Front Desk – Kelly Yang

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Front Desk by Kelly Yang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Scholastic Canada
Published: May 29th, 2018
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Recommended Age: 8+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Based on True Events, Family, Friendship, Immigration


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Front Desk tells the story of 10-year-old Mia Tang. Every day, Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel while her parents clean the rooms. She’s proud of her job. She loves the guests and treats them like family. When one of the guests gets into trouble with the police, it shakes Mia to her core. Her parents, meanwhile, hide immigrants in the empty rooms at night. If the mean motel owner Mr. Yao finds out, they’ll be doomed! Continue reading

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Illegal – Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin

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Illegal by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Distributor
Published: August 7th, 2018
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Graphic Novel, Survival, Immigration, Realistic Fiction, Refugee, Siblings


BLURB:

This is a powerful and timely story about one boy’s epic journey across Africa to Europe, a graphic novel for all children with glorious colour artwork throughout. From Eoin Colfer, previously Irish Children’s Laureate, and the team behind his bestselling Artemis Fowl graphic novels. Continue reading

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly – Stephanie Oakes

17185496The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Published: June 9th, 2015
Publisher: Dial/Penguin
Recommended Age: 13+
Pacing: Normal/Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Religion, Mystery, Psychological, Justice System


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The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust. And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too. Now their Prophet has been murdered and their camp set aflame, and it’s clear that Minnow knows something—but she’s not talking. As she languishes in juvenile detention, she struggles to un-learn everything she has been taught to believe, adjusting to a life behind bars and recounting the events that led up to her incarceration. But when an FBI detective approaches her about making a deal, Minnow sees she can have the freedom she always dreamed of—if she’s willing to part with the terrible secrets of her past. Continue reading

Far from the Tree – Robin Benway

33830437Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Borrowed
Published: October 2017
Publisher: Harper Teen
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Poetry, Siblings, Realistic Fiction, Family Drama, Adoption


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Being the middle child has its ups and downs, But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs. And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him. Continue reading

The Hate U Give Review

32075671The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Edelweiss
Publication Date: February 28th, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 14+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Social Issues, Race

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


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Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star. Continue reading

Review: American Girls by Alison Umminger

30192921American Girls by Alison Umminger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Publication Date: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Fast
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Crime, Family

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide


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Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she’s had it with her life at home. So Anna “borrows” her stepmom’s credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn’t quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.

As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn’t the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.

In Anna’s singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn’t, in a way not often seen in YA fiction. Continue reading

Review: Just a Drop of Water by Kerry O’Malley Cerra

20344662Just a Drop of Water by Kerry O’Malley Cerra

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2014
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Point of View: 1st Person & Masculine
Recommended Age: 10+
Pacing: Slow
Genres & Themes: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, War

Buy: Book Depository


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Ever since he was little, Jake Green has longed to be a soldier and a hero like his grandpa, who died serving his country. Right now, though, he just wants to outsmart—and outrun—the rival cross country team, the Palmetto Bugs. But then the tragedy of September 11 happens. It’s quickly discovered that one of the hijackers lived nearby, making Jake’s Florida town an FBI hot spot. Two days later, the tragedy becomes even more personal when Jake’s best friend, Sam Madina, is pummeled for being an Arab Muslim by their bully classmate, Bobby.

According to Jake’s personal code of conduct, anyone who beats up your best friend is due for a butt kicking, and so Jake goes after Bobby. But soon after, Sam’s father is detained by the FBI and Jake’s mom doubts the innocence of Sam’s family, forcing Jake to choose between his best friend and his parents. When Jake finds out that Sam’s been keeping secrets, too, he doesn’t know who his allies are anymore. But the final blow comes when his grandpa’s real past is revealed to Jake. Suddenly, everything he ever knew to be true feels like one big lie. In the end, he must decide: either walk away from Sam and the revenge that Bobby has planned, or become the hero he’s always aspired to be.

A gripping and intensely touching debut middle grade novel by Kerry O’Malley Cerra, Just a Drop of Water brings the events of September 11, which shook the world, into the lens of a young boy who is desperately trying to understand the ramifications of this life-altering event. Continue reading