‘Igloo High’ by Jacinthe Dessureault Book Review

‘Igloo High’ by Jacinthe Dessureault has many of the typical aspects that young adult novels contain, including a popular girl, a mean girl, and the requisite crush. The novel, however, does not stick to the same tried and true form that other novels do, as main character Ella finds herself a fish out of water, moving from her hometown of Montreal to a much more northern area of Canada where the cold is not just the weather topic for the day, but rather the norm she must learn to live with as she acclimates to her new home.

Leaving her best friend behind, along with her crush whom she just found a way to connect with, she treats the move, due to her dad’s job, as the biggest hindrance ever. Her entitled attitude comes off a bit extreme, so it helps that she finds a way to make more of the situation as the novel goes on. This doesn’t mean things are easy. Despite the fact that she is quickly befriended by the resident popular, and equally mean, girl, Sera, one big misunderstanding gets in the way of their budding friendship. This causes Ella to soon find herself in a place she doesn’t want to be surrounded by people who want nothing to do with her, because Sera has the power to keep Ella from making new friends. Yet, she does find friendship in places she doesn’t expect, and the fact that there’s a guy in the mix doesn’t hurt matters any, especially if her seeing this guy is the perfect thing to make Sera super jealous.

Ella’s transformation throughout the novel from someone who can only think pessimistically about her situation into someone who learns the difference between tolerance (dealing with people until she can find a way to leave) and acceptance (understanding that her situation may not be as bad as she thinks and she might actually like it there) is pretty well done. Any high school student, and even adults, can learn a lesson from Ella, as negativity and worry don’t help anything. Rather, focusing on the positive and all of the good that can come out of life will make anyone’s day better.

You can find ‘Igloo High’ by Jacinthe Dessureault here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Flights of Fancy’ Book Review

‘Flights of Fancy: Creative Inspiration from Ten Award-Winning Authors and Illustrators’ is a great help to aspiring authors, as it shows how writing can be both effortless and fun, while at the same time instilling the importance of hard work and dedication. There are challenges in the book that come in the form of interesting writing prompts which help readers try their hand at the same types of activities that each of the authors and illustrators has in their own arsenal to help them shine at their craft.

Sometimes a bit of advice and an understanding that one isn’t alone in the world is all one needs to press on and make one’s own magic. Each of the British Children’s Laureates who have expressed themselves in this book have many impressive accomplishments. Their humble attitudes as they profess their own challenges throughout their lives in bringing their stories and ideas to life make the book all that much more special. It is easy to get caught up in the fame and excitement of being an author; however, their ability to present their thoughts to readers of all ages and make writing and illustrating seem attainable is a testament to the power of this book.

You can find ‘Flights of Fancy: Creative Inspiration from Ten Award-Winning Authors and Illustrators’ here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Lily and the Wedding Date Mistake’ by Seven Steps Book Review

‘Lily and the Wedding Date Mistake’ by Seven Steps is a story of friendship lost and found between main characters Lily and Becks. They travel through uncharted territory trying to figure out how to get their friendship back on track after Becks’ faraway move many years ago. They don’t seem to be on the same page and seemingly have no desire to find their way back to each other, but as the novel goes on, the two find that they have more common ground than they once thought, and they haven’t changed nearly as much as they’d like to think they have.

While Lily works hard at planning a school carnival to help raise money for a fellow student, Becks works at getting on Lily’s every nerve, or so she’d like to believe. Yet it turns out that the nerve he’s hitting most is the one she does her best to deny – the one that makes her realize she has a crush on her former best friend. They spar throughout the planning process, and at times he agrees with her, which she finds gnawing at her since she can’t grasp how his moods are always changing regarding how he feels about her. All the while, her sister, Rose, and her best friend, Calla, have issues of their own, making Lily’s life that much more complicated.

With a healthy dose of uncertainty and teenage angst and a number of misunderstandings, Seven Steps shows that this new story is a solid addition to her library of books. As author of the St. Mary’s Academy series, she has shown that her aptitude for writing swoon-worthy teen romance is definitely strong, and ‘Lily and the Wedding Date Mistake’ lives up to that. Definitely check out this new novel by a great author.

You can find ‘Lily and the Wedding Date Mistake’ by Seven Steps here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry)’ by Gary Golio Book Review

‘Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry)’ by Gary Golio, illustrated by Ted Young, is an interesting look at the life and makings of Charlie Chaplin and his most well-known character, The Tramp. It starts off telling about his life, including how his mother and brother fit into it, and includes colorful illustrations that guide readers on the journey that he took to become the most famous version of himself.

It would have been nice to learn a bit more about who he was after his transformation into the Charlie Chaplin people still know today, but the afterword and “Facts About Charlie Chaplin” page helped shed more light on his persona. It is also nice that the author thought to include a “Resources” page at the end of the book to allow readers to learn more about Charlie Chaplin through books and movies that they see fit to review further. There was also a bit too much text for young readers, but the story still flowed pretty nicely.

For those curious to learn more about Chaplin’s history, this biography of sorts does a nice job of sharing the beginnings of his life and career. The lyrical writing also makes for a smooth and engaging read.

You can find ‘Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry)’ by Gary Golio here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘She’s the Liar’ by Alison Cherry Book Review

‘She’s the Liar’ by Alison Cherry is about sisters Abby and Sydney and their time together at Brookside Academy. Abby, who has decided to rebrand herself as ‘Abbi’ and be a newer, cooler version of herself upon entering sixth grade, comes to learn that with her newfound role comes heartache. Eighth grader and big sister Sydney is not making Abbi’s life easy. Not only is Sydney the head of The Committee (which basically makes her the student body president, or Brookside’s version of it), she has the power to make decisions that govern everyone, and make Abbi terribly upset with the outcomes. When Abbi dares to stand up to her sister, Sydney is taken aback and decides to deal with the issue the only way she knows how – shutting Abbi down, just as she shuts down everyone else with what seems to be her power-hungry decisions.

The first half of the book tells Abbi’s side of the story. It shows how she deals with her sister’s power plays, and how she tries to take matters into her own hands and bring the student body around to support her instead of her sister. The second half of the book tells Sydney’s side of it. Alison Cherry does an amazing job of this, as readers will likely not see how anything Sydney can show of herself in the second half can make her actions okay. But Sydney does indeed have her own side for readers to learn about, and what it is comes across more surprising than one might expect. Her power-hungry actions and their consequences are more than just that, but she needs to make Abbi see this. The trouble is that Abbi has taken it upon herself to fight to join The Committee and make change, including undermining her sister. Figuring out how to thwart Abbi’s attempts before Abbi finds out the truth about Sydney is all Sydney can think to do, but the truth may come out anyway.

An intriguing look at how perspectives can truly shape the way one sees others and also themselves, ‘She’s the Liar’ is a quick and entertaining read that will make readers think long and hard about their own actions. Definitely recommended!

You can find ‘She’s the Liar’ by Alison Cherry here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘From an Idea to Disney: How Branding Made Disney a Household Name’ by Lowey Bundy Sichol Book Review

‘From an Idea to Disney: How Branding Made Disney a Household Name’ by Lowey Bundy Sichol provides the inspirational backdrop to Walt Disney’s enduring legacy that readers didn’t necessarily know they needed, but will be excited to learn. There are facts about Disney’s childhood and the beginning of his career, along with details about how Disneyworld and Disneyland came to be. Fun facts are interspersed throughout the already interesting content in the chapters, and engaging illustrations will capture readers’ interest all the more. If you didn’t already know about the underground tunnels at Disney parks which cast members who work at the park can use to travel from place to place, or the fact that even street sweepers at the park play a role in the magic that makes Disney so special, this book is for you. Much like the magic of Disney itself, this book is for children and adults alike. Anyone who has ever been fascinated by a character, movie, or ride at one of the Disney parks will want to read this entertaining biography.

You can find ‘From an Idea to Disney: How Branding Made Disney a Household Name’ by Lowey Bundy Sichol here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘My Virtual Prince Charming’ by Maggie Dallen Book Review

‘My Virtual Prince Charming’ by Maggie Dallen brings together Suzie and Luke. Neighbors who have never really thought much of each other, they find themselves thrown together by circumstances that Suzie feels are beyond her control, but are entirely working in Luke’s favor. When he realizes that Suzie is one of his gaming buddies online – a fact she is not aware of – he does his best to get to know her, all the while making her feel more and more dislike toward him. She can’t figure out why he’s all of a sudden so interested in programming, or why her presence seems to make him act in a way that only serves to frustrate her.

Despite the predictability of the scenario in which Suzie and Luke find themselves, with Dallen making it clear that she will obviously eventually find out that her best guy friend in an online game is actually Luke, the chemistry between them and the relationship that unfolds as they get to know each other outside of the game is quite endearing. She sees his growth and comes to see him as more of a friend who isn’t just another one of the guys, and he learns more about her and everything he has been missing out on while not being friends with her until this point. Their banter and interest in each other is something that any lover of young adult romance will love. Dallen is great at writing two characters who seem to dislike each other immensely (or at least one dislikes the other) only to find that they are perfect for each other by the end of the novel.

A terrifically worthwhile and fun read, ‘My Virtual Prince Charming’ is a cute tale in the age of technology. Readers will definitely want to pick up more of Maggie Dallen’s books.

You can find ‘My Virtual Prince Charming’ by Maggie Dallen here .

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘A Straw Man’ by Amalie Jahn Book Review

‘A Straw Man’ by Amalie Jahn is the third and final installment in her ‘Clay Lion’ series. Melody, the sister of the main character in ‘Tin Men’ (the second in the series), is now in college. She and longtime boyfriend Nate are having their fair share of struggles, due mostly in part to the role Nate feels he played in a friend’s untimely death. Despite it not really being his fault, he feels responsible, and Melody is having a hard time dealing with the strain that this has put on their relationship. She can’t find a way to get through to Nate, to make him realize that the outcome was beyond his control. This, coupled with the fact that Nate is spiraling out of control and finding illegal ways to cope with the issue, threatens to tear them apart.

Melody considers traveling back in time to help him. She knows that if she does this, there can be terrible repercussions. She has witnessed this firsthand when her brother went back in time in ‘Tin Men’ and she doesn’t want to deal with what might happen. Yet she knows that she needs to do something, and she doesn’t see a way around taking the trip. She thinks she can certainly help him, but when she does so, something changes in the life she returns to that she can’t wrap her head around. Life as she knows it can never be the same despite everyone else continuing on as if nothing has happened – because to them nothing did happen.

As Melody struggles with the ramifications of her time traveling, her life doesn’t come together quite as she hoped it would. Her world becomes harder despite her attempts to make it easier. ‘A Straw Man’ provides in Melody a main character who, despite her most sincere attempts, finds herself at a crossroads that she can’t ignore, and struggles with changes that can never be undone. A testimony to the heartache and pain that any decision can cause one to endure, ‘A Straw Man’ is a satisfying and engaging conclusion to Jahn’s series.

You can find ‘A Straw Man’ by Amalie Jahn here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft Book Review

‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft follows main character Jordan, a seventh grader who wants to go to an art school, but has his parents end up sending him to an academically-oriented private school. He is one of a few kids of color in his class, and even though he does have someone showing him around and befriending him who is not a student of color, he begins to wonder just how he can best fit in and why the kids who look like him are the ones who seem to not be appreciated as much.

The story does a nice job of having readers question the relationships between characters, no matter their color, and inspires thoughts about inclusion and how to best create instances where that is most possible. He makes a variety of friends as the story goes on, even with some whom he wouldn’t have thought he would ever be friends. The story, as a graphic novel, showcases the themes and issues in a way that only words wouldn’t have been capable of, and this is a definite plus for ‘New Kid’. It is especially neat how the images propel the story along in ways that highlight the importance of the few words that Craft uses in the book.

An interesting and inspiring book, ‘New Kid’ brings humor and honesty to the forefront, as well as a host of other emotions.

You can find ‘New Kid’ by Jerry Craft here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

‘Just Jaime’ by Terri Libenson Book Review

‘Just Jaime’ by Terri Libenson captures the truth of middle school – a time when friendships are haunted by worry over whether or not one fits in with the group. This issue plagues Jaime and her best friend, Maya, as they find themselves becoming more and more set apart. Maya begins spending time with a new friend who doesn’t do much to make Jaime feel welcome. She disguises her jabs at Jaime as jokes, but Jaime feels hurt all the same. When Maya stops standing up for her, Jaime feels lost and worries that their friendship is ending, even though they have always loved hanging out together.

It is natural to desire acceptance from others, and Jaime does feel this need, but she comes to realize that one person’s opinion isn’t all-encompassing, and there may just be others out there who won’t treat her poorly. She also comes to realize that there are things about herself that might need changing, as she discovers that her relationship with Maya wasn’t always the best for her either.

As the novel progresses, both Jaime and Maya realize truths about themselves that shape how they plan to move forward with friends and issues about school, as they are ending seventh grade and entering their final year of middle school. Their upset with each other and the way that they miss each other despite not really wanting to are both palpable feelings that the author has crafted for her readers. All readers should be able to identify with the themes of the story, including friendship, lack of understanding, worry, and discovering uncomfortable truths about life and the ways in which it is lived. A fun and enjoyable read, ‘Just Jaime’ is great for both middle school readers and adults who want to step back in time for a short while.

You can find ‘Just Jaime’ by Terri Libenson here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*