Tag Archives: Ellen Oh

New Releases – March 2015

Fifty Yards and Holding by David-Matthew Barnes (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Victor Alvarez is in serious trouble. Now seventeen and flunking out of high school, he’s been chosen as the leader of the violent street gang he’s been a member of since he was thirteen. Riley Brewer has just broken a state record as the star of their high school baseball team. When Riley and Victor meet by chance, a connection begins to grow. When friendship turns to love, both young men realize their reputations contradict who they really are. Once their secret relationship is discovered, Victor realizes their lives are at risk. Refusing to hide in order to survive, Riley vows that only death can keep him apart from Victor.

Eye Candy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Dafina)

Book Description: Dishing on celebrity love games made Maya Morgan a media queen. But choosing her prince means working her wildest, most personal scoop yet…

She’s gone from gossip reporter to half of the entertainment industry’s newest power couple. And hot singer J. Love’s mad string of hits definitely makes him a good look for Maya—and her career. But she’s feeling something more for laid-back, mellow “civilian” Alvin. A lot more. Now J. Love is using every dirty-spin trick in the glitterati book to humiliate Alvin—and sink Maya’s brand if he can’t hold onto her—and their celebrity-couple perks. With her empire on the line and her rep at stake, Maya will draw on every reliable source and every crazy scheme she’s ever played to save what she’s earned—and prove she can have love and fame.

Deviate by Tracy Clark (Entangled Teen)

“As a member of the Scintilla, 17-year-old Cora possesses the rare ability to see people’s auras, making her both an object of desire and a target for harm. … Cora, possessing both her own powers and a fierce determination to protect those she loves, is no shrinking violet. … Passion and power are the driving forces behind this series that continues to deliver.” — Kirkus

Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman (Sky Pony Press)

Book Description: The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.

Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.

Painless by S. A. Harazin (Albert Whitman Teen)

Book Description: A first kiss. Falling in love. Going to prom. These are all normal things that most teenagers experience. Except for 17-year-old David Hart. His life is anything but normal and more difficult than most. Because of the disease that wracks his body, David is unable to feel pain. He has congenital insensitivity to pain with anhydrosis–or CIPA for short. One of only a handful of people in the world who suffer from CIPA, David can’t do the things every teenager does. He might accidentally break a limb and not know it. If he stands too close to a campfire, he could burn his skin and never feel it. He can’t tell if he has a fever and his temperature is rising. Abandoned by his parents, David now lives with his elderly grandmother who is dying. When David’s legal guardian tells him that he needs to move into an assisted living facility as he cannot live alone, David is determined to prove him wrong. He creates a bucket list, meets a girl with her own wish list, and then sets out to find his parents. All David wants to do is grow old, beat the odds, find love, travel the world, and see something spectacular. And he still wants to find his parents. While he still can.

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick (Viking Juvenile)

“Lauer and Melnick team up to present a poem apiece from 100 ”younger“ poets who’ve published in media ranging from Twitter to the New Yorker. This cross section of contemporary poetry is promoted for grades nine and up, making no concessions to youth. The language and themes of a number of these selections are as adult as they come, probing suicide, mental illness, drug abuse, rape, racism, police brutality, AIDS and other cataclysmic life events, along with tamer reminiscences of home and more common rites of passage like heartbreak, sexual and recreational drug experimentation, and identity formation. … Incisive and occasionally brash.” — Kirkus

The Infinite by Lori M. Lee (Skyscape)

Book Description: The walls of Ninurta keep its citizens safe.

Kai always believed the only danger to the city came from within. Now, with a rebel force threatening the fragile government, the walls have become more of a prison than ever.

To make matters worse, as Avan explores his new identity as an Infinite, Kai struggles to remind him what it means to be human. And she fears her brother, Reev, is involved with the rebels. With the two people she cares about most on opposite sides of a brewing war, Kai will do whatever it takes to bring peace. But she’s lost her power to manipulate the threads of time, and she learns that a civil war might be the beginning of something far worse that will crumble not only Ninurta’s walls but also the entire city.

In this thrilling sequel to Gates of Thread and Stone, Kai must decide how much of her humanity she’s willing to lose to protect the only family she’s ever known.

Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (Putnam Juvenile)

Book Description: Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician—not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls, so they disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California gold rush. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past, and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. But when they cross paths with a band of cowboys, the light-hearted troupe turn out to be unexpected allies. With the law closing in on them and new setbacks coming each day, the girls quickly learn that there are not many places to hide on the open trail.

This beautifully written debut is an exciting adventure and heart-wrenching survival tale. But above all else, it’s a story about perseverance and trust that will restore your faith in the power of friendship.

The Agency 4: Rivals in the City by Y.S. Lee (Candlewick)

“Intrigue, romance and the rich details of Victorian life are the focus in the fourth installment of this mystery series featuring a complex female detective. As the book opens, heroine Mary Quinn is living a life she could not have imagined in her earlier years. She is independent and beginning a detective agency with her fiance, James Easton, who would like to marry soon. Her sense of gratitude causes her to take one more case for the Agency, where she learned her trade. … Readers of the series will find this addition deeply satisfying as both a mystery and a historical romance.” — Kirkus

Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story by David Levithan (Dutton)

“Tiny Cooper, the memorable best friend from Levithan and John Green’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, gets his own star turn in this companion volume, which contains the script and lyrics of the autobiographical musical he wrote and staged in the original novel. … Though billed as a “musical novel,” there is no sheet music yet written for Tiny’s magnum opus. Levithan is hoping for a crowd-sourced soundtrack, encouraging amateur and professional composers to put music to his words. Broadway, are you listening?” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Crimson Gate by Whitney Miller (Flux)

Book Description: Harlow Wintergreen has been named the new Matriarch of VisionCrest, the powerful religious organization previously led by her father. There’s just one problem. The real Harlow is trapped inside a Cambodian temple, and her double, the evil Isiris, is out in the world masquerading as her.

With VisionCrest at her command, Isiris moves all the pieces into position for her genocidal endgame. To stop her twin from unleashing a super-virus designed to eradicate civilization, Harlow must escape the temple and reunite with the Resistance. But in trying to save the people she loves, Harlow gets a taste of the power Isiris wields … and her battle against the horror takes on a new and dangerous dimension.

Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz (Simon Pulse)

“High school junior Etta juggles many identities, none of which seem to fit quite right. She’s bisexual, but shunned by her group of friends, the self-named Disco Dykes, who can’t forgive her for dating a boy. She has an eating disorder, but never weighs little enough to qualify as officially anorexic. She’s a dancer, but just tap these days, not ballet, because as a short, curvy, African American teen, she doesn’t seem to have the right look for ballet. … Moskowitz masterfully negotiates all of the issues, never letting them overwhelm the story, and shows the intersectionality of the many aspects of Etta’s identity.” — School Library Journal

King by Ellen Oh (Harperteen)

“In this final installment of the series, Kira continues her quest to collect the lost treasures, unite the seven kingdoms, fulfill the ancient prophecy, and, in so doing, defeat the evil forces invading their lands. … Overall, this is a fulfilling end to an action-packed trilogy with characters that readers will be sad to let go.” — School Library Journal

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (Nancy Paulsen Books)

Book Description: Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif … if he can find her before it’s too late.

What Waits in the Woods by Kieran Scott (Point)

“City girl Callie Valasquez agrees to go camping only to impress her new, popular girlfriends, Lissa and Penelope. After moving from Chicago to upstate New York, she’s hoping to foster new friendships like the ones she left behind. Inviting her new boyfriend, Jeremy, doesn’t hurt either. As the group surrounds a glowing fire, Lissa relates the tale of the Skinner, a murderer who committed atrocities in the very woods they sit in and was never found. Of course, it isn’t long before things begin to go awry. … Scott weaves palpable tension and masterfully ramps it up toward a truly thrilling conclusion. Cinematically paced, it’s tough to put it down. Readers will be kept up late, shocked to discover the depth of the darkness that lies in the woods.” — Kirkus

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (Dutton Juvenile)

“Smith (Grasshopper Jungle) turns in another audacious performance, this time a wild tale of summer camps, adoptive families, mad bombers, masturbation slang, illegal biological research, and an icebound 19th-century ship. Ariel, a 14-year-old orphan caught up in a civil war in an unnamed foreign nation, has been brought to the U.S. by an executive from the mysterious Merrie-Seymour Research Group. … Fans of Smith’s raunchy, profane, and provocative work will find this funny but morally serious tale deeply appealing.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp (Little, Brown)

“Luisa ‘Lulu’ Mendez dreams of leaving her dead-end small town behind. She cannot wait to immerse herself in the University of San Diego’s biochemistry program in the fall. So she is devastated when her dad admits that he has lost her college funds in a bad investment. Lulu is determined to make her college dreams a reality, and when a confiscated distillery turns up at the junkyard where she and her best friend work, she sees it as a bit of serendipitous luck. Although Lulu is not a party girl, she is aware that the moonshine business, illegal or not, is still thriving in the rural mountains of Virginia. … Lulu narrates the story in second-person, as a confessional of sorts to Mason, and readers will race to turn the pages as it becomes apparent that Lulu’s gamble may result in the destruction of the people she cares about the most. A wholly original and most satisfying debut.” — School Library Journal

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten (Delacorte)

“What would it feel like to wake up normal? It’s a question most people would never have cause to ask—and the one 14-year-old Adam Spencer Ross longs to have answered. … Adam’s first-person account of his struggle to cope with the debilitating symptoms of OCD while navigating the complexities of everyday teen life is achingly authentic. Much like Adam, readers will have to remind themselves to breathe as he performs his ever worsening OCD rituals. Yet Toten does a masterful job bringing Adam to life without ever allowing him to become a one-dimensional poster boy for a teen suffering from mental illness.” — Kirkus, starred review

Game Seven by Paul Volponi (Viking Juvenile)

“Sixteen-year-old Julio Ramirez Jr. dreams of being a junior Nacional and playing for Cuba against the best young players around the world. Baseball is ‘practically a religion’ in Cuba, and Julio’s father was like a Cuban god, an all-star pitcher for the Cuban National Team. Now, having defected, he’s a star for the Miami Marlins. But instead of pride, Julio feels resentment toward his father for abandoning his family to a life of poverty while he, the great El Fuego, lives the high life in Miami with his multimillion-dollar contract. … An entertaining tale of baseball, family and loyalty.” — Kirkus

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Disney-Hyperion)

“In her latest World War II-era novel, Wein returns to themes of aviation and the enduring bonds of platonic love and friendship. Best friends Rhoda, a white Quaker, and African American Delia were ”barnstorming“ pilots, a team who performed in air shows across the United States as White Raven and Black Dove, their children, Emilia and Teo, in tow. When Delia is killed in a plane crash, Rhoda commits to fulfilling Delia’s dream for Teo—to live in a land where he wouldn’t be judged by the color of his skin—and moves them all to Ethiopia, where Teo’s father was born. … Wein continues to present multidimensional characters within her effortless prose.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Yo Miss: A Graphic Look At High Schoool by Lisa Wilde (Microcosm Publishing)

Book Description: Yo, Miss – A Graphic Look at High School takes the reader inside Wildcat Academy, a second chance high school in New York City where all the students are considered at-risk. Through strong and revealing black and white images, the book tells the story of eight students who are trying to get that ticket to the middle class – a high school diploma. Whether they succeed or not has as much to do with what happens outside the classroom as in, and the value of perseverance is matched by the power of a second chance. It is a story that shows these teens in all their beauty, intelligence, suffering, humor, and humanity (and also when they are really pains in the behind.) A view from the trenches of public education, Yo, Miss challenges preconceptions about who these kids are, and what is needed to help them graduate.

Playing a Part by Daria Wilke (Arthur A. Levine Books)

Book Description: The first young adult novel translated from Russian, a brave coming-out, coming-of-age story.

In June 2013, the Russian government passed laws prohibiting “gay propaganda,” threatening jail time and fines to offenders. That same month, in spite of these harsh laws, a Russian publisher released PLAYING A PART, a young adult novel with openly gay characters. It was a brave, bold act, and now this groundbreaking story has been translated for American readers.

In PLAYING A PART, Grisha adores everything about the Moscow puppet theater where his parents work, and spends as much time there as he can. But life outside the theater is not so wonderful. The boys in Grisha’s class bully him mercilessly, and his own grandfather says hateful things about how he’s not “masculine” enough. Life goes from bad to worse when Grisha learns that Sam, his favorite actor and mentor, is moving: He’s leaving the country to escape the extreme homophobia he faces in Russia.

How Grisha overcomes these trials and writes himself a new role in his own story is heartfelt, courageous, and hopeful.

The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee (Arthur A. Levine Books)

“The downward spiral of popular high-school senior Higgs Boson Bing, named after the elusive “God particle,” begins when a classmate asks him a hypothetical question about his willingness to donate a kidney to his girlfriend, Roo. Higgs’s hesitant answer does not bode well for his relationship with Roo, resulting in their breakup and a full-blown hate campaign against him. … Alternately heart-wrenching and hilarious (“The Asian Jewish English American thing was a real stumper when it came to filling out my college applications,” Higgs reflects), Yee’s (Absolutely Maybe) portrait of a flawed superstar introduces a cast of vibrant, memorable characters and an eloquent message about following one’s desires.” — Publishers Weekly

Out of the Dragon’s Mouth by Joyce Burns Zeiss (Flux)

Book Description: After the fall of South Vietnam, fourteen-year-old Mai, a young Vietnamese girl of Chinese descent, is torn from a life of privilege and forced to flee across the South China Sea in the hold of a fishing trawler. Mai finds tenuous safety in a refugee camp on an island off the coast of Malaysia, where a greedy relative called Small Auntie offers her a place to stay—but her hospitality isn’t free. With her father’s words “You must survive” echoing in her ears, Mai endures the hardships of the camp, which are tempered only by her dreams of being sponsored by her uncle for entry into America.

But when an accident forces Mai to leave the safety of Small Auntie’s family, she meets Kien, a half-American boy who might be the only person who can keep her alive until she’s sent to the United States.

Coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the fall of Saigon, Out of the Dragon’s Mouth is a poignant look into life ripped apart by the ravages of war.

Taekkyon and the End of the Prophecy Series

Ellen Oh’s Prophecy trilogy follows the journey of Kira, a young female warrior in ancient Korea; this week the final book, King, is published.

By Ellen Oh

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When I first started writing Prophecy, I wanted to develop a kickass girl warrior who was also a master martial artist. But this was set in the 3rd century, and Tae Kwon Do, as we know it, didn’t develop until after the Japanese occupation of Korea ended in 1945. In large part, this was because of the banning of all martial arts by the Japanese. And right there, I was fascinated. Martial arts banned. So how did Tae Kwon do form then? The answer led me to Taekkyon.

Taekkyon is one of the oldest martial arts of Korea, if not the oldest. Research is a bit divided on its relation to Tae Kwon Do. There are some that believe that Taekkyon is the source of Tae Kwon Do, but Taekkyon purists like to point out how different the two forms are from each other. I think the link is kind of clear, but in either case, the history of Taekkyon is fascinating.

Mural paintings dating back to the Three Kingdoms period of Korea (3rd century) show that Taekkyon was a popular art form practiced mostly by the ruling classes and military. In fact, it was part of the soldier’s exam up to the 10th century.

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(http://wp.goldendragontkd.com/history-of-taekwondo/)

But by the 14th century, Taekkyon had spread to all classes and Taekkyon matches were popular contests at festivals and holiday events, along with archery, sword fights, and wrestling.

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(http://www.southpacifictkd.com.au/Taekwondo/The-History-of-Taekwondo/A-Taekwondo-Timeline.asp)

This photo above is dated between 1890 and 1900 and was taken by a missionary of a children’s Taekkyon match. Young children competed in Taekkyon and these would be the opening games for annual Taekkyon contests, before the adult matches began.

During the Japanese occupation of Korea, 1910-1945, Taekkyon was completely banned and almost vanished. Legend has it that a sword-wielding Japanese soldier was killed by an unarmed Korean man using only Taekkyon. The Japanese immediately outlawed the practice, stating that it was too deadly, and killing anyone associated with or continuing the teaching of Taekkyon. After many years, the art was nearly forgotten until not that long ago, when an 80-year-old man was seen practicing the movements and an ancient art was reborn.

The truth is probably that Taekkyon was banished because the Japanese did not want Koreans to gather together in large groups — like the Taekkyon contests, and to prevent the spread of Korean nationalism. Because of the Japanese occupation, Taekkyon almost disappeared. After Korea regained her independence, Master Song Duk-Ki (1893∼1987) was the only remaining practitioner of Taekkyon. It was due to his efforts to continue to teach and train people in this ancient martial art form that allowed it to survive. It was designated by the Korean government as an “Important Intangible Cultural Asset No. 76” on June 1, 1983.

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In the Prophecy Series, Kira and her brothers are trained in Taekkyon. It is an important part of their military training, but for Kira, it is also something special she received from her father. As she practices, she can hear her father’s voice in her head.

“How you fight in combat and how you practice forms are two very different things. The first is self-defense, but the second is art. It is your connection between mind and body.”

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The movements of Taekkyon are graceful. They are, at their root, dance steps.

“She remembered when she was five years old her father had taken her to see saulabi practicing their taekkyon forms. As they watched the perfect choreography of the soldiers in motion, her father had said, ‘There’s no dance as perfect as this one.’” 

King, the final installment of the Prophecy Series, is now out and I am both happy and sad to see the end of the Prophecy Series and Kira’s story. I loved every minute I spent in this fantasy Korea. And I especially loved the characters that peopled the story, especially Kira. I grew as a writer along with Kira (at least I think I did — and belief is a powerful thing!). Kira’s not strong because of her tiger spirit or her Taekkyon training or her proficiency with the bow; she’s strong because of family bonds and love and friendship and a growing belief in her own self-identity. We all have moments where we doubt ourselves and others. Nobody is perfect and nobody has it completely easy. But that is what makes each person so interesting, those moments of humanity where we mess up and learn a lesson. Yeah, I’m mostly talking about myself and my mistakes. :o)

I learned so much from traveling this journey with Kira and her brothers, Taejo and Jaewon, Brother Woojin, Nara and Gom. They will always hold a very special place in my heart. Thank you for letting me share their story with you.


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Originally from NYC, Ellen Oh is Co-founder and President of WeNeedDiverseBooks and a former entertainment lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She also loves martial arts films, K-pop, K-dramas, cooking shows, and is a rabid fan of The Last Airbender and the Legend of Korra series. She is the author of the YA fantasy trilogy, The Prophecy Series. Ellen lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three daughters and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

King is available for order here.

10 Asian Pacific American YA Authors to Know

Swati Avasthi

Melissa de la Cruz

Andrew Fukuda

Jenny Han

Malinda Lo

  • Author of Adaptation and Inheritance, William C. Morris Award finalist for Ash, and co-founder of Diversity in YA
  • malindalo.com | @malindalo | Tumblr

Ellen Oh

Cindy Pon

  • Author of Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix, the forthcoming Serpentine (Month9Books, 2015), and co-founder of Diversity in YA
  • cindypon.com | @cindypon | Tumblr

Padma Venkatraman

  • Author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning novels A Time to Dance, Climbing the Stairs, and Island’s End
  • padmasbooks.com

Gene Luen Yang

  • Author of the National Book Award finalist and LA Times Book Prize winner Boxers and Saints, the Printz Award-winning and National Book Award finalist American Born Chinese, and co-author of Dark Horse Comics’ Avatar: The Last Airbender
  • geneyang.com | @geneluenyang

Laurence Yep

  • Author of dozens of books for children and young adults including the Gold Mountain Chronicles, winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and two-time Newbery Honor winner
  • Wikipedia page

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Campaign kicks off today!

We asked author Ellen Oh, one of the authors and bloggers spearheading the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, to tell us about the genesis of the campaign. Here’s what she told us:

While diversity initiatives have been on my mind for a very long time, this particular hashtag campaign struck me hard on the day BookCon announced its all white male panel on kid lit. It started with a twitter conversation I was having with Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, Hannah Ehrlich of Lee and Low Books, and Megan from Braun Books. We were talking about how hard it was being a POC author in a marketplace that clearly only favors white authors and the conversation took off from there.

And then more and more people began to chime in on the conversation and there were so many of us, so many voices saying the same thing. And I just thought we were all like all the Whos in Whoville in Horton Hears a Who. We were shouting but no one was listening.

But what if we got a lot more people shouting with us. What if we took over twitter with our voices? Then people would have to listen to us. And then what if we pointed them in the direction of things they could do to support us.

That’s when this big wonderful group of people went from talking to planning. And at that point I went and grabbed Chelsea Pitcher, another fantastic YA author, who I had been talking to about working on a diversity initiative. She had devised a plan for a Diversify Your Shelves initiative. But I had been a part of lots of “Buy Diverse books” campaigns and they never seemed to lead to anything. However this time I thought that if we raised a big enough ruckus beforehand, wouldn’t we have more success for the action part of the campaign? Chelsea loved it and was totally onboard.

And that’s why our campaign has 3 parts to it. The first day (which has already started trending on twitter!) is to raise awareness, the second day will be about discussing solutions, and the third day will be about taking action. #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign needs every single person who cares about diversity to do something and let their voice join with ours so that we can make a real difference. All the details are here.

I hope everyone will join us!

weneeddiversebooks

New Releases – December 2013

Real As It Gets (Rumor Central #3) by ReShonda Tate Billingsley (Kensington Teen)

Book description: She can uncover the biggest celebrity secrets. But now Maya Morgan’s hottest story ever is way too up-close-and-personal …

For once, everything in Maya’s life is falling perfectly into place. She’s getting serious media cred uncovering the source of a new designer drug doing major glitterati damage. And the new man in her life is giving Maya all the cool bling and attention she craves off-camera. But the truth behind her scoop is about to cut too close to home–and put Maya and her family in the crosshairs. Soon, she’ll have to decide just how far she can afford to go to save her family, her career…and herself.

Cy in Chains by David L. Dudley (Clarion Books)

“In 1890s Georgia, slavery has ended in theory but not in reality. When 13-year-old Cy Williams attempts to save his abusive, alcoholic plantation master’s runaway son, Travis, and the boy drowns, Cy is blamed. Without a trial, he’s sentenced indefinitely to work on a chain gang. … Full of emotionally charged depictions of brutality, physical abuse, and prejudice, Dudley’s (Caleb’s Wars) third historical novel is a tough and painful read.” — Publishers Weekly

What We Lost in the Dark by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Soho Teen)

Book Description: Allie Kim’s fatal allergy to sunlight, XP, still confines her to the night. Now that she’s lost her best friend Juliet to an apparent suicide, the night has never felt darker—even with Rob at her side.

Allie knows why Juliet killed herself: to escape the clutches of Garrett Tabor, whom the trio saw committing an unspeakable crime. Garrett is untouchable; The Tabors founded the world-famous XP clinic that keeps Allie and Rob alive and their small Minnesota town on the map.

Allie can’t rest until Garrett is brought to justice. But her obsession jeopardizes everything she holds dear. Not even Parkour can distract her; nothing reminds her more that Juliet is gone. When Rob introduces Allie to the wildly dangerous sport of nighttime deep diving, Allie assumes he’s only trying to derail her investigation… until they uncover the horror terrible secret Garrett Tabor has hidden under Lake Superior.

Warrior by Ellen Oh (HarperTeen)

Book description: Kira has valiantly protected her kingdom—and the crown prince—and is certain she will find the second treasure needed to fulfill the Dragon King’s prophecy. Warrior boasts a strong female hero, romantic intrigue, and mythical creatures such as a nine-tailed fox demon, a goblin army, and a hungry dragon with a snarky attitude.

Deadly (Pretty Little Liars #14) by Sara Shepard (HarperCollins)

Book Description: High school seniors Aria, Emily, Hanna, and Spencer have all done horrible things—things that would put them behind bars if anyone ever found out. And their stalker “A” knows everything.

So far A has kept their secrets, using them to torture the girls. But now A’s changed the game. Suddenly the girls are hauled in for questioning, and all their worlds begin to unravel. If A’s plan succeeds, Rosewood’s pretty little liars will be locked away for good… .

Next by Kevin Waltman (Cinco Puntos)

Book Description: In Indiana, basketball is the next thing to religion. Especially for inner-city black kids like Derrick Bowen. He’s a 6’3” freshman, lightning quick, and he can slam the rock. He wants to start at point guard for Marion High, but senior Nick Starks has that nailed down. Besides, the coach is old school. He thinks D-Bow needs to work on his game, his shot, and his attitude. That means bench time. And that’s when Hamilton Academy, the elite school in the suburbs, comes sniffing around. They want D-Bow for the next three years. His mom wants no part of that. But his father needs a job, and Uncle Kid, who is a bitter ex-star at Marion High, has his own plans. Yeah, there’s a pretty girl and a best friend in the mix. Plus plenty of basketball action and suspense just like high school boys like to read.

Ellen Oh Talks History of Hanboks

Ellen Oh, author of YA fantasy Prophecy, stopped by DiYA to tell us about the history of hanboks. Welcome, Ellen!

The hanbok literally means Korean clothing. But when we say hanbok, we very specifically mean the traditional clothing worn for over 1600 years. It is a very distinctive style of clothing that is immediately recognizable as Korean. And it has a long and colorful history.

In my book Prophecy, set in the Three Kingdoms period of ancient Korea (approximately 37 BCE to 668 CE), the hanboks that would be worn during that period would look a bit different from what we’ve come to expect.

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During the Three Kingdoms period, what eventually evolved into the traditional hanbok first started off as a longer jacket (jeogori) and skirt (chima) combination tied with a long sash. But even in ancient times, the skirt was tied above the chest, which allowed for the billowy look of the skirt.

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But as with all things in fashion, the long sleeves and long jackets that the nobles and royals favored were just not practical enough for the citizens. So the look evolved into shorter jackets and narrower sleeves.

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The photo above depicts a hanbok from the 16th century and the hanbok on the right shows one from the 18th century. Another major change that occurred during the evolution of the hanbok is that the jeogori (jacket) no longer needed a long sash to be tied closed. Instead, it is tied closed in the front with a bow that has become a quintessential part of the traditional hanbok look.

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Coupled with norigae (ornamental good luck charms that women would hang from their jeogori or chima), and elegant hair accessories, the hanbok is the perfect representation of the heritage of Korea.

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The one thing that is true about the hanbok in all of its iterations is that color is an important part of Korean culture. There is a pivotal scene in Prophecy where the main character sees the court ladies jumping from the cliff into the river below. Their colorful hanboks swirling about them like falling flowers. This is based on the historical legend of Nakhwa-am Rock, or the Rock of the Falling Flowers, a high rocky outcrop on the top of a cliff that overlooks the Baengma River. In 660 CE, the kingdom of Shilla allied with Tang China to invade the kingdom of Baekje. When the capital’s fortress fell, 3,000 court ladies leapt from Nakhwa-am Rock rather than surrender to the Shilla and Tang. This image has haunted me for years and it is why it had to be a part of Prophecy. 

Hanboks are a tradition of Korea that I hope will always be treasured. Nowadays, most Koreans don’t wear a hanbok except for special occasions. I admit that the last time I wore a hanbok was at my wedding.

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But the wonderful part about fashion is that it is subject to so much interpretation. Korea has seen the modernization of the traditional hanbok by some of their famous designers like Lee Young Hee. And some of these modern hanbok designs are so incredibly beautiful that I think I might be ready to wear a hanbok again. I think I should fly to Korea to do this. Yes, that’s a great idea! Anybody want to make a trip with me? I bet we’d look fabulous in hanboks!

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