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.

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Posted in Reviews

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, IndigAThon2020

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

Posted in Recommendations

Books about Homelessness

So I was trying to think of post ideas yesterday afternoon when I remember how many books I’ve read/need to read that deal with the topics of homelessness. One of my favorite of 2019 that I never got around to finishing because it was due back at the library is my first pick.

1)The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

Five years ago, Coyote lost her mother and sisters, and since then she and her dad have travel on an old school bus trying to escape the ghosts of their past. But when Coyote learns that a place where she left a memory box with her mother and sisters is set to be demolished, she must find a way to get her father to drive all the way back home to Washington State.

The problem is they are in Florida, the demolition is in four days and her father can’t know what’s going on. Along the way, Coyote and her father pick up lots of travelers with their own baggage.

Over the course of the journey, Coyote learns how tough going home can be, but that with a crew of new friends by her side she might finally be able to find the peace she’s been looking for about her family’s deaths.

While Coyote and her dad aren’t really homeless in the sense that they have the bus, they are definitely emotionally adrift.

Amazon: The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise

2)No Fixed Address

After Felix Knutsson and his mother fall on hard times they have to move into their van. Felix must keep it a secret, even from his two best friends,  as his mother fears him getting taken away by the state and sent to foster care.

But as things go from bad to worse Felix thinks he has a way to help their situation he gets a chance to audition a junior edition of Who What Where When, his favorite game show. He knows he has to earn the spot and that the cash prize will make everything okay again.

But when everything doesn’t go exactly as planned it leaves the question up in the air of whether Felix and his mom will finally find someplace to truly call home.

Amazon: No Fixed Address

3)Crenshaw

By the beloved Katherine Applegate, author of The One and Only Ivan, and Wishtree. Crenshaw is about Jackson whose family has fallen on hard times again, now they have to live in the family minivan while his parents save up money for an apartment, again.

Crenshaw is a large outspoken imaginary cat, who comes back to try and help Jackson through his problems. But will imaginary help be enough to help Jackson face the situation or will the power of friends (real or imaginary) give Jackson the power to save this family from losing everything?

Amazon: Crenshaw

4)Just Under the Clouds

After losing her dad Cora is homeless, her mother is trying to keep everything together and leaves Cora in charge of her disabled sister Adare, who doesn’t seem concern with the question Cora can’t stop asking herself, whether the family will ever find a place to call home.

But after their shelter gets ransacked her mother decides to stay with a family friend for a while and Cora finally starts to find a place she can call her own, but with her mother ready to move on, will the feeling of a home be fleeting or will her family finally be able to find where they truly belong.

Amazon: Just Under the Clouds

5)A Place to Stay: A Shelter Story

A Place to Stay: A Shelter Story shows life at a women’s shelter through the eyes of a young girl. With her mother’s help, the girl is able to use her imagination to overcome some of her anxiety about the shelter and adjust. The picture book deals with the topic in a way young children can understand and also includes factual endnotes detailing various reasons people experience homelessness and the resources available to help.

Amazon: A Place to Stay: A Shelter Story

These are just a few of the books that deal with the topic of homelessness for children and teens. I also want to link back to The Chattering Librarian’s list about books that deal with the topic, as it helped inspire me.

Chattering Librarian: Middle-Grade Books that Tackle Homelessness

 

Posted in Challenges, Pokemon Reads, Recommendations

Pokemon Reads Tag

So I’ve had a bit of writer’s block when it comes to posting. I know I’ve been posting consistently since last October and I love the way my blog’s stats are growing, but there wasn’t any project that sent me rushing to my computer to write posts. So I thought about what I was really enjoying and that was playing Pokemon Sheild.

As I write this post I’m working on the Dark Type gym, now what does Pokemon have to do with reading? Well Pokemon come in different types as listed below, and they have different attributes based on those types, so I thought it would be fun to do a series of reading lists based on the different types.

Some are going to be easier like fairy and dragon, but I think I’m going to enjoy working on all of them.

Please feel free to join me in doing this, do you have a favorite type and series of books you think fit with them? Do your own posts and please link back to here!

Thanks to Bulbapeadia the Pokemon Wikipedia for the graphic below.

Normal icon SwSh.png Fighting icon SwSh.png Flying icon SwSh.png Poison icon SwSh.png Ground icon SwSh.png Rock icon SwSh.png
Normal Fighting Flying Poison Ground Rock
Bug icon SwSh.png Ghost icon SwSh.png Steel icon SwSh.png Fire icon SwSh.png Water icon SwSh.png Grass icon SwSh.png
Bug Ghost Steel Fire Water Grass
Electric icon SwSh.png Psychic icon SwSh.png Ice icon SwSh.png Dragon icon SwSh.png Dark icon SwSh.png Fairy icon SwSh.png
Electric Psychic Ice Dragon Dark Fairy
Posted in Monthly Reads, Recommendations, TBR, Uncategorized

February New Releases

Can you believe it’s February already? We’ve got some cool new releases coming up throughout the month. Any releases you are looking forward to?

1)The Wish and the Peacock

Paige’s family has had their farm for generations, and they’ve seen hard times before, but losing Paige’s dad is just too much to take and without him, Paige’s mom doesn’t have the money to keep the farm up. Paige is heartbroken at the thought of selling and tries in several different ways to avert the sale of the farm from happening.

But once she realizes the sale is going to happen she starts to explore the farm, trying to remember every detail of the place she grew up. While exploring their old barn she finds an injured peacock, the bird sets in motion a series of events that will make Paige question the true meaning of home.

Released February 4th.

Amazon: The Wish and The Peacock

2) Yes No Maybe So

Normally I’m not a fan of books where romance is a central element, but since its Aisha Saeed, I’m going to give this one a chance. Jamie is shy, he likes political canvasing as long as he doesn’t actually have to deal with people. He knows he’s not up to knocking on doors to ask for votes until Maya comes into the picture.

Maya is having a horrible Ramadan, her summer vacation is canceled, her parents are splitting up and her mom’s answer to her problems is to get her to go canvassing for votes with some guy she hardly knows.

But it turns out going door to door together isn’t the worse thing in the world. Especially with the polls coming up soon, Jamie and Maya soon realize there is something between them, but while they can navigate local activism, a cross-cultural crush seems like another challenge entirely.

Especially if you are more of a fan of romance than me, give it a chance because it’s Aisha Saeed!

Released on February 4th.

Amazon: Yes, No, Maybe So

3) I’m Gonna Push Through!

Based on a mantra she made for her students Jasmyn Wright’s book is all about teaching children to lift themselves up and to announce their own power and to recognize and reaffirm that of others, regardless of setbacks.

Jasmyn, a globally-recognized educator, was born in Philadelphia, PA much of her teaching experience focused on underserved and marginalized children. Her Push Through movement started a viral video but has grown into a larger organization.

Released February 18th

Amazon: I’m Gonna Push Through

These are just a few of the great releases coming in February? Are you going to read any new releases in February?

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels