Tag Archives: diverse books

Freefall

Freefall Book Cover Freefall
Joshua David Bellin
Young Adult Fiction
Simon and Schuster
September 26, 2017
368

Cam is eager to leave Earth with the rest of the elite 1% until he connects with one of the 99%, Sofie, and joins her in the fight for Lowerworld rights.

 

Review:

I am definitely in the minority with this, but “Freefall” felt blah to me.  There was a good story and good world-building in there, but it feels like it moved at a snail’s pace getting to anything exciting.  I also felt disconnected from the main characters. This is one of those where I can neither recommend nor not recommend it.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

The Agony of Bun O'Keefe Book Cover The Agony of Bun O'Keefe
Heather Smith
Razorbill Canada
2017-03

Little Miss Sunshine meets Room in this quirky, heartwarming story of friendship, loyalty and discovery.

It's Newfoundland, 1986. Fourteen-year-old Bun O'Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house. Her mother is a compulsive hoarder, and Bun has had little contact with the outside world. What she's learned about life comes from the random books and old VHS tapes that she finds in the boxes and bags her mother brings home. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun's mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does. Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John's, Newfoundland. Fortunately, the first person she meets is Busker Boy, a street musician who senses her naivety and takes her in. Together they live in a house with an eclectic cast of characters: Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost. Through her experiences with her new roommates, and their sometimes tragic revelations, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother's house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family -- a family of friends who care.

 

Review:

I fully recognize that I am in the minority here, but I did not like “The Agony of Bun O’Keefe” at all.  The main character bothered me, even though she was supposed to be one I felt sympathetic toward.  There were good issues brought up, but there were way too many and it made the whole thing seem crowded and rushed.  The only things I liked about it was the character of “Busker Boy” and the diversity.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Situations, Child Abuse, Verbal Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Racist Language, Violence

The Border

The Border Book Cover The Border
Steve Schafer
Young Adult Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
September 1, 2017
368

One moment changed their lives forever. A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them. Crack. Crack. Crack. Not fireworks—gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them. Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcosresponsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

 

Review:

Words cannot describe how important I think “The Border” is for everyone from middle grade up to read.  The story really put a face on the plights of those crossing the US border from the south.  The author did meticulous research and took great care to tell the story in an easy to understand manner.  This would be perfect for classroom and child/parent discussions.  It’s also a good choice for reluctant readers and those looking for diversity in their books.  Highly recommended.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence, Underage Smoking

Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, Book 1)

Nyxia Book Cover Nyxia
Scott Reintgen
Young Adult Fiction
Crown Books For Young Readers
2017
384

Emmett accepts an interstellar space contract but learns en route that to win the promised fortune he and nine other recruits face a brutal competition, putting their very humanity at risk.

 

Review:

I’ll say right off the bat that “Nyxia” borrowed quite a few elements from other science-fiction and dystopian works.  That being said, it didn’t diminish my enjoyment.  It was a quick read that left me wanting more.  Emmett is complex, as are the secondary characters, and there are definitely deeper things going on that I want to know about.  Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait for the second book.  The cast of characters is extremely diverse.  This is a good setup to the rest of the trilogy that I can easily recommend to those who enjoy science-fiction or dystopian novels.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Book Cover Girls Made of Snow and Glass
Melissa Bashardoust
Young Adult Fiction
Flatiron Books
September 5, 2017
384

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother. Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known...or else defeat her once and for all. Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story. “In Girls Made of Snow and Glass, Melissa Bashardoust has given us exquisite displays of magic, complex mother-daughter relationships, and gloriously powerful women triumphing in a world that does not want them to be powerful. A gorgeous, feminist fairy tale.” —Traci Chee, New York Times bestselling author of The Reader “Melissa Bashardoust's debut novel is everything a fairy tale should be.” —Jodi Meadows, New York Times bestselling coauthor of My Lady Jane “Dark, fantastical, hauntingly evocative.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 

Review:

“Girls Made of Snow and Glass” is a unique and imaginative retelling of “Snow White.”  Both of the main characters were complex and there was quite a bit of heartbreak while I was reading it over the circumstances of the infamous stepmother.  Add to it the lgbtq diversity and you get a solid and original read.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Mask of Shadows

Mask of Shadows Book Cover Mask of Shadows
Linsey Miller
Young Adult Fiction
Sourcebooks Fire
September 1, 2017
384

Perfect for fantasy fans of Sarah J. Maas and Leigh Bardugo, the first book in this new duology features a compelling gender fluid main character, impressive worldbuilding, and fast-paced action. Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class—and the nobles who destroyed their home. When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand—the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears—Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge. But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.

 

Review:

“Mask of Shadows” is another diverse book in the young adult category, and I am thrilled to see more representation.  Sal, the main character, is gender fluid.  Unfortunately, the book seemed to drag in quite a few places.  The plot is good.  It is the execution I found lacking.  That being said, it will still appeal to many readers and there is a lot of promise that the next book in the series will improve. I have my fingers crossed.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence

Zero Repeat Forever (Nahx Invasions, Book 1)

Zero Repeat Forever Book Cover Zero Repeat Forever
Nahx Invasions, Book 1
G. S. Prendergast
Young Adult Fiction
Simon and Schuster
August 29, 2017
496

Sixteen year-old Raven, injured and still grieving over her boyfriend's death by the invading Nahx, crosses paths with Eighth, a Nyx warrior who has deserted his unit and abandoned his directives, and as the world falls apart around them, the two learn to trust each other in order to survive.

 

Review:

I really wanted to like “Zero Repeat Forever.”  It has so much that I love: aliens, survivalism, nightmare-inducing scenarios.  Unfortunately, it fell very flat.  The chapters featuring Raven seemed to drag on in an effort to make the “forever” in the title seem literal.  I also did not find her character likable at all.  The only redeeming parts of the book were Eighth and diversity.  I can’t recommend it to even the biggest of alien invasion fans.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Underage Drug and Alcohol Use

Mom and Mum Are Getting Married

Mom and Mum are Getting Married! Book Cover Mom and Mum are Getting Married!
Ken Setterington, Alice Priestley
Juvenile Fiction
January 1, 2004
24

Rosie is surprised to find her Mom dancing alone in the living room, but when Mom announces, “Your Mum and I are getting married!” they can’t wait to start planning the big day. Friends and family come together for a celebration of love.

 

Review:

It’s so wonderful to see a book about same-sex marriage that presents it to children as absolutely nothing other than a regular wedding… which it is.  There are no judgmental family members and it’s a regular party after the simple wedding.  Be aware that it is a bit wordy for a picture book so take that in consideration for your child’s attention span.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

Garden of Thorns

GARDEN OF THORNS Book Cover GARDEN OF THORNS
Amber Mitchell
Young Adult Fiction
Entangled Publishing
February 27, 2017
370

After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden--a burlesque troupe of slave girls--sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn't one of the emperor's men--not anymore. He's the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it. Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose's attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her ashis hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal--if he helps her rescue the other girls, she'll tell him all the Garden's secrets. Except the one secret she's kept for seven years that she'll to take to her grave if she must.

 

Review:

I loved “Garden of Thorns.”  It features a heroine who kicks butt and an intense political uprising.

The premise has two characters and stories that come together for mutual benefit.  Rose was kidnapped as a young child to serve in a burlesque troop made up of underaged slaves.  Rayce is leading an uprising against a tyrant.  There is romance, but it is sweet and simmering, and not at all graphic.  The main plot is focused on the action. Those with weak stomachs beware, the violence is brutal and graphic.

I recommend “Garden of Thorns” for anyone looking for a young adult novel with a strong heroine and a quick-paced plot.  I hope there’s a sequel!

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Graphic Violence, Child Abuse

 

Bronze and Sunflower

Bronze and Sunflower Book Cover Bronze and Sunflower
Cao Wenxuan
Juvenile Fiction
Candlewick Press
March 14, 2017
400

Originally translated: United Kingdom: Walker Books UK, 2015.

 

Review:

While meant for children, “Bronze and Sunflower” is a beautifully written book about the cultural revolution in China during the 1960s-70s that any age group can enjoy and learn from.  The culture becomes alive, helped by the fact that it is translated into English.  Everything rings true and authentic.  I wish there were more books this good about other cultures.  Highly recommended.

This unbiased review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.