Multicultural Children’s Book Day | Book Review: Hanukkuh Harvie vs Santa Claus: The Chrismukkah Kerfuffle By: David Michael Slater

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I know it has been a while, but I am so happy to be back and taking part in the 5th Multicultural Children’s Book Day event and book review. Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/18) is in its 5th year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  

MCBD 2018 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. You can view the 2018 MCBD Medallion Sponsors here. And the 2018 MCBD Author Sponsors here. We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View all of the CoHosts here.

On To The Book:

Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus: The Chrismukkah Kerfuffle
Genre: Holiday, Religion, Interfaith, Family, Children’s Fiction
Published Date: November 1st, 2017
 
Synopsis:
Everything was going smoothly, a typical first night of Hanukkah. Or so Harvie thought! There was someone else in the house, and he had presents, too – Santa Claus! Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus is the hilarious and heartfelt story of how two holiday heroes wind up with the greatest gift of all: friendship.
 

A few months back, I was paired up with the author David Michael Slater for his book Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus. This lovely children’s book center’s its message on the existence of interfaith families and children. As the reader watches as Hanukkah Harvie and Santa Claus attempt to out present and upstage each other when Christmas Eve and a night of Hanukkah coincide with each other.

I was so thrilled to receive this book because one of my little cousins is Jewish on his mom’s side and my half of the family follows a modern Christian path. I have found a few books that put interfaith children and families into primary narrative, but this was my favorite by far. And my cousin loved it too! Although he is learning equal parts of both religions/lifestyles it is something that just is for him.

There isn’t a competition or boughts of upstaging one over the other and even while reading the book my cousin understood that and was commenting on how silly they were being. This brought a ton of laughs and enjoyment to my house and family, as well a very clear and inclusive message for children that I know other families will enjoy as well.

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Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story by: AshleyRose Sullivan | Review

Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story
Genre: Mystery, Supernatural, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: (it was okay)
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Publisher: Seventh Star Press
Arc Received From Author In Exchange For An Honest Review.
Synopsis:
 When one of the world’s greatest superheroes dies in her arms, Lona Chang takes it upon herself to investigate his murder.  Armed only with a power she barely understands and a mysterious coded book, Lona begins a quest for answers that leads her down a dark rabbit hole of secrets—secrets the ancient organization known as the Guild is determined to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, when a new threat descends upon Arc City, Lona’s soulmate (and freshly minted superhero) Awesome Jones defies the Guild, dons the cape and cowl of his father and finds a group of unlikely allies. But can Awesome trust them—or himself? He’ll have to fight his own demons first if he has any hope of defending the town–and the people–he loves.

As tensions rise between the Guild, Lona, Awesome, his allies and Arc City’s criminal underground, Lona realizes that life, and the answers to its questions, are never as simple as they seem in comic books.

Book Review:

First Impression:

My first impressions about this book were that the story made me thinks about Superman and Lois Lane which and that Lona and Awesome, at first glance, seemed to be paired off pretty well. Likewise, I did like Lona’s overall character in the narrative. She’s very down to earth; if a bit too critical of herself for just being “ordinary” and a “normal” person especially because of her unique ability.

As her character is very perceptive, smart and a natural people-person. I also thought the big reveal regarding the Guild and Pythia’s secret operations under the guild’s noises. This gave the story a bit of dark theme to it which was a niche surprise in this book.

The Things I Struggled With The Most While Reading This Book:

After having read portions of the first book for a bit more context regarding Lona’s adoptive parents, and discovering the apparent instructions left behind by her birth father for his former butler and maid to adopt his daughter. It made it seem as though her adoptive parents didn’t have a choice in the matter. As if the two weren’t truly parenting her, but doing another form of service.

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Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad #2) By: C.B. Lee | Review (+Giveaway)

Amazing cover!!!

Not Your Villain (Sidekick Squad #2)

Genre: LGBTQ+, YA, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-fi
Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: October 5 2017
Synopsis:

Bells Broussard thought he had it made when his superpowers manifested early. Being a shapeshifter is awesome. He can change his hair whenever he wants, and if putting on a binder for the day is too much, he’s got it covered. But that was before he became the country’s most-wanted villain.

After discovering a massive cover-up by the Heroes’ League of Heroes, Bells and his friends Jess, Emma, and Abby set off on a secret mission to find the Resistance. Meanwhile, power-hungry former hero Captain Orion is on the loose with a dangerous serum that renders meta-humans powerless, and a new militarized robotic threat emerges. Everyone is in danger. Between college applications and crushing on his best friend, will Bells have time to take down a corrupt government?

Sometimes, to do a hero’s job, you need to be a villain.

Book Review:

I loved this book so much that I had trouble putting it down. I feel like I talked about how C.B. Lee gives the reader a conventional and non-conventional narrative atmosphere last time, but just in case I didn’t, I think readers of this book will love,  as I did, the way theme of love and friendship are blended into the story with this amazing amount of ease that you almost forget you are reading a story.

The main characters are just so relatable. I can usually tell when I’m reading a story even if I am really into a book, but not when it comes to the Sidekick Squad series. From start to finish, the narrative incorporates a consistent and present bubble of humor, honesty, progressive relatability, acceptance, love AND excitement!

Reading this book you get so swept up in the funny, cute and friendship “aww” moments that when the action starts you’re just as shook as the rest of the characters!

At least that is how I felt. I love when books keep surprising you because it gives you the opportunity to never be bored with surprises and adventures in every single chapter.

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Unforgivable Love By: Sophfronia Scott | Review

Unforgivable Love: A Retelling of Dangerous Liaisons
By: Sophfronia Scott
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Retellings, Romance,
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Synopsis:

“A dazzlingly dark and engaging tale full of heartbreak, treachery, and surprise.” – Kirkus

In this vivid reimagining of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses, it’s the summer when Jackie Robinson breaks Major League Baseball’s color barrier and a sweltering stretch has Harlem’s elite fleeing the city for Westchester County’s breezier climes, two predators stalk amidst the manicured gardens and fine old homes.

Heiress Mae Malveaux rules society with an angel’s smile and a heart of stone. She made up her mind long ago that nobody would decide her fate. To have the pleasure she craves, control is paramount, especially control of the men Mae attracts like moths to a flame.

Valiant Jackson always gets what he wants—and he’s wanted Mae for years. The door finally opens for him when Mae strikes a bargain: seduce her virginal young cousin, Cecily, who is engaged to Frank Washington. Frank values her innocence above all else. If successful, Val’s reward will be a night with Mae.

But Val secretly seeks another prize. Elizabeth Townsend is fiercely loyal to her church and her civil rights attorney husband. Certain there is something redeemable in Mr. Jackson. Little does she know that her worst mistake will be Val’s greatest triumph.

BOOK REVIEW:

Unforgivable Love is a retelling of the classic Les Liaisons Dangerous, but I’m not familiar with the original story. What I do know is that this book is filled with this laid-back, passionate and vibrant imagery elegance from start to finish. The love and details of music associated with Harlem and the rippling complexity of each of the characters draw a number of favorable points for this book.

Besides being set in one of my favorite eras, I found that the cockiness of the main characters was something that really kept me hooked almost right away because their confidence and self-assurance was not only entertaining but intriguing; almost daringly pulling the reader into their games with them. Likewise, the characters brought an infectious intensity, twists and at times bits of humor in the narrative.  Like others will, I’m sure,  I really loved the well laid out social intrigue between Mae and her inner circle.

Underneath Mae’s calculating motives and cool demeanor, there’s a girl so hungry for love that I couldn’t help but empathize with. It is clear that the loss of her closest and dearest friend, and first true love has turned Mae against the world and the core motivations behind her plan regarding her cousin comes from a place of pride, ego, rejection and old wounds that haven’t healed around her heart.

Dear Martin By: Nic Stone | Review & Reaction

Dear Martin COVERDear Martin
Genre: YA Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Social Issues
Rating: 5 stars
Release Date: October 17th 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
I received this ARC in a giveaway &
it in no way affects my review or unbiased opinion of this book.

Goodreads | B&N | Amazon | B&D | IndieBound

Synopsis:

Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In that media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

My Reaction:

I call this “my reaction” because it not only took me a bit to type up my review for the book itself, but also all of the thoughts, feelings and memories this book made me think of.  Although this book left my mind and heart just all over the place, I truly loved it and I am grateful I was given the opportunity to read this ARC  because it had such a huge affect on me and it is something that I look forward to sharing with my family and friends.

From the moment I started reading, I was able to connect with Justyce’s character—from his thoughts, concerns, fear and anxiousness. And his attempt at trying to make sense of himself and the rest of the world through a method inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. teachings following the fall out of his wrongful arrest. It was just all so real, raw, insightful and moving.

One of the many things I loved and appreciated about this book was the way Nic Stone keeps the narrative objective because it makes it so connectable to other readers, whether they are allies, individuals who have experienced some of the same situations Justyce has faced or others ignorant of the seriousness and dangers African Americans and other POC face every day when it comes to racism.

I pondered if I wanted to focus on the situation regarding Justyce and his arrest as being the main focal points I discussed for this book, but in all honesty, it is so much more than racial profiling from authorities. The political, inaccurate and discriminatory stories spun by a lot of the media outlets and the prejudices of people—it all just hits home.

There wasn’t an instance when I did not imagine my brothers or my uncles in situations close to Justyce’s and it shook me.  However, choosing LOVE over HATE. Recognizing that we still have such a far way to go. Accepting that we can’t do it on our own. Knowing that importance of sticking together, speaking together and moving together is the only way forward. And being strong enough to face it all head on.

Even before last week’s protest in Charlottesville, VA, I was struggling to come up with the right words for how moving and important this book is to all readers, young or old, because I was hung up on how real and close to our reality it was. Of course, as an African-American woman, it was impossible not to see my brothers or my uncles and even myself in the situations that Justyce was dealing with in this book and that become such a jarring feeling.

Aside from being raised by a single parent, Justyce and I represent two completely different worlds, but regardless, I know that a POC’s story and life is hardly ever taken into account when they are profiled, victimized or harmed. With this, I am trying to choose my words so carefully here because with the weight and present state of our world weighing down on my heart and everything just feeling so wrong and backwards these days.

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Absolutely, Almost, Perfect By: Lissa Reed | Book Review, Q&A (+Giveaway)

Absolutely, Almost, Perfect (Sucre Coeur Series #3)
By: Lissa Reed
Genre: M/M Romance, LGBTQ+, Contemporary Fiction, Rom/Com Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: August 3, 2017
Publisher: Duet Books/ Interlude Press
Received an ARC copy from publisher in exchange for an honest review

Craig Oliver and Alex Scheff lead a charmed life. Craig is part owner of Sucre Coeur, the bakery he’s loved and managed for years. Alex is an up-and-coming Seattle photographer. Their relationship has been going strong for a year, and everything is absolutely perfect—right up until Craig receives a wedding invitation from his long-estranged brother.

As Craig grows tense over seeing his brother for the first time in years, Alex can’t control his anxiety over meeting Craig’s family. At the wedding in an English hamlet, boisterous Scottish mothers, smirking teenage sisters, and awkward ex-boyfriends complicate the sweet life they lead.

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A House Without Windows By: Nadia Hashimi | Review

A House Without Windows
By: Nadia Hashimi
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Culture, Mystery, Family, Friendship
Rating: 4 stars
Reprint release Date: May 16, 2017
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks/ Harper Collins

Synopsis:

A vivid, unforgettable story of an unlikely sisterhood—an emotionally powerful and haunting tale of friendship that illuminates the plight of women in a traditional culture—from the author of the bestselling The Pearl That Broke Its Shell and When the Moon Is Low.

For two decades, Zeba was a loving wife, a patient mother, and a peaceful villager. But her quiet life is shattered when her husband, Kamal, is found brutally murdered with a hatchet in the courtyard of their home. Nearly catatonic with shock, Zeba is unable to account for her whereabouts at the time of his death. Her children swear their mother could not have committed such a heinous act. Kamal’s family is sure she did, and demands justice.

Barely escaping a vengeful mob, Zeba is arrested and jailed. As Zeba awaits trial, she meets a group of women whose own misfortunes have also led them to these bleak cells: thirty-year-old Nafisa, imprisoned to protect her from an honor killing; twenty-five-year-old Latifa, who ran away from home with her teenage sister but now stays in the prison because it is safe shelter; and nineteen-year-old Mezhgan, pregnant and unmarried, waiting for her lover’s family to ask for her hand in marriage. Is Zeba a cold-blooded killer, these young women wonder, or has she been imprisoned, as they have been, for breaking some social rule? For these women, the prison is both a haven and a punishment. Removed from the harsh and unforgiving world outside, they form a lively and indelible sisterhood.

Into this closed world comes Yusuf, Zeba’s Afghan-born, American-raised lawyer, whose commitment to human rights and desire to help his motherland have brought him back. With the fate of this seemingly ordinary housewife in his hands, Yusuf discovers that, like Afghanistan itself, his client may not be at all what he imagines.

A moving look at the lives of modern Afghan women, A House Without Windows is astonishing, frightening, and triumphant.

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The Wisdom Of Moms & Amazing Dads by: Bridget E. Hamilton | Short Review

About The Wisdom of Moms

• Hardcover: 96 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (March 28, 2017)

There is so much we can learn about motherhood from the animal kingdom. We can learn how to be the strong role model a child needs, like the snow leopard that teaches her children to survive and thrive on dangerous mountain slopes; to be as resilient as the hardworking sea otter mom; and to serve our communities like the pika, a rabbit-like animal native to northern climates. This is a beautiful tribute to mothers, full of adorable animal photographs and touching anecdotes that show your appreciation for all the wisdom and care that Mom provides.

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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About Amazing Dads

• Hardcover: 96 pages
• Publisher: National Geographic (May 2, 2017)

This fun, lighthearted book is a great way to show Dad how much he means to you. Page after page of stunning animal photographs and heartwarming stories of fatherhood in the animal kingdom showcases the bond between dads and their loved ones. This package is the best way to share words of gratitude and appreciation and express your love for the dad, grandpa, uncle, or stepfather in your life.

Stories of remarkable animal dads include:

  • Golden lion tamarins that mash bananas into a mush to hand-feed their babies
  • Wolves that enjoy playful roughhousing with youngsters of the pack
  • Foxes that bury food near the den to teach pups to hunt
  • Rheas, South American birds that not only incubate eggs solo but also serve as single parents
  • Seahorses that carry eggs in their own brood pouch

National Geographic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Thoughts

I loved reading these books because they were so much fun and soo cute. I was so happy I got the opportunity to read these books because they are just the types of books I look for when it comes to my younger cousins and my friends’ kids. Each book has various animal selections that is accompanied by short antidotes, factoids, memorable quotes and beautiful pictures on every single page. Personally, I think these books would be great for story-time anywhere because the passages are so engaging. These books offer small pieces of information and glimpses into the animal kingdom with such clear, sharp pictures that it’ll make them fall in love with these books and the animals. I really think these books is a great gift to the family to enjoy; from moms and dads with their kids and grandmas and grandpas with their grandchildren. I’ve selected a few of my favorite passages from each book below 🙂

Tour Organized By:

Thank you so much for stopping by to check out this short review.

Until the next post,

Gia.

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