We’re heading into Thanksgiving week and it’s looking like pretty much every other week since March for us. We decided to scuttle our plans to have Thanksgiving dinner with my parents because COVID is raging right now in our state. Like, I know that vaccines are coming and there’s a light at the end of this dark tunnel, but it seems like it’s going to stick around at maximum strength just long enough to royally screw up this holiday season. And, look, I know a lot of people out there have OPINIONS on the Elf on the Shelf, but I am 100% going to start that tradition this year with Sam. Not to be all “creepy police state spies on toddler” but just like “magical things at Christmas” because this is a year that needs extra magic. And yes, I will probably lament this decision in 2 years when I am unreasonably busy and have forgotten to move the elf or some such thing but for now it just sounds like a charming change of pace. WE ARE VERY BORED. But also, the imagination of a 3 year old is the most magnificent thing and I want to do whatever is within my power to nurture it. So anyway. I’ve mentally passed the point of making lemons into lemonade and I’m just mentally hurling rotten fruit at people who don’t cover their noses with their masks. It’s the moooooooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeear. At least we still have books, the world’s healthiest coping mechanism. Without further ado, let’s discuss books I’ve recently read:
Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi: I love these books so much. I’ve read quite a few Roshani Chokshi books at this point and I always seem to forget how flipping funny her writing is. I mean, yes, a Middle Grade romp through Hindu Mythology should be fun, but it’s the one liners thrown in the heat of battle that always catch me by surprise and have me cracking up. Chokshi had me at that first horse demon in The Star-Touched Queen… But back to Aru. Aru and her group of soul sisters (plus Pandava adjacent) are back to saving the world, only this time, they’re joined by a precocious set of twins with magical powers. One of them has the gift of prophecy (which is predictably problematic) and the other is a fashionista with a gift for magical plants. (The absolute SHADE thrown by Nikita is just… Ten year old fashion police. Whew. I love her, even though she’d probably insult my entire wardrobe.) This series is wonderful and I keep trying to foist it upon everyone I know with kiddos in the target age range. Even though I’m salty AF that this installment left me with a GIANT CLIFFHANGER. Rude.
Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra: This book was touted as “Doogie Howser, MD meets The Fault in Our Stars” and that description is spot-on. (I reviewed The Fault in Our Stars way back in the day if you want to check it out.) Hello, yes, I am old and I vividly recall watching Doogie Howser, MD on TV as a kid and loving it. Neil Patrick Harris will forever be Doogie in my mind. Ahem. Saira Seghal is a 16 year old doctor. For real. She did the whole child prodigy thing and when we meet her, she’s just begun a very prestigious pediatric oncology internship. Not EVERYONE is excited to be working with the Girl Genius, and even though Saira’s brain is full of doctorly knowledge, her heart is still 16. So when Saira accidentally falls for a super cute teenage boy who turns out to be one of her patients, things get complicated in a hurry. This book is super charming, and I totally ended up crying a couple of times. Because, you know. Kids with cancer plus teen angst plus love story. It packs an emotional punch while still being fun.
Snapped by Alexa Martin: Ah, my favorite sports adjacent romance series has returned! In this installment, Elliot Reed has landed her dream job working PR for the Denver Mustangs. Her only regret is that her father is no longer here to enjoy the perks with her. Shortly into her employment, she’s dealt a curveball (I know, I know, I just put a baseball metaphor into a review of a football book, I am not THAT bad at sports, but I truly don’t care, so) when the team’s newest star quarterback, the superhot Quinton Howard Jr. starts the season by taping over the league’s logo and taking a knee during the national anthem. Elliot is in for QUITE a journey. She’s new to her job and wants to do well to impress her boss, but she can’t ignore that Quinton’s reasons for protesting are valid. Though the two start off on rocky footing, Quinton and Elliot manage to create awesome events and establish a charitable foundation that explains to the world WHY Quinton is taking a knee. It’s about so much: police brutality, the fact that the pro football league (which is not the NFL for obvious legal reasons) treats its retirees like garbage, and the general racism and inequality that are inherent in a massive sports league where 80% of the players are Black. Look, I’m just a middle class white lady who thinks racism sucks. I’ve got my own preconceived biases to work through and I’m never going to win any “woke” awards. But DANG it never even occurred to me that the reason there are so many white quarterbacks is because Black players are encouraged to play positions where they don’t make many strategic decisions. Because racism. It’s important to note that a lot of Elliot’s journey involves working through her own baggage- she is a biracial woman who was raised by her white father. This is deftly handled by Alexa Martin because it mirrors her own life as a biracial woman raised by white family, which she discusses in the book’s forward. Important themes and topics aside, this book is romantic and spicy and sweet. And there are grand Halloween gestures. Sigh. I love these books almost as much as Brynne loves Real Housewives. (Poppy and TK are still my favorites, though. Sorry not sorry.)
I hope all of you bookworms have a safe, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving this year. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, that is. If not, please have the happiest of Thursdays. Wash your hands. Wear your masks. The vaccines are coming. We’re in the final stretch. Ducks fly together. (Sorry, that’s the only pep talk I could think to reference… I told you I’m bad at sports references.)
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