July 3 2020

Black brother, black brother, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Black brother, black brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Black brother, black brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Title: Black brother, black brother
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Racism. Mixed-race families. School. Finding your place.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

Another “one session” read for me. I spent a couple of hours last night waiting for my daughter at her ballet class in the city, and smashed through this book in about 90 minutes. Black Brother, Black Brother is a wonderful middle grade novel by Jewell Parker Rhodes, which tells the story of Donte and Trey, mixed race brothers who experience very different treatment at their exclusive private school. Donte wants to disappear, wishing that he could just get through the day without being targeted or compared to his lighter skinned brother. A sensitive and powerful examination of the impacts of unconscious and systemic racism, with references to the impact of the school to prison pipeline effect, and an important message about finding your own strength. A really wonderful read.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 40/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

July 2 2020

The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

The poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo

Title: The poet X
Author: Elizabeth Acevedo
Genre/ issues: Verse novel. Gender. Family. Finding your voice.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

“One of the best books I’ve read this year” is a category that just keeps expanding, and The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo slammed its way into those ranks last night. I read it in one sitting. I’m planning on reading it again. It’s a stunning verse novel that reminded me why I love words, and how powerful words can be in the right hands. Xiomara is Dominican American from a Catholic family, who goes through life living up to the strict moral code imposed upon her by her mother. Her twin brother is facing his own battles, and whilst they’re connected by their special twin bond, they each need to find their own paths. For Xiomara, that means coming to terms with her relationship with her body, the body in her science class, and her passion for poetry.
This book is exceptional. About a quarter of the way through it I knew a certain special friend needed to read it too, so I messaged her letting her know I’d lend it to her when I was finished. By the time I was done, I had dog-eared so many passages I wanted to remember, and I decided that she needed her own copy so I hopped online and ordered her one. Spoiler alert, Sam – parcel arriving early next week!

You should read this book. You should get the teens in your life to read this book. Have I mentioned that I thought it was outstanding?

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 39/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 30 2020

The hate u give, by Angie Thomas

The hate u give by Angie Thomas

The hate u give, by Angie Thomas

Title: The hate u give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre/ issues: YA contemporary fiction. Racism. Black Lives Matter. Family.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

June saw me reading books by BIPOC authors as I focused on decolonising my bookshelf, and I finished the month with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. What a sensational book. Focusing on the personal and community responses in the wake of the shooting of a black teen by a white cop, this book is gripping. Whilst we see mostly through the eyes of Starr, the main character and friend of the young man who was killed, we also get significant insight into the motivations and reactions of a range of people who are impacted by this. Why do people protest? How do good cops, like Starr’s uncle, respond when someone they know is in the firing line? How do white friends show their support? I was really moved by this book, and by its subtle insistence that the most powerful weapon we have is our voice. Let’s use it to speak up for what’s right, and to speak out against what is wrong.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 38/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 25 2020

Everything, everything, by Nicola Yoon

Everything, everything

Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon

Title: Everything, everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre/ issues: YA, contemporary fiction, romance, families.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

What a lovely read this was! I bought Everything, Everything for Tayla when we were in San Francisco, and it’s been sitting on the shelf since. It’s been popping up on my radar over the past few weeks, though, so I started reading it the other day. Maddy has a rare immune disorder, so has lived her entire life in the bubble of her house with her doctor mother. When Olly moves in next door, what follows is a love story which gets you thinking about what is really worth living for. A twist at the end that I didn’t see coming – although apparently other people did! – and a main character with a suitable appreciation of the power of stories made this a really enjoyable read for me. Also, how pretty is that cover?

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 37/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 21 2020

Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

Scythe

Scythe, by Neal Shusterman

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Shusterman
Genre/ issues: YA, dystopian.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

It’s no secret that I love a good dystopian fiction series. They’ve been hard to read lately though – life is too closely imitating art. I’ve had Scythe by Neal Shusterman for over a year now, and finally decided to read it this weekend. I’m so glad I did!
Humanity has eradicated death and disease, and as a result people can now basically live forever. To combat over-population, Scythes are recruited to “glean” a quota of people each year, to help maintain some sense of balance on the planet. When two apprentices are given the opportunity to earn the profession of scythe, they learn far more than they bargained for.
I really enjoyed this book. I know there are 2 more in the series, and I’m very much looking forward to reading them, but the end of book 1 felt extremely satisfying, in ways that I’m not really used to in a YA series. Often you get the nail-biting cliffhanger, and whilst there were certainly elements of “to be continued”, Scythe has a solid resolution. If you’re after a good YA dystopian novel to read, but aren’t sure if you want to commit to a series, this would be a great one to dive into – solid enough to stand on its own two feet, but with some more to come if you get hooked. And bonus – the rest of the series is already out, so no pesky waiting for release dates!

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 36/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 21 2020

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

Crossover

Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

Title: The Crossover
Author: Kwame Alexander
Genre/ issues: Middle grade. Verse novel. Sports. Family. Relationships.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

In order to expand my reading horizons this year, I’ve been consciously choosing books that wouldn’t normally be ones I’d gravitate towards. Sports books fit firmly in that category, and in an effort to decolonize my bookshelf, I’m reading books by BIPOC authors as much as possible this month.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is EXCELLENT. I love that, in fiction in general and verse novels like this in particular, you get such incredible opportunities to care about and empathise with characters who are so innately different from you. This book definitely provided me this experience, as we get to see the struggles of the main character, a basketball star, and his twin brother, who start to drift apart as they go through the junior high school year. Their father is a former basketball star himself, with health issues and a dislike of doctors that causes friction amongst the family. It’s beautiful, compelling poetry, with such incredible heart and soul. Highly recommended, and well worth all the awards it received upon its release.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 35/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 17 2020

The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton

The Belles

The Belles, by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: The Belles
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Genre/ issues: YA. Dystopian fiction. Beauty standards.

Shop local where you can: For Australian readers, search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia. US readers, check out Bookshop.org.

I’ve had this book and the sequel for a while now, and I’ve gotta say I kind of judged it. It looks sweet, and I figured it was largely a romance novel. I’ve read some heavy stuff over the past couple of weeks, so I pulled this off my shelf for a slightly lighter read.
*cue Present Tamara laughing uproariously at Past Tamara*
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton is great. A fantasy world in which appearance is all, and the Belles are charged with the mysterious and goddess-given power to manipulate physical appearance to manifest beauty on those who can pay for it. This reminded me somewhat of the premise of the Uglies series, which I love. The difference? The “upgrades” come from a mystical and biological process rather than the more technological ones of the Uglies world, and the protagonist is one of the Belles who treasures her role in beautifying the land rather than someone who is on the receiving end of the procedures. A great read – I feel like there’s a lot I’m still missing, and the ending felt a little rushed, but I’ve got book 2 waiting for me, so I’m hoping that there’s some more of the detail I’m craving about these procedures in that!
As someone who has long struggled with her appearance – especially given that so much about me has/would/will never fit within the traditional societal views of beauty, there were moments in this book that were really hard to read. It’s an important issue to be addressed though, particularly for YA readers who are navigating their understanding of own identities in so many ways.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 34/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 12 2020

Love is love: a comic book anthology

Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting

Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting

Title: Love is love: A Comic Book Anthology to Benefit the Survivors of the Orlando Pulse Shooting
Genre/ issues: Comics. Love. Queer fiction. Pulse nightclub shooting.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

Blurb: The comic industry comes together in honor of those killed in Orlando. Co-published by two of the premiere publishers in comics—DC and IDW, this oversize comic contains moving and heartfelt material from some of the greatest talent in comics, mourning the victims, supporting the survivors, celebrating the LGBTQ community, and examining love in today’s world. All material has been kindly donated by the writers, artists, and editors with all proceeds going to victims, survivors, and their families. It doesn’t matter who you love. All that matters is you love.

It’s pride month. A year ago, my daughter and I were at Stonewall, the place where a black trans woman threw a brick, and a revolution was sparked. 4 years ago, the Pulse nightclub shooting happened. Today, we are surrounded by Black Lives Matter protests, as black and indigenous people continue to be more likely to suffer institutional and systemic racism, and queer people are more likely to be attacked or discriminated against. If all lives matter, can we as a society start acting like it please?
I read Love is Love today, a comic anthology by a tonne of artists which raised money for the survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting. I am so done with racists and bigots, and I’m not the target for any of their hatred, as a fairly privileged white cis-het woman. I can only imagine how the queer community, and BIPOC, are feeling. 

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 33/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 12 2020

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Living on Stolen Land, by Ambelin Kwaymullina

Title: Living on Stolen Land
Author: Ambelin Kwaymullina
Genre/ issues: Non-fiction. Indigenous culture. Settler-colonialism. Race.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

I love Ambelin Kwaymullina’s work, and this little book is punching well above its weight. It’s 60 pages of prose about the stolen land we live on, the impact of settler colonialism on indigenous people, and the ways in which we as non-indigenous people interact with the traditional owners of this land. A timely and important book which examines what we need to do if we are serious about decolonising this country. Magabala Books publish some excellent indigenous work, so if you’re after something to read which provides a solid foundation on which to build your understanding of Indigenous culture, or want to read some fab fiction by Indigenous authors and illustrators, check them out.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 32/52

Happy reading,

Tamara

 

 

June 9 2020

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi

Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Genre/ issues: Fantasy. Race. Magic.

Shop local where you can: search Indies to locate your closest independent bookstore, or find it on Booktopia.

Blurb: Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zelie remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zelie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.
Zelie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zelie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orisha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zelie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.”

Well. I am still not over this book. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is a stunning fantasy about a world in which the ruling monarchy have inflicted genocide on a people who had previously been able to use magic but have found themselves severed from it, and are treated like vermin by an increasingly corrupt military. It’s a powerful and confronting read, with close parallels to the treatment of black people in contemporary American society. There is a sequel to this book, which I am very much looking forward to reading, but I need some time to sit with this for a bit. It hits very close to home, particularly with the current public attention on the BLM movement. If fantasy is your genre, this one is a must-read.

#TamaraReads #2020readingchallenge 31/52

Happy reading,

Tamara