Rachel is brilliant, dependable, and boring-on-purpose. Saying no to everything but her grades in high school kept the Michigan teen at the top of her class, working at her family’s Italian restaurant, and totally safe from heartbreak.
Sorting stuff instead of going to a graduation party, Rachel finds an old advice book and decides to “say yes” to opportunities this summer before college.
Yes – to finally attending a party and even jumping in the pool! Oops, social media caught that.
Yes – to reconnecting with Carrie who left Rachel and Ruoxi for the popular crowd when the trio hit ninth grade. Oops, who left out who?
Yes – to a road trip with her long-time crush, soccer star Clayton! Oops, forgot to let folks know she’d be gone.
Yes – to going out with her buddy-since-birth Miles! Oops, how is her snarky gelato cart co-worker suddenly so charming?
Rachel’s mom and stepdad aren’t sure about her new persona, her grandmother tries to advise her, and other people’s secrets start blurring the lines between okay and oh no.
First stamp in her passport, first kisses, first time to disappoint everyone at once?
The greatest showman! Spotlight on him! Overshadowing all others to reach his dreams…
Barnum’s museum of wonders captivates New York in 1842, yet his daughters feel he cares about the mermaid more than he loves them, would rather transform a little person into General Tom Thumb than tell them stories.
Jo is the decoy, drawing away mobs of fans so that famed opera singer Jenny Lind can safely make her way to each performance hall on Barnum’s 1851 tour, ever in her best friend’s shadow.
At home on her father’s lavish estate in Connecticut, only twelve year old Helen and the Barnum menagerie sense the presence of little sister Frances’ ghost who’s angry enough to wreak havoc as big sister Caroline’s 1852 wedding day approaches.
In 1868, no one can know that the Bearded Lady has a son! Mr. Barnum runs a most respectable establishment, and news of her illegitimate child would doom them both. Luckily, the American Museum is so crowded that Jack can sketch the animals with no one the wiser.
This double-handful of tales re-imagines the lives, dreams, and worries of people locked into their orbits around the self-created brilliance of “there’s a sucker born every minute” Barnum.
Is it ever right for the difference of others to be a show for the rest? **kmm
Book info: We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman / Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: A schoolgirl in mourning and a tale-telling new ghost unexpectedly meet in this graphic novel that explores endings and beginnings.
Marjorie keeps the family laundry going when her father cannot cope. Never mind that she should be concentrating on her junior high assignments instead of “no starch, get that spot out, I need it today” customers – or Mr. Saubertuck’s demands that she sell out so he can build a yoga spa in their small Pennsylvania town.
Wendell brings a new story to every DYE meeting, but still isn’t ready to share with the other ghosts how he died. Never mind that it’s forbidden to even walk near the train connecting the worlds of living and dead – or to sneak a ride and arrive wind-blown in Marjorie’s laundry.
Ghosts aren’t real! If they were, Marjorie’s mother would have drifted by to comfort her little brother and dad, of course.
So how can Marjorie see little-boy-ghost Wendell?
Why could Wendell get back to the living world?
Why can’t he remember what’s important about this lakeside town?
As Halloween approaches and Mr. Saubertuck pressures Marjorie to sell their home and business, maybe a young ghost with holes in his memory and a young woman with a huge hole in her heart can find a way to heal together.
My Book Talk: Inventing a new candy! What could be a sweeter contest for kids, especially the four regional finalists who live near the famous Life Is Sweet candy factory? Except that only one can win, even if the twelve-year-olds can overcome their differences and become friends…
Logan lives in Life Is Sweet with his Candymaker parents, who stopped giving factory tours a few years ago. Miles is allergic to rowboats and wonders constantly about the afterlife, sometimes speaking in code. Daisy carries a big book in her bag everywhere, is amazingly strong and often looks distracted. Philip in his business suit chooses regular pizza over chocolate pizza for lunch and doesn’t want to have any fun.
From calming the bees whose honey makes the best nougat to squooshing through the mud to harvest roots to make marshmallows, the four young people learn about all the ingredients that go into candy on their first day at the factory. Camping out under the sapodilla trees and vanilla vines in the Tropical Room, they dream about making the best, most unique candies in the world.
So whose idea will work – and win? Logan’s chocolate that turns into gum then back into chocolate? Daisy’s ummm-something flower or Philip’s playable candy harmonica? And they have just one full day to create the actual product!
The winning candy will be produced by the factory sponsoring its creator, so if Life Is Sweet brings a winner to the Confectionary Association’s contest, they’ll be able to keep making high-quality candies. It’s an open secret that Life Is Sweet puts their secret ingredient into every candy they make…and that other candymakers really want to have it.
Is someone trying to steal the secret ingredient?
Why does Logan live at the factory instead of going to school?
Can the four competitors be friends and still make amazing candy in just one day?
Friendship, complications, misunderstandings, and trust fill the many compartments of this story told from four viewpoints with a surprise ending and a yummy twist. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
It’s Gossip Girl and MacGyver woven into Shakespeare’s play The Tempest as authors Kim Askew and Amy Helmes throw the Bard’s heroine Miranda Prospero into a winter-whipped shopping mall with Ariel as her corndog-cooking sidekick.
My Book Talk: Trudging through the snow toward the mall, Miranda again laments the unfairness of her life. Forced to work at a corndog stand in the mall to pay back the finks who turned her tutoring-matchmaking service into a cheating scam, Daddy taking away her platinum charge cards, wearing this hideous uniform with the revolving-wienie hat… at least other teens working in the mall turn to her for advice in sticky situations.
Thank goodness perky co-worker Ariel also pulled this Saturday night shift at Hot Dog Kebob, so Miranda can throw her a surprise birthday party for her after closing. The petite home-schooled 17-year-old deserves the ice cream cake that Grady the security cop will pick up later. Maybe moody Caleb from the game store and gangly Chad from the sports store will come by, but no one has seen their pal Mike from collectibles tonight.
The news is forecasting blizzard conditions overnight so the food court supervisor leaves early; in fact, most customers are heading out, but the closing employees must stay to lock up. Too bad Miranda’s ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend didn’t go when they could – the mall doors are now completely blocked by snow! No one is getting home from here tonight and the mall cop has just discovered a burglary!
Suddenly shoppers and workers try to find the best places to stay for the night, praying that the power stays on and that the robber stays away. Miranda accidentally gets handcuffed to Caleb, someone stalls the elevator with a panicked teen inside, and boredom threatens to become chaos if something exciting doesn’t happen soon. Finding another teen knocked out cold by the robber wasn’t in the plan!
How long are the rival factions of teens going to be trapped in the mall?
Will Caleb’s impromptu concert keep things from getting crazy?
Can Grady trap the robber before someone else gets hurt?
How can Miranda get out of these handcuffs and get to the bathroom?
A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, this first book in the Twisted Lit series has more wild and crazy twists than Miranda ever dreamed of, with quotes from the play as chapter headings to add to the fun. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)
Is it any wonder that Mr. Babcock used Uncle Tully’s money to rescue working families from the poorhouses and create a unique village to fill all the estate’s needs? Or that agents from enemy countries would try to steal Uncle Tully’s work to use against England? Or that Katharine might finally find love?
The author promises us a sequel in fall 2013, so visit Stranwyne Keep yourself soon – and watch out for Aunt Alice’s sharp tongue!
My Recommendation: It seems that Uncle is squandering away the family fortune, so it falls to Katharine to quietly visit the old man and gather enough evidence to have him declared insane. As “the poor relative”, the young lady has no choice but to make the long carriage journey to Stranwyne Keep, and a mysteriously strange place she finds it indeed.
A drowsy housekeeper, a mute young boy, a belligerent apprentice named Lane – that’s the entire staff for this huge English manor house? Mrs. Jeffries recognizes Katharine as Mr. Simon’s orphan daughter and avers that cousin Robert’s scheming mother must have sent her here to uproot Mr. Tully.
Where is all the money going if Uncle doesn’t throw lavish parties or buy fine horses? In his workshop across the moors, childlike genius Uncle Tully creates precise inventions in miniature with Lane’s assistance and keeps an unvarying personal timetable. Automatons, clockwork creations, part science, part magic, all Uncle Tully.
The family solicitor enlightens Katharine about how this estate is run – and how an entire village supports Uncle Tully’s projects as the estate supports its hundreds of workers rescued from London’s poorhouses! No wonder there is less money in the accounts than before… yet Mr. Babcock assures her that these projects will rebuild the fortune soon.
Katharine becomes convinced that some of her uncle’s entertaining inventions are very practical (others quite dangerous and alarming) as her fondness for this very special person grows, so she decides to support him in defiance of her aunt’s wishes, endangering her own chances of a safer financial future.
But all is not well in this idyllic setting, as strange noises taunt Katharine in the manor, Lane warns her about upsetting her uncle, a visiting student of mechanics begins to court her, people disappear from one location and reappear far away, and the villagers turn against her in defense of their dear Mr. Tully.
Who can she trust now – Lane? Mr. Babcock? Her maid and friend from the village?
What’s causing those eerie noises and her new nightmares?
Is someone really planning to steal inventions from Uncle Tully’s workshop?
A mystery and a Victorian family drama rolled into one, this Dark Unwinding twists and turns as Uncle Tully’s inventions tick-tock along, and a villain seeks to use them for nefarious purposes. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Sharing music is an age-old tradition.
Downloading music is more recent.
But global annihilation to avoid copyright fees?
That’s what Earth faces when the rest of the universe realizes that their music downloads since the 1970s have run up a copyright bill bigger than…than…than the universe.
Author Rob Reid knows quite a lot about music licensing and copyright, since he founded the Rhapsody music service before he wrote this first novel. About those lawsuit-happy aliens… he’s not telling us his sources.
Grab this funny-alien-legal-music-thriller in hardcover, eBook, or audiobook now at your local library or independent bookstore; available in paperback April 30, 2013.
Wonder if aliens really prefer disco to 80s hair metal?
My Book Talk: Radio waves going from station to listener bounce out into space, too, and the aliens agree that Earth’s music is better than any other in the universe.
But once they realize how much money the entire Refined League owes in royalty and copyright fees to human musicians, some alien bad guys decide that wiping out Earth to erase the debt is the only way to go!
However, most aliens would rather find a more-peaceful solution, so a few drop in on New York attorney Nick Carter to have him fix it all. Alas, Nick is not the Backstreet Boys singer Nick (as the aliens had hoped) nor is he the world’s best music copyrights attorney who could possibly find a way to reverse-license a few decades of slightly-to-completely illegal music downloads many light years from Earth.
But he’s going to have to try, since the bad-aliens will blow up Earth in a few days’ time if he can’t find a way around or through this problem. Of course, his law firm will decide this week on whether he’ll finally be named a junior partner or get axed, his cute neighbor also acquires a stray pet who’s an alien spy, and the wrinkles of universe-travels get a little sweaty.
Did the aliens of the Refined League honestly decide that Earth’s musical domination of the universe ended with rap?
Are there truly jokes coded into human (or Perfuffinite) DNA, since our bodies only use 2% of the genome?
Is there really a loophole in US music copyright law that Nick can find in time?
This debut novel by the founder of Rhapsody online music service brings music-crazed aliens to Earth, whisks earnest-but-only-human humans into outer space battles, and sharply skewers the most restrictive music copyright system in the universe between all the laughs. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Fisherman boots and rough-cut hair. Sweet little flats and pearl buttons. These two girls couldn’t be more different, yet more attracted to one another.
But fabulous kisses can hardly outweigh Emily’s go-go-go-business attitude when Jesse considers the damage that a large corporation could inflict on their charming small town.
Beyond the complicated/simple attraction between Jesse and Emily in this story is the larger question of being true to your community. Whether observing the International Day of Peace Vigil every September 21st with millions or demonstrating weekly for peace like Jesse and friends, perhaps humankind can take more steps forward for community and peace in 2013.
Find this honest and enriching story in hardback or eBook today at your local library or independent bookstore. What’s your most heartfelt wish for this new year? **kmm
My Recommendation: Her kisses are perfect, her pearl-button sweaters are adorable, but the way that Emily compartmentalizes her life bugs Jesse. Of course, it’s complicated because she’s always second-fiddle to Emily’s boyfriend, and Emily’s work as Student Council VP, and Emily’s upcoming internship with NorthStar…
Jesse’s parents accept her orientation, although they’re not so happy about her frequent detentions for plastering the high school with posters for NOLAW, the National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos. They think she has a crush on earnest young activist Esther when the girls attend their town’s weekly peace vigil together. Honestly…
Her buddy Wyatt has to contend with his anti-gay father while trying to keep his homeschooling on track so that he doesn’t have to go back to their high school; he and Jesse keep each other real. So why hasn’t Jesse ever told him about her weekly rendezvous with Emily?
Emily cannot understand why the Student Council won’t let NorthStar be the sole sponsor of their dance. Just because the corporation might bring a huge StarMart to town, might endanger all the small businesses, might…might…might!
When should financial gain win out over doing the right thing? How far can you go to protect your community without resorting to violence? How do you decide when a relationship is over?
Alternating chapters by Jesse and Emily weave together a story that’s more than physical attraction and much more than your average StuCo meeting. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
After I left my High School library 3 years ago, I seriously missed being able to connect the right books with the right readers. Thankfully, a shout-out from Barb Langridge on LM_NET (school librarians’ listserv) let me start writing recommendations of great books for babies, kids, tweens, and teens on her site www.abookandahug.com. (Try the “Which Reading Superhero Are You?” quiz – it’s spot on!)
Then on May 1, 2011, I started BooksYALove as part of the WordCount Blogathon so that I could add my own personal observations and relevant info links to my recommendations. Despite other bloggers’ urging, I have NOT ‘monetized’ this blog – no referral links to online book retailers or ads. I will often point readers to sites where they can search for local library or independent bookseller – sales taxes support essential services where we live, ya know.
I want BooksYALove to be a repository of recommendations for books that YA readers might miss – those great ones from first-time authors, small publishers, and smaller imprints of major publishing houses. The books must be available in a bricks-and-mortar store (even if by special order) and from more than one source online if in electronic formats = I won’t point YA readers toward any book that requires a credit card in order to obtain it, so I’m not accepting self-published works currently.
My TBR (to be read) stacks of printed ARCs and new books require additional bookshelves now, while my downloaded ARCs need some sort of pinging alarm system to remind me of their digital expiration dates.
BooksYALove is a niche blog, so I’m picky about the ARCs that I choose, whether it’s at Texas Library Conference or directly from publishers. And as for the ARCs themselves, I admit to having a love/hate relationship: I love being able to get ARCs so that I can read and recommend the best works from debut authors and smaller presses, but I hate the pile-up of non-sellable books (if print format) and the too-quick expiration of most digital ARCs.
Yes, I realize that publishers are wary of allowing digital-format ARCs to be “out in the wild” once the works are actually published, but I don’t want to be forced to write a recommendation during their preset publicity schedule! Yes, word-of-mouth publicity just prior to publication date helps create “buzz” for a new book, but you’d think that publishers would like to also build up a groundswell of sales during the months (or years) following a book’s birthday.
Best-case scenario for me is to read the book and write a recommendation during the digital ARC’s open-time, then publish it on my schedule. So thanks to the urging of Bekka at Pretty Deadly Reviews, I’m signing up for the Netgalley Knockdown in July, trying to read all of the digital ARCs currently in my queue with Netgalley, Edelweiss, and directly from publishers, write up at least the barebones of any recommendations (since not every interesting-sounding book makes the cut for BooksYALove, you know), then decide when I want to blog them.
I’ll keep choosing just the best ARCs to place on my real and virtual TBR shelves for books you won’t want to miss. Lots of great reading ahead, y’all! **kmm
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