I spent the week reading again, I’m already up to seven books this month. I seem to be a doing a good job at continuing my pace, so expect more books and more reviews to be up soon.
I haven’t felt well this week, but I’m going to my doctor’s next week for my migraines so hopefully that should help overall. I’ve also had some help with my disability case so I’m working that, I’ll continue get help from the organization I’m working with and my lawyers till my hearing in September so wish me luck.
This week I finished What Stars Are Made of, which is a lovely book that talks about the important of women in STEM and features a protagonist with a disability. I look forward to reviewing this book, it also helped me meet one of my readathon challenges.
I also finished the first Revenge of Magic book, which I’m happy about because I’ve found a new series that I like something I haven’t found in awhile. I haven’t found a long series I liked since Keeper of the Lost Cities.
Finally I read Dark Waters the third book in the Small Spaces trilogy. I just finished it Thursday night and I’m still not over the ending. I kind of need the fourth book to magically appear in my hands. Katherine Arden why?
I also just got my flu shot so I’ll be spending the weekend at home enjoying the after effects. Which mostly means I’ll be here doing post in advance, or reading, or playing the new game I got Cris Tales. I also might be doing some reading sprints for my readathon if there are any going on this weekend.
Hope everyone’s weekend goes well. What are ya’ll reading?
I’m taking part in a Book Tour for the book Foverland sponsered the wonderful folks at Turn the Pages Book Tours. Written by Nicole C. Kear. Foreverland was just released on April 21st 2021, published by Imprint, it’s billed as a Middle Grade it listed under the genres of Contemporary and Adventure. These are two genres I think describe it well though I would have added in a bit of fantasy as some of their adventures are somewhat fantastical.
Margaret is tired of everything always changing. Middle school has gone from bad to worse. Her best friend is becoming a stranger. And her family—well, it’s not even a family anymore.
So Margaret is running away to Foreverland, her favorite amusement park. Hiding out there is trickier than she expects–until she meets Jaime, a thrill-seeking, fast-thinking runaway who teaches Margaret how to stay one step ahead of the captain of security.
At first, this after-hours, all-access pass to the park is a dream come true: sleepovers in the Haunted House, nonstop junk food, and an unlimited ticket to ride. But as the runaways learn each other’s secrets, they must face the reasons they left their normal lives behind. With the Captain closing in and Jaime’s future on the line, can Margaret finally take control?
This book is going to be a hit with the middle-grade set. I mean who wouldn’t want to spend all their time at a theme park, right? Right? That bit of question is where the story lies and it shows just because something is fun for a while, doesn’t always mean it’s fun forever. Just like eating too much ice cream. It will make you sick eventually Change is important in life. But Margaret wants to keep her life static, exactly the way it was before she learned her famialy was changing and middle school became a nightmare.
That puts her on a crash course with Jamie the park’s resident runaway, who makes big plans, has connections that involve burgers and ways to get unlimited rides. At first, Margaret is charmed, but Jamie seems to put the forever, in Foreverland. It’s like he’s been there since the park opened. When she asks about his past it’s like he’s a whole other person. No one can really live at a theme park forever, can they? But he gets Margaret out of trouble with the captain of security who is after Jamie too.
With the magic of the park on their side and a mysterious but prickly ally. They have to find a way to let go of their pasts if they want to move on and save Jamie’s from the Captain, and see that Margaret gets home safe. While this is going on they learn that while some staying in the past feels like the right thing to do, sometimes you have to let go and embrace the future.
Four out of five stars would totally love to read more from the author!
Nicole C. Kear is the author of the memoir Now I See You (St. Martin’s Press), chosen as a Must-Read by People, Amazon, Martha Stewart Living, Parade, Redbook, and Marie Claire UK among others. Her books for children include the middle-grade novel Foreverland, the chapter series The Fix-It Friends, and the middle-grade series The Startup Squad, co-written with Brian Weisfeld (all published by Macmillan Kids’ Imprint). Her essays appear in the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, New York, Psychology Today, Parents, as well as Salon, the Huffington Post and xoJane. She teaches non-fiction writing at Columbia University and the NYU School of Professional Studies.A native of New York, she received a BA from Yale, a MA from Columbia, and a red nose from the San Francisco School of Circus Arts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, three children and two teddy bear hamsters.
Foreverland Giveaway Information
Up for grabs, we have THREE (3) paperback copies of Foreverland by Nicole C. Kear & ONE (1) K’NEX Thrill Rides Shark Attack Roller Coaster Building Set. This giveaway will run from April 26th to May 3rd at 11:59 PM CST and is open to US residents only.
Peppi and Jamie are able to team up despite their differences and not only become friends but save both of their clubs from being disbanded. While they had their ups and downs which was realistic for the age group. Eventually they find that both art and science really aren’t that different all along.
The reason I chose this book is because Peppi and Jamie are able to see through the artifical divides of middle school cliques and and make a true friendships.
These two are an unsual team up considering Sakina thinks Mimi is stuck up at first but eventually the two bond over Mimi teaching Sakina English and Mimi learning about her home culture, they don’t realize they are the answer to each others problems but they slowly become friends and help change as problems come up throughout the book.
The reason I chose this book is because while they may be different eventually they push each other to solve each other’s biggest issues which is what makes them a good team.
Avery and Bett are another pair that hate each other at first, the only reason they come together is to keep their dads apart. But they start working together and realize they make a great team, even if they don’t want to admit it for like a good half of the book.
The reason I chose this book is I also love how their relationship forms natrally, they go from hating each other to being best friends but not in a way that feels forced.
When her circle of friends suddenly shrinks as growing up happens Lora is determined to have fun on her own and not bow to the social pressures and be like everyone else. So one day Lora has a tea party with a supernatural twist that leads to her rediscovering Alexa, the ghost that haunts her house and her old imaginary friend!
I picked this book to show that a team up can’t (and maybe shouldn’t) last forever. These two make a wonderful pair but their goodbye is as poienient as their hello.
Even though Moon and Christine are nothing alike when Moon moves in next door the girls become fast friends. Christine appricates Moons confident and impulsive personality, she’s unlike any person Christine has ever known. The two have fun sharing their favorite music videos and painting their toenails: something Christine’s strict parents don’t allow.
But Moon shares a secret with Christine , she has visions sometimes, of the the celestial beings who speak to her from who reassure her that earth isn’t where where she really belongs.
Can Christine be the Moon needs when her visions turn out to have an all to earthly root and Moon is soon in the hospital fighting for her life?
Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself. One where she can be her authenic Indian self the girl who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food. And the one she is at school where she has to hide her true self. So when another Indian girl Avantika moves to town she thinks she’ll have someone who will understand. And while they don’t always agree, they are together in what they eat and share customs through good times and bad. Lekha understands the role food plays in her life she’s not just Indian or American, and her food reflects that that’s why I chose this book.
Cady’s world is turned upside down when she has to leave her dad because he can’t take care of her. She goes to live with her aunt who own a pie shop where they teach her about making food. Through food, baking especially and trying new foods Cady find a family, a community, new friends and a willingness to try new things. I picked this book especially because of the sense of community Cady gets after living with her aunts.
Food is the central focus of this retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Rajani LaRoca. Mimi’s baking affects the whole family in ways she never expexts and a ‘new’ friend gets helps her get out of a very old trap. Creativity and cooking abound making you want to whip up some donuts while reading. That and the mystery througout the story are the main reasons I chose this book.
This book explores themes of food, friendship, family, and belonging, featuring sixth graders Sara, and Elizabeth, two sixth graders who couldn’t be more different. Sara is having a hard time fitting in at their new shared school after transferring from her small Islamic school that she used to at attend. Meanwhile Elizabeth has her own problems her British mom has been struggling with depression. This book continues to fit into what I think I’ve established here as the cooking middle grade sub-genre.
I pick it one because the food descriptions sounded wonderful and two because it was an interfaith endeavor which is awesome.
Twelve year old Cici loved her life back in Taiwan, especially the time she spent with her grandmother, or A-má. But when her family moves to Seattle so she can have better opportunities she has to leave her grandmother and friends behind. But when her family doesn’t have the money to bring her A-má to the US for her seventy birthday Cici swears she’ll find a way. When she see a local cooking competition she enters for the prize money even if she’s never cooked American food. I chose this book because it focuses on the importance of staying true to yourself no matter what people thing.
I’ll be honest I didn’t think I’d like this as much as Finding Perfect, but Swartz has done it again. I swept though the pages just as quickly as I did with finding perfect, the character are charming and the mental health is handled with a deft hand.
Maggie’s family has always been important to her, she’s coached by her dad at trapshooting, and cheered on by her mom. She visit her grandfather regularly, but her gradmother’s recent death has left a hole in Maggie’s heart and her life. She thinks she can fill it, thinks she can’t, won’t forget like her grandma did if she starts keeping things from her important days like candy wrappers, milk cartons, tassels of her Nana’s favorite scarf all stuffed in cardboard boxes under her bed.
During this time her family decides to take in a foster infant and Maggie loves the baby deeply not wanting her to be adopted and making her hoarding worse. She soon finds herself taking and taking until she spirals out of control, with some help from family and friend she learns love can also mean letting go.
Maggie is a sweet and relatable character with big feelings around her hoarding that are made easy to understand for someone that doesn’t have anybackground in childhood mental health issues. It’s a very approachable book, also I love the fact that Maggie isn’t just her hoarding she’s a very well rounded character. I’d put this in the hands of any kids in upper elementary, lower middle grade. I also like her thearpist and wish all child thearipists in life were that cool (and well dressed) also love the system for Maggie’s recovery they use which I’m pretty sure is actually based on real mental health methods.
Overall I’d give this book 5 stars it another book in my mental health library.
I’m going to have to break blog protocol and talk about how wonderful this book is so SPOILERS AHEAD!
Even if We Break
FIVE friends go to a cabin. FOUR of them are hiding secrets. THREE years of history bind them. TWO are doomed from the start. ONE person wants to end this. NO ONE IS SAFE.
For five friends it was supposed to be one last game. A getaway before everyone went their separate way, a chance to say goodbye. To each other and the the the game they’ve been been playing for the last three years of high school.
But everyone has their their own demons and everyone is hiding secrets. Some of them have reason to be paranoid, but others are hiding secrets that puts the whole group at risk.
Finn doesn’t doesn’t trust anyone since he since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular rich girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it, Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career, the only thing that shaped her life in high school. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations to be the best. Finally Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can at all costs.
But when the line between game and reality start to blur, with deadly consequence
For five friends, this was supposed to be one last getaway before going their separate ways—a chance to say goodbye to each other, and to the game they’ve been playing for the past three years. But they’re all dealing with their own demons, and they’re all hiding secrets.
Finn doesn’t trust anyone since he was attacked a few months ago. Popular girl Liva saw it happen and did nothing to stop it. Maddy was in an accident that destroyed her sports career. Carter is drowning under the weight of his family’s expectations. Ever wants to keep the game going for as long as they can, at all costs.
When the lines between game and reality start to blend with deadly consequences, it’s a race against time before it’s game over—forever.
This novel is amazing, it’s a the way Nijkamp constructed the mystery around the game. Also her construction of the game. You can tell they are an experinced RPG player and perhaps DM. As for the spoilers, who the killer was was such as a surprise. And for who survive they are the people who never survive horror movies and it’s perfect and wonderful and now my standard for horror and thrillers. There was was facing personal demons, there was romance but not too much, there was friendship and disability and queerness and it was near perfect.
Okay for real, it is female pirates being awesome but its so much more. After Caledonia Styx and her best friend, Pisces are the only survivors on a raid on their ship where their families are killed and their brothers are kidnapped by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets. They set their minds for revenge.
Four years later the two have set up a new ship from the ashes of the old one, Caledonia captains the ship while Pisces is second in command. The two have built a crew of women who have also been personally affected by Aric Athair in one way or another. Either losing their families, homes or being former members of his army.
On their ship the Mors Navis, the crew tries to stay alive and take out the Aric’s fleet when they can. But when one attempt to attack some of the vessels in the fleet that make an addictive compound called Silt goes south, Caledonia nearly loses Pises, were it not for the help of a Bullet looking to defect.
Caledonia finds herself at a crossroads, the last time she trusted a Bullet she nearly lost everything but this man may have valuable intelligence that could help the crew of the Mors Navis finally gain an upper hand against Aric.
But Bullets aren’t supposed to be able to come back from being mindless members of Arics army? Are they? If he joins the crew will it break the bonds that Caledonia and the women of the Mors Navis have spent four hard years trying to build?
Why I Dove Right In:
Is it ironic to say I dove right into a book about pirates? I couldn’t help it, the crew was feminist and awesome in so many way, the girls were diverse, even the Oran, the one Caledonia wants to cast in the role of the villian is multi-faceted.
Caledonia finds herself separated from her crew after nearly choosing to face an old foe, instead of running to safety with her crew. After nearly dying, Caledonia is pulled out of the sea barely alive and nursed back to health by the last people she’d expect. A crew of former Bullets who call themselves the Blades.
The Blades escaped Aric Athair’s clutches and are now nomadic, ready to leave when any sign of trouble comes their way. Caledonia herself represents trouble, and some of the Blades particularly one named Pine don’t like that.
But Caledonia makes some friends among the Blades, including Sledge and Triple, each of the Blades have given themselves their own names and prides themselves on having a sense of choice.
But when Caledonia finds out her crew is being held at the infamous Slipmark, she must convince the Blades to jump back into the fight and help rescue her beloved sisters.
Along the way, Caledonia finds out more about life in the Bullet army and just what all is under Aric Athair’s control. She senses a way to start a revolution if she can convince everyone to want to fight.
But the battle for the world of the Bullet Sea maybe even more surprising than Calendonia expected when an old enemy shows up with the last person she’d expect: her brother.
Why I Dove Right In:
This series certainly didn’t suffer from second book syndrome and added a whole new cast of interesting characters you just couldn’t help wanting to get to know, the Blades were especially interesting, but so were Caledonia’s interactions with her sisters.
3) Before I Let Go
Corey and Kyra were inseparable best friend in their tiny town of Lost Creek, Alaska. Corey was always the first one to stand up to support Kyra as she dealt with the struggles that came with her bipolar disorder. But as things get serious with Kyra’s disorder, Corey’s family moves away.
Corey makes Kyra promise to wait for and stay strong during the long dark winter. But just days before Corey comes to visit Kyra dies. Corey is understandably devastated and also confused because Kyra never seemed suicidal.
So Corey comes back to Lost Creek to mourn and try to find out what happened. But Lost Creek isn’t like she remembers. Especially in how they feel about Kyra. The town used to shun her because of her condition now they speak of her reverently, like a prophet and say her death was meant to be be, and push Corey away like a stranger.
The more Corey investigates, and the more Corey asks questions about Kyra and gets stonewalled by the town, the more she is lead to believe that Kyra’s death wasn’t an suicide or an accident, but murder.
But Lost wants to keep its secrets, can Corey learn the truth about Kyra’s death and survive her visit?
Why I Dove Right In:
I love a good mystery, combine that with an ace lead and several other LGBTQIA cast members, you had me hooked right there.
Claire’s father does ghost tours of Chicago, and she wants absolutely nothing to do with them. She’s a scientist and the stuff her dad talks about is just paranormal foolishness, right?
But one night she gets stuck helping her dad with a tour and some of the stuff he’s talking about starts to seem a little too real, she’s ready for the tour to be over and she thinks she’s made it through especially when she see a boy with a sad face and dark eyes at the back of the bus, there is something off about him, especially since at the end of the tour, he’s just gone.
Claire tries to think nothing of it at first, she must be imagining things, letting ghost stories she heard on the tour get the best of her, but then the scratching starts, then the whispers in the dark, the number 396 appearing everywhere she turns, and the boy with the dark eyes starts following her.
Claire realizes she’s being haunted and she’s got to find out what the boy from the bus wants before it’s too late.
Why I Dove Right In:
Because it was creepy, nothing has really scared me since Dead Voices by Katherine Arden until this and I love me some creepy stories, so that’s why I dove right into this book.
A crew of misfits is sent to check out a distress call from a drill team on a distant planet, Achlys. They aren’t the most qualified but they are the closest and all have personal issues that could get them in danger on an already dangerous mission. They are all aboard a ship called The Odyessy and hope to get this work done as fast as they can so they can get back to their normal lives.
They are supposed to perform a standard search-and-rescue mission for Black Quarry, the ship that was having trouble, but it turns out to be anything but when they uncover the remains, both literal and figurative, of a project gone wrong.
They find dead bodies with mysterious symptoms, but it may be too late to stop themselves from getting exposed to this contagion. Is anyone safe from this mysterious contagion, and if they are, what does that make them?
Why I Dove Right In:
You may be saying why did I dive right into to a contagious disease book during the height of the pandemic. I can’t explain it to you. I found it calming.
Thea, Coen and Nova thought they were out of all the danger when they escaped the tidally locked planet Achlys. After all they managed to survive a planet overrun with a virus that got the rest of their crew. But now where they should be safe they find themselves imprisoned on the UPC Paramount.
A rebel group called the Radicals who want freedom from the larger political Union plans to use Thea and Coen as weapons to make supersoldiers. They don’t care they are putting the entire galaxy at risk to do it.
Meanwhile, as Nova wakes up from a coma that was caused by the Radicals a new ally Amber begins to shift to their side, but soon tough choices will have to be made.
Thea, Coen, and Nova don’t know it yet, but there are also larger forces at work, forces that will do anything to make sure Thea is safe, but will it be enough to stop the Radicals?
To stop the Radicals they will have to use the only weapons they have left: themselves.
Why I Dove Right In:
I think for the same reason as above also I got to see the characters get better which was something powerful.
7) The Darkdeep
Timbers is a small Washington State town with not much going on, or so it seems. The only exciting place in Timbers is Still Cove, the off limits place where the mythical creepy Beast lives. The cove is also home to other terrifying legends that no one wants to find out the truth about.
Except Nico Holland doesn’t get a choice, when popular kids send his drone over a cliff, and he ends up accidentally following, his friends Emma and Tyler rush to his rescue, even Opal Walsh who usually runs with the popular kids feels bad about the bullying and runs back to help only to find Nico in this strange situation.
The four soon rescue Nico from the cove’s icy waters and discover a mysterious island hiding in the murky, swirling mists below. Though it appears they are by themselves, something about the island isn’t exactly right.
The group is more suspicious about the island when they find an abandoned houseboat filled with all sorts of abandoned things from old weapons and maps, to mysterious things in jars. But the basement of the boat holds the darkest secret of all.
A pool that can bring to life their imaginings, but there is a price for using it not only can it detect their wishes but it can detect their fears, and before its over they will have to face down their darkest fears to put the ancient evil back in its place.
They will come face to face with unlikely allies to fulfill an ancient promise, but will that be enough to stop the mysterious monsters which are becoming stronger every time they face them.
Will friendship, and ancient magic and belief in themselves be enough to save the town they love?
Why I Dove Right In:
This whole series could literally be on this list, but there is a lot of magic and mystery and danger, which drew me in very quickly.
I’m going to put forward the fact that a lot of these books are good because they are cliffhangers. But some are good for different reasons because they are sweet or the problem gets resolved, I’ll explain why I like the ending with each one. So I will be spoiling endings as such SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!
1)Greystone Secrets #2: The Deceivers
This book is a mystery that will keep you guessing till the very end. After the first book, which I reviewed here both the Greystone kids and Natalie’s moms are trapped in the alternate world.
Everything in the other world is different, like a mirror image only darker, Evil. When their mother tried to fix an accidental kidnapping of kids with the same life details as the Greystone kids, a mix up that was caused by their mother trying to keep them safe. Their mother got trapped along with an ally, and Ms. Morales, Natalie’s mom.
Now the four kids must use all their skills from bravery to kindness to rescue everyone. But to pull of the rescue they have to go back to a world where telling the truth can be illegal and everything is done in code. Chess worries he’s not brave enough to face this other world and Emma wonders if she can crack the codes she needs to get them through this mess, and Finn, well he’s not sure if he can pretend to be okay.
As for Natalie it feels like they jumped to the past not another universe and the world contains some lies she wishes were true, but when faced with the truth will she know what to believe. The second book in this series doesn’t disappoint with the mysteries and the codes.
And examines the power of truth to twist the world.
Why I Liked the Ending:
Okay I need the third book right now. I love the ending because it was a great cliffhanger. You didn’t know who was evil until the end and secrets that were kept in the first book came to light and the fact that they are going back totally rocks! Can’t wait to read number 3!
Natalie’s mother is suffering from depression, and Natalie is suffering too because she doesn’t know how to fix her mom. She has ideas as to why all of this has happened. Her mom is (was) a botanist and got fired, sending her into her depressive state.
Natalie is angry at her dad for trying to pretend everything is okay, and even though she doesn’t want to admit it, she’s angry at her mom, because she feels like she wasn’t good enough, and that if her mom loved her she wouldn’t be depressed.
All this is set against the backdrop of Natalie’s seventh-grade science class. Natalie’s science teacher wants them to find a research question. When Natalie struggles he suggests that she enter an egg drop competition. Natalie is reluctant at first but realizes there is prize money attached and that this might be the solution to fix her mom.
Her mom’s botany work focused on miraculous Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The one they had at their house has died and Natalie is sure seeing the flowers will inspire her mom to want to be an active part of life again.
Natalie’s friend Twig is the first to sign onto the team, soon called Operation Egg, along with a new boy from India named Dari. With their help Natalie might just have a chance of winning the contest and helping her mom, but what happens when things fall apart like broken eggs?
Having friends around to pick up the piece help Natalie learns that talking about things can start her on a journey of healing and that with help. Her family might never put the pieces back the same way, but that they might slowly but surely begin to heal with or without the Cobalt Blue Orchid.
Why I Liked the Ending:
Natalie has been dancing around her mothers depression the whole book, she can’t get a straight answer from her dad. Even though her hunt for the rare flower was really a hunt to get her mom back she got to finally talk to her mom about her mental health in the end and the two managed to regain a bit of a connection.
The central character is Talin, who is a refugee from another nation, she’s also a Striker. A member of an elite force of fighters. They are the last defense for the only nation that has managed to stay free from the the Federation: Mara.
Talin might not be exactly welcome in Mara but she knows first hand to horrors of the Federation, they are a war machine with technology way beyond anything the other nations have, they leave nation after nation at their feet and are the architects of a terrifying army of mutant beast known only as Ghosts.
But when a mysterious prisoner is brought from the front to Mara’s capital, Talin senses there is more to him than he’s letting on. He may be a spy, but she thinks he’s something else and is willing to go toe to toe with her fellow Strikers about it.
But only one thing is clear the Federation is coming for a fight, and Talin is ready to fight to the death alongside her fellow Strikers. But will this new prisoner be the key in saving them all? Or destroying them?
Why I Liked the Ending:
Another cliffhanger that left me literally googling the release date for the next book the minute I finished spoiler alert it’s still like 10 months away. But seriously the cliffhanger was killer, killer.
Mia thinks she’s going to have the best year ever. She and her parents are finally out from under the thumb of the controlling Mr. Yao and get to run the Calivista Motel the way they see fit, which includes helping out immigrants.
She also gets to run the front desk with her best friend Lupe, and she’s finally getting somewhere with her writing. But sixth grade it turns out isn’t exactly what she expected. It’s an election year and her teacher openly supports the anti-immigrant candidate who is running to the point she asks them to write about things like why immigration is bad.
Plus the teacher doesn’t think her writing is all that great, and unlike her teacher last year she finds herself receiving Cs instead of the As she thinks she rightly deserves.
But school isn’t Mia’s only problem, she’s a businesswoman too and the motel is struggling, in part because they are helping immigrants. The investors are threatening to pull back and sell their shares if Mia doesn’t do something, but Mia doesn’t want to give up on her values.
Especially with a new immigration law that is looming that if it passes will threaten the everything and everyone in Mia’s life.
5) Measuring Up
Twelve year old Cici loved her life back in Taiwan, especially the time she spent with her grandmother, or A-má. But when her family moves to Seattle so she can have better opportunities she has to leave her grandmother and friend behind.
It’s difficult and she has the usual problems fitting in at school, she quickly makes friends. Though she’s not sure how much of her Taiwanese life to show them.
Now she only needs one thing to make her happy being with her A-má on her seventieth birthday. It doesn’t seem possible. It’s too much money for them all to visit her, but Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There is just one problem Cici only knows how to cook the Taiwanese food she learned with her grandmother.
But after her pickled cucumber is mocked at lunch she is determinted to learn to cook the American way by channeling her inner Juila Child? Through cooking can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite A-má, while also showing both sides of her new self.
This is Lily LaMotte’s debut graphic novel.
Illustrator An Xu an Ignatz-nominated cartoonist and illustrator working in Baltimore.
Why I Liked the Ending:
Because it showed the importance of not giving up, I also loved seeing the friendship between the two girls and the mixing of the cultures.
6) The Henna Wars
TW: Being Outed
Nishat was ready to come out to her family, or so she though, she wasn’t ready however for being iced out, being barely spoken to or being spoken about. She want to keep her family but she doesn’t want to hide who she is, and if the thought things were a problem when she was a lesbian theoretically. When childhood best friend Flávia walks back into her life and her school she falls for her instantly.
But things seem to get all tangled up, especially when Flávia and Nishat both decide to compete to showcase their talents as henna artists in a school competition to make your own business. Nishat calls cultural appropriation, Flávia doesn’t buy it. It doesn’t help that Flávia cousin is Nishat’s arch rival who has made fun of her for years.
But even as they claim to hate each other they can’t seem to break their connection. And when someone outs Nishat and Flávia each must make their own choices about whether their potential relationship will work out or whether they will let things fade to rumors.
Will Nishat go back in the closet to please her family, will Flávia fight for the girl she likes?
Why I Liked the Ending:
Cute ending where the girl gets the girl and her family is supportive, come on you all, this had to make the list.
Your TBR got away from you, but there were a couple of books you wish you could have added to your read list before the end of the year. For me a lot of these were due to not having access to my regular library due to COVID, but I’ll find some way to get to them in the next year!
1) Miss Meteor
I know people are going to make comparisons to Dumplin for this but I think it’s going to have it own different charm. This is another book that I’ve been waiting to come out since I heard about it on Twitter as well. It’s also a collaboration between two previously successful YA authors.
Two girls are looking to break the mold for the Miss Meteor beauty pageant, after all no one who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla has won in it’s entire history.
But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest and her ex-best friend Chicky want to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect it’s about being genuine and sharing who you are with the world-and being comfortable with parts of yourself no one else understands.
But to pull off this unlikely underdog story, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and prove that girls like them are more than enough, they are everything.
Cleo Porter and the Body Electric is especially timely considering the COVID-19 pandemic. In the book, humanity was almost wiped out by a pandemic. The solution, everyone lives in sealed units with no windows or doors, their food is dropped off by drones. They never get visitors. But they are safe. Safe from everything.
The trade off? They’re alone. So when they get a package clearly meant for someone else, a package that contains a substance critical for the strangers survival.
Cleo has a dilemma on her hands. As a surgeon in training she knows the clock is ticking on this woman’s survival. But people don’t leave their unit. Not ever
There is a cute sub-genre of middle grade fiction that I like to call cute food fiction. Think of Summer of 1000 Pies, Midsummer Mayhem, books where food is the focus and the plot happens around it. I always find them to be especially cute, and I think this one will fall onto the list.
Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth couldn’t be more different. Sara is Pakistani American and used to her small Islamic school, only this year she’s attending a newer bigger school. Elizabeth has her own problems, who is white and Jewish, has her own problems, like her mom struggling with depression.
The girls meet in an after school South Asian cooking class Elizabeth picked up the class because her mother stopped cooking. Sara is only there because she has to be, after all her mom is the teacher, but Sara hates to cook.
The two girls slowly become friends and come up with a plan to make an amazing cross cultural dish together, that will win them a spot on a local food show. The question is, they make good cooking partners, but can they be true friends?
I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since the beginning of the year. For one thing it looks cute as heck, and for two the young witch reminds me of myself.
Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of novice witch before her thirteenth birthday. If she doesn’t she’ll lose her magic forever. For most witches and wizards it’s a simple enough test. It has three steps.
One: Help your town, do good all around. Two: Live there for one moon, don’t leave too soon. Three: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.
Eva has a problem though, she’s not exactly as magical as she would like and when her magic does work, it’s not always in the way she plans. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers, and gets sunburn instead of calling down rain. The worst of it, when she uses too much magic she falls asleep.
When she lands in the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, she’s not what the residents are expecting. But she’s determined to prove herself. So she sets up a magical repair shop to aid the citizens of the town, she may only be semi-magical but her fixes help the townspeople in ways they could have never imagined.
The only problem is Eva’s bit of magic might not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love. She must use all her magic, bravery and cleverness, if she wants to have any chance at saving Auteri or becoming a witch.
The plot focuses on twelve year old Alma who recently moved to the town of Four Points, since being there she’s been having panic attacks that haven’t stopped. Even though she’s told her parents they have, feeling homesick and friendless, every day she feels less and less like herself.
But things change when she finds a telescope in the town’s junk shop and Alma watches a star that looks like a child fall from the sky an into her backyard. Knowing what it’s like to be lost and afraid, she knows it’s up to her to save the star. But she’ll have to enlist some new friends from the Astronomy Club.
As Alma finds a way home for the star she sets out on a quest that will take a some science, magic and her whole heart.
In short the reason I like the series so much is Aster defies gender norms and that makes him the hero. I also love Aster’s friends who also don’t let gender norms or their past get to them. This series is I think about forging your own path and it’s beautiful and great and queer and that’s why it’s so important.