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ARC Review: Operation Sisterhood by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich #newbookrelease

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Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Operation Sisterhood is out now!

Cover of "Operation Sisterhood" by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Fans of the Netflix reboot of The Babysitters Club will delight as four new sisters band together in the heart of New York City. Discover this jubilant novel about the difficulties of change, the loyalty of sisters, and the love of family from a prolific award-winning author.

Bo and her mom always had their own rhythm. But ever since they moved to Harlem, Bo’s world has fallen out of sync. She and Mum are now living with Mum’s boyfriend Bill, his daughter Sunday, the twins, Lili and Lee, the twins’ parents…along with a dog, two cats, a bearded dragon, a turtle, and chickens. All in one brownstone! With so many people squished together, Bo isn’t so sure there is room for her.

Set against the bursting energy of a New York City summer, award-winning author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich delivers a joyful novel about a new family that hits all the right notes!

 

REVIEW: Operation Sisterhood radiates the joy that can be found between sisters, in family, and in a community. It’s the kind of story I wish I had growing up.

The story takes place primarily in Harlem and the surrounding area. Bo is having a difficult time adjusting to her new family, living situation, and freeschooling without putting a damper on her mother’s happiness about their new life. She worries all these changes will cause her to lose her individuality.

It was interesting following the day-to-day of this new lifestyle Bo is now living in. It’s a warm, loving environment conducive to learning, responsibility, teamwork, self-reflection, and exploration. I love that they live with so many animals too, especially a bearded dragon who seems to enjoy wearing hats.

I love the sisterhood between Bo, Sunday, Lili and Lee. Each sister has a distinct personality and a passion. Bo is a drummer, super organized, and loves to cook. Sunday (Bo’s stepsister) loves to write, is quirky, and plays the keyboard. She tries so hard (sometimes too hard) to make Bo feel welcomed and a part of the family. I forget which twin (Lili and Lee) liked what but one is a huge animal lover while the other is a fashion designer. They also play an instrument (guitar and bass).

These new sisters are expressive, big-hearted, outgoing and enthusiastic. It was great seeing how they worked together to solve problems, make their parents happy, bring the community together, and support one another.

Operation Sisterhood was a good story with a vibrant cast of characters that I think readers will greatly enjoy. I also adore the cover art – I think it sums up the story perfectly.


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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ARC Review: Getting His Game Back by Gia de Cadenet

25 Days of Book Reviews logo.

DAY 1

Thank you to Dell and NetGalley for eARC to read and review! Getting His Game Back is set to be published January 25, 2022.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance, Mental Health
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Khalil Sarda went through a rough patch last year, but now he’s nearly back to his old self. All he has to do is keep his “stuff” in the past. Real men don’t have depression and go to therapy—or, at least they don’t admit it. He’s ready to focus on his growing chain of barbershops, take care of his beloved Detroit community, and get back to being the ladies’ man his family and friends tease him for being. It’ll be easy . . . until Vanessa throws him completely off his game.

Vanessa Noble is too busy building a multimillion-dollar tech career as a Black woman before age thirty to be distracted by a relationship. Not to mention, she’s been burned before, still dealing with the lingering hurt of a past breakup. Besides, as her friends often remind her, she’ll never find a man who checks all the boxes on her famous List. Yet when she desperately needs a shape-up and happens upon one of Khalil’s barbershops, the Fade, he makes her reconsider everything. Khalil is charming, intelligent, sexy, and definitely seems like he’d treat a woman right . . . but he’s not Black.

Vanessa may be willing to take a chance on Khalil, but a part of him is frustratingly closed off, just out of her reach. Will old patterns emerge to keep them apart? Or have they both finally found a connection worth throwing away the playbook for?

 

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My heart is so full of love for this story! Gia de Cadenet does a magnificent job weaving together the experiences of interracial relationships, men’s mental health, and women in STEM careers into a gripping, heartwarming story. Getting His Game Back is a must-read!

It took a while for me to get into the story. Lots of short scenes with huge time skips. I wasn’t sure if this story would be for me. But once things settled, I enjoyed every single page oh my goodness! A lot of that had to do with Khalil and Vanessa’s incredibly satisfying, slow burn romance.

Vanessa and Khalil are instantly drawn to each other when they first meet in Kahlil’s barber shop. They have such great chemistry and feel more at peace within each other’s company than in past relationships they’ve had. The past is an unshakable barrier that keeps them from taking chances on something that feels so right.

As a black woman in STEM, Vanessa faces adversity in her personal and professional life despite her many successes and equal capabilities (i.e., is CEO of her own business and known as the “App Goddess”). She’s reluctant to date white men because she and her grandma (adorable nicknamed Ma-Max, short for Maxine) have had bad experiences with interracial dating. Vanessa felt she’d been treated like an object, something to “try out” than as a real person because she was black. Dealing with the sting of backhanded, polite racism and sexism from colleagues and others who don’t take her seriously. Enter good-natured, big-hearted Khalil who she struggles to separate from those who’ve spurned her.

Khalil, who is half Algerian, has previously faced similar objectification but in a different way. Most notably during his college years. He attended an HBCU school (if I’m remembering correctly) where he was sometimes an outcast or other to experiment with because he was white. It took him a while to realize that and his mental health seeming to decline compounded those feelings of being less than a person and a man.

I appreciate the mental health rep in this book and how it deep dives into the stigma surrounding men’s mental health. The signs and symptoms of depression are depicted within raw, heartbreaking scenes where you can feel alongside Khalil his harsh self-loathing about not being good enough, not man enough. There’s no sugar-coating what Khalil is experiencing. And while some of these scenes may be to read (see content warning), it shines a bright light on the fact that mental health is nothing to be ashamed of and the importance of asking for help and having a support system.

There’s so much to love about Vanessa and Khalil as individuals and together. They are down-to-earth, hard-working, good people. Vanessa helps out with small businesses. Khalil’s barber shops operate in black communities. They support each other’s career and life goals in encouraging ways. They click in a way that’s so beautiful and inspiring, seeing each other for who they truly are as a person.

Getting Back In the Game was evocative, sweet, well-written, and relatable. I highly recommend adding this book to the top of your tbr list!

CW: depression, thoughts of suicide (see below for 24/7 resources)


24/7 Support That’s Here For You

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or harm to others, please seek help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line
www.crisistextline.org
US and Canada – Text HOME to 741741
United Kingdom – Text HOME to 85258
Ireland – Text HOME to 50808

National Alliance On Mental Illness
https://nami.org/Home
NAMI Helpline – Call 800-950-NAMI
Or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741

To Write Love On Her Arms
https://twloha.com/


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ARC Review: Carefree Black Girls: A Celebration of Black Women in Popular Culture by Zeba Blay

Light blue text that says "Book Review" over a stem of while orchids.

Thank you St. Martin’s Griffin and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Carefree Black Girls is set to be released October 19, 2021.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Nonfiction, Essays
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: An empowering and celebratory portrait of Black women—from Josephine Baker to Aunt Viv to Cardi B.

In 2013, film and culture critic Zeba Blay was one of the first people to coin the viral term #carefreeblackgirls on Twitter. As she says, it was “a way to carve out a space of celebration and freedom for Black women online.”

In this collection of essays, Carefree Black Girls, Blay expands on this initial idea by delving into the work and lasting achievements of influential Black women in American culture–writers, artists, actresses, dancers, hip-hop stars–whose contributions often come in the face of bigotry, misogyny, and stereotypes. Blay celebrates the strength and fortitude of these Black women, while also examining the many stereotypes and rigid identities that have clung to them. In writing that is both luminous and sharp, expansive and intimate, Blay seeks a path forward to a culture and society in which Black women and their art are appreciated and celebrated.

 

My Review: Nonfiction is a genre way outside my comfort zone. Essays I am familiar with, but pop culture…uh, not so much.

I’ve never reviewed a collection of essays before so bear with me while I try to compile my thoughts into something organized and coherent.

Carefree Black Girls is comprised of an introduction and 8 essays:

  • Body: The historical perception and misuse of Black women’s bodies and its negative, harmful impact.
  • She’s A Freak: The regulation of Black women’s bodies and their sexuality. The backlash over any agency exerted that goes against those regulations.
    Man, This Shit Is Draining: Black women don’t have the freedom to express their anger with repercussions compared to others who do the same or worse.
  • Extra Black: Colorism and its correlation to beauty, desirability, and marketability of lighter skin tones versus darker skin tones, such as in Hollywood castings.
  • #Cardibissoproblematic: The author’s feelings about Cardi B, her fame, her place in pop culture, her words and actions, and her feud with Nicki Minaj.
  • Girlhood: The images of Black women that left an impression on the author growing up versus what she knows now of the realities those images represented. The author’s feelings of recognition towards Mel B and how Mel B navigated spaces not meant for people like her.
  • Strong Black Lead: Black women and mental health as well as the author’s struggles with her own mental health. (CW: anxiety, depression, suicide – 24/7 resources below)
  • Free of Cares: What does it mean for Black women to be carefree? and the concept of freedom.

These were very well-written essays with enviable poise, details, structure, clarity, and sureness that I wish I’d had even a speck of whenever I had to write essays in school. Each essay focused on an idea that was heavily reinforced by a ton of source material – interviews, books, essays, artwork, movies, songs lyrics, tweets, Instagram stories, speeches, and so much more. Even when I didn’t know what the author was referencing – like with some Twitter happenings or much of the Cardi B essay – I could still more or less grasp the point she was trying to make. She makes a lot of compelling arguments and states the sad but real truths that tend to be ignored, glossed over or outright dismissed.

Carefree Black Girls is raw and thought-provoking. It discussed truths about the struggles and hardships Black women are still subjected. I liked how the author wove in her own experiences – as hard as some of those still are to talk about – to illustrate her points. Not always as the 100% proof but as personal examples and perspective of how she came to certain conclusions.

The book is very engaging. I felt various emotions while reading it. For me, there were several moments of retrospection and introspection. Parts of others I saw myself in. But there also were a few parts I wasn’t too sure about or disagreed with to varying degrees.

Carefree Black Girls had a solid structure, was vividly detailed, and had a strong voice. The topics were relevant to the past, present, and future of our world and who we are as people. Overall, a good read.


24/7 Support That’s Here For You

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Crisis Text Line
www.crisistextline.org
US and Canada – Text HOME to 741741
United Kingdom – Text HOME to 85258
Ireland – Text HOME to 50808

National Alliance On Mental Illness
https://nami.org/Home
NAMI Helpline – Call 800-950-NAMI
Or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741


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ARC Review: Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance by Nisha Sharma

Thank you to Crown Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance is out now.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Radha is on the verge of becoming one of the greatest kathak dancers in the world . . . until a family betrayal costs her the biggest competition of her life. Now she has left her Chicago home behind to follow her stage mom to New Jersey. At the Princeton Academy of the Arts, Radha is determined to leave performing in her past and reinvent herself from scratch.

Jai is captain of the Bollywood Beats dance team, ranked first in his class, and is an overachiever with no college plans. Tight family funds means medical school is a pipe dream, which is why he wants to make the most out of high school. When Radha enters his life, he realizes she’s the exact ingredient he needs for a show-stopping senior year.

With careful choreography, both Radha and Jai will need to face their fears (and their families) if they want a taste of a happily ever after.

 

My Review: What a pleasant surprise this book was! I really enjoyed reading Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance. Delightful and delicious, this story swept me off my feet.

Radha is a very talented young Kathak dancer who has unfortunately lost her “dance joy” after family secrets and self-doubt turns her world upside down. She struggles to rediscover herself and find what truly makes her as happy as dance used to. Her character development was really good. I found Radha to be super relatable. Some of my favorite scenes were whenever she immersed herself in dance.

Jai is also a very relatable character and a joy to get to know. He’s very smart and clearly has a bright future ahead of him, but he refuses to take that leap out of a sense of family obligation. Jai is more concerned with the happiness of his teams and family that he forgets (dismisses) his own personal desires: med school. I love his sense of duty to his family and family by choice. However, I wanted to hug and yell at him all at once. I also liked how his storyline developed and interwove with Radha’s.

There is much to love about this book. The family dynamics were so well written. I liked learning more about Indian culture, especially through food and dance. What a great idea it was for the author to include a list of ingredients and some notes of the recipes Radha is learning throughout the story. The dance aspect was a lot of fun and Radha and Jai’s super sweet relationship. I really wish there was a video of Bollywood Beats’ winter showcase performance!

Radha & Jai’s Recipe for Romance was a great YA read. It really delved deep in relatable topics like self-esteem, senior year, facing one’s fears, and standing up for yourself (especially to one’s family, which can be really difficult to do). And the cover art is just so lovely! I would highly recommend this page-turning novel.


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Stacking the Shelves: POC Picture Books Edition – 8/21/20

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly haul meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews & Reading Reality. You share all the wonderful new books you’ve added to your shelves (physical, ebooks, galleys, library, audio).

Royalty Free Image via Pixabay

Happy Friday, Bookworms!

I’ve recently been looking for children’s picture books by POC authors and/or had POC characters to add to my tbr. I found a lot of great sounding books and wanted to share them on my next Stacking the Shelves post.

I meant to share this list last weekend but I had other posts planned/prioritized. I’m happy to share all these picture books with you all.

All Are Welcome
by Alexandra Penfold, Illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman

Antiracist Baby Picture Book
by Ibram X. Kendi, Illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky

The Day You Begin
by Jacqueline Woodson, Illustrated by Rafael López


Say Something by Peter H. Reynolds

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

You Matter by Christian Robinson

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow,
Illustrated by Ebony Glenn


Just Like Me
by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne
by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Illustrated by John Parra

We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom, Illustrated by Michaela Goade


I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown,
with Jason “Rachel” Brown, Illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Cool Cuts
by Mechal Renee Roe

For Beautiful Black Boys Who Believe in a Better World
by Michael W. Waters, Illustrated by Keisha Morris

Pink Is For Boys
by Robb Pearlman, Illustrated by Eda Kaban

What books have you recently added to your tbr that you are most looking forward to reading?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Have a relaxing weekend!

As Always, Happy Reading!!!

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