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Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh – A treasure for the youth of now and for generations to come

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Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology‚ÄĒwritten by the best children‚Äôs authors‚ÄĒcelebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.

In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Pe√Īa, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children‚Äôs publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.

From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

I loved¬†Flying Lessons and Other Stories.¬†This book was the perfect book to start off 2017 – it filled me with so much joy, reminded me of the ups and downs of youth, and filled me with so much¬†hope — hope, because kids¬†with marginalized identities may read this book and find themselves in the stories’ characters. And I cannot emphasize how important this is – and consequently how this makes¬†Flying Lessons and Other Stories¬†so important and successful.

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Festive Book Recs: Happy Lunar New Year!

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Happy Lunar New Year, friends!

Today, on the 28th of January, is the first day of the lunar calendar, else known as the Lunar New Year. For a lot of us, Lunar New Year is a very important day – one that is filled with celebration, spending time with family and the ones we love, and eating a lot of delicious food. For those of us with Chinese heritage, we call Lunar New Year¬†Chinese New Year —¬†and it’s the Year of the Rooster too!¬†However, today is also Korean New Year, Mongolian New Year, Tibetan New Year, and Vietnamese New Year. (And a happy new year to you too, my friends!)

I am super honoured and delighted to have¬†three book bloggers contribute to today’s¬†Festive Book Recs¬†– Lili, Jeann, and Alex – and share with you what Chinese New Year means to them and what they do to celebrate! In the end, Lili, Jeann, Alex¬†will also be recommending two books each that relate to Chinese New Year.

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Diversity Spotlight Thursday #6

diversity-spotlight

Welcome to my sixth Diversity Spotlight Thursday! This wonderful weekly blog meme was created and is hosted by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks! For more information about the meme, please read the announcement post here.

My participation in this meme is to help me with one of my reading goals: to read books with a variety of perspectives, especially ones different from my own. Every two weeks I will share with you:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

I wanted to do a theme for this week’s Diversity Spotlight – so this week’s theme is:¬†books with Indian characters or based on Indian mythology.

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Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition. Written by Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again.

Beauty Queens¬†delighted me in every way possible. Brandishing dark comedy and satire, it elucidates and explores complex themes such as feminism, racism, ethnicity, identity, disabilities, gender, sexuality, prejudice, and social standards. That’s a¬†lot¬†of themes to explore, but Bray has done it fantastically. Paired with its plot – when a plane crashes on a remote island, thirteen beauty pageant contestants are the only survivors –¬†the result is an excellent¬†book that manages to be ridiculous¬†but also incredibly intelligent,¬†honest and genuine.

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Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer Smith

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My sincerest thanks to Hachette New Zealand, for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan have only one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night leads them to family and friends, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever?

So here is a book I didn’t expect to love.

I hadn’t felt truly emotionally connected to a book in a long, long time before reading this lovely book. Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between¬†is quiet book¬†that explores relationships, the rite of passage of leaving, and love – and I loved every minute of it.

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After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?

This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It‚Äôs about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you‚Äôve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game‚ÄĒand searching for a new road to happily ever after.

If you really think about it, we spend a large proportion of our lives making connections with other people. Starting with your parents and family, then branching out to friends, mentors, acquaintances, and then, one of the most significant in our lives, eventually lovers or our significant others. After I Do explores the relationship that most of us may commit to in our lives: marriage. Through the lives of Lauren and Ryan, Reid wonderfully portrays a relationship that is at the brink of breakdown. Though this book centers on the brink of marriage, After I Do is filled with themes or self-discovery and exploration, a deeper understanding of love in its absence, and the meaning of marriage and family.

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Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year’s Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn’t expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they’ve eloped.

Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met and who doesn’t even know Elsie exists.

Interweaving Elsie and Ben’s charmed romance with Elsie and Susan’s healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there’s more than one way to find a happy ending.

(Trigger warning: death)

Heart-wrenching, poignant, powerful, and absolutely wonderful.

I loved Taylor Jenkins Reid’s¬†Maybe in Another Life;¬†it found its way into my heart and made a home within. There’s something¬†about Reid’s writing that captures the splendors and afflictions of life and living, something about her prose that gives life a luminous quality.¬†Loving Reid’s prose, I knew I would love¬†Forever, Interrupted¬†too – and I was right.

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