Ilana's Book Reviews

Pelican Girls: A Novel By Julia Malye Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: March 28, 2024

18th century France and the North American colony of Louisiana needs women. Overrun with patients, orphans and criminals, Parisian girls and women in hospitals and prisons are "volunteered" to undertake the life-threatening journey into the unknown. If they make it, their reward will be to be married off and populate the new world with good Christians. Julia Mayle's deeply researched and engrossing historical novel brings this little known part of history to life through three central characters, all with their own motivations for seeking some escape. 

Escargot and the Search for Spring By Dashka Slater, Sydney Hanson (Illustrator) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: March 28, 2024

My favorite little French snail is back and as anxious for spring to begin as those of us in frigid New England. Filled with charm and humor, our little friend must find a way to shake off his winter "ennui" and celebrate the new season.

Dinner on Monster Island: Essays By Tania De Rozario Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: February 25, 2024

A compelling personal memoir in essay form, this book is also a fascinating and insightful cultural critique of the power of women in horror films, the demonization of womens' bodies both on screen and off, and the dangers of growing up as a queer, brown girl in Singapore. Fueled by her relentless rejection of all the forces seeking to define and "fix" who she is, De Rozario's indomitable spirit, instinct for survival, and sheer bravery is something I wish for every reader including myself.

Songs on Endless Repeat: Essays and Outtakes By Anthony Veasna So, Jonathan Dee (Foreword by) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: January 29, 2024

It was a bittersweet experience reading this stunning collection. Mr. So didn't live to see its publication, nor that of his equally brilliant previous book, "Afterparties." A mixture of short stories and essays, you will be in awe of his ear for dialogue, including an abundance of snarky humor at its finest.

Nonfiction: A Novel By Julie Myerson Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: January 29, 2024

If you're looking for something light and breezy, go elsewhere. If you're looking for writing so compelling and achingly sad it will haunt you long after your eyes leave the page, you've found your next read.

One Sweet Song By Jyoti Rajan Gopal, Sonia Sánchez (Illustrator) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: January 29, 2024

Inspired by the spontaneous serenading of Italian healthcare workers during COVID lockdown in Italy, this charming picture books is a love poem to music and the community it can instantly create. You and your young reader will be picking up the nearest implements to join the chorus.

Blood Sisters By Vanessa Lillie Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: October 28, 2023

In this edge of your seat thriller, forensic archeologist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs Syd Walker devotes her life to caring for the overwhelming number of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Although she lives in Rhode Island with her doctor wife, Syd is called home to her Cherokee family in Oklahoma to investigate the disappearance of two women. Syd is torn about whether to answer the call until it turns out one of the two missing women is her own sister. I was hooked from page one and hope this is just the beginning of a series featuring Syd.

Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk By Sasha LaPointe Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: October 28, 2023

I can't think of a reader who wouldn't benefit from this deeply felt and moving memoir. Poet, performer and proud punk Sasha LaPointe does one of the best jobs I have ever encountered of describing what PTSD and sexual trauma does to the human body and spirit. Her inspiring and persistent pursuit of life and art and her resilience are just a few of the strengths I hope to carry with me.

Skating Wild on an Inland Sea By Jean E. Pendziwol, Todd Stewart (Illustrator) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: October 28, 2023

Is someone singing or is that just the wind and the ice on Lake Superior? And what are those tracks in the snow? Were they left by animals both big and small? These are just some of the questions a young brother and sister have as they set out for a skating adventure. With stunning and painterly illustrations to match the poetry of the text, this picture book is an ideal winter companion.

The Pumpernickel-Daffodil: A Picture Book By Galia Bernstein Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: September 25, 2023

The dog show circuit with its privileged owners and pedigreed pups take center stage in this adorable and highly entertaining picture book. Text and illustrations marry perfectly for storytimes large or small. 

Dearborn By Ghassan Zeineddine Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: September 25, 2023

This collection has instantly become one of my all time favorites. Each interconnected story is so fully realized, often hilarious and imbued with humanity, I can't sing their praises loudly enough.

Wombat By Philip Bunting, Philip Bunting (Illustrator) Cover Image
Reviewed by: Ilana
Posted: August 27, 2023

If you don’t pick this book up you won’t know how hilarious it is!

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