Tag Archive | music

Will she SHINE as K-pop star? by Jessica Jung (book review)

book cover of Shine, by Jessica Jung. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not Korean enough in Seoul,
not American enough in New York City –
does she have enough to make it as a star?

Her family’s support of Rachel’s quest to become a K-pop performer is both a comfort and a cage.

Umma, Appa, and her little sister left behind their lives in New York City six years ago when they moved to Seoul so she could train with DB Studios.

But the 17 year old must live at home instead at DB’s trainee house, attending school full-time, then cramming all rehearsals and lessons into the weekends…and doing her homework.

No boys, no social media, weekly weigh-ins – competition is fierce as DB plans to announce its new girl group soon.

Amid mounting pressures to excel in singing, dancing, interviewing skills, and poise, snooty heiress Mina leads her crew in harassing Rachel as a camera-shy American princess.

Rachel’s chance encounter with Jason Lee, internationally famous Korean-Canadian star of DB’s hit boy group, leads to an opportunity to perform with him – can she beat out Mina?

Romantic relationships are forbidden by DB Studios – is her friendship with Jason okay?

One poor decision makes Rachel’s mother furious and disappointed – will the huge disruption of her family’s lives be for nothing?

Written by former K-pop star Jessica Jung, this debut novel takes us behind the glitz of costumes, choreography, and luxury travel to the grind, sweat, and tears of the K-pop studios’ trainee system.

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel, Mina, and the DB trainees striving for the chance to Shine on the international music scene.

How far would you travel to pursue your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Shine / Jessica Jung. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through Edelweiss.

With music, THE KIDS OF WIDNEY JUNIOR HIGH TAKE OVER THE WORLD! by Mathew Klickstein (book review)

book cover of The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! by Mathew Klickstein. Published by Schiffer Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied his first week at junior high, 11 year old Robbie is rescued by big Peewee who invites him to band practice where the autistic eighth grader is a singer.

Led by their special ed teacher (and former rock musician), the six-member Kids of Widney Junior High rock band has written many original songs as they prepare for their first big public concert.

Robbie quickly learns that his new friends’ lives aren’t like media stereotypes – Daniel and Cain live with blindness but don’t want to feel his face, and Tanesa zings through life with cerebral palsy.

As the concert date nears, longtime couple Peewee and Elisa have a big argument during rehearsal, overwhelming Cain who says he’s quitting the band!

Does Peewee understand the true power of his words now?
Can the Kids get Elisa and Cain back to rehearsals?
Will the record company exec really attend their show?

This fictional account of the real band members’ struggles in junior high echoes the experiences of many young people that the world sees as ‘different’ on the outside.

The Kids of Widney High are still performing as adults today, opening for established bands, have produced four albums, and were featured in ‘The Ringer’ movie. Real-life Peewee says “Don’t let anything, even your disabilities, cloud your dreams. Just go for it!” (pg. 141).

Happy book birthday to The Kids of Widney Junior High!

Where will your dreams take you?
**kmm

Book info: The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! / Mathew Klickstein; illustrated by Michael S. Bracco. Schiffer Kids, 2020. [author site] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Among P.T. Barnum’s wonders, WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES, by Deborah Noyes (book review)

Book cover of We Are All His Creatures, by Deborah Noyes. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The greatest showman!
Spotlight on him!
Overshadowing all others to reach his dreams…

Barnum’s museum of wonders captivates New York in 1842, yet his daughters feel he cares about the mermaid more than he loves them, would rather transform a little person into General Tom Thumb than tell them stories.

Jo is the decoy, drawing away mobs of fans so that famed opera singer Jenny Lind can safely make her way to each performance hall on Barnum’s 1851 tour, ever in her best friend’s shadow.

At home on her father’s lavish estate in Connecticut, only twelve year old Helen and the Barnum menagerie sense the presence of little sister Frances’ ghost who’s angry enough to wreak havoc as big sister Caroline’s 1852 wedding day approaches.

In 1868, no one can know that the Bearded Lady has a son! Mr. Barnum runs a most respectable establishment, and news of her illegitimate child would doom them both. Luckily, the American Museum is so crowded that Jack can sketch the animals with no one the wiser.

This double-handful of tales re-imagines the lives, dreams, and worries of people locked into their orbits around the self-created brilliance of “there’s a sucker born every minute” Barnum.

Is it ever right for the difference of others to be a show for the rest?
**kmm

Book info: We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman / Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Grief froze her family like a TURTLE UNDER ICE, by Juleah del Rosario (book review)

book cover of Turtle Under Ice, by Juleah del Rosario. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Death pauses the living,
time restarts the clock,
except when it doesn’t.

Waking up to find that big sister is gone, no footprints in the swirling blizzard – how can Row think about going to school? Yet how can the high school freshman stay in this house of new grief laid over old sorrow? Oh, to be on the soccer field where she has a chance of controlling what happens!

Ariana slogs through the snow, carrying important things like her painting and uncertainty about the future and things that other seniors think about. But if the pain of losing Mom ever lessens, is there anything left inside her?

California to Colorado, a new house, a new stepmom…the Filipino-American sisters have chances to move on, to make friends – so much harder for Ariana.

Ariana says “I should know that there is no point in playing grief Olympics,” (p. 9) yet sees a kindred soul in musician Alex who lost her brother.

This novel in verse alternates between Row and Ariana who still feel as frozen in their loss as a turtle under the pond ice. Will their springtime ever come?

How do we respond when friends stay sad?
**kmm

Book info: Turtle Under Ice / Juleah del Rosario. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Q for KINGS, QUEENS, AND IN-BETWEENS, by Tanya Boteju (book review)

book cover of Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens, by Tanya Boteju. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Nima’s boring summer takes a twist when the 17 year old visits a drag show at the local arts festival and meets the incomparable diva Deidre and drag king Winnow.

Her white dad moves through life in slow motion since Mom left last year, best friend Charles keeps her from total despair, but when surprisingly straight Ginny crushes her heart, awkward Nima feels completely adrift.

Discovering an amazing drag scene in the next town – that welcomes teens – Nima decides to let her true self shine, with Deidre helping her debut as a drag prince.

Will Mom ever drift back into their lives?
Can Nima and Winnow truly connect?
Why is bully Gordon hanging around the edges of Nima’s new circle?

Love, acceptance, risk, friendship – Nima wants to find her self and her place as a person in this debut novel of change and discovery. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

How much do we let outside adornments interfere with true personal connections?
**kmm

Book info: Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens / Tanya Boteju. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Teen doctor diagnoses SYMPTOMS OF A HEARTBREAK, #YAlit by Sona Charaipotra

book cover of Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra, published by Imprint/Macmillan | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Graduated from med school at 16,
the youngest doctor in America!
(still no driver license…)

As “Genius Girl” Saira begins her internship in pediatric oncology, she expects to be challenged by medical situations – not a hostile hospital supervisor or or failing the driving test yet again or falling in love with a patient.

Link thought she was another ‘cancer kid’ and doesn’t react well when he finds out she’s actually a doctor on his ward. Maybe he’ll let her help with his music competition online anyway.

Chemo, radiation, bone marrow donation – the terms and realities and after-effects play out among the young patients in the three interns’ caseload. And there are only 2 spots in the residency to follow…

How can she reconcile how the accounting department and medical teams see patients’ cancer treatment options so differently?

If Link’s treatment doesn’t work, how can she deal with being his last love when he is her first?

How will her extended Indian-American family react when they discover that Vish has been her ‘boyfriend’ so long because he’s not ready to come out?

Cancer has touched us all – what are you doing to help?
**kmm

Book info: Symptoms of a Heartbreak / Sona Charaipotra. Imprint (Macmillan), 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?
**kmm

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.

W = Will, walking, wondering WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND, by Alison McGhee (YA book review)

book cover of What I Leave Behind, by Alison McGhee. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Memories, conflicts, problems –
walking away lets him avoid the pain,
but sometimes easier isn’t better.

Three years since Dad jumped off the bridge, leaving behind Will and Mom and his Bowie t-shirts, but not his famed cornbread recipe.

Three years of walking to school, dollar store job, then home – past the butterfly-watching little boy, homeless Superman, dog-of-insanity forever chained.

Can 100-cent gifts help them, give best friend Playa strength to stand up in court, reveal the cornbread secret to Will?

His LA neighborhood grows larger, sharper as the Black teen walks and walks and walks his memories out and wonders about the future.

One hundred chapters of 100 words (like the blessings store Dad loved) move the story along as Will walks and thinks and weaves David Bowie lyrics into everyday life – in paperback May 2019.

What song is the soundtrack of your days?
**kmm

S = stay quiet or sing out like THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD, by Janelle Milanes (YA book review)

book cover of The Victoria in My Head, by Janelle Milanes. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

S is for stage fright, paralyzing Victoria so much that she’ll just sing in her room forever.

S is for salsa, practicing with so-cute bandmate Strand for her quinceanera (her new boyfriend Levi opted out).

S is for shhhh, don’t tell her strict Cuban-American parents that she’s suddenly lead singer in a rock band!

S is for someday, as in someday Levi will really want her, someday she’ll get out of New York City, someday she’ll do what she wants to do… someday.

What’s your someday?
**kmm

Book info: The Victoria in My Head / Victoria Milanes. Simon Pulse, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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?