Tag Archive | summer

They rejoice in being STRANGE BIRDS together! by Celia C. Perez (MG book review)

book cover of Strange Birds, by Celia C. Perez. Published by Kokila Books PRH. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Endangered bird feathers as a prop,
a social club with no social awareness,
time to stop this nonsense!

Waiting out her parents’ transatlantic divorce arguments, Lane decides to take summer at her wealthy grandmother’s palatial Florida estate from boring to bold by inviting other 12 year old girls to form a secret club.

Ofelia’s overprotective Cuban-American parents want the budding journalist to stay safe, quit being so inquisitive, and certainly not apply for news-writers’ camp in New York City.

Helping her grandfather research connections between their Bahamian roots and local citrus growers leaves Aster plenty of time to cook up new dishes while Mom’s overseas in the Army.

As youngest sister, Cat is her society-conscious mother’s final chance to have a Miss Flora in the family, but she’d rather watch living birds than sit in boring club meetings.

The new friends decide to challenge the tradition of Miss Flora wearing a ceremonial hat with feathers from endangered birds – it should be in a museum!

All their low-key protests – stickers, lawn flamingos at the Flora clubhouse – get taken over by the Flora leader for publicity! How can this eclectic crew make the townspeople understand the importance of protecting local birds in peril?

Happy book birthday to Strange Birds, now available at your local library or independent bookstore.

**kmm

Book info: Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers / Celia C. Perez. Kokila Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She thought her home is WHERE THE HEART IS, but is it? by Jo Knowles (MG book review)

book cover of  Where the Heart Is, by Jo Knowles. Published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gotta get a job,
help with the bills…
what a 13th birthday surprise!

Rachel and best friend Micah want to have a summer filled with lazy days at the lake, ice cream, and her little sister tagging along.

But money troubles are piling up for Mom and Dad, so she gets a job caring for their new neighbors’ hobby farm animals. Are they really raising that mean ol’ pig for bacon?

Too many things are changing – next year is eighth grade, the Townsends built their big new house on the best winter sledding hill, Micah wants to be her boyfriend… no crushes on boys for her.

Does Cybil want to be more than a casual friend?
Will Mom and Dad ever stop fighting about money?
Will Rachel’s pay as a farm helper be enough?

Rachel’s summer seems more like a raging river of worries than their favorite calm lakeshore beach as she tries to navigate around so many new obstacles.

Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel and family on her big birthday.

Is home really “where the heart is”?
**kmm

Book info: Where the Heart Is / Jo Knowles. Candlewick Press, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Home= empty, camp =more, NO PLACE LIKE HERE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of No Place Like Here, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYABooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dad’s lies catch up with him,
Mom’s depression is so deep,
what’s the appropriate quotation for this?

No summer with friends for Ashlyn after being unfairly sent to boarding school last year for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

While Dad is in prison for tax evasion and Mom’s taking spa treatments to cope, Ash has to work at summer camp with the cousin she hasn’t seen since they were little kids.

Actually it’s a retreat center in the Pennsylvania woods, worlds away from her DC suburb… who knows what she’ll be doing or how her rarely-visited family will treat her.

Her aunt and uncle welcome her warmly, cousin Hannah will show her everything at the center, and surely summer will pass smoothly so Ashlyn’s parents will let her transfer home for her senior year.

Of course the newest employee gets the most boring jobs (sports equipment checkout for family reunion? yawn), but even she can tell that the recently hired director isn’t keeping up with essentials.

Flirting with lifeguard Marcus and ziplining with Baxter are definite high points; visiting Dad in prison isn’t.

Will the camp owner listen to Ashlyn’s concerns about the director?
When will Dad’s stern voice stop invading her thoughts?

We met Ashlyn last summer in It Started With Goodbye (my no-spoiler recommendation here) as she and best friend Tatum made small choices with big consequences – now see what’s next (like this same summer for T’s stepsister recounted in Everywhere You Want To Be (more here)).

How have you turned a bad situation into a better one?
**kmm

Book info: No Place Like Here / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Y is for THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, by Maurene Goo (YA book review)

book cover of The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo. Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School success is everything – or it’s not.
Being a laid-back parent is great for your kid – or it isn’t.
Friendship is worth working for – yes, yes it is.

A Carrie-style stunt at prom lands boundary-pushing Clara and goody-goody Rose together in the same summer job to pay back the school – no spa life in Tulum with Clara’s jetsetting influencer mom, no prestigious internship for Rose’s college applications.

Yep, two not-friends working in a food truck for the entire sweltering LA summer, cooking the Korean-Brazilian fusion food that’s made Clara’s dad legendary – no time for screw-ups or bickering when the lunch rush is on.

Can jokester Clara please her Korean cool-dad enough to get time off and visit her Brazilian influencer mom in paradise?

Can by-the-rules Rose squeeze in dance practices around the full KoBra truck schedule and meet the very high expectations of her African American parents?

Can Hamlet’s homesickness for Beijing and love for California stop tugging at him long enough for him to get Clara to go out with him?

This summer before their senior year will be anything but boring!

Out next week in paperback! From the author of I Believe In a Thing Called Love (which I loved & recommended here).

Best-planned prank that you never pulled?
**kmm

Book info: The Way You Make Me Feel / Maurene Goo. Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2018, paperback 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E = EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Be a dancer? No, go to college!
Who will get the lead role? Watch your back!
Play it safe with her heart? Take a chance, Tilly!

It may be her last opportunity to dance, so she’s working hard with the troupe, refining her technique, hoping her mother will relent and allow Tilly to keep dancing, instead of immediately attending Mama’s dream college.

A backstabbing troupe member, an old friend who may become a new love, late-night stress baking, all of New York City to explore in this too-short summer!

You might have met Tilly earlier in her stepsister Tatum’s story, It Started With Goodbye (I recommended it here), and their abuela and Paolo, too.

And check out Tilly’s guide to New York on the publisher’s website here.

When do you know which dreams are uniquely yours?
**kmm

Book info: Everywhere You Want to Be / Christina June. Blink YA, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: From her quiet DC suburb to New York City’s clamor, Tilly is thrilled to be with a summer dance troupe, but competition for roles gets vicious!

Their choreographer/director is a genius, telling them that ‘slaying the dragon’ will center their dance in a stunning performance space to end the summer.

What a summer! Grueling and rewarding rehearsals, exploring the city with her roommate, increasingly irksome pranks, and trying to undo the way she ended things at home with musician Paolo.

Scouts from major ballet companies will be at their performance. Their families and friends will be there. Will the saboteur strike there, too?

One final summer to dance, to pray that Mama won’t force her to attend college, to dream that her future is all dance (and some Paolo, too) – too much to ask?

Art school or her traveling family? Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller (book review)

book cover of Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Art school!
Real teachers instead of online videos,
real money her family doesn’t have,
really not surprised to be rejected…

Self-confidence is hard for Dessa, and when she freezes with sketchpad in hand, it will take something special to help her get it back.

Maybe not paint now, maybe she should try found art like her mentor, maybe…

How do you make a dream denied become merely dream deferred?
**kmm

Book info: Your Destination is on the Left / Lauren Spieller. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The nomadic life that her parents chose was fun back when Dessa was twelve, but now the 17 year old wants more – art school, life with other students, a home without wheels.

Best-best-ever Cy sent in her portfolio for the internship she knew she wouldn’t get, and now she will be working all summer with her favorite living artist in New Mexico – as long as Fiona thinks Dess is “college-bound” instead of turned down by every art school she applied for.

The families who travel together across the US are sure she’ll rejoin them and Cy on the road once summer is over – can she squeeze her expanded views back into that tiny RV with her parents and little brother?

Staying with her Greek grandmother (in a house!) near Santa Fe, helping Fiona prepare for a big exhibition of her found art pieces, trying to get up the courage to break free with her own art…and tell the truth about art school – what a summer!

But after the internship and the gallery show and no art school for fall – are Cy’s traveling dreams big enough for both of them?

Accidents, loss, Phantom Limbs – hope? by Paula Garner (book review)

book cover of Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner, published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe lost his brother,
she lost her Olympic chances…
is there hope, if they work together?

Dara is a no-nonsense taskmaster as she tries to coach Otis into the Olympic Trials for swimming (now one-armed, she can’t swim out her own dreams).

But if Meg returns, how can he keep his focus? Or keep the reality of little brother Mason’s last day locked away safely?

Is what you can do the same as your identity?
**kmm

Book info: Phantom Limbs / Paula Garner. Candlewick Press, hardcover 2016, paperback 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Two different tragedies have left Dara and Otis with missing parts, but as she pushes him through grueling swim practices this summer, another piece of his past returns and may shatter all their hopes.

Dara’s missing arm has become her aggressive swim coaching to put Otis in the Olympic Trials where she should have been.
Otis’s family has become fragile with just memory where little brother Mason should be.
Meg’s silence after she moved three years ago has become a void where Otis’s heart should be.

Dara just graduated from their Ohio high school, but can she move on?
Otis loved – loves – Meg, but does she still care for him?
Meg tried moving away, moving on, but will anywhere feel like home again?

As Otis tries to balance Dara’s demands (swim practice, phantom limb pains, more swim practice, maybe new girlfriend) and his expectations for Meg’s visit (her scent, her voice, her eyes, her not being on the phone with her jock boyfriend back in California), he struggles to stay out of the dark place that swallowed him when little Mason died.

Surgery to get The Fold or not? by An Na (book review)

book cover of The Fold by An Na, published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com“Western” eyes!
Korean eyelids just aren’t the same.
Plastic surgery to get “the fold” or not?

Read the first chapter here (free, courtesy of the publisher) to discover the depth of Joyce’s crush on John Ford Kang, then check out The Fold in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore to see how far she’ll go to make him really notice her!

Ever considered plastic surgery?
**kmm

Book info: The Fold / An Na. Atheneum, 2008 hardcover, 2017 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When her aunt offers to pay for plastic surgery, pain-averse Joyce must decide how far she’ll go to get her crush’s attention and win his heart.

Adding the eyelid “fold” is a routine procedure for Korean-American women, but everyone can see how Auntie Gomo is addicted to plastic surgery.

Not as smart or pretty as older sister Helen, not as funny as younger brother Andy, Joyce feels like a nobody as her junior year ends and adorable John Paul Kang signs her yearbook with the wrong name.

Work in their parents’ restaurant all summer while Helen does a prestigious internship at college? Not fair.

John Paul comes to the restaurant when her eyes are swollen from chili powder accident? Oh no!

Dr. Reiner says the eyelid surgery is her decision, but how can Joyce disappoint her aunt? Oh my…

Maybe it’ll all be worth it if John Paul notices her enough at church and school to remember her name. Her best friend Gina agrees, her new friend Sam isn’t so sure…

Baseball (and bullies) and The Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser (book review)

book cover of Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser, published by Margaret K McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comBaseball practice needs a flat open space,
so the city park is a great place!
But sharing the outfield with the zoo can be beastly!

Nick and his buddies love baseball, practicing whenever and wherever they can (no Little League yet in Wisconsin in 1948). They’re thrilled when the new owner of the town’s pro team promises a chance for kids to be on the field for opening day! (or is it just for boys?)

Read the first chapter here to meet Nick and the rhino (free, courtesy of the publisher), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for the rest of the story.

Your close encounter with unusual animals and/or minor league baseball?
**kmm

Book info: The Rhino in Right Field / Susan DeKeyser. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: For the chance to be Mudpuppy batboy for day, 12-year-old Nick will do anything – work harder in Pop’s shoe repair shop, help uncle Spiro with mysterious errands – as the baseball team’s new owner plans an extravaganza for Opening Day.

That bully Pete thinks he’ll be chosen batboy, but Nick can win this contest based on essay-writing and baseball skills – if only his Pop would sign the permission slip… hmmm

He and Ace practice fielding with Penny (wow, can she throw!), hoping Nick’s baseball won’t wind up in the rhino enclosure (again).

His Greek immigrant father is sure that working hard in the family shop is Nick’s destiny, but Uncle Spiro wants to make his own way in post-World War II Wisconsin.

Where will Nick be on Opening Day – in the Mudpuppy dugout or listening on the radio in the shoe shop?

Doing good? The Unlikelies will try… by Carrie Firestone (book review)

book cover of The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone, published by Little Brown BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comDeclared “hometown heroes”
Just a photo op
Or a chance to actually make a difference?

She never dreamed that working again at the farmstand would lead to her saving a baby’s life or becoming part of a diverse teen group who find ways to stealthily help those being bullied or trying to right decades-old wrongs!

Look for this not-just-another-boring-summer novel in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore.

When does positive action become heroism?
**kmm

Book info: The Unlikelies / Carrie Firestone. Little Brown BFYR, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hailed as a hometown hero, 17 year old Sadie copes with nightmares about rescuing the baby as she and new friends band together to push back against bullying online and in person.

Summer before senior year was supposed to be supposed to be boring with her best friend working far away, but meeting other teens on Long Island noted for their positive deeds takes Sadie in directions she never anticipated.

Gordie runs a day program for developmentally-delayed adults, Jean-Pierre teaches young artists, Alice does glamour photo-shoots for shelter dogs, and Valeria coordinates a massive school supply drive – how does her single brave (or impulsive) act to keep a drunk dad from driving away with a crying baby measure up to all that?

On his death bed, longtime farmstand customer Mr. Upton sends Sadie on a mission to erase his father’s bad acts – this is way more than the positivity that ‘the Unlikelies’ are unleashing against internet trolls and bullies…

And her crush on Gordie from junior high? The more that the Unlikelies are together – working with each other’s projects, figuring out how to honor Mr. Upton’s request, helping Alice find Izzy as heroin takes her down – the more that flame rekindles.