Monday, January 27, 2020

LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME by Mariko Tamaki

Frederica "Freddy" Riley loves Laura Dean. The only problem - Laura has broken up with Freddy three times. Freddy isn't sure what wrong with her, but every time Laura looks her way, her heart beats and she knows she'll follow Laura anywhere.

Freddy's best friend Doodle has problems of her own. She usually counts on Freddy when she needs support, but this whole Laura Dean thing has turned Freddy into a pretty unreliable friend. She takes Freddy to a local psychic hoping a peek into the future will reveal a solution to the Laura problem. 

An advice column, Anna Vice, does provide some interesting advice that makes sense to Freddy. Does she really love Laura? Does her relationship with Laura make Freddy a better person? Hopefully, she can figure out the answers before she loses her best friend.

Author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O'Connell make Freddy's story come alive. Diverse characters facing real problems make this graphic novel a winner.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

THE DETOUR by S. A. Bodeen

Livvy is only seventeen, but she has earned fame as the author of a YA trilogy titled The Caul and the Coven. On her way to a camp for hopeful, would-be novelists, her car runs off the road leaving her hurt and unconscious. 

When Livvy regains consciousness, she realizes she is being held prisoner in someone's basement. A woman and her strange daughter took Livvy from her wrecked car and locked her in a sparsely furnished room. The woman insists Livvy should apologize for some transgression. Unfortunately, Livvy has no idea what she is supposed to feel guilty about and the woman refuses to explain further.

After Livvy successfully escapes her captors, she learns things about her life that leave her shocked and not sure how to carry on. Her experience opens her eyes to the fact that her early success is not the only thing that defines her. 

THE DETOUR by S. A. Bodeen shamelessly resembles MISERY by Stephen King. Teens are sure to enjoy this thrilling page-turner and look for other S. A. Bodeen books like THE COMPOUND and THE RAFT.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

FRIENDS WITH BOYS by Faith Erin Hicks

After having always been homeschooled by her mother, Maggie is starting high school. She hopes her three older brothers will be there to help her navigate this new world, but she quickly learns she's on her own. 

Eventually, Maggie connects with two loners, Lucy and Alistair. They eat lunch together and hang around before and after school. Despite the fact that Maggie's brother Daniel warns her to watch out for Alistair, the three become fast friends. 

Life at home also has its challenges. Maggie mother left the family leaving Maggie and her brothers confused about her reasons. There's also the ghost in the nearby graveyard that keeps haunting Maggie. Can Lucy and Alistair help her solve the ghost problem? Can her father help her understand why her mother abandoned the family? 

FRIENDS WITH BOYS is a fast-paced graphic novel by Faith Erin Hicks. Readers will quickly fall in love with Maggie and root for her as she deals with her many challenges.


THE BRIDGE HOME by Padma Venkatraman

THE BRIDGE HOME is a tender, heart-wrenching story of homeless children in India. Author Padma Venkatraman, born in India and raised by a single mother, uses her memories and personal observations to share a story about the plight of children living in poverty, desperately attempting to survive in near impossible circumstances. Despite the struggle, THE BRIDGE HOME children exhibit hope and determination that will inspire its readers.

Viji watches her abusive father strike her mother, and she fears for the safety of her younger sister Rukku. Rukku is special. She isn't able to understand the ways of the world, and she struggles to complete even the simplest tasks. This frustrates their father and makes Viji worry he will take his anger out on the little girl.

In the dark of night, Viji and Rukku run away. They make the frightening journey to the city where Viji hopes they will find a better life. It is immediately obvious that an easy life will prove more difficult than Viji anticipates.

The two girls soon team up with two boys who teach them how to pick through the trash dumps for useable materials to sell to the junk man. It doesn't earn them much, but things get a bit easier when Viji discovers her sister has a talent with stringing beads into beautiful necklaces. The money Rukku earns selling the necklaces helps, but when she falls ill, Viji and the boys must resort to seeking help from someone they aren't sure they can trust.

THE BRIDGE HOME should be in every middle grade and high school collection. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

PUMPKIN HEADS by Rainbow Rowell, illus. by Faith Erin Hicks

The Patch opens every autumn providing fun for families and jobs for high school students. Josiah and Deja have worked there every year. This will be their last since they are both headed off to college.

Their first year at the Patch, Deja introduced herself to Josiah and they've been fall friends ever since. They work together in the Succotash Hut stirring up and serving a yummy vegetable concoction. 

Since tonight is their last night, Deja has plans. She wants to treat herself to some of the tasty snacks served at some of the other spots around the Patch, and more importantly, she wants to make sure Josiah meets the girl of his dreams who works in the Fudge Shoppe. He has talked about her every year, but he's never made a move. Deja's plan takes them on a crazy adventure all around the Patch. She achieves some of her goals and is surprised by the end result. 

Author Rainbow Rowell teams up with artist Faith Erin Hicks to create a rollicking ride for readers. This colorful graphic novel tells the tale of how friendship can hide some pleasant surprises.

FRANKLY IN LOVE by David Yoon

Frank Li is Korean-American. His parents are first generation Korean immigrants, and as far as Frank is concerned, they are racist. They are expecting Frank to marry a nice Korean girl. In fact, Frank should only date nice Korean girls. Unfortunately, Brit Means is white and very All-American. Frank Li is in love with Brit so what is he to do? 

Mr. and Mrs. Li work hard in their small grocery store. They have made a nice life for Frank and his sister Hanna. Hanna has already disappointed them by falling in love with an African-American. Frank really misses Hanna, but knows she will never be welcome in the Li home again.

Every month Frank's parents gather with their other Korean friends. These gatherings always include the children which means constant competition regarding grades, college admissions, and acceptable future mates. At the latest gathering it becomes painfully obvious that Frank's parents are trying to arrange a courtship between him and a respectable Korean girl named Joy.

Time alone in Joy's room begins as an uncomfortable pairing forced by their parents, but Joy has an idea to share with Frank. Her suggestion is to "fake date" each other while really dating their respective crushes. A deal is made and the plan is immediately put into action.

Frank can't believe his luck. His time with Brit Means seems magical, however, the magic becomes difficult to manage and he finds himself spending more time with Joy than with Brit. With the pressure of SAT scores and impending college applications and acceptance, dating may not be the best use of Frank's time and energy.

Author David Yoon is most known for his illustrations in EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING. If the quirky characters, unique plot twists, and laugh-out-loud humor of FRANKLY IN LOVE is any indication, Yoon will be a fast success and an author to watch in the future.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

RATED by Melissa Grey

Vandalism greets the students of Maplethorpe Academy at the start of the new year. "The ratings are not real" is blazoned across the front doors of the school. The headmaster addresses the first day assembly and vows to get to the bottom of the prank.

Ratings follow everyone in the society created by author Melissa Grey. Maplethorpe students compete to keep their ratings as high as possible in hopes of earning spots at top colleges and top careers in the future. Ratings are connected to not only school work, but also social situations, behavior, and more.

In the days after the defacement of the school's entrance, there is an attack on a statue of the school's founder and creator of the rating system. Notes including an odd poem are also left for a small group of students. Bex, an honor student, Hana and Chase, both school athletes, Tasmin, known as the Maplethorpe witch, as well as Javi and Noah, both viewed as loners. Circumstances bring this group together, and as they begin to compare the notes they received, they suspect some sinister is involved in the ratings.

Each member of this interesting group is dealing with the ratings in their own unique ways. Can they figure out who is responsible for the vandalism? Despite their diversity, can they work together to solve not only this mystery but also help each other with their personal issues?

Author Melissa Grey takes readers into what might be the not too distant future to view a society that values rankings rather than individuals. Life has become all about keeping your rating high or losing every thing.