Tag Archive | belonging

F is FUN THINGS TO DO WITH DEAD ANIMALS for Amun & his Egyptologist mom! by Eden Unger Bowditch & Salima Ikram (MG/YA book review)

book cover of Fun Things to do With Dead Animals, by Eden Unger Bowditch & Salima Ikram, published by AUC Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Scorpions, ancient statuettes,
learning how to make mummies,
not your average childhood!

Amun Ra tries to be a normal teenager despite his mom’s mummy obsession and switching schools between Egypt and Washington DC. And the bad guys trying to steal a priceless statue, don’t forget them…

This is the first young adult fiction book published by AUC Press, well-known for its scholarly works on Egyptology, as shown by the narrow page margins and smaller typeface than used in most books for teens.

Beyond those printing quirks, the story is full of adventure and humor with chapter titles like “A Dead Mouse in Every Bag” (Mum teaching mummification at his second grade birthday party) and “Murder by Papyrus” (with Mum at a London academic conference before eighth grade).

The American and Egyptian authors live and work within sight of many places that Amun Ra visits with his classmates or on archaeological digs with Mum, and their family and friends acted out scenes in the book for the photos that the teen tapes onto pages of his story.

Any parental embarrassments that turned out to be helpful in the end?
**kmm

Book info: Fun Things To Do With Dead Animals: Egyptology – Ruins – My Life / Eden Unger Bowditch & Salima Ikram. AUC Press, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Named for an Egyptian god, traipsing from dig site to research station with Mum, wondering how his life would be now if his dad had lived – Amun Ra would rather not have mummified dogs on the kitchen table, but probably wouldn’t enjoy the boring one-place life of his classmates in either Cairo or Washington DC.

In junior high, he endures Mum’s embarrassing museum tour with his class, encounters unscrupulous people trying to steal priceless antiquities, and stumbles onto an ancient toilet system (don’t ask how, please).

Amun-Ra’s journal includes snapshots and a few flashbacks (mouse-mummifying kits at his 2nd grade birthday party) as the young teen tries to keep up with his friends on two continents, keep jackals (animal and human) away from Mum’s excavations, and decide what he wants to do with his own future.

E = EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Be a dancer? No, go to college!
Who will get the lead role? Watch your back!
Play it safe with her heart? Take a chance, Tilly!

It may be her last opportunity to dance, so she’s working hard with the troupe, refining her technique, hoping her mother will relent and allow Tilly to keep dancing, instead of immediately attending Mama’s dream college.

A backstabbing troupe member, an old friend who may become a new love, late-night stress baking, all of New York City to explore in this too-short summer!

You might have met Tilly earlier in her stepsister Tatum’s story, It Started With Goodbye (I recommended it here), and their abuela and Paolo, too.

And check out Tilly’s guide to New York on the publisher’s website here.

When do you know which dreams are uniquely yours?
**kmm

Book info: Everywhere You Want to Be / Christina June. Blink YA, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: From her quiet DC suburb to New York City’s clamor, Tilly is thrilled to be with a summer dance troupe, but competition for roles gets vicious!

Their choreographer/director is a genius, telling them that ‘slaying the dragon’ will center their dance in a stunning performance space to end the summer.

What a summer! Grueling and rewarding rehearsals, exploring the city with her roommate, increasingly irksome pranks, and trying to undo the way she ended things at home with musician Paolo.

Scouts from major ballet companies will be at their performance. Their families and friends will be there. Will the saboteur strike there, too?

One final summer to dance, to pray that Mama won’t force her to attend college, to dream that her future is all dance (and some Paolo, too) – too much to ask?

D = difficult choices IN A PERFECT WORLD, by Trish Doller (YA book review)

book cover of In a Perfect World / Trish Dollar. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From Ohio to Egypt,
Far from friends and soccer camp,
To an old land and new understandings.

At least Carrie has time to get adjusted to life in Cairo before school starts, with the help of Adam who drives and explains customs and culture and religion and is distractingly cute.

Moving for a parent’s job (story of my life) can be challenging, rewarding, frustrating, amazing, and temporary – just like Carrie and Adam’s friendship?

Also by this author: Where the Stars Still Shine, which I featured in another A2Z year here.

What unexpected joy have you found in a new place?
**kmm

Book info: In a Perfect World / Trish Dollar. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In Egypt for Mom’s new job, Carrie decides that exploring Cairo will ease her homesickness for Ohio, but cultural expectations collide when their driver’s teen son must take the wheel.

Adam must give up his restaurant job when his father falls ill, now driving Carrie around her new city in the summer before her senior year – so much for her to see and learn…with such a nice young man.

The charity eye clinic must hire a male doctor to assist Mom because most Egyptian men won’t allow her to treat them.

Carrie is Catholic, Adam is Muslim.
He’s Egyptian, she’s American.
She’s in Cairo for a year, he’ll probably never leave.
Tourism fuels both their hometowns, but foreigners aren’t welcome.

Their budding relationship? Haram, forbidden – but in a perfect world…

C is CHANGERS: BOOK 4 – FOREVER, by T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper (YA book review)

book cover of Changers: Book 4-Forever, by T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper. Published by Black Sheep/Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Four bodies,
four identities,
same you!

The first morning of senior year is less scary than first day of freshman year for most.

But that’s when teens who are Changers wake up to their fourth transformation into a completely new identity – gender, race, sexuality, talents, every physical characteristic is likely to be different from who they appeared to be as a junior or sophomore or freshman.

And before graduation, they must decide which of those four Versions to keep for the rest of their lives!

This is a bang-up ending to the series and could be read solo, but do yourself a favor and go through the whole journey with this Changer teen’s personas of Drew (book 1 recommended here), Oryon (book 2 review), and Kim (book 3 notes) first!

How much can you change yourself to become more yourself?
**kmm

Book info: Changers: Book Four – Forever / T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper. Black Sheep/ Akashic Books, 2018. [T Cooper site] [Allison site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Junior year at Kim’s Tennessee high school brought new friendships and old conflicts renewed. One more identity to experience as a senior – and it’s the person seen in earlier visions as cause of a tragic death!

Being transformed on the first day of school each year into another body is wild.
Keeping the same inner identity without giving that away is really hard.
Maintaining the secrecy of the world’s Changers when attacked by Abiders is near-impossible!

Four Versions, four options – which choice will be their one body forever?

Preceded by Changers Book One: Drew, Book Two: Oryon, and Book Three: Kim.

B is for BOY BAND OF THE APOCALYPSE! by Tom Nicoll, art by David O’Connell (YA book review)

book cover of Boy Band of the Apocalypse by Tom Nicoll, published by Kane Miller EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The band everyone loves!
Lead singer leaves? Oh, no!
Now the world is doomed… really.

Music reaches into our very souls at times, and this boy band will use their songs to control as many teen souls as they can – unless rather unmusical Sam can infiltrate Apocalips and stop them!

At least that’s what the prophecy says…

Another fun British import brought to the US by Kane Miller Publishing – and yes, the second book is available now: Boy Band of the Apocalypse: Washed Up.

Prophecy, destiny, or free will?
**kmm

Book info: Boy Band of the Apocalypse (Boy Band of the Apocalypse, book 1) / Tom Nicoll, illustrated by David O’Connell. Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2019. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Witnessing the world’s most popular boy band secretly murder their lead singer puts Sam in a tough spot as the British thirteen year old is tapped to stop Apocalips from destroying the world!

After reluctantly attending the concert with her best friend, Sam’s feisty little sister is suddenly a total Apocalips fan, like those bullying Heatherstone quadruplets in Sam’s class… very out of character.

Now that Sam knows Apocalips is intent on conquering the world with a new lead singer, he is forced to audition despite his shaky voice and bad dancing. Genius pal Milo’s invention will help with the singing, and Sam’s boring accountant parents will help with the dancing – really?!

Fame and fortune are his – if Sam can survive the weirdest audition ever and find the secret of Apocalips’ mind-control before it’s too late for everyone!

Gold, danger, daring – FIRE & HEIST, by Sarah Beth Durst (YA book review)

book cover of Fire & Heist, by Sara Beth Durst. Published by Crown BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Loves gold – check.
Lives in gated community – check.
Breathes fire – not your average rich teen girl!

Being the youngest following super-talented brothers is rarely easy, and being told she can’t attempt the coming-of-age quest means that Sky will try even harder.

Gold sings to her blood – yep, wyvern is the more socially acceptable name for were-dragon.

Her impulsive nature wars against the detailed planning needed to successfully steal the artifact that Mom coveted, but Sky is determined to succeed, with a little help from her friends.

What’s your favorite family-first story?
**kmm

Book info: Fire & Heist / Sara Beth Durst. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sky wants to restore her family’s status within their exclusive Colorado mountain community, so she does what any 16-year-old wyvern would – attempt the heist scripted by Mom and get back their gold, all their gold and more!

Human on the outside, dragon on the inside, Sky longs to complete her first quest and erase some of the shame brought on her family by Mom’s disappearance during a heist gone wrong.

Luckily, that arcane artifact is in a vault in her boyfriend’s family mansion so he must know ways around the chief were-dragon’s magic protections.

Unluckily, Ryan dumped Sky when her family’s worth plunged at the Reckoning. So much for being soulmates.

Curiously, a human girl at school might be able to help, if only Sky were allowed to tell her that wyverns live right here…

A caper story, a friendship story, a betrayal story, a family-first story – soar with Sky as she uncovers deep secrets high in the Rockies.

In wartime, love is written WITHIN THESE LINES, by Stephanie Morrill (YA book review)

book cover of Within These Lines, by Stephanie Morrill. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Pearl Harbor,
Evacuations and preparations,
American citizens sent to concentration camps.

Yes, Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and the other ‘relocation camps’ where Japanese-Americans were sent – with only the suitcases they could carry – were concentration camps.

Trusting neighbors to safeguard their houses, selling cars and business equipment for pennies on the dollar, Japanese-Americans on the West Coast hoped to return home soon…

Parents and neighbors wouldn’t approve of their relationship, but after his family is sent to Manzanar, Taichi and Evalina write letter after letter, daring to plan a future together.

Happy book birthday on March 5th to Within These Lines!

Would you speak out against popular opinion in stressful times, as Evalina did?
**kmm

Book info: Within These Lines / Stephanie Morrill. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The budding romance between Evalina and Taichi becomes a long-distance correspondence when his family is ‘evacuated’ to Manzanar concentration camp in the California desert after Pearl Harbor.

Many disagree that Japanese-Americans are true citizens of this country during World War II, but Italian-American Evalina will keep writing persuasive letters to San Francisco newspapers and arguing with her political science professor.

With blankets for apartment walls and dust blowing like despair through any crevice at Manzanar, Taichi will stand against the pro-Japan Black Dragon gang to protect his family.

Even though mixed-race marriage is illegal in their home state, it’s worth dreaming of a future together…right?

Letter by letter, thought by thought, Evalina and Taichi are separated by many valleys and mountains, held together by hope.

Stolen from Sinclair’s! MYSTERY OF THE PAINTED DRAGON, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Painted Dragon, by Katherine Woodfine. Published by Kane Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A famous painting!
A locked-door theft!
A dread criminal threatens everyone…

Better than the “Boy Detective” penny thrillers that Billy reads, the cases that the young employees of Sinclair’s (amazing, astounding) Department Store all seem to have terrible villain The Baron at their core – but why is he targeting Sophie and Sinclair’s in particular?

This is third in the Sinclair’s series set in 1909 London, following The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (my review here) and The Mystery of the Jeweled Moth (here).

Many strands come together in the fourth book, The Mystery of the Midnight Peacock (fireworks! hidden passageways! The King visiting Sinclair’s Department Store!), so ask for the whole paperback set at your local library or independent bookstore.

Which friends do you want by your side when there’s a mystery to unravel?
**kmm

Book info: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 3) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sophie and Lil are on the case again when a famous painting is stolen from Sinclair’s Department Store in 1909, and the investigative teens suspect that London criminal mastermind The Baron is involved.

Snobbish art critic Mr. Lyle allows sudents of the Spencer School of Art to assist with the exhibition at Spencer’s, where a rare dragon painting loaned by the King himself holds a place of honor.

Art school instead of university? Lil’s brother Jack is hiding his enrollment at the Spencer from his parents – scandalous!

Hobbled as much by the expectations of British society as by her crippled leg, Leo eagerly escaped her parents’ country estate to attend art school in London. New friends, new opportunities, an attack in the train station?

Leo and Jack join the team as Sophie (ladies’ hats), Lil (dress model and actress), Jack (stable hand), and Billy (office boy and avid reader of detective fiction) work on their third case together as ruthless crime boss The Baron moves ever closer to his prize.

Time for rebellion! WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, by Tehlor Kay Mejia (YA book review)

book cover of We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Meija. Published by Katherine Tegen Books/HMH | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Analytical, the planner – Primera.
Sensual, the mother – Segunda.
Two wives – harmony or life-long tension?

Because one god couldn’t choose between the two women he loved, now all men of Medio’s ruling class live in luxury with two wives, while the poor of the divided island have too little, and revolutionaries are determined to change that imbalance, whatever the cost.

Dani and Carmen have been groomed for years to take their respective places as Primera and Segunda in prominent households, secure in the gated compound far above the salt-soaked lands of the poor, but their roles quickly become masks hiding their true selves and forbidden affections.

Happy February 26th book birthday to Meija’s debut novel! Her short stories have been published in collections including Toil & Trouble, which I recommended earlier this year.

When marriage is a political business, where is love?
**kmm

Book info: We Set the Dark on Fire / Tehlor Kay Meija. Katherine Tegen Books (HMH), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On their divided tropical island, the rich get richer, the poor are brutalized, and revolution is snaking through the land, even into the mansion that Dani and Carmen share with their new husband and perilous secrets!

As Primera, Daniela rules her emotions and every aspect of their husband’s household; as Segunda, Carmen will be adored as mother of his children. But the teens soon realize that Mateo is planning violence to keep the poor at bay and that their own secrets endanger them as well.

Dani’s parents escaped over the wall into Medio and sacrificed everything to get her into the Academy where society’s daughters train to become co-wives in ruling class households, where Carmen and friends teased her mercilessly for five years, where the La Voz revolution saves her from being found out and imprisoned.

With Carmen in the same household, how can Dani help La Voz?
Her training decrees that Primeras don’t love – what is Dani feeling now?
Her training decrees that a Segunda keeps her husband happy – why is Carmen so torn?

Fearing their husband, loving each other, Dani and Carmen may have to follow La Voz despite the dangers.

Sister’s big wedding! SAVE THE DATE, by Morgan Matson (book review)

book cover of Save the Date, by Morgan Matson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Wedding on the horizon!
Family all here again!
well, almost everyone…

Charlie misses the days when her older siblings were all home, when Mom’s cartooning career really took off, but not when the comic made her brother so very angry.

Surely Mike will be here for Linnie’s wedding and his best friend will conveniently forget Charlie’s crush and the grumpiest neighbor ever will decide to act neighborly for once, right?

From the author of The Unexpected Everything (my review here), Second Chance Summer (ditto), and Since You’ve Been Gone (here too).

What would the award-winning comic strip based on your family be like?!
**kmm

Book info: Save the Date / Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Charlie is delighted that all her siblings will be home for her sister’s wedding, but how many things can go wrong before everything falls apart?

Lots of changes coming – Mom and Dad selling the house, Mom ending the 25-year-long run of “Grant Central Station” comic featuring their family, Charlie graduating soon (but maybe staying here in Connecticut for college?).

Then it gets crazy – their wedding planner suddenly vanishes, the house alarm system goes bonkers, and their neighbor is calling the cops about the delivery vans.

Deep breaths everyone – more drama than usual in the groom’s family, brother Mike still isn’t here as the wedding hour approaches, the Good Morning America crew is on the way, and Charlie’s crush shows up.

What now?! The groom’s suit goes missing at the cleaners, a stray dog is suddenly underfoot, and the new wedding assistant is efficient and charming… very charming.

The more that Charlie wants things to be the way they used to be for her family, the more they’re not!