February 2020 New Releases
After wading through hundreds of upcoming titles, I have narrowed the list of February releases to these nine Can’t Wait Books. I scoured book review catalogs, book blogs and library chat forums to ensure that I found the most interesting and original new books. I primarily focus on Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction, but I will include Young Adult titles, if they seem like they will have a broad appeal. Starred titles have been added to my personal to be read list.
Summary excerpts from goodreads.com
Eleven years ago, I realized the futility of having a “favorite” book and decided that I would select a favorite book every year. Note: it’s just something I personally read that year, not necessarily published that year. I have never met anyone in real life that does this, but a lot of the book bloggers and twitterbrarians do it. They’re all my type of nerdy. #librarytwitter #bookbloggers
I read books that are in almost every genre. Occasionally, I will read two great books that are so dissimilar that I cannot compare them enough to decide between the two. Those rare years I will have two favorites, but for the most part, I have one very clear favorite. These books are all innovative, surprising and expertly crafted. They are profound or outstanding in their own way.
Here are my previous selections:
I feel like unveiling my book of the year should come with a drumroll and curtain, but I haven’t figured out how to do that on blog, so…
My favorite book of 2019 was The Wanderers by Chuck Wendig (Ta-Dah!!!!!) I was absolutely 100% obsessed with this book. The audio was THIRTY-TWO hours long and I finished it with time to spare on my two-week check-out. My house was spotless and I got so many steps in because all I wanted to do was walk and clean so I could listen to my book.
The Wanderers is apocalyptic fiction set in the very near future. I would consider this to be science-fiction although the tech is only slightly more advanced than ours. So, it’s probably science-fact, we just don’t know it yet. Fans of Stephen King’s Under the Dome and The Stand will love this book. For my full review click here.
What was your favorite book this year? Comment below:
Below are the 37 books I read this year, so far. Some of these books made me laugh-out-loud, cry and check my closet for monsters. Some filled me with hope, while others left me devastated. They all expanded my world view and filled my year with new experiences.
Note: I only rate books three stars or higher. I will not finish, rate or review a book I do not like.
My official 2019 book of the year selection will be posted on Thursday 01/02/20.
Let's be friends on Goodreads! I would love to know what you are reading and get suggestions from you. Click here to be friends!
What have you read this year? Share your favorites below:
Kid’s Book List
Popular and engaging titles for all the kids on your list. These are some of the most exciting books released within the last few years for young readers. These titles will appeal to avid readers and reluctant readers alike. Please email me or comment below if you would like a personal suggestion for a reader on your list.
This list is organized by reading level, with suggested age ranges.
Board Books (up to 3 years old)
Baby Loves to Rock by Wednesday Kirwan – Short and engaging, pairs animals with their favorite type of music.
Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton – Silly rhyming book about a pack of adorable boat dwelling animals and their bedtime routine.
Night Night Farm by Roger Priddy – A flip the flap book that introduces babies to animal sounds.
Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – Educational story featuring the days of the week, types of food, and the caterpillar lifecycle. Eric Carle fit a lot into a few fun pages.
Where is Baby’s Belly Button by Karen Katz – This is the classic flip the flap book, introduces babies to body parts.
Picture Books (3-7 years old)
After the Fall by Dan Santat – Perseverance is the key to overcoming, in this uplifting continuation of Humpty Dumpty.
Dear Boy by Paris Rosenthal - A loving and supportive message for boys everywhere.
Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – A loving and supportive message for girls everywhere.
Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith – A silly lyric book featuring a Honky-Tonkey, Wonky-Donkey.
Juvenile (7-13 years old)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney – A funny graphic novel about the awkward challenges of middle school.
Dog Man by Dav Pilkey – A hilarious comic about a half-dog/half-man’s adventures in crime fighting.
Fairy Mom and Me by Sophie Kinsella – Ella loves learning from her magical fairy mom, even if her spells don’t ever seem to turn out quite right.
Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris – Young street magicians team up to fight a greedy nemesis. Books includes interactive cyphers and clues.
Young Adult (13 and older)
Looking for Alaska by John Green – A half funny/half devastating book about growing up and making mistakes. Recently made into a Hulu series.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus– Five students in detention and one ends up dead. They all have motive, so who is guilty?
Scythe by Neal Shusterman – In a world without death, teens are trained to kill to maintain population control.
Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon – This romance revolves around two lives in turmoil. Should they? Can they make it work?
Check back Tuesday for a No Spoiler Review of Pretty Things by Janelle Brown.
What books are you giving or hoping to receive this year? Comment below:
Book list For Adults
I am a book pusher. I get a lot of entertainment from reading and I want to share that with everyone. That’s why I almost exclusively give books as Christmas presents. Since most people only read about four books a year, I try to give only the most popular and recognizable books from the last few years. People get more excited if they have heard of a book than if they have not. Here is the list I will be using this year for my gift giving:
Circe by Madeline Miller – A Greek god child must choose between her immortal family and humans as she discovers her abilities as a witch.
Harry Potter by JK Rowling (Illustrated editions) – Beautifully illustrated versions of Harry Potter books 1-4. These books are a real treat for fans of the series.
Great Alone by Kristin Hannah – A young family tries living off the land in post-Vietnam Alaska. Full review coming soon!
Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – Sisters, living in Nazi occupied France, do their best to survive and help those close to them.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – A young girl comes of age in the marshes of 1960s North Carolina. One of the most coveted books of the year.
Woman in the Window by AJ Finn – A recluse sees something she shouldn’t have, but is she a reliable witness?
Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides – A woman murders her husband, then becomes silent. Why did she do it?
Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas – Sherlock Holmes meets Pride and Prejudice. A lighter historical mystery.
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell – A missing daughter and a mother struggling to move on. Is her new love interest connected to her daughter’s disappearance?
Wanderers by Chuck Wendig – Sleepwalkers and a plague threaten to wipe out humanity, can artificial intelligence save us? For my full review click here.
12 Rules for Life by Jordan B Peterson – Tips from history, politics, religion and the natural world are presented to help you live your best life.
Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson – The mysterious theft of historic bird skins for the art of salmon fly tying. This is a fascinating book, click here for my full review.
Good Neighbor by Maxwell King – Biography of the beloved Fred Rogers.
Library Book by Susan Orlean – What caused the Los Angeles Library fire of 1986? And other library stories.
Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines – Classic recipes for gatherings, includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.
Pioneers by David McCullough – The role of veterans in the settlement of Ohio, the narrative revolves around five individuals.
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell – Questions of psychology and sociology dominate in this book about snap judgments.
Whiskey in a Teacup – Reese Witherspoon's southern lifestyle guide.
You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero – An entertaining and slightly naughty take on traditional self-help guides.
Check back Thursday for the list of Popular Books to Give at Christmas for Kids.
What books are you giving or hoping to receive this year? Comment below:
We have all seen the pictures of babies and toddlers meeting Santa for the first time and falling into a mild state of panic. With my daughters, I thought it was cute and funny. I see it as a right of passage. However, I know that some parents want those pristine pictures with crisp dresses and smiling faces. Here is a list of interactive, brightly colored and comforting books to help little ones meet Santa on their own terms. Hopefully, these books will help children have a more positive first interaction with Jolly Old Saint Nick.
Baby’s Very First Slide and See Christmas by Usborne – A tactile book with engaging moving parts and bright colors. This book is about the Christmas Holiday with a special appearance by Santa.
Dear Santa by Rod Campbell – Santa tries to find the perfect gift. A lift-a-flap book.
Santa Flap Book by Usborne – Santa’s Christmas Eve journey from the North Pole to your house.
Santa’s Christmas Train by Helen Foster James – Take the Christmas train to the North Pole to meet Santa.
Santa’s Workshop by Holly Berry-Byrd – Meet Santa and his team of helpers in this colorful lift-a-flap book.
Santa’s Workshop by Roger Priddy – Santa and his helpers are busy getting ready for the big day. Lots of flaps to keep little hands busy.
Usborne Sparkly Touchy-Feely Santa Claus – Santa’s journey to deliver the world’s presents with smooth sparkling stars and soft white Santa beard.
Where’s Santa Claus by Nosy Crow – A flip-the-flap tour of the North Pole.
Check Back on Thursday for Christmas Gift Giving Guide for Librarians.
Share your thoughts on this topic. Comment below:
Recipes You Can’t Find Online
Thanksgiving is a big holiday. Even if you are not hosting a Thanksgiving get together, you are still usually expected to bring a dish. These books are great for hosts that are looking for new recipes and guests that want to bring something unexpected. This list includes comforting traditional options and exotic alternatives.
Cookbooks with the Best Sides and Snacks
Dips Spreads Nosh by Kimberly Stevens – Easy charcuterie platters, interesting breads and delicious hummus recipes.
What Can I Bring by Elizabeth Heiskell – This gorgeous book includes snacks, sides, desserts and main courses. It is a great option for someone looking to bring something simple, but unique.
Best Cookbooks for Hosts
Barefoot Contessa Parties by Ina Garten – Celebratory meals and a “Not Thanksgiving” section which includes a roast turkey and traditional sides with a twist. Mashed sweet potatoes and plum tart are a couple of the alternative dishes.
Festive Holiday Recipes by Addie Gundry – This traditional holiday cookbook is organized by course including sides, main courses and desserts.
Neely’s Celebration Cookbook – This southern cookbook is organized by month. It includes recipes for a full Thanksgiving meal featuring a fried turkey in the November section.
Pioneer Woman Cooks A Year of Holidays – This book is organized by holiday and includes roast turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing, dessert and more in the Thanksgiving section.
Cookbooks with the Best Desserts
Big Book of Pies and Tarts by Betty Crocker – Seasonal favorites like pumpkin, apple and pecan pie as well as unique options like Chocolate Cashew Cranberry Tart.
Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts – A whole section of just holiday pies including all of the traditional options, plus daring recipes like Persimmon Tartlets with Caramel Cream.
Perfect Pie by America’s Test Kitchen – Hundreds of recipes for every imaginable type of pie with beautiful color pictures and step by step instructions. Fig, Cherry and Walnut Tart, Anyone?
Share your thoughts on this topic. Comment below:
Check back on Thursday for a No Spoiler Review of Above the Bay of Angels.
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The best juvenile chapter books for elementary children in first through fifth grade. This list focuses on books about the traditional Thanksgiving celebration and books on being thankful.
Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey by Herman Parish – Hilarity and confusion ensue as Amelia Bedelia attempts to help with the Thanksgiving pageant.
Don’t Be Such Turkey (Katie Kazoo) by Nancy Krulik – Katie gets switched with a Pilgrim during a class Thanksgiving field trip.
It’s Thanksgiving by Jack Prelutsky – Thanksgiving Poems for new readers and their families.
Nate the Great Talks Turkey by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat – How will Nate solve the mystery of the giant turkey?
Thank You Sarah, The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson – A picture books for older kids about the power of persistence and the Thanksgiving Holiday. Great for families to share.
Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Treehouse) by Mary Pope Osborne – Jack and Annie must learn how to celebrate Thanksgiving the old-fashioned way.
Thanksgiving Turkey Trouble (Ready Freddy) by Abby Klein – Nobody wants to be the Turkey in the Thanksgiving play; how will Freddy handle the role?
Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (Junie B Jones, First Grader) by Barbara Park – Being Thankful does not come naturally to the precocious Junie B Jones.
Let's Collaborate! What chapter books do you recommend for Thanksgiving? Comment below:
Check back on Tuesday for a Thanksgiving Cookbooks List.
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The best Thanksgiving picture books to share as a family. This list features books about the traditional Thanksgiving celebration, creating your own traditions, Thanksgiving history and books on being thankful.
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet – The story behind the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson – Friends share a simple feast in this lyrical tale of sharing and thankfulness.
Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules – Everyone celebrates Thanksgiving in their own way, embrace your traditions and your family.
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson – Thanksgiving feast version of the classic rhyme.
Just a Special Thanksgiving (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer – A busy Thanksgiving holiday for Little Critter, a play, parade and dinner for the whole town.
Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anna Dewdney – Thanksgiving is a time to eat and give thanks Llama Llama.
Pete the Cat First Thanksgiving by James Dean – Pete the Cat’s reenactment of the first thanksgiving, followed by a feast.
Ten Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston – A silly turkey-centric rendition of Ten Little Monkeys.
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli – All the big and small things we can be thankful for.
Let's Collaborate! What books do you recommend for Thanksgiving? Comment below:
Check back on Thursday for the best Thanksgiving Chapter Books.
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In case you haven’t noticed, I really love Halloween, I’ve pretty much dedicated this whole month to Halloween posts. Here is a list of creepy books to get you in the Halloween spirit. I have ranked this list from quaint and cozy to, well…Stephen King.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – A gothic setting and an imaginative young heroine make this classic novel a cozy Halloween read.
Discovery of Witches (Series) by Deborah Harkness – Complicated paranormal romance featuring witches, vampires and demons.
Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe – Short poetic stories with wicked twists.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – The original gothic vampire story.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Intriguing tale of horror and revenge.
Passage (Series) by Justin Cronin – Epic tales of survival after a vampire apocalypse.
Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – Four strangers rent a haunted house to study paranormal activity.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King – A terrifying vampire wreaks havoc on small town.
Shining by Stephen King - A family becomes trapped in an isolated haunted hotel and must fight for their survival.
Check back on Tuesday for a review of Haunting of Hill House.
Let’s Collaborate! What is your favorite Halloween read? Comment below:
Fantastic stories featuring witches, vampires and other strange creatures for readers in pre-school through high school. These stories range from fun and sweet to so scary you will be checking closets for monsters!
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds – A fun book about being scared.
Grimelda the Very Messy Witch by Diana Murray – An adorable little witch accidentally cleans up.
Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano – A little square pumpkins saves the day.
Mary McScary by RL Stine – A little girl tries her best to be scary, scary, scary!
Pete the Cat Trick or Treat by James Dean – A spooky flip-the-flap book for little hands.
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson – A very inclusive witch finds room for everyone on her broom.
Bunnicula (Series) by James Howe – A fun series about a bunny vampire?!?
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine – This prolific children’s horror series features every imaginable monster and more.
Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – Beautifully written dark tale of a boy raised in a graveyard.
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz – Classic campfire stories to scare the kids.
Spooksville by Christopher Pike (Series) – Life in a small town with spooky secrets.
Witches by Roald Dahl – A cautionary tale for children living in a dangerous world full of witches.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – A violent ghost story with a hint of romance.
Cirque Du Freak (Series) by Darren Shan – Creepy vampire story that is just right for brave teens.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Series) by Ransom Riggs – Strange supernatural children must fight dangerous villains.
Check back tomorrow for a Halloween Book List for Adults!
Let's Collaborate! What is your favorite Halloween book for young readers? Comment below:
Most elementary schools have switched from celebrating Halloween, to having a book based costumed character day. I have seen parents struggle with the last-minute search to find a terrible movie-to-book adaptation for their previously purchased Halloween costume. Instead of doing that, check out one of these great books with highly recognizable characters and easy to create looks.
These costumes are best for kids in Kindergarten through sixth grade. Most parents will be able to assemble these costumes with items they already own, a trip to the store and very minimal craftiness.
For more in depth DIY instructions please see my previous posts for Dylan the Villain, Fancy Nancy, Pirates Don’t Change Diapers, and Olivia.
Best Characters for Young Girls
Click on the pictures to clear caption
Best Characters for Young Boys
Best Characters for Older Girls
Best Characters for Older Boys
Check back tomorrow for a Kids Haunted Book List!
Let's Collaborate. What costumed character have you dressed up as? Comment below:
Librarians like to joke that if we moved all the banned and challenged books to the “restricted section”, it would be the most popular room in the library. In the spirit of this idea, I have created a list of my favorite banned books and the reasons they were challenged. Please comment below, with your favorites!
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson - Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - Insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon - Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood - Profanity, sexually explicit, religious view point
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - Occult/Satanism
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman - Political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, violence
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Anti-ethnic, anti-family, insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic, violence
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini - Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
Looking for Alaska by John Green - Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - Violence, religious view point, dubious morals
Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner - Challenged for depicting stereotypes of Mexican culture
Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson - Sexual content and offensive language
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - Glorification of drinking, cursing, and premarital sex
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - Offensive language, racism
Let's Collaborate! What is your favorite banned book? Comment below:
In honor of Banned Books Week, I have put together a list of books that illustrate what it is like to live under censorship and oppression. Sometimes it is hard for patrons and parents to understand why librarians are so hesitant to remove “offensive” books from the collection. These books demonstrate the importance of intellectual freedom and what life can be like when you lose it. Some of these books, like Fahrenheit 451, are blatantly about censorship. Others like, The Handmaid's Tale, are about oppression in general with censorship being one of the tools used by the oppressors.
1984 by George Orwell – Dystopian book about the power of propaganda and government-controlled access to information.
Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Stealing and sharing books in Nazi Germany.
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – Hiding in an attic as the book burning Nazis hunt for her and her family.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – Dystopian novel where books are outlawed and burned, reading is considered to be dangerous.
Giver by Lois Lowry – Utopian society where people are only allowed access to “good” information and kept from the hard, ugly truths of reality.
Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood – Fertile women are enslaved to produce children, reading is prohibited.
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – Malala was 15 years old when she was shot in the head by the Taliban for demanding education for girls and women.
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi – An illegal secret book club, reading banned books like, Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby.
Romantic Outlaws by Charlotte Gordon – Biography of Mary Shelly and her mother Mary Wollstonecraft and their struggle for equal rights and education for women.
Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – Two women trapped with an abusive husband by the oppressive laws of the Taliban. Women are specifically banned from education.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore – Graphic Novel about life under a totalitarian government.
Let’s Collaborate! What other titles belong on this list? Comment below:
100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake – Simple and delicious recipes to help people progress toward a more whole food diet.
Back in the Day Bakery by Cheryl Day – Charming cookbook full of decadent desserts, featuring cakes, pies, cookies, custards and more.
Complete Mediterranean Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen – Quick and efficient introduction to the Mediterranean diet with accessible recipes.
Cook Like a Pro by Ina Garten – These recipes are meant to impress, the meals look so complicated, but are actually quite simple to prepare.
Everyday Vegetarian by Cooking Light – Gorgeous layout with beautiful pictures. The recipes can be a bit challenging, but there are plenty of beginner’s options.
Forks Over Knives Cookbook by Del Sroufe – The cookbook to accompany the documentary and book about the benefits of a plant based vegan diet.
Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown – Fresh and healthy recipes that can be prepared for less than $4 per day, per person.
Good Housekeeping Cookbook – Fantastic introduction including kitchen safety and pantry basics. This book has recipes for almost everything you could ever want to cook.
Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living – Organized by season, these simple recipes help you prepare meals with ingredients at their freshest.
How to Boil Water by Food Network – Everything you need to know if you have never cooked before, includes plenty of pictures and illustrations to help you learn the absolute basics.
I Don’t Know How to Cook Book by Mary-Lane Kamberg – Breakfast, lunch and dinner organized by increasing levels of difficulty, this book will teach you how to scramble eggs and make a Sausage Souffle.
Whole 30 By Melissa Hartwig – For those looking to find out if they have food sensitivities.
Lets Collaborate! What are the cookbooks you use or recommend the most? Comment below:
As I transitioned from eating out all the time to learning how to cook, there were early cookbooks that became the foundation for my healthy cooking philosophy.
After unsuccessfully trying to be a lazy cook, I discovered cookbooks on the benefits of whole food diets, full of colorful and delicious meals. I sometimes wonder what my diet might be like today, if I had come across attractive and convincing books on cutting calories or Vegetarianism first.
Instead my cooking journey can be defined by a failed attempt at laziness and a couple of fantastic whole foods cookbooks.
When I first started cooking, I looked for books that required minimum effort, like “One Pot” books. To this day I find this whole “One Pot” genre to be misleading and disappointing. I now understand that “One Pot” just means that the entire meal will be served in one pot, not that you cook everything in one-pot. Since I hate doing dishes, these “One Pot” meals that require three pots to cook make me want to deliver dirty dishes to the author’s doorstep. When you do actually find a one pot meal where everything actually cooks in one pot, the meal usually turns out brown, bland and mushy.
Faced with the unsatisfactory reality of “One Pot” cookbooks, I moved on.
Luckily, I found three amazing cookbooks. These cookbooks guided me to a more healthy lifestyle and have taught me to cook delicious whole foods meals.
Popular books and shows are making people more comfortable with the idea of weeding at the library. Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was released in 2014 and became wildly successful. Her next book, Spark Joy, seemed to be even more popular. She now has a show on Netflix, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which is getting a lot of attention, for being both “how to” and inspirational. People are starting to understand that once you get rid of what you don’t need, it’s easier to find and use what is really important to you.
Here is a list of other books on getting and staying organized:
Let's Collaborate! Do you have a favorite book about staying organized? Comment below!
Best Graphic Novels Starring Girls
Best Graphic Novels Starring Boys
Best Graphic Novels Starring Diverse Characters
Best Graphic Novels Starring Non-Human Characters
Non-Fiction Graphic Novels
Let’s Collaborate! What Graphic Novels have you recommended to reluctant readers? Comment below!
Let's Collaborate! What is your favorite book to recommend to new parents? Comment below!