Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva

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I came across Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva when I was browsing Netgalley, and the blurb piqued my interest. My request was accepted, and so I added the book to my reading queue.

Alek is an Armenian-American high school student. He has been dating Ethan for almost six months. Things are getting pretty serious, but Alek has reservations. He loves kissing Ethan, but he’s not sure if he’s ready for things to go further physically. Alek measures his life in terms of Before Ethan and After Ethan; he’s changed so much for the better because of this relationship, and he can’t imagine what would happen if it ended. Read more

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The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

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I found The Music of What Happens at my town library. I’ve read some of Bill Konigsberg’s other books, so finding this on the new release shelf was a nice surprise.

When Max steps up to a food truck to place an order, he doesn’t expect to see Jordan, a kid from his school. Max certainly doesn’t expect to walk away with a job offer, but there you have it.

Jordan’s dad died a few years ago, and Jordan and his mom have been living off of the life insurance money. They’ve exhausted their savings, and they’re now a few months behind with the mortgage. Revitalizing the food truck that Jordan’s dad used to run is their final hope; if they don’t earn enough money to pay off the accumulated debt, they’ll lose the house.

Max and Jordan might go to the same school, but they aren’t friends. Things are awkward at first, but they quickly realize that they are going to need to communicate with each other if they want their endeavors to be successful. Read more

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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They Both Die at the End was written by Adam Silvera. I picked up this book after my oldest daughter stole our copy of another of Silvera’s book.

This book explores the premise of knowing that today will be the day you die. A service called DeathCast calls people to tell them that they are going to die, and a whole industry has developed around this concept. There are apps to find one last friend- or for the more salacious- one last “friend”. There are entertainment complexes that provide people on their Last Day with a variety of experiences.

Mateo and Rufus have never met, but they find each other on their Last Day through the Last Friend app. At first, it doesn’t seem like they have a lot in common beyond the obvious, but they are determined to make the most of their last day. Read more

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

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Pride is a YA novel written by Ibi Zoboi. I was excited about this book because as the title suggests, this is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Pride and Prejudice variants, in all their delightful forms, are one of my major weaknesses, and I was interested to see Zoboi’s take on the literary classic.

Zuri Benitez loves her Bushwick neighborhood, and isn’t particularly impressed with the changes. She and her sisters have been watching the transformation of the building across the street with interest, and as the story begins, the Darcy family moves in. Zuri’s sister Janae hits it off with Ainsley Darcy, while Zuri clashes with Darius Darcy. Read more

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds

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The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance was written by Madeline J. Reynolds. I’ve been reading a lot of YA lately, so I was excited about the opportunity to read this book.

Elias Caldwell is a young man in the Victorian era who simply doesn’t fit in. He sees no escape from the future his parents have laid out for him, but then his grandfather presents him with an opportunity: a pocket watch that allows him to time travel.

Elias ends up at an American boarding school, where he meets Tyler Forrester. Ty, an aspiring filmmaker, manages to catch Elias appearing out of thin air. The story is too fantastic to be believed, but Ty suspends his disbelief and agrees to help Elias acclimate to the 21st century.

It’s certainly a culture shock, but Elias quickly sees the benefits of modern life. He doesn’t feel as stifled as he did in his own era, and he is pleased to discover that it’s okay to be gay. Even better, he finds friendship and more with Ty.

Ty knows that sharing Elias’ story would almost definitely lead to his big breakthrough in the film world. But what about the ramifications of time travel being real? And what would happen to Elias if everybody knew that he was from over 100 years in the past?

This was a fun story. It unfolds from both Elias and Tyler’s points of view. The plot moves along at a fairly brisk pace, and sometimes it would have been beneficial to slow down for full effect. This is especially noticeable when examining the “relationship” that develops between Elias and Tyler. It’s almost instantaneous, and I would have loved to see the tension drawn out a little more.

I would recommend The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance. This will definitely appeal to the target demographic. Readers should know explanations behind the “science” of time travel are fairly light, but there’s a nice balance between the other elements of the plot. Overall, this is a fairly light book and a quick read. I’m looking forward to reading more from Reynolds in the future.

 

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book.

 

Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) by L.C. Rosen

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Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) is a YA novel by L.C. Rosen. I found this book on the YA new release shelf at my town library. The TLDR version of this review is that I read this book in one day, and I loved it so much that I bought the Kindle edition AND the Audible editions as soon as I finished reading.

Jack is an openly gay high school student in Manhattan, and while he enjoys an active social life, it is not nearly as salacious as the rumors swirling around the NYC private school scene.

But still, because of his perceived expertise, his friend Jenna persuades him to a sex advice column for her blog based on readers’ questions. Jack is reluctant at first, but finds that he enjoys answering questions.

Around the same time, Jack finds a letter from a Secret Admirer in his locker. He doesn’t think much of it, but then he receives a second letter. And then a third. There’s a gradual shift in tone, but it quickly becomes clear that Jack is dealing with a stalker. Read more

All is Fair by Dee Garretson

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All is Fair is a historical fiction YA novel written by Dee Garretson. This book is set during World War I, and while there have been a few titles in recent years, it’s not a very common setting. So right away, my interest was piqued.

When Mina receives a telegram at boarding school, she is initially confused by the odd message contained within. She quickly realizes that the message is actually a code, and returns home. The war has already taken a toll on her family; her brother Crispin is already missing in action, and Mina wants to do whatever she can to help.

She reunites with family friend Lord Andrew and meets Lucas, a handsome American. The young men are participating in flight training at a neighboring manor, but there’s something more going on- something they can’t talk about. Can Mina prove to them that she is capable of helping them? Read more

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova

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Crush is Svetlana Chmakova’s third graphic novel set at Berrybrook Middle School. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because my oldest daughter is in the sixth grade, and she loves graphic novels. For several years, she read graphic novels almost exclusively. She has always been a voracious reader, so this meant that we always had a lot of graphic novels in the house. She has recently branched out and found some novels that she really likes, but she still loves graphic novels.

Since she is an expert in the genre, I thought that it would be nice if she could share her thoughts on Crush:

So, I just want to say that I LOVE Svetlana Chmakova’s books, and that I was so exited when I heard there was a third book! Read more

Social Intercourse by Greg Howard

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Social Intercourse is a YA novel by Greg Howard. I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but the plot intrigued me, and so I made a request through my library network, and the book arrived a couple of days later.

It’s not easy for Beckett Gaines to be a gay teen in South Carolina, but he knows that he only needs to make it through high school and then he can leave his homophobic hometown. His plan is somewhat derailed when his dad starts dating one of football star Jaxon Parker’s moms.

Beck has accepted that his own mother abandoned the family, but he’s not too thrilled about the development because of his contentious history with Jax. Likewise, Jax wants his moms to get back together, so the two boys do what any reasonable teens would do and hatch a plan to break up Beck’s dad and Jax’s mom. What neither of them counted on was developing feelings for each other. Read more

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel by Val Emmich

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Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel was written by Val Emmich. It is, of course, based on the Tony award winning musical by Steven Levenson, Benk Pasek and Justin Paul. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because my girls and I have been listening to the DEH soundtrack since the spring.

Evan Hansen is a high school boy with anxiety. He’s supposed to be writing inspirational letters to himself as a therapeutic exercise. One of these letters ends up with Connor Murphy, who commits suicide in an unrelated incident. When the Murphys find the letter, they believe that Connor wrote the letter to Evan. Instead of telling the truth, Evan allows the Murphys to believe that he was Connor’s best friend and fabricates an entire relationship. This desperately lonely boy finally has people paying attention to what he has to say, but it’s all for the wrong reasons. He has everything he could ever want, but it’s all based on lies. How can he tell the truth now? Read more