Tag Archive | friendship

Names They Gave Us – enough against chaos? by Emery Lord (book review)

book cover of Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.com She did everything properly,
all promises kept on her side of the bargain,
but evidently God has other plans for her mom…

Asked by her own parents to be counselor at a different camp, while Mom recovers at their family’s church camp just around the lakeshore – Lucy is angry at God for letting the cancer come back and at her boyfriend for ‘pausing’ their relationship for summer.

If she can salvage even a scrap of comfort from working with little kids who spend the summer at Daybreak to escape terrible situations…

This mid-May 2017 novel is stirring, honest, and powerful – faith isn’t always strong, past history is often murky, and the future is never promised to anyone.

(personally, I think the title has no relevance to the story at all. Wonder why @EmeryLord agreed to it – but authors don’t have total control over titles and rarely have a say about the cover art).

Have you ever bargained with God?
**kmm

Book info: The Names They Gave Us / Emery Lord. Bloomsbury Teens, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: All Lucy wants is summer at her parents’ church camp so she can get over Mom’s cancer returning and her boyfriend ‘pausing’ their perfect relationship, but the midwest teen finds herself at another camp nearby, where worry and hope (and Jones) wrestle for her attention.

The counselors and the campers at Daybreak all carry heavy burdens of past circumstances – Mom thinks this is better for Lucy than being with her between chemo sessions?

Just a mile between both camps so Lucy can still hear Dad’s sermons every Sunday – why does that distance seem to change constantly all summer?

Deepening friendships with fellow counselors during their summer together, especially with Henry Jones – can she have a crush on him, so soon after Lukas?

Big concerns affecting her littlest campers, fretting over chemo effects, wondering if she can remember every tiny detail about Mom, huge secrets revealed and memories made. God didn’t keep his side of Lucy’s bargain to keep Mom healthy, but perhaps Lucy doesn’t have to stay mad at him forever.

Depression cured by baking 100 Days of Cake!? by Shari Goldhagen (book review)

book cover of 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen published by Atheneum BfYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comLow-key job at pet store,
Golden Girls reruns for comfort,
should make anyone happy enough, except…

Mom’s offbeat depression remedy (“just bake the perfect cake!”), therapist’s soothing talk (and he is just so cute!), trying not to disappoint friend Elle and new co-worker Alex (but sometimes even putting on her sandals is too much effort) – Molly isn’t exactly reveling in her summer before senior year as depression digs its claws into her.

Find the May 2017 paperback or 2016 hardcover at your local library or independent bookstore to see how Molly copes with change, her bake-happy mom, and trying to throw off the crushing load of depression during all 100 Days of Cake.

When is it okay to pass on advice that might be more placebo than not?
**kmm

Book info: 100 Days of Cake / Shari Goldberg. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The waves of depression keep getting deeper for Molly during summer before senior year, as the Florida teen wishes that therapy really would help her, longs for her so-cute therapist, and wants everything to stop changing so she has time to get better.

Her successful hairdresser mom is certain that the 100 Cakes Challenge will perk up Molly, her best friend Elle is easing away, and FishTopia’s owner wants to sell out.

Without their job together, what will happen to her sorta-relationship with Alex?
How can she think about the SAT and college choices when she’s too tired, all the time?
Why can’t she just spend all day talking about music with dreamy Dr. B?

Ooey-Gooey Butter Cake (very gooey), Wedding Cake with Fondant (extra-lumpy), Asian Bubble Tea Cake (would her late dad like that one?) – one hundred cakes, one hundred summer days, one million chances to try again…

Asteroid approaching?! Learning to Swear in America, by Katie Kennedy (book review)

book cover of Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comJust ‘on loan’ from Moscow University,
till JPL can divert the asteroid…
is ‘forever’ a reasonable loan length?

Russian physics prodigy Yuri is intent on winning the Nobel Prize, but working with NASA to prevent an asteroid from wiping out the Pacific Rim will keep him busy in California for a few weeks – not his last weeks on earth, he hopes! And then he meets Dovie…

Find this funny and fierce July 2016 hardback release at your local library or pre-order the July 2017 paperback from your favorite independent bookstore (no affiliate links here – indie booksellers deserve all our business).

If the end of our world was approaching, what would you do?
**kmm

Book info: Learning to Swear in America / Katie Kennedy. Bloomsbury USA Childrens,’s Books 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Yuri will just return to Russia to continue his antimatter research after helping NASA prevent an asteroid from obliterating the US West Coast, but when the 17 year old physics prodigy discovers that they might not let him leave California…

Eighteen days to impact – Yuri meets the asteroid team he will work with…and a lovely mysterious girl.

Yes, he will take Dovie to her prom (such a strange American high school custom) and visit her odd hippie family (more strange customs) and find a way to stop the asteroid (if only his team would listen to him).

No, the young PhD won’t let anyone at Moscow University steal his research toward the Nobel Prize or be forced to stay in California against his will!

Counting down the days to impact – the math, the physics, the public doesn’t know true danger… as Yuri falls in love.

Her future? It Started With Goodbye! by Christina June (book review)

book cover of It Started With Goodbye by Christina June published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot her fault!
Not fair!
Not the worst thing after all?

Tatum’s unwarranted ‘house arrest’ after (former?) BFF Ashlyn’s big mistake plus petsitting to pay the fine and all those community service hours sweltering outdoors… the only good things about this summer are her growing design business (and flirting with one particular client), getting to know Abby (so much ivy to eradicate!), and having grandma Blanche (how could uptight stepmother be this free spirit’s daughter?) at home.

Happy book birthday this week to It Started With Goodbye!

How to draw the line between supporting a friend and enabling them?
**kmm

Book info:  It Started With Goodbye / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Attacking overgrown vines wasn’t Tatum’s plan for summer, but starting her design business online (and flirtatious emails with SK) might make ‘house arrest’ and community service a bit more bearable.

After her BFF’s bad judgment puts the Virginia teen completely under her rigid stepmother’s supervision while Dad is overseas, only pet-sitting or doing community service can get Tate out of the house shared with perfect stepsister Tilly, the ballet prodigy. Luckily, they don’t know how happy Tate is that Tilly’s grandmother Blanche is here for the summer.

Interesting to become friends with Abby and Hunter – will they ever act on their growing attraction?
Exciting that her TLC Design is getting clients online – who is SK and will she ever meet him?
Still sad that Ashlyn won’t acknowledge her part in that fiasco – will she ever answer Tate’s emails?

A bit magical having abuela Blanche on her side – almost like a Cinderella story!

Z is for Zlatka, making Paper Hearts secretly in Auschwitz (book review) by Meg Wiviott

book cover of Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comForbidden in Auschwitz:
humanity, relationships, possessions,
and yet…

Her life forfeit if discovered, Zlatka rises above despair in the death camp by celebrating another year of friend Fania’s life with a paper origami heart, crafted in secret.

See the actual paper heart today in the Montreal Holocaust Museum – how fragile things like paper and hope can survive such hate…

As National Poetry Month closes, this novel in verse based on a true story of friendships opens our hearts.
**kmm

Book info: Paper Hearts / Meg Wiviott. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Pulled from their Jewish families in different Polish hometowns to this terrible place, this death camp, young women Zlatka and Fania find hidden ways to bolster their spirits as they try to stay alive.

The guards turn girl against girl, and girls try anything to get another ration of moldy bread. Forced to work as slaves in a German metal factory making bomb casings instead of bowls, Zlatka and Fania and a few others do their best to be human to one another.

Watching the seasons pass, praying to Adonai in whispers no one can hear. As winter comes near, Zlatka decides to make a card for Fania, because a birthday – or any day – is a gift too precious to ignore.

Can the young women barter enough bread to get a piece of paper or pencil stub?
Can they keep this secret from Fania and the guards?
Will they live or die or keep existing in between?

Zlatka and Fania each tell their story through chapters of poems, enduring and persevering because friendship can make its own family in the midst of horror and despair. Based on actual people and events at Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp during World War II, this novel in verse celebrates the best and the worst of humanity.

X for X-factor kids, the Randoms on space station, by David Liss (book review)

book cover of Randoms by David Liss published by Simon Schuster  | recommended on BooksYALove.comChosen for intelligence,
leadership,
and weirdness…

Of course, an intensive school on space station requires the best and brightest students from every known civilization – so why is sci-fi nerd Zeke the fourth kid on Earth’s team?

Because our popular sci-fi movies and television shows were preparing us for the actual alien tech that’s out there!

Look for Randoms in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore now before grabbing book 2, Rebels. Book 3, Renegades, hits the shelves in September 2017.

What does your favorite sci-fi teach us about life and friendship?
**kmm

Book info: Randoms (Randoms, book 1) / David Liss. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015; paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Recruited by the President for school on a space station, sixth grade gamer and average kid Zeke didn’t expect to be shunned by his fellow Earth students (all incredibly brilliant), visit other planets (picking up more teams for the competition), or discover that his favorite sci-fi shows were based on real alien technologies!

Then the attacks begin!

Earth’s future in the Confederation is at stake, so why was Zeke chosen?
How can he help his team succeed when they want him to stay away?
Can he level up enough that the US government will keep their promise to cure Mom?

Filled with quotes and references to all the science fiction movies, TV shows, games, and books that we love (or hate), Randoms is a rip-roaring ride into interspecies and intergalactic interactions. First in the trilogy, followed by Rebels (book 2) and Renegades (book 3).

V is Vân Ước, wishing hard for love in Cloudwish, by Fiona Wood (book review)

book cover of Cloudwish by Fiona Wood published by Poppy  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWish for love, wish for happiness,
wish to stand out as an artist,
wish to fit in at her new school…

Vân Ước worries about so many things – her mother’s deepening depression as the anniversary of her parents’ escape from Vietnam nears and how to fit in correctly as a scholarship student at her Australian private high school.

And her wishes – becoming an artist instead of a doctor (her parents’ dream), being with handsome rower Billy (her craziest dream) – seem to be coming true after that creative writing class…

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, then search for Cloudwish at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your highest wish?
**kmm

Book info: Cloudwish / Fiona Wood. Poppy, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [podcast with author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Dreams of being with handsome Billy are fruitless; dreams of making her living as an artist get Vân Ước through tough days. But the Vietnamese Australian teen may have a chance at both, if the guest creative writing teacher is right!

The transition from her Sydney immigrant neighborhood where she shares strong coffee with her lesbian-in-waiting best friend to the private school where she’s a scholarship student is jarring, as is Billy’s transformation from popular prankster to nice guy in their International Baccalaureate classes.

When a tiny bottle marked ‘wish’ just vanishes into her skin during a creative writing seminar, odd things begin to happen to Vân Ước – like Billy really paying attention to her – in a good way!

Will she be able to magically change her parents’ expectations for her future?
Can Mama’s depression be cured, years after that traumatic journey from Vietnam?
What would Jane Austen do in all these strange, changed situations?

Her name means ‘cloudwish’ – and maybe, just maybe, her dearest wishes and dreams could come true.

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
**kmm

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

R for reach in Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar (book review) – family secrets, magic, doom

book cover of Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar published by Kathy Dawson Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRemoving a troublesome memory
or unneeded physical attribute,
easy enough to do for Aspen’s family.

Using his ‘reach’ to steal thoughts or feelings or fears from others to keep the Cliff from falling on Grandma’s town?

Aspen sometimes can’t believe the ritual works, but the lure of snipping out someone’s memory for his own benefit is very, very hard to resist.

Go to the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt of this spooky tale (free!); the eerie paperback edition releases on June 6, 2017.

Would you reach into someone else’s memories and take one away?
**kmm

Book info: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies / Lindsay Ribar. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Summer vacation in upstate New York is no holiday for Aspen, as the teen discovers that his family’s rituals for keeping the Cliff from falling on Three Peaks are more sinister than he ever imagined.

Being able to ‘reach’ into someone’s memories or passions or skills and remove one, just by touching an important object, is his family’s secret skill, but the townspeople don’t know how the things they leave at the May Day tree are used, to heal faults in the Cliff… and more.

Is family story true, about how they became bound to the Cliff which gave the gift of reach?
What if Aspen doesn’t want to help with the ritual any longer?
And that rule about ‘never steal from family’ when you reach – why?

Superstitious tokens at the May Day tree and the power to remove memories, skills, even life itself – the Cliff and this family have a long, dark history together!

Quick! find a Q name to reach 26 Kisses, by Anna Michels (book review)

book cover of 26 Kisses by Anna Michels published by Simon Pulse  | recommended on BooksYALove.comBreak-up recovery strategy #1:
Kiss boys,
Kiss lots and lots of boys!

“No one stays with their high school girlfriends,” he said.

Veda decides that kissing her way through the alphabet – with absolutely no attachments – will surely heal her broken heart this summer, until…

Find 26 Kisses at your local library now or pre-order the May 2017 paperback from your favorite independent bookstore.

How would you mend a broken heart?
**kmm

Book info: 26 Kisses / Anna Michels. Simon Pulse, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After Mark dumps her, Veda knows that summer in their Michigan resort town will just be agony. So that she doesn’t rebound into another relationship, best friend Mel suggests that Vee smooth out the painful edges by kissing 26 boys – one for each letter of the alphabet.

Top secret! Don’t tell anyone, especially their best friend Seth, who might be falling for Mel.
Don’t kiss the same guy twice! Only so many days of festivals and nights of lake beach parties before summer ends.
No attachments! Easy as cherry pie, until quirky co-worker Killian is so charming and funny and all.

Between Mel and Seth spending all their time working on music, Killian’s love for all things George Bernard Shaw, and her divorced parents’ weird dynamic, Veda still tries to keep it cool and kiss through 26 – will she make her goal with her friendships and dignity somewhat intact?