Tag Archive | belonging

She thought her home is WHERE THE HEART IS, but is it? by Jo Knowles (MG book review)

book cover of  Where the Heart Is, by Jo Knowles. Published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gotta get a job,
help with the bills…
what a 13th birthday surprise!

Rachel and best friend Micah want to have a summer filled with lazy days at the lake, ice cream, and her little sister tagging along.

But money troubles are piling up for Mom and Dad, so she gets a job caring for their new neighbors’ hobby farm animals. Are they really raising that mean ol’ pig for bacon?

Too many things are changing – next year is eighth grade, the Townsends built their big new house on the best winter sledding hill, Micah wants to be her boyfriend… no crushes on boys for her.

Does Cybil want to be more than a casual friend?
Will Mom and Dad ever stop fighting about money?
Will Rachel’s pay as a farm helper be enough?

Rachel’s summer seems more like a raging river of worries than their favorite calm lakeshore beach as she tries to navigate around so many new obstacles.

Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel and family on her big birthday.

Is home really “where the heart is”?
**kmm

Book info: Where the Heart Is / Jo Knowles. Candlewick Press, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Home= empty, camp =more, NO PLACE LIKE HERE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of No Place Like Here, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYABooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dad’s lies catch up with him,
Mom’s depression is so deep,
what’s the appropriate quotation for this?

No summer with friends for Ashlyn after being unfairly sent to boarding school last year for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

While Dad is in prison for tax evasion and Mom’s taking spa treatments to cope, Ash has to work at summer camp with the cousin she hasn’t seen since they were little kids.

Actually it’s a retreat center in the Pennsylvania woods, worlds away from her DC suburb… who knows what she’ll be doing or how her rarely-visited family will treat her.

Her aunt and uncle welcome her warmly, cousin Hannah will show her everything at the center, and surely summer will pass smoothly so Ashlyn’s parents will let her transfer home for her senior year.

Of course the newest employee gets the most boring jobs (sports equipment checkout for family reunion? yawn), but even she can tell that the recently hired director isn’t keeping up with essentials.

Flirting with lifeguard Marcus and ziplining with Baxter are definite high points; visiting Dad in prison isn’t.

Will the camp owner listen to Ashlyn’s concerns about the director?
When will Dad’s stern voice stop invading her thoughts?

We met Ashlyn last summer in It Started With Goodbye (my no-spoiler recommendation here) as she and best friend Tatum made small choices with big consequences – now see what’s next (like this same summer for T’s stepsister recounted in Everywhere You Want To Be (more here)).

How have you turned a bad situation into a better one?
**kmm

Book info: No Place Like Here / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

From away to here? LOVE FROM A TO Z, by S. K. Ali (YA book review)

book cover of Love From A to Z, by S.K. Ali, published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Hate-filled rhetoric in class – by the teacher!
Unwelcome diagnosis = uncertain future.
This isn’t the time to fall in love, but…

Zayneb clashes with her anti-Muslim teacher one time too many, is suspended from her Indiana high school, and sent early to visit her aunt in Doha for spring break – taking along her marvels and oddities journal – as her friends keep investigating the teacher’s extremist connections.

Adam has dropped out of university in London, devoting every moment to creating before multiple sclerosis robs the feeling from his hands, just as it did for his late mom – now heading home to Dad and little sister in Doha, with his marvels and oddities journal and guitar.

Her aunt and his dad work at the same school, so Zayneb and Adam officially meet each other at a teachers’ party, then socialize with his friends, as a group of course.

Adam keeps his diagnosis secret – how could Dad cope with another loss?
Zayneb mourns for her grandmother – what’s this new news about her death while in Pakistan for a wedding?
Spring break is short – can Adam finish the art installation for his sister before he cannot do anything with his hands?

Long-term, long-distance – their possibility of a forever-relationship might be an oddity or a marvel or impossible…start their story with chapter one, a free excerpt on the publisher’s website.

From the author of Saints and Misfits, which I recommended here.

When have you squeezed much happiness into a small timeframe?
**kmm

Book info: Love from A to Z / S. K. Ali. Salaam Reads, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Fast, fat, funny, real – THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE for him, by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of There's Something About Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Parent-arranged dates,
hokey or helpful?
Hopefully heal his heartbreak.

Ashish needs to get over his breakup (first time he’s ever been dumped) and get back his basketball groove, and his Indian-American parents think setting him up with a nice Desi girl will help?

Sweetie wants her mom to realize that losing weight won’t make the high school junior happier (her friends love her right now) or run any faster (no one can beat her on the track), but how? Time for ‘Project Sassy Sweetie’ and getting out of her comfort zone!

Four very specific dates (and a behavior contract – Pappa is always a businessman) – Ashish’s Ma is sure that Sweetie is the perfect girl for him, but his love-and-leave reputation in the close-knit Bay area Desi community makes Sweetie’s mother say no to the idea.

But Sweetie says yes (Project Sassy Sweetie!), so off they go, to the temple and the Holi festival and his eccentric aunt’s place, each time enjoying one another’s company more.

Surely, on their fourth date for Sweetie’s birthday party, Amma will see this indeed was a good idea…
Surely, Ashish’s white ex-girlfriend will completely fade from his memory…

Told in alternating chapters, this fun (but not frivolous) romantic story is a May 2019 companion to When Dimple Met Rishi (Ashish’s perfect big brother) – you can enjoy this book without reading the other (my no-spoiler recommendation here), but make yourself happier by reading both!

What ingrained family opinion have you overcome for the better?
**kmm

Book info: There’s Something About Sweetie / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Supernaturally, she is both THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME, by Nafiza Azad (YA book review)

book cover of The Candle and the Flame, by Nafiza Azad. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Djinn of order and of chaos battle in the human world that is home to neither in this adventurous tale, while family loyalties are tested, and a young woman receives an unsought gift that can break boundaries if it doesn’t fracture her first.

Through the Name Giver, ifrits can come from their world to help humans defend theirs from the ravaging Shayateen whose dark night of slaughter left only three survivors hidden in an entire city.

But when the Name Giver is compromised in the now-repopulated city of Noor, its ifrit Emir and human maharajah face a greater peril.

How does the Fire of ifrit Ghazala come to human survivor Fatima who never knew her?
Can the Emir help Fatima navigate this unknown convergence?
What lurks in the opulent halls of the reluctant maharajah’s palace?

Each time the muezzin’s call sounds over her beloved city of a thousand nations, Fatima prays for their safety, yet again…

Happy book birthday to this extraordinary tale of magic, relationships, and the importance of being seen.

What’s in your name?
**kmm

Book info: The Candle and the Flame / Nafiza Azad. Scholastic Press, 2019. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

May the Fourth be with you! TRAGEDY OF THE SITH’S REVENGE, by Ian Doescher (book review)

book cover of William Shakespeare's Tragedy of the Sith's Revenge, by Ian Doescher, published by Quirk Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Today is Free Comic Book Day, so find your nearest participating comics store here and get there fast, before the excellent selection of free comic books runs out!

It’s also Star Wars Day – a good opportunity to point you to another volume in Ian Doescher’s Shakespearean retellings of the Star Wars movies… read ye now the Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge (movie episode three).

Yes, our valiant Chewbacca appears in this volume (farewell too soon, actor Peter Mayhew), as do many characters good and evil from the episodes in this series before and after this one:

The Phantom of Menace (part 1), The Clone Army Attacketh (part 2), William Shakespeare’s Star Wars  (part 4), The Empire Striketh Back  (part 5), and The Jedi Doth Return (part 6).

Doescher has also penned part 7 The Force Doth Awaken and part 8 Jedi the Last, all Shakespearean and all faithful to the movies.

And as I wrote in 2015:
Why speak just now of this most-worthy tome,
Why note it not upon its natal day?
Mark well today’s harmonious date, kind one,
And may the Force be with us all, I pray!
**kmm

Book info: William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge (Star Wars Part the Third) / Ian Doescher. Quirk Books, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

And Z = Kat Zhang’s THE MEMORY OF FORGOTTEN THINGS (MG book review)

book cover of The Memory of Forgotten Things, by Kat Zhang. Published by Aladdin/Simon&Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Born during a partial eclipse, Sophie sees Memories of her late mother… that never happened.
Same birthday as Sophie, DJ sketches his stepdad… whom he’s never met.
Luke knows a solar eclipse specialist, perfect source for their group project…but Mr. Scot is a mystery himself.

All three middle-schoolers have lost someone dear to them, want life to be the way it was before. This is more than just deja vu.

Some people say that parallel universes draw closer during eclipses, like the one they’ll see next week.
Some say that special places have unexplained energies and the barriers between worlds are thinner.
Maybe the old Donway Shallows mill outside town is one of those places…

Their last project before school’s out for summer is almost complete… will whatever happens during the eclipse fill the holes in their lives?
Could they truly cross over into a universe where Sophie’s mom is alive, DJ lives with his stepdad, and Luke’s sister was never in that car wreck?
But what would this universe be like if they left it?

Chance threw them together for this project, granting them a opportunity for friendship in their small town with long memories about family problems.

Any eclipse stories to share?
**kmm

U is for Utah, where writing his AUTOBOYOGRAPHY is dangerously daring, by Christina Lauren (YA book review)

book cover of Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Moved reluctantly from California to Utah,
shutting his expanded heart back into the closet.
Just one year till graduation and escape from the land of Mormon like Mom did,
until he meets the right guy….

Drafting a novel during a single high school semester can’t be impossible, right? After all, Sebastian did it last year and sold his book!!

Not so simple, Tanner and best friend Amber discover, even when Sebastian pops in from BYU to mentor their class.

Tanner’s story begins to revolve around a just-older literary adviser who just happens to look like Sebastian and be adorable and perhaps not out of the bisexual teen’s reach.

Easy enough for Sebastian to read between the lines of Tanner’s manuscript, not so easy for him to react to Tanner’s feelings, but he does!

Four months until Tanner’s final draft is due, four months till Sebastian leaves on book tour then his two-year LDS mission.

Four months is long enough to draft a novel, but not long enough to change an entire culture, and Sebastian is so torn.

Religion, love… when do you know what’s right, what’s best for you?
**kmm

Book info: Autoboyography / Christina Lauren (Lauren Billings & Christina Hobbs). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

R for Kimberly Reid & #Prettyboy Must Die (YA book review)

book cover of Prettyboy Must Die, by Kimberly Reid. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Clever foster kid,
small-time con artist & hacker,
ideal CIA recruit!

The early-training scheme that landed a Black teen from Atlanta in a small Ukrainian town trying to stop a ruthless arms dealer didn’t go well.

So here he is at a new school with a new identity and new friends…but not the only one who isn’t operating under their true name or allegiance!

How do you know who to trust?
**kmm

Book info: Prettyboy Must Die / Kimberly Reid. Tor Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Now undercover at a prestigious Colorado boarding school, Jake is haunted by his first failure as a CIA operative when a candid photo of the 16 year old African American goes viral and the bad guys arrive, more than ready to kill!

Former foster kid Jake has a new identity as Pete for his senior year at Carlisle (double-crossed Ukrainian arms dealers are more than mean), keeping tabs on the kids of diplomats, high-ranking military, and super-scientists – plus his housemate Bunk who lived underground with his dad till last year.

No coincidence that armed hostiles invade Carlisle the morning after that photo hits social media or that the Ukranian hacker has attacked super-secret projects near Denver or that Jake is the only one who can save his classmates and national security!

Someone inside the school let the hostiles in – why?
Mysterious packages arrived recently – for which international student?

The bad guys say that “Prettyboy must die” but Jake is determined to keep everyone at Carlisle alive!

P is for PATH TO THE STARS: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, by Sylvia Acevedo (YA book review)

book cover of Path to the Stars, by Sylvia Acevedo. Published by Clarion Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The world of books,
the sisterhood of Girl Scouts,
her chance for dreams to come true!

Papa’s attention went mostly to her big brother, Mama focused on little sister whose bout with meningitis scarred the whole family (not much money, lots of love), so Sylvia discovered her own best way through life, with the help of her Girl Scout troop and leaders.

This biography brings readers into Sylvia’s extended family, into the days when Latinas were just being accepted into science professions, into her growing attitude that she can plan and dream and make those dreams come true.

So excited that she is a keynote speaker this week at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin!

What influences have helped you during your life journey?
**kmm

Book info: Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist / Sylvia Acevedo. Clarion Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Also available in Spanish – Camino a las estrellas (Path to the Stars Spanish edition): Mi recorrido de Girl Scout a ingeniera astronáutica / Sylvia Acevedo and Isabel Mendoza. Clarion Books, 2018.

My book talk: From the rocket science lab and executive board room, Sylvia Acevedo looks back on the events which brought her here from a crowded Las Cruces neighborhood, acknowledging the hardships and help received along the way.

Moving across town from the dirt streets where everyone knows everyone’s business to a new neighborhood with air-conditioned houses in the 1960s, Sylvia fights expectations that she’s academically behind her new classmates and gets used to hearing English spoken everywhere except her home.

An invitation to a Brownie troop meeting changes her life, as Sylvia finds the perfect place to explore her own interests (instead of Papa’s limits), learn how to manage money and speak confidently (cookie sales!), and plan for her future (not a strong skill in her family).

She loves science and math and star-gazing and going to the library and dreams of going to college – determination and planning can get her there!

This true story of one Mexican-American girl’s journey from just getting by to getting rockets into space as an engineer celebrates the strength of family love, the power of positive role models during childhood, and her own persistence in learning everything she needs to move to the next step in her plans.