Archive by Author

Not So YA: Vegan Cookbook Edition

6 Jul

This is a YA blog and these books aren’t YA. I could make the connection to my teen years – that I went vegetarian when I was 15 and vegan when I was 18. I could talk about how much I would have loved these books as a young vegan and how glad I am that vegan teens today have so many more options in restaurants, grocery stores, and on the bookshelves. This is all true, but I also just wanted to highlight these two books because they’re awesome. The recipes are delicious, creative, and easy to follow. The design is eye-catching and informative. These two books are two of my new go-to cookbooks that I’ll be revisiting time and time again in the years to come. I can’t wait to see what my next great recipe is!

afro-vegan
Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry

Bryant Terry creates amazing cookbooks and delicious flavor combinations. His book Vegan Soul Kitchen is one of my all-time favorites. There are few dishes in my life that I have loved as much as his Cajun-Creole-Spiced Tempeh Pieces with Creamy Grits. But boy do I have a new favorite in Afro-Vegan with his recipe for Texas Caviar. mmmmMMMM. It is fresh and decadent and reason enough to buy this book (though there are plenty of other reasons).

In Afro-Vegan, Terry offers over 100 delicious recipes organized by staple ingredients such as “Grits. Grains. Couscous.”, “Greens. Squashes, Roots.”, and “Okra, Black-Eyed Peas. Watermelon.” Each section’s intro and each recipe’s blurb ties back into the central themes of the cookbook – building community around food and around the table, honoring personal history and food history, and celebrating the food and the people of ancient Africa and the African-diaspora and their contributions to New World cuisine and agricultural practices.

As he does with every book, each recipe comes with a suggested music track. For example, Texas Caviar is paired with Frank Ocean’s “Super Rich Kids”. This recipe is absolutely divine and I feel like a super rich kid when I eat it. Other dishes from Afro-Vegan that I have made and enjoyed include Glazed Carrot Salad and Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup. The suggested tracks for these two recipes: “Sweet Bite” by George Duke and “Africaine” by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers.

The Glazed Carrot Salad is a delicious warm carrot salad with cilantro, mint, and peanuts. I’m always excited to find dishes that give me a reason to appreciate the mint that grows like a weed in front of my house. This recipe is a bit time-consuming prep-wise for a side dish, but the resulting dish is beautiful and offers diverse textures and flavors that I appreciate. The Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Soup recipe uses a great trick that I first learned in Vegan Soul Kitchen – soaking cashews and blending them with water to make a nice protein-rich alternative to heavy cream. I made this recipe for Christmas dinner and my non-vegan family members thought the creamed cashews idea was genius and the resulting recipe delicious. They were correct.

IMG_2551
The book design is also lovely, with food photography by Paige Green, artwork by Nick James and Keba Konte, and a textured cloth pattern along the spine. I literally pet the book when it showed up at my library and thought to myself “this will look great on my cookbook shelf”. Then remembered that the copy belonged to the library, not me. Oops! I quickly remedied that situation and bought a copy of my own. Doesn’t it look so cozy with its friends?

Em’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Bryant Terry
Photography: Paige Green
Publisher: Ten Speed Press (April 2014)
Note: eGalley received from publisher.

“If A People’s History Of The United States and Joy of Cooking had a baby, Afro-Vegan would be it!”
—Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of Veganomicon and Isa Does It

Isa-Does-It
Isa Does It: Amazingly Easy, Wildly Delicious Vegan Recipes for Every Day of the Week by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

What I love about Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipes is that they’re really easy to follow and the resulting dishes are always delicious. What I love about her latest cookbook (in addition to the tasty dishes she introduces) is that almost every recipe is accompanied by a mouth-watering photograph. While the photography doesn’t technically make the recipes any better, aside from offering a reference for what the dish should/could look like, it does help build the excitement for trying out new dishes.

With Afro-Vegan I offered Texas Caviar as the recipe that is reason enough to buy the book. Here I suggest Jerk Sloppy Joes with Coconut Creamed Spinach as the recipe that alone is worth the price of the book purchase. I’ve had several vegan sloppy joes over the past 20 years, but this one is by far the best and I will never go back. The Coconut Creamed Spinach is a delicious addition that I never would have thought to add to a sloppy joe. Other recipes that have become go-to recipes for me in this book are the Meaty Beany Chili and the Cornbread Muffins; both are simple recipes that offer a lot of flavor. Here’s a video of Moskowitz making her Meaty Beany Chili and Cornbread Muffins (the video is by Breville, so she uses their slow-cooker and toaster oven – I use a good old fashioned pot and oven for these recipes at home, but hey, options are always good):

Other recipes that I have tried include Norah’s Lemon-Lemon Cookies and Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale which were both delicious. I’m excited to try out more recipes this summer with all the fresh local produce available! Yum! The only trick is trying to narrow down which recipe to try out next. They all look so good!

Em’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Photography: Vanessa Rees
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (October 2013)
Note: eGalley received from publisher.

TBR: Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

4 Jun

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating.

I love Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers series and the final chapter in the series, Blood of My Blood, is coming out this September! The second book in the series, Game, left us with some mighty cliffhangers and I can’t wait to see what happens next. SPOILERS AHEAD!

lyga_bloodofmyblood_hc

Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home in tiny Lobo’s Nod. Somehow, these three must rise above the horrors their lives have become and find a way to come together in pursuit of Billy. But then Jazz crosses a line he’s never crossed before, and soon the entire country is wondering: “Like father, like son?” Who is the true monster?

The chase is on, and this time Jazz is the hunted, not the hunter. And beyond Billy there lurks something much, much worse. Prepare to meet…the Crow King.

If you can’t wait until September, you can check out a recently released prequel to the series, Lucky Day, which was released as an ebook in April 2014.

LuckyDay

Four years before Jazz started hunting, his father was still on the loose. This is the story of the small town sheriff who captured one of the world’s most ruthless and cunning murderers.

It all started with Dead Girl #1 and Dead Girl #2, the first killings in the sleepy town of Lobo’s Nod in decades. Two murders: just a coincidence, or something more sinister? One thing’s for sure — it was definitely inconvenient in a year when Sheriff G. William Tanner, a mourning widower, had to run for reelection.

With a trail gone cold, it’s only luck that links the murders to the most notorious serial killer in memory. And in a town like Lobo’s Nod, the killer must be someone Tanner already knows….

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga is scheduled for a September 9, 2014 release from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Add it to your TBR list and let me know what titles you think I should add to mine!

June 2014 (Mostly) YA Releases

2 Jun

It’s apparently a good month for me and Macmillan as the four YA titles I’m most anticipating this month are all from Macmillan imprints. I also have two potential adult-YA crossover titles on my list this month, both from Little, Brown and Company.

TheTruthAboutAlice
The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Roaring Brook Press, June 3

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party. When Healy High star quarterback, Brandon Fitzsimmons, dies in a car crash, it was because he was sexting with Alice. Ask anybody.

Rumor has it Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the “slut stall” in the girls’ bathroom: “Alice had sex in exchange for math test answers” and “Alice got an abortion last semester.” After Brandon dies, the rumors start to spiral out of control. In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students tell all they “know” about Alice–and in doing so reveal their own secrets and motivations, painting a raw look at the realities of teen life. But in this novel from Jennifer Mathieu, exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

TheBodyInTheWoods
Body in the Woods by April Henry
Henry Holt and Co. BYR, June 17

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series, The Body in the Woods is full of riveting suspense, putting readers right in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

Shackleton
Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey by Nick Bertozzi
First Second, June 17

Ernest Shackleton was one of the last great Antarctic explorers, and he led one of the most ambitious Antarctic expeditions ever undertaken. This is his story, and the story of the dozens of men who threw in their lot with him – many of whom nearly died in the unimaginably harsh conditions of the journey. It’s an astonishing feat – and was unprecedented at the time – that all the men in the expedition survived.

Shackleton’s expedition marked the end of a period of romantic exploration of the Arctic and the Antarctic, and this is as much a book about the encroaching modern world as it is about travel. But Nick Bertozzi has documented this remarkable journey with such wit and fiendish attention to detail that it’s impossible not to get caught up in the drama of the voyage. Shackleton is a phenomenal accompaniment to Bertozzi’s earlier graphic novel about great explorers, Lewis & Clark.

Complicit
Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn
St. Martin’s Griffin, June 24

Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else.

But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.

Because more than anything, Cate Henry needs her little brother to know the truth about their past. A truth she’s kept hidden for years. A truth she’s not supposed to tell.

Trust nothing and no one as you race toward the explosive conclusion of the gripping psychological thriller Complicit from Stephanie Kuehn, the William C. Morris Award–winning author of Charm & Strange.

The Fever
The Fever by Megan Abbott
Little, Brown and Company, June 17

The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hocky star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie’s best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community.

As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town’s fragile idea of security.

A chilling story about guilt, family secrets and the lethal power of desire, THE FEVER affirms Megan Abbott’s reputation as “one of the most exciting and original voices of her generation.”

ThoseWhoWishMeDead
Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company, June 3

When fourteen-year-old Jace Wilson witnesses a brutal murder, he’s plunged into a new life, issued a false identity and hidden in a wilderness skills program for troubled teens. The plan is to get Jace off the grid while police find the two killers. The result is the start of a nightmare.

The killers, known as the Blackwell Brothers, are slaughtering anyone who gets in their way in a methodical quest to reach him. Now all that remains between them and the boy are Ethan and Allison Serbin, who run the wilderness survival program; Hannah Faber, who occupies a lonely fire lookout tower; and endless miles of desolate Montana mountains.

The clock is ticking, the mountains are burning, and those who wish Jace Wilson dead are no longer far behind.

I’m currently enjoying listening to The Fever and reading Shackleton. What June releases are you most excited to check out this month?

End of Spring Mix Tape

29 May

If I had to list my three biggest media addictions of Spring 2014, they would be graphic novels, Bollywood films, and new music. After not really buying much in the way of music the past few years, I went a little wild this spring. Here are some of my recent favorites from said purchases. Happy listening!

Girls Chase Boys – Ingrid Michaelson
This song is super catchy and I love watching the quirky dance moves. I especially love how the guy to the left of Michaelson looks like he really wants to get down, but he holds it in until the end when they finally get to let loose.

MFN – Cibo Matto
From Hotel Valentine, their first album release since 1999 (what?!), comes this and plenty of other fantastic and fun songs. Remember when they used to inspire sexy dancing in The Bronze? Oh the good old days. I’m sure the Scoobies would get down to this track as well.

La La La (Brazil 2014) – Shakira
Just in time for the 2014 World Cup, Shakira has released a new version of a song from her self-titled 2014 album with lyrics changed to be more soccer-y and worldly (e.g. “Now here we are. You rock it.” becomes “Hear the whistle. Kick the ball.”). The music video features her baby daddy, Pique, and several other futbol stars lip-synching along, as well as her baby, Milan, playing futbol with an elephant (cute!). The original song was my favorite track off her latest album and I have to say the soccer player eye candy doesn’t hurt. Watch out though, this song is a major earworm.

Love Is The Answer – Aloe Blacc
While “The Man” is the biggest hit (thus far) off Aloe Blacc’s Lift Your Spirit, this is by far my favorite track off the album.

Holding On For Life – Broken Bells
After the Disco is one of my favorite new albums of the year and Holding On For Life is one of my favorite tracks. The music video features scenes from a short film the Broken Bells created to celebrate their album release, a little sci-fi romance starring Anton Yelchin and Kate Mara. The full film is available for viewing online (go for it!).

Fever – Black Keys
Here’s another great new track off a new album that I love. Yes, the phone number onscreen throughout the video is a working number.

Rumble – Kelis
I love Kelis’s new food-themed album. An artist perhaps best known for her hit “Milkshake” off her album Tasty who later studied at Le Cordon Bleu, she’s quite the food-loving singer-songwriter! And how fun is it that she operated a food truck at SXSW 2014 to promote her new album? This song doesn’t seem to have anything to do with food, but I’ll take it anyway.

London Thumakda – Labh Janjua, Neha Kakkar & Sonu Kakkar
The Bollywood film, Queen, was released while I was on vacation in India and this music video played on TV a lot. I finally watched the film this month and loved it! It’s about a girl who gets dumped two days before her wedding and decides to go on her honeymoon (London and Amsterdam) by herself. This video shows a festive wedding celebration prior to the wedding getting called off.

Do you have a favorite song of Spring 2014? Share it in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: BEA 2014

27 May


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature created at the fabulous The Broke and the Bookish, featuring weekly top ten lists on a variety of bookish topics.

This Tuesday is a pick your own topic week and I decided to list the Top Ten Books I Hope to Pick Up at BEA also known as Top Ten Authors/Illustrators I’m Excited to Meet at BEA. I’m only attending BEA on Thursday and Friday this year, but I have quite the line-up those two days. Here are the ten books/authors/illustrators that I’m most excited for:

Benny and Penny
FOR THE KIDDOS
Benny and Penny in Lost and Found by Geoffrey Hayes

    Date: Thursday, May 29
    3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
    Location: 2857

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (illustrator)

    Date: Friday, May 30
    3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
    Location: Table 1
    (Jon Klassen signing)

Rupert Can Dance by Jules Feiffer

    Date: Friday, May 30
    11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Location: Table 13

Brown Girl Dreaming
FOR THE TWEENS
The Giver by Lois Lowry

    Date: Thursday, May 29
    & Friday, May 30
    11:30 am – 12:30 pm
    Location: 1657

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

    Date: Friday, May 30
    2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
    Location: Table 18

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

    Date: Friday, May 30
    11:00 am – 12:00 pm
    Location: Table 2

Glory O'Brien
FOR THE TEENS
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

    Date: Thursday, May 29
    11:30 am – 12:30 pm
    Location: Table 15

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

    Date: Friday, May 30
    1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
    Location: Table 3

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

    Date: Friday, May 30
    10:00 am – 11:00 am
    Location: 1521

The Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

    Date: Friday, May 30
    3:45 pm – 4:45 pm
    Location: 2638

Edit: Let’s make this a Top Eleven list! We listed Adele Griffin’s The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone as an “honorable mention” – i.e. an ARC that we were interested in that wasn’t tied to a signing, but it turns out Adele Griffin will be there! Thanks to Soho Press for the update!

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

    Date: Friday, May 30
    3pm-4pm
    Location: 2946

Honorable Mention (no author signing, but an ARC I would love to get my grubby hands on): The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Are you attending BEA? If so, what books/authors/illustrators are you most excited to cross paths with? Hope to see you there!

Giveaway: Touching the Surface and Send Me a Sign

23 May

Each year on the first Saturday in May, my local school district hosts the Hudson Children’s Book Festival, a wonderful event that brings young readers together with outstanding authors and illustrators. This year, I had the pleasure of hanging out with booth buddies Kimberly Sabatini (who I first met a couple years back at a Hudson Valley YA Society event) and Tiffany Schmidt, who are both so friendly that I decided to buy copies of their debut novels to share with one lucky visitor to Love YA Lit.

KimberlyAndTiffany

Kimberly’s debut novel, Touching the Surface, is about a young woman who finds herself dead for the third time and realizes that before she can move on to the great beyond she’ll have to reconcile issues with her past life. (Oh yeah, and there’s a love triangle and the cover is super pretty.)

Tiffany’s debut novel, Send Me a Sign, is about a popular teenager who is diagnosed with Leukemia during the summer break before senior year and decides to keep her illness a secret from her friends and classmates. She confides in her longtime neighbor and best friend, Gyver, but the sicker she gets, the harder it gets to keep her secret from the rest of the world. (Also a love triangle here and a lovely cover as well.)

Want your very own signed copies of these books? Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 to win a signed copy of Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini and a signed copy of Send Me a Sign by Tiffany Schmidt. One entry per person, US mailing addresses only, 13 years of age or older. Winner will be contacted by email.

TBR: A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

16 Apr

A-Time-To-Dance
“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that bloggers are eagerly anticipating. This week I wanted to highlight the upcoming Padma Venkatraman release, A Time to Dance. I recently posted about Indian YA lit on my TBR and this one is officially being added to the list!

Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.

Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.

I love South Asian literature and I love verse novels. I’m also drawn to the focus on disability in India, as this was my area of study during my semester abroad in India (way back when). Venkatraman is getting a lot of advanced praise for A Time to Dance, including starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and VOYA. A Time to Dance is scheduled for a May 1, 2014 release (Nancy Paulsen Books). Be sure to add it to your TBR list! You can read an excerpt here.

War Horse (Audio)

7 Apr

War Horse
I’ve never been that into horses. Don’t get me wrong, horses are great. I mean they’re basically superheroes – they can run shortly after birth, they can see nearly 360 degrees, and they can sleep standing up (ok, maybe that last one isn’t the greatest super power, but it’s still very impressive). I know horse personalities vary, but in my limited experience with them, I’ve never met a bad egg. They’re beautiful creatures. And whenever I watch a battle scene with soldiers on horseback at the movies, I’m more sad to see the horses fall in battle than the soldiers. But somehow, I’ve never been drawn to horse stories and if I’m honest, would probably even go so far as to respond to them with a “this one’s not for me”. So it comes as no surprise that I was late to the party when it comes to Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse. I still haven’t seen the stage performance or the Spielberg film adaptation, but I can now put a big check mark next to “read the book”.

War Horse follows Joey, a bay-red foal, from farm life to the war on the Western Front. As Joey is transferred from owner to owner, we see war from his point of view as well as from the perspectives of his various caregivers, on both sides of the war in England, Germany and France. The story is narrated using fairly simple language to match Joey’s limited awareness and the way he sees the war. Still, plenty of people talk to Joey, sharing their thoughts and concerns, asking things of him, and Joey communicates with people in his own way. While Joey has a job to perform at each stop along his way, it’s also clear that his value to his caretakers goes far beyond his contributions as a work animal. Joey also has some horse companions, Zoey and Topthorn – one a farm horse, the other a war horse. Unlike with many animal stories, the horses themselves do not have some special, secret horse communication, yet Joey still feels a strong connection with these two horses.

Morpurgo had several inspirations for War Horse, including conversations with World War I veterans and a haunting painting of horses charging into a barbed wire fence during battle. In a piece written for The Telegraph titled “War Horse: When Horses Were Heroes”, Morpurgo also shared a particularly touching inspiration for the story – an encounter he once witnessed between a boy with a debilitating stammer and a farm horse:

As I came into the stable yard behind the house I found Billy standing under the stable light, talking freely to one of the horses. He spoke confidently, knowing he was not being judged or mocked. And I had the very strong impression that the horse was listening, and understanding too. It was an unforgettable moment for all three of us, I think. It was that extraordinary moment that gave me the confidence I needed to begin writing War Horse.

That story alone moved me to tears. War Horse also moved me to tears several times. I’m sure if I ever get around to watching the movie, Spielberg will make sure to have the music swell just right at all the tearjerker moments. The story is moving, war is harsh, and the themes of family, friendship, courage, and communication across language barriers are explored in interesting ways. But it is the uniqueness of Joey as a narrator and protagonist that makes War Horse really stand out.

Through his performance on the audiobook recording, reader John Keating distinguishes between Joey and his various owners, giving each a distinct voice and accent. The audio recording is well paced and overall a short listen at just over four hours. I’m glad I finally gave this “horse story” a listen.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Reader: John Keating
Publishers: Scholastic Audiobooks (2010)

What I Should Have Read on my Indian Vacation

16 Mar

Sorry for being MIA for a while there. My husband and I went to India for the last few weeks of February and I spent all my free time leading up to the trip getting prepared to miss three weeks of work and graduate school, leaving no time to prepare blog posts for my time away. And of course the last couple weeks have been spent catching up with work and school and recovering from jet lag (fun!), but now we’re back and what an exciting trip we had!

This was my third time in India, though the first time in 14 years, and I was beyond happy to see my Indian host family and friends, and to travel throughout India with my husband for the first time. We also visited one of his good friends from college, explored the beautiful backwaters of Kerala (a state with 94% literacy rate – not too shabby!), found snow in the foothills of the Himalayas, visited several libraries, and attended the wedding of two good friends in Jaipur, where peacocks served as our beautiful yet unpredictable alarm clocks.

Indiaimages

We traveled by train quite a bit and while generally I love reading on trains, this time around I felt like I would miss too much if I took my eyes off the landscape. In the end, aside from a few Bollywood magazines, the only thing I read during our vacation was She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick – that’s right, just one book. This is unusual for me as I love to read while traveling, but I think this trip was just too fast paced and packed with activity to warrant some relaxing reading time. I do, however, believe I would have read more if I had brought books that were either set in India or that featured Indian characters. And so I’ve compiled a list of books that, if I were to do it all over again, I would bring with me to India.

Born Confused
Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because even though it doesn’t take place in India, it is a well-respected, “classic” South Asian coming-of-age story that has been on my TBR for far too long.

Dimple Lala doesn’t know what to think. Her parents are from India, and she’s spent her whole life resisting their traditions. Then suddenly she gets to high school and everything Indian is trendy. To make matters worse, her parents arrange for her to meet a “suitable boy.” Of course it doesn’t go well — until Dimple goes to a club and finds him spinning a magical web. Suddenly the suitable boy is suitable because of his sheer unsuitability. Complications ensue. This is a funny, thoughtful story about finding your heart, finding your culture, and finding your place in America.

BabyjiBabyji by Abha Dawesar
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because the description starts off with some great S words.

Sexy, surprising, and subversively wise, Babyji is the story of Anamika Sharma, a spirited student growing up in Delhi. At school she is an ace at quantum physics. At home she sneaks off to her parents’ scooter garage to read the Kamasutra. Before long she has seduced an elegant older divorcée and the family servant, and has caught the eye of a classmate coveted by all the boys.

With the world of adulthood dancing before her, Anamika confronts questions that would test someone twice her age. Ebullient, unfettered, and introducing one of the most charming heroines in contemporary fiction, Babyji is irresistible.

Abby Spencer
Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because I secretly wish to be an extra in a Bollywood film (or at the very least for those around me to randomly break into song and dance).

What thirteen-year-old Abby wants most is to meet her father. She just never imagined he would be a huge film star–in Bollywood! Now she’s traveling to Mumbai to get to know her famous father. Abby is overwhelmed by the culture clash, the pressures of being the daughter of India’s most famous celebrity, and the burden of keeping her identity a secret. But as she learns to navigate her new surroundings, she just might discover where she really belongs.

KarmaKarma by Cathy Ostlere
Why I should have read this book on my Indian vacation:
Because I love books in verse and one of the few biographies I ever enjoyed enough to finish was on Indira Gandhi.

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi is gunned down by two Sikh bodyguards. The murder sparks riots in Delhi and for three days Sikh families are targeted and killed in retribution for the Prime Minister’s death. It is into this chaos that sixteen-year-old Maya and her Sikh father, Amar, arrive from their home in Canada. India’s political instability is the backdrop and catalyst for Maya’s awakening to the world.

Do you have a favorite book featuring Indian characters or set in India? What books should I add to my list?

Hilda and the Midnight Giant

3 Feb

hilda
Hilda can make friends with just about any creature, which is a good thing seeing as the valley where she and her mother lives offers frequent sightings of unusual beings. But not all creatures love Hilda back and one night she and her mother receive an eviction notice from an army of elves who don’t want them living in the valley anymore. Her mother thinks they should just move to the city, but Hilda wants to remain in the one place she has ever called home. So she sets off to try to work things out with the leaders of the elf community and at night she also catches glimpses of a mountain-sized giant.

While the first Hilda tale, Hildafolk, is quite small, with Hilda and the Midnight Giant Nobrow Press went large-scale (approx. 8.5 x 12 inches), which allows Pearson to utilize several different panel layouts from single panel pages to 17 panel pages. He even lets elements escape the panels altogether or lets panels overlap one another. Its both playful and purposeful and complements the story well.

image from Nobrow Press site.

image from Nobrow Press site.


 
Hilda is a spunky, brave, and resourceful girl.  The look Pearson has designed for her is eye-catching with her blue hair, pointy nose, large eyes, big red boots, and stick figure legs, and the creatures she encounters are diverse and imaginative. With the story, I especially appreciate the way Hilda’s issue with the elves and the mystery of the giant tie together. The conclusion is sweet, unites with the theme of home and homeland, and mixes emotion and humor quite well. While the Hilda stories would be accessible and enjoyable for younger readers, Pearson’s thoughtful layout, engaging visuals, and imaginative characters will be attractive to just about anyone with an open mind. I can’t wait to read Hilda and the Bird Parade, the next in series, which I’ve heard is even better!

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author/Illustrator: Luke Pearson
Publisher: Nobrow Press, 2012