Tag Archive | love

G is young Bollywood fan’s GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING, by Uma Krishnaswami (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Singing and dancing,
true love overcomes all –
Bollywood is perfect, real life isn’t!

A dream is finally coming true – for Dini’s mom, who’s gotten a job as doctor at a clinic in a small town in India.

But for 11-year-old Dini, moving away from her best friend Maddie for two years is terrible! Who will watch Bollywood movies with her and sing every song and dance all the dances?

And Swapnagiri is far, far away from Mumbai and its Bollywood studios, so Dini won’t even get to see their favorite star, Dolly Singh. Just in case, Dini writes a letter, telling Dolly where her family will be in India.

Such a long journey from Maryland, and so many different things in their new home: monkeys on the roof, rose petal milkshakes, their little house on a working tea plantation.

Oh dear, her new neighbor Priya has taken a dislike to Indian-American Dini, and soon they’ll be classmates. Priya’s uncle is sad because his fiancee broke their engagement – his sweetheart, Dolly Singh!

Ah, if Dini can get Chickoo Uncle and Dolly back together again, they’ll film her next movie right here as planned – time for more letters, a big party, and Dini’s perfect Bollywood script.

Told by Dini, the mail carriers, the mechanic trying to find out what’s making the strange noise in Chickoo Uncle’s car, Dolly’s agent from the movie studio, and Dolly herself, this story is like a Bollywood special – start the music, cue the dancers, action!

When have you tried to help people fix a situation they couldn’t fix by themselves?
**kmm

Book info: The Grand Plan to Fix Everything / Uma Krishnaswami; illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Take a chance to do this AGAIN, BUT BETTER? by Christine Riccio (YA book review)

paperback book cover of Again, But Better, by Christine Riccio. Wednesday Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Creative writing in London!
Not her parents’ plan –
Finally, what she wants…

Journaling, blogging – Shane wants to improve her writing, but her parents are laser-focused on their only child becoming a doctor. Thanks to the fake YU brochure she created, they think she’s in London for a pre-med semester abroad in 2011, so she has to keep up that charade.

She likes her roommates – Babe, whose dream is becoming president of Disney, and Sahra, serious pre-law with a sense of humor. They share a kitchen with theater-major Atticus and musician Pilot (“like the first episode of a show”). All are excited about their classes and internships and getting to travel all over Europe.

The very first weekend, she’s off to Rome with Babe, Sahra, and Pilot – staying together in a hostel, a marvel around every corner, almost losing her passport!

Is Pilot flirting with her? Shane’s no good at flirting, hasn’t dated much, her family keeps asking when she’ll bring a boyfriend when she goes home every weekend. But Pilot has a girlfriend back home…

When her parents discover what she’s really studying, everything will crash and burn, of course…

Fast forward several years, and Shane has the chance to rewrite the ending of that unforgettable semester abroad – magic?

Pilot is carried back, too – does he want to change the script?

Will either of them push the rewind button that erases their second chance?

Filled with references to music, television, and movies that the London friends all love (and the books that Shane insists they need to read), this debut novel considers the weight of family expectations and the costs of being true to yourself.

p.s. the paperback edition (with the pink cover) contains a bonus scene!

If you could study abroad, where would you go?
**kmm

Book info: Again, But Better / Christine Riccio. Wednesday Books, paperback 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

You need to love someone or even like them for ALL THE RIGHT REASONS, by Bethany Mangle (YA book review)

book cover of All the Right Reasons, by Bethany Mangle. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books / S&S. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Venting about her dad’s terrible behavior,
privately on her video diary –
oops, on the public channel = goes viral!

It’s a long way from Ohio to Key West, but here they are – fitness expert Mom and 17-year-old Cara, as stars in the new reality show “Second Chance Romance,” here to choose a guy and his kid as a possible instant family!

This gigantic mansion with luxury everything is a far cry from generic oatmeal and overdue bills that made up their everyday life after Dad dumped Mom on their 20th anniversary for a client at the boutique gym that they both still own (and Dad won’t buy Mom’s share).

Together Mom and Cara navigate this new world of filming lingo (another take? really?!) and makeup stylists and designer clothes around the clock and enough to eat, trying to imagine each dad and child as their new family, thankful for their “handler” Sam who tries to keep things rolling smoothly for them.

Cara and Mom have to agree on which pairs to eliminate, which is easy at the beginning, but gets more difficult as they go along.

Brad works hard to woo Mom, but his teen daughter (the shampoo model, as she keeps reminding everyone) is charming to the adults, utterly awful to the other kids.

Connor catches Cara’s attention on the very first evening, but she can’t have a crush on a contestant’s son when they could become siblings, right? He’s so real, so matter-of-fact about how Ehlers-Danlos affects his daily life.

Of course, the show’s producers magnify every conflict or sign of interest for maximum drama! Too bad they aren’t funny and mellow and human like Sam.

Why can’t Mom see past the facades of some contestants?
Which of these kids could Cara live with as a step-sibling?
How can they possibly choose by the show’s filming deadline?

By the author of Prepped (recommended here), who lives with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and is a Korean adoptee with white parents like Cara.

Would you ever appear on a reality show?
**kmm

Book info: All the Right Reasons / Bethany Mangle. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K-Beauty MADE IN KOREA, competition made right here! by Sarah Suk (YA book review)

book cover of Made in Korea, by Sarah Suk. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gel masks, lip balms,
toners, serums, and BB creams –
K-beauty is the best!

As her senior year begins, Valerie is relieved to find that her fellow students still line up every Monday afternoon to buy the quality Korean beauty products that she and her cousin Charlie sell at their Pacific Northwest high school.

But showcasing her entrepreneurship on college applications is at risk when this new guy Wes starts selling beauty products that his mom gets from big K-Pop groups… on Monday afternoons!

The competition between Valerie and Wes heats up at the Halloween Market and carnival, with their personal bet – winner of the Haunted House race has to advertise the other’s business all night – and then grows!

Wes just wants to make money for the music lessons that his parents refuse to pay for and get the courage to apply to music school that they think is utter foolishness. Making an enemy of a great girl like Valerie is an unintentional side-effect.

Valerie really doesn’t need the drama of Wes and Pauline’s business right now – she started V&C Beauty to make enough money to take her grandmother traveling abroad as Halmeoni has always wished, and that’s what she’s going to do!

Is someone spying on her business plans? On his business plans?
Are the sparks between Wes and Valerie more than just competition?
Is Charlie going to let Pauline break his heart again by asking her to prom?

In alternating sections, Valerie and Wes relay the ups and downs of their senior year as these Korean-American teens reach for their dreams and wonder if there’s room for love in this K-beauty war. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

Any K-beauty secrets to share?
**kmm

Book info: Made in Korea / Sarah Suk. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Helping others find love, where’s her MATCH MADE IN MEHENDI? by Nandini Bajpai (YA book review)

paperback book cover of A Match Made in Mehendi, by Nandini Bajpai. Little Brown Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Henna or paint?
Matchmaking or the magic of art?
Family expectations or her own dreams?

Simi wants a future in art, not becoming a traditional matchmaker like her mom and aunt and grandmother, nor excelling in STEM like her Indian-American parents expect – let big brother Navdeep please them with his amazing computer skills.

Sophomore year is their turn to get out of the shadows where the popular crowd shoves everyone, Simi and best friend Noah decide, just like the transfer students who don’t know that Amanda tries to run everything at their New Jersey high school.

Hmm… incorporating her mehendi henna designs into a large-scale artwork could be perfect for Simi’s signature project.

Maybe stand out by matchmaking! Using Navdeep’s stalled app (Mom insists on talking in person), Noah’s clever quiz questions, and Simi’s charming icons, they create Matched! limited to students at their school.

At first, Simi and Noah stay quiet about Matched! but when more and more students take the quiz, their secret is out – and kids are excited to see who their top Matches will be.

Ohh… soccer stars Ethan and Tea are perfectly Matched even as Amanda keeps saying she’s getting Ethan back.

Umm… maybe Simi’s Matches include long-time crush Aiden from art or Suraj who transferred here for robotics.

Eek… Noah won’t tell Simi if cute new guy Connor from California is one of his matches – surely they’re compatible!

As Matches begin to meet in person and decide whether to go out or not, Amanda’s demands to be Matched with Ethan grow more frenzied – yikes!

Enjoy this debut novel to see which Matches flare brightly!

Have you ever tried a matching app?
**kmm

Book info: A Match Made in Mehendi / Nandini Bajpai. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Best friends vs. sorcery! BEETLE & THE HOLLOWBONES. by Aliza Layne (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Beetle & the Hollowbones, words & art by Aliza Layne; coloring by Natalie Riess & Kristen Acampora. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Boring little town,
everything’s the same –
until it’s not!!

As a young goblin-witch, Beetle is apprenticed to her Gran, learning potions and trying to master that dratted flying broom… ho-hum, not real magic like sorcery, is it?

At least the 12 year old sometimes can escape those boring lessons and meet her best friend Blob Ghost, who’s cursed to live forever in the mall. She’s tried so many ways to get them out, of course, but the mall basement always pulls them back.

Oh, great – her former best friend Kat is back from the exclusive Academy, apprenticing to witch Marla Hollowbone who controls so much of their town. Kat has already earned her sorcery stone and is eager to learn more spells and secrets from her powerful aunt.

Ack! Blob Ghost tells her that they’ve learned the mall will soon be torn down – on Marla Hollowbone’s orders!

Can a ghost die twice?
How can Beetle free them from their curse?
Will Kat defy her aunt and help?

Into the depths and into the sky, Beetle will try her goblin-witch best to help her friend, even as Marla threatens her Gran! (Yes, sequels to this strongly colored graphic novel are in the works!)

What’s the scariest adventure that you and your best friend ever had?
**kmm

Book info: Beetle & the Hollowbones / words & art by Aliza Layne; coloring by Natalie Riess & Kristen Acampora. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She’s leaving. DESTINATION ANYWHERE, anywhere but here, by Sara Barnard (YA book review)

book cover of Destination Anywhere, by Sara Barnard; Christiane Furtges, illustrations. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied.
Mocked.
No friends during all her years in secondary school – not. a. single. one.

Even trying to make friends in early college was so disastrous that 17-year-old Peyton just leaves England, flies to Vancouver with her sketchbook and savings, choosing an adventure alone over being so very, very alone at school.

At the Canadian youth hostel, she meets honestly nice people from all over the world. With young adults from Scotland and Russia and beyond, she tours the city, visits the beach and a zipline in the forest – and they’re glad that she’s with them (wow).

Flashbacks to the dreadful night in college that triggered her flight illuminate the chasm of self-doubt caused by years of bullying – can journeying get her over that?

Beasey, Khalil, and friends think that Peyton is traveling to see her grandfather in Alberta (well, she tells everyone that’s why she’s here) and ask if she wants to join them when they rent an RV to visit Banff, which is on her route – why not?

They understand her dreams of becoming an illustrator (her parents don’t), savor nature’s beauty with her, and soon will be on their way to other countries and jobs and such – what next for her?

Maybe actually visiting the grandfather who abandoned her dad and grandma decades ago is the right path…

By the author of A Quiet Kind of Thunder (I recommended it here).

Where would you go on your next journey of self-discovery?
**kmm

Book info: Destination Anywhere / Sara Barnard; Christiane Furtges, illustrations. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

VAMPIRES, HEARTS & OTHER DEAD THINGS in her life, by Margie Fuston (book review)

book cover of Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things, by Margie Fuston. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Vampires are real,
cancer is too-real,
she can solve this…

Pancreatic cancer is stealing away her dad – fellow enthusiast of all things undead, he and Victoria were thrilled when vampires revealed themselves on live TV, both ready to go find one after public outcry forced them back into the shadows. Her big sister and mom never understood their enthusiasm.

He didn’t cancel their graduation trip to New Orleans though, and asks her to go look for vampires and bring him pictures of everything. In Dad’s place will be her classmate Henry, former best friend (former almost-more-than-best friend) so the California teen isn’t there alone.

Victoria has a checklist of places to visit – the Ursulines convent, St. Louis cemetery – anywhere she might glimpse a vampire and convince them to help her. Being undead is better than being dead, right?

Late-night wanderer Carter introduces her to the vampire Nicholas, who gives Victoria a list of challenges to accomplish that will prove she’s ready to give up her life for undeath. Henry is not amused, thinks Carter and Nicholas are frauds, but won’t let her run around the Crescent City alone.

The first message tucked in a poetry book at a quaint shop directs her to eat beignets while wearing black and take as proof. Ah, some words are underlined in the book, too.

Returning to the shop, Victoria finds the next challenge – break into a certain house and steal something? More words underlined in the poem…

How much will Henry actually help her?
Why does she suddenly long to sketch and paint again?
Will Nicholas truly honor his agreement?

Before he got sick, Dad even looked like Bela Lugosi in the classic vampire movies – she would do anything to save him, anything!

While you’re getting this debut novel about hope and grief at your local library or independent bookstore, check out these vampire tales I’ve recommended:

  • The Hunt, series by Andrew Fukuda (my review of book 1)
  • Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts, by Nancy Campbell Allen (more here)
  • Elatsoe, by Darcy Little Badger (loved it!).

What’s your favorite vampire story?
**kmm

Book info: Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things / Margie Fuston. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Uh oh… THE MEET-CUTE PROJECT when she hates rom-coms? by Rhiannon Richardson (YA book review)

book cover of The Meet-Cute Project / Rhiannon Richardson. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Big sister back home to wedding-plan,
School stress, swim team stress,
Now this!?

Preparing for the championship swim meet is grueling, but it’s much, much easier for Mia than finding a date for her sister Sam’s wedding will be!

For the Black teen, fact is better than fiction, and the rom-coms that her friends love are just ridiculous.

But just maybe they have the right idea – analyzing the best meet-cutes in rom-com movies can help the high school junior find the right guy. If she fails, Mia will be stuck with the groom’s spoiled 12-year-old brother for the rehearsal dinner and wedding and reception… ick.

So the math team whiz gets to work, listing eligible guys at school, arranging meet-cute opportunities, and even getting outside her comfort zone by volunteering at the community garden with Mom (gotta have all the accomplishments if she wants to be elected NHS president next year like Mom and Sam were…sigh).

How can the days be passing so fast?
Can she find a nice guy that Sam will approve of?
Does she really want the future that her family has scripted?

Sam becomes more like Bridezilla as her wedding approaches, while Mia keeps trying to meet the right guy amid all her school responsibilities.

What’s your favorite meet-cute scenario?
**kmm

Book info: The Meet-Cute Project / Rhiannon Richardson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

RIMA’S REBELLION – she rides against tyranny in Cuba! by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

book cover of Rima's Rebellion: Courage in a Time of Tyranny / Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No voice in elections,
no protection from angry men,
no standing under the law – enough!!

Rima’s grandmother fought on horseback during the long struggle for independence from Spain, yet two decades laterin the 1920s Cuban women still cannot vote, not even las Mambisas.

Men hold all the power here, may kill a wife or daughter suspected of adultery without penalty, yet leave their own illegitimate children in poverty with no rights.

Forced to leave school at 14, ‘natural child’ Rima learns lacemaking with her mother in the shack on the far edge of her father’s land, knowing he could destroy it and Abuela’s horseshoeing forge at any time. Riding on her buckskin mare is Rima’s joy and escape:

“The enemy I run away from
is my own thought-trapped self,
all these doubts born within me.
If only I could mount a horse of hope
day and night, airborne, free!” (pg. 44)

It’s awkward to make lace mantillas for her half-sister Violeta, but worse to be mocked at the forge by every man in the village – except the glassblower’s son, who gives her glimpses of beauty in his work and his words.

Year after year, Abuela and Las Mambisas ride in parades to show their skills as horsewomen, inspiring young women like Rima and even Violeta to ride, to ask again and again for voting rights and protection of women’s rights.

Can Rima find a future without the protection of her father?
Can Violeta live up to the perfection he expects?
When will Cuban women finally earn respect and rights?

Happy book birthday to Rima’s Rebellion, another powerful novel-in-verse celebrating Cuba’s history like The Lightning Dreamer (see more here), and Lion Island (recommended here); the Spanish edition will be published in April 2022.

I also recommend the author’s Jazz Owls (here) and With a Star in My Hand (here) – so much poetry, such compelling histories!

What injustice would you parade against?
**kmm

Book info: Rima’s Rebellion: Courage in a Time of Tyranny / Margarita Engle. Atheneum, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.