Skin of the Sea by Natasha Brown

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Skin of the Sea

Author: Natasha Brown

Book Series: Skin of the Sea Book 1

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Black MC and side characters

Recommended For…: young adult readers, fantasy, mythology

Publication Date: November 9, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

Recommended Age: 16+ (violence, gore, enslavement, death, suicide TW)

Explanation of CWs: There is violence and gore in this book. The book talks a lot about Black people being enslaved and shows the act. There is lots of death and the main character’s role centers around death. There is a suicide attempt shown.

Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers

Pages: 336

Synopsis: A way to survive.
A way to serve.
A way to save.

Simi prayed to the gods, once. Now she serves them as Mami Wata–a mermaid–collecting the souls of those who die at sea and blessing their journeys back home.

But when a living boy is thrown overboard, Simi does the unthinkable–she saves his life, going against an ancient decree. And punishment awaits those who dare to defy it.

To protect the other Mami Wata, Simi must journey to the Supreme Creator to make amends. But something is amiss. There’s the boy she rescued, who knows more than he should. And something is shadowing Simi, something that would rather see her fail. . . .

Danger lurks at every turn, and as Simi draws closer, she must brave vengeful gods, treacherous lands, and legendary creatures. Because if she doesn’t, then she risks not only the fate of all Mami Wata, but also the world as she knows it.

Review: I really liked this book overall. The book is very lyrical and so well written. It’s the type of book you can get lost in, as it has amazing world building and character development. The book is also full of culture and mythology and history and they all blend together in this beautiful work. I also love that the author put a content warning at the beginning of the book.

However, I did feel like the book was slow paced and that there was a lot of time spent going to places in the book rather than actions at the places. The book has a lot of travel and travel sequences and if you’re here for the journey of a story, then this is a great book for you. However, if you’re looking for the action, this one is a little lacking. I also sometimes had issues following along to what was going on because the words were too poetic that I felt drowned by them.

Verdict: It’s a great book, just a little not for me.

A Rugrats Chanukah by Kim Smith

Disclaimer: I received this finished copy from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: A Rugrats Chanukah

Author: Kim Smith

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Jewish story and characters

Recommended For…: picture book readers, people who want to learn about Chanukah/Hanukkah, Rugrats fans

Publication Date: September 28, 2021

Genre: Picture Book

Recommended Age: 0+

Explanation of CWs: 1 “meanie” of Chanukah and saving Grandpa

Publisher: Quirk Books

Pages: 40

Synopsis: In time for the Rugrats’ 30th anniversary, the beloved Chanukah Special is now a delightful picture book for readers of all ages!

On the eighth night of Chanukah, Grandma Minka reads aloud a story about the meaning of the holiday to Tommy, Chuckie, Lil, Phil, and Angelica. The babies imagine themselves as the characters in the story, but then Grandma stops reading to make latkes, and the ending is left unknown.

Soon they’re all off to the synagogue, where Grandpa Boris is acting in the Chanukah play. The children, misunderstanding the phrase “the meaning of Chanukah,” believe that an actor in the play is the “meanie of Chanukah” and storm the stage to save Grandpa. How will the Rugrats get out of trouble this time? And will they ever learn the true meaning of Chanukah?

Review: Awwww this was such a sweet read! It’s absolutely cute and the perfect thing to show your children, even if you don’t celebrate Chanukah (traditional form of Hanukkah). I always loved the Rugrats, they show so many good things that children need to learn, and I love how they were the first tv show to celebrate Chanukah, so a book about Chanukah is perfect for every kid young and old to learn about the holiday and meaning of it.

Verdict: Absolutely wonderful, recommended reading.