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H is HOUSE OF ONE THOUSAND EYES, every neighbor a spy, by Michelle Barker (book review)

book cover of The House of One Thousand Eyes, by Michelle Barker. Published by Annick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Beloved storytelling uncle,
Vanished without a trace,
will the Stasi erase Lena, too?

Visiting Uncle Erich is the high point of Lena’s week, as the 17 year old trudges through nights cleaning the Stasi secret police headquarters in East Berlin, but then he’s gone.

Again her brain feels like buzzing wasps, as it did after both parents died in a factory explosion, and Lena finally emerged from the psychiatric hospital and was sent to live with a distant aunt in the city.

Aunt now denies that her own brother even existed, but Lena is certain that she can find information in the Stasi offices, if she can just stay clear of the groping officer who always works late.

In 1980s East Germany, the walls have ears and every neighbor is a spy reporting to the House of One Thousand Eyes so the Stasi can keep their Better Germany safe.

Maybe Uncle’s actor friends from the cafe know where he was taken?
Maybe they can’t trust her because she works for the Stasi!
Maybe they can help her go somewhere safer, past the Wall, to the West?

Step back into Lena’s grey world where the Communist Party punishes original thought, truth cannot be trusted, and yet sometimes the tiniest sprout of hope may stay alive.

Read an excerpt free here, courtesy of the publisher, then check your local library or independent bookseller for the eBook or print copy delivered to you.

What freedoms do we take for granted today?
**kmm

Book info: The House of One Thousand Eyes / Michelle Barker. Annick Press, hardcover 2018, paperback 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is WITH A STAR IN MY HAND, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of With a Star In My Hand, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Trading his poems for circus tickets,
Poems as ticket to university education,
Poems as true as love and as dangerous as truth…

Abandoned by his parents as a young boy, celebrated for his poetry as a young teen, exiled from his homeland of Nicaragua as a young man, Ruben Dario moved from traditional poetic forms to creating his own and spreading Modernism throughout Central and South America.

As a storytelling poet of mestizo heritage, Dario blended Spanish and indio tales with those learned from books and travel, showcasing the world’s wideness in the decades prior to World War I rather than merely his own emotions.

Margarita Engle (Jazz Owls recommended here, Lion Island here & Mountain Dog here) brings us another biography in verse, echoing the styles which Dario embraced during different stages of his life.

“Poets must speak, no matter the punishment.
We are observers with musical voices, testifying
in the courtrooms
of nature
and human life.” – Disappointment (page 70)

How is your true voice testifying to the truth you see?
**kmm

Book info: With a Star In My Hand: Ruben Dario, Poetry Hero / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books, 2020. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is CHICKASAW ADVENTURES, history graphic novel by Tom Lyles (book review)

book cover of Chickasaw Adventures: the Complete Collection. Published by White Dog Press/Chickasaw Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

History suppressed,
achievements ignored,
yet the stories told can be remembered.

To showcase their Native American heritage for a new generation, the Chickasaw Nation released several history comic books some years ago.

Johnny is puzzled by Grandfather’s strong pride in being Chickasaw until encounters with significant cultural objects send the teen back in time to take part in pivotal events in their history.

Trade with the British in the 1740s led the Chickasaws to protect the Mississippi River against Spanish and French incursions during the Revolutionary War. They stood with the Natchez people when former allies the Choctaw chose to support the French.

The Chickasaw people were pushed ever-westward from their traditional homelands in the southeastern USA by Spanish, French, British, and American colonizers and are now headquartered in Oklahoma.

The original comics drawn by Marvel and DC comic veteran Tom Lyle plus additional episodes by other artists have just been published in a single volume. Be sure to watch the great book trailer here!

Order Chickasaw Adventures for delivery directly from the publisher or through bookshop.org to support your local independent bookstore as we #StayHomeStaySafeSaveLives.

What other stories have been made invisible by the dominant culture?
**kmm

Book info: Chickasaw Adventures: The Complete Collection. Words by Jen Marvin Edwards, art by Tom Lyle, et al. White Dog Press/ Chickasaw Press, 2019. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Will QUEEN OF THE SEA watch over them all? #GraphicNovel by Dylan Meconis (book review)

book cover of Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis, Published by Walker Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Taken to a remote island as a baby, Margaret lives with the exiled nuns whose life-work is praying for travelers on the treacherous seas.

When Albion’s king dies years later, one of his daughters reigns and one is sent to the island convent as prisoner for life.

Margaret is the only witness to a shipwreck after royal Eleanor’s arrival on the island and finds a survivor in the sea cave – someone who wants to rescue the would-be-queen!

Secrets thread through this full-color graphic novel based on the youth of Elizabeth I. Check out sample pages here free, courtesy of the publisher.

I read and wrote about Queen of the Sea some months ago, but didn’t publish the post till now.

Happy to learn that others love it as much as I do – shortlisted for the 2020 Pacific Northwest Book Awards and appearing on several Best Graphic Novels of 2019 lists!!

Secrets and not-so-secrets – what’s your favorite recent graphic novel?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Sea / story & art by Dylan Meconis. Walker Books US (Candlewick), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Gone?! How?! Audiobooks make compelling reading

This week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC are disappearance tales, one a mystery, the other filled with researched facts, both great for summer reading with your ears!

Download before Wednesday 19 June 2019 for free by clicking on the title and following the simple instructions. You have these free AudioSYNC titles as long as you keep them on your device.

You can also check them out from your local library or buy through an indie bookstore – explore all the audiobook titles available so you can read while you ride, run, walk, or work – please stay aware of your surroundings!

CD cover of The Golden Day,  by Ursula Dubosarsky | Read by Kate Rudd Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky.

Read by Kate Rudd, Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

On a mysterious field trip, their teacher disappears! Who can the 11 girls tell? Who is the poet they once met with their teacher?

As the Vietnam War rages on the nightly news, the girls fret about events closer to home… perhaps too close!

CD cover of Gulp,  by Mary Roach | Read by Emily Woo Zeller Published by Tantor Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gulp, by Mary Roach

Read by Emily Woo Zeller , Published by Tantor Audio

The science of chewing, swallowing, digesting, and eliminating what we eat mixes with stories of exorcists, pet-food taste-testing labs, mad scientists, and terrorists in this well-researched and humorous look at food, nutrition, and our alimentary canals from one end to the other.

Disappeared? Gone forever? or not…
**kmm

Torn in two, reunited – Berlin & its wall in audiobooks

The before and the after of the Berlin Wall speak to you in this week’s free AudiobookSYNC selections!

In one title, a fictional family divided in 1961 by the Wall echoes the plight of thousands of Germans during the Cold War, while a nonfiction examination of the Cold War’s end and the fall of the Wall shows long-awaited reunions.

Choose one, choose both! Just be sure to download before Wednesday 29 May 2019 so you can read with your ears as long as you retain the audio file on your device.

Big thanks to the publishers for making each week’s pair of professionally produced audiobooks available to us – free!

CD cover of A Night Divided,  by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Read by Kate Simses Published by Scholastic Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Night Divided, by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Read by Kate Simses.
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks

Suddenly, her father and brother are on the western side of the new wall dividing Berlin! The guns of East German soldiers threaten Gerta, Fritz, and their mother constantly as hope of reunion dims and even neighbors cannot be trusted. There is just one chance for freedom – Gerta and Fritz must tunnel under the Wall!

CD cover of Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War,  by Romesh Ratnesar | Read by Wes Bleed Published by Oasis Audio  by Romesh Ratnesar | Read by Wes Bleed Published by Oasis Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War, by Romesh Ratnesar

Read by Wes Bleed. Published by Oasis Audio

President Ronald Reagan’s provocative 1987 speech in West Berlin called on Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia to tear down the Wall, which fell just two years later. This book uses information from Western and Soviet sources to chronicle the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

What literal or figurative walls have you seen change in your lifetime?
**kmm

X marks pivotal 1968: TODAY’S AUTHORS EXPLORE A YEAR OF REBELLION, REVOLUTION & CHANGE, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti (YA book review)

book cover of 1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Assassinations – dreams denied.
Protests and retaliation – hope swings forward, then back.
War in our living rooms – who can look away?

This collection of non-fiction essays and memoirs by stellar YA and middle grade authors does go chronologically through 1968, but is vivid and nuanced and anguished – no dry parade of factoids on a timeline!

In “The Death of the Dream,” Kekla Magoon recounts the assasinations of Dr. King and RFK, while Laban Carrick Hill remembers those same days as a young child in a very racist Southern family “On the Wrong Side of History.”

What do you know about the 1968 student riots in Paris and Mexico City?
– the small freedoms gained in Czechoslovakia during “Prague Spring” before the USSR Communist leaders cracked down?
– the protests against Columbia University’s attempt to build a gym by razing a black neighborhood?
– the Red Guard in China during the Cultural Revolution?

Police brutality against protesters in Chicago was viewed by 90 million people on live television in 1968, research on genetics and computing raced forward in laboratories, while the Olympics and Presidential election and space race dominated the headlines.

The authors relay their personal connection or outlook to the event they chronicle, with each quarter of the year headed by Elizabeth Partridge’s recap of the Nightly News including Vietnam war fatalities – military and civilian – night after night after night.

Be sure to read the contributors’ biographies at the end: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Omar Figueroas, Paul Fleischman, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, Elizabeth Partridge.

Get it today at your favorite indie bookstore for Independent Bookstore Day!

What historic moment during your lifetime would you write about?
**kmm

Book info: 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press, 2018. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is for Taja whose future is CALLING MY NAME, by Liara Tamani (YA book review)

book cover of Calling My Name, by Liara Tamani. Published by Greenwillow | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Middle sister Taja breathes in learning like she breathes out prayers, wondering how her feelings about God intersect with her parents’ church-centered strictness, why all the rules for Black girls don’t apply for boys, if she can someday go where she is judged just for her own merits.

Grab at popularity like big brother with his new CDs and beatboxing?

Be all talk like little sister on the house telephone? (you know Taja needs her own line, Mama!)

Dare to change like Daddy wanting to learn saxophone as an adult?

From middle school and kickball with friends (praying to need a bra like they do) to high school and crushes that fizzle out or flame bright (Purity Code, meet Houston public schools), track star Taja observes and writes and tries to understand…everything.

Find this debut release by native Texas author at your local library or independent bookstore.

A generation ago, everything was different, but so much was the same.
What memory from your older relatives would you like to experience first-hand now?
**kmm

Book info: Calling My Name / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I = THE ILIAD, illustrated! by Gareth Hinds (graphic novel book review)

book cover of The Iliad; a Graphic Novel Adaptation, by Gareth Hinds. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

After The Odyssey
comes the war against Troy,
and the gods have chosen sides!

As with his adaptation of The Odyssey, Hinds quotes the important speeches that drive the story forward and transmutes the voluminous descriptive text into his illustrations.

Keeping track of so many names and affiliations in the classic Greek tale is so much easier with Hinds’ distinct armor and headgear, color-coding, and layouts.

The ugly business of war in colorful garb…

Who was right in the Trojan War?
**kmm

Book info: The Iliad: A Graphic Novel Adaptation / Gareth Hinds. Candlewick Press, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

In wartime, love is written WITHIN THESE LINES, by Stephanie Morrill (YA book review)

book cover of Within These Lines, by Stephanie Morrill. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Pearl Harbor,
Evacuations and preparations,
American citizens sent to concentration camps.

Yes, Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and the other ‘relocation camps’ where Japanese-Americans were sent – with only the suitcases they could carry – were concentration camps.

Trusting neighbors to safeguard their houses, selling cars and business equipment for pennies on the dollar, Japanese-Americans on the West Coast hoped to return home soon…

Parents and neighbors wouldn’t approve of their relationship, but after his family is sent to Manzanar, Taichi and Evalina write letter after letter, daring to plan a future together.

Happy book birthday on March 5th to Within These Lines!

Would you speak out against popular opinion in stressful times, as Evalina did?
**kmm

Book info: Within These Lines / Stephanie Morrill. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The budding romance between Evalina and Taichi becomes a long-distance correspondence when his family is ‘evacuated’ to Manzanar concentration camp in the California desert after Pearl Harbor.

Many disagree that Japanese-Americans are true citizens of this country during World War II, but Italian-American Evalina will keep writing persuasive letters to San Francisco newspapers and arguing with her political science professor.

With blankets for apartment walls and dust blowing like despair through any crevice at Manzanar, Taichi will stand against the pro-Japan Black Dragon gang to protect his family.

Even though mixed-race marriage is illegal in their home state, it’s worth dreaming of a future together…right?

Letter by letter, thought by thought, Evalina and Taichi are separated by many valleys and mountains, held together by hope.