Tag Archive | California

They’re seeking SPELLS FOR LOST THINGS, like hearts… by Jenna Evans Welch (YA book review)

book cover of Spells for Lost Things, by Jenna Evans Welch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

How can Willow’s aunt be dead? Mom doesn’t even have a sister!

Willow’s parents divorced two years ago, Mom took her from Brooklyn to LA, Dad remarried and had triplets. Only being in Paris with best friend Bea feels like home, but Mom won’t let her go there to finish high school…

Now Mom has inherited a witch’s beautifully renovated house from her twin sister, so they’re in Salem to sell it. Bur Mom won’t even go in the front door! Willow adores Bell House – can’t they just stay here?

Mason bounced through foster care for years as his mom’s addiction worsened. Now he’s in Salem, with her high school best friend Emma, her husband, and their blended family – they became foster parents just for him?

After an awkward meeting on the Bell House roof (telescope, Mason, stars, of course), the teens try to unravel the mystery of Lily Bell retold in the spell book kept by Mom and Aunt Sage as teens.

Why didn’t Willow know she had great-aunts who are witches?
Does Emma know where Mason’s mom is?
What is this feeling growing between Willow and Mason?

Told in alternating chapters by Willow and Mason during the summer before their senior year as they try to find a solid place to land in their lives’ uncertainty.

Available in paperback today, 8/29/23! By the author of Love & Gelato (I recommended it here), Love & Luck (more here), and Love & Olives (here).

What family tale was most surprising to you?
**kmm

Book info: Spells for Lost Things / Jenna Evans Welch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022, paperback 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

It’s not fair! Teens incite THE PEACH REBELLION post-WWII, by Wendelin Van Draanen (YA book review)

book cover of The Peach Rebellion, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Alfred A. Knopf | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Over a decade since coming to California during the Dust Bowl days, her tiny brothers dying of sickness and buried under a creekside tree north of here, and folks are still calling Ginny Rose’s family “Okies” after World War II, despite all their hard work.

After her first day working at the peach cannery, a flat bike tire detours the 17 year old to Peggy’s peach farm where she meets banker’s daughter Lisette.

Wow, Papa and Mama tell Ginny Rose to keep half her wages for new school clothes and her future! Her sister Anna Mae is aghast at the idea of being left behind with their deeply depressed mother

Peggy’s big sister opens the teen’s eyes to truths about the family peach farm, very unwelcome facts that explain why Doris hasn’t brought her baby back to visit.

Lisette’s fancy new house? Her father’s bank foreclosed on his good friend’s house, then the banker bought it instead of stopping the seizure?!

Ginny Rose discovers Babyland in the cemetery, where the tiniest children are buried – could she bring her little brothers here, for good?

The three teens from very different parts of society find a common purpose as Peggy and Lisette decide to help Ginny Rose on her quest!

Told in alternating chapters by Ginny Rose and Peggy during the sweltering summer of 1947.

Which friends would help you with a challenge?
**kmm

Book info: The Peach Rebellion / Wendelin Van Draanen. Alfred A. Knopf /PRH, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

ONCE THERE WAS…some magic, a monster, a miracle? by Kiyash Monsef (YA book review)

book cover of Once There Was, by Kiyash Monsef. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her best friends try to help, but Marjan is sleepwalking through life since Dad was killed by who-knows-what recently in their California home. She’s trying to juggle sophomore classes and Dad’s struggling vet practice and her anger and grief.

Wait, her Pakistani father didn’t just treat dogs, cats, and birds – he was a veterinarian for creatures out of myth and legend?! And “the work” is Marjan’s now, because she’s inherited his gift of knowing precisely how to care for them, wherever in the world they are.

People who live with these amazing creatures contact Marjan through the secretive Tea Shop group. Off she goes to see a griffon in England reaching the end of its very long life, an incontinent house gnome a few hours from home.

Into Dad’s vet office comes a young woman named Malloryn, a self-taught witch whose grey fox is ill. She’ll stay with Marjan for the mythic nine-tailed fox‘s lengthy treatment, maybe disperse the house’s gloom and bad aura.

Um, this ultra-rich Horatio guy isn’t collecting mythic creatures to appreciate them, like Malloryn loves Zorro or cute Sebastian’s family loves the griffon who chose his family generations ago. There’s something dark about Horatio, and Marjan wants to stay far away from his underground menagerie of faerie and stone giant and deadly manticore – every Persian tale her father told her, come to life.

Tea Shop believes that magical creatures’ contentment influences the overall good for humanity. As many creatures have disappeared lately, things are worsening in the world – and they want to find the missing.

Horatio keeps requesting her help with his creatures – can she safely stay away?
Dad was preparing for a trip to Ithaca, New York, when he was killed – will Marjan find any answers there about his death?
Sebastian wants to help her – what can two teenagers do against age-old problems?

“Once there was, once there was not…” Tales told by her father punctuate the action and peril – read the first chapter here free on the publisher’s website.

What’s your favorite mythic creature?
**kmm

Book info: Once There Was / Kiyash Monsef. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Experience our Black History when you read with your ears! (audiobook recommendations)

Our AudioSYNC 2023 summer season ends with two outstanding audiobooks celebrating Black history of recent and earlier times.

You must download either or both audiobooks into your Sora shelf by Wednesday August 2nd! Get all the details here.

Huge thanks to Audiofile magazine and the many audiobook publishers who provided these great selections to us free!

CD cover of Freedom: The Story of the Black Panther Party,by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom, Waldo E. Martin Jr. | Read by Dion Graham. Published by Recorded Books

Freedom: The Story of the Black Panther Party (free Sora download 7/27 -8/2/23)
by Jetta Grace Martin, Joshua Bloom, Waldo E. Martin Jr. | Read by Dion Graham
Published by Recorded Books

The history of the Black Panther Party comes to life, from its founders and their stories to its work supporting African American families in crisis to its collapse and next steps of key members.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/208263/freedom!-by-jetta-grace-martin-joshua-bloom-waldo-e-martin-jr-read-by-dion-graham/

swirling lines clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of Not Without Laughter, by Langston Hughes | Read by Jaime Lincoln Smith. Published by Tantor Media

Not Without Laughter (free Sora download 7/27 -8/2/23)
by Langston Hughes | Read by Jaime Lincoln Smith
Published by Tantor Media

A Black family’s struggles and challenges include racially charged encounters as son Sandy grows up in 1930s Kansas.

A classic Harlem Renaissance novel, narrated to perfection.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/225993/not-without-laughter-by-langston-hughes-read-by-jaime-lincoln-smith/

What was your favorite AudioSYNC summer audiobook this year?
**kmm

divider clipart http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159

Can she OUTRUN THE MOON & fate through education or luck? by Stacey Lee (YA book review)

book cover of Outrun the Moon, by Stacey Lee. Published by Penguin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mercy wants better for her little brother than backbreaking laundry work, but she needs more education than their poor middle school can offer so she can start a business.

The teen negotiates her way into a semester scholarship at St. Clare’s School for Girls, the best in 1906 San Francisco, determined to brave anti-Chinese prejudice on the way to her dreams.

In return, Mercy promises snobby Elodie’s father a meeting with the Benevolent Association to apply for permission to sell his very fine chocolates in Chinatown…

Oh, how she longs to help her boyfriend Tom find his way into the sky instead of becoming an herbalist doctor like his father!

What if the headmistress decides Mercy isn’t worthy to be at St. Clare’s?
What if the Benevolent Association won’t consider their request?
What does her mother see when she foretells their futures?

Earthquake! The St. Clare’s girls escape to Golden Gate Park and, with Mercy’s practical skills, try to help others fleeing collapsed buildings and fires.

Her family! Their families! What now?

Outstanding historical fiction from the author of The Downstairs Girl (recommended here).

Are you prepared for a natural disaster?
**kmm

Book info: Outrun the Moon / Stacey Lee. Penguin, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

WITH GREAT POWER: THE MARVELOUS STAN LEE! by Annie Hunter Erickson & Lee Gatlin (Picturebook review)

book cover of With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee: An Unauthorized Biography, by Annie Hunter Erickson; illustrated by Lee Gatlin. Published by Page Street Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Growing up poor in New York City, Stanley Lieber escaped by reading adventure stories and dreamed of writing his own.

He began working at age 16 as an errand boy for Timely Comics magazine and got to write a Captain America story. But he signed it as Stan Lee, saving his real name for the day he would be a “real” writer.

When veteran writers quit Timely, Stan moved up to full-time writer and editor – as a teenager!

For two decades, he wrote story after story of predictable, perfect heroes as the company grew and became Marvel Comics. So boring.

His wife suggested that he write the superhero story that he’d want to read. So Stan teamed up with artist Jack Kirby, and they created the flawed yet Fantastic Four – a huge hit with comics readers!

What next? Reflecting on his own childhood, Stan invented a lonely, geeky, science-loving hero – the Amazing Spider-Man, drawn by Steve Ditko – an even bigger hit with readers!

Finally, the Marvel Comics’ bosses decided that Stan should make a series of unconventional superheroes, and the Marvel Comics Universe was born.

Continuing with Stan’s move to Hollywood as his superheroes became movie stars, this lively picturebook includes great background information. You can find free activity sheets here, courtesy of the publisher.

Who’s your favorite Marvel superhero?
**kmm

Book info: With Great Power: The Marvelous Stan Lee: An Unauthorized Biography / Annie Hunter Erickson; illustrated by Lee Gatlin. Page Street Kids, 2021. [author interview] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

X is for EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE, a road trip to remember! by Amelia Diane Coombs (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Exactly Where You Need to Be, by Amelia Diane Coombs. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A few weeks of summer left,
then her BFF leaves for college –
better make the most of it!

The only good thing about junior year was becoming friends with Kasey, who loves true crime as much as Florie does. But after too many anxiety attacks at school, Mom insisted on Florie homeschooling online.

So senior year is over – no prom, no ceremony, no amazing memories, just continuing work with an OCD counselor in their small town north of Seattle.

Kasey is heading to college in Portland soon, so it’ll be just Florie here “on a gap year” as her guidance counselor recommends – doing what? Sigh.

Spending a week together at the beach cottage with Kasey’s family is a highlight of the friends’ summer, but maybe it’s time for something new – a road trip!?

Their favorite true-crime podcasters are appearing live in San Francisco, and the teens have won VIP backstage passes to meet them!

Now all they have to do is find a way to get there during beach week – without Florie’s too-controlling Mom discovering their plans.

Hey, Sam… Kasey’s big brother is home from college and willing to drive them 800 miles to the show. But Kasey doesn’t know about Florie’s longtime crush on Sam and how Sam kissed her at the winter party, then never contacted her all spring…

Anti-anxiety medicine packed? Check.
Kasey & Florie’s Wild and Super-Cool BFF Road Trip Bucket List? Ready!
Many, many hours in the same car as Sam? Florie is not ready…

An epic, silly, very long road trip to see fascinating people that Florie and Kasey adore – what could be better? What could go wrong? Uh-oh…

By the author of Between You and Me and the Honeybees, recommended here.

When have you ventured to try something that others thought you couldn’t do?
**kmm

Book info: Exactly Where You Need to Be / Amelia Diane Coombs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D = Is she a good animator or just DRAWN THAT WAY? by Elissa Sussman & Arielle Jovellanos (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Drawn That Way, by Elissa Sussman; illustrations by Arielle Jovellanos. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The greatest animation director in the world is offering a summer internship – Hayley is so excited to be chosen to work with other teens on producing short films and maybe get a real job at BB Gun Films.

She’s been so inspired by Beckett’s magical, Oscar-winning film based on his son Bear’s imagination that she follows all his advice on their craft – what will the so-private genius be like in person?

Four films, four teams, all the leadership roles given to boys, including Bear himself who seems really bored with everything – not fair! Away from the studio, Bear seems a nice enough guy, reluctantly dragged into the program when his long-divorced dad discovered he can draw so well.

At least Hayley’s BB mentor is a woman, but she warns that this studio is as much an “old boys’ club” as the others and that women in animation have to work much harder to get work, let alone get credit for it.

Truth! Their team director takes credit for Hayley’s script, then lies about it in front of Beckett himself who chastises Hayley and puts her on Bear’s team as ‘his muse’ – stating bluntly that the Jewish girl was among the interns chosen “for diversity.”

After following Beckett’s advice for so long, Hayley is utterly stunned – is she really as talented as she thinks she is?

Bear believes in Hayley’s talents and reminds her that the animation business never promised to be fair. Being with Bear in the evenings alone – that’s more than fair.

The few other girls in the program are equally angry about their team leaders’ lack of leadership, and Hayley has an idea – why don’t they make their own short-short film too?

Working wild hours outside their team projects, the young women create Hayley’s girl and golem story that Beckett said no one could relate to – can they sneak it into the final showcase?

Time to aim for that glass ceiling and break through!

When has someone denied your proven talents?
**kmm

Book info: Drawn That Way / Elissa Sussman; illustrations by Arielle Jovellanos. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

In a world GONE DARK, the prepper skills she longs to forget may save them, by Amanda Panitch (YA book review)

book cover of Gone Dark, by Amanda Panitch. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books /Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Forget how she got away,
just think of the future,
till it all goes dark.

Zara and her mom have a better life in southern California, five years gone since they escaped from her father’s survivalist compound back east.

Computer games instead of skinning squirrels? What teen girl wouldn’t leave behind such a hard life? But her father’s voice still echoes that the world is ending soon… no wonder Zara has panic attacks.

Then the sporadic power outages become a nationwide blackout, and civilized behavior vanishes, just like Dad predicted. When a huge stranger barges into their darkened house and calls for Zara by name, the 17 year old knows it’s time to leave.

Unable to get Mom to safety, Zara and her best friends head away from the coast, trying to outrun the threatening stranger and avoid danger on the road.

A Mormon fortress welcomes them, but can they ever leave?
More people join the group as they travel – can they stay safe together?
If they reach the hidden compound, can they survive its border traps?

This future where the electric grid fails large-scale could be tomorrow, just like the difficulties that Zara and friends endure in a world gone dark.

What’s your emergency plan for disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Gone Dark / Amanda Panitch. Margaret K. McElderry Books /Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

They must find more LITTLE MONARCHS, butterflies vital for humanity’s survival! by Jonathan Case (Middle Grade graphic novel review)

book cover of Little Monarchs, by Jonathan Case. Published by Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sun-sickness wiped out mammals,
some humans survive underground,
can any ever see daylight again?

By 2101, only two people on Earth can survive sunshine – young Elvie and scientist Flora who’s caring for the 10 year old while Elvie’s parents travel onward as the team perfects a cure for sun-sickness.

Monarch butterflies carry the needed ingredient on their wings, so Flora and Elvie follow their migration south along what used to be the western USA, scavenging from former cities, foraging wild foods, and avoiding known underground settlements.

Elvie documents nature and schoolwork in her journal, while Flora tests and retests ways to make larger quantities of the monarch wing-scale medicine that prevents sun-sickness.

After an earthquake, they find a small boy near an abandoned settlement, so Flora gives him a dose of medicine and they keep going. Elvie left behind a note and some medicine, in case anyone returns to look for little Sito.

Wow, his family does follow them and wants to travel along – safety in numbers, right? Right?!?

This outstanding graphic novel documents their perilous journey to meet up with Elvie’s parents, as well as the natural wonders and survival skills that she records in her journal.

In our time, monarch numbers are dropping dramatically, so planting native milkweed along their migration route can make up for some habitat loss.

Do monarchs migrate through your region?
**kmm

Book info: Little Monarchs / Jonathan Case. Margaret Ferguson Books / Holiday House, 2022. [author site] [book site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.