Five Reasons to Read: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Krueger – A New-Adult Urban Fantasy that Blends Cocktails & Monster Hunting

Last Call at the nightshade lounge by Paul Krueger. Reviewed by CW, the quiet pond.

Summary:

College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.

CW’s Review:

I read Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge because someone – I now, regretfully, forget who – recommended this to me. I had no idea what this book was about going in, but despite this, I had the best fun reading Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge. If you like the sound of an urban fantasy with monsters that roam the night, monster hunters that gain power from drinking magical cocktails, and have relatable ‘new adult’ themes, then read on further — because today, I’m going to give you five reasons of why you should pick up incredibly fun book.

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Five Reasons To Read: More to the Story by Hena Khan – Inspired by Little Women; A Lovely and Empathetic Story about Four Muslim Sisters, Ambition & Illness

More to the Story by Hena Khan. Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond.

Summary:

When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.

Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all…

CW’s Review:

After reading Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan back in 2017, I vowed to myself that if Hena Khan wrote more middle-grade novels, I would read it in an instant. Fortunately, I came across Hena’s latest middle-grade book, More to the Story, by chance – and I am so so happy that I read it!

More to the Story is a middle-grade retelling of Little Women and centers on four Muslim Pakistani-American sisters who live in Georgia. The story follows Jameela “Jam” Mirza, an aspiring journalist and writer at her middle school newspaper, and her four sisters. When the girls discover that their father has to move away for work for awhile, she decides to write an article that will make her father proud. But when her younger sister becomes gravely ill, Jam’s world is turned upside down.

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Five Reasons To Read: This Time Will Be Different by Misa Suguira – Wonderful in Its Messiness; About Social Justice, Reparations, and The Power of Protest

This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura.

Blurb:

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

CW’s Review:

Have you ever read a book that made you wish, so deeply, that it had existed just a little bit earlier so that it could have helped you go through a tough part in your life? This Time Will Be Different is definitely that book for me. Specifically, I wish that this book had existed when I was a teenager – when I was grappling with the big questions that all teens face: Where is my place in the world? What do I care about so deeply that I can dedicate myself to? And when I see something that doesn’t sound right, how do I speak up?

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Five Reasons To Read: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga – A Stunning Story-In-Verse About Immigrating, Finding Yourself, and Being Muslim in America

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga.

Blurb:

I am learning how to be
sad
and happy
at the same time.

Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.

At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.

CW’s Review:

Have you ever read a book that made you just… roll in bed after finishing it, the book clutched to your chest, and just sighed deeply because the book was so achingly beautiful and hopeful? Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is such a book, and it is one of my favourite books of 2019.

Told entirely in verse, Other Words for Home is a middle-grade book that follows Jude, a Muslim Syrian girl who, with her mother, escapes to America when things at home in Syria grow tense, violent, and uncertain. Separated from her beloved father and brother, this thoughtful story reflects on the changes in her life, on being apart from the ones you love and the ache of separation. However, it is also an emotional story about regrowing your roots finding yourself, and finding hope.

I firmly believe that everyone should read this book – even if you don’t read middle-grade, even if you don’t read books in verse. But, just in case you need some convincing, here are five reasons why I think you should read Other Words for Home.

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Five Reasons To Read: A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai – A Wholesome Story About Matchmaking, Desi Identity, and Friendship

A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai.

Blurb:

Fifteen-year-old Simran “Simi” Sangha comes from a long line of Indian vichole-matchmakers-with a rich history for helping parents find good matches for their grown children. When Simi accidentally sets up her cousin and a soon-to-be lawyer, her family is thrilled that she has the “gift.”

But Simi is an artist, and she doesn’t want to have anything to do with relationships, helicopter parents, and family drama. That is, until she realizes this might be just the thing to improve her and her best friend Noah’s social status. Armed with her family’s ancient guide to finding love, Simi starts a matchmaking service-via an app, of course.

But when she helps connect a wallflower of a girl with the star of the boys’ soccer team, she turns the high school hierarchy topsy-turvy, soon making herself public enemy number one.

CW’s review:

When I learned about A Match Made in Mehendi earlier this year, learned that it was about an Indian-American teen and that the story would be about matchmaking and love? I knew I had to read it. And after reading a string of fantastic diverse young-adult contemporaries, I’ve unofficially dubbed this year as ‘The Year of Diverse YA Contemporaries’ – and A Match Made in Mehendi is perhaps the hidden gem in YA contemporary.

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