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Finally! A Beautiful Black Fantasy Heroine Who Embraces Her Natural Beauty

August 1, 2015
ShadowshaperI couldn’t say this any better than Goodreads’ Fountain Pen Diva.  My BFF Jackie Johnson shared news of Daniel’s latest fantasy book with me because she absolutely loved it.  With Jackie being a writer (her latest book of poetry), my interest was really peaked so I looked Daniel up on Amazon and Goodreads.  Here’s an excerpt from the Fountain Pen Diva.  Her written review echoes Jackie’s verbal review. 
Sierra Santiago is one of those awesome heroines. She’s proudly and fiercely Afro-Latina with a gorgeous mane of fluffy fro and lots of teen attitude (I kept seeing the killer Esmeralda Spalding as Sierra). She’s an artist full of cultural pride despite the colorism that sadly is as much a part of Latino life as it is here in America and other places. I loved how Sierra put her color-struck aunt in check after making a disparaging comment about Robbie, a young Haitian artist, whom Sierra is digging on. And while she digs on Robbie, when it’s time for the mission, finding out exactly what shadowshaping is and how to use her powers, she’s not wasting time hung up on the guy. I really hate when authors do that to the heroine, and far too many YA authors are guilty of what I call “heroine hijacking”…
 Click here for the full review, and look for this book as a new additional to Ms. Marie’s Library this fall! View Daniel’s Youtube video of him talking to a literature class at Princeton University this pass April 2015, which is exactly 2 months before the June 2015 publication of Shadowshapers.

Daniel Jose Older is a NYC young adult author who has written Daniel José Older5 previous titles. This is Daniel’s first hardcover.  Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs regularly around New York and he facilitates workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at, on youtube and @djolder on twitter.  His blog is at

Jackie, Jason, & Kwame w/Dr. Bickmore at LSU YA Lit Conference

August 1, 2015
If you haven’t read Jackie Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming” or Jason Reynolds’ “When I Was the Greatest” or Virginia’s Own Kwame Alexander’s “Crossover,” then hurry up and get on the bandwagon!  All 3 authors won the highest awards available for children’s and young adult fiction from the American Library Association.  Jackie won the Coretta Scott King Award and the Newbery Honor for 2015, after winning the National Book Award.  Jason won the Coretta Scott King Honor Award, and Kwame took home the gold….the 2015 Newbery Award!  Dr. Bickmore (3rd from left, is the organizer of the Louisiana State University Young Adult Literature Conference.  I don’t know who grabbed who, but I’m glad they got the picture taken together at the conference last fall!  It’s amazing none of them knew what was in store for them….except Jackie of course who won the National Book Award for Children’s Books, which is awarded in the fall. 

Jason Reynold’s New Book “All American Boys” Review Coming Soon!

August 1, 2015

Jason is consciously committed to writing books that show “a broadly positive” yetauthentic “portrayal of black American men.” This is a priority not as prevalent many of today’s adolescent and YA writers, for although they are not avoiding a positive portrayal of the

When I Was the Greatest

black American male, their focus falls within other areas and deals with other issues that are just a vibrantly needed for our youth (such as  David Levithan, Cassandra Clare, and Hannah Moskowitz who consistently gives voice to the marginalization issues facing LGBTQ youth).

Jason Reynolds, whose first book “When I was the Greatest,” is the Coretta Scott King Honor awardee for 2015 and has Top Ten placement in several ALA connected and independent book lists for adolescent and young adult readers.   This book presents a view of

the black American urban male in a variety of spaces:  as a young adolescent in a single-parent working class household, as the friend of a neighbor whose need to identify with street cred is more important than

family/friend loyalty/brotherhood, as a young adolescent boy with Tourette’s syndrome who simply wants to be accepted by others for who he is, and as an estranged father in a lived world of homelessness yet capable of displaying a strength of character seldom seen in today’s media drenched videoed expressions of the urban black American male.

His second book, “The Boy in the Black Suit,” portrays the path a young boy travels to handle the death of his mother from cancer, and his third book coming out September 30 “All American Boy” has echoes of Kekla Magoon’s “How it Went Down,” due to the circumstances surrounding the death of a young urban black male and the way the book is organized to show all the points of view involved. Jason also has an autobiography out that he co-wrote with his college room-mate and Jason Griffin called “My Name is Jason. Mine Too. Our Story Our Way.”

First Encounters of an Illuminae Kind!

August 1, 2015
Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
So this past June I attended the ALA Annual and was walking down Howard Street in San Francisco and you won’t believe what was laying on sidewalk!!  Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff!  I literally stood in the middle of the sidewalk and stared dumbfoundedly.  Why?  Because I couldn’t believe someone dropped it and didn’t pick it back up!  OMG!  The publishers had ran out of copies and here it was grabbing at my ankles saying, “It’s about time you got here!  You don’t know how hard it is for a hardcover YA ARC to remained untouched at a convention of book crazed librarians!  Pick me up!  I belong in your school library’s STEM collection!” So I picked it up and low and behold,  it did!  A perfect book for readers in my library that geek on technology!

Filled with tech intrique, Illuminae’s main protagonists, Kady and Ezra, live in the year 2575 and are not talking to each other because they are exes, but now they need each other to hack into the databanks of their futuristic society in order to what else?!!! Save the world! There’s military files, medical files, email, IMs…and more that gets leaked in their efforts to untangle the web of deception that is causing chaos and death in their world, all presented in mixed formats that include dialogue, narrative, and graphic form! Male and female will both enjoy this book’s fast pace, ankle grabbing action.

Illuminae has an expected publication date of October 20, 2015 from Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Illuminae sneak peak

Amie KaufmanAmie Kaufman is a New York Times bestselling author and co-author of Illuminae, the first in a new series starting in 2015. She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and a considerable home library.  Visit her website at  

Jay KristoffJay Kristoff  is the other co-author of Illuminae. He has also authored 3 other books.  Jay also lives in Australia.  You can read more about Jay at his website

What if…You Put it Down, Flipped it and Reversed It?

March 6, 2015

Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay.  March 17, 2015.  Katherine Tegan Books.  hb $17.99. 329pp. 9780062295484.  Grades 7 and Up.

Is it worth it, let me work it
I put my thing down, flip it and reverse it21795576
– Missy Elliott’s “Work It”

…that’s all I kept hearing while reading this ARC.  The story, however has NOTHING to do with what Missy is talking about…it’s just the concept of “what if” for the main character that falls into the “flip it and reverse it mold”  and the grittiness is exactly the attitude needed in some instances that’s needed by our protagonist to pull through her issues….

  • What if Fiona never had an accident that scarred her for life?

flip it and reverse it…

  • What if the surgery never happened?

is it worth it?

  • What if someone heard my music?

let me work it…

  • What if…?
  • What if I’d never…?
  • What if I did…?

Told in alteranating POVs this contemporary fiction turns out to be a more mellow version of what the cover would lead you to believe.  This is definitely a Girls’ Read: a little humor, some tragedy, a huge pinch of self-esteem issues, the heart throb…and there you have it…

I will put this in my library for all my girls who love that romantic tear jerker in which life crashes down in the middle of “forever after.”  Coming out March 17, 2015.

headshot croppedMoriah McStay lives in Memphis, TN with her husband and 3 daughters.  This is her first novel.  She’s currently working on a second.

Another Day by David Levithan is Coming to a Shelf Near You Late Summer!

February 20, 2015

Levithan, David.  Another Day.  Knopf Books for Young Readers.  August 25, 2015.  $17.99hb, 300pp.  ISBN:  9780385756204.  Ages 12 Up.  OMG!  The companion to Levithan’s Every Day us coming this August and he’s telling Rhiannon’s side of the situation in Every Day!  Another Day

I can’t get a download from NetGalley yet but I’m chomping it to bits waiting!  Remember Rhi Rhi was the love interest of A who inhabits her BF Justin.  After A hits Justin’s body, there’s a totally different interaction between him and Rhi.  It’s not because of Justin.  It’s because of A, who knows all that’s going on between Justin and Rhi because A can download the memories…Remember?.  Justin is Mr. Hard Boy, Mr. Don’t-Hang-on-Me-It-You-Want-Me, and Mr. Don’t-Hold-Your-Breath. The day that A was inside Justin, Rhiannon’s relationship were almost at fairy tale proportions. The next day however Justin has no memory of what happened. Rhi’s reaction to this information turns to desparation and then depression until  a stranger walks up to her and informs her  that the Justin she spent that perfect day with, the one who made her feel like a fairy tale princess . . . wasn’t Justin at all.

You know Ms. Marie’s librarian is gonna get this book! Woot! Woot! Genius in our midst, Baby!

David Levithan
DAVID LEVITHAN is a children’s book editor in New York City and the author of several books for young adults, including Lambda Literary Award winner Two Boys Kissing; Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (co-authored with Rachel Cohn); Will Grayson, Will Grayson (co-authored with John Green); andEvery You, Every Me (with photographs from Jonathan Farmer). He lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Blog Tour!! Rebels by Accident”s Patricia Dunn is Here, today!

December 11, 2014

Meet Patricia Dunn and her new book “Rebels by Accident” which is has made a blog stop today at Brichi’s Lit Spot!

Take a Chance w/the raffle below to Win a Copy of this new book!  a Rafflecopter giveaway Vote for Rebels by Accident on the 2015 Teen Choice Book Awards!  It just made the long list! 

rebelsDunn, Patricia.  Rebels by Accident.  Sourcebooks. December 2, 2014.  320pp.  $9.99pb. 9781492601388.  Grades 7 & Up.   Miriam is 16 years old and the only Egyptian American at her school. Her best friend Deanna has a physical diability that prohibits her from smiling.  Both girls are teased and bullied.  Deanna, however is able to maneuver through the bullying  and is better equipped at defending herself.  In an attempt to fit in with the crowd, the girls decide to go to a party, but have to do it on the sneak.  When drugs are reported and the girls are arrested simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the girls are sent off the Miriam’s grandmother in Egypt for a cooling off period by her parents.  Unbeknownst to Miriam’s parents, they had just sent their daughter and her best friend into the midst of the most significant movement in modern day Egyptian society, the tumultuous uprisings of the Egyptian Spring protests in January of 2011! In a storyline that covers a mere five days, the girls literally experience the events of a lifetime.  Dunn, drawing on personal experience, truly knows what it is to be a teenager in the Islamic world. She has spent most of her adult life in Egypt and takes the reader on the ride of their life through the modern Egyptian malls,  past the ancient wonders, through romantic interludes, past issues of diversity and through the ups and downs of friendships.  Using Rebels, an originally self-published novel,  as the perfect literary object to help  teens deal with how to become a part of the changing world, Dinn chooses to handle this through the eyes of young Egygtian  Moslems who are struggling with the contradictions of today’s society.

I believe diversity is important in all literature, but especially in YA. I come from a small town called The Bronx. Everyone in my neighborhood was originally from Italy, but we, my family, were the “Americans” on the block. I grew up knowing that I was different, but it was from the stories I read, the books recommended to me by my school and public librarians, that I learned there was a whole world full of people who were “different,” and different was not bad, it was good, very good. – quote from I Am a Reader Blog’s  published interview of author  

                     Patricia Dunn, author of “Rebels by Accident.”

REBELS BY ACCIDENT can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in current and past events in the Middle East or anyone interested in reading a book about a teenager coming of age.  To win a free copy of Rebels by Accident, take a chance and enter a Rafflecopter giveaway !!!

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