Tag Archive | California

F for FREEING FINCH to be herself, by Ginny Rorby (middle grade book review)

cover of Freeing Finch, by Ginny Rorby. Published by Starscape (Macmillan) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Old neighbor, new friend,
her body is a boy’s, but she is herself,
who else understands?

Momma taken by cancer and Dad who knows where, now all the family that Finch has is her unemployed stepfather and his new wife.

Most folks in their small northern California town think of her as a boy, but “you’re what you are in your head and heart, Finch, not what it says on your birth certificate,” Maddy assures the nearly 12-year-old as they care for rehabilitating wildlife together (p. 16).

Wondering if the scared yellow dog will ever come nearer than the food bowl at the edge of the woods, if Finch can locate her father again, if her new friend Sherri will stay friends….

Then her stepfather’s pastor suggests sending Finch to camp that will ‘cure’ her to match her birth body, Maddy is injured, and Animal Control traps the yellow dog!

Finch has to stay strong, stay true to herself, and find a way to get both Maddy and the dog Ben home.

How can we support trans friends and others whose families pressure them to conform?
**kmm

Book info: Freeing Finch / Ginny Rorby. Starscape (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Not him for her Matrimony! THE VIRTUE OF SIN, by Shannon Schuren (book review)

book cover of Virtue of Sin, by Shannon Schuren, published by Penguin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Their prophet Daniel leads them all,
keeps them safe from the evil world Outside,
…if only what he said were true.

Imagine growing up in an isolated religious community, self-reliant, protected, safe in the desert away from an entire world of unbelievers.

Finally old enough to be paired in Matrimony by the leader who knows everything, absolutely everything, about you.

Except this prophet is a conman and every youth in the community is in grave danger.

How far will we follow those who promise safety from everyone not like us?
**kmm

Book info: The Virtue of Sin / Shannon Schuren. Penguin Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback June 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Safe in New Jerusalem from the outside world’s sins, Miriam and other teens are excited for the first marriage ceremonies of their generation.

But it’s not Caleb who chooses her, despite the dreams she reported to leader Daniel for years.

New husband Aaron isn’t who she thought, and neither is Daniel.

Who knows the truth here?

Cult or community in the California desert, its secrets are deep… told alternately by Miriam and Caleb.

Like all EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS, she must fly! by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (book review)

book cover of Extraordinary Birds, by Sandy Stark-McGinnis. Published by Bloomsbury Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sure that she is truly a bird and that wings will soon burst out from the scars on her back, 11-year-old December is placed in yet another foster home, leaving everything behind except her secret journal.

She does find Eleanor nicer than most foster parents and is intrigued by her work rehabilitating injured birds (but not the taxidermy hobby…ew).

At her new school, she’s welcomed by Cheryllynn who loves the brightest dresses and snobby Jenny who says that’s really Charlie.

If December climbs a high enough tree, will she be able to fly away from unhappy memories?

Can she really help Eleanor teach a wounded hawk to fly free again?

Will Eleanor give up on December like everyone else has?

Her vast knowledge of birds hasn’t prepared December very well for dealing with humans, but Eleanor and Cheryllynn seem better than most people.

Who has given you hope when storms kept you from soaring?
**kmm

Book info: Extraordinary Birds / Sandy Stark McGinnis. Bloomsbury Kids, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SEA SIRENS in epic underwater battle! by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee (book review)

book cover of Sea Sirens, by Amy Chu, art by Janet K. Lee. Published by Viking | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Surf’s up, so paddle out now.
Great wave – wipe out!
Uh-oh…where are we?

Usually Vietnamese-American middle grader Trot and her talking cat Cap’n Bill just bob to the surface when surfing, but this time they’re flung into deeper California waters – right into a battle between sea serpents and sirens!

Bill’s claws end the fight quickly, and they return to the sirens’ city for a celebration.

But how can Trot & Bill breathe underwater?

Why did the serpents leave their home territory?

Can Trot & Cap’n Bill return to land where Mom and Grandpa must be worrying?

This graphic novel delight is based on L. Frank Baum’s Sea Fairies and is the first volume in the Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure series. Watch for Sky Island in mid-2020!

Which legendary creatures from your grandparents’ bedtime stories would you like to encounter?
**kmm

Book info: Sea Sirens: a Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure / Amy Chu; art by Janet K. Lee; lettering by Jimmy Gownley. Viking, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Extraordinary life stories – listen up! #audiobooks for all

Most of us would say that we lead unexceptional lives. That’s why we’re so intrigued by celebrities and folks whose lives are anything but ordinary.

This week, we get to listen in on the lifestories of superstars in the world of sport and the world of art, with two free audiobooks from AudioSYNC (thanks again, publishers!).

Click on a title below by Wednesday 17 July 2019, follow the easy directions at the AudioSYNC page, and you can keep the downloaded free audiobook on your device as long as you wish.

CD cover of Becoming Kareem,  by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Becoming Kareem, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Published by Hachette Audio

US basketball legend recounts his life from boyhood in New York through his professional career and onward as an activist for social change, sharing the many lessons learned from his mentors.

CD cover of Vincent and Theo,  by Deborah Heiligman | Read by Philip Fox Published by Dreamscape Media  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman

Read by Philip Fox

Published by Dreamscape Media

The Van Gogh brothers shared dreams and heartaches throughout their lives, with Vincent leaving their family home to pursue his art and Theo later giving him a place to stay and work in Paris. Based on their lifetime of correspondence.

What other biographies would you recommend?
**kmm

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.

Creatures of legend meet today’s teens – in audiobooks!

When young adults encounter supernatural beings – in society or in their mirror – it’s a bit difficult to worry about everyday stuff like school or who likes who, especially when the world’s safety is at stake!

Remember that you can download these complete audiobooks free during the Thursday-Wednesday timeslot by clicking on the title and following the AudioSYNC instructions.

CD cover of Epic Crush of Genie Lo,  by F.C. Yee | Read by Nancy Wu Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, by F.C. Yee.

Read by Nancy Wu , Published by Recorded Books

When 16 year old Genie learns that she has supernatural powers and the new guy in class is really the ancient Monkey King, her quest for the perfect university admissions essay takes a back seat to fighting the evil besieging their town!

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CD cover of Shadow of the Fox,  by Julie Kagawa | Read by Joy Osmanski, Brian Nishii, Emily Woo Zeller Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Shadow of the Fox, by Julie Kagawa.

Read by Joy Osmanski, Brian Nishii, Emily Woo Zeller. Published by HarperAudio

One thousand years have passed in darkness, as wished through the great dragon. Now a new wish can be granted to the one holding the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers – can teenage Yumeko and the kitsune fox spirit save the world this time?

Which legendary creature would you choose to stand by your side in battle?
**kmm

Y is for THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, by Maurene Goo (YA book review)

book cover of The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo. Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School success is everything – or it’s not.
Being a laid-back parent is great for your kid – or it isn’t.
Friendship is worth working for – yes, yes it is.

A Carrie-style stunt at prom lands boundary-pushing Clara and goody-goody Rose together in the same summer job to pay back the school – no spa life in Tulum with Clara’s jetsetting influencer mom, no prestigious internship for Rose’s college applications.

Yep, two not-friends working in a food truck for the entire sweltering LA summer, cooking the Korean-Brazilian fusion food that’s made Clara’s dad legendary – no time for screw-ups or bickering when the lunch rush is on.

Can jokester Clara please her Korean cool-dad enough to get time off and visit her Brazilian influencer mom in paradise?

Can by-the-rules Rose squeeze in dance practices around the full KoBra truck schedule and meet the very high expectations of her African American parents?

Can Hamlet’s homesickness for Beijing and love for California stop tugging at him long enough for him to get Clara to go out with him?

This summer before their senior year will be anything but boring!

Out next week in paperback! From the author of I Believe In a Thing Called Love (which I loved & recommended here).

Best-planned prank that you never pulled?
**kmm

Book info: The Way You Make Me Feel / Maurene Goo. Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2018, paperback 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W = Will, walking, wondering WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND, by Alison McGhee (YA book review)

book cover of What I Leave Behind, by Alison McGhee. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Memories, conflicts, problems –
walking away lets him avoid the pain,
but sometimes easier isn’t better.

Three years since Dad jumped off the bridge, leaving behind Will and Mom and his Bowie t-shirts, but not his famed cornbread recipe.

Three years of walking to school, dollar store job, then home – past the butterfly-watching little boy, homeless Superman, dog-of-insanity forever chained.

Can 100-cent gifts help them, give best friend Playa strength to stand up in court, reveal the cornbread secret to Will?

His LA neighborhood grows larger, sharper as the Black teen walks and walks and walks his memories out and wonders about the future.

One hundred chapters of 100 words (like the blessings store Dad loved) move the story along as Will walks and thinks and weaves David Bowie lyrics into everyday life – in paperback May 2019.

What song is the soundtrack of your days?
**kmm

K is for Kiki, overwhelmed in STARFISH, by Akemi Bowman (YA book review)

book cover of Starfish, by Akemi Dawn Bowman, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Divorced parents,
everything is always about Mom-
where do Kiko and her brothers fit in?

Not accepted by art school, constantly belittled by her white mother for having her Japanese father’s appearance, and now her creepy uncle is moving in?

Thankful for Jamie coming back into her life and taking her far, far away from the chaos…Kiko has to find her place and make her art.

Family drama sent you on a new path?
**kmm

Book info: Starfish / Akemi Dawn Bowman. Simon Pulse, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Starting her life anew at Prism will take Kiko far from disdainful Mom and abusive Uncle Max in Nebraska, but the New York art school’s rejection shatters her plans.

When long-lost childhood friend Jamie offers to take her to California to tour art schools, she jumps at the chance to be with her brother’s friend whom she’s adored for years…and to get away from Uncle Max.

Half-Japanese and all confused.
Self-absorbed Mom sucks all the joy out of life for Kiko and her brothers.
Away, away, just get away and make her art…

“We all start at the same place, but you’re completely in charge of where you finish,” says noted artist Hiroshi when Kiko visits his art gallery with Jamie (p. 191) – and he wants to see her portfolio, maybe write a recommendation for someday-art-school!