‘Blue vs. Yellow’ by Tom Sullivan Book Review

‘Blue vs. Yellow’ by Tom Sullivan focused on the creative ways in which those two colors can be used, along with the ways in which they are both similar and different. The give and take between the two colors and how each felt it was best was written in a way that is reminiscent of a sibling rivalry. The colors each feel that they present the best options and have the most to offer. When they end up combined, they realize that there is also much to be enjoyed when they “work” together and turn everything green.

The book presents the idea that even though it may seem there are two sides to something, sometimes a mutual understanding can come about, resulting in a happy medium for everyone. Yet, the end of the book also brings another opinion into the mix, when the color red decides to show up and share everything it offers and why those aspects make it the best one overall. This is quite important, as it shows young readers that despite it sometimes seeming that there are only two options to choose from, or that an issue is “black or white,” there are still shades of gray available. In the case of this book, “black or white” is equal to “blue” and “yellow,” while the shades of gray come in the form of green and red.

An instructive look at what colors offer and what they are capable of, Sullivan has written an interesting story that is good for readers, whether young or older.

You can find ‘Blue vs. Yellow’ by Tom Sullivan here.

*Review originally posted on YABooksCentral.com*

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‘Nothing’ by Annie Barrows Book Review

‘Nothing’ by Annie Barrows has an intriguing premise. The two girls in the story – Charlotte and Frankie – feel that nothing in their lives ever happens in the way that it does in young adult novels. To prove this, Charlotte begins writing their story. She calls it ‘Nothing’ and writes about their daily lives.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, life begins to change for them in ways that they didn’t foresee. These changes are not necessarily the most obvious at times, but they show that anything can change in a moment and that the unexpected truly can make life worthwhile.

Even though the story was meant to show the normal, everyday lives of two average teenage girls, the story still had moments in which it could have been fleshed out further. For example, some of Charlotte and Frankie’s friends were mentioned here and there, but no emotional connection ever seemed to stem from those mentions. It was realistic that they have other friends, but those friendships should have amounted to more, along with explanations as to the two guys they were semi-interested in at the beginning of the book. Showing how they dealt with those guys as they made plans to move forward with more “real” relationships would have strengthened the story all the more.

From unanticipated kisses to meeting penpals and helping friends and family find and hold on to love, the ‘Nothing’ girls have more going on than they would like, based on their thought that nothing ever happens. Yet it shows how writing down your everyday experiences, whether in book, journal, or some other form can encourage even those people most bored with life to come out of their shell and discover truths that they never saw coming.

You can find ‘Nothing’ by Annie Barrows here.

*Review originally posted on YABooksCentral.com*

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‘Confiscated’ by Suzanne Kaufman Book Review

‘Confiscated’ by Suzanne Kaufman tells the story of two dinosaur brothers who each want the same toys. When their mother finally gets fed up with their insistence on arguing, she takes all of the toys away. Boredom eventually kicks in, and the brothers realize that they can actually have a good time playing together.

Kaufman does a nice job of showing how kids can generally be – vacillating from one interest to the next, sometimes solely based on what someone else (in this case, a brother) thinks. The way she changes their relationship when they realize they have to rely on each other for a change is quite true to real life and shows how siblings, good friends, etc. can react to similar situations.

Through cute illustrations that showcase the emotions each of the brothers feels as the story goes on, Kaufman captures readers’ attention and subtly instructs children to behave more appropriately and find what can be good even if everything seems to be going wrong.

You can find ‘Confiscated’ by Suzanne Kaufman here.

*Review originally posted on YABooksCentral.com*

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‘Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes’ by Booki Vivat Book Review

‘Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes’ by Booki Vivat is an adorable, illustrated story that not only proves a fast read, but also a truly enjoyable one. From the accurate and telling illustrations, to main character Abbie Wu’s questioning and uncertain attitude about life in general, Vivat has crafted a story that anyone in middle school and beyond can relate to as they consider their own experiences.

Even though the story would have read well without the illustrations, they are most welcome, as they truly bring additional empathy for the characters and their attitudes within the story. Abbie’s relationship with her family’s cat, her worry over who stole her locker, and her neverending concern about how things will ever work out in her favor make her character jump off of each page.

Anyone who reads ‘Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes’ (the second in the series) and has not yet read ‘Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom’ (the first in the series) will want to grab it as quickly as possible. Vivat’s relatable and focused writing stands out in the world of contemporary realistic fiction. Highly recommended!

You can find ‘Frazzled: Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes’ by Booki Vivat here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

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‘The 12 Dares of Christa’ by Marissa Burt Book Review

‘The 12 Dares of Christa’ by Marissa Burt is a sweet story of friendship, determination, strength, and forgiveness. Main character Christa is taken aback when, as she starts with her yearly Christmas preparations, she finds that her parents are throwing her a pretty large curveball – they’re divorcing, and Christa’s holiday plans are changing for the worse. Now she is forced to travel to Europe for her mother’s play performances without her dad. She blames her mom for the divorce, and this is made all the more of an issue when Christa sees her mother kissing one of her co-stars on the trip.

Christa takes little solace in the fact that she’s in Europe. However, life starts to change a bit for the better when her father takes it upon himself to continue one of the Christmas traditions Christa loves most – their annual scavenger hunt. Since he’s a travel agent and has planned out the itinerary for the kids’ tour during the trip, Christa finds herself smack in the middle of tons of action as she joins forces with friends and frenemies alike, realizing that surprises come in each scavenger hunt package. She starts to see the world more as her father would like her to – as a place capable of providing wonder and happiness, rather than the anger and upset she feels she is warranted to have due to her parents’ divorce.

Friends like Kylie, Colby, Sasha, and others create a truly memorable experience for Christa as she discovers what it means to be herself, despite everyone seemingly throwing their own opinions into the mix. Marissa Burt has crafted a cute and engaging story that showcases some beautiful European sites as well as the courage of a young girl trying to make sense of the world around her when everything seems thrown off its axis.

You can find ‘The 12 Dares of Christa’ by Marissa Burt here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

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’11 Before 12′ by Lisa Greenwald Book Review

’11 Before 12′ by Lisa Greenwald will put you right back in that time of your life when everything mattered too much and nothing at all mattered more than your best friend. Kaylan and Arianna find this to be true as they gear up for sixth grade. They are chock full of excitement as they decide to make a list of all of the tasks they want to complete before turning twelve in November. Having their birthdays one day apart has convinced them of the need to plan a joint twelfth birthday party to celebrate their friendship and the new age that will bring them what they consider so much more of out of life.

Instead they find that the list starts to tear them apart. While Kaylan wants to stay true to the list and everything they’ve planned for it, including doing it together, Arianna is more open to bringing other people in and allowing them to be part of what Kaylan considers a super-special best-friends-only listing of tasks for the girls to share. While they do a few items together, they also find that they are finishing some separately. It was nice to understand Kaylan’s point of view throughout the whole story since it is really quite a spot-on indicator of how any girl in her position would feel, worried about losing her best friend, but hopeful that things will eventually work out. However, hearing Arianna’s point of view a bit more throughout would have been helpful. As the novel progresses, we learn more about how she feels about it all, but a dual look at their lives may have enhanced the storytelling a bit. Yet, this was not really an issue.

From Kaylan’s worry over which boy to kiss and how to make a guy friend to Arianna’s new friends, lunch table gossip abounds, and the two friends are left sitting on the sidelines of each other’s lives, waiting to be filled in with the nitty gritty details. Any reader will feel smack dab back in the action of middle school, as Lisa Greenwald creates the questions of how Kaylan and Arianna will move forward, how their troubles will affect their futures, and how family can matter more than a sixth grader believes, especially when on the outs with your best friend forever. A definite must read for any young adult and middle grade novel lovers!

You can find ’11 Before 12′ by Lisa Greenwald here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

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‘It’s Your World’ by Chelsea Clinton Book Review

‘It’s Your World’ by Chelsea Clinton does a nice job of anticipating questions teens (or adults) may have about a wide variety of topics, including, but certainly not limited to, poverty, inequality, illnesses, hunger, and many, many more. It also focuses on routes that will hopefully lead to solutions for these problems. The book adeptly details the connections between various issues and dilemmas throughout the world. One that stands out most is how prevalent the issue of water availability is, and how it intertwines with not only the idea of healthy living, but also with the ability for some to do their work, along with a variety of other connective tissues that truly enhance the conversational storytelling through which Clinton writes the book.

Statistics add substance and deeper meaning throughout. The charts and graphs that are included help highlight the controversies described and make it much easier to see how action and progress are sorely needed in so many cases.

The book, while focused on inspirational and thought-provoking topics, tends to be a bit long in parts. The 400-plus page book would have better served its teen demographic by cutting down on the page count. Even though the information contained is solid, interesting, and worthwhile, and the statistics a welcome addition to showcasing the many troubles throughout the world and who they are most affecting, a shorter length would help make the book even stronger. However, if one is to read this book, they may not be reading it all at once, which is probably a good idea. If one is to read the chapters and excerpts that most intrigue them as a means of identifying and exploring their particular areas of interest, the book will more likely not seem so long, as the conversational style Clinton uses helps the storytelling move along at a fairly good pace. There are just so many topics to get to, and even though Clinton does separate these by parts and chapters and discusses the importance of realizing connections, it still gets too long at times.

All in all, ‘It’s Your World’ will capture the attention and motivational heartstrings of its readers, children and adults alike. It focuses on so much of what is wrong in the world today and how to fix it, through realistic and clear-cut anecdotes and information that will lead readers on the path to finding sustainable solutions.

You can find ‘It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!’ by Chelsea Clinton here.

*Review originally posted at YABooksCentral.com*

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‘Flicker’ by Melanie Hooyenga Book Review

‘Flicker’ by Melanie Hooyenga is a very gripping novel. The concept behind it – that the main character, Biz, has the ability to go back in time eighteen hours if she so chooses – is quite intriguing. Biz’s ability, which she refers to as “flickering,” has never really been used by her for anything other than reliving good days in her life, doing better on tests she takes, and other reasons in which any teenager might find interest.

With both contemporary and supernatural elements mixed in, ‘Flicker’ shows how anyone can have abilities beyond the grasp of the average individual. Biz doesn’t fully understand why she is able to flicker, but she welcomes it, despite the ravaging headaches she gets as a result. Coupled with her dad’s epileptic tendencies and her mother’s persistent worry, she always seems to have a lot on her mind, especially if it’s happened twice. It was refreshing to see her parents so involved and caring since many parents in young adult novels tend to be pushed to the sidelines. Biz knows that she should be grateful for their insistence on being part of her life, but, just like any average teenager, she does her best to discourage their involvement, mostly by keeping her flickering from them.

It was nice to see a main character in a book enjoy a subject other than English, even though it’s always nice when they enjoy literature and writing. Biz’s love of photography propels much of the storyline, and her teacher, Mr. Turner, instills even more engagement in her photography skills as the story progresses, which ends up being quite ironic. Between Biz’s headaches from her flickering and people’s questions as to why she acts the way she does, she finds it hard to know whom she can trust, especially as her photographs begin to raise questions. This makes it hard for her to connect with others as much as she’d like, including her best friends, Amelia and Cameron, the latter of whom grows into more than a friend fairly quickly once the novel begins. Her friendships with these two show how, even though Biz is sympathetic to their plights – Amelia’s being that she wants to get closer to a guy she likes, and Cameron’s being much more involved – his sister went missing several years ago and he’s always been looked at as a suspect – she also is unwilling to let them be sympathetic to hers. In some ways this shows strength of character – that she can stand on her own two feet. In other ways, it’s nice to have people in your corner, and she should have been able to trust those with whom she is closest, including her parents.

There were a few areas I would have loved to read more about, but maybe Hooyenga will get to them more in ‘Fracture,’ this book’s sequel. Amelia’s relationship with the guy she likes was written in quickly, and it would have been nice to see it all connect in a more meaningful way than Biz just enjoying the fact that she and Amelia had relationships at the same time. A man who is on the bleachers at the games Biz takes photographs at is one point that is resolved near the end of the novel, but further explanation of his actions whenever Biz saw him would have been a welcome addition. It is understandable to pique curiosity as to whom he is, but having him share his involvement near the end would have been helpful. Finally, Cameron’s sister Katie’s story and more about the leads the police department had on her kidnapping as well as the others that took place over the course of the novel would have been nice. Several years elapsed between Katie’s kidnapping and the ones that were occurring in the present day of the novel, so some reasoning as to their starting up again could have been explored further as well. The ending came quickly, and some might worry that the story won’t resolve in time. It did, but the climax could have come a bit earlier to leave more time for some of these more extended answers to be included.

‘Flicker’ comes highly recommended for those who love contemporary fiction, romance, time travel, and a fast, thrilling read.

*Review originally posted on YABooksCentral.com*

You can find ‘Flicker’ by Melanie Hooyenga here.

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‘Dill and Bizzy Opposite Day’ by Nora Ericson Book Review

‘Dill & Bizzy Opposite Day’ by Nora Ericson, illustrated by Lisa Ericson, is an adorable story about two best friends who can’t seem to come to an understanding. This is mainly caused by Bizzy’s insistence that Dill take part in opposite day, a day in which they do everything opposite of each other.

Dill, who is not too keen on this idea, attempts to voice objection as often as possible, even if just through his facial expressions, but his objections only cause Bizzy to be more insistent that they continue with opposite day. After all, Dill saying that they should end opposite day means that it must continue on, right?

It finally occurs to Dill that in order to get Bizzy off of her opposite day kick, that he must trick her into conceding it should be over. The most important point that Dill makes is that they can’t be best friends if it’s opposite day. The fact that they are already best friends means they need to end their friendship right then and there to stick with the theme of opposite day.

While Bizzy tries to find a solution, the illustrations that populate the pages of the story showcase the sweet, upset, friendly, and other types of expressions that Dill and Bizzy have about their current situation. An adorable romp through a fun-filled day (at least from Bizzy’s perspective), ‘Dill & Bizzy Opposite Day’ definitely captures the innocence of youth and the frustration that can accompany someone who is not willing to see anyone else’s perspective. Another adorable feature is that there are quotes from the two main characters on the back of the book sharing what they think of the story. While Bizzy thinks it is funny and so wonderful, Dill sees it as serious and quite terrible. Nora Ericson and Lisa Ericson have done a fabulous job ensuring that the characters truly stand out and find ways to hold their own.

*Review originally posted on YABooksCentral.com*

You can find ‘Dill and Bizzy Opposite Day” by Nora Ericson here.

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‘Changes in Latitudes’ by Jen Malone Book Review

‘Changes in Latitudes’ by Jen Malone is a great summertime read. Taking place the summer before Cassie’s senior year, life begins serving up a ton of surprises. First and foremost is that Cassie, along with her mother, Elise, and brother, Drew, are going to be taking off for several months to sail a boat to Mexico. The idea is appalling to Cassie, who would much rather spend her final summer of high school hanging out with her two best friends, traveling the countryside and taking scenic detours. Adding to her upset is her parents’ divorce, which is affecting her in numerous ways, including being angry at her mother, whom she had always had a great relationship with, up to the point of the divorce.

The fact is that Cassie overheard something on the last night her father stayed at home, and it is shaping the way she is placing blame for the divorce, and the way she is coping with her life after the fact. As she deals with what she considers a complete upheaval of her life, she finds that not everything is quite as bad as it seems to be. Her pride, however, keeps her from admitting this, until her father requests that she send him two pictures every day, one of something bad or that isn’t going her way, and one of something good or right in her day. This task helps Cassie gain some much needed perspective and come to new understandings of not only herself, but of her mother, and of her life in general.

When she meets Jonah, a cute and quick-witted deckhand on a boat that is in their caravan down to Mexico, she learns that perspective is a definite plus, and everything and everyone has their own which might change the way they live their lives, the way in which they treat others, etc. Between Jonah’s seeming ease with the father he doesn’t talk to and Cassie’s anger at her mother that she can’t seem to let go, they work together, sometimes unknowingly, to come to conclusions about how to move past the struggles that seem to be overtaking their lives.

Cute references to ‘Star Wars’ and welcome quotes about what it takes to be happy lend credibility to the novel, showing how Cassie’s perspective might just change her life and her relationships in some of the best ways possible. There is some predictability at work in the novel, but it doesn’t take away from the desire to find out how it will all end up. Fans of stories with romance, sightseeing, and a healthy dose of drama will really enjoy ‘Changes in Latitudes’ by Jen Malone. Definitely worth picking up this summer – or any time of the year, for that matter.

*Review originally posted on YABooksCentral.com*

You can find ‘Changes in Latitudes’ by Jen Malone here.

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