Rummanah Aasi
 Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine! This week I'm eagerly awaiting the release of two books: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters and Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira. Even though both books are released in quite a few months, they were too good to pass up. 


The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters 
Publish date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books


 Diversity + Shakespeare Retelling + Cat Winters.  Need I say more?

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s HamletThe Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.




Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira 
Publish date: January 12, 2016
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press 



 This sounds beyond adorable and a must read for all booknerds. We've all thought fiction boys are much better, but I am curious about this Dev guy. :)

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?
Rummanah Aasi
 Another Day is the companion novel to David Levithan's widely acclaimed novel, Every Day. Another Day mostly succeeds standing on its own, however, I personally think you would miss its full impact if you did not read Ever Day first.

Description: Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.
  Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person…wasn’t Justin at all.
  In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.
 


Review: In Every Day we explored the universality of love through a gender neutral character named A who inhabits a different body every day. In one of these bodies A was Rhiannon's boyfriend named Justin and they two spent a wonderful day together. Unexpectedly A fell in love with Rhiannon and has tried to pursue a relationship with her, which has been further complicated by A's constantly changing state.
  Another Day recalls this same event, however, we are now seeing things through Rhiannon's point of view. Throughout the book Rhiannon inquires what makes a relationship valuable. One of my main criticisms about Everyday was the lack of character development of Rhiannon. I never understood what was about her that captivated A. This time around I felt I had a better understanding of her, but I didn't really like her as a character.
  In the beginning Rhiannon is a codependent person who uses her rocky relationship with her acerbic boyfriend, Justin, to define herself. While she craves intimacy and emotional attentiveness, he wants distance and wants to hangout or in other words fool around, which feel cold and mechanical. It is clear to everyone around her and indubitable to even to Rhiannon in heart of hearts, that her relationship with Justin is doomed yet her fear to be alone eclipses her logic and it is what keeps her at Justin's side.
 While it was hard seeing Rhiannon defend Justin at his worst moments to her friends and even chastising herself from demanding things that is her right from her boyfriend, I did like how Rhiannon slowly comes into her own person after she encounters A and acknowledges her own needs and desires. With A's constant changing of human bodies from boy to girl, various body types, and backgrounds, Rhiannon has the emotional intimacy that she craves, but can't have the physical relationship that she wants with A. There is a nice contrast between the idealistic world that A would love to live in in which Rhiannon would love him regardless of who A is and the realistic world that Rhiannon has firmly placed her feet on in which she is only attracted to males of a particular type, however, this discussion seems to go on endless circles in Another Day and it began to feel a bit tedious. Readers who have read Every Day will recognize several scenes in Another Day, however the tone is a bit different.
 Like the ending of Every Day, there is no real conclusion to Another Day and Levithan leaves the door open to a possible another book featuring Rhiannon and A. Personally, I enjoyed Every Day just a bit more because I found A a lot more interesting than Rhiannon. I think readers who enjoyed Every Day will find something new in Another Day and readers who are meeting A for the first time would be intrigued to read Every Day to find more about him/her.       


Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, underage drinking, and strong sexual content since Rhiannon and Justin are sexually active however these episodes are not graphically depicted. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Every Day by David Levithan, Cycler and Recycler by Lauren McLaughlin
Rummanah Aasi
 If you are a fan of fractured fairy tales, you may enjoy reading the critically acclaimed Fables graphic novel series by Bill Willingham. The series centers on these questions: What if fairy tale characters existed in our world? And what if they had ways of not revealing themselves to us per their magic? Thus far most the fairy tale characters are from the Brothers Grimm and other European regions, but there are few from other regions of the world too. According to Goodreads, there are a total of 22 volumes of Fables and four spin off series.

Description: Ever since they were driven from their homelands by the Adversary, the non-human Fables have been living on the Farm—a vast property in upstate New York that keeps them hidden from the prying eyes of the mundane world. But now, after hundreds of years of isolation, the Farm is seething with revolution, fanned by the inflammatory rhetoric of Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs. And when Snow White and her sister Rose Red stumble upon their plan to liberate the Homelands, the commissars of the Farm are ready to silence them—by any means necessary!

Review: What draws me to the Fables graphic novel series is how the fairy tales are restructured in a completely new and refreshing way. While the fairy tale characters do retain their famous characteristics, they are also completely three dimensional and deeply flawed.
  As you may recall an entity known only as the Adversary have forced out the fairy tale characters, known as Fables, out of their homes. Some of the fables who can pass off as humans are living in Fabletown, New York (clever city name, I know). In Animal Farm, Willingham manages to rewrite his characters into playing an homage to George Orwell's political allegory of the same name by focusing on the non-humans fables such as the Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, and Shere Khan from the Jungle Book (though I wouldn't necessarily call him a fairy tale character per se), who were forced to live on the Farm so that they would not cause suspicion to the ordinary humans. The non-human fables are unhappy on the farm and fed up with being deemed as secondary class citizens by their more "human looking" counterparts. They have organized a revolution to take back their land from the Adversary and to rule both Fabletown and the Farm. 
  I really enjoyed watching how the furor for the revolution at the Farm grow especially with the involvement unsuspecting key players like Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs. I also  were leading the revolution, which put an insane spin on our favorite fairy tale characters. I also loved how Willingham did a great job at portraying the tumultuous relationship between siblings Rose Red and Snow White. Though they are iconic characters, their fraught relationship felt human and relateable as one sister tries to become closer and the other sister feels nothing but contempt.  
  The artwork in Animal Farm is also very visually appealing. The illustrations of the characters are life-like and convey the emotions written in the text. The coloring was also skillfully done, evoking the dark atmosphere and tone of the story. I hope that the series will add some diversity as it progresses and I look forward to reading more from this series. I would recommend this graphic novel series if you are interested in fairy tales. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language and strong violence/gore in this volume. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love (Fables, #3) by Bill Willingham, Peter and Max by Bill Willingham, Fairest by Bill Willingham
Rummanah Aasi
  Introducing Greek mythology to young adults can be a bit tricky due to the strong sexual and violent content of the myths, however, George O'Connor's Olympians graphic novel series manages to teach the Greek myths in exciting ways and not sacrificing the action nor nuisances of the Greek gods and goddesses. He reminds us that before all of the superheroes that were created, the Greek gods and goddesses had the much deserved spotlight with their own drama and back stories.

Description: Volume 3 of Olympians, Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory, introduces readers to the Queen of the Gods and Goddesses in the Pantheon. This volume tells the tales of the many heroes who sought and won Hera's patronage, most notably Hercules.


Review:  Hera is not my favorite goddess from Greek mythology. She is always depicted as a shrew, jealous, and petty wife of Zeus. In the third volume of the Olympian series, however, Hera is a given a chance to appear more nuanced and multi-layered character rather than just being Zeus’ long-suffering, acid-tongued queen. Interestingly O'Connor chooses to retell the 10 labors of Heracles myth to give Hera a personality makeover since it is widely thought Hera hated Heracles, the illegitimate son of her philandering husband. I did like how O'Connor spins this tale of hate into a source of motivation for Heracles. I took me a while to even grasp that Heracles's name actually means the "Glory of Hera." 
  It was fun watching all the Olympians watch in rapt attention and amazement as Heracles makes his way through the series of impossible tasks with his strength and smarts. O'Connor's Olympian series continues to be well researched and executed. I was a bit worried as to how see how far O'Connor would take Zeus's philandering, but he does it tastefully with giving us hints but nothing too explicit or graphic. The fantastic artwork brings the gods and goddess to life in all of their glory. This series would be a great addition to supplement the Greek myths in the English curriculum as well as a terrific addition to the library's collection development. I can't wait to continue this series. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some disturbing images and violence featuring the monsters of the Greek Myths such as the Hydra and Cerebus. There is also some suggestions of nudity. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: Hercules : the Twelve Labors by Paul Storrie
Rummanah Aasi
 Today I have to really fun children books to review. Both books feature adorable animals and are really enjoyable. If you have younger readers who like animal picture books, do consider picking these up. Please note that these books were given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review and this has no way influenced my review. 


Description:  

¡Perro!
¡Sombrero!
¡El perro con sombrero!

Meet Pepe! Before he got a sombrero, he was a lonely dog living in the streets. Now he is a movie star, loved by everyone! Well, everyone except…

¡El Gato en Zapatos!

El Gato is one sneaky, jealous kitty. Watch out, Pepe!


Review: Pepe is homeless, hungry, and very sad dog until a fancy sombrero lands on his head and changes his world. Almost immediately, a grocer couldn't resist Pepe's cute face with the hat and gives him a juicy bone. A movie director who drives by in his flashy convertible spots Pepe and must have him in his movies. Soon Pepe becomes famous and has a huge dog mansion, but inside he still longs for a family to love him. Then enters the jealous El Gato-the famous movie star cat whose limelight Pepe stole. Wearing snazzy purple dance shoes, the cat steals the sombrero and a chase through various places in the town ensues until finally, the two animals meet at a sandbox and Pepe's dream of finding a loving family comes true, but don't worry El Gato also has a happy ending. The fun illustrations by Jed Henry composed of pencil, watercolor, and digitalized watercolor- match really well with the fun, energetic, and lighthearted text of Derek Taylor Kent. I also am delighted to find that this book is bilingual where the red type beneath the English is translated in Spanish, which makes this a great choice for a read-aloud for younger readers but also for readers who are learning basic Spanish, and of course fans of dog books.

Rating: 4 stars


Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades Pre-K to Grade 1.

If you like this book try: Little Dog, Lost by




Waddley Sees the World is an adorable picture book that informs us about the people, places, and things indigenous to Australia. Waddley, our very cute narrator and travel guide is a Macaroni penguin, who jumps aboard a ship traveling around the world. There were many facts in this book that I didn't know about before reading it. I think younger readers who are interested in learning about different countries would really enjoy this book. The illustrations are also great and vibrant with bright colors. I just wished the author had a bit more information on the Macaroni penguin at the beginning of the book as I was a bit confused how Waddley was scientifically able to travel without being in danger. I also thought some of the pages were just a bit too text heavy. 





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