Book List, Staff Picks

In the Summertime, When the Weather is Fine…

It’s our latest staff picks! Sarah’s been listening to Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime to get in the full warm weather spirit!

Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean

I read Tokyo Ever After in one sitting in a couple hours on a weekday night, something I haven’t done in who knows how long. Read a book in one sitting on a Sunday? Absolutely. On a Wednesday night? Maybe not since I was in middle school. It pulled me in and kept me hooked – I adore all of the characters and it’s clear how near and dear Izumi is to Emiko’s heart.

The Princess Diaries meets Crazy Rich Asians in Emiko Jean’s Tokyo Ever After, a “refreshing, spot-on” (Booklist, starred review) story of an ordinary Japanese-American girl who discovers that her father is the Crown Prince of Japan.

Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in—it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi—or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”—and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.

In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.

Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself—back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?

Look for the sequel to Tokyo Ever After in spring 2022!

Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young

This story is just lovely. A wonderful tale of family and belonging, wrapped up in myth, legend, and culture HEALER OF THE WATER MONSTER will make your heart ache as much as it will make you cheer. Nathan is a strong wonderful protagonist and you feel his pains as much as you share his triumphs as he deals with issues in his family that are all too relatable and trying to save a mythical water monster. Pond and Nathan’s relationship is a beautiful show friendship, and as the compelling story pulls you along Nathan shows the strength of heart every hero needs. A truly enchanting read.

Brian Young’s powerful debut novel tells of a seemingly ordinary Navajo boy who must save the life of a Water Monster—and comes to realize he’s a hero at heart.

When Nathan goes to visit his grandma, Nali, at her mobile summer home on the Navajo reservation, he knows he’s in for a pretty uneventful summer, with no electricity or cell service. Still, he loves spending time with Nali and with his uncle Jet, though it’s clear when Jet arrives that he brings his problems with him.

One night, while lost in the nearby desert, Nathan finds someone extraordinary: a Holy Being from the Navajo Creation Story—a Water Monster—in need of help.

Now Nathan must summon all his courage to save his new friend. With the help of other Navajo Holy Beings, Nathan is determined to save the Water Monster, and to support Uncle Jet in healing from his own pain.

The Heartdrum imprint centers a wide range of intertribal voices, visions, and stories while welcoming all young readers, with an emphasis on the present and future of Indian Country and on the strength of young Native heroes. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books.

Legend by David Gemmell

Legend is one of my favorite books of all time. Set in the final days of the Drenai Kingdom the Nadir are poised to sweep over the land like a tide with only the undermanned fortress of Dros Delnoch standing in their way. However, though the garrison may be small it’s led by the legend himself, Druss. Will he be enough to turn the tide? Maybe not, but that’s beside the point. Stick to the code and stand on the wall an you can be a man to walk the mountains with!

Druss, Captain of the Ax, is the stuff of legends. Tales of his battles are told throughout the land, and the stories expand with each telling. But Druss himself grows older, until finally, the warrior turns his back on glory and retreats to his mountain lair. There he awaits his old enemy: death. 

But far below, the barbarian Nadir hordes are on the march. All that stands between them and the Drenai people is a mighty six-walled fortress, Dros Delnoch—a great citadel that seems destined to fall. If it does, the Nadir will sweep inexorably across the land, killing all who oppose them.

Reluctantly Druss agrees to come down from his mountaintop to lead this last, hopeless fight. Lost causes mean nothing to him—he has fought in such battles a thousand times in a thousand lands. And he is a hero to inspire a new generation of warriors. He is Druss the Legend.

Thus begins David Gemmell’s most celebrated novel—an unrivaled classic of mythic heroism and magnificent adventure. . . .

Victories Greater Than Death by Charlie Jane Anders

Found family! Bashing space fascists! Explorations of alien gender and sexuality a la Ursula K. Le Guin! If a funny, tender, and fantastical YA space romp sounds like your kind of thing, you have to read Victories Greater Than Death. Nobody is doing Young Adult Science Fiction like Charlie Jane Anders. As an added bonus, this book is absolutely beautiful and it looks amazing on my book shelf.

Outsmart Your Enemies. Outrun the Galaxy.

“Just please, remember what I told you. Run. Don’t stop running for anything.”


Tina never worries about being ‘ordinary’–she doesn’t have to, since she’s known practically forever that she’s not just Tina Mains, average teenager and beloved daughter. She’s also the keeper of an interplanetary rescue beacon, and one day soon, it’s going to activate, and then her dreams of saving all the worlds and adventuring among the stars will finally be possible. Tina’s legacy, after all, is intergalactic–she is the hidden clone of a famed alien hero, left on Earth disguised as a human to give the universe another chance to defeat a terrible evil.

But when the beacon activates, it turns out that Tina’s destiny isn’t quite what she expected. Things are far more dangerous than she ever assumed–and everyone in the galaxy is expecting her to actually be the brilliant tactician and legendary savior Captain Thaoh Argentian, but Tina….is just Tina. And the Royal Fleet is losing the war, badly–the starship that found her is on the run and they barely manage to escape Earth with the planet still intact.

Luckily, Tina is surrounded by a crew she can trust, and her best friend Rachel, and she is still determined to save all the worlds. But first she’ll have to save herself.

Buckle up your seatbelt for this thrilling YA sci-fi adventure set against an intergalactic war from internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame is a great book with amazing characters. I absolutely loved the writing and learning about the world. This is a fantastic book and I definitely recommend it.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame—first in the Sands of Arawiya duology—is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

People lived because she killed. People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the sultan. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways. Both Zafira and Nasir are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the sultan on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Warcross by Marie Lu

For fans of Ready Player One comes a compelling, action-packed story focused on virtual reality, gaming, computer hackers, and bounty hunters. Teenager Emika Chen is the center of the action when she accidentally hacks her way into the annual VR gaming event, the Warcross Championship, in front of millions of spectators. With phenomenal world building, vivid and cinematic writing, and a cast of fun characters, you’ll love this book!

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

This is a classic tale, one with pirates, fairies, mermaids, and adventure around every corner. Take a trip to Never Neverland, where a boy who never ever plans to grow up, and a cod-fish of a pirate trying to fight him at every corner. Journey with the Darling children as they are whisked away by pixie dust by a boy and his fairy, Tinkerbell, and feel like child all over again.

Join Peter, Wendy, Tinker Bell, and a cast of other familiar characters on a fantastical journey in the Word Cloud Classics’ Peter Pan. Included in this volume are the famous novel—Peter and Wendy (1911)—about the “boy who never grew up” and his adventures in Neverland, as well as a lesser-known prequel entitled Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (1906), which tells the story of Pan’s early years in London. This lively volume weaves a tale that is universally relatable and wildly popular for adults and children alike.

The Woman Who Would Be King by Kara Cooney

A radically feminist, gender non-conforming woman of color rises to the highest power in the greatest kingdom in the world, and it all happened thousands of years ago. This is a beautifully researched biography that revives the story of a woman who was more or less erased from history. The perfect read for those of us who went through an Egyptology phase as a child!

An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power.
 
Hatshepsut—the daughter of a general who usurped Egypt’s throne—was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir, however, paved the way for her improbable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just over twenty, Hatshepsut out-maneuvered the mother of Thutmose III, the infant king, for a seat on the throne, and ascended to the rank of pharaoh.

Shrewdly operating the levers of power to emerge as Egypt’s second female pharaoh, Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays in the veil of piety and sexual reinvention. She successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods.

Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power.

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