Tag Archives: romance

Cool Day in the Sun by Sara Biren

Cool Day in the Sun by Sara Biren. March 12, 2019. Amulet Books, 320 p. ISBN: 9781419733673.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Holland Delviss wants to be known for her talent as a hockey player, not a hockey player who happens to be a girl. But when her school team is selected to be featured and televised as part of HockeyFest, her status as the only girl on the boys’ team makes her the lead story. Not everyone is thrilled with Holland’s new fame, but there’s one person who fiercely supports her, and it’s the last person she expects (and definitely the last person she should be falling for): her bossy team captain, Wes.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination, Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 11))
Grades 8-11. Holland has always had to prove she was talented enough to play with the guys. Now, as a member of her high school’s boy’s hockey team, that means giving 100 percent on the ice, and trying to ignore any disapproving comments. Keeping her head in the game wouldn’t be so tough if the cocaptain Wes wasn’t always on her case. But when they bond over a love of ’80s music, she starts considering breaking her “no dating teammates” rule. Biren​’s (The Last Thing You Said, 2017) latest is a fun read that simultaneously puts the reader into the hockey world as an insider and an outsider. Holland and her teammates are introduced in a swirl of nicknames and maneuvers, while her struggle to feel completely at home is explored poignantly. Though what it means to be the girl on a boys team is a constant theme, it’s a last-act gut punch that really puts a spotlight on what female athletes have to deal with. A must-read for anyone who has had to defy expectations.

Kirkus Reviews (January 1, 2019)
It’s not easy being the only girl on the boys’ varsity hockey team. It’s especially difficult when your arrogant team captain calls you a nickname you hate, townspeople are free with their opinions about how you shouldn’t be allowed to play with the boys, and your journalism teacher is riding you hard about the articles you’re producing. Holland isn’t having a great time of it, and when that same arrogant team captain turns out to be the piece that’s been missing in her life—well, love doesn’t exactly make things any easier. Now, in addition to having to prove herself over and over in terms of her hockey skills, she also has to prove that she isn’t getting special favors because she’s dating the captain. A fun romp of a teen romance via an exciting hockey season, this book has all the right ingredients—a spunky, multifaceted main character, a love interest who turns out to be a decent individual, and plenty of internal and external conflict. Some of the lines feel a little timeworn, but overall the plot whips along with verve, driven by fully embodied characters who chase after love like they’re chasing after a puck. The cast presents as white and includes a gay partnership. A teenage love story steamy enough to melt the ice in the rink. (Fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Sara Biren lives just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and their two children. A true Minnesotan, she is a fan of hockey, hotdish, and hanging out at the lake. She enjoys seeing live bands, watching movies with her family, and drinking coffee. Her love of cheese knows no bounds.

Sara is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Duluth, on the shores of beautiful Lake Superior, and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Her website is www.sarabiren.com

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29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz

29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz. December 18, 2018. Inkyard Press, 395 p. ISBN: 9781335541543.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

How many dates will it take to find The One?

Jisu’s traditional South Korean parents are concerned by what they see as her lack of attention to her schoolwork and her future. Working with Seoul’s premiere matchmaker to find the right boyfriend is one step toward ensuring Jisu’s success, and going on the recommended dates is Jisu’s compromise to please her parents while finding space to figure out her own dreams. But when she flubs a test then skips out on a date to spend time with friends, her fed-up parents shock her by shipping her off to a private school in San Francisco. Where she’ll have the opportunity to shine academically—and be set up on more dates!

Navigating her host family, her new city and school, and more dates, Jisu finds comfort in taking the photographs that populate her ever-growing social media account. Soon attention from two very different boys sends Jisu into a tailspin of soul-searching. As her passion for photography lights her on fire, does she even want to find The One? And what if her One isn’t parent and matchmaker approved?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Racial insensitivity

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 7-10. Ji-su has gotten used to the pressure her parents put on her to excel in school, but the summer before her senior year they’ve pushed into her personal life, arranging matchmaker-organized dates (seons) so she can meet the perfect guy to complement her perfect future. But when they suddenly send her from her ultracompetitive South Korean high school to one in San Francisco, Ji-su’s dating life gets even more complicated. 29 Dates is a sweet, unique take on the high-school rom-com. Ji-su’s parade of suitors allows the novel to consider any number of dynamics and types before zooming in on the all-important endgame pairing. The details of Ji-su’s life in South Korea and in the U.S. are intricately woven into the story in a way that makes the book feel cinematic and inviting. This latest by de la Cruz is perfect for fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2014), or those who love classic rom-coms and are looking for the next great narrative convention.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2018)
A South Korean high school student spending her senior year in the United States navigates a new school, dating, and college pressures. Ji-su, who is enduring a succession of blind dates set up for her by her ambitious parents through a matchmaker, suddenly finds herself attending a private school in San Francisco, something her parents hope will help her stand out when she applies to college. Although she is heartbroken to leave behind her beloved besties, Euni and Min, she soon makes new friends, including Filipino-American heartthrob Austin; popular, high-achieving Korean-American Dave; and confident, friendly, Lebanese-American Hiba, who becomes a close friend. Ji-su continues going on arranged blind dates in California but also experiences feelings of attraction toward both Austin and Dave, all while applying to (and waiting to hear from) highly competitive colleges. The conceit of the book—following Ji-su through 29 blind dates over the course of her senior year—helps the plot move along swiftly and introduces readers to a wide variety of Korean boys with different personalities and interests, helping to break stereotypes about Asian males. Characters of a range of ethnicities populate the book, and the cultural details about life in Korea are realistically drawn and impressive in their accuracy. A surprise ending brings the story to a satisfying close that will thrill fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2014). A surefire hit wherever lighthearted romances are popular. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12-18)

About the Authors

Melissa de la Cruz grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!).

She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.  Her website is www.melissa-delacruz.com/

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Bloom by Kevin Panetta

Bloom by Kevin Panetta. January 29, 2019. First Second, 368 p. ISBN: 9781250196910.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 9-12. Ari is sick of working at his dad’s bakery, and he can’t wait to get out of his dead-end beach town and move to the city with his band. He knows his dad will need help, though, so he tries to at least find a replacement before he leaves forever. Enter Hector, the adorable cooking-school dropout who’s in town cleaning out his late grandma’s house and is absolutely perfect for the job. Over baking, deliveries, and languorous summer fun, Hector and Ari get closer, and Ganucheau’s perfectly languid artwork, rendered in arcing brushstrokes and a minimal palette, beautifully showcases the quiet, everyday moments that draw them together. Her montages of baking are particularly lovely—the panel edges in these scenes transform into soft, organic shapes accented with sentimental flourishes—and it’s clear that she’s paid careful attention to the motions and techniques of making bread and cakes. When disaster strikes and the future of the bakery is called into question, Ari has to face some hard truths about himself. A quiet, earnest romance with warmth and depth.

Kirkus Reviews starred (December 15, 2018)
Summer love rises between two boys in a bakery. High school may have ended, but Ari is stuck with sourdough starter at his family’s bakery instead of summer gigs in the city with his band. As his family’s money grows tighter, Ari feels tethered in place. His friends start to drift toward their own futures. But the future of their band—and their friendship—drifts toward uncertainty. Under the guise of recruiting another baker to take his place, Ari hires Hector. A culinary student in Birmingham, Hector has temporarily returned home to find closure after his Nana’s passing. The two grow close in more than just the kitchen. Ari, who hates baking, even starts to enjoy himself. But will it all last? Panetta and Ganucheau’s graphic novel debut is as much a love story between people as it is with the act of baking. Ganucheau’s art, in black ink with varying shades of blue, mixes traditional paneling with beautiful double-page spreads of detailed baking scenes, where the panels sometimes take on the shape of braided loaves. The romance between Ari and Hector builds slowly, focusing on cute interactions long before progressing to anything physical. Ari and his family are Greek. Family recipes referenced in the text code Hector as Samoan. Delicious. A tender blend of sugary, buttery, and other complex flavors that’s baked with a tremendous dash of heart. (recipe, production art) (Graphic novel. 13-adult)

About the Authors

Kevin Panetta is a comic book writer. He has worked on books for properties like Steven Universe, Regular Show, Bravest Warriors, and WWE. Kevin came to writing after years dedicated to comics as a reader, retailer, and convention organizer. He lives in Washington, DC, with his cool wife and two cool dogs.

His website is kevinpanetta.com/

Savanna Ganucheau is a comic artist living in Australia, with a BFA in film from the University of New Orleans. In addition to creating the popular webcomic George and Johnny, Savanna’s artwork has appeared in notable publications including Jem and the Holograms, Adventure Time Comics, and Lumberjanes.

Her website is srganuch.carbonmade.com

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Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills. January 15, 2019. Henry Holt & Company, 309 p. ISBN: 9781250179630.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends―loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for―she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival.

The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

What ensues is a journey filled with long-kept secrets, hidden heartbreaks, and revelations that could change everything―along with a possible fifth best friend: a new guy with a magnetic smile and secrets of his own.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. Small-town life is anything but suffocating for Sophie, who spends most of her time with her four best friends and worries about leaving home for college. In most ways, Acadia, Illinois, is a typical small town. Its one claim to fame is Megan Pleasant, a country singer-songwriter who made it big with sweet songs about her hometown, before turning on it in her latest record. Sophie’s stuck on a mission to get Megan to return home to play a benefit that will solve the Acadia Marching Band’s financial problems, but that’s just one of the quests she and her friends undertake through a summer of change, adventure, and heartbreak. For Sophie, especially, it’s all of the above when enigmatic August moves to town; despite their chemistry, he’s determined to keep her at a distance. A late-breaking twist, while somewhat out of sync with the rest of the narrative, doesn’t diminish the truly genuine, humorous heart of the novel. A comfortable, readable tale of deep friendship, small towns, and big love in all its guises.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2018)
The summer before senior year, Sophie falls for a new neighbor and campaigns for a country music star to help raise money for the school band. Sophie Kemper loves her small hometown of Acadia, Illinois. Though she’s focused on college applications, she can’t help wondering why anyone would want to leave. School band is her thing, and as the next president of the fundraising committee, it’s her responsibility to get them to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Sophie hatches a plan to raise money by persuading Megan Pleasant, country singer and lone famous person from Acadia, to perform at the fall festival. At the same time, she finds herself falling for August Shaw, the mysterious new boy who is staying with the family she babysits for down the street. They instantly click, exchanging clever banter and bonding over their blended families. But August won’t let Sophie in, and the sister she desperately misses disappoints her. Even her once-tight friendship group begins to splinter. On top of everything, Megan Pleasant seems to have deserted Acadia for good. Teeming with witty exchanges and realistic but heady drama, Sophie’s summer is easy to sink into. Though the romance is electric, it’s the relationships with her friends that really sing. Sophie and August are assumed white; there is some ethnic and sexual orientation diversity. Rife with witticism, like a finely honed sitcom, and brimming with heart. (Fiction. 14-18)

 

About the Author

Emma Mills is an author better known to her subscribers as vlogger Elmify. She is also cocreator and cohost of the “life skills” channel How to Adult, which ended in 2016.

She lives in Indianapolis, where she is currently pursuing a PhD in cell biology.

Her website is emmamillsbooks.com

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The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena

The Beauty of the Moment by Tanaz Bhathena. February 26, 2019. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 368 p. ISBN: 9780374308445.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Susan is the new girl―she’s sharp and driven, and strives to meet her parents’ expectations of excellence. Malcolm is the bad boy―he started raising hell at age fifteen, after his mom died of cancer, and has had a reputation ever since.
Susan’s parents are on the verge of divorce. Malcolm’s dad is a known adulterer.

Susan hasn’t told anyone, but she wants to be an artist. Malcolm doesn’t know what he wants―until he meets her.

Love is messy and families are messier, but in spite of their burdens, Susan and Malcolm fall for each other. The ways they drift apart and come back together are testaments to family, culture, and being true to who you are.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Underage drinking, Cigarettes, Domestic abuse

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Susan attended an all-girls school where she excelled in her studies, striving to meet the high expectations of her parents. Now, however, Susan and her mother have moved to Mississauga, Ontario, for Susan’s final year of high school. It’s all joltingly strange, from the absence of Susan’s father, who keeps pushing back his arrival date, to the presence of boys everywhere. One boy, Malcolm, manages to befriend Susan despite her resistance. Malcolm has his own demons, rendering him defiant and academically disengaged. The two make wary progress towards a relationship, with each teen narrating alternating chapters. Both of them are of East Indian heritage, as are many of their friends, and the portrayal of transplanted culture heightens the appeal of their story. Their struggles with expectations and traditions born in a faraway land will ring true for any reader with immigrant parents. At the same time, both Susan and Malcolm bear witness to their own parents’ marital failings, in contrast with the stereotype of traditional families. A good recommendation for readers interested in romance.

Kirkus Reviews (November 15, 2018)
Opposites attract in this teen romance shaped by immigration, grief, and loss. Susan Thomas and Malcolm Vakil could not be more different. Susan is a shy, bookish Malayali Christian perfectionist who grew up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, before moving to Canada for her senior year of high school. Malcolm is a hell-raising Parsi Canadian still reeling from his mother’s death, his father’s abuse, and his ex-girlfriend’s betrayal. Despite their better judgment, the two teens strike up a tentative romance, their feelings quickly deepening from infatuation to true love. But as Susan grapples with her parents’ impending divorce and her desire to go to art school and Malcolm confronts his conflicted feelings for his ex-girlfriend and his damaged relationship with his father and stepmother, the two must learn to overcome their insecurities to support each other. The story is told from each of their points of view, and each perspective is nuanced and distinct. Susan’s character arc is convincing and compelling, defying her initial characterization as a clichéd, overprotected Indian girl. But while the action is fast-paced and the characters refreshingly diverse, Bhathena’s (A Girl Like That, 2018) clumsy prose and stilted dialogue limit the narrative’s emotional impact. The Parsi elements of the book ring true, particularly refreshing considering how little Parsis are represented in Western YA literature. In contrast, the book is riddled with cultural inaccuracies and stereotypes about southern Indians that unfortunately render those characters less believable. A diverse, entertaining love story that falls just short of extraordinary. (Romance. 14-18)

About the Author

Tanaz Bhathena was born in Mumbai and raised in Riyadh, Jeddah and Toronto. Her short stories have appeared in various journals, including Blackbird, Witness and Room Magazine. A Girl Like That is her first novel.

Her website is tanazbhathena.com

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Meal by Blue Delliquanti

Meal by Blue Delliquanti. January 4, 2019. Iron Circus Comics, 150 p. ISBN: 9781945820304.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

“You moved cross-country to work at a bug restaurant. There’s no way I’m gonna miss what happens next.”

Yarrow is a young chef determined to make her mark on the cutting edge of cookery with her insect-based creations. Though her enthusiasm is infectious, it rubs some of her fellow cooks the wrong way, especially Chanda Flores, Yarrow’s personal hero and executive chef of an exciting new restaurant. Her people have been eating bugs for centuries, and she’s deeply suspicious of this newbie’s attempt to turn her traditions into the next foodie trend. While Chanda and her scrappy team of talented devotees struggle to open on time, Yarrow must win over Chanda — and Milani, the neighbor she’s been crushing on for weeks — or lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to achieve her dreams.

Co-written with chef and food writer Soleil Ho (Edible Manhattan, Bitch), Blue Delliquanti’s sweet coming-of-age story takes us deep into a world of art, mystery, and memory on the culinary frontier.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: 

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 21))
Yarrow has been eating insects, a practice called entomophagy, since she was a kid, and now, as an adult with a culinary degree, she’s eager to bring her personal passion to a professional kitchen. That’s why she moved to Minneapolis, where chef Chanda Flores is opening a restaurant serving bug-focused dishes. But when Yarrow majorly flubs her opportunity by spouting trendy talking points rather than her personal connection to entomophagy, she begs for one more chance to impress the chef. With the help of her cute new neighbor, Milani, she really digs in, learning about the history of entomophagy, the local suppliers, and the reason Chanda is so protective of the practice. Ho and Delliquanti offer smart commentary on cultural appropriation in the food industry and, for the curious, several recipes. Delliquanti’s clear-lined, architectural artwork nicely homes in on particular ingredients, and her character designs feature a broad range of body types and skin tones. Buoyed by a sweet queer romance and snappy banter, this thought-provoking comic is tailor-made for brainy readers fascinated by food.

Publishers Weekly (June 11, 2018)
In this sunny, charming foodie comic, aspiring cook Yarrow moves across America to work at a new restaurant. The twist: it’s dedicated to entomophagy, or insect-eating. A fervent believer in the future of bug cuisine, Yarrow already raises her own mealworms and whips up dishes for herself and her friends: “Fresh batch of mealworms with cinnamon and sugar… and that’s what I call breakfast!” But she has a lot to learn from stern head chef Chanda. Soon the staff is busy working with bee larvae, silkworm pupae, grasshoppers, tarantulas, and cricket flour, while Yarrow shyly pursues a romance with local mural artist Milani. Throughout, the creators drop in knowledge about gourmet cooking, restaurant work, and the history and global culture of edible insects. A manga influence shows in the outsized depictions of Yarrow’s high-energy enthusiasm, but the uncluttered, thickly inked artwork by Delliquanti (Oh Human Star) is very much her own. The diverse cast are simply drawn but the food looks delicious-and, for readers inspired by the lively cooking scenes, recipes are provided in the back. This fresh and tasty comic provides an enticing introduction to a less-traveled area of cuisine.

About the Author

Blue Delliquanti is a cartoonist and illustrator who likes to write about robots, insects, and unconventional families. She is the creator of the online comic O Human Star and the co-creator of the graphic novel Meal with Soleil Ho. Blue lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with a woman and a cat.

Her website is www.bluedelliquanti.com

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West by Edith Pattou

West by Edith Pattou. October 23, 2018. HMH Books for Young Readers, 528 p. ISBN: 9781328773937.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 840.

In the sequel to the beloved high fantasy East, Rose sets off on a perilous journey to find her true love when he goes missing in a thrilling tale of danger, magic, adventure, and revenge.

When Rose first met Charles, he was trapped in the form of a white bear. To rescue him, Rose traveled to the land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon to defeat the evil Troll Queen. Now Rose has found her happily-ever-after with Charles—until a sudden storm destroys his ship and he is presumed dead. But Rose doesn’t believe the shipwreck was an act of nature, nor does she believe Charles is truly dead. Something much more sinister is at work. With mysterious and unstoppable forces threatening the lives of the people she loves, Rose must once again set off on a perilous journey. And this time, the fate of the entire world is at stake.

Part of Series: East (Book #1)

Sequel to: East

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (September 1, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 1))
Grades 7-10. In this long-awaited sequel to East​ (2003), plucky, determined Rose once again finds herself on an arduous, life-or-death journey to rescue the man she loves. While East was a retelling of the Nordic fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, this is a wholly original adventure. After she rescued Charles, once trapped in the body of a white bear, from the evil Troll Queen, Rose settled down with Charles and their new son. But now Charles has been lost at sea, presumed dead. Rose, however, doesn’t believe he’s really gone, and terrible things are happening to her family and across the globe. Someone is pulling magical strings, and Rose will have both old and new enemies to face if she wants to protect what’s dear to her. Both East and its sequel stand alone, and this is an exciting, layered adventure that draws from various cultural mythologies. An epic drama featuring high romance and a resourceful heroine that will appeal to fans of Pattou and new readers alike.

Kirkus Reviews (August 15, 2018)
Once upon a time (East, 2003), a girl rescued an enchanted white bear from a wicked Troll Queen in a palace “east of the sun and west of the moon.” But what happened after “happily ever after”? Rose and Charles (or, as she still calls him, her “White Bear”) have been blissfully married for three years and have an adopted daughter and a baby boy. When word comes that Charles has been lost at sea, Rose is not convinced it was an accident, suspecting the Troll Queen has survived to seek vengeance. After leisurely reacquainting readers with the characters and backstory, the pace quickens and the stakes become both grander and more personal, as the Queen schemes to kidnap the “bairn” and eradicate every other “softskin” human. Pattou (Ghosting, 2014, etc.) builds a solid, convincing 16th-century Europe from minutely observed details. No longer tethered to a specific tale, this sequel brings in elements from legends across time and around Europe. Like the first entry, the narrative here unfolds in short vignettes from multiple perspectives (all apparently white). The secondary characters—even in brief appearances—make the most vivid impressions; Rose and Charles seem somewhat opaque. Still, she remains fearless, independent, clever, and determined (if headstrong and heedless); he is again the kindhearted, if bewildered, gentleman in distress. Necessary wherever the first is popular; a good addition to any collection where fairy-tale retellings circulate well. (glossary) (Fantasy. 12-18)

About the Author

Edith Pattou is the author of several fantasy novels, including East, an ALA Top Ten Best Book for Young Adults. She is a graduate of the Francis W. Parker School, Scripps College (B.A., English), Claremont Graduate School (M.A., English) and UCLA (M.L.I.S.). She is married to Charles Emery, a professor of psychology at The Ohio State University. They have one child, a daughter.

Her website is edithpattou.com

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All Is Fair by Dee Garretson

All Is Fair by Dee Garretson. January 22, 2019. Swoon Reads, 288 p. ISBN: 9781250168696.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Lady Mina Tretheway knows she’s destined for greater things than her fancy boarding school, where she’s being taught to be a proper English lady. It’s 1918, and war is raging across Europe. Unlike her father and brother, who are able to assist in the war effort, Mina is stuck sorting out which fork should be used with which dinner course.

When Mina receives a telegram that’s written in code, she finally has her chance to do something big. She returns to her childhood home of Hallington Manor, joined by a family friend, Lord Andrew Graham, and a dashing and mysterious young American, Lucas. The three of them must band together to work on a dangerous project that could turn the tide of the war.

Thrilled that she gets to contribute to the war effort at least, Mina jumps headfirst into the world of cryptic messages, spycraft, and international intrigue. She, Lucas, and Andrew have to work quickly, because if they don’t succeed, more soldiers will disappear into the darkness of war.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Harsh realities of war, Mild sexual themes, Violence, Mentions of smoking

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2019 (Vol. 115, No. 9))
Grades 7-10. In the harrowing days of WWI, aristocratic young Lady Thomasina Thretheway, known as Mina, longs for a useful role in the war effort. Will her high-ranking father trust her experience with codes well enough to give her an authentic task helping the Allied effort? When she manages to take the place of an injured operative and close family friend on a daring mission behind enemy lines, the story morphs into a full-fledged war adventure. Amid spy intrigue, coded messages, fairly improbable escapes, a budding romance, and bold derring-do, our quick-thinking, thoroughly engaging protagonist triumphs and the plot never slows. Garretson reaches beyond adventure, too, providing a haunting nuance to the horrors of war through her heroine’s eyes. As Mina and cohorts advance toward troop encampments at the front at one point, she notes the scenario “looked like something out of a nightmare, so bleak and desolate that it was as if all hope had disappeared from the Earth.” An action-packed, yet sobering journey into the war to end all wars.

About the Author

Dee Garretson writes for a wide range of ages, from chapter books to middle grade to young adult and adult fiction. She has a degree in International Relations from Tufts University, and also studied and taught Landscape Horticulture at Cincinnati State, giving her a chance to indulge in her love of both history and of plants.

When she is not at home in Cincinnati writing, reading, and watching old movies, she takes every opportunity to travel, storing up new locations for future stories.

Her website is deegarretson.com

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No One Here Is Lonely by Sarah Everett

No One Here Is Lonely by Sarah Everett. February 5, 2019. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9780553538687.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 740.

Our entire lives are online, but what if the boy you love actually lives there? For fans of Adam Silvera comes a story about the future of relationships.

Eden has always had two loves: her best friend, Lacey, and her crush, Will. And then, almost simultaneously, she loses them both. Will to a car accident and Lacey to the inevitable growing up and growing apart.

Devastated by the holes they have left in her life, Eden finds solace in an unlikely place. Before he died, Will set up an account with In Good Company, a service that uploads voices and emails and creates a digital companion that can be called anytime, day or night. It couldn’t come at a better time because, after losing Lacey–the hardest thing Eden has had to deal with–who else can she confide all her secrets to? Who is Eden without Lacey?

As Eden falls deeper into her relationship with “Will,” she hardly notices as her real life blooms around her. There is a new job, new friends. Then there is Oliver. He’s Lacey’s twin, so has always been off-limits to her, until now. He may be real, but to have him, will Eden be able to say goodbye to Will?

Sarah Everett deftly captures the heartbreak of losing your best friend and discovering love in the unlikeliest of places.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild sexual themes, Strong language, Underage drinking

 

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. Eighteen-year-old Eden’s life is all about change. Lacey, her best friend, is inexplicably distancing herself, canceling their summer plans to work as camp counselors and, instead, starting to hang with a different crowd. And then there’s Will, whom Eden has loved for four years—Will, who died in a car crash. It seems impossible to cope with the loss of both her best friend and the object of her affection. But then she discovers a high-tech outfit called In Good Company, which offers a chance to communicate with Will or at least those parts of him that he had uploaded into a complex computer program. Eden becomes obsessed with talking by phone to the disembodied voice of the simulated Will, running the risk of losing contact with real life and with Oliver, who loves her. Everett has written a not-unfamiliar love story, but what makes it unusual is her invention of In Good Company. Its service is not altogether plausible but will appeal to techies; the rest of us will stick around for the romance.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2018)
A teen struggles with loneliness during the summer after high school. Sheridan “Eden” Paulsen is terrified of change. Her best friend, Lacey, deserts her for a new group of friends, she discovers her mother cheating on her father, and she has no one to talk to. But then she calls longtime unrequited love Will, who will be there “whenever [her] heart desires.” The catch? Will Mason died two weeks before graduation. Before his accidental death, Will signed up to be a Cognitive Donor with In Good Company, a phone service that allows people to talk to a Companion—a highly artificially intelligent facsimile of the deceased. Keeping her phone on as she moves through her summer, Eden takes Will with her everywhere she goes: to work, out with co-workers, and as she completes her summer to-do list, the pre-college list she and Lacey were supposed to tackle together. As summer wears on, Eden falls in love with Will despite knowing he’s not real. Narrator Eden’s position as the uncertain middle daughter in a family of achievers who know who they are and what they want will resonate with readers who are also unsure of their own paths. The speculative aspect of the Companion blends seamlessly with the realism. Eden and Will are black, Eden has a black co-worker, and everyone else is assumed white. Readers developing a sense of self will be in good company here. (Fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Sarah Everett grew up in enchanted forests, desert islands, and inside a magical wardrobe. She speaks two Nigerian languages and a small amount of Afrikaans, and was also president of her high school’s Japanese club (which was only slightly less nerdy than it sounds). She now lives in Alberta, Canada, where she moonlights as a graduate student and writes young-adult novels. She believes in chocolate, daydreaming, and good mistakes. When she’s not writing, Sarah is probably nose-deep in a book, bemoaning her nonexistent sense of direction or engaging in some “car-aoke” while she tries to find her way home.

Her website is www.saraheverettbooks.com

Around the Web

No One Here Is Lonely on Amazon

No One Here Is Lonely on Barnes and Noble

No One Here Is Lonely on Goodreads

No One Here Is Lonely on LibraryThing

No One Here Is Lonely Publisher Page

Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson

Even If I Fall by Abigail Johnson. January 8, 2019. Inkyard Press, 352 p. ISBN: 9781335541550.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A year ago, Brooke Covington lost everything when her beloved older brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin. Brooke and her family became social pariahs, broken and unable to console one another. Brooke’s only solace remains the ice-skating rink, where she works but no longer lets herself dream about a future skating professionally.

When Brooke encounters Calvin’s younger brother, Heath, on the side of the road and offers him a ride, everything changes. She needs someone to talk to…and so does Heath. No one else understands what it’s like. Her brother, alive but gone; his brother, dead but everywhere. Soon, they’re meeting in secret, despite knowing that both families would be horrified if they found out. In the place of his anger and her guilt, something frighteningly tender begins to develop, drawing them ever closer together.

But when a new secret comes out about the murder, Brooke has to choose whose pain she’s willing to live with—her family’s or Heath’s. Because she can’t heal one without hurting the other.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Mild sexual themes, Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 15, 2018 (Vol. 115, No. 6))
Grades 9-12. True to form, Johnson (The First to Know, 2017) brings to life a family in distress along with a tantalizing mystery in her latest novel. Brooke Covington is trying to be the glue her family needs her to be in the wake of disaster. With her older brother, Jason, in jail for murdering his best friend and her parents and younger sister each isolating themselves in their own way, Brooke is prepared to give up her dream of ice-skating professionally to keep everyone from spiraling apart. But a burgeoning relationship with Jason’s late best friend’s younger brother makes things even more complicated. Captivating and emotional, this story creates a beautiful tapestry of secrets and lies and explores how a family goes on when the unthinkable is a coldhearted reality. Brooke’s story is a real page-turner, with fully fleshed-out characters and naturally flowing dialogue. Johnson’s latest is a great choice for fans of character-driven stories and complex family dynamics, with a mystery that readers will try to uncover right alongside the protagonist.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2018)
The one person who completely understands what Brooke is going through is the one person she’s not supposed to talk to. After her brother, Jason, is convicted of murdering his best friend, Cal, life has stopped for Brooke and her family. Ostracized throughout their small Texas town, the only person she socializes with is newcomer Maggie, a half-Korean, half-white beauty vlogging teen. But Brooke doesn’t tell Maggie the cause of her mother’s hypervigilance, her father’s retreat into work, or her sister’s reticence. Brooke too, has let Jason’s conviction imprison her, derailing her dream of ice skating professionally. When she sees Heath, Cal’s younger brother, stranded on the side of the road, she gives him a ride into town and chances a connection with someone she knows is just as, if not more, broken. Through a mix of emotions, Brooke and Heath continue to meet in secret and slowly develop a friendship that threatens to become more even though they both know it cannot be. And when Brooke learns that there may be more to Cal’s murder than they all know, she can’t let this knowledge go even though it has the potential to cause even more pain to their families and shatter Brooke and Heath’s fragile understanding. Johnson (The First to Know, 2017, etc.) spins a tale of broken people and stirring complexity. With the exception of Maggie, characters are white. Emotional page-turner. (Fiction. 12-18)

About the Author

Abigail was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snow storms for year round summers, and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip (in a purple spiral bound notebook that she still has) and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high school production of Cinderella, and becoming a published author.

Her website is abigailjohnsonbooks.com

Around the Web

Even If I Fall on Amazon

Even If I Fall on Barnes and Noble

Even If I Fall on Goodreads

Even If I Fall on LibraryThing

Even If I Fall Publisher Page