“Boying Up: How To Be Brave, Bold and Brilliant” by Mayim Bialik

“The transition from boy to young man, which I’ve called Boying Up, is an exciting one. Being alive at this time in history is so awesome, and there is a lot to celebrate.” — Mayim Bialik, Ph.D

I am the mother of two boys, two very active, very different boys. Not being a boy myself, I find myself scratching my head at their antics and habits. I often wondered how two boys from the same parents could be so different? Well, boys are different, they are wired differently, they really are, and it is backed by science! After reading Bialik’s book, I am so happy to know, my boys are growing up, exactly as they should be and it is OK that they are night and day. Things make much more sense to me as I learned about “The Science of Being a Boy.” Told in six highly informative, very practical and utterly insightful sections, Bialik helps both parents and boys understand what it means to grow up a boy in our changing world. Taking a fun, non-preachy approach, and filled with facts, “Boying Up” is a must-read for parents, educators and young people alike. It is an educative, matter-of-fact guide for boys as they embark toward manhood.

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“Save the Date” by Morgan Matson

“Save the Date” by Morgan Matson

“Save the Date” by Morgan Matson

“This was one of the thousands of tiny things that only happened when we were together, one of the things you didn’t know you’d miss until it was gone.”

Charlie’s older sister is getting married and her siblings are coming to town for the big day. She is so excited to see them and is looking forward to a weekend in which things will be exactly as they were when they all lived under one roof; only it’s not. Everyone has grown up and is living their respective lives, and little sister Charlie isn’t quite prepared for it. From a new girl her brother brings home, to fighting family members and the wedding looming soon, things can easily go from bad to worse … and they do. An outlandish, heartwarming, heartfelt story told with hilarity, “Save the Date” is a delightful comedy of errors and a touching story about the crazy, unconditional love a family can share.

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“My Plain Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

“My Plain Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

“My Plain Jane” by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

“She took a shuddering breath. Crying, she told herself sternly, does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive.”

The most delightful, gothic, ghostly mash up of the Brontes EVER, and I mean a real mash up! There was nothing about this book I didn’t love. The trio of authors has so much snark, and so much sass, you can’t help but laugh out loud throughout this story. The writing is awesome, the story is hilarious, the characters will have you eating out of the palms of their hands; they are that amazing! A twist on the original Jane Eyre, throw in a ghost and a murder mystery and you’ve got yourself a clever little gothic tale.

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“Wild Blue Wonder” by Carlie Sorosiak

“Wild Blue Wonder” by Carlie Sorosiak

“Wild Blue Wonder” by Carlie Sorosiak

“Scary things and amazing things coexist. The world is full of wildness and wonder. And a lot of it is good.”

A magical camp, a legendary family and an accident that killed the spirit of the family play a big role in this novel. Quinn cannot forgive herself for the death of her best friend Dylan. After the terrible accident, she cannot let herself be happy and has lost all the passion she once had. “Wild Blue Wonder” is an enchanting story of a magical camp ground, ancient forests and a deep lake monster, but most importantly it is about the journey of a lost girl and her family learning to overcoming grief and learning to forgive each other and themselves.

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“A Thousand Beginnings and Endings” edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

“A Thousand Beginnings and Endings” edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

“A Thousand Beginnings and Endings” edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

“Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.”

Anthologies like this always make me so happy. I love fairy tales, myths and legends from around the world, and I love when writers can take old stories and breathe new life into them, making them their own. In some of the most captivating storytelling and masterful prose, this diverse lineup of YA authors, take the feat of retelling some of South and East Asia’s traditional tales. From some of YA’s most prolific authors of Asian descent, each story is told with their own pizzazz, this collection of modern retellings will leave you breathless. I was enchanted.

+7 
“Just Under the Clouds” by Melissa Sarno

“Just Under the Clouds” by Melissa Sarno

“Just Under the Clouds” by Melissa Sarno

“For six years since Daddy died, we’ve been making homes where we can get them, from place to place.”

In a profession where we see things such as homelessness, hunger and heartache much more than we wish we would, this book really hit my heart. Cora is a sixth grader who is not only still grieving the death of her father but is also trying to help her mother keep their little family together while they have no place to call home. Moving from shelter to shelter, and taking care of her little sister who is different, Cora really feels alone with no stability or friends to talk to. This is an eye-opening, heartbreaking book, about things in life that are so simple for some yet, would mean the world to others. “Just Under the Clouds” is a book about poverty in America, the instability of life and the love of family.

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“Just Under the Clouds” by Melissa Sarno

“Just Under the Clouds” by Melissa Sarno

“We Are All That’s Left” by Carrie Arcos

“Through the good, through the most heinous of acts, love is the greatest weapon against the darkness.”

Carrie Arcos is one of my favorite authors. I love when I can get lost in a book to the point I forget where I am. “We Are All That’s Left” is one of those books. This is a book that needs your undivided attention because of the strong message it tells and the way it tells it. Told in a unique fashion as historical and realistic fiction, we are told the stories of a mother and daughter, in very different eras, one in present day American and one in the past in Bosnia. I learned a lot about Bosnia, its people and terrible wars they have faced. This book was not an easy read, but I feel it is an important one. Painful, poignant and full of promise, Arcos tells a story of loss, faith and love.

+7 
“The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani

“The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani

“The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani

“I had never wondered about being safe before. I just thought I was.”

By reading about other cultures and people, we learn so much about the world around us. Nisha is just 12 years old, motherless and is about to lose her homeland. She loved her home, but it has become dangerous. She and her father needed to flee Pakistan in 1947 to find a safe place for them to live. Their journey is long and difficult. Her diary helps her cope. Stories like this come from a real place — many are based on true facts and real journeys of refugees. Many have no happy ending, many have so much sadness, but it is important for us to give these books to our children to read, to learn and to empathize. “The Night Diary” tells a story of a girl refugee, searching and seeking identity in world that is divided.

Margie Longoria is a librarian at Mission High School. She provides monthly young adult novel recommendations to The Monitor.

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