Memory Girl, by Linda Joy Singleton (fiction) – can she stay herself?

book cover of Memory Girl by Linda Joy Singleton published by CBAY Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comLife is too interesting to follow every rule.
Why must she be just a vessel for others’ memories?
Why can’t Jennza remain herself?

Centuries after a mind-virus wiped out humanity, only ShareHaven island research station remains, where no one ever dies. Each 25 years, carefully stored memories of Lost Ones are implanted into youth as lucky Families choose, their specific talents once again in this small world.

But Jennza wants to remember her explorations of the forbidden seashore and its amazing creatures, not have her 15 years of life overrun by decades of someone else’s memories through memdenity. Perhaps scientist Lila is hinting that this is possible. Maybe that’s how Nate survives outside the Fence…

What memories would you keep, above all others?
**kmm

Book info: Memory Girl / Linda Joy Singleton. CBAY Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: No one dies on ShareHaven in the centuries after mind-virus, but if 15 year old Jennza wants to be more than just a body for someone else’s life-memories, her time is running out.

When she’s Chosen by a Family known for practical hard work, Jennza knows she’ll miss sneaking over the safety fence to the sea cave creatures and mysterious boy Nate, as her own memories will be submerged by the memdenity of a Lost One whose skills are now needed.

Murder strikes their island stronghold, Jennza spots Nate inside ShareHaven, and someone else sees her secret.

How can Nate live outside the Fence where terrible beasts prowl the night?
Who is helping Jennza try to contact Nate?
Why does Daisy in her new Family hate the Milly whose memories Jennza will receive?

This future tale brings a few twists into the carefully ordered world that Jennza and her 14 born-mates must navigate as old minds that lived centuries ago are put into their young bodies.

Seven Days of You… not enough! by Cecilia Vinesse (fiction)

US book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

US cover

Why does he show up now?!
Just as she’s leaving everything she loves, forever.
Hmpfff! Hmm… Oh!

Reading this took me back to my September visit to Tokyo – konbini convenience stores, punctual and safe metro, meeting near Hachiko statue at Shibuya. And just like Sophia, I had to move back to the States just before my senior year (not recommended by either of us).

The complication of parted-in-anger Jamie returning just before she leaves? That is Sophia’s alone, and three years of deliberately not emailing each other really hasn’t erased their feelings…

Happy book birthday to Seven Days of You !

Which book cover do you prefer? (that woodblock print on the UK cover is so Japanese to me!)
**kmm

UK book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

UK cover

Book info: Seven Days of You / Cecilia Vinesse. Poppy, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Not fair! Having to go back to the States just before senior year, not visiting Dad’s new family in Paris, knowing that Jamie will be back before she leaves Tokyo, remembering their horrible argument 3 years ago…

With a week to pack up everything, say goodbye to best friends Mika and David, and re-experience her favorite things in Japan, 17-year-old Sophia gets more stressed with every second that clicks by on her countdown watch.

And suddenly Jamie is here – still funny, still cute, still complicated. He’ll get to finish high school at Tokyo Academy with their friends from around the world, while she’ll be back in New Jersey with just Mom.

Can time slow down for just this week?
Can they heal their fractured relationship in just seven days?
Can she leave him behind if they succeed?

Her departure date hasn’t changed, but Sophia’s reasons for wanting to stay have multiplied in this contemporary story weaving together bitter and sweet.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (fiction) – police + prejudice = self-protection or murder?

book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas published by Balzer + Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnarmed, he’s shot by police.
Horrified, she’s the only witness.
Telling the truth will endanger her family – can she do it?

At 16, Starr should be concerned with grades, love, and her future – not drive-by shootings and police brutality in her poor neighborhood, not white kids at her suburban private school “protesting” Kahlil’s death as a way to skip class, not worrying if her testimony will bring down the wrath of gang members and police.

Happy book birthday to The Hate U Give – wish it could be purely fiction, instead of ‘straight from the headlines’ lived experience…

How can we stop this cycle of threat, miscommunication, and death?
**kmm

Book info:The Hate U Give / Angie Thomas. Balzer + Bray, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kahlil’s murder during a routine traffic stop upends 16 year old Starr’s world as she mourns her friend’s death with her inner city neighbors, struggles to explain it to her white prep school classmates, and must decide whether to testify against that police officer, endangering everything.

Starr is two versions of herself – automatically cool black girl at the suburban prep school her parents sacrifice to pay for and then “Big Mav’s daughter who work in the store” in their poor neighborhood.

Truth or safety? Gangs and their turf wars are woven into Garden Heights.
Will her testimony send the white cop to trial? Not likely.
Can she keep being two different people, at home and at school? Tension, pressure…

If white boyfriend Chris finds out that Starr is the only witness to Kahlil’s death, surely he’ll treat her differently, and that she just couldn’t bear.

Too true, too real, The Hate U Give moves from one fatal mistake to a torrent of prejudgment and violence.

Racism, riot, murders: Dreamland Burning (fiction), by Jennifer Latham

book cover of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham published by Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRioting and looting for 14 hours,
Murder, torture, arson –
Whites erasing black community

Will is already uncomfortable as son of white father and Osage mother, so when the KKK starts recruiting in Tulsa just as he’s getting to know a Negro brother and sister, how should he react?

Rowan didn’t expect to find a body in her Tulsa yard this summer, or to swap comfortable lab internship for charity clinic work on ‘that side’ of town, or to be slammed with prejudices that her black mother and white father had shielded her from.

Listen to an interview with author Jennifer Latham here for some deep background and insights on why she wrote this book about this 1921 event which wasn’t openly discussed by black or white families in Tulsa for over 50 years.

Happy book birthday to Dreamland Burning! Look for it at your local library or independent bookstore, and find Jennifer’s first book Scarlett Undercover (my no-spoiler recommendation here) there, too.

How to see friendship as a bridge instead of a wall?
**kmm

Book info: Dreamland Burning / Jennifer Latham. Little Brown, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: First day of Rowan’s summer vacation – time to sleep in before lab internship begins, text her best friend, find a dead body in the back yard!? As the biracial teen investigates, details about Tulsa’s vicious and never-discussed 1921 race riot hit her as hard as the new episodes of prejudice she experiences today.

Working in Pop’s store, William sees his father sell Victrolas to Negro families, despite Jim Crow laws. Vernon Fish is recruiting Pop for the KKK and mocks Will as ‘half-breed’ for his Osage mother. Will decides to dare as his Pop does when a black teen wants to buy a record player, little imagining that getting to know Joseph and little sister Ruby as people instead of Negroes may shortly endanger all their lives.

Schedule glitch nixes Rowan’s resume-building internship, so she’s directed to work at the free clinic way across town from her fancy neighborhood and private school. She’ll check with her parents later.

In 1921, reports of a Negro man assaulting a white woman spread like wildfire, and white Tulsans begin attacking the black Greenwood section of town with nooses, guns, and greed.

Can Will really shoot anyone coming to the shop during the riot?
Who is the body under the floor of the servant house?
How does Rowan’s story today converge with Will’s actions over 90 years ago?

Told in voices past and present, this long-silenced episode of history comes vividly alive, as Rowan tries to understand what really happened after World War I when Will struggled to help Joseph and Ruby survive.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

Ozzie’s world is shrinking At the Edge of the Universe (fiction) by Shaun David Hutchinson

book cover of At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com First Tommy is gone,
then the memory of him is gone from every mind,
except one…

Why can’t anyone remember Tommy? His best friend since 2nd grade, boyfriend since 8th grade, love of his life – by his side on July 3rd, gone on July 4th, and no one remembers him but Ozzie!

Just published this week, you can find Ozzie’s story – with each chapter title showing a smaller and smaller diameter of the universe from science websites – at your local library or independent bookstore now.

What do you do when a friend leaves?
**kmm

Book info: At the Edge of the Universe / Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If Ozzie can just find where his boyfriend Tommy has gone, then the high school senior can stop his family from disintegrating, celebrate gender-fluid best friend Lua’s musical success, and prove to everyone that Tommy does exist!

And discover why lab partner Calvin started cutting himself after quitting the wrestling team.

And stop the universe from shrinking, shrinking, with his little Florida town at the center.

Chloe feels like an Unidentified Suburban Object, by Mike Jung (fiction)

book cover of Unidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung published by Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.comOnly Korean kid in town,
Mom and Dad won’t talk about family history.
Chloe will uncover her heritage, no matter what!

On Multicultural Kids’ Books Day, let’s travel to Chloe’s boring town where the middle-schooler’s parents won’t discuss whatever made them move from Korea to the US, and everyone assumes she’s good at math and music because “she’s Asian” since no one there knows the difference between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean!

If you’ve ever felt like a fish in the wrong school, like this book cover shows, you understand Chloe’s wish to know her family’s history.

Books as mirrors, books as windows – thank you to the organizers and supporters of Multicultural Children’s Book Day (see the list below)!

What did you do when you felt out of place?
**kmm

Book info: Unidentified Suburban Object / Mike Jung. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chloe is so frustrated with her parents’ silence about Korea and her classmates saying she gets good math grades and first chair violin in orchestra “because she’s Asian” that the thirteen year old is ready to pop!

Her new social studies teacher is Korean-American!? Chloe is so happy.
Ms. Lee assigns a family history project – Chloe is delighted!
Her parents are horrified – are they secret illegal aliens or something?

While her best friend is as obsessed with Korean culture as she is, Chloe really wants to know her family’s connection with their homeland – is that really so much to ask?
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Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity on home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents, and educators.

Census data shows that 37% of the US population consists of people of color, yet only 10% of children’s books published have diverse characters and content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books.

Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Delores Connors, Maria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson,  Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O’Malley, Stacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela Tiscareño-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

 We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also works tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

New year, new books!

photo of striped cat sleeping in square of sunlight on carpet

writing assistant Max, in supervision mode

Back online at last!

When it comes to staying on my recommendation write-up schedule, the holidays are always a challenge.

Then major woes with WordPress updates and borked website database… finally resolved after many, many days and phone calls.

So onward into 2017 and a whole slew of books just-published and on the horizon to recommend to y’all! I’ve done lots of reading, even if I haven’t done any writing.

Any upcoming titles that you are waiting for?

**kmm

Indies First – shop local, buy books, repeat!

indieboundSaturday is Indies First, encouraging us to shop first at our local independent booksellers – and to continue shopping there during the holiday season and beyond.

Check the map here for your nearest independent bookstore and take your BooksYALove wishlist with you when you shop!

Prefer shopping in your pajamas? You can buy books – and eBooks – online from indie bookstores on the group website or a local bookstore found through their Zipcode search.

Buying largely through huge online stores truly hurts your community’s economy – check this infographic for some alarming statistics.

If you are giving gift cards, remember that your local indie will sell and honor their own gift cards all year long.

As always, I receive no money or goods from links – just trying to get y’all to the good stuff!

What’s on your book wishlist these days?
**kmm

Love Blind, by C. Desir & Jolene Perry (book review) – bucket list before blindness

book cover of Love Blind by C Desir & Jolene Perry published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGoing blind or singing solo?
Confronting Mom or DJing solo?
Lists of true fears, open to true friends?

As Hailey faces encroaching blindness and Kyle faces up to his failure to protect best buddy Pavel, they meet at school and begin inching toward the uncertainties of their futures as they mark items off their personal lists of fears.

Lots of bumps along this relationship road, especially as Kyle kicks himself for allowing anyone else to help Hailey jump into intimacy.

This book in two voices is written by C. Desir (I recommended her Other Broken Things here) and Jolene Perry (check out my recommendation of Stronger Than You Know  here) whose characters in difficult situations are real, heartfelt, and honest.

Meet mostly-fearless Hailey and so-shy Kyle in this free excerpt, courtesy of the publisher.

What fear is on your list-to-conquer?
**kmm

Book info: Love Blind / C. Desir & Jolene Perry. Simon Pulse, 2016. [Christa’s site]  [Jolene’s site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her eyesight deteriorates, Hailey starts a list of fears to conquer and urges new friend Kyle to do the same. While the Chicago teens start facing their fears head-on, other emotions begin to color their relationship.

When Kyle’s dad left, all the warmth at home did also. Kyle couldn’t protect best friend Pavel from horrific bullying. How can he help Hailey with her fears list… when he’s falling in love with her?

Her guitar and her music – at least those will be left for Hailey when glaucoma takes all her sight. But how can she face a future where she’ll never see the faces of her moms or be able to truly see Kyle?

Told in alternating chapters by two authors known for their strong characters in difficult situations, Love Blind explores friendship, love, and getting beyond reasonable fears to tackle the truest ones.