kaberett: A drawing of a black woman holding her right hand, minus a ring finger, in front of her face. "Oh, that. I cut it  off." (molly - cut it off)
[personal profile] kaberett
This came into my possession via the latest Humble Ebook Bundle, and I am so glad it did. This is how glad I am: I am about two-thirds of the way through it and I can't wait to finish before I tell you all how good it is.

The protagonist, Hanna, is sixteen, manic depressive (and explicitly, canonically prefers that descriptor to "bipolar", Because Reasons), and Finnish-"island girl" (Hawaiian?), raised (for most of her life) in Dallas. She describes herself as biracial and bicultural, and she's bilingual in English and Finnish - and the codeswitching is genuinely plausibly represented.

The dude she ends up hanging around with a lot is the same age, Latino, and bilingual in Spanish and English - again, really nicely represented.

The story takes place in creepy smalltown Texas. It's sub/urban fantasy and abusive parents and a critique of the medical-industrial complex and teenagers having (complicated, not always happy) sex lives all tied up in tight, funny monster-killing brilliance. It's lovely.

Content notes. )
sumofparts: picture of books with text 'books are humanity in print' (books)
[personal profile] sumofparts
Sort of a mid-year update. It's been a while since I read some of these so I've just written short impressions but feel free to ask about any of the books.

33. Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
34. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
35. The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
36. Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
37. Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
38. Henry Chow and other stories edited by R. David Stephens (white)

Alentejo Blue by Monica Ali
This was a well-written book but ultimately disappointing because it just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Judging from the Goodreads reviews, this was a departure from Brick Lane, which I'll still try eventually.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
Like other posters on the comm, I enjoyed this book but it was not without its flaws, which I think everyone else has covered pretty well.

The New Moon's Arms by Nalo Hopkinson
I liked the book but I don't feel everything gelled very well for me. I did like how the main character wasn't always the most sympathetic.

Valmiki's Daughter by Shani Mootoo
Gorgeous writing and evocative descriptions but similar to The New Moon's Arms, something didn't quite click for me. Still, I'd definitely try this author's other books.

Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki.
Very detailed and beautiful drawings that really capture the story. Equal credit should be given to author and illustrator.

Henry Chow and Other Stories by various authors, edited by R. David Stephens
Enjoyable but uneven collection of short stories for teenagers. I liked the different story settings and character perspectives. From the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop.

a: ali monica, a: hopkinson nalo, a: mootoo shani, a: mariko tamaki, i: tamaki jillian, w-e: stephens r david, short stories, fantasy, lit fic, young adult, coming of age, graphic novel, bangladeshi-british, latin@, dominican-american, caribbean-canadian, jamaican, trinidadian, asian-canadian, chinese-canadian, japanese-canadian, glbt, women writers
annwfyn: (raven - with sun in mouth)
[personal profile] annwfyn
I adored this book. It's a young adult historical novel set during WW2 and is the story of the WASP, the female pilots who never were quite accepted by the military, and Ida Mae who is an African American girl who 'passes' as white in order to be able to fly those planes.

I really enjoyed all of it, and found Ida Mae a really easy character to identify with. I really connected with her journey and spent half my time chewing my fingernails for fear she'd be discovered. I wanted her to succeed, I wanted her to fly those planes, I wanted good things to happen to her and was terrified they wouldn't.

I also was incredibly impressed with how well it handled some difficult issues - racism, sexism, the relationship between light skinned and dark skinned - but did so without either giving the reader or the characters easy answers or solutions, or making the book feel like an 'issue' novel. In fact, it felt a lot like a traditional 'boys own adventure' in some ways. There was barely a romance option, and instead it offered cockpit banter, daring heroines risking their lives in the high skies, and some awesome depictions of same-sex friendship. It also passes the Bechdel test with flying colours.

I won't say everyone will like it. There isn't much resolution at the end of the novel, mostly because there wasn't in real life and although I felt it handled the issues it tackles well, other people might not. I would, however, thoroughly recommend it, for the positive depiction of female friendship and the really empowering story of women basically doing male jobs just as well as any man without any kind of apology.
annwfyn: (nonsense - priestess of pink)
[personal profile] annwfyn
'The Taming of Mei Lin' by Jeannie Lin

This isn't really a novel - it's more of a short story - so I feel like a bit of a cheat adding this. However, I'm lazy and therefore willing to do this.

First of all, this story is a bit of a spin off to 'Butterfly Swords' and is the story of Ai Li's grandmother and grandfather, who are mentioned in that novel, and if you're a 'Butterfly Swords' fan, it's probably worth reading for that. If you haven't read 'Butterfly Swords' or didn't enjoy it, I'm not so sure I'd recommend it.

I mean, it's not bad, it just feels a lot more generic. Yes, the setting is still a historical China, which is cool, but I felt that far less effort had gone into creating the texture and flavour that I adored in 'Butterfly Swords'. As well as that, the characters were infinitely less interesting, and I honestly found the hero quite generic. A lone brooding duellist, captured by a spunky young heroine? Really? Goodness, that's original!

I'm being harsh, I know, especially as it is only a short story and there isn't really as much room to build up the setting as there would be in a full length novel. I also suspect that because I enjoyed 'Butterfly Swords' so much, I've set the bar much higher and I probably should be kinder, but I'm a harsh person and don't want to give Jeannie Lin too much of a 'get out of jail free' card, because I know she's capable of so much more.


'Ash' by Malinda Lo

This novel is the novel that I think proves Father Christmas exists.

No, really. How else could it be that someone could write an awesome young adult lesbian fairytale romance, featuring two kick arse heroines, some fairies, awesome world building and a happy ever after filled with adventure and the promise of more awesome things they can do together? I mean, that doesn't just happen, does it?

I adored Ash from start to finish, and my only sadness about this book is that it wasn't around when I was a teenager. It reminds me a little of a non-hetero Robin McKinley novel - it takes a very traditional fairy story (in this case, Cinderella) and reworks it absolutely beautifully.

I would recommend this absolutely and wholeheartedly, and I am fighting back the urge to say that if you don't like it at all, you are dead inside, have no soul, and I pity you.

Um. Apparently I didn't fight back the urge that well, did I?
annwfyn: (nonsense - priestess of pink)
[personal profile] annwfyn
I am coming to the conclusion that I am a sucker for food in my young adult fantasy. Every time it turns up, I know I'm going to really like the book, and Tantalize was no exception.

This is an awesome novel - it's a fantastic blend of horror, romance, comedy, and also features some brilliant brilliant descriptions of Italian food, all set in Austin, Texas, which is where the author is from, I believe, and certainly she gives the book a real sense of place. The supernatural world she's created is also a little quirky, a bit different, but definitely holds together. Mild spoilers beneath the cut )

It's the first book in a sort of trilogy - Eternal and Blessed are set to follow - and I'm looking forward to reading them as well. This isn't deep literature, and I'm not sure if it counts as urban fantasy, young adult or paranormal romance, but it's a really fun, frothy, bouncy read and I'd totally recommend it.
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[personal profile] rsadelle
The joke I kept making as I read Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac was that while I couldn't remember having read it before, it all seemed vaguely familiar. I'm not sure if that means I did read it once before, if it's because I'd read bits and pieces before when I was deciding if I wanted to read it, or if it's because the book is so well constructed that it all fits perfectly together.

Spoilers )
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[personal profile] rsadelle
Malinda Lo's Huntress takes place in the same world as Ash, her previous book, only several hundred years earlier.

Our main characters are Kaede and Taisin, students at The Academy, where girls go to learn to be sages. Taisin has never wanted anything but to be a sage. Kaede has never even managed the simplest blessing, but she doesn't want to go home to be married off for political advantage. The land is in a state of constant winter, and the king has been invited to visit the Fairy Queen. Instead, he sends his son, Con, along with Taisin, Kaede, and a small batch of guards, to accept her invitation.

Spoilers/Review )

My greatest wish is for Malinda Lo to be one of those writers who really learns to write by the third book. Ash and Huntress are both good, with moments that are exquisite, but I think Lo has the potential to be truly great.
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[identity profile] sumofparts.livejournal.com
1. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
2. Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch by Dai Sijie (translated by Ina Rilke; white)
3. Six Suspects by Vikas Swarup
4. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley
5. The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh

Read more... )

tags: a: selvadurai shyam, a: dai sijie, w-t: rilke ina, a: swarup vikas, a: o'malley bryan lee, a: ghosh amitav, chinese, french, indian, canadian, sri lankan, novel, fiction, graphic novel, young adult, china, india, toronto, sri lanka, glbt, mysteryr
[identity profile] emma-in-oz.livejournal.com
2.31 Melissa Lucashenko, Too Flash (2002)

While looking for articles about Mary Grant Bruce* I found a review of an overview of Australian children's literature by Clare Bradford - and the review recommended Melissa Lucashenko's work as an example of contemporary Indigenous young adult fiction.

And to think that when I started this challenge I worried about finding quality Australian Indigenous fiction. I'm totally embarrassed to admit this now (and I didn't admit it at the time I began). I'm also baffled as now, the more I look, the more great novels I find.

This is a coming of age story, set in Queensland. It has teenaged angst, conflict between girls from different income and education levels, the search for identity, and contemporary Aboriginal politics. It's a really good example of a gripping young adult novel.

* An Australian children's author active from 1910 to the 1940s, mostly known for the Billabong books.
[identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com
This, Lo’s Ash, and Tamora Pierce’s The Will Of The Empress are, to my knowledge, the only YA fantasies with lesbian protagonists ever put out by a mainstream (not small press or specialty) US publishing house. Not only that, but Huntress has an Asian girl pictured on the cover, which is nearly as vanishingly rare in American YA fantasy.

I am really, really hoping it succeeds. It is genuinely groundbreaking and if it does well, it may encourage other publishers to put out and not whitewash similar titles. Even if it doesn't sound like your cup of tea, consider whether you have any friends or relatives who might enjoy it as a gift. I’d say it’s appropriate for good readers of about eleven and up. (It contains kissing but no on-page sex, and some adventure-type violence which is treated with more seriousness than is common. But there’s no graphic details.)

Though Huntress has a somewhat wider scope than Ash, more varied cultural influences, and is not based on a specific fairy-tale, it has most of the same virtues and flaws that Ash did: a strong romance, some very beautiful passages, sketchy worldbuilding, and awkward plotting and pacing. You can probably predict with good accuracy how much you'd like one by how much you like the other, even though the stories are quite different.

In many ways, Huntress is an old-school quest fantasy. Weird and bad stuff is happening in the world, a message unexpectedly arrives from the Fairy Queen, and a party is sent forth to travel to her city and hopefully get her help fixing things. The fellowship includes several adult warriors and guards, the crown prince, and the two teenage heroines. Taisin, a sage-in-training, wields magic and has visions… and will be sworn to celibacy once she officially becomes a sage. Because Taisin had a vision of Kaede, another girl at the sage school, Kaede comes along too, even though she’s about to leave school because she has no gift for magic, and has no obvious gifts at all other than a knack for throwing knives.

En route to the fairy city, Taisin and Kaede get to know each other, fight off magical opposition, and slowly fall in love. Lo excels at depicting the slow budding of their relationship, and all their hesitant, conflicted feelings. I could have happily read a story about nothing but Taisin and Kaede going to sage school and falling in love, because the romance aspects of the story are really well-done.

Other than the romance, the book was oddly structured and paced. Most of the story takes place on the road, which is fine but a little slow-paced, but once they arrive in the fairy city, events happen extremely fast. There’s a rushed-feeling second quest, in which the Big Bad goes down with disappointing ease, followed by an even more rushed third quest, which takes all of five pages to begin and complete. The final quest made sense thematically, but it was oddly placed and jarringly fast.

The world is Chinese/Celtic, and those very different cultures didn’t mesh coherently. The omniscient POV also didn’t quite gel for me – it was mostly Kaede and Taisin, but with brief peeks into other characters. I would have liked it better if the chapters had alternated between Kaede and Taisin’s POVs.

That being said, I did like the romance very much, and I enjoyed reading the book. If I knew any teenagers who were interested in non-urban fantasy, I would definitely press it upon them.

[identity profile] emma-in-oz.livejournal.com
Anita Heiss has set up a top 100 Australian Indigenous books. I'd read 12 of her favourite 99 books - she left the last one blank so people can add their own favourites.

See here: http://anitaheissblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/anitas-bbc-black-book-choice-reading.html

That means there's all the more for me to discover, a veritable treasure trove.

I had intended to work through the list in order but, alas, number one is *Benang* which, judging from the first few pages, I reject as the worst kind of self consciously literary fiction. Number two (Vivienne Cleven's *Bitin' Back*) and number three (John Muk Muk Burke's *Bridge of Triangles*) are not in my local library system.... which brings me to Anita Heiss' fourth choice - Terri Janke's *Butterfly Song* (2005).

It's a young adult novel about an insecure, recent Law school graduate who goes to Cairns with her mother, rediscovers her Thursday Islander roots and saves a family heirloom. Janke uses the interesting technique of leaping about in time, showing the narrator's first experiences at university, her childhood memories, her mother's life and her grandmother's.

However, I would suggest that Janke uses this technique rather clumsily. The plot hinges on the recovery of a butterfly carved in pearl shell, held by a white family but claimed as a family momento by an Islander family. Janke shows that it absolutely belongs to the Indigenous family and was stolen from them. It's all rather black and white (pardon the pun) when most disputes about the appropriation of Indigenous culture, artifacts, knowledge or land are a lot more... well disputed. Especially as the conclusion is a court scene in which the white owner listens, agrees and hands over the expensive item. It's a very neat ending, but not one that seems in tune with human nature.

Perhaps I find this frustrating because it is a YA novel and Janke needs to wrap things up by the end. Still, it's not what I'd call a subtle novel.
ext_939: Sheep wearing an eyepatch (skywardprodigal Cog Flowers)
[identity profile] spiralsheep.livejournal.com
13. The Young Inferno by John Agard and Satoshi Kitamura is a verse retelling of Dante's Inferno embedded in a picture book. I liked Kitamura's stark, black and white, art style but in the art-as-storytelling stakes it seemed to me to lack variety. It also clashed with one of the text's spelled out messages: "My teacher said, 'You've got a point. Quite right. / It just shows that neither beast nor man / can be divided into black and white.' " Except this is a black and white book in several senses. Agard's verse text didn't work for me as either narrative or poetry. (Note to self: don't read retellings of Christian morality stories unless they're specifically subversive in some way.) However, I'm probably about as far from the target audience of hoodie-clad schoolboys as it's possible to be so who cares about my opinion anyway? I just hope this isn't picked up from the teen, graphic novel, section of the library by a reluctant reader who is consequently discouraged further. Agard writes good poetry but this isn't it. Kitamura's first and second illustrations are both interesting as art, especially the way Our Hero is represented as a negative (in the photographic sense) of himself, but the only illustration which wholly won me over is the fossil landscape in illo 4.

14. Too Black, Too Strong by Benjamin Zephaniah is an extremely powerful collection of individually skillful and soulful poems. Ben is one of the most humane people I've met and it shows through in every word of his work. Most people know him as a Rastafarian lyricist who wrote that "funny" poem about turkeys and Christmas, and maybe as that political poet who refused to accept the Order of the British Empire he was awarded, or that black British man who was bereaved of a family member by police violence (although that describes too many people), but his work is so much more: witty, political, memorial, deeply spiritual, widely literary, and linguistically sophisticated. There are several example poems at my dw journal.

15. Fiere* by Jackie Kay is her latest, 2011, poetry collection. I've loved Kay's writing since the first time I encountered it, years ago. Amongst other forms, she's an extremely accomplished poet in both Scots** and English. Kay's poems aren't generally confessional (in the strictest literary sense of that word) but they do contain enough autobiography that I feel some minimum background aids understanding, and that's provided in the brief blurb on the back. Kay is multiracial, her mother was a Scottish Highlander and her father was a Nigerian Igbo. She was born in Edinburgh and raised by white Scottish adoptive parents. There are two example poems, the ecstasy and the agony of human relationships, at my dw journal.

* "fiere", Scots, meaning "companion/friend/equal"
** Scots, which is primarily related to English, not Scottish Gaelic which is a different language.

Tags: women writers, african-caribbean, black british, britain, british, british-african-caribbean, caribbean, black scottish, scottish, guyanese, poetry, japanese, biracial, multiracial, children's books, sf/fantasy, fiction, guyanese-british, igbo, young adult
[identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com
This begins as a sweet, fluffy YA novel about Lainey, a shy, socially awkward teenage girl who wants to become the first African-American vegetarian female celebrity chef, but gains unexpected emotional force as it goes along.

Lainey has been content for years to hang out in the kitchen of her mother’s restaurant, chopping vegetables and bringing in her own recipes for the staff to try, and dreaming about leaving roses at Julia Child’s kitchen in the Smithsonian. But her long-time friend and secret crush, a popular boy named Sim, starts stirring up messy, uncomfortable feelings in her, and finally gets her to help him run away - a favor that seriously disrupts her life and even her relationship with her mother.

This is one of the more realistic depictions of teenage emotions, relationships, and sometimes terrible decision-making I’ve come across in a YA novel. (But don’t worry, it ends happily.) While the basic story has been told many times, it’s still worth telling and this is a good version of it. Many of you may identify a lot with Lainey’s social difficulties and determination to pursue her own quirky interests. Plus, it has a number of tasty-sounding recipes included.

While Lainey is nearly 18, this novel is suitable for preteen readers as well as teenagers: the writing itself is fairly simple, and the concerns aren’t ones limited to older teens. It’s definitely the sort of thing I would have enjoyed at nine or ten, and still enjoyed now.

A la Carte
[identity profile] veleda-k.livejournal.com
The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday (Illustrated by Al Momaday)

The Way to Rainy Mountain )

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Illustrated by Ellen Forney)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian )
[identity profile] puritybrown.livejournal.com
44: Swami and Friends by R. K. Narayan

Although it was his first novel, I'm not sure I would have chosen to begin my exploration of R. K. Narayan's work with Swami and Friends -- I was rather hoping to read his retelling of the Ramayana one of these days -- but I just happened to stumble on it in a charity shop, for the princely sum of €2. So I snapped it up, and I greatly enjoyed it. It is one of those books that one hesitates to call "a children's book" because although the protagonist is a child, there are lots of glimpses of the adult world and adult sensibilities peeking through the narrative, and it could be enjoyed as much by adults who can see the wider significance (or lack thereof) of Swami's little dramas as by children appreciating a story about their peers.

It put me in mind of the William books, which were staples of my childhood. Swami and Friends was first published in 1935, and Just William was published in 1922, so it's possible that Richmal Crompton was an influence on Narayan, though I wouldn't want to put money on it; quite likely anyone writing about young boys at that period would produce a story with a similar sort of atmosphere. Like the William books, Swami and Friends is very funny, but there's a more serious side that the William books lack; Swami is growing up in an India struggling for independence, and at one point he gets caught up in a patriotic demonstration that turns into a riot. Yet, Swami being only ten years old, this riot is no more important in his eyes than the fact that he has to miss cricket practice because of Scout drills after school. It's that shift in perspective to a child's-eye-view that makes Swami and Friends so charming and effective.

45: Emiko Superstar written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Steve Rolston
I loved Skim, which was written by Mariko Tamaki with her cousin Jillian Tamaki, so I had high hopes for Emiko Superstar. And it's good; not as good as Skim, but still clever and entertaining. Like Skim, the main character is a slightly geeky Japanese-Canadian teenage girl who longs for something more than her boring, mundane life. The "something more" comes in the form of the Freakshow, a local performance art night positively custom-designed to appeal to teenagers. Emiko is at first intrigued, then scared, then drawn in by the Freakshow; the wildness of it is seductive, even if it has its unsavoury side. Meanwhile, she's got herself a job babysitting for an outwardly-perfect suburban couple, but there's more going on with John and Susan than meets the eye.

Emiko Superstar is part of DC's ill-fated Minx line of short graphic novels aimed at teenage girls. I have mixed feelings about the Minx line; some of the titles were good, and they were all obviously well-intentioned, but they often came across as slightly thin and underdeveloped, as if they needed either twenty more pages or six extra months of rewrites and redraws to get up to snuff. None of the ones I've read were bad, exactly, they were just... flat. Uninspiring. Emiko Superstar is one of the better ones; it doesn't feel flat, and it doesn't feel uninspiring, but by comparison to Skim it's a bit wordier, a lot less subtle, and a great deal more predictable. Where Skim was the kind of work where every word and every line seems to bring with it a meaning behind the obvious meaning, Emiko Superstar pretty much all happens on the same level. It's a well-constructed, well-told story that doesn't have much in the way of depth or layers. Still, I did enjoy it.

(tags: a: tamaki mariko, w-i: rolston steve, a: narayan rk, india, graphic novel, young adult, children's books, japanese-canadian)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
[personal profile] zeborah
This is a children's/young-young adult fantasy novel (the publishers reckon 9-12 years which sounds right.) The shape of the plot is a standard dealing-with-school-bully one, but the elements that make it up are a lot of fun.

The supernatural folk are as multicultural as the human cast: Josefa's Vu from Fiji battling the mostly-Scottish Cu Sith; Ming's dragon from China helping; and bully Jack's "Elenpi"s, New Zealand-ified brownies making mischief. As a more minor character Marama may not have her own protective spirit (or at least doesn't know it) but she brings her own iwi's knowledge and confidence to the problems the kids face. (And it's a nice, casual touch that she, rather than any blonde Pākehā, is described as "the prettiest girl in the school".)

I also liked that, though Josefa's family doesn't play an active central role in the plot, they do play their parts and aren't relegated to being nothing but an obstacle to get around.
(ETA: Whoops, meant to link to the publisher's website.)
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: Skeleton Man
Author: Joseph Bruchac
Number of Pages: 114 pages
My Rating: 5/5

Summary: When Molly's parents don't return after a trip, she is placed in the care of a mysterious "great uncle" who's appeared out of nowhere. Everyone else believes his story, but Molly knows something isn't right. Soon she becomes convinced that he is the Skeleton Man, a monster from one of the old Mohawk stories her dad used to tell her. With the help of a rabbit who guides her in her dreams, she begins to make plans to escape and rescue her parents.

Review: This is a super short book, but I really enjoyed it. The story is pretty creepy (both the retold tale of the Skeleton Man that Molly relates as well as what happens to her in the present) and I really liked Molly. I also liked how matter-of-factly Mohawk culture was treated.

Title: Shizuko's Daughter
Author: Kyoko Mori
Number of Pages: 214 pages
My Rating: 5/5

Jacket Summary: "Your mother would be very proud..." Yuki Okuda heard these words when she was achieving in school, excelling in sports, even when she became president of the student council. And she could always imagine the unexpressed thought that followed: "...if your mother hadn't killed herself." But Shizuko Okuda did commit suicide, and Yuki had to learn how to live with a father who didn't seem to love her and a stepmother who treated her badly. Most important, she had to learn how to live with herself: a twelve-year-old girl growing up alone, trying to make sense of a tragedy that made no sense at all...

Review: I liked this a lot. I kept feeling surprised at it for some reason and finally I realised why. It felt very normal in a way I am not sure I've ever seen in a book about Japan written in English (as in, not translated from Japanese). Even when the author isn't white, if they're writing for an English-speaking audience, there's often a tinge of exoticism (sometimes more than a tinge), but there wasn't any of that here at all. Sadly, the cover illustration tries to make up for that by showing a girl in kimono, despite the fact that the book is set in the '70s and the only people ever mentioned wearing kimono are Yuki's grandparents, and her father and stepmother at their wedding ceremony.

One thing that bugged me was that there was this chapter where she seems to totally have a crush on this girl and I thought that's where the story was going, especially since later she still has no interest in guys and this is pointed out several times. But then later it turns out that she was just ~damaged~ from her father's betrayal and didn't want to fall in love, and then she does and is happily heterosexual.
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[identity profile] kyuuketsukirui.livejournal.com
Title: How Tia Lola Came to Visit Stay
Author: Julia Alvarez
Number of Pages: 147 pages
My Rating: 3/5

Jacket Summary: When Miguel's Tia Lola comes from the Dominican Republic to Vermont to help out his Mami, Miguel is worried that his unusual aunt will make it even more difficult to make new friends. It's been hard enough moving from New York City and Leaving Papi behind. Sometimes he wishes Tia Lola would go back to the island. But then he wouldn't have the treats she's putting in his lunch box, which he's sure helped him make the baseball team. And she really needs his help to learn English so she doesn't use all the words she knows at once: "One-way -caution-you're-welcome-thanks-for-asking." So Miguel changes his wish to a new one, and he finally even figures out a clever way to make it come true.

Review: This is a kids' book and while it's cute and I liked it well enough, it's not really one of those kids' books that's terribly enjoyable for an adult. At least not to me.

Title: Ties That Bind, Ties That Break
Author: Lensey Namioka
Number of Pages: 154 pages
My Rating: 4/5

Jacket Summary: Third Sister in the Tao family, Ailin has watched her two older sisters having their feet bound. In China in 1911, all girls of good families follow this ancient practice, which is also an extremely painful one. Ailin loves to run away from her governess and play games with her male cousins. Knowing she will never run again once her feet are bound, she refuses to follow this torturous tradition. As a result, the family of her intended husband breaks their marriage agreement. As she enters adolescence, Ailin finds that her family, shamed by her decision, will no longer support her. Chinese society leaves few options for a single woman of good family, but with bold conviction and an indomitable spirit, Ailin is determined to forge her own destiny.

Review: I enjoyed this. It reminded me a lot of many turn-of-the-century girls' stories I read as a kid, like Anne of Green Gables and stuff.
[identity profile] mizchalmers.livejournal.com
46. Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer

Big Ma said Cecile lived on the street. The park bench was her bed. She lived in a hole in the wall.

You can't say stuff like that to a kid asking about her mother when it's snowing outside or pouring down raining. You can't say, "Your mother lives on the street, in a hole in the wall, sleeping on park benches next to winos."
It is 1968. Three black girls fly from New York to Oakland to get acquainted with their mother, Cecile Johnson. Told in 11-year-old Delphine's wry voice, which never strains credulity, this deft book paints a vivid picture of Oakland and San Francisco at a moment of upheaval whose reverberations are still being felt around here, and elsewhere.

One Crazy Summer is the rare and brilliant Young Adult novel in which - without violating the constraints of the genre - every character is given his or her due. Everyone came from somewhere, everyone needs and wants something; everyone is capable of surprising depths and shallows. People change in plausible ways. Even the poetry woven into the story is convincing, and good; when does that EVER happen?

Slight as it is (I snorfled it down in a few hours) this book is as weighty as its themes, without ever losing its sense of humor. Very, very highly recommended.
[identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com
Despite the usual YA book-cover problem, I just bought a book with a young black woman on the cover, and she really is a character of color! The book is The Agency: A Spy in the House, by Y.S. Lee, and my further comments about the character's race are minor spoilers.

Read more... )

Overall, I liked the book. As the author says, having an academy for disadvantaged girls and a secret organization of women spies are good wish-fulfillment to combat the knowledge of the actual crummy roles available to women in the Victorian era, and if the romance wasn't all that believable the preponderance of female characters, their variety of relationships, and their story-driving agency outweighed that for me quite thoroughly.


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Writers of Color 50 Books Challenge

October 2017

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