Posts By: Rashika

Thursday, March 23, 2017

One of the Most Important Books: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

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One of the Most Important Books: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
Amina's Voice
Hena Khan
Genre: Contemporary, Middle-Grade
Publication date: March 14th, 2017
by Salaam Reads

GoodreadsPurchase
A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family’s vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community in this sweet and moving middle grade novel from the award-winning author of It’s Ramadan, Curious George and Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns.

Amina has never been comfortable in the spotlight. She is happy just hanging out with her best friend, Soojin. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” Does Amina need to start changing too? Or hiding who she is to fit in? While Amina grapples with these questions, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.

Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for review-

It’s in the title of this review post but I am going to repeat it anyway: Amina’s Voice is one of the most important books published this year and has clearly not gotten the hype it deserves. It’s a middle grade book and I know a lot of people shy away from reading those because reading tastes vary but please don’t overlook this book. Amina’s Voice is such a wonderful, heartfelt book and deserves and infinite amount of love from everybody.

I should take a moment to say I am neither Muslim-American or Pakistani-American but Amina’s Voice still resonated with and I found myself nodding along and feeling Amina’s struggle with her cultural identity on a spiritual level. I grew up feeling similar struggles and even though it wasn’t ~my story~, it felt really freeing to see that struggle reflected in a book I was reading and made the younger Rashika in me feel a little bit more at rest.

Amina’s Voice deals with cultural identity, religious identity and that awkward transition from elementary school to middle school. Even if you went to junior high instead of elementary + middle school, I think we can all agree that 6th grade is weird as fuck. EVERYTHING CHANGES and yet nothing really changes. People who you thought you knew are different. Middle school is just a weird time in general.

Hena Khan also incorporates some food porn into the novel and my mouth was WATERING as I read (and my stomach craved a delicious, home cooked meal.) This book- if you haven’t already gathered-deals with such serious issues and does so masterfully. Hena Khan knows her audience well and incorporates thought provoking discussions into the little things.

This is a book that should be in the hands of every middle schooler but young adults and adults can also take so much away from this beautifully, written novel. Don’t sleep on Amina’s Voice. READ IT and spread the love. We need so much more Muslim rep in children’s lit and the existence of this delightful, #ownvoices book is a step in the right direction. Let’s support these books though so we can get EVEN MORE.

*mic drop*

5 Stars
5 Hot Espressos

5 Books Carrie Mac Wishes Were Around When She Was Growing Up

5 Books Carrie Mac Wishes Were Around When She Was Growing Up

Posted by on 03/21/2017 • 1 Comment

Hello and welcome to Xpresso Reads’ tour stop for 10 Things I Can See From Here. Today, author Carrie Mac shares 5 books she wishes were around when she was growing up! Her list is full of many wonderful recs (and some new to me titles) so I am definitely piling up on those books! I hope you’ll check the books and 10 Things I Can See From Here!

PLEASE GIVE IT UP FOR, Carrie Mac!

I’ve picked books aimed at younger readers, say 8-12-years-old or so because that’s when kids need to see the people they are, or will become, represented in books. When they don’t—because the book hasn’t been written or they’re not allowed to read it—that’s when feelings of isolation really set in, just…

Diverse Books Out February 2017

Diverse Books Out February 2017

Posted by on 03/02/2017 • 6 Comments

Hello and welcome to the February round up of diverse releases! Let me know if any of these have bad rep or if there are any books that I missed. We want this list to be as complete and accurate as possible while also making sure it doesn’t feature any books with bad rep. We will also be pointing out the books we know for sure are #ownvoices.

 

1. A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstorm

Release Date: February 7th

Goodreads | Buy

Interracial romance + deals with mental health.

 

2. Wintersong by S.Jae Jones

Release Date: Feb 7th

Goodreads | Buy

Korean-American author

 

3. Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Release Date: Feb 7th

Goodreads | Buy

Filipino-American author + not-white main characters as cannon

READ THIS BOOK!!!: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

READ THIS BOOK!!!: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Posted by on 02/28/2017 • 5 Comments

I don’t know how to start this review, guysssssss. Empress of a Thousand Skies WAS AMAZING. LIKE I ACTUALLY CANNOT even formulate words even though its been almost a week since I read it. ITS GOT EVERYTHING. People on the run, royalty, secrets, betrayal and hints of romances. YES, MULTIPLE ROMANCES I THINK. I could be wrong.

Did you really like Illuminae? Read this fucking book and love it even more. Seriously. ITS THAT GOOD.

Reasons to Read Empress of a Thousand Skies

1. The world building. I love the complexity of the world. I love that the racial struggles IRL are addressed through racial struggles within the novel and I love the commentary that is made through these struggles. Empress of a Thousand Skies is and tries to reflect on our society…

Destined to Become a Classic: The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

Destined to Become a Classic: The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron

Posted by on 02/24/2017 • 1 Comment

The Castle in the Mist is destined to become a classic. No question about it. It draws a lot of classic children’s literature tropes but somehow managed to create an entirely different narrative about families and the magic of nature. My literary analysis senses are tingling and I must stop myself from word-vomiting a bunch of off-topic stuff but seriously, THIS IS A BOOK I COULD write a 10 page paper about and have a lot of fun doing.

My biggest problem with the book doesn’t lie in the actual writing but in the fact that so many books like The Castle in the Mist exist yet all of them seem to feature only white children? Do not white children not deserve to be featured in gothic-y stories that are magical, mystical…

Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Reminicient of Breakfast Club: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Posted by on 02/22/2017 • 3 Comments

My feelings about this novel as about as complex as they get. Optimists Die First does some really great things but also needs a whole lot of work. Keep in mind that this is all based on an ARC version of the book as opposed to the finished copy and ARCs and finished copies can be worlds apart.

For starters, this book is about as cute as it sounds and looks. It is short and sweet and all about friendships and journeys. As one character in the book says, Optimists Die First is a ‘twisted version of the breakfast club.’

There is a complex portrayal of MH without any real labels and that was great. Petula has to go to mandatory art therapy and kind of really hates it. She doesn’t like any…

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Giveaway: Frostblood by Elly Blake

Posted by on 02/20/2017 • 14 Comments

Today we are partnering with the lovely people over at Little, Brown to bring you a fabulous giveaway for FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake. It has a cover that is hella gorgeous and a blurb that got me glued. I am so excited to dive into this book and hope you guys are too! 🙂

About the Book

About the Author

Elly Blake loves fairy tales, old houses, and owls. After earning a degree in English literature, she held a series of seemingly random jobs, including project manager, customs clerk, graphic designer, and reporter for a local business magazine before finally landing on her current job as a library assistant. She lives in Southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids, and a Siberian Husky mix that definitely shows frostblood tendencies.

Offical…

A Fun Mystery: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

A Fun Mystery: To Catch a Killer by Sheryl Scarborough

Posted by on 02/17/2017 • 6 Comments

This book has an unfortunate cover given that its insides are so different. To Catch a Killer as pitched as being great for fans of Veronica Mars yet this cover screams cheesy mystery. Luckily, To Catch a Killer is a well-written mystery that is fun to follow along and hella engaging. It is one of those books you are going to stay up reading saying just ONE MORE CHAPTER (spoiler alert, its never one more chapter, its usually the entire fucking book.)

Sometimes I’ll read mysteries and wonder how the MCs have the resources and ability to solve the big case just based on educated guesses but To Catch A Killer throws in forensics into the mix and everything is GREAT. EVERYTHING MAKES SENSE. I totally guessed the murderer a couple pages in but…