New Releases

This week’s new release on July 8th is one that I’m especially looking forward to — I have a huge soft spot for plucky-thief fantasy stories, so…

midnightMidnight Thief by Livia Blackburne
Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs. But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives… [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: This One Summer

this one summerTitle: This One Summer
Author:
Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator)
Genres:
graphic novel, contemporary
Pages
: 320
Publisher:
First Second
Review copy:
the lovely library
Availability:
May 6th 2014

Summary: Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: Ever since I picked up Skim at the local library a few years back, I’ve been a huge fan of Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki… So, of course, picking up This One Summer pretty much made my day. (And there was a heat wave, so it felt like summer the whole time I was reading…)

This One Summer details the summer of Rose and Windy, two  girls whose families vacation at Awago Beach every year. The two are close friends, and it’s obvious from the start that they have history together.  There’s more to their summers at Awago Beach than just carefree vacation time. An undercurrent of quiet sorrow runs through the story as Rose and Windy goof off and live out their summer vacation.

The art and the story are a perfect match for either, and both work to convey the certain endless — yet fleeting — feeling of summer that comes with being young. The friendship and back-and-forth between Rose and Windy feels authentic, as does the familial bonds. And, as is obvious by the cover, the art is incredibly gorgeous. I had to keep pausing while I read, just so I could stop and admire the beautiful backgrounds.

Like Skim, This One Summer is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and fun to read. I can only cross my fingers and hope for more to follow.

Recommendation: Buy it now — this is pretty much perfect for summer reading…

At the library…

So I was at the library the other day, checking out the books in the new teen fiction section, when I thought, “Huh, how many of these books involve POC?” (Spoiler alert: Not a lot.)

A little context: my local library is the only library in a city with a population that’s overwhelmingly Asian American. To call POC a ‘minority’ is a joke, in these parts.  Seriously. When I was in high school, 76% of the students were Asian American. Given the main demographic in my city, I figured that the library would have slightly more variety than the average library. Still, the numbers were pretty dismal.

Out of approximately 180 books (30/shelf x 6 shelves), I found 11 written by or about POC. That’s 6.1%, but since I might have missed one or two, let’s go with 7%.

ddd (2)
IMG_2196 - CopyContemporary/Realistic YA lit:
Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez
Invasion by Walter Dean Myers
Beware of Boys by Kelli London
Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

Sci fi/fantasy YA lit:
Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Warrior by Ellen Oh
Prodigy by Marie Lu
Champion by Marie Lu
The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa

Graphic novels:
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
Romeo and Juliet by Gareth Hinds

So… At my local library, 7% of the new teen fiction section are books written by/about POC. If Hamlet were a modern day book nerd, he would say that something is rotten in the state of publishing.

What’s the make up of your library’s new YA lit section?

New Releases

This week, there’s one new book coming out, and one from last week! Which one are you interested in reading?

rivalsRivals in the City (The Agency #4) by Y.S. Lee

Available: June 5th, 2014

This is the fourth colourful and action-packed Victorian detective novel about the exploits of agent Mary Quinn. Mary Quinn and James Easton have set up as private detectives and are also unofficially engaged to be married. But when the Agency asks Mary to take on a special final case, she can’t resist, and agrees. Convicted fraudster Henry Thorold (from book one, A Spy in the House) is dying in prison. His daughter, Angelica, is coming to see him one last time. Mary’s brief is to monitor these visits in case Mrs Thorold, last heard of as a fugitive in France, decides to pay him one last visit. But Mrs Thorold’s return would place James in grave personal danger. Thanks to the complications of love and family loyalties, the stakes for everyone involved are higher than ever. This is the final book in the Mary Quinn Mystery series. It is perfect for fans of Philip Pullman’s Sally Lockhart series and Victorian culture. It is a vivid, well-researched and lively historical / detective fiction with a strong female protagonist and a smart romance. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

brokenBroken Worlds by Anitha Robinson

Available: June 10th, 2014

When a brutal attack leaves her barely conscious, Kalli thinks that the young man carrying her away is an angel sent to ferry her to Heaven. After all of the abuse and months of homelessness, Kalli welcomes the relief that Heaven would bring. Handsome Ellis, though, turns out to be just as mortal as she is. A kind stranger, Ellis saves her life by taking her to a local clinic to be healed. Once better, Kalli finds herself staying with her unusual rescuer while being monitored constantly by his mysterious family. It s not an ideal situation, but it beats the streets. Now that she s safe and warm and appears to have found someone who cares for her, Kalli assumes the worst is behind her. She couldn t be more wrong. Broken Worlds was the very first Young Adult Winner in the Yummy but Brainy Writing Contest presented by CBAY Books. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

 

 

The World Agrees: #WeNeedDiverseBooks Panel Recap

Thanks to the awesome Eunice Kim for recapping the #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel for a Rich in Color guest post!

panel

The #WNDB Panel (L-R): Ellen Oh, Marieke Nijkamp, Aisha Saeed, I.W. Gregorio, Lamar Giles, Mike Jung, Matt De La Pena, Grace Lin, and Jacqueline Woodson

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the #WeNeedDiverseBooks (WNDB) Panel at Bookcon with my friend Kacie. When Bookcon officially announced the panel a few weeks back, Kacie, and I knew this would be the panel we wanted to attend the most. Kacie and I arrived to the panel room about a half an hour before the panel was scheduled to start to wait on line. Author Lamar Giles (author of FAKE ID) and other co-organizers generously passed out some cool freebies, including WNDB buttons, pins, and bookmarks during this time before doors opened. Next to the panel stage, there was an ongoing slideshow featuring photos from the WNDB campaign. By the time the panel started at 10 am, the room was soon packed with every available seat taken, and a ‘standing-room’ only section towards the back, where attendees stood against the back and side walls. Additional attendees were turned away when the room had reached its capacity.

The panel began with remarks by moderator I.W. Gregorio (author of NONE OF THE ABOVE) who gave a “virtual mic drop” for everyone who tweeted and submitted photos, but also for the overall love and support for the WNDB campaign. Gregorio then introduced key members of the WNDB team, including its founder Ellen Oh (author of the DRAGON KING CHRONICLES series), Aisha Saeed (author of WRITTEN IN THE STARS), Mike Jung (author of GIRLS, GEEKS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES), Marieke Nijkamp (founder of DiversifYA), and Lamar Giles. Special guest panelists included authors Matt de la Pena (THE LIVING), Grace Lin (WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON), and Jacqueline Woodson (BROWN GIRL DREAMING).

After panelist introductions, Aisha Saeed spoke generally about the campaign, and noted that despite changing demographics in the US, “children’s literature has remained anything but diverse.” Saeed specifically cited a recent study by the Children’s Cooperative Book Center (CCBC) documenting this lack of representation, noting that out of the 3,000 books used in the study and published in 2013, only 7.5% had any diversity. Saeed also emphasized the grassroots aspect of the campaign, noting that the hashtag alone garnered over 162 million Twitter impressions, and “while we [the WNDB team] many have organized this campaign, it was your [the audience] collective voices that made the world stop and listen.”

Next, Marieke Nijkamp of DiversifYA emphasized how “representation matters,” so “when our books don’t include [diverse] characters that our readers can relate to by shared experiences, shared backgrounds, and shared abilities, our books continually erase those characters. We teach readers that their stories and voices don’t matter. We teach them that they don’t matter.”

Ellen Oh discussed the next WNDB initiatives, and probably the most exciting among them included the current planning for the first Children’s Literature Diversity Festival to be held in Washington, D.C. in Summer 2016. Oh stated that this will be a “a festival where every panel, every event, will be to celebrate diversity in all of its glory.”

Gregorio then went on to ask specific questions for the panelists, and there were great anecdotes and answers. When the authors were asked ‘what was the first book that you read that reflected your diversity?” Giles discussed growing up, how “librarians kept trying to point me to books about slavery and black power,” but coming across Walter Dean Myers’ FALLEN ANGELS when he was 11 or 12, really instigated the first “spark.” However, it would take a few years later before Giles stumbled upon the type of work that he felt really represented him.

Matt De La Pena noted that he was a reluctant reader growing up, but Sandra Cisneros’ THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET and Junot Diaz’s DROWN proved to be instrumental books for him. On the other hand, Mike Jung recalls that growing up, he doesn’t recall “ever reading a book that reflected my ethnicity. Ever,” and subsequently thought about his kids (a three-year-old and seven-year-old) when writing GIRLS, GEEKS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES. Jung specifically noted that he “could have chosen to create a world that wasn’t racially or ethnically diverse, but I would have needed a reason for this, and I didn’t have a good, compelling reason not to make it diverse.” So, Jung wanted to create a daily reality that reflected not only his own daily reality, but also that of his children. Jacqueline Woodsen also highlighted the importance of dialogue when first coming across a book that reflected her diversity, with characters calling their mothers “mama.” This caused Woodsen to realize “what I’d missed until I saw it on the page, and then being hungry for it for the rest of my life.”

The panelists also emphasized that diverse reads aren’t just for marginalized readers, with De La Pena stating that “it’s incredibly powerful for the suburban white kid to read my books,” and Lin explaining that “we need to sell diverse books to people who don’t know that they need them.” Lin particularly touched upon her own background as a former bookseller in Cambridge, MA. During this time, when Lin would show a when book featuring a person of color to white customers, they would immediately reply, “Oh, that’s not for us,” but often without realizing why. Thus, Lin emphasized that it’s important that “we need to talk about diverse books differently,” citing that her Newbery winning fantasy novel, WHEN THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, as a fantasy adventure tale featuring a female heroine and a dragon, thus it should appeal to all readers, and not just Asian-Americans. Lin then cited her “Cheat Sheet For Selling Diversity” which is available on her blog.

The panel concluded after a quick Q&A session, but ultimately left on a positive note, and probably best by this quote by Jacqueline Woodson after she was asked what her vision for WNDB is next: “My biggest vision is that we don’t have to have this panel anymore…where ‘there is no ‘other.’ These books aren’t just for the people who look like us. They’re for all of us.” The panelists also commended the audience for their support, with Mike Jung pointing out that “Everyone here is speaking out and stepping up…and this is vital, necessary, and absolutely important to do so to effect change.”

After the panel, Kacie and I were also lucky enough to meet Ellen Oh, who kindly signed my copy of PROPHECY!

diverse 3

My signed copy of PROPHECY!

diverse 2

Some freebies I picked up!


Eunice Kim is a recent graduate of Sociology, but has always been, and will always be an avid bookworm at heart. She currently works as an Editorial Associate at Simon and Schuster. You can reach her at her tumblr!

Review: Dangerous

dangerousTitle: Dangerous
Author: Shannon Hale
Genres: science fiction
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Review copy: the lovely library
Availability: March 4, 2014

Summary: Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There’s no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.

From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else? [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: Dangerous is one of those books you pick up to read and then suddenly five hours have passed, the sun’s setting, and you haven’t moved an inch from where you’re sitting. This is a fast paced sci-fi book with all the fixings: Technology! Bad guys! Outer space! Romance!**

It starts out slow, with the introduction of the heroine Maisie Danger Brown and her incredibly lovable parents. Her mother is from Paraguay and her father is a hopeless jokester. The two home-school Maisie, who dreams of being the first one-armed astronaut in outer space. Her partner in genius nerdiness is her best friend and fellow home-schooler Luther. Maisie’s relationship with her family and friends was incredibly heartwarming to read.

After Maisie goes away to space camp, the story quickly speeds up and continues to accelerate until the end. Maisie goes from awkward, nerdy homeschooler to full blown, on-the-run superhero within a hundred pages. She certainly lives up to her middle name. This is a book that captures the spirit of ‘well, that escalated quickly.’

The moral grey areas presented in Dangerous are left open ended. Do the ends justify the means? How far is it okay to go for the greater good? And so on. While these questions were interesting food for thought, it would have been nice for some of the morally sketchy parts of the book to be addressed – think Ender’s game and the use of children in military activities. Not to mention some of Wilder’s more questionable pick-up lines…

Though the romance and plot twists teetered on the inexplicable side at times, the snappy dialogue and fast paced story more than made up for it.

Recommendation: Get it soon.

Shannon Hale: On neutral characters and relating to the specific

**Though I couldn’t help but get incredibly skeeved out by the guy who’s all “hey foxy Latina~” at Maisie. Sadly, my ship did not sail, though it was good and seaworthy.