Tag Archive | teens

K is Supriya Kelkar’s STRONG AS FIRE, FIERCE AS FLAME during revolution! (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame, by Supriya Kelkar.  Published by Tu Books /Lee & Low Books

Soon to be married,
then tragedy, death!
Must she die also?

Changes, changes! In 1857 India, British occupiers push Indian men to join their military as Sepoy brigades, tax people so much that starvation is increasing, and want to change devoutly followed religious traditions, leading to widespread rioting.

When Meera turns 13 in a few days, she’ll move into Krishna’s family home, sealing the Hindu marriage agreement made when they were toddlers.

Aiie! Instead of a wedding celebration in their tiny village, it’s Krishna’s funeral on the day before her birthday. Tradition demands that widowed Meera commit sati and allow herself to burn on her husband’s pyre as she follows him into the afterlife.

Leave! Go! Aunt urges her to run away, and Meera flees alone into the rainy night and an unknown future. Could she possibly reach Rani Lakshmibai, the widowed queen who defies the British and rules her region with fairness?

Rescued from the raging river by people on a boat, Meera meets Bhavani who is going to see her sister in town. Perhaps she can help both girls find jobs…

A tiny mistake puts them in the hands of Captain Keene, the one who’s abolishing their traditions! He orders them to work at his big house to pay for their error – at least they’ll have food and a place to sleep.

Luckily, his wife doesn’t share his anger, this kindly memsahib who likes to sketch, who mourns the death of their daughter, who asks that schools for local girls be created.

The two young teens help the cook, serve meals to Captain and Memsahib and their guests, and hear much talk about how the East India Company will soon complete the takeover of their homeland. Bhavani and her sister believe that the British must leave India alone, so they’re meeting with local rebels to make plans.

What’s this? Captain has a secret stash of ammunition and plans to attack! The rebels must be told!

Is Meera brave enough to search the Captain’s desk and help the rebels find out how to get that ammunition?
Can the sepoy Charan truly be on their side against the British officers?
Will the young women be as fearless as Rani Lakshimibai?

Based on true events of India’s history – see the endnotes for more details and timeline. By the author of contemporary middle-grade novel That Thing About Bollywood, recommended here.

When have you chosen to stand against injustice instead of just being a bystander?
**kmm

Book info: Strong as Fire, Fierce as Flame / Supriya Kelkar. Tu Books /Lee & Low Books, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D is for a dog, determination, and OUR DIVINE MISCHIEF interfering! by Hanna C. Howard (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Our Divine Mischief, by  Hanna C. Howard. Published by Blink YA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

What will be her role in the village?
Mother must let her go try!
It’s time…

Aila sails to Yslet’s island to discover what skill the goddess will grant her. But instead of a golden disk with apprentice symbol inscribed, the 17 year old finds only a muddy puppy who insists on going home with her.

Hew waits with the other villagers, hoping that she didn’t receive a blank disk like he did, praying that she’s not cursed to be Unblessed as he is…

The priest is flummoxed, finds that a series of Ordeals might still reveal Yslet’s way for Aila’s lifework, and assigns Hew to watch over her as she prepares.

Orail, the puppy, is delighted to be with Aila and Hew as her mind expands, as the teens experience her mischief and magic growing rapidly, as she secretly helps Aila during the Ordeals.

When a scribe from the mainland intuits that Orail is a wish-granter, he decides that the dog’s gifts will help the Usurper overthrow the King and steals her away!

Aila and Hew follow, never mind the mainland’s dangers – they must rescue their friend!!

Reflecting Scottish history and folklore, this adventure is told in the three voices of Aila, Hew, and Orail, whose poetic mind-speak grows more lyrical as she quickly grows from rambunctious puppy to full-grown protector.

Would you want your future job to be locked-in by others?
**kmm

Book info: Our Divine Mischief / Hanna C. Howard. Blink, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is for ARYA KHANNA’S BOLLYWOOD MOMENT, by Arushi Avachat (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Arya Khanna's Bollywood Moment, by Arushi Avachat. Published by Wednesday Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Senior year at last!
Too bad Arya is student council VP to long-term rival Dean as president, especially as they have to work together closely to fundraise for the Autumn Formal.

Big sister Alina the artist is finally back home!
If only she and Mamma would reconcile during the complex preparations for Alina and Nikhil’s elaborate Hindu wedding…

So much tension in Arya’s life!
Her BFFs Andy and Lisa dated for a while, then broke up, but the trio should be enjoying senior activities together in their Boston suburb, not drifting apart.

As she juggles college application deadlines, Mamma’s depression, fall festival planning meetings with now-charming Dean, and working part-time at her favorite Boston bookstore, the Indian-American teen longs for her own super-romantic Bollywood moment…

This charming debut rom-com includes cupcakes and wedding cakes, a pumpkin patch and henna mehndi designs, practicing for Alina’s sangeet dance at the wedding and dressing up for the Autumn Formal dance, plus waiting for college acceptance letters to arrive.

Be sure to look for Arya’s lists of recommended Bollywood movies and music, too!

**kmm

Book info: Arya Khanna’s Bollywood Moment / Arushi Avachat. Wednesday Books, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

It’s not fair! Teens incite THE PEACH REBELLION post-WWII, by Wendelin Van Draanen (YA book review)

book cover of The Peach Rebellion, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Alfred A. Knopf | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Over a decade since coming to California during the Dust Bowl days, her tiny brothers dying of sickness and buried under a creekside tree north of here, and folks are still calling Ginny Rose’s family “Okies” after World War II, despite all their hard work.

After her first day working at the peach cannery, a flat bike tire detours the 17 year old to Peggy’s peach farm where she meets banker’s daughter Lisette.

Wow, Papa and Mama tell Ginny Rose to keep half her wages for new school clothes and her future! Her sister Anna Mae is aghast at the idea of being left behind with their deeply depressed mother

Peggy’s big sister opens the teen’s eyes to truths about the family peach farm, very unwelcome facts that explain why Doris hasn’t brought her baby back to visit.

Lisette’s fancy new house? Her father’s bank foreclosed on his good friend’s house, then the banker bought it instead of stopping the seizure?!

Ginny Rose discovers Babyland in the cemetery, where the tiniest children are buried – could she bring her little brothers here, for good?

The three teens from very different parts of society find a common purpose as Peggy and Lisette decide to help Ginny Rose on her quest!

Told in alternating chapters by Ginny Rose and Peggy during the sweltering summer of 1947.

Which friends would help you with a challenge?
**kmm

Book info: The Peach Rebellion / Wendelin Van Draanen. Alfred A. Knopf /PRH, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Get THE JUMP on invading oil company! by Brittney Morris (YA book review)

book cover of The Jump, by Brittney Morris. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

They know Seattle, street by street, edge to edge, even belowground. No one is better at digital scavenger-hunting than Team JERICHO.

Jax, cryptologist, Black vegan – why should the community garden his parents founded be replaced by an Roundworld oil refinery?

Yas, parkourist, gay hijabi – her father’s Pakistani-American convenience store is losing business to Roundworld’s HQ cafeteria.

Spider, tech-whiz, social justice warrior – thankful that Mom and her Korean restaurant staff support his transitioning.

Han, cartographer, autistic – brother working for Roundworld, Dad’s livelihood threatened by its pipeline.

When “The Order” posts a puzzle whose prize is “power” during protests against Roundworld, JERICHO decides to accept the challenge!

Can they solve The Order’s puzzle before Team Royal?
Will it allow the teens to stop Roundworld from placing an oil refinery in their neighborhood?
What does “the game is anarchy” in The Order’s first clue really mean?

The four long-time friends take turns telling this complex tale of clues, loyalties, greed, and consequences.

By the author of The Cost of Knowing, recommended here.

How are you reacting against injustice near you?
**kmm

Book info: The Jump / Brittney Morris. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

ONCE THERE WAS…some magic, a monster, a miracle? by Kiyash Monsef (YA book review)

book cover of Once There Was, by Kiyash Monsef. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her best friends try to help, but Marjan is sleepwalking through life since Dad was killed by who-knows-what recently in their California home. She’s trying to juggle sophomore classes and Dad’s struggling vet practice and her anger and grief.

Wait, her Pakistani father didn’t just treat dogs, cats, and birds – he was a veterinarian for creatures out of myth and legend?! And “the work” is Marjan’s now, because she’s inherited his gift of knowing precisely how to care for them, wherever in the world they are.

People who live with these amazing creatures contact Marjan through the secretive Tea Shop group. Off she goes to see a griffon in England reaching the end of its very long life, an incontinent house gnome a few hours from home.

Into Dad’s vet office comes a young woman named Malloryn, a self-taught witch whose grey fox is ill. She’ll stay with Marjan for the mythic nine-tailed fox‘s lengthy treatment, maybe disperse the house’s gloom and bad aura.

Um, this ultra-rich Horatio guy isn’t collecting mythic creatures to appreciate them, like Malloryn loves Zorro or cute Sebastian’s family loves the griffon who chose his family generations ago. There’s something dark about Horatio, and Marjan wants to stay far away from his underground menagerie of faerie and stone giant and deadly manticore – every Persian tale her father told her, come to life.

Tea Shop believes that magical creatures’ contentment influences the overall good for humanity. As many creatures have disappeared lately, things are worsening in the world – and they want to find the missing.

Horatio keeps requesting her help with his creatures – can she safely stay away?
Dad was preparing for a trip to Ithaca, New York, when he was killed – will Marjan find any answers there about his death?
Sebastian wants to help her – what can two teenagers do against age-old problems?

“Once there was, once there was not…” Tales told by her father punctuate the action and peril – read the first chapter here free on the publisher’s website.

What’s your favorite mythic creature?
**kmm

Book info: Once There Was / Kiyash Monsef. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

How friendly is their new-old house in THE TIME OF GREEN MAGIC? by Hilary McKay (MG book review)

book cover of The Time of Green Magic, by Hilary McKay. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Two families into one.
An old house large enough for all.
Enough love to go around?

Abi had been an only, cherished by Dad Theo and Granny Grace after Mum died when she was a baby.

Now the 11 year old is a middle, squished between 13-year-old Max and grubby hands 6-year-old Louis when Dad marries Polly, and they move into her small house.

The blended family searches and searches for another house to rent, finally deciding on an old, tall house covered with ivy – and room enough for everyone!

With Polly and Theo working more hours to afford the house, Esme is hired to bring Louis home from school, and Max is enraged that his best friend Danny tells everyone that the 18-year-old French art student is his “babysitter” now.

Abi is happy to get back to escaping into books in her own room – so vivid, so real that she can feel the ocean spray in her face as she reads Kon-Tiki.

It isn’t ‘a nowl’ that Louis hears in the ivy, but an invisible friend, a cat-shaped being named Iffen who races up the vines to sleep in his room, who sharpens his mighty claws on the bedside mat, who is hungry.

Could Max finally calm down around Esme?
Is Iffen listen getting larger?
How can Abi see Iffen?!

Perhaps, perhaps the old house’s magic can help their many-parts family become whole.

Did you have an imaginary childhood friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Time of Green Magic / Hilary McKay. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2020, paperback 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Can she OUTRUN THE MOON & fate through education or luck? by Stacey Lee (YA book review)

book cover of Outrun the Moon, by Stacey Lee. Published by Penguin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mercy wants better for her little brother than backbreaking laundry work, but she needs more education than their poor middle school can offer so she can start a business.

The teen negotiates her way into a semester scholarship at St. Clare’s School for Girls, the best in 1906 San Francisco, determined to brave anti-Chinese prejudice on the way to her dreams.

In return, Mercy promises snobby Elodie’s father a meeting with the Benevolent Association to apply for permission to sell his very fine chocolates in Chinatown…

Oh, how she longs to help her boyfriend Tom find his way into the sky instead of becoming an herbalist doctor like his father!

What if the headmistress decides Mercy isn’t worthy to be at St. Clare’s?
What if the Benevolent Association won’t consider their request?
What does her mother see when she foretells their futures?

Earthquake! The St. Clare’s girls escape to Golden Gate Park and, with Mercy’s practical skills, try to help others fleeing collapsed buildings and fires.

Her family! Their families! What now?

Outstanding historical fiction from the author of The Downstairs Girl (recommended here).

Are you prepared for a natural disaster?
**kmm

Book info: Outrun the Moon / Stacey Lee. Penguin, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Traverse A WILDERNESS OF STARS to save humanity, by Shea Ernshaw (YA book review)

book cover of A Wilderness of Stars, by Shea Ernshaw. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

An unmistakable omen,
Time to leave safety,
Time to find the stars’ secrets.

Every night, Vega and Mom talk about all the stars they can see from their secluded valley, including the constellation tattooed on the teen’s neck.

When Vega sees a dreadful omen in the skies and Mom dies, it’s time to go away – for Vega is the last Astronomer and must find the Architect to save their world.

Together, they can find a cure for the fast-spreading sickness that takes sight and hearing before death.

If she can stay clear of the star-branded Theorists who believe the Astronomer can help them end the world quickly…
If that young man truly knows where to find the Architect…
If the Architect and the Astronomer can get to the sea…

Hunted by Theorists, going quietly around dusty near-ghost towns where her face is on wanted posters, Vega moves quickly with teens Cricket and Noah, now the Last Architect.

Vega’s affection for Noah grows as they travel stealthily across the hostile wilderness toward the sea, even as she worries about the secrets of his past.

Will their knowledge – passed down orally for generations – be accurate enough to save their world?

**kmm

Book info: A Wilderness of Stars / Shea Ernshaw. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Her art school future requires ceramics mastery – will she SLIP? by Marika McCoola & Aatmahja Pandya (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Slip / words by Marika McCoola, art by Aatmaja Pandya. Published by Algonquin Young Readers

Jade is attending an intensive art camp to develop her ceramics skills and prepare her art school application portfolio.

But the high schooler is worried beyond words that her best friend Phoebe just went into treatment for attempted suicide – how can she try to make new friends?

Jade’s technique with clay is good, but where’s the inspiration? Everyone else at Art Camp is so much better prepared…

One night, she crumples up yet another not-good-enough sketch and sets a match to it – there in the smoke her memories with Phoebe appear like a movie!

Mary tries to help Jade find inspiration in the woods, the art book library, the hardware store in the nearby tiny town, in being together…

When Jade’s ceramic angry cat comes out of the kiln and runs away, she’s not sure what’s happening!

Getting a scholarship for art college requires a strong portfolio, and Jade’s days at Art Camp are growing short.

How can Jade support her best friend when Phoebe doesn’t want to talk to anyone?
How can she and Mary have wonderful moments together while Jade is struggling?
How can the images in smoke and moving ceramic cat exist?

Pressure to succeed, to love and be loved, to respect others’ artworks – Jade doesn’t want to fail.

When have you searched for inspiration and found it?
**kmm

Book info: Slip / words by Marika McCoola, art by Aatmaja Pandya. Algonquin Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [artist site] [book site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.