Tag Archive | love

Her parents’ dreams or hers? American Panda, by Gloria Chao (book review)

book cover of American Panda by Gloria Chao, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGraduate from best college for prestigious career,
Marry the right person, have many sons…
why is everything already set in stone?

Mei’s parents don’t understand that she wants some traditions of Taiwan and some of America, that she will survive if she doesn’t follow their exacting standards. But what if they disown her, as they cut off all contact with her brother?

Read the first chapter here for free (thank you, Bustle!) to get into Mei’s world, the world of her demanding parents that will stifle her own dreams.

When to break free of the “correct” path?

Book info: American Panda / Gloria Chao. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The path meticulously mapped-out by her Taiwanese-American parents has led Mei to MIT, but the 17 year old now must decide how far from their dreams she can venture in search of what she truly wants.

She uses hand sanitizer constantly, the mere idea of cadavers makes her squeamish, and biology class bores her – why do her parents insist that she must become a doctor?

When older brother Xing announced his engagement, Baba and Mama disowned him because Esther might not be able to give them grandsons, completely erased him from their lives – how can Mei tell them she’s dating a Japanese-American guy from California?

Dancing set her apart from other Asian students applying to MIT, so her parents allowed it just until her acceptance letter arrived – why can’t she tell them what joy it brings her and that she’s teaching dance classes on weekends?

Fast-tracked to college by her parents’ demands, Mei never dated in high school, never chose her own path – maybe with Darren’s support and affection, she can break away from their rigidly traditional expectations without breaking herself.

On their Lion Island, young people of Cuba dream and rebel, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of Lion Island, by Margarita Engle, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSongs for freedom,
words as power –
freedom from Spain, from slavery?

Did you know about Chinese immigrants who fled to Cuba, escaping racist attacks in America? They struggled for freedom from unfair indenture alongside enslaved Africans during the days when Cuba sought its independence from Spain – so many stories forgotten, lost, found, retold.

Look for this historical novel-in-verse at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Could you leave your homeland for safety, then leave again?

Book info: Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At the confluence of Cuban, Chinese, and African cultures, poetic voices of three young people tell the stories of arrival and broken promises, despair and hope, love and the future during their island home’s early years as a nation.

To learn the proper Spanish that his Chinese mother never knew, Antonio’s African father sends him to school in La Habana city.

As he runs errands within the Chinese community for wealthy men displaced from California by anti-Asian prejudice in the post-Gold Rush years, the 12 year old meets twin sister and brother Fan and Wing.

Antonio hears stories of unfairness and change, falls in love with words, wonders if they have true power.

Fan runs away from the sugarcane fields, from forced marriage – to sing and write songs and sing true.

Wing remembers being forced from their California home, wants to help the rebels in Cuba’s mountains.

Months roll into years as the three young people help hide escaped slaves, read letters of protest sent to China and Madrid, long for power over their own lives.

Lyrically, poetically, alternating voices relate the struggles of indentured Chinese workers and enslaved African people fighting for their freedom in the 1870s as Cuba strives for independence from Spain.

Choose his/her Remake or escape? by Ilima Todd (book review)

Male or female?book cover of Remake by Ilima Todd, published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com
Freedom Province gives the choice,
but it’s the only choice they’ll ever get to make!

Imagine being raised with a batch of non-related siblings by a rotating crew of caretakers, medically kept from reaching puberty until age 17 when you decide all your adult physical characteristics including gender…

Visit the book’s site here, then find Remake and its sequel, Resist, at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Which cover do you prefer – the misty hardcover or the mix-and-match paperback?

Book info: Remake (Remake, book 1) / Ilima Todd. paperback book cover of Remake, by Ilima Todd, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comShadow Mountain, 2014 (hardcover); Simon Pulse, 2016 (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover images courtesy of the publishers.

My book talk: Perhaps “Uncertain” would be a better name for Nine, who wants to run away on Remake Day instead of deciding whether to remain female or become male. The other 17 year olds in her Batch know exactly who they want to be as adults, unconcerned about the Prime Maker’s master plan for total control over Freedom Province.

When an accident rocks the Remake shuttle, Nine washes ashore on an island with people who aren’t perfectly formed, who don’t live in identical highrise buildings, who nurture the tropical land and each other.

Pregancy? Illness? Disability? What are those things?
How does being a “family” make those worries easier?
Can Nine adapt when Freedom’s medications leave her system?

Decisions that Nine must make on the island may have even greater consequences than her Remake Day choice, as she discovers Freedom Province’s deepest secrets.

Her soul dangerously called by Song of the Current, by Sarah Tolcser (book review)

book cover of Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser, published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comAs the river-gods sing, boats are safe on the river,
but they aren’t singing to her yet…
will they deny her?

Following in her father’s footsteps should be easy, but Caro hasn’t been Gifted yet, months and months past time. She will have to captain their boat anyway, and the dangers are more than just sandbars and river pirates now!

What has come to you later than you expected?

Book info: Song of the Current / Sarah Tolcser. Bloomsbury, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: By carrying a secret cargo aboard her family’s river wherry to a seaport, Caro hopes to save her father from unjust imprisonment, but the teen soon finds the crate in her boat’s hold is worth more than mere gold and may cost her life!

Soon, the river gods will sing in Caro’s blood, as they’ve done in all the Oresteia wherry captains in her family’s long history… long overdue, but perhaps soon.

The country’s ruler demands that a heavy crate go now to a sea island, and it falls to Caro and crewmember Fee to take it, out of the safe bends of the river, away from the pirates also seeking it, onto the too-deep ocean waters.

Forbidden to open the crate, Caro does…
Seeking assistance from her mother’s family, Caro dares…
Believing this strange young man’s outlandish story, Caro risks…

The fates of two nations collide on a quiet riverbank, as a young woman who wants only to captain her wherry must travel further than she ever dreamed and face dangers she never imagined in order to save her father’s life and find justice amid webs of political intrigue and glimmers of love. (followed by Whisper of the Tide, May 2018)

Chaos of Standing Still, grief-numbed as life moves on, by Jessica Brody (book review)

book cover of The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comSurvivor’s guilt
Constantly seeking answers on her phone –
Will Ryn stay stuck on what happened last year forever?

A year ago, a month ago, even a day ago, Ryn couldn’t have imagined that she’d be smiling (okay, be made to smile by guy who’s also hiding pain) on the anniversary of such trauma.

How do two teens stranded in an airport by New Year’s Eve blizzard make one another’s lives better in such a short time? Read the first chapter here free (courtesy of publisher) as Ryn and Xander meet, very much by accident.

Advice on moving on after stunning events?

Book info: The Chaos of Standing Still / Jessica Brody. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Stranded in an airport on New Year’s Eve, she worries for the millionth time about that unread text message from her best friend, but Ryn can’t open it, can’t move past losing Lottie 364 days ago, doesn’t want to be alone or with anyone for that terrible anniversary. Xander would rather be blizzard-bound in the Denver airport than be with his famous child-expert parents or stay at the faraway school where they sent him.

Maybe not so random that Ryn and Xander get their identical Dr. Who phones mixed up. Or that he’s the first person she really begins to tell about how lovely, zany Lottie made Ryn’s boring, predictable life so much more. Or that she is the one person who might see Xander for himself instead of as a biracial extension of his celebrity parents.

That flight attendant looks just like Lottie, grown-up… the last career wish of her ever-changing list.

Ryn’s parents moved to different cities after the divorce…like leaving Portland would erase tragedy.

When the runways are cleared for departure, what future will Ryn and Xander be flying toward?

Fossil-hunt feud & love – Every Hidden Thing, by Kenneth Oppel (book review)

book cover of Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the West, huge discoveries await!
Giant bones, tremendous deadly teeth,
and only one searcher can be the first to find them!

Early days of paleontology in America were more rough and tumble than scientifically sedate, and this two-voices tale of double-crosses, dangerous digging, and surprising love captures the race for fame and naming rights so well.

Read the first chapter here, courtesy of the publisher (I love when this free peek is offered!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore to continue the search for bones…really big bones.

Ever fallen in love with ‘the enemy’ – according to your family and friends?

Book info: Every Hidden Thing / Kenneth Oppel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their fathers racing to uncover dinosaur fossils in the West, Rachel and Samuel seek their own prizes from the prehistoric world – she to be recognized as a scientist in her own right, he to find the first complete T. Rex skeleton – but treachery on Native American lands and their own fathers’ feud may bury their dreams.

It didn’t start with the fistfight between two learned paleontologists at the Academy, and it didn’t end there, because Rachel Cartland’s father had sneaked one fossil set from the New Jersey bog where Samuel Bolt’s father was digging, then denied Bolt a teaching post at Yale, then finally leapfrogged the Bolt team to the Badlands where Pawnee hunted and dinosaur bones waited to be found.

Bones sent to Mr. Bolt hint of the location of T. Rex at last – why is Prof. Cartland heading the same place with his army of helpers?

Despite warnings from his scout, Cartland and company vandalize a Sioux death memorial – does the professor care nothing for humans?

Both teams spy on the others – will this rivalry result in more injuries, damaged priceless specimens, death?

Told alternately by Samuel and Rachel, this tale of the adventurous early days of paleontology includes the discovery of unknown dinosaurs, legends come to life, and love amid the dust of the frontier.

K/drama-inspired, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, by Maurene Goo (book review)

book cover of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo, published by Margaret Ferguson Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrades = stellar!
Extracurriculars = outstanding!
Romance = zero, zip, zilch.

Once she sees Luca, Desi is ready to make him fall in love with her – and she has the perfect step-by-step plan in her dad’s extensive K Drama series video collection!

Read the first chapter here (thanks to publisher!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for this 2017 novel and its many, many kinds of drama.

Any dating ‘flailures’ on your love-life list?

Book info: I Believe in a Thing Called Love / Maurene Goo. Margaret Ferguson Books, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: With a plan, she can do anything – so Desi decides that cute new guy Luca will become her first-ever boyfriend, through the tried-and-true steps from the Korean dramas that her father loves so much – what could possibly go wrong?

Super-student, soccer star Desi is determined to get into Stanford, honoring her late mother and making her dad proud. But in the romance department, she’s had zero success.

Moody artist Luca’s arrival at her California high school makes Desi willing to risk yet another possibly humiliating try at flirting and relationships.

But wait! What if she simply used the steps that every Korean drama romance follows?

Despite warnings from her best friends (who’ve seen too many of her flirting ‘flailures’), Desi outlines her “K Drama Steps to True Love” and goes after Luca!

Flat tire blowout, romantic boat ride turned rescue, graffiti-enhancement missions… what?!

First kiss, yes! First boyfriend, likely! (as long as Luca doesn’t find out that Desi is directing their every move toward love…)

Twin decisions = You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, by Rachel Lynn Solomon (book review)

book cover of You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandma died from this terrible disease,
Now their mother has it (rather, it has her in its grip) –
do the twins have Huntington’s Disease, too?

What a way to start their senior year, waiting on the genetic testing results… Both girls have their lives all mapped out, but what if this incurable neurological disease is part of their future, too?

Scroll down on this page to read the first chapter, by Adina, courtesy of the publisher, then ask for this January 2, 2018 release at your local library or independent bookstore.

Better to get the test and know for sure, or wait it out?

Book info: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone / Rachel Lynn Solomon. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adina loves playing viola, Tovah takes AP courses for best pre-med college admission, and both twins worry about whether they’ll inherit the disease that’s stealing away their mother’s life – this genetic test at age 18 will be the pass/fail for life.

The Seattle teens may look alike, speaking Hebrew and English at home, but they are so different – Adina sharing her Israeli-born mother’s love of old movies, Tovah as big a Nirvana fan as her dad and with him drawn deeper into their Jewish faith.

When the test shows that Adina has Huntington’s disease and Tovah doesn’t, the gap between them begun by an earlier incident widens, and the sisters struggle through senior year separately – Adina ardently pursuing her music and her mid-20s viola tutor while Tovah waits anxiously for acceptance to Johns Hopkins and decides she may finally have time to be with artistic Zack.

As their mother’s neurological symptoms worsen, Adina becomes certain that hers will begin early.
As the university admissions office is stubbornly silent, Tovah wonders if her years of hard work were enough.

Told in alternating chapters by the sisters, this story of faith, hopelessness, and hope spans a year of loss and love.

Dad? Dad? I am Right Where You Left Me! by Calla Devlin (book review)

book cover of Right Where You Left Me, by Calla Devlin, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comMissing after earthquake,
Dad’s been kidnapped!
CIA says don’t interfere

No way that photographer Charlotte and Mom will sit on their hands and wait for Dad to be freed, some far-off day!

What a crazy time to fall in love, to sidestep friends’ advice to ignore Josh, to have senior year deadlines looming while waiting and waiting to hear about her journalist father!

Read the first pages here (free, courtesy of the publisher), then ask for this Sept. 2017 release at your local library or independent bookstore – remember, Small Business Saturday is Nov. 25th!

When is it time to take matters into your own hands?

Book info: Right Where You Left Me / Calla Devlin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Charlotte’s reporter dad goes missing in the Ukraine after an earthquake, she’s ready to jump on the next plane and search for him – until the CIA says he’s been kidnapped by rebels, and any interference by the San Francisco teen or her Russian-born mom will doom him.

Dad’s disappearance shatters her senior year planning college together with best friend Emma and her contentment as school newspaper photographer (on staff with long-time crush Josh!), and Charlotte fears that Mom may retreat into depression that even baking and baking won’t prevent.

Why can’t the ransom be paid to free Dad?
Will Mom ever fully recover from losing Charlotte’s big sister to crib death?
Is Emma right that dating Josh would harm Charlotte’s future?

Love and loss continue to intertwine in Charlotte’s life, as she pushes past her own cautious nature to discover which expectations are worth leaving behind – for her happiness and her family’s future.

Who is spying on her & The Watcher in wartime? by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review)

book cover of The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…

Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.

Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore.  Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.

How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?

Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.

After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!

The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??

Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.