Claire L

Love from A to Z by SK Ali

Zayneb has always spoken up against her Islamophobic teacher, but one day he has finally had it and gets her suspended the week before spring break. Already having plans to travel to Qatar, she leaves a week early and stays with her Auntie Nandy. Adam is returning to Qatar to visit his dad and sister and to finally tell them about his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. On the airplane from London to Doha, Qatar, Zayneb and Adam meet. Both being Muslim and keeping a journal recording life’s marvels and oddities, they feel a connection and intrigue towards each other. Adam and Zayneb continue to run into each other in Doha, and find that they are attracted to the other. Told through alternating journal entries of marvels and oddities, Adam and Zayneb realize things about themselves, and discover ways to overcome their obstacles.

 

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali is a powerful and impactful story about two Muslim teens struggling with challenges in their life. What I find most important about this story is its realness and truthfulness. The glimpses of Doha accompanied with Islamic culture helps to set the tone for the story and allows the reader to feel as if they are connected with the characters. In addition, Ali wrote with such passion that the reader is able to step into the character’s shoes and experience their feelings. Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali is an unforgettable book that expanded my global perspective.

Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith

When the power goes out all across New York City, Lucy and Owen meet for the first time in an elevator. Not having any other plans once they are out of the shaft, they decide to spend the rest of the day together, and end up talking about postcards. However, once the power comes back on, the blackout’s spell is broken and Lucy and Owen return to their routines. A few days later, they both find out that their families are moving in complete opposite directions, and they realize this might be the last time they see each other. But as they continue their new adventures, it becomes clear that they still think about what could have been. Through a series of postcards, emails, and meet-ups, Lucy and Owen find their way back to each other in  The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith.

 

I was drawn to this story because I thought the premise of being stuck in an elevator was creative, and I was interested to see how the story would go from there. The story was well-developed and I felt transported to where the characters were in that point in time. I also really enjoyed the connection the characters shared with getting caught in the elevator during the blackout, and their postcard connection. It was really enjoyable to watch the characters grow and discover themselves, too. For lovers of geography and unexpected meet-cutes, The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith combines both in an unforgettable way.

Books: 
The Geography of You and Me Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780316254762
Availability: Available in Warehouse. Wait for Email Confirmation for ETA
Published: Poppy - March 3rd, 2015

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Hugo and his girlfriend Margaret were going to spend the last part of summer going on a train ride across the United States before starting college. At the last minute, Margaret breaks up with Hugo but encourages him to still go on the tour. The only problem being that everything was booked under the name Margaret Campbell. Hugo’s solution is to find another Margaret Campbell who is willing to be his travel companion (solely for the purpose of being the name of the reservation). He gets plenty of responses and in the end he chooses Mae—an aspiring filmmaker who’s looking for an adventure, and a new film idea. At first, their companionship is strictly business, but as the ride continues they realize it may be something more.

 

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is a contemporary approach to the intrigue of the strangers on a train premise. I immediately fell in love with Hugo and Mae, but as the story continued I loved them even more. Both characters are dealing with a sort of pressure that they try to work out on the train—Hugo is expected to go to college on scholarship with his siblings, and Mae was rejected to her dream film program for college. It’s this in common that really brings them together and helps encourage them. You couldn’t help but cheer on Hugo and Mae. In addition, the story was light-hearted making it even more enjoyable to read. You also get glimpses of the two families and what it’s like traveling by train. One of my new favorite romances, Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is a wonderful story of self-discovery on one train ride.

Books: 
Field Notes on Love Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780399559419
Availability: Backordered - ETA Unknown
Published: Delacorte Press - March 5th, 2019

Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle

Kendall and Max haven’t seen each other for a while, but they run into each other when both happen to be in New York City during the winter holidays. Kendall and Max exchange small talk. However, during this exchange, an accident occurs—and none of the bystanders tried to change the outcome. Kendall and Max are unable to forget that evening and feel guilty about not stepping in to do anything. So, when they meet at a diner to talk about it, a waitress overhears their conversation and dares them to perform seven random acts of kindness—one for each witness at the accident—before January 1. At first, they take it as a bit of a joke, but soon realize that maybe it’s a good idea.  


Together At Midnight by Jennifer Castle is a heartwarming story about two teens trying to make a difference. At first, it is about completing the dare, but by the end, it is about doing the right thing from their hearts. Max and Kendall are inspiring characters that made me think about the little moments that we overlook, and how one kind gesture can make a person’s day (or prevent certain outcomes). In addition to Max and Kendall’s perspectives, Castle also includes the perspectives of the people they help. This is a neat inclusion because it allows the reader insight into their situation and an understanding of  how the kind gesture helps them. Together At Midnight by Jennifer Castle is a hopeful book that shares the goodness of people.

Books: 
Together at Midnight Cover Image
$17.99
This title is likely unavailable. Email or call for price and availability.
ISBN: 9780062250513
Published: HarperTeen - January 2nd, 2018

The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson

Best friends Abby and Riya have spent their junior year miles apart. Wanting to fix things between them, Riya invites Abby on a trip to Europe over the summer. Abby doesn’t really know what to expect from the trip, but heads to Europe to meet Riya. Unexpectedly, Riya’s cousin Neel is also tagging along on this adventure. While Riya is annoyed by his presence, Abby doesn’t seem to mind him too much. The girls moving from country to country with Neel in tow makes for an interesting itinerary—Neel always has a tour arranged, or something else to rush off to, while the girls prefer a laid-back approach. The dynamic of the trio changes as secrets are revealed or kept secret, making for an emotionally rocky trip.


The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson is an entertaining tour of Europe, perfect for the armchair traveler. Even though their friendship isn’t always perfect, Abby and Riya are a great duo. They both look out for each other and are actively working to become the friends they once were. They also balance each other well, which creates a nice dynamic between the two. I also appreciated that this story is really based on friendship and while there is a romance that develops, it doesn’t consume the story (after all, friendship was the basis behind the whole trip). In addition, Culbertson includes many wisdoms in the story among humor and history tidbits, that all work together to make the book especially interesting. The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson is the story of two friends, set in the rich culture of Europe.

Books: 
The Wonder of Us Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780545731515
Availability: Available in Warehouse. Wait for Email Confirmation for ETA
Published: Point - April 25th, 2017

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

It was an ordinary day for April May, until her subway card didn’t work and she had to walk home. On her way, she stumbles across a new art installation. At the time she doesn’t think much of it, as many artists come to New York to show their sculptures. But, something about this statue catches her eye, and she decides to call her friend Andy to come see it, too. He agrees that it is impressive and they decide to make a video about it. They also name it Carl. The two don’t think much about it until the next morning when they find out that other Carls have popped up around the world, and that their video has gone viral. They become instantly famous. From that point, April and Andy’s lives are changed as they navigate fame and the mysteries surrounding Carl.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green is a fun and interesting read. It is easy to relate to April because she is such a human character. When she first encounters Carl, she reacts as anyone would and makes light of the situation. As  she gets caught up in the adventure and excitement of being famous, she also discovers that there are possible dangers ahead. Green’s humor really comes through the pages and you can’t help but laugh out loud. But the story also keeps you on your toes. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing is filled with humor, intrigue, and suspense until the very last page.

Books: 
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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing: A Novel (The Carls) Cover Image
$26.00
This title is likely unavailable. Email or call for price and availability.
ISBN: 9781524743444
Published: Dutton - September 25th, 2018

The Opposite of Always by Jason A Reynolds

Claire L reviewed The Opposite of Always by Jason A Reynolds - Pre-order your copy today! Due out March, 2019

Jack and Kate’s story starts on the staircase at your typical college party. Immediately, they connect over their mutual love for cereal. Jack gives Kate his number, but doesn’t hear from her for a few days. When he finds a message from her on his phone, he invites her to the first of many outings—and finally to prom. She doesn’t show up, and Jack is worried and confused. He learns Kate has an illness from which she eventually dies. Jack is absolutely devastated.

In his devastation, Jack finds himself experiencing deja vu. Suddenly, he’s back at the staircase where he and Kate first met. Just like the first time, she says “Excuse me, man, but you’re sort of damming up the steps.”


Justin A. Reynolds writes with humor and thoughtfulness as he explores the finality of death in Opposite of Always. While this was not always an easy book to read with its inevitable ending, there were so many laugh-out-loud moments. Jack had so much hope, and his hope was contagious. I actually enjoyed Jack’s re-experiencing the day he and Kate first met as it brought a familiarity to the story. I also liked how Jack re-evaluates his decisions each time he’s sent back. In addition, I loved Jack’s friends and relationship with Kate because it reminded me of how important good friendships are. Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds is an optimistic and humorous take on a more serious topic.

 

- Claire L

Books: 
Opposite of Always Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062748379
Availability: Backordered - ETA Unknown
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - March 5th, 2019

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maureen Goo

Maurene Goo incorporates humor, love, and sadness into her books and does it in a way that makes you fall in love with her characters and story. She does this again with Clara in The Way You Make Me Feel. I was even more excited when I found out the book revolved around a food truck, because that seemed like such a cool concept. And, it was.

Clara, who has never been interested in working on her father's food truck (the KoBra), is subject to working on it for the whole summer when she gets into some trouble at school. To make matters worse, she has to work with someone she can't stand, and her original summer plans are changed. But, as the summer goes on Clara's feelings towards the truck and her co-worker begin to change, and she even develops a crush towards a boy she met at one of the KoBra's stops.

Just like Maurene's last book, I found myself having so much fun reading it (I laughed out loud countless times). But, I like that the book is realistic and has some tougher moments, too. I also like how Clara changes and starts to realize things about herself and her family that she didn't really know before. This is definitely a great summer read.

 

- Claire L

Books: 
The Way You Make Me Feel Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780374304089
Availability: Available in Warehouse. Wait for Email Confirmation for ETA
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - May 8th, 2018

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