Tag Archive | US author

Will she SHINE as K-pop star? by Jessica Jung (book review)

book cover of Shine, by Jessica Jung. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not Korean enough in Seoul,
not American enough in New York City –
does she have enough to make it as a star?

Her family’s support of Rachel’s quest to become a K-pop performer is both a comfort and a cage.

Umma, Appa, and her little sister left behind their lives in New York City six years ago when they moved to Seoul so she could train with DB Studios.

But the 17 year old must live at home instead at DB’s trainee house, attending school full-time, then cramming all rehearsals and lessons into the weekends…and doing her homework.

No boys, no social media, weekly weigh-ins – competition is fierce as DB plans to announce its new girl group soon.

Amid mounting pressures to excel in singing, dancing, interviewing skills, and poise, snooty heiress Mina leads her crew in harassing Rachel as a camera-shy American princess.

Rachel’s chance encounter with Jason Lee, internationally famous Korean-Canadian star of DB’s hit boy group, leads to an opportunity to perform with him – can she beat out Mina?

Romantic relationships are forbidden by DB Studios – is her friendship with Jason okay?

One poor decision makes Rachel’s mother furious and disappointed – will the huge disruption of her family’s lives be for nothing?

Written by former K-pop star Jessica Jung, this debut novel takes us behind the glitz of costumes, choreography, and luxury travel to the grind, sweat, and tears of the K-pop studios’ trainee system.

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel, Mina, and the DB trainees striving for the chance to Shine on the international music scene.

How far would you travel to pursue your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Shine / Jessica Jung. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher through Edelweiss.

With music, THE KIDS OF WIDNEY JUNIOR HIGH TAKE OVER THE WORLD! by Mathew Klickstein (book review)

book cover of The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! by Mathew Klickstein. Published by Schiffer Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bullied his first week at junior high, 11 year old Robbie is rescued by big Peewee who invites him to band practice where the autistic eighth grader is a singer.

Led by their special ed teacher (and former rock musician), the six-member Kids of Widney Junior High rock band has written many original songs as they prepare for their first big public concert.

Robbie quickly learns that his new friends’ lives aren’t like media stereotypes – Daniel and Cain live with blindness but don’t want to feel his face, and Tanesa zings through life with cerebral palsy.

As the concert date nears, longtime couple Peewee and Elisa have a big argument during rehearsal, overwhelming Cain who says he’s quitting the band!

Does Peewee understand the true power of his words now?
Can the Kids get Elisa and Cain back to rehearsals?
Will the record company exec really attend their show?

This fictional account of the real band members’ struggles in junior high echoes the experiences of many young people that the world sees as ‘different’ on the outside.

The Kids of Widney High are still performing as adults today, opening for established bands, have produced four albums, and were featured in ‘The Ringer’ movie. Real-life Peewee says “Don’t let anything, even your disabilities, cloud your dreams. Just go for it!” (pg. 141).

Happy book birthday to The Kids of Widney Junior High!

Where will your dreams take you?
**kmm

Book info: The Kids of Widney Junior High Take Over the World! / Mathew Klickstein; illustrated by Michael S. Bracco. Schiffer Kids, 2020. [author site] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

No way! LUPE WONG WON’T DANCE, by Donna Barba Higuera (book review)

book cover of Lupe Wong Won't Dance, by Donna Barba Higuera. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

PE equals sports.
How is square dancing a sport?!

Lupe wants to become a major league pitcher, so meeting the MLB’s first Asian/Latino pitcher in Seattle will be a dream come true – IF she can ace all her middle school classes.

Getting an A in PE should be easy for the Chinese-Mexican athlete, until Coach announces square dancing and a public performance!

Unhygenic hand-holding, only boys can choose their partner, questionable song lyrics – every objection that Lupe brings up to the principal is met with modifications to their lessons, meaning less time to learn the dance and be chosen to perform and earn that A… her classmates aren’t happy with her.

Advice from her Mexican-American grandmother and Chinese-American grandparents, the voice of experience from big brother, the memory of her late father… she’s just gotta try.

Doctor Who nights with autistic best friend Niles get cancelled, best friend Andy’s mom adds soccer to her overloaded schedule, and Lupe even gets the cold shoulder from her baseball team.

When her assigned partner is injured, Lupe has to dance alone! Now how can she be chosen for the performance and earn her A in PE?

Happy book birthday this week to this strong young woman and her cadre of friends!

When have you bucked tradition for what is right?
**kmm

Book info: Lupe Wong Won’t Dance / Donna Barba Higuera. Levine Querido, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Rivalry or romance? TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW, by Rachel Lynn Solomon (book review)

book cover of Today Tonight Tomorrow, by Rachel Lynn Solomon. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

For four years, every morning began with their snarky texts, and every school event was completely Rowan vs. Neil.

After four years, everything comes down to now… now what?

At their Seattle high school, Rowan and Neil have competed for the top spot in everything from student council to recycling, all to earn the honor of valedictorian.

Concentrating on competition this last semester has kept Rowan from spending time with her best friends, even as Keely and Mara became a couple – they’ll have all summer to catch up, right?

Howl is her last chance to one-up Neil, as the senior class scavenger hunt ranges across the city, tagging-out classmates until only one remains.

Near-tags and crazy coincidences cause Rowan and Neil to partner up, hoping to split the cash prize for college costs.

Can Rowan and Neil overcome their rivalry to win Howl?
Why didn’t they know each other was Jewish?
Might they actually like each other…really like each other?

As Howl continues, the pair shares secret plans (a name change?) and secret worries (is romance writing a real career?) while keeping watch for other students – 24 hours, so many plot twists and turns!

Read an excerpt here from this love story in Seattle that’s a love story to Seattle, courtesy of the publisher. From the author of You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (recommended here).

What’s your favorite Happily Ever After?
**kmm

Book info: Today Tonight Tomorrow / Rachel Lynn Solomon. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via NetGalley.

Avenging his death? It’s up to ELATSOE & her gifts, by Darcie Little Badger (book review)

of Elatsoe, by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her dreams carry truth,
Every animal, dead or alive, knows her,
Cousin’s death was no accident!

During their dream conversation, Trevor revealed his killer’s name, so Ellie’s sacred duty is justice for her cousin whose Anglo widow Lenore doesn’t fully understand Lipan Apache ways or traditions.

Down the length of Texas go Ellie and her parents for his funeral, to a town that’s shown only on paper maps, with lush green lawns during drought, New England colonial-style buildings, and a strong dislike for newcomers.

The person named by Trevor is rich Dr. Allerton known for his miraculous cures – how did he and a young grade-school teacher ever cross paths?

Like her many-generations-ago grandmother Great-Six, Ellie can raise animals from the dead and has powers against supernatural creatures – will this be enough to stop whatever is keeping her cousin from his final rest?

Vampires, monsters, fairy-ring transport stations, greed and deception – asexual Ellie, her ghost dog Kirby, and best friend Jay try to piece together the mystery to protect her cousin’s son and widow before it’s too late.

Happy book birthday to this debut #ownvoices novel bringing the stories of Great-Six back to the land and waters of south Texas as her descendent Elatsoe lives into her heritage to battle against evil.

How do you support family in difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Elatsoe / Darcie Little Badger; illustrated by Ravina Cai. Levine Querido, 2020. [author Twitter] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SAY YES SUMMER to everything! by Lindsey Roth Culli (book review)

book cover of Say Yes Summer, by Lindsey Roth Culli. Published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rachel is brilliant, dependable, and boring-on-purpose. Saying no to everything but her grades in high school kept the Michigan teen at the top of her class, working at her family’s Italian restaurant, and totally safe from heartbreak.

Sorting stuff instead of going to a graduation party, Rachel finds an old advice book and decides to “say yes” to opportunities this summer before college.

Yes – to finally attending a party and even jumping in the pool! Oops, social media caught that.

Yes – to reconnecting with Carrie who left Rachel and Ruoxi for the popular crowd when the trio hit ninth grade. Oops, who left out who?

Yes – to a road trip with her long-time crush, soccer star Clayton! Oops, forgot to let folks know she’d be gone.

Yes – to going out with her buddy-since-birth Miles! Oops, how is her snarky gelato cart co-worker suddenly so charming?

Rachel’s mom and stepdad aren’t sure about her new persona, her grandmother tries to advise her, and other people’s secrets start blurring the lines between okay and oh no.

First stamp in her passport, first kisses, first time to disappoint everyone at once?

Find this May 2020 release at your local library (ebooks available 24/7) or favorite independent bookstore.

What was the best Yes decision you ever made?
**kmm

Book info: Say Yes Summer / Lindsey Roth Culli. Delacorte – Random House Children’s Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Netgalley.

Oh, such joy! ONCE UPON AN EID, edited by S.K. Ali & Aisha Saeed (book review)

book cover of Once Upon an Eid, edited by S.K. Ali & Aisha Saeed. Published by Amulet Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Watching for the new moon to appear,
Special foods enjoyed for generations,
Gifts and love and faith and joy!

Muslims observe the two Eid holidays with celebratory traditions as varied as the world is wide.

New clothes can be a hallmark of Eid – even as cousins Hawa and Fanta disagree about which style of dress is “Perfect” during the African community’s Eid parties in New York City or Makayla worries that friends will make fun of her new-ish abaya from the second-hand store in “Creative Fixes.”

Gifts” make Eid special for Idrees who begins understanding that giving is more important than getting, and a young man saving up for a new bike is repeatedly reminded by his grandmother that his name “Kareem means ‘generous’. “

The same foods every year are family traditions, so when big sister is busy, it’s just “Yusuf and the Big Brownie Mishap”, and Nadia quietly goes to the bakery for their favorite pastries while Mama sleeps after chemo in “Don’ut Break Tradition.”

Despair lifts when a kind Greek villager helps Bassem “Searching for Blue” bring the taste of Eid love to his refugee camp, and a grieving father helps his daughter try to make the “Taste” of Mama’s special lontong, always cooked by heart in their Malaysian apartment instead of written down.

Going high above the City of Boundless Light, “Seraj Captures the Moon” marking the end of Ramadan in a graphic novel illustrated by the same artist who sketched the chapter headings and book cover showing young people preparing for Eid from Canada to the US to Australia.

Fifteen Muslim authors bring us stories that reflect the wide range of community and family traditions for celebrating Eid – all with food, all with love, all with renewed hope.

What says home and hope to you?
**kmm

Book info: Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices / edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed; illustrated by Sara Alfageeh. Amulet Books, 2020. [S. K. site] [Aisha site] [Sara site] [publisher site] Personal copy; video and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

CATASTROPHES & HEROES of man-made disasters, by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Catastrophes & Heroes, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Boats and trains,
Dams and bridges,
Engineered to work…or fail.

An overloaded Mississippi River steamboat explodes, killing 1169 Union prisoners heading home from notorious Andersonville Prison, making barely a ripple in the newspapers during the closing weeks of the Civil War.

Flawed designs by self-proclaimed experts caused the horrific 1879 Tay railway bridge collapse and costly 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge failure.

Ignoring local geological conditions led to terrible loss of life and property as the St. Francis Dam burst in California in 1928, as did Italy’s Vajont Dam in 1963.

A hurricane killed many workers building the railroad to Key West in 1935, then sabotage derailed a new Streamliner train into a desert river in 1939, far from the nearest town.

Each of these harrowing stories includes fateful choices made and their unintended consequences, victims and first responder heroes, and the professional heroes who analyzed the catastrophe and recommended ways to prevent future disasters.

Reaction to these tragedies resulted in stronger safety requirements for the modern marvels of public works and transportation that we now take for granted.

From the author of Compassionate Soldier (recommended here) and Invisible Heroes of World War II (see here) who so ably centers the human factor amid history’s facts and lists.

How can you be more ready to respond to disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Catastrophes and Heroes: True Stories of Man-Made Disasters / Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Solve his life by DOWN AND ACROSS? by Arvin Ahmadi (book review)

cover image of Down and Across, by Arvin Ahmadi. Published by Penguin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His life needs focus, purpose.
Consult an expert?
Yes! Go now!

Almost 17, Saaket (call him Scott) has bumbled his way through school and life, much to the dismay of his doting Persian parents. Surely he can stick with this lab internship for a month while they are away…

On a whim, he travels to DC instead so he can ask an expert how to get grit, that ability to follow through with things. He’ll be back in Philadelphia long before his parents get back from Iran…

Meeting Fiora on the bus as she goes back to Georgetown University is a stroke of luck since that’s where Professor Mallard works! Fiora is a crossword fanatic and a daredevil who introduces him to Trent and a crazy bar, dares Saaket to get out of his comfort zone…

Professor Mallard has a project for him – great!
Fiora has a plan to connect Trent with a mentor – fantastic!
Saaket is running out of time and money – where’s that grit?!

Family expectations can be a balloon or an anchor – Saaket and his new friends are deciding how the answers of their pasts will fill their personal crossword puzzle of future possibilities.

How far can grit take you in life?
**kmm

Book info: Down and Across / Arvin Ahmadi. Viking, 2018, Penguin paperback, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Victory over violence? Stunning stories to read with your ears!

Our final pair of free audiobooks for 2020 take us back and back in history as young women of color fight the odds to live and move on.

Have the Sora app ready on your phone or tablet, then use the download links to grab these titles for your shelf.

Thanks again to the AudioSYNC program and all the publishers for sharing 26 professionally produced audiobooks this summer so we can read with our ears all year.

CD cover of Burn, Baby, Burn, by Meg Medina. Read by Marisol Ramirez.
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Burn Baby Burn (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Meg Medina.Read by Marisol Ramirez. Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

During the sweltering summer of 1977, a massive blackout, arson, and the Son of Sam’s murder spree put New York City on edge, especially in Nora’s neighborhood.

The Cuban-American teen wants to get away from her bullying brother, but their mother can’t navigate life without her help. As Hector’s violence grows, Nora wonders if she’ll make it to 18 or not.

CD cover of Kindred by Octavia Butler, read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kindred (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Octavia E. Butler. Read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books

Transported from 1976 California to antebellum Maryland, 26 year old Dana saves a white boy from drowning and suddenly is returned to the present before being shot.

As the young Black woman gets pulled back and forth in time, always encountering the same white man, she begins to realize that she must keep him alive so the family line continues down to her!

How can you stand strong against changes that threaten your very existence?
**kmm