Dragons and Tea Book Club: May Book Announcement!

IMG_4865

Hi, friends! I hope you are all having a lovely reading month so far! We are so excited to announce our next book club pick for May. This one has been on our radar for a long time now, and we are hope we all fall in love with this one, too!


Our May book will be:

DRAGON PEARL by Yoon Ha Lee

34966859

The Dates & Breakdown:

May 13th — Page 1 – 64 (Ch. 1 – 7)

May 14th — Page 65 – 124 (Ch. 8 – 14)

May 15th — Page 125 – 183 (Ch. 15 – 22)

May 16th — Page 184 – 242 (Ch. 23 – 28)

May 17th — Page 243 – End (Ch. 29 – 38)

Why we chose this book:

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and Melanie and I really wanted to focus on an Asian-American, ownvoices author! Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl is a middle grade sci fi-fantasy book about a girl who comes from a shape-shifting family and can use what is called “fox-magic.” There’s going to be space adventures but I also think there will be some strong themes about family!

I would like to share part of the book synopsis because it just sounds SO GOOD:

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.


Don’t forget to join our Goodreads Group!

And we will also follow discussions/your reading journey on Twitter and Instagram using the (hashtag) #DragonsAndTeaBookClub!


See you then! ❤

🐉☕ Melanie: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
🐉☕ Amy: Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads

8F0A4341

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

36482829

fivestars

Title: Aquicorn Cove

Author: Katie O’Neill

Pages: 96

Genre: Children’s, middle grade, graphic novel, fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

Earlier in 2018 I had the pleasure of reading Katie O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society. I adored the illustrations and important messages so much, and Aquicorn Cove was just as amazing.

This illustrated story is about a girl named Lana. She and her father go back to their seaside village to help clean up after a storm. They meet with Lana’s aunt, Mae, who is highly respected in sustaining the community with fish. Lana also finds an injured aquicorn (they’re seahorse-like creatures) and she helps care for it while also learning from Mae the history behind the mystical sea colony.

Right away we learn that Lana lost her mother, and this book does a beautiful job at addressing grief and depression. Lana, through flashbacks, talks about how lost and sad she felt, and how she needed help to get through some days. I really appreciated how these feelings were brought up not just for Lana, but for Mae as well. Lana’s mom was Mae’s sister, and it was interesting to not only see the grief from Lana’s perspective but from Mae as well.

“Everything has a use. Sometimes beautiful things are made through necessity.”

However the focal point of this book is about environmental sustainability and conservation. It addresses important topics such as climate change, pollution, and over-fishing; that we cannot take more than we can give. And how even if we are just one person or a small community, there are still things we can do to help preserve our future.

I’m truly amazed how much good was condensed into this short graphic novel and all the powerful messages it contains. There’s a beautiful f/f romance, diverse characters, and a wonderful sense of community coming together during dire times (natural disaster clean up). I really feel like this book is so essential for younger generations and I am already looking forward to Katie O’Neill’s next book!

fivestars

xx,

Amy

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

10770869168_8F0A1300

fourstars

Title: Small Spaces

Author: Katherine Arden

Pages: 256

Genre: Middle grade, paranormal, horror, fantasy

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

I truly appreciate Katherine Arden so much as a writer. She paints such perfect pictures and makes you feel like you’re right there. I was first introduced to her writing when I read The Bear and the Nightingale, and while these two stories are geared toward different age groups, Arden once again brought us all the the spooky, dark vibes.

Small Spaces follows Ollie, a sixth-grader from Vermont who is recovering from the death of her mom. She’s depressed and tends to isolate herself from friends and her father. One day she comes across a woman crying. The woman is holding a book called Small Spaces, and she wants to throw it into the creek. Ollie believes books shouldn’t be thrown away so she takes it. The following day she and her classmates go on a field trip to a farm, and Ollie begins to notice strange similarities between the farm and the spooky contents in the book. Ollie and her two classmates, Brian and Coco, now have to work together to figure out how to escape the woods and save their friends.

Small Spaces is such a perfect read for Halloween. I think even if you’re an adult you’ll still love the haunted setting and atmospheric writing. I can’t really gauge the “creep factor” for children, but I think if I had to rate it on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the scariest) I’d probably give it 3.5. While I didn’t find it to be scary I can see this perhaps freaking out young readers since there are some creepy scenes that involve ghosts, dark woods, and being chased.

But aside from the horror plot line, there were so many wonderful themes I appreciated. This story beautifully showcases the importance of friendship and teamwork. It’s about standing up for someone and caring for them in dire times. It’s about facing your fears while also coming to terms with loss and healing emotionally.

Arden also includes some of the best characters. Coco reminded me a lot of Luna Lovegood, how she dances to beat of her own drum and doesn’t care what others think. And Brian is a sporty “jock” from Jamaica who isn’t afraid to step up to help others. While this book does have some bullying I love how Arden addresses stereotypes and shows us how these children handle it.

Overall this book was such a treat to read and I really hope we see more middle grade books from Katherine Arden. I am so happy I read this in the Fall. ❤

Content/trigger warning: Loss of a parent, minor bullying, depression.

fourstars

xx,

Amy

 

 

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

fivestars

Title: The Tea Dragon Society

Author: Katie O’Neill

Pages: 72

Genre: Middle grade, graphic novel, fantasy

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

I first learned about this adorable middle grade graphic novel from Melanie. After catching a few glimpse of the pages I knew I had to read it. And I am so glad I did. This graphic novel is so cute and had me grinning from ear to ear.

This book follows Greta, a blacksmith apprentice who comes from a long line of blacksmiths. Her mother is her teacher, but she also teaches Greta that while blacksmithing may not be a popular occupation anymore, it is a tradition and art form that should not be lost. One day Greta finds a lost tea dragon and she returns it to its rightful owner, Hesekiel. From there Greta befriends Hesekiel and his husband, Erik, and a prophetess named Minette who has trouble remembering things.

Hesekiel explains to Greta the importance of tea dragons and how rare they are. Tea dragons grow tea leaves on their horns or antlers, and you can use those leaves to brew tea. Drinking the tea allows you to see a person’s memories. There used to be a time when tea dragons and their owners were part of a society, but sadly over the years, the society dissolved. However with Greta and Minette helping out, the future of the tea dragon society looks promising.

I totally didn’t expect to feel all the feels when reading this graphic novel. And the fact that Katie O’Neill could make me teary-eyed in just 72 pages means something. I loved seeing how Hesekiel and Erik met, and how much they cherish each other. But I also loved the friendships, LGBTQIAP+ main characters, disability rep (Erik is in a wheel chair), found family, and the importance of traditions this book highlights. All of the characters are also people of color. There is just so much good in this book, and the art is quite possibly the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen.

fivestars

xx,

Amy

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab: Non-Spoiler Review

7518814848_8F0A2573

ARC borrowed from my friend Mary at Fox & Wit

fourstars

Book: City of Ghosts

Author: Victoria Schwab

Pages: 272

Genre: Middle grade, paranormal, fantasy

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassidy Blake’s parents are The Inspectres, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspectres head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn’t sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn’t belong in her world. Cassidy’s powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself.

It’s safe to say I am a huge fan of Victoria Schwab. She can write adult, YA, and middle grade fiction and I’d be the first in line to buy them all.

I’m also a huge paranormal fan. I grew up in a “haunted” college town. I’ve loved ghost stories as a kid and I still have a fascination with old legends and local haunts. City of Ghosts is being marketed as Stranger Things meets Ghost Hunters. I agree with the Ghost Hunters part. But, did you ever watch Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Nickelodeon? Because I legit feel like City of Ghosts could be an episode from that show.

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story…

giphy

Ahem. I digress.

I’ll skip writing a summary since the synopsis above already does a wonderful job explaining the key points (which I think is a bit of a shame because it really could benefit from a more vague description.) However, since this is middle grade, the synopsis is probably overly descriptive for parents to judge whether this book is right for their child/age group. So please keep in mind that this is a middle grade book. If you only prefer Schwab’s adult books then this might not be the perfect match for you.

There were so many things I loved about City of Ghosts: The unshakable friendship between Cassidy and Jacob, the adventures they ensue in Edinburgh, their quirky ghost-hunting parents, and all the creepy spirits. The story is very fast paced and flows beautifully. I especially loved how the Veil was used as a means for Cassidy to use her “gift” and discover her “purpose”. My only qualm is I wish we got a little more info on Jacob, but I think there’s a possibility this is setting up for a sequel.

 

“Embrace your strange, dear daughter. Where’s the fun in being normal?”

 

Overall this was such a treat from Schwab. I really hope we get more Cass and Jacob. This would be perfect for Halloween and for anyone who wants a quick, haunting read. If you want some spooky lore set in Scotland, amazing friendships, and that dash of nostalgia à la Are You Afraid of the Dark?, then I highly recommend City of Ghosts!

Thank you so much to my friend Mary for letting me borrow her ARC copy of City of Ghosts!

All quotes were taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

fourstars

xx,

Amy