Sunday, January 21, 2018

American Street

From the Publishers:
American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story perfect for fans of Everything, EverythingBone Gap; and All American Boys.
In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture.
On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.
But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.
Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

My thoughts:

I don't think the description really captures the magic and pain of this book, nor does it fully capture the clash of Fabiola's identity and values with the identity of her aunt and cousins who seem to have been severed from their Haitian identity and float aimlessly, unaware that they are shadows, and not fully formed. This book just ends before I was ready for it to end, but I think that is what makes it so memorable. 

I hope there are more accolades for this writer and this immigrant from Haiti. It is well deserved.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Flame in the Mist

From the publishers:

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.
The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

My thoughts:
The cover did not pull me in, but once I started reading, this "Mulan" style story pulled me in to the intrigues of court. I wanted to hear more about the power of the court women but the glimpses were good.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Iron Fey series

I have been reading this series from Harlequin Teen author Julie Kagawa.
She reminds me of my little sister. But aside from that, if you like:

Girl power
Finding your inner strength
Love triangles

this series is for you. The author also has novellas in between for hardcore fans. I don't read novellas. I want the books to speak for themselves so I read 4: Iron King, Iron Daughter, Iron Queen and Iron Knight.

There are actually 3 more in a slight detour series connected,  but I realize that 4 is more than the normal trilogy put out by YA authors, and after the 4th one, I am definitely done with this world and these characters. I just don't need to spend anymore time with them. There is nothing wrong with the books. They are very engrossing. Just I am personally done and moving on to other things.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank

From the Publisher:
4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK is the darkly comedic story of four burgeoning child criminals and their elaborate plans. When a group of bumbling criminals show up in her father's life looking to pull one last job, young Paige has two choices - let her father get caught up in their criminal hijinks or enlist her three best friends to do the job first. Paige picks the bad one.
180ish pages of full color comic-booking about friendship, family, growing up, and grand larceny from rising star writer Matthew Rosenberg (WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, KINGPIN, SECRET WARRIORS) and equally rising star artist Tyler Boss (LAZARUS, CALEXIT, Vice Magazine). This vollume collects the complete series that Kieron Gilled (THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, DARTH VADER) described as "Imagine Tarantino does Goonies. And excellent." and Brian K. Vaughan (SAGA, Y THE LAST MAN) said was "Exploding with ambition and love of the medium!"
My Thoughts:
The premise is this:  a group of gaming nerd boys in their tweens (11-12), led by a 12 year old girl, Paige, aka Sir Manly, who has the ability to beat up all her friends, decides to rob a bank so that her father does not rob a bank. This is Paige's way of saving her father and the boys go along with it despite the fact that science geek Walter, who does not speak louder than a mumble, continues to throw up every time things get a little intense. 
Rosenberg does not need to come up with a better title. The title is shocking enough and it got me reading because guess what, this really is about 4 kids who walk into a bank. It is so funny and so dark, this is cowboy coffee with a shot of whiskey. This book hit me in the guts and I knew in my brain that I should not be laughing but it was so macabre and I couldn't help it. From the chapter headings - "Chapter One: As far bask as lunchtime I always wanted to be a Gangster" to the acknowledgments at the end "And most importantly, thank you to all the real child bank robbers out there for letting us tell your story. . ." this book is darkly hilarious. 
I loved the tween logic of planning the heist, including their choice of disguises and the fact that Pat gets to drive the getaway car to the bank because he is tallest. Berger, who is the one that stole the family car insists that he gets to drive but his legs do not reach the pedals, so he has figured out by the end of the heist that if he ties blocks on his feet he will be able to drive. 
In the end, this is a no sacharine, no happy ending, real guns, real blood comic. That is what makes this so refreshing, so yes, thank you  to all the real child bank robbers for letting your story be told. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Piecing Me Together

From the Publishers:

Acclaimed author Renee Watson offers a powerful story about a girl striving for success in a world that too often seems like it's trying to break her.

Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she's ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some opportunities she doesn't really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for "at-risk" girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn't mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She's tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.

My Thoughts:

Similar to Esperanza from House on Mango Street, Jade comes to the realization that she must find her voice and gather strength from her own community in order to both get out and come back. This is a great coming of age, girl power, I'm going to pull myself up by my own boot straps and don't nobody need to fix me book. I'm all for empowerment through story and I hope it gets into the hands of as many young women as possible. I just love the collage metaphor that goes so well with the title. 


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