May Wrap Up

I got the chance to read a lot of great books this month and I’m so glad for it. I also know that last year most of my favorite books came out in the second half of the year so I was waiting for those this year.

The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter by Aaron Reynolds

I recommend this to those of you who have children who are being introduced to chapter books or are looking for something to read with their kids. This is the perfect book to read with your kids or a great way to introduce a child to chapter books. It’s a great transition from picture books to books with less images.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

I only recently realized how much I love fantasy and sci-fi books. I just rarely read them because it takes me longer to get through them. It takes me a while to get all the characters straight along with getting the lay of their world. I didn’t let that keep me from reading this book though and I am glad for that. This was an original story and I loved that it borrowed from Persian culture which was something I had yet to read about.

The twist in this book is so unexpected and I love how it is done. It adds to the story and makes the characters even more lovable. This is a love story like no other that I have read in the past and I love that it wasn’t about a girl who needed to be rescued but about her rescuing herself and those that she loves.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy fantasy, are looking for bisexual mcs, want action and adventure, or are looking for a young adult fantasy with a female lead.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

I have not read a book about baking yet so this was a nice change. I really liked how the whole book was more complex than just being about Zoe’s baking. I like how it includes her feelings about her dad being in jail and how this complicates her story. I liked how it turned into a story about family and friendship more than just baking. It’s a story about trust, hope, and more.

I recommend this to those of you looking for a book with a black main character and black author. I also think that children ages 11 and up would enjoy this book. Its a great book to introduce racism, injustice and the prison system to middle aged children.

The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad by Mike Birbiglia

As someone who fears having kids i found Birbiglia’s thoughts prior to having a kid relatable. I thought it was great to see his perspective before and after his kid and how even during that first year of his kids life he was still iffy about having a kid. This book was cute, light and fluffy which I read enjoyed during this time.

This Is My America by Kim Johnson

The reality for Black people is that the America that they live in is not the same America that others know. The reality is that their America looks completely different and at a young age they learn what it means to be Black and live in America. This is the story that Tracy Beaumont wants you to know, she wants you to recognize the difference in the America that her and her family is being forced to grow up in.

This is a beautifully written book that tackles difficult issues that Black people still face all over the U.S. There were moments that I had to put this book down to really take in the impact of a scene or to really let something sit with me. I cried along with Tracy and her family at the moments they were able to breathe a sigh of relief and also at the times where they were living in fear.

Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner

What I loved about this book is that it is a slow burn romance so nothing really happens between the two for the majority of the book. I find their back and forth banter and really charming. I actually really enjoy that this book has no sexually explicit material for the majority of the whole book. It really allowed me to focus on Jo and Emma’s stories apart from each other and enjoy it when they came together.

I also really enjoy the way that this book is written. You get to see the story from both Emma and Jo’s perspective. I like how you get to see their inner thoughts at every point of the book as I thought some of those moments were humorous. It also allowed you to feel a lot more tension between the characters and also be angry at how they wouldn’t just get together.

Grown Ups by Emma Jane Unsworth

The book starts off a bit slow and its just a woman’s daily life. Jenny is very immature and you can tell in the way she thinks and her actions. You also get a glimpse of how self-absorbed she is through her obsession with social media. Jenny wants her life to look a certain way to others and when she can no longer fake that ideal life, she starts breaking down.

It feels like your in her head with her and she’s a very nervous person so you feel all of her feelings. By giving you Jenny’s every thought with no filter, its as if you are there with her. This was something that I actually did enjoy. Reading through Jenny’s perspective made other characters stand out and I felt bad that they had to deal with her.

Lobizona by Romina Garber 

When I saw so many people raving about this book I knew that I had to read this book even if I hadn’t given magical realism a try. I knew that I loved fantasy and magical realism was more so people reacting to the magical things as if they were ordinary day things. The idea of magical realism fascinated me and I love the idea that it mixes reality and magic.

What I really enjoyed about this book was how it was about challenging the rules and what it means to deserve to live. I liked the way that it handled that topic both in our world and in the world built by the book. I think this book did a great job bringing the issue of what it means to belong somewhere to the surface.

Hollywood Park by Mikel Jollett

Memoirs are a little difficult to review as I can’t really rate them on their characters or the plot. It isn’t as if those are features that could have been changed in a person’s life. What I can talk about though is the writing style and the way the story is told.

This memoir is split up into four parts each one documenting a different portion of Mike’s life. Each of these different parts is written with a distinguishable tone which is quite enjoyable.

Books to teach Children about Race and Anti-Racism

I guest blogged for early educators on how to introduce diversity and differences to children through the use of books. I thought it was important to also show you all how to introduce the topic of race and racism to children through the use of books.

Something I’ve seen many people struggle with is how to introduce the topic of diversity and differences to young children. How do we introduce the topic of race to children? How do we teach them about anti-racism? How do we make this topic age appropriate?

I’ve found that a great way to introduce the topic of race and racism to children is through the use of books. Books are a great way to get children talking about many things and a great way to simplify what we may call “difficult” subjects. We can use certain books in order to start a conversation and give children the opportunity to ask questions meaning that all we have to do is continue that conversation by answering their questions or asking more questions.

Don’t be afraid to start these discussions in our classrooms and with your children, there are so many ways to do this. These books are a great start but something else you can do is make sure to read books written by Black people to all children. Read books that celebrate Black people along with books that teach about race and racism.


Here are a few books I feel would be a great way for you to discuss race and racism with children. All links will take you to Eso Won Books, a Black owned bookstore in Los Angeles, or Bookshop, where I recommend supporting The Lit Bar, a Black owned bookstore in the Bronx.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson , Rafael López  (Illustrator) 

National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael Lopez have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael Lopez’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The Skin I’m in: A First Look at Racism a First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker (Illustrator)

Racial discrimination is cruel–and especially so to younger children. This title encourages kids to accept and be comfortable with differences of skin color and other racial characteristics among their friends and in themselves. A First Look At… is an easy-to-understand series of books for younger children. Each title explores emotional issues and discusses the questions such difficulties invariably raise among kids of preschool through early school age. Written by a psychotherapist and child counselor, each title promotes positive interaction among children, parents, and teachers. The books are written in simple, direct language that makes sense to younger kids. Each title also features a guide for parents on how to use the book, a glossary, suggested additional reading, and a list of resources. There are attractive full-color illustrations on every page. (Ages 4-7)

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, Raúl Colón (Illustrator)

In this Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of the Year, Paula Young Shelton, daughter of Civil Rights activist Andrew Young, brings a child’s unique perspective to an important chapter in America’s history. Paula grew up in the deep south, in a world where whites had and blacks did not. With an activist father and a community of leaders surrounding her, including Uncle Martin (Martin Luther King), Paula watched and listened to the struggles, eventually joining with her family–and thousands of others–in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

Poignant, moving, and hopeful, this is an intimate look at the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Daddy, There’s a Noise Outside by Kenneth Braswell 

This engaging story begins when two children are awakened by noises in the middle of the night outside the window of their inner-city neighborhood. Both their Dad and Mom spend the next morning explaining to them what was taking place in their community.

The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson , E.B. Lewis (Illustrator) 

Clover’s mom says it isn’t safe to cross the fence that segregates their African-American side of town from the white side where Anna lives. But the two girls strike up a friendship, and get around the grown-ups’ rules by sitting on top of the fence together.

Viola Desmond Won’t Be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner, Richard Rudnicki  (Illustrator) 

In 1946, Viola Desmond bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia. After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the difference in price but was refused: “You people have to sit in the upstairs section.” Viola refused to move. She was hauled off to jail, but her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada’s black community. Vibrant illustrations and oral-style prose tell Viola’s story with sympathy and historical accuracy. 

Non-Fiction Books about Racism to Read

I don’t know how to put my thoughts into words about the injustice that occurs on a regular basis towards Black people. There is just so much to say and I find it better to in these cases to listen to the voices of Black people. What I do know is that things have to change. I had to do something though and creating this list for you all is one of the things that I could do. Pick up one of these books or more to learn more, and to work towards understanding.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi 

Kendi’s concept of antiracism reenergizes and reshapes the conversation about racial justice in America–but even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. In How to be an Antiracist, Kendi asks us to think about what an antiracist society might look like, and how we can play an active role in building it.

In this book, Kendi weaves together an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science, bringing it all together with an engaging personal narrative of his own awakening to antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist is an essential work for anyone who wants to go beyond an awareness of racism to the next step: contributing to the formation of a truly just and equitable society.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander 

Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”

As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them.

In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

Conducting hundreds of interviews during the course of over one year reporting on the ground, Washington Post writer Wesley Lowery traveled from Ferguson, Missouri, to Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland; and then back to Ferguson to uncover life inside the most heavily policed, if otherwise neglected, corners of America today.

In an effort to grasp the magnitude of the repose to Michael Brown’s death and understand the scale of the problem police violence represents, Lowery speaks to Brown’s family and the families of other victims other victims’ families as well as local activists. By posing the question, “What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?” Lowery examines the cumulative effect of decades of racially biased policing in segregated neighborhoods with failing schools, crumbling infrastructure and too few jobs.

Studded with moments of joy, and tragedy, They Can’t Kill Us All offers a historically informed look at the standoff between the police and those they are sworn to protect, showing that civil unrest is just one tool of resistance in the broader struggle for justice. As Lowery brings vividly to life, the protests against police killings are also about the black community’s long history on the receiving end of perceived and actual acts of injustice and discrimination. They Can’t Kill Us All grapples with a persistent if also largely unexamined aspect of the otherwise transformative presidency of Barack Obama: the failure to deliver tangible security and opportunity to those Americans most in need of both.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla F. Saad 

Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacy takes readers on a 28-day journey of how to dismantle the privilege within themselves so that they can stop (often unconsciously) inflicting damage on people of color, and in turn, help other white people do better, too.

When Layla Saad began an Instagram challenge called #meandwhitesupremacy, she never predicted it would spread as widely as it did. She encouraged people to own up and share their racist behaviors, big and small. She was looking for truth, and she got it. Thousands of people participated in the challenge, and nearly 100,000 people downloaded the Me and White Supremacy Workbook.

Updated and expanded from the original workbook, Me and White Supremacy,takes the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge

In 2014, award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way that discussions of race and racism in Britain were being led by those who weren’t affected by it. She posted a piece on her blog, entitled: ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race’ that led to this book.

Exploring issues from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Reni Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge and counter racism. It is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo 

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

“Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”: A Psychologist Explains the Development of Racial Identity by Beverly Daniel Tatum 

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

Diverse Books Published May 2020

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

In a novel-in-verse that brims with grief and love, National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo writes about the devastation of loss, the difficulty of forgiveness, and the bittersweet bonds that shape our lives.

Camino Rios lives for the summers when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this time, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson 

When their foster-turned-adoptive mother suddenly dies, four brothers struggle to keep open the doors of her beloved Harlem knitting shop, while dealing with life and love in Harlem.

Jesse Strong is known for two things: his devotion to his adoptive mom, Mama Joy, and his reputation for breaking hearts in Harlem. When Mama Joy unexpectedly passes away, he and his brothers have different plans on what to do with Strong Knits, their neighborhood knitting store: Jesse wants to keep the store open; his brothers want to shut it down.

Jesse makes an impassioned plea to Kerry Fuller, his childhood friend who has had a crush on him her entire life, to help him figure out how to run the business. Kerry agrees to help him reinvent the store and show him the knitty-gritty of the business, but the more time they spend together, the more the chemistry builds. Kerry, knowing Jesse’s history, doesn’t believe this relationship will exist longer than one can knit one, purl one. But Jesse is determined to prove to her that he can be the man for her—after all, real men knit. 

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 

When Dimple Met Rishi meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this rom com about two teen girls with rival henna businesses.

When Nishat comes out to her parents, they say she can be anyone she wants—as long as she isn’t herself. Because Muslim girls aren’t lesbians. Nishat doesn’t want to hide who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her relationship with her family. And her life only gets harder once a childhood friend walks back into her life.

Flávia is beautiful and charismatic and Nishat falls for her instantly. But when a school competition invites students to create their own businesses, both Flávia and Nishat choose to do henna, even though Flávia is appropriating Nishat’s culture. Amidst sabotage and school stress, their lives get more tangled—but Nishat can’t quite get rid of her crush on Flávia, and realizes there might be more to her than she realized.

Once Upon an Eid by S.K. Ali  (Editor), Aisha Saeed (Editor), Randa Abdel-Fattah, Huda Al-Marashi, Sara Alfageeh, Hanna Alkaf , Ashley Franklin , Asmaa Hussein, Hena Khan, Rukhsana Khan , Ayesha Mattu , Candice Montgomery, N.H. Senzai , Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, G. Willow Wilson

Once Upon an Eid is a collection of short stories that showcases the most brilliant Muslim voices writing today, all about the most joyful holiday of the year: Eid!

Eid: The short, single-syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it’s waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it’s the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it’s the gift-giving and holiday parties to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy. The anthology will also include a poem, graphic-novel chapter, and spot illustrations.

The full list of Once Upon an Eid contributors include: G. Willow Wilson (Alif the Unseen, Ms. Marvel), Hena Khan (Amina’s Voice, Under My Hijab), N. H. Senzai (Shooting Kabul, Escape from Aleppo), Hanna Alkaf (The Weight of Our Sky), Rukhsana Khan (Big Red Lollipop), Randa Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?), Ashley Franklin (Not Quite Snow White), Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow (Mommy’s Khimar), Candice Montgomery (Home and Away, By Any Means Necessary), Huda Al-Marashi (First Comes Marriage), Ayesha Mattu, Asmaa Hussein, and Sara Alfageeh.

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos 

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender 

Felix Love has never been in love—and, yes, he’s painfully aware of the irony. He desperately wants to know what it’s like and why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. What’s worse is that, even though he is proud of his identity, Felix also secretly fears that he’s one marginalization too many—Black, queer, and transgender—to ever get his own happily-ever-after.

When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages—after publicly posting Felix’s deadname alongside images of him before he transitioned—Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. What he didn’t count on: his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi–love triangle….

But as he navigates his complicated feelings, Felix begins a journey of questioning and self-discovery that helps redefine his most important relationship: how he feels about himself.

Felix Ever After is an honest and layered story about identity, falling in love, and recognizing the love you deserve.

What diverse books are you looking forward to reading?

Something to Talk About Book Review

GoodReads Summary: Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames? 

Thoughts: Thank you to Berkley books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

As I decided I would give romance books a try this year, when I saw this book I knew I had to read it. Its a romance book with a F/F couple and there is diversity with the main characters in this book. You have a Jewish bisexual woman in her late 20s and a Chinese American lesbian in her early 40s as the main characters in this book.

What I loved about this book is that it is a slow burn romance so nothing really happens between the two for the majority of the book. I find their back and forth banter and really charming. I actually really enjoy that this book has no sexually explicit material for the majority of the whole book. It really allowed me to focus on Jo and Emma’s stories apart from each other and enjoy it when they came together.

I also really enjoy the way that this book is written. You get to see the story from both Emma and Jo’s perspective. I like how you get to see their inner thoughts at every point of the book as I thought some of those moments were humorous. It also allowed you to feel a lot more tension between the characters and also be angry at how they wouldn’t just get together.

I also really enjoyed the other characters that are introduced throughout the book. I liked reading how Jo develops a friendship with Emma’s sister and how that complicates her relationship with Emma. I also liked reading about Jo’s friendship with Evelyn and how that friendship spanned over time and distance. It was nice to see the parts of Jo’s past that had stuck as she gained fame.

Something that I do enjoy is that this book does touch on the topic of sexual harassment in Hollywood and what that means for woman who are just starting out their careers. I really enjoy the response that Jo had when she found out that someone had harassed one of her employees and while Jo says that this would have been her response regardless of who the employee was, I didn’t find that believable.

I recommend this to those of you who are looking for a book with F/F representation. I think that those of you who like slow burn romance books would also really enjoy this book.

You can get pre-order this book at Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, or look for it at your local library starting May 26.

Here in the Real World Book Review

GoodReads Summary: Ware can’t wait to spend summer “off in his own world”—dreaming of knights in the Middle Ages and generally being left alone. But then his parents sign him up for dreaded Rec camp, where he must endure Meaningful Social Interaction and whatever activities so-called “normal” kids do.

On his first day Ware meets Jolene, a tough, secretive girl planting a garden in the rubble of an abandoned church next to the camp. Soon he starts skipping Rec, creating a castle-like space of his own in the church lot.

Jolene scoffs, calling him a dreamer—he doesn’t live in the “real world” like she does. As different as Ware and Jolene are, though, they have one thing in common: for them, the lot is a refuge.

But when their sanctuary is threatened, Ware looks to the knights’ Code of Chivalry: Thou shalt do battle against unfairness wherever faced with it. Thou shalt be always the champion of the Right and Good—and vows to save the lot.

But what does a hero look like in real life? And what can two misfit kids do? 

Thoughts: Thank you HarperCollins and Balzer + Bray for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my review. Since I really enjoy audiobooks and reading middle grade books I decided to listen to this one on audio while following along with the book.

Something that I look for when reading middle grade is that the characters read their age. If I am going to recommend books to middle graders I want them to be able to relate to the characters and the things that they are going through. I have several cousins that are in the middle grade age range and love being able to recommend things to them which is why I read this genre.

I really enjoy the level of imagination and wonder that was included in this book. The book is recommended for grades 3-7 which is ages 8-12, and I think that the level of imagination and wonder that these characters have is great for that age. I like how these two kids are the outcasts of their age group and don’t feel like they fit in anywhere. This lack of belonging strengthens their friendship with each other and makes these two kids understand each other better.

Something else that I enjoy in middle grade is that there are always parents there even if they only play a small role in the book. While there is brief mention of the parents in this book they give you a sense of why the characters act in certain manners. I love how the characters relationships with their parents explain so much of what they do when their parents are not around.

I think that this book is perfect for kids who are new to chapter books as each chapter is about 4-5 pages and they keep your attention. This would be a great book for a parent and their child to take turns reading.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, or look for it at your local library.

The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter Book Review

GoodReads Summary: Rex Dexter is itching to have a dog. He was practically born to have one. His name is Rex, for crying out loud. It’s a dog’s name. Any pooch is preferable, but a chocolate Labrador is the pinnacle. The best of the best. The dream of all dreams.

When Rex’s B-Day for Me-Day finally arrives, his parents surprise him with a box. A box with holes. A box with holes and adorable scratchy noises coming from inside. Could it be? Yes! It has to be! A . . . a . . .

Chicken?

Pet poultry?

How clucky.

One hour and fourteen minutes later, the chicken is dead (by a steamroller), Rex is cursed (by the Grim Reaper), and wild animals are haunting Rex’s room (hounding him for answers). Even his best friend Darvish is not going to believe this, and that kid believes everything.

Rex’s uninvited ghostly guests are a chatty, messy bunch. And they need Rex to solve their mysterious deadly departures from the Middling Falls Zoo before it happens again.

But how?

Thoughts: Thank you to Little Brown Young Readers and The Novl for the advanced copy of this book.

I was excited to read this because it looks like a book my cousin would like. Before sending it his way I made sure to read it so that I could properly recommend it and I’m glad I did.

The characters in this book had me laughing on every page. I like how this book is a mystery that the characters are all trying to solve and there’s a reason for them being in Rex’s life. Each of the animals have a distinct personality that makes you love them and enjoy solving this mystery with them. I like that even the characters who don’t speak much have something unique about them.

I really like how short each chapter is because it can hold the attention of younger children. Each chapter brings something new to the story, be it a clue, a character or more background. It is easy to get through the chapters and they all transition well into each other. I like that you can put this book down at the end of a chapter and pick it back up later or the next day and continue reading.

I recommend this to those of you who have children who are being introduced to chapter books or are looking for something to read with their kids. This is the perfect book to read with your kids or a great way to introduce a child to chapter books. It’s a great transition from picture books to books with less images.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, or look for it at your local library.

Tunnel of Bones Book Review

GoodReads Summary: Trouble is haunting Cassidy Blake . . . even more than usual.

She (plus her ghost best friend, Jacob, of course) are in Paris, where Cass’s parents are filming their TV show about the world’s most haunted cities. Sure, it’s fun eating croissants and seeing the Eiffel Tower, but there’s true ghostly danger lurking beneath Paris, in the creepy underground Catacombs.

When Cass accidentally awakens a frighteningly strong spirit, she must rely on her still-growing skills as a ghosthunter — and turn to friends both old and new to help her unravel a mystery. But time is running out, and the spirit is only growing stronger.

And if Cass fails, the force she’s unleashed could haunt the city forever.

Thoughts: I decided to listen to this one on audio since I had read the first book of this series in that method. The narrator in this series has a nice soothing voice which makes this book easy to listen to when I want to tune out the world. Something else that is great about listening to this series rather than reading it is how quickly I can get through them, it makes you feel like you are getting through a lot reading in a short amount of time.

I like how events of book one are referenced often throughout the start of this book so you know it is going to be building off of that story. I like that this is true sequel but you probably could also read it as a stand alone. While things from book one are referenced they are still explained clearly enough that you would understand if you haven’t read book one.

Something I enjoy about this book as well as the first book is that the descriptions are elaborate. I can see the scenes that are being described throughout the story and love that you can follow where they are at. I love hearing as Jacob and Cassidy’s friendship develops and changes.

Something else that I enjoyed about this book is that you are getting to know the parents more than in the first book. The first book mentions them and what they do but not much about why or who they are aside from their ghost show. I also enjoy how you get more information about Jacob throughout the book and the connection he has with Cassidy.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy reading paranormal books that are not meant to be scary or books about friendship.

You can find this book at Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, or look for it at your local library.

The New One Book Review

GoodReads Summary: In 2016 comedian Mike Birbiglia and poet Jennifer Hope Stein took their fourteen-month-old daughter Oona to the Nantucket Film Festival. When the festival director picked them up at the airport she asked Mike if he would perform at the storytelling night. She said, “The theme of the stories is jealousy.”


Jen quipped, “You’re jealous of Oona. You should talk about that.”


And so Mike began sharing some of his darkest and funniest thoughts about the decision to have a child. Jen and Mike revealed to each other their sides of what had gone down during Jen’s pregnancy and that first year with their child. Over the next couple years, these stories evolved into a Broadway show, and the more Mike performed it the more he heard how it resonated — not just with parents but also people who resist all kinds of change.
So he pored over his journals, dug deeper, and created this book: The New One: Painfully True Stories From a Reluctant Dad. Along with hilarious and poignant stories he has never shared before, these pages are sprinkled with poetry Jen wrote as she navigated the same rocky shores of new parenthood.


So here it is. This book is an experiment — sort of like a family

Thoughts: Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

As someone who fears having kids i found Birbiglia’s thoughts prior to having a kid relatable. I thought it was great to see his perspective before and after his kid and how even during that first year of his kids life he was still iffy about having a kid. This book was cute, light and fluffy which I read enjoyed during this time.

I also enjoyed how Birbiglia had his wife’s poetry included throughout the book. We got to see her perspective through these poems and the contrast of her feelings and his. I loved getting to see not just the contrast but also the similarities in their feelings.

The writing style really made this book easy to get through and hard to put down. Its multiple essay pieces with poetry in between and is separated into different parts of Birbiglia’s life. I liked that it was in somewhat chronological order and it was written with before baby and then after baby. While it is chronological I also like that its separated by theme as well.

I recommend this to those of you who enjoy comedy or who enjoy memoirs. I think this book very much reads like multiple comedy acts while giving you slices of Birbiglia’s life. I also think that those of you who are fans of Birbiglia would really enjoy getting to read this book.

Starting today you can get this book at Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, or look for it at your local library.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington Book Review

Summary: Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies. 

Thoughts: Thank you to Harper Collins and Katherine Tegan Books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review. I decided to follow this one along as I listened on audio which was great.

I have not read a book about baking yet so this was a nice change. I really liked how the whole book was more complex than just being about Zoe’s baking. I like how it includes her feelings about her dad being in jail and how this complicates her story. I liked how it turned into a story about family and friendship more than just baking. It’s a story about trust, hope, and more.

Something I really enjoyed in this book is how supportive all of her family is. Its really sweet to hear about how all of them pitch in to try and help her meet her goals. I love how it started with them all being supportive of her baking and wanting to help her get what she wanted out of baking and then it shifts to it being about them supporting her regarding her dad.

I love the relationship that Zoe has with her grandmother and how the grandma is understanding of Zoe wanting to communicate with her dad. I like that the grandma explains things to Zoe regarding her dad and tries to help her stay connected with him. I really enjoyed how the grandma stepped in to explain herself regarding Zoe’s dad and to defend her actions to her daughter.

Its really heartbreaking to watch as Zoe learns about injustice and racism through her grandma’s words. It was interesting as Zoe learns about her father and how the justice system worked against him. Its such a moving story to see how she grows up quickly because she is black. It was great to see Zoe never give up on her dad even when obstacles got in her way, and how she always believed the best of him even if she had never met him.

I recommend this to those of you looking for a book with a black main character and black author. I also think that children ages 11 and up would enjoy this book. Its a great book to introduce racism, injustice and the prison system to middle aged children.

You can get this book at Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, or look for it at your local library.