Tag Archive | stepfamily

Sisters sharing DRIZZLE, DREAMS, AND LOVESTRUCK THINGS, by Maya Prasad (YA book review)

book cover of Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things, by Maya Prasad. Published by Hyperion /Disney | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Four sisters,
four seasons,
five chances for love…

For the past decade, the four teen Singh sisters have lived in the Songbird Inn on Orcas Island, where their widowed father met and married Pop as they renovated the old property together. But three years ago, the girls’ beloved stepdad died, before he could see their dream named as “the most romantic inn in America” for its unique seaside weddings.

Nidhi has planned her senior year and beyond in great detail as she will head to pastry school in Paris after graduation, with boyfriend Matt. A tree crashing through her bedroom brings Grayson and construction crew to the inn – how will his secret artistic passions affect her carefully ordered life this fall?

Avani has spent the winter avoiding Francisco after a date mix-up, not so easy when his family supplies produce and goat cheese to the inn daily. Her grief for Pop lingers even as Dad begins seeing Amir, so she decides to revive his beloved Winter Ball in his memory, finding that Francisco’s help can make it happen.

Spring on the is photographer Sirisha’s favorite season, and hosting the Thousand Shores theater troupe at the Inn makes it even better – brown girls, queer girls, stories turned and retold. And beautiful Brie leaves her tongue-tied, even as the young actress tries to help Sirisha find the story that will help her photos win the San Juan Snaps contest.

Queen of Romance – Rani’s deep love of romance novels has helped her twin Avani and her older and younger sisters find happiness this past year. As they prepare for the biggest summer wedding of all, which inn visitor will be her happily ever after – socially-conscious Vikram, fun and sporty Leo, or Raj who didn’t kiss her last summer?

A wonderful year in Washington’s Pacific Northwest with the Singh family as they work through past issues with family still in India, decide what their futures might look like, and host a parade of interesting guests in the beautiful inn that they call home.

Where would you build the best inn ever?
**kmm

Book info: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things / Maya Prasad. Hyperion, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Look again – THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: 15 OF SHAKESPEARE’S MOST NOTABLE WORKS REIMAGINED, ed. by Dahlia Adler (YA book review)

book cover of That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare's Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Published by Flatiron Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ah, the Bard!
His classic plays.
retold and retold – now with a twist!

A brooding bad boy becomes obsessed with a young ballerina from a rival high school – Romeo and Juliet, told completely in text messages.

Finally! Among the everlasting whiteness of the Fairy Court, the brown girl stolen from the mundane world as a baby sees another indigenous person in a gender-queer Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Not madness but anger drives Anne to unmask the vampire who killed her father, allowing her uncle to marry Mother for control of Elsinore in 1892 – the journals and letters of an educated young woman rewind the Hamlet narrative.

This anthology includes reimaginings by YA writers (famous and rising)

Dahlia Adler (The Merchant of Venice),
Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew),
Lily Anderson (As You Like It),
Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet),
Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale),
A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing),
Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147),
Joy McCullough (King Lear),
Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night’s Dream),
Samantha Mabry (Macbeth),
Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus),
Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night),
Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar),
Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet),
Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest)

Each story is introduced by a quote from Shakespeare’s work, and often followed by author’s notes.

Shakespeare wrote in the everyday words of his time; these reimagined works bring his works into our time with clever twists and setting changes (outer space, a school dance, a rooftop greenhouse).

What’s your favorite quotation from the Bard?
**kmm

Book info: That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Flatiron Books, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the author.

See them in new ways – STRAW INTO GOLD: FAIRY TALES RE-SPUN, by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun, by Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never insult fairy godmothers,
kindness makes the path easier,
curses can flip to blessings…

The fairy tales that we’ve heard over and over can be retold, modernized, role-switched, or set in other lands, yet we recognize their core stories every time.

This collection of “Fairy Tales Re-Spun” charmingly presents a double-handful of familiar tales using non-classic viewpoints, like the new teacher whose writing assignment at a backwoods school results in “What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansel’s Jacket is So Tight (by Gretel, age 10)” – truth or fiction?

Cinderella finds a friend in Buttons and helps him shine boots for the prince who’s turned away from royal society to tend “The Roses Around the Palace.”

A stuffy bureaucrat is more concerned about keeping his town tidy (and his coffers full) than paying the agreed price to that motley-looking Piper for luring away all those horrid rats… so very quiet now at “The Fountain in the Market Square.”

Enjoy these ten fairy tale retellings, including lesser-known stories “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and “The Swan Brothers” (also the basis for A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth that I recently recommended here).

Which fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Straw Into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun / Hilary McKay, illustrated by Sarah Gibb. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [illustrator bio] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Listen to African Voices this week on AudioSYNC – free!

It’s finally Audiofile SYNC season! Register free here, then you can download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Keep either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks on your Sora shelf online so you can listen anytime, on any device.

Enjoy this week’s African Stories, African Voices:

CD cover of The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o | Read by Benjamin A.  Onyango. Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Ngugi wa Thiong’o | Read by Benjamin A. Onyango
Published by Brilliance Audio

The origin of the Gikuyu people of Kenya is masterfully narrated in this poetic and stirring creation story adventure.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/188758/the-perfect-nine-by-ngugi-wa-thiongo-read-by-benjamin-a-onyango/

http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of This Book Betrays My Brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit. Published by ECW Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Book Betrays My Brother (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit
Published by ECW Press

Thirteen-year-old Naledi stays quiet about her brother’s crime until she realizes years later that the truth must be told in their South African community.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/186126/this-book-betrays-my-brother-by-kagiso-lesego-molope-read-by-jacqui-du-toit/

What other African stories would you recommend?
**kmm

Z is for ZERO O’CLOCK in Covid-19’s early days, by C. J. Farley (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Zero O'Clock, by C. J. Farley. Published by Black Sheep/ Akashic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mysterious plague,
not fiction, not science fiction,
how will it end?

Geth’s hometown, New Rochelle, New York, is ground-zero for the Covid-19 pandemic in USA, as the entire world hits the pause button in March 2020.

The sixteen year old and her best friends are unhappier to miss next weekend’s Broadway show than about school being closed for two weeks (more teleteaching, more homework… ugh). Diego is the star quarterback, so that’s his ticket to college. Tovah is tiny and mighty and a math genius; Geth is sure that they’ll both be accepted to Columbia soon.

Two weeks’ closure keeps stretching out, stores in ‘the containment zone’ are running out of essentials, and the neighborhood foxes are scavenging boldly as trash pickup is delayed and delayed again. After each face-touch, the Black teen washes her hands for safety (her OCD compulsions are getting companions now).

Worrying about her mom working at the hospital, the Native American teen who’ll be isolating with them in their little house (Mom’s boyfriend’s stepson?), whether prom will be cancelled – Geth gets more stressed by the day, clinging to her friends’ text messages and BTS songs as a lifeline.

Neighbors dying of Covid at home, friends hospitalized on ventilators, the President saying there’s nothing to be concerned about… .

Why are they still reading The Plague for English class?
Who’s trying to sabotage Diego’s football scholarship?
What advice would her late father have?

Three months, a million emotions, thousands upon thousands of deaths – then 8 minutes 32 seconds of video that sparked a movement.

How do you look back on the early days of the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: Zero O’Clock / C. J. Farley. Black Sheep/ Akashic, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

V is for VIOLETS ARE BLUE, Wren and her makeup are, too, by Barbara Dee (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Violets Are Blue, by Barbara Dee.Published by Aladdin / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New town, new school,
same Mom, new stepmom,
same worries, plus some…

They move the summer after the divorce, after her sixth grade sort-of-friends abandon her, after Wren starts learning to do special effects makeup, after Dad marries pregnant Vanessa in faraway Brooklyn.

Wren hides the high-quality makeup that Vanessa buys so she can create mermaids and super-characters like KatFX videos show. Mom adds a lock to her bedroom door to keep the cat out… huh?

When her skills catch the attention of new friends, Wren is asked to do makeup for the school play – turning snooty Avery into so-green Elphaba might be fun.

Kai is really talented – draws superheroes, runs sound and lights for the play. Wren hopes he doesn’t really have a crush on her.

Mom’s an ER nurse on different shifts, sleeps all the time she’s home, pill bottles under the sink… now she’s missing work.

Why can’t Wren make KatFX’s mermaid instructions work?
How can she keep Kai as just a friend?
Why did Dad say she could call him about anything?

Seventh grade year is full of tension for Wren as she tries to balance two families and navigate too many changes at the same time.

When someone you love is in trouble, how do you know when to help?
**kmm

Book info: Violets Are Blue / Barbara Dee. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N is no, not again! Oh HONESTLY ELLIOTT! by Gillian McDunn (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Honestly Elliott, by Gillian McDunn. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Some days at different houses,
so many assignments (just hide them),
not sporty, just his messy honest self…

Every kid in town goes to sixth grade in the same building for project-based learning and cool stuff together, except Elliott’s best friend who’s homeschooling across the country with his moms this year…sigh.

That leaves Elliott and his guinea pigs alone to deal with his divorced parents, his ADHD making his brain zone-out more often, and his lunch-buddies to excluding him from their year-end group project.

Well, brilliant Maribel can’t agree with her friends on what project to do, so it looks like she and Elliott are partners – with their semester grade on the line!

Their project must be something they can make themselves to sell, that’s related to their hometown, staying within a budget…hmmm.

Super-organized Maribel must avoid gluten in food or her digestive system goes haywire – how about gluten-free pies?

Easily distractible Elliott loves to experiment with cooking, but baking? His star chef idol says “cooking is about inspiration and baking is about control” (pg. 60) – can’t hurt to try.

In his mom’s cozy kitchen, the pair gets to work. Elliott’s attempt at gluten-free pie crust is disastrous, and Maribel’s wonderful strawberry filling is too expensive, so they search the cookbook library at Avery Local market for ideas.

As the weeks count down, the pressure builds up – have a successful project, get ready for his new step-brother to be born, stop ignoring The Incident, stop disappointing Dad about everything…

Honestly, Elliott is a guy you want to cheer for – and hope he can cope with all these changes!

What do you prefer – baking or cooking?
**kmm

Book info: Honestly Elliott / Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M is for THE MAN OF THE MOON AND OTHER STORIES FROM GREENLAND, retold by Gunvor Bjerre & Charlotte Barslund, art by Miki Jacobsen (book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Published by Inhabit Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

So many folktales, you’ve heard over and over, with slight variations and “happily ever after” to soothe modern listeners.

Not so with this collection introducing us to long-ago stories from Greenland that most folks nowadays have never encountered.

These stories told by elders and parents during the long, dark Arctic winters reflect the difficulties of living in brutally cold terrain where one mistake during a hunt can doom a whole village.

Many begin with “Once upon a time…” like “The Wild Geese Who Made the Blind Boy See” as they punished his greedy grandmother and “Manutooq, Whose Daughters Drifted to Akilineq on an Ice Floe” after their father abandons them on a hunting trip.

It was dangerous to ignore warnings – don’t shout at a harpoonist hunting in their qajaq (kayak) like “The Old Man Who Trapped Children Inside a Rock” and never be rude toward a shaman or else their helper spirits can’t help you find “The Witch Who Abducted Children in Her Amauti.”

Some stories give the history of why things are, like why the Sun and “The Man of the Moon” are never seen at the same time and “The Great Fire, or How the Mussel Came to Be” a coveted food source.

Hunger and death are frequent visitors, and stories of orphans are common – some grow up to be good hunters who provide for all (even after constant bullying), others don’t survive their childhood (even with the help of supernatural beings).

There’s an Inuktitut-English glossary in the back, and illustrations help us place these stories in their habitat of sea and ice, white bears and seals, rocks and snow.

Inhabit Media is based in Nunavut, the northernmost province of Canada, publishing books in English and languages of the First Peoples.

What’s the most unusual “once upon a time” story that you’ve heard?
**kmm

Book info: The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Inhabit Media, 2016. [artist info] [publisher site] Review copy and 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.

Lost daughter or just a HOMEWRECKER? by Deanna Cameron (book review)

book cover of Homewrecker, by Deanna Cameron. Published by Wattpad Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stormy life,
grown up too fast,
Tornado! Where’s Mom?

When her druggie mom is swept away from their trailer park by a tornado, Brownyn is taken in by the family of her long-estranged father, now a rich and powerful senator.

The 17 year old always knew that her birth after David’s short separation from his wife was an accident, hushed up as he rose from young lawyer to the Senate – only once as a kid did she meet his family.

She’s stunned now by their casual wealth, the summer home on the lake, and being accepted by her stepmom and four half-siblings. They’ve always known about her?

Mom’s body is finally found, but she was strangled before the tornado hit! David’s influence keeps the investigation going, even as the media blares out Bronwyn as his secret love-child.

So she’ll get out and meet people, she now works with half-sister Andi (one grade older, YouTube makeup guru deluxe) at the drive-in movie theater. Teenager Ethan next door takes care of their garden, and Bronwyn shares her plant knowledge with him.

But she misses her friends at home, doesn’t think the detectives are really trying to solve Mom’s murder, and decides it’s time to go do some sleuthing herself – Ethan’s more than willing to roadtrip with her.

Was Mom killed over drug money or something else?
How will Bronwyn fit in at a new rich-kid school?
Why is David’s family so nice to her…really?

Secrets old and new collide as the teen struggles to become part of a real family instead of the only responsible person at home.

What long-lost kid story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book Info: Homewrecker / Deanna Cameron. Wattpad Books, 2021. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.