Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Crayons and Book Blogger Holiday Gifts!

I got a TON of books this week! I intend on curling up with a book for two weeks (with a bit of studying for finals on the side. bleh).

New Crayons is the brainchild of susan at Color Online.

This week I got my books from my Book Blogger Holiday Swap partner who is Wendy from Six Boxes of Books! Wendy gave me some great books :)

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros's greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children, their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, it has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics.

Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty. Esperanza doesn't want to belong--not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her. Esperanza's story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become.

-I loved this book (got a 100 on the book test I took on it!) I'm excited to re-read it because it's such a beautiful book.

Come A Stranger by Cynthia Voight

Mina Smith, an African-American girl longing to be a ballerina, learns at ballet camp that she will never be a classical dancer and starts to confront her feelings about being black.
-Really short summary but another book that I really liked growing up! I first read an excerpt in the book from a volume of ballet stories and then I had to go out and find the book at the library. After all, as a former dancer books about POC dancers (especially ballet dancers!) have to be read (and I usually like all the ones I read). Another book I'm super-excited to re-read since I last read it in about 5th or 6th grade.

Flight to Freedom by Ana Veciana-Suarez

Yara, an eighth-grader who lives in a middle-class neighborhood of 1967 Havana, Cuba. Her parents, who do not share the political beliefs of the Communist party, finally are forces to flee Cuba with their children to Miami, Florida. There, Yara records in her diary the difficulties she encounters in a strange land with foreign customs. She must learn English and go to school with new children. Her parents also adjust to the new country differently, and Yara's father grows frustrated with her mother when she becomes more independent.
-Another book I read when I was young (Wendy is psychic!). I'm pretty sure I liked it, but it's been a long time so I don't remember. A MG novel I look forward to reading.

A Wonderful Terrible Time by Mary Stolz
-I can't find a summary for this book (nothing on the back or front cover) so if anyone happens to know what it's about I'd appreciate you leaving me a comment/emailing me to let me know! Sounds awesome :)
*ETA: (I copied and pasted this from a comment Wendy left me)
it's by a white writer about two African American girls circa 1967, in New York. They talk about protest marches and Dr. King, not knowing, of course, that he will soon be killed (of course the author didn't know either). The girls end up going to a mixed summer camp in New England.

Did I mention Wendy sent me a gorgeous beaded bookmark? Be jealous! ;) Thank you so so much for everything Wendy!

Gateway by Sharon Shinn

As a Chinese adoptee in St. Louis, teenage Daiyu often feels out of place. When an elderly Asian jewelry seller at a street fair shows her a black jade ring—and tells her that “black jade” translates to “Daiyu”—she buys it as a talisman of her heritage. But it’s more than that; it’s magic. It takes Daiyu through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China. Almost immediately she is recruited as a spy, which means hours of training in manners and niceties and sleight of hand. It also means stealing time to be with handsome Kalen, who is in on the plan. There’s only one problem. Once her task is done, she must go back to St. Louis and leave him behind forever
-Three words made me want to read this book: Asian Female Spy. A poc who is a spy? That's so incredibly rare, I just had to have this book! Then I read a pretty disappointing review, but I still really want to read this book. Hopefully a review will be up before 2010. Thanks so much robby from once upon a book blog!

For Review

Beyond Freedom by Patricia Wall

Beyond freedom comes hope...or it should. But for fifteen-year-old Matty Warren Smith and hundreds of other free blacks living on the north slope of Boston's Beacon Hill in 1812, hope struggles against despair. BEYOND FREEDOM, a sequel novel to CHILD OUT OF PLACE, provides youngsters (age 10 & up) with another, lesser-known chapter in the early history of African Americans in New England. It reveals not only their struggle to survive in a climate of growing racism, but their courage and perseverance as they seek to overcome that and claim their rightful place in American life.
-Another MG book to read. It's historical fiction which I love so I'm interested in reading it, especially since it's about the roles of African Americans during the War of 1812 (I think). Thanks Patricia!

Perfect Shot by Debbie Riguad

London Abrams's first love is volleyball, so why does she enter an online modeling competition? Answer: superhottie Brent St. John. London spots Brent signing in contestants at a store, and she gets in line simply to say hi. But she never dreams she'll make it into the competition!

London's now up against fourteen hungry fashionistas willing to do whatever it takes to win. All she wants to win is Brent's heart...but the money prize couldn't hurt. If London plays this right, she can win the contest, the boy, and the cash. GAME ON!

-I WoWd this a little while back and now I have it :D I've never read a book strictly about romance (except Twilight, which I'm definitely not a fan of) so this should be really interesting. But I need a cute read to relax from school so I'm excited. This is the first SimonPulse Romantic Comedies to be about a poc and have a poc on the cover so congrats to Debbie on her debut and being a first! Thanks a ton Debbie for sending me this book!

From the Library
Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa by Micol Oscow

Emily is a Jewish girl from the suburbs of New York. Her mother has family in Puerto Rico, but Emily has never had contact with them—- ever. Then Emily’s grandmother dies and Emily is forced to go to the Caribbean for her funeral. Buttoned-up Emily wants nothing to do with her big, noisy Puerto Rican family, until a special person shows her that one dance can change the beat of your heart.

-My religion reviews have been a bit of a failure lately, but I'm determined to catch up this week! I love salsa dancing and it's such a rarity to find a book about a poc who is Jewish so I needed to get it and review it :)

Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system – the one she’s sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children – her scoring might go something like this:

+2 points
for getting excellent grades
–3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister
+4 points for dutifully obeying parents and never, ever going to parties, no matter how antisocial that makes her seem to everyone at Deer Hook High
–1 point for harboring secret jealousy of her best friends, who are allowed to date like normal teenagers
+2 points for never drinking an alcoholic beverage
–10 points for obsessing about Asher Richelli, who talks to Nina like she’s not a freak at all, even though he knows that she has a disturbing line of hair running down her back

In this wryly funny debut novel, the smart, sassy, and utterly lovable Nina Khan tackles friends, family, and love, and learns that it’s possible to embrace two very different cultures – even if things can get a little bit, well, hairy.

-I've read good reviews of this book and it sounds funny and sweet! Also I love the rating scale :)

I Wanna Be Your Shoebox by Cristina Garcia

Because Yumi RuÍz-Hirsch has grandparents from Japan, Cuba, and Brooklyn, her mother calls her a poster child for the twenty-first century. Yumi would laugh if only her life wasn't getting as complicated as her heritage. All of a sudden she's starting eighth grade with a girl who collects tinfoil and a boy who dresses like a squid. Her mom's found a new boyfriend, and her punk-rock father still can't sell a song. She's losing her house; she's losing her school orchestra. And worst of all she's losing her grandfather Saul.

Yumi wishes everything could stay the same. But as she listens to Saul tell his story, she learns that nobody ever asks you if you're ready for life to happen. It just happens. The choice is either to sit and watch or to join the dance.

-This book sounds adorable and also, quite possibly sad. I've read excellent reviews and had it recommended to me a couple of times so I'm finishing it by this week (that's the goal, haven't even started yet!)

So Punk Rock (And Other Ways to Disappoint Your Mother) by Micol Ostow

Despite his dreams of hipster rock glory, Ari Abramson's band, the Tribe, is more white bread than indie-cred. Made up of four suburban teens from a wealthy Jewish school, their Mötley Crüe is about as hardcore as SAT prep and scripture studies.

But after a one-song gig at a friend's Bar Mitzvah—a ska cover of "Hava Nagilah"—the Tribe's popularity erupts overnight. Now, Ari is forced to navigate a minefield of inflated egos, misplaced romance, and the shallowness of indie-rock elitism. It's a hard lesson in the complex art of playing it cool.

-This book was recommended to me, but it's not about a poc (I don't think, I'm only on the first chapter). But I've heard it's hilarious so I've decided it will be my first off-color Male Monday review. Hopefully it will be ready to be reviewed by this Monday!


  1. A Wonderful Terrible Time is a really interesting book--it's by a white writer about two African American girls circa 1967, in New York. They talk about protest marches and Dr. King, not knowing, of course, that he will soon be killed (of course the author didn't know either). The girls end up going to a mixed summer camp in New England. I will be interested to hear what you think about it. I think it's funny that I chose three of four books that you'd already read! I'm glad you liked them at least!

    Thanks for my gifts also--I'm a big Cakewrecks fan but had not gotten the book yet, and the Craigslist book looks like exactly my sense of humor, too. Great choices!

    Your bookmark came from Ghana, by the way!

  2. You got a great pile! Can't wait to hear the reviews!

  3. Ohhhhh you got I Wanna Be Your Shoebox!! I'm looking forward to your review for that~ I tried to write mine, and all that came out was AWESOME, AWESOME, so I put my review on a backburner until I can finally start being more eloquent about this awesome novel of awesomesauce.

    I'm nervous about this Gateway book, yet optimistic at the same time because eeeeeee Chinese Female Spy!!! But yeah, the reviews I've seen made me all sadface. x.x

  4. @Wendy-Added your summary to the review. Thank you, thank you! And it doesn't matter that I already read/owned them, because they are so good and I can giveaway my copies so someone else is forunate to read these good books. The book mark is divine and how cool that it's from Ghana :)
    Oh I'm SO glad you got and liked your books. I was so nervous waiting for your post/comment. The both looked hilarious :D
    @rhapsody-Yup, I'm so excited to read, read, read!
    @Ah Yuan-awesomesauce huh? Can't wait to read I Wanna Be Your Shoebox! I'm nervous about Gateway too. and I'm not sure how good the author is at writing about poc so we'll see. But ya, Chinese Female Spy!!!!!

  5. Hooray for lots of awesome-sounding new books :D Wendy was a great Santa!

  6. What a fab secret santa haul :) I so want to read Skunk Girl as soon as possible.

  7. Thanks for these great ideas in books. This will sure help me wrap it up this week.

  8. I was so ready to read Gateway. A mystery ( a female spy) featuring a poc. What! But it was not good.

    Ari, When I read books I don't like I really wish I had it in me to review them like you. But I don't. I know I would be too mean

    Though I loved me some I Wanna be Your Shoebox. For that one I simply gushed a lot.

  9. I hope to use these two weeks to exercise and read. I've got so many books (and pounds) piled up! I think the cold weather should help make a dent here!
    Happy Holidays!

  10. @Nymeth-She was a fantastic Secret Santa :)

    @Jodie-I'm reading Skunk Girl now and it's really good.

    @Gourmet-Oh good! I love hearing that my books help you pick out books to give =)

    @Doret- :( I'm so worried now about Gateway. I was SO EXCITED! I may hold off on reading it. I finished I Wanna Be Your Shoeboxa nd it's so gush-worthy :D

    @campbele-Me too, the holidays are for reading, resting and working out! Happy Holidays to you as well =D


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