Ilana's Book Reviews

Night of the Living Rez By Morgan Talty Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: June 27, 2022

These 12 interconnected stories are as dark, colorful, multi-layered, and resonant as the night sky.

Little Pea's Drawing School By Davide Cali, Sébastien Mourrain (Illustrator) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: June 27, 2022

Little Pea's artwork is known far beyond his tiny, and totally adorable, world. Just wait until you meet his first students and discover their incredible talents.

The Town of Babylon: A Novel By Alejandro Varela Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: May 26, 2022

Just as America was advertised as the promised land, the suburbia in The Town Of Babylon, was supposed to be the next step in upward mobility. Returning home because of his father's illness, and just in time for his 20th high-school reunion, Andres begrudgingly revisits his hometown. Home hardly seems apt, since as a queer Latinx boy, he quickly learned it was safer to be  Andy. Author Alejandro Varela brings his background in public policy and his humanity as a writer to this multilayered and deeply satisfying debut.

The Last Suspicious Holdout: Stories By Ladee Hubbard 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 By Andrea Beaty, Vashti Harrison (Illustrator) 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) By Damon Galgut 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 By Erin Entrada Kelly 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? By Mike Curato, Mike Curato (Illustrator) 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 By Kim Fu 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 By Miriam Toews 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 By Sosuke Natsukawa, Louise Heal Kawai (Translated by) 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 By Lu Fraser, Kate Hindley (Illustrator) 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.

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