Tag Archive | California

Let’s keep this BETWEEN YOU, ME, AND THE HONEYBEES, by Amelia Dian Coombs (YA book review)

cover image of Between You, Me, and the Honeybees, by Amelia Dian Coombs. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The contented buzz,
orderly and productive –
bees always tell the truth.

Josie finally got through graduation and just wants to work full-time at her family honey business outside their small North California town.

But Mom insists that Josie apply to college (the chance she never got), and her bossy best friend is more than ready for them both to escape Volana for school in LA.

When the grandson of rival beekeepers arrives for the summer, Josie finally meets someone who understands her anxiety and her love for the bees. Ezra is a manga fan too and really wants to draw graphic novels professionally, despite his father’s disdain for the arts.

This summer, Hazeldine Honey will try for its 25th win for best honey in the state, beating the rival Blumsteins yet again… when disaster strikes.

Why can’t Mom understand that caring for their bees is more important than leaving town?
Will her beloved Gran have to move back with them because of her medical and memory issues?
Can Josie and Ezra keep their relationship secret from their feuding families?

Maybe sweetness doesn’t always have to come with a sting – read Josie and Ezra’s summer story to find out!

What’s your dream that’s outside the expected, tried, and true?
**kmm

Book Info: Between You, Me, and the Honeybees / Amelia Dian Coombs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 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.

T is 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT PINKY, sort of, maybe… by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, by Sandhya Menon, Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rebel-activist free spirit,
SAT ace in starched shirts –
all summer together?

She supports social causes of all types, he charts out his future law career list by list- Pinky and Samir are nothing alike. But when she’s accused of repeating rebellious behavior and his DC internship is cancelled, maybe he could pose as her new super-responsible boyfriend for the summer… if they don’t bite off each other’s heads!

Pinky’s mom and aunt co-own the lovely summer home on Cape Cod, with a lake that she and cousin Dolly-the-perfect have enjoyed for years with the other summer kids and the butterfly sanctuary that always gives Pinky peace.

Being Pinky’s summer boyfriend gets Samir closer to interning with her mom’s Bay Area corporate law firm and tests his planning-ahead nature every day… walking a rescued fainting opossum on a leash….

Acting like Samir is really her boyfriend strains Pinky’s impetuous nature, but if they can fool her family so she’s not grounded for life, it’ll be worth it… if he can get past planning every moment like his mom was still fighting cancer.

When big-money threatens to bulldoze the butterfly sanctuary for condos, Pinky and Samir pitch in to rally the community against the developers – the clock is ticking!

Mom insists that the ‘summer kids’ have no place in town meetings, some year-rounders say the Indian-American teens aren’t welcome anywhere, but Pinky says they should keep fighting… right, Samir?

Told in alternating voices by Pinky and Samir, this frenemies-to-something-more story is a companion book to When Dimple Met Rishi (I recommend here) and There’s Something About Sweetie (reviewed here).

What’s the cause you’ll stand up for, time after time?
**kmm

Book Info: 10 Things I Hate About Pinky / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M for MILLION MILE ROAD TRIP in the purple whale, to Mappyworld and beyond? whoa… by Rudy Rucker (YA book review)

book cover of Million Mile Road Trip, by Rudy Rucker. Published by Skyhorse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Feuding alien beings,
augmented old station wagon (surfboards included),
three teens must save humanity…

Zoe just wants to get through graduation tomorrow, best friend Villy might not get to (math = yuck, guitar = yes), and his younger brother Scud excels at… being annoying.

Her dad’s in a flying saucer cult, Mom hasn’t forgiven him for walking out when Zoe was little, and her half-sister is in jazz band, too – just regular Southern California, right?

When the musical riff that Maisie just taught her opens an interdimensional portal, small yellow aliens Yampa and Pinchley call Zoe, Villy, and Scud on a mission to stop bad aliens from invading Earth!

Stretch crawdads, fleshy flying saucers (friendly vs. evil), Thudd dinosaurs – the three teens meet all sorts of aliens on their million-mile road trip through the basins and ridges of Mappyworld.

Will they make it to Szep City where rebels gather to oppose Lord Groon’s takeover of Ballyworld aka Earth?
Can they get back to Los Perros in time for Zoe to play her trumpet solo at the talent show and save the world?
Is that Maisie over there?

“Upsy downy inside out” plus a saucer-pearl can get the kids out of jams or into multi-worlds trouble!

Zoe and Villy take turns recounting their amazing sci-fi journey through Mappyworld and from friendship to love. One universal truth – chocolate is the ultimate currency.

Which of your skills would help you outsmart an alien invasion?
**kmm

Book info: Million Mile Road Trip / Rudy Rucker. Night Shade Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Personal 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.

A is for ANA ON THE EDGE, by A.J. Sass (MG book review)

book cover of Ana on the Edge, by A. J. Sass. Published by Little, Brown | BooksYALove.com

Figure skating competition = rules and regimens.
Chinese-American home = expectations and routine roles.
Can time on the ice become Ana’s freedom and focus?

Age 12 means moving up to the next figure skating competition level for Ana and also following her coach to a new Bay Area rink, with new choreography and music and routine.

Ana likes her short hair, sleek skating leggings, and bold Juvenile national championship choreography. But Intermediate ladies will be skating to a princess theme, and Ana doesn’t like the quiet music or boring moves that famous Miss Lydia has chosen or having to wear a skirt to practice or the huge bill that her single mom must pay!

As a skating rink assistant this summer, Ana can earn free practice hours – too bad she has to miss being with her best friend at her old rink and at their synagogue. Awesome that she meets new student Hayden, who just moved here and is now publicly identifying as a boy.

Hayden assumed Ana was a boy too, and she didn’t correct him. Will he get mad when he finds out?

Ana feels very in-between about girl or boy – what does that all mean?

And this new choreography and music… how can Ana make it more Ana?

Discovering who you are takes time and work – Ana may have the people nearby who will help!
**kmm

Book info: Ana On the Edge / A. J. Sass. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Just picture it – A PHO LOVE STORY, by Loan Le (book review)

book cover of A Pho Love Story, by Loan Le. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her family is suspicious of his.
His family is hostile toward hers.
Restaurant rivalry or something more?

When their paths cross in the high school newspaper room, neighbors Bao and Linh actually talk to each other instead of turning away.

After years as a just-average student, Bao might finally have found something he’s good at: writing date-night restaurant reviews. Gifted painter Linh sketches each dining venue, showcasing the talent that her parents dismiss as a hobby.

They begin enjoying time together (far away from Little Saigon‘s gossip) and wonder about the feud that’s separated their families so long – did it start with their competing pho restaurants here in California or back in Vietnam?

Evie and Linh’s aunt is a successful artist in Vietnam – why do their parents keep insisting that Di Vang is miserable?

The chance to paint a stunning restaurant’s mural is a dream for Linh, as long as her parents never know about it… or Bao.

If Allison (his editor & her best friend) is right about theirs as a Romeo & Juliet story, how can there be a happy ending?

Bao and Linh recount A Pho Love Story to us in alternating chapters – just published this week!

The ideal path to ‘happily ever after’ – smooth or bumpy?
**kmm

Book info: A Pho Love Story / Loan Le. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

With music, THE KIDS OF WIDNEY JUNIOR HIGH TAKE OVER THE WORLD! by Mathew Klickstein (book review)

book cover of The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! by Mathew Klickstein. Published by Schiffer Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied his first week at junior high, 11 year old Robbie is rescued by big Peewee who invites him to band practice where the autistic eighth grader is a singer.

Led by their special ed teacher (and former rock musician), the six-member Kids of Widney Junior High rock band has written many original songs as they prepare for their first big public concert.

Robbie quickly learns that his new friends’ lives aren’t like media stereotypes – Daniel and Cain live with blindness but don’t want to feel his face, and Tanesa zings through life with cerebral palsy.

As the concert date nears, longtime couple Peewee and Elisa have a big argument during rehearsal, overwhelming Cain who says he’s quitting the band!

Does Peewee understand the true power of his words now?
Can the Kids get Elisa and Cain back to rehearsals?
Will the record company exec really attend their show?

This fictional account of the real band members’ struggles in junior high echoes the experiences of many young people that the world sees as ‘different’ on the outside.

The Kids of Widney High are still performing as adults today, opening for established bands, have produced four albums, and were featured in ‘The Ringer’ movie. Real-life Peewee says “Don’t let anything, even your disabilities, cloud your dreams. Just go for it!” (pg. 141).

Happy book birthday to The Kids of Widney Junior High!

Where will your dreams take you?
**kmm

Book info: The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! / Mathew Klickstein; illustrated by Michael S. Bracco. Schiffer Kids, 2020. [author site] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

CATASTROPHES & HEROES of man-made disasters, by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Catastrophes & Heroes, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Boats and trains,
Dams and bridges,
Engineered to work…or fail.

An overloaded Mississippi River steamboat explodes, killing 1169 Union prisoners heading home from notorious Andersonville Prison, making barely a ripple in the newspapers during the closing weeks of the Civil War.

Flawed designs by self-proclaimed experts caused the horrific 1879 Tay railway bridge collapse and costly 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge failure.

Ignoring local geological conditions led to terrible loss of life and property as the St. Francis Dam burst in California in 1928, as did Italy’s Vajont Dam in 1963.

A hurricane killed many workers building the railroad to Key West in 1935, then sabotage derailed a new Streamliner train into a desert river in 1939, far from the nearest town.

Each of these harrowing stories includes fateful choices made and their unintended consequences, victims and first responder heroes, and the professional heroes who analyzed the catastrophe and recommended ways to prevent future disasters.

Reaction to these tragedies resulted in stronger safety requirements for the modern marvels of public works and transportation that we now take for granted.

From the author of Compassionate Soldier (recommended here) and Invisible Heroes of World War II (see here) who so ably centers the human factor amid history’s facts and lists.

How can you be more ready to respond to disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Catastrophes and Heroes: True Stories of Man-Made Disasters / Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.