BLOG TOUR: My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi

CoverGenre: Science Fiction/ Realistic Fiction

Shelf Location: Middle Grade

Rating: ★★★★★

This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Penguin Young Readers partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is an uncorrected copy from the publisher, some quotes may have been changed prior to publishing.


Book Synopsis 

In the summer of 1984, 12-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet makes the trip from Huntsville, Alabama, to Harlem, where she’ll spend a few weeks with her father while her mother deals with some trouble that’s arisen for Ebony-Grace’s beloved grandfather, Jeremiah. Jeremiah Norfleet is a bit of a celebrity in Huntsville, where he was one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA two decades earlier. And ever since his granddaughter came to live with him when she was little, he’s nurtured her love of all things outer space and science fiction–especially Star Wars and Star Trek, both of which she’s watched dozens of time on Grandaddady’s Betamax machine. So even as Ebony-Grace struggled to make friends among her peers, she could always rely on her grandfather and the imaginary worlds they created together. In Harlem, however, she faces a whole new challenge. Harlem in 1984 is an exciting and terrifying place for a sheltered girl from Hunstville, and her first instinct is to retreat into her imagination. But soon 126th Street begins to reveal that it has more in common with her beloved sci-fi adventures than she ever thought possible, and by summer’s end, Ebony-Grace discovers that gritty and graffitied Harlem has a place for a girl whose eyes are always on the stars.


Playlist

“Harlem Shuffle” by The Rolling Stone

“Welcome to New York” – Taylor Swift

“Hello Brooklyn”- Beastly Shuffle

“My Girl”- The Temptations

“Eye of the Tiger”- Survivor

“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper

“Another One Bites the Dust”- Queen

“Never Gonna Give You Up”- Rick Astley

“Parents Just Don’t Understand “- Will Smith


Final Thoughts

Ebony is an imaginative twelve-year-old girl who is spending the summer away from her Grandfather. Her Grandfather is described as a person who started Ebony’s love for using imaginative space tales to handle situations she’s facing. Her Grandfather Jeremiah Norfleet is a famous African American who integrated NASA. Ebony must learn to adjust to the new culture associated with living in Harlem with her Father for the summer. Ebony’s imaginative personality has her friends in the area describing her as weird and quiet. Her once best friend, Bianca, is now a foreigner to her as they continue to argue over differences during her trip. Ebony’s fascination with space, her Grandfather, and Star Trek leave her labeled as an outcast. Will she learn to try to fit in for the summer, or will she continue to struggle with adjusting to the area? Will she break out of her shy shell for a bit to let someone other than her family?

This book is written in a way that combines the imaginative tales between a granddaughter and Grandfather. It showcases the special bond between the two. Jeremiah Norfleet facilitates an environment filled with an imagination that stays with Ebony even through her travels to New York City. I love the comic strips inserted into the novel. The images provide a visual view of the descriptive text. Ebony reminded me of myself when I was younger, but of course, growing up in the 90s was different than growing up in the 80s. However, I was raised by my grandmother, who was born in the 40s, which allowed for exposure to 80s culture. It is a challenge for someone to fit into an area where they feel they don’t belong regardless if members of their race live in that area. The more you read the novel, the more you understand the symbolism behind the title. I assume the ice cream sandwich is black on the outside but white on the inside. That is a standard description of the black community associated with someone who is deemed as being caucasian on the inside but looks black. The term is dubbed to anyone who doesn’t fit in, speak the same lingo, or like the same the music. I love that the author incorporates the challenges faced by African Americans in Harlem during that period and how she develops Julius, Ebony’s Father.

If you’re interested in reading a novel that highlights uniqueness, imagination, and focuses on an African American/Black family during the 80s in Harlem, then this is your book. I recommend this for all upper elementary and middle-grade youth.


Author Bio

bi Zoboi is the author of two novels for young adults, including Pride and American Street, a finalist for the National Book AwardShe holds an MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely !


You pre-order  copies of this book from Penguin Random House

Happy Reading! Comment below any book recommendations or your thoughts on this book! You can reach by clicking the Contact link at the top of the page or email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com.

 

We Were Beautiful by Heather Helper

07B8E370-7E57-43C8-865D-FED924181DADGenre: Contemporary Realistic Fiction

Shelf Location: Young Adult Fiction

Rating: ★★★★.5

I checked out a copy of this book from my local library. The opinions in this review are solely my own and do not reflect the views of the publisher or author.

 


Final Thoughts

This book is told from the perspective of Mia Hopkins, a fifteen-year-old teen girl trying to navigate her life after a tragic event. Mia’s life was healthy before a terrible accident left her family in disarray and her with both emotional and physical scars. Mia had a happy family and a sister that loved her until one night she can’t seem to remember. Mia and her sister were involved in an accident, but Mia can’t seem to remember what happened. She also can’t seem to look at herself in the mirror. Her family struggles to come to terms with the accident, and Mia must figure out a way to heal on her own. In an attempt to help her come to terms with the crash fully, her father sends her to live with her grandmother for the summer. Will this summer away help Mia heal or push her to her breaking point?

This book was absolutely heartbreaking, but it was very well written. The author does a great job diving into the challenges of overcoming loss and showcasing the complexity involved in the grieving process. However, I thought it was a bit cliche that Mia found a group of friends that all had scares of their own. It felt like everything fell into place for Mia. I personally wanted a bit more drama and turmoil, but that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t good. I thoroughly enjoyed the depth behind each character, including the supporting characters. I wanted to learn more about her mother and grandmother’s relationship, but that would be great for a second novel.

If you’re looking for a contemporary realistic fiction novel that is heavy with emotion, then this may be the novel for you.


You can purchase copies of this book from: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Zoondervan

Happy Reading! Comment below any book recommendations or your thoughts on this book! You can reach by clicking the Contact link at the top of the page or email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com.

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

62EE8900-9E96-4F61-96C6-67F2DA565280Genre: Young Adult Realistic Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Print 344
Release Date: October 17, 2017
Author:  Erika L. Sanchez
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I borrowed from my local library.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?


Final Thoughts

This book starts with Julia losing her sister in a terrible accident but ends with a well-developed plot twist. Julia is a junior in high school who has the brains and individuality to lead the world astray. She is the black sheep of her family and continues to feel this way even more after losing her sister. Julia’s sister was considered perfect. Always willing to stay home to cook with her mother, went to school, and remained in town to work a receptionist job. Julia is the complete opposite; she is rebellious, loves alternative music, loves to read, and enjoys time alone. She wants to go to college in another city and pursue an English degree. Her mother, dealing with the loss of her sister, continues to push Julia telling her why can’t she be more like her sister Olga. Her mother continues to berate her for wanting to go out to parties, hang out with her friends, or resemble a lifestyle of a rebellious teen.

To make matters worse, her father is mute and ignores her, she is behind in school, and she feels something is missing about her sister. As Julia copes with the loss of her sister, and the pressures of her mother, she works to uncover the secrets of her sister. While doing so, she discovers the secrets of her mother and father. She realizes that some secrets are better left as secrets; otherwise, they ruin the lives of those that are living. Can Julia learn to deal with the disappointment from her mother, the silence from her father, and the pressure to perform? Or will she crumble in the process?

The author does a fantastic job with the development of the main characters and the supporting characters. The story of Julia and her sister Olga shed light on the challenges of migrating to the United States. I loved the fact that I was able to read about her parent’s migration story. I felt that added to the story and the development of Julia’s character. The author’s realistic approach to telling this story emphasizes the emotions; I felt the same feelings the characters did. I highly recommend this book to any middle schooler or high schooler who has parents that migrated. I also think it is essential to encourage people of all races to read this book to inform them of the challenges immigrants face.

This book does contain content associated with suicidal (including suicidal thoughts), mental health, depression, and anxiety. Proceed with caution when reading this if you have experienced any of these or know someone who has.


To view purchasing options and other books written by this author,  click this link Here


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

1732D3C0-E7C8-418C-AD2F-2BC512C50558Genre:  Young Adult Realistic Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Print 250
Release Date: March 20, 2007
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I purchased on my own.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background—average student, average looks, average dysfunctional family. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn’t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father’s boss’s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy—and Tyler’s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in the school, in his family, and in the world.


Final Thoughts

Twisted is another novel written by Laurie Halse Anderson that follows the life of Tyler. Tyler was your average high school geek who had no friends until he made a mistake that would not only ruin him but could’ve cost him his future. To please his overbearing father, Tyler agrees to attend a work event for his Dad’s company. While there, Tyler runs into a classmate who hates him and his sister, Tyler’s crush. Following his Dad’s company’s party, Tyler grows closer to his sister and his crush. Tyler will face many challenges in this novel which include accusations of assault, his father, and self-doubt. Laurie Halse Anderson dives into a different perspective by shedding light on dealing with emotional abuse and the stigma’s associated with growing up male. Tyler’s father is emotionally abusive and controlling. His father aims to control everything in the family which takes a toll on each member. Everyone in Tyler’s life sees him as a threat except for his friends, mother, and sister. Even after an incident occurs, that somehow leads to Tyler accused of a crime he did not commit. His life is a series of unfortunate events, pressures from his dad, and the challenges of high school. Tyler lets the weight of life almost push him to the brink of leaving. Tyler must learn to stand up for himself or lose himself in the process.

When does it go from being a good parent and wanting what’s best for your child, to being a controlling father? Is there a line and who’s going to tell you when you cross it as a parent?

The author takes a unique approach to tell the story of a controlling father and how one person can change the dynamic of a family. This book focuses on forgiveness, anger, self-doubt, and personal discovery. Halse Anderson takes the time to develop each supporting character and intertwine them as the story unfolds. I felt the plot twist lacked development and I wanted more light shed of his father’s emotionally abusive tendencies. I did feel the author truly captured the emotions of the family as they dealt with the father. Each moment in the story felt real and when the characters cried, so do I.Halse Anderson showcases the obstacles associated with growing up as a male.

This book is intended for mature ages, upper middle school, and high school. If anyone is a victim of emotional abuse, this book does contain items that may trigger memories. I would recommend this book for any developing male looking to gain a better understanding of the stressors associated with a “pushy” father. Halse Andersons dives into stigma’s associated with being male.


To purchase your copy of this novel you can visit this link to view purchasing links

http://madwomanintheforest.com


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

4A836698-1066-4C5A-A39D-990D4CB69D07Genre: Adult Mystery/ Thriller Fiction
Pages: Print 328
Release Date: June 13, 2017
Author:  Matthew Sullivan
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I purchased on my own.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

When a bookshop patron commits suicide, his favorite store clerk must unravel the puzzle he left behind. Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey Molina, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s upper room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

As Lydia untangles the mystery of Joey’s suicide, she unearths a long buried memory from her own violent childhood. Details from that one bloody night begin to circle back. Her distant father returns to the fold, along with an obsessive local cop, and the Hammerman, a murderer who came into Lydia’s life long ago and, as she soon discovers, never completely left.


Final Thoughts

The cover of this book is what caught my attention. This book focuses on the story of Lydia Smith, a longtime bookseller. Lydia has a passion for reading and during her time at her job she has built friendships with members of the community. The story opens with Lydia working a night shift at the bookstore, following the completion of the closing procedures she notices a missing patron. Lydia also hears a noise that doesn’t sound too promising. Lydia finds the absent customer, but when she locates him, he isn’t alive. A longtime regular customer has hung himself in the Western fiction section of the bookstore. As she struggles to come to terms with the customer’s sudden suicide, to make matters worse, she finds something sticking out of his pocket that somehow connects her to him. Lydia must unravel a new mystery while also digging up a past she has tried so hard to forget. With the help of an old friend, she uncovers more than what she bargained. In this whodunit-style mystery novel, the author continues to litter the pages with turns and twist at every page as you try to uncover the truth.

Matthew Sullivan did an excellent job with the suspense in this novel. However, I would have liked a bit more added to the end of the story and more of a backstory on the main character’s history. Also, a few parts of the story felt a bit too dramatized for my taste, and I would have liked a more realistic approach to the interactions between Raj, Lydia’s old friend, and Lydia. This book is excellent for fans of mystery novels and older teens. The violent scenes are mild, but it can be a traumatic read for some. The authors take a tame approach to describing the challenging scenes that involve murder. For victims of suicide, this book has triggers as it tries to dive into the reason why the customer, Joey, committed suicide. If you’re looking for a mystery with a lot of twists and turns, then pick up a copy of this novel.

To view purchasing options and other books written by this author,  click this link https://www.matthewjsullivan.com


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

Secret Trust by McCaid Paul

IMG_0649Genre: Middle Grade Thriller/Mystery
Pages: Print 342
Release Date: October 29, 2018
Author: McCaid Paul 
Rating: ★★★★.5


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is a finished print copy.


Goodreads Synopsis

Five months have passed since Mick lived within the deep woods of Summersville, where a monster controlled his every move. Now, with his only chance at a fresh start, Mick hopes to begin a new life free from his painful past.
Until a secret reveals itself, one that spans for generations. When someone from his past returns, Mick must confront hidden truths, all the while risking everything for those he loves.

BILLIE is still dealing with the aftermath of being kidnapped, and having her best friend taken away. Ever since the incident in Richard Welch’s home, her dad has been her only consolation.
When Billie makes a discovery that ties back to her mother, all she once knew is thrown into question. Could Billie’s discovery hold the answer to why her mother disappeared all those years ago?
With both mysteries weighing upon them, Mick and Billie try to uncover the truth. For everything they thought they knew was a lie.


Final Thoughts

This middle-grade fiction novel written by a youth author continues the story of Mick and Billie. The town of Summerville is hiding many secrets, but the ones that the town seem to forget are the ones that are buried deep into the town’s history. This book starts off with a continuation of the current whereabouts of Mick and Billie. It recaps the events from the first novel in the series as Mick continues to have flashbacks. Mick tries to adjust to his new life after learning his previous life was a lie. He remembers the only father and mother he ever knew. Mick knows his father isn’t his birth father, and he knows the truth about his parents, but he has no idea that things are going to get more complicated. McCaid Paul takes you on a journey in this who-done-it thriller as we try to uncover more secrets. Now that the secret about his family is out, Mick continues to search for more answers as he discovers who he is and what happened to his family. However, while Mick figures out his family life, Billie still has no clue what happened to her mother. She wants to be a supportive friend to Mick but still harbors the doubt that her mother just disappeared. Will Mick and Billie finally find peace and uncover the truth? Or will Mick get kidnapped again for his snooping? In a town as small as Summerville everyone is watching you and nothing is ever really a secret.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved the suspense. This book is perfect for any middle schooler who is interested in a continuation of the first book and interested in thrillers. Everyone is connected somehow, and each supporting character is developed uniquely. The author did a great job of letting you think one character was involved when it was another. I was utterly surprised by the ending. If you’re interested in a well-written thriller novel, be sure to check this one out. If you haven’t read the first book, it’s okay you can still read this one.

Thanks to the author for the free review copy! I can’t wait for the next installment in this series.

To purchase your copy of this novel on Amazon, click this link https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Trust-Summersville-McCaid-Paul/


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

F1CD5E32-44DE-4C87-B093-B425EDDDDAA6Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction
Pages: Print 552
Release Date: March 14, 2006
Author: Markus Zusak
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I purchased on my own.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 

 

 


Goodreads Synopsis

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.


Final Thoughts

This young adult fiction novel told from the perspective of death is both humorous and heartbreaking. Death, portrayed as a man, become fascinated by Liesel Meminger and during a routine soul recovery. Who is the soul he is coming to retrieve, her brother’s? Liesel is on her way to new her foster family with her brother and mother. Hitler has taken over Germany, and her mother is ill and unable to care for her children. The two are going to a foster family in Molching, Germany. Liesel notices her brother take his last breath on the train with their mother to their new home. At that moment, they must get off the train in the next town and bury her brother then continue their journey to Molching. Liesel stares as they bury her brother with only the gravediggers near and her mother. Then on their way from the gravesite Liesel notices a book in the snow, “The Gravediggers Handbook,” she takes the book as a souvenir from the day’s events.

“The Gravediggers Handbook” leads her to learn to read, sparks her love for books, and her receiving the name “The Book Thief” by Death. After her brother’s funeral, she continues the journey to her new home with her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. She will learn to love and trust her foster parents. Her first few months in her new home are challenging, and it gets worse when she starts at her new school and realizes she is behind the other students. She must learn to read and write to move up to her right grade. Liesel will make friends with the kids in her neighborhood, help her mother with the laundry business, learn to read with her foster father and learn to survive. Her love for reading and writing not only saves her life but benefits the lives of those around her. As Liesel learns to adjust to her new home the war around her continues to wage, and the poor small town of Molching must learn to survive as rations diminish. To make matters more complicated, Hans has agreed to be a haven for a Jewish male. The family keeps a huge secret as they sacrifice their lives for a friend. Will this poor small town and the occupants of Himmel street survive to see the end of the war? Or will everyone die trying to survive?

I tried to limit my summary but I loved this book, and it’s hard to hit every point. I adored this book and the writing style. I liked the fact that the narrator took breaks in the story to tell a bit more about himself and his journey to Liesel. This book touched my heart as it was filled with a variety of emotions. The connection that Liesel grew between Hans and Rosa Hubermann was described in great detail to paint a picture. Markus Zusak words painted a picture of emotional relationships, turmoil, loss, and family. I could tell that he meticulously developed each main character and the supporting characters as their stories started to intertwine. Each character had their own back story with was tied well into the story of Liesel. This book is one of my favorites by far. If you enjoy reading historical fiction and is a fan of “All the Light We Cannot See” then you will enjoy this novel. The Book Thief takes you on a journey through love, loss, immense tragedy, and redemption. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book immediately.

To purchase your copy of this novel you can visit this link to view purchasing links https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19063.The_Book_Thief 


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

EC12B5E7-A94D-4039-A663-0251EF0BFD80Genre: Middle Grade Graphic Novel
Pages: Print 256
Release Date: February 5, 2019
Author: Jerry Craft
Rating: ★★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a copy I checked out from my local library.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself.


Final Thoughts

This graphic novel told from the perspective of a fair-skinned black kid sent to a prestigious private school in another town.  Jordan Banks has had a good life living in his community, but he must learn to adapt to his new school. All he wants to do is draw and attend an art school instead of his new private school. As Jordan tries to adjust to his new school, he learns that there are only a few kids who look like him. He spends his time dodging racist remarks from teachers and fellow students. He also must learn not to assume everyone that attends his new school is the same. As he struggles to adjust to his new school, he also struggles to balance his new friends with his friends from his neighborhood. Can he speak out against those who treat him like a poor black kid or will he continue to struggle as the new kid? It’s tough being the new kid but even tougher being the new black kid in a school of few.

Overall, I adored this graphic novel. The illustrations were amazing, and the message was clear. This graphic novel aims to shed light on the adversities of black kids as minorities. It also discusses the challenges of fair-skinned black kids, as they are continuously asked: “what are you.” Jordan Banks is portrayed as a young black kid just trying to blend in at his new school and succeed. During his time he notices racist remarks from his homeroom teacher as she continues to call him the name of another black student that attends the school. You see black male teacher face racism as well. We also see Jordan develop as a friend and learn to balance his private school friends with his friends from his neighborhood. He also must learn to balance his friends of different races. This graphic novel provides tremendous insight into some of the challenges faced by minorities. I had someone I work with reading this book, and she said, “I had no idea that Oreo was a term that people ever use.” At that moment I realized that Jerry Craft did a phenomenal job by educating various readers from different backgrounds.

I would recommend this book to everyone of all races. I think it is essential to have people of all ages to read this book to understand a piece of black culture. I think it is important to showcase that not all black people are poor. Also that it is unfair to assume that all black people are the same.


To purchase your copy of this novel at https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-06-269119-4 


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

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Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

The Magic Misfits: The Second Story by Neil Patrick Harris

37912471Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Pages: Print 336
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Author: Neil Patrick Harris
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was an ARC copy received from a Library conference attended in April 2018. The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the publisher or author. 


Goodreads Synopsis

Growing up in an orphanage, Leila was bullied for being different. But she turned her hardship into skill by becoming an escape artist—a valuable trait when belonging to a group of magical best friends. When a famous psychic comes to town, however, Leila and her pals won’t be able to escape the big mystery heading their way. Whether chasing mad monkeys or banishing ghosts from haunted hotels, these six friends will do their best to keep Mineral Wells safe—but can they still protect themselves in the process?

Join the Magic Misfits as they discover adventure, friendship, and more than a few hidden secrets in this delightful new series. Whether you’re a new fan of stage magic or a longtime expert at illusion, Magic Misfits is sure to delight even more than sawing your assistant in half!


Final Thoughts

This book is geared toward early middle elementary and up. The plot of the story can be a bit mature for younger ages as it dives into a more advanced family drama. The story begins with Leila, sharing her back story, how she developed her love for escaping, and how she meets Mr. Vernon. The story then continues from her perspective as the Magic Misfits work together to uncover secrets tied to a new face in town. A famous psychic returns to town after years away and Leila is the only one that trusts her. The other misfits aim to keep a close eye on the psychic. They misfits team up to investigate an abandoned wing at the hotel the other Mr. Vernon works at. While doing so, they find out more about the psychic and her connection to the town and Mr. Vernon. Can these band of misfits figure out if an old enemy has returned? Can they trust the new the psychic?

Overall this book was great! This book focuses on family dynamics, foster homes, adoption, and friendships. Leila faces a challenge of figuring out who she is and who her birth parents are. She must learn to accept her past once she uncovers the truth. This story has a hint of LGBTQIA, as Leila’s adoptive parents are both males. There is also a bit of family drama that involves the psychic.  This book does a great job of teaching the value of friendship and magic tricks. Neil Patrick Harris fills this book with magic tricks and instructions.

I would recommend this book to any fans of the first novel. I don’t want to compare the two, but I preferred the first novel. That is mostly due to the newness of the characters. I would assume each installment in this series will high a different character, hopefully circling back to Carter. I want to know more about his dad, more information about his involvement in magic. This book focused more on Leila and her story. I am hearing talk of there being more of these to come.


To purchase your copy of this novel at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078W5PMV1/ref=series_rw_dp_sw 


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.

Black Enough Edited by Ibi Zoboi

IMG_0341Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction- Short Stories Collection
Pages: Print 416
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Edited by: Ibi Zoboi
Rating: ★★★★


Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. The copy used for this review was a printed copy that I purchased from Brazos Bookstore in Houston. I also listened to an eAudiobook using Scribd.  This review does not reflect the views of the publisher, bookstore, or app. 


Harper Collins Synopsis

Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough.


Final Thoughts

I initially decided to pick up this book after seeing a copy of it displayed on social media. I did my research on the author and the intended goal of the book. According to the School Library Journal, this book is geared for grades 9 and up. I thought this would give me more insight into what it is like to be black in America from a variety of perspectives of POC authors. I am a black female who grew up along the poverty line in a low-income city. Colorism is predominant in the black community based on skin tone, and I am considered fair skin compared to my family. I was interested to read this anthology of stories and found a few that reminded me of my teenage self.  There were a few that just did not work for me but served its’ purpose of relating to the target audience. The stories that did not work for me felt rushed without a clear objective.

This book contains short stories written by famous POC authors, and it does its’ job of shedding some light on the challenges faced by black teens in America. It showcases the challenges put on teens by their parents to succeed, the difficulties of fitting in, the problems of essentially being black enough, and the family dynamics. I faced some of these similar challenges as a teen, and this book is much needed. It provides stories that are relatable to black and African American teens. It also provides insight on the amount of diversity in the black community and the different upbringings. Each author provided insight on a variety of topics such as LGBTQIA, racial divide, educated black young men and women, grief, family, relationships, and friendship. This book provides an intriguing approach to breaking apart the stigmas that I was taught as a child and made me feel a bit empowered after reading it. I have not read a lot of books written by POC authors, but it inspired me to read more.

Below I provided a list of my top 5 selections from this book that you must read. Here are the ones I enjoyed:

Warning: Color May Fade by  Leah Henderson– It shows that black Americans in a different perspective and showcases the power of expression through art. It also showcases the challenges of the pressure of parents and finding who you are.

The Trouble with Drowning by Dhonielle Clayton – It showcases the challenges of dealing with loss and moving forward. A compelling short story about how one family overcomes a huge loss and how one sister comes to terms with it.

The (R)evolution of Nigeria Jones by Ibi Zoboi- The daughter of a man who is starting a black movement faces the challenge of realizing that she doesn’t hate white people like her father and his followers. She wants to fit in and find her path while coming to terms with who she is. This particular short story ended on an embraceful note.

Wild Horses, Wild Hearts by Jaye Coles–  This is an LGBTQUIA story about two young males, one white and one black, living on two different farms. Their families despise each other, and both are feeling pressure from their parents. The good things are that they have each other.

Oreo by Brandy Colbert- A black family moves away from their hometown and are invited back for a birthday celebration for their grandmother. Tensions are high due to Joni’s families wealth and place of residence. Joni just wants to be accepted by her family and not be ridiculed for her choice of schooling or upbringing. This is a great short story to share insight on the challenges of colorism and judgment in black families.

I highly recommend you picking up this book and giving it to a black, African American, or diverse teen. It is intended for grades 9 and up but can be given to middle schoolers. You should definitely add this one to your list of must-have reads!


To purchase your copy of this novel, visit the website at http://ibizoboi.net for access to purchasing links


Happy Reading and I hope you enjoyed my honest opinion of this novel!

Enjoyed this review or have book suggestions? Leave a comment below!

Contact me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com for book reviews.