The Reviews Are In: How Many Book Reviews Did I Post in 2021?

Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and looks forward to a new year with new hopes, fresh possibilities, and maybe a book contract? If the contract seems a bit too far away, there is still hope that whatever books we have out in the world will find new audiences.

With that in mind, I am sharing my third New Year Book Review Post letting you know the books I wrote reviews for on Amazon and Goodreads in 2021. The best way to spread the word about great books and unknown authors is to WRITE A REVIEWIt only takes a few minutes to write a couple sentences telling the reading world what you like about a book. As a children’s book author, I can tell you how much it means to see some kind words about a book and sharing it on your solcial media.

Here are the books I enjoyed and posted reviews for in 2021:

  1. A HORN IS BORN (PB) by Bill Borders
  2. CODE BREAKER, SPY CATCHER (PB) by Laurie Wallmark
  3. WORDS COMPOSED OF SEA AND SKY (YA) by Erica George
  4. FROM HERE TO THERE (PB) by Vivian Kirkfield
  5. RISSY NO KISSIES (PB) by Katey Howes
  6. LITTLE EWE (PB) by Laura Sassi
  7. DON’T CALL ME FUZZYBUTT (PB) by Robin Newman
  8. STEPSISTER (YA) by Jennifer Donnelly
  9. STARFISH (MG) by Lisa Fipps
  10. BOARDWALK BABIES (PB) by Marissa Moss
  11. WE BELIEVE IN YOU (PB) by Beth Ferry
  12. THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (MG) Holly Goldberg Sloan
  13. SLOTH AND SQUIRREL IN A PICKLE (PB) by Cathy Ballou Mealy
  14. STOMP, WIGGLE, CLAP, and TAP (PB) by Rachelle Burk
  15. ORANGE FOR THE SUNSETS (MG) by Tina Athaide
  16. WISHES (PB)  by Moun Thai Van
  17. ISABEL AND HER COLORS GO TO SCHOOL (PB) by Alexandra Alessandro
  18. WALKING WITH MISS MILLIE (MG) Tamara Bundy
  19. PIXIE PUSHES ON (MG) by Tamara Bundy
  20. WOOF: THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  21. BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES (PB) by Mike Ciccotello
  22. DINO PAJAMA PARTY (PB) by Laurie Wallmark
  23. SCURRY: THE TRUTH ABOUT SPIDERS (PB) by Annette Whipple
  24. A BRIEF HISTORY OF UNDERPANTS (PB) by Christine Van Zandt
  25. LILLIAN LOVECRAFT AND THE HARMLESS HORRORS (MG) by David Neilsen
  26. A QUEEN TO THE RESCUE (PB) by Nancy Churnin
  27. DEAR MR. DICKENS (PB) by Nancy Churnin
  28. SWEET BLISS/GOOD CATCH (an adult series about Harper Landing) by Jennifer Bardsley
  29. 101 PRANKS AND PRACTICAL JOKES (MG) by Theresa Julian
  30. A HOME AGAIN (PB) by Colleen Kosinski

Were there some books you enjoyed in 2021? I’ll bet there will be some more amazing stories in 2022. Why not make a resolution to post reviews for some of your favorites. I guarantee you will make an author’s day!

Happy Reading!

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Two Books That Celebrate Girl Power and Who Gets to Define Beauty.

I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading two books that might seem different since one is a historical YA fantasy and the other a contemporary MG novel-in-verse. While each has a unique story to tell, both resonated with me because of the underlying message:

Who gets to decide what beauty is and what are acceptable ways for females to look and act?

stepsister STEPSISTER by Jennifer Donnelly is a re-telling of the Cinderella story from the point of view of one of her stepsisters. Here’s the blurb:

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe . . . which is now filling with her blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she’s turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she’s a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a bold girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. She cut away pieces of herself in order to become pretty. Sweet. More like Cinderella. But that only made her mean, jealous, and hollow. Now she has a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

Evoking the original version of the Cinderella story, bestselling author Jennifer Donnelly uses her trademark wit and wisdom to send an overlooked character on a journey toward empowerment, redemption . . . and a new definition of beauty.

STARFISH cover

STARFISH by Lisa Fipps is an MG novel in verse that is told from the point of view of Ellie. Here is the blurb:

Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

These are two books that celebrate GIRL POWER. They emphasize the idea that no one has a right to label you, define you, tell you what strength and beauty are. “You would be pretty if…you followed these rules…”

No one has the right to bully you, make you feel small or less than, or put conditions on what behavior or desire is acceptable.

These stories let you know that you are already strong. You are already beautiful. You are already worthy. Just the way you are.

Positive and important messages for every girl.

The Winner of STARFISH Tote Bag is…

On February 15, I had the pleasure of featuring LISA FIPPS and her debut middle grade novel-in-verse STARFISH. Lisa offered one of these awesome tote bags as a gift to one commenter drawn at random. Starfish book bag

I am pleased to announce the winner: Natalie Aquirre. Please email me your address so I can have Lisa send it out to you.

Thanks to all who entered and look for STARFISH at an independent bookstore near you.

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781984814500

The Story Behind STARFISH: An MG Debut by Author Lisa Fipps

STARFISH by Lisa Fipps is a middle grade debut novel that is getting a lot of starred reviews and accolades for good reason. This novel-in-verse centers around a topic not usually seen and long over due in kid lit: fat-shaming. Here’s the blurb for this book:

STARFISH cover

Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.
Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she’s been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules–like “no making waves,” “avoid eating in public,” and “don’t move so fast that your body jiggles.” And she’s found her safe space–her swimming pool–where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It’s also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie’s weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life–by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.

I asked the author LISA FIPPS how the story came about. Here is what she had to share.

When you’re a kid, you want to read books about people like you. I was a fat kid. A book like Starfish was nowhere to be found on library and bookstore shelves when I was in elementary and middle school. So, I wrote it. I didn’t hold anything back. Starfish gives readers a true-to-life glimpse into what it’s like to be a fat kid. At times, it’s brutal. Most readers and reviewers talk about how much they cry when they read it. But the bullying that fat kids endure is brutal. If fat kids – fat people in general – are ever going to be treated well, people need to understand the hatred they endure.

Here are some of the takeaways for kids. I want any fat child to realize they deserve to be treated like a human. Quite frankly, fat people, even fat kids, are treated like things. Monsters.

I want fat kids to stop thinking there’s something wrong with them and to realize there’s something wrong with people who are cruel.

I want fat kids to unashamedly take up their space, their place in the world. I want bullies to see themselves – really see themselves. See how their words and actions devastate others.

And I want parents, teachers, and other adults to see that they have a responsibility to stop bullying when they see it. Most importantly, they need to understand that they themselves can be bullies. They may mean well when they bring up a child’s weight. But the way they go about trying to show concern is, sadly, usually all wrong.

Starfish is opening up doors for me to talk to kids via virtual visits, be on panels for various author events, and write for blogs and publications. I love that. What I also love is that reviewers are recommending that adults read it as much as children. But the best part is when I hear from early readers about how Starfish is changing lives. One reader wrote this on Goodreads:

“My niece, who swears she would never wear short sleeves and hides herself in oversized clothing in order to hide and blend in to the background, asked me if we could go shopping for clothes after reading this book.”

That little girl is starfishing! I cry every time I think of that. It’s exactly what I wanted to happen.

STARFISH will debut on MARCH 9, 2021. You can order your copy on Amazon, or at any independent bookstore.

https://www.indiebound.org/search/book?keys=Starfish

To help celebrate the launch of this important book, Lisa is giving away one of her awesome STARFISH BOOK BAGS. Starfish book bag

To be entered in the random drawing, leave a comment below. If you share this post on social media, let me know and I will enter your name twice.

Lisa Fipps is an award-winning former journalist, current director of marketing for a public library, and an author of middle-grade books. Starfish is her debut novel. Find her at https://authorlisafipps.com/, and as authorlisafipps on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Author Lisa Fipps with white background