AAPI Heritage Month Post 6

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Today’s featured book is a YA novel I read as an ARC and will be published on September 1st. This is a book I want everyone to read.

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

HMH Books for Young Readers

September 1, 2020

From the publisher: From New York Times best-selling and acclaimed author Traci Chee comes We Are Not Free, the collective account of a tight-knit group of young Nisei, second-generation Japanese American citizens, whose lives are irrevocably changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II.

Fourteen teens who have grown up together in Japantown, San Francisco.

Fourteen teens who form a community and a family, as interconnected as they are conflicted.

Fourteen teens whose lives are turned upside down when over 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry are removed from their homes and forced into desolate incarceration camps.

In a world that seems determined to hate them, these young Nisei must rally together as racism and injustice threaten to pull them apart.

What I think: These powerful interconnected stories of incarceration during WWII told by Nisei youth will wrap around your heart like barbed wire. With deft touches of humor, heart, pathos, and anger, We Are Not Free by the talented Traci Chee is the best Japanese American incarceration novel I’ve read. I loved this book that epitomized gaman and will be buying a copy for everyone in my family.

I fell in love with each of these 14 characters, and I know you will, too.

Pre-order the book here.

AAPI Heritage Month Post 5

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Whew! I made my deadline! And now I will be posting more frequently for the rest of AAPI Heritage Month. For the next few posts I’ll be highlighting AAPI books I’ve read in galley form that have not been released yet but will be published soon. These are books I highly recommend you consider pre-ordering or at least purchasing when they release.

 

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Aug. 4, 2020

From the publisher: Sometimes all you need is a pinch of magic…

Eva Evergreen is determined to earn the rank of Novice Witch before her thirteenth birthday. If she doesn’t, she’ll lose her magic forever. For most young witches and wizards, it’s a simple enough test:

One: Help your town, do good all around.
Two: Live there for one moon, don’t leave too soon.
Three: Fly home by broomstick, the easiest of tricks.

The only problem? Eva only has a pinch of magic. She summons heads of cabbage instead of flowers and gets a sunburn instead of calling down rain. And to add insult to injury, whenever she overuses her magic, she falls asleep.

When she lands in the tranquil coastal town of Auteri, the residents expect a powerful witch, not a semi-magical girl. So Eva comes up with a plan: set up a magical repair shop to aid Auteri and prove she’s worthy. She may have more blood than magic, but her “semi-magical fixes” repair the lives of the townspeople in ways they never could have imagined. Only, Eva’s bit of magic may not be enough when the biggest magical storm in history threatens the town she’s grown to love. Eva must conjure up all of the magic, bravery, and cleverness she can muster or Auteri and her dreams of becoming a witch will wash away with the storm.

What I think: Eva Evergreen’s journey unfurled before my eyes like a Miyazaki film, lush and mesmerizing. I cheered for Eva every step of the way, and hope to get to spend time with her on the next leg of her journey. (And I really want a flamefox!)

Pre-order here: Bookshop.org

 

AAPI Heritage Month Post 4

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I’m three days away from my deadline – and yet, I’m still happily reading AAPI books. Here are some recent favorite swoony AAPI YA novels I’ve read:

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed

From the publisher: It’s August in Paris and 17-year-old Khayyam Maquet—American, French, Indian, Muslim—is at a crossroads. This holiday with her parents should be a dream trip for the budding art historian. But her maybe-ex-boyfriend is probably ghosting her, she might have just blown her chance at getting into her dream college, and now all she really wants is to be back home in Chicago figuring out her messy life instead of brooding in the City of Light.

Two hundred years before Khayyam’s summer of discontent, Leila is struggling to survive and keep her true love hidden from the Pasha who has “gifted” her with favored status in his harem. In the present day—and with the company of a descendant of Alexandre Dumas—Khayyam begins to connect allusions to an enigmatic 19th-century Muslim woman whose path may have intersected with Alexandre Dumas, Eugène Delacroix, and Lord Byron.

Echoing across centuries, Leila and Khayyam’s lives intertwine, and as one woman’s long-forgotten life is uncovered, another’s is transformed.

The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park

From the publisher: Nate Jae-Woo Kim wants to be rich. When one of his classmates offers Nate a ridiculous amount of money to commit grade fraud, he knows that taking the windfall would help support his prideful Korean family, but is compromising his integrity worth it?

Luck comes in the form of Kate Anderson, Nate’s colleague at the zombie-themed escape room where he works. She approaches Nate with a plan: a local tech company is hosting a weekend-long survivalist competition with a huge cash prize. It could solve all of Nate’s problems, and she needs the money too.

If the two of them team up, Nate has a real shot of winning the grand prize. But the real challenge? Making through the weekend with his heart intact…

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

From the publisher: Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

From the publisher: “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

 

Stay tuned for more AAPI Kid Lit reads recommendations!

AAPI Heritage Month Post 3

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Thanks for being patient with me as I post sporadically this month! Today I want to share some of my recent favorite reads of chapter books, all of these are part of a series for young readers to gobble up.

Nina Somi, Former Best Friend by Kashmira Sheth, illustratrated by Jenn Kocsmiersky

From the publisher: The first title in a new series featuring a lovable, distractible Indian-American girl and her family and friends.

Nina tried as hard as she could, but still somehow she forgot about her school project. Fortunately, a class lesson about Alexander Fleming suggests how she might make a great discovery―and thus a great project! But with little sister Kavita’s birthday party right around the corner, and her longtime friendship with Jay on the rocks, Nina has a lot to keep track of.

Readers are sure to relate to author Kashmira Sheth’s endearing Nina Soni and her slightly scatter-brained efforts to manage her life with lists, definitions, and real-life math problems.

 

Diary of an Ice Princess, Frost Friends Forever (#2) by Christina Soontornvat

From the publisher: It’s Winter Break at Hilltop Academy and Lina couldn’t be more excited. With time off from school, Lina’s parents say it’s all right for her best friend, Claudia, to come up to their cloud palace for a sleepover (as long as she double pinkie-swears never to tell the royal family secret!). Claudia can’t wait to see what it’s like to actually be a real princess!

But she soon learns that all the stuffy palace protocol isn’t nearly as fun as it sounds. The girls just have to get out and play! Claudia suggests they go down to the ground and have some fun with Lina’s winter magic. They have a blast sledding and skating in the snow until an actual winter blizzard moves in. The girls are stuck on the ground, lost in the storm. They will have to get resourceful, be brave, work together – and use Lina’s magic in a creative way – if they are going to find their way out.

Astrid & Apollo and the Starry Campout by V.T. Bidania, illustrated by Dara Lashia Lee

From the publisher: Astrid is afraid of the dark and doesn’t want to go on her family camping trip. But her twin brother, Apollo, is excited. When they encounter scary things such as crawly bugs and the creepy dark, Apollo helps his twin through them. And when they encounter the scariest thing of all, Astrid might just be the one to save the starry campout.

Note: I read the advance galley of this book to be released on August 1, 2020.

 

Farah Rocks Fifth Grade by Susan Muaadi Darraj, illustrated by Ruaida Maanna

From the publisher: Farah and her best friend, Allie Liu, are getting excited to turn in their applications to the Magnet Academy, where they both hope to attend sixth grade. But when new girl Dana Denver shows up, Farah’s world is turned upside down. As Dana starts bullying Farah’s little brother, Samir, Farah begins to second-guess her choice to leave him behind at Harbortown Elementary/Middle School. Determined to handle it on her own, Farah comes up with a plan–a plan that involves lying to those closest to her. Will her lies catch up with her, or can Farah find a way to defeat the bully and rock fifth grade?

Happy reading!

AAPI Heritage Month 2020 post 2

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HI again! Forgive me for not posting books daily as I have in the past for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month – I am on deadline – but I will post as often as I can.

Today I’d like to share some AAPI picture books I read recently and have loved.

Magic Ramen by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Kana Urbanowicz

From the publisher: Inspiration struck when Momofuku Ando spotted the long lines for a simple bowl of ramen following World War II. Magic Ramen tells the true story behind the creation of one of the world’s most popular foods.

Every day, Momofuku Ando would retire to his lab–a little shed in his backyard. For years, he’d dreamed about making a new kind of ramen noodle soup that was quick, convenient, and tasty for the hungry people he’d seen in line for a bowl on the black market following World War II. Peace follows from a full stomach, he believed.

Day after day, Ando experimented. Night after night, he failed. But Ando kept experimenting.

With persistence, creativity, and a little inspiration, Ando succeeded. This is the true story behind one of the world’s most popular foods.

 

Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang

From the publisher: When Wu Chien Shiung was born in China 100 years ago, most girls did not attend school; no one considered them as smart as boys. But her parents felt differently. Giving her a name meaning “Courageous Hero,” they encouraged her love of learning and science. This engaging biography follows Wu Chien Shiung as she battles sexism and racism to become what Newsweek magazine called the “Queen of Physics” for her work on beta decay. Along the way, she earned the admiration of famous scientists like Enrico Fermi and Robert Oppenheimer and became the first woman hired as an instructor by Princeton University, the first woman elected President of the American Physical Society, the first scientist to have an asteroid named after her when she was still alive, and many other honors.

 

Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao by Kat Zhang, illustrated by Charlene Chua

From the publisher: Meet the funny, fierce, and fearless Amy Wu, who is determined to make a perfect bao bun today. Can she rise to the occasion?

Amy loves to make bao with her family. But it takes skill to make the bao taste and look delicious. And her bao keep coming out all wrong.

Then she has an idea that may give her a second chance…Will Amy ever make the perfect bao?

 

AAPI Heritage Month 2020

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Happy Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month! In the past, I have shared #AAPIkitlidreads books daily – something I’ve loved doing. I am on a super tight deadline so I will be unable to share books daily, but I look forward to checking in semi-regularly to share AAPI books that I have recently read and loved and books I am looking forward to reading.

In honor of Everywhere Book Fest #EverywhereBookFest (virtual book festival starting today through tomorrow) and in honor of my co-panelists for tomorrow’s Middle Grade Lunch Bunch, I’d like to highly recommend two MG novels today:

STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! by Jessica Kim

From the publisher: One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.

On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura–and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

ANY DAY WITH YOU by Mae Respicio.

From the Publisher: A warm, tender story about a creative girl who hopes that by winning a filmmaking contest, she’ll convince her great-grandfather not to move back home to the Philippines. For fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Kelly Yang.

Kaia and her family live near the beach in California, where the fun of moviemaking is all around them. Kaia loves playing with makeup and creating special effects, turning her friends into merfolk and other magical creatures.

This summer, Kaia and her friends are part of a creative arts camp, where they’re working on a short movie to enter in a contest. The movie is inspired by the Filipino folktales that her beloved Tatang, her great-grandfather, tells. Tatang lives with her family and is like the sparkle of her special-effects makeup. When Tatang decides that it is time to return to his homeland in the Philippines, Kaia will do anything to convince him not to go.

Cover Reveal for my MG Debut

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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 – 31

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Today is the last day of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I’ve had fun sharing all of the AAPI books that I want to read. Please know that there are MORE than these 31 that I want to read, but these are the 31 I’m committing to read over the summer (and beyond I suspect). I will continue to support and read as many AAPI books as I can! I also want to give a shout out to all the AAPI authors who paved the way for the rest of us, and to the many IPOC authors who are part of this incredible community. Thank you!

Book 31 that I want to read is SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW by Maurene Goo. I loved her previous novels, THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL and I BELIEVE IN A THIING CALLED LOVE. These YA novels are exactly the kind of stories I adore and so I suspect I will love her newest as well!

From the publisher:
Sparks fly between a K pop starlet and a tabloid reporter in this heartwarming rom-com from Maurene Goo.

10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

With her trademark humor and voice, Maurene Goo delivers a sparkling story of taking a chance on love–and finding yourself along the way.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 30

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We are winding down here – day 30 of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and the 30th AAPI book I want to read is one that just came to my attention recently via a tweet.

Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan – the cover is striking and the title definitely caught my attention. Coming to you in June!

From the publisher:

Liang Anlei wants a life of glory and revenge

As a warrior who protects her village from shadow spirits, Anlei has never been beyond the borders of her town. All of that changes the day the viceroy and his fleet of mechanical dragons arrives. It’s the protection her village is desperate for, but it will only be given in exchange for Anlei’s hand in marriage. Torn between wanting to protect her village and her own freedom, Anlei is forced to make a sacrifice.

The day before her wedding, she encounters Tai, a young thief who is also trying to save his people. Tempted by his quest and the thrill of glory it promises, the two embark on an epic journey to the Courts of Hell to discover where the shadow spirits come from. But the secret of their existence isn’t so easily solved.

Amid dark experiments and battles on magic-fueled airships, Anlei must summon the courage to be the hero; to live the life she has always dreamed of.

AAPI Heritage Month Book a Day 2019 – 29

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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.