F for FREEING FINCH to be herself, by Ginny Rorby (middle grade book review)

cover of Freeing Finch, by Ginny Rorby. Published by Starscape (Macmillan) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Old neighbor, new friend,
her body is a boy’s, but she is herself,
who else understands?

Momma taken by cancer and Dad who knows where, now all the family that Finch has is her unemployed stepfather and his new wife.

Most folks in their small northern California town think of her as a boy, but “you’re what you are in your head and heart, Finch, not what it says on your birth certificate,” Maddy assures the nearly 12-year-old as they care for rehabilitating wildlife together (p. 16).

Wondering if the scared yellow dog will ever come nearer than the food bowl at the edge of the woods, if Finch can locate her father again, if her new friend Sherri will stay friends….

Then her stepfather’s pastor suggests sending Finch to camp that will ‘cure’ her to match her birth body, Maddy is injured, and Animal Control traps the yellow dog!

Finch has to stay strong, stay true to herself, and find a way to get both Maddy and the dog Ben home.

How can we support trans friends and others whose families pressure them to conform?
**kmm

Book info: Freeing Finch / Ginny Rorby. Starscape (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is WITH A STAR IN MY HAND, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of With a Star In My Hand, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Trading his poems for circus tickets,
Poems as ticket to university education,
Poems as true as love and as dangerous as truth…

Abandoned by his parents as a young boy, celebrated for his poetry as a young teen, exiled from his homeland of Nicaragua as a young man, Ruben Dario moved from traditional poetic forms to creating his own and spreading Modernism throughout Central and South America.

As a storytelling poet of mestizo heritage, Dario blended Spanish and indio tales with those learned from books and travel, showcasing the world’s wideness in the decades prior to World War I rather than merely his own emotions.

Margarita Engle (Jazz Owls recommended here, Lion Island here & Mountain Dog here) brings us another biography in verse, echoing the styles which Dario embraced during different stages of his life.

“Poets must speak, no matter the punishment.
We are observers with musical voices, testifying
in the courtrooms
of nature
and human life.” – Disappointment (page 70)

How is your true voice testifying to the truth you see?
**kmm

Book info: With a Star In My Hand: Ruben Dario, Poetry Hero / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books, 2020. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D Deaf and THE SILENCE BETWEEN US, by Alison Gervais (book review)

book cover of The Silence Between Us, by Alison Gervais. Published by Blink YA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lost her hearing at 13,
learned ASL at a school for the Deaf,
now…halfway across the country at a hearing high school?

Maya knows they had to move to Colorado for Mom’s job, but jumping into her senior year at a new school, needing an interpreter to understand lectures, lip-reading at lunch – exhausting.

Add her little brother’s cystic fibrosis relapses, Mom’s demanding work schedule, and trying to get a part-time job – everyone is stressed.

Not sure she’s interested in a relationship with a hearing guy, but Beau is nice and learning sign language to communicate better with her.

Why can’t he understand why Maya doesn’t want a cochlear implant?
Why can’t Beau’s wealthy father accept his college choice?
What if Maya’s best college option doesn’t choose her?

The author is Hard of Hearing, working with individuals of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community as each chooses how they interact with the hearing world amid misunderstandings, discrimination, and victories.

How are medical services near you prepared to assist Deaf patients during the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: The Silence Between Us / Alison Gervais. Blink YA, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is CHICKASAW ADVENTURES, history graphic novel by Tom Lyles (book review)

book cover of Chickasaw Adventures: the Complete Collection. Published by White Dog Press/Chickasaw Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

History suppressed,
achievements ignored,
yet the stories told can be remembered.

To showcase their Native American heritage for a new generation, the Chickasaw Nation released several history comic books some years ago.

Johnny is puzzled by Grandfather’s strong pride in being Chickasaw until encounters with significant cultural objects send the teen back in time to take part in pivotal events in their history.

Trade with the British in the 1740s led the Chickasaws to protect the Mississippi River against Spanish and French incursions during the Revolutionary War. They stood with the Natchez people when former allies the Choctaw chose to support the French.

The Chickasaw people were pushed ever-westward from their traditional homelands in the southeastern USA by Spanish, French, British, and American colonizers and are now headquartered in Oklahoma.

The original comics drawn by Marvel and DC comic veteran Tom Lyle plus additional episodes by other artists have just been published in a single volume. Be sure to watch the great book trailer here!

Order Chickasaw Adventures for delivery directly from the publisher or through bookshop.org to support your local independent bookstore as we #StayHomeStaySafeSaveLives.

What other stories have been made invisible by the dominant culture?
**kmm

Book info: Chickasaw Adventures: The Complete Collection. Words by Jen Marvin Edwards, art by Tom Lyle, et al. White Dog Press/ Chickasaw Press, 2019. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

B is BRAVE ENOUGH to beat the odds? by Kati Gardner (book review)

book cover of Brave Enough, by Kati Gardner. Published by Flux Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dancing through pain is part of ballet,
Managing pain is part of cancer treatment,
Emotional pain makes both so much harder to handle.

Of course, Davis won’t get addicted to pain medications after chemo is done…

Of course, Cason will ace the national ballet audition and escape her mother’s perfectionism…

But the human body can only do so much, and the teen psyche copes as best it can.

The “minor strain” in Cason’s strong, perfect ballerina’s leg is instead life-threatening.

The need to escape back into drugs after months of rehab is so much stronger than Davis could ever imagine.

She’s in the Atlanta pediatric oncology ward for treatment, he’s there for community service, they get along well enough… maybe.

Is Cason brave enough to even walk again?
Can Davis walk away from the pills and pain he’s caused others?
Maybe time at Camp Chemo will help them both see a future…

+++++
The author is an actor, cancer survivor, and amputee. Her next #ownvoice book, Finding Balance , starts at Camp Chemo and will be published in May 2020.

When did an outside event make you change big plans?
**kmm

Book info: Brave Enough / Kati Gardner. Flux / NorthStar, 2018. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is for Ash, saving the world again: OTAKU, by Chris Kluwe (book review)

book cover of Otaku, by Chris Kluwe. Published by Tor Forge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Saving the world is easy for Ash and her team,
they do it in-game with ease and flair…
Now, can they save the real world?

After the Water Wars, CCA’s iron religious fist forces unbelievers into overcrowded Ditchtown, stilted above drowned Miami, and the Game is their best escape.

To pay for Mom’s care, Ashley courier runs at double-speed, hoping her brother can stay out of trouble, saving just enough to rent in-Game hapticwear.

As Ashura the Terrible, her team dominates the Game leaderboard by skill and sword and rocket maneuvers, ignoring racial and sexual threats posted on the ‘Net, staying a jump ahead of those who want their secrets.

Suddenly, they are caught in a real war between theocrats who believe their own prophecies and technocrats who worship their devices and data.

Now, it’s up to this team of young women stop a humanity-ending chain reaction in real time, outside the Game, with just one life left.

+++++
Read an excerpt of Otaku at the publisher’s website here.

How do you decide what’s really worth fighting for?
**kmm

Book info: Otaku / Chris Kluwe. Tor Forge Books, 2020. [author Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

It’s almost A2Z time!

2020 logo for a-to-zchallenge.com

Every year, I wonder…
Should I push myself to post 26 times in April?

Every year, I waver… And yet again, I am saying yes.

For the NINTH year in a row, I am participating in the April A2Z Blog Challenge, starting tomorrow.

So every day of April (except Sundays), I will post short recommendations for a couple dozen great young adult and middle grade books that I’ve read recently (no spoilers), using the Challenge’s alphabetical format.

You can do the A2Z Challenge too! Sign-ups are open here – let me know what you’re blogging about!

See y’all tomorrow to kickstart your stay-at-home-stay-safe reading list!
**kmm

Not him for her Matrimony! THE VIRTUE OF SIN, by Shannon Schuren (book review)

book cover of Virtue of Sin, by Shannon Schuren, published by Penguin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Their prophet Daniel leads them all,
keeps them safe from the evil world Outside,
…if only what he said were true.

Imagine growing up in an isolated religious community, self-reliant, protected, safe in the desert away from an entire world of unbelievers.

Finally old enough to be paired in Matrimony by the leader who knows everything, absolutely everything, about you.

Except this prophet is a conman and every youth in the community is in grave danger.

How far will we follow those who promise safety from everyone not like us?
**kmm

Book info: The Virtue of Sin / Shannon Schuren. Penguin Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback June 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Safe in New Jerusalem from the outside world’s sins, Miriam and other teens are excited for the first marriage ceremonies of their generation.

But it’s not Caleb who chooses her, despite the dreams she reported to leader Daniel for years.

New husband Aaron isn’t who she thought, and neither is Daniel.

Who knows the truth here?

Cult or community in the California desert, its secrets are deep… told alternately by Miriam and Caleb.

Demon-fed magics & the SORCERY OF THORNS! by Margaret Rogerson (book review)

book cover of Sorcery of Thorns, by Margaret Rogerson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Can a book be evil or good if no one reads it?

Elisabeth knows only life in the Great Library where the most evil grimoires are caged and triple-locked, hoping to someday earn the rank of Warden and ever keep these sorcerous books from harming her land.

Now someone begins releasing the demons from these dread tomes to wreak havoc – but who and why?

Fantasy, horror, mystery… could you resist the whispers of promised power and keep the grimoires locked up?
**kmm

Book info: Sorcery of Thorns / Margaret Rogerson. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Deeply dangerous Grimoires imprisoned in the Great Libraries are being set loose upon the land of Austermeer – the Wardens suspect high sorcerers, the sorcerers know better.

Raised in a Great Library, Elisabeth hears the beings trapped within the bindings and pages of every grimoire.

Unable to prove that someone else freed the horror at Summershall, the teen is taken by sorcerer Thorn to the capital for trial.

Demon-fed magics, paper-whispered madnesses, treachery, loyalty, love, and the fate of the world!

REVENGE OF THE RED CLUB! #PeriodPower in middle school! by Kim Harrington

book cover of Revenge of the Red Club, by Kim Harrington. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Riley is so glad that girls started the Red Club at her Massachusetts middle school before she got her first period and is happy to help lead the group supporting one another through menstruation’s ups and downs.

She is beyond mad when the school administration shuts down the club due to “parent complaints,” removes the emergency supplies from the Red Club’s locker, and suddenly starts enforcing an antiquated dress code that only impacts girls.

Time for the eighth grader to use her school newspaper investigative reporting skills to find out who complained about the Red Club and how to update that dress code!

Co-leader Cee puts together an action plan, and the “Revenge of the Red Club” begins – normalizing period talk, boys wearing clothes out of dress code as allies, and more.

But can the Red Club control the way that the rest of the school reacts?

Is Cole interested in Riley or in the developing news story?

Why is Riley’s best friend Ava acting so weird?

The world would be a better place if every school had a Red Club support group, and the Hawking Middle School girls are determined to get theirs back!

Want more information about menstruation issues? Check out Period Power, by Nadya Okamoto here.

How is your school supporting this part of adolescence and everyday life?
**kmm

Book info: Revenge of the Red Club / Kim Harrington. Aladdin, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.