This is a very special post, a special kind of blog tour hosted by Sammie at The Bookwyrm’s Den. Special because first, this tour is highlighting 30 books in the entire tour. Second, it only features diverse books and third, this tour is for a cause which is to support Sammie’s local library and ultimately bringing diverse books into the hands of young readers. When I got invited for this tour by Sammie, I was elated and immediately want to be part of this amazing project. And you can be part of this too. You can donate (details below) and if you can’t, you can help us spread the word and the love so that more people learn about this project.
About Tour the World in 30 Books
This is a blog tour hosted by Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den in support of her local public library’s Diverse Book Drive. The CCPL—a small, rural library in an area with a high poverty rate and a very homogeneous population, where people rarely have the means to travel or experience new perspectives. However, the library doesn’t believe that should stop people from learning more about the world around them, so they’re running a Diverse Book Drive through the month of September in an attempt to bring the rest of the world to the county instead. With a focus on MG and YA books, the CCPL aims to expose especially its young patrons to new and diverse perspectives and cultures.
How To Help
If you want to help CCPL, you can do so via Paypal and sending physical books. They also have bookish wishlists and the books will go directly to the library.
For more information or anything, you can also send a message to Sammie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: All book donations are used at the discretion of the library.
Note: Hardcovers are preferred, but definitely not required.
Now let me talk about my featured book, “A Wish in the Dark”
“A Wish in the Dark” is a Middle-Grade fantasy set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Chattana, and inspired by Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.
Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear.
5 things that A Wish in the Dark did right…
1.) Thai Culture
I’m a Filipino but it’s nice to learn so much about other cultures and A Wish in the Dark did a good job at introducing me to Thai culture. It’s really obvious that the author knows what she wrote about. That’s not surprising because the author, Christina Soontornvat is half-Thai. What amazed me more is that even though Thailand and the Philippines have some similarities culture-wise, I still enjoyed learning about Thai culture. I’m especially amazed by getting a glimpsed of Buddhism practice in Thailand.
2.) Social issues
Poverty is a big issue in the story along with wealth distribution. The people in Chattana use orb lights for almost everything. They don’t use literal fire because there was once a great fire that ruins everything. There are various types of orb lights and the poor can’t afford the better types and the rich are privileged. Talk about injustice. The author tackled this issue really well and using the characters to represent each aspect of the issue.
3.) The drama
I love drama. I love to sympathize with my favorite characters and even cry for them but really, sometimes, authors create unnecessary drama just to gain sympathy. I was worried it would be the case in this book considering the themes the book tackled. I feared that, like some books, it will try to gain my sympathy by giving me unnecessary drama. But no, the author instead showed me the importance of the issues she tackled and by showing me facts, I connected with the characters and sympathizing with them was easy and definitely not forced.
4.) The Characters
First of all, it’s an all-Thai cast. Just amazing. And to be honest, all the characters will surely grow on readers. They’re that well-written. But I want to talk about the two main characters, Pong and Nok. They came from two different social statuses. Pong is born in prison where he later escaped from and Nok is the Warden’s daughter and is privileged. The author really focused on developing Nok and Pong’s characters individually and then working on how would their individualities clash with each other making a layered conflict. The author didn’t try to make unnecessary connections between Pong and Nok even though the two of them are the main characters. In fact, it’s more like Pong and Nok are not really the ones in conflict but rather the principles that they live by.
5.) The relationships
There are at least three relationships in this book that I really liked. First is the friendship between Pong and Somkit. It’s the most wholesome friendship between two boys that I’ve ever read. It’s my favorite. Second is between Pong and Father Cham. Father Cham is a monk who served as Pong’s mentor for a few years and it made me glad that Pong somehow had some guidance, something he didn’t have in prison. Another relationship is between Nok and her parents, especially with her father. There’s one scene with her father that’s really heartwarming.
“Well, sometimes light shines on the worthy. But sometimes it just shines on the lucky ones. And sometimes… Sometimes good people get trapped in the dark.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christina Soontornvat grew up behind the counter of her parents’ Thai restaurant in a small Texas town with her nose stuck in a book. She is very proud of both her Thai and her Texan roots, and makes regular trips to both Weatherford and Bangkok to see her beloved family members (and eat lots and lots of Thai food!). Christina is the author of the fantasy middle grade series, The Changelings, and the early chapter book series, Diary of an Ice Princess. Her forthcoming books include the middle grade fantasy, A Wish in the Dark, and All Thirteen, a nonfiction account of the Thai Cave Rescue.
In addition to being an author, Christina holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Science Education. She spent a decade working in the science museum field, where she designed programs and exhibits to get kids excited about science. She is passionate about STEM (science, technology engineering, and math), and loves learning new things. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, two young children, and one old cat.
If you guys love Middle Grade, especially diverse ones, you need to read this. Also if you’re curious to know more about Thai culture, this book is perfect. I really can’t recommend this enough.
Don’t forget to donate or share the word about this tour. 🙂