Book Beat quick takes on Star Wars! Supervillain! A Thousand Beginnings and Endings!

Who wants to make a few trips to a galaxy far, far away? Want to step into a fun superhero romance? I have quick takes on those and a collection of stories based on Asian myths and folktales and some grounded contemporary stories to round out my quick takes for June!

Star Wars: Most Wanted by Rae Carson 

Pitch: A Solo: A Star Wars story prequel featuring the first adventure for Qi’ra and Han

Story: “Set before the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story! Han and Qi’ra don’t have a lot in common other than not having a lot. They’re street kids on the industrial planet Corellia, doing whatever it takes to get by, dreaming of something more. They each jump at a chance to prove themselves in the perilous world of Corellia’s criminal underbelly, only to discover they are on the same mission for the same unscrupulous boss. When the job goes disastrously wrong, Han and Qi’ra are on the run–from pirates, a droid crime syndicate, the Empire, and their boss–and will have to learn to trust each other if they are going to survive.”

Quick take: A fun adventure that gives more insight into the start of Han and Qi’ra’s relationship. Qi’ra is smart, unsure, learning her limits and expanding her dreams. Han is impulsive, good-natured and just starting to charm his way around. It’s a fun adventure that stands on its own.p, but nicely weaves into the movies.

Available: Now


Star Wars: Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex

Pitch: An adorable picture book about what scares the Dark Lord of the Sith

Story: “Darth Vader isn’t scared! Nothing can scare Lord Vader.

Quick take: It’s not actually scary at all, but a fun story. It’s hilarious and clever with gorgeous art. Kids and adults will love this book.

Available: July 3


The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas

Pitch: The title is a little cheesy, but don’t let that scare you away from a cute and fun superhero/villain romance with a bit of mystery

Story: “As witty as it is heartpounding, this fresh take on the beloved superhero genre is all about finding your own way to shine even when it seems everyone else around you is, well… super.

Never trust a guy in spandex.

In Abby Hamilton’s world, superheroes do more than just stop crime and save cats stuck in trees—they also drink milk straight from the carton and hog the television remote. Abby’s older brother moonlights as the famous Red Comet, but without powers of her own, following in his footsteps has never crossed her mind.

That is, until the city’s newest vigilante comes bursting into her life.

After saving Abby from an attempted mugging, Morriston’s fledgling supervillain Iron Phantom convinces her that he’s not as evil as everyone says, and that their city is under a vicious new threat. As Abby follows him deeper into their city’s darkest secrets, she comes to learn that heroes can’t always be trusted, and sometimes it’s the good guys who wear black.”

Quick take: It’s refreshing to read a YA book which doesn’t romanticize fame as a big deal or the end goal. Abby thinks of her superhero brother as just a lovable dork. It makes this a grounded and normal story which just happens to feature superheroes and supervillains.

Available: July 10


A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Elise Chapman and Ellen Oh

Pitch: A fascinating and varied collection of stories based on Asian myths and folklore

Story: “Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish.”

Quick take: With 15 authors re-telling myths and legends from across the largest continent on the planet, there is a broad range of stories, styles and topics here. After each story, the author has a quick word on the original inspiration for their story and perhaps why they picked it. Lots of great stuff here and, with such a wide range of material, you’re bound to find several stories to love.

My favorites include: “Forbidden Fruit” by Roshani Chokshi, “Smile” by Alisha Saeed, “Girls Who Twirl and Othr Dangers” by Preeti Chhibber, “Nothing into All” by Renee Ahdieh, “The Crimson Cloak” by Cindy Pon and “Eyes Like Candlelight” by Julie Kagawa.

Available: June 26


All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

Pitch:  Catcher in the Rye with lots of animals

Story: “In Makersville, Indiana, people know all about Ronney—he’s from that mixed-race family with the dad who tried to kill himself, the pill-popping mom, and the genius kid sister. If having a family like that wasn’t bad enough, the local eccentric at the edge of town decided one night to open up all the cages of his exotic zoo—lions, cheetahs, tigers—and then shoot himself dead. Go figure. Even more proof that you can’t trust adults to do the right thing.

Overnight, news crews, gun control supporters, and gun rights advocates descend on Makersville, bringing around-the-clock news coverage, rallies, and anti-rallies with them. With his parents checked out, Ronney is left tending to his sister’s mounting fears of roaming lions, stopping his best friend from going on a suburban safari, and shaking loose a lonely boy who follows Ronney wherever he goes. Can Ronney figure out a way to hold it together as all his worlds fall apart?

From acclaimed author Crystal Chan comes an incisive tale of love, loyalty, and the great leaps we take to protect the people and places we love most.”

Quick take: This book is all about the voice. Ronney is sad, angry, lonely and disconnected. (Think Holden from Catcher in the Rye.)

Trigger warning: depression and suicide. This is a rare story that features a suicide survivor (ie…failed attempt) and the impact that has on the family.

Available: June 12


Freshmen by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison 

Pitch: A breezy soap opera about the first year of college

Story: “A laugh-out-loud, realistic portrayal of a freshman year in college for fans of Girls and Broad City.

Getting in is just the beginning.

Phoebe can’t wait to get to college. On her own, discovering new things, no curfew . . . she’ll be free. And she’ll be totally different: cooler, prettier, smarter . . . the perfect potential girlfriend. Convenient: the only person from her high school also going to York is her longtime crush, Luke.

Luke didn’t set out to redefine himself, but as soon as he arrives on campus, he finds himself dumping his long-term long-distance girlfriend. And the changes don’t stop there. In fact, being on a soccer team is the only thing that stays the same.

Just when things start looking up (and Phoebe and Luke start hooking up), drama looms on the horizon. Rumors swirl about the Wall of Shame, a secret text chain run by Luke’s soccer team, filled with compromising photos of girls. As the women on campus determine to expose the team and shut down the account, Luke and Phoebe find themselves grappling with confusing feelings and wondering how they’ll ever make it through freshman year.”

Quick take: This is all about the relationships between a group of freshman. This takes place in England so some of the terminology may be different, but a lot of situations are still familiar. Lots of wacky characters and fun antics.

Available: Now


Thanks to Disney (Star Wars: Most Wanted, Star Wars: Are you scared, Darth Vader?), HarperCollins (A Thousand Beginnings and Endings), Swoon Reads (The a Supervillain and Me), Simon and Schuster (All That I Can Fix) and Random House (Freshmen) for providing the books for review. Want more details on my impression of these and other books? Check out my ratings and full reviews at Goodreads.


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