Posted in Recommendations, Reviews, YARC

Teenager Wren Stories of Markup and Secrets

Summary

Twelve-year-old Wren loves makeup—special effect makeup, to be exact. When she is experimenting with new looks, she can create a different version of herself. A girl who isn’t in a sort-of-best friendship with someone who seems like she hates her. A girl whose parents aren’t divorced and doesn’t have to learn to like her new stepmom.

So, when Wren and her mom move to a new town for a fresh start, she is cautiously optimistic. And things seem to fall into place when Wren meets potential friends and gets selected as the makeup artist for her school’s upcoming production of Wicked.

Only, her mom isn’t doing so well. She’s taking a lot of naps, starts snapping at Wren for no reason, and always seems to be sick. And what’s worse, Wren keeps getting hints that things aren’t going well at her new job at the hospital, where her mom is a nurse. And after an opening night disaster leads to a heartbreaking discovery, Wren realizes that her mother has a serious problem—a problem that can’t be wiped away or covered up.

After all the progress she’s made, can she start over again with her devastating new normal? And will she ever be able to heal the broken trust with her mom?

Violets are Blue Summary

This was a sweet story about a girl trying to fit in, in a new place while also trying to deal with some serious issues, she’s torn between her parents, especially because her mom doesn’t want to hear about her dad or his new life. Also her mom’s problems which she can’t name but certainly senses throughtout the book. she may not know exactly what is wrong but she knows something is wrong and tries to fix it, but also being a kid find herself getting lost in the online special effects makeup world because all this really is too much for someone her age.

Amazon: Violets are Blue

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Challenges, YARC

Eight Ladies Dancing: 8 Best Female Character

I will warn you in explaining why I like the characters I have to SPOIL THE BOOKS. If you have an issue with that please turn around now they are all great books and great characters again.

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1)Jameela Mirza

In Hena Khan’s take on Little Women Jameela is the Jo like character. I particularly like her attitude when it comes to facing challenges. You can see there is a kernel of Jo’s personality in there but Jameela is all her own, Hena Khan as always does a great job working in faith and culture and how important it is to her characters and she did the same with Jameela. I think my favorite thing about Jameela is her interactions with her sisters.

(Jameela is I believe supposed to be pictured in the plaid shirt)

2)Molly Nathans

I like Molly because she is one of the best portrayals of OCD that I’ve read, she’s honest and her rituals mean a lot to her. There is a lot riding on other people not finding out about her rituals. This book is important for teens with OCD, it shows her not being able to keep up with her rituals and her eventual breakdown, it also shows her getting help and being supported by her family, therapists and friends. I think her story is important because there are a lot of teens with OCD who need to read that they aren’t alone.

3)Aventurine

I like Aventurine because she breaks traditions both human and dragon. She sets her own path in life plus her refusal to give up even after being turned down by the two best chocolate houses in town show her fighting spirt. Finally once she get to be family with The Chocolate Heart her fierce protection of it is admirable. Plus who doesn’t support someone whose main interest in life is chocolate?

(Aventurine is pictured on the cover)

4)Mimi Mackson

Do I like heroines obsessed with baking? Maybe, but Mimi is smart she see’s past a spell meant for her, rescues her family, and outsmarts an immortal being. The fact that she’s also an awesome baker, I mean that’s just props to her.

(Mimi is pictured on the front cover)

5)Mia Tang

Mia was strong in the first novel, Front Desk securing the Calavista motel from the corrupt Mr. Yang. But thing novel finds her digging deeper having to help her found family when they are nearly torn apart after a racist law and racist politician come up for Governor, Mia sticks to her values, and makes sure immigrants know they are welcome at the Calavisita and that’s what makes her one of the best female characters I’ve read this year.

6)Edie

I loved Edie journey to understand who she is and where she fits. She’s strong and even though she doesn’t understand exactly what is missing at the beginning of the book she still knows there is something about herself she can’t define. Once she finds out about her grandmother, she has questions for her family and who how she fits in. But she doesn’t back down, when she finally learns the truth about her family past she deals with tragic past in her own way and finds take in that past and blend it with family present to make a brighter future. She’s one of the most complex and well written characters I read this year so there was no question she’d make the list.

(Edie is pictured on the cover)

7)Lizzy Sherman

Lizzy and the Good Luck Girl by [Susan Lubner]

Lizzy may not make the best decisions, going into an abandoned house, having a girl live in her closet, but she has a good heart, at first she just wants the best for her mom and baby sibling, and eventually she wants the best for the girl she helps rescue too. She’s got a big heart even if she isn’t always thinking about her choices in advance and that’s why she makes the list.

(Lizzy is supposed to be up in the window playing with the cat)

8)Clover Martinez

The Last 8 by [Laura Pohl]

Clover Martinez’s literal refusal to give up even when she thinks she’s the last person on earth, and her shaping the Area 51 group into a real team both show her leadship skill, her general awesomeness and refusal to give up also she goes one on one with an alien plane it’s super awesome, just like her.

Come back tomorrow to see who we picked out for 9 Lords a Leaping!

Image by Amarpreet Singh from Pixabay

Posted in 12 Days of Christmas, Author Recommendations, Reviews, YARC

Two Turtledoves: Your favorite pair

My favorite pair was Red and Talin from Skyhunter. Of course some of her fellow Strikers were great pairs too so they get an honorable mention. For those of you who haven’t read Skyhunter,

Skyhunter

Skyhunter by [Marie Lu]

So I’ve never been able to get interested in any of Marie Lu’s other books. Nothing against her the plots just never spoke to me. Skyhunter made up for it.

Summary

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?

Review

So I’ve found that a lot of authors in general have a hard time writing male leads I actually give a damn about. I give a damn about what happens to the male lead here. She also does a great job with the men in Talin’s Striker group. Really Lu makes sure I care about everyone. And when it’s time to hate people, and believe me there is plenty to go around she make it so I hate who I’m supposed to, but I have complex emotions about everyone and that’s just really good writing.

I really like a lot of the characters in the book especially Talin’s mother. How the issue of PTSD is dealt with is masterful as well.

To give the book anything less than 5 stars would be a crime, sequel now please.

The sequel is due out September 28th 2021.

Amazon: Skyhunter

Image by Rothart from Pixabay

Posted in Blogmas, new releases, YARC

December New Releases Middle Grade

Never After: The Thirteenth Fairy (The Chronicles of Never After, 1)

North Pasadena, is the perfect town. The sun shines every day, the grass is always the perfect green, there even isn’t any bullying at Filomena Jefferson-Cho progressive school. Still she feels a little down an out about her sleepy suburban town. Until one day when she is walking home something strange happens.

Filomena is being followed by a character from her favorite book series, Jack Stalker. He’s one of the heroes in the Thirteenth Fairy series, a book series that Filomena loves about a brave girl with her ragtag group of friends who save the world from an evil enchantress.

Filomena figures she must be dreaming or something, but Jack insists he’s real and he also needs Filomena to follow him at once. Filomena soon finds herself in a magical world of evil fairies and and beautiful princesses. But Filomena must find the truth behind the fairy tales if she wants to save herself and the kingdom of Westphalia from an evil queen and her armies.

MELISSA DE LA CRUZ is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publisher’s Weekly and #1 Indie Bound bestselling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages, and edited the inspiring anthology of true stories, Because I Was a Girl. She grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. At Columbia University, she majored in art history and English. Melissa de la Cruz lives in West Hollywood with her husband and daughter.

Amazon

Brilliant Books

This book is due out on December 1st.

A Wolf for a Spell

Zima’s wolf family has long feared humans–especially witches–but when her family is threatened Zima must seek the help of the infamous Baba Yaga.

But Baba Yaga’s help never comes for free, and it just so happens she need a wolf keen nose for the plan she’s brewing. Before Zima knows what’s happened the witch has cast a body switching spell and run off into the wood in her body, leaving her in Baba Yaga’s.

Just as Zima’s getting this all sorted out a young village girl named Nadya is also seeking Baba Yaga’s help, and when she meet Zima (as Baba Yaga) the two realize they have a common enemy. But with danger closing in Zima must unite the wolves, the witches and the villagers against an evil that seeks to threaten them all.

Karah Sutton has loved Baba Yaga, ballet, and blini ever since she had to do a research project on her Russian heritage in the third grade. Her hunger for adventure inspired her to move from Kentucky to New Zealand, where it was rumored she would find talking trees and the occasional wood elf. Karah spent four years as a bookseller before she turned to writing her own fiction. A Wolf For a A Spell is her first novel.

Visit her online at KarahSutton.com or follow her on Twitter @Karahdactyl

Pauliina Hannuniemi is a Finnish illustrator with her Bachelor of Arts from Metropolia UoAS. This is her first book.

Amazon

Brilliant Books

This book will be released December 1st.

Girl Giant and the Monkey King

Eleven-year-old Thom Ngho just wants to fit in at her middle school. It’s kind of hard to do that when you’re keeping a secret. Thom secret is big she’s strong like super duper strong. Freakishly strong.

Soon Thom finds herself swept up in an ancient and fantastical world of demon and dragons. But magic can’t cure everything and when she tries to make a deal with the trickster god the Monkey King to get rid of her super strength, she might realize she’s in over her head.

Van Hoang earned her bachelor’s degree in English at the University of New Mexico and her master’s in Library Information Science at San Jose State University. Girl Giant and the Monkey King was her debut novel. She was born in Vietnam, grew in up Orange County, California, and now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and two dogs.

Amazon

Brilliant Books

This book will be released December 1st.

A special thanks to Brilliant Books for helping me find these titles and extra information.

Posted in Author Recommendations, Recommendations, Reviews, YARC, Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

Skyhunter Review

Skyhunter

Skyhunter by [Marie Lu]

So I’ve never been able to get interested in any of Marie Lu’s other books. Nothing against her the plots just never spoke to me. Skyhunter made up for it.

Summary

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?

Review

So I’ve found that a lot of authors in general have a hard time writing male leads I actually give a damn about. I give a damn about what happens to the male lead here. She also does a great job with the men in Talin’s Striker group. Really Lu makes sure I care about everyone. And when it’s time to hate people, and believe me there is plenty to go around she make it so I hate who I’m supposed to, but I have complex emotions about everyone and that’s just really good writing.

I really like a lot of the characters in the book especially Talin’s mother. How the issue of PTSD is dealt with is masterful as well.

To give the book anything less than 5 stars would be a crime, sequel now please.

Posted in Challenges, YARC, Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

Measuring Up Review

Measuring Up

Summary

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. 

Review

Because I’m a very amature baker I love books about food and this one brought the recipes to life. I also loved the friendship Cici has with someone in the competition and how food was used as bridge between her old life in Taiwan and her new life in American.

I also loved the result when the judges mocked Cici’s final meal then tasted it. Another favorite scene of mine is when she finally brought her friends to her house.

Overall this is just a sweet book with an important message about culture. Whether it’s the fact that American often lump cultures together or the struggle of immigrants to find to right mix of being their home culture and “American” this book covers it with a deft hand while still making a sweet story.

Posted in Blogtober, new releases, YARC

November YA New Releases

Now we’ve established I’m not the hugest reader of Young Adult but some of these look really good. Also the Factory Witches of Lowell has a super cheap pre-order making it almost a crime not to buy.

The Factory Witches of Lowell

The Factory Witches of Lowell by [C. S. Malerich]

Seriously, it’s a book about maybe queer witches and class warfare, sign me up.

They’ve got abominable working conditions, unsympathetic mill owners and hard hearted managers. The mill girls at Lowell know when enough is enough. They are going on strike, but with everything against them they may have to rely on their secret weapon: a little bit of witchcraft to be sure no one leave the picket line.

The women of Lowell, Massachusetts aren’t asking for much. They just want their freedom, in the form of fair wages, decent room and board. And a chance to escape the cotton mills before the lint clogs their lungs, but when Boston owners decide to raise the worker’s rent.

The girls go on strike. Their ringleader is Judith Whittier, she may be new to Lowell but she’s no stranger to the picket line and the class warfare that goes with it. She’s already seen one strike fold and she’s intent to never see one fold again. Fortunately her best friend-and maybe first love?-Hannah has a gift for the dying art of witchcraft.

Amazon: The Factory Witches of Lowell

The book is due to be released November 10th.

I’m in no way affiliated with the book or author but seriously the Kindle is like $4

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

Anna Chiu got a lot on her plate and that’s not just because she help’s out at her father’s restaurant. When she’s not helping there she’s looking after her brother and sister or her mother whose debilitabing mental illness making it impossible for her to get out of bed.

When she meet her father’s new delivery boy Rory, he is a welcome distraction and a look into what being a normal teen could be like, even though she knows truly that things aren’t right at home. But when her mother finally does get out of bed and her condition worsens Anna and her family question everything they understand about themselves and each other.

Themes of culture, mental illness and family are balanced with a sweet romance. For a feel good read with and important message.

Amazon: The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumping will be released November 10th

Soulswift

Soulswift by [Megan Bannen]

In Gelya world she is a Vessel, a girl who channels the word of the One True God through song. She lives cloisted with other vessels of her faith, and she believes, —as all Ovinists do—that the world was saved when a saint imprisoned Elath the Great Demon centuries ago, saving humanity from earthly temptation.

But things are never that simple and when Gelya stumbles into a deadly cover-up by the Ovinist’s military she find herself reluctantly teamed up with Tavik, an enemy solider to survive. Tavik, belives Elath is actually a mother goddess who must be set free, but while he manages to open her prison he accidently turns Gelya into Elath unwilling human vessel.

Now the Ovinists are after them and they are in a race against the clock, she and Tavik must find a way to exorcise Elath’s presence from her body. A lot is on the line, but they aren’t sure what. If they are successful will they stop the countdown to the end of the world, or will they be the cause of the earth’s destruction.

Finally as Tavik and Gelya spend more time together another question remains, once Elath is exocised what will become of Gelya?

Amazon: Soulswift

Soulswift is due for release November 17th.

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

Posted in Blogtober, Challenges, Chapter/Picture Book Feature, Reviews, YARC, Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

The Name Jar

I still working diligently towards my goal for Year of the Asian Reading Challenge. My original goal was 10 books I’m at 6 at the moment and working on two at the current moment so I think I should at least hit my goal and hopefully surpass it. For this I went with classic picture book The Name Jar. Although publish in 2001 it still remains relevant plus it a cute story about identity and choosing to be yourself under pressure.

The Name Jar

Summary

Though the book is older it deals with the timeless challenge that immigrant children coming to America face. After all being the new kid is hard enough, what about when no one can pronouce your name.

Just having moved from Korea Unhei is just anxious that the American kids will like her so when it comes time to introduce herself on the first day she tells the class she will choose a name by the following week. The class is fasinated by the girl with no name and decide to help her with suggestions by filling a glass jar with names to pick from.

But while Unhei tries on all these names, none of them quite feel right. Meanwhile she runs into one of her classmates in her neighborhood and he discovers her name and its special meaning. On the day of her name choosing the jar has mysteriously disappeared.

Encouraged by her new friend Unhei chooses her own Korean and helps everyone pronouce it Yoon-Hey.

Review

This held up very well for being an older book. I also love the connection that Unhei has with her grandmother and the use of name stamps. I’d have to compare it with other children’s books from the time but her friends encourage Unhei’s agency in a way that you see now but I’m not sure if so much so back then. Worth looking into.

I’m going to give it a four out five just because it’s aged a little.

Amazon: The Name Jar

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

Posted in Blogtober, Uncategorized, Weekly Wrap-ups, YARC

Weekly Update 10/17

I’ve been a little slow when it came to reading this week I only finished two books plus a picture book this week, still it brings my monthly total up to 8 so I’m pretty happy. It will be awhile before one of the review is up because I’m reviewing this series which is the spin-off of another series so I’m reviewing the original series first. The second review should already be up by the time this is posted.

Dragon Ghosts

Three Keys (A Front Desk Novel) 

The Name Jar

Sorry this post is up late, I think I have a cold and/or ear infection so I don’t feel super well. Going to try to keep the reviews going for Blogtober though! I’m also happy because I’m adding to my totally for Year of the Asian Readathon, I’m getting closer to hitting my goal and might even surpass it woohoo! Yay for reading goals this year and smashing them.

Image by Edinaldo Maciel edy boy from Pixabay

Posted in Author Recommendations, Blogtober, Uncategorized, YARC

The Three Keys: (A Front Desk Novel)

Three Keys

So it would be fair to say that I loved Front Desk by Kelly Yang. This book would get 6 stars if I could give them out, it has the heart, importance, and love of Front Desk like times a million and its issues are timely with the world today. It’s going to be one of my favorite books of the year I can already tell, another feat of brilliance by Kelly Yang.

Summary

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.

Review

As I said at the outset, I really enjoyed this book, but another thing I especially apricated was the historical and qualitative/quantitative research Yang did about Proposition 187 as well as the current state of immigration in America. Yang went into some of I’m going to call them what they are concentration camps, to interview immigrants being held there.

I also enjoyed the way Lupe and Jason both grew as characters.

Again if I could give this more than 5 stars I would, amazing work!

Image by mastersenaiper from Pixabay