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Trapped in A World Below! by Wesley King (book review)

book cover of A World Below, by Wesley King. Published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Field trip into a cavern?

Last year’s class attended a play and went to a nice restaurant in the city!

But…what if someone doesn’t like tight spaces or the dark or their classmates?

This is really not what quiet Eric or popular Silvia envisioned when their gifted class graduation trip was announced – and then comes the earthquake!

What’s your ‘worst field trip ever’ story?

**kmm

Book info: A World Below / Wesley King. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:  Trapped in Carlsbad Caverns by an earthquake, a group of eighth graders encounters people living its depths as the young teens struggle against obstacles and their own fears to reach the surface.

Routine field trip a few hours from their New Mexico town, bring some water and a snack for the short tour, simple – until the rumbles begin and the kids are separated from their teacher and chaperones!

Silvia tries to keep them together after an icy river carries them far from the Big Room, but these passageways make her claustrophobia flare up.

Quiet Eric finds himself alone in a forest of glowing mushrooms, crossing paths with a giant rat and wondering about the carved M in this “unmapped” part of the Caverns.

Trespassers in the Midnight King’s realm! And not the renegade Worms who have rejected one hundred years of tradition…

Can the classmates find their way to safety?

Why would anyone choose to live deep in the earth?

This unexpected adventure is recounted from the viewpoints of three different young people far below the surface, as well as the rescue personnel and anxious parents above ground.

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean – tales of young women & daring, edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, Anita Roy (book review)

book cover of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, edited by Murray, Dhar & Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books| recommended on BooksYALove.comNo longer victims,
many choices to be made,
young women leap, tiptoe, and march onward!

A cooking show that time-travels back to the days when food was real.

The procession of elders leads young women to the sea where their true names will be revealed.

As authors and artists in Australia and India worked together on stories (in words and/or images) to show the range of experiences that teen girls are facing and have endured and can overcome, a common thread of ‘connections’ emerged in the finished compilation.

What new connections will you make to move forward?
**kmm

Book info:  Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Stories of Imagination and Daring / edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, and Anita Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In response to rapes and attacks on young women, writers and artists from India and Australia created this anthology of stories (several with art) reflecting the possibilities beyond powerlessness.

“Little Red Suit” in future Australia battles to reach Grandmother before the voice snarling unauthorized through her shield-suit radio does.

A young woman travels from India to “Arctic Light” on a ship to protest oil drilling and climate change, despite the loss of her mother, despite the threat of imprisonment.

Kavya wavers between remaining a low-society cleaner who removes magical problems (pixies in the toilet again…) or becoming standardized which would make “The Wednesday Room” with its removed zombies and poker-playing mermaids vanish forever.

Collaborators of different cultures and countries were asked to work together on this theme, resulting in graphic-novel short stories, single-act plays, tales of now and tales of lands imagined.

Women, witchcraft, tales of TOIL & TROUBLE, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe (book review)

book cover of Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Published by Harlequin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comAll witches are old” – no.
“and evil” – not necessarily.
“and far away from here” = nope!

The stories in this teen-witch-centered anthology run from today to far-yesterday, from just around the corner to not-quite-sure-where, with love and pain and healing throughout.

Do you use the abilities that you’ve been entrusted with?
**kmm

Book info: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft / edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Harlequin Teen, 2018. [editor site] [editor site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If one only had the power to create inspiration where none exists, to release the dead from their last earthly bond, to cast a spell to bring love, peace, vengeance – these young women do!

“The Gherin Girls” channel their magic into food and plants, but it’s harder work to heal your own heart.

How can “The Well Witch” escape desperadoes invading her high desert homestead far from the river?

Releasing souls after their “Death in the Sawtooths” is Mattie’s job, but now she must stop whoever is capturing souls against their will by perverting The Lady’s powers.

Los Angeles today with skateboarders, a difficult birth in 1650 New England, the ones ever-waiting by a woodland campfire for another girl to join them – then and now, the witches are.

Moving far beyond the cliche of witch equals black-hatted, cackling old crone, this short story collection by 15 authors features many different young women who eagerly or reluctantly use the magic abilities they’ve been gifted.

The merest Touch of Gold endangers all, by Annie Sullivan (book review)

book cover of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.comGold calls to her,
like the Sirens call sailors on her ship,
like a friendly voice finally calls her from the castle…

Dangerous waters ahead for the golden-hued daughter of King Midas, restored from entrapment as a living gold statue to human form by a sacrifice that ages her father and keeps her locked away.

Only she can retrieve his stolen treasure trove and save his life – but at what cost to herself and superstitious companions?

This retelling of the King Midas story sails the seas, bringing Kora closer and closer to the stolen gold which could trap her once again.

What have you wished for and ultimately were glad not to get?
**kmm

Book info: A Touch of Gold / Annie Sullivan. BlinkYA, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked away for years after sacrifice saved her from being a statue forever, golden-skinned Kora must travel foreign seas to save her father Midas’s kingdom.

Her uncle will gladly marry Kora off in an alliance to bolster the kingdom, if anyone is brave enough to see if she’s inherited her father’s Touch.

King Midas is slipping deeper into madness after his Touch-made treasures are stolen – can Kora bring them back before it’s too late?

The gold hoard’s call to her is as alluring as the Sirens’ song is to sailors – can she resist keeping it for herself?

Every person hides secrets – are any as dangerous as Kora’s glittering abilities?

As long as her gloves keep gold from touching her skin,
as long as Duke Royce can help her find her father’s treasures,
as long as her best friend and cousin Hettie believes in her…
perhaps the Touch won’t consume Kora after all.

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.

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.

Treachery & danger for the Twice Dead! by Caitlin Seal (book review)

book cover of Twice Dead, by Caitlin Seal. Published by Charlesbridge Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrought back from death far from her country,
forced to become a spy,
even though she believes necromancy is heresy!

Not just resurrected, Naya was murdered – was she in the wrong place at the wrong time or was she assassinated?

Fellow wraith Corten knows her as a servant girl indentured to the necromancer who also sang him back to life following his early death – will he understand why she had to keep her true identity hidden?

An undead love story with deceit and treachery…
**kmm

Book info: Twice Dead (Necromancer’s Song, book 1) / Caitlin Seal. Charlesbridge Teen, 2018.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Murdered in a foreign port, Naya is horrified to be resurrected as a wraith who can change her form but may not be able to change her fate as an unwilling spy.

Death isn’t the end in Ceremor, a land that her sea captain father often visits, but the Talmiran teen still shudders to be among so many undead returned to this world by necromancers.

Now she is the abomination, a spirit body resurrected by runes inscribed on her bones, needing only the aether life-force of the living as food.

Forced to masquerade as a servant, Naya learns from Corten how to exist as a wraith, finding him a bright spot in a strange place, especially when they discover her unusual powers.

Who ordered her murder and resurrection?

Who wants to shatter the fragile peace between Ceremor and Talmir?

Is dying again the only way to escape?

First book in the Necromancer’s Song series, filled with intrigue, rune-powered devices, and treachery!

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.

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!

Light ever has a shadow – The Crescent Stone, by Matt Mikalatos (book review)

book cover of The Crescent Stone by Matt Mikalatos, published by Tyndale | recommended on BooksYALove.comNo cure for her lung disease,
so little time remains –
how should she live to make the most of it?

Who could blame Madeline for making a bargain with the shimmering man who promises that if she leaves this world for just a year, the teen’s fatal lung disease will vanish?!

However, there’s more to the story, including a grieving classmate who goes with Maddy to the joyously bright magical kingdom and now must fight their war against an impoverished and bitter nation, one night soon with no magic to protect her, and beings of many descriptions and temperaments.

Bargain to avoid death or stand fast?
**kmm

Book info: The Crescent Stone (The Sunlit Lands, book 1) / Matt Mikalatos. Tyndale, 2018. [author site]  [series website] [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A year serving the beautiful Elanil in exchange for curing her fatal lung disease sounds like a worthwhile bargain to Madeline, but when she and classmate Jason leave behind our world for realms of magic and war, they rethink their choice – between battles and luxury, alliances formed and broken, secrets kept and told.

Being acclaimed by competing nations as “the one foretold” to save them, Maddy worries about Jason on the front lines with his war unicorn, her boyfriend left behind on human Earth before she could tell him about leaving, and what other unexpected things will be required during her year of service.

If the vicious Scim warriors can capture her, the Elanil kingdom will be in dire peril.
If Maddie heeds the advice of other nations, both could fall.
If she isn’t true to her agreement with the Elanil, this breath will be her last…

First in a series with many good questions and few answers yet!