Tag Archive | school

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.

G is for ghosts, INVISIBLE GHOSTS, by Robyn Schneider (YA book review)

book cover of Invisible Ghosts, by Robyn Schneider. Published by Katherine Tegen Books /Harper Collins | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The dead are still with us,
in memories, special places,
or in person…

Yeah, older brother Logan isn’t moving on, stuck at age 15 and only visible to Rose as she grows up and goes to high school. He’s not a very happy ghost.

When Jamie moves back to town, Rose decides that participating in the world of the living again may be okay.

Logan does not agree, and when Logan’s unhappy, things start going wrong, very wrong.

By the author of Extraordinary Means (recommended here).

Ghosts, special psychic gifts… what do you think?
**kmm

Book info: Invisible Ghosts / Robyn Schneider. Katherine Tegen Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Only Rose can see the ghost of her big brother, and as she begins her junior year, the California teen realizes that he’s not happy that she’s grown older without him, and an unhappy Logan is dangerous indeed!

Mom and Dad told them to look out for each other, and Logan takes this very seriously, even after his death four years ago from bee stings, especially since Rose’s friend Jamie just moved back to town, grown-up and handsome and still funny.

Jamie fits right in with the theater crowd, nudging Rose from the ignored edge of high school cliques into actual conversations with classmates.

And Jamie can actually see Logan… and Logan doesn’t like him hanging around Rose!

If Logan only knew what Jamie can do to ghosts…

F is FUN THINGS TO DO WITH DEAD ANIMALS for Amun & his Egyptologist mom! by Eden Unger Bowditch & Salima Ikram (MG/YA book review)

book cover of Fun Things to do With Dead Animals, by Eden Unger Bowditch & Salima Ikram, published by AUC Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Scorpions, ancient statuettes,
learning how to make mummies,
not your average childhood!

Amun Ra tries to be a normal teenager despite his mom’s mummy obsession and switching schools between Egypt and Washington DC. And the bad guys trying to steal a priceless statue, don’t forget them…

This is the first young adult fiction book published by AUC Press, well-known for its scholarly works on Egyptology, as shown by the narrow page margins and smaller typeface than used in most books for teens.

Beyond those printing quirks, the story is full of adventure and humor with chapter titles like “A Dead Mouse in Every Bag” (Mum teaching mummification at his second grade birthday party) and “Murder by Papyrus” (with Mum at a London academic conference before eighth grade).

The American and Egyptian authors live and work within sight of many places that Amun Ra visits with his classmates or on archaeological digs with Mum, and their family and friends acted out scenes in the book for the photos that the teen tapes onto pages of his story.

Any parental embarrassments that turned out to be helpful in the end?
**kmm

Book info: Fun Things To Do With Dead Animals: Egyptology – Ruins – My Life / Eden Unger Bowditch & Salima Ikram. AUC Press, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Named for an Egyptian god, traipsing from dig site to research station with Mum, wondering how his life would be now if his dad had lived – Amun Ra would rather not have mummified dogs on the kitchen table, but probably wouldn’t enjoy the boring one-place life of his classmates in either Cairo or Washington DC.

In junior high, he endures Mum’s embarrassing museum tour with his class, encounters unscrupulous people trying to steal priceless antiquities, and stumbles onto an ancient toilet system (don’t ask how, please).

Amun-Ra’s journal includes snapshots and a few flashbacks (mouse-mummifying kits at his 2nd grade birthday party) as the young teen tries to keep up with his friends on two continents, keep jackals (animal and human) away from Mum’s excavations, and decide what he wants to do with his own future.

Gold, danger, daring – FIRE & HEIST, by Sarah Beth Durst (YA book review)

book cover of Fire & Heist, by Sara Beth Durst. Published by Crown BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Loves gold – check.
Lives in gated community – check.
Breathes fire – not your average rich teen girl!

Being the youngest following super-talented brothers is rarely easy, and being told she can’t attempt the coming-of-age quest means that Sky will try even harder.

Gold sings to her blood – yep, wyvern is the more socially acceptable name for were-dragon.

Her impulsive nature wars against the detailed planning needed to successfully steal the artifact that Mom coveted, but Sky is determined to succeed, with a little help from her friends.

What’s your favorite family-first story?
**kmm

Book info: Fire & Heist / Sara Beth Durst. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sky wants to restore her family’s status within their exclusive Colorado mountain community, so she does what any 16-year-old wyvern would – attempt the heist scripted by Mom and get back their gold, all their gold and more!

Human on the outside, dragon on the inside, Sky longs to complete her first quest and erase some of the shame brought on her family by Mom’s disappearance during a heist gone wrong.

Luckily, that arcane artifact is in a vault in her boyfriend’s family mansion so he must know ways around the chief were-dragon’s magic protections.

Unluckily, Ryan dumped Sky when her family’s worth plunged at the Reckoning. So much for being soulmates.

Curiously, a human girl at school might be able to help, if only Sky were allowed to tell her that wyverns live right here…

A caper story, a friendship story, a betrayal story, a family-first story – soar with Sky as she uncovers deep secrets high in the Rockies.

In wartime, love is written WITHIN THESE LINES, by Stephanie Morrill (YA book review)

book cover of Within These Lines, by Stephanie Morrill. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Pearl Harbor,
Evacuations and preparations,
American citizens sent to concentration camps.

Yes, Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and the other ‘relocation camps’ where Japanese-Americans were sent – with only the suitcases they could carry – were concentration camps.

Trusting neighbors to safeguard their houses, selling cars and business equipment for pennies on the dollar, Japanese-Americans on the West Coast hoped to return home soon…

Parents and neighbors wouldn’t approve of their relationship, but after his family is sent to Manzanar, Taichi and Evalina write letter after letter, daring to plan a future together.

Happy book birthday on March 5th to Within These Lines!

Would you speak out against popular opinion in stressful times, as Evalina did?
**kmm

Book info: Within These Lines / Stephanie Morrill. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The budding romance between Evalina and Taichi becomes a long-distance correspondence when his family is ‘evacuated’ to Manzanar concentration camp in the California desert after Pearl Harbor.

Many disagree that Japanese-Americans are true citizens of this country during World War II, but Italian-American Evalina will keep writing persuasive letters to San Francisco newspapers and arguing with her political science professor.

With blankets for apartment walls and dust blowing like despair through any crevice at Manzanar, Taichi will stand against the pro-Japan Black Dragon gang to protect his family.

Even though mixed-race marriage is illegal in their home state, it’s worth dreaming of a future together…right?

Letter by letter, thought by thought, Evalina and Taichi are separated by many valleys and mountains, held together by hope.

Your clone, at your school?! THE SIMILARS, by Rebecca Hanover (book review)

book cover of The Similars, by Rebecca Hanover. Published by Sourcebooks Fire | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New school year, new students,
old faces…
cloned teens in their first public appearance!

Darkwood Academy’s generations-strong tradition of academic excellence gets a huge shock as Emma’s junior year begins, worse for her as Levi is the clone of her best friend Eli who committed suicide during the summer.

But why did someone invest a true fortune to get these six from the “misguided lab technician” who cloned them from the umbilical cord blood of Emma’s classmates, then give them the best-possible homeschooling on his island-nation estate until just this moment to reveal them to the world?

The near-future of Darkwood’s cloned teens may be nearer than we think.

Clones are genetically the same as their originals, so what makes each human unique?
**kmm

Book info: The Similars / Rebecca Hanover. Sourcebooks Fire, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:

Every day at Darkwood reminds Emma of her best friend’s recent suicide – because his clone is one of the new students at their exclusive school. Sixteen years after being illegally cloned, the other “Similars” are in classes with their genetic twins, competing for grades, honors, and status.

While some families embrace the chance to welcome another member into their family, virulent anti-clone rhetoric invades classes and club meetings, especially after Emma’s roommate (an Original) is brutally attacked.

Who is the mysterious man who acquired and raised the Similars in secrecy till now?
Why were the clones allowed to apply to the same exclusive school as their Originals?
How can Emma endure seeing Levi when Eli is gone forever?

As some Similars edge out their Originals in academic rank and status, Darkwood Academy is on edge. What Emma learns from Levi may push them over the brink!

Is her life in Nazi England part of THE BIG LIE? by Julie Mayhew (book review)

book cover of The Big Lie, by Julie Mayhew. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

England conquered by Germany,
Generations of babies for the Fatherland.
Such a vision! Such a nightmare!

Of course Jessika listens and learns from her parents, so influential in their English town neighborhood and so important in the Party!

Even though it’s 2012, not even her expert ice skating can take her outside the Reich, away from her inevitable future as wife and mother, away to any place where she can love whoever she pleases.

I enjoy alternate history – this Big Lie is so believable that it’s truly frightening.

What historic event would you change to improve our now?
**kmm

Book info: The Big Lie / Julie Mayhew. Candlewick Press, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Liberated by Germany during her great-grandparents’ days, the England where middle sister Jessika lives is ruled by the Nazi Party, yet the teen fights to squelch her own feelings and doubts before trouble takes over.

The idea that an American singer would perform in London for the first time in 70 years – at the Reich’s invitation – enrages Jess’s father, annoys her ice skating coach (such lapses in concentration, Jessika…), and thrills her classmates beyond all measure, especially when those most loyal to the Party are invited to sing and march on stage for the concert!

Perhaps the Fuhrer himself will attend the concert and see how dedicated her squad is!

Maybe preparing for their performance will let Jess be closer to fascinating GG without anyone reporting the girls for unsuitable friendship.

But her best friend questions why suddenly this ‘decadent music’ is allowed instead of banned, and Clementine’s family accelerates their timetable for escaping the Party’s brutal control.

And it could be that Fisher knows something more as they practice and practice… the Storm Troopers are determined to know everything about everyone involved with the explosive concert!

Alternate history brings a chill as the Reich rules Britain in 2012.

She must gather all of THE HIDDEN STAR stone! by K. Sello Duiker (book review)

book cover of The Hidden Star, by K. Sello Duiker. Published by Cassava Republic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Math is her best subject,
collecting stones a fun hobby –
the newest one is special, maybe magical!

South African parents warn kids to stay indoors all night so the creature called Zim won’t take them away. This is true in Nolitye’s shanty neighborhood where children are disappearing!

Her mother says neighbors are wrong about her late father’s amazing abilities, the school bullies steal her tiny lunch every single day, the local stray dogs are talking to her – and she finds a special stone that makes her feel giddy with joy!

Someone else wants that stone’s power, the full power of all its pieces that Nolitye is finding….

Published after the author’s early death, this tale of myth, reality, folklore, and family is worth requesting at your local library or indie bookstore – if they don’t have it, they can get it for you!

What would you wish, holding this hidden star?
**kmm

Book info: The Hidden Star / K. Sello Duiker. Cassava Republic Press, 2017. [author obituary] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Math is easy, avoiding the school bullies isn’t, but young Nolitye and her best friends are called on a difficult quest to save their South African neighborhood from an evil wizard’s control.

The lovely stone that Nolitye finds gives her such happiness. Then a mysterious woman stops time to tell her its secrets and that the eleven year old must collect its missing pieces before the wizard can gather them!

The stray dogs warn Nolitye to stay indoors one night – do they know who is stealing away children from their Soweto township?

Why does only Nolitye see that Ma Mtonga’s necklace is a living snake?

Can Nolitye, Bheki, and Four Eyes find all the pieces of the stone and stop the evil ones?

Her mother’s behavior suddenly changes, the neighbours think the mythical Zim may be the kidnapper, but only Nolitye and her friends know the truth!

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?