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Y for Alexander Yates’ tale of loss & belonging in The Winter Place

book cover of The Winter Place by Alexander Yates published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com Dad’s sudden death,
fast move to never-seen grandparents’ home – in Finland,
that man, everywhere, and the ghost bear…

Dad made sure that Tess and Axel learned Finnish from their late mother’s childhood book collection, but they weren’t at all prepared to wind up with their maternal grandparents far away in Finland, visited by its mythic spirits.

And the mysterious man who visits them on both sides of the Atlantic, the brown bear where none should be, and the ghost wheelchair that only Axel can see? Who could be ready for that?

Visit the book’s page here on publisher’s website and scroll down to read an excerpt as you begin to discover how Tess and Axel wound up in The Winter Place.

Where is the home of your heart’s memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Winter Place / Alexander Yates. Atheneum, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent abruptly to live with never-met grandparents in Finland after Dad’s death, Tess and little brother Axel find themselves farther from their rural New York home than they could have ever imagined, as ghostly creatures continue to visit Axel and draw them both into mysterious places that could steal them from reality forever.

Mom died when Axel was tiny, so Tess is navigating her teen years with just their offbeat professor father (who jousts at the faire each summer). Losing Dad suddenly propels the siblings to Finland to live with grandparents they don’t know, yet the Keeper who visited them in the woods at home finds them in the forest there, also.

The ghostly wheelchair following Axel is truly the Hiisi of Finnish folklore, and the brown bear spotted in their backyard perhaps is Mom’s spirit wandering in search of…

Why do ghost objects keep pestering Axel?
How many times may Tess or Axel cross over that fine line between death and life?
Will they be able to help Mom’s spirit find peace?

The strangeness that follows them from Axel’s first sighting of the bear to the fortress ruins near a Finnish lake sets this mourning sister and brother on an otherworldly path that may not lead back to the mortal world.

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.

R for reach in Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar (book review) – family secrets, magic, doom

book cover of Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar published by Kathy Dawson Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRemoving a troublesome memory
or unneeded physical attribute,
easy enough to do for Aspen’s family.

Using his ‘reach’ to steal thoughts or feelings or fears from others to keep the Cliff from falling on Grandma’s town?

Aspen sometimes can’t believe the ritual works, but the lure of snipping out someone’s memory for his own benefit is very, very hard to resist.

Go to the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt of this spooky tale (free!); the eerie paperback edition releases on June 6, 2017.

Would you reach into someone else’s memories and take one away?
**kmm

Book info: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies / Lindsay Ribar. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Summer vacation in upstate New York is no holiday for Aspen, as the teen discovers that his family’s rituals for keeping the Cliff from falling on Three Peaks are more sinister than he ever imagined.

Being able to ‘reach’ into someone’s memories or passions or skills and remove one, just by touching an important object, is his family’s secret skill, but the townspeople don’t know how the things they leave at the May Day tree are used, to heal faults in the Cliff… and more.

Is family story true, about how they became bound to the Cliff which gave the gift of reach?
What if Aspen doesn’t want to help with the ritual any longer?
And that rule about ‘never steal from family’ when you reach – why?

Superstitious tokens at the May Day tree and the power to remove memories, skills, even life itself – the Cliff and this family have a long, dark history together!

N for Rachel Neumeier, writing of the war coming to Mountain of Kept Memory (book review)

book cover of The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier published by Saga Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWar on the horizon,
her country’s sometime-god is neutral.
Kick-ass princess leaps into web of diplomacy and deceit.

If Oressa and her brother can stymie the ambition and treachery of their father the King, there’s a tiny chance of avoiding invasion by neighboring country.
Maybe the mysterious Kieba who watches over the dead gods’ memory will help them.
Maybe the brutal princes from across the sea won’t arrive.

Read an extract of epic fantasy The Mountain of Kept Memory here (courtesy of the author) to see how Oressa – and her country – got into this predicament of plagues, princes with visions of conquest, and powerless gods.

What place of power would you like to eavesdrop on?
**kmm

Book info: The Mountain of Kept Memory / Rachel Neumeier. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the author.

My book talk: The King will allow invasion, if it gives him the magic he craves, but his daughter Oressa won’t let Carastind become a slave state. With her princely brother’s help, the young woman travels to the Kieba’s spell-woven mountain domain, looking for answers that will save her homeland.

Lusting for power, the invading princes may unleash catastrophe.
Observing from a distance, the Keiba may act or may not.
Seeking peace for Carastind, Oressa may become a hostage.

A classic high fantasy with its large cast of characters (each with their own agenda regarding the dead gods’ memories) and swirling alliances, The Mountain of Kept Memory holds secrets dark, surprises deep, and worlds within its stone heart.

D is My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

book cover of My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson published by Aladdin  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDragons, mermaids, Sasquatches,
the earth is flat,
every school textbook says so.

If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…

Recently released in paperback, Gracie’s travelogue told through her Diary (chapter 1 here, free) should be at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, ask for it!

When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
**kmm

Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.

Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.

Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?

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)

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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.

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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)