Sleepless in Dubai
By S. Patel
Photographer wannabe, Nikki, is headed to Dubai to celebrate Diwali with her family. Unfortunately, her ex-best friend, Yash, and his family are going too.
From the very start of the trip, their families scheme to get the pair talking again in the hopes they will mend their broken friendship. Slowly, against the exciting and adventure-filled backdrop of Dubai, Nikki and Yash do indeed find their way back to each other and end up having the vacation of a lifetime.
This is such a sweet friends to enemies to lovers story. Patel does a wonderful job of immersing the reader in the Dubai tourist experience as well as the traditions of Diwali. The characters are charming, memorable, and jump off the page.
Teens will enjoy this one. Highly recommend it!
Thank you to @netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
By L. B. Davis
Anyone craving a classic middle school book needs a copy of FOOD FIGHT. From class elections, first crushes, friendship troubles and bullies to surviving a class trip—everything's covered in all it's sixth grade glory.
The story follows Ben, a smart and athletic kid whose biggest speed bump, besides the shifting social landscape of sixth grade, is his eating. There are only ten foods he eats and that fact is getting harder to hide, especially as his social group expands. In fact, he has a condition known as ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder), but no way does he want the school faculty or the other kids to know about that. As if simply surviving middle school wasn't hard enough, poor Ben tries his best to hide his problem from everyone on a daily basis but a three day school trip (where outside food isn't allowed) may prove too much to handle.
Ben is such a likable character and the group of kids he hangs out with, from nerdy Olivia to cute Lauren and bully Darren, are so well characterized and three dimensional that it's easy to become swept up in all the social dynamics and drama at play.
Highly recommend getting this book into the hands of as many upper elementary and middle schoolers as possible. A delightful read!
Artifacts of an Ex
By J. Chen
This is a sweet story about Chloe, a planning obsessed teen art curator who moves to LA from NYC. Fresh from a break up, she is inspired to create an art exhibit featuring failed relationship mementos. In the process of adjusting to life in LA and making friends with fellow creatives, Chloe meets a cute film maker—Daniel. He’s as sweet as the pineapple cakes Chloe’s ahma used to make but convincing him to date her isn’t easy because of his preconceived ideas about love.
The side characters add additional interest and depth to the story and the way Chloe’s family dynamics were interwoven with the narrative worked beautifully.
This story is a nod to falling in love with LA, finding your artistic tribe, and the ups and downs of all the stages of love.
A fun read! Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Publication date: Nov 13, 2023 (St Martin's Press, Wednesday Books)
TILLY IN TECHNICOLOR
By M. Eddings
This was such a fun dual POV YA read.
The story centers around Tilly. She’s a disorganized but lovable ball of energy and emotion, with a heart of gold. Tilly has ADHD and is trying to find her place in the world and figure out what to do with herself now high school is done.
Her overbearing parents send her to Europe to intern at her older sister’s nail polish start up. On the plane she meets Oliver. He’s orderly, neat, and an emotionally closed book—her exact opposite. Turns out, he’s also a summer intern at her sister’s company and her traveling room mate for the summer. Despite their differences, she’s drawn to him and soon discovers that he has autism.
The pair are a perfect compliment and so sweet and understanding with each other. Their relationship development was beautifully written and a delight to read. It was equally lovely to see Tilly find her groove career wise—sharing her inner thoughts on a social media blog, writing for magazines, and helping out her sister’s company with hand modeling and more.
As for the side characters, they were all so memorable, multi-dimensional, and fun and really added to the story.
Highly recommend! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
The Name Drop
By S. Lee
Jessica’s summer plans are set— an internship in NYC at a Korean tech company. An internship she desperately needs in order to secure a letter of recommendation for snagging a financial scholarship to the college of her dreams.
Elijah is also headed to the company’s NYC office, but he won’t be in the regular internship track, he’s son to the CEO and will be in the executive track and he’s dreading it.
Thanks to identical Korean names, Jessica is mistaken for Elijah at airport check in. Suddenly, she finds herself in first class and being whisked to a fancy NYC brownstone. All the while, Elijah has taken her place with the other interns and is loving flying under the radar and feeling like a normal teen for a change.
With Elijah’s father working from the Korean office, no one is aware of the mistake that has been made. Hoping to keep it that way, Elijah and Jessica agree to stay in their swapped places but on the condition they meet regularly to update the other in case of probing parents. Opposites attract and these meet ups soon turn electric thanks to the pair’s undeniable chemistry.
As the summer progresses, the interns, led by Jessica, organize a huge video game design convention but things go awry when both Elijah and Jessica’s parents discover what they’ve been up to.
This was a fast paced, dual POV read. The NYC setting was enjoyable and the cast of characters was great. Thank you to @netgalley for the ARC.
All Alone With You
By A. Coombs
Senior Eloise (Lou ) suffers from depression and anxiety. Friendless, she spends her free time perfecting her GPA and playing video games, a perpetual scowl on her face. It isn't until she is told she needs volunteer hours to make her college applications stand out that she steps out of her comfort zone and through the doors of LifeCare, a facility that pairs volunteers with lonely elderly clients. Enter sunshine-filled Austin (another volunteer) and former rock star Marianne (client) and soon days are flying by and Eloise finds herself not entirely hating the experience (smiling even), not to mention falling for Austin.
This is a sweet romance about a girl finding social acceptance and the patient boy who stands by her without criticism, both brought together through their roles as volunteers. Aging rocker, Marianne, adds humor and some frank conversations into the mix and the banter between Eloise and Austin is delightful—the perfect balance of snark, wit, humor, and sweetness. Ideally, I would have loved a slightly deeper dive into Austin's back story and past, especially what happened with his father, but I did enjoy seeing the musician side of him thrive.
A highly enjoyable read, would definitely recommend. Thank you to @netgalley for the ARC.
By S. Dasgupta
This was a fun Pride and Prejudice retelling set in the interesting world of school speech and debate tournaments. The large cast of characters added a fun dynamic to the overall story and played off well against the sassy heroine, Leela.
Firoze Darcy was brilliantly written as Leela's antagonist turned more and had a deep and layered past that was expertly woven into the story.
A humorous read filled with witty banter and literary references.
EXCUSE ME WHILE I UGLY CRY
By J. Goffney
This is an emotional YA read about a list-obsessed teen who's private journal falls into the wrong hands leading to blackmail via social media.
She teams up with the last person to see the journal, cute and practical Carter, in an attempt to try and get it back before her reputation is completely ruined. Along the way, she learns a lot about herself, her family, her friend group, and the type of person she wants to become. Not to mention, the type of boy she wants by her side.
Topics explored include race, identity, authenticity, friendship, bravery, and living honestly. Highly recommend.
THE LIBRARY OF LOST THINGS
By L. Taylor Namey
From the author of A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow comes another story about family and love.
Darcy is a caring, book-loving heroine who's daily struggles to keep her mother's pathological hoarding a secret from the world could cost her the college life she dreams of, not to mention her growing connection with a boy from school—Asher, who's battling issues of his own.
Supported by a caring and full of life best friend, Darcy takes on extra work to meet the financial expenses of the household while juggling school, her challenging mother, and moments with Asher.
This is one for readers who like their heart strings tugged and slow, slow, slow burn romance.
HOW TO BE A GIRL IN THE WORLD
By C. Carter
Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.
HOW TO BE A GIRL IN THE WORLD is an important middle-grade novel about standing up for oneself and speaking the truth, no matter how awkward doing so may be. It will hopefully become an invaluable resource for parents and educators in opening up discussions over body positivity, touch boundaries and consent, and handling inappropriate sexual behavior. Topics that, historically, have not received the attention they deserve.
Lydia isn't sure why some of her school friends like it when boys call them names and try to see up their skirts or why she doesn't. Is there something wrong with her? And is her mom's boyfriend just overly friendly or inappropriate when he gives her long hugs or touches her knee? Too scared to articulate these concerns, Lydia turns to layers of clothing to hide her body and searches for answers and protection in a book of magic spells.
Carter does a wonderful job of letting the reader inside Lydia's head and showcasing just how difficult speaking up can be, especially when trusted adults are dismissive of one's concerns. This book is a must-read for tween girls and is sure to have a positive impact on the lives of many.
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