Archives

Wax, by Christina Damico (book review) – wick of life burns low?

book cover of Wax by Gina Damico published by HMH Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comCandle scents galore,
Rising above her town,
Hiding ominous secrets.

Poppy loves her Vermont hometown, tolerates the tourists who flock to its legendary candle factory, cannot leave a good clue unfollowed – even when it takes her deep into the castle-like factory and its dark secrets!

And the naked guy who jumps out of her car trunk later? There must be a good explanation…

Read the first 2 chapters of Wax here free, courtesy of the author, then go get it at your local library or independent bookstore to see what Poppy and Dud discover about the candle factory’s luminous past and shadowy present, by the author of Croak (my no-spoiler review here) and other scary stuff.

Favorite candle scent?
**kmm

Book info: Wax / Gina Damico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Poppy investigates strange rumors about Paraffin, Vermont’s fabled candle factory, the 17 year old won’t let Blake’s malicious pranks or Dud’s sudden appearance stop her from saving her hometown – if she doesn’t get waxed herself.

Poppy is just trying to get everyone in Paraffin to forget her horrific performance on national TV when she hears a disturbing rumor about the Grosholtz Candle Factory and takes the tourist-tour to see for herself.

Not sure which is more weird – the old lady in the hidden hall beyond the factory tour route, the lifelike wax mannequins she creates, or the naked teen guy who leaps from the trunk of Poppy’s car at home!

Introducing Dud as a foreign exchange student to her ditzy parents gets around his complete lack of knowledge about anything in town (or life or anything), but where did he actually come from?

Poppy lets her nose for news take her back to the factory, with Dud by her side and an eerie theory in mind, despite the obvious danger and the escalating pranks pulled on her by the mayor’s son.

Who’s following Poppy and Dud?
Why can’t the police get more leads on missing persons cases?
Was the old lady’s chat just factory history or a prophecy?

Humor, horror, and miasmic clouds of candle scent fill this mysterious tale.

Littlest Bigfoot, by Jennifer Weiner (book review) – being themselves, little & big

book cover of The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.comMillie is too loud,
Alice is too strong,
If their families only understood them…

The woods outside Standish hide the Yare beings from no-fur humans, until an experiential school moves in just across the lake, close enough that Millie can hear young teen voices, ones that the tiniest Bigfoot would love to meet and sing with…

Read an excerpt from The Littlest Bigfoot at USA Today here to see why Alice is sure that her eighth school in 8 years will be not-so-good – of course, she doesn’t know that she’ll meet Millie soon!

Be sure to visit the book’s wonderful website to explore the world that Millie, Alice, and Bigfoot-hunting Jeremy share.

Share your unexpected friendship in the comments, please!
**kmm

Book info: The Littlest Bigfoot (Littlest Bigfoot, book 1) / Jennifer Weiner. Aladdin, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent away to untraditional school, Alice just wants to make a friend, but the 13 year old New Yorker never imagined that she’d meet petite Millie, a little Bigfoot with a big singing voice, or be chased by Bigfoot-hunting Jeremy from the nearby middle school, or find a way to stand up to bullying once and for all.

(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Save

Save

Shield of Kuromori, by Jason Rohan (book review) – save all or save her?

book cover of Shield of Kuromori by Jason Rohan published by Kane Miller | recommended on BooksYALove.comEvil ogres attacking Tokyo.
Ninja colleague not yet recovered.
Hero has to wonder who wins this time!

Second in the Kuromori Chronicles, raising the stakes even higher for prophesied warrior Kenny, as the teen soccer player starts learning new sword skills and how to ID evil beings in the supernatural line-up just as the bad guys try to remove him from the picture entirely!

I like that Kane-Miller asks folks to buy their books at a local independent bookstore rather than selling through their own website. Of course, you should ask for it at your local library also, so that more readers can enjoy this exciting series! (my recommendation of Book 1 here, with no spoilers)

After experiencing typhoon rains in Tokyo during my first week there, then an earthquake while waiting at the airport to leave, I can well imagine supernatural creatures below the earth or warring gods among the clouds!

Still wondering… any yokai (evil or benign) where you live?
**kmm

Book info:  Shield of Kuromori (Kuromori Chronicles, book 2) / Jason Rohan. Kane Miller, 2016. [series Facebook page]   [publisher site]   [distributor site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A new threat to his adoptive land and his ninja partner’s growing anger keep Kenny jumping as the young hero foretold in Japanese prophecy strives to master supernatural warfare, stay away from school bullies, and keep Kiyomi calm enough to fight by his side.

With Kiyomi’s behavior becoming more erratic, Kenny must decide whether to search for a way to cure her or to pursue the mysterious threat just uncovered by Japanese gods.

Who is so unleashing so many evil yokai at once?
Can two teenagers really save Japan from slow death?
A mirror or a shield?

Ancient Japanese stories, modern technology, and ages-old greed of man – all collide as Kiyomi and Kenny must unpuzzle this devious plot before evil wins the day. Follows The Sword of Kuromori in the series.

Birth of Kitaro, by Shigeru Mizuki (book review) – Japanese supernatural Yokai!

book cover of Birth of Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com Last of the ghost tribe yokai,
helped by his magic hair (and dead eyeball dad),
fighting evil beings in Japan!

While I didn’t meet any (obvious) supernatural beings during my recent trip to Japan, I am delighted to share this first volume in a new English translation of Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro series. The Japanese manga master died in December 2015, leaving a legacy of yokai tales and other graphic novels, which Drawn & Quarterly is bringing to western readers.

Visit the publisher’s page here to download a free excerpt of Kitaro’s adventures. Next book in the series arrives soon!

Any supernatural folk in your neck of the woods?
**kmm

Book info: The Birth of Kitaro (Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro) / Shigeru Mizuki; text translated by Zack Davisson. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [artist’s obituary]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fighting evil creatures is Kitaro’s specialty, but the one-eyed spirit boy and his eyeball-father aren’t always sure that the people of Japan are worth battling monstrous beings of legend.

Single-eyed newborn Kitaro digs out of his mother’s grave and quickly finds himself embroiled in struggles with malicious yokai who want to overrun modern Japan.

Can half-cat, half-girl Neko Mutsume help him outwit greedy Nezumi Otoko?
How long will his late father’s spirit animate the eyeball?
What’s the best way to banish a frightful buru-buru haunting the mountain highway?

Kitaro’s wooden geta sandals clip-clop away from each supernatural encounter, and a letter in just the right forest postbox will always bring him back, as these 7 episodes from his earliest manga appearances show. First in a series, with new English text by Zack Davisson complementing manga master Shigeru Mizuki’s well-loved illustrations.

Save

Save

This is Not a Werewolf Story, by Sandra Evans (book review) – spirit animal in the woods?

book cover of This is Not a Werewolf Story by Sandra Evans published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comFriday night escape,
away from boarding school,
back to his true form, running on four legs

A hidden lighthouse, a sadistic gym teacher, White Deer Woods where Raul just knows Mom is waiting for him – a little further from the sadness that weighed Dad down to the floor when she was gone, out into the freedom of being his wolf-self again, wondering about the missing Fresnel lens and why the new kid Vincent is nice to him.

Happy book birthday to this self-discovery story! Visit the publisher’s page here and scroll down to read chapter one, as Raul meets the new kid and secrets begin to unfold.

Have you ever felt like two beings at once?
**kmm

Book info: This Is Not a Werewolf Story / Sandra Evans. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: It’s okay that Dad doesn’t come over from Seattle to pick up Raul for the weekends – more time to explore White Deer Woods near the boarding school and learn more about his mom who disappeared.

Tuffman, the three-time Olympian who now teaches PE at this small school for kids with individual learning needs? He’s not okay, not ever!

There’s a real white deer in the woods, and magic, Raul learns. Magic that lets him become his true wolf-self (no, not a werewolf! that’s movie make-believe) and run with the beautiful wolf who must be his mother.

When a cougar is sighted in the woods, Dean Swift restricts students to the main building – but how can Raul stay away?
The abandoned lighthouse where his change-magic happens – where did its giant lens go?
Mary Anne, Sparrow, new kid Vincent, even Mean Jack are on his side – but can he escape Tuffman’s torment?

A white wolf, secrets that divide and bring together – Raul is a young man trying to unravel a hidden agenda at school as the secret in White Deer Woods might free him or doom him. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Sword and Verse, by Kathy MacMillan (book review) – ink + paper = death??

book cover of Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan published by HarperTeen | recommended on BooksYALove.comTaught to write by her late father.
Captured, now teaching the future king,
A slave in danger… and in love.

This land where higher order writing is reserved for the monarch has indeed rewritten history after conquering her home islands, Raisa discovers, as her good memory of Father’s lessons and her terrible curiosity reveal hidden scrolls’ secrets – but no one would believe what a slave says, even if she is the heir-apparent’s tutor!

Read an excerpt here for free, courtesy of the publisher, then look for this suspenseful January 2016 tale at your local library or independent bookstore.

Love or justice – which is the better choice?
**kmm

Book info: Sword and Verse / Kathy MacMillan. HarperTeen, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Suddenly a royal tutor in the conquerors’ land, slave Raisa must be careful not to show that she knows how to read, not to betray other Arnath slaves as they plan to escape, not to let Prince Mati see how she feels about him, even as she finds shocking information in old scrolls that could overturn everything.

Why can only the King use higher order writing to communicate with Qilara’s gods?
What treacheries are being plotted in the palace?
How can Raisa stay calm during Mati’s betrothal ceremonies?

As the slave Resistance gains strength and outside enemies threaten Qilara, Raisa must balance what she wishes for and what she has discovered in the history of the gods if she hopes to keep her head attached to her neck or any shred of Mati’s affections. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Ancient One, by T.A. Barron (book review) – forest & livelihood both in peril

book cover of The Ancient One by T.A. Barron published by Puffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comA vanished people,
towering trees of mystery,
a chance to save the world…

Now out in paperback for its 25th anniversary, Merlin Saga author T.A. Barron’s tale of a young teen striving to complete a perilous quest even as she mourns her parents’ deaths is an adventure and a celebration of the interconnectedness of life, as it weaves together old secrets, ancient peoples, time travel, and an evil bent upon conquering the world.

When have you stood strong against wrong?
**kmm

Book info: The Ancient One / T.A. Barron. Puffin Books, 2016 (paperback); Philomel Books, 1992. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video about book] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At her aunt’s Oregon home, grieving teen Kate helps Aunt Melanie try to stop out-of-work loggers from destroying a newly discovered redwood grove and is hurtled back in time to meet nature beings and Native peoples who are struggling to prevent an evil force from overtaking their world. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

X on the map, any map for Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig (book review)

book cover of The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig published by Greenwillow | recommended on BooksYALove.comTime traveling,
On a pirate ship,
If there’s a map, she can go there!

Just imagine a Gifted young woman navigating the Temptation and her interesting crew to any port present or past, nations long-swallowed by history, mythic lands – all so that her father the captain can find a way to undo her mother’s death… and perhaps undo Nix herself!

I listened to Heidi speak on a debut YA authors’ panel last week at TxLA, and she was just as funny in person as in this offbeat author interview video.

Sail into your local library or independent bookstore for the February 2016-published first adventure in this two-part sea saga (Heidi is indeed working on the second book now, she assured us!).

If you could travel to any place at any time, where would you come ashore?
**kmm

Book info: The Girl From Everywhere / Heidi Heilig. Greenwillow Books, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [video author interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her father seeks to undo her mother’s death, 16 year old half-Chinese Nix guides their time-traveling pirate ship to ports real and imagined, encountering mythic creatures and real robber barons, wondering if his quest will undo her as well.

She can guide the Temptation to any port on any map, fictional or factual, so onward goes the ship, seeking every possible cure that could keep Nix’s mother from dying in childbirth – if Slate could only find the map for the exact 1886 Honolulu where they lived.

A crowded 1774 Calcutta market where just-a-friend Kashmir rescues her, sugar barons who want to depose the king of Hawaii, today’s Coast Guard with questions for the grand wooden sailing ship in New York harbor – Nix, Slate, Kash, Rotgut, Bee and her ghost-wife Ayen travel through time and oceans on the captain’s quest.

If her mother survives childbirth in her timeline, what happens to Nix?
Is there room for love when a pirate ship can’t put down roots?
What treacherous waters must Nix cross to fulfill her own dreams?

First of a two-part adventure that spans time, tides, and every human emotion, The Girl From Everywhere wants to remain in existence, despite her father’s longing to undo her past. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

M is Madly & magic & oh my! by Amy Alward (book review)

book cover of Madly by Amy Alward published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | BooksYALove.comA love-poisoned princess is dying,
rarest ingredients needed for the cure,
the Wilde Hunt is on!

Princess Evelyn is utterly, totally, Madly in love – with herself! Now Nova’s best spell-creators must discover the unwritten, illegal love potion recipe so the antidote can be found.

Samantha races against other potion-makers like royal boyfriend and family rival Zain to save the Princess, while trying to save herself from falling in love with Zain. Hmmm… maybe that’s mere magic, too.

Would you ever use a love potion?
**kmm

Book info: Madly (Potion Diaries #1) / Amy Alward. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Born potion-maker Samantha must outwit competitors to create the antidote for Princess Evelyn’s love potion turned deadly and outsmart her own heart as she tries not to fall in love with the princess’s almost-fiance Zain – who is also her greatest rival on the Wilde Hunt for rare ingredients.

This first book in The Potion Diaries series sees Sam discover secrets from the time before Zain’s family cornered the potions market with synthetics, worry over her younger sister’s magic Talent, taste adventure and danger beyond Nova’s borders, and turn away from love… if she can. Princess Evelyn gets her chapters, too, as the love potion draws her deeper into its power. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

K for Kenny & the Sword of Kuromori, by Jason Rohan (book review) – summoned to Japan against evil

book cover of Sword of Kuromori by Jason Rohan published by Kane Miller Books | BooksYALove.comMysterious messages and mythic messengers,
motorcycle ninjas and undead attackers,
dream visions and the end of the world?

Kenny never dreamed that his granddad’s diplomatic work in post-war Japan would bring him face-to-face today with villains (human and otherwise) who try to keep the teen from stopping worldwide destruction.

Check out the book’s Facebook page for a tour of sites and monsters found in book 1.  I’m traveling in Japan this summer, so I will see torii gates and temples, but hope that I don’t encounter any nukekubi!

Any multi-tailed foxes in your dreams?
**kmm

Book info: The Sword of Kuromori / Jason Rohan. Kane Miller, 2016.  [series Facebook page]  [publisher site]  [author interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kenny thinks he’ll finally meet up with his grieving father in Japan, but the British teen finds himself detained by government officials, rescued by his grandfather’s old allies, and expected to prevent the world’s destruction using a missing sword… in just nine days!

Maybe it starts with the raccoon-thing on the plane that only he can see, or maybe when the police stop him at the Tokyo airport, or when he’s snatched from them by a ninja on a motorcycle…

His grandfather’s connections with Japan from decades past help Kenny locate the fabled sword that shares his last name so he can learn its secrets and tap into its powers, for he is the only one who can stop a slumbering dragon from being awoken to destroy the world – it is prophesied.

Messages from spirit world allies arrive in his dreams, the daughter of grandfather’s old friend teaches him martial arts moves and essential Japanese phrases, and mythic beings try to kill them in broad daylight!

Who exactly is threatening the USA west coast with a tsunami?
How can an old sword stop an unearthly weapon?
Will Kenny ever see his dad again?

First in a series filled with Japanese culture and mythological creatures, questions about loyalty and family, plus lots of adventure and humor. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)