Readers Advisory: Romance

Readers Advisory Hello all! As you may know, I'm a Librarian. A few months ago, I sat on a diversity panel at a Librarian event. On ...

Readers Advisory: Romance

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Readers Advisory

Hello all! As you may know, I'm a Librarian. A few months ago, I sat on a diversity panel at a Librarian event. On this panel, we talked about our experiences with literature as minorities and our feelings on how the literature has changed as we've grown into our roles as librarians.

During the questions portion of our panel, we were basically asked various versions of the same question, "how do we get diverse books into the hands of kids if our community isn't diverse?"

Now you readers may be thinking, "I'm not a librarian, how does this apply to me?" Well I'll tell you. The media has created this image in our minds, if we see the cover of a book and it's full of brown faces, the world assumes (even if they don't realize they're doing it) that this book must be for brown people. If a movie trailer plays, and it's full of brown faces, the world assume the movie must be for brown people (even if they don't realize they're doing it). Well the world is wrong.

I'm thinking about making a Readers Advisory blog series. I'll choose a genre, romance, sci fi, dystopia, so on and so forth, and I'll present three of four books, some you may be familiar with and have lovely sunkissed frekled faces with someones hair blowing even when there's no wind, and others will not.

If you're a libraian and you're struggling to diversify your readers advisory, I'm here for you. If you're a reader, and you're looking to diversify your bookshelf, I am also hear for you.

Hello world!!

For our first Readers Advisory post I've chosen the Romance genre because I'm sitting on my couch alone, even my plants are dying, so why the heck not!

Emergency Contact
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Once and for All
As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine. 

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants. 

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.

Let's Talk About Love
Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting--working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual). Alice is done with dating--no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.

But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).

When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.
 

Beast
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

^-^-^-^-^-^-^

So here are a few books that falls under the romance genre. Enjoy!
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Review: Emergency Contact by Mary Choi

Monday, July 2, 2018

Emergency Contact
For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him. 

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.


(Very slight spoilers)

When you really stop to think about it, it's not often we get a character like Penny. She's kind of... surely. She's quiet, she's disengaged,  you're not sure if she's a little mean or not. We just don't get characters like her every day. She reminded me of Cath from Fangirl, if anyone needs more context. 

I really did like this book, but I think I liked Sam more than Penny. The book kind of reads as if Penny was suppose to be the main character, even though the POV's switched back and forth between them, but I liked Sam more, and I think it was because of his story. Sam grew up poor with a mother who was constantly trying to find validation and support through a man (we know that story well), but the difference was watching Sam struggle with a relationship with his ex-step-sister, a constant reminder of what he's trying to escape. When you throw in the pregnant ex-girlfriend, and the fact that this man is a half step away from homelessness, I found myself more drawn to his story. 

I must say, I'm glad to see more contemporary books with Asian protagonists. Books Like Soundless, and Mila 2.0 are great to have in your back pocket, but we need to diversify through all genres, including contemporary romance which can fall behind the times, particularly when it comes to interracial relationships. Aside from some language issues, this book isn't too bad for the younger teens also, which is a win in my book.

4 stars
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Review: Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden

Monday, June 18, 2018

Crossing Ebenezer Creek
She wanted to stay awake, wanted to see what freedom looked like, felt like at midnight, then at the cusp of dawn.

Freedom. Mariah has barely dared to dream of it her entire life. When General Sherman’s march through Georgia during the Civil War passes the plantation where she is enslaved, her life changes instantly. Joining the march for protection, Mariah heads into the unknown, wondering if she can ever feel safe, if she will ever be able to put the brutalities of slavery behind her.

On the march Mariah meets a young man named Caleb, and a new dream takes root—one of a future with a home of her own and a true love by her side. But hope often comes at a cost. As the treacherous march continues toward the churning waters of Ebenezer Creek, Mariah sees that the harsh realities of her and her peoples’ lives will always haunt them.


When I first saw this book, I didn't know what to expect. I don't tend to gravitate toward historical fiction but this was an amazing book. This is the story of freed slaves traveling with union soldiers through the south. We learn of the trials and tribulations of these newly freed slaves and watch love bloom. But most importantly, we continue to learn that there's more to the Civil War than we're taught in school. Not all union soldiers were good men who wanted to help. Some of them hated freeing slaves. Some of those union soldier though the slaves traveling with them were a burden.

This book isn't very long. I honestly can't say more without a ton of spoilers. But PLEASE read this book even if you're not a fan of historical fiction. When you read this book, keep in mind that this book is based on a real event that happened at Ebenezer Creek. You'll never think about the Civil War the same way.

If you're interested in learning about other unknown events that took place during the Civil War, you should listed to the Uncivil Podcast. I can't recommend if enough!
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Review: Pieces of Me by Renee Watson

Sunday, June 10, 2018

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"Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.
"

What a great book that smashed stereotypes in the BEST of ways.

There are some crap thoughts that people have about "urban" communities, especially communities where there are a lot of black and brown people. In those communities we assume that there are drugs, gangs, guns, prostitution, and crappy educational systems. Because we assume that those things make up the community we make assumptions about the people in those communities, the people aren't to be trust, they're up to no good, they're uneducated. Well this book killed all that.

Yes, it is true that Jade went to a mostly white school on the good side of town, let's get back to that later. I loved Renee Watson's portrayal of Jade's community and the people in it. When Jade and her best friend were discussing homework, it's possible that the work Jade was assigned at her school would better prepare her for "the real working world", but the friends work better connected her with their black culture. I also loved that Jade's friend was an amazing poet. It isn't often that we get to see black people doing anything other than sports. Moving away from Jade's BFF there was the nice man at the corner store who gave the kids extra food just because he was a nice man and they were nice kids. Jade's mom! There's this thought that single parents who work more than one job don't parent their children. This particular stereotype isn't always mean, typically the person who falls into this thought pattern feel bad for the hard working parent (normally the mom). But Jade's mom squashed that. Their schedule was kept on a white board on the fridge. Her mom was not going to let Jade wander into the world with someone she didn't know. While this mom may not have been in the house all the time, she was NOT an absentee parent and I loved it!

Now we have the life Jade lived while she was at school. Oh boy do I understand that. The amount of people who've mimicked words and phrases that I've said, or people who said they wished they could see me "pat my head like black women with a weave" is... disturbing. At a white affluent school, Jade had to make sure that she presented herself in a very specific way in order to make her time there as easy as possible. The teachers, the school its self did something very common. Every program that the school suggested Jade for was something to help "fix" her, as opposed to something that she might enjoy. I can understand where they were coming from (kind of), the school wanted to do what was best for Jade, and what they assumed was best was SAT prep, as opposed to something that encouraged her interest.

 This book was awesome. There was so much to take in here. I can't even get to it all. Do yourself a favor, read it friends! 
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Review: Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico--she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances--Mama's life, and her own, depend on it. 

I read this book a long time ago... actually I did the audiobook which I really suggest, but I think this book is too important to forget about.

LIKED:
Can we talk about how this book is so under rated. Esperanza Rising is about a girl (conveniently named Esperanza) who grew up... basically rich in Mexico. Can you think of a time when you've heard of rick people (specifically Mexicans) living in Mexico? I haven't. Not once.

The book is so fascinating because Esperanza has to go from a life of privilege (and we hardly ever seen minorities in a position of privilege except in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and she's has to live the life of a migrant work in California.

This is an interesting coming of age story like no other.

NOT SO MUCH:
It's been a while since I've read this book but I can't remember anything that I didn't like. Esperanza was hard to like. She was spoiled, entitled, bratty, and annoying. But she was suppose to be. So it's fine. :)

IN CONCLUSION:
I know this review is shorter than most, but read this book.

4 Stars
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Review: The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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Matthew Corbin suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. He hasn't been to school in weeks. His hands are cracked and bleeding from cleaning. He refuses to leave his bedroom. To pass the time, he observes his neighbors from his bedroom window, making mundane notes about their habits as they bustle about the cul-de-sac.

When a toddler staying next door goes missing, it becomes apparent that Matthew was the last person to see him alive. Suddenly, Matthew finds himself at the center of a high-stakes mystery, and every one of his neighbors is a suspect. Matthew is the key to figuring out what happened and potentially saving a child's life... but is he able to do so if it means exposing his own secrets, and stepping out from the safety of his home?
 

 
Full disclosure, I listed to this book via Hoopla, and I tend to like the audio book version of something, that I KNOW I wouldn't have liked if I'd only read it.

LIKED:
Normally, I would never have picked up this book but I'm darn glad I did. Matthew has severe OCD. He only eats pre-packaged food, he keeps a box of gloves hidden under his bed and refuses to go without them, he refuses to let anyone into his room, and he talks to a section of the wall paper that looks like a lion. I was most impressed by how Thompson chose to keep readers in the dark about what triggered Matthews OCD without beating us over the head. There are so many book where the main character spends more time reminding us that they're keeping a secrete, than doing anything else, Saving Red is full of it. In Goldfish Boy, we knew that there was an inciting incident, we might even have been able to guess that it involved Matthews baby brother, and although Matthew mentioned "what he did", he wasn't overwhelming about it.

I liked the email exchanges between Matthew and the kids in the neighborhood and the way Thompson peppered past interactions with them throughout the book. (P.S. The little girl next door was pure evil. I'm sure of it.)

At then end of the book when Matthew finally explained what triggered his OCD, my heart broke. It wasn't what I expected AT ALL. I have never been so sad for a little boy in my life.

NOT SO MUCH:
I struggled with the parents, particularly the dad. I have very... specific parents. so I can spend a lot of my time thinking "do people have parents who really do that?" I'm not sure if was the audio book reader, or the actual character, but I struggled, and I'm not even sure why. Matthews mom tried to act as if everything was normal. She'd attempt to pull him into conversation and invite him out to family events that she knew darn good and well he wasn't going to go to. Matthew's dad, kind of did that as well, but there was a scene (SMALL SPOILER) where he went into Matthews room and pulled down, the wall paper, repainted, cleaned, and basically destroyed Matthew's life. It didn't sit well with me. As i'm typing this, I think my issue with the book was that Matthew's parents acted as if they had no idea was OCD was, like they had never heard of it, and couldn't recognize it in their own son. It would be one thing if they knew he had OCD and we upset and overwhelmed by it, but it was almost as if their internal dialogue was something along the lines of, "my son scrubs down everything with bleach, he wont let us touch him, he wont go outside, he's terrified of germs and everything that breads them, and I have no idea what's wrong with him. Whatever could it be." This book seemed to take place in the modern day. Don't they have Google. The parents did ultimately get him to therapy but... I don't know, they just didn't read right.

That being said, they parents didn't bother me enough to not like the book. 

IN CONCLUSION:
I can't say if this is a proper representation of a person who suffers from OCD because I don't have it. I also can't say if this book is Own Voices or what insight the author might have into the life of a person with OCD because there were no authors notes, but I can say that I think this book can go a long way toward helping children understand life might be like for someone who's different from them, and give them some insight on how to act accordingly. These types of books are important because it teaches kids that there are people in the world who are different from them, but at the end of the day, they're still people.
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2018 Discussion Challenge- Reading Slump

Friday, March 16, 2018




The 2018 Blog Discussion Challenge is run by Nicole at Feed You Fiction Addiction and Shannon at It's Starts at Midnight.

I have been in one of the worst reading slumps on and off for the last six months or so. I have no idea why, and I honestly hate it. I just started a new job as the Head of a Youth Services department at the end of January, but before that, I worked an hour and a half away from my house for about a year. Driving was a nightmare because it was all traffic both ways. During that time I was able to listen to a lot of podcasts, audio books, and show tunes, but by the time I made it home after a full day of work and three hours in the car, all I wanted to do was eat my feelings and watch Criminal Minds. It became a horrible cycle and I was honestly too tired to hold a book and process words, oh and did I mention it was also my last year of grad school so I was basically useless. But since I've started this new job I'm an 8 minute drive from work, so what's wrong with me!!??

Anyway, I feel like I can't break that pattern. There was a time when I read three books a week and the reviews were pouring out, but now all I can seem to do is sit under my electric blanket and watch hoarders, and hair videos on YouTube. When I do pick up a book to read, I feel like I'm forcing myself to do it. Does anyone else ever feel like that? Has that feeling ever lasted like six months? At this point I don't know if I should force myself to read books I know I'll like to get myself back into it, or hope this feeling runs it's course.

My library is finally beginning to catalog some of my "most anticipated reads of 2018" and I hope I can muster up the energy to actually read them.

Do you feel my pain internet friends???
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