Tag Archive | friendship

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Different stories, different viewpoints? Audiobooks bring us both

It’s past time to pro-actively seek out viewpoints beyond our own, to strive to understand where others are placed in the world – let this week’s free audiobooks get you started on this journey!

First, grab the free Sora app on your phone or tablet. Next, register free at AudioSYNC, then use either or both of the links below to download this week’s audiobooks, free through Wed, July 1, 2020.

CD cover of Mexican Whiteboy, by Matt de la Peña | Read by Henry Leyva
Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mexican Whiteboy (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

by Matt de la Peña. Read by Henry Leyva. Published by Brilliance Audio

Half-Mexican, half-White, all mixed up – Danny doesn’t fit in at his San Diego private school where his talented but erratic pitching can’t save him from being too brown.

He doesn’t speak Spanish, so it’s awkward staying with his dad’s family when his divorced mom goes north. Is he the reason Dad went back to Mexico?

The Silence Between Us (download here free, 25 June -1 July 2020)

Since becoming Deaf a few years ago, Maya has learned ASL at a special school. Then Mom’s job moves them across the country, and the teen must attend a hearing high school…

I recommended this #ownvoices story on BooksYALove earlier this year – no-spoiler details here.

How are you working to truly see and understand the culture of other people?
**kmm

New situation? A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST, by Joy McCullough (middle grade book review)

book cover of A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Joy McCullough. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her mom is a penguin researcher,
his Guatemalan dad was an artist –
what on earth could they have in common?

Sutton thrives on order, routines, things going precisely according to plan. She is not happy about her robot still stuck in its maze, or Dad starting to go on dates, or Mom not getting home from Antarctica in time for her tenth birthday, not happy at all.

Kids are heroes in the fantasy stories Luis writes, but in real life his many serious allergies have made his widowed mom super-protective. Hiking in a Seattle park with Sutton and her dad sounds a bit risky – maybe dating is making Mom less focused on Luis’s health.

Could Sutton and Luis learn to get along as well as Mr. Wong’s cat and Mrs. Banjeree’s dog, apartment best friends?

Can their different problem-solving styles get them out of a perilous situation?

Told in alternating voices, this Field Guide to Getting Lost might actually be a way that Sutton and Luis can find themselves. Read chapter 1 here free, courtesy of the publisher.

When has a occasion you’ve dreaded turned out to be not so bad after all?
**kmm

Book info: Field Guide to Getting Lost / Joy McCullough. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Who’s trying to kill over THE TRUTH APP? by Jack Heath (book review)

book cover of The Truth App, by Jack Heath. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A little programming,
a car crash,
a lot of trouble!

Begun as a lie-detector coding experiment, Jarli’s “truth app” becomes an overnight international sensation, and the Australian high schooler immediately receives acclaim, criticism, and death threats.

From the source code Jarli uploaded to an obscure site to get help testing it, someone has created a commercial app that gives an “honesty score” – very unpopular with teens.

Jarli’s best friend Beth and new student Anya are on his side at least. Then the guy who purposely crashed into Dad’s car comes after them – time to run!

“Did it not occur to you,” Mom said, “that almost everyone has secrets?” (p. 56). Some very powerful people will apparently do anything – legal or otherwise – to keep theirs from the public.

Is Dad’s security company job at risk?
Will the bad guy go after Jarli’s sister too?
Who is behind these attacks?

Just why did Jarli want a lie detector? You’ll have to read the first book in this Australian series to find out.

How would a “truth app” affect your life?
**kmm

Book info: The Truth App (Liars, book 1) / Jack Heath. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 US. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Signs, connections, love – ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW, by Liara Tamani (book review)

book cover of All the Things We Never Knew, by Liara Tamani. Published by Greenwillow Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ready for his free throw,
he blew a kiss –
straight to her heart, falling, falling…

Actually Rex blows a kiss to his late mother before every free throw, and Carli fell courtside before her game because of a gallbladder attack, but their hearts connect as social media helps the upper-class Black teens find each other across Houston.

Numbers record their basketball success, map out his geometry of perfect landscape design, show her patterns that reveal truths and paths in art.

But numbers don’t tell everything like Rex’s guilt because his birth caused mom’s death, Carli’s pain as a family truth is revealed to be a lie, or the cataclysmic ups and downs of first love.

Will Rex’s dad ever come to a game or keep ignoring his only child forever?
Will Daddy ever tell Carli and Cole why Mom is suddenly divorcing him?
How can Carli tell her championship teammates that she hates playing basketball?

Happy book birthday to this tale in two voices, showering sparks and raining tears as Rex and Carli try to find themselves and hopefully find each other, too. From the author of Calling My Name (recommended here).

When have you met someone and felt like you’ve known them forever?
**kmm

Book info: All the Things We Never Knew / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Outward change or inner transformation? Audiobooks for our times!

Books can be timely, timeless, both.

When the weekly AudioSYNC pairings were decided many months ago, no one knew we’d be shouting about systemic racial inequalities during a pandemic, yet these stories to read with your ears really hit home right now.

Remember to download either or both by using the links with each title before late night Wednesday 10 June 2020.

The Sora app is your key for listening to these free audiobooks on your phone or tablet as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf – more details here.

CD cover of Into White, by Randi Pink. Read by Adenrele Ojo. 
Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Into White (download free 4-10 June 2020)

by Randi Pink. Read by Adenrele Ojo. Published by Listening Library

Bullied by other Black students at their mostly white high school in Alabama, LaToya prays to become white, pretty, and popular.

When her wish is granted, life changes for now-blonde and beautiful Toya in ways she couldn’t imagine…

Like No Other, by Una LaMarche. Read by Phoebe Strole, Leslie Odom, Jr. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Like No Other (download free 4-10 June 2020)

A northeast hurricane traps a devout Hasidic Jewish girl Devorah and a nerdy West Indian guy Jaxon in an elevator for a long time – long enough for the teens to get to know each other, to really really like each other…

When the elevator doors finally open, what now?

How are you educating yourself in response to current events?
**kmm

STAND UP! BE AN UPSTANDER AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE, by Wendy L. Moss (nonfiction book review)

book cover of Stand Up! Be an Upstander and Make a Difference, by Wendy L. Moss PhD. Published by Magination Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Unfair treatment,
Bullying at school and online,
Can one person make a difference?

Yes! One voice can add to the chorus asking for big changes or help a new student feel welcome by being an Upstander instead of an uncaring bystander.

Use the quizzes in each chapter to discover what kind of bystander you are – neutral, negative, or positive – and that your reactions will differ from situation to situation.

Become better at being kind to yourself, dealing respectfully with conflict, and working with others to brainstorm ways to make a difference.

Young people do have power to change unfair rules – learn strategies that help decision-makers see your viewpoint.

Kindness and anger are both contagious – educate yourself on ways to spread kindness and disrupt stereotypes that spread negativity.

In these times and in all times coming, you can educate yourself to be an Upstander, to positively help your family, school, community, and world.

Are you up for this?
**kmm

Book info: Stand Up! Be an Upstander and Make a Difference / Wendy L. Moss, PhD. Magination Press, 2019. [author bio] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

It calls them all – A SONG BELOW WATER, by Bethany C. Morrow (book review)

book cover of A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Every Siren is a Black woman,
her magical Call irresistible,
a danger that the majority wants to contain…or silence.

Tavia and Effie share secrets and worries as the Black almost-sisters navigate high school while growing into their individual powers.

To Portland, Effie is ‘the girl from the park’ who survived when sprites turned her playmates into stone statues years ago.

Trying to strangle the siren-voice out of herself at age 11 didn’t work, but coming here from California gave Tavia a chance to start over, away from her grandmother’s revealed Siren legacy.

When Effie moved up the hill from her grandparents to stay with Tavia for school, a gargoyle arrived too, perching on the roof whenever the teens are home.

Tavia stays quiet except in choir, for her siren-voice is too powerful and compelling for everyday people to deny. But when she’s stopped for driving while Black – did the other cop hear her Call to be released?

It’s almost Ren Faire time, where Effie is the mermaid Euphemia, so she practices her underwater dance at the pool, missing her late mom and their shared love of Faire performing more than ever.

Does Effie’s constantly itching skin mean she’s becoming a mer for real?
Is an electronic silencing collar in Tavia’s near future?

They know that attending the community protest of a young Black man’s death at the hands of police could quickly turn dangerous, especially when a celebrity who just revealed she’s a Siren arrives…

Effie’s hair has a mind of its own, Tavia seeks her grandmother’s counsel through water, family secrets begin to unravel.

Happy book birthday to this story of self-discovery and speaking to power! Request A Song Below Water now at your local library or buy from an independent bookstore directly or through bookshop.org for home delivery.

Where can you use your voice for good, right now?
**kmm

Book info: A Song Below Water / Bethany C. Morrow. Tor Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Soul calls to soul, WILLA AND THE WHALE, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown (middle grade book review)

book cover of Willa and the Whale, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She observes and learns,
listens and writes,
are her own answers in the sea?

Same island town in Washington that Willa left as a nine year old when she and Mom moved to Japan after the divorce, but now her horizons are wider and her grief is deep.

On a whale-watching trip with Dad just a month after Mom’s death, Willa films a gigantic female humpback whale breaching and calls out to her and the whale Meg talks back!

Too much can change in three years – best friend in a different house, too many people in Willa’s old house (step-siblings, half-sibling, too much noise!), no Mom to help her study the creatures of the ocean.

When Willa calls to Meg from the island beach, the whale answers from the distant deeps.

When friend Marc is secretive, Meg gives Willa good advice. When something dreadful happens on the beach, Willa tells Meg about it first.

Missing her Mom – will it ever get easier?
Being herself – will her island classmates ever understand?

In this tale of grief and loss and love, Willa’s journal entries from then and now reveal her deep appreciation of the sea’s inhabitants and her struggle toward living less-alone on the land.

When have you heard a call from afar?
**kmm

Book info: Willa and the Whale / Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [Chad’s site] [Shelly’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

If only he could meet her… SHE WORE RED TRAINERS, by Na’ima B. Robert (book review)

book cover of She Wore Red Trainers, by Na'ima B. Robert, published by Kube Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family life is funny and frustrating,
community expectations can be a heavy burden,
how to stay true to your faith, yet find your own path?

Her stepfather is especially mean to Amirah’s younger brother who is deaf – hopefully getting all three younger siblings out of the house to the Islamic Center’s summer program will help Mom’s depression (another divorce coming?) sigh…

Mum’s death sent Dad’s business into freefall, brought Ali back to their faith – now the house is sold and they’ll be in London for his summer before college…

Playing basketball with the guys in their city Muslim neighborhood, Ali sees a young woman in hijab over there…who is she of the red shoes?

Will the right circumstances allow these new neighbors to meet properly, correctly, soon?
Can Amirah find a way to attend art school before her older brother arranges her marriage?
Can Ali convince his dad that law school was Mum’s dream, not his own?

Meet these Muslim families in south London and know more about their lives and worries and dreams. Find this 2014 book at your local library (worldcat.org/libraries) or independent bookstore (indiebound.org/indie-store-finder or https://bookshop.org/).

What happy ending are you willing to work for and wait for?
**kmm

Book info: She Wore Red Trainers / Na’ima B. Robert. Kube Publishing, 2014. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.