Ilana's Book Reviews

The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: April 25, 2022

With recurring characters and presented in chronological order from the 1990's to 2007, this collection set in an "unnamed southern majority-Black suburb" reads very much like a novel. In fact, it reads like the most intimate journal of a community. The uber talented Ladee Hubbard is a writer whose eyes and heart are both clearly wide open, allowing for the same in her readers.

I Love You Like Yellow Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: April 25, 2022

This perfect pariing of poem and artwork turned my insides to mush! It's a great gift for Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduations or anytime you want to declare your unconditional love for someone in your life.

The Promise: A Novel (Booker Prize Winner) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: March 28, 2022

Although on the surface, The Promise is about a deathbed request from a wife to her husband, it is just one of the many broken and unfulfilled promises which permeate this brilliant, searing, Booker prize winning novel. Damon Galgut's gift for language, for observation and for storytelling had me wishing I had nothing but time to read this book.

Those Kids from Fawn Creek Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: March 28, 2022

If you ask anyone in the 7th grade class, nothing ever happens in their small town of Fawn Creek, LA or as they call it Yawn Creek. Nothing, that is, until the day Orchid Mason arrives. Not only is Orchid the new girl, she's lovely and kind and filled with stories of her travels to all corners of the world. But is it safe to be kind when there are bullies lurking? Is it ok to be different when you also want to fit it? Complicated and challenging questions for Orchid's new community in a town where "nothing" ever happens.

Where Is Bina Bear? Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: February 23, 2022

Just like her best friend Tiny, Bina is the purple bear you've been missing in your life. Tiny is having a party and can't find Bina. Discovering where Bina may be will make you laugh, but discovering why will melt your heart.

Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: January 30, 2022

An intense, off-kilter and wholely unique world view permeate every story in this collection.  I kept thinking there was no way the next bizarre and riveting tale could be as good as the one I'd just finished.  I was wrong every time.

Fight Night Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: December 28, 2021

Although all three generations of women in this book are unforgettable, it's Elvira, the grandmother I can't stop thinking about.  Through her own voice, as well as filtered through her 9 year old granddaughter, Swiv, Elvira is fierce, funny, loving, resilient and she imbues those qualities in everyone around her.  I could have kept reading about this family forever.

The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: November 25, 2021

Grieving the loss of his beloved grandfather in the used bookstore he has inherited, high school student Rintaro seems lost.  But then the talking cat arrives and needs his help saving books. Rintaro hears his Grandfather's words echoing in his head, "Books are powerful" and he can't say "no." Especially well suited for holiday time, readers of all ages will enjoy this modern fable. 

The Littlest Yak Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: November 25, 2021

"Gertie is The Littlest Yak in her whole pack, and she's feeling stuck in her smallness. She wants to grow up and have bigness and tallness." With illustrations that match this adorable tale told in rhyme, Gertie learns that bigess comes in all forms, including in a yak just her size.

Mr. Watson's Chickens Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: October 28, 2021

Meet Mr. Watson.  Mr. Watson and Mr. Nelson love each other. They are happy living together with their 2 dogs, 3 cats and a handful of chickens.  But when the chickens multiply to the hundreds (456 to be exact), organize a midnight sing-along and take over EVERY corner of the house, Mr. Nelson threatens to move out.  Readers of all ages will enjoy every moment of this warm, funny story and page after page of eye catching, chicken-filled illustrations. 

Nina: A Story of Nina Simone Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: October 28, 2021

Traci Todd's clear-eyed prose and Caldecott Honoree Christian Robinson's luminous artwork combine in this beautiful tribute to the musical genius and civil rights activist Nina Simone.  If you don't know Nina, this is a wonderful introduction. If you already know and love Nina, this book is a treasure.     

What Storm, What Thunder Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: September 26, 2021

This is a novel with so much emotional power, humanity and truth about the world, I had to keep reminding myself it was a work of fiction.  It's a testament to Myriam Chancy's brilliance, talent and strength of will, and to the lives of her characters in the aftermath of Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010.

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