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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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M is mystery at Enchantment Lake, by Margi Preus (book review) – unspoiled forest is motive for murders?

book cover of Enchantment Lake by Margi Preus published by University of Minnesota PressA treasure under enchantment,
unspoiled northwoods beauty,
a killer determined to own it all?

Francie is not a NYPD detective, but she played one on television, and that’s more mystery-solving experience than the local sheriff seems to have!

As deaths keep piling up (each by a different cause), even her eccentric great-aunts’ unique food combos (curry with a side of pickled beets, anyone?) can’t distract the teen from worrying that they will be the next victims.

A departure from the author’s acclaimed historical fiction Heart of a Samurai (my recommendation here) and Shadow on the Mountain, this first book in the Northwoods Mystery series is equally well-written, with interesting characters and setting.

Death by hot-dish? What casserole would you choose for your last meal?
**kmm

Book info: Enchantment Lake (Northwoods Mystery, book 1) / Margi Preus.  University of Minnesota Press, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When her great-aunts say that they’re in danger, Francie leaves summer drama camp in New York City to find mysterious deaths and rumors of treasure in the remote Minnesota lake town where it’s assumed that the 17 year old orphan can solve all mysteries because she played a kid detective on TV.

On the far shore of deep Enchantment Lake, eccentric Astrid and Jeannette tell Francie that city folks want a road through the peat bog so more mansions like the Fredericksons’ can be built. Property owners along the right-of-way have been dying oddly, and local real estate man Buck Thorne is pressuring their heirs to sell.

At the latest victim’s funeral, a poisoned casserole kills Buck, and the suspect list grows since everyone in town owns a serving dish made by the local potter.

What was Buck going to tell Francie about her long-lost mother?
Why does Buck’s stepson need so much money suddenly?
Can young law intern Nels help make any sense of these recent deaths?

Uh-oh, Francie’s grandfather demands that she return to drama camp or he’ll stop paying her expenses! But how can she when her aunt is arrested for Buck’s murder, a little boy who gets grimy every night goes missing, and someone tries to sink her kayak – with her in it!  First in the Northwoods Mystery series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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L is last days before Denton Little’s Deathdate, by Lance Rubin (book review)

US book cover of Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

US cover

Self-eulogy? ready.
Amazing last wishes completed? almost.
Ready to die tomorrow? um….

Yep, in the future, genetic testing lets (almost) everyone know their exact deathdate – but not how they’ll die. So imagine sitting around with family and friends on that last day… why was Prom scheduled for that night?

Of course, Denton still has some teen boy milestones that he wants to pass before he passes on (wink).

But what about the weird guy who says he knew Mom, who delivered Denton on the day she died, warns him to trust no one?

Happy book birthday to Denton Little’s Deathdate – in the US, that is. It was released in the United Kingdom on March 26, with a different cover. Which one do you prefer?

UK book cover of Denton Little's Deathdate by Lance Rubin

UK cover

If you knew your deathdate, what would you do differently in the months and days beforehand?
**kmm

Book info: Denton Little’s Deathdate / Lance Rubin. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015.  [author’s tumblr]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss.

My book talk: As purple slowly covers his body, Denton tries to be the best best friend ever, lose his virginity, and not freak out his family on the day he will die (hey, it’s on Mom’s calendar).

It’s okay knowing your deathdate in advance, but the DNA analysis can’t say exactly how you’ll go.

His funeral went well enough, although the high school senior was too honest about some people in his self-eulogy (left the speech at home…oops) and that weird guy showed up saying that he knew Denton’s real mom and to trust no one.

Trying to remember why he woke up in his best friend’s sister’s bedroom, to get past third base with his girlfriend Taryn, to avoid the local cop who is grandfather of guy that Denton insulted at the funeral – this is some crazy last day!

But this purple splotch on his leg that’s creeping up his body all day? Very strange.
Best friend’s mom having a file on Denton in her schoolwork drawer?  Confusing.
The letter from his mom who died the day Denton was born? Whoa…

From the peach schnapps encounter to the misspelled death threat note, Denton’s last two days of existence on this earth don’t go exactly the way he’d planned! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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