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Names They Gave Us – enough against chaos? by Emery Lord (book review)

book cover of Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.com She did everything properly,
all promises kept on her side of the bargain,
but evidently God has other plans for her mom…

Asked by her own parents to be counselor at a different camp, while Mom recovers at their family’s church camp just around the lakeshore – Lucy is angry at God for letting the cancer come back and at her boyfriend for ‘pausing’ their relationship for summer.

If she can salvage even a scrap of comfort from working with little kids who spend the summer at Daybreak to escape terrible situations…

This mid-May 2017 novel is stirring, honest, and powerful – faith isn’t always strong, past history is often murky, and the future is never promised to anyone.

(personally, I think the title has no relevance to the story at all. Wonder why @EmeryLord agreed to it – but authors don’t have total control over titles and rarely have a say about the cover art).

Have you ever bargained with God?
**kmm

Book info: The Names They Gave Us / Emery Lord. Bloomsbury Teens, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: All Lucy wants is summer at her parents’ church camp so she can get over Mom’s cancer returning and her boyfriend ‘pausing’ their perfect relationship, but the midwest teen finds herself at another camp nearby, where worry and hope (and Jones) wrestle for her attention.

The counselors and the campers at Daybreak all carry heavy burdens of past circumstances – Mom thinks this is better for Lucy than being with her between chemo sessions?

Just a mile between both camps so Lucy can still hear Dad’s sermons every Sunday – why does that distance seem to change constantly all summer?

Deepening friendships with fellow counselors during their summer together, especially with Henry Jones – can she have a crush on him, so soon after Lukas?

Big concerns affecting her littlest campers, fretting over chemo effects, wondering if she can remember every tiny detail about Mom, huge secrets revealed and memories made. God didn’t keep his side of Lucy’s bargain to keep Mom healthy, but perhaps Lucy doesn’t have to stay mad at him forever.

Diaries of life, despair, hope – on audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us the hopes, dreams, and fears of American teens in their own varied voices.

Please download these complete, professionally recorded audiobooks before midnight PDT Wednesday, May 17, 2017. You can listen to them whenever you want, as long as you have them saved on your computer or electronic device.

Download great audiobooks all summer long at http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes | Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe Published by Recorded Books |recommended on BooksYALove.comBronx Masquerade (download here free through May 17)
by Nikki Grimes
Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe
Published by Recorded Books

During poetry slams at their inner city high school, 18 young people express their fears and hopes aloud.
 

Teenage Diaries: Then and Now (download here free through May 17)CD cover of Teenage Diaries Then and Now by Radio Diaries | Read by Hosted by Joe Richman Published by HighBridge Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Radio Diaries
Read by Hosted by Joe Richman
Published by HighBridge Audio

Five diverse people who recorded their lives as teens on the award-winning NPR series in the 90s return to speak about their lives as adults.

How do you chronicle your life story?
**kmm

Her future? It Started With Goodbye! by Christina June (book review)

book cover of It Started With Goodbye by Christina June published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot her fault!
Not fair!
Not the worst thing after all?

Tatum’s unwarranted ‘house arrest’ after (former?) BFF Ashlyn’s big mistake plus petsitting to pay the fine and all those community service hours sweltering outdoors… the only good things about this summer are her growing design business (and flirting with one particular client), getting to know Abby (so much ivy to eradicate!), and having grandma Blanche (how could uptight stepmother be this free spirit’s daughter?) at home.

Happy book birthday this week to It Started With Goodbye!

How to draw the line between supporting a friend and enabling them?
**kmm

Book info:  It Started With Goodbye / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Attacking overgrown vines wasn’t Tatum’s plan for summer, but starting her design business online (and flirtatious emails with SK) might make ‘house arrest’ and community service a bit more bearable.

After her BFF’s bad judgment puts the Virginia teen completely under her rigid stepmother’s supervision while Dad is overseas, only pet-sitting or doing community service can get Tate out of the house shared with perfect stepsister Tilly, the ballet prodigy. Luckily, they don’t know how happy Tate is that Tilly’s grandmother Blanche is here for the summer.

Interesting to become friends with Abby and Hunter – will they ever act on their growing attraction?
Exciting that her TLC Design is getting clients online – who is SK and will she ever meet him?
Still sad that Ashlyn won’t acknowledge her part in that fiasco – will she ever answer Tate’s emails?

A bit magical having abuela Blanche on her side – almost like a Cinderella story!

X for X-factor kids, the Randoms on space station, by David Liss (book review)

book cover of Randoms by David Liss published by Simon Schuster  | recommended on BooksYALove.comChosen for intelligence,
leadership,
and weirdness…

Of course, an intensive school on space station requires the best and brightest students from every known civilization – so why is sci-fi nerd Zeke the fourth kid on Earth’s team?

Because our popular sci-fi movies and television shows were preparing us for the actual alien tech that’s out there!

Look for Randoms in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore now before grabbing book 2, Rebels. Book 3, Renegades, hits the shelves in September 2017.

What does your favorite sci-fi teach us about life and friendship?
**kmm

Book info: Randoms (Randoms, book 1) / David Liss. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015; paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Recruited by the President for school on a space station, sixth grade gamer and average kid Zeke didn’t expect to be shunned by his fellow Earth students (all incredibly brilliant), visit other planets (picking up more teams for the competition), or discover that his favorite sci-fi shows were based on real alien technologies!

Then the attacks begin!

Earth’s future in the Confederation is at stake, so why was Zeke chosen?
How can he help his team succeed when they want him to stay away?
Can he level up enough that the US government will keep their promise to cure Mom?

Filled with quotes and references to all the science fiction movies, TV shows, games, and books that we love (or hate), Randoms is a rip-roaring ride into interspecies and intergalactic interactions. First in the trilogy, followed by Rebels (book 2) and Renegades (book 3).

V is Vân Ước, wishing hard for love in Cloudwish, by Fiona Wood (book review)

book cover of Cloudwish by Fiona Wood published by Poppy  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWish for love, wish for happiness,
wish to stand out as an artist,
wish to fit in at her new school…

Vân Ước worries about so many things – her mother’s deepening depression as the anniversary of her parents’ escape from Vietnam nears and how to fit in correctly as a scholarship student at her Australian private high school.

And her wishes – becoming an artist instead of a doctor (her parents’ dream), being with handsome rower Billy (her craziest dream) – seem to be coming true after that creative writing class…

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, then search for Cloudwish at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your highest wish?
**kmm

Book info: Cloudwish / Fiona Wood. Poppy, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [podcast with author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Dreams of being with handsome Billy are fruitless; dreams of making her living as an artist get Vân Ước through tough days. But the Vietnamese Australian teen may have a chance at both, if the guest creative writing teacher is right!

The transition from her Sydney immigrant neighborhood where she shares strong coffee with her lesbian-in-waiting best friend to the private school where she’s a scholarship student is jarring, as is Billy’s transformation from popular prankster to nice guy in their International Baccalaureate classes.

When a tiny bottle marked ‘wish’ just vanishes into her skin during a creative writing seminar, odd things begin to happen to Vân Ước – like Billy really paying attention to her – in a good way!

Will she be able to magically change her parents’ expectations for her future?
Can Mama’s depression be cured, years after that traumatic journey from Vietnam?
What would Jane Austen do in all these strange, changed situations?

Her name means ‘cloudwish’ – and maybe, just maybe, her dearest wishes and dreams could come true.

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
**kmm

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

T is The Last Tree, by Denise Getson – final hope for desert Earth?

book cover of The Last Tree by Denise Getson published by CBAY Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAble to make water where there is none!
Mutation? Gift?

Generations after the Devastation of chemical and biological weapons nearly wiped out life on Earth, mutations may be nature’s way of keeping humanity around, perhaps to save the very last tree in the whole world, hidden where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers once flowed.

Look for the first book in the series, Dry Souls (my no-spoiler review here), to visit Kira’s world as she first discovers her affinity for water in this parched future Earth.

How far would you go for friendship?
**kmm

Book info: The Last Tree (Dry Souls, book 2) / Denise Getson. CBAY Books, 2016. [author’s Facebook]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kira isn’t sure how she can call water through solid rock into places where it once flowed, but the United Territory Council government will stop at nothing to capture her and find out how she can bring forth water when all land is desert.

The teen must stay free so she, Tuck, and J.D. can rescue friend Tamara and continue their stealthy mission to get Kira near old lakebeds to call their waters back.

When she is asked to help a special tree, how can Kira say no?
Is this last tree in the entire world truly the Tree of Knowledge?
But how can she keep her family of friends safe from the UTC?

Kira’s adventures in the dry and toxic world introduced in Dry Souls, book one of the series, continue as she jumps across the world from danger into world-altering risks.

S for San Antonio and so many authors!

logo of Texas Library Association 2017 Annual Conference txla.org

TXLA2017 logo courtesy of Texas Library Association

By the time you read this post, I will have

– listened to Cory Doctorow, Carmen Agra Deedy, and Chelsea Clinton speaking to thousands of enrapt librarians at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in San Antonio,

– toted dozens and dozens of ARCs (advance reader copies) all over the gigantic convention center and to my hotel, as I asked publishers’ representatives which forthcoming books they adored in-house, but might get overshadowed by the season’s “big books” and blockbusters,

– and even succumbed to the lure of acquiring a few completed books signed by authors, both brand-new and deservedly famous, despite the extra weight of hardcovers and acid-free paper.

Life in the world of books and ideas and imagination is very good!

But the libraries that serve us all are threatened by drastic funding cuts at the national and state level.

Please, please, click on those links to find ways to tell legislators how libraries make a difference in your community and your life – it will take all our voices to change their minds.

What’s your best library story?
**kmm

M = Mars One & missing & mayhem, by Jonathan Maberry (book review)

book cover of Mars One by Jonathan Maberry published by Simon Schuster BYFR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSix years to prepare,
Two ships to Mars,
One pair of broken hearts…

Of course, falling in love was an inconsiderate choice on his part, but how could Tristan’s teen self keep away from charming, lovely, phenomenal Izzy – even when he knew that he’d leave the planet forever at age 16?

In this near-future Earth’s desperate gamble to find more room by settling on Mars, not everyone agrees. Despite years of planning and training and built-in safeguards, small disasters begin on the Mars One spaceships – how?

Should humankind keep reaching for the stars?
**kmm

Book info:  Mars One / Jonathan Maberry. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of Earth’s first colony crew to Mars, 16 year old Tristan is elated, fully trained, and ready to launch… except that part about leaving girlfriend Izzy forever and worrying about anti-Mars violence coming to their Wisconsin hometown.

Intense preparations for launch of Mars One’s first two ships have taken years, bypassed national borders, and been documented on all media. Even Izzy’s and Tristan’s “doomed romance” is a reality TV show (paying for her college, that’s why). And the Neo-Luddites have protested every step of the way, now bombing sites related to the mission.

One of four teens on Mars One, Tristan has faith in his mom’s rigorous engineering safety checks – why are systems having problems in space?
These families have been training together for so long – can they keep finding solutions?
Psychological testing over and over – no one aboard either ship wants the mission to fail, right?

The further the two ships travel from Earth, the longer the communications delay becomes – goodbye, Izzy. Goodbye, everything?

L is Laurent Linn’s novel about art & self, Draw the Line (book review)

book cover of Draw the Line by Laurent Linn published by Margaret K McElderry Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStay quiet.
Avoid the bullies.
If it’s only words…

Adrian cannot escape reality with video games and his graphic novel art any longer! He must stand up to Doug and the other thugs whose gay-bashing has gone from talk to violence or he won’t be able to live with himself…if he survives their wrath, that is.

Visit the book’s website here to meet all the characters who’ve moved from Adrian’s real world into the graphic novel that he’d rather live in.

The paperback of Draw the Line releases in May 2017, but grab it now to see how this epic superhero battle on paper turns out in real life.

Standing up for what’s right – who’s next?
**kmm

Book info: Draw the Line / Laurent Linn; illustrations by Laurent Linn. Margaret K McElderry Books, 2016. [book website] [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adrian escapes from his homophobic rural Texas high school by creating the detailed Renaissance world of gay superhero Graphite in graphic novel art, until violence demands action.

He finally has a date with super-sweet Lev (‘Teen Drag Queen Bingo’ in Dallas – who knew?), when a hate crime shocks their town, and Adrian knows that he must finally speak out and come out – at home and at school – regardless of the consequences.

Can the support of best friends Audrey and Trent keep him strong?
How can the school and town turn a blind eye to Doug’s attacks?
When will Adrian being himself be good enough for everyone else?

Chapters of his graphic novel with Graphite, Sultry, Willow, Oasis, and villainous Thug punctuate this story of becoming true to yourself and standing up for everyone’s rights.