W for Walrath writing Like Water On Stone (book review) – can siblings survive Armenian holocaust?

book cover of Like Water On Stone by Dana Walrath published by Delacorte PressTied to the land, torn out by the roots,
Furrows running red, victors write the history books.
Holocaust… in Armenia?

Some Christian families fled their Armenian villages when Turkish troops ransacked their homes looking for weapons in 1915.

But Papa stayed put, believing that his Muslim neighbors will remain his friends.

Papa was wrong.

Hear the long-silent voices of the Donabedian family, speaking for all Armenian Genocide victims, as their wonderings, laments, and wishes lyrically weave through this novel-in-verse where an eagle soars from the Palu village sky through the mountains above the youngest ones as they try to find safety.

Did you know about this holocaust – which marked its 100th anniversary last week – before now?
**kmm

Book info: Like Water On Stone / Dana Walrath. Delacorte Press, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [video author interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Twin brother and sister disagree often, but when Ottoman troops attack their Armenian village, the teens follow their parents’ orders and flee over the mountains with their little sister, away from the slaughter, watched over by an eagle whose quill made music in Papa’s hands in this many-voiced verse-novel.

Shahen longs to attend school in America with his uncle; his twin sister Sosi wants to stay always in their village. Papa counts Muslims and Christians as friends, teaches Shahen to play the oud with an eagle quill. Mama shows Sosi the cooking secrets, the best ways to weave.

In 1915, soldiers arrive in Palu, searching Christian homes for guns, taking away young men, and the killing begins. Mama dresses beardless Shahen as a girl, sends him with Sosa and so-small Miriam up the mountain trail before bravely returning home.

As Ardziv the eagle watches from the sky, the young ones hide and climb and grow hungry…

Can they survive to reach a place of safety?
Will they ever be able to contact Uncle in New York?
How can lifelong neighbors turn into enemies overnight?

This novel-in-verse hauntingly revisits a little-discussed historical event and the terrors experienced by Armenians of all ages when the Ottoman Empire decided that their land and their lives were forfeit during World War I.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

V is Ven traveling under the sea, where it’s eat or be eaten – Tree of Water, by Elizabeth Haydon (book review)

Tree of Water by Elizabeth Haydon published by StarscapeFrom known dangers into unknown perils,
testing the bonds of friendship,
seeking wonders under the sea.

If Ven’s curious streak made him stand out from his cautious Nain brethren, then his venture into the Sunlit Sea makes the son of earth an easy target for ocean-dwellers who don’t care at all about his mission of discovery or the fate of folk on the land.

The Tree of Water  can be read by itself, but you’ll enjoy Ven’s current adventures even more if you read the first three books (available in paperback) starting with The Floating Island (my www.abookandahug.com review here), followed by The Thief Queen’s Daughter  (my review here) and The Dragon’s Lair.

These wonderful fantasy books are recreated from fragments of the Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme ‘found’ by Haydon. If someone found pieces of your journal, what adventures would they read between the lines?
**kmm

Book info: The Tree of Water (Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, book 4) / Elizabeth Haydon; illustrated by Brandon Dorman. Starscape/Tom Doherty, 2014.     [illustrator site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping his enemies by following a mermaid under the sea will also let Ven report on its wonders to the King, if the young nain and his best friend can survive its perils!

Amariel the merrow hides Ven and Char from the Thief Queen beneath the waves, where the young King’s Reporter and his friend use a magical gift to breathe water. Too bad that it cannot protect them from the sea’s law – “Everything in the sea is food for something else” – as the son of earth and son of air are so often reminded.

An underwater forest, a hippocampus race, storms, and predators interrupt the group’s race to find the mythic Tree of Water and prevent the sea-Lirin commander from attacking the land-city!

This fourth book in this fantasy series can stand alone, but for maximum enjoyment, read them in order: The Floating IslandThe Thief Queen’s Daughter,  and The Dragon’s Lair. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

U is Universal car competition for Lowriders in Space, by Cathy Camper; illustrated by Raul the Third (book review)

book cover of Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper, art by Raul the Third, published by Chronicle BooksThree friends with a dream,
ready to work hard
to drive their lowrider into orbit!

Enjoy cool cars, playful science, Spanglish conversation (and lots of glossary notes about both), and the pride of lowrider creators as Lowriders in Space takes off.

The publisher provides a free preview of the first pages here  so you can see Raul the Third’s art as you meet Lupe, Flapjack, and Elirio.

Ask for this fun graphic novel at your local library or local independent bookstore and head for the Universal Car Competition to ride “bajito y suavecito!”

Working together on a special project – share your story in the comments, please!
**kmm

Book info: Lowriders in Space /Cathy Camper; illustrations by Raul the Third. Chronicle Books, 2014. [author site]  [illustrator site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Three friends who love custom cars work together to build the best lowrider in the galaxy so they can win enough money to open their own garage.

Lupe, Flapjack, and Elirio admire lowriders that zoom and drift, but they love cars that drive low and slow – bajito y suavecito.

This girl mechanic, expert car-washing octopus, and mosquito car-painter are so tired of working for others in the barrio. If they can win the Universal Car Contest, they will be able to open their own garage!

Can Lupe make the abandoned old junker run again?
Will Flapjack’s eight arms be enough to clean it up?
Does Elirio have time to paint their lowrider brighter than the stars?

A box of rocket parts and lots of determination add to Raul the Third’s ballpoint pen art with Sharpie accents and Cathy Camper’s mix of Spanish, English, and super science in this first book of a graphic novel pair.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

T is Torn Away, by Jennifer Brown (book review) – tornado tears apart her family & life

book cover of Torn Away by Jennifer Brown published by Little Brown Books for Young ReadersThe tornado smashed her house,
killed her mom and half-sister,
whirled away what she knew as truth…

As tornado season revs up in the Midwest and South, please be sure that your family has disaster plan in place for the likely perils in your area, including the part that Jersey’s family forgot – where to meet up when the all-clear sounds.

You’ll find this sad-but-hopeful 2014 book at your local library or independent bookstore with Jennifer Brown’s other strong books about teens in difficult situations.

Got a disaster story to share?
**kmm

Book info: Torn Away / Jennifer Brown. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As she is shuffled from her estranged dad’s house to the grandparents she never knew, Jersey regrets her harsh words to Mom and little sister on the day that a tornado swept them away.

Jersey did go into the basement when the warning sirens began, but couldn’t imagine that the tornado would really touch down in her Missouri neighborhood – or crush the dance studio with Mom and five-year-old Marin in it.

Her stepdad is devastated by their deaths and can’t cope with anything, so Jersey must go live with her alcoholic dad who abandoned them and his new family. So far away from her friends, unable to come home for any of the funerals…

Stashing tiny notes about what her mom and half-sister liked best in the old purse Marin loved, trying not to make problems for dad’s extended family who’d very grudgingly taken her in, things go from bad to terrible for the high school junior, and Jersey is forced to meet Mom’s parents who disowned her when she married.

How can she catch her fading memories of Marin and Mom?
Why don’t any of the relatives’ stories line up with what Mom told her?
Will anything ever feel right again?

Have a handkerchief handy – Jersey’s story of loss is so real and so true.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

S is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli (book review) – secret admirer? too many options!

book cover of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli published by Balzer + BrayA secret correspondent,
in this age of tell-all social media?
Too romantic for words!
But who can it be?

Hard to blame Simon for wanting to keep all drama in theater class, but he knows that mysterious “BlueGreen” of flirtatious e-mails is a guy at his school and really, really wants to meet in person.

That is, if he can keep his best friends from exploding at each other and outwit a blackmailing classmate who wants to out him before he’s ready.

This early-April release should be in your local library or independent bookstore – if not, ask for it!

Simon says the ‘homo sapiens agenda’ is that straight and white are the norm options, but he believes there should be no default setting for a human being! What do you think?
**kmm

Book info: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda / Becky Albertalli. Balzer+Bray, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss.

My book talk: Simon has a bit part in the play, but when a classmate threatens to publish his flirty emails with an anonymous guy at school, the Georgia teen must decide whether to step up to protect the sweetest guy he’s never met or set up his best friend Abby on the most awkward date ever.

As ‘Jacques’ he shares favorite music and deepest dreams with ‘Blue’ but they haven’t met in person. No one will probably care when Simon comes out publicly, but Blue hasn’t come out either, so letting nerdy Marty put their relationship on Creekwood High’s gossip tumblr isn’t the junior’s decision to make.

Best friend Abby has a huge crush on best friend Nick (who is completely oblivious), Blue wants to keep his growing relationship with Simon as email-only, and Oliver Twist rehearsals are getting strange as Marty always tries talking to Abby and Simon wonders who, who, WHO is Blue?

As hints about their true identities creep into their emails (Blue is Jewish, Jacques has two sisters), the guys discuss coming-out to their families, music to dream of the future by, and whether they should stay forever unknown to each other.

Wait, not ever get together in person?
Is this a love story or a tragedy? Simon sighs… (One of 7,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

R for road trip Finding Paris, by Joy Preble (book review) – big sis gone? little sis searches!

book cover of Finding Paris by Joy Preble published by Balzer + BrayA scavenger hunt!
In Las Vegas!
For sister who doesn’t want to be found…

It’s always been just-younger Leonora who’s watched over Paris as their mother’s rapid job turnover so often let the sisters loose wherever they lived.

Now Paris has set Leo on a scavenger hunt to find her – seems more like a wild-goose chase – and is promising to take care of Leo??

Happy book birthday to Finding Paris! (yes, most US books/movies/music are published on Tuesdays)

Ever have a scavenger hunt that was just perfect? Share, please!
**kmm

Book info: Finding Paris / Joy Preble.  Balzer + Bray, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When artsy Paris disappears, the clues she leaves for little sister Leonora send the high school junior all over Las Vegas and beyond, accompanied by cute Max she met at the diner and a growing sense of dread.

Moving from Santa Monica to Las Vegas was Mom’s idea, sure that marrying so-so gambler Tommy would stabilize their lives.

Leonora just saves her money from work, studies for SAT, and counts down until she can leave for college, med school some day. Big sister Paris creates found art, fascinating jewelry, would do anything for Leo.

Then Paris abandons Leo at an all-night diner and sends her on a scavenger hunt. Max has time before work to help Leo find her sister, so they follow clues all over Las Vegas.

The clues get frantic – what trouble is Paris escaping from?
A road trip? That far? Will Max really help?
Something important has been taken from Leo – can she get it back?

Love and loyalty are tested as secrets peel away and the miles add up.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

Q is questions about Things We Know By Heart, by Jessi Kirby (book review) – his heart in another body

book cover of Things We Know By Heart by Jessi Kirby published by HarperTeenHis organs saved five lives,
Four meetings, four grateful recipients,
But where is his heart?
Hers has stopped until she knows…

Quinn knows the rules against directly contacting those who received her boyfriend’s organs after his death, but until she sees for herself that the ‘age 19 California male’ who got Trent’s heart really made it, she will have no peace.

Things We Know By Heart will be published tomorrow, April 21, and should fly off the shelves, just as Jessi’s previous books have done. Click on a title to read my no-spoiler recommendations of Moonglass, In Honor, and Golden to meet other teens experiencing love, loss, and the difficulties of trying to move on.

Up to 8 lives can be saved by a single donor. Have you talked with your family about your organ donation wishes?
**kmm

Book info: Things We Know By Heart / Jessi Kirby. Harper Teen, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss /Abovethetreeline.

My book talk: Quinn has ghosted through the 400 days since Trent died, meeting 4 of the people whose lives changed when they received her boyfriend’s organs, but the California teen can’t move on until she sees that the guy who got his heart is really okay.

She misses everything about Trent, sleepwalked through her senior year without him, waits for the heart recipient to acknowledge the letter that she and his mom wrote. Hearing nothing, she scours the internet for transplants done in her area for male, age 19 – and discovers that Colton lives in a beach town nearby, his sister blogging his decline, surgery, and recovery.

Determined that merely glimpsing Colton alive and well will ease her mind (no matter the organ donation rules against seeking him out), Quinn drives to Shelter Cove and runs into Colton – literally!

When he asks her to kayak with him, to revisit favorite places that he missed when he was not able to travel, all Quinn can do is agree. During that magical summer, he never brings up his heart surgery or the anti-rejection drugs he must take like clockwork, and she never finds the right time to tell him why she came to Shelter Cove in the first place.

What will Colt say about the connection between his new heart and Quinn?
Does moving on mean forgetting her first love?

Every chapter begins with quotations about the heart – philosophical, medical, romantic – as Quinn struggles to be true to herself and to Trent’s memory without drowning in the past. (One of 7,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

P is photo-vigilante now herself Endangered, by Lamar Giles (book review)

book cover of Endangered by Lamar Giles published by Harper TeenClick! A compromising photo.
Click! A clever caption.
Click! Posted for all to see and mock and condemn.

Biracial ‘Panda’ makes herself unremarkable at school, submitting just-average work in digital photography class, ensuring that no one can link her to the scandalous photo-blog showing the worst sides of hypocritical students who pose as model citizens.

But someone knows that Panda is Gray Scales, and that someone has decided that mere cyberbullying isn’t enough punishment for those students at all!

This sometimes-uncomfortable look at the fine line between justice and revenge will be published on Tuesday, April 21, so ask for it at your local library or independent bookstore.
**kmm

Book info: Endangered / Lamar Giles.  Harper Teen, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss/Abovethetreeline.

My book talk: Anonymously using her photo skills to expose classmates whose fine reputations belie their true bad behavior, Lauren finds herself being stalked by ‘Admirer’ who threatens to unmask the Virginia teen’s identity.

Mocked in elementary school for her appearance, Lauren was comforted by the panda stories told by her German mom and black father. But her chosen nickname of Panda stems from an attack on her reputation in early high school, which started her quest for justice through her anonymous photo-blog.

Even her best friend Ocie (nicknamed by Panda for her OCD tendencies) doesn’t know that Gray Scales is Panda; they boo the good-on-surface baddies who are exposed there and cheer for their half-black selves (Mei is half-Chinese).

When Panda’s latest post results in more than just the predatory teacher being fired – because the “Admirer” who discovered Gray Scales’ identity physically attacks the girl involved – the stakes suddenly get much, much higher.

Deleting the Gray Scales website doesn’t stop the Admirer…
Listening to the ideas of the first guy she shamed doesn’t seem so bad…
Going from overlooked at school to being held responsible for a death she didn’t instigate is awful…

When does a quest for justice become an excuse to attack? The Admirer makes sure everything is final!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

O is Oryon in Changers: Book 2, by T Cooper & Alison Glock Cooper (book review)

book cover of Changers Book 2 Oryon by T Cooper and Allison Glock Cooper published by Black SheepWhich body will it be this time?
What lessons will Ethan learn this year – the hard way?
Any closer to discovering zer personal life mission?

Four bodies in four years – a rough way to go through high school, and with deadly enemies trying to unmask and eliminate every Changer teen!

This is the second book in the Changers series, which began when Ethan suddenly became Drew (my no-spoiler review here), so ask for them both at your local library or independent bookstore.

Visit the wearechangers.org site to post your ‘unselfies’ and consider empathy and life.

Could you stay yourself if your gender, race, or personal skills changed overnight?
**kmm

Book info: Changers: Book 2 – Oryon / T Cooper & Alison Glock Cooper. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2015.  [T Cooper author site]  [Alison Glock author site]   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Waking up on first day of sophomore year in a new body as Oryon, this teen must learn to deal with prejudice and discrimination as he struggles to obey Changer rules by avoiding his best friend from his previous identity as a girl.

Transformed overnight from a petite white female cheerleader into a tall, lanky African-American male does make Oryon’s life challenging. This year the Changer Council has kept him at the same high school, explaining his white parents as his newest foster family.

And sweet Audrey, closest friend from last year is in his homeroom! Yes! But of course, she doesn’t recognize Oryon in this body so unlike Drew’s….

Oryon decides to try out for football, but being nearer to Audrey and the other cheerleaders also means being much too close to her brother, a vicious Abider, sworn to wipe out Changers like himself…

Halfway through his/her four years of changing bodies to discover which one s/he’ll live in forever, Ethan/Drew/Oryon has to deal with the conservative Changers Council, the Radical Changers who escape the rules, the Abiders trying to uncover all Changers – and falling in love, again!  Second in the series which began with Changers Book 1: Drew.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle

N for Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman (book review) – secrets, community, threat?

book cover of Nightbird by Alice Hoffman published by Wendy Lamb BookxA family curse,
the lure of night and flight,
secrets kept and truths discovered…

Nightbird was published just this week; you can read chapter one here for free.

Hoffman’s magical realism shines here as it does in her Green Angel (my review) and Green Witch (my review), asking questions about love and curses and understanding.

And the wonderful Pink Apple Pie that Twig’s mother bakes? The author kindly provides a recipe here for those of us whose apple trees were not planted by Johnny Appleseed himself!

Should we hide what others might not understand about us?
**kmm

Book info: Nightbird / Alice Hoffman. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her day-hidden brother soars nightly over their small New England town to taste freedom, thirteen-year-old Twig wishes for friendship, little realizing that the witch’s curse on their family may link both their dreams.

The finest apple pie baker ever, her mother retreated from New York City to the family apple farm when Twig’s father left them, hiding James in the attic where his wings wouldn’t remind the folks of Sidwell about the curse on the Fowler family.

Twig is delighted when teen sisters Julia and Agate from the city move in next door, is devastated when townspeople seriously set to hunting the Sidwell Monster as James flies nightly, is determined to discover the truth about the generations-old curse that gave James his wings.

Will Twig’s mother ever feel safe in her own home town?
Who – or what – else roams the Montgomery Woods besides James?
Can love heal an ancient wrong?

Become a Nightbird  with James, delve into history and happiness with Twig and Julia, and find out why this charming town has a sudden grafitti problem in this magical tale. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Send to Kindle