Tag Archive | school

C is for Confessions of a High School Disaster, by Emma Chastain (book review)

cover of Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastain, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comStarting high school = anxiety.
Mom moving to Mexico to write = bearable, for 4 months.
Never been kissed = terrible, unfair!

Chloe is journaling her freshman year – auditioning for the musical (brave!), ups and downs with her best friend (as always), the weirdness of parties without a boyfriend (typical).

Mom said she should write down all these memories, but really!

Maybe it’s C for crisis mode, as Chloe tries to navigate high school – heartbreaking and humorous.

What high school memory would you keep (or erase)?
**kmm

Book info: Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow’s Diary / Emma Chastain. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author Facebook]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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?
**kmm

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.

In early days of Oz, A Fiery Friendship works for good, by Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino (book review)

book cover of A Fiery Friendship, by Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino, published by Margaret McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comWhen Glinda was a schoolgirl
and the Brick Road didn’t shine brightly,
Oz existed, long-historied already…

Every well-known story has a “before” – before the crisis threatens, before the heroes awaken, before the epic battle.

Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz series brings us the “before” for Glinda the Good and other citizens of Oz, before Dorothy and Toto followed that familiar yellow brick road, as “the Royal Historian of Oz” allows another to be called “author” so these stories can be published in our world.

Look for book 2, A Dark Descent, in May 2018 as A Fiery Friendship comes out in paperback.

How do you know when a convenient alliance becomes a friendship worth fighting for?
**kmm

Book info: A Fiery Friendship (Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz, book 1) / Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino. Margaret McElderry Books, 2017. [illustrator site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On her Declaration Day, Glinda’s future becomes less certain, as the Scroll doesn’t reveal her foretold occupation, her mother is imprisoned for magic by the Witch of the South, and the young teen is contacted by a secret society intent on reclaiming Oz from its four wicked rulers.

The yellow-hued land of Quadling under Asphidina is only golden for those favored by the Harvester queen, who forbids magic use by most.

Glinda can rescue her mother from Asphidina’s floristic prison – if the magic cards briefly seen have seeped into her very being.

Locasta from purple Gillikin land and Sam from another world entirely – youth joining her to fight ancient Wickedness.

Secrets uncovered will free the four lands of Oz from their bondage – if these friends survive long enough!

First in a series recounting the long-ago history of Oz, Glinda’s new friendships mingle with old prophecies, setting the stage for the Yellow Brick Road story so well-known to us. Followed by A Dark Descent.
text and illustration from A Fiery Friendship by Lisa Fiedler, art by Sebastian Giacobino, published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Away to Mars, maybe – Love, Ish, by Karen Rivers (book review)

book cover of Love, Ish,  by Karen Rivers, published by Workman | recommended on BooksYALove.comPreparations for Mars mission – ongoing.
Hoping for rain – always.
Missing her best friend – must cut that memory off. Entirely.

Everything was easier before Tig moved away! Now Ish has to cope with a brain tumor and seventh grade without him…

Find this March 2017 release at your local library or favorite independent bookstore to see how Ish’s applications to the Mars Now program are received.

When your best friend moves away, what next?
**kmm

Book info: Love, Ish / Karen Rivers. Algonquin Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Certain that she will someday be selected for a Mars mission, 12 year old Ish lists everything that she’ll miss about Earth, like former best friend Tig and the island on their drying-up California lake, and what she won’t miss, like how Tig never calls from Oregon and the cancer that started hurting her brain and how her sister hates her.

No denying that starting seventh grade is terrible without Tig here, or that Ish was surely adopted with cute older sister Elliott because they were a package deal.

No good reason that Mars Now has rejected Mischa Love’s application 47 times, or that new friend Gavriel can’t be a girl if he wants to be.

A brain tumor the size of a brussels sprout – not Ish’s favorite vegetable.
Radiation treatments – Ish doesn’t like her red hair, but she doesn’t like it falling out either.
Dreams of Mars, all the dreams – never let them stop!

Maybe it will finally rain here in Lake Ochoa again, and maybe Ish can squash that tumor, and maybe she can get to Mars with Tig…

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?
**kmm

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?
**kmm

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?
**kmm

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.

She’s no saguaro – Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti_Bowling (book review)

book cover of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling. Published by Sterling Children's Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com Arm count = zero,
Nose for mysteries and secrets = keen,
Sense of humor = boundless!

Moving to a new school can be nerve-wracking, especially in junior high when you don’t know anyone and you don’t have any arms to wave hello or shake hands… but Aven will carry on regardless of the stares.

Just released this week, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus showcases Aven’s curiosity, self-sufficient attitude (thanks to her parents), and witty storytelling as she leaps (or tiptoes) into new situations in her new town and school.

How do you treat new folks who are different from you?
**kmm

Book info: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus / Dusti Bowling. Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Moving across the country, 13-year-old Aven wonders whether living in Arizona will be more difficult because she has such fair skin or because she has no arms.

Her adoptive parents have encouraged Aven to do everything for herself – button her jeans, brush her teeth, play the guitar – and she can.

Dad really needs a job, so off they go to Arizona where he and Mom will manage an Old West theme park, and Aven will start 8th grade without the longtime friends who are used to her crazy stories about where her arms went, knowing she was born that way.

Eating with her feet (of course she washes them first!) in front of new kids? Yikes! Better after meeting Connor, who never eats in front of anyone because of his Tourette’s tics, and Zion, who eats by himself so kids don’t tease him about being big.

Uncovering the mystery of the missing Cavanaugh photo and the secrets in the locked shed? Just takes persistence and clue-gathering by Aven, Connor, and Zion. And a crowbar. And the right key.

Making sure that Stagecoach Pass park stays open? She’ll have to think on that a while.

Ancient saguaro cacti that guard the hilltops near the park, tarantula photos on the ice cream parlor walls, upcoming soccer tryouts – interesting opportunities for Aven, whose blog posts shout and whisper the happy and challenging parts of her new life.

Survive his own Bloodline of violence? by Joe Jimenez (book review)

cover of Bloodline by Joe Jimenez published by Arte Publico Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comOphelia wants him to stop fighting at school,
Uncle wants him to start really fighting, for money –
Hope and despair are always fighting within him…

Ask for this powerful #ownvoices story at your local library or independent bookstore as Abram thinks lyrically of his embattled present while trying to avoid remembering his family’s past or dreaming too much about a future beyond it.

Can we fight destiny, our DNA, our desires?
**kmm

Book info: Bloodline / Joe Jimenez. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Calls to fight ring louder than any teacher’s voice, as 17-year-old Abram struggles to be worthy of Ophelia’s love, to live beyond his family history, to make it past junior year.

“Not all boys need fathers. Better to have no man around than to have a bad one, don’t you think?” says Becky (p.2)- so why did his grandmother invite Uncle Claudio, her son with the long police record, back into their lives again, despite her girlfriend’s advice?

“Be a man!” – what does that mean in their worn-down San Antonio neighborhood? In the dank boxing gym with Uncle? In the world?

“Blood is thicker…” – will Ophelia know if Afghanistan swallows her deployed mother? Is Abram doomed by his parents’ DNA?

Abram forcibly remains in the present moment, as his past brings overwhelming fears and the future beyond tomorrow is too hazy to see, as the cold November rains pelt down and days grow shorter, so much shorter.

Spells & dangers for Apprentice Witch, by James Nicol (book review)

book cover of Apprentice Witch by James Nicol published by Chicken House Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comDidn’t pass her witch assessment,
Sent to a town near the Great Wood’s untamed magic,
She knows she can do all the right spells… right?

After learning every glyph and its spell-powers from her grandmother, Arianwyn was sure the assessment machine would pass her as a witch on the first try, but no…

She didn’t expect to meet a friendly young man at the Civil Witchcraft Authority office or make a best friend right away in her assigned town – or that her archrival from witch school would arrive in that tiny town, either!

Happy US and Canadian book birthday to The Apprentice Witch! Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher. And, yes, there is a sequel on its way!

How do you work with that so-annoying, know-it-all, klutzy co-worker?
**kmm

Book info: The Apprentice Witch / James Nicol. Chicken House Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Posted to a remote town as a lowly apprentice witch during wartime, Arianwyn must keep Lull safe from the Great Wood’s dangerous magical creatures and cope with a snobby classmate’s arrival, all while dreading her re-evaluation for full witch status.

As she and new friend Salle make the long-deserted Spellorium ready for charm-making and witchly duties, Arianwyn finds papers from the town’s last witch who vanished mysteriously, years ago.

Snotlings and the terrible hex, an odd blue feyling and the breathtaking moon hare – magical creatures from pesky to perilous fill her catalog as the young teen defends Lull.

Will she ever get every spell correct on the very first try?
Can she unravel the dark glyph haunting her sleep?
What’s wrong with rival Gimma’s spellcrafting?

Arianwyn is growing in confidence and power, but the perils of the Great Wood are also! First in series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)