Tag Archive | personal finance

THEY CALLED US ENEMY – Japanese-Americans in WWII, by George Takei (Graphic novel review)

Book cover of They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Published by Top Shelf Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Leaving their home and possessions,
not his parents’ choice…
Why? Why!?

His mama’s purse is full of treats for five-year-old George and little Henry as they make the long train trip with her, Daddy, and baby Nancy from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in the woods of rural Arkansas.

Not a vacation place, but an internment camp with barbed wire fences, unfamiliar foods, very little privacy, and their loyalty to the USA constantly in question – boring for kids, disheartening for adults.

Later, George’s family was moved to a facility in the California desert at Tule Lake, another of several concentration camps that housed 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.

At war’s end, they hoped to move back to their homes and businesses, but their properties had been seized and sold to others… time to start all over again.

Will the US government deport George’s family?
How can they live in a country that hates them?
What will the future be like in a world after war?

This is a sobering portrayal of a dreadful time in America’s history, as seen through a child’s eyes and reinforced by decades of subtle and overt racism against Asian Americans.

(One of the white co-authors had worked previously with Takei and pitched the idea of capturing his childhood memories as a graphic novel. The book’s artist is Japanese-American, creator of Himawari House graphic novel that I recommended here.)

The well-known Star Trek actor and social activist continues to speak out against discrimination, racism, and the rights of all to love and be loved.

What young childhood memory would you write or draw?
**kmm

Book info: They Called Us Enemy / George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Media, 2019. [author site] [co-author site] [co-author interview] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Y is for YOUR HEART, MY SKY, love despite starvation in Cuba, by Margarita Engle (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Food is dwindling,
government rule tightens,
can people survive on hope alone?

Words feed your soul, but not the gnawing hunger across the island during el periodico especial en tiempos de paz in 1991, as the Soviet Union collapses and its food shipments to Cuba cease, starting a decade of starvation.

Out in the countryside, Liana is adopted by a brown dog who sings to the sky and helps the 14 year old find things to cook for her family. No, she won’t go to the government’s “summer camp” working in the sugarcane fields and leave her siblings to starve.

Neither will 15-year-old Amado, even though he’ll be an outcast in the village. If they knew his plan to evade military conscription, he’d be in prison with his brother who did the same. Constant hunger makes rebellious thoughts of freedom difficult, but he will persevere.

As the two young people try to fight their growing attraction, the singing dog called Paz does his best to nudge them together, knowing that they’ll be stronger together.

Can they grow any food without the government finding out?
Can hope alone sustain them as the police keep watch on Amado?
Should they also make a raft and try to escape to Miami?

Celebrate Poetry Month with this verse novel in three voices, by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here).

To this day, Cuba imports most of its food – where do your representative and Senator stand on ending the decades-long US trade embargo?
**kmm

Book info: Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger / Margarita Engle. Atheneum / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for sisters & THE SPLENDOR, hotel of secrets & stolen memories! by Breeana Shields (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Splendor, by Breeana Shields. Published by Page Street Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Glamour, luxury,
delights and dreams,
upheld by secrets, dark secrets!

At the Hotel Splendor, whatever you wish for comes true! This glittering promise has kept hope alive for orphaned sisters Juliette and Clare, now young women struggling to make ends meet.

A year of working extra jobs allowed Juliette to save up enough to give Clare the chance to live out her dreams at The Splendor, but a few weeks later, Clare returns as a stranger instead of Juliette’s dearest friend!

Whatever happened at the Splendor, Juliette must find a way to reclaim her sister’s love, so she takes their rainy-day money and becomes a guest at the dazzling hotel up on the hill.

There, she finds possibilities beyond her dreams – diving beneath the sea, riding on a giant bird, a garden made of sweets – as the staff creates a Signature Experience for each guest using the Splendor’s unique magic.

It is handsome young Henri who makes those Experiences seem more than real, with his mother Stella directing their huge staff of seamstresses, chefs, and concierges at the glittering, luxurious hotel.

How can Henri grant Juliette’s dearest wish when it was the Splendor that took away Clare’s love for her?

Every elegant inch of the Splendor Hotel is enhanced by Henri’s magic, but at what cost?

After Juliette is caught exploring behind the scenes, will the extravagant costume ball be her last dance?

Told in alternating chapters by Juliette and Henri, the dark secrets of the Splendor Hotel are gradually revealed! By the author of The Bone Charmer (recommended here).

What amazing experience would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Splendor / Breeana Shields. Page Street Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Cover image from the author; review copy courtesy of the publisher.

N is no, not again! Oh HONESTLY ELLIOTT! by Gillian McDunn (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Honestly Elliott, by Gillian McDunn. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Some days at different houses,
so many assignments (just hide them),
not sporty, just his messy honest self…

Every kid in town goes to sixth grade in the same building for project-based learning and cool stuff together, except Elliott’s best friend who’s homeschooling across the country with his moms this year…sigh.

That leaves Elliott and his guinea pigs alone to deal with his divorced parents, his ADHD making his brain zone-out more often, and his lunch-buddies to excluding him from their year-end group project.

Well, brilliant Maribel can’t agree with her friends on what project to do, so it looks like she and Elliott are partners – with their semester grade on the line!

Their project must be something they can make themselves to sell, that’s related to their hometown, staying within a budget…hmmm.

Super-organized Maribel must avoid gluten in food or her digestive system goes haywire – how about gluten-free pies?

Easily distractible Elliott loves to experiment with cooking, but baking? His star chef idol says “cooking is about inspiration and baking is about control” (pg. 60) – can’t hurt to try.

In his mom’s cozy kitchen, the pair gets to work. Elliott’s attempt at gluten-free pie crust is disastrous, and Maribel’s wonderful strawberry filling is too expensive, so they search the cookbook library at Avery Local market for ideas.

As the weeks count down, the pressure builds up – have a successful project, get ready for his new step-brother to be born, stop ignoring The Incident, stop disappointing Dad about everything…

Honestly, Elliott is a guy you want to cheer for – and hope he can cope with all these changes!

What do you prefer – baking or cooking?
**kmm

Book info: Honestly Elliott / Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

J is for Japan, living and learning in HIMAWARI HOUSE, by Melody Becker (Graphic novel review) #A2Z

book cover of Himawari House, by Melody Becker. Published by First Second | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A gap year,
a new start,
away from family…far away.

Three young women move to Japan, living with people from other cultures in a Tokyo sharehouse and becoming good friends in this bilingual (sometimes trilingual) graphic novel.

Nao had moved to the US Midwest with her American father and Japanese mother when she and her brother were young, never quite fitting in there. Returning to Japan after high school graduation, she wants to reconnect with her roots and family here.

Tina came from Singapore to learn Japanese well enough to pass the university entrance exams here, close to home and also far away from her boisterous family for a while.

Hyejung left Korea because she was so very deeply unhappy with the treadmill of going to college to get a job to work till retirement; her parents didn’t approve, and they don’t communicate.

Japanese brothers Shinsan and Masaki anchor Himawari House, the elder suggesting festivals they can all attend together, and Masaki being generally moody (what is his problem?).

The girls work at low-skill jobs as they attend gogakuin to improve their Japanese, with not a few cultural mishaps along the way. Thank goodness they can all communicate in English at Himawari House!

Childhood memories are revived as Nao visits her mother’s family in the countryside where she played with her cousins, now also all grown up.

Will Tina and Hyejung pass their entrance exams?
Can Nao become fluent in Japanese during the short time she’s here?
Will Masaki ever come out of his shell?

A fun and thoughtful look at family, expectations, and friendship by the illustrator of the graphic novel version of George Takei’s memoir, They Called Us Enemies (recommendation coming soon).

If you could take a year off from your current life, where would you live?
**kmm

Book info: Himawari House / Harmony Becker. First Second, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Library book; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is exploring & enquiring & FINDING ESME, by Suzanne Crowley (MG book review) #AtoZ

book cover of Finding Esme, by Suzanne Crowley. Published by Greenwillow Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Peach trees and bees,
water-divining and watching,
finding what’s been lost – most times.

It’s not that Esme doesn’t love her prickly grandmother Bee, it’s that missing Paps takes up so much of her heart. And under his tractor on Solace Hill, there where her sweet grandfather died, is where the twelve year old finds bones after a rainstorm.

Bee is a finder of things and a water-witcher, sure that Esme will inherit that gift (if only it could help the tween find friends at the junior high school in their tiny Texas town).

Honey and peach pies won’t pay Bee’s mortgage in the 1970s, little brother Bo is truly a wild child, and their mother June Rain is just a quiet shadow since their artist father disappeared.

And now these big bones that Esme’s best pal Finch helps her dig around – has she found a dinosaur? They write to an expert over in Dallas for his opinion and wait.

Can Esme’s finding gift finally locate her father?
What should she decide about the amazing bones?
Are some family secrets too big to stay buried?

When yet another person goes missing, the townspeople turn to Bee… and Esme, if her gift is truly here.

If you had the gift to find one thing, what would you seek?
**kmm

Book info: Finding Esme / Suzanne Collins. Greenwillow Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K-Beauty MADE IN KOREA, competition made right here! by Sarah Suk (YA book review)

book cover of Made in Korea, by Sarah Suk. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gel masks, lip balms,
toners, serums, and BB creams –
K-beauty is the best!

As her senior year begins, Valerie is relieved to find that her fellow students still line up every Monday afternoon to buy the quality Korean beauty products that she and her cousin Charlie sell at their Pacific Northwest high school.

But showcasing her entrepreneurship on college applications is at risk when this new guy Wes starts selling beauty products that his mom gets from big K-Pop groups… on Monday afternoons!

The competition between Valerie and Wes heats up at the Halloween Market and carnival, with their personal bet – winner of the Haunted House race has to advertise the other’s business all night – and then grows!

Wes just wants to make money for the music lessons that his parents refuse to pay for and get the courage to apply to music school that they think is utter foolishness. Making an enemy of a great girl like Valerie is an unintentional side-effect.

Valerie really doesn’t need the drama of Wes and Pauline’s business right now – she started V&C Beauty to make enough money to take her grandmother traveling abroad as Halmeoni has always wished, and that’s what she’s going to do!

Is someone spying on her business plans? On his business plans?
Are the sparks between Wes and Valerie more than just competition?
Is Charlie going to let Pauline break his heart again by asking her to prom?

In alternating sections, Valerie and Wes relay the ups and downs of their senior year as these Korean-American teens reach for their dreams and wonder if there’s room for love in this K-beauty war. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

Any K-beauty secrets to share?
**kmm

Book info: Made in Korea / Sarah Suk. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THE JASMINE PROJECT – everyone’s finding her the perfect guy (secretly), by Meredith Ireland (YA book review)

book cover of The Jasmine Project, by Meredith Ireland. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

He dumped her?!
Future plans now murky,
her family wants to fix it… look out!

Jasmine had everything arranged, counting down to graduation, moving into an apartment with her longtime boyfriend Paul, starting nursing school (it’s a secure career… sigh).

Her family and enormous network of cousins and aunts know that Paul is cheating on her before the Korean adoptee does (not savvy about social media at all).

To help Jasmine get over Paul, her Filipino-white family decides to bring the best young bachelors in central Florida to her graduation party (big sister Cari’s podcast about The Bachelor is really popular).

All a secret from Jasmine, including the bets that Davey takes on which guy she’ll bring to the family Fourth of July party! (her adopted Dominican younger brother will surely grow up to be a bookie…)

Maybe it will be Justin, her junior high pal back from four years in Texas (so cute, so grown up).

Or Eugene, son of famous restaurant chefs (Jasmine dreams of cooking, not nursing).

Perhaps Aaron, the minor league pitcher from Nashville (that accent, those manners).

Everyone involved knows the rules, except Jasmine of course, but when some bachelors go rogue and Paul contacts her mid-summer (he never did treat her right), who knows what will happen by July!

Funniest inter-generational group texts ever punctuate this story of Jasmine discovering who she really is and what she wants for her own future.

Grab this debut novel at your local library or independent bookstore to find out who Jasmine chooses.

What’s your best “we met at a party” story?
**kmm

Book info: The Jasmine Project / Meredith Ireland. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

OF PRINCES & PROMISES, change & challenge, by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of Of Princes and Promises, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

How dare he dump her?!
Revenge is essential.
But exactly how… aha!

At the world’s fanciest high school in the Rockies near Aspen, Caterina is shocked to find that she cannot have everything she wants, as her boyfriend Alaric leaves the undisputed queen of Rosetta Academy for someone else.

For all their years at Rosetta, shy Rahul has adored Caterina from afar. He was as shocked as everyone else when she kissed him at the Winter Formal – surely that means she wants to be with him!

Mega-rich Caterina decides that transforming chess geek Rahul into the perfect man to escort her to high-profile events is the perfect way to get revenge on Alaric.

So begins a whirl of etiquette lessons, tailor’s appointments, and the amazing hair gel that turns tongue-tied Rahul into suave RC who must surely be a prince of a small kingdom as the society gossips presume.

Will Caterina’s very visible romance with RC bring Alaric back to her?
Does Rahul want to become surface-handsome RC forever?
Can money really buy happiness?

Return to Rosetta Academy (setting for Of Curses and Kisses, recommended here), whose ultra-wealthy and powerful students have worries and goals that sort of sound like ours, in this luxe retelling of The Frog and the Princess fairy tale told in the alternating voices of Rahul and Caterina.

From the author of When Dimple Met Rishi (recommended here), From Twinkle With Love (here), and There’s Something About Sweetie (here).

What less-repeated fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Of Princes and Promises (a Rosetta Academy Novel) / Sandhya Menon. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Lost daughter or just a HOMEWRECKER? by Deanna Cameron (book review)

book cover of Homewrecker, by Deanna Cameron. Published by Wattpad Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stormy life,
grown up too fast,
Tornado! Where’s Mom?

When her druggie mom is swept away from their trailer park by a tornado, Brownyn is taken in by the family of her long-estranged father, now a rich and powerful senator.

The 17 year old always knew that her birth after David’s short separation from his wife was an accident, hushed up as he rose from young lawyer to the Senate – only once as a kid did she meet his family.

She’s stunned now by their casual wealth, the summer home on the lake, and being accepted by her stepmom and four half-siblings. They’ve always known about her?

Mom’s body is finally found, but she was strangled before the tornado hit! David’s influence keeps the investigation going, even as the media blares out Bronwyn as his secret love-child.

So she’ll get out and meet people, she now works with half-sister Andi (one grade older, YouTube makeup guru deluxe) at the drive-in movie theater. Teenager Ethan next door takes care of their garden, and Bronwyn shares her plant knowledge with him.

But she misses her friends at home, doesn’t think the detectives are really trying to solve Mom’s murder, and decides it’s time to go do some sleuthing herself – Ethan’s more than willing to roadtrip with her.

Was Mom killed over drug money or something else?
How will Bronwyn fit in at a new rich-kid school?
Why is David’s family so nice to her…really?

Secrets old and new collide as the teen struggles to become part of a real family instead of the only responsible person at home.

What long-lost kid story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book Info: Homewrecker / Deanna Cameron. Wattpad Books, 2021. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.