Cover Reveal: A Galaxy of Sea Stars by Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

Happy Wednesday, everyone! We’re halfway through another week and I can think of no better way to celebrate than with another beautiful cover reveal here on Pop! Goes The Reader! Today, I’m thrilled to have partnered with Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo to reveal the cover of her sophomore middle grade novel, A Galaxy of Sea Stars, which will be coming to a book store and library near you February 4th 2020 from Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)! I think the cover art by Rich Deas is absolutely breathtaking and I’m so honoured to be able to share it on the blog today. Please read on to learn more about A Galaxy of Sea Stars, including a note from the author and an opportunity for one lucky reader to win an advance reader copy of the novel!

About Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo

Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo is the author of Ruby in the Sky, which earned two starred reviews and which Booklist called “quietly magical.” She is also a volunteer with IRIS-Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services ( in New Haven, Connecticut. She lives in Ellington, Connecticut, with her family.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramFacebookGoodreads

Digging deep to find strength and courage is a recurrent theme in my books and A Galaxy of Sea Stars continues to carry this refrain. As a child, I grew up with the stories told by my immigrant grandparents who, even as adults, were continuously trying to make sense of a world in which they were often judged by their accents before their abilities. Perhaps, this history is what that led me to IRIS – Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services in New Haven, CT, where I’ve had the great joy in working with refugee youth. It is from their voices that A Galaxy of Sea Stars was born.

In Galaxy, the main character Izzy fears change. It is only when she meets Sitara, a refugee from Afghanistan, that she learns what true courage is. In writing Galaxy, I worked with a group of young refugee women from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. These young women read several versions of Galaxy as paid cultural consultants. When I asked them, “If you could go back to when you first arrived in the United States, what is one thing you would want to say to your peers at school?”, their answer was as simple as it was powerful: “Be kind. You don’t know what other people have gone through.” In Galaxy, it is my intent to amplify their already strong voices and help deliver their already powerful message.

I hope that readers will see themselves in Izzy and Sitara and realize, as they do, that we are all more alike than we are different.

Cover art by Rich Deas

Title A Galaxy of Sea Stars
Author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Publication Date February 4th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Sometimes, the truth isn’t easy to see. Sometimes you have to look below the surface to find it.

Eleven-year-old Izzy feels as though her whole world is shifting, and she doesn’t like it. She wants her dad to act like he did before he was deployed to Afghanistan. She wants her mom to live with them at the marina where they’ve moved, instead of spending all her time on Block Island. Most of all, she wants Piper, Zelda, and herself — the Sea Stars — to stay best friends, as they start sixth grade in a new school.

Everything changes when Izzy’s father invites his former interpreter’s family, including eleven-year-old Sitara, to move into the marina’s upstairs apartment. Izzy doesn’t know what to make of Sitara, with her hijab and refusal to eat cafeteria food, and her presence disrupts the Sea Stars. But in Sitara, Izzy finds someone brave, someone daring, someone who isn’t as afraid as Izzy is to use her voice and speak up for herself. As Izzy and Sitara grow closer, Izzy must make a choice: stay in her comfort zone and risk betraying her new friend, or speak up and lose the Sea Stars forever.

A Galaxy of Sea Stars is the second novel from Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo, and a heartwarming story about family, loyalty, and the hard choices we face in the name of friendship.

As an extra, exciting bonus, Jeanne has been kind enough to offer one lucky reader the opportunity to win an advance reader copy of A Galaxy of Sea Stars! One winner will be chosen at random at the conclusion of the giveaway and the prize will be distributed by Jeanne when ARCs become available. Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!

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Ten Books On My Summer To-Be-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I count down my top ten choices on a particular theme. This weekly event is hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is: Ten Books On My Summer To-Be-Read List.

I’ll be the first person to admit that I’m notoriously terrible at sticking to a to-be-read list. While I love the structure they provide, as a mood reader, I never know quite what I’ll feel like reading next, despite my best intentions to the contrary. That said, for what might be the first time ever, I have absolute confidence that I’ll have no problem sticking to this to-be-read list! I’ve been lucky enough to read a number of truly phenomenal contemporary and realistic fiction stories in the first six months of 2019 (You can see what I’ve read so far this year and what I rated each book here!) and in the process I’ve re-discovered my love of adult romance novels, particularly romantic comedies!

Life has felt particularly dark and difficult since 2016, and more and more often I find myself gravitating toward stories that I can escape into and that fill me with hope and optimism when it can otherwise feel sorely lacking. Summer is also the time when I’m most in the mood for an irresistible contemporary story (Especially if it has a healthy dose of romance!) so I’m feeling very good about my choice of books below. I have to give a special shout-out to Berkley Romance, who have an amazing catalogue of books being published in the second half of 2019 – They’re responsible for publishing four of the books on this list! – and who were generous enough to share advance reader copies with me of some of the ones I’m most looking forward to. I actually have ARCs (or finished copies) of every book on this week’s list, so I have absolutely no excuse not to read them. Hold me to this, friends!

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What if your roommate is your soul mate? A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good novel about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

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For fans of Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Sandhya Menon, critically acclaimed author Misa Sugiura delivers a richly crafted contemporary YA novel about family, community, and the importance of writing your own history.

The author of the Asian Pacific American Award-winning It’s Not Like It’s A Secret is back with another smartly drawn coming-of-age novel that weaves riveting family drama, surprising humor, and delightful romance into a story that will draw you in from the very first page.

Katsuyamas never quit — but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop — to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

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A brand new romantic comedy from New York Times bestseller Tessa Bailey!

Georgette Castle’s family runs the best home renovation business in town, but she picked balloons instead of blueprints and they haven’t taken her seriously since. Frankly, she’s over it. Georgie loves planning children’s birthday parties and making people laugh, just not at her own expense. She’s determined to fix herself up into a Woman of the World…whatever that means.

Phase one: New framework for her business (A website from this decade, perhaps?)

Phase two: A gut-reno on her wardrobe (FYI, leggings are pants.)

Phase three: Updates to her exterior (Do people still wax?)

Phase four: Put herself on the market (And stop crushing on Travis Ford!)

Living her best life means facing the truth: Georgie hasn’t been on a date since, well, ever. Nobody’s asking the town clown out for a night of hot sex, that’s for sure. Maybe if people think she’s having a steamy love affair, they’ll acknowledge she’s not just the “little sister” who paints faces for a living. And who better to help demolish that image than the resident sports star and tabloid favorite.

Travis Ford was major league baseball’s hottest rookie when an injury ended his career. Now he’s flipping houses to keep busy and trying to forget his glory days. But he can’t even cross the street without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his…bat. And then there’s Georgie, his best friend’s sister, who is not a kid anymore. When she proposes a wild scheme — that they pretend to date, to shock her family and help him land a new job — he agrees. What’s the harm? It’s not like it’s real. But the girl Travis used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman and there’s nothing fake about how much he wants her…

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From the host of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast comes a heartfelt debut about the unlikely relationship between a young woman who’s lost her husband and a major league pitcher who’s lost his game.

In a sleepy seaside town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her large, painfully empty house nearly a year after her husband’s death in a car crash. Everyone in town, even her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and Evvie doesn’t correct them.

Meanwhile, in New York City, Dean Tenney, former Major League pitcher and Andy’s childhood best friend, is wrestling with what miserable athletes living out their worst nightmares call the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and, even worse, he can’t figure out why. As the media storm heats up, an invitation from Andy to stay in Maine seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button on Dean’s future.

When he moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken — and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. To move forward, Evvie and Dean will have to reckon with their pasts — the friendships they’ve damaged, the secrets they’ve kept — but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance — up until the last out.

A joyful, hilarious, and hope-filled debut, Evvie Drake Starts Over will have you cheering for the two most unlikely comebacks of the year — and will leave you wanting more from Linda Holmes.

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Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brandy Colbert.

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded – she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.

Full Disclosure: Immediately after drafting and scheduling this post, I decided to read the “first few pages” of The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, and ended up reading the entire book in a single sitting! I hope to share a detailed review of this book closer to its publication date, but suffice it to say I absolutely adored it and I can’t recommend it highly enough. This book is definitely worth a pre-order! As an exciting bonus, I’ve now already read one book on my summer to-be-read list – I’m off to a great start!

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All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

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A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a powerful duke in a love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke…

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The Fosters meets The Great Gilly Hopkins in this moving novel, featuring foster kid Pavi Sharma as she sets off on an important mission to save a fellow foster kid from the home that still haunts her nightmares.

Twelve-year-old Pavi Sharma is an expert at the Front Door Face: the perfect mix of puppy dog eyes and a lemonade smile, the exact combination to put foster parents at ease as they open their front door to welcome you in. After being bounced around between foster families and shelter stays, Pavi is a foster care expert, and she runs a “business” teaching other foster kids all she has learned. With a wonderful foster family in mom Marjorie and brother Hamilton, things are looking up for Pavi.

Then Pavi meets Meridee: a new five-year-old foster kid, who is getting placed at Pavi’s first horrendous foster home. Pavi knows no one will trust a kid about what happened on Lovely Lane, even one as mature as she is, so it’s up to her to save Meridee.

With help from Hamilton, brooding eighth grader Santos, and Hamilton’s somewhat obnoxious BFF Piper, they set off on an important mission with life-changing stakes. Pavi will stop at nothing to keep Meridee safe.

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Debut author Sarah Smith nails this fun and sexy rom-com where two office foes hammer out their differences to build a love that will last…

Emmie Echavarre is a professional faker. She has to be to survive as one of the few female employees at Nuts & Bolts, a power tool company staffed predominantly by gruff, burly men. From nine to five, Monday through Friday, she’s tough as nails – the complete opposite of her easy-going real self.

One thing she doesn’t have to fake? Her disdain for coworker Tate Rasmussen. Tate has been hostile to her since the day they met. Emmie’s friendly greetings and repeated attempts to get to know him failed to garner anything more than scowls and terse one-word answers. Too bad she can’t stop staring at his Thor-like biceps…

When Emmie and Tate are forced to work together on a charity construction project, things get…heated. Emmie’s beginning to see that beneath Tate’s chiseled exterior lies a soft heart, but it will take more than a few kind words to erase the past and convince her that what they have is real.

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The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

Now it’s YOUR turn! Which books are you looking forward to reading this summer? Let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!

Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover Issue 114: Contemporary (Part 22)

Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I pay tribute to some of the best and brightest the publishing world has to offer in the way of book cover design. This feature is inspired by Katie’s feature Cover Love on her blog One Page At A Time. The idea is being used with her gracious permission.

Please Note: I’ve done my best to credit the designers and artists responsible for the beautiful covers below, but was unable to find this information for a number of those listed. If you know of an uncredited designer responsible for any of these book covers, please let me know and I would be happy to include proper attribution in this post. Their work is lovely and deserves to be credited.

01. My Life With The Walter Boys by Ali Novak
02. 9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno

03. As Many Nows As I Can Get by Shana Youngdahl (Cover design by Maggie Edkins, Cover art by Mercedes DeBallard)
04. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord (Cover design by Kerri Resnick, Cover art by Kristen Solecki)

05. The Map From Here To There by Emery Lord (Cover art by Ali Mac)
06. Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (Cover design by Kerri Resnick, Cover art by Jim Tierney)

07. When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk (Cover design by Angela Carlino, Cover art by Bex Glendining)
08. Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory (Cover design and cover art by Vikki Chu)

09. Valencia and Valentine by Suzy Krause (Cover design and cover art by Philip Pascuzzo)
10. Late To The Party by Kelly Quindlen (Cover design by Kerri Resnick)

11. All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney (Cover design by Cassie Gonzales, Cover art by Carmi Grau)
12. What Kind of Girl by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (Cover design by Connie Gabbert, Cover art by Nicole Hower)

13. This Train Is Being Held by Ismée Amiel Williams
14. Six Goodbyes We Never Said by Candace Ganger (Cover design by Kerri Resnick, Cover art by Cannaday Chapman)

15. Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now by Dana L. Davis
16. Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

17. Our Year In Love and Parties by Karen Hattrup (Cover design by Joel Tippie)
18. The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu

19. The Year After You by Nina de Pass
20. The Stars and The Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus (Cover design by Samira Iravani, Cover art by Charles Chaisson)

Now it’s your turn! What are some of your favourite Contemporary covers? Did I list one of your favourites here or is there one I forgot that just has to be included? Let me know in the comments!

Cover Reveal: Mindy Kim and The Yummy Seaweed Business by Lyla Lee

Happy Friday, friends! I couldn’t be more excited about today’s post, as Pop! Goes The Reader has been asked to host the exclusive cover reveal for Mindy Kim and The Yummy Seaweed Business, the first book in debut author Lyla Lee’s forthcoming 2020 middle grade series! Lyla is responsible for writing two of my most-anticipated 2020 releases, both the aforementioned Mindy Kim books and her 2020 YA debut, I’ll Be The One, so I feel extremely lucky to have worked with her on today’s post! Mindy Kim and The Yummy Seaweed Business will be coming to a book store and library near you in Spring 2020 from Aladdin Books and the absolutely adorable cover below was designed by Laura Lyn DiSiena with accompanying artwork by Dung Ho.

About Lyla Lee

Lyla Lee is the author of the Mindy Kim series as well as the upcoming YA novel, I’ll Be The One. Although she was born in a small town in South Korea, she’s since then lived in various parts of the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. Inspired by her English teacher, she started writing her own stories in fourth grade and finished her first novel at the age of fourteen. After working various jobs in Hollywood and studying Psychology and Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, she now lives in Dallas, Texas. When she is not writing, she is teaching kids, petting cute dogs, and searching for the perfect bowl of shaved ice.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramTumblrGoodreads

When I was a kid, our family moved around a lot. Whether it was from South Korea to California, from California to Florida, or from Florida to Texas, I was always the new kid. My friends changed constantly, and it got pretty lonely! But the one thing that remained constant in my life were books. And one of the series that Kid Me held close to her heart was the Junie B. Jones books. But even as I loved those books, I couldn’t help but wish there were books about girls who looked like me. In Junie B. Jones, the only character that looked like me was the bus driver, and he wasn’t a main character at all.

I didn’t set out to write middle grade. In fact, I spent ten years trying to get published while writing for teenagers. Even as a kid (I started writing books when I was in fourth grade, even though I started pursuing publication in middle school), I wrote about teens, since by then I was already reading YA and writing books that I thought “were cool.”

But then, a few months before my 24th birthday, Mindy found her way into my heart. Mindy was every bit as spunky as I admired Junie B. Jones for being. Except, like me, she was Korean American and was moving into a town where only a few people – if at all – looked like her. Without even planning it, I ended up getting my first book deal writing the very kind of book that kid-me wanted when I was a kid. Life has a funny way of working out like that.

The Mindy Kim books aren’t autobiographical, of course, but bits and pieces of my childhood seeped in: running a (real-life!) dried seaweed snack trading ring with my friend, DESPERATELY wanting a puppy (which at that time, I saw as a sibling/friend that’d always be with me no matter what), and playing in the playground near the sunny beaches of Northeastern Florida.

It’s my hope that new kids out there will find Mindy’s story and feel less alone, even for just a moment. <3

My name is Mindy Kim.

I’m seven and a half years old. That’s old enough to walk to school by myself on non-rainy days, but not old enough to have my own puppy — or at least that’s what my dad said.

I don’t really agree with him, but our old apartment in California wasn’t big enough for a puppy anyway. I looked it up, and the experts on the Internet say that puppies need lots of room to run outdoors.

Now that we’ve moved into a house with a big backyard, we can really get a puppy! I just have to convince my dad that it’s a good idea first.

So far, no such luck. Dad wants me to prove that I can be “responsible” enough for a puppy first…and then he’ll “consider” getting me one.

I decorated my own room to show Dad I’m “responsible.” I’m trying to be more grown-up, so I only put three dog stuffed animals on my bed. There are ten more under my bed, but Dad doesn’t need to know that. They’ll just have to take turns.

Cover design by Laura Lyn DiSiena, Cover art by Dung Ho

Title Mindy Kim and The Yummy Seaweed Business
Author Lyla Lee
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Publication Date Spring 2020 by Aladdin
Find It On GoodreadsAmazonChaptersBarnes & NobleIndieBound

Mindy Kim just wants three things:


2. A new best friend

3. For her dad to be happy again

On her first day at her new school, Mindy’s delicious dried seaweed snacks aren’t exactly popular at the lunch table. With the help of her new friend Sally, the snacks take off, and they decide to create a spectacular Yummy Seaweed Business! Mindy just knows this will help her (finally!) get her new puppy, make Dad happy, and maybe find a new best friend in Sally.

But when one of her classmates decides to destroy their seaweed operation, Mindy loses more than she bargained for – and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. Will Mindy be able to get everything she’s wished for – and find the courage to be herself?

New Kids On The Block 2019 with Kat Cho

New Kids On The Block is a year-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader meant to welcome and celebrate new voices and debut authors in the literary community.

Are you a debut author whose book is being published in 2019? It’s not too late to sign-up! If you want to participate in New Kids On The Block this year, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! You can send a tweet or DM on Twitter to @Pop_Reader or email me at [email protected]. I would love to collaborate with you!

About Kat Cho

Kat Cho used to hide books under the bathroom sink and then sneak in there to read after bedtime. Her parents pretended not to know. This helped when she decided to write a dinosaur time-travel novel at the tender age of nine. Sadly, that book was not published. She currently lives and works in NYC and spends her free time trying to figure out what kind of puppy to adopt. Kat’s YA contemporary fantasy debut, Wicked Fox, comes out with Putnam Books for Young Readers/Penguin in summer 2019.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterInstagramGoodreads

Growing up, there weren’t many books that were about non-Western worlds or families. In fact, the only big book that I can recall centering around Asian characters was The Joy Luck Club. Now, I really enjoyed The Joy Luck Club. I think it’s a very important book and was an important story to tell that speaks to me on many levels as the child of an immigrant. The experience of POC in America is often about retaining our identity while still fitting in enough to survive. It’s a hard line to walk. And it’s a very important story to tell.

However, it’s also not all there is to being a person of color in our world. And, as I grew up, I longed for a book that included a POC protagonist that wasn’t all about that protagonist’s struggle with being POC and trying to fit in because of it. I wanted a story that starred POC that inspired fandoms. With characters I could have dressed up as on Halloween (when I was younger the only options were Mulan and the kid from Up). I wanted a book where we were a superhero just because. Where we were the love interest just because. And where we could celebrate our culture but we didn’t have to explain why we wanted to celebrate our culture. It’s why I decided to write Wicked Fox, a story about a Korean nine-tailed fox (gumiho) who must kill to survive until she falls in love. It’s rooted in Korean culture, but never do my characters question their Koreanness or how they fit in because of it. I wanted to add a story that could celebrate my culture without having to explain why we do what we do or live how we live. And, I’m so excited that there are so many books that have come out in the last few years that do that as well! Here are a few of my recent faves!

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This book is about being Korean in a way that feels so authentic because it concentrates on the concept of nationhood. It’s not about the struggle of being POC but instead about what Korea means to so many Koreans. And how the concept of nationhood and Korean pride is something that we all carry with us, because Koreanness was almost robbed from us before (and even during) the Korean War. Being proud of being Korean is something I’ve always had ingrained in me even without knowing why. But then I heard my grandmother tell stories about how there was a time when we were occupied and the occupiers tried to take our culture away. That made me realize why so many of the older generations in my family talk about being Korean with such pride in their voice. And that sense of pride is well reflected in Rebel Seoul even though the world Axie Oh built is a fantastical futuristic vision.

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Another book set in a futuristic world, Want explores a future Taipei and the consequences of decisions made by those in power. Of course, there are struggles in the story, but none of them involve the character’s sense of their own identity as Taiwanese teens. Instead it’s a struggle of survival in a book that allows Taiwanese kids be the heroes of their own story!

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Love this book that combines K-pop with a retelling of one of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movie, Roman Holiday. The characters are Asian teens frolicking through an Asian setting. And while, they have many problems to face, like fame and responsibility and hidden identities, neither of them are forced to question whether they’re allowed to be the star of their own story.

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A story that’s about family, but so clearly it’s about a Cuban family. Not because they are struggling to survive in America, but because of they way they love each other and interact with each other. While it doesn’t shy away from addressing issues of being an immigrant in America, that’s not all that defines Rosa and her family. It’s pitched as a Cuban Gilmore Girls and I couldn’t agree more. What I loved about Gilmore Girls as a kid growing up was that the root relationship was between the mother and daughter, and Nina Moreno captured that so beautifully in Don’t Date Rosa Santos!

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I love this book so much. It’s inspired by the silk road and Muslim culture. But, again, it’s not about the struggle the way we might think in current political climates. Instead, it explores the nuance of being someone without roots using the very nomadic existence along the Silk Road as its rubric. It builds a beautiful fantasy world that’s very obviously rooted in Muslim culture and celebrating that culture in a way only someone from the inside could.

Title Wicked Fox
Author Kat Cho
Pages 448 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre Fantasy
Publication Date June 25th 2019 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
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Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret – she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead – her gumiho soul – in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl – he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway.

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud…forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.