Tag Archives: Jewel Parker Rhodes

Top Ten Books of the Decade

In just a few days, not only will there be a new year, but a whole new decade! It still feels like yesterday I was questioning my life choices as an english major and if I was genuinely happy in that degree program where I was actually reading a lot less than I thought I would be. So here is a top ten list of books I enjoyed published between 2010 and 2019! I am applying a rule where I can’t repeat books from a franchise (as in I can only pick one book from the Star Wars Franchise). There is no particular order for this list, I am just picking ten books I enjoyed from the last decade.

  • Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan- I admit I was aware of this book for a few years before the release of the film, but for whatever reason didn’t read it until after I saw the film. I think the books are hilarious and the description of the food was so wonderful that it made me want to go bankrupt flying to Singapore just for the sake of eating.
  • The Lunar Chronicles by Merissa Meyer- As a young adult in the first half of the 2010s most of my reading was associated with sagas (we can blame Harry Potter and Twilight); it got to the point that when the Hunger Games was being adapted for films I just got tired of reading books with a mandatory sequel. Then came The Lunar Chronicles, I loved Cinder and was shocked at how fast I read through the first three books on my ereader. It’s also the series that jump started this little blog where I review books and movies!
  • Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- I gotta say that after I read The Fault in Our Stars I was interested in what else was written by John Green, and saw that I was very disappointed with what he had previously written. A friend suggested I read Will Grayson Will Grayson with him saying “oh you’ll see why you will like it.” and I was shocked to discover that it is an lgbt story that didn’t focus on the “coming out” plot that I loath so much. It was a story about relationships and how love is more complicated than just being attracted to someone and goes beyond the romantic love people insist on so heavily in life.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (and NOT JK Rowling)- I actually didn’t read this book until a few months ago despite owning the book since 2013 since like many after it was revealed JK Rowling had written a book under our noses I rushed over to Target and purchased a copy. In an effort to get back into reading again and fight the mental effect of grief I read the book, and liked it alot! Enough to read The Silkworm and currently read Career of Evil.
  • All the Wrong Questions by Daniel Handler- I loved reading A Series of Unfortunate Events as a teenager; the books were dark and comedic and just fit in so perfectly with my worldview. Reading the prequel series was mostly nostalgic for me and something I enjoyed heavily.
  • The Reason by Lacey Sturm- What a friend of mine thought was a ‘christian self help book’ when I was reading it turned out to be a book I liked (no it’s not a self help book. I don’t like self help books.) It was interesting to know what kind of life the former singer of Flyleaf lived and what led her to this point in life.
  • Glory O’Brian’s History of the Future by A.S. King- I have complaints about YA books at times; why must there be a love triangle, why must the protagonist need to find someone to love? Why is everything solved by money? Well this book addresses all of those complaints. It’s a story about friendship and fear of what the future has (it’s what was a ridiculous sounding future in 2014, until now where all kinds of crazy political things are happening in the U.S.)
  • Falling Towers by Jewell Parker Rhodes- I can’t exactly pinpoint exactly what I like about this book specifically; but I like that the protagonists place effort to get along with others despite different backgrounds in terms of culture, economic, and racial background.
  • Touched by an Angel by Jonathan Morris- I got into Doctor Who early 2012 and have been in love with the series ever since. I normally avoid expanded universe books for franchises because they are a hit or miss so I was delighted to see that this book wasn’t horribly bad (don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of crappy Doctor Who books out there and that’s an essay I’m saving for when I decide to end this blog.)
  • Whatever Mindy Kaling wrote- prior to a few years ago I avoided Autobiographical books because I don’t like knowing about traumatic events that happen to people, then I discovered there was more to these autobiographies written by female actresses and comedians beyond “woo feminism!” (Nothing against feminism, feminism is awesome.) Reading this book was hilarious and caused me to read similar books by Amy Pohler and Tina Fey.

And that’s it! A list of books I liked written in the past decade! No that doesn’t mean these are the end all be all best of the best from the 2010s, but they are the books that I did enjoy. What books did you like published the last ten years? Is there one you think I should have read? Do you disagree with anything I have on this list? Do you want to throw a chair at me? Comment below if you do.

Towers Falling Review

Towers Falling follows the first semester of eleven year old Deja as she begins a new school year at a new school in New York City. She becomes friends with classmates Sabeen and Ben and the three grow strong bonds despite being of different race, religion, and social class and have these bonds grow stronger while learning of the events of September Eleventh and how this tragedy strengthened their bond.

Spoilers from this point forward.

The book starts off with Deja narrating her life and her responsibilities in life despite being only eleven years old. Deja and her family recently moved into a homeless shelter with little to nothing to claim to their name with her mother working during the day and her father suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When Deja begins fifth grade she feels out of place because she is of lower income than the rest of her classmates.

She meets Sabeen whom she finds too friendly and befriends a classmate Ben. Over the course of the novel the three classmates become close friends. I actually like that Jewel Parker Rhodes chose to have Deja, Ben, and Sabeen be from different races and social classes and have the three characters bond despite these differences.

Sabeen comes from a higher income family and is very kindhearted and friendly to many people because of the American ideology of welcoming all people regardless of social class, race, or religion and because of her own Muslim faith. Ben is the more reserved of the three from Arizona who has a dad in the military who is divorcing his mother.

Because of a school assignment the three friends bond over the events of September Eleventh; Deja is out of the loop concerning September Eleventh due to her family choosing not to speak of the day with Sabeen feeling very sensitive about the subject due to her own religion. Ben on the other hand is very knowledgeable of the subject due to his father being a veteran from The War on Terror.

Choosing to have all three characters born post September Eleventh was an interesting choice by the author since it’s a clean slate for them to have no trauma from the events of the day. Ben is the only character to have seen footage of the actual day with Sabeen only knowing about the events of the day due to her family explaining to her about what happened and why she’s occasionally discriminated against because of it.

Deja’s world begins to turn around for both better and worse after seeing video footage of the day for the first time and asking her parents about the day and discovering the day is heavily connected to her father’s PTSD.

I very much enjoyed the book event though I didn’t realize the book was for a younger YA audience when I bought it, it treats it’s target audience with respect that isn’t seen too often in younger YA novels. I will admit there were times the writing style got on my nerves, but I had to remember it’s written from the perspective of Deja who even though is very intelligent, isn’t doing as well as she can in school due to lack of resources in her home life.

I’d say Sabeen was my favorite character who was genuinely kind for the sake of being kind rather than “I’ll just be friends with the new kids because they’re new”. I was a little disappointed Sabeen wasn’t present for the climax of the novel.

I felt the climax of the novel was very touching and glad to see that the actions taken by Deja and Ben were not met with anger and punishment from their parents, but with love and understanding and how these actions led to Deja’s father beginning the slow recovery from his PTSD.

There are strong themes of connection between people in general beyond family relations extending to friendships, social units, coworkers, classmates, and even just regularly seeing a person on a daily basis. A strong message of bringing and finding joy and beauty in life after a tragedy is present along with these themes.

I give Towers Falling by Jewel Parker Rhodes four out of five pretty scarves.