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Alien earth-visit with one slight problem: LEONARD (MY LIFE AS A CAT), by Carlie Sorosiak (MG book review)

book cover of Leonard (My Life as a Cat), by Carlie Sorosiak. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

He studied all the media and video,
chose his new identity carefully –
ready for a working vacation on Earth… oops!

Getting distracted during atmospheric entry was a huge mistake, as a young 300-year-old alien appears in a coastal South Carolina town as a house cat during a storm instead of becoming a park ranger at Yellowstone!

Animal-lover Olive has a hard time making new friends and feels stranded this summer before middle school as Mom and her new boyfriend are in California for his business. After her dad died, she hadn’t been here in a long time – maybe volunteering at the aquarium with grandmother Norma will be okay.

Rescuing a scruffy cat she calls Leonard makes things better – a very unusual cat who loves being at the aquarium with them… and starts typing messages on her laptop!

Leonard has just a month to do all the things he’s dreamed of for centuries – go to a real movie theater, host a dinner party, create and enjoy a cheese sandwich – so of course Olive will help.

Learning to walk on a leash, trying to do absolutely anything without opposable thumbs, becoming fond of Olive and Norma and Q at the aquarium – these are not the experiences that Leonard planned to carry back to his all-mind society on their helium world…

Of course, that last part wouldn’t leave Earth since only data will return with Leonard, no emotions. And if he doesn’t get to Yellowstone by the end of the month, he won’t return to his galaxy – ever!

Does Q suspect that Leonard isn’t an ordinary cat?
Will Norma ever ask Olive to call her ‘grandma’?
Can Olive and Leonard convince Q and Norma to take a trip to Yellowstone very soon?

Come along on the ultimate summer road-trip for this hyper-intelligent cat and his new friends!

If you could go any place, any time, what’s your ultimate destination?
**kmm

Book Info: Leonard (My Life as a Cat) / Carlie Sorosiak. Walker Books US, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

New heart, new dreams, EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW is upended, by Shannon Takaoka (YA book review)

book cover of Everything I Thought I Knew, by Shannon Takaoka, published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A better race time,
better grades for better college,
a better heart?

Chloe’s plans shatter when she’s suddenly sidelined from cross-country running to wait for a heart transplant, missing so much of her senior year that she’ll have to attend summer school with the slackers so she can graduate.

The 17 year old’s new heart came from a young donor within 30 miles of her California home, that’s all the hospital can say. Now everyday life is lots of anti-rejection pills and checkups and nightmares she never had before and avoiding her classmates’ graduation celebrations.

On a sudden whim, she decides to take surfing lessons to get away from her parents’ constant hovering and her unusual boredom with school subjects that plan-everything Chloe used to enjoy.

Kai teaches more by example than words, but every week’s lessons with the cute teen guy give her a focus beyond the yawning boredom of summer school.

Her new pal Jane is fine with Chloe’s out-of-character ideas, like getting a tattoo and trying to find out about her heart donor despite the other family’s wish not to be contacted.

If she gets better at surfing, will Kai stop giving her lessons?
Where did this sudden passion for music come from?
Who had the motorcycle crash in her recurring nightmare?

As Chloe’s dreams unspool incidents related to the crash, she’s compelled to follow those clues around the Bay Area like her life now is a mystical puzzle.

When have you felt an unexplainable connection to someone?
**kmm

Book info: Everything I Thought I Knew / Shannon Takaoka. Candlewick Press, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Singing, dancing, emotions! THAT THING ABOUT BOLLYWOOD, by Supriya Kelkar (MG book review)

book cover of That Thing About Bollywood, by Supriya Kelkar. Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Happy music, angry words,
favorite foods, empty chair…
No more changes!

If family Hindi movie night would get Mom and Dad in a better mood, Sonali and little brother Ronak would be so much happier.

Those classic Bollywood movies remind the California 11 year old of her late grandfather’s video store and their shared love of this vibrant movie style from India, with its familiar patterns of music style and dance for the emotions in each story.

But along with drama class for the new semester and best friend Zara buddying up with Air, Sonali has to cope with the all-cousins dance routine for her aunt’s upcoming wedding and her parents separating.

Too many changes for Ronak’s “robot sister” who decided to lock away her emotions when grandfather died… and now Sonali hears constant music – her own theme song like in the movies!

Boom – her house and school are bathed in bright colors, anyone happy or woeful bursts out into song, and she’s the only one who thinks this Bollywooditis is new!

Why are her parents still arguing when they live apart?
Can Sonali channel her Bollywooditis into a better theater class grade?
When will Zara be her best friend again?

Sonali doesn’t want all her memories to get a Bollywood makeover too, so she has to figure out how to stop this emotional music-storm before it’s too late!

How would folks singing and dancing their emotions make you feel?
**kmm

Book info: That Thing About Bollywood / Supriya Kelkar. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can she stay safe from THE MEMORY THIEF? by Jody Lynn Anderson (MG book review)

book cover of The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson, published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lurking spirits,
Mom mourning loss,
stories hide secrets!

When 12 year old Rosie decides it’s time to burn the stories she’s written to fill the empty spaces in herself, the old seaside house that she shares with so-forgetful Mom is filled with ghosts!

Her best friend Germ (really Gemma) starts liking makeup and boys, but Rosie has other things to worry about, like bringing her widowed mom back to the present long enough to sign progress reports so no one suspects her lack of attention to the sixth grader and her obsession with watching the sea.

The ghosts she can now see lead Rosie to an ancient book, The Witch Hunter’s Guide, that reveals much about her family history and perhaps why Mom can’t remember Rosie from day to day.

Somehow Germ also begins to see the ghosts (when not practicing with mean girl Bibi for the talent show!) who lead them to hidden buildings and warn that the 13 witches controlling the world know Rosie is coming into her powers!

What’s keeping the ghosts tethered to her New England town?
Can Rosie and Germ escape the Memory Thief’s cursing touch?
Could they rescue “him floating out there” that Mom is longing for?

First in a new trilogy by the author of My Diary From the Edge of the World (recommended here).

What family story do you want more details about?
**kmm

Book Info: The Memory Thief (Thirteen Witches, book 1) / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

V is Verity & visions in EVENTIDE, by Sarah Goodman (YA book review)

book cover of Eventide, by Sarah Goodman. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

They say she’s a spirit,
went mad from her loss…
a bit of truth in every tall tale.

From studying medicine with her father and preparing for college in 1907 to hoeing corn in rural Arkansas – 17-year-old Verity’s world became so small when the local schoolteacher chose little sister Lilah from the orphan train, but rejected her.

Verity grows to like the Weatheringtons as she toils on their small farm with their teen nephew and fellow book-lover Abel, working hard so she can earn enough to get her and Lilah back home.

The tragic story of Rev. Mayhew’s daughter jilted in love and walking away from home in the snow, the eerie deep woods where no one goes, how swiftly Miss Maeve has Lilah calling her Mama – everyone knows everything about everyone else in this superstitious small town.

Why is there a body beside the well in the woods?
Papa’s in an asylum in New York – how could he get here?
Is Lilah truly safe in Miss Maeve’s stately home?

There’s magic hiding here, a secret seeking to escape, and Verity may have uncovered a dark truth that won’t leave her alone.

Can a family secret be a good thing?
**kmm

Book info: Eventide / Sarah Goodman. Tor Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for ODDITY, logic-defying objects, the desire of Clover’s heart, by Eli Brown (YA book review)

book cover of Oddity, by Eli Brown. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A button that whistles when it rains,
the rooster leading US troops into battle,
the search for oddities that killed Clover’s mother…

Far from the city, Clover’s physician father trains her to treat the ills and injuries of country folk. Rarely will he speak of the accident that claimed her mother, a noted scholar of magical Oddities that draw the thirteen year old’s attention and her father’s wrath.

An attack on their home sends Clover fleeing with just their medical bag and papa’s warning that he did keep one necessary Oddity of mama’s collection – but what?

Each Oddity can do one very specific thing and only that – a fiddle that compels hearers to dance, the umbrella that stores lightning bolts – how many uncataloged Oddities are still waiting to be found?

Nessa’s medicine show wagon can get Clover to the city, if they can outwit bandits and avoid magical creature attacks along the forest road.

But the young woman finds more questions than answers when she locates her mother’s colleague in the city – and treachery too!

A hat filled with secrets and fangs, the deadliest snake of all, a destructive ragdoll, the Seamstress who stitches together malign creatures from odd parts – who will gain control of their world?

In this alternate history tale, Napoleon used an Oddity to create platoons of identical soldiers for the Louisiana War that tore apart the New World, a corrupt politician wants to use Oddities to control the now-bankrupt eleven Unified States, and Clover journeys into danger to find the source of the Oddities’ magic.

One small task per Oddity – what would you choose? What price would you be willing to pay?
**kmm

Book info: Oddity / Eli Brown, illustrated by Karin Rytter. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [author video] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N for NOAH MCNICHOL & THE BACKSTAGE GHOST! by Martha Freeman (MG book review)

Book cover of Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost, by Martha Freeman. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Skulls and fake blood and foam swords,
“there are no small parts, only small players”
The play’s the thing!

Dad says wanting to act is just a phase, so the sixth grade play is Noah’s big chance to be on stage! Oh no – the drama teacher is out so the PE coach will direct them… in Hamlet?

Luckily, an older Jewish guy named Mike volunteers to help because strange things are happening while Coach Fig spends rehearsals on his phone!

The “No-Trauma Drama” script now has its original gruesome ending, the costumes and sets are way better than previous years’ Hamlet, and a cold breeze drifts backstage when all the doors are closed.

Despite not being cast as Hamlet, Noah is enjoying play practice and Mike’s interesting advice… and watching Mike vanish into thin air – is their guest director a ghost?

Noah’s college professor parents are arguing again about which subjects are more important – why is Dad the physics teacher so angry about literature?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is way more interesting than the family-friendly version written by the lady who donated the school’s nice theater – can they do the real one without interference?

Suddenly, their drama club one-night-only performance is the hot ticket in their New York town – break a leg!

Conversing with someone long gone – yes or no?
**kmm

Book info: Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost / Martha Freeman. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is THE COST OF KNOWING the future, past & pain, by Brittney Morris (YA book review)

book cover of The Cost of Knowing, by Brittney Morris. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Accidents happen,
life goes on in sorrow,
the future is a mystery… right?

Orphaned by a car wreck, 16 year old Alex and little brother Isaiah now live with Aunt Mackie in a ‘very nice’ Chicago subdivision where a white neighbor rants in the Black family’s kitchen about requiring background checks for renters during a rap mega-star’s concert nearby.

She doesn’t know, no one knows that after the accident Alex began seeing the future of every object – and every person – that his fingers touch. Future of an ice cream dipper at Scoops is no big deal. But the longer he touches, the more of the future he sees, so touching the people he cares about is too much to bear.

When exactly will girlfriend Talia walk away from their future together?
How long can Alex endure the future invading his every breath?
Why is 12-year-old Izzy wearing headphones every single moment of summer?

Braving Izzy’s anger to find common ground before any future happens, Alex bets everything on them going to the Shiv concert together, wishing this curse would vanish… Brand-new speculative fiction from the author of Slay.

Would you want to see the future… really?
**kmm

Book Info: The Cost of Knowing / Brittney Morris. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G for GLIMPSED by a high school fairy godmother! by G.F. Miller (YA book review)

book cover of Glimpsed, by G.F Miller. Published by Simon Schuster BYFR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Seeing their deepest wish,
Sending a few ‘nudges’ into nearby minds –
teen fairy godmother improving lives… right?

Charity can ‘glimpse’ someone’s most-longed-for future and secretly help them attain it – with best friend and fashion maven Sean’s help as needed – and sees past successes in her California high school halls.

Her grandmother (and fairy godmother mentor) warns that trying to nudge Vindhya from robotics club to Homecoming Queen in nine days is too fast, that people need time to change themselves based on the suggestions that Charity plants in their minds.

Uh oh! Adorkable Noah has figured out that the super-popular Pom squad dancer is also a fairy godmother and is ready to tell all!

Eldest in his Star Trek-obsessed family, Noah is sure that her ‘gift’ is logically explainable, and since Charity granted Holly’s wish to be popular which took Holly away from Noah… time to examine the data.

Could she help get Noah and Holly to their Happily Ever After without nudging anyone?

Who’s right – big sister Hope far away from their too-quiet house, workaholic Mom denying that she has any gift, or her grandmother embracing it extravagantly?

Is she pushing Glimpsed relationships in the right direction or are the Glimpses controlling her?

Ask for Glimpsed at your local library or independent bookstore to find out which path Charity chooses for her own future!

Do you want a Glimpse to become true…really and truly?
**kmm

Book info: Glimpsed / G. F. Miller. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Avenging his death? It’s up to ELATSOE & her gifts, by Darcie Little Badger (book review)

of Elatsoe, by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her dreams carry truth,
Every animal, dead or alive, knows her,
Cousin’s death was no accident!

During their dream conversation, Trevor revealed his killer’s name, so Ellie’s sacred duty is justice for her cousin whose Anglo widow Lenore doesn’t fully understand Lipan Apache ways or traditions.

Down the length of Texas go Ellie and her parents for his funeral, to a town that’s shown only on paper maps, with lush green lawns during drought, New England colonial-style buildings, and a strong dislike for newcomers.

The person named by Trevor is rich Dr. Allerton known for his miraculous cures – how did he and a young grade-school teacher ever cross paths?

Like her many-generations-ago grandmother Great-Six, Ellie can raise animals from the dead and has powers against supernatural creatures – will this be enough to stop whatever is keeping her cousin from his final rest?

Vampires, monsters, fairy-ring transport stations, greed and deception – asexual Ellie, her ghost dog Kirby, and best friend Jay try to piece together the mystery to protect her cousin’s son and widow before it’s too late.

Happy book birthday to this debut #ownvoices novel bringing the stories of Great-Six back to the land and waters of south Texas as her descendent Elatsoe lives into her heritage to battle against evil.

How do you support family in difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Elatsoe / Darcie Little Badger; illustrated by Ravina Cai. Levine Querido, 2020. [author Twitter] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.