Posted in backlog reviews, Recommendations, Reviews

Making Friends Review

Making Friends is a very cute graphic novel for the middle grade set about a Danielle, who is having issues with friendship ever since she got got to middle school.

Summary

Danielle needs a perfect friend, but sometimes making (or creating) one is a lot easier than keeping one!

Sixth grade was SO much easier for Dany. All her friends were in the same room and she knew exactly what to expect out of life. Now that she’s in seventh grade, she’s in a new middle school, her friends are in different classes and forming new cliques, and she is totally, completely lost. What Dany really needs is a new best friend! So when she inherits a magic sketchbook from her eccentric great-aunt in which anything she sketches in it comes to life, she draws Madison, the most amazing, perfect, and awesome best friend ever.

The thing is, even when you create a best friend, there’s no guarantee they’ll always be your best friend. Especially when they discover they’ve been created with magic! And this isn’t the only problem magic causes Dany is going to need all the friends she can get to save her school and her friends from a sketch gone wrong.

Amazon: Making Friends

Review

This is a really cute book you can understand Dany’s troubles whatever age you are, given the power of a magic sketchbook. It would be hard to limit yourself on this power. I love some of the group of friends Dany makes along the way and the conflict between Dany and her newly created friend who has to establish herself away from Dany. It’s a good example of boundaries and independence which is always good when show in work for this age group. I like the fact that the group in the end can be interdependent but no co-dependent. Also the Sailor Moon/She-Ra-eque fight at the end was lovely and that’s the kind of content I need in my life. Very good graphic novel, can’t wait to read the rest in the series. 5/5

Posted in new releases, Recommendations, Reviews

Salaam with Love Review

Now I’m going to preface this with the fact that I’m not Muslim so any errors I make are my own. But I love halal romance just because as an ace person I know I’m less likely to encounter things that are triggering. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the plots as well and learning and apricating Muslim culture. I really liked Salaam, with Love especially do to the sweetness of the romance between the two leads.

Salaam, with Love by [Sara Sharaf Beg]

Summary

Being crammed into a house in Queens with her cousins is not how Dua envisions her trip to New York City. But here she is, spending the holy month of Ramadan with extended family she hasn’t seen in years.
 
Dua struggles to find her place in the conservative household and to connect with her aloof, engaged-to-be-married cousin, Mahnoor. And as if fasting the whole day wasn’t tiring enough, she must battle her hormones whenever she sees Hassan, the cute drummer in a Muslim band who has a habit of showing up at her most awkward moments.
 
After just a month, Dua is surprised to find that she’s learning a lot more than she bargained for about her faith, relationships, her place in the world—and cute drummers. . . 

Review of Salaam, with Love

I’m going to say I love halal fiction and here’s why, being ace I know it’s safe to read. I know it’s not meant for me, however I appreciate it none the less. Because I don’t dislike romance I just dislike how showy most YA is.

Now as for the story it is lovely, it deals with important issues but it like Islamophobia but it mostly focuses on a normal family during Ramadan and one girl trying to connect with Allah.

Dua’s faith is the thread that connects everything in this book. Which makes sense because the book is about Ramadan. She often questions her feeling for Hassan because she thinks she shouldn’t be focusing on romance during Ramadan.

I also like that Hassan and Dua’s romance comes about naturally. As someone who reads a lot of non-halal YA it was nice to see the characters who are not just in your face about romance especially the men.

I really loved the respect and care Dua and Hassan showed each other. And the last scene is pure cuteness another a plus from a new to me author who I will surely be watching for more.

Come back tomorrow for my Chopped Romance Dinner TBR!

Amazon: Salaam, with Love

Posted in Author Recommendations, new releases, Reviews

Girl in the Lake Review

The Girl in the Lake was a great piece of middle grade horror as I would expect from India Hill Brown. I loved the Forgotten Girl and was excited when I saw this book, I hadn’t known Brown was coming out with a new book, so this was a delightful suprise.

The Girl in the Lake by [India Hill Brown]

Summary

Celeste knows she should be excited to spend two weeks at her grandparents’ lake house with her brother, Owen, and their cousins Capri and Daisy, but she’s not.

Bugs, bad cell reception, and the dark waters of the lake… no thanks. On top of that, she just failed her swim test and hates being in the water—it’s terrifying. But her grandparents are strong believers in their family knowing how to swim, especially having grown up during a time of segregation at public pools.

And soon strange things start happening—the sound of footsteps overhead late at night. A flickering light in the attic window. And Celete’s cousins start accusing her of pranking them when she’s been no where near them!

Things at the old house only get spookier until one evening when Celeste looks in the steamy mirror after a shower and sees her face, but twisted, different…

Who is the girl in the mirror? And what does she want?

Review of The Girl in the Lake

India Hill Brown hit it out of the ball park again. I was 3/4 through the book and couldn’t figure out how they were going to resolve the problem with the ghost. The pacing was excellent, a reader would be scared up until near the end. If you have a middle grader who likes creepy books this is definitely headed in the right direction. I especially love the elements of Black history Brown always brings into her books, so if you want a horror story by a BIPOC, this is the one for you.

Amazon: The Girl in the Lake

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized

Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero

I don’t think I have to tell anyone now I’m a fan of Saadia Faruqi’s stories. But I found Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero especially timely. I was about two years younger than Yusuf’s uncle when 9/11 happened but I had the white privilege to not be aware of it, plus I had raging untreated mental illness at the time.

However everything did change after 9/11 just something in the atmosphere. Most older millennials I think see it as the end of our childhood, the carefree atmosphere of the 90s we grew up with as false as it may have been just never returned. I think Faruqi does a good job express this when the adults are asked in the story about 9/11, its like everything has changed in 20 years but nothing has changed at all.

Yusuf Azeem is not a Hero

Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by [Saadia Faruqi]

Summary

Yusuf Azeem has spent all his life in the small town of Frey, Texas—and nearly that long waiting for the chance to participate in the regional robotics competition, which he just knows he can win.

Only, this year is going to be more difficult than he thought. Because this year is the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an anniversary that has everyone in his Muslim community on edge.

With “Never Forget” banners everywhere and a hostile group of townspeople protesting the new mosque, Yusuf realizes that the country’s anger from two decades ago hasn’t gone away. Can he hold onto his joy—and his friendships—in the face of heartache and prejudice?

Review

This is a great book for teaching kids about 9/11 and delving somewhat into the divided atmosphere inspired by Trump extremism. The Patriot Sons could just has easily have been the Proud Boys, and knowing that this was inspired by a real event saddens but doesn’t surprise me. I’m sure things like this are taking place all over the US right now. I just hope some of them have the same results as in the book. Finally I learned a lot about robotics reading the book, it’s amazing what can be done. I’d be really interested to learn more about that subject. Overall though it was a great and unfortunately timely book. Great work from Faruqi as always.

Amazon: Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero

Posted in backlog reviews, Reviews

What Stars Are Made Of: Backlog Review

So I read a lot in 2021 but I wasn’t good at keeping up with reviews after I read like I had been in previous years. What Stars are Made of was one of those books. I read lots of #OwnVoices books by disabled authors the disability written about in this book is written about in one other book I know about the Silver Gate but in the Silver Gate the author isn’t #OwnVoices.

What Stars are Made Of

Summary

Twelve-year-old Libby Monroe is great at science, being optimistic, and talking to her famous, accomplished friends (okay, maybe that last one is only in her head). She’s not great at playing piano, sitting still, or figuring out how to say the right thing at the right time in real life. Libby was born with Turner Syndrome, and that makes some things hard. But she has lots of people who love her, and that makes her pretty lucky.

When her big sister Nonny tells her she’s pregnant, Libby is thrilled―but worried. Nonny and her husband are in a financial black hole, and Libby knows that babies aren’t always born healthy. So she strikes a deal with the universe: She’ll enter a contest with a project about Cecelia Payne, the first person to discover what stars are made of. If she wins the grand prize and gives all that money to Nonny’s family, then the baby will be perfect. Does she have what it takes to care for the sister that has always cared for her? And what will it take for the universe to notice?

Review

I think this book was primarily written to encourage young girls with being newly diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome and their parents. And that’s okay! It does its job very well, Libby is a smart, funny, encouraging protagonist who is used to her condition and could help someone who is newly diagnosed be less scared. It could also help them maybe be more at peace with some of their symptoms. I’m also always a fan of where people with different conditions get their own books. I also like all the information about female scientist Cecelia Payne that Libby researches throughout the book, and her final project is wonderful. Finally I like the conversation between her and Nonny about the baby.

Overall this was a great book, I love a #OwnVoice book by a disabled writer and always want to see more of those.

Posted in backlog reviews, Recommendations, Reviews

Powerful Black Mermaid: Skin of the Sea Review

Skin of the Sea was a great book. So good I want to hand it out to friends as Christmas presents, Also that cliffhanger at the end was just plain cruel, so I can’t wait for 2022 when the second book arrives. I normally love a book where the main character is a mermaid but this book just took it to a whole new level.

Skin of the Sea by [Natasha Bowen]

Summary

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata—a mermaid—collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.
 
But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi goes against an ancient decree and does the unthinkable—she saves his life. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy the gods.
 
To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But all is not as it seems. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail . . .
 
Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she fails, she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

Review

TW: Vivid descriptions of people on slave ships, injuries from slave ships. Vivid descriptions of someone being captured for the slave trade

Simi is a great heroine she’s willing to stand up to the Orisha Yemoja or goddess who turned her into a mermaid when it comes to the idea of sinking slave ships of saving Kola, the boy she found who was drowning but alive, she is fiercely loyal, to Yemoja and to Kola and his group of friends once she gets close to them, and she isn’t willing to stop until her mission is done even if she butts heads with Kola from time to time. Even though she’s a mermaid her humanity is a defining characteristic, she misses being human and it influences her choices.

I really love that she’s willing to make hard choices for her friends and the other Mami Wata even at her own expense. I also love the West African mythology and information about different rituals which I hope to hear more about in Book 2. It was very informative and made me want to read some of Bowen’s sources which she lists at the end of the book. Overall this was one of the best books I read this year. It was was well researched and beautifully written. More Simi and her friends as soon as possible please.

Amazon: Skin of the Sea

Posted in Reviews

Dead City Review

I wish I’d seen this book around Halloween its very cute and has a Ghostbuster’s kind of feel. Dead City is the first in a trilogy in a same name by James Ponti who seems to be better known for his City Spies work, and while I also love City Spies, I think this is a very charming series as well.

Dead City

Dead City by [James Ponti]

Summary

Most kids have enough to deal with between school, homework, extracurricular activities, and friends, but Molly Bigelow isn’t your typical tween. By day, Molly attends MIST—the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology—but it’s what she’s learning outside of school that sets her apart from her classmates. Molly is a zombie hunter, just like her mother.

This, however, is news to Molly. Now she must come to terms with not only the idea that zombies exist, but also that they’re everywhere, and it’s her job to help police them and keep the peace. Sure, she’d like to be a regular kid, but “regular” just isn’t possible when it turns out the most revered (or feared, depending on your perspective) zombie hunter in the history of New York City is your mother. It seems Molly’s got some legendary footsteps to follow…

Review

Even though I saw the twist ending from midway through the book I still loved it so much. The Levels on the Zombies were great too, Level 1’s just want to live like normal people, Level 2’s are dangerous because they don’t have a soul. And Level 3’s are more like your class movie zombies and can’t pass as human. All of them must go back to a place called Dead City at least once a day where a rock that was revealed by the original 13 zombies and keeps them alive allows them to charge.

In the shadows in charge of the whole operation is Marek, one of the original 13 zombies who they call the Unlucky 13 Marek is a Level 2, and is a great villain, I mean the fact that he has no soul really helps the matter, but he plays up the villain part with style. You want to be afraid of him not just because he evil, which he is, but because he’s smart too. Ponti did a great job with his character. Anyway I always like well written believable villain especially in middle grade work so I just to point out Ponti’s success.

As for our heroes, they are a really fun bunch I like their bond as a team and Molly is really looking for a place to be herself and the team, just ups her self-esteem and gives her a real purpose. Fitting in as an Omega, one of the force charged with being kind of a go between when it comes to Zombies and humans. She finds her place along with her teammates securing the undead. But when Molly does something wrong is her team benched forever?

Amazon: Dead City

Posted in Reviews

Vespertine Review

Vespertine is a great book, it’s got dark humor, heart, and a heroine I’d even wager to say is neurodiverse. That is just my pot shot theory but I’ll explain more I think this in my review. Before that the book:

Vespertine by [Margaret Rogerson]

Summary

The dead of Loraille do not rest.

Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.

When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.

As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.

Review

This book’s heroine is great. She likes animals better than people and would rather stay in her nunnery working with dead bodies. Okay some of her past may have made her dislike people I can get that, but the reason I think she’s neurodiverse is because she pretty much has a sensory overload in the market when she leaves nunnery after the battle. And she admits to the revenant she doesn’t know how to take care of herself and some of that is because of her possession but I don’t know is all of it.

But while I cant prove if Artemisia is neurodiverent one way or the other. I can say that she and the Revenant make a hilarious and powerful team. The Revenant makes the wisecrack everyone wants to say, but ultimately cares about Artemisia. Artemisia becomes braver as the quest goes on and with the help of the Revenant, by the end of the book she is much more confident about herself. Anyway I loved the world and the detail of the religious order and the relics. 5 star book totally.

Amazon: Vespertine

Posted in Recommendations, Reviews

Luminous Review

I just finished Luminous yesterday and it was a great read, a interesting magic system. High stakes, likable main characters that grew throughout the book, evil villain with layers, and good resolution. It’s definitely one of my favorite books of the year because of the storyline.

Luminous

Luminous by [Mara Rutherford]

Summary

From the author of Crown of Coral and Pearl comes an immersive new fantasy about a witch who must learn to harness her power—or risk losing her loved ones forever.

Liora has spent her life in hiding, knowing discovery could mean falling prey to the king’s warlock, Darius, who uses mages’ magic to grow his own power. But when her worst nightmare comes to pass, Darius doesn’t take her. Instead, he demands that her younger sister return to the capital with him. To make matters worse, Evran, Liora’s childhood friend and the only one who knows her secret, goes missing following Darius’s visit, leaving her without anyone to turn to.

To find Evran and to save her sister, Liora must embrace the power she has always feared. But the greatest danger she’ll face is yet to come, for Darius has plans in motion that will cause the world to fall into chaos—and Liora and Evran may be the only ones who can stop him.

Review

The author makes a lush and unique fantasy world that I want to spend time in as a reader, not as person because there is a evil leader going on but there are interesting characters I want get to know and that I do get to spend time with throughout the book and get to watch them grow and change. Even the villain, who is evil, isn’t one dimensional.

I also love Liora’s powers, they aren’t like anything I’ve seen in other books, so I have to give Mara Rutherford points for creativity. Everan’s powers are pretty unusual to so it’s nice to see something other than stock powers in a book.

I also love Everan’s mom and her power, and even the villain’s power is interesting, what I think I’m saying is really like the magical system.

You should totally read Luminous it’s a 5 star read and even though it wasn’t a quick read I really enjoyed it.

Amazon: Luminous

Posted in new releases, Reviews

Manu Review

So I’ve actually gotten out of my reading slump, I may not hit 100 like I hoped for this year but I think I’m going to get past what I read last year which is promising one of the books that helped me out of the reading slump was this cute graphic novel Manu!

Manu Summary

A funny and heartwarming middle-grade graphic novel adventure about friendship, defying expectations, and finding your place. Manu and her best friend, Josefina, live at a magical school for girls, and She is always getting into trouble. The headmistress believes that Manu has the potential to help people with her magic, but Manu would rather have fun than fall in line. One day, a prank goes seriously wrong, and Josefina gets angry and wishes for her’s magic to disappear… and it does. She uses a dangerous spell to restore it, but it makes her magic too powerful and nearly impossible to control. Great power comes at a cost, and it may be a price that she isn’t able to pay!

Review

You know I’m a fan of the magical all girls school trope, because I would have loved to go to one, however I feel like I would have probably been like Manu she’s great with jokes and pranks and very magically talented however people, not so much. She can’t seem to get on with the other girls because of her pranks and after one serious prank, her one friend Josefina, wishes she didn’t have powers and Manu finds herself cursed, and ends up having to wear a stinky solution so she can use magic. When she finds a way to bring back her magic it’s too tempting even though she knows she probably shouldn’t be messing with that level of magic, when it overtakes her will Josefina and be able to save her friend.

The relationship between Manu and Josefina is the heart of the story. I also really like the relationship between Manu and the nuns, who know about her true nature, and who help guide her with her powers. Overall this is just a great book with a lovely surprise at the end.

Amazon: Manu