Tag Archive | summer

No party for MISS QUINCES, por favor, please! by Kat Fajardo (Graphic novel book review)

book cover of Miss Quinces, by Kat Fajardo; color by Marianna Azzi. Published by Graphix /Scholastic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A month away from her friends,
no internet, no cellphone service…
a surprise quinceaneara! What?!

Suyapa loves reading graphic novels and trying to draw her own. Her friends in Comics Club will go to Camp Willow later this summer, but not her – Mami won’t let the 15 year old go anywhere (anywhere!) without her older and younger sisters!

Same when their family goes to Honduras for a month – cousins everywhere, people in and out of Abuelita’s house, even going to a village shop with Papi becomes a parade. The introverted teen cherishes moments alone with her artistic grandmother who agrees to do a travelogue comic with her!

Surprise!! Mami has invited the whole town to Sue’s quinceanera, the traditional ceremonies and dances marking a young lady’s 15th birthday as she moves from childhood to the adult world!

But Sue had told them repeatedly she didn’t want a quinces! She hates speaking in front of people, can’t dance, and certainly can’t wear the required high heels!

Abuelita suggests that she and Mami compromise, so Suyapa agrees to the quinces as Mami has arranged it, and Mami agrees to call the camp so she can go with her friends when they get back to New York!

A poufy pink dress (so different from Abuelita’s satiny white one), stepping on her cousin’s toes as she tries learning to waltz, big sister choreographing the big dance, writing a speech of thanks – aggggghhhhh!

When a tragedy strikes their family, the quinces drops off their priority list – but having heard Abuelita’s quinces stories, maybe this is what Sue wants to do after all…

Family or friends, old ways and new ways – happy book birthday to Miss Quinces!

Be sure to grab this just-published graphic novel today at your local library or independent bookstore to see just how pink and poufy that dress is! Compare quinces traditions by reading Once Upon a Quinceanera (recommended here).

What’s your least-favorite family tradition?
**kmm

Book info: Miss Quinces / Kat Fajardo; color by Marianna Azzi. Graphix /Scholastic Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G is young Bollywood fan’s GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING, by Uma Krishnaswami (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Grand Plan to Fix Everything, by Uma Krishnaswami. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Singing and dancing,
true love overcomes all –
Bollywood is perfect, real life isn’t!

A dream is finally coming true – for Dini’s mom, who’s gotten a job as doctor at a clinic in a small town in India.

But for 11-year-old Dini, moving away from her best friend Maddie for two years is terrible! Who will watch Bollywood movies with her and sing every song and dance all the dances?

And Swapnagiri is far, far away from Mumbai and its Bollywood studios, so Dini won’t even get to see their favorite star, Dolly Singh. Just in case, Dini writes a letter, telling Dolly where her family will be in India.

Such a long journey from Maryland, and so many different things in their new home: monkeys on the roof, rose petal milkshakes, their little house on a working tea plantation.

Oh dear, her new neighbor Priya has taken a dislike to Indian-American Dini, and soon they’ll be classmates. Priya’s uncle is sad because his fiancee broke their engagement – his sweetheart, Dolly Singh!

Ah, if Dini can get Chickoo Uncle and Dolly back together again, they’ll film her next movie right here as planned – time for more letters, a big party, and Dini’s perfect Bollywood script.

Told by Dini, the mail carriers, the mechanic trying to find out what’s making the strange noise in Chickoo Uncle’s car, Dolly’s agent from the movie studio, and Dolly herself, this story is like a Bollywood special – start the music, cue the dancers, action!

When have you tried to help people fix a situation they couldn’t fix by themselves?
**kmm

Book info: The Grand Plan to Fix Everything / Uma Krishnaswami; illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

F is Florida & friendship for ABBY, TRIED AND TRUE, through so many difficult life changes, by Donna Gephart (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Abby, Tried and True, by Donna Gephart. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Best friend moving away,
big brother so sick,
seventh grade ahead…sigh.

Honestly, shy Abby doesn’t know how she’ll get over her lifelong friend Cat moving from Florida all the way to Israel. She does know that she’ll write in the journal that Cat gave her, this summer when she’s turning twelve (Fudge is a very good pet turtle, but their conversations are very one-sided).

Her 16-year-old brother Paul will play Monopoly with her (when he’s not practicing basketball with his buddies), Mom Rachel will keep inviting Abby to make cooking videos with her and Paul (nope, too shy to get in front of the camera), and Mama Dee’s sweet treats from her bakery make everyone feel better (but not Abby, this time).

Hmmm… who’s this boy moving into Cat’s house? Maybe she can be brave and meet him… Conrad, whose mom is renting the house after her divorce. He’s in her grade, good at basketball and board games and listening.

Paul comes back from summer camp so sick. Oh no…. cancer! After the going-away party for his cancerous testicle (boys are so weird), he’ll have surgery and start chemo. That means he’ll miss lots of school; it doesn’t mean his friends should stay away.

Seventh grade begins, and Abby is glad that Conrad is there so she doesn’t have to walk home alone with her worries (will they celebrate the Jewish high holidays in the hospital or at home?).

Many difficult days ahead for Abby’s family – she’s really, really glad to have Conrad by her side… maybe more than glad.

Available in paperback this week – find Abby at your your local library or independent bookstore.

When have your friends supported you through tough times?
**kmm

Book info: Abby, Tried and True / Donna Gephart. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D = When it comes to helping people, KARTHIK DELIVERS! by Sheela Chari (MG book review)

book cover of Karthik Delivers, by Sheela Chari. Published by Amulet Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family dream threatened,
changes coming,
friends will get him through it.

Delivering groceries for the family store isn’t what Karthik had planned for the summer before high school, but during this bad economy in 2008, maybe it will help.

At least he’s not stuck indoors studying for the SAT like big sister. She will be the lawyer, he will be the doctor, his Indian-American parents have decided (Mom’s dream job, not his – Karthik gets woozy at the sight of blood…).

Big orders or small, his bike carries them all – to old Mr. Jain who loves to talk about cricket scores, to the lady who always orders two extra-ripe mangoes, to the college student who’s writing a play and wants Karthik in the role of Leonard Bernstein as a young man!

Who knew that the famous musician and conductor grew up here in their Boston suburb? Shanthi is sure that Karthik’s gift for perfectly remembering long lists will help him memorize the short script; he’s not so sure that his parents will let him perform for her final exam in August.

Between deliveries, he meets his friends Miles and Binh for ice cream (he knows all 50 flavors) while hoping cute classmate Juhi comes in without the bullies she hangs out with now (not likely).

The more he studies the script and Bernstein’s life and music, the more the teen identifies with this son of immigrants who went on to do great things – but what does Karthik want to do with his life?

As he delivers their groceries, Karthik gets to know his customers and helps when they need a hand – what will they do if the store can’t keep going?

Oh no! It’s Juhi’s uncle who owns new chaat restaurant whose fast-fast food is stealing away the little grocery store’s customers – is this West Side Story all over again?

Happy book birthday to Karthik Delivers – let’s hope he tells his family about the play sooner rather than later!

What dream have you put on hold? When will you launch it again?
**kmm

Book info: Karthik Delivers / Sheela Chari. Amulet Books, 2022. [author site] [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.

ALEXIS VS SUMMER VACATION – all work & no fun? by Sarah Jamila Stevenson & Veronica Agarwal (MG Graphic novel review)

book cover of Alexis vs Summer Vacation, by Sarah Jamila Stevenson; illustrated by Veronica Agarwal. Published by Avenue A Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School’s out!
Time for summer fun!
Or not so fun…

Alexis is dreading this summer before high school with BFF Lara gone to adventure camp for six weeks, the others in their G&G gaming group traveling away with family… and she’s stuck here, babysitting her little brother and sister for free!

So many changes since her parents divorced recently that the 14-year-old isn’t sure about what she wants to do with her future anymore, likes guys and gals but can’t summon the courage to talk to the girl she has a crush on… sigh.

Mom gets them pool passes so finally they can hang out with other kids. Alexis sees some classmates there and discovers they’re all going to the same high school… even that bully Mack.

Jason works with his dad in their Japanese fusion food truck, and Luke is in lifeguard training, but they both get time off so Alexis introduces them to Goblins & Gauntlets, her favorite role-playing game.

If only Mack would quit picking on Jason, and Luke’s perfect big brother would quit singling him out during exercises, and Alexis would quit stalling and actually go talk to Hayley…

Can the friends level themselves up, as well as their G&G characters?
Will Lara still be her BFF after all summer away?
What if Hayley won’t even talk to Alexis?

This graphic novel takes us through Alexis’ eventful/boring summer as she discovers more about herself with the help of new friends and her much-loved G&G game.

What’s your favorite game to play with friends?
**kmm

Book info: Alexis vs Summer Vacation / Sarah Jamila Stevenson; illustrated by Veronica Agarwal. Avenue A Books, 2019. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

This summer could be the best ever for THE ISLANDERS! by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May (MG book review)

Book cover of The Islanders, by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Published by Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No videogames or wi-fi?
Driving a golf cart! Or a boat?!
Maybe summer will be okay…

As a military kid, twelve-year-old Jake knows that staying with his grandma Honey will help Mom as she’s at the Army hospital with Dad, but having no internet or cellphone (don’t ask) will be terrible.

Luckily, two kids his age are on Dewees Island for the summer: Macon, a facts-spouting Black guy from Atlanta, whose mom is on bed rest waiting for her baby to arrive, and nature-fanatic Lovie, who drives her own boat over from Isle of Palms every day to stay with her aunt.

Honey doesn’t seem herself after Jake’s granddad died a while ago, and her house on stilts needs lots of care. Dad grew up here, roaming these woods and beaches, learning to drive a boat, leaving his nature journal and favorite books in the loft bedroom where Jake is staying.

Doing chores for Honey still leaves Jake plenty of time to explore the South Carolina coastal island with Lovie and Macon. Lots of lessons too – driving the golf cart, learning his way around a boat, recognizing loggerhead turtle tracks, avoiding alligators.

An incident gets the three friends assigned to Dawn Patrol, checking the beaches early, early every morning for new turtle nests that the licensed specialists verify and encircle with warning tape.

Jake sketches in his own nature journal, writes illustrated letters to Dad, and listens to the worries that Lovie and Macon confide.

Can Jake earn his boating license before summer ends?
How can they keep predators away from the turtle nests?
How fast can Dad recover from the IED explosion?

Sometimes the island seems like paradise, other times it’s not. For these three friends, this will be a summer to remember! First in a new series, followed by Search for Treasure in June 2022.

What’s your favorite summer-with-friends memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Islanders (Islanders, book 1) / Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

VAMPIRES, HEARTS & OTHER DEAD THINGS in her life, by Margie Fuston (book review)

book cover of Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things, by Margie Fuston. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Vampires are real,
cancer is too-real,
she can solve this…

Pancreatic cancer is stealing away her dad – fellow enthusiast of all things undead, he and Victoria were thrilled when vampires revealed themselves on live TV, both ready to go find one after public outcry forced them back into the shadows. Her big sister and mom never understood their enthusiasm.

He didn’t cancel their graduation trip to New Orleans though, and asks her to go look for vampires and bring him pictures of everything. In Dad’s place will be her classmate Henry, former best friend (former almost-more-than-best friend) so the California teen isn’t there alone.

Victoria has a checklist of places to visit – the Ursulines convent, St. Louis cemetery – anywhere she might glimpse a vampire and convince them to help her. Being undead is better than being dead, right?

Late-night wanderer Carter introduces her to the vampire Nicholas, who gives Victoria a list of challenges to accomplish that will prove she’s ready to give up her life for undeath. Henry is not amused, thinks Carter and Nicholas are frauds, but won’t let her run around the Crescent City alone.

The first message tucked in a poetry book at a quaint shop directs her to eat beignets while wearing black and take as proof. Ah, some words are underlined in the book, too.

Returning to the shop, Victoria finds the next challenge – break into a certain house and steal something? More words underlined in the poem…

How much will Henry actually help her?
Why does she suddenly long to sketch and paint again?
Will Nicholas truly honor his agreement?

Before he got sick, Dad even looked like Bela Lugosi in the classic vampire movies – she would do anything to save him, anything!

While you’re getting this debut novel about hope and grief at your local library or independent bookstore, check out these vampire tales I’ve recommended:

  • The Hunt, series by Andrew Fukuda (my review of book 1)
  • Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts, by Nancy Campbell Allen (more here)
  • Elatsoe, by Darcy Little Badger (loved it!).

What’s your favorite vampire story?
**kmm

Book info: Vampires, Hearts & Other Dead Things / Margie Fuston. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SMALL TOWN HEARTS, don’t fall for a summer boy! by Lillie Vale (book review)

book cover of Small Town Hearts, by Lillie Vale. Published by Swoon Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Future plans – check
Summer to enjoy – check
Romantic complications – ohhhh.

Babe is content to enjoy the summer after graduation, living in the lighthouse and managing Busy’s coffeehouse as tourist season in their little Maine coastal town begins.

Even knowing that her two best friends will leave for college is okay (soon she’ll tell them she’s staying at Busy’s… soon) – until Penny dumps Chad who decides to kiss Babe, then Penny finds out and takes Chad back, freezing her out of their lifetime friendship!

Add to that Babe’s ex-girlfriend Elodie (still not out) back from college and the almost-college guy Levi (already a famous artist!) who’s renting Mom’s house while she’s working away, both here for the summer art residency (small, small world in this small, small town).

Nice to show Levi around, watch him sketch and learn to appreciate life at the shore and her baking skills (always experimenting for the coffeehouse)… and her.

But when the beach picnics and blueberry picking and the residency are over, he’ll leave for art college (so say his parents and agent), and Babe is going to stay here, baking and managing Busy’s.

Summer ends with the artists’ exhibition and the town’s sandcastle building contest – what else will end?

“Never fall for a summer boy” – local wisdom is rarely wrong, but maybe this time?

This debut novel softly celebrates becoming yourself and being yourself in the face of others’ expectations.

What’s your favorite summer out-of-town memory?
**kmm

Book info: Small Town Hearts / Lillie Vale. Swoon Reads, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Who is she truly, THE GIRL FROM THE SEA? by Molly Knox Ostertag (Graphic novel review)

book cover of The Girl From the Sea, by Molly Knox Ostertag. Published by Graphix/Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Slipping off the rainy cliff,
Hitting her head,
Drowning, sinking…saved by a kiss!

Morgan can’t wait to escape from her Atlantic island town and be herself. The 15 year old Korean-Canadian tries so hard to fit in at school, agree with her boy-crazy best friends, channel her clothing designs into acceptable styles … exhausting.

Summer with her grumpy little brother and recently divorced mom becomes a little better because Keltie is there, the selkie who saved her from drowning! They’d met in the sea when Morgan was young, and Keltie’s been watching the shore for her ever since.

Now true love’s kiss has granted Keltie her landlegs, and she wants to be with Morgan, whose friends aren’t so sure about this new girl who loves sparkly clothes instead of the latest fashion.

Stolen moments together in secluded coves, Keltie explaining that she’s the only selkie of her generation, wondering what their future together might be like….

But a huge tourist boat plans to hug the island’s shoreline for summer excursions, endangering Keltie’s seal family – and the parents of Morgan’s friend Serena own it!

Can Keltie stop the boat from getting too close to the rookery?
Can Morgan keep her friends and Keltie, too?

This graphic novel by the creator of the Witch Boy trilogy explores friendship and family, plans and destiny. Find it at your local library or independent bookstore today!

Do you agree with Morgan’s mom: “You have to risk letting your life get messy to get to the good parts” (p. 151)?
**kmm

Book info: The Girl From the Sea / words and art by Molly Knox Ostertag . Graphix/Scholastic, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.