July Reading

It’s basically the middle of summer now (a little past it, eek) and I’m happy to say that I’ve been making steady progress on my to-read list. A lot of great books have come out this summer, and I’ve got a few of them sitting on my desk waiting to be read. Here they are:

mirrorMirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana

For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices.

As the world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.

As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara’s life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth–and for Tara–will ever be the same again. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

shinyShiny Broken Pieces (Tiny Pretty Things #2) by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.

June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.

After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever? Image and summary via Goodreads]

shadowThe Shadow Hour (The Girl at Midnight #2) by Melissa Grey

Everything in Echo’s life changed in a blinding flash when she learned the startling truth: she is the firebird, the creature of light that is said to bring peace.

The firebird has come into the world, but it has not come alone. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Echo can feel a great and terrible darkness rising in the distance. Cosmic forces threaten to tear the world apart. Echo has already lost her home, her family, and her boyfriend. Now, as the firebird, her path is filled with even greater dangers than the ones she’s already overcome. She knows the Dragon Prince will not fall without a fight. Echo must decide: can she wield the power of her true nature–or will it prove too strong for her, and burn what’s left of her world to the ground? Welcome to the shadow hour. [Image and summary via Goodreads]

What’s on your summer reading list?
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Covers I Love 2.0

Over on our tumblr, we’ve been re-posting some of our older posts and one of mine, titled “Covers I Love” focused on beautiful book covers with characters of color. Since then, a number of books have out and I thought it would be fun to make a new list of beautiful covers!

pointe1. Pointe by Brandy Colette
One of the things I love about this cover is the colors. The sunset orange of the title mixed with the soft red of the lights throwing the heroine in shadow against the black is just moving. It creates an old world glamour feel with the white smoke at both the top and the bottom. It’s such a quiet cover that masks extremely well the intense story inside.

 

 

 

 

Killer_of_Enemies_FINALquote2. Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
I love this action shot here of the heroine of Bruchac’s dystopian novel. I feel like it captures the essence of the character well and I love that we have a Native American/Indian on the cover. I love the grey feel to the cover as the world that Lozen inhabits does feel like it’s lost all it’s luster and is very drab, while Lozen stands out as a bright spot, just as she does on the cover.

 

 

 

rebellion3. Rebellion by Karen Sandler
Is it any surprise that Tu Books has two books on my list? They clearly know how to do great covers and Oh My Goodness is this one a beauty. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it. I love the blues that give a sense of the cold world that Kayla finds herself in. I also think the model they chose is beautiful and the design of Kayla’s tattoo is beautiful which is a direct contrast of what it really stands for.

 

 

 

shadowshaper4. Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
One of the many aspects of this cover that I love is Sierra’s hair. It is a gorgeous natural afro that is enhanced by all the colors of the world. Sierra is an artist, so the use of paint colors swirling around her head, and with her “don’t mess with me” face makes this the perfect representative of Sierra’s personality. And that is why this cover received so much love (and the novel too!)

 

 

 

whilewerun5. While We Run by Karen Healey
Just look at the intensity on these two character’s faces. What I love most about this cover is the juxtaposition of the skin tones of the two characters. It highlights the differences between the two, which is also at the crux of their relationship in the novel. If you look closely, the skin on both is cracked, like dried mud, and that further adds to the mood of the novel of these two characters trying make sense of trauma that has forever changed them and their quest to obtain ownership of their own lives.

 

 

boyinblacksuit6. Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
I’m not exactly too sure what it is about this cover, it’s such a simple & straightforward cover, but it really moves me overtime I look at it. If I had to guess, I think it’s because it captures the essence of Matt perfectly. This is a young man who is thoughtful, as we can see by the turn of the model’s head and the way the hands are clasped together.  The cover also has a wrinkled quality to it which gives a sense of discomfort, which again, is a representative of the themes in this novel. Matt wears a fancy black suit everyday but is life is in shambles.

 

 

summerprince7. The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
One night, I had this book sitting underneath a lamp and I noticed that it practically glows. I don’t know what materials the cover designer used, but seriously, this cover is absolutely gorgeous. The gold of the tattoos on June’s arm, in contrast with the green just gives this ethereal, out of world experience, which is exactly what this book is. As one reads, the green does have meaning which makes this cover even more fantastical.

 

 

 

ypl_woodson_Brown_Girl_Dreaming8. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Lastly, I had to include this cover because it is one of my favorite covers ever. I absolutely love the contrasts of blue against brown and this cover that gives us a gorgeous earth mixed with a gorgeous sky and a lone girl between them dreaming, her thoughts in the sky while feet are planted on earth, is everything. The sunlight behind the girl, just illuminating her slightly, adds to the focus on the dreams this young girl has.

 

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Activism and Self-Care

Last week was a difficult one for many in our community after the murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers. There was a lot of discussion all over the YA lit sphere about #blacklivesmatter and #ownvoices and how important #CarefreeBlackKids2k16 is.

On Monday Camryn Garrett‘s article “Black Lives Matter Is the Bare Minimum” went up on MTV.com, and she was attacked over its content. Many members of the YA community rallied to her defense, which was a wonderful thing to see.

Today we’d like to share a small collection of our favorite YA books and book lists about activism/social commentary or fun/self-care that are written by black authors and/or star black protagonists.

Activism/Social Commentary
  • The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
  • Fire in the Streets by Kekla Magoon
  • March: Book One by John Robert Lewis and Andrew Aydin with artist Nate Powell
  • How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
  • X by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

Full #Kidlit4Justice Booklist

Read This: #BlackLivesMatter Reads for Teens

Social Justice and Activism in YA Lit

Campaign Zero

How to Help Online

Fun/Self Care
  • This Side of Home by Renée Watson
  • Pointe by Brandy Colbert
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Endangered by Lamar Giles
  • Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
  • Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra
  • Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson
  • Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland
  • Perfect Liars by Kimberly Reid

Self-Care Books for African-Americans in the Wake of Recent Tragedies

2014 African American MG & YA Fiction

You Need These Books By Black Women on Your YA Shelves


Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

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YA Titles for Sports Fans

Last week we highlighted the book Away Running by David Wright & Luc Bouchard starting with a guest post by David Wright. The book is centered around American football in Paris. Later in the week, K. Imani also posted an excellent review of the book that convinced me it’s a book I will definitely want to read. I’m not a huge sports fan, but I still tend to enjoy books that have a sports focus. Here’s a diverse list of sports themed books I’ve read or we’ve reviewed here at Rich in Color.

Baseball

convictionConviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Disney-Hyperion

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four-mile-per-hour pitch al- ready has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

See No ColorSee No Color by Shannon Gibney
Carolrhoda Lab

For as long as she can remember, sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge has known two things:
1. She has always been Little Kirtridge, a stellar baseball player, just like her father.
2. She’s adopted.

These facts have always been part of Alex’s life. Despite some teasing, being a biracial girl in a white family didn’t make much of a difference as long as she was a star on the diamond where her father—her baseball coach and a former pro player—counted on her. But now, things are changing: she meets Reggie, the first black guy who’s wanted to get to know her; she discovers the letters from her biological father that her adoptive parents have kept from her; and her body starts to grow into a woman’s, affecting her game.

Alex begins to question who she really is. She’s always dreamed of playing pro baseball just like her father, but can she really do it? Does she truly fit in with her white family? Who were her biological parents? What does it mean to be black? If she’s going to find answers, Alex has to come to terms with her adoption, her race, and the dreams she thought would always guide her.

whiteboyMexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Peña

Delacorte Press

Danny’s tall and skinny. Even though he’s not built, his arms are long enough to give his pitch a power so fierce any college scout would sign him on the spot. Ninety-five mile an hour fastball, but the boy’s not even on a team. Every time he gets up on the mound he loses it.

But at his private school, they don’t expect much else from him. Danny’ s brown. Half-Mexican brown. And growing up in San Diego that close to the border means everyone else knows exactly who he is before he even opens his mouth. Before they find out he can’t speak Spanish, and before they realize his mom has blond hair and blue eyes, they’ve got him pegged. But it works the other way too. And Danny’s convinced it’s his whiteness that sent his father back to Mexico.

That’s why he’s spending the summer with his dad’s family. Only, to find himself, he may just have to face the demons he refuses to see–the demons that are right in front of his face. And open up to a friendship he never saw coming.

Set in the alleys and on the ball fields of San Diego County, Mexican Whiteboy is a story of friendship, acceptance, and the struggle to find your identity in a world of definitions.

Boxing

ZeroboxerZeroboxer by Fonda Lee
Flux

Review by Audrey

A Sci-Fi Thrill Ride Set in the Action-Packed Sports Arena of the Future

A rising star in the weightless combat sport of zeroboxing, Carr “the Raptor” Luka dreams of winning the championship title. Recognizing his talent, the Zero Gravity Fighting Association assigns Risha, an ambitious and beautiful Martian colonist, to be his brandhelm––a personal marketing strategist. It isn’t long before she’s made Carr into a popular celebrity and stolen his heart along the way.

As his fame grows, Carr becomes an inspirational hero on Earth, a once-great planet that’s fallen into the shadow of its more prosperous colonies. But when Carr discovers a far-reaching criminal scheme, he becomes the keeper of a devastating secret. Not only will his choices place everything he cares about in jeopardy, but they may also spill the violence from the sports arena into the solar system.

Football

Away RunningAway Running by Luc Bouchard and David Wright
Orca Book Publishers

Review by K. Imani

Matt, a white quarterback from Montreal, Quebec, flies to France (without his parents’ permission) to play football and escape family pressure. Freeman, a black football player from San Antonio, Texas, is in Paris on a school trip when he hears about a team playing American football in a rough, low-income suburb called Villeneuve-La-Grande. Matt and Free join the Diables Rouges and make friends with the other players, who come from many different ethnic groups. Racial tension erupts into riots in Villeneuve when some of their Muslim teammates get in trouble with the police, and Matt and Free have to decide whether to get involved and face the very real risk of arrest and violence.

Multi-Sport

18068907Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1) by Kate Elliott
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Review by Jessica

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Soccer

bookedkwameBooked by Kwame Alexander

HMH Books for Young Readers

Like lightning/you strike/fast and free/legs zoom/down field/eyes fixed/on the checkered ball/on the goal/ten yards to go/can’t nobody stop you/can’t nobody cop you…

In this follow-up to the Newbery-winning novel The Crossover,  soccer, family, love, and friendship, take center stage as twelve-year-old Nick learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams. Helping him along are his best friend and sometimes teammate Coby, and The Mac, a rapping librarian who gives Nick inspiring books to read.

This electric and heartfelt novel-in-verse by poet Kwame Alexander bends and breaks as it captures all the thrills and setbacks, action and emotion of a World Cup match!

Track/Running

NoneNone of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
Balzer & Bray

Review by K. Imani

Middlesex meets Mean Girls in this one-of-a-kind YA debut.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s world completely unravels. With everything she thought she knew thrown into question, can she come to terms with her new self?

Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.


If you’ve read and enjoyed other sports-themed YA books by or about people of color or people from First/Native Nations please let us know in the comments. Thanks!

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Novellas Keep the Magic Alive

In my last review of Renee Ahdieh’s “The Rose & The Daggar”, I wished that I could spend more time in the world that she created. Well, shortly after that post I learned that Ahdieh had written a few novellas/short stories from the world she had created. This, of course, made me extremely happy but also reminded me that some authors of series we love will publish novellas and/or short stories in between books to help with the reader’s burning desire to learn what will happen next in the series. Some of the novellas can be a prequel to the series, or some give stories from the points of view of different characters in the novel. Either way, the novellas/short stories give us fans more time with our favorite characters in the worlds we love. Check out below some of the novellas/short stories that have enriched many of our favorite series.

roseeagleRose Eagle by Joseph Bruchac

A prequel e-novella to the award-winning Killer of Enemies.

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, seventeen-year-old Rose Eagle of the Lakota tribe is trying to find her place in a post-apocalyptic world.

Before the Silver Cloud, the Lakota were forced to work in the Deeps, mining for ore so that the Ones, the overlords, could continue their wars. But when the Cloud came and enveloped Earth, all electronics were shut off. Some miners were trapped in the deepest Deeps and suffocated, but the Lakota were warned to escape, and the upper Deeps became a place of refuge for them in a post-Cloud world.

In the midst of this chaos, Rose Eagle’s aunt has a dream: Rose will become a medicine woman, a healer. She sends Rose into the Black Hills on a quest to find healing for their people.

Gangly and soft-spoken, Rose is no warrior. She seeks medicine, not danger. Nevertheless, danger finds her, but love and healing soon follow. When Rose Eagle completes her quest, she may return with more than she ever thought she was looking for.


crown&arrowThe Crown & The Arrow (The Wrath & The Dawn Series #.5) by Renee Ahdieh

Seventy-one days and seventy-one nights had come and gone since Khalid began killing his brides. This dawn, Khalid would mark the loss of the seventy-second girl, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran. Khalid didn’t know how many more of these dawns he could take. And there was something about this latest girl that piqued his interest. Not only had she volunteered to marry him, but at their wedding ceremony, she had seemed not the least bit afraid. In fact, what he had seen in her eyes was nothing short of pure hatred. She was about to lose her life. Why wasn’t she afraid? Why did she hate him so? He had never before gone to his wife’s chambers before her death at dawn. Tonight would be different.

moth&flame

The Moth & The Flame (The Wrath & The Dawn Series #.25) by Renee Ahdieh

It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

 

 

 

mirrorThe Mirror & The Maze (The Wrath & The Dawn Series #1.5) by Renee Ahdieh

The city of Rey is burning. With smoke billowing, fires blazing and his people fleeing, Khalid races back to defend his city, and protect his queen. But Khalid is too late to do either. He and his men arrive to find the city in ruins, nothing but a maze of destruction, and Shahrzad is gone. But who could have wrought such devastation? Khalid fears he may already know the answer, the price of choosing love over the people of Rey all too evident.

 

 


dorothyv1Dorothy Must Die: Stories (Dorothy Must Die, #0.1 – 0.3) by Danielle Paige

Long before Amy Gumm got swept away from a Kansas trailer park…Dorothy Gale received a package on the night of her 16th birthday: a pair of red high-heeled shoes. Dear Dorothy, the note read. I thought about silver to match the ones you lost, but in the end I decided that red was more your color. I think you know what to do with them.

And with a knock of her heels, Dorothy returned to the magical land that made her a star—and Oz would never be the same again.

This bind-up of three prequel novellas to the New York Times bestselling Dorothy Must Die series follows Dorothy Gale as she transforms from good girl to Wicked Witch. Kiss the land where troubles melt like lemon drops goodbye. Here there’s danger around every corner, and magical shoes won’t be able to save you.

dorothyv2Dorothy Must Die: Stories Vol. 2 (Dorothy Must Die, #0.4-0.6) by Danielle Paige

Before the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow became Dorothy’s henchmen in Dorothy Must Die

The Wizard was gone, Dorothy had returned home to Kansas, and Oz was left a changed place. Glinda the Good Witch set the three friends on their new paths: the Scarecrow would now rule the Emerald City with his new brain, the Tin Woodman and his heart would travel to the land of the Winkies to become their leader, and the Lion would put his courage to good use as the King of Beasts.But in a place like Oz, where magic and temptation lurk around every corner, the gifts from the Wizard begin to take on a life of their own…This bind-up of three prequel novellas to the New York Times Bestselling Dorothy Must Die series follows the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Lion as they evolve from Dorothy’s beloved friends into something almost Wicked.

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The 20th Anniversary of the Pura Belpré Award and a Few Favorites

The 20th Anniversary celebration of the Pura Belpré Award is coming up in about a week and a half. I had hoped to be there, but plans changed. Instead I will be following the festivities from home on Twitter. I’m sure it will be an exciting time for those able to attend. Here’s a brief video about the event.

Leading up to the celebration, Latinx in Kid Lit has had many fabulous posts highlighting past recipients of the award. Following their lead, we’ve been taking a look at the YA winners and honor books. In addition, we have one other Pura Belpré post over on Tumblr.

There have been many amazing books that have won the award or have been honored. Here are a few of my favorites.

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 5.20.20 PM

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall:
This is a verse novel with an autobiographical quality to it that McCall explains in this post at Lee & Low. It’s a beautiful story of a Mexican American family maintaining hope through difficult times.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz: Jessica reviewed this powerful book in 2013. If you haven’t yet read it, you will want to grab it immediately. It is unforgettable.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina: Jessica also reviewed this fantastic contemporary book in 2013 and we were fortunate enough to have an interview with Meg Medina too.

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle: This is an intriguing historical verse novel about a young woman who loved books, hated slavery, wanted equality for women, and spoke out to create change at a time when women were supposed to simply be decorative property.

The Living by Matt de la Peña: This is an exciting action/adventure/dystopian story that had me captured from the very beginning. My review is here.

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle: This is the most recent author award winner. It’s fantastic and not to be missed. My review is here.

If you’re planning for your summer reading, the Pura Belpré list is an excellent place to find compelling stories.

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