This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias | Review

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Title: This Is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias

Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Illustrator: Drew Shannon

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Genre: Non-fiction, children’s fiction

Where Can I Find This? Goodreads | Book Depository | Booktopia

Rating: ★★★★★

A gorgeously illustrated book with fantastic information. This book is not only useful for children, but for teens and adults. Topics like stereotypes, prejudice, racism, and many more are covered and well approached. Furthermore, this book contains rhetoric questions and examples in history, keeping the read engaging and informative.

The art is bright and vivid, great for holding attention. The illustrations aren’t overwhelming and complement the text and subject well.

This book serves as a great introduction or place to spark conversation pertaining to stereotypes, prejudice, racism, sexism, and homophobia. I appreciate how carefully and effectively nuanced this book is, guiding the discussion points and possibly contributing to developing an understanding of such complex topics. Consequently, I’d highly recommend this for parents, educators, and anyone else interested in this. This is a book I’d definitely a copy for myself.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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#ARCAugust Attempt |Book Thoughts

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Oh no. I think I developed a new bad habit and it’s in the form of constantly requesting titles on Netgalley. What’s Netgalley? Netgalley is a website where you can request Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) of books in exchange for reviews and raising awareness/sharing the love. My little eager heart has been requesting all these amazing books and I know there are various posts recommending you to NOT request away. And yet, here I am…

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I am unsurprised and unimpressed with myself haha. (Why am I like this?)

Does anyone have any specific criteria as to what they do and don’t request? Because I need an adult. How do I control myself?

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I like to read broadly as much as I can, so I’m always open with genres but I can see myself falling into a hole of continuously requesting for books (and I kind of am already?). There are so many great books out there! I don’t want to overwhelm myself with all these commitments (but let’s be honest, I’m always overwhelmed haha). Also, I like to keep my ratio above 80% because lol it tells you to and my vanity likes the badge.

Anyway, I’m a temperamental mood reader, so here’s the plan: I’m going to join #ARCAugust. Or at least, attempt to.

In actuality, I had been planned to binge read all my ARCs and I happened to see a friend post they’re taking part in #ARCAugust so why not join?

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BANNER

Chosen Ones — April (the publishers threw a wishbone at me???? thank you??)

The Girl and the Stars 30 April (currently reading)

Dark Skies — 5 May (writing review help)

Santiago’s Road Home 20 June *date changed (writing review help)

The Midnight Bargain 13 October (just go accepted??? wow thank you)

The Tea Dragon Tapestry13 October (currently reading)

How to Break an Evil Curse13 October (currently reading)

The Stitcher and the Mute12 November (my foolish self didn’t realise this was a SEQUEL; currently reading the first one)

The City of Zirdai21 June 2021 (AGAIN my foolish self didn’t realise this was a SEQUEL; currently reading the first one)

 

TO DO LIST:

☒ Read book ☐ write review ☐ post review close to the published date

There are three steps!! Three! Yet why is this so difficult? Why am I like this???

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Anyway, how’s your reading going? Do you read any ARCs? Otherwise, how do you organise your reading?

 

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Lobizona | Review

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Title: Lobizona

Author: Romina Garber

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Where can I find this? Goodreads | Book Depository | Booktopia | Google Play | Apple

“You’re saying if no one’s told my story before… I get to tell it the way I want?” ~ Romina Garber, Lobizona

Behold! Marvel at this cover art! Read the synopsis! Isn’t this promising? Doesn’t this make you wish you had a copy? Because, yes—after seeing the cover art and the synopsis, I desperately wanted to read this book. I needed this book. And the bookish gods of Netgalley smiled graciously on me and granted my earnest wish.

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my face @ netgalley. yes, I’m aware I’m probably annoying lol

In Lobizona, we follow Manuela (Manu) as she navigates life without detection. Hiding from both the US government and from the people of her father’s past, Manu is undocumented and unprotected. Isolated due to hiding, secrecy is Manu’s constant companion besides Perla and Ma. But hiding Manu isn’t the only secret that gets discovered. When Manu’s mother is taken by ICE, Manu discovers a magical world that is eerily familiar… Now in a magical world, Manu wages forward to uncover the secrets that gnawed on her since childhood. And just like the secrets that fought so hard to remain hidden, Manu must fight harder to uncover the truth.

Plot
The book weaves Argentinean folklore surrounding lobizon and bruja into Manu’s world which presents an interesting aspect into the novel. I liked how Argentinean culture was incorporated into the storytelling. Garber naturally incorporates Spanish into the dialogue. I appreciate how flawless and natural it was. However, the Spanish can make the reading experience disjointed if you’re not familiar with the language. There were times where the narrator (Manu) will translate, and other times where one can gauge the meaning from context and times where you won’t get it. I’ll be honest, I’ve never formally learnt Spanish nor learnt how to read it but can only understand and pick it up from sound (because 1. I’m uneducated hahah and 2. that’s how I learnt—when a family member spoke). Often, I’d have to pause and read passages aloud for my two brain cells to figure out the translation. Yes, I’m a child of immigrant parents and as a result, lost my mother’s tongue to assimilating to the culture I lived in… I’m like the meme:

‘Me? Bilingual? More like, bye-lingual’

Therefore, pausing and rereading some phrases often impacted my reading experience. I’m already a slow reader haha… ANYWAY! I like how Garber unapologetically and fluidly weaves Spanish into her novel.

Lobizona is broken down into four phases. I won’t say much to spoil the story; however, the story really picks up in phase two for me. In phase two, we discover more about this magical world. The world-building felt a little thin and due to that, the story felt more of magical realism rather than fantasy.

This book takes a while to get into the promised action. After the 40%, that’s where all the action began and it was great. Although, the pacing felt disjointed at times. For example, the first 40-50% of the book we are dragging our feet to this magical world. And then, at the last 15-20% action happens! All! At! Once! I’d appreciate if there were moments for the audience to process all that is going on.

Despite the pacing, I did appreciate Garber’s writing style. Garber weaves emotions well into her characters without weighing down the narrative with too many descriptions. The read was compelling and I read this novel in one sitting.

Characters
I love an underdog character. With everything going on, you can’t help but root for Manu! I was invested in her and her dreams. Yeah, she has her insecurities and doubts, but Manu is determined despite all odds. She dreams and yearns for more and when an opportunity shows itself, she’ll take it. I liked that about her. However, the chosen one trope is strong in this one. If you’re not a fan, you may not enjoy the incessant specialness of Manu. I’m a fan of the chosen trope so I’m never really bothered by such things—in fact, I relish in it.

Other than Manu, there is a large cast in this book (I can’t remember all their names but I remember Cata and Sasya—the two other girls). I enjoyed Manu’s and Sasya’s interactions. Sasya is a kind and gentle soul, the welcoming friend to Manu. Whereas, Cata is perceived to be the ‘mean girl’ who is ruthless to Manu. I wasn’t a fan of how that part was portrayed like the typical ‘popular girl mean to the new girl’ trope.

Another aspect I didn’t enjoy was the romance. long sigh yes, the romance. I didn’t like how the romance gave a forbidden vibe to it (spoiler-y: more like almost cheating vibes). And when the truth came out it felt convenient and cheap. Also, I couldn’t understand why the love interest and Manu had feelings for each other? It felt superficial. I would rather focus on other pressing matters, such as Manu’s mother and Manu’s discoveries.

Enjoyment
Aside from the romance, there were many aspects I liked. I liked how alienation and challenging the norm was a major factor in this book. I liked how the themes of alienation and immigration were woven in the story. Manu’s fear of discovery rings true to too many people. Garber writes well, enveloping the reader into Manu’s world that you feel the constant fear and even the threat in living. But despite the fear, there’s the unyielding hope. It was hope in the characters that I loved in this book. Lobizon grapples with and comments on various themes such as misogyny, privilege, undocumented immigrants, amongst many more and I deeply appreciated it did so.

I, myself am a child of immigrants and I have experienced cultural assimilation so on one side, parts of this book resonated with me. I liked how powerful Garber wrote various aspects (especially the first phase). Again, I liked how she wove another language into her book so naturally and how this book was an easy and compelling read. I just wished there were more. In actuality, I think I had higher expectations due to wanting to really love this book. (Why do I do this to myself?) Despite that, I’m very curious to see where this tale (or… tail) will go.

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Recommended for: fans of fantasy schools with magical creatures, fans of YA fantasy, latinx readers looking for latinx authors, people looking for diverse books

Content warning: xenophobia, sexism, bullying, trauma, misogyny, homophobia

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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This Book Is Anti-Racist | Review

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Title: This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work

Author: Tiffany Jewell

Illustrator: Aurelia Durand

Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Genre: Children’s non-fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

This book serves as a great source for information for recognising racism and intentionally taking action to address and help dismantle it. This book presents information that is both applicable at an individual and a group level. Furthermore, not only does this book armour the reader with information, but it also provides practical activities such as reflection and journaling throughout the read. The reflective and journaling activities are extremely beneficial, enabling readers to effectively dismantle concepts and therefore grapple better in reacting to various situations.

The book is divided into four sections and comprises of concepts that are broken down into concise chapters within the sections. The four sections of this book consist of:

1. Waking up: understanding and growing into my identities
The first phase introduces concepts such as identity, social constructions, and defines racism whilst providing examples and activities to deconstruct and help identify.

2. Opening the window: making sense of the world
The second phase builds upon the first, presenting a little bit of world history (mainly in the West) as well as introducing more deeper concepts such as micro-aggressions, colonisation, assimilation, amongst many other concepts. I appreciate how this book mentions colonisation and the effects of it.

3. Choosing my path: taking action and responding to racism
Following that, the third section concentrates reacting to racism and ways to do so.

4. Holding the door open: working in solidarity against racism
Finally, the final phase focuses on the portrayal of privilege and allyship.

I liked how the book introduced topics like intersectionality, concepts such as gender, neurodiversity, class, religion, amongst many other factors are considered and discussed.

Also, I loved the illustrations—they’re bright and vivid, complementing the book well. The art style keeps the reader engaged without detracting too much attention away from the narrative.

As a PoC (person of colour) myself, this book truly resonated with me and I deeply appreciate this book. Despite being a PoC, I, too have much to learn. And quite frankly, there is always more to learn in this field and I definitely learnt something new upon reading this book. Moreover, despite being marketed for a younger audience, I feel that this book is suitable for all ages. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Overall, this is a highly beneficial book, presenting important information regarding racism whilst also emphasising application in real-world scenarios.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Of The Blood | Review

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𝐓𝐢𝐭𝐥𝐞: Of The Blood

𝐀𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫: Cameo Renea

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: ★★☆☆☆

I’ll be honest, the cover sucked me right in. The characters look intriguing and deadly. And the premise is promising! However, upon reading this, I discovered this was going to be difficult to rate because whilst I can appreciate this book for what it is, it wasn’t for me.

 

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The Raven and The Dove| Review

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Title: The Raven and The Dove

Author: Kaitlyn Davis

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 

 

 

 

 

Told in a multiple third-person point-of-view, The Raven and The Dove is an intriguing tale of love, betrayal, and destiny. Following four characters, we witness this spectacular avian-inspired world unfurl through the eyes of a privileged yet caged Princess, an ambitious Prince, a scorned bastard, and the mysterious best friend.

The Raven and The Dove takes place in a floating kingdom far up in the open sky. The Royal Houses rule the isles with each house representing a different bird with different gods and culture. The story begins with the introduction of the courtship trials. The courtship trials is a significant event where the princess and princes of each House must win a partner.

At the dawn of the courtship trials, where the princess or prince must secure a… mate, we follow Lyana, the dove princess from the House of Peace. Upon discovering a shared secret, she then chooses the most unexpected person as her partner—the raven prince of House of Whispers. However, as secrets begin to unfurl, forbidden magic starts to manifest, and prophecies take place, there is so much more to come.

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It Sounded Better In My Head | Review

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Title: It Sounded Better In My Head

Author: Nina Kenwood

Publisher: Text Publishing

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: ★★★✬☆

 

 

Whenever I see an Australian author I just have to read their book (need to support a fellow Aussie). I love Aussie books and I admit I never read enough of them. And I’m glad I picked up this book.

In ‘It’s Sounded Better In My Head’, we follow the protagonist, Natalie, as she navigates through her life upon discovering that life isn’t going the way she imagined it to be. Her parents? Divorcing. Her two best friends? Dating. Herself? Awkward and sometimes the borderline third-wheeler.

 Things aren’t going quite as planned for Natalie.

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Children’s Fiction | Review

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Title: Why Do We Cry?

Author: Fran Pintadera

Illustrator: Ana Sender

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★★

 

 

Why do I love children fiction books? Well, there are many reasons. Usually, it comes down to a few points—the illustration is almost always beautiful and the I love how Why do I love children fiction books? Well, there are many reasons. Usually, it comes down to a few points—the illustration is almost always beautiful and I love how simple yet nuanced the words can be. (Also, I do read books to my nephew and am always on a lookout to read books to my niece).

In this book, Why Do We Cry? A mother and son explore various reasons why people cry. The accompanying art with each reason complements the emotion and explanation in a gorgeous manner. I also love how this book normalises crying and validates feelings—“it’s okay to cry if you feel like crying. It’s okay to cry if you’re happy/sad/etc.”

The illustrations are gorgeous and I just can’t get over how it. The only concern I have is that the font can be a little small in some scenes, thereby be a little difficult to differentiate between the background (perhaps have more contrast or maybe I just need glasses haha). Otherwise, this is definitely a book I’d recommend to families, teachers, and anyone, really.

I also liked how there was information on tears and crying at the end. Always love a good fun fact of the day.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Doctor Mouse

Author: Christa Kempter

Illustrator: Amelie Jackowski

Publisher: NorthSouth Books

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★☆☆

 

 

 

Doctor Mouse is a cute and simple story about friendship and helping others.
This is such an interesting take and I liked the sense of community and friendship and how the animals helped each other. Also, I find it humorous how Dr Mouse waits for every seat to be filled before starting.

The only concern I have is that some scenes may be a little wordy for the young ones but at least the artwork is captivating and beautiful each page. I loved the art—the illustrations are gorgeous.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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I Dream of a Journey

Author: Akiko Miyakoshi

Illustrator: Akiko Miyakoshi

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

 

 

Wow. Even as an adult I can empathise with the hotel keeper and his quiet wonder and yearning to explore the world. This is a simple story, yet it holds such a dreamy atmosphere.

I loved how the strong contrast of colours in the illustration—where at home, in his hotel, the colours are in greyscale yet closed-off and full of routine but out in the world, it’s full of colour and the scenes are open and free. Although this book has a bit of a melancholic feel to it, it’s also full of wonder and hope. I’d recommend having an adult read this book to a child.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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What Grew in Larry’s Garden

Author: Laura Alary

Illustrator: Kass Reich

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

A light-hearted read with stunning art. ‘What Grew in Larry’s Garden’ is inspired by the true story of a teacher and his tomato plant project. This is a heart-warming story focusing on patience, kindness, understanding, and staying positive. Furthermore, I just love how this book is not only about cultivating plants but relationships as well. One of my favourite aspect of this book was how Larry’s positive attitude of ‘We can figure this out’ influenced Grace in the end.

This was an adorable read and I’d highly recommend this.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.