Review | Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Review | Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

I was a bit scared to read Jackson's Grown, because I've read both of her books and they were absorbing, but difficult to read. I was worried about getting my head into a potentially triggering plot, but I survived. At a singing audition, 17-year-old Enchanted Jones catches the eye of superstar musician Korey Fields, who is 28. Korey promises her a future in music and the starstruck teen is quickly swept into an illicit relationship with drugs and abuse. That is until Korey Fields is found dead with Enchanted on the scene and all fingers pointing at her.

Best Chapter Books for Second Graders

Best Chapter Books for Second Graders

Finding chapter books for second graders can be tough, because these kids are often new to reading and we don't want to discourage them with bulky chapter books. Ideally, these kids would be seven-year-olds. The selections for this age (unless you have a faster reader) tend to be heavily illustrated, featuring text in much larger fonts and simple story lines. If you're an adult reader, you could get through these books in under an hour or much less. Series are also a hit for this age group.

Review | Turning Point

Review | Turning Point

In Turning Point, we reunite with the Pirates Cove gang (minus a few) -- mostly Mila, Mo, Sheeda, and Tai. This book focuses on Monique (Mo) and Rasheeda (Sheeda)'s friendship and how it changes over a summer when both girls are drawn into different pursuits. Mo is off at a ballet intensive with Mila, while Sheeda is stuck at church (with her church "friends") feeling like she has no life.

Review | It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go

Review | It’s My Party and I Don’t Want to Go

It's My Party and I Don't Want to Go is quite the mouthful, but the quirky title encapsulates this book's nature. Ellie is a young Jewish girl with undiagnosed social anxiety. She gets physically sick -- sweaty, lightheaded, shaky, fainting at times -- at the thought of being the center of attention, and even worse when her worst fear actually happens. Her latest anxiety trigger is the thought of her fast-approaching bat mitzvah.

21 Best YA Books About Sports

21 Best YA Books About Sports

YA books about sports aren't the most common, but for some reason, I keep running into them -- and I don't even like sports! However, I've found some of my favorite protagonists in these books, as well as many sports I never really thought of teens playing in high school. That's why I decided to make this list. In this list of YA books about sports, you'll meet characters who do everything from rowing to playing hockey. You'll also find a gymnast, several basketball players, a sumo wrestler, soccer players, and many more.

Review | His Only Wife

Review | His Only Wife

His Only Wife was my return to adult fiction. I always wondered which book would finally do it, and it was this one. Set in Ghana, this debut novel by Peace Adzo Medie follows a young woman Afi Tekple. The story open at Afi’s marriage to Elikem Ganyo, a man from a high standing Ghanaian family — except Elikem is absent during the ceremony, and his brother is standing in for him. The Ganyos are marrying Afi traditionally for their son, because they are displeased with his current relationship with a Liberian woman with whom he has a daughter.

Backlist Love #2: 15 Backlist Middle-Grade Books on My TBR

Backlist Love #2: 15 Backlist Middle-Grade Books on My TBR

Some backlist middle-grade books don't get as much love as they deserve. Typically, once the pub day frenzy is past, these titles get forgotten, almost like their worth depends on their publication date! None of that around here. For my list, I’ll be focusing on books published at least one full year prior. Pstt, many backlist titles are often less expensive than new releases (which you should definitely still purchase if you can) and readily available at your libraries. Here are 15 older middle-grade titles I'm hoping to read soon.

Review | Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Review | Lupe Wong Won’t Dance

Lupe Wong Won't Dance is Donna Barba Higuera's debut middle-grade novel. Her protagonist Lupe is a Mexican-Chinese girl who loves baseball. Her Chinese father died several years ago, so she lives with her Mexican mom and her brother Paolo. However, both her abuela and her Chinese grandparents are very present in their lives. Lupe is excited to get all A's this year because her uncle has promised her a meeting with baseball star Fu Li Hernandez, who's Chinacan/Mexinese like her if she does. But all of a sudden, there's a new development in her gym class: Coach wants them to do square dancing instead of like, actual sports. And guess what? Lupe does not dance.

Review | The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

Review | The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

This middle-grade book follows Lucy, a short Chinese-American girl caught between two cultures. Lucy plays basketball (very well) and would choose mac and cheese over most Chinese dishes. Her older siblings seem to fit the "perfect Chinese child" stereotype more than she does. Regina, her older sister started a Chinese club in high school and speaks flawless Chinese, while her brother Kenny, although a bookworm loves and eats all Chinese food and is a Math whiz. Still Lucy perseveres with interests, eagerly anticipating her sister's move to college so she can have their room all to herself, but that is not to be.

25 Middle-Grade Books Set in the Summer

25 Middle-Grade Books Set in the Summer

Ah, summer. Now that we're wading into fall, I figured it's a good time to share these middle-grade books set in the summer. There's just a freedom about summer. Growing up in a tropical country meant it was warm all year round, but for us summer was about the time AWAY from school. It was in the late nights and sleep-ins and time with friends and nothing on the schedule. That's what these middle-grade books set in the summer encapsulate.

Best Jewish Middle-Grade Books

Best Jewish Middle-Grade Books

these books aren't just middle-grade books by Jewish authors, but middle-grade books by Jewish authors about Jewish kids. I've tried to stick to books in which the kids' Jewish identity is an integral part of the story. So, there's either a b'nai mitzvah, Hebrew school, Hanukkah, the Holocaust, or some other element of Jewish culture or religion in these stories.

Review | Tune It Out

Review | Tune It Out

In Tune It Out, Lou and her mother live in their truck. Her mom believes Lou has a gift (her voice) and is determined to make it big with her. So she makes Lou sing everywhere from cafes to karaoke bars to street corners. This is extra challenging for Lou because she hates the bright lights and the sound of applause is physically painful. She also hates physical contact and is bothered by the texture of certain clothes on her skin. Lou gets some respite from the malnutrition and homelessness when an accident leads to her being taken in by Child Protective Services. Fortunately, she is sent off to live with her aunt and her husband in Nashville, Tennessee where she begins a new life until her mother can get her back.

Review | Now That I’ve Found You

Review | Now That I’ve Found You

Now That I've Found You is Kristina Forest's sophomore YA novel. This book focuses on Evie, an up and coming actress with a family in the film-making industry. Her grandmother (Gigi) is a movie star and her parents are documentary film makers who travel the world for their career. Evie has just snagged a role with a well known director when a video of her drunkenly mocking his British accent surfaces. She's dropped from the film immediately and effectively blackballed in the industry. She's only 18.

35 Best Chapter Books for Third Graders

35 Best Chapter Books for Third Graders

Just for reference, in the States, third graders are generally about eight years old. If you're fortunate, you may already have a big reader on your hands who isn't afraid to shoot for younger middle-grade titles like some of those on this list. Typically, though most eight-year-olds prefer smaller chapter books, under 150 pages, with lots of pictures and larger fonts than the typical middle-grade book. Kids at this age also like series -- they want to remain in the same universe for as long as possible, so most of the books on this list are part of series. These chapter books for third graders are good for independent reading and also for readalouds! All except one are heavily illustrated, and I've tried to include picks for a variety of interests.