Tag Archive | grandparents

J is Japan and MY ALMOST FLAWLESS TOKYO DREAM LIFE, by Rachel Cohn (YA book review)

book cover of My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life, by Rachel Cohn. Published by Disney/Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From nice house to shabby apartment,
apartment to terrible foster homes,
foster care to luxury hotel?!

Elle is stunned when ‘Uncle’ Masa arrives at her latest foster home (showers allowed once a week) with her new passport and an invitation from her biological father in Japan – happy 16th birthday after all.

Being so obviously hafu (half-Japanese) and gaijin (foreigner) is no big deal at her prestigious new school attended by kids of diplomats and business people from all over the world, but utterly scandalous to Elle’s new grandmother (no wonder Kenji was forbidden to marry her Native American/ African American mom).

Not sure she’s willing to believe all the gossip about Ryuu’s past or her dad’s convoluted business dealings

When have you been suddenly the outsider?
**kmm

Book info: My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life / Rachel Cohn. Disney Book Group, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy from the library; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Swept from foster care in Maryland to a Tokyo highrise, sixteen-year-old Elle must figure out where she fits in her biological father’s family and the social order at an elite international school.

Once the painkillers hooked Mom after that car wreck, drugs took their house, Elle’s security, and put Mom in jail.

When her never-seen dad offers Elle a home in Japan with him, she’s wary but goes along – to an amazing apartment in his skyscraper hotel with 24-hour room service…and his displeased mother and sister nearby.

Elle has to work hard at school to catch up, wondering why fellow swimmer Ryuu is shunned by the popular Ex-Brat crowd who inexplicably adopted her.

Will she always see her father by appointment only?
Can her new grandmother accept Elle’s mixed-race maternal heritage?
What happens if things don’t work out with her family in Tokyo?

As Elle and Ryuu get to know each other at swim practice, some Ex-Brats go beyond pushy, and business pressures are affecting her dad, badly.

E = EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Be a dancer? No, go to college!
Who will get the lead role? Watch your back!
Play it safe with her heart? Take a chance, Tilly!

It may be her last opportunity to dance, so she’s working hard with the troupe, refining her technique, hoping her mother will relent and allow Tilly to keep dancing, instead of immediately attending Mama’s dream college.

A backstabbing troupe member, an old friend who may become a new love, late-night stress baking, all of New York City to explore in this too-short summer!

You might have met Tilly earlier in her stepsister Tatum’s story, It Started With Goodbye (I recommended it here), and their abuela and Paolo, too.

And check out Tilly’s guide to New York on the publisher’s website here.

When do you know which dreams are uniquely yours?
**kmm

Book info: Everywhere You Want to Be / Christina June. Blink YA, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: From her quiet DC suburb to New York City’s clamor, Tilly is thrilled to be with a summer dance troupe, but competition for roles gets vicious!

Their choreographer/director is a genius, telling them that ‘slaying the dragon’ will center their dance in a stunning performance space to end the summer.

What a summer! Grueling and rewarding rehearsals, exploring the city with her roommate, increasingly irksome pranks, and trying to undo the way she ended things at home with musician Paolo.

Scouts from major ballet companies will be at their performance. Their families and friends will be there. Will the saboteur strike there, too?

One final summer to dance, to pray that Mama won’t force her to attend college, to dream that her future is all dance (and some Paolo, too) – too much to ask?

Can EVANGELINE OF THE BAYOU stop the evil? #mglit by Jan Eldredge (book review)

book cover of Evangeline of the Bayou, by Jan Eldredge. Published by Balzer+Bray | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gator-skin boots with silver tips,
brain full of remedy recipes,
heart full of worries…

Evangeline has to be braver than ever when the otherworldly forces affecting their client in the too-busy city send Gran to the hospital, leaving the haunt-huntress-in-training to complete their mission – with the help of Julian, who will have to push past his self-imposed limits to save his mother.

Johnny revenants from Civil War battlefields and bayou banshees are easy to banish compared to the evil preparing to pounce on the Crescent City!

Is there a power within you that you’re just waiting to manifest?
**kmm

Book info: Evangeline of the Bayou / Jan Eldredge; illustrations by Joseph Kuefler. Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy won in contest; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In the city on a mission with her haunt huntress grandmother, twelve year old Evangeline longs for their bayou cabin and hopes that her own abilities stabilize before the supernatural menace stalking New Orleans gains full power!

With Daddy working offshore and Mama dead before Evangeline could know her, it’s up to Gran to teach her every skill needed to be a haunt huntress who expels shadow crouchers and dixie demons from the parish.

In their big city house (on a corner – unlucky) Mrs. Midsomer’s sickness worsens at night, Mr. Midsomer is so upset that he’s leaving Mardi Gras float details to others in his Krewe, and their adopted son Julian rigidly adheres to rules of his own making.

All symptoms point to the bite of a rougarou, perhaps from the same powerful werewolf clan that attacked Gran years ago, and the moon will be full very soon!

That black grim follows them to the city – whose death is it foretelling?
Her thirteenth birthday is nearing – where is Evangeline’s familiar?

Evangeline and Julian must track down the alpha rougarou before it’s too late for Julian’s mother and all of New Orleans!

Art school or her traveling family? Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller (book review)

book cover of Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Art school!
Real teachers instead of online videos,
real money her family doesn’t have,
really not surprised to be rejected…

Self-confidence is hard for Dessa, and when she freezes with sketchpad in hand, it will take something special to help her get it back.

Maybe not paint now, maybe she should try found art like her mentor, maybe…

How do you make a dream denied become merely dream deferred?
**kmm

Book info: Your Destination is on the Left / Lauren Spieller. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The nomadic life that her parents chose was fun back when Dessa was twelve, but now the 17 year old wants more – art school, life with other students, a home without wheels.

Best-best-ever Cy sent in her portfolio for the internship she knew she wouldn’t get, and now she will be working all summer with her favorite living artist in New Mexico – as long as Fiona thinks Dess is “college-bound” instead of turned down by every art school she applied for.

The families who travel together across the US are sure she’ll rejoin them and Cy on the road once summer is over – can she squeeze her expanded views back into that tiny RV with her parents and little brother?

Staying with her Greek grandmother (in a house!) near Santa Fe, helping Fiona prepare for a big exhibition of her found art pieces, trying to get up the courage to break free with her own art…and tell the truth about art school – what a summer!

But after the internship and the gallery show and no art school for fall – are Cy’s traveling dreams big enough for both of them?

Who’s pursuing Spindrift and the Orchid so rare? by Emma Trevayne (book review)

book cover of Spindrift and the Orchid, by Emma Trevayne. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Objects of immense power,
flung to the corners of the world –
together, they are too strong. And yet…

“…the history of Lux, the city spread out around her, was fascinating to Spindrift since it wasn’t her history. She had come here when she was young, after the accident. The sea was her home; she only lived here,” above Grandfather’s shop of curiosities and treasures (p.6).

When he allows her to read mother’s letters, of course the teen will start looking for the final treasure that her parents were voyaging to claim when their ship sank and someone placed baby Spindrift and a glass orb in a small boat that drifted to shore.

Her world is not ours, but much too familiar is the lust for power that drives the person trying to steal the only thing left to Spindrift by her parents.

Where is the line between one’s destiny and being fated to walk into disaster?
**kmm

Book info: Spindrift and the Orchid / Emma Trevayne. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Within the glass orb, the orchid-woman promises that all Spindrift’s wishes can be granted, as Grandfather reveals that her parents paid the ultimate price to find the black orchid and someone begins stalking the orphan girl, willing to do absolutely anything to control the rarest of all magic orchids!

Spin was born on her parents’ ship as they sailed the world in search of unusual goods; now she is landlocked in Lux where her mother’s father sells unique items, where the Seven Sages established order and justice long ago before they transformed.

Reading the letters sent by her mother to Grandfather during her travels, Spin begins to see why the glass orb containing the orchid-woman is important and why someone is trying to take it from her!

As Grandfather prepares to take Spindrift and her best friends on a holiday trip, she learns more about why the orchid-woman is trapped in the orb – can she be freed?

Donning bespelled wings, Spin flies with Clemence and Max as they follow clues from her mother’s last letters – why did the ship sink so near the shore with no other survivors?

There are other orbs with their own powers – did her parents lose their lives hunting for them or because they found them?

In this world of alchemy and power, Spindrift searches for answers on land and sea as the evil collector hunts her.

What’s causing The Year of Lightning? by Ryan Dalton (book review)

book cover of Year of Lightning, by Ryan Dalton. Published by Jolly Fish Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lightning storms go on and on.
Frost on the window in summer.
A house across the street that no one else in town can seem to remember…

Big change, moving from Chicago after Mom’s death to the small Arizona town where Dad grew up.

So many weird things are happening here – of course the twins and their new friends are going to investigate!

Can you escape sorrow by moving to a new place?
**kmm

Book info: The Year of Lightning (The Time Shift Trilogy. book 1) / Ryan Dalton. Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Malcolm sees someone in an abandoned house which has no doors, the fifteen-year-old and his twin Valentine uncover a dangerous force that imperils their small town – lightning can strike much more than twice in the same place!

New to grandmother’s old house, new to Dad’s old high school, the twins start making friends as Malcolm dives into history and Valentine impresses her science teacher.

But Patrick disappears right after Fred’s back-to-school party, so school newspaper editor Winter gets everyone investigating, as the lightning storms get more and more intense.

Is the lightning striking the abandoned house or coming from it?

Why must the strange watch found there stay with Malcolm constantly?

Who’s the shadowed man lurking around town now?

The teens and longtime town residents must hurry to find out what’s going on in that house and with the watch that won’t keep normal time before it’s too late! (first in Time Shift Trilogy).

First day of school…again!?! PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY, by Laurie Boyle Crompton (book review)

book cover of Pretty in Punxsutawney, by Laurie Boyle Crompton. Published by Blink Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

First day at her new high school!
Excited? Nervous?
Not when it repeats day after day after…

Andie is starting her senior year at Punxsutawney High (yep, same town as the famous groundhog), so sure that Colton will continue their summer movie-theater flirtation, but no.

Movie-obsessed Mom named her for the “Pretty in Pink” redhead, but Andie’s life has turned into “Groundhog Day” as she awakens the next morning and the next and the next… for the first day of school, over and over again!

Maybe Mom’s wish for Andie’s first kiss to be with her true love has something to do with it….hmmm.

Published last week, just in time for Punxsutawney’s annual moment in the weather world’s spotlight!

If you had the chance to repeat a day and only you knew it, what would you change?
**kmm

Book info: Pretty in Punxsutawney / Laurie Boyle Crompton. Blink Young Adult Books, 2019. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Repeating her first day of school over and over, Andie realizes that only her true love’s kiss will break her out of this “Groundhog Day” loop, but as a new senior at Punxsutawney High, she finds cliques that shut out others and her summer crush taken!

Mom loves to use classic movies as life lessons, but Andie thinks the wrong guy goes to the prom with Andie (yes, same name) in “Pretty in Pink.”

Andie is certain that cute Colton is attracted to her during their summer at the movie theater, but as soon as he starts showing her around the school, Kaia moves in.

Waking up the next morning to her parents urging her to get ready for the first day of school, Andie tries a different outfit, a different way to stay around Colton, but same results.

Repeat, repeat – try to be a cheerleader, a goth kid, on yearbook staff, but Kaia still gets Colton.

When Andie realizes who she really cares for and that her classmates have lots in common if they could see past clique labels (thank you, “Breakfast Club”!), she uses everything she’s learned throughout these many, many do-over days to make it happen.

But how will someone fall in love with her – in just one day?

Fight? No, Jazz Owls only want to dance, by Margarita Engle, art by Rudy Gutierrez (book review)

book cover of Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018 | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Smile and dance and don’t make trouble,
Keep up servicemen’s morale at the USO,
War is overseas and in their own neighborhood!

“The musicians call us owls
because we’re patriotic girls
who stay up LATE after working all day,
so we can DANCE with young sailors
who are on their way
to triumph
or death
on distant
ocean waves,” says 16-year-old Marisela in one of the first poems of Jazz Owls (p. 6)

But everyone of every race dancing together enrages some in power and “nothing sells newspapers as quickly as fear” brags an LA reporter (p. 32).

The papers’ sensationalized speculation questioned the true patriotism of non-whites and encouraged violence by sailors itching to get to war, creating a battle zone in Mexican-American neighborhoods where police blamed residents instead of their attackers.

Equal sacrifice demanded, unequal treatment before the law – how far have we come since 1942?
**kmm

Book info: Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018. [author site] [artist interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: During World War II, everyone works – from abuelas with their victory gardens to young women dancing with servicemen before their deployment – but all citizens are not equal, and many powerful people want to keep it that way.

‘English only’ at the cannery, or teen sisters Marisela and Lorena will lose their jobs, be trapped at home with Mama, not allowed to do their patriotic duty by dancing with sailors at the USO club.

Because Nico is serving overseas (somewhere), little brother Ray must accompany his ‘jazz owl’ sisters to and from the USO, pachuco strutting in his wide-shouldered zoot suit.

Afro-Cuban drummer Manolito brings hot Caribbean rhythms into jazz, dances with Marisela, only she keeps him from leaving this hate-filled place to the fake Cuban musicians.

Fame-hungry LA reporters twist facts, sensationalize truth, fan flames of suspicion that Mexican-Americans might be enemies instead of citizens, that jazz musicians are dangerous.

Told in poems by many voices over a year’s time, starting with the Sailor Riots against zoot suiters in 1942, Jazz Owls shows how the fear of Others splintered an American city which needed to stay united during wartime.

Off with her grandmother on The Last Great Adventure, by Rebecca Behrens (book review)

book cover of The Last Grand Adventure, by Sarah Behrens. Published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

To find her long-lost sister,
to find her place in a new family,
to make things the way they used to be…

In 1967, World War II was just one generation ago, the Summer of Love calls for peace, and Bea’s grandmother knows that it’s time to meet up with her sister Amelia Earhart back in their favorite childhood place, no matter what!

If someone’s dream seems possible, but very unlikely, what will you do?
**kmm

Book info: The Last Grand Adventure / Rebecca Behrens. Aladdin, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Her grandmother wants to reunite with her long-lost sister, and 12-year-old Bea wants to get away from her new stepfamily – a trip from California to Kansas sounds great! Never mind that only grandmother Pidge has heard from her sister Amelia since the famous aviator went missing or that Bea was only staying at Pidge’s new retirement village for a short visit…

With 30 years of Meelie’s letters in Pidge’s purse, the pair hops an eastbound train headed for Atchison (never mind about reservations for a sleeper), as Bea writes about their trip in her new adventure journal.

Her parents’ divorce made Bea so sad – why did Dad have to remarry?

Pidge keeps changing her mind about things – is she really in control of the situation?

Train, plane, automobile – will they get to Atchison in time to meet Meelie?

Family stories old, new, and being written form the heart of this road trip during the “summer of love” in 1967 as Pidge tries to reconnect with her beloved adventurous sister.


Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson (book review)

book cover of The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His earbuds are filled with opera,
His neighbors are druggies and the jobless,
Just like any middle-school boy, right?

Bart does love his mum and is sure that someday she’ll be able to keep a job so they can move out of their slum apartment… not so sure about keeping away from the bullies at school.

What advice would you give Bart as he searches for his long-gone dad?

**kmm

Book info: The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson / Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Maybe 13-year-old Bart’s opera singing talent comes from the American father he’s never seen.
Who in his Norwegian town knew that John Jones was such a common name in the world?

Maybe his mom will finally keep a job so they can move out of the slum apartments.
Why is it so hard for her to stay sober?

Maybe learning to box will keep the bullies away or impress Ada.
What made her volunteer Bart to sing at the school show?

Maybe he’ll shake his stage fright… anything can happen, right?

Middle school years are different for each person, but this translated novel shows how common some things are.