Book Review: Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence by Sonja Thomas – A Heartfelt Summer Read about STEM-Girl Power, Cats, and Having Faith in Yourself

sir fig newton and the science of persistence by sonja thomas. reviewed by cw, the quiet pond
Blurb:

From the Desk of Zoe Washington meets Ways to Make Sunshine in this heartfelt middle grade novel about a determined young girl who must rely on her ingenuity and scientific know-how to save her beloved cat.

Twelve-year-old Mira’s summer is looking pretty bleak. Her best friend Thomas just moved a billion and one miles away from Florida to Washington, DC. Her dad is job searching and he’s been super down lately. Her phone screen cracked after a home science experiment gone wrong. And of all people who could have moved into Thomas’s old house down the street, Mira gets stuck with Tamika Smith, her know-it-all nemesis who’s kept Mira in second place at the school science fair four years running.

Mira’s beloved cat, Sir Fig Newton, has been the most stable thing in her life lately, but now he seems off, too. With her phone gone and no internet over the weekend at her strict Gran’s house, Mira must research Fig’s symptoms the old-fashioned way: at the library. She determines that he has “the silent cat killer” diabetes. A visit to the vet confirms her diagnosis, but that one appointment stretched family funds to the limit—they’ll never be able to afford cat insulin shots.

When Mira’s parents tell her they may have to give Fig up to people who can afford his treatment, Mira insists she can earn the $2,000 needed within a month. Armed with ingenuity, determination, and one surprising ally, can Mira save her best (four-legged) friend before it’s too late?

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Young readers who love science and cats will adore Sonja Thomas’s middle-grade novel, Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence. This heartfelt story follows Mira, a young science-loving Black biracial girl and aspiring astronomer, and her rollercoaster summer of changing friendships, her beloved cat’s “silent cat killer” diagnosis, and the implications this has on her family.

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Book Review: Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson – Rage and Hope Come Together in a Story of Resistance and Police Brutality

Survive the Dome by Kosoko Jackson
Blurb:

Jamal Lawson just wanted to be a part of something. As an aspiring journalist, he packs up his camera and heads to Baltimore to document a rally protesting police brutality after another Black man is murdered.

But before it even really begins, the city implements a new safety protocol…the Dome. The Dome surrounds the city, forcing those within to subscribe to a total militarized shutdown. No one can get in, and no one can get out.

Alone in a strange place, Jamal doesn’t know where to turn…until he meets hacker Marco, who knows more than he lets on, and Catherine, an AWOL basic-training-graduate, whose parents helped build the initial plans for the Dome.

As unrest inside of Baltimore grows throughout the days-long lockdown, Marco, Catherine, and Jamal take the fight directly to the chief of police. But the city is corrupt from the inside out, and it’s going to take everything they have to survive.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Survive the Dome feels like a breathing manifestation of the emotions felt in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in May 2020. Rage, frustration, anxiety, and pain simmer across the story, held together by a fierce hope in which a queer Black boy saves the city. The story follows Jamal, a Black queer teen journalist who attends a Black Lives Matter protest – against the wishes of his mother – but gets trapped in the city when a large technological dome forms around Baltimore proper. With nowhere to go, Jamal crosses paths with Marco, a mysterious Latino teen hacker, Jamal becomes intertwined with the resistance inside – and becomes instrumental to the fight against corruption and abuse of power.

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Book Review: Wingbearer by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Teny Issakhanian – A Faultlessly Fun and Magical Middle-Grade Graphic Novel

Blurb:

Zuli is extraordinary–she just doesn’t realize it yet. Raised by mystical bird spirits in the branches of the Great Tree, she’s never ventured beyond this safe haven. She’s never had to. Until now.

When a sinister force threatens the life-giving magic of the tree, Zuli, along with her guardian owl, Frowly, must get to the root of it. So begins an adventure bigger than anything Zuli could’ve ever imagined–one that will bring her, along with some newfound friends, face-to-face with an ancient dragon, the so-called Witch-Queen, and most surprisingly of all: her true identity.

This captivating middle grade graphic novel, the first of a series, is perfect for fans of the Amulet books and the Wings of Fire series.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Looking to be swept away to a magical world with goblins, dragons, griffins, and magnificent fantastical beings? Wingbearer by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Teny Issakhanian is a promise of a dazzling fantasy adventure with a compelling quest and mystery that will keep you turning the page. The story follows young Zuli, a young dark-skinned girl raised by avian guardian spirits in the Great Tree where the souls of birds go to rest before their journey into their next lives. When a mysterious force threatens the Great Tree, Zuli, along her guardian owl Frowly, leaves and sets off an adventure where she will make unexpected friends, meet powerful magical beings, and confront her true identity.

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Book Review: Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis – Black Girl Magic, Poverty, and Raising the Dead Goes Terribly Wrong

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis, reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond
Synopsis:

Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. Things get worse, when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?

However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.

But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

If you were living in poverty living with the constant anxiety of housing insecurity and you discovered that you not only could raise the dead but could sell your services for several thousand to bring someone’s loved one back, would you do it? This is a question that is asked again and again in Bad Witch Burning, Jessica Lewis’s dark and phenomenal debut. Bad Witch Burning may be the kind of story that pulls you right in and never lets you go, but it is also, unexpectedly emotionally-charged, heart-wrenching, and utterly devastating story that I loved.

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Book Review: Fools in Love edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos – A Fresh and Diverse Anthology for Lovers of Tropey Romance Stories

Fools in Love: Fresh Twists on Romantic Tales edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos. Contributors: Rebecca Barrow, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, Julian Winters. Reviewed by CW at The Quiet Pond.
Synopsis:

Fake relationships. Enemies to lovers. Love triangles and best friends, mistaken identities and missed connections. This collection of genre-bending and original stories celebrates how love always finds a way, featuring powerful flora, a superhero and his nemesis, a fantastical sled race through snow-capped mountains, a golf tournament, the wrong ride-share, and even the end of the world. With stories written by Rebecca Barrow, Ashley Herring Blake, Gloria Chao, Mason Deaver, Sara Farizan, Claire Kann, Malinda Lo, Hannah Moskowitz, Natasha Ngan, Rebecca Podos, Lilliam Rivera, Laura Silverman, Amy Spalding, Rebecca Kim Wells, and Julian Winters this collection is sure to sweep you off your feet.

I received a digital advanced readers copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I love romance tropes. I love the emotional beats of the stories, I love all the expectations that come with tropes and readying myself for the inevitable ‘ah!’ moment where the trope blooms into something wonderful and exciting, and I love the inevitability of it all. So when I saw that Fools in Love, edited by Ashley Herring Blake and Rebecca Podos, was an anthology dedicated entirely to reimaginings of romance tropes? Count me in!

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