Tag Archive | ownvoices

Will she SHINE as K-pop star? by Jessica Jung (book review)

book cover of Shine, by Jessica Jung. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not Korean enough in Seoul,
not American enough in New York City –
does she have enough to make it as a star?

Her family’s support of Rachel’s quest to become a K-pop performer is both a comfort and a cage.

Umma, Appa, and her little sister left behind their lives in New York City six years ago when they moved to Seoul so she could train with DB Studios.

But the 17 year old must live at home instead at DB’s trainee house, attending school full-time, then cramming all rehearsals and lessons into the weekends…and doing her homework.

No boys, no social media, weekly weigh-ins – competition is fierce as DB plans to announce its new girl group soon.

Amid mounting pressures to excel in singing, dancing, interviewing skills, and poise, snooty heiress Mina leads her crew in harassing Rachel as a camera-shy American princess.

Rachel’s chance encounter with Jason Lee, internationally famous Korean-Canadian star of DB’s hit boy group, leads to an opportunity to perform with him – can she beat out Mina?

Romantic relationships are forbidden by DB Studios – is her friendship with Jason okay?

One poor decision makes Rachel’s mother furious and disappointed – will the huge disruption of her family’s lives be for nothing?

Written by former K-pop star Jessica Jung, this debut novel takes us behind the glitz of costumes, choreography, and luxury travel to the grind, sweat, and tears of the K-pop studios’ trainee system.

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel, Mina, and the DB trainees striving for the chance to Shine on the international music scene.

How far would you travel to pursue your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Shine / Jessica Jung. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through Edelweiss.

Victory over violence? Stunning stories to read with your ears!

Our final pair of free audiobooks for 2020 take us back and back in history as young women of color fight the odds to live and move on.

Have the Sora app ready on your phone or tablet, then use the download links to grab these titles for your shelf.

Thanks again to the AudioSYNC program and all the publishers for sharing 26 professionally produced audiobooks this summer so we can read with our ears all year.

CD cover of Burn, Baby, Burn, by Meg Medina. Read by Marisol Ramirez.
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Burn Baby Burn (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Meg Medina.Read by Marisol Ramirez. Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

During the sweltering summer of 1977, a massive blackout, arson, and the Son of Sam’s murder spree put New York City on edge, especially in Nora’s neighborhood.

The Cuban-American teen wants to get away from her bullying brother, but their mother can’t navigate life without her help. As Hector’s violence grows, Nora wonders if she’ll make it to 18 or not.

CD cover of Kindred by Octavia Butler, read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kindred (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Octavia E. Butler. Read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books

Transported from 1976 California to antebellum Maryland, 26 year old Dana saves a white boy from drowning and suddenly is returned to the present before being shot.

As the young Black woman gets pulled back and forth in time, always encountering the same white man, she begins to realize that she must keep him alive so the family line continues down to her!

How can you stand strong against changes that threaten your very existence?
**kmm

Ailey longs for THE MAGIC IN CHANGING YOUR STARS, by Leah Henderson (middle grade book review)

book cover of The Magic in Changing Your Stars, by Leah Henderson. Published by Sterling Children's Books| recommended on BooksYALove.com

Frozen on the stage,
no voice, no dance steps!
His tryout is disastrous…

Ailey knew, absolutely without a doubt, that he’d be the perfect Scarecrow in The Wiz – but during tryouts at school, the Black 11 year old just blanked out, couldn’t dance or sing.

Moping around the family hardware store, Ailey learns that his grandfather was a phenomenal tap dancer as a kid and the great Bojangles Robinson gave him a special pair of tap shoes – but Grampa stopped dancing soon after.

In case there’s a bit of special left in those shoes and somehow Ailey gets to the next round of tryouts, he stealthily tries them on – and is transported to 1939 Harlem, near the theater where Bojangles himself is about to perform!

Can he find Grampa in this unfamiliar neighborhood?
Can Ailey keep secret that he’s from the future?
Can he get his grandfather on that stage so Bojangles can see his talent?

The same stars here as in Ailey’s Pennsylvania home town – maybe wishing and working will get things the way they’re supposed to be (and send Ailey back home)!

What wish are you willing to work to make come true?
**kmm

Book info: The Magic in Changing Your Stars / Leah Henderson. Sterling Children’s Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ready, set, go deliver DRAGONS IN A BAG! by Zetta Elliott (kids’ book review)

Book cover of Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott, art by Geneva B. Published by Yearling-Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Follow the rules to stay safe,
avoid trouble,
keep your eyes open!

Jax doesn’t need a babysitter! The Black 9 year old isn’t happy that he has to stay with old Ma while Mom is in court to fight being evicted.

Hmm…he is intrigued when a squirrel zips into Ma’s apartment and tries to feed whatever is in Ma’s big handbag, the thing that came from Madagascar, something that Ma needs to deliver elsewhere – very special lizards!

There’s a transporter in Prospect Park?
The lizards are really dragons?
Ma is a witch?!

Maybe Jax can help Ma as her apprentice, if he follows the rules: keep the dragons in their case and never feed them.

When a problem with the transporter lands Jax and the baby dragons back in Brooklyn without Ma, he enlists the help of his best friend Vik to get the dragons safely to their new home in another dimension.

First in a series, followed by The Dragon Thief !

What mythic creature would you like to see in your town?
**kmm

Book info: Dragons in a Bag / Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Geneva B. Yearling/ Random House, 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Different stories, different viewpoints? Audiobooks bring us both

It’s past time to pro-actively seek out viewpoints beyond our own, to strive to understand where others are placed in the world – let this week’s free audiobooks get you started on this journey!

First, grab the free Sora app on your phone or tablet. Next, register free at AudioSYNC, then use either or both of the links below to download this week’s audiobooks, free through Wed, July 1, 2020.

CD cover of Mexican Whiteboy, by Matt de la Peña | Read by Henry Leyva
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mexican Whiteboy (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

by Matt de la Peña. Read by Henry Leyva. Published by Brilliance Audio

Half-Mexican, half-White, all mixed up – Danny doesn’t fit in at his San Diego private school where his talented but erratic pitching can’t save him from being too brown.

He doesn’t speak Spanish, so it’s awkward staying with his dad’s family when his divorced mom goes north. Is he the reason Dad went back to Mexico?

The Silence Between Us (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

Since becoming Deaf a few years ago, Maya has learned ASL at a special school. Then Mom’s job moves them across the country, and the teen must attend a hearing high school…

I recommended this #ownvoices story on BooksYALove earlier this year – no-spoiler details here.

How are you working to truly see and understand the culture of other people?
**kmm

Signs, connections, love – ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW, by Liara Tamani (book review)

book cover of All the Things We Never Knew, by Liara Tamani. Published by Greenwillow Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ready for his free throw,
he blew a kiss –
straight to her heart, falling, falling…

Actually Rex blows a kiss to his late mother before every free throw, and Carli fell courtside before her game because of a gallbladder attack, but their hearts connect as social media helps the upper-class Black teens find each other across Houston.

Numbers record their basketball success, map out his geometry of perfect landscape design, show her patterns that reveal truths and paths in art.

But numbers don’t tell everything like Rex’s guilt because his birth caused mom’s death, Carli’s pain as a family truth is revealed to be a lie, or the cataclysmic ups and downs of first love.

Will Rex’s dad ever come to a game or keep ignoring his only child forever?
Will Daddy ever tell Carli and Cole why Mom is suddenly divorcing him?
How can Carli tell her championship teammates that she hates playing basketball?

Happy book birthday to this tale in two voices, showering sparks and raining tears as Rex and Carli try to find themselves and hopefully find each other, too. From the author of Calling My Name (recommended here).

When have you met someone and felt like you’ve known them forever?
**kmm

Book info: All the Things We Never Knew / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

It calls them all – A SONG BELOW WATER, by Bethany C. Morrow (book review)

book cover of A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Every Siren is a Black woman,
her magical Call irresistible,
a danger that the majority wants to contain…or silence.

Tavia and Effie share secrets and worries as the Black almost-sisters navigate high school while growing into their individual powers.

To Portland, Effie is ‘the girl from the park’ who survived when sprites turned her playmates into stone statues years ago.

Trying to strangle the siren-voice out of herself at age 11 didn’t work, but coming here from California gave Tavia a chance to start over, away from her grandmother’s revealed Siren legacy.

When Effie moved up the hill from her grandparents to stay with Tavia for school, a gargoyle arrived too, perching on the roof whenever the teens are home.

Tavia stays quiet except in choir, for her siren-voice is too powerful and compelling for everyday people to deny. But when she’s stopped for driving while Black – did the other cop hear her Call to be released?

It’s almost Ren Faire time, where Effie is the mermaid Euphemia, so she practices her underwater dance at the pool, missing her late mom and their shared love of Faire performing more than ever.

Does Effie’s constantly itching skin mean she’s becoming a mer for real?
Is an electronic silencing collar in Tavia’s near future?

They know that attending the community protest of a young Black man’s death at the hands of police could quickly turn dangerous, especially when a celebrity who just revealed she’s a Siren arrives…

Effie’s hair has a mind of its own, Tavia seeks her grandmother’s counsel through water, family secrets begin to unravel.

Happy book birthday to this story of self-discovery and speaking to power! Request A Song Below Water now at your local library or buy from an independent bookstore directly or through bookshop.org for home delivery.

Where can you use your voice for good, right now?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Below Water / Bethany C. Morrow. Tor Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Unwise love and unforgivable secrets to read with your ears! (audiobook reviews)

Forced together by circumstance, forced apart by society, choosing to remember…or forget.

This week’s pair of audiobooks bring us a mother and daughter’s modern then-and-now story and a fantasy enemies-to-lovers (maybe) tale.

Download either or both titles to your phone or tablet using the links below so you can listen whenever you like through the Sora app.

These are available on the AudioSYNC site free through Wednesday evening 3 June 2020. If you miss the free download for any of these featured audiobooks, check your local library or school library.

CD cover of In Search of Us, by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo.
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In Search of Us (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Ava Dellaira. Read by Adenrele Ojo. Published by Brilliance Audio.

Mom says her black father died before Angie was born, but new information about him sets the mixed-race teen on a road trip to California, with her ex-boyfriend!

Marilyn’s own love story as a teen in the 90s derailed her career as actress and photographer, but what brought her and baby Angie to New Mexico?

CD cover of Serpent & Dove,  by Shelby Mahurin. Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Serpent & Dove (free download 28 May- 3 June 2020)

by Shelby Mahurin . Read by Holter Graham & Saskia Maarleveld. Published by HarperAudio.

Escaping her coven, Louise tries to survive in the city by her wits alone. “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” guides Reid as he hunts them down.

When Lou and Reid are caught in a compromising position, they must marry or else!

When is it time to let secrets remain secret?
**kmm

S is for SALTY, BITTER, SWEET flavors and emotions, by Mayra Cuevas (book review)

book cover of Salty, Bitter, Sweet, by Mayra Cuevas. Published by Blink YA Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Food is Isa’s love language – this debut #ownvoices novel could fit anywhere in the April A to Z blog challenge calendar!

Like D, E, F for divorce, that took Papi from the 17 year old and her mom in Chicago to a new, now-expectant wife in southern France.

G for chef Grattard’s cooking school nearby, Isa’s chance to win a place working at his world-famous restaurant.

S for her stepmom’s college-age Spanish stepson who flirts with Isa’s classmates and is staying the summer too.

Or P for peeling potatoes, perfection, problems at the school – 13 teens from around the world competing for a single apprenticeship.

T is taste, trial and error, tradition, and Chef Troissant demanding total concentration from her students.

A,B,C for her late Abuela, beloved Cuban grandmother whose magical touch in the kitchen spread love through a small Kansas town, whose handwritten cookbook Isa still can’t open.

L is the charming city of Lyon and learning and legacies and… love?

How do you psyche yourself up for big opportunities?
**kmm

Book info: Salty, Bitter, Sweet / Mayra Cuevas. Blink YA Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L for Linh, lost little brother in BUTTERFLY YELLOW, by Thanhha Lai (book review)

book cover of Butterfly Yellow, by Thanhha Lai. Published by Harper Collins | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Last plane to safety,
a far away address,
can she find her brother again?

A promised escape flight takes only Hang’s little brother as the Communists overrun their town, and the twelve year old escapes from Vietnam with Mother on a boat… journey of terror in 1975.

From refugee camp to Uncle’s home in Texas in 1981, another step nearer to the address where Linh was taken.

LeeRoy, all done with school and being a city fella, is heading up to the Panhandle to meet his favorite bronc rider and work in rodeos. Helping this teenage gal get to Amarillo won’t take much time, will it?

But the address is now a vacant lot! A neighbor’s information sends LeeRoy and Hang out toward Palo Duro Canyon to find her brother, now called David.

Hang is determined to speak English well enough to tell David every memory of their family, as she and LeeRoy work on the dusty ranch near David’s new home, trying to wrestle thorny mesquite trees from the rocky earth with her brother in his summer before sixth grade.

Amarillo means “yellow” but the dirt there is red and orange, not like the tropical green fruit trees and vines of Vietnam.

Hang is sad that David cannot recall their childhood together, Uncle wants to take David from the new mother who loves him, and LeeRoy isn’t sure whether to stay on the ranch or follow his rodeo dreams.

As refugees flee from danger and desperate situations, how can we help them?
**kmm

Book info: Butterfly Yellow / Thanhha Lai. Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.