Your clone, at your school?! THE SIMILARS, by Rebecca Hanover (book review)

book cover of The Similars, by Rebecca Hanover. Published by Sourcebooks Fire | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New school year, new students,
old faces…
cloned teens in their first public appearance!

Darkwood Academy’s generations-strong tradition of academic excellence gets a huge shock as Emma’s junior year begins, worse for her as Levi is the clone of her best friend Eli who committed suicide during the summer.

But why did someone invest a true fortune to get these six from the “misguided lab technician” who cloned them from the umbilical cord blood of Emma’s classmates, then give them the best-possible homeschooling on his island-nation estate until just this moment to reveal them to the world?

The near-future of Darkwood’s cloned teens may be nearer than we think.

Clones are genetically the same as their originals, so what makes each human unique?
**kmm

Book info: The Similars / Rebecca Hanover. Sourcebooks Fire, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:

Every day at Darkwood reminds Emma of her best friend’s recent suicide – because his clone is one of the new students at their exclusive school. Sixteen years after being illegally cloned, the other “Similars” are in classes with their genetic twins, competing for grades, honors, and status.

While some families embrace the chance to welcome another member into their family, virulent anti-clone rhetoric invades classes and club meetings, especially after Emma’s roommate (an Original) is brutally attacked.

Who is the mysterious man who acquired and raised the Similars in secrecy till now?
Why were the clones allowed to apply to the same exclusive school as their Originals?
How can Emma endure seeing Levi when Eli is gone forever?

As some Similars edge out their Originals in academic rank and status, Darkwood Academy is on edge. What Emma learns from Levi may push them over the brink!

Is her life in Nazi England part of THE BIG LIE? by Julie Mayhew (book review)

book cover of The Big Lie, by Julie Mayhew. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

England conquered by Germany,
Generations of babies for the Fatherland.
Such a vision! Such a nightmare!

Of course Jessika listens and learns from her parents, so influential in their English town neighborhood and so important in the Party!

Even though it’s 2012, not even her expert ice skating can take her outside the Reich, away from her inevitable future as wife and mother, away to any place where she can love whoever she pleases.

I enjoy alternate history – this Big Lie is so believable that it’s truly frightening.

What historic event would you change to improve our now?
**kmm

Book info: The Big Lie / Julie Mayhew. Candlewick Press, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Liberated by Germany during her great-grandparents’ days, the England where middle sister Jessika lives is ruled by the Nazi Party, yet the teen fights to squelch her own feelings and doubts before trouble takes over.

The idea that an American singer would perform in London for the first time in 70 years – at the Reich’s invitation – enrages Jess’s father, annoys her ice skating coach (such lapses in concentration, Jessika…), and thrills her classmates beyond all measure, especially when those most loyal to the Party are invited to sing and march on stage for the concert!

Perhaps the Fuhrer himself will attend the concert and see how dedicated her squad is!

Maybe preparing for their performance will let Jess be closer to fascinating GG without anyone reporting the girls for unsuitable friendship.

But her best friend questions why suddenly this ‘decadent music’ is allowed instead of banned, and Clementine’s family accelerates their timetable for escaping the Party’s brutal control.

And it could be that Fisher knows something more as they practice and practice… the Storm Troopers are determined to know everything about everyone involved with the explosive concert!

Alternate history brings a chill as the Reich rules Britain in 2012.

Art school or her traveling family? Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller (book review)

book cover of Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Art school!
Real teachers instead of online videos,
real money her family doesn’t have,
really not surprised to be rejected…

Self-confidence is hard for Dessa, and when she freezes with sketchpad in hand, it will take something special to help her get it back.

Maybe not paint now, maybe she should try found art like her mentor, maybe…

How do you make a dream denied become merely dream deferred?
**kmm

Book info: Your Destination is on the Left / Lauren Spieller. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The nomadic life that her parents chose was fun back when Dessa was twelve, but now the 17 year old wants more – art school, life with other students, a home without wheels.

Best-best-ever Cy sent in her portfolio for the internship she knew she wouldn’t get, and now she will be working all summer with her favorite living artist in New Mexico – as long as Fiona thinks Dess is “college-bound” instead of turned down by every art school she applied for.

The families who travel together across the US are sure she’ll rejoin them and Cy on the road once summer is over – can she squeeze her expanded views back into that tiny RV with her parents and little brother?

Staying with her Greek grandmother (in a house!) near Santa Fe, helping Fiona prepare for a big exhibition of her found art pieces, trying to get up the courage to break free with her own art…and tell the truth about art school – what a summer!

But after the internship and the gallery show and no art school for fall – are Cy’s traveling dreams big enough for both of them?

Who’s pursuing Spindrift and the Orchid so rare? by Emma Trevayne (book review)

book cover of Spindrift and the Orchid, by Emma Trevayne. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Objects of immense power,
flung to the corners of the world –
together, they are too strong. And yet…

“…the history of Lux, the city spread out around her, was fascinating to Spindrift since it wasn’t her history. She had come here when she was young, after the accident. The sea was her home; she only lived here,” above Grandfather’s shop of curiosities and treasures (p.6).

When he allows her to read mother’s letters, of course the teen will start looking for the final treasure that her parents were voyaging to claim when their ship sank and someone placed baby Spindrift and a glass orb in a small boat that drifted to shore.

Her world is not ours, but much too familiar is the lust for power that drives the person trying to steal the only thing left to Spindrift by her parents.

Where is the line between one’s destiny and being fated to walk into disaster?
**kmm

Book info: Spindrift and the Orchid / Emma Trevayne. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Within the glass orb, the orchid-woman promises that all Spindrift’s wishes can be granted, as Grandfather reveals that her parents paid the ultimate price to find the black orchid and someone begins stalking the orphan girl, willing to do absolutely anything to control the rarest of all magic orchids!

Spin was born on her parents’ ship as they sailed the world in search of unusual goods; now she is landlocked in Lux where her mother’s father sells unique items, where the Seven Sages established order and justice long ago before they transformed.

Reading the letters sent by her mother to Grandfather during her travels, Spin begins to see why the glass orb containing the orchid-woman is important and why someone is trying to take it from her!

As Grandfather prepares to take Spindrift and her best friends on a holiday trip, she learns more about why the orchid-woman is trapped in the orb – can she be freed?

Donning bespelled wings, Spin flies with Clemence and Max as they follow clues from her mother’s last letters – why did the ship sink so near the shore with no other survivors?

There are other orbs with their own powers – did her parents lose their lives hunting for them or because they found them?

In this world of alchemy and power, Spindrift searches for answers on land and sea as the evil collector hunts her.

She must gather all of THE HIDDEN STAR stone! by K. Sello Duiker (book review)

book cover of The Hidden Star, by K. Sello Duiker. Published by Cassava Republic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Math is her best subject,
collecting stones a fun hobby –
the newest one is special, maybe magical!

South African parents warn kids to stay indoors all night so the creature called Zim won’t take them away. This is true in Nolitye’s shanty neighborhood where children are disappearing!

Her mother says neighbors are wrong about her late father’s amazing abilities, the school bullies steal her tiny lunch every single day, the local stray dogs are talking to her – and she finds a special stone that makes her feel giddy with joy!

Someone else wants that stone’s power, the full power of all its pieces that Nolitye is finding….

Published after the author’s early death, this tale of myth, reality, folklore, and family is worth requesting at your local library or indie bookstore – if they don’t have it, they can get it for you!

What would you wish, holding this hidden star?
**kmm

Book info: The Hidden Star / K. Sello Duiker. Cassava Republic Press, 2017. [author obituary] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Math is easy, avoiding the school bullies isn’t, but young Nolitye and her best friends are called on a difficult quest to save their South African neighborhood from an evil wizard’s control.

The lovely stone that Nolitye finds gives her such happiness. Then a mysterious woman stops time to tell her its secrets and that the eleven year old must collect its missing pieces before the wizard can gather them!

The stray dogs warn Nolitye to stay indoors one night – do they know who is stealing away children from their Soweto township?

Why does only Nolitye see that Ma Mtonga’s necklace is a living snake?

Can Nolitye, Bheki, and Four Eyes find all the pieces of the stone and stop the evil ones?

Her mother’s behavior suddenly changes, the neighbours think the mythical Zim may be the kidnapper, but only Nolitye and her friends know the truth!

And she sings… Freedom’s Just Another Word, by Carolyn Stellings (book review)

book cover of Freedom's Just Another Word, by Caroline Stellings. Published by Second Story Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Famous musicians!
Her chance to perform…
and get out of town for good.

Easy doesn’t fit in – a half-Black girl in this Canadian prairie city, raised on zydeco music and working in her dad’s garage.

Then Janis Joplin‘s tour train stops nearby, and Easy’s future path becomes clear… to a certain extent of uncertainty.

Questions, secrets, and such a 1970 roadtrip!

How far have you gone to see someone perform?
**kmm

Book info: Freedom’s Just Another Word / Caroline Stellings. Second Story Press, 2016. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Easy absolutely must find a way to get from Saskatoon to Texas so she can sing with Janis Joplin!

The Canadian prairie is as far from the segregated South as her black parents could get after the war, then a scandalous affair produced biracial Louisiana who’s done with high school and past ready to get out of town.

Between 1970 concerts, Janis Joplin’s train will stop here, and Easy is determined to sing the blues for her idol.

Through her drunken haze, Joplin recognizes Easy’s talent and invites her to Texas so they can sing together!

Hmmm…on the way to Austin, Easy can return some WWII medals to the mother of the man who was injured saving her father’s life at Pearl Harbor…

A road trip with two nuns, a stopover on Route 66, secrets whispered, secrets unleashed.

What’s causing The Year of Lightning? by Ryan Dalton (book review)

book cover of Year of Lightning, by Ryan Dalton. Published by Jolly Fish Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lightning storms go on and on.
Frost on the window in summer.
A house across the street that no one else in town can seem to remember…

Big change, moving from Chicago after Mom’s death to the small Arizona town where Dad grew up.

So many weird things are happening here – of course the twins and their new friends are going to investigate!

Can you escape sorrow by moving to a new place?
**kmm

Book info: The Year of Lightning (The Time Shift Trilogy. book 1) / Ryan Dalton. Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Malcolm sees someone in an abandoned house which has no doors, the fifteen-year-old and his twin Valentine uncover a dangerous force that imperils their small town – lightning can strike much more than twice in the same place!

New to grandmother’s old house, new to Dad’s old high school, the twins start making friends as Malcolm dives into history and Valentine impresses her science teacher.

But Patrick disappears right after Fred’s back-to-school party, so school newspaper editor Winter gets everyone investigating, as the lightning storms get more and more intense.

Is the lightning striking the abandoned house or coming from it?

Why must the strange watch found there stay with Malcolm constantly?

Who’s the shadowed man lurking around town now?

The teens and longtime town residents must hurry to find out what’s going on in that house and with the watch that won’t keep normal time before it’s too late! (first in Time Shift Trilogy).

In wartime, she finds A WHALE IN PARIS! by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders (book review)

book cover of A Whale in Paris, by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Running through the heart of Paris,
the smooth river in the City of Light –
is that a submarine or a whale?

We don’t have reported whale sightings in Paris during World War II, but young ones definitely can become separated from their pod when disoriented by percussive noises like bomb blasts.

Hope, determination, and Mama’s ukelele – that’s all that Chantal and Franklin have to aid them during the long and perilous trip back to the sea.

What is the hope that you cling to during terrible times?
**kmm

Book info: A Whale in Paris: How It Happened That Chantal Duprey Befriended a Whale During the Second World War and Helped Liberate France / Daniel Presley & Claire Polders; illustrated by Erin McGuire. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [Daniel’s author site] [Claire’s author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Miraculously, despite German soldiers swarming through Chantal’s beloved Paris, a whale appears in the Seine River!

Such hope it brings to the war-weary citizens! So angry are the Germans that it won’t obey their orders! The 12 year old names him “Franklin” after the American president who has promised to liberate France.

But food is so scarce in 1944, and some Parisians say that Franklin is eating all the river fish, that perhaps he should be feeding them instead!

Why did this wonderful sea beast come so far up the river?

Can Chantal convince Franklin to go away to safety?

Can she overcome her fear of the water that claimed her mother and go with him?

In the darkest days of World War II for Paris, a young whale and a young woman race to rescue Papa and Aunt Sophie from prison.

First day of school…again!?! PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY, by Laurie Boyle Crompton (book review)

book cover of Pretty in Punxsutawney, by Laurie Boyle Crompton. Published by Blink Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

First day at her new high school!
Excited? Nervous?
Not when it repeats day after day after…

Andie is starting her senior year at Punxsutawney High (yep, same town as the famous groundhog), so sure that Colton will continue their summer movie-theater flirtation, but no.

Movie-obsessed Mom named her for the “Pretty in Pink” redhead, but Andie’s life has turned into “Groundhog Day” as she awakens the next morning and the next and the next… for the first day of school, over and over again!

Maybe Mom’s wish for Andie’s first kiss to be with her true love has something to do with it….hmmm.

Published last week, just in time for Punxsutawney’s annual moment in the weather world’s spotlight!

If you had the chance to repeat a day and only you knew it, what would you change?
**kmm

Book info: Pretty in Punxsutawney / Laurie Boyle Crompton. Blink Young Adult Books, 2019. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Repeating her first day of school over and over, Andie realizes that only her true love’s kiss will break her out of this “Groundhog Day” loop, but as a new senior at Punxsutawney High, she finds cliques that shut out others and her summer crush taken!

Mom loves to use classic movies as life lessons, but Andie thinks the wrong guy goes to the prom with Andie (yes, same name) in “Pretty in Pink.”

Andie is certain that cute Colton is attracted to her during their summer at the movie theater, but as soon as he starts showing her around the school, Kaia moves in.

Waking up the next morning to her parents urging her to get ready for the first day of school, Andie tries a different outfit, a different way to stay around Colton, but same results.

Repeat, repeat – try to be a cheerleader, a goth kid, on yearbook staff, but Kaia still gets Colton.

When Andie realizes who she really cares for and that her classmates have lots in common if they could see past clique labels (thank you, “Breakfast Club”!), she uses everything she’s learned throughout these many, many do-over days to make it happen.

But how will someone fall in love with her – in just one day?

Marauding AI? It’s Only the End of the World! by J.A. Henderson (book review)

book cover of It's Only the End of the World, by J. A. Henderson. Published by Kelpies Edge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Robots to do our chores
and fight our wars
Who’s giving the orders here?

His dad took all their savings and disappeared – now he expects Charlie and this girl with the odd name to break a serial killer out of prison to help them save the world…hmmm. Adventure and moral dilemmas!

Read an excerpt from the book here, free courtesy of the Scotland-based publisher.

Artificial intelligence is more than robots or household answer-giving devices – as AI keeps evolving, will pesky high-maintenance, environment-spoiling humans be worth keeping around?
**kmm

Book info: It’s Only the End of the World / J. A. Henderson. Kelpies Edge/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: The girl hiding in his closet has a message from Dad who left last month – Charlie must stop an evil corporation from ending the world!

Charlie’s boring parents were radical computer hackers before he was born, exposing corporate crimes – now Dad is back at it and has uncovered terrible things about Manticorps, including a serum giving superhuman strength to soldiers (and accidentally to Charlie).

Problematic that Daffodil can’t remember anything about her past and didn’t know that ‘Frankie’ giving her info was an artificial intelligence created by Manticorps.

The two Scots teens have to trust that Dad and Frankie are working for the good guys now, on the run as Manticorps’ hired assassins close in – because Frankie has been implanted in Daffodil’s neck!

If AI has advanced this far, perhaps it’s only the end of the world for humans… what has money-hungry Manticorps invented?