Writing Clementine, by Kate Gordon (book review) – journaling secrets, reader optional

book cover of Writing Clementine by Kate Gordon, published by Allen & Unwin | BooksYALove.comWhen there’s nothing to write about
and you still have to write,
sometimes big truths appear…

Year 9 is tough on Clementine, with her best friends and family members growing away from her, until fascinating Fred arrives, dressed like a dandy from a bye-gone era, asking her to join his steampunk world and truly become the self she writes about in her philosophy class journal.

This Australian title arrives in the US on Sept. 1st , so your local library or local independent bookstore should be able to easily get it through Independent Publishers Group.

Several in-school personas in Writing Clementine  don’t match up with their leisure-time pursuits – what’s the most unusual public-private contrast you’ve seen?

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Book info: Writing Clementine / Kate Gordon. Allen & Unwin, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Clementine feels left behind as family and friends change, so a new student’s invitation to role-play in a steampunk society lets the Tasmanian teen experience acceptance and romance that she never even dreamed about in her journal.

Her best friends demand that Clem grow up in a hurry, then they move on. Her brother’s been holed up in his room for a year, and she feels responsible. Her philosophy teacher requires daily journal writing, but won’t read or comment on it unless asked.

A new student moves to town, like a reviving breeze with his elegant clothes and intriguing smile. Fred is such a contrast to creepy Sam and the other boys at school!

When Fred introduces her to the Burnie Steampunk Society, Clem finds new friends as they pretend to live in Victorian times.

Can she ever accept that Fred likes her just as she is?
Why can’t she just fix what’s wrong for her beloved big brother?
What should she do about Sam’s unwanted attention?

Clementine faces choices, changes, and challenges during her first year of high school, as recounted in the pages of her philosophy class journal. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Never Always Sometimes, by Adi Alsaid (book review) – high school cliche or best idea ever?

book cover of Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid published by Harlequin Teen | http://BooksYALove.comNever be a teenage cliche.
Never do what’s expected.
Never take rules too seriously…

Somehow, the list of “Nevers” that best friends made just before high school (so they would stay originals) isn’t as iron-clad when they unearth it during that interminable spring semester of senior year, so they decide to make each “never” into “always”.

“Never be recognized by your lunch spot”
“Never hook up with a teacher”
“Never pine silently after someone”

Read the beginning of this August 2015 title free here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Dave and Julia and their “nevers” list.

What “I’ll never…” statements have you reappraised in your life?
**kmm

Book info: Never Always Sometimes / Adi Alsaid. Harlequin Teen, 2015.  [author’s tumblr]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Best friends Dave and Julia decide to do every “never” on their long-time list during the final months of high school, but the California teens might wish that some rules had stayed unbroken so their hearts would stay that way, too.

The pair want to stay original (like Julia’s ever-roving birth mom) by avoiding the typical cliches in high school – running for student office or dyeing your hair a rainbow color – and they’ve stuck to that list for nearly four years. Suffering now from senioritis,  it’s time to break all those rules!

From Julia “hosting a beer party” when her dads were gone to Dave and his brother helping her create the ideal lunch spot at school, the ten items on the list start getting crossed off.

When Dave becomes interested in Gretchen, Julia realizes that “never date your best friend” is the rule she most wants to break – but is it too late?

Never…expect Julia’s mom to visit when she promises.
Always…remember their favorite bench overlooking Morro Bay.
Sometimes…rules are there for a reason, but sometimes they’re not.

Friendship, love, and choices fill this funny and sad book as the two best friends have to find out which expectations are worth any risk.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (book review) – magic vs. the evil of the Wood

book cover of Uprooted by Naomi Novik published by Del ReyOnce a decade,
one girl taken away
by the Dragon…

A less-than-perfect teen girl and a coldly distant wizard meld magics to save their valley and kingdom from the evil which pushes the devouring Wood over the land in this tale of their difficult partnership amid treachery with a long, long memory.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here so you can read the first chapter.

Find this May 2015 release at your local library or local independent bookstore and lose yourself in Nieshka’s world… but don’t go near the Wood!

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Book info: Uprooted / Naomi Novik. Del Rey, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As the Dragon untangles Agnieska’s magical skills, the young woman finds that mastering them will catapult her into court politics, too-close encounters with the magical Wood, and disruption of all that she holds dear.

To keep the valley safe from horrifying nearby evils, the wizard called Dragon takes a young maiden every ten years, never to return. At least her family knows she’s alive, unlike those whose loved ones have been captured and absorbed by the Wood.

After Agnieska rescues her best friend from the Wood and helps her master expel its corruption from Kasia, Prince Marek vows that his army – and the Dragon’s magic – will rescue the queen from her years-long captivity there, little realizing that his rash actions will aid their rival kingdom and the evil of the Wood.

What evil changed a borderlands forest into such a terrible force?
Can Nieshka find answers in the royal magicians’ hall?
Will her family ever be safe in their village so near the Wood?

From the author of the Temeraire series comes a story with hints of Baba Yaga, threads of eastern European folktales, and the struggle of good versus evil at its core. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Ink and Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani (book review) – Dad’s secrets, her peril

book cover of Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani published by Tu Books | BooksYALove.comStepdad knew their late father?
Business trips were really what!?
Is that black SUV still following us?

When Claire discovers that her long-dead father was part of a Japanese organized crime gang, her whole world begins shaking – and here come the bad guys who want to make sure that the Utah teen goes under for good!

If your local library or independent bookstore doesn’t have this summer 2015 release on the shelf, ask for it!

Family secrets – key to one’s own history or ticking time-bomb?
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Book info: Ink and Ashes / Valynne E. Maetani. Tu Books, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Claire’s search for answers on the tenth anniversary of her father’s death inadvertently alerts the yakuza to her family’s location – and the race for survival is on!

The Japanese-American teen can’t believe that her stepfather knew her father and never told her, that a simple phone call could unleash a horde of bad guys intent on wiping out her family, that best buddy Forrest could think of her as more than a friend…

The letters that Claire wrote to Otochan in the years after his death appear throughout the book, as the straight-A student weathers accusations of cheating at school, uncovers many strange things about her late father, and must rely on her group of guy-friends more than ever when objects symbolizing death start arriving at her Utah home.

Why would Mom lie about her father’s past?
Why does the Japanese crime gang care about her family after all this time?
Can she stay alive long enough to figure out Forrest?

Action, intrigue, friendship, love, and revenge – watch out for black SUV following you!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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It’s Teens’ Top Ten time – vote now!

logo of YALSA's Teens' Top Ten book programA wonderful selection of recent fiction makes choosing just 3 titles from this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list difficult, but you can do it!

Of the 24 nominated books,  I’ve recommended several here on BooksYALove (remember, I look for the less-publicized great books). Click on the title to read my no-spoilers recommendation:

Since You’ve Been Gone,  by Morgan Matson

Kiss of Deception,  by Mary Pearson

The Winner’s Curse,  by Marie Rutkoski

The Geography of You and Me,  by Jennifer E. Smith

Voting is open until October 2015 and is limited to teens ages 12-18, so head to http://www.ala.org/yalsa/reads4teens/ when you’ve made your final selections. You can also see individual book trailers for each title on that YALSA page; plot summaries are here.

Here’s a video introducing all 24 nominees, so you can choose more great books to read before voting:

Read, share, discuss, vote – it’s your turn to choose!

**kmm

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Flawd, by Emily-Anne Rigal (book review) – honest options for positive change

book cover of Flawd by Emily-Anne Rigal published by PerigeeFlaws… we all have them.
Most people hate them.
How can you learn to live past them?

From bullied to bully to accepting herself, Emily-Anne found ways to get beyond bad life situations and into a better life framework, establishing WeStopHate.org so other teens could share their struggles and strategies for higher self-esteem.

Many “you can love yourself” books are just the same ol’ advice recycled, but Flawd‘s new ways to think and do things will help you gradually adjust your mental outlook to more-positive – and keep it there.

Happy book birthday to Flawd!

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Book info: Flawd: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things That Make You Who You Are / Emily-Anne Rigal, with Jeanne Demers; illustrated by Jeanne Demers. Perigee Books, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When you stop spending mental energy hating your flaws or those of others, you can use it to change the world, love yourself, and make life better.

If you could magically erase your biggest flaw, then another shortcoming would start to bother you – so read Flawd  and learn how to:
See yourself as imperfectly imperfect,
Treat life as playfully as possible,
Think about what really matters,
Embrace all that makes you, you,
Understand influence and how to use it,
Know you can be part of a flawd and powerful transformation. (Flawd, pg. xviii)

Unlike many “we will fix you” self-help books, Flawd  recognizes that transformation is a continuing process using incremental changes in attitude and actions.

The author experienced extreme bullying as a teen, was a bully herself as backlash, and finally began choosing to accept her differences as strengths. Many of the insights shared by other teens on the WeStopHate.org website are included in this book as affirmations that the six Flawd principles can be positively life-changing.   (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas (book review) – as payment to the Fae, she lives

book cover of Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, published by BloomsburySo her family won’t starve,
so the land of her new prison will live,
so an impossible love can grow…

So that her ungrateful family will live, Feyre goes with the beast to Fae, even though entering that magical land will kill her – and does not die.

The beast shapeshifts into a handsome fae prince who grows to appreciate the young human woman. As passion blooms between Tamlin and Feyre, dark forces are plotting to enslave both worlds.

Published on May 5th, this first blockbuster in the series of the same name should be readily found at your local library or independent bookstore – get on the waiting list, if you need to!

How much could you sacrifice for your family’s well-being, for love?
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Book info: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 1) / Sarah J. Maas. Bl0omsbury, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy from book fan and author Claire Caterer; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Centuries’ old truce broken by her uncanny aim, Feyre willingly becomes sacrifice to protect her family, little realizing that she will arrive in Fae not to die, but to live, love, and save her enemies’ magical land.

Desperate to keep her feckless father and spoiled sisters alive, she shoots a wolf going after the same deer in the winter woods. But it’s one of the shapeshifter fae who rule the North, and the human girl must pay for his life with her own.

Given the option to leave humanity behind and live forever beyond The Wall dividing the two realms, Feyre is taken to Fae by shapeshifter Tamlin, the wolf’s best friend and a prince in his own right. Contrary to all she’s been told, the young woman isn’t made a slave, doesn’t die of magic poisoning,and is encouraged by Tamlin to draw and paint – after all, she’ll live in Fae forever.

Whispers of dark Fae magic that seeks to conquer all beings reach Tamlin, and what Feyre overhears spurs her into action.

How can her tracking skills help uncover the traitor?
How can she resist the passion building between her and Tamlin?
Why should she even try?

First in a new fantasy series by the author of The Throne of Glass series, the fate of all realms hangs in the balance as evil warps time and minds to suit its purpose.

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Hush, by Donna Jo Napoli (book review) – Irish princess, kidnapped by Vikings?

original book cover of Hush by Donna Jo Napoli published by Simon SchusterStolen from her homeland,
once a princess, now a slave,
silent, always keeping silent…

Sisters fleeing the Vikings who seek revenge on their royal father are separated when the elder is kidnapped and taken far from their homeland of Eire.

Melkorka soon realizes that her captors fear what they can’t understand, so she speaks not a word, neither as greeting nor as she binds her fellow slaves’ wounds.

Perhaps she will not die as a slave. Perhaps she will see Brigid and their parents once again.

Look for this tale of the power of voice at your local library or independent bookstore – it was re-released in December with a different cover.

What would induce you to stay silent?
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Book info: Hush: An Irish Princess’ Tale / Donna Jo Napoli.  Paula Wiseman/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2007, paperback 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped after treacherous Northmen attack her father’s stronghold, princess Melkorka’s vow to stay silent until she returns to Ireland is severely tested by the perils of her slavery and her captors’ behavior.

A lighthearted shopping trip to the city leads to heartbreak for the king’s family, as prince Nuada is gravely wounded and his father demands satisfaction from the Vikings. Sent away from the dangerous meeting, Melkorka and Brigid are ambushed, with only the younger sister getting free.

As the slave ship sails away from Eire, Melkorka promises herself that she’ll return home and that she won’t speak to her captors until then.

Working alongside her fellow slaves, growing to understand the Viking languages, listening and never saying a word, the young woman fascinates those who have stolen her away but cannot control her spirit.

A companion book to Hidden,  this Irish princess’ tale evokes a long-gone world of earlier history and the inestimable power of words. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest & Kali Ciesemier (book review) – missing friend, comix clues

book cover of I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest, art by Kali Ciesemier, published by Arthur A Levine BooksTwo wreck victims, only one body in the car,
dreams of her best friend swimming to safety,
nightmares because she didn’t…

May knew in her gut that the fish-nibbled body found with Libby’s ID wasn’t her best friend, the other outsider who’d drawn Princess X to go with May’s stories from grade school onward.

Nightmares for 3 years, then a shiny new Princess X sticker shows up near their favorite coffee shop – you can start reading their story in a free excerpt.

Here’s the comic that sprang from the world that the two friends created in younger years, but it’s only part of this mystery/missing my best friend story.

Have you got the guts to search for the lost keys that could bring your friend back from wherever?
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Book info: I Am Princess X / Cherie Priest, art by Kali Ciesemier. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: New Princess X art is appearing after its artist was declared dead, so co-creator May is on the hunt, trying to find Libby using webcomic clues and neighbor dude’s tech skills before “The Needle Man” finds them!

Her best friend and comic co-creator supposedly died 3 years ago, but through her parents’ divorce and moving yet again, May still dreams that Libby escaped the sinking car. In Seattle with her dad for the summer, the teen is surprised to see Princess X stickers and graffiti in places where she and Libby hung out.

Sure that Libby is drawing Princess X again online, May asks tech whiz Patrick to help her uncover exactly who is behind the webcomic, but his research alerts a dangerous predator.

Is Libby truly alive and sending Princess X messages to May?
Can May and Patrick interpret and follow the clues in the comic?
Can they outrun “The Needle Man” before he kills again?

This novel about friendship blends with a graphic novel celebrating empowerment for a wholly satisfying story about trust, sacrifice, and persistence. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Summer of Chasing Mermaids, by Sarah Ockler (book review) – voice lost, heart found?

book cover of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler published by Simon TeenA singer with no more voice,
a young mermaid expert ignored,
a dutiful son without a plan B…

No surgical procedure can ever restore Elyse’s voice, but time spent with the funny (cousin and her outspoken BFF), the darling (mermaid-obsessed young Sebastian), and the heartbreaker (Christian does what??) may start the healing of her musical soul.

Ockler writes of another summer of enormous changes in The Book of Broken Hearts  (my recommendation here).

If your greatest talent/gift/strength were taken away forever, how would you cope?
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Book info: The Summer of Chasing Mermaids / Sarah Ockler.  Simon Pulse, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After a boat accident robs Elyse of her singing voice, she lands in her aunt’s tiny Oregon town where the Trinidadian teen finds herself falling for the wrong guy and caring too much about the shady mayor’s big plans.

Leaving her twin sister in Tobago was so hard, but staying to watch Natalie continue the singing career which had been theirs together was impossible.

The warm Caribbean stole her voice; perhaps the chilly Pacific currents can heal her soul. But if Elyse ignores her cousin’s warnings about heart-breaker Christian or helps the summer guy’s little brother search for mermaids, the sea may try to claim her forever.

A bet between the mayor and Christian’s dad puts Aunt Lemon’s home and gallery in jeopardy, as whichever son wins the Pirate’s Regatta will win the property it stands on.

Will the mayor’s desire for money turn off-the-beaten-path Atargatis Cove into just another tourist town?
Can Christian and Elyse rebuild his sailboat in time for the regatta?
Can Elyse face down her fear of being on the water again and help him win?

Of course, sweet little Sebastian should be able march in the Mermaid Parade, and the property developers must be stopped, and Elyse should decide if she can afford to lose her heart…  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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