A Bronx Tale without Sonny and Deniro, lol.

A Song for Bijou - Josh Farrar

First of all, I have to say if it hadn't been for the #WEneeddiversebooks hashtag, I would have never found about this adorable book. One of the whole points about the #Weneeddiversebooks hashtag was so that people like me could be introduced to more books that feature diverse characters beyond the "default". So wonderful authors like My fave author Ellen Oh and some new favorites like Lamar Giles, made the visibility of this type of awareness possible.

Where do I begin? First off, it's not really second nature for me to pick up Middle Grade books. I'm always afraid that the protagonists aren't written intelligent enough for kids to learn something, or better yet for me to learn something.Luckily, This wasn't one of those books.

The story revolves around two seventh graders, Alex and Bijou. Alex is born and bred in Brooklyn, NY, whereas Bijou is from Haiti. I guess you can say this book is one of those first love books because the story centers on the friendship between two kids who can grow to be something more.

The POV switched from both characters, which I loved!!!!I loved hearing from both Bijou and Alex. I was worried it would only be from the boys POV. But seeing as though I've read very few POV's from boys so far, Alex might just be my favorite.The author choose to spend the first 50 pages introducing Alex and the next 50 introducing Bijou. After that it alternates depending on the situation. But I loved how Bijou and Alex's POV's weren't dumbed down for who this book is marketed at, for readers between the ages of 8-12. Sometimes I even forgot that i was reading from the POV of 2 12 year olds.

I really loved that this wasn't a "race"book. Alex loved him some Bijou. I like how he didn't try to exoticize her, even though some of the boys tried to. He just liked her because she was a girl, a very pretty girl. Minorities, we hate the whole West Side Story-story, where people can't be together because of their races. It gets tiring! I don't think we live in a so called Post Racial Society like everyone thinks, but I do think race is a silly thing to keep people apart these days. I'm glad that was left out! This story was really about two friends who are probably falling in love for the first time. 

I reallllllly related to Bijou in terms of culture. My parents are from the Caribbean(Cuba) so I know how Caribbean culture can seem really foreign to American kids. I think what made me pick up the book in the first place, ya know other than the cover, was that I haven't read many books featuring black girls that didn't have American parents. I feel extremely close to Haitian culture because my boyfriend of 7 years is Half Colombian/Half Haitian, so part of me picked this book up thinking, this author is probably goina get Haitian girls all wrong. But this book really impressed me. Bijou was so confident and didn't let anyone get her down even though many girls tried to.

And Alex, he was so rad. Here comes this young white boy who knows nothing about Haitian culture, He even made the mistake of calling her "Asian", which I've heard sooooo many people do growing up, who falls head over heels for this amazing Haitian girl. Alex just reminded me of a real twelve year old boy, he wasn't worried about sex.All he wanted to do was be friends with Bijou, be close to Bijou, be with Bijou. It was nice for a change to read about a girl crazy boy instead of a boy crazy girl. His voice was really realistic but I think the thing I liked most about him was his interest in her culture. Sometimes when you date inter-culturally, you find some people don't really care about the great things you grew up with because they never had customs like that of their own. So culture isn't a big deal to some Americans, because they solely identify with being American. I've dated many guys who weren't interested in my culture and guess what? We didn't work out because my culture is everything to me so if someone can't take an interest in that, how are you ever going to work as a couple?

I liked how diverse this book was, i mean it was set in Brooklyn, so it better have been diverse! Most of Alex's friends were people of color, which i thought was really cute. It made Alex seem really unknowledgeable about her culture because they seemed to know a little bit about it. His best friends were Japanese American(and thank god he didn't fit the stereotype of young asian boys) and Dominican American, which i was surprised about because I hardly read any Dominican characters in books.Just Mexican, which i don't have a problem with but Latino isn't an umbrella term for Mexican. And then one of the popular girls at their sister school(they went to a religious private school)was a black Dominican, cool right? This book scored really well in terms of diversity for me. If the market for this book is 5th through 8th graders, I'm glad to know that a young kid would read it seeing the world how it should appear to the whole world, Diverse.

Even though this book is a Middle Grade book, anyone who likes a cute love story especially an interracial story would really enjoy this book.If you saw A Bronx Tale and liked that movie, You would love A Song for Bijou.

Greek Mythology with a western twist!

The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

Actual score 3.50


Maybe I'm coming in as a bandwagon fan, because I've seen both movies before i read any of these books, but I was really surprised on how I was swept up by the book vs the movie.


For anyone that doesn't know this series, It follows Perseus "Percy" Jackson, a young boy who finds out that his dad is a the Greek god of the Sea, The mighty Poseidon, making him a demigod. Because he is the descendant of such a powerful god, monsters want him for breakfast left and right. He discovers that there is a safe heaven for others like him, Camp Half Blood, where he must learn the ways of becoming a hero. But there's a rumor going around that he stole Zeus's master bolt and that is odds for starting a war on Olympus. So Percy must embark on a quest to find the missing bolt and return it before Zeus declares war with his brother, Poseidon.


The plot and storyline really grabbed me from the first chapter. Things tend to move really fast in Rick Riordan's books, which I love. He wastes no time getting right into action so it's easy to not get bored in the first few pages. You have to be a huge Greek Mythology buff to fully appreciate this series.There's a lot of name dropping and he doesn't always slow down to explain the purpose of some gods or figures in greek mythology. Lucky for me I took Greek Mythology in high school so I was excited to see how he incorporated many of the gods in this different spin.


I think kids might actually learn a little from this book about greek mythology, not everything but it will definitely spark some interest into looking into it more. The world building was simple amazing. The movie doesn't do it justice at all.

As far as character development, I think there was a pretty good job at giving a little backstory of many of the characters. Because I saw the movie first, there were a lot of things i had questions about and honestly the book is a little better in terms of really understanding the story. I really loved the movies but I have a hard time understanding how they'll be able to make all five movies because they left sooooo much stuff out of the first movie. I think this book is interesting as the Harry Potter series because I saw all those movies first too, so reading them, i get a deeper understanding for the characters and actual story. Percy Jackson was really relatable and i adored his narrative. I wouldn't say it's been my absolute favorite but sometimes my fear with Middle grade titles is that they will come off as unintelligent. I'm glad he didn't.


There's a crap load of conflict in this book and it features so many details that the movie just did not. If you're lucky enough to read the books first, do so but seeing the movies may disappoint you because it deviates from the plot of the book A LOT.You've been warned!I think the amount of conflict Percy through is kind of excessive, every other turn he gets into trouble, but I guess that's just the life of Percy Jackson.



I think this book makes it hard to read other books featuring Greek Mythology, because it has a unique way of mixing greek mythology with pop culture and western civilization. I've read so many books trying to incorporate greek mythology but this one hands down has been my favorite!


The editing is to an industry standard. I didn't really have any complaints in terms of POV, language, Prose or anything like that. I think everything was appropriate as Percy was a 12 year old boy. There was a great balance of description and actual conversation.So i gave it the whole point!


I think what really suffered in score for me was the lack of diversity in the book. Because I read The Lost Heroes, Book 1 of The Heroes of Olympus series, I thought that The lightning thief would mirror that series in terms of diversity. I think I saw 2 pOC throughout the book and they were such minor characters. If the diversity would have been strong, this book would have been a pure gem. Since I always judge on terms of diversity, I couldn't give it any points for diversity because there just wasn't any.


I love the title but the cover is just ehhhh. I think it fits it but I'm not crazy about it. The names of the characters were cool. I love greek names, even though i can barely pronounce them. But I think this series changed my mind about the way I saw the name Percy. I always thought of Percy as a bullies name, but know I think of something more positive!And I love that his real name is Perseus.Pretty Cool!The descriptions of characters are pretty clear. Especially when he met new people, so I threw in the point for that too.


Between The Olympians series and The Heroes of Olympus series, I have to say I prefer the other based on the amount of POC characters the author managed to put in. Other than that, If you're a greek gods buff, You'll love The Percy Jackson Series. I'm off to the next book!

Interesting Concept that could mirror the Transgender Identity but could use that extra umph!

Changers Book One: Drew - T Cooper, Allison Glock

Actual score 2.75

This book has a really interesting set up that peaked my interest when I was asked to review it. The plot revolves around Ethan, 14 year old boy that discovers he's from a race of people called Changers that transform every year in high school and are stuck like that all year. They have to chronicle their experiences as a different person and by the end of high school they have to choose who they wanted to be out of those 4 experiences. Very cool!

In Ethan's case, he went from being a a boy to a girl and life knows that has to be hard. He had a lot of struggle with it throughout the book but after a while I forgot that he was born a boy. He transitioned into a girl so naturally that that became his new identity. I can only imagine that's what it's like for transgendered people. I don't entirely know and I don't want to compare it without offending another person but I imagine for trans people you wake up in this body you don't believe is yours, you feel the opposite of what you were born and that's a scary feeling. This book touches a similar base to the transgender identity.

The worldbuilding in the book wasn't anything really special.I understood what was explained to me but I can't help feeling like I was missing details or that they're could have been more to the history of how the Changers came to be.

I think all in all this book was cute. Outside of Ethan living his life as a girl instead of how he was born, there wasn't really any diversity. I liked the relationships between some characters particularly between him and his best friend Audrey. But I just felt like there could have been more to keep my interest. I read it, enjoyed it but it wasn't life changing. I like the idea of being a different person for an entire year but what would be cooler is being to change into both male and female and being able to wake up as a different race. Imagine how different your experiences would be being a white girl for one year, and the next your a black guy. That would change how the whole world sees you, your experiences would be waaaay more complex. And think about it....the next person you change into is a female to male transgender of Indian descent. If the concept of the book was like this, I would invest way more into the series. But if the main protagonist doesn't learn anything new in the second installment, I may not continue with the series. After all what more can you learn if you just change into another white teenage boy?

I received this book in exchange for an honest review via the publisher/publicist

Emotional story showing a different side to AA female protagonists!YAY!

Pointe - Brandy Colbert

Hmmmm.....where do I start? This book had a lot going on in it. It touched on sooo many topics to be about one person. Eating disorders, Pedophilia, Abduction, Depression, pretty much everything you can go through before you reach the ripe age of 18.

A little history about the books plot. 

The story follows Theo, a high school senior who's only purpose for living is to dance. Her life turns upside down when her childhood best friend returns after being abducted 4 years prior.Or was he? The story revolves around her feelings of everything that lead up to and after that event.

This book managed to tell a very compelling story about a young African American girl where the plot didn't center around her being a black person in America. It might seem like "Oh, what's the big deal?", But a stack of books I've read about black girls almost always centered around them being black, being different or being the "other". That isn't the only story Girls of color have to tell. So this book was a great push in the right direction about a girl going through everyday issues, who just happens to be non white.

Theo was a conflicted character. She was going through a lot of stuff. Reading between the lines, I got the impression that she was insanely insecure. She just didn't understand that people surrounding her used her for her body. I guess I was feeling some type of way because most of them were white guys, in fact all of them were white guys. At first I thought it was cute that this really popular, attractive guy from her school liked her, until i realized her never addressed her by her name. It was always "Legs". By referring to her as a part of her body, it reduced how he saw her as a person, she was her body. Nothing more, and when it comes to racially sensitive people, you really have to tread lightly with that. She was from the suburbs of Chicago, so I can understand that most likely she was surrounded by very little brown or black faces, but still, I've seen other books where there were interracial relationships where the men respected and cherished the girls, so that part really bothered me.

I liked that Theo wasn't as smart as she thought she was. She thought she had it all figured out, but in reality she was a mess. All she was really right about was that she was good at ballet. She was just really confused about everything else, which at 17, she's pretty much allowed to be.

While this isn't the most appropriate of things, i loved how the author showed how realistic teenagers are. I wasn't a big fan of using drugs(in fact i've never gotten high in my life), but the reality was that A LOT of my friends did.I was the exception, I wasn't the rule. A lot of books I read paint girls as bookish hermits who never go to parties but somehow STILL find a way to attract the attention of the most popular, attractive guys in school. In real life that never happens! 

The ending of this book had me singing high notes like Mariah! Something finally got through to Theo. I was so pleased with how she handled herself in the end and it made up for all the mistakes she made in the past.Well maybe not all of them, but it was a start!


Most of my issues with the book are marketing related. Like the cover. I think the cover is nice but what is it like the new whitewashing to blur or shade out a person of color on the cover??? I knew that the main character was African American, in fact that was the main reason I bought it, but had I not have known already that she was black, the cover doesn't do much help at letting me know that. The publishing industry is unfair that way. They won't make it easy for people actually looking for books like this. I've passed up an insane amount of opportunities to read about a dancer in a book, the reason why I never picked one up? Because I thought it was goina be about some white girl from Whiteville, America who's the best at what she does, struggles with the same body issues most dancers do and whines about once again not getting the guy she wants. But Pointe is something I would have sought out!Thanks to Diversity in YA, I was able to discover this book, so sites like Diversity in YA are really beneficial to helping people like me find these types of titles!

Another issue i had was the title. The title leads us to think that the book is ONLY about ballet, but the truth is it centers on a lot of topics, I wanna say with all the stuff Theo was going through, the book could have easily been about something else like teen body issues or centered just around her friends disappearance. It just seemed like she just happened to be a dancer but the title makes it seem like it's a Center Stage-esque story.

How can I say this without sounding like a crab??? I didn't like any of her love interests! Every guy she dealt with didn't really deserve her. Outside of her guy best friends, there wasn't one guy I was sold on. I wish there could have been one guy that treated her the way a girl deserves to be treated. I know that's life, but damn, someone should have redeemed her relationships with guys in this book.

My last issue was the amount of characters she introduced. I know she's in high school so tons of people go to high school, but I don't know, i was just really lost in the vast sea of characters. Especially because there wasn't much time spent on introductions or describing them so I really cared for them even less. I think maybe if it had been like 6-8 regular mentions, I would have been satisfied. But it seemed like every other page she introduced someone new that hardly,if ever, made another appearance in the book.

I think this book was amazing at showing that black teenage girls can have relatable, realistic and raw stories like white teenage girls. We aren't all confident, strong or inferior like the media paints the picture of black women to be. Like I'm a confident person, but when I was younger, I never considered that other black girls weren't as confident as me!


Because many of us aren't raised with the same body issues as our white counterparts, we tend to accept our bodies more so I never considered that black women suffer from eating disorders.Media also doesn't do a justifiable job at showing that black girls/women can be vulnerable. The "Strong Black Woman" is a very hurtful stereotype that paints black women as so strong we are in no need of any help or even deserving of it. Books like this do a real good job at dismantling the ignorance and doubt that I once had and i hope it does the same for many other readers.

A 3 Dimensional story featuring a Multicultural set of characters

Farsighted (Farsighted 1) - Emlyn Chand

Actual score 4.5


Every once in a while, I buy tons of books with particular themes. A handful featuring Latino/a protagonists. 4 or so featuring Black main characters. This was part of the fleet i bought including disabled lead protagonists.


If I'm to be honest, this sat on my shelf for a few months. I'm always afraid of how authors will portray disabilities in books. Usually it find fall under the trope where somehow the disability can be "fixed" and the protagonist will live out the rest of their days able bodied. So soooo happy this wasn't one of them!


The story follows Alex Kosmitoras, an unpopular misfit, who just wants to be normal. It's hard being normal when every chance you get, there's a run in with the school bully, your parents don't have the money to buy you the things you need and oh yea how could I forget, you're BLIND. Fill in the blanks there's a chance you might just be psychic and you're in for some crazy things to happen.


At first, I thought that I would feel sorry for Alex. He was born blind and has never had the privilege of ever seeing things. I thought this would be a story highlighting what some people see as disadvantages that come along with having a disability. Alex however, made me forget sometimes that he had a disability. He was written multi faceted, engaging, charming and just about as snarky as any other teenage boy in a YA novel. Yea, he did certain things much different, but he really made his disability work for him. He wasn't moping around being sad about being blind. He had typical thoughts of teenage boy. He strived to do well in school, he wanted to make friends and he fantasized about having a girlfriend. Doesn't get any much normal than that.


So where does the paranormal element come in? Glad you would ask!

Alex is one of many who have psychic abilities. His power? He can see the present and possibly the future. I'm sure his abilities grow in the series as they seemed to grow in this book and it was interesting how this power played out in this particular book. He sees visions how he's always seem them. They're not clear images but they are very real and could possibly happen. I don't think this is the most unique ability but in this particular book, "The Gifted" as they're called, seem to have abilities that are based on the mind. That was really interesting. I loved how it worked in this book.


The plot centered around Alex "seeing" one of his friends die by the hands of a crazy person. He must somehow use his abilities to figure out whether it's a future that is going to happen anyways or one that can be prevented. I enjoyed seeing Alex gradually coming into his abilities. Sometimes the lead protagonist get "gets" it and those are the ones i relate less to. The world of psychics seemed very real in this book and It was really nice to see a disabled character written as clever. He figured most things out on his own and when he couldn't he had help from the people that supported him. He had two very present parents, and that's what's missing a lot on YA novels. The parents are just non-existent but here were Alex's parents seeing him through this war with his abilities. I think I appreciated that aspect of it the most!


When it came to the side characters in the book, I was pleased to know that both of his friends were Women of Color. Simmi was Indian and Shapri appeared in my mind as African American. Since Alex is blind, he can't really explain what they look like but there are clues that link to this. Simmi constantly mentioned things in her culture, she spoke with a singsong accent(Indian women tend to) and she didn't eat meat. Shapri talked with a slight Southern accent, She moved to Grandon because her family was affected by Katrina and she had sharpness that was undeniably "Sista"like. This fact made me really happy because all three main characters came from marginalized groups. Oh and i think Simmi is plus sized!Happy-Happy, Joy-Joy!!!


Nothing about the diverse set of characters the author chose to write about seemed forced or fake. It was a genuine story featuring a multicultural set of people. This is the kind of book I always ask for, but writers never seem to listen to my silent pleas. If there are characters that aren't white, it's usually one out of like 5. The fact that the 3 main characters are from marginalized groups makes me feel stupid for not picking up a little sooner.


My only complaint was I would have liked to know more about the history of "The Gifted Ones".


I really loved the title and the cover made it easy to see Alex as handsome. I'm not sure if he really looks like that but that's how I envisioned him. The guy on the cover "appears"to be blind and has brown skin like most people of Greek ancestry(if you couldn't tell by his last name). I also liked how he described people by their scents since he couldn't physically describe them. So many descriptions are based on looks that we forget that we have 4 other useful senses.

entertaining series centering around a POC

Burning Emerald - Jaime Reed

This book picks up right where the second left off. Through an unusual turn of events Sam finds herself befriending a powerful real life Incubus,Tobias who wants one thing and one thing bond with the cambion spirit she carries.

Between the first and the second book, i preferred the first. Caleb was barely in this one and Tobias, the antagonist was to crazy to really like him as a love interest.The reason i loved the first book was because there was no damn love triangle, but the second book successfully annoys me by adding one.

The events in the book were interesting and gave a better backstory to the history of what a Cambion is and what their society is like,but i would have liked more.

There are some underlying issues that I prolly will never get about this book. For starters, Sam the lead protagonist seems to have some bi-racial superior complex. She's black when it's convenient and Bi-racial when it comes to her "outstanding beauty". I for one know that being a bi racial and being a black person isn't always a separate matter. But the character seems to have some kind of arrogance when it comes to being bi racial. For instance when she describes a black woman, it's almost never flattering. But when she describes a white character or herself, she praises having the "ideal complexion". First of all, I'm a chocolate skinned afro latina and there is nothing unflattering about my complexion. There is no such thing as an ideal complexion. My boyfriend is Bi-racial and he doesn't have an ideal complexion, he's just as white as a typical white person. So to me it seems as though the author has some insecurities she needs to deal with. If it had not been for that light skinned superiority complex, I would have totally related to Sam.

Despite my 3.5 stars, I'm really invested in this series. While I'm not in love with the lead protagonist, just the fact that it centers around a POC and has an interesting cover that isn't a race fail, I will be reading more work by Jamie Reed!

Too much going on to really fall in love with it

Crumble - Fleur Philips

Actual score 1.75


I'm not sure what i was expecting when i picked this book up. The blurb made it seem like it was this sweet Interracial love story between a white girl and a black guy. But it was very far from that. Yea, the lead protagonist WAS in a secret relationship with a black teenager from her school however the story wasn't so much focused on them. For that I'm disappointed.


This book had way too much going on for me to recommend it. It involved abortion, teen pregnancy, interracial relationships, prejudice, gun violence, bullying. It was like a full 3 seasons of Degrassi wrapped up into 170 pages. I think perhaps if it would have focused on just 3 of those issues, I wouldn't have put it down so much. But this book was just.....a lot of topics to handle in just 160-170 pages.


The story followed Sara, a high school senior who pretty much lives a perfect life, in a perfect world and has a perfect father. It's just it's not so perfect, neither is her world and neither is her father. The story also switches POV from Alex, a bullied, abused teen who's basically obsessed with Sara.


The delivery in Sara's chapters were seamless which makes me wonder why I had so much trouble reading from Alex's POV. It was like it went from showing in Sara's POV, to telling in Alex's POV. This really bothered me because the whole time I couldn't wait for Alex's chapters to be over. It just slowed down the pace for me. It went from detailed to lazy writing. I wasn't sure why Alex's chapters couldn't have been 1st person like Sara's were.


I think this book wanted to be the movie, Higher Learning, but just wasn't. Some of the characters were virtually the same but the execution wasn't as polished as that particular movie.


I think my biggest issue was the fact that Sara was in love with David, a black classmate but the book focused so little on that. It was like it was added for convenience. Her father was a racist,so hey I know let me make her fall in love with a black guy. If the story wasn't going to follow her and her love interest around I think it should have been cut out completely. I couldn't understand for the life of me why it switched from Sara's POV, to a guy who was obsessed with her. So you're telling me that a guy who has a crush on her holds more importance to the story than her actual boyfriend??? Does the author know what it's like to be a black teenager in an all white town??? That itself is it's own story.


I think David deserved his own POV. The fact that he didn't have his own POV made me come to the understanding that he was just Sara's background music, he wasn't an important character.He was just added for convenience. And why does a story featuring an Interracial couple always have to center around their races? I can understand how race can play a huge factor in Interracial relationships, but it's not the only factor. They never really went on real dates, they never talked all night on the phone and they never had the real chemistry to be in love with their relationship. Again, David was just her background music, nothing more! Kim Kardashian could have prolly written a better book centering a young Interracial relationship, she for one has no problem showing her love for the "Brothas".


Sara was somewhat privileged but I think she understood that. She understood that what she initially felt about black people was really wrong. She understood that the fear of the unknown was probably put inside her head by your first teachers, your parents. But I would have liked to see her stick up for what she believed in more. She thought all her problems would be solved by moving to California for school, there her and David could date out in the open. But if your father pretty much controls your life, what makes you think moving to another state is goina solve your problem? What's stopping him from dragging you back to your little hick town of Montana and telling you College is for Liberals? She was just to scared of losing everything that she was willing to do things she wasn't necessarily ready to do.


As far as Alex goes....hmmmmm....I wasn't sure I really related to his character.He had a lot of demons and was very easily influenced. He was the wrong kid to be working in a gun shop around a man with lots of hate in his heart. Maybe if the story would have centered solely on Sara and Alex or Sara and David, cutting out David or Alex, the story would have read better for me. There was no need for both David and Alex. It made the story feel like it was going in a spiral of directions and cutting either one of them out would have had different impacts on the story.


The cover is cute but it's almost like false advertisement because it leads you to believe it focuses solely on a couple.


Overall, I was left a little disappointed in this book, I picked it up hoping for a really sweet love story. But it was far from it.


Was provided an e-copy from Netgalley

Wanted to love but just ehhh....

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood - Varsha Bajaj

Actual score 2.75


When I picked up this ebook, I thought I would in love with it. The title is so cute and the brown skinned girl on the cover is even cuter! I thought the book would be about a girl discovering her unknown culture from being a product of a Interracial union(She was half Indian and half white). However I can't help but have been a little disappointed by the way culture was handled in the book.


The story centers around Abby Spencer, a 13 year old girl who's never known her father but after a near deadly allergic reaction to coconut, she's forced to learn about her father's medical history and reach out the the father she's never know. What she doesn't plan is that he's a big Bollywood movie star!


Now I think the concept of this book is really cute. Imagine finding out your dad is a Bollywood movie star! Sick, right? Unfortunately i had a few problems with the book that maybe other readers never make themselves aware of.


I think the biggest problem I had was her mother told her nothing about her Dad or his culture. I can understand that she was a little upset by the situation, She may or may not have still had feelings for him; but that isn't an excuse to deny someone access to their other culture. Even if you know nothing about it, when you have bi-racial children, at some point you have to start talking about these things because it may be something the child struggles with in the future.


It just seemed as though she didn't think of the father of her child's heritage was important enough to learn about it. She just saw him as "Exotic". I hate the word exotic to describe POC, it just makes POC feel as though we can't be universally relatable. Maybe i feel this way because my boyfriend is bi-racial and he has a deep sense of both cultures(Haitian and Colombian). He didn't grow up with both parents living in the same house but he took the time to learn about the culture he wasn't always surrounded with. I would have liked Abby's mom if she would have put some kind of effort into discovering Abby's culture with her. Instead, she chose not to worry herself with it until Abby has this life threatening experience. But as far as Abby's dad, her really stepped up! I 'm glad she didn't make him some deadbeat dad!


Also because Abby pretty much grew up in a small community where almost everyone was in essence white and privileged, seeing how people in India lived was somewhat....unmoving for her. I guess privileged people don't have these conversations with their children. My family is from Cuba, so I can't remember a moment where I wasn't reminded that I was more fortunate than some people around the world. Yea, i get it. It's a culture shock, but these are all things i learned at such a young age. I thought her mom could have been a better teacher in terms of teaching her about what goes on beyond her perfect little world.


Abby's racial Identity was something I had issues with as well.She didn't begin considering herself bi-racial until the end of the book, which has lead me to believe she's looks "white enough" to not have been bothered with the "What are you" questions. Maybe the fact that she was bi racial but didn't identify with it until the end of the book really bothered me.


Throughout the book I couldn't help feeling like her friend, Priya, should have been the main character. Perhaps it would have been more interesting if Priya had been the main character, taken out the Bi-Racial aspect of the book and center around Priya being the product of an unplanned teen pregnancy. Being raised by a single Indian mom(which is almost unheard of) in the USA and finding out her dad is a Bollywood actor! To me perhaps that would have been more interesting.

I think the most redeemable characters in the book were Shiva, a person who worked for her dad's family, her grandmother, Tara and her love interest Shaan. I wish she would have described her love interest more. I get that he was cute but it always seems as though authors have no problem describing characters of European descent but POC get the brief, boring descriptions, if at all.


Overall, I think the book is cute but there are better coming of age stories featuring young girls with Indian ancestry.


Provided by Netgalley for an honest review.

Edge of Truth - Natasha Hanova

I've been slow with reviews so far this year so I believe this is my first one of the year(the first book i've finished this year too)

I was introduced to this author through another author I've conversed with in the past. She thought that I may click with Mrs.Hanova, based on her characters being multicultural in a dystopian setting. My sister read it first and to be honest, it's really hard reading anything immediately after her because she tends to divulge really important details, so I needed a while to "forget" what she told me. When I saw Natasha was having a blog tour, I jumped on the chance to read it and add it to my "read" books for the year!

Edge of Truth follows Rena Moon, a somewhat rebellious teenage girl in a kind of "The Hunger Games-like" setting. She seems to be always getting herself in some sort of little trouble and to make matters worse she's an OTHER, a person who has a unique ability but is seen as an abomination or unnatural. So she must hide her secret and pray for a way to get out of the hell hole that is Quad 3. When her best friend is kip-napped (for something Rena blames herself for) Rena sets out on a quest to rescue her best friend with the help of her long time crush, Nevan.

Edge of truth is a book that I think I liked but got a little lost in the descriptions. There were really awesome things about the book. Number one being her love interest, Nevan. Natasha and I talked about it in the past when I hosted her on my book blog Twinja Book Reviews and she mentioned Nevan being mixed race. I identified with that strongly because my boyfriend is of mixed race and he's always asking me what it is I find so fascinating about pale, sparkly white boys in books, lol. It's not that i find it fascinating, it's just there's so little to choose from when it comes to POC in books. I kinda wanted to shove this book in his face(childish and all) and say "HA, you wanted it!You got it!A bi-racial boy as the center of a female's attention!!!! (Disclaimer:I may or may not have done that)

When I read and review books, I tend to choose books based off whether or not there's diversity in the book, not because I don't like reading books with solely white characters but because I get more out of books that include characters for every reader and not just a "token"character. I wasn't completely sure if the main character was a POC or a non person of color. She was the only one that wasn't described enough to paint a picture for me. There were a bunch of comments on her hair, which she wore in braids, but braids to one person may mean two french braids.....Braids to me means box braids, micro braids , senegalese twists, cornrows so that was the only thing I had to go with in terms of her description. I pictured Antonia Thomas from the UK show misfits because of her freckles and lighter hair, but with twists. If she was in deed a POC, she wasn't stereotypical, which I enjoyed. I wish I could say I've read more books in the dystopian sub-genre that included more POC as lead characters and love interests, so I think that's the reason the book stood out to me.

Another few awesome things about it were her family life. Even though she was a bit of a troublemaker, at home she had to be the responsible older sister to her twin brothers(TWINS, YAY!) and her family seemed close. Family always seems to take a backseat in YA novels, as if teenagers can just "raise"themselves. So thumbs up with that! 

The whole "Other" concept was somewhat like Mutants in X-men. Other's aren't an excepted group of people and Rena's abilities were really unique. I think the closest thing I could compare it to is to anyone who's a fan of Avatar:The Last Airbender, a character named Toph had a similar ability, she felt the "earth". In Avatar, it was called Earth Bending, but in Edge of Truth it was a unique ability only Rena had.(possibly...)I'd love to see more Other's if she plans to make it a series and it'd be great if she expanded on Rena's power.

Sometimes lost in descriptions and the world building. I guess I was confused to why they had some luxuries but didn't have essential things. Maybe I picked up on some things other reads didn't but it wasn't exactly a deal breaker, I still enjoyed it immensely! I think any fans of The Hunger Games, or Divergent would really like this book, especially if you'd like to read a dystopian novel that features a Women of color as the main character and a multiracial love interest.

Transcendence - C.J. Omololu

This year it's like a goal of mine to read more YA books that feature lead black males. I think with my bookshelf, I've managed to find sooooo many books featuring B-racial(mixed with black) and Black female characters but my shelf is definitely lacking African American males. I'm not really sure why this is, especially since the book features an interracial couple and where I live, black guys date white girls all the time. It's time to start reflecting that with books!

The story follows Cole, a girl who gets all these strange,realistic visions she later finds out are memories from past lives she's lived. A mysterious boy that she feels really drawn to, enters her life and informs her that she's an Ahket, a very special person who can access memories from past lives and collect the information to better the world in the present time.

I think the legends and lore the author used is pretty interesting. It featured a bit about Egyptian myths and has a strong focus on reincarnation. Griffin also wasn't some sparkly, stronger than average stalker. Being an Ahket just makes you a normal person.... well a normal person who's extremely knowledgeable.For interest if one spoke German, Russian or Zulu in a past life, when they "reawaken", those abilities become accessible to them.I've never read a YA that featured cool details like that!

On Cole:

I wasn't exactly captivated by Cole, but I didn't dislike her. Griffin on the other hand was...umph!So fine! Even though her character didn't move me, I did really like their relationship and I found them cute together. If the book would have been just about her,I prolly would have been bored.I'm not sure if that's the best thing in the world to say, because it perpetuates the idea that a girl is not interesting enough without a man, but that's just the way I felt about it. I hope she becomes more lively in the second installment, I really want to fall in love with her character like I did with Griffin.

On Griffin:

I loved Griffin!I think I'm a little biased because I saw a bit of my boyfriend in Griffin because like Griffin , my boyfriend is a mixed race person.He's always complaining about how he never sees or reads about mixed race people in media, so I was glad to finally prove him wrong with this book.Mind you my boyfriend is not as brown as Griffin, in fact he's pretty much as light as a "white" person, but he still really connects with people who can claim to be "bi-racial". Griffin wasn't stereotypical, in fact he was actually kind of mature for his age. I think it's because he was an Ahket(someone who knows about their past lives) My only complaint was that he made Cole seem more interesting and I would have liked to see her more interesting on her own.

The cover is really gorgeous and appropriate. When I went to Barnes and Noble and seen this cover on the bookshelf, it spoke volumes to me!A brown boy on the cover in a sea of book covers with white girls in pretty dresses made me gravitate to this book. I think the girl on the cover is pretty blah, but the boy.....just gorgeous!

Delta Legend - Kelan O'Connell

Actual score 4.75

Okay so the past few months I had been searching endlessly for YA fantasy inspired books that featured more African American boys or teens.I was introduced to one however it wasn't exactly what I was looking for in terms of connecting with the character. I thought the character lacked weaknesses and that just made me disconnect with the character. Delta Legend however gave me my faith back in regards to searching for young black males in books!




Her character reminded me of a cousin or a classmate of mine. Let me start by saying that there is no correct way to portray a black teenage boy.Details in creating characters especially Poc characters, should really be based on the back story, environment and upbringing of the character in question. This story(in my opinion)portrayed an African American teenager that just happened to be from the inner city. What's interesting enough is that the book has a similar formula to most YA books. The main character moves from some big city to some hole in the wall city with a small population, the only difference is that the character is African American, which really makes him stand out.(He moves to a place where really little black people live)



The story follows Calvin Pierce, a teenager from Oakland. When his best friend gets him into some legal trouble, his mom thinks it's best that she send him away for the summer. For a city boy moving to the Delta is a complete nightmare, but as a son who respects his mother, he goes along. He thinks moving to the "Delta" is going to be uneventful and a pain all summer, but people begin dropping like hot cakes and it's got him questioning whether or not he would have been better off in Oakland all summer.



Before you start questioning the genre, I'll confess that's pretty much Urban Fantasy. My description of the plot makes it seem like just some other story, but it mixes a lot of Chinese Lore and features a fantastical creature/beast. You have to read it to find out what it is, but I kid you not, it is fantasy.



I think what I most liked about this book were the characters and the slight humor.Calvin and Mei-Li were my favorite characters. I thought their little relationship was cute.It's rare when I read a black male as a lead character in YA and even rarer to see him as the love interest of a cute girl. Mei-Li's little brother was hilarious! But i think the thing I liked most about this story is that it's rare to read a book with this set up not told from a white character. Maybe i'm putting race too much in it, but I can count on one hand the amount of books I read featuring a black main character in a YA Fantasy novel.



I would recommend this book to fans of books featuring mythical creatures, humor and characters who work as a team to right wrongs.Because their community is very small, all the characters had to work together to get a hold on things, and let me tell you, it wasn't exactly easy.



The main character reminded me of the main character in Attack the block(a British movie)named Moses. He was really selfless and courageous. I wish I can say I've read more books featuring characters like this!

Latina Protagonist in a YA Urban/Epic Fantasy.....two words-----Totally awesome!

Year of the Wolf (Changeling Sisters) - Heather Heffner
I was given this book for and honest review a while back and finally got a chance to knock it off my To be read list. Looking back now I'm not sure why it took me so long to start it!It's everything I want and love in a book: A heroine that is beyond the skinny, white, tall, redhead/blonde character, a story that has a different take on vampires and werewolves and Exploring lore outside of the typical European fantasy "standard."(If I read another book that incorporates Greek or English legends, I'm just gotta hop on a spaceship to the planet Saturn and spend the rest of my days staring mindlessly into space)
As a Latina reader of Afro-Cuban descent it's really rare when i read a book in Sci-fi, Paranormal or fantasy with a Latina as the lead character. Being a black Latina opens me to a world of identifying with Black heroines in books but as far as culture, I hardly ever read any books in my favorite genres that feature girls who have a similar background to my own. So I was delighted when this author contacted me about reviewing her book. At first I was unsure, I wasn't sure if the author would be able to portray a non white character without resulting in making her seem like a stereotype, but this book is proof that any author can write from a background and incorporate cultures outside of "what they know." The choice seems to be that some authors just don't want to.*Prays to the heavens that Heather Heffner is not one of them*
The story follows Citlalli Alvarez, a 17 year old American girl who moves to South Korea with her family after her eldest sister, Marisol goes missing. She along with her other 2 sisters are expected to embrace a new language, surroundings and lifestyle accompanying their mom in their family restaurant business. Even after flying far across the globe, the threat that took their eldest sister seems to find them no matter where they go!
There wasn't a whole lot to complain about as far as the editing but i did notice the word "imaging" when I think it was supposed to be "imagining" like 2 or 3 times. Honest mistake and I'm smart so I just put two and two together!But other than that I couldn't complain, Heather obviously put a lot of research and effort into this first novel and it shows!


Let me defend my first comment by paying the book with deserving compliments! 
Citlalli has been one of my favorite female characters to read this year. She was strong, fierce and it didn't hurt that she was Latina. I was really attracted to her conversation starting name because growing up I had a name just like hers. People either couldn't pronounce it or just didn't bother, so I loved the name and it's meaning!(Citlalli=star inNahuatl, an aztec language) 
I loved nearly everything about this book. It introduced me to some really unique settings and legends in Korean Mythology. It always bugs me that when authors introduce different cultures in books , they always have to be told from the eyes of a "white" girl for people to want to read it. So it was interesting for all these amazing things to take place with a non white Latina as the main protagonist! I liked that Heather shed light on something that always bugged me, that being American means being "white". In a chapter, Citlalli was trying to explain to some korean classmates that she did indeed "look american" because Americans look different as opposed to S.Korea where everyone is mostly Korean. Of course they didn't really want to hear it and kept on with the ignorance but I'm glad she tried to shed some light on that! 
The world building, the pacing was all action packed and descriptive!She painted a very clear picture of what she wanted readers to see! I checked out her blog and saw some images that inspired the settings and honestly, I pictured all of that!!!So her world building skills are quite in tune! The world of Eve is such an interesting place! Creepy....but interesting.
Citlalli was hmmm...really reckless and to be honest this actually worked for her! Some heroines in books are kinda always throwing themselves into danger but they always have their love interests to save the day, Citlalli on the other hand was reckless but it ended up working out in the end because it gave her the edge that she needed to take on a greater evil. If she wasn't impulsive, she would have never gotten turned into a werewolf and in result would have no way of defending herself in this world of vampires and Eve.(The spirit world) Being turned couldn't have happened to a better girl because it gave her the knowledge of the danger she and her sisters were once blind about. I think she is the kind of heroine i'd like to see more in books. She was highly relatable and I felt really close to her character due to her closeness to her family! You don't see this much in books. Usually girls in books have nothing but their love interests to care about(no close family members or family at all, best friends that they just drop at the sign of a hot boy or they're loners that don't see their own potential without a guy telling them so) so they're just driven by the love of their mate
Raina is Citlalli's best friend and younger sister. Raina has a somewhat difficult upbringing because she is the only one out of the family who has a different father and she is proof of their mother's infidelity. She is half Korean and looks "Asian", so she stands out in a family full of Latinas with thick,curly hair. I really liked her because she wanted so bad to prove she was part of their family.It's not like she could help that she had a different father and was the milk man's baby, but having a mixed race boyfriend, I saw her struggles as extremely realistic. I think she was a really good friend to have and honestly she reminded me of me and sister :)
Raphael aka Citlalli's maker....I'm actually interested in seeing where his character goes!I love that he's half peruvian and his backstory is worth the fight against the Vampires. It seems like he may end up being her love interest, and while I think their age difference makes my uncomfy(he's 23 while she's 17), I do really like him. I also like that Citlalli has a "secret"crush on him. She knows telling him how she feels would complicate things for their relationship as maker and protegee and may take her off mind of her real mission,  and that is saving her sisters from the Spirit World, Eve.
This book was reallllllly diverse!It featured Asian characters, as well as Latino characters. I think because it's in S.Korea, it's hard to include black or white characters without some sort of reason. Even Citlalli was there for a "reason." But all in all I was very pleased with the outcome! Non of the characters are stereotypical at all! A must, must, must for me!  
I recommend Year of The Wolf to any reader who gave up on of the werewolf/vampire trend but is looking for a book that reintroduces a different kind of werewolf/vampire set of rules as well as a Latina main character and lots of diversity
Breaking Free - Alicia McCalla I discovered this author a while back before my sister and I even had a blog dedicated to diverse books. I was in search of whatever I could find on black, latino or asian themed science fiction and I was delighted when I discovered her website/blog dedicated to Science Fiction for People of color. Judging my the cover and title, they were both big motivators for me purchasing this book. I'm just a girl that grew up in an urban setting so I thought the model on the cover really spoke to me. She's rockin big hoop earrings and micro braids and her eyes are glowing "Hella fierce". I'm just really captivated my Breaking Free's cover. The book follows XJ Patterson in an alternate universe where there are "humans" and then there are another breed of humans referred to as GEP'S(Genetically Enhanced Person). GEP's have special abilities(think Kyle XY meets Heroes meets X-Men) and of course are looked down upon for being different. Now add class, race and "designation type"(a type of selection process I believe) and you have tons of conflict. XJ is a GEP. All she wants to be is a normal teen. Her mother, a revolutionary, wants her to discover her greatness and help against the fight for getting more rights for GEP's. All she wants is for her mom to be a normal, loving, nurturing mom but her mom is too deep in this life and she wants XJ to understand the importance of this stand.I liked XJ. Her voice was really relatable. I also liked how she was described as beautiful despite not fitting the typical person of color black girl in books(e.g bi racial, light skinned, curly or non kinky hair) The way she was described was very uplifting to girls who actually like being curvy, total opposite to the waifs you usually read about in YA books.She seemed to be really independent but in result she was closed off to fully accepting her love interest Brandon as a potential boyfriend. I know she wasn't "that" kind of girl, but I would have liked to see her more open with her sexuality. Other than that, I totally loved her!Another character was her stepsister named Heather. She reminded me of another Heroes character, Niki Sanders(Ali Larter's character) Heather had dual personalities and was a complete basket case , but I believe she was meant to be. Her "good" side was kind, nurturing and was in love with a girl. Her "bad" side was an arrogant little rich girl who was obsessed with Brandon, whom both her and XJ were linked to. When her bad personality was present she was just crazy!Like "bust the windows out you car" crazy! She was really manipulative and seemed to hate XJ. When she was "good" she was likable, but when her bad personality fought through she was very villainous. I'm wondering how her character will fan out.And then there's her love interest Brandon who is also a GEP. He had abilities similar to Micah Sanders from Heroes, as he was able to communicate with technology. He was rich, white and a revolutionary. Fighting the oppression of GEP's seemed important to him despite him being a privileged GEP, I liked him. He seemed to like XJ a lot, but I wasn't a fan of him letting Heather manipulate him. Especially when he claimed to have liked XJ so much, It was like he thought giving into Heather's demands wouldn't look unfavorable to XJ. But I liked him overall. I would have liked to see more scenes between him and XJ. There were a lot with him and Heather, and she was a complete nut case. Brandon's voice seemed real for a guy. He talked about his sexuality a lot and that's pretty normal for a guy his age.I thought some of the writing put an emphasis on race more than I liked. With Fantasy, race doesn't always have to make a huge impact on the story, but the characters specifically XJ and Heather called each other racist names. Which was weird because Heather's stepdad was XJ's dad, and she never called him any racial slurs, so she seemed to use racism as a weapon to hurt XJ.There was also some issues I had with the world building. Some facts were clear to me while others weren't. I may have missed where "designation type" was explained, but I couldn't remember if it was explained. I translated it to be a natural selective mating process, but I wasn't always sure. The pacing was very good though, a great use of conflict and a nice blend of action sequences. Some of the writing came off as "telling" instead of "showing", but overall I got wrapped into XJ's journey as well as Heather's crazy behind's and Brandon's. I can't wait to read the next book!Rating :3.75
Elemental - Antony John I don't think this book was for me. I wasn't totally captivated by the characters and the plot just didn't grab me. I think the initial idea was nice, I'm a huge fan of books, shows, movies and comics that deal with elemental abilities, but if you're looking for something along the lines of Avatar: the last airbender, the legend if Korra or Captain Planet, you may want to pass on this one.
Bait - K.C. Blake, K.C. Blake I was given this book via ebook a while back on a goodreads thread in exchange for a review. I'm never the best at reading ebooks.I only do when there is no other option, so when i got to page 60, i thought "why not just buy the paperback"? So I did.The premise of the book really interested me. The author is heavily influenced by The CW's Supernatural and that's prolly my favorite show to date. But I couldn't help but find this book kind of similar to my favorite tv show.First of all, let me start by saying that I do not dislike this book. I enjoyed it enough to invest in it even after receiving it for free, so this review is solely based on my opinion. I don't claim to be an expert on reviewing books professionally and It'd bum me out if anyone took this as a bad review.Bait follows 16 year old Bay-Lee Van Helsing, daughter to the famous Van Helsing, a hunter and what appeared to be a dean of some sort at a school for hunters. It also follows Nick Gallos, an experienced, legendary hunter with a penchant for rock music and a tortured past. Together they are part of a prophecy that could have a large impact on the world.I think in the first third of the book, the plot really caught my attention. It has a lot of action and characters you either love or hate. But at times I felt as though there was either info dumping or a lack of details, leaving me unsatisfied. Sometimes I knew too much, other times I felt as though I wasn't being told enough. Not sure if that makes sense.Some of the writing seemed a bit common in the realm of YA novels, for examples insta-love, a girl that's fallen in love with the first guy she's ever been with and he's like way more experienced than her and the guy starting out to be a jerk. This doesn't bother most readers and I know i'm prolly one of the few that this bothered. Other reviewers didn't mind it, so I hope this doesn't shy away other readers from this book. Bait isn't boring, uninteresting or poorly written at all but I think perhaps this book wasn't my typical style of reading. I didn't connect with Bay-lee because I felt as though she was a little jealous for my taste. She was described as beautiful so I couldn't understand why at times she appeared desperate to me. She threw herself at Nick all the time and wasn't put off by the fact that he was really rude to her at times. I thought that she deserved better than him. When she became honest about her feelings for him it was as though(in my opinion) her goals no longer mattered and all she wanted to do was be with him. This of course isn't anything bad. When you love someone at times you will feel this way but I would have loved if she would have put it aside sometimes to be logical.I was a little uncomfortable with the fact that Nick was 20(almost 21) and Bay-lee was only 16. He was a ways more experienced than her. Maybe I wouldn't have minded her age so much had she had had real concrete experience with guys, like having a real boyfriend before him and being intimate with another guy or two.( it's natural and it happens and it wouldn't make her a slut) Perhaps I would have related more to her with this detail.What I really loved about the book was the setting. It wasn't in England or the USA but New Zealand, so that was a breathe of fresh air. The action sequences were really good and full of details and excitement and there were a lot of subplots that kept the book moving along. It wasn't more or so focused on just the main threat but many, and that's what kept me reading!Sometimes i felt as though their personalities changed a lot being around each other and the game of cat and mouse wasn't really my thing, but I think the book has the potential to keep me as a future reader; With Bait and K.C.'s large arsenal of published books.
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell Review to come

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