Rummanah Aasi


 I would like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a safe and wonderful holiday full of food, family, and friends. I will be taking a blogging break this week and will returned to normal scheduling the following week.
Rummanah Aasi
Description: Years ago, Flora fled the quiet Scottish island where she grew up -- and she hasn't looked back. What would she have done on Mure? It's a place where everyone has known her all her life, where no one will let her forget the past. In bright, bustling London, she can be anonymous, ambitious... and hopelessly in love with her boss.
 But when fate brings Flora back to the island, she's suddenly swept once more into life with her brothers -- all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework -- and her father. Yet even amid the chaos of their reunion, Flora discovers a passion for cooking -- and find herself restoring dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour: a café by the sea. But with the seasons changing, Flora must come to terms with past mistakes -- and work out exactly where her future lies...


Review: Flora dreamed of escaping her life as a farmer's daughter in a small village on Mure Island, a wish her mother supported and encouraged. When her mother died and her family needed her the most, she left mom and burnt all of her bridges.
  Three years later, Flora is working as a paralegal for a prestigious law firm in London. She should be having the time of her life, but her job is anything but exciting (unless you think filing to be an engaging activity), majority of her coworkers are unfriendly and don't understand her. She is also secretly harboring a gigantic crush on her boss, Joel, a handsome, cold, and aloof man who treats everyone with disdain.
  When Joel takes on a new client who wants to build a resort on Mure Island, Flora is immediately hired and sent to home to try and bring the locals on board. Of course Flora is reluctant to return and doesn't want to confront her past, her bitter family, and most of all her grief. After discovering her mother's journal, a hand written recipe book, she starts cooking and in doing so begins to heal the wounds of the past. 

 I always love the journey that the heroines of Jenny Colgan's books go on and the Cafe by the Sea is no exception. I did, however, had a time getting into this book unlike her previous ones. It took me some time to warm up to Flora mainly because she felt too whiny at first, but once she returns to Mure I began to see her in a new light. I loved her family's dynamic, particularly her relationship with the mercurial brother Fintan, which is the book's strongest asset. 
  The romance, however, fell completely flat for me. There are two contenders for Flora's heart though by the reading the book's synopsis you know who she will be with in the end.  I was not a big fan of Joel though I wanted to know more about his past. His character developed felt rushed one dimensional. I also felt his sudden epiphany of Flora was too insta-love for me. The second 'contender' was the warm Charlie who also was underdeveloped and very much felt like a third/fourth choice. I guess the real romance is between Flora and her home at Mure, where she finally found a place where people understood her and she found her calling with making food and helping people. Pick this up if you are looking for a read where family, food, and culture play a larger role than the romance.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, crude sexual humor and innuendo, and fade to black sex scenes. Recommended for adults and mature teens. 

If you like this book try: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophia Kinsella, The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
Rummanah Aasi
Description: Some people think pink is a pretty color. A fluffy, sparkly, princess-y color. But it's so much more. Sure, pink is the color of princesses and bubblegum, but it's also the color of monster slugs and poisonous insects. Not to mention ultra-intelligent dolphins, naked mole rats and bizarre, bloated blobfish. Isn't it about time to rethink pink?

Review: Pink is for Blobfish is the perfect nonfiction pick for younger readers. They will be drawn to this book because it is weird and gross. Each creature is given a two-page spread with a  full-color, close-up photo of the creature with an approachable paragraph describing some of its key features, a fascinating fact, and basic features. There are many animals that I had never heard of before I read this book. I also enjoyed the author's comical voice throughout the book too. If you are struggling to get to younger readers to read nonfiction books, I would highly recommend this one.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 1 and up.

If you like this book try: Glow: Animals with their own night-lights by W.H. Beck


Description: Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom.

Review: Trombone Shorty is an energetic and lively picture book autobiography of a contemporary multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Troy Andrews. The picture book is also a love story to Andrews' early years growing up in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans. Andrews yearned to become a musician like those in his family and the artists he saw perform all over New Orleans. He was so passionate about his dream that he and his friends made their own instruments out of recycled materials, played in the streets, and marched with bands. When one day he found a battered, discarded trombone bigger than he was, Andrews finally had a real instrument to play, and he practiced day and night, acquiring the nickname Trombone Shorty from his older brother. Trombone's defining moment was the time the great Bo Diddley pulled Andrews on stage to play with him during the New Orleans jazz festival. Collier's illustrations are incredible and using a variety of materials from watercolor, pen and ink, and collage artwork to complement the book's motion and rhythm of Trombone's music. Each spread offers a visual panoply of texture, perspective, and angles, highlighting the people and the instruments. While Andrews's continue to play, he will gain new admirers after reading this book.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 1 and up.

If you like this book try: Louis Armstrong: A King of Jazz by Pat McKissack, Before John was a Jazz Giant: a song of John Coltrane by Carole Boston Weatherford


Description: What do you do when you see a spider?

a. Lay on a BIG spidey smoocheroo.

b. Smile, but back away slowly.

c. Grab the closest object, wind up, and let it fly.

d. Run away screaming.


If you chose b, c, or d, then this book is for you! (If you chose a, you might be crazy.)

I’m Trying to Love Spiders will help you see these amazing arachnids in a whole new light, from their awesomely excessive eight eyes, to the seventy-five pounds of bugs a spider can eat in a single year! And you’re sure to feel better knowing you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider. Comforting, right? No? Either way, there’s heaps more information in here to help you forget your fears . . . or at least laugh a lot!

Review: In this informative and amusing book the author is trying to overcome her arachnophobia with detailing accurate information about a wide variety of spiders from their various anatomy and capabilities in a humorous tone. I didn't mind that this book wasn't overly filled with facts, but I did like how it was presented in a scrapbook fashion with cartoon drawings, scrawls, and random lettering. Occasionally there are black splotches for when the author's phobia gets to her despite her good intentions of wanting to like spiders. Any book that manages to be entertaining while being informative is a winner for me.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades K-2.

If you like this book try: Disgusting Creatures by Elise Gravel
Rummanah Aasi
Description: Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.  Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.
 Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.


Review: In Nic Stone's ambitious and timely debut novel, Dear Martin, the reader is placed in the shoes of an African American boy confronting racial inequality and establishing his own identity in our world. Dear Martin is a coming of age novel that feels more like a series of vignettes. Stone presents several hard hitting topics ranging from affirmative action, identifying masculine identity within the African American culture, and also tackling racial stereotypes of African Americans in different episodes of Justyce's life and provides no easy answers.    Justyce is an African American teen caught between two worlds. He is too 'white' for his black friends. His private school education, honor roll GPA, outstanding test scores set Justyce apart. To his white friends, Justyce is an outlier and despite his academic success from his own hard work, some of his classmates believe his race gets an unfair advantage over them. Through a series of journal entries, Justyce attempts to figure out his place in the world by exploring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. Stone goes a great job in depicting what it means to be an African American male in today's time. She explores privilege and race relations while also tackling the 'thug' representation and the victims of social injustice. The story's climax comes when a violent altercation between a retired white police officer and his best friend that puts Justyce in the spotlight.
  Dear Martin is a slim book that is well written and fast paced without sacrificing depth which makes it a great read for both reluctant and advanced readers. While the book offers a lot of different paths Justyce can take to become a man, there is a serious absence of the voice of African American women in this story. I wished Justyce's mother and his girlfriend were as three dimensional as the male characters. Overall Dear Martin is a powerful read that will make you think long after you finished it. 

Rating: 4 stars


Words of Caution: There is some strong language, including racial slurs, underage drinking and drug use in the book. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Rummanah Aasi
Description: A new Iron Age begins! From the violent streets of Chicago, an armored hero rises! Clad in her own Iron Man suit, Riri Williams is ready to show the world what she can do as the self-made hero of tomorrow. Her technology just might change the world forever — if she survives that long! But is she ready for all the problems that come with stepping into Iron Man’s jet boots? Problems like her first big villain. And the other guy running around as shell-head. And the laundry list of criminals looking to destroy Tony Stark’s legacy. Oh, and all the super-teams out to recruit her! As Riri’s adventures go viral, it’s time to claim an alter ego of her own — welcome to the Marvel Universe, Ironheart!

Review: I have mixed feelings for Ironheart. I enjoyed reading it and was thoroughly entertained but I still wanted more. Ironheart continues the trend of having diverse characters in the Marvel Universe. Riri Williams is an incredibly intelligent, funny heroine who is from the South Side of Chicago. I loved her spunk and personality though I felt her origin story wasn't strong enough and that's mainly due to Riri's lack of page time in the comic. We don't see much of Riri as a regular teen before she is Ironheart. Bendis uses the old comic trope of a violent incident sparking the hero, or in this case, the heroine to become a superhero. Riri's stepfather and her best friend are killed in a drive-by shooting. While the murderers are harrowing, it didn't make sense to me as to why Riri would be more devastated by losing her best friend rather than her stepfather and again I think this due to the lack of development of these relationships with Riri. I would have also liked more scenes with Riri and her mother.
  The graphic novel's structure also felt disjointed. There were many flashbacks woven into the story that did not transition well into the overall story arc. I also felt some of the flashbacks were unnecessary. I haven't been keeping up with the Marvel Universe via graphic novels so I'm not sure where Ironheart is located on the world's timeline but in this graphic novel Tony Start is dead though his hologram which he programed himself is very much alive. I wasn't quite sure how this hologram worked since he felt more human. Despite playing the role of a mentor, Tony took over the graphic novel leaving Riri to play the supporting character.
 Despite these flaws in Ironheart, I thought the artwork in the graphic novel were excellent. The great drawings and color make the graphic novel pop and so eye catching. I was also pleasantly surprised by Pepper Potts having a stronger role rather than just being Stark's love interest and coworker. I would have loved to see more of her in the graphic novel. Overall Ironheart was an entertaining graphic novel but my expectations for it were much higher.


Rating: 3 stars


Words of Caution: There is some language and PG-13 violence in the graphic novel. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.


If you like this book try: Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spiderman collection by Brian Michael Bendis
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