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Hungry Hearts by Elsie Chapman

Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food & Love, edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond, is a short story collection that shares the impact delicious food can make on one’s life. Anthologies are usually connected by a theme, but I love that the stories included in Hungry Hearts take place in the same world. While each tale is unique, its connection to other stories in the anthology make the overall collection more meaningful to read. For example, characters who are introduced through small roles in earlier stories are featured in a later tale that may provide their backstory. Additionally, all of the stories take place in Hungry Heart Row, a fictitious town that has restaurants of all varieties on every street, so key locations are carried throughout the book. 

 

I enjoyed reading Hungry Hearts, but three stories particularly stood out to me. In “The Grand Ishq Adventure” by Sandhya Menon, Neha runs a love-related advice column. Despite giving helpful advice to her readers, Neha does not usually have much luck in the love department herself. One day, she decides to take her own advice to become braver: eat alone and try new cuisines. In “Gimme Some Sugar” by Jay Coles, Leo wants to enter a cooking competition to win money to help his mom. His grandmother suggests he cook with one of her recipes. With his grandmother’s support, Leo is able to feel more confident about his cooking in the competition. In "Panadería ~ Pastelería" by Anne-Marie McLemore, Lila wants to tell a childhood friend that she likes him, but does not know how to say it with words. So, she relies on baking. 

 

In each case, the characters are able to learn more about themselves through cuisine. The reader becomes engaged with the inhabitants and stories of Hungry Hearts Row.

Books: 

Misfits in Love by SK Ali

Janna’s brother is getting married in a few days and wedding preparations are the only thing on her mind. Well that, and the fact that Nuah, Janna’s crush—who likes her back— is coming home from college for the summer. But things become complicated when Janna meets Haytham, a boy who has an amazing voice, is great at taking care of children, and is good looking. So when Nuah arrives, Janna is surprised that he does not seem to mind her spending time with Haytham. Further complications arise when Janna meets Layth, a mysterious boy who seems to understand her. With the wedding and navigation of new relationships, Janna’s summer becomes busier than she anticipated.

 

Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali continues the story of Janna from Saints and Misfits. I went into the book without having read Ali’s first book, and while Misfit in Love can be read as a standalone, I was enjoying it so much (I could not put it down) that I wanted to read Saints and Misfits to see where Janna’s story began. 

 

Misfit in Love explores different types of love: romantic, friendly, familial, and self-love. I appreciate that Ali dives deeper than just the possible romances between Janna and her love-interests by including themes of family too. Janna reflects about the change her family experienced when her parents divorced and considers how it will change again when her brother marries. Though at first unwilling to let new members into the family, she begins to open her heart as she gets to know them better. She also realizes the importance of self-love and listening to her heart. Misfit in Love by S.K. Ali is the love story I have been waiting for.

Books: 
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Misfit in Love (Saints and Misfits) Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781534442757
Availability: Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - May 25th, 2021

This Train is Being Held by Ismée Willimas

Isa, a ballerina, and Alex, a baseball player, first meet while riding the New York subway. From the moment that they first lock eyes, there is an instant curiosity that passes between them. But all too soon, their ride together comes to an end. Over the course of the following months, Isa and Alex continue to run into each other on the subway. With their continual meetings, the two become friends, bonding over their dedication to athletics, but they both claim they are too busy to date. Unfortunately, this means their meetings are rare, so aspiring-poet Alex starts to leave poems for Isa to find. This brings them closer, so much so, that they decide to try to make a relationship work. However, their relationship becomes complicated when secrets are kept and explanations are not given.

 

This Train is Being Held by Ismée Willimas is a lyrical story about two passionate teenagers. Williams' descriptions are beautiful and create vivid and detailed images in the reader’s mind. Both Isa and Alex have Latin American heritage, and throughout the story, the reader is exposed to experiences that the characters go through because of stereotypes that are placed on them. However, they do not let this stop them from enjoying life. Isa and Alex have so much heart; they care deeply about their family and for each other. Their story of love and being willing to fight for it is moving, as well. In addition, Williams’ discussions of family expectations and making choices to pursue one’s passion—even when it is a different path that what is expected of you—resonates with the reader. This Train is Being Held by Ismée Willimas is a beautiful and powerful love story.

Books: 
This Train Is Being Held Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781419734939
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Amulet Books - February 11th, 2020

More Than Just A Pretty Face by Syed M Masood

Danyal has had a crush on Kaval for the longest time, but despite his good looks, Danyal is not the smartest person, and therefore, not the most appealing marriage prospect. The Renaissance Man, an annual competition held at Danyal’s school for selected bright students, is just around the corner. Unexpectedly, Danyal is chosen to be one of the representatives. Thinking that this is his chance to impress Kaval and her parents, Danyal knows that he has to win. To help him with his speech, he works with Bisma, one of the girls his parents had him meet, but strictly as friends. However, as they work together, Danyal realizes that he enjoys spending time with Bisma, and maybe his feelings toward Kaval have changed.


More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood is a wholesome, feel-good story. In the beginning, Danyal seems like your typical good-looking teenage boy (kind of full of himself), but as the book continues, he becomes more aware and interested in the world. Learning more about himself allows him to realize what is actually important to him. He becomes more compassionate, as well, which warmed my heart. Bisma is kind, evident in her choosing to help Danyal with his speech. And she is strong for putting on a brave face despite the criticism that she faces from her family. Complete with lovable characters, delicious food, and unexpected friendship, More Than Just a Pretty Face by Syed M. Masood is an enjoyable read.

Books: 
More Than Just a Pretty Face Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316492355
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - August 4th, 2020

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callendar

Felix Love, a passionate artist, is a transgender teen attending a summer art program to work on his college portfolio. But Felix is struggling to find inspiration. To make matters worse, one of his peers puts up a gallery of photos of him before he transitioned—outing him to the whole school. Following this spectacle, he receives hateful, transphobic messages that make Felix start to question his identity. While Felix has always wanted to be in love, these messages make him wonder if anyone could ever love him.  One day, his art teacher encourages him to try painting self portraits. Through his portraits, Felix is able to express himself as he sees himself, not as other people see him. In addition to the progress on his portfolio, Felix learns that he may be lovable after all, and perhaps, he just needed to know where to look.

 

I LOVE Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, and I am so glad to have read Felix’s story. Through Felix, I was able to expand my perspective to have a greater understanding and appreciation for trans people. His story opened my eyes to the many identities a trans person may have, and his story made me aware that it is okay to question your identity until you have found the one that makes you feel like you. 

In addition, Felix is a character who you cannot help but love. He faces many trials, but he does not allow them to stop him from realizing his dreams. Furthermore, Felix is relatable. Throughout the book, he opens up and shares his honest feelings regarding love. His humility makes him seem real and genuine. Despite his insecurities, Felix truly is a strong, admirable character. Felix’s story is heartwarming.

Books: 
Felix Ever After Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062820259
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Balzer + Bray - May 5th, 2020

You Should See Me In A Crown by Leah Johnson

Star student and clarinetist Liz Lighty cannot wait to attend college in the fall as she will be attending her dream school—the same school her mother attended. Liz is looking forward to following her mother’s footsteps, but she is most excited about the select music ensemble she auditioned for. However, when she receives the news she did not make it, Liz is heartbroken—especially because she will not receive the scholarship she needed to attend the school. Liz is losing hope when she remembers that the prom queen and king both receive a full scholarship to the school of their choice. Never having considered participating in prom before, Liz is suddenly determined to make the prom court, and most importantly, win prom queen. But to complicate matters, Liz finds that she may be falling in love with one of the other prom queen contestants.


You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is an inspirational story that reminds us to believe in our true selves. Liz is such a likable character, and I found myself immediately cheering for her. I love how she completely applies herself to her passions, and I especially love how she cares deeply about the people closest to her; she is willing to drop everything she is doing to give them the support they need. The elements of family, friendship, romance, and self-love that are included in the story made my heart feel full. And I especially enjoyed watching the relationships between Amanda, Jordan, and Robbie grow as the story progressed. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson is an uplifting story that will make you smile.

 

Books: 
You Should See Me in a Crown Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338503265
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Scholastic Press - June 2nd, 2020

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Justyce, one of a few black teens who attends a private school is Georgia, has encountered racism on a daily basis. One day, Justyce is walking when he notices his ex-girlfriend is trying to drive home while intoxicated. Doing the right thing, Justyce decides to drive her home. Before he can, a police officer stops him and puts him into handcuffs thinking Justyce was robbing this girl. In a few hours, the situation has been cleared up, but Justyce can still feel the handcuffs around his wrists. As Justyce reflects on the evening, he begins writing letters to Martin Luther King asking him what he would do in Justyce’s situation. As Justyce continues to experience racism at school, he researches more about King’s methods and works to apply them to his own life.


Dear Martin by Nic Stone is moving. Her story discusses white privilege and the misguided impressions white people have towards the country’s equality through conversations in Justyce’s societal evolution class. Many of the discussions the class has are the same conversations that are being talked about nationally. She seamlessly debunks these misconceptions through classroom debates. Stone also addresses police brutality and the often biased trials that determine the officer’s guilt when one of Martin’s friends is shot by an off-duty police officer. Stone succeeds in acknowledging the problems we are facing right now and provides perspective for us who are looking to understand both what and how we need to change as people and as a nation. Dear Martin by Nic Stone is a powerful story that captures the racism of our country and educates us about national issues. It is a must-read.

Books: 
Dear Martin Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781101939529
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Ember - September 4th, 2018

The Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood

Claire L is a reading machine - or there are just an amazing amount of good books coming out this summer. Check out her review below!

Lou has always longed for something more than her life in Penlyn, but she has never known exactly what she was searching for. That is until she becomes entranced with the Cardew House. Every so often, people in elegant attire drive over to the Cardew House for that night’s festivities. Curious as to what the parties are like, Lou sneaks over to the house one evening. Unexpectedly, she ends up making the acquaintance of Robert Cardew who seems to have an air of mystery and intrigue about him. The following day, Lou receives an invitation from his sister Caitlin, inviting her to their next gathering. Suddenly, Lou is thrown into the glamorous lives of the Cardews. As she spends more and more time at the house, she begins to learn more about this opulent world, and in turn, herself.

Complete with glamor, parties, and secrets, as well as a spark of romance, A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood is exciting and compelling to read. Set during 1929 in England, flapper dresses and suits describe the sophisticated appeal of the Cardews’ events. One of my favorite aspects of the book is that the story is told from the perspective of Lou, an outsider to the glitzy world. Her thoughts and observations invite the reader to join in the lavish summer schedule of the Cardews. In addition to Lou, there is a cast of interesting characters that are simultaneously fun and mysterious. The result is of new friendships and romances that guide Lou through an exciting lifestyle so different from her own. A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood is an enjoyable read reminiscent of my favorite elements of The Great Gatsby. 

Books: 
A Sky Painted Gold Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780593127223
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - June 23rd, 2020

The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor

Claire L is reading up a storm! Check out this review:

Alice is in Paris for the summer with her parents to view the apartment her grandmother left her. As she explores the elegant rooms of the apartment, Alice discovers a family never talked about by her grandmother. The biggest mystery is of Adalyn, her grandmother’s sister. When Alice looks through Adalyn’s desk, she finds a diary that begins in 1940—the beginning of Germany’s occupation of France during WWII. Adalyn, a teenager in 1940, is terrified when Germany invades France. Frustrated when it seems no one is fighting for France, Adalyn joins a resistance group to do everything she can for her country. Told through interweaving perspectives, The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor unravels Adalyn’s remarkable story.

Taylor’s effective weaving of Alice and Adalyn’s stories creates an impactful reading experience. The details that Alice uncovers in Adalyn’s diary coincide with the moment Adalyn is living through, making each revelation more meaningful. Together, the reader is able to piece together the truth behind Adalyn’s actions. Taylor’s powerful writing and the way she develops the story of both girls is moving. As well, the poignant remembrance of the bravery of the many Resistance members is a reminder that there are always people who are fighting for what is right even in the most difficult of times. The Paper Girl of Paris is an important story inspired by the courageous Resistance of WWII.

Books: 
The Paper Girl of Paris Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062936622
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTeen - May 26th, 2020

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass

Claire L is hyped for the new Kiera Cass novel - check out her review below.

Ever since catching the attention of King Jameson, Hollis has been waiting for his attention to shift to another girl. To her surprise, the King finally seems to have settled on who will be his queen, Hollis. At first, Hollis is pleased that the King has chosen her. Unlike the girls before her, she has the privilege to join him on outings, wear specially chosen jewels, and even move into the Queen’s apartments. But as her world becomes more glamorous, Hollis realizes that being Queen is not all it is made out to be, especially when she makes the acquaintance of someone who can promise her a life where she can be her whole self.

The Betrothed by Kiera Cass is a fresh take on stories centered around the Crown. Set in the 1500s, the glamour of gowns, jewels, and courting are the backdrop to this intriguing book. More than a story about the elegance of royalty, The Betrothed questions and challenges the role a Queen plays in her marriage. I appreciated the feminist undertones that are especially present in thoughtful Hollis, who dares to change her fate. Furthermore, the unexpected friendships that develop add to the overall appeal of the story and allow the reader to see the opulence of royalty in a new light. Kiera Cass’ return with The Betrothed is triumphant with her care in writing perceptive characters and glamorous settings.

Books: 
The Betrothed Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780062291639
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: HarperTeen - May 5th, 2020

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