Tag Archive | habits

KENSY AND MAX face danger, secrets & spies! by Jacqueline Harvey (middle grade book review)

book cover of Kensy and Max: Breaking News, by Jacqueline Harvey. Published by Kane Miller Books (US) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not where they expected to be,
family secrets trigger extreme events,
twin-power must save them!

Kensy and Max are used to frequent moves since their parents’ work takes the family to medical clinics all over the world, but this time…Mum and Dad have gone missing!

The 11-year-old twins are suddenly at a magnificent country estate, then their manny Fitz winds up being more bodyguard than housekeeper when they’re enrolled in an unusual school in London.

Glad to make new friends at school, Kensy and Max await word from their parents, learn more about long-lost family members, and are nearly kidnapped!

Kensy is impulsive, messy, and amazing with machines – can she figure out what’s up with the grannies at the corner newspaper shop?

Max is neat, orderly, and brilliant with codes – can he decipher the messages that Mum and Dad left in favorite books?

They keep notes on a wealthy newspaper owner, a butler with mysterious skills, secret classes at school, loads of rubble coming from their neighbor’s renovation – what does it all mean?

First in an exciting series that take Kensy and Max around the world as they search for their parents and keep one step ahead of the bad guys! Four books are available now in paperback in the US.

What mystery would you like to decode?

Book info: Kensy and Max: Breaking News (Kensy and Max, book 1) / Jacqueline Harvey. Kane Miller Books, 2020 (US). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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?

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.

Can little brother & GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA survive in the city? by Michelle Kadarusman (book review)

book cover of Girl of the Southern Sea, by Michelle Kadarusman. Published by Pajama Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Brother depends on her,
neither can depend on Father,
Survival only or education, too?

At 14, Nia must be grown-up before her time, running the family food cart to support her little brother in the Jakarta slums instead of continuing in school.

Mama’s Javanese folktales stopped when she died giving birth to Rudi, but Nia remembers and writes them down, to her teacher’s delight, adding to Dewi Kadita‘s adventures as Queen of the Southern Sea.

Father now drinks away their money, and Nia must work their banana-fritter cart alone – can she earn enough to pay rent and feed Rudi? Could she save a little toward high school registration?

When she survives a minibus accident, Oskar the tailor proclaims it a miracle and tells customers that Nia’s banana fritters must bring good luck – is it okay to charge more for fritters now?

Mama still tells her stories in dreams and Nia writes when she can – will she ever have time for herself?

Wait, what wild promise did her father make this time?

In the face of poverty and societal pressure, Nia stands strong for her own dreams, for now…

When have you stood up for yourself when others couldn’t see your plans?

Book info: Girl of the Southern Sea / Michelle Kadarusman. Pajama Press, 2019. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is THE DISTANCE BETWEEN ME AND THE CHERRY TREE, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir (MG book review)

book cover of The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir. Published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

First were a few dots in her vision,
then glasses (not so cute),
now clouds cover her view…

Mafalda’s eyesight is failing, and the list of things the Italian girl can do grows shorter by the week – no more having a best friend or counting stars at night.

No more playing soccer, as the black spots widen so she cannot see the ball coming toward the goal, no more walking home from school by herself.

She hates how people have already started treating her differently, hates 11th birthday presents coming many months early while she can still see their colors, hates having to move to a one-story house away from her cat…

Only Estella, the Romanian janitor at school, seems to understand how hard this all is for Mafalda and suggests making a list of things she doesn’t want to forget when she is blind.

As days pass, she must stand ever closer to see her favorite cherry tree… if only Mafalda could live in its branches so no one knew her blindness was happening so fast.

Read an excerpt here (courtesy of the publisher) from this debut novel by an Italian author who was diagnosed as a young teen with the same vision-loss condition as Mafalda.

How do you cope when unhappy changes are inevitable?

Book info: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree / Paola Peretti; translated by Denise Muir; illustrated by Carolina Rabei. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author interview] [translator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Like all EXTRAORDINARY BIRDS, she must fly! by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (book review)

book cover of Extraordinary Birds, by Sandy Stark-McGinnis. Published by Bloomsbury Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sure that she is truly a bird and that wings will soon burst out from the scars on her back, 11-year-old December is placed in yet another foster home, leaving everything behind except her secret journal.

She does find Eleanor nicer than most foster parents and is intrigued by her work rehabilitating injured birds (but not the taxidermy hobby…ew).

At her new school, she’s welcomed by Cheryllynn who loves the brightest dresses and snobby Jenny who says that’s really Charlie.

If December climbs a high enough tree, will she be able to fly away from unhappy memories?

Can she really help Eleanor teach a wounded hawk to fly free again?

Will Eleanor give up on December like everyone else has?

Her vast knowledge of birds hasn’t prepared December very well for dealing with humans, but Eleanor and Cheryllynn seem better than most people.

Who has given you hope when storms kept you from soaring?

Book info: Extraordinary Birds / Sandy Stark McGinnis. Bloomsbury Kids, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Foster home safe for HOME GIRL Naomi? by Alex Wheatle (YA book review)

book cover of Home Girl, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Black Sheep/Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not half-bad foster family, for once,
iccle bro and sis looking up to her –
why are they so nice?

After Mum died, Naomi took care of alcoholic Dad for years. Now the UK foster care system thinks the 14-year-old needs watching over…

Naomi’s hostility to foster families quickly exhausts her social worker’s options, and the white teen is placed temporarily with a black family.

Colleen and Tony are nice enough, their kids like Naomi, too – but Tony’s parents aren’t keen on a white girl taking space where a black foster kid could be safe.

Alternative school kids are quick with their fists and loud with slangy curses. The black girls there aren’t liking Naomi’s new cornrow braids…

When Colleen discovers Naomi’s love of urban dance, she arranges lessons at a real studio! Now isn’t the time for social services to place her with a suburban white family.

Just published in the US by Black Sheep/Akashic, Home Girl is the latest in Wheatle’s YA books set in working class British towns, examining personal identity, racial relations, and finding one’s place in the world.

When do we become ‘grown up enough’ to take on all of life’s responsibilities?

Book info: Home Girl / Alex Wheatle. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Fast, fat, funny, real – THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE for him, by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of There's Something About Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Parent-arranged dates,
hokey or helpful?
Hopefully heal his heartbreak.

Ashish needs to get over his breakup (first time he’s ever been dumped) and get back his basketball groove, and his Indian-American parents think setting him up with a nice Desi girl will help?

Sweetie wants her mom to realize that losing weight won’t make the high school junior happier (her friends love her right now) or run any faster (no one can beat her on the track), but how? Time for ‘Project Sassy Sweetie’ and getting out of her comfort zone!

Four very specific dates (and a behavior contract – Pappa is always a businessman) – Ashish’s Ma is sure that Sweetie is the perfect girl for him, but his love-and-leave reputation in the close-knit Bay area Desi community makes Sweetie’s mother say no to the idea.

But Sweetie says yes (Project Sassy Sweetie!), so off they go, to the temple and the Holi festival and his eccentric aunt’s place, each time enjoying one another’s company more.

Surely, on their fourth date for Sweetie’s birthday party, Amma will see this indeed was a good idea…
Surely, Ashish’s white ex-girlfriend will completely fade from his memory…

Told in alternating chapters, this fun (but not frivolous) romantic story is a May 2019 companion to When Dimple Met Rishi (Ashish’s perfect big brother) – you can enjoy this book without reading the other (my no-spoiler recommendation here), but make yourself happier by reading both!

What ingrained family opinion have you overcome for the better?

Book info: There’s Something About Sweetie / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Peanut, by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe (book review) – allergy joke gone wrong

book cover of Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe, published by Random HouseTransferring into a new high school,
Everyone else has been here forever.
How can someone get noticed in such a crowd?

Peanut allergies are certainly no laughing matter, but one casual conversation in a fast-food place sets in motion Sadie’s whole new persona to make her unusual enough to stand out at Plainfield Community High School.

Once she makes new friends, she’d like to drop her fake allergy, but doesn’t have the courage to do it. And no way is she telling her mom about all this. How long can Sadie keep up her double life?

If you can’t find Peanut  at your local library, ask them to order it. Or try an independent bookstore which may have gotten copies on the graphic novel’s December publication day.

So, how far would you go to be noticed by “the right people” at your school or workplace?

Book Info: Peanut / Ayun Halliday, illustrated by Paul Hoppe. Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House Children’s Books), 2012. [author’s website]  [illustrator’s website]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: So not fair, having to move during high school! Sadie is sure everyone at PCHS has known each other forever and won’t have time for new friends. When she decides to stand out by pretending that she has a severe allergy to peanuts, there’s no turning back.

The med-alert bracelet ordered in secret is on for school, off at home. Her “about me” essay for homeroom details the life-threatening incident that just a single peanut caused. The school nurse is understandably miffed when she doesn’t have the proper paperwork about her medical condition, but does let Sadie keep the emergency epi-pen in her backpack instead of the office – which is good, since Sadie really doesn’t have the prescription-only device.

She does make friends in Plainfield after all, like Lou, who would also like to cancel PE forever, and Zoo, the cute guy who’s decided that technology doesn’t make life better and forswears computers and cellphones. Zoo’s communications are intricate origami notes, which he delivers to friends’ homes by bike, between trips to the library to consult printed reference books for homework (done with pen and paper, of course). Finding Zoo’s notes in her locker makes Sadie’s day special.

So, Zoo and Sadie are becoming more-than-friends. Why can’t she just come clean about not really being allergic to peanuts? How can he come to her house when Zoo might say something that makes Mom suspicious about all of Sadie’s online research about epi-pens and allergies? Why did she decide on such a radical way to stand out at her new school?

Big bake sale, big muffins, big trouble! What happens next? Read Peanut to find out! Hoppe uses sparing amounts of red to accent his black and white drawings of the Plainfield Community High School crowd as Halliday’s story of trying-too-hard to fit in follows Sadie through her first semester in a new town. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

January progress on TBR2012 Challenge (reflective) – read lots, recommended more

Faced with overflowing shelves of 2012-dated ARCs (advance reader copies) and published books as the old year wound down, I leaped at the TBR Challenge posted by Evie on her Bookish blog (I’m #251). So, in January, I’ve re-read and written recommendations on BooksYALove (and am posting the brief reviews for several titles on www.abookandahug.com) for these 2012 books:Fantasy:
Watersmeet,  by Ellen Jensen Abbott

Historical fiction:
A Hundred Flowers,  by Gail Tsukiyama

Every Other Day, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Unnaturalists,  by Tiffany Trent

Realistic fiction – Young Adult:
The Butterfly Clues,  by Kate Ellison
The Difference Between You and Me,  by Madeleine George
Fish in the Sky,  by Fridrik Erlings
Moonglass,  by Jessi Kirby
Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy,  by Bil Wright
What Happens Next,  by Colleen Clayton

Adaptation,  by Malinda Lo
Year Zero, by Rob Reid

As you’re hunting up these great books, remember to check with your local library and independent bookstore, since all these titles have been published already. Keeping your book-dollars close to home is good sense and good business, as these singing booksellers remind us!

Yes, I’m making progress on my To-Be-Read stack of new books and 2013 ARCs, while also writing up my To-Be-Recommended books from 2012 (and some from 2011!). Let’s see what February brings…

What Happens Next, by Colleen Clayton (fiction) – getting past rape, finding redemption

book cover of What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton published by Poppy Books

Ski trip!
Fresh snow, new guys, curfew broken.
Now Sid is broken, too.

But she won’t let anyone help her past the attack, won’t even tell anyone what happened. The coping mechanisms that she’s chosen aren’t helping her cope too well either.

What can a slacker like Corey teach this former honor student about trust or friendship or caring what happens…

Post this info where people can find it: National Sexual Assault Hotline | 1.800.656.HOPE | Free. Confidential. 24/7. or search for a local crisis center at http://centers.rainn.org/

Grab this debut novel today at your local library or independent bookstore and cheer for Sid as she works past her outrage to a better future. The author gives us Sid’s playlist, too – you can tell a lot about someone by the music they choose.

Book info: What Happens Next / Colleen Clayton. Poppy/Little Brown, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Meeting cool college guy Dax was the best thing about the high school ski trip for Cassidy, until he convinced her to sneak out after curfew to a night she cannot remember.

Back home, Sid’s grades slide, her single-parent mom can’t figure out what’s wrong, her friends eventually give up trying to jolly her back to normal. Sid drops her advanced classes and drifts into “A/V Club” instead. Everyone knows that A/V Club is just Corey-the-Stoner hanging out in the DVD storage room until someone needs a video, so he won’t try to break through Sid’s new protective shell to help her get over things.
Except that he manages to say things that make her think, nudge her to try feeling good about herself again by exercising, make her wonder why she can’t remember anything about being with Dax – and he has no clue that he’s doing it. Nice that he always smells like the bakery where he works before school, that he brings new pastries for her to taste-test, that he’ll just listen if she ever wants to talk.
Why do they call him Stoner when she’s never seen him act druggie?
Could Sid ever be more than friends with Corey?
Will she ever find the key to the locked door of that blank ski trip night?
The author’s time spent working with teens in bad situations really shines through in this debut novel, as readers root for Sid to break through the barricades that her mind put up and uncover what happened with Dax so she can heal herself.

 (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.