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.

Dark Matter (Contagion) By Teri Terry Book Review

I got a advanced reader copy of the book at yallwest. Thanks to Charlesbridge Teen and Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for a review.

Summary: Callie has gone missing and her brother, Kai is starting to believe that he is never going to find her or know what happened to her. Just as he is about to lose hope he meets Shay who recalls a girl who fits the description of Kai’s sister. While on this search to find his sister, Shay and Kai wind up encountering an epidemic that is quickly making its way through Scotland and they are in a race against time. Will Shay and Kai be able to bypass this epidemic and find Callie or will it be too late?

Thoughts: I will read anything that has to do with contagions, epidemics, viruses, and diseases so this was no exception. I was very pleased by so many things in this book but I will say that it isn’t for everyone, as much as I want to have everyone read this book. If you’re a bit squeamish I would say you might want to pass on this book but if not then read on.

When reading books about epidemics and contagions I always enjoy a map being included in the beginning because it makes it easy for me to follow the disease, virus, parasite, or whatever else is causing people to die in large quantities. I love being able to refer back to the map anytime that a character mentions their location or what is happening to people in different parts of Scotland.

I love how the story is told in the perspective of two characters and both of them are talking in first person. I was worried it would get confusing or that they would distract from each other’s story but it was quite the opposite. I felt that hearing from both of their perspectives really adds to the story and is has more of an impact when you find out small details about both of the girls.

Something else that I enjoyed was the explanation for what this epidemic really is. It was a bit difficult for me to understand and I had to read it more than once to get it but I loved that it was different from others I have read in the past. I love that it was something completely out of the norm and something that really made you think.

If you would like to read this book you can find it on Amazon or look for it at your local library.