I've read four Fearless Fifteener books over the past two weeks, and they were all amazing! I'm so excited, over and over (so much that you're probably tired of hearing about it...), to be debuting in a year filled with so much talent and so many wonderful books. Here are my latest recommendations:
BLACKBIRD FLY by Erin Entrada Kelly is a charming and powerful middle-grade novel about a girl, Apple, who immigrated to Louisiana from the Philippines with her mom as a child. Now in middle school, Apple is having trouble fitting in. Her friends are striving to join the popular crowd, and Apple—who doesn't have everyone else's All-American looks, or eat "normal" food at home, or have a traditional, PTA-style mom—isn't helping their cause. Apple is eager to shed her Filipino identity, but her mom doesn't want her becoming too American. She also doesn't want Apple pursuing her passion for music. But Apple is determined to become a rock star, no matter what else is going on in her life. Kept afloat by The Beatles and by a new friend, Evan, who accepts her as she is, Apple finally starts to thrive. I think every middle-grader should read this lovely book about belonging and standing out! It's on sale now.
HOW TO BE BRAVE by E. Katherine Kottaras is a quiet contemporary story about Georgia, who is reeling after the recent loss of her mother and struggling to connect with her father, who has thrown his full attention into his restaurant instead of his daughter. Inspired by one of her mother's final notes to her, Georgia makes a list of things she's wanted to do but never felt brave enough to try. But as she checks items off that list, going outside her comfort zone for the first time, her world continues to change around her. A crush goes wrong. Her best friend seems to be pulling away. And all the while, Georgia is still grieving over the loss of her mother and wondering about the future—a future without her mom in it. This is a quick, powerful read. In fact, I only put it down halfway through to call my own mom. :) Check this book out when it releases November 3.
THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS by Anna Marie McLemore is a gorgeous, lyrical fairy tale. It's Romeo & Juliet set among two rival traveling performance troupes. The Palomas do a mermaid act, while the Corbeaus dance high in the trees. When they land in the same small town to start an annual festival engagement, sparks fly. Each family is convinced the other is responsible for a tragic disaster thirty years ago—and that the incident was caused by black magic. To touch a member of the opposite family is to become infected with that black magic. But after a sudden and toxic storm throws Lace Paloma and Cluck Corbeau into each other's lives, everything starts to change. The resulting story is magical realism at its best, and the writing, tinged with Spanish and French for the respective families, is just beautiful. Don't miss this book when it comes out September 15!
Finally, I read DAMAGE DONE by Amanda Panitch, a psychological thriller that released this past Tuesday! Here's how addictive this book is: I bought it at Amanda's launch party Tuesday evening and was two-thirds of the way through the book by bedtime. DAMAGE DONE is about Julia, whose twin brother perpetrated a school shooting—of which she was the only survivor. To escape the hordes of reporters, as well as neighbors and former friends who now want nothing to do with them, Julia's family leaves town. In a new city, Julia Vann becomes Lucy Black and tries to move on with her life. But her fragile peace is shattered when a figure from her past shows up...and to say too much more about the plot is to risk spoiling its twists and turns. If you enjoy dark and dangerous books where not everything is as it seems, I highly recommend this book.
As for the YA Buccaneers' Summer Reading Challenge, I was able to add one book: THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (aka The Fug Girls, whose site I have been reading for years...). I slotted this book into "Historical" because it takes place over about a decade, starting in the mid-2000s. Yes, I know that's a bit of a stretch, but how else am I supposed to finish my bingo board? And anyway, THE ROYAL WE, which is about an American college student who studies abroad and falls in love with the English crown prince, was fantastic. I highly recommend it. :)
Here's the current status of my Summer Reading Challenge bingo board: