Archives

S is elegant Sinclair’s, site of Mystery of the Jeweled Moth, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Jewelled Moth by Katherine Woodfine, published by Kane Miller (USA) | recommended on BooksYALove.comJewel thief on the loose,
Gangs terrorizing 1909 London’s Chinatown,
A young woman’s body in the river!
Has crime boss the Baron returned?

At Sinclair’s department store, Sophie sells ladies’ hats, Lil models elegant dresses, and both young women keep their eyes open for strange events, like the disappearance of a valuable moth-shaped brooch during an engagement party.

Time for disguises and etiquette review as they drop in on debutantes, check over clues with buddies Billy and Joe, and research the Moonbeam Diamond’s curse!

My no-spoiler recommendation of book 1, Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow, introduces Sophie and Lil as Sinclair’s Department Store opens amid rumor and mystery. Watch for book 3, Mystery of the Painted Dragon.

What disguise would you choose when sleuthing about?
**kmm

Book info: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 2) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O = Outside In with self-taught sculptor, hidden treasures, by Jennifer Bradbury (book review)

book cover of Outside In, by Jennifer Bradbury, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSecret sculpture garden
filled with Ramayana stories,
art threatened by destruction!

Ram lives by his wits and quick feet, as many orphans do in cities and towns of India.

Discovering an immense garden of sculptures hidden in the forest leads him to work and food and thrilling tales from the Ramayana.

But will his repeated journeys into another sector of the city lead the authorities to this art paradise on ‘unused land’?

This fictionalized account of the amazing Rock Garden created from cast-off materials by self-taught artist Nek Chand over 20 years was inspired by the author’s time in Chandigarh, India.

What’s your favorite “people’s art” installation?
**kmm

Book info: Outside In / Jennifer Bradbury. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum BFYR, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

B for Jerry Borrowman, author of Compassionate Soldier (book review)

cover of Compassionate Soldier by Jerry Borrowman, published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.comB is for battles fought honorably,
for being merciful to wounded enemies,
for being human in wartime.

Borrowman’s research reveals the true stories of men and women who saw past the label of “enemy” to behave with honor during the American Revolution, Civil War, World War I and onward to Vietnam and Iraq.

A British rifle inventor refuses to shoot George Washington in the back during the Revolutionary War.

Rudi, an ordinary German boy who defied Hitler’s SS recruiters, was saved by a Nazi prison guard.

The best non-fiction reads like a novel, not a fact list – check out Compassionate Soldier at your local library or independent bookstore.

What other true stories of compassion to enemies do you know?
**kmm

Book info: Compassionate Soldier: Remarkable True Stories of Mercy, Heroism, and Honor From the Battlefield / Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is for Alcott, in The Revelation of Louisa May, by Michaela MacColl (book review)

book cover of The Revelation of Louisa May, by Michaela MacColl, published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comWhy does she have to run the household instead of writing?
And keep their Underground Railroad stop functioning (and secret)?
And discern a suitor’s true nature without her mother’s guidance?

Yes, this is that Louisa May, author of Little Women and Little Men, as a teen tasked with keeping house for her sisters and philosopher father during the summer when her mother worked away from home to support the family, rather than writing.

MacColl’s historical fiction about literary women, like Emily Dickinson in Nobody’s Secret (my recommendation here), is worth adding to your list.

Which author or poet would you like to read more about?
**kmm

Book info: The Revelation of Louisa May: a Novel of Intrigue and Romance / Michaela MacColl. Chronicle Books, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Potato crop dies, HUNGER remains… by Donna Jo Napoli (book review)

book cover of Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli, published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comLife-sustaining potatoes collapse into slime,
and all over Ireland, the common people face starvation,
each village praying that it is spared, but no…

A tiny organism swept through the main food crop of Ireland in the mid-1800s, leading to a million deaths by starvation and two million people emigrating from their beloved green isle.

Lorraine doesn’t want to leave, won’t let her family starve, risks everything to make that true.

Look for this February 2018 release with Napoli’s other novels of Ireland’s past (like Hush, an Irish princess tale I recommended here) at your local library or independent bookstore.

To save your family, how far would you go?
**kmm

Book info: Hunger: A Tale of Courage / Donna Jo Napoli. Paula Wiseman/Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lorraine fights to keep her family from starving, as the potato blight hits their Irish village in 1846, but the 12 year old can only do so much alone.

Not fair that Da’s grain crop must be sold to pay land-rent to the English.
Nor that not a single hare or bird may be trapped by them on the landlord’s vast property.
Nor that so many children and parents and grandparents are dying because the potato plants cannot produce food.

Scavenging for wild plants that might strengthen her weakening little brother, Lorraine encounters the rich English landlord’s daughter presiding over a doll picnic with more food than the village has seen in months!

Would the girl share with Lorraine… or even speak to her?
When will the potatoes grow healthy again…ever?
How many more families will bury their dead and leave for the city… or even America?

Lorraine’s resourcefulness is her family’s best chance of surviving the Famine which decimated Ireland in the 1840s – may it be enough!

On their Lion Island, young people of Cuba dream and rebel, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of Lion Island, by Margarita Engle, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSongs for freedom,
words as power –
freedom from Spain, from slavery?

Did you know about Chinese immigrants who fled to Cuba, escaping racist attacks in America? They struggled for freedom from unfair indenture alongside enslaved Africans during the days when Cuba sought its independence from Spain – so many stories forgotten, lost, found, retold.

Look for this historical novel-in-verse at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Could you leave your homeland for safety, then leave again?
**kmm

Book info: Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At the confluence of Cuban, Chinese, and African cultures, poetic voices of three young people tell the stories of arrival and broken promises, despair and hope, love and the future during their island home’s early years as a nation.

To learn the proper Spanish that his Chinese mother never knew, Antonio’s African father sends him to school in La Habana city.

As he runs errands within the Chinese community for wealthy men displaced from California by anti-Asian prejudice in the post-Gold Rush years, the 12 year old meets twin sister and brother Fan and Wing.

Antonio hears stories of unfairness and change, falls in love with words, wonders if they have true power.

Fan runs away from the sugarcane fields, from forced marriage – to sing and write songs and sing true.

Wing remembers being forced from their California home, wants to help the rebels in Cuba’s mountains.

Months roll into years as the three young people help hide escaped slaves, read letters of protest sent to China and Madrid, long for power over their own lives.

Lyrically, poetically, alternating voices relate the struggles of indentured Chinese workers and enslaved African people fighting for their freedom in the 1870s as Cuba strives for independence from Spain.

Fossil-hunt feud & love – Every Hidden Thing, by Kenneth Oppel (book review)

book cover of Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the West, huge discoveries await!
Giant bones, tremendous deadly teeth,
and only one searcher can be the first to find them!

Early days of paleontology in America were more rough and tumble than scientifically sedate, and this two-voices tale of double-crosses, dangerous digging, and surprising love captures the race for fame and naming rights so well.

Read the first chapter here, courtesy of the publisher (I love when this free peek is offered!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore to continue the search for bones…really big bones.

Ever fallen in love with ‘the enemy’ – according to your family and friends?
**kmm

Book info: Every Hidden Thing / Kenneth Oppel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their fathers racing to uncover dinosaur fossils in the West, Rachel and Samuel seek their own prizes from the prehistoric world – she to be recognized as a scientist in her own right, he to find the first complete T. Rex skeleton – but treachery on Native American lands and their own fathers’ feud may bury their dreams.

It didn’t start with the fistfight between two learned paleontologists at the Academy, and it didn’t end there, because Rachel Cartland’s father had sneaked one fossil set from the New Jersey bog where Samuel Bolt’s father was digging, then denied Bolt a teaching post at Yale, then finally leapfrogged the Bolt team to the Badlands where Pawnee hunted and dinosaur bones waited to be found.

Bones sent to Mr. Bolt hint of the location of T. Rex at last – why is Prof. Cartland heading the same place with his army of helpers?

Despite warnings from his scout, Cartland and company vandalize a Sioux death memorial – does the professor care nothing for humans?

Both teams spy on the others – will this rivalry result in more injuries, damaged priceless specimens, death?

Told alternately by Samuel and Rachel, this tale of the adventurous early days of paleontology includes the discovery of unknown dinosaurs, legends come to life, and love amid the dust of the frontier.

Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow in 1909 London, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, published by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSuch a fancy new department store!
How lucky that Sophie landed a job there in Ladies’ Hats!
How dreadful that the prized Clockwork Sparrow was stolen…and that Sophie is a suspect!

And how very fortunate that orphaned Sophie finds allies in the store who help her solve the mystery and are willing to risk crossing paths with the evil Baron of 1900s London’s crime underworld!

The author introduces her Sinclair’s Mysteries in this video (love listening to her British accent!) and takes us to real-life London locales which inspired them.

How do you stand by your friends in difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 1) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked-room mystery, mysterious strangers, and even stranger deliveries make Sinclair’s Department Store of London an intriguing place to work in the early 1900s, but teens Sophie (Ladies’ Hats, recently orphaned) and Lillian (dress model, between acting jobs) discover that a missing clockwork bird holds dangerous secrets within its jeweled feathers.

How can apprentice porter Billy help the police?
Is the Clockwork Sparrow more than a beautiful music box?
Why is underworld crime boss The Baron involved?

First in the series featuring our determined young ladies and their friends in high places and low neighborhoods as they deal with ciphers, codes, churlish villains, and social class.

Hurricane Boy, separated from family after Katrina! by Laura Roach Dragon (book review)

book cover of Hurricane Boy by Laura Roach Dragon, published by Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandma scoffs at weather warnings,
Hurricane Katrina proves her unwise!
Rescue! Safety? Separated!!

This fictional account of one family’s struggles to survive Katrina’s fury, then be reunited after their rescue has been heralded as true-to-life and as frightening as reality by people in the Ninth Ward who were also there during the devastating hurricane.

Recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria spread similar destruction and disruption – be ready for more hurricanes hitting unusual locations.

But have we really learned from these disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Hurricane Boy / Laura Roach Dragon. Pelican Publishing, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When their Ninth Ward home is swept away by Hurricane Katrina, Hollis and his younger siblings are separated from big brother Jonas and grandma Gee during the evacuation – will they be able to find each other and get back to New Orleans?

Good thing that Gee had an axe in the attic so they could escape through the roof when the levee broke and flooded the house.

Lucky that rescuers could read ‘insulin’ painted on the roof and save her after the long first days with no drinking water.

Most unfortunate that Jonas had swum over to help others when Hollis, Leta, and Augie are finally taken to safety – far, far from home!

As Augie refuses unfamiliar food at the shelter, Hollis deals with people trying to take advantage of the three siblings and other kids separated from their parents, all the while wondering why his dad abandoned the family as mom died of cancer and whether he even survived the hurricane.

Who is spying on her & The Watcher in wartime? by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review)

book cover of The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…

Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.

Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore.  Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.

How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?
**kmm

Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.

After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!

The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??

Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.