Tag Archive | diversity

Book of Broken Hearts, by Sarah Ockler (book review) – memory is fickle; is love any different?

book cover of Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler published by Simon PulseEl Demonio stealing Papi’s memories,
Family duty stealing Jude’s theater dreams,
Memories stealing Emilio’s happiness.
Can thieves be banished by hard work  – and love?

Jude is sure that Papi’s memory bank will refill if he can just ride once more on the Harley that took him up the Argentine mountains  read more here

Puppy Love, by Destiny and Hapka (book review) – new dog, new friends, new love?

book cover of Puppy Love by A Destiny and Catherine Hapka published by Simon PulseHer rambunctious puppy +
a handsome dog trainer (with an accent!)
= a perfect match for her! (right?)

Lauren is sure she can get Adam’s mind off dogs, but can’t see how much Jamal in their puppy kindergarten class would like to spend time with her…

Another winsome book in the Flirt series where A. Destiny shares co-writing credits with several different authors; check out Portrait of Us  too (my no-spoiler review here).

Book info: Puppy Love (Flirt series) / A. Destiny and Catherine Hapka. Simon Pulse, 2014.   [Flirt series site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As 15 year old Lauren swoons over a cute dog trainer and wonders how can she get the senior to look at her and not just her goofy pup, she may be missing a fellow dog owner’s longing glances.

Finally getting a dog after her so-allergic sister goes away to college is a dream come true for Lauren, but if she can’t break Muckle’s bad habits… well, her best friend Robert is unhappy about the chewing and so is Mom.

Puppy kindergarten is the answer, and Adam who teaches their class for teens is so handsome. Meeting hunky Jamal is nice, but their Irish-accented leader is the one for her, she just knows!

Adam’s enthusiasm with dog agility training, plus mishaps in class and at the dog park are making it difficult for Lauren to show him how perfect they are together. And now Robert is plotting something with Jamal… is she just chasing in circles like Muckle?  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Harlem Hellfighters, by Max Brooks & Canaan White (book review) – WW I graphic novel of prejudice, peril & courage

book cover of Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks art by Canaan White published by Broadway booksVolunteering to fight in the Great War,
stymied at every turn by their own countrymen,
the Black Rattlers will prevail or die trying.

As the world marks the centennial of World War I’s start this month, follow the African-American 369th Infantry from routine prejudices in the US to the unpredictable violence of trench warfare in this stunning graphic novel.

Combining emotion-packed art (be very, very glad that it’s not in full color) with the era’s poems and narratives, this book unlocks a little-known episode of American history as the “Men of Bronze” inch toward the Rhine through mud, blood, lice, and poison gas.

Get it today at your local library or independent bookstore. I’ll wait here for you – I’m going to read it again myself.

p.s. Will Smith has already optioned it for a movie.
p.p.s. Yes, the author is the same Max Brooks who wrote World War Z.

Book info: Harlem Hellfighters / Max Brooks; art by Canaan White. Broadway Books, 2014. [author site]   [artist Tumblr]   [publisher site]   [NPR interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through BloggingForBooks.org.

My book talk: Black skin, white-hot patriotism, red blood on the battlefields of France – the 369th Infantry fights prejudice from the US Army itself en route to pushing German forces back to the Rhine during the Great War.

Practicing with broomsticks instead of the new rifles issued to white troops, the black National Guardsmen nevertheless become a formidable fighting unit with the best regimental band anywhere.

When the Men of Bronze from New York complete their training in South Carolina and ship out overseas in 1914 with no parades or fanfare, they fight in the muddy, bloody trenches alongside grateful French forces, determined to reach the Rhine.

A most graphic illustrated retelling of an ignored episode of US history, Harlem Hellfighters  uses the 369th’s enemy-given nickname in this true story of bravery and sacrifice.

Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew (book review) – Asian superhero against crime!

book cover of The Shadow Hero by Gene Yuen Lang and Sonny Liew published by First Second BooksIn Chinatown’s dark alleys,
the ruthless tongs demand payment,
but the Green Turtle arises to protect the innocent!

Happy book birthday to The Shadow Hero, as the origins of the first Asian-American superhero are revealed!

I love this new joint effort of graphic novelists Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew – light-hearted, but underpinned with the historical accuracy which won Gene so many awards for his paired graphic novels of a pivotal time in Chinese history, Boxers and Saints (my review here) .

Get a quick look at its vintage look and action here:

The Green Turtle’s adventures continue in this short sequence published on the Tor website, too.


Book info:  The Shadow Hero / Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. First Second Books, 2014.  [Gene’s site]  [Sonny’s site]   [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As a child of Chinese immigrants, Hank expected to follow family tradition, but his mother demands that he become a superhero!

When The Anchor of Justice rescues his mother from a bank robber, she won’t be satisfied until Hank reinvents himself as a superhero, instead of being a grocer like his father.

Hank discovers that intense training and a new costume certainly don’t guarantee superhero success when his attempt to save a young lady from thugs merely earns him a beating and the crime boss’s daughter rescues herself.

Fighting against the tong’s extortion has a high price for Hank’s family, yet he vows to continue, aided by the ancient Tortoise spirit from his parents’ homeland.

As the Green Turtle, Hank battles his way into the tong’s headquarters with the Tortoise spirit’s guidance. Yet the challenges he finds there would tax any superhero’s skill and resolve.

“Sometimes a fight you cannot win is still worth fighting,” counsels the spirit of the Tortoise, and Hank is in this fight until the end.

Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew transform an old comic book into this great graphic novel about the first Asian-American superhero.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Strange Fruit: Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History, by Joel Christian Gill (book review) – graphic novel

book cover of Strange Fruit by Joel Christian Gill published by Fulcrum BooksA cycling champion,
a chessmaster,
a marshal who memorized arrest warrants –
lives of purpose whose stories are rarely told.

Nine “Uncelebrated Narratives from Black History” come to life through Joel Christian Gill’s unique art in this graphic novel, originally a series of mini-comics.

Gill took the name for his comic series from Abel Meerpol’s “Strange Fruit” about lynchings in the South, hauntingly performed by Billie Holiday.

Ask for Strange Fruit at your local library or independent bookstore – they may have to order this June 3rd #diversebooks release, but it’ll be worth the wait.

Any suggestions for Gill to include in volume 2?


Book info: Strange Fruit, Volume 1: Uncelebrated Narratives from Obscure Black History / Joel Christian Gill.  Fulcrum Books, 2014. [author blog]  [publisher site]  [video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Seven outstanding men and two groundbreaking institutions are featured in this graphic novel of little-told stories from African-American history.

Included are lawman Bass Reeves, who arrested 3,000 dangerous criminals during his 30-year career in Indian Territory, and Marshall “Major” Taylor, the Black Cyclone, fastest cyclist in the world in 1899, first black champion in any sport.

Henry “Box” Brown escaped from slavery by being packed in a crate for 27-hour wagon journey. The Noyes Academy in New England (1835) was the first integrated school, but townspeople drove them out.

From the original black pro basketball star to a magician’s greatest illusion, become more familiar with these lives which made a positive difference, despite prejudice.

Shelter, by Patricia H. Aust (book review) – escaping Dad’s abuse…maybe

book cover of Shelter by Patricia Aust published by Luminis BooksDad in dictator mode,
Family can never do anything right,
Bam! The abuse begins again…

While machismo may be the norm for Puerto Rican men on the island and in the US, Miguel’s dad inflicts mental and physical abuse on his family, plain and simple.

A great #diversebook from my 48 Hour Reading Challenge last weekend – ask for Shelter at your local library or favorite independent bookstore. In memory of its author, the publisher is donating part of the royalties to the women’s shelter where she volunteered before her death in 2012.

Share Miguel’s story with others once you’ve finished – for some it will be interesting information; for others it will be the hope and knowledge that they need to escape family violence.


Book info: Shelter / Patricia H. Aust. Luminis Books, 2014.  [author obituary]   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Mom can’t take Dad’s abuse any more and escapes with Miguel and his big sister to a shelter, the teen is certain that his father won’t rest until he finds them.

Every detail of family life must be done exactly as Dad demands, or else! At first, Mom could keep the bruises hidden when she went to work, but not this broken jaw.

Fleeing to the women’s shelter is just the first step for Mom, Ellie, and Miguel – restraining orders, new cellphones, getting off the camp bus two stops early so the shelter location isn’t known, going to court.

But Ellie’s boyfriend Diego isn’t any happier with her being gone than Dad is that his family disappeared – even in Connecticut, no piece of paper should come between a Puerto Rican man and his woman!

During this anxious summer in another town, Miguel has to decide if he must always be in control like Dad or will follow his tae kwan do instructor’s teachings and become a honorable man.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

The Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson (book review) – myth to reality on city streets

Book cover of The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson published by Margaret McElderry Books“Sasquatches, demonic Tinker Bells,
purple hippos wearing party hats;
they were all real now.” (p.167)

Auntie Mryss, cousin of Scotch’s white Jamaican dad, has been waiting for the End Times – looks like maybe they’re here and somehow related to the tarry growths inching along Scotch’s chocolate brown skin.

Hopkinson’s comments on “Noticing Race” are worth hearing, as you can well imagine that questions of race and identity have threaded through Scotch’s life for a long time before the Chaos brings every bedtime story and nightmare to life in Toronto.

Grab this imaginative novel at your favorite local library or independent bookstore and get ready for a mind-blowing ride through the dream-tainted city.


Book info: The Chaos / Nalo Hopkinson.  Margaret McElderry Books, 2012.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fitting in at school becomes the least of Scotch’s worries as legendary creatures descend on Toronto with terrifying results and her big brother goes missing.

Scotch (like the Jamaican hot pepper) doesn’t stand out for being biracial at this more-diverse school. Her dancing is stand-out good, like her big brother’s rap poetry. Their conservative parents don’t like either gift. And how they turned in their own son to the police for one joint! Chuh!

The black gooey growths on Scotch’s arm worry her, the hallucinations she sees flying all over worry her, then everything goes crazy as a bubble of light zings her and Rich disappears!

A volcano erupting in Lake Ontario, monsters from myth stomping through the city streets, cell phones not working – Scotch tries to help people as she doggedly makes her way to Auntie Mryss’s house. And those things from nursery rhyme dreams appearing everywhere? Mryss is sure that Scotch is the key to fixing it all…

Why are all these subconscious images becoming real now?
Why is the black goo spreading over Scotch’s skin so fast?
Where is her brother? Where!?

Jamaican author Nalo Hopkinson brings the myths and stories of many cultures into this nightmare reality threatening her adopted Canadian hometown where a heroine who doubts her own strength perseveres amid The Chaos.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)