No Fixed Address – Susin Nielsen

No Fixed AddressNo Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: September 11th, 2018
Publisher: Tundra Books
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Friendship, Family, Social Issues, Competition


REVIEW:

I admire the hell out of Susin Nielsen for tackling the topics she does. It isn’t easy to talk about controversial subjects like poverty and homelessness to a middle grade audience. And yet, Susin Nielsen tries… and, in my opinion, does a superb job of discussing them. Continue reading

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Brother – David Chariandy

Brother by David Chariandy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: 2017
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Recommended Age: 15+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Literary Fiction, Canada, Racial Relations, Siblings, Grief


REVIEW:

This is what I call a bittersweet story through and through. It’s beautiful, the relationship between the two brothers tremendously touching, and yet it’s also harrowing and frustrating. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we change the situation? What about love? What… about… love? Continue reading

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna & Barbara Bush

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: October 24th, 2017
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Recommended Age: 14+
Genres & Themes: Nonfiction, Memoir, Family, Siblings, Sisterhood, Coming of Age


REVIEW:

This is what I like to read about: Family members loving each other and caring about each other and being there for each other. It simply warms my heart. You often see ‘‘perfect’’ families in movies, and it’s true no such thing exists, but you can have glorious bonds with those you are related to, that I am sure of. Continue reading

The Center of the Universe – Ria Voros

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The Center of the Universe by Ria Voros

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Published: April 2nd, 2019
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Pacing: Normal/Fast
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Family, Mystery, Romance, Friendship, Astronomy


BLURB:

Grace Carter’s mother — the celebrity news anchor GG Carter — is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace — an aspiring astrophysicist — is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits. Then one day GG is just … gone. Cameras descend on their house, news shows speculate about what might have happened and Grace’s family struggles to find a new rhythm as they wait for answers. While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG’s disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school’s golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother’s long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted … or did she leave? And if she left, why? Continue reading

Darius the Great Is Not Okay – Adib Khorram

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: August 2018
Publisher: Dial Books
Pacing: Fast
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Family, Mental Illness, Persian Culture, LGBTQIA+, Friendship, Depression


BLURB:

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything. Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name–and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own. Continue reading

Louisiana’s Way Home – Kate DiCamillo

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Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Penguin Random House Canada
Published: October 2nd, 2018
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Recommended Age: 8+
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Family, Road Trip, Friendship


BLURB:

When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.) Continue reading

Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream

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Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: July 24th, 2018
Publisher: Hachette Books
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow/Normal
Genres & Themes: Memoir, Nonfiction, Sports, Religion, Family, Racism, Coming of Age, Determination, Success, Motivation


BLURB:

Growing up in New Jersey as the only African American Muslim at school, Ibtihaj Muhammad always had to find her own way. When she discovered fencing, a sport traditionally reserved for the wealthy, she had to defy expectations and make a place for herself in a sport she grew to love. From winning state championships to three-time All-America selections at Duke University, Ibtihaj was poised for success, but the fencing community wasn’t ready to welcome her with open arms just yet. As the only woman of color and the only religious minority on Team USA’s saber fencing squad, Ibtihaj had to chart her own path to success and Olympic glory. Continue reading