Posted in Chopped Readathon

Red Strawberry-Books with a Red Cover

For one of our prompts you have to read a book with a red cover. I have books from several levels depending on what you are looking for.

The ABCs of Black History

A lovely picture book perfect for Black History Month.

Letter by letter, The ABCs of Black History celebrates a story that spans continents and centuries, triumph and heartbreak, creativity and joy.

It’s a story of big ideas––P is for Power, S is for Science and Soul. Of significant moments––G is for Great Migration. Of iconic figures––H is for Zora Neale Hurston, X is for Malcom X. It’s an ABC book like no other, and a story of hope and love.

In addition to rhyming text, the book includes back matter with information on the events, places, and people mentioned in the poem, from Mae Jemison to W. E. B. Du Bois, Fannie Lou Hamer to Sam Cooke, and the Little Rock Nine to DJ Kool Herc.

Amazon: The ABC’s of Black History

Dear Student

Dear Student by [Elly Swartz]

I have to be fair and note that I was given a free ARC copy by the author to review for my honest opinions. I love the lovely red cover!

Starting Middle School is rough for redhead Autumn after her one and only BFF moves to California. Uncertain and anxious, she struggles to connect with her new classmates. The two potential friends she meets could not be more different: bold Logan who has big ideas and quiet Cooper who’s a bit mysterious. But Autumn has a dilemma: what do you do when the new friends you make don’t like each other?

When Autumn is picked to be the secret voice of the Dear Student letters in the Hillview newspaper, she finds herself smack in the middle of a problem with Logan and Cooper on opposite sides. But before Autumn can figure out what to do, the unthinkable happens. Her secret identity as Dear Student is threatened. Now, it’s time for Autumn to find her voice, her courage, and follow her heart, even when it’s divided.

You should totally check it out when it releases on the February 15th.

Amazon: Dear Student

Mary, Will I Die

If you’re looking for a little YA horror take a look at this book.

It starts innocently enough. Four kids – three girls, one boy – are at one of their houses, playing games. One of them has read about “Bloody Mary” and the idea that if you look into a mirror and say her name thirteen times, she will show you the future. Some legends say she’ll show you your one true love or a skull to mark your death within five years. Others say that conjuring Bloody Mary will bring her into your world.

Both sets of legends are true. The kids go through with the act, saying her name thirteen times. One girl looks in the mirror and sees her longtime crush. One girl looks in the mirror and sees the boy in the group. But she pretends to see something else. One girl looks in the mirror and sees a girl she’s never seen before but can’t get out of her mind. And the boy . . . he sees a skull. But he pretends to see something else. They try to laugh it off. And mostly they forget about it. Or at least they don’t talk about it. Yes, over the next few years, whenever they look into a mirror, it’s like there’s always another figure standing in the background, getting closer.

Just short of five years later, the four of them are no longer friends, having gone on separate paths. The girl whose house it was has always tried to avoid the mirror they used – because she always sensed someone in the background. One morning as she’s passing by, she sees much more than her own reflection – it’s a scary figure taunting her. She startles and breaks the mirror. When the pieces are put back together (barely), the figure is gone.

That day in school, a new girl arrives. Her name is Mary . Will this new devlopment have her seeing red?

Amazon: Mary, Will I Die 

The Red Palace

The Red Palace by [June Hur]

Joseon (Korea), 1758. There are few options available to illegitimate daughters in the capital city, but through hard work and study, eighteen-year-old Hyeon has earned a position as a palace nurse. All she wants is to keep her head down, do a good job, and perhaps finally win her estranged father’s approval.

But Hyeon is suddenly thrust into the dark and dangerous world of court politics when someone murders four women in a single night, and the prime suspect is Hyeon’s closest friend and mentor. Determined to prove her beloved teacher’s innocence, Hyeon launches her own secret investigation.

In her hunt for the truth, she encounters Eojin, a young police inspector also searching for the killer. When evidence begins to point to the Crown Prince himself as the murderer, Hyeon and Eojin must work together to search the darkest corners of the palace to uncover the deadly secrets behind the bloodshed. Will all this red lead them to the killer, and will that matter given his position?

Come back and check out more suggestions for if you can’t find a book for a prompt soon, but tomorrow we have something very special so you’ll just have wait and see.

Posted in new releases, Recommendations

Prejudice and Power

Check out these new releases for this week. Since November is Native American Hertige Month and it is always a good time to look at the Black and Indigious people face, I’m focusing these books around prejudice and the eventually power from the people that can emerge.

The 1619 Project: Born on the Water

I’m really looking forward to reading this it looks lovely, even though it is about a tough topic I don’t read enough books by BIPOC and I want to change that starting soon as possible and into the New Year.

The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renée Watson.

A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders.
But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived

Amazon: Born on the Water

Killers of the Flower Moon

I’ve been reading lots of Native fiction but not much non-fiction, this sounds like something I should pick up a take a look at especially due to the prejudice of the US government, I want to learn more about how the FBI is involved.

Killers of the Flower Moon: Adapted for Young Readers: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by [David Grann]

The New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist Killers of the Flower Moon is now adapted for young readers.

This book is an essential resource for young readers to learn about the Reign of Terror against the Osage people–one of history’s most ruthless and shocking crimes.

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma, thanks to the oil that was discovered beneath their land. Then, one by one, the Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances, and anyone who tried to investigate met the same end.

As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created Bureau of Investigation, which became the FBI, took up the case, one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. An undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau, infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Working with the Osage, they began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

In this adaptation of the adult bestseller, David Grann revisits his gripping investigation into the shocking crimes against the Osage people. The book is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to occur for so long.

Amazon: Killers of the Flower Moon

Posted in new releases, Recommendations

Wizardry of New Releases

It’s the week before Halloween so expect a few magical books to come out this week. Watch the authors use their wizardry as we see some new great books.

The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams

It’s 1944 Sutton, NY, and Poppy’s family owns and runs, Rhyme and Reason, a magical bookshop that caters to people from all different places and time periods. Though her world is ravaged by World War II, customers hail from the past and the future, infusing the shop with a delightful mix of ideas and experiences.
 
Poppy dreams of someday becoming shopkeeper like her father, though her older brother, Al, is technically next in line for the job. She knows all of the rules handed down from one generation of Bookseller to the next, especially their most important one: shopkeepers must never use the magic for themselves.
 
But then Al’s best friend is killed in the war and her brother wants to use the magic of the shop to save him. With her father in the hospital suffering from a mysterious illness, the only one standing between Al and the bookstore is Poppy. Caught between her love for her brother and loyalty to her family, she knows her brother’s actions could have devastating consequences that reach far beyond the bookshop as an insidious, growing Darkness looms. This decision is bigger than Poppy ever dreamed, and the fate of the bookshops hangs in the balance.

Come check out the wizardry of this book:

Amazon: The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams

Frankie and Amelia

I’m interested in this book for several reasons. One I love the relationship between cats and people, two I want to read anything with autism in it and three this just sounds like a good book.

Frankie and Amelia by [Cammie McGovern]

After being separated from his family, Franklin becomes an independent cat, until he meets a goofy dog named Chester. Chester is a service dog to his person, a boy named Gus, and Chester knows just the girl to be Franklin’s person—Gus’s classmate, Amelia.

Amelia loves cats, but has a harder time with people. Franklin understands her, though, and sees how much they have in common. When Amelia gets into some trouble at school, Franklin wants to help the girl who’s done so much to help him. He’s not sure how, yet, but he’s determined to try.

This sweet and moving novel demonstrates how powerful the bond between pets and people can be, while thoughtfully depicting a neurodivergent tween’s experience.

Find your copy here at:

Amazon: Frankie and Amelia

What Will My Story Be? 

From the creator of Pashmina, its a lovely new picture book.

From the creator of the critically acclaimed graphic novel Pashmina, comes a new picture book that encourages kids to be their most creative selves and to imagine all the places that their stories can take them.

After spending an afternoon listening to her aunties tell her stories from their pasts, a young girl ruminates on all of the tales that she can create using her imagination and begins to feel as if the possibilities for her future are endless. Filled with Nidhi Chanani’s signature vibrant illustrations, What Will My Story Be? is for anyone who finds inspiration in the quiet moments and cherishes the wisdom of the generations that came before them. Perfect for fans of Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal, Drawn Together by Minh Le and Dan Santat, and You Matter by Christian Robinson. It has the wizardry of figuring out your own story.

You can find it here at

Amazon: What Will My Story Be

Keep your eye out this week for some spooky book reviews and a special surprise on Halloween!

Posted in Feature

Chinese New Year-Chinese Author and Character Appreciation

I thought I’d do a post featuring books by Chinese authors and with Chinese characters since Chinese New Year is tomorrow. Happy New Year to everyone who celebrates! A little bit about Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is also celebrated in other countries  Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

This year is the Year of the Ox, the second in the 12-year cycle of animals, the date of Chinese New Year varies on the Gregorian calendar because it’s date is based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.

People born in the Year of the Ox are attributed with such positive characteristics, as being hardworking and honest.

Celebrations vary but usually include fireworks, red paper lantern decorations, and dinners with the family. In fact, the migration of people in China coming home for Chinese New Year is one of the biggest yearly migrations in the modern world though this has changed in recent years due to COVID.

Book Suggestions

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao

Amy enjoys making bao with her family, but it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious And her bao keeps coming out all wrong.

Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance…Will Amy ever make the perfect bao?

Written by Kat Zhang and illustrated by Charlene Chua.

Shadow Frost

Shadow Frost (Shadow Frost Trilogy Book 1) by [Coco Ma]

Some call it a monster, laying waste to the villagers and their homes.
Some say it is an invulnerable demon summoned from the deepest abysses of the Immortal Realm.
Many soldiers from the royal guard are sent out to hunt it down.
Not one has ever returned.

Asterin Faelenhart, Princess of Axaria is heir to the throne, but that might not be the most important thing about her. She may hold the key to defeating the demon that has been terrorizing her kingdom. She vows not to rest until the beast is slain, she has her powers (even though she doesn’t fully understand them) and she has her friends. Asterin and her company set out to complete a task everyone else has failed at

To kill the demon.

But when they go hunting they may find something other than the Demon, like a plot to assassinate the princess instead. The company begins to wonder how much of their lives have been lie, they begin to see that the center of the web of decit they are uncovering my be themselves.

How much are they willing to sacrifice to protect the only world they’ve ever known?

That is….if the demon doesn’t get them first.

Born in 2000, Canadian-Chinese author and pianist Coco Ma began playing the piano at the age of five and a half. Since then, she has performed on some of the world’s greatest concert stages and graduated with a pre-college diploma in piano performance from The Juilliard School in New York City. At fifteen years old, she finished writing her first novel, Shadow Frost. Currently, she studies at Yale College. When she isn’t practicing piano, writing, or studying, you might find her bingeing Netflix or eating cake. Lots of cake.

The cover was designed by Kathyrn G. English. Kathryn has worked as an in-house designer for Blackstone Publishing (previously Blackstone Audio, Inc) since 2002, and currently works as the lead designer, and art director for the new print books imprint.

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by [F. C. Yee]

Genie is a perfectionist feeling the struggle to get into a top-tier college. It consume her every waking though, until she discovers she’s a celestial spirit powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fist. Then college, well it’s not exactly at the top of the list, maybe like number two though.

Then there is Quentin a transfer student from China. He’s tone-deaf assertiveness intruges Genie, yet it also annoys her to the point of madness. Quentin helps with Genie’s outrageous transfromation sometimes gently sometimes agressively as their sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under threat from hell-spawn.

Drawing from Chinese folklore Yee perfectly balences a larger than life heroine’s high school life, with the supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

F. C. Yee grew up in New Jersey and went to school in New England, but has called the San Francisco Bay Area home.

MUTI Creative Studio designed the cover for The Epic Crush of Genie Lo.

The Comeback

The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel by [E. L. Shen]

Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is trying to balance everything in her life. She just has to keep her life on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much for their budding tween.

Maxine isn’t worried though-she knows she’s going to glide to victory.

But then a bully at school starts teasing her for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and without a response. And it not only school where she’s thrown for a loop, at the rink she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, will her grace and skill edge Maxine out of the competition?

Everything she knows is on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?

Set in Lake Placid, New York Shen examines racism female rivalry and enduring and universal necessity of love and support.

E. L. Shen is a writer, editor, and former figure skater. Her childhood skating career was not nearly as prolific as Maxine’s, but her personality is just as fiery. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College of Columbia University, where she majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. Originally from upstate New York, she currently resides in Manhattan.

Dung Ho and Cassidy Clausnitzer are the cover artist and worked on the design for the book.

.

Posted in Uncategorized

Review: Rain Before Rainbows

Rain Before Rainbows

Rain before rainbows, clouds before sun,
night before daybreak—a new day’s begun.

This is a lovely picture book about courage, change and moving on from hard times. A girl and her companion fox travel through a colorful landscape meant to represent a sorrowful past. The pair go through challenging and stormy times toward color, light and life. They find friends along the way who guide and support them. When the pair see a dawn of a new day it’s full of hope and promise.

This beautiful book with hope at its heart marries texts and illustrations beautifully. It’s a beautiful text for anyone going through grief or just a tough situation.

Written by By Smriti Prasadam-Hall she is South Indian by birth, British by nationality and London-loving by heart, Smriti lives near Richmond Park with her husband and their three sons, reading, writing and eating iced buns. 

David Litchfield is the illustrator. He has also exhibited his illustrations in both solo and group shows in the U.K, Europe and America. David lives with his family in Bedford, England.

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

Posted in Chapter/Picture Book Feature

Review: Sweetest Kulu

Sweetest Kulu

Summary

“Dream a little, Kulu, this world now sings a most beautiful song of you.”

This beautiful bedtime poem, written by acclaimed Inuit throat singer Celina Kalluk, describes the gifts given to a newborn baby by all the animals of the Arctic.

Lyrically and tenderly told by a mother speaking to her own little Kulu; an Inuktitut term of endearment often bestowed upon babies and young children, this visually stunning book is infused with the traditional Inuit values of love and respect for the land and its animal inhabitants.

Review

A friend of mine just had a baby, and she’s getting this as a gift. I’ve listened to some of Celina Kalluk throat singing as part of my IndigAThon challenge, I haven’t heard her speak, but her singing is so magical that you could just almost imagine this this book sung.

Though the illustrator wasn’t Indigenous I loved their style and though I’ve never been to the Artic it brought the place and the animals to life for me.

Total 5/5.

Image by Наталья Коллегова from Pixabay

Posted in IndigAThon2020

IndigAThon Update

I read 6 books for Indigathon, most of them were picture books because honestly I couldn’t find that many stories about Indigenous people that were actually written by Indigenous people. This is all the more reason I’m looking forward to The Fire Keepers Daughter because I can wait to see more #OwnVoice middle grade and YA fiction. Another part of what I had available to read was the pandemic, some things I wanted to get like Indian No More, weren’t available as eBooks and I don’t have a way to get to the library. Reviews of what I did get a chance to read as well as me looking out for more Indigenous content will be soon to follow this post.

Something I also noticed when reading books that while the authors were Indigenous the illustrators weren’t. I’d love to see more work from Indigenous illustrators, I’ll have to look around on Twitter for picture book illustrators.

Image by vek0 from Pixabay

Posted in Blogtober, Year of the Asian Reading Challenge

October Picture Book/Middle Grade New Releases

We have some lovely books coming out this month! For this post I’m focusing on picture books and middle grade. But there is a lot to look forward to in YA as well. What new releases are you looking forward to?

The Most Beautiful Thing

The Most Beautiful Thing by [Kao Kalia Yang, Khoa Le]

This moving picture book draws from Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee. The book focuses on her grandmother as they travel from the jungles of Laos to the early years in the United States. Her family is close and loving but they often have to do without.

When Kalia wants braces to improve her smiles her grandmother who only has one helps show her true beauty is found is found in those we love most.

The story is brought to life with stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le.

Amazon:The Most Beautiful Thing

The Most Beautiful Thing Comes out October 6th.

Cleo Porter and the Body Electric

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

Until now.

Amazon: Cleo Porter and the Body Electric

Cleo Porter and the Body Electric is out on October 6th.

The Fallen Hero

We can’t forget about the wonderful Katie Zhao even though I still need to read the first book I have to put this on my recommendations.

Faryn Liu thought she was the mystical Heaven Breaker, a warrior able to command dragons, defeat demons and wield the all powerful spear Fenghuang. But it turns out she was tricked by a conniving goddess, and now her beloved brother Alex has betrayed her and stolen the title of Heaven Breaker.

Alex never truly forgave the people who treated him and Faryn like outcasts and now he wants to wipe out demons, and most of humanity along with them.

But Faryn is determined to prevent a war so she and her half-dragon friend Ren join the New Order, a group of warriors based out of Manhattan’s Chinatown. She learn from them that there is one weapon that can beat the Fenghuang-the Ruyi Jingu Bang.

The only problem? It’s in the hands of the infamous trickster the Monkey King. Faryn sets off on a daring quest hoping to gain an alliance with the Monkey King. This quest will also take her to new places like Diyu also known as the underworld. Where she’ll run into new dangers.

Can she complete her mission and save the brother she love no matter the cost?

Amazon: The Fallen Hero

The Fallen Hero will come out October 13th.

A Thousand Questions

The wonderful Saadia Faruqi of the Meet Yasmin beginning reader books writing a middle grade novel? Of course I’m there for that.

Set against the backdrop of Karachi, Pakistan, deals with two girl Mimi, who wishes she wasn’t in Karachi at all with grandparents she’s never met. Instead she wants to find to her long absent father and plans to write to him in her new journal.

Meanwhile, the cook’s daughter Sakina still hasn’t told her parents she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score. But how could her family afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen.

Though the girls seem totally incompatable at first they realize as the summer goes on that they have lots in common, and that they can help each other get what they want most.

Amazon: A Thousand Questions

A Thousand Questions comes out October 6th.

Come back and check out my YA pick for October next week!

Photo by Greg Shield on Unsplash

Posted in Chapter/Picture Book Feature, Reviews, Uncategorized

Sulwe Review

Written by the wonderful Lupita Nyong’o and illustrated by well regarded illustrator Vashti Harrison. Sulwe is a beautiful reflection on the issue of colorism.

Summary

Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family and school and wishes for skin like the color of dawn like her mother and sister have, she even tries various ways to lighten her skin. Her mother reminds her that beauty comes from the inside and she goes on a magical journey to learn the importance of darkness.

Review

This book tackled a big issue but in a beautiful and relatable way for children, I especially like the sun and moon goddesses as pictured below. The journey Sulwe goes on is a sweet story that most children who the book is targeted to can understand. Love the art love the story love the message.

Amazon: Sulwe

Photo by Ahsan Avi on Unsplash

Posted in Chapter/Picture Book Feature, Reviews

Review: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family

The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family


Summary

Told from the perspective of the little sister, Faizah knows the first day back to school is going to be wonderful, she has her brand new backpack and light up shoes. But what’s most exciting and important is the fact that it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab. Her sister has picked out a beautiful blue fabric for her new hijab, Faizah thinks of it like the ocean waving to the sky.

But when people around Asiya and Faizah start to see hijab as something that isn’t beautiful. Faziah will have to find new ways to face down those who would take from the beauty of her sister’s special day.

With her new backpack and light-up shoes, Faizah knows the first day of school is going to be special. It’s the start of a brand new year and, best of all, it’s her older sister Asiya’s first day of hijab–a hijab of beautiful blue fabric, like the ocean waving to the sky. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful, and in the face of hurtful, confusing words, Faizah will find new ways to be strong.

Written, illustrated and inspired by a trifecta of Muslim talent Paired with Hatem Aly’s beautiful, whimsical art, while Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad is best know for being one of the first athletes to wear hijab at the Olympics, last but certainly not least Morris Award finalist S.K. Ali has multiple books and award nominations to their name, including

Review

I’d been wanting to read this for awhile. I wanted a short uplifting picture book with Muslim characters. This group who put out the book does not disappoint, they get things right about the way Faizah acts age wise, yet she still manages to handle the situation with a maturity and grace that some grown-ups I know don’t possess.

It could be a five star read for the content or the illustration alone but together especially with the fact that Ibtihaj Muhammad was involved, I wish I could give it more than five stars. I will be gifting it to my new family addition when they are older.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Five Favorite Things

  1. Asiya Picking Out the Color of her Hijab
  2. What Faizah thinks of the color
  3. What Faizah thinks of the bullies
  4. How Faizah maintains her integrity
  5. The happy sibling-ness

Amazon: The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family