Category Archives: middle grade fiction

Cover Reveal for my MG Debut


I’m super excited to share the cover reveal of my middle grade debut, Keep It Together, Keiko Carter (Scholastic/May 5, 2020). I love everything about this cover – huge thanks to brilliant cover designer Stephanie Yang.

Check out my essay on the Nerdy Book Club blog, on how I came to write this novel. ❤

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 29


Day 29 of Asian American Pacific Heritage Month and I’m sad that I won’t be able to fit in all the AAPI books I want to read in these 31 days. But glad that there are that many AAPI books to read! A big shout out to author Mike Jung because had I not seen his post about this book, I might have missed it. And can I say how thrilled I am to see more books with contemporary Japanese American characters?

All The Ways Home by Elise Chapman looks to be exactly the kind of book I will love! And it just became available for purchase yesterday! I’m looking forward to getting this book!

From the publisher:

Sometimes, home isn’t where you expect to find it.

After losing his mom in a fatal car crash, Kaede Hirano–now living with a grandfather who is more stranger than family–developed anger issues and spent his last year of middle school acting out.

Best-friendless and critically in danger repeating the seventh grade, Kaede is given a summer assignment: write an essay about what home means to him, which will be even tougher now that he’s on his way to Japan to reconnect with his estranged father and older half-brother. Still, if there’s a chance Kaede can finally build a new family from an old one, he’s willing to try. But building new relationships isn’t as easy as destroying his old ones, and one last desperate act will change the way Kaede sees everyone–including himself.

This is a book about what home means to us―and that there are many different correct answers.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 25


For day 25 of Asian American Pacific Heritage Month, I’m sharing two AAPI books that I want to read.

I loved Frazzled: Every Day Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat – a fabulous and funny middle grade graphic novel! And I had the pleasure of meeting the author who is super nice, as well as talented. And so, I’ve been dying to read the two follow up books and they are on my list to read this summer! Frazzled: Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties and Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes look to be amazing – and how can you not love these titles?!

From the publisher:

Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes (book 2): Things are looking up for Abbie Wu: this year she’ll run for class president and get a brand-new shiny locker. Until—she doesn’t…

In her second tumultuous misadventure, Abbie Wu tackles more unbelievably unfair and calamitous middle school days. From facing locker thieves and battling diabolical cats to having absolutely no idea what to build for her science project, Abbie Wu is still in perpetual crisis.

From author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, this second story follows Abbie Wu, your favorite hilariously neurotic middle school girl, as she tries to come up with solutions to what seems to be a series of inevitable catastrophes.

Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone hoping to figuring out how to survive the ordinary mishaps of middle school.

Frazzled: Minor Incidents and Absolute Uncertainties (Book 3)

Abbie Wu thinks that she’s finally getting the hang of this middle school thing. That’s until her teacher announces that they’ll be going to…OUTDOOR SCHOOL!

While Abbie’s usual clique seems to adjust fine at camp, she doesn’t quite fit in—with anyone! If that isn’t bad enough, her camp counselors are totally evil and she can’t figure out what is up with the golden pig.

Abbie feels all alone. Will she learn how to fit in yet stay true to herself? Or will she finally reach her breaking point?

From author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, this popular series follows Abbie Wu, your favorite hilariously neurotic middle school girl, as she tries to come up with solutions to funny real-life middle school challenges.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 22


Happy 22nd day of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. Today is also my birthday, so as a gift to myself I’m allowing an exception and today’s featured book is by Japanese author Mariko Nagai, who spent many years living in the States. I am a fan of her work, so I’m especially looking forward to her new novel coming out later this year.

Under the Broken Sky by Mariko Nagai won’t be out until October of this year, but is available for pre-order.

From the publisher:

Twelve-year-old Natsu and her family live a quiet farm life in Manchuria, near the border of the Soviet Union. But the life they’ve known begins to unravel when her father is recruited to the Japanese army, and Natsu and her little sister, Asa, are left orphaned and destitute.

In a desperate move to keep her sister alive, Natsu sells Asa to a Russian family following the 1945 Soviet occupation. The journey to redemption for Natsu’s broken family is rife with struggles, but Natsu is tenacious and will stop at nothing to get her little sister back.

Literary and historically insightful, this is one of the great untold stories of WWII. Much like the Newbery Honor book Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Mariko Nagai’s Under the Broken Sky is powerful, poignant, and ultimately hopeful.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 21


It’s day 21 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m sharing an AAPI book a day that I want to read. Today’s book is a choice more for the author than the subject matter. I personally shy away from reading about WWII and internment. My father, a US citizen and a child at the time, and his family were interned. I prefer reading contemporary stories with Asian American main characters. Especially now when real life is full of challenges and darkness, I search for books that make me laugh, bring me joy, or provide a bit of escape. That being said, I love this author and her work, and so in support, I plan to read her newest book. Book 21 is

A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata

From the publisher:

World War II has ended, but while America has won the war, twelve-year-old Hanako feels lost. To her, the world, and her world, seems irrevocably broken.

America, the only home she’s ever known, imprisoned then rejected her and her family–and thousands of other innocent Americans–because of their Japanese heritage, because Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Japan, the country they’ve been forced to move to, the country they hope will be the family’s saving grace, where they were supposed to start new and better lives, is in shambles because America dropped bombs of their own–one on Hiroshima unlike any other in history. And Hanako’s grandparents live in a small village just outside the ravaged city.

The country is starving, the black markets run rampant, and countless orphans beg for food on the streets, but how can Hanako help them when there is not even enough food for her own brother?

Hanako feels she could crack under the pressure, but just because something is broken doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Cracks can make room for gold, her grandfather explains when he tells her about the tradition of kintsukuroi–fixing broken objects with gold lacquer, making them stronger and more beautiful than ever. As she struggles to adjust to find her place in a new world, Hanako will find that the gold can come in many forms, and family may be hers.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 19


Day 19 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! What a thrill it is to share AAPI books that I want to read. Last year I read and loved, Rebel Seoul. And then I got to meet the author last year when we were on a panel together at NCTE! She is not only talented but truly lovely!

Rogue Heart by Axie Oh comes out on October 8, but is available for pre-order! And by October, I hope to have more time to read so this one will be on the top of my TBR this fall! Part romance and part action-thriller set in the future, this is the kind of book I love!

From the publisher:

NEO BEIJING, 2201. Two years after the Battle of Neo Seoul, eighteen-year-old telepath Ama works by day in a cafe and moonlights as a lounge singer in a smoky bar at night. She’s anonymous, she’s safe from the seemingly never-ending war, and that’s how she’d like to stay. But then PHNX, a resistance group specializing in espionage and covert missions, approaches her with an offer to expose a government experiment exactly like the one she fled. Soon, Ama is traveling with PHNX on a series of dangerous assignments, using her telepathic powers to aid the rebellion against the authoritarian Alliance.

As the war ramps up, PHNX is given its most dangerous mission yet: to infiltrate the base of the Alliance’s new war commander, a young man rumored to have no fear of death. But when Ama sees the commander for the first time, she discovers his identity: Alex Kim, the boy she once loved and who betrayed her.

Now, Ama must use her telepathic abilities to pose as an officer in Alex’s elite guard, manipulating Alex’s mind so that he doesn’t recognize her. As the final battle approaches, Ama struggles with her mission and her feelings for Alex. Will she be able to carry out her task? Or will she give up everything for Alex again–only to be betrayed once more?

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 18


Happy day 18 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! I’m sharing AAPI books that I want to read. Today’s book is

My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva. I’ve been looking forward to this book ever since learning about it (I follow Gail and her ducks on social media). I was given a copy of the ARC of this book at the Kweli’s Color of Children’s Literature Conference in April, and I look forward to diving in this summer. It’s not for sale until July, but you can pre-order now!

From the publisher:

Light and deep, smart and funny, crushing and hopeful all at the same time, My Fate According to the Butterfly will open your eyes to both the world’s potential for magic, and to its harsh realities.

When superstitious Sab sees a giant black butterfly, an omen of death, she knows that she’s doomed! According to legend, she has one week before her fate catches up with her — on her 11th birthday. With her time running out, all she wants is to celebrate her birthday with her entire family. But her sister, Ate Nadine, stopped speaking to their father one year ago, and Sab doesn’t even know why.

If Sab’s going to get Ate Nadine and their father to reconcile, she’ll have to overcome her fears — of her sister’s anger, of leaving the bubble of her sheltered community, of her upcoming doom — and figure out the cause of their rift.

So Sab and her best friend Pepper start spying on Nadine and digging into their family’s past to determine why, exactly, Nadine won’t speak to their father. But Sab’s adventures across Manila reveal truths about her family more difficult — and dangerous — than she ever anticipated.

Was the Butterfly right? Perhaps Sab is doomed after all!

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 14


It’s day 14 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m pleased to be wishing a happy book birthday to the 14th AAPI book I want to read!

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai releases today! I’ve been anticipating this book ever since it came up on my radar a few months ago – I’ve been following the author/illustrator’s social media feeds. This illustrated middle grade book looks to be both humorous and poignant.

From the publisher:

Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake . . .

When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.

To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.

In her hilarious, moving middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends, Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, and Jerry Craft’s New Kid.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 12


Day 12 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I’m blogging an AAPI book a day that I want to read. Today’s book has been on my list for almost a year! And I see there’s a second book, too! I’m so behind!


Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien has been on my radar for awhile. It’s been getting some nice buzz, as well! I’m always up for a good adventure story!

From the publisher:

Welcome to Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, where the blades are sharp and the competition is fierce.

Peasprout Chen dreams of becoming a legend of wu liu, the deadly and beautiful art of martial arts figure skating.

As the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout and her little brother Cricket have some pretty big skates to fill. They soon find themselves in a heated competition for top ranking.

Tensions rise when the dazzling pearl buildings of the Academy are vandalized and outsider Peasprout is blamed for the attacks by her rivals … and even some friends.

Now, she must uncover the true vandal to ensure peace between Shin and Pearl – all while becoming a champion.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 7


Day 7 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month. Each day this month I’m sharing an AAPI book that I want to read. I’ve fallen way behind on my reading, so this is serving as my “to read” list for the summer when I hope to have more time!

Today’s book is Aladdin: Far From Agrabah by Aisha Saeed. I’m also looking forward to seeing the live action film later this month!

From the publisher:

This stunning original novel will tell an all-new story set in the world of the new film, featuring Aladdin and Jasmine. A magic carpet ride full of adventure, suspense, and wonder written by New York Times Bestselling author Aisha Saeed, this story will be a must-read for any Aladdin fans who find themselves drawn into and enchanted by the magical world of Agrabah and beyond.