Staff Book Reviews

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Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 23, 2021

I love this book so much. It has something for everyone and it’s the book I never knew I needed until I had it. It’s the book that you didn’t realize you needed until you have it in your hand.

This is the book that I have been waiting for, without even realizing it.

It has something for everyone, politics, music, movies, tv, sports and FOOD. Anything related to the intersection of pop culture and being an Asian American in this country.

RISE gives a brief history about the struggles, and the racist hate has been woven in to the fabric of this country that has always been overlooked and until recently, somehow socially acceptable. It also celebrates Asian Americans and all their contributions, that had been erased or minimized since the first Asians arrived in this country, which is way earlier then most Americans realize. The focus is on the last 30 years, which really illustrates so many accomplishments, from the entire diverse diaspora and across so many professions. It’s when the invisible minority, started becoming visible. This book is only the tip of the iceberg, and it's so wonderful to see Asian Americans finally seeing ourselves represented. In the words of Sandra Oh, "It’s an honor just to be Asian."

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Beasts of a Little Land: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 21, 2021

Beginning in 1918, set in Korea, when a starving hunter and a group of colonizers randomly meet, the ramifications reverberates for years to come. A young girl, sold to a courtesan school, and a young homeless boy, begin a friendship, with a backdrop of the Korean Independence movement. These characters (and there a lot) come in and out of each other's lives and will stay with you for even longer. For readers of Min Jin Lee's Pachinko, Annie Proulx's Barkskins, or any reader who loves to delve into places and time periods that have not been told.

 

The Ninja Betrayed Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 16, 2021

I love the character, Lily Wong, so much. She's remarkably strong (both physically and mentally) and yet emotionally frail due to her sister's murder and subsequent guilt. She has strong family relationships with her parents and a huge sense of loyalty. Here, she and her mom go to Hong Kong, for her mom's family business and board meeting. Lily becomes embroiled in a family business takeover as well as the democracy movements in Hong Kong. And, she finally allows romance to bloom. The plots were so well integrated and timely. I'm really looking forward to Lily's next adventure!

 

How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 16, 2021

This was just so darned delightful. I loved Moon, and her sharp retorts (she comes up with the best insults!), as well as her determination to succeed at her goals even though she constantly doubts herself. She and her twin sister, Star, are opposites in all ways. Star is the beautiful one, and Moon is not. Star is loved, and Moon is not. Star is a social influencer, and Moon, well, you'll find out. While there is a great enemies to lovers romance, with a wonderful cinnamon bun, Santiago, to me, this is more about Moon's family dynamics and how she reconciles them with her life.

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The City Inside Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 16, 2021

What a read! At times, disturbingly close to real life, this futuristic world hits a bit too close to home. This showcases Delhi, the intersections of wealth and class as well as social influencers in a constantly streaming world. Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

 

The Color of Air: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Stacey
Posted: September 15, 2021

This beautifully written novel takes place in Hawaii, and immerses you in the geography and culture there in the 1930s.  Strong character relationships are set against the backdrop of the Mauna Loa volcano eruption. The story also delves into workers’ rights struggles, difficult choices, love, regret, and secrets. A novel to sit down and savor. - Stacey

Ice and Stone (A Sharon McCone Mystery #35) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 11, 2021

A compelling mystery that centers around murdered and missing Indigenous women loosely based in fact, despite the fictional tribe and geographic location. PI Sharon McCone is still passionate about her work and is determined to find out what happened to two murdered Indigenous women. Sharon is also more introspective, both by her past, as well as her future, and I really hope this isn't the end of the series. If it is, it's a satisfying ending, and if not, I know I will continue this series.

How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 11, 2021

This compelling read is part travelogue and part history lesson. But this isn't history that is generally taught. This is unvarnished, meticulously researched about slavery's legacy on various locations, mostly in the United States and one in Africa. For so long, most monuments only told the glory about each location and person (ahem, Thomas Jefferson), without any real insight as to that person's actions. History isn't complete when it's only partially told. Both personal and wide reaching, this is an easy read that is difficult to digest.

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Audrey H.
Posted: September 9, 2021

A bit of a slow start that leads to an engrossing and heart breaking read. There was so much of this that just spoke to me, the immigrant found extended family, the lack of communication among family, the never ending grief when a sibling dies unexpectedly and the support despite disagreements. I especially loved the raccooner machine (I want one) and there were many other lol moments that only individual families can devise. But most of all, this just depicts that love and loss within families become so intertwined that it's hard to see where one ends and the other begins.

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The Big Bath House Cover Image
Reviewed by: Tildy
Posted: September 9, 2021

A joyful and tender story of a day at the bath house, told from the perspective of a girl who visits her Baachan. They don’t share a language, but the love between them is understood. Along with many aunties and cousins, they go for a day to the bath house. Based on memories of Kyo Maclear’s own experiences spending summers at her grandmother’s house in Japan, and lovingly illustrated with black ink and wash paintings by Gracey Zhang, this is a celebration of family, and also of our bodies. Every scene of the day at the bath house portrays nude women diverse in not only skin tone, but also in age and body shape. A beautiful celebration of bodies, customs, and family; perfect for reading together.
 

A Different Dawn Cover Image
Reviewed by: AudreynH.
Posted: September 5, 2021

What a satisfying page turner. And, it ends with a great set up for the next book. Looking forward to more Nina and her team.

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Love, Violet Cover Image
Reviewed by: Tildy
Posted: September 4, 2021

Oh this made my heart so happy. Violet likes Mira and wants to give her a special valentine, but is too shy. Mira makes her nervous, but is always kind and helpful. The ending made me teary, and this is just the sweetest story. Not just for Valentine's Day, and for fans of From Archie to Zack , and a great book for young queer readers. 

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