Tag Archive | competition

Desert Dark, by Sonja Stone (book review) – school for spies, time to die?

book cover of Desert Dark by Sonja Stone published by Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrilliant students wanted,
Puzzle-solving a plus.
Survival through graduation not guaranteed…

Whoa! Full tuition for boarding school for math genius problem-solvers? And across the country from her cheating boyfriend, too? Best idea that cryptographic whiz Nadia has heard in a long time, till she arrives at… a secret Black Ops academy, funded by the CIA, with a killer double-agent on campus!

The first chapters (provided here free by the publisher) set up the dangerous world that Nadia finds herself in.

How far can you run from heartbreak?
**kmm

Book info: Desert Dark / Sonja Stone. Holiday House, 2016.  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Recruited for an exclusive boarding school where her math abilities will be prized, Nadia discovers that Desert Mountain Academy covertly trains students for CIA black ops careers. When rumors of a double-agent on the remote Arizona campus prove true, suspicion falls on the newly-arrived Virginia teen whose mother is Lebanese.

Nadia is overwhelmed with martial arts and Mandarin, trying to master firearms and survival skills with the other juniors in her team – and resisting her attraction to their senior leader, Jack.

Teammate Damon is willing to help her catch up, but socially-challenged Alan (grandson of a Jewish Mossad agent) is openly skeptical, sure that she’ll bring down the team.

Her germophobic roommate Libby is hiding something – is it about the girl whose death opened a spot for Nadia after the semester had begun?

Chapters by Nadia, Libby, Jack, and the mysterious double-agent tell of assassination attempts (yep, plural), gradual team bonding, survival training, academic challenges, and a growing romance – if Nadia can survive her first year at Desert Mountain Academy!

Flipside, by Shawn Johnson (book review) – Olympic dreams or dreamy guy??

book cover of The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson with A.L. Sonnichsen published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comSuper gymnast – hooray!
Quiet high school kid – okay.
The same girl – really??

Charlie wants to experience just one year of public high school as “normal” teen Charlotte before she tries out for the US Olympic gymnastics team, but keeping up with homework and intensive practice is much easier than staying away from the cute guy who wants to take her to prom… Focus, Charlie, focus!!

Shawn Johnson pulls from her own experiences as a teen Olympic gold medalist (yes, she’s a commentator at the Rio 2016 Games, too) in her first YA book.

Peek into Charlie/Charlotte’s life with the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher, then check out The Flip Side at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your gold medal dream?
**kmm

Book info: The Flip Side / Shawn Johnson, with A.L. Sonnichsen. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author Facebook]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Intent on being just a teen for a while, Olympic gymnastic hopeful Charlie remakes herself as Charlotte for school, but balancing her grades with high-level practice time turns out to be easier than avoiding the distraction of cute Bobby.

She is Charlotte at school so no one will treat her like a celebrity – being swarmed by starry-eyed young gymnasts at meets is enough! So Charlie doesn’t even tell best friend Zoe who she really is – after the Olympic trials in a few weeks, everyone will know…

Then upperclassman Bobby starts talking to her and life gets so complicated – now it’s Charlie who is starry-eyed! And he asks her to the prom, which is the weekend before Olympic tryouts!!

Can Charlie stay focused on her training as she and Bobby get closer?
Can Charlotte keep up her grades so her parents let her stay in school?
Can she make the Olympic team???

Written by Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, this story of first love and one-time opportunities flips and twists with Charlie’s emotions. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid, by Guiseppe Catozzella (book review) – run for glory, run to stay alive

US book cover of Don't Tell Me You're Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella translated by Anne Milano Appel published by Penguin Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comRun, so you don’t get caught.
Leave home, because staying is deadly.
Olympic dreams in a war-torn land.

Samia ran for joy when a child, ran for her country in the Olympics, fled Somalia knowing the dangers of “the journey” seeking a better life as her sister had.

A fictionalized account of the real young woman who was part of Somalia’s 2-person team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, happy US book birthday to this strong story of hope and determination, released earlier this year in the UK as Little Warrior !

Could you leave your family behind, for freedom?
**kmm

Book info: Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid / Guiseppe Catozzella; translated by Anne Milano Appel. Penguin Press, 2016. [author site – in Italian]  [translator website] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In the war-torn streets of Mogadishu, Samia loses her childhood friend and running coach to extremist gangs, perseveres as a athlete dreaming of running in the Olympics, and keeps traveling toward freedom, regardless of the dangers.

From the age of 10, Samia ran with the 2008 Olympics as her goal, inspired by refugee and world-class runner Mo Farah, coached by her best friend Ali, winning race after race in their Somalian city.

As rival militias recruited all young men into their religious factions, Ali left Samia’s neighborhood. Still she ran, gaining the attention of Somalia’s small Olympic Committee and earning a spot at the 2008 Beijing Games as a teen. How proud she was to represent her homeland!

But militia fighters wouldn’t let her practice when she returned to Mogadishu.
Time to take “the journey” as her sister had – through the desert, across the Mediterranean, to Europe – as Mo Farah had – to a place with enough to eat and running shoes that fit and freedom to run…

Based on the true story of Samia Yusuf Omar, who grew up with constant war as an “older sister” and ran anyway.

Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, by Sarvenaz Tash (book review) – Romance or reality at ComicCon?

book cover of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comPlanning the best day ever at New York ComicCon!
Telling her how he truly feels about her!
Getting cut off by a random guy…

Next-door neighbors and comic creators together, Roxy and Graham enjoy fan fiction based on the Althena universe, keep their grades up, and can’t wait to go to ComicCon! (p.s. That’s where he will tell her how much he cares for her – until Devin crashes their group!)

Don’t wait till BookCon at NYCC to pick up this June 2016 release! Visit at your favorite local library or independent bookstore today to see if Roxy and Graham get any tips from famous cartoonists and if she ever figures out how he feels about her!

Been to a Con?
**kmm

Book info:  The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love / Sarvenaz Tash. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Graham realizes that he’s fallen for girl next door/ best friend /comic co-creator Roxy, but his plans to tell her on the perfect New York ComicCon day are foiled by a handsome British student.

It’s a miracle that famously reclusive artist-author Zinc is scheduled to appear at NYCC, years after his legendary Althena comic went dark. It’s a tragedy that a cool Brit runs into their group and decides to tag along while flirting with Roxy!

Graham and Casey can grab those limited-seating tickets for Zinc, right?
How can Graham convince Roxy to sneak past her conservative parents and skip school for another day of ComicCon?
Is there any way to get her away from Devin without looking like a jerk?

Somehow, this real-life relationship stuff is so much more complicated than the ones that he and Roxy write and draw in their comic series or any of the romantic comedy movies that Graham’s late mother loved so much. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Arena, by Holly Jennings (book review) – virtual reality, too-real pain

book cover of Arena by Holly Jennings published by Ace Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comVirtual reality is safe combat, right?
Not in this future professional gaming league!

Oh sure, VGL gamers only die digital deaths in this near-future tournament, but every kick and sword strike causes true bodily pain. And when the lines between reality and the Arena start to blur… watch out!

Go to the publisher’s site here to read an excerpt as you port into the Arena with Kali, facing pain and death from more than just game opponents!

Would you fight in virtual reality if you could feel the pain?
**kmm

Book info: Arena / Holly Jennings. Ace Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As first-ever female captain, Kali wants to lead her virtual gaming team to the top, but when Nathan’s death in real life erases him from VGL record books and she starts to flip uncontrollably between reality and game-world, the teen begins to question this system that entertains the masses with make-believe sword duels that leave marks on the gamers.

New teammate Rooke challenges Kali to lead using The Art of War and other books that she studied with her Chinese family as a child – but is a tournament win all that he wants from her?

Keep the viewers happy – put on a great show as you win!

Keep the sponsors happy – party hard in public after you win!

Keep the team owner happy – train even harder so that you win more!

This near-future world celebrates the illusion of winning as camouflage for its too-real problems of addiction, rage, and control.

Unexpected Everything, by Morgan Matson (book review) – summer plans? poof, woof & wow!

book cover of The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson published by Simon Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.comShe’s got it all planned:
internship, great college, med school…
until step one is revoked!

Andie loves her checklists, her plans to become a doctor, her best friends – and sticks to short-term boyfriends.

Then her fancy internship gets yanked away, her politician father is suddenly home from DC, she lands in a summer job far outside her experience or comfort zone, and she meets Clark…

Happy book birthday week to The Unexpected Everything!  This is a great summer read, like Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone  (my no-spoilers recommendation here) and Second Chance Summer  (more here) with less road trip, but just as much self-reflection and heart.

What do you do when a perfectly crafted plan falls apart?
**kmm

Book info: The Unexpected Everything / Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When problems at her congressman father’s office cause her pre-med internship to vanish, Andie is forced out of her structured life of success checklists and into a summer job as a dog-walker (never had a dog), wanting to stay around new guy Clark (never mind her 3-weeks-only rule for boyfriends), and trying to keep her best friends in sync as an outside relationship threatens to dissolve their group.

A world-famous author in their midst?
Dad home in Connecticut all summer instead of away in Washington DC?
A long-time crush keeps his distance, or does he?

An epic scavenger hunt, bridging the father-daughter gap 5 years after Mom’s death, emojis-only text message challenge, a committed relationship (wait! this is Andie we’re talking about…) – such an unexpected summer before senior year!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

V is Vengeance Road, by Erin Bowman (book review) – revenge is a dangerous path

book cover of Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comJust her and Pa on the homestead,
till the Rose Gang came a-killin’ –
now it’s time for revenge…

Kate will track down the killers in the unforgiving Arizona deserts and mountains to avenge her father’s death, but when the 18 year old discovers that the gang is after the gold that her father hid, look out!

Read chapter one here (courtesy of the publisher), then hunt down this wild Western tale at your local library or independent bookstore!

We need girls with grit in westerns and all kinds of books – Kate is as gritty and tenacious as they come.

Family secrets… shared any lately?
**kmm

Book info: Vengeance Road / Erin Bowman. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kate’s riding hell-bent for leather on the Arizona frontier to avenge her father’s murder, as she follows the treasure map that he hid for her, ready to kill every member of the Rose Gang… as long as they don’t get her first!

Apaches and dust storms, the Superstition Mountains and a secretive old miner, Pa’s mysterious and cryptic map… Kate’s trail is perilous and bloody.

If Kate’s heart is consumed by vengeance, will there ever be room for anything else?

Q is quantum Bounders, teens in space, as weapons? by Monica Tesler (book review)

book cover of Bounders by Monica Tesler published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.comFinally heading for Earth Force Academy,
in space at age 12!
Away from the bullies, at last…

Bred especially to be Bounders, Jasper and other 12-year-olds find themselves grudgingly assisted at Earth Force Academy and challenged to master the alien-shared tech needed to bound, but why exactly the military Earth Force decided that young teens with ‘unusual neurodiversity‘ were the best pilots for this alien world-jumping is rather… suspect.

In future America,

**kmm

Book info: Bounders / Monica Tesler. Aladdin, 2016. [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Genetically specialized for interstellar ship bounding, 12-year-old Jasper is glad to escape earth-school bullies and learn to use alien quantum tech at the Academy in space, but he and his pod-mates start wondering why they were bred to become quantum pilots for the military….

(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

M is Madly & magic & oh my! by Amy Alward (book review)

book cover of Madly by Amy Alward published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | BooksYALove.comA love-poisoned princess is dying,
rarest ingredients needed for the cure,
the Wilde Hunt is on!

Princess Evelyn is utterly, totally, Madly in love – with herself! Now Nova’s best spell-creators must discover the unwritten, illegal love potion recipe so the antidote can be found.

Samantha races against other potion-makers like royal boyfriend and family rival Zain to save the Princess, while trying to save herself from falling in love with Zain. Hmmm… maybe that’s mere magic, too.

Would you ever use a love potion?
**kmm

Book info: Madly (Potion Diaries #1) / Amy Alward. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Born potion-maker Samantha must outwit competitors to create the antidote for Princess Evelyn’s love potion turned deadly and outsmart her own heart as she tries not to fall in love with the princess’s almost-fiance Zain – who is also her greatest rival on the Wilde Hunt for rare ingredients.

This first book in The Potion Diaries series sees Sam discover secrets from the time before Zain’s family cornered the potions market with synthetics, worry over her younger sister’s magic Talent, taste adventure and danger beyond Nova’s borders, and turn away from love… if she can. Princess Evelyn gets her chapters, too, as the love potion draws her deeper into its power. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

I is investigating football concussions & Second Impact dangers, by David & Perri Klass (book review)

book cover of Second Impact by David Klass and Perri Klass published by Square Fish | BooksYALove.comFootball, hard hits,
blanked-out moments,
keep on playing?

With a possible football championship the only bright spot in their small town, folks don’t take kindly to a young investigative reporter asking why the high school coach isn’t benching players with confirmed concussions longer.

With recent reports on NFL concussions and continuing concerns about head injuries in teen athletes, stories like the situation described in Second Impact  have long-lasting consequences.

Read an excerpt here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore to find this hard-hitting book told in two voices by a brother and sister writing team with much experience in sports and medicine, respectively.

Is it okay to play through pain?
**kmm

Book info:  Second Impact / David Klass and Perri Klass. Frances Foster Books, 2013; paperback Square Fish, 2014. [David’s bio]  [Perri’s site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A young sports reporter’s investigation of concussions sparks angry reactions as their New Jersey high school football team prepares for the championship, but her persistence may save someone’s life.

Carla covers sports for the Kendall High newspaper, and Jerry makes headlines as the winning quarterback (after the drunk car wreck fiasco blew over). She’s convinced him to join her in blogging about football and life, while she writes about recovering from soccer-ending ACL injury.

Things get dicey when her sports injuries series in the school paper starts talking about concussions, just as their star receiver misses a game after getting his bell rung.

Will Carla rehab from her knee injury and play soccer again?
Can Jerry push the team hard enough to win, no matter who is hurting?
When the Tigers’ possible championship is the only positive topic in their blue-collar town, can criticizing the coach be a good thing?

Told in alternating voices by a brother-sister writing team, this novel of blogs, emails, and conversations brings up tough questions for the kids at Kendall High and the adults who live in their reflected glory.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)