The International Day of the Girl by Jessica Dee Humphreys Publisher: Kids Can Press Genre: Children’s Fiction Acquired through NetGalley Release Date: September 1, 2020
**I received The International Day of the Girl through NetGalley and Kids Can Press, in exchange for an honest review**
The International Day of the Girl is a thoughtful compilation of inspirational stories of girls situated around the world. There are amazing tales of girls learning in underground schools, as well as other young women achieving the skills of carpentry and astronomy thanks to progressive-thinking families. These stories were equal parts emotional and heartwarming, each girl’s personal portrait described in rich detail.
Towards the back, this book offers a thorough timeline of events leading up to the 2011 declaration of, International Day of the Girl (October 11). I loved this brief yet concise history lesson as to how this important day came to be. This education book is suitable for children of all elementary grade levels,, since it offers age-appropriate account of the importance of equal rights. This is valuable reading material for educators everywhere!
Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo Publisher: HarperTeen Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Poetry Length: 432 pages Purchased through Bookshop.org Release Date: May 5, 2020
In this novel in verse, Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people… In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.
Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered. And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.
Clap When You Land is a beautiful story, told in verse, about loss, the grieving process, and the secrets that are revealed in the aftermath.
Acevedo is unflinching as she gives voice to daughters grieving their father’s life, filled with complications of a double existence. They express their anger and wants in poetic verse, emphasizing the purity of emotion in both speakers voices the days after the plane crash.
This story alternates between Camino and Yahaira’s perspective, both trying to absorb the truth behind their father’s deceit as the layers of truth are revealed through relatives’ unspoken words and double meanings. Upon learning about each other, each girl holds preconceived notions about the other, further deepening the anger held about their father’s secret lives.
The tone in this poetic story is raw, voicing each girl’s hardships upon reflecting on a life without their hero. At the same time, both Yahaira and Camino are envious of each other for different reasons: Yahaira detests Camino’s island ties with her father; in her eyes, Camino has her father during the time she needs him the most. Meanwhile, Camino feels envious of Yahaira’s privilege of living in the United States; in her eyes, Yahaira is blessed with educational opportunities that Camino can only dream of.
Clap When You Land has diverse representation through the Latinx perspective in both the United States and the Dominican Republic. Being Latinx myself, I can identify with the familial customs Yahaira and Camino’s families display. I can also understand the friendly competition among Spanish fluency between the characters, as I have friendly interactions among my family members over this very same concept!
This novel also has LGBT representation, as Yahaira has a same-sex relationship Andrea (Dre), her high school classmate. I enjoyed reading about Yahaira and Dre’s loving bond! Although Yahaira is more reserved about her relationship status than her partner, Yahaira’s mother is aware and accepting of her daughter’s relationship. I enjoyed this show of acceptance between mother and daughter!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Clap When You Land! I recommend this book for those who love reading stories about sisters rediscovering each other by chance. If you also enjoy reading books with Latinx representation, then you will love this story!
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Have you also read Clap When You Land? Feel free to share!
The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith Genre: Fantasy Acquired Audiobook through the Author Length: 6hrs and 18mins Release Date: September 6, 2019
The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith is a retelling of Snow White fairy tale set several years after Snow White marries Prince Charming. This retelling is set in a darker viewpoint, as Snow White is mourning the loss of her husband while overseeing her daughter’s wedding arrangements. The novel is set in a series of flashbacks, as Snow White reflects on her past, her journey leading up towards the present day threaded with sorrows and joys.
This story is a very emotional one. Along with grieving the loss of her husband, Queen Snow White is also managing many responsibilities related to her daughter, and she feels very overwhelmed. This also leads Snow White to confront her past through the infamous magic mirror. In the midst of her grieving process, she is left to wonder about the continuation of a ‘happily ever after’. Through looking back on past memories, Snow White is steered to reflect on her future. I felt that this action was crucial for her self care and overall well being.
I recommend this story for those who love fairy tale retellings! This story also has a fresh take on Snow White’s life journey.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Rating: 4 out of 5.
What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?
On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:
The king is dead.
The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.
It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?
Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.
A Woman’s Place has valuable information about the state of feminism, coming from the viewpoints of a prominent voice from the Fourth Wave. Kylie Cheung does not hold back as she reflects on the struggles women still undertake in order to have their voices heard in academics, politics and social settings. She highlights how the Trump administration made the journey for equal rights in America all the more difficult with its discriminatory policies. While social media has helped make opinions more accessible for everyone (and Kylie Cheung speaks about the increasing power this outlet has over the world), the uphill climb still holds true for many women.
I found Cheung’s discourse very refreshing, like a breath of fresh air! It’s been quite a while since I came across material speaking about women’s inequality so honestly.
111 Trees: How One Village Celebrates the Birth of Every Girlby Rina Singh Genre: Non-Fiction/Children’s Literature Publisher: Kids Can Books Release Date: October 6, 2020
111 Trees tells the story of Sundal Paliwal’s mission to teach his village the importance of a girl’s presence. Sundal was raised in a small Indian village, whose residents carry antiquated customs on a woman’s role in society. Through some hard losses and lessons, Sundal was able to guide his people in valuing the role of women, along with respecting the environment.
This story is written for a younger audience, but it’s presented in a way that’s easy for children to understand Sundal’s story. The illustrations are also eye-catching, the images of lush greenery emphasizing the urgency to respect the natural world. It is very comforting to have resource material centering around a male figure sharing the importance of a woman’s role in our world today!
Have you come across these stories? If so, what are your thoughts?
I’m excited to share my thoughts on these digital reads!
I have two digital review copies to share with you. I received these books from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own!
Thank You, Miyuki by Roxane Marie Galliez Illustrated by Seng Soun Ratanavanh Length: 32 pages Genre: Children’s Fiction Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press Release Date: September 1, 2020
I adored this story about a child and her grandfather bonding through mindfulness and meditation. Miyuki is fascinated with her grandfather’s morning meditation ritual, so he guides her through the process. Using real life experiences, Miyuki’s grandfather teaches her how to stay mindful while staying aware of her surroundings. The bond between Miyuki and her grandfather is simply precious! I also enjoyed the eye-catching illustrations on every page. This would be a very useful book for children to marvel at the beauty of a spring and summer day during moments of calm!
Until I Find Youby Rea Frey Publisher: St. Martin’s Press Length: 320 pages Genre: Thriller Release Date: August 11, 2020
Rebecca’s journey in proving her son’s absence was truly intense! As a young mother handling a degenerative eye condition, Rebecca already has the odds stacked against her. The journey in finding her son adds another arduous task to an already stacked list of challenges!
Rebecca’s life turns like a tide as her condition slowly threatens to take over her life, which adds to the tension in this tale. Until I Find You had me constantly wondering what would happen next in Rebecca’s plight. It will definitely leave readers on edge!
What are your thoughts about these books? Feel free to share below!
Obit: Poems by Victoria Chang Publisher: Copper Canyon Press Length: 120 pages Acquired through Scribd Genre: Poetry Release Date: April 7, 2020
Death is a serious topic to discuss. Writing about the death of a parent is equal parts difficult and a testimony of strength.
In ‘Obit’, Victoria Chang’s poetry expressed the loss of her mother in stunning verse and imagery. The poems inside ‘Obit’ not only speak about the loss of Victoria’s Chang’s mother, but also about the loss of life as Chang knew it. Each poem marks a moment in life that gradually departed, marking a personal loss. ‘Ambition’, ‘Memory’, and ‘Friendships’ (among others), each have their own date as to when their presence in life gradually slipped away, leaving fragments of events, of experiences now confined to the past.
By providing a voice to these moments of loss, Victoria Chang imbues life. She describes the last moments with her mother with intensity. The gradual departures of her father’s way of life are equally vocal and heartbreaking. She shares every time her parents’ mental health and her daily way of life took a drastic turn. Instead of casting these events aside, Chang gives each moment the recognition it deserves.
While I enjoyed Victoria Chang’s unflinching honesty about the loss of her mother, I understand that the topic of death is not a comfortable one to discuss. As a collection of poetry, ‘Obit’ is rich in imagery as it paints a personal picture of precious moments in life. Definitely give this book a chance if you enjoy reading pieces about the value of family, and how each aspect of life should be held close.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Rating: 5 out of 5.
After her mother died, poet Victoria Chang refused to write elegies. Rather, she distilled her grief during a feverish two weeks by writing scores of poetic obituaries for all she lost in the world. In Obit, Chang writes of “the way memory gets up after someone has died and starts walking.” These poems reinvent the form of newspaper obituary to both name what has died (“civility,” “language,” “the future,” “Mother’s blue dress”) and the cultural impact of death on the living. Whereas elegy attempts to immortalize the dead, an obituary expresses loss, and the love for the dead becomes a conduit for self-expression. In this unflinching and lyrical book, Chang meets her grief and creates a powerful testament for the living.
Have you read ‘Obit’? If so, what did you think? Feel free to comment below!
Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson Publisher: McElderry Books Length: 453 pages Genre: YA Fantasy Acquired through OwlCrate Release Date: June 4, 2019
What initially drew me to ‘Sorcery of Thorns’ was the allure of libraries. Also, a female main character whose passion to solve conflicts revolved around the knowledge of the library she loves. After reading the story, I was left asking more questions, but mainly out of disappointment!
‘Sorcery of Thorns’ tells the tale of Elisabeth Scrivener, an orphan training to become a warden at a Library where books are held more for their dangerous capabilities than their knowledge. Elisabeth becomes a suspect in a sabotage scheme, and she is forced to turn to Nathaniel Thorn, a sorcerer and his demonic servant (sworn enemies to wardens) for assistance.
The world of Austermeer (and its Great Libraries) was beautiful. I enjoyed reading about a kingdom governed by sorcerers, with Wardens protecting sacred grimoires. I really appreciated that Elisabeth used her knowledge of books (grimoires) to guide their way during their quest. She uses compassion and patience to handle the grimoires with respect, which is normally not how they’re used in Scrivener’s world. Even Nathaniel isn’t used to such respect, yet he is on his own personal journey that he must overcome. Their banter throughout the novel is lighthearted, even during their adversarial moments. Although a warden’s apprentice and a sorcerer are the most unlikely travel companions, they learn to understand each other’s motives as they delve further into the journey.
What I didn’t appreciate was that I felt that Elisabeth’s story lacked some character development. Throughout the book, Elisabeth was built up to be a character that was very unique: an orphan with a strong communication and kinship toward grimoires. She also possesses certain abilities that stun the strongest demons surrounding her. I sensed that Elisabeth’s roots would be revealed as the book came into a conclusion, but it didn’t happen. Elisabeth endured many hardships as she fought to clear her name, and she needed to rely on some quick thinking in many scenes in the book. I was just surprised that her lineage story lacked some pieces.
While the side characters’ actions were enjoyable to read (I think Katrien and Silas were my favorite characters in the book), I felt like the book could have done more to show Elisabeth’s abilities. Even though I was disappointed, I still appreciated reading this engaging fantasy tale. I would recommend this novel for those who enjoy reading about libraries, magical books, and the people who are in love with them!
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.
Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.
As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.
Have you read Sorcery of Thorns? If so, what did you think? Feel free to share!
Formula For a Perfect Life by Christy Hayes Publisher: CAH LLC Genre: Contemporary Acquired through Prism Book Tours Release Date: February 19, 2020
**I received a copy of ‘Formula For a Perfect Life’ through Prism Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review**
‘Formula For a Perfect Life’ tells the story of young love, and the consequences of having a careless approach to life. This particular love story has both characters figuring out how to move forward now that a child now intertwines their lives. It’s a journey filled with realizations about life needs, and how one’s personal values can shape the future of others.
This story has heavy religious overtones, but this didn’t sway me from appreciating the message of Kayla and Ben’s life journeys: patience and the willingness to build trust can benefit everyone’s well-being in the end. I really appreciated a different approach to the traditional love story!
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Two practical strangers. One fateful night. Two pink lines.
College senior and obsessive romantic Kayla Cummings’ dreams of a storybook life are spun off course by an unplanned pregnancy after a one-night stand with her secret crush. Devastated, Kayla turns to her roommates and best friends for advice. No matter what she decides, no matter how deeply embarrassed, she has to tell the father.
Ben Strickland’s future is written in stone—as long as he gets a decent score on the Law School Admission Test. Feeling pressure from all sides, Ben struggles to juggle his upcoming finals, another shot at the LSAT, and his needy girlfriend Darcy. When the girl he spent a memorable night with weeks ago shows up at his doorstep pregnant, his already chaotic life spins out of control.
With the clock ticking, decisions to make, and a boatload of people to disappoint, Ben and Kayla embark on a journey neither anticipated—a journey where falling in love might be the biggest surprise of all. But when old hurts and buried secrets pose a greater threat to their future than impending parenthood, will Ben and Kayla go their separate ways or forge a new path to happy ever after?
Things in Jars by Jess Kidd Publisher: Atria Books Length: 376 pages Genre: Historical Fiction Acquired through LibbyApp Release Date: April 4, 2019
When my library’s book club assigned Things In Jars for their April pick, I didn’t know what to expect. I enjoy Historical Fiction, and I was curious about the plot: a talented woman in 19th century London trying to solve the mystery of a missing child.
I didn’t expect to be taken for a wild, emotional ride, but that’s exactly what happened as I was reading this book!
From the start, you know that you’ll be taken on a journey filled with mystery and silence, as female detective Bridie Devine is called on the solve the mystery of Christabel Berwick’s kidnapping. As Bridie’s impeccable sleuthing skills sweep through London’s grittiness and secrets, the layers of Christabel’s disappearance (and Bridie’s roots) are peeled back. What is revealed are shocking truths and Victorian folklore woven together to create a crime rooted through greed.
Things in Jars is equal parts mystery tale and ghost story, as Bridie communicates with a specter named Ruby Doyle (whose ties to Bridie remain equally elusive throughout the novel). Ruby is able to offer guidance from afar, and through his observations we’re able to witness Bridie’s skill as both a collector’s apprentice and a student of medicine.
Things in Jars also describes the ruthless underbelly of 19th Century medicine, and its starkly uneven footing for women trying to break onto the field. The double standard in women trying to succeed in the ‘masculine’ dominated field of medicine is on full display, and Bridie goes to great lengths to hide her identity in order to belong. This fact is not lost on Ruby, who states his truth while accompanying Bridie in one of her missions: ‘Of this, Ruby is sure: nobody belongs here more than Bridie.’
Jess Kidd’s storytelling is riveting in the sense that your imagination takes the shape of the vivid imagery described in every page. The tales of love, sorrow and loss reveal so much, yet leaves out enough for you to color in what happens next, and it’s downright beautiful from beginning to end!
Reading Things In Jars was a wonderful experience, and I enjoyed this story of mystery and folklore. I also loved the fact that a strong female character with her eccentric team was at the forefront of this story!
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Bridie Devine, female detective extraordinaire, is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.
Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.
Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.
Have you also read Things In Jars? I would love to know your thoughts!
Mara the Space Traveler by An Leysen (Clavis Publishing) Release Date: June 20, 2020 4/5 Stars This is a lovely story about a young girl helping out some creatures in another realm. The illustrations in this book are beautiful, and the creatures in Mara’s tale are so adorable!
A Journey Toward Hope by Victor HinojosaCoort Voorhees Six Foot Press Release Date: July 7, 2020
A Journey Toward Hope tells the story of four children migrating to America, leaving their homes and surroundings in order to live a more peaceful life. The children’s stories are fictional, yet the authors provide an accurate account of the harrowing conditions migrant children experience while making the journey to North America.
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen (North South Books) Release Date: September 1, 2020
An emotional account of The Little Mermaid, filled with raw emotion and harsh conditons. Hans Christian Andersen is never known for lighthearted accounts of fairy tales, and this story is no exception!
Chinatown Pretty: Fashion and Wisdom from Chinatown’s Most Stylish Seniors by Andria Lo & Valerie Luu (Chronicle Books) Release Date: September 22, 2020
I loved looking through the images of Chinatown’s older generation! Andria Lo & Valerie Luu set out to reconnect with their heritage through this project by making contact with their older peers. I feel like we can all learn something from this experience!