My Reading Week #IMWAYR- July 26, 2021

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I was able to go on a library hop and visit a new to me bookstore last week which you can read about in my other blog: https://bookstoresandlibrariesvisited.wordpress.com/ .

Sharing Our World: Animals of the Native Northwest CoastSharing Our World: Animals of the Native Northwest Coast by Ian Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually read this as part of a library’s Story Stroll, which you can read about here: https://bookstoresandlibrariesvisited…

A celebration of animals in the Pacific Northwest and what they teach us.

Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United StatesHear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States by Warren Binford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Various illustrators give voice to migrant children detained in the US-Mexico border and shines a light at the horrific situations they’re faced with.

Mel FellMel Fell by Corey R. Tabor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolutely delightful story of letting go of fears and just flying. A fun reading experience all around with fun illustrations.

Carol and the Pickle-ToadCarol and the Pickle-Toad by Esme Shapiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun quirky book with a wonderful message of silencing the inner critic and using your own voice. It’s a world where readers would enjoy visiting over and over again.

Vivi Loves ScienceVivi Loves Science by Kimberly Derting
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When aspiring marine biologist Vivi learns the class field trip is to the beach she is excited to discover what ocean life awaits for her there. Includes a couple of fun activities plus some science facts.

MartyMarty by Rachel Noble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful story about fitting in. When a Martian’s identity is exposed, he worries if he’ll always be an outsider or if he can find a place to belong.

Memory JarsMemory Jars by Vera Brosgol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet story of finding the balance between holding on the good things in life and living in the moment.

Where Is the Dragon?Where Is the Dragon? by Leo Timmers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reminds me of Chris Haughton’s Shh! We Have a Plan but involving dragon-hunting instead of bird-hunting.

Measuring UpMeasuring Up by Lily LaMotte
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A kid enters a cooking channel to hopefully bring her grandma from Taiwan to visit them in their new home in Seattle. But the kids in her school tease her about the food she eats. How can she find a way to fit in and be herself at the same time?

Adrian and the Tree of SecretsAdrian and the Tree of Secrets by Hubert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I stumbled upon this while randomly browsing the shelves of a bookstore I’d never been to. I was intrigued by the title and then drawn in by the fact it was a graphic novel. The only thing I can say without it being too spoilery is that it’s very realistic and has a very moody feel to it.

Just Above My HeadJust Above My Head by James Baldwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a way, James Baldwin’s novel of brotherly love is a culmination of what made his other novels so great with the superb writing, the memorable characters, and the insights of what makes us all so wonderful and horrible at the same time. But, it also feels like all those other books combine in the sense that this was really long. I ended up reading two of his other novels before finishing Just Above My Head. I admire his ability to write such an epic but I wish we didn’t have to spend so much time with so many characters.

My Season of Baldwin is nearing its end after finishing this novel. One more to go!

The Amen CornerThe Amen Corner by James Baldwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A pastor’s past comes to wreak havoc on her present and future. A power play erupts within the congregation. James Baldwin is great at putting characters you want to care about in difficult situations- most often due to society and sometimes, like in this case, because of human behavior.

Jimmy's Blues and Other PoemsJimmy’s Blues and Other Poems by James Baldwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Readers can still expect James Baldwin’s sharp and cutting insights on life and love, race and society, in this collection of poems. “Inventory/ On Being 52” was probably my favorite.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- July 12, 2021 / Las Vegas Edition

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I was in Las Vegas recently and was able to be with all my brothers and sisters. I also managed to visit a bookstore and a library while I was there.

One of things I wanted to visit was the secret art installation- James Turrell’s Akhob in the City Center- but I needed to make a reservation a couple months in advance according to the website. Luckily, he did have another installation- Shards of Color- at the Shop at Crystals so I was able to sort of get my fix that way.

It was nice to see another Maya Lin artwork. “Silver River” is an art installation hanging above the front desk area of Aria’s lobby.

I was also impressed by Bellagio’s Botanical Gardens.

I also got to check out Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains, an art installation just outside of Vegas.

I also enjoyed finding a couple of labyrinths to walk while there.

Enlightenment (Bathala Series, Book #1)Enlightenment by Reno Ursal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Filipino folklore, mythology and history takes center stage in this young adult novel. The balance of power between the human race and the forgotten ones of powerful, magical creatures is threatened. It’s up to a warrior-protector to save an important key figure in this game until she realizes her true potential. But a desperate enemy and family secrets all make things extra difficult. While some parts were clunky, I really hope there will at least one more book in this series to tie everything up.

It was the perfect trip for my recent Vegas trip where the story takes place.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page. Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- July 5, 2021 / June Review

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By the time this is scheduled to post, I should be in Vegas spending time with family and friends. But I’m currently writing this while still in Portland looking ahead and at the same time.

Some highlights of June have been getting to visit two new bookstores which you can read about on my other blog.

And a Filipino community center just opened up in Portland as well.

Our bookstore just opened up for in-store browsing again and so far there hasn’t been a problem with that.

I’ve enjoyed my Reading the Rainbow BINGO challenge and celebrating Pride by eating all sorts of rainbow food.

And, here’s a before and after of my BINGO card!

Also, Salt & Straw had ice cream flavors based on books so I had to try a couple- Goosebumps and Amulet.

And we had a record-breaking heat wave that was miserable!

But I’m looking forward to what I’m coining a No-Bummer Summer!

So far this year, I’ve read 268 books. The breakdown is:

13- Adult novels

17- Adult non-fiction

16- Graphic novels

40- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)

175- Picture Books and Board Books

7- Young Adult novels

of which

60- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)

30- Audio Books

Now, for the book reviews…

My First DayMy First Day by Phùng Nguyên Quang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this beautifully illustrated picture book, a Vietnamese boy sets off on his first day to an unknown yet surprisingly familiar destination.

black is brown is tanblack is brown is tan by Arnold Adoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A classic republished with new illustrations showing the everyday moments of a multiracial family.

Milo's MuseumMilo’s Museum by Zetta Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love how representation is tackled in this picture book. After a school field trip to a museum and not seeing anything that represents her or her community, Milo is inspired to create her own to remedy the problem.

The Little Things: A Story About Acts of KindnessThe Little Things: A Story About Acts of Kindness by Christian Trimmer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet story of how one act of kindness can inspire more.

Jo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best FriendJo Jo Makoons: The Used-to-Be Best Friend by Dawn Quigley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jo Jo Makoons is a new early chapter book series about a girl from the Ojibwe tribe figuring out how to make new friends. Perfect for fans of Jasmine Togochi, Yasmin, Pedro, and Katie Woo!

We BelongWe Belong by Cookie Hiponia Everman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A quick engaging read. This sweet novel in verse is a story within a story as a mother recalls to her daughters her childhood moving to a new country infused with Filipino mythology of half-god half-human siblings dealing with new family dynamics. It is also a celebration of motherhood and sisterhood. Includes a glossary of Tagalog words and phrases as well as translations of two famous Filipino nursery rhymes. I also enjoyed the choice to use a different colored ink to denote the mythology story. The book also has illustrations by Abigail Dela Cruz.

Blues for Mister CharlieBlues for Mister Charlie by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Knowing this play was written by James Baldwin and knowing this was based on killing of Emmett Till, it was bound to be powerful. A murder of a black man divides an already divided town. When the white killer is put on trial, there is hope that justice will be served but the history of racism and racist ideals shows the near impossibility of that happening- and as we can see in present time the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Brokeback MountainBrokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who was first introduced to Brokeback Mountain with the film version and it being surrounded by so much hype- some positive with it being cited as a turning point in queer cinema and some jokingly with it being reduced to the gay cowboy movie- and me seeing it sort of forbidden and taboo in my then not-out self, I was glad to finally read the original short story (available as its own book) because it somehow made the characters more real and what they had gone through more heartbreaking but beautiful they had each other.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 28, 2021- A Whole Lot of Gay Books!

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This week, I’ll be sharing some more of the books I’ve read for my Reading the Rainbow LGBTQ BINGO Challenge for Pride Month. Some of the books were part of my unofficial challenge to once again read all the picture books from Publishers Weekly’s annual LGBT showcase. Some of the books are also part of my Season of Baldwin Reading Challenge.

We Are Little Feminists: FamiliesWe Are Little Feminists: Families by Little Feminist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This board book was a delight. Loved seeing all the representations of diverse families that for the longest time haven’t been shown. Inspiring to see that they exist and it’s possible.

Andy Warhol (Little People, BIG DREAMS Book 60)Andy Warhol by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Little People, Big Dreams is a nonfiction picture book series imported from Spain. These are simple biographies to introduce young readers to these people. The books include a timeline and photos.

This one focuses on Andy Warhol who was a shy young kid who loved to draw and became one of the most influential artists of all time.

I PromiseI Promise by Catherine Hernandez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet picture book celebrating diverse families and that love is a promise to every child.

Jacob's School Play: Starring He, She, and TheyJacob’s School Play: Starring He, She, and They by Ian Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacob’s back and this time readers will learn about people’s pronouns through his eyes as his school puts on a play.

Tuesday Is Daddy's DayTuesday Is Daddy’s Day by Elliot Kreloff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I appreciated that while this picture book features an LGBTQ family that it’s more about the kid’s experience living some days with her mom and some days with her dad and his new partner. It’s a positive example of co-parenting.

The Bravest Knight Who Ever LivedThe Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived by Daniel Errico
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An LGBTQ fairy tale that shows that happily ever afters can come in many forms and is meant for any one.

Love Is Love: The Journey Continues (Love Around the World (2))Love Is Love: The Journey Continues (Love Around the World by Fleur Pierets
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bittersweet beautiful story based on the couple’s real life adventures celebrating their love all over the world. Bittersweet because Julian passed away.

RuPaul (Little People, BIG DREAMS Book 61)RuPaul by Mª Isabel Sánchez Vegara
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Little People, Big Dreams is a nonfiction picture book series imported from Spain. These are simple biographies to introduce young readers to these people. The books include a timeline and photos.

In the latest installment, the spotlight is shone on famous drag artist RuPaul from his childhood spent playing dress-up to his success in adulthood helping others show off what makes them special.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon, #3)The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Kay O’Neill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This series has been a delightful discovery and I love recommending the books to readers who want to be totally seeped in a world of quiet magic.

No Way, They Were Gay?: Hidden Lives and Secret Loves (Queer History Project)No Way, They Were Gay?: Hidden Lives and Secret Loves by Lee Wind
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A must have for every middle school and high school library. A delightful read into learning about some LGBTQ+ people whose stories have been whitewashed to conform to a heteronormative idea of what’s normal. The mini sections for each biography as well as side-notes provide more context and each chapter ends with thought provoking questions. Readers will definitely (and rightfully) wonder how much of history is actually told considering who are the ones who get to the opportunities to tell them.

Apsara EngineApsara Engine by Bishakh Kumar Som
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting collection of stories that are a bit open ended, mysterious and confusing. Mostly depressing but fantastical at times. Maybe they were all somehow interconnected or maybe I was just hoping they were?

A Simple Suburban Murder (Tom Mason & Scott Carpenter, #1)A Simple Suburban Murder by Mark Richard Zubro
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a recommendation I got from a library’s blog post about gay mysteries. I wanted to check it out for my Reading the Rainbow BINGO challenge. It intrigued me because I do enjoy mysteries and if I liked it there would be other books for me to read. The problem with that would be I would want to binge-read the entire series. Fortunately, I didn’t really enjoy the novel because it seemed outdated even when it was first published almost two decades ago so I was glad to have just finished the book.

Torch Song Trilogy: PlaysTorch Song Trilogy: Plays by Harvey Fierstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating play a drag artist’s love life in the 70’s and 80’s. Includes the original separate plays of the trilogy and then a newer mash-up of them.

If Beale Street Could TalkIf Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

James Baldwin does it again with another beautiful and heartbreaking novel that reflects the ugliness and scariness of that time- and, unfortunately, of his time, still, as well. It also celebrates the love and hope and perseverance of those a country, a system, is determined to break but knows it can’t.

The characters are memorable. You’ll be swept away in the love story of Tish and Fonny. You’ll be reading with bated breath to see how the story unfolds and the ending is surely something to think about.

A scene between the two families was probably one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

I am (and continue to be) in awe of Baldwin’s writing.

Another CountryAnother Country by James Baldwin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t expecting this novel to be so long! I even had to up the speed of the audiobook so it would go faster but not enough so the narrator sounded like a chipmunk.

I also read a few summaries since the first seemed quite spoilery, the second too vague and the third even more spoilery!

Maybe because I was meeting a friend to discuss this book and that time was fast approaching but the length of the book really affected my feelings towards it, I was exhausted by the time I actually finished.

If each character was a country, I felt we spent too long on each one when a slight layover could have sufficed.

The storytelling and writing were still superb and insightful but some of the tactics he’s known for (like time jumping) really annoyed me during this read. Plus, I didn’t like any of the characters. I don’t have any problems with realistic fiction but I also want it to be slightly different from real life.

Part of this challenge has always included consuming other media aside from books- documentaries, TV shows, podcasts, articles, online videos, just to name a few. Here are just some of them…

-Pride (Documentary) Hulu

-Love, Victor (Season 2) Hulu

-Pose (Season 3) FX -Fiertes (Proud) (French three part mini-series)

-Making Gay History (Season 8) Podcast

-”20 Stories of LGBTQ+ People Working to Save Lives on the Frontline” (Article) The Advocate

-”Gay men speak out after being turned away from donating blood during coronavirus pandemic: ‘We are turning away perfectly healthy donors’” (Article) Good Morning America

-Stop Killing Us: Black Transgender Women’s Lived Experiences (Video) Complex News

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page. Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- June 7, 2021 / May Review

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I wasn’t even going to post this week but I figured if I just kept it short and simple, I’d have done it and I could move on.

May has been full of walks exploring wish trees, labyrinths, and bridges. You can check out my other blog for some of these adventures.

So far this year, I’ve read 236 books. The breakdown is:

7- Adult novels

17- Adult non-fiction

14- Graphic novels

36- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)

158- Picture Books and Board Books

4- Young Adult novels of which

56- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)

25- Audio Books

Now, for the book reviews…

Skate for Your LifeSkate for Your Life by Leo Baker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a huge fan of the Pocket Change Collective series and I think every middle school and high school libraries should carry them. They’re basically long essays about experiences specific to the person writing about it. In Skate for Your Life, Leo Baker shares their story falling in love with skateboarding at a young age, pursuing it as a career and the obstacles it presented to them as gender-queer nonbinary person.

ContinuumContinuum by Chella Man
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a huge fan of the Pocket Change Collective series and I think every middle school and high school libraries should carry them. They’re basically long essays about experiences specific to the person writing about it. In Continuum, Chella Man shares his story living in the intersections of his multiple identities as a Deaf, genderqueer, trans-masculine, Chinese, and Jewish person.

ParachutesParachutes by Kelly Yang
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a Kelly Yang fan since Front Desk and this has been on my radar since it came out last year but admittedly I’m not that much of a YA reader. I did want to intentionally read another AAPI book since it seemed I started my LGBTQ reading challenge a bit early.

Parachutes is Crazy Rich Asians meets Speak. It is engrossing and nerve wracking. It is powerful, inspiring, and infuriating. I loved the diversity not only of the characters but the situations and the topics tackled.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 31, 2021

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Sharice's Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a CongresswomanSharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sharice Davids shares her story of overcoming obstacles and other people’s perceptions to become the first LGBTQ Native American Congressperson. Learning about and experiencing firsthand the unequal treatment she and her people have endured over the years, she used her voice to make a difference. An inspiring picture book autobiography that will introduce readers to an incredible political figure who spoke out not just for her rights but for others.

Llama GlamaramaLlama Glamarama by Simon James Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A fun book that celebrates being who you are. Larry the Llama has a secret and he’s scared that if it comes out the other llamas won’t like him anymore. But when he can’t deny who he really is any longer, he goes out to follow the beat of his own drum to find himself at a surprising destination full of music, colors, and acceptance!

Daddy  DadaDaddy Dada by Ryan Brockington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Simple text makes this a perfect picture book for even the youngest of readers to see how families come in all sorts of configurations as narrated by a young girl who has two dads.

The Bare Naked BookThe Bare Naked Book by Kathy Stinson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Updated to be even more inclusive, this picture books celebrates body diversity.

A New Alphabet for Humanity : A Children's Book of Alphabet Words to Inspire Compassion, Kindness and PositivityA New Alphabet for Humanity : A Children’s Book of Alphabet Words to Inspire Compassion, Kindness and Positivity by Leesa McGregor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A feel good and positive book that will hopefully start conversations and inspire action.

The Cardboard KingdomThe Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Chad Sell oversees a group of graphic novel illustrators in telling the adventures of neighborhood kids who’ve created personas of themselves and all living in the Cardboard Kingdom. While full of imagination and creativity, the “real” moments of figuring oneself and navigating complicated feelings are what sets this graphic novel series apart from the rest.

The Cardboard Kingdom #2: Roar of the Beast

The Cardboard Kingdom #2: Roar of the Beast by Chad Sell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The kids of the Cardboard Kingdom are back just in time for Halloween and facing their biggest challenge ever. When a mysterious beast suddenly appears out of nowhere, it’ll take all of them setting aside their differences and working together to put an end to its sudden reign of terror.

Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the WorldAgatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World by Mark Aldridge
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With Agatha Christie being my favorite author of all time and Hercule Poirot being one of of my favorite literary characters ever, the little grey cells didn’t have to work too hard to figure out this was something I was going to read no matter what! To celebrate a century since his first appearance, it was nice (if not a bit tedious at times) to read an extensive overview about his cases, his endeavors from the printed pages, and his relationship with his creator.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 24, 2021/ Reading the Rainbow BINGO

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With June coming up, it’s time for another Reading the Rainbow BINGO. My friend, who I’ve been doing this Reading Challenge with the past two years, isn’t up to it this year- although we’re going to have a Pride month book club- but I love continuing a tradition even if it’s by myself! Feel free to join me if you’re interested!

Come up with 25 different categories (24 if you want to use the center square as a free space.) As you can see, I also put in some non-reading categories like “watch a documentary” or “attend an (online) event.” Basically, it should challenge you a bit but it should be fun for you. Then use a random number generator to fill in your board. Officially, it starts and runs through June but you can backlog with anything you’ve read starting May 16th.

Here’s my simplified game board for this year and the categories I’m using…

I noticed most of my reviews of the James Baldwin books I’ve read started with “I’d been meaning to read this…” so I just decided to dedicate some time reading his books which I’m dubbing the Season of Baldwin. The bulk of this reading challenge would be to get through all his novels and maybe read other works that people recommend. Usually I’ll set up other rules like read them in chronological order but I’m treating this with the impression that I’ll read the right book at the right time. And, starting off with Going to Meet the Man proved it was the right decision because… wow!

Going to Meet the ManGoing to Meet the Man by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This collection of short stories were incredible. I liked all of them except “The Man Child.”

I enjoyed “The Rockpile” and “The Outing” and because they involved the same characters I thought all the stories were going to be related and loosely interwoven. I’m excited to stick with these characters for my next Baldwin read, Go Tell It to the Mountain.

“Sonny’s Blues” contains some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read so I think everyone should read that.

The titular story was ugly, horrible, and difficult to read- subject-matter wise. The writing was superb as usual.

“This Morning, This Evening, So Soon” was probably my favorite. I felt lots of the experiences the narrator shared stemmed from Baldwin’s real life. But I admit I don’t know much about his life so I have to remedy that, too!

Here are the other James Baldwin books I’d read in previous years…

Giovanni's RoomGiovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this and I’m glad I finally did because it’s become one of my favorite favorites. The writing is superb immediately drawing you into the story. And even though you know how it’s going to turn out, James Baldwin has created something so alive that you think it might somehow change.

The Fire Next TimeThe Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d been meaning to read this and admittedly I didn’t know much about it coming into it. I thought this was a collection of essays but it was actually just two works. The first is a short letter to his nephew on the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. The second, which is the rest of the book, is about his faith and the racial injustice in the US. Both are powerful in their own ways that reveals a cold hard look at the realities of his time- and sadly our time as well.

Little Man, Little Man: A Story of ChildhoodLittle Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood by James Baldwin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A most unique picture book- James Baldwin’s sole children’s book. Leave it to him to capture experiences that are hardly told- and maybe at the time of its original publication, never told at all. It may seem gritty to our older sanitized selves but the honesty is refreshing. Adult situations and adult problems can never truly be separated from children’s lives as much as we would want to protect them from it as long as we possibly can. I wish there was a more cohesive thread to these vignettes and a stronger sense of a story structure to give it some sort of closure.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 17, 2021

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BunnybearBunnybear by Andrea J. Loney
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually listened to this as a story time over the phone! I checked out an ebook so I can enjoy it with the illustrations. A sweet book about being yourself.

Adventures with My DaddiesAdventures with My Daddies by Gareth Peter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Story time leads to all kinds of adventures in this inclusive picture book celebrating family and imagination! Full of rhyme and vibrant illustrations, readers will be charmed by the family here and, despite maybe having a different family configuration, may see their own reflected back in the way that stories are able to bring people together!

Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named PenelopeBorn Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope by Jodie Patterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adapted from the adult memoir The Bold World, this picture book tells the story of Jodie Patterson’s child letting others know who he really is- a boy named Penelope. While a difficult subject to broach, Penelope knows that he’s no ordinary kid and with his ninja-like skills- and the help of his mom, he’s confident he can show he was born ready to be who he truly is!

Have You Ever Seen a Flower?Have You Ever Seen a Flower? by Shawn   Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A stunning book of taking the time to see/smell/experience a flower.

Time FliesTime Flies by Eric Rohmann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very imaginative wordless picture book about a bird who gets trapped in a dinosaur exhibit at a natural history museum and finds themselves in the time of living dinosaurs!

Maybe Maybe Marisol RaineyMaybe Maybe Marisol Rainey by Erin Entrada Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Award-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly offers up her first illustrated chapter book. Marisol Rainey is half-Filipino, likes to name inanimate objects, and has a BFF one would wish to have in real life.

Readers will empathize with the fears and anxiety that run through her head. But they will also cheer her on when she decides to deal with her problems head on. A delightful introduction to a new series.

Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery, #1)Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cozy mysteries have come a long way from when I was kid! I usually viewed them taking place in small towns or villages where, if I lived in real life and a murder consistently took place, I would immediately move somewhere else.

Arsenic and Adobo is a breath of fresh air even if it relies on the tropes of cozy mysteries and Hallmark movies. (And why not make this into a movie series? More diversity, please!)

We have a twenty-something Filipina helping out with the family business- her aunt’s (Tita Rosie) Filipino restaurant- and trying to rebuild her life after what happened in Chicago. Being the prime suspect in a murder doesn’t help matters!

I loved seeing the diversity within the characters- really refreshing to see non-white characters be center stage rather than in the background.

There’s also the prerequisite love triangle.

The most difficult thing was reading all the descriptions of the Filipino food and wanting to eat all them! (The book does include recipes at the back as well as preview of book two- Homicide and Halo-Halo- which comes out next February.)

I read the audiobook narrated by Danice Cabanela.

If you’re a mystery fan and foodie, pick this book up!

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 10, 2021

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First, I wanted to share some books I’ve been spotlighting on my Instagram as part of my #FilipinoReads.

Asian-Americans Who Inspire UsAsian-Americans Who Inspire Us by Analiza Wolf
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Asian-Americans who Inspire Us is a picture book biography compilation- by Analiza Quiroz Wolf (a FilAm author) with Michael Franco- similar to Awesome Asian Americans which I’ve shared on a previous post a few months ago.

Usually I read these and become fascinated by a few people I hadn’t heard about before and end up wanting to learn more.

The Filipino inspirations shared in this book are workers advocates Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz.

Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel / Si Lakas at ang Makibaka HotelLakas and the Makibaka Hotel / Si Lakas at ang Makibaka Hotel by Anthony D. Robles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I actually read this back in 2011 but for some reason I didn’t write a review. Rereading it, I really enjoyed the format of both languages (English and Filipino) typed up. The lively illustrations really paired well with the cast of colorful characters including a drummer, a dancer, and a karaoke king.

This companion to Lakas and the Manilatown Fish/Si Lakas at ang Isdang Manilatown has Lakas, a Filipino-American boy, trying to save the hotel where his new friends live. The story was inspired by the gentrification that was going to force residents of Trinity Plaza Apartments out of their homes.

You can watch a storytime of this book with both the author Anthony D. Robles and illustrator Carl Angel on San Francisco Public Library’s YouTube page as part of their AAPI Heritage Month program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRViEHUeoAs

You can purchase a copy of the book on Bookshop to support independent bookstores: https://bookshop.org/…/lakas-and-the…/9780892394111

Pan de Sal Saves the Day: A Filipino Children's StoryPan de Sal Saves the Day: A Filipino Children’s Story by Norma Olizon-Chikiamco
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An English/Filipino bilingual picture book about a girl who learns to appreciate being herself. Set in a school in the Philippines, all the kids are named after different types of breads and pastries. The tale is kind of like a mix between Chrysanthemum and Yoko.

You can watch a storytime of this book on Maya Espiritu’s (MaiStoryBook) YouTube page as part of her API Interactive Read Aloud every weekday this month. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cBdM7OFtzI

You can purchase a copy of the book on Bookshop to support independent bookstores: https://bookshop.org/books/pan-de-sal-saves-the-day-an-award-winning-children-s-story-from-the-philippines-new-bilingual-english-and-tagalog-edition-9780804847544/9780804847544

Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World (Aristotle and Dante, #2)Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was ecstatic to be able to read this sequel to one of my favorite books of all time. It’s incredible to fall in love with a book and have the words enter your being. This book comes out October 12th and I know I’ll be rereading it by listening to the audiobook.

Here’s my review of the first book…

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Aristotle and Dante, #1)Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“i ❤ falling in love w/a good book, getting lost in its words, living in a world of pure imagination.”

I tweeted that after reading a few pages of Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” which now has made my list of favorite favorite books, which currently has 37 titles.

I wasn’t even aware of it until the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards where it won multiple awards- the Pura Belpre (Author), the Stonewall, and as a Printz Honor Book.

Official Summary:

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Immediately, I wanted to read it. Plus, I love long titles!

I literally couldn’t put the book down. I was so engrossed with the story, the characters. I wanted to know what happened next. I wanted to see how the inevitable conflicts were handled. I wanted to make sure they were in a good place when I said goodbye to them.

I wasn’t particularly in love with the ending. It’s not that it was bad, it was just a bit overdramatic. But the majority of the book was great.

It’s when you can’t stop thinking about the characters even after the last page that made “Aristotle and Dante” a favorite of mine. And, I relate when there’s an issue of identity, when the characters show actual, realistic growth. This was more than a book about being gay, though. Sáenz’s words were powerful and emotional. He put his characters in beautiful and awful situations- just like life.

After finishing this, I wondered what it was that made a book truly stand out to make it be not just a favorite book of mine but a favorite favorite. I really shouldn’t have overanalyzed because the answer was simple. It’s when I feel grateful that a book like that exists in the world and “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” is definitely one of those!

UPDATED TO INCLUDE MY REVIEW OF THE AUDIOBOOK:

“I love it when the books I’m reading seem to be the right ones for me to be reading at the time. The words become as important as the air I breathe.” –Shared on Facebook

I listened to the audiobook version of Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. (I hadn’t planned on doing so but it was narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I don’t know if it’s even called a coincidence but Alexander Hamilton was mentioned in the story.) I loved it when I first read it a couple of years ago. I may love it even more now.

The fact it’s regarded as a great LGBT YA novel- with award stickers on its cover- may actually deter readers from it. Ultimately, it’s a coming of age story about two Mexican-American boys on the brink of manhood who become friends over one summer. It’s also a look into their family lives, of secrets and expectations.

The words are absolutely beautiful. There was a moment toward the beginning of my rereading that I panicked. I had the irrational fear that the story I knew was going to change on me.

I found myself taking longer walks because I wanted to listen more to the story. I fell in love all over again with all the characters- not just the titular characters but their parents as well.

I wish I had read a book like this when I was a teenager. I’m glad this book is now part of my life.

I was beyond thrilled to discover there would be a sequel to be published within the next two years. I can’t wait!

Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I hadn’t been truly captivated by a book for awhile as I’d been with Parable of the Sower. And I knew I was going to change my reading schedule to make sure to read this sequel.

Even though this was published in 1998, it was so eerily prescient of what was to happen in 2015 and the next four years. Bone-chilling. I actually thought someone read this book and decided the antagonist was an exemplary person to model themselves after. But that’s giving them too much credit, that they would actually pick up a book, let alone read.

The tone of the book is immediately different and I would recommend not to read this one first. Without spoiling any details too much, we continue Lauren Olamina’s quest to build Earthseed as a belief system and a community. But she encounters terrifying opponents to her point of views who would stop at nothing to stop her.

And, there were sections in the book that was absolutely brutal to get through. So much pain and suffering. It seemed endless.

Even though Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents were intended to be part of a trilogy, readers will feel a closure with Lauren’s story.

I also went on a Storywalk at one of the many libraries I can visit. It was for Catch that Chicken! by Atinuke with illustrations by Angela Brooksbank.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- May 3, 2021 / April Review

New-2020-IMWAYR-Button
Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Texts for this meme!

April was an interesting month. (Quick tangent: “Interesting” is an interesting word. It can be used with both positive and negative intentions. For me, it’s become my default in trying to mask a less than favorable opinion. Do you tend to use “interesting” this way as well?)

I had one of my saddest days this year- in terms of just being emotionally incapable of feeling anything positive or joyous. And, it fell on my birthday which is, on one hand, ironic and fitting. since birthdays are such emotionally charged days. But luckily I’m feeling better. It just had to happen- this too shall pass- but the time during it is incredibly difficult.

My extreme days of both emotions tend to happen once a month and alternately. In January, I had a really truly good day just walking around and enjoying the sun. In February, I had an extremely bad day trudging through snow. Last month, I had another good day and this month was a bad day. At least, if the pattern holds, I’m bound to have another good day in May.

And even if I didn’t make progress on some of the goals I had set for myself, I did get some things done: -Finished part one of my responsibilities of a reading committee I’m on

-Donated books to various Little Free Libraries throughout the past few weeks- these were books I had from another reading committee I was part of

Went on a library hop

-Filed my taxes

Of course, the big thing was that I got both my vaccination shots with minimal side effects. I hope everyone gets theirs so we can feel safer to travel and to be able to see family and friends in person again!

So far this year, I’ve read 134 books.

The breakdown is:

4- Adult novels

14- Adult non-fiction

12- Graphic novels

30- Middle Grade novels (Goal: 52)

123- Picture Books and Board Books

3- Young Adult novels

of which

45- Nonfiction Picture Books (Goal: 104)

19- Audio Books

Now, for the book reviews…

Lakas and the Manilatown Fish/Si Lakas at ang Isdang ManilatownLakas and the Manilatown Fish/Si Lakas at ang Isdang Manilatown by Anthony D. Robles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s considered to be the first English/Tagalog bilingual picture book set in the US when it was initially published in 2003. It follows Lakas, a Filipino-American boy, as he meets a talking fish that leads to wild chase through San Francisco’s Little Manila or Manilatown. It also features “manongs” (a term usually referring to older male people) who were the original residents living there.

I actually read this and its sequel back in 2011 but for some reason I didn’t write reviews for them. Rereading it, I really enjoyed the format of both languages typed up. The lively illustrations really paired well with the text especially during the fast paced scenes.

The sequel is Lakas and the Makibaka Hotel /Si Lakas at ang Makibaka Hotel.

The Farmer and the ClownThe Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this wordless picture book, a farmer gets an unexpected guest in the form of a young clown who gets separated from his circus family. A charming story of how people can come into our lives even fleetingly and change it for the better forever.

The Farmer and the MonkeyThe Farmer and the Monkey by Marla Frazee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In this sequel, the farmer gets another guest but this time it provides a welcome distraction. Marla Frazee continues to convey so much through her illustrations in this wordless picture book.

The Farmer and the CircusThe Farmer and the Circus by Marla Frazee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After getting visited by the clown and the monkey, it’s time the farmer visited his new friends at the circus. This wordless picture book trilogy ends with a wonderful message that life is full of surprises- and that family is not just who you’re born into but who you find to make it one.

You can view all the books I’ve read on my Goodreads page.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Happy Reading!