Rummanah Aasi

Description: Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!
  Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?


Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker is a charming graphic novel that focuses on self acceptance, identity, and fashion set in Paris, France. The story revolves around a lowly dressmaker named Frances who has a unique vision of fashion. After creating a scandalous dress as the devil's wench for a much delighted rebellious teenager, she catches the eye of a mysterious wealthy benefactor, for whom she is hired to work exclusively. Frances is stunned to find that her patron is the Prince Sebastian, who is secretly loves to wear gowns and crossdress at night. Frances encourages Sebastian to be himself, and together the two create Lady Crystallia, the most fabulous fashion icon Paris has ever seen. 
  Both Frances and Sebastian struggle to understand themselves and to embrace their identities. There's a hint of romance between Frances and Sebastian, but the emphasis is on their friendship. Unfortunately the book doesn't explore Sebastian's sexual or gender identity, which I had hoped but it does focus on the message of self-acceptance. The full-color artwork is gorgeous, featuring a variety of over-the-top dresses that highlight fashion trends and France's incredible creations. Though the ending is too romantic and idealized, it will warm reader's hearts. I look forward to reading more by Jen Wang.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some subtle crude humor in the book. Recommended for Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O'Neill
Rummanah Aasi

Description: Everyone has a story . . . but will they get the happy ending they deserve? Emilia has just returned to her idyllic Cotswold hometown to rescue the family business. Nightingale Books is a dream come true for book-lovers, but the best stories aren't just within the pages of the books she sells - Emilia's customers have their own tales to tell.
 There's the lady of the manor who is hiding a secret close to her heart; the single dad looking for books to share with his son but who isn't quite what he seems; and the desperately shy chef trying to find the courage to talk to her crush . . . And as for Emilia's story, can she keep the promise she made to her father and save Nightingale Books?


Review: How to Find Love in a Book Shop had the perfect premise for fans of book lovers and love stories. I was really looking forward to picking this one up as a cozy read during the winter months. Unfortunately, I wish I loved this book more than I did. The book had the perfect premise and set up, but its execution felt choppy and I failed to connect to the large cast of characters.
  Emilia Nightingale is called back to her hometown of Peasebrook in Cotswold, England, where her father, Julius, is dying. After his death, she is determined to keep his beloved shop, Nightingale Books, open and thriving. Due to the lack of tracking finances and steep debt, Nightingale Books is on its last legs. Waiting in the wings is a developer ready to snap up the property if Emilia would give him an opening. As she struggles with her grief and to make sense of what her father left her, Emilia finds help from the townspeople. Julius was a beloved figure in the community, and many of the locals' lives are entwined with the fate and fortunes of the bookstore.
  How to Find Love in a Book Shop is a slice of life book where we get segments of different characters' lives as they visit Nightingale Books and have multiple happy endings. The author jumps too quickly between the large cast of characters that we don't fully get to see their love stories play out and their happy endings are anticlimactic. There were a few supporting characters that I did love such as the shy chef and the adorable fromager, the second chance love story of the single dad, and lastly the soon to be bride who was going to marry the wrong guy. The very fact that I can't recall any of these characters' names is a testament to how the story was unmemorable. It also annoyed me that there is no diversity in the book. All of the romances are those of heterosexuals and none of the characters are people of color. Overall, this was an okay read to past the time but the not of the top books that I read that featured a bookstore.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language, allusion to drug usage, and fade to black sex scenes. Recommended for older teens and adults.


If you like this book try: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin, The Bookshop Around the Corner by Jenny Colgan, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
Rummanah Aasi

Description: At sixteen, Mina's mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.
   Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.


Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a feminist fairy tale that borrows elements of Snow White and the Snow Queen stories to create a genuinely new tale that celebrates women claiming their own strengths and helping each other instead of tearing them apart. The story is told from two points of views into two alternating timelines that ultimately converge at the book's climax. 
  In the present story line, Lynet has grown up in the shadow of her mother, Emilia, who died during child birth. She is an exact physical replica of her mother and has been sheltered by her over protective father. Lynet is burdened by her father's expectations that she emulate the mother she's never known and become the rightful Queen of the Southern Territories; instead, she idolizes her stepmother, Mina, who's always treated Lynet with tenderness and has no aspirations to be queen at all.
  In the past story line, we follow Mina as a girl who is desperate to find love and affection from her domineering and wicked father Gregory, only to be told that she is incapable to love and have anyone love her. She welds her beauty as power and makes her way to the court of the Southern Territories. When the king dies, only one can claim the throne and the other must die.
  Through Lynet's and Mina's perspectives, we see how these two women share many similarities though their motives maybe entirely different. Lynet and Mina are three dimensional, flawed characters. Lynet is passive and has accepted her fate of following her father's life plan for her until she stops to asks herself of what she wants. It takes her a long time to identify her strengths and to view the throne as something else besides a ball and a chain. Unlike Lynet, Mina already knows her strengths but she has to learn self-love and acceptance. There were many times Mina that teetered off the cliff of being a villain that we all recognize as the evil queen, but her self awareness and conscious has always saved her. What I found exceptional and refreshing is that both women genuinely care and admire each other.
 The pacing of the story is slow burning that matches well with the character development and might deter some readers, but the characters are so worth it. Their epiphanies take time to occur as the characters stumble many times until they reach the satisfying and revolutionary conclusion. Magic is used in the right amounts in the story and their were times that I wished it was explained a bit more clearly. There is some romance subplots for each women, but the main focus of the story is the relationship between Lynet and Mina. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is a character driven fairy tale that refuses to use common tropes and is filled with magic, adventure, and self discovery. 

 Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution:

If you like this book try: Hunted by Megan Spooner, The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Rummanah Aasi
I have been looking forward to this morning and anxiously awaiting the announcement of several Children and Young Adult book awards. There were so many great books that were published last year and I don't envy the award committee to narrow their choices to just a few. The Young Media Awards are like the Oscars for me. It's one of my favorite times of the year. I usually discover new titles that I fall in love with and book talk to my students. The awards took place at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting at Denver, Colorado. Although there are many awards honored today, I was looking forward to finding out the winners for the CaldecottNewberyMorris, and of course the Michael L. Printz Award. You can find the other winners on the Association for Library Services to Children website and the Young Adult Library Services website (YALSA).

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of  Randolph Caldecott, who was a nineteenth-century English illustrator. The award is given annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Winner of the 2018 Caldecott Medal is: 







Honorees of the 2018 Caldecott are:


Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes
A Different Pond by Bao Phi
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin



The Newbery Medal was named in the honor of John Newbery, who was an eighteenth-century British bookseller. Like the Caldecott, it is also awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.


Winner of the 2018 Newbery Medal is: 





Honorees of the 2018 Newbery are:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes


The William C. Morris YA Debut Award was first awarded in 2009 by YALSA. The award is given to a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

Winner of the 2018 Morris Award is: 



Honorees of the 2018 Morris Award are:

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Devils Within by S.F. Henson
Dear Martin by Nic Stone



 The Michael L. Printz Award was named in the honor of Michael L. Printz, a school librarian in Topeka, Kansas, who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The Michael L. Printz Award is an award given annually by the Young Adult Library Services Association to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.

Winner of the 2018 Michael Printz Award is: 










Honorees of the 2018 Printz Award are:

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman

 Congratulations to all of today's winners! The library associations have spoken. What do you think of these book awards? Will you read the books that have won and have been honored? Did any of the award-winning books surprise you? I know I was taken aback by the Newbery Honorees and the Printz Winner. 
Rummanah Aasi
  I read and absolutely loved Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier when I was a freshman in high school. It was the first book my school librarian recommended to me when I was looking for a book to capture my attention. Rebecca was my first foray into the romantic suspense genre and a book which I measured all other books in that genre. Du Maurier downplays the romance but takes a closer look into the human psyche. My Cousin Rachel does the same and the ending will leave you reeling.


Description: Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent older cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in Philip as his heir, a man who will love his grand home as much as he does himself. But the cosy world the two construct is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries - and there he dies suddenly. Jealous of his marriage, racked by suspicion at the hints in Ambrose's letters, and grief-stricken by his death, Philip prepares to meet his cousin's widow with hatred in his heart. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, sophisticated, mysterious Rachel like a moth to the flame. And yet... might she have had a hand in Ambrose's death?

Review: My Cousin Rachel is the story of obsession, independence, sexuality, and guilt. The story is seen through the eyes of a young gentleman named Philip who is grieving over the loss of his cousin and father figure named Ambrose. Shortly before his death, Ambrose married the notorious and so-called black widow Rachel. Ambrose has completely smitten by Rachel though his health quickly deteriorated and died. There is some speculation that Rachel may be responsible for Ambrose death as she mysteriously leaves a trail of dead men behind her. Now Rachel goes to Cornwall to return the belonging of Ambrose to Philip. Philip has decided to hate Rachel and wants nothing to do with her at all, but when these two characters meet Philip begins to change his mind.
 Rachel is unlike any woman that Philip has seen. She does not restrict herself to the social mores that surround her and has had male companions. She is extremely intelligent, refined, and very far from the damsel in distress that people expect her to be because she is a widow. Rachel does not appear to be concerned with money though financial security appears rather quickly for her. As Philip tries to understand Rachel, he falls in love with her and becomes obsessed. His inexperience and immaturity is clear, but are his actions his own or is he being influenced? Is Rachel evil or not? These are the central questions that come into play when Philip's large inheritance comes into question.
 There are many ways you can analyze My Cousin Rachel, which is the main reason why I really enjoyed this book. The story slowly reaches a climax as we get pieces of both Philip and Rachel's back stories. The ending is a shocker and open ended, which might annoy some readers who like clear cut resolutions but it also lends itself to discussion. Definitely pick this up if you enjoy romantic suspense with Gothic undertones. The recent movie adaptation featuring Rachel Weisz and Sam Clafin is quite good and worth watching.  

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some disturbing images but nothing too graphic. Recommended to older teen readers and adults.

If you like this book try: Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield or The English Wife by Lauren Willig,
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