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Treasure and dragons, Scales & Scoundrels! by Sebastian Girner & Galaad (book review)

book cover of Into the Dragon's Maw (Scales & Scoundrels v. 1) by Sebastian Girner & Galaad. Published by Image Comics | recommended on BooksYALove.com Magic, mystery, peril,
bandits, allies, dwarfs,
elves, dragons, mermaids…

Luvander reluctantly joins forces with three other adventurers also heading for the fabled treasure hidden deep within the Dragon’s Maw caverns.

Hmm… why does she love roast meat and riddles so much?

Who’s the guy stalking them, with that Wanted Dead or Alive poster in hand?

Elves in battle, creatures of water, and beings of fire – time and again, Luvander is asked “Who are you?”

We join her story in volume 1 as the team journeys “Into the Dragon’s Maw,” then go further afield on land and sea with “Treasurehearts” (each volume collects 5 issues of the continuing comic).

Any adventurous blood singing in your veins?
**kmm

Book info: Into the Dragon’s Maw (Scales & Scoundrels, vol.1), Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels, vol. 2) / Sebastian Girner, art by Galaad, lettering by Jeff Powell. Image Comics, 2018.   [author site]  [artist Tumblr] [publisher site] Review copies and cover images courtesy of the publisher.
book cover of Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels v. 2) by Sebastian Girner & Galaad. Published by Image Comics | recommended on BooksYALove.com

My book talk: Meet one who hunts treasure, another seeking a lost brother, a prince looking for adventure, and the bodyguard sworn to protect him on the quest in this graphic novel series set in a medieval world of magic and no little mayhem.

Luvander bows to no one during her ongoing treasure hunt, Dorma brings her dwarven guiding talents to the team, the prince wants to see beyond his kingdom while completing his adulthood challenge, and Koro must stand between him and excessive folly to get him home in one piece.

They traverse a land where dragons fiercely guard their treasure, misfortune takes many a peasant from their family, and bandits eagerly take hostage any well-to-do travelers crossing their territory.

Finding the legendary hidden treasure cave called The Dragon’s Maw is much easier than successfully avoiding its traps and perils – not even a bespelled dragon gives up one bit of its hoard without a fight!

Can Dorma find her brother who also sought to go “Into the Dragon’s Maw”?

What is the strange language Luvander speaks to statues down there?

If they escape with treasures, what curse might the team set loose on the world?

Surprises and secrets continue in volume 2 “Treasurehearts” as more of Luvander’s true self is revealed, the treasure hunters are hunted, and fire battles against the balance of power.

She is, her family is BLENDED, by Sharon M. Draper (book review)

book cover of Blended, by Sharon M. Draper. Published by Atheneum BFYR| recommended on BooksYALove.comBlack dad, white mom,
One week at Daddy’s as Isabella,
one week at Mom’s as Izzy –
but never any time for just her!

If middle school were just as easy for Izzy as playing the piano, if Mom and Daddy would just get back together again (instead of finding new partners), if racial hatred would stay away from them all!

Head to your local library or independent bookstore for this October 2018 release to meet much-loved, very worried Izzy and her blended families.

How can you add harmony to your life (piano optional)?
**kmm

Book info: Blended / Sharon M. Draper. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Isabella loves her friends and playing piano, wishes her black father and white mother would get back together, and worries about the racial hatred emerging at her Ohio middle school.

At Daddy’s fancy house, the 11-year-old has an excellent piano and teacher (big recital coming up), a waterfall shower (better for her hard-to-control hair), and Dad’s nice lady friend and her cool son Darren (another ice cream fan).

At Mom’s plain house, Izzy has a portable keyboard (better for practicing at Waffle House when Mom is working late), green bedroom walls (she prefers lavender), and John Mark who makes Mom happy (and is a really great bowler).

Alternating weeks at her parents’ houses – doesn’t Isabella have any say in this?

Official forms ask if she is white, black, other – really??

Who put that horrible racist threat in her friend Imani’s locker?

Being her blended self is as hard as dealing with two blended families, so Izzy dives into her music and tries to fix the mistakes she makes there and in her life.

Feminism now! Here We Are, by 44 voices, edited by Kelly Jensen (book review)

book cover of  Here We Are...Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen. Published by Algonquin Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comA feminist is…
angry? empowered?
quiet? loud?

All of the above, and then some!

Essays, lists, comics, and graphs from 44 authors and illustrators bring out many facets of today’s feminist movement while reflecting on its past and ways the future might go.

Where do your life and feminism intersect?
**kmm

Book info: Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak About Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen. Algonquin Books for Young Readers, 2017. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: What is feminism? Can a guy be a feminist? Can you be feminist and feminine? Many questions and many views on this crucial movement begun by our great-grandmothers are gathered in this multi-dimensional book of words and images.

From Starting the Journey with essays “Forever Feminist” by Malinda Lo and “Privilege” by Matt Nathanson to Go Your Own Way with illustrated how-to “Guide to Being a Teenage Superheroine” by Allison Peyton Steger and Rebecca Sexton, seven chapters of writing and art by women and men of varying gender, racial, sexuality, and ethnic identifications discuss the movement’s history, definitions, challenges, and victories.

“Feminism isn’t a uniform’ we’re reminded as we read and explore the intersection of “Faith and Feminism” from Muslim author Kaye Mirza, of “The Big Blue Ocean and My Big Fat Body” by Angie Manfredi, or of girls’ only future role as being “The Princess or the Witch” in Wendy Lu’s comic about growing up.

Individual entries range from light-hearted – Liz Prince’s personal journey from misogynist to feminist recounted as a comic –
to angry – cultural appropriation and cornrows by Amandla Sternberg –
to serious – Kelly Jensen’s interview with Laurie Halse Anderson and Courtney Summers about rape culture, girls’ stories, and girls’ voices
and are solidly supported with a Further Reading list of fiction, non-fiction, and online resources.

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico, by David Bowles (book review)

book cover of Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico, by David Bowles. Published by Cinco Puntos Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comGods walk the earth,
demigods arise, humans also,
in the lands we now call Mexico.

As a single narrative, this recounting of the traditional tales of creation and learning, good and evil, progress and conquest runs from the pre-dawn of the First Age through the rise of civilization with the Toltecs, Maya, and Aztecs to the coming of the Spanish whose swords and diseases killed so many and whose religion silenced these stories.

Encounter Aztec and Maya names that you might recognize, like Kukulkan and the ancient city of Chichen Itza, and many more whom you need to meet (some from as far away as possible, like god of war Huitzilopochtli).

Other mythic traditions we should pay more attention to?
**kmm

Book info: Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico / David Bowles. Cinco Puntos Press, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The myths threading through the ancestral memories of Mexico’s native peoples are brought together here in an entrancing narrative that spans the five ages.

World-shaking jealousy between bright-burning Heart of Sky and knowledge-bringing Feathered Serpent raged over millenia, the Hero Twins journeyed down into the lands of Death, the gods toyed with human kingdoms throughout time to turn peaceful allies into feuding neighbors – so many stories of loyalty and betrayal wind through the history of the place now called Mexico.

Discover the origin of the mosquito and spider monkey, learn how the Mixteca-Cloud People were born of river trees and challenged Lord Sun himself, wonder as eagle, wolf, and jaguar journey with Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl as willing sacrifices to the temple where his bloodthirsty uncles await.

Weaving together separate Toltec, Maya, and Aztec traditional tales with accents from Purepecha, Zapotec, and many more kingdoms, this deeply researched story-stream begins before humankind existed and ends with the near-erasure of the peoples of Mesoamerica by Spanish conquistadors.

Can her Sleepless knight find the assassin? by Sarah Vaughn & Leila Del Duca (book review)

book cover of Sleepless, by Sarah Vaughn and Leila Del Duca. Published by Image Comics. | recommended on BooksYALove.comHer father dead, a new king crowned.
Her destiny unclear, her life in peril!
O, that she could read the stars as her mother does, so far away!

As a royal daughter, Lady Pyppenia (Poppy to her friends) knows she has little control over her future, but she hadn’t imagined falling in love with her protector!

See the first few pages here (thank you, artist preview service) to meet Lady Poppy, her late father, and the Sleepless knight Cyrenic who swore to protect her by staying ever-awake (burning the candle of his own life at both ends). Her adorable long-eared animal friend Bini has an important role in this multicultural story, too.

If healing now would take away time from the end of your life, would you do it?
**kmm

Book info: Sleepless / Sarah Vaughn, illustrated by Leila Del Duca, with Alissa Sallah and Deron Bennett. Image Comics, 2018. [artist Twitter] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Shadows deepen in Harbeny as assassins target Lady Pyppenia, teen daughter of the late king and Mrebeshi star-reader Amena, under the protection of a magically Sleepless knight.

Each minute that Cyrenic is Sleepless removes time from his life; the strength of his bond to Lady Poppy may weaken his hold on the present as well, just as three attempts are made to kill her!

The new king orders lovely dark Poppy as companion to his pale daughter just arrived from Etland, but can the cousins ever become friends?

Princess Rellen will someday become queen, while Lady Poppy never could – why is Lord Helder wooing them both?

Poppy just wants to leave Harbeny and go back to her mother’s country – what reason does King Surno have for keeping her here?

May the Stars watch over Lady Poppy amid court intrigue, and Time keep her Sleepless knight Cyrenic in the present as his increasing drifts into the past could rob him of full attention to the dangers of now in this richly colored graphic novel collecting volumes 1-6 of the ongoing comic series.

Orphaned now, One Shadow on the Wall to guide him, by Leah Henderson (book review)

book cover of One Shadow on the Wall, by Leah Henderson. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com His late father’s voice lends advice,
His late mother’s spirit appears in silence.
Can he honor his promise to keep the family together?

No social safety nets in Mor’s Senegal village, just fishing nets, small boats, and the gang of bullies who ran away from home and threaten to steal any food he is given or money the 11-year-old can earn for his sisters’ schooling.

To meet Mor and his sisters just after their father’s burial, read chapter 1 on the publisher’s website free.

Look for this as 2017 hardcover or June 2018 paperback at your local library or independent bookstore.

When resources are scarce, how can you be resourceful?
**kmm

Book info: One Shadow on the Wall / Leah Henderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Guided by his parents’ spirits, eleven-year-old Mor strives to keep his family together, braving bullies, the sea’s perils, and well-meaning neighbors in their Senegalese fishing village – will it be enough?

So little food left when they are orphaned – how to feed his sisters?
Men also seek work – who will hire a young boy?
His brilliant sister’s school fees are due – can he stop the bully gang from stealing what he can earn?

When his former best friend tells Mor that joining the gang is the only way to keep his sisters safe, he must make a hard choice and live with its consequences.

Growing up female in USA: Our Stories, Our Voices – edited by Amy Reed (book review)

book cover of Our Stories, Our Voices. Edited by Amy Reed, published by Simon Pulse. | recommended on BooksYALove.comGirls have been marginalized,
belittled, abused, attacked, ignored –
time to tell the stories and fight injustice!

Strong personal essays by Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Sona Charaipotra, Brandy Colbert, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, Alexandra Duncan, I.W. Gregorio, Maurene Goo, Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Kuehnert, Nina LaCour, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon, Hannah Moskowitz, Julie Murphy, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, and Tracy Walker bring a wide range of young female experiences together in this book, begun in the wake of 2016 election.

You’ll recognize some names from my recent recommendations of their fiction – like Amy Reed – The Nowhere Girls,
Julie Murphy – Dumplin’,
Maureen Goo – I Believe in a Thing Called Love,
Sandhya Menon – When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle With Love
and others from books you’ve encountered in libraries, bookshops, and friends’ collections.

Meet them, hear their voices, find your voice, vote whenever you can!
**kmm

Book info: Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America / edited by Amy Reed. Simon Pulse, 2018. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Growing up female in the US became even less safe after the 2016 elections, but personal essays by 21 YA authors can bring readers empathy, empowering messages, and a measure of hope mixed with sparks toward moving forward.

Intersectionality – being female and (non-white, immigrant, LGBQT, disabled, fat, bullied) – is the reality for many of these authors who may or may not have transformed their shame, anger, or sorrow into wide-open political activism.

Essays can cover subjects which are very difficult for some readers, so the Editor’s Note specifies which titles discuss abuse, sexual assault, and racist violence.

Read these experiences and seek out others, consult the resources given, be aware of the powers each of us has to steer the future, make your voice heard.

Rapists called to justice by The Nowhere Girls, by Amy Reed (book review)

book cover of The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGang-raped her and made sure no one believed her.
Bragging online and planning their next moves…
Popularity won’t save these guys any more!

Moving to a new town during high school is no fun, but when Grace discovers that the girl who lived in this house was forced to move away because her rapists were popular guys and that the same guys are targeting other girls, she’s determined to find a way to stop them.

Read chapter one on the publisher’s website (free) as this story begins in the middle, after Lucy is assaulted and before The Nowhere Girls take action to stop sexual attackers from ruining lives in their school and community.

Relevant, so very relevant now…

Your standing up for a vital issue moment?
**kmm

Book info: The Nowhere Girls / Amy Reed. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Grace learns that the popular guys who gang-raped Lucy are still preying on girls and bragging about it online, she wants justice for the girl they shamed out of their small Oregon town and safety for the girls still here, but how?

With new friends Rosina (loves girls and punk music, not her uncle’s Mexican restaurant) and Erin (loves marine biology and Star Trek, feels like an android), they form the “Nowhere Girls” and anonymously invite every girl at Prescott High to resist the toxic sexist culture that has no consequences for the guys.

Can they warn girls in surrounding towns about these guys?
How can they convince adults that these assaults are real crimes?
What if no one comes to the secret meeting?

Breaking the dangerous status quo, creating solidarity among teen girls for safety – it’s time that The Nowhere Girls were everywhere!

The raiders are coming! Evangelina Takes Flight with her family, by Diana J. Noble (book review)

book cover of Evangelina Takes Flight, by Diana J. Noble, published by Pinata Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com Pancho Villa‘s rebels are coming!
Carry what you can and flee – or be killed!
But refugees aren’t welcomed when they cross into Texas…

So much for 13-year-old Evangelina to cope with now – a girl trying to steal her suitcase on the train (with grandfather’s secret box inside!), store signs in the Texas town that say “No Mexicans” (where can they buy food?), and wondering if they can ever go home to Mexico (is anyone safe there?).

The story is set in 1911, but many things still resonate today in the borderlands.
**kmm

Book info: Evangelina Takes Flight / Diana J. Noble. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2017. [author Facebook]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Pancho Villa and his rebel soldiers are coming? As big sister celebrates her quinceanera before the family flees their northern Mexico rancho, Evangelina worries about little Tomas’ recovering so slowly from a scorpion sting, whether grandfather can travel north with them, what they will find at her aunt’s house in Texas.

By mule wagon, with the men herding their best cattle on another trail, Evangelina’s mother gets the children to the crowded train station, but the journey onward is anything but smooth, and the Texas border town holds no welcome for refugees.

Why is wailing woman La Llorona coming into her dreams?
Will the townspeople’s prejudice keep her and Dr. Taylor from saving lives?
What is in the box grandfather gave her for safekeeping?

Evangelina might even be brave enough to attend the town meeting where rich white people are demanding that only white children can attend the school!

Riding for justice, on dinosaurs! Dactyl Hill Squad, by Daniel Jose Older (book review)

book cover of Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older, published by Arthur A. Levine Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comCivil War with dinosaurs,
Free black orphans eluding kidnapping slavers,
Actors, mystery, adventure – and pterosaurs, too!

Visit the book website for the Rescue Run video game and ride dinos like Magdalys and Mapper did! Cool map of their New York City, too.

Which dino or ptero would you ride?
**kmm

Book info: Dactyl Hill Squad / Daniel Jose Older. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Civil War, New York City, dinosaurs everywhere – everyday life for Madgalys and friends at the Colored Orphans Asylum is shattered when riots break out and kidnappers attack!

The wonderful theater for black actors is torched, the orphanage is next, so they escape on a brachyosaur, heading for the free black neighborhood across the river, and the Afro-Cuban girl discovers that she can hear and understand the dino’s thoughts!

Riding pteros to gather information, each kid’s skills will be needed as they work together with Dactyl Hill residents to rescue kidnapped orphans from the corrupt judge who’ll send them into slavery.

Who’s this Mr. Reed noted in the orphanage register?
Can Magdalys really communicate with all types of dinos?
Will she see her soldier brother again?

First in an alternative history series, with youth fighting for justice, despicable villains opposing them, and dino battle beasts on both sides of the war between slave states and freedom.