As a child, Cortney spent every day with her nose stuck in a book to the neglect of her chores, a habit that persists to this day. When she can be persuaded away from her books (usually with promises of chocolate), you can find her working on her novel, watching period dramas, listening to KPop, or arranging flowers. Her reading kryptonites include fairy tale retellings, Austen interpretations, YA fantasy, historical romance, and contemporary romcoms. Come find her if you ever want to chat about Downton Abbey, cheer on the Sun Devils, debate the merits of Matilda's book and movie versions, or reminisce about the magnificence of Mariah Carey's Daydream album.
The argument for middle school dress codes is that too much skin distracts other students (read: boys) from learning, and thus school administrations unfairly focus on and police female students. At her middle school, Molly starts a podcast interviewing various girls at her school who have been punished for dress code violations (some more ridiculous than others), and the injustices revealed incite the students to band together in protest to do what they can to change the rules. Each chapter begins with another podcast, making for a quick read. A subplot involving Molly’s brother selling vaping pods to younger kids spotlights another timely issue. This book may be fiction, but it is very much based in today’s reality.
Bec McMaster's London Steampunk series really puts the "steam" in steampunk, but her deft weaving of vampire and werewolf lore into her version of alternate London keeps me coming back for more. Action-packed, with fierce heroines, arrogant and devilishly handsome heroes, and bursting at the seams with intrigue and mysteries abound, not to mention all the spicy hot romance, the series and its subsequent Blue Blood Conspiracy series have made me a Bec fan for life. She's an insta-buy for me for sure!
Half-Chinese and half-white, fourteen-year-old Hanna is no stranger to racial intolerance. She and her father have spent the past three years traveling the frontier. Hanna must hide as her father feels out each town’s feelings toward Chinese people, and more often than not they have to keep moving. They settle in LaForge and Hanna starts school, determined to get her diploma and become a dressmaker. Hanna has few allies among her schoolmates, and the number of townspeople who would accept a garment sewn by her is fewer still, but she is adamant their hatefulness won’t stop her. With a realistic view of racial tensions during the 1800s, this engaging coming-of-age story is a quick but absorbing read.
The classic cozy mystery gets a millennial twist here with thoroughly enjoyable results. Twenty-something Mimi’s adventures with her snarky talking cat Marshmallow are charming and humorous in turns. Mimi has recently opened her own pet grooming salon in LA and in trying to drum up customers, she accidentally embroils herself in a murder investigation. It’s up to Mimi and Marshmallow’s deductive skills to get the lead investigator off Mimi’s back, clear her name, and find the real murderer, all while dodging her mother’s increasingly ridiculous blind date setups and swooning over her lawyer neighbor Josh. If this first book is an indicator about the rest of the series to come, I might be a new fan of the genre.
Maia has accomplished the impossible by sewing three dresses made of sunlight, moonlight and stars’ blood and freeing her love Edan from his curse, but the cost is her own humanity. Her demonic side slowly sinks its claws deep, taking her memories, her magic and her mind with it, all while she and her loved ones fight to keep evil invaders at bay. The conclusion to Elizabeth Lim’s duology is just as enthralling as its predecessor; I read both books back to back because I had to find out what happened in A’landi next. I loved the lyrical, evocative descriptions of the land, the fabrics and the magic. A new addition to my favorite author list!
Maia aspires to be the greatest tailor in A’landi, an honor only open to men. When the emperor calls for a competition to decide who will become the next imperial tailor, Maia disguises herself as her older brother and enters. With the help of magic scissors and her own seamstress skills, Maia seeks to prove her worth. But once the emperor makes his choice, Maia discovers that her real test has only just begun. Touted as “Project Runway meets Mulan,” this fantasy adventure is utterly mesmerizing, thrilling enchanting. Elizabeth Lim’s lyrical and imaginative prose caught my attention from the first page and held it until the last. Waiting impatiently for the sequel!
Rosie and Dominic’s rocky marital journey captivated me so completely I read this book in one night. Dominic is the strong, silent type - too silent, after coming home from deployment in Afghanistan. Rosie abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant years ago and it’s been slowly killing her ever since. Somewhere along the way they stopped communicating, except on Tuesday nights, when they burn up the sheets. Chemistry has never been their problem; it’s just everything else. As Dominic and Rosie work on salvaging their marriage through last-ditch counseling, I found myself cheering, facepalming, and fanning myself in equal measure. Maybe not your traditional rom-com, but entertaining and heartwarming all the same.
Jamie and Maya aren’t having a great summer - he’s stressing over giving a speech at his sister’s bar mitzvah (preferably without throwing up), while her parents are separating - and it gets worse when their mothers coerce them into canvassing for the local senate election. Trying to get a traditionally red town to vote Dem when there are racist trolls putting white supremacist stickers everywhere and someone’s trying to pass an anti-hijab bill seems impossible, but Jamie and Maya rely on each other and grow closer in the process.This cross-cultural love story set against the backdrop of a local senate election is an absorbing, relevant must-read.
I dare you to read this without a smile on your face and/or clutching your heart and saying, “Aww!” Go on, try it. You can’t, right? Beth Ferry’s delightful tale of a little caveboy named Neander becoming smitten with an bow-and-arrow-wielding cavegirl named Neanne at first sight, enhanced by Joseph Kuefler’s simple yet engrossing illustrations, captured my attention (and my heart) from the first page. After swooning all over the place at just the thought of Neanne, Neander sets out to find the perfect gift to express his affections, and after a couple of false starts, he succeeds. A short and sweet prehistoric love story!
We return to the world of Medio on the brink of war, and this time our story is from Carmen’s point of view. A true daughter of the revolutionary group La Voz, Carmen’s heart beat only for the cause - until she met Dani. Torn between love for her people and the one girl who takes her breath away, Carmen’s conflicted state centers most of the action in the book until the final, heart-pounding confrontation between La Voz and Mateo, her former husband and the newly minted president. We Set the Dark on Fire was one of my favorite books of 2019, and Tehlor Kay Mejia brings the duology to an exhilarating, unputdownable finish you won’t want to miss.
As a rom-com aficionado, the premise of a book written where the protagonist willingly puts herself into every single meet-cute setup that she can think of - from Notting Hill to Sleepless in Seattle to The Holiday and so many more - sounded like a fun ride, and I wasn't disappointed. Evie's journey to love was funny, heartfelt, sometimes predictable (but in that good way that you know it'll end with a happily-ever-after because it's a rom-com) and always a roller coaster. Super sweet and chaste like all the best Hallmark movies, Would Like to Meet is perfect for all the fellow rom-com lovers out there.
I’ve been a fan of Liz Climo’s comics for a few years now, but if you’ve never had the pleasure, I implore you to pick up this book. A rabbit pops out of its burrow in just the wrong spot - right in front of a hungry bear. As the bunny pleads for its life, you slowly discover that it is not that the bear’s tummy is hungry for food so much that its heart is hungry for companionship. I particularly loved the bunny’s resigned declaration of “Aw, nuts” when it first sees the bear and that it immediately orders the bear a pizza to avoid being lunch. Don’t miss this adorable and funny tale of reluctant friends!
All Reuben wants to do is camp with his friends in the woods and eat donuts, but when he discovers his pants are wet in a very uncomfortable place, there’s a mystery afoot: which of his friends could have done such a dastardly thing? And worse, who is lying about it? Come along with Reuben as he plays detective and ultimately decides friendship trumps wet pants.
Most of us are familiar with Disney’s version, but here Faye-Lynn Wu retells the famous Ballad of Mulan with Joy Ang bringing the Chinese folktale to life through absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Mulan’s story is one of deep familial devotion marred by separation and strife as she goes off to war for many years. The repetition of Mulan being described as “strong and able” was lovely to read, and ending the book with the original ballad written in Chinese characters was a nice touch as well. A great read for those of us who are learning (or need the reminder) that women can be warriors, too!
This book is a Korean drama in literary form, which is why I love it so much. It has all the best elements of a typical Korean television show: romantic tension, action scenes, all the kimchi you could want, wise old grandmas, and main characters being Noble Idiots for the sake of each other; and none of the bad: there is NO LOVE TRIANGLE. I mentally cheered so hard when I found out Jihoon’s best friend Somin is just a platonic, awesome, supportive best friend, because dramas so often throw in other female characters as hurdles to the main pairing’s happy ending. Jihoon and Miyoung have enough roadblocks by themselves, given that she’s half-gumiho (a mythical nine-tailed fox demon) and he only cares about high school in that it is an impediment to his video game playing time. Their story sucked me in just like all the best shows and I had to binge-read until I got to the end. Hopefully you’ll find it just as absorbing, too!
Tehlor Kay Mejia proves stunningly skillful at conveying everything happening in the fantastically-rendered world of Medio through the eyes of her main character Dani. Whether Dani is smelling “light-as-air” tortillas cooking, burying all of her feelings behind her impassive facade, or imagining how the lips of her nemesis would feel against her own, we feel it all with her. My heart pounded in time with Dani’s as she dove headfirst into the deeply opposing worlds of political espionage and first love, navigating her cold marriage to a two-faced government official and his other wife against the backdrop of a rebellion ready to explode. This is the author’s first book and 2020 cannot come fast enough for me to find out what happens next.
I usually read books featuring characters with similar personalities to myself, so The Way You Make Me Feel was an anomaly for me. Clara is a self-described jerk, defiant and peevish, who carelessly skates through life (literally - she hides her skateboard under her prom dress to sneak it in) and banks on her ability to talk her way out of trouble. I actually didn’t feel much sympathy for Clara until she had to suffer through the punishment of her actions, and working at her father’s Korean-Brazilian fusion food truck marked the beginning of her journey to becoming a decent human being. I cheered Clara on as she traded up for an infinitely better best friend and swooned over love interest Hamlet Wong’s adorable approaches to dating Clara (even if she couldn’t admit to herself she found them just as charming). This book made me hungry for bulgogi and a sweet summer romance, always the perfect combination.
Jen Wang first captured my attention through her art style via the gorgeous salmon-colored cover of The Prince and the Dressmaker, but it is her storytelling prowess that keeps me coming back. Stargazing hit home for me especially as a Chinese-American, a lover of K-Pop, and a person who has worried about being left behind as best friends seemed to find newer, better models. As I followed Christine and Moon on the ups and downs of their journey to best friendship, I found myself identifying with both of them. Do I dance around my house to Blackpink or get over excited and talk too quickly about things I fangirl about like Moon? Yes. Do I slurp noodles like there’s no tomorrow and sometimes retreat timidly from the crowd like Christine? Also yes. If you’re the loud, self-assured friend or the quiet, introspective friend, or if you just want to look at cute drawings of dumplings, noodles and bok choy and get a feel-good friendship story as a bonus, this is the graphic novel for you.