I loved the art style chosen. No perfect lines but swift hand-drawn-like illustrations perhaps to add to the nervous feel of the story. I liked that not every spread was full color. Some pages where black and white with the most important parts colored.

Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous is one creative, universal metaphor told in a unique way.


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Book Review: “Not Quite Snow White” by Ashley Franklin, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUTTameika is an African American girl who loves musical and dreams of starring in one as a princess one day. But she fears that having brown skin and a plump frame might keep her from her dreams.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Review:
A little girl dreams of being a princess and playing one on the big stage – and not just any princess but the classic royal, Snow White. Tameika is so cute and confident. But she loses that special spark when she overhears other kids making fun of her. I think subconsciously kids can relate to the feelings Tameika experiences. I thnk there could’ve been more to the resolution but, otherwise, this was a neat story to teach kids self-esteem and positive body image.