Tag Archive | stepfamily

Q = Quiet Kind of Thunder, no need to hear or speak, by Sara Barnard (book review)

US book cover of A Quiet Kind of Thunder, by Sara Barnard, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot-speaking was her choice (sort of).
Not-hearing wasn’t his (at all).
Not-communicating with each other isn’t an option.

Steffi’s anxiety keeps her from talking most times, but speaking British Sign Language with new student Rhys or texting him is easy.

But is being with Rhys keeping her from communicating with her best friend away at school or standing up to her families about future plans?

I’m apprehensive when the novel premise is “she can’t this, he can’t that, together they are perfectly something” but this one goes beyond the simplistic formula to ask tough questions, like “would we have this relationship at all without this (or that) as vital component?”

Find this story in texts, signs, and sighs at your local library or independent bookstore.

How much must you say before it’s enough?
**kmm

Book info: A Quiet Kind of Thunder / Sara Barnard. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author Facebook]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P for Penny & Sam, linked as Emergency Contact & maybe more, by Mary H.K. Choi (book review)

book cover of Emergency Contact, by Mary H.K. Choi, published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comCollege will be better than high school, of course.
Learning fiction writing from an amazing author!
Connecting with Sam is…um …just text, okay?

Her mom still acts and dresses like a teen, her new roommate Jude is vibrantly alive, so Penny is grateful for the quiet text life she has with Sam (who is 21, but somehow Jude’s former step-uncle).

But can the Korean-American teen become brave enough to write like she should, go out with Jude and Mallory, actually visit Sam in person at the coffeehouse?

And P is also for “plans busted to smithereens” as this debut novel told in alternating chapters by Penny and Sam (lots of texts) moved onto the New York Times Bestsellers list last week before our A-to-Z got to P!!

Yes, Mary will be at the North Texas Teen Book Festival on Saturday, 20 April 2018, and you should be there, too!

Real life or by text?
**kmm

Book info: Emergency Contact / Mary H.K. Choi. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M is Messenger with psychic gift she doesn’t want! by Carol Lynch Williams (book review)

book cover of Messenger by Carol Lynch Williams, published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comHer Gift arrives at age 15!
For cookery or fixing any hair, like her aunts?
Oh no! Not talking to ghosts?!

Maybe Evie will be the one Messenger in her family line who doesn’t have a psychic gift…nope! The Florida teen can see and hear and communicate with dead people!

How can that girl Tommie get into their house without Evie’s momma and stepdad hearing her?

Should Evie really kiss cute Buddy from across the street?

Wild thunderstorms, seeing dead people, and going to a new high school – what a birthday week!

Yes or no for seeing dead people yourself?
**kmm

Book info: Messenger / Carol Lynch Williams. Paula Wiseman Books (Simon Schuster), 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is the END with Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, by Shaun David Hutchinson (book review)

book cover of Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comHer virgin birth – science proves true.
Toys speaking messages from Beyond – also true.
People snatched by a sky-portal when she heals others – ditto.

Elena didn’t ask for healing powers, or for a drunken stepfather, or for inanimate objects to channel divine instructions to her since childhood.

But in author Hutchinson’s odd Florida (setting of his At the Edge of the Universe , my pick here) strange things happen regularly.

What is stealing away people? Why? Where do they go?

Maybe it’s a better place than Elena’s high school and now-constant demands that she heal people.

Fiction or science fiction? (or fantasy?)
**kmm

Book info: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza / Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Isn’t family The Whole Thing Together, really? by Ann Brashares (book review)

book cover of The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares published by Delacorte  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHis mom, her dad,
Once a couple, now a feud,
Sharing their divisions…

Imagine knowing (about) someone for your entire childhood and never meeting, ever! “Shared custody” of a beloved vacation home means that Ray (Mom’s kid) and Sasha (Dad’s kid) often see their half-sisters (kids of Mom & Dad), but have never laid eyes on one another till this summer, this fateful summer…

Ask for The Whole Thing Together at your local library or independent bookstore – hardcover or audiobook – and see how Sasha and Ray learn to interact with each other during dire family troubles.

Stepfamily and shared sibling stories?
**kmm

Book info: The Whole Thing Together / Ann Brashares. Delacorte Press, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As later-born children of divorced and remarried parents with joint ownership of a Long Island beach house, Sasha and Ray have never met one another, despite years of alternately sharing a bedroom there, until the summer before their senior year when a crisis with their half-sisters brings their family together.

Why does Ray dream at the beach house and have nightmares back in the city?
Can he and Sasha really hold the same job on alternating weeks of summer (half-sister Mattie’s idea)?
What secret has Emma unearthed about her ever-feuding parents, Ray’s mom and Sasha’s dad?

This band of siblings must work out how love can keep going when family stories collide with facts, parental bonds are stretched again, and their futures are no longer boringly predictable.

How is videogame rehab a Cure for the Common Universe? by Christian McKay Heidicker (book review)

book cover of Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com Plays videogames more hours than any full-time job,
Sees sunlight on alternate Thursdays (maybe),
Why would they send him to game-addiction rehab?

And just minutes after Jaxon meets a real, breathing teen girl who agrees to go out with him! Quick – how can he level up and prove that he’s cured and get to that date?!

Read an excerpt here, courtesy of the publisher, then go find your own Cure for the Common Universe at a local library or independent bookstore – just out in paperback this month!

What’ll they throw you into rehab for??
**kmm

Book info: Cure for the Common Universe / Christian McKay Heidicker. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author site] [publisher site] [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Banished to a rehab center for videogame addicts, 16 year old Jaxon is desperate to escape in time for his first-ever date with a girl in the real world, but earning his way out could involve actually talking about being abandoned by Mom – no other way to level up?!

Not his fault that his parents divorced when he was just 8 or that his mom’s addictions always make her forget he’s coming to visit or that he is escaping from his stepmother’s perfectionism by living in the videogames that he so loved playing with Mom…

Hustled away to the desert rehab center, Jaxon meets teens who truly are videogame addicts (he isn’t, just likes playing them 60 hours a week in summer) and tries to figure out how he can get back to Salt Lake City in just four days so he can meet Serena (no cellphone, no FaceBook) for their date (first date, first girl who laughed with him instead of at him).

Doing chores earns points, doing dumb stuff loses points for you and your guild (yep, using different names and being in guilds is not like gaming at all – ha!).

Earn enough points, and you can go home from v-hab (again, not at all like gaming – ha!)

But no one in the whole two-month history of Horizons has earned their way out in just 4 days – and that’s what Jaxon has to do, if he wants to see Serena… (was any gaming reward worth this much??)

Soup, Aurora, Meeki, Zxzord, and Fezzik want to help their guildmate get to that golden date with Serena, but he’ll have to see beyond his own limitations first.

Her future? It Started With Goodbye! by Christina June (book review)

book cover of It Started With Goodbye by Christina June published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot her fault!
Not fair!
Not the worst thing after all?

Tatum’s unwarranted ‘house arrest’ after (former?) BFF Ashlyn’s big mistake plus petsitting to pay the fine and all those community service hours sweltering outdoors… the only good things about this summer are her growing design business (and flirting with one particular client), getting to know Abby (so much ivy to eradicate!), and having grandma Blanche (how could uptight stepmother be this free spirit’s daughter?) at home.

Happy book birthday this week to It Started With Goodbye!

How to draw the line between supporting a friend and enabling them?
**kmm

Book info:  It Started With Goodbye / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Attacking overgrown vines wasn’t Tatum’s plan for summer, but starting her design business online (and flirtatious emails with SK) might make ‘house arrest’ and community service a bit more bearable.

After her BFF’s bad judgment puts the Virginia teen completely under her rigid stepmother’s supervision while Dad is overseas, only pet-sitting or doing community service can get Tate out of the house shared with perfect stepsister Tilly, the ballet prodigy. Luckily, they don’t know how happy Tate is that Tilly’s grandmother Blanche is here for the summer.

Interesting to become friends with Abby and Hunter – will they ever act on their growing attraction?
Exciting that her TLC Design is getting clients online – who is SK and will she ever meet him?
Still sad that Ashlyn won’t acknowledge her part in that fiasco – will she ever answer Tate’s emails?

A bit magical having abuela Blanche on her side – almost like a Cinderella story!

I = In Over Their Heads, escaping killer robots? by Margaret Peterson Haddix (book review)

book cover of In Over Their Heads by Margaret Peterson Haddix, published by Simon & Schuster BYFR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDisconnect from the network.
Head for the hills!
The robots are coming?

Will what’s hidden in Mammoth Cave help or harm them? Only one way for a blended family forced off the grid in future USA to find out – tell their four teens not to go there under any circumstances…

Happy April 11th book birthday to In Over Their Heads!
For maximum enjoyment, read book 1, Under Their Skin first (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

I was really excited to read this one, but writing about a sequel without spoilers for the first book is hard, y’all…

What makes a family, anyway?
**kmm

Book info: In Over Their Heads (Under Their Skin, book 2) / Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hidden in Mammoth Cave is a key to their past or maybe hope for their future, but if teen twins Nick and Eryn can’t get their stepsiblings Jackson and Ava to help follow local girl Lida Mae into the cave, their blended family may be doomed in this future America of robotics, peace, and mysterious gaps in their history books.

Follows Under Their Skin (book 1).

Seven Days of You… not enough! by Cecilia Vinesse (fiction)

US book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

US cover

Why does he show up now?!
Just as she’s leaving everything she loves, forever.
Hmpfff! Hmm… Oh!

Reading this took me back to my September visit to Tokyo – konbini convenience stores, punctual and safe metro, meeting near Hachiko statue at Shibuya. And just like Sophia, I had to move back to the States just before my senior year (not recommended by either of us).

The complication of parted-in-anger Jamie returning just before she leaves? That is Sophia’s alone, and three years of deliberately not emailing each other really hasn’t erased their feelings…

Happy book birthday to Seven Days of You !

Which book cover do you prefer? (that woodblock print on the UK cover is so Japanese to me!)
**kmm

UK book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

UK cover

Book info: Seven Days of You / Cecilia Vinesse. Poppy, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Not fair! Having to go back to the States just before senior year, not visiting Dad’s new family in Paris, knowing that Jamie will be back before she leaves Tokyo, remembering their horrible argument 3 years ago…

With a week to pack up everything, say goodbye to best friends Mika and David, and re-experience her favorite things in Japan, 17-year-old Sophia gets more stressed with every second that clicks by on her countdown watch.

And suddenly Jamie is here – still funny, still cute, still complicated. He’ll get to finish high school at Tokyo Academy with their friends from around the world, while she’ll be back in New Jersey with just Mom.

Can time slow down for just this week?
Can they heal their fractured relationship in just seven days?
Can she leave him behind if they succeed?

Her departure date hasn’t changed, but Sophia’s reasons for wanting to stay have multiplied in this contemporary story weaving together bitter and sweet.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (fiction) – police + prejudice = self-protection or murder?

book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas published by Balzer + Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnarmed, he’s shot by police.
Horrified, she’s the only witness.
Telling the truth will endanger her family – can she do it?

At 16, Starr should be concerned with grades, love, and her future – not drive-by shootings and police brutality in her poor neighborhood, not white kids at her suburban private school “protesting” Kahlil’s death as a way to skip class, not worrying if her testimony will bring down the wrath of gang members and police.

Happy book birthday to The Hate U Give – wish it could be purely fiction, instead of ‘straight from the headlines’ lived experience…

How can we stop this cycle of threat, miscommunication, and death?
**kmm

Book info:The Hate U Give / Angie Thomas. Balzer + Bray, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kahlil’s murder during a routine traffic stop upends 16 year old Starr’s world as she mourns her friend’s death with her inner city neighbors, struggles to explain it to her white prep school classmates, and must decide whether to testify against that police officer, endangering everything.

Starr is two versions of herself – automatically cool black girl at the suburban prep school her parents sacrifice to pay for and then “Big Mav’s daughter who work in the store” in their poor neighborhood.

Truth or safety? Gangs and their turf wars are woven into Garden Heights.
Will her testimony send the white cop to trial? Not likely.
Can she keep being two different people, at home and at school? Tension, pressure…

If white boyfriend Chris finds out that Starr is the only witness to Kahlil’s death, surely he’ll treat her differently, and that she just couldn’t bear.

Too true, too real, The Hate U Give moves from one fatal mistake to a torrent of prejudgment and violence.