Archives

Ship capsizing! Can she survive the Big Water? by Andrea Curtis (book review)

book cover of Big Water, by Andrea Curtis, published by Orca Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Storm! Shipwreck!
Are they the only survivors?
Scan for land, for rescue!

Hoping to lose herself in Sault Ste Marie, away from her parents never-ending grief, away from memories of her late twin brother, Christina thought the voyage across gigantic Georgian Bay would be summer-smooth like the last time.

Daniel hopes that he’ll be able to escape the illegal schemes that his uncle tricked him into, his heart as troubled as the storm-roiled lake waters.

No chaperones, no supplies, just their own wits and strength will get these young people to safety!

The dangerously overloaded Asia remains at the bottom of the “sixth Great Lake” and only a few bodies were recovered in the days following the 1882 disaster.

What new survival skills are on your list to learn in 2019?
**kmm

Book info: Big Water / Andrea Curtis. Orca Book Publishers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Running away from her parents’ unrelenting grief over the death of her twin brother, 17-year-old Christina is shipwrecked after a Great Lakes steamer capsizes and must work with a mysterious young man if they hope to survive.

Her parents mourn anew every time they see her instead of Jonathan, but she won’t let them pack her off to be a nursemaid or country schoolmarm.

An overheard argument on the Asia between two men – a family quarrel or criminal betrayal?

The massively overloaded steamship cannot survive this storm – how can Christina swim to a lifeboat in these heavy skirts?

She and Daniel of the argument struggle to find other survivors, a safe place to land – are any nearby islands inhabited?

Based on the true story of an 1882 shipwreck in huge Georgian Bay on Lake Huron where only two teenagers survived, Christina and Daniel’s harrowing adventures on the Big Water reveal how strong they really are.

Off with her grandmother on The Last Great Adventure, by Rebecca Behrens (book review)

book cover of The Last Grand Adventure, by Sarah Behrens. Published by Aladdin/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

To find her long-lost sister,
to find her place in a new family,
to make things the way they used to be…

In 1967, World War II was just one generation ago, the Summer of Love calls for peace, and Bea’s grandmother knows that it’s time to meet up with her sister Amelia Earhart back in their favorite childhood place, no matter what!

If someone’s dream seems possible, but very unlikely, what will you do?
**kmm

Book info: The Last Grand Adventure / Rebecca Behrens. Aladdin, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Her grandmother wants to reunite with her long-lost sister, and 12-year-old Bea wants to get away from her new stepfamily – a trip from California to Kansas sounds great! Never mind that only grandmother Pidge has heard from her sister Amelia since the famous aviator went missing or that Bea was only staying at Pidge’s new retirement village for a short visit…

With 30 years of Meelie’s letters in Pidge’s purse, the pair hops an eastbound train headed for Atchison (never mind about reservations for a sleeper), as Bea writes about their trip in her new adventure journal.

Her parents’ divorce made Bea so sad – why did Dad have to remarry?

Pidge keeps changing her mind about things – is she really in control of the situation?

Train, plane, automobile – will they get to Atchison in time to meet Meelie?

Family stories old, new, and being written form the heart of this road trip during the “summer of love” in 1967 as Pidge tries to reconnect with her beloved adventurous sister.


Syria, Turkey, Iraq – refugees & Rolling Blackouts: graphic novel by Sarah Glidden (book review)

book cover of Rolling Blackouts, by Sarah Glidden. Published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com

War hurts the innocents the most,
Refugees fleeing or staying in bombed-out homes,
True now as it was in 2016…

So much of what the Seattle Globalist journalists and ’embedded artist’ Sarah Glidden experienced as they traveled in this strife-filled area of the Middle East is repeating in the news today.

Look for this nonfiction graphic novel at your local library or independent bookstore to see what happened and is still happening in Syria and neighboring Turkey and Iraq.

Where can you go when home is no longer safe… or even there?
**kmm

Book info: Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq / Sarah Glidden. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of an independent US journalism team examining conflict in the Middle East, cartoonist Sarah Glidden shows actions and interactions resulting when people in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq are asked “Who are you?” including the young veteran of the Iraq War accompanying them as a civilian.

The Seattle Globalist team has to leave for Turkey without visas for Syria (the Syrian ambassador in DC said yes to reporting on youth culture, but no to covering drought and refugees), but they’re looking forward to interviewing many different people on their two-month journey in 2010.

“Who are you?” they ask Iraqi refugees in Syria, their Kurdish driver in Iraq who won’t go to the Arab cities, an Iranian blogger, an American couple helping students get into college, a man deported from the US, their veteran friend who returned to Iraq for perspective.

This visual chronicle of their encounters and challenges brings glimpses of understanding about the continuing conflicts resulting from modern national boundaries intersecting with long-established cultural groups’ traditional territories.


Running with Cosmos Flowers, after Hiroshima bombing, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall (book review)

book cover of Running With Cosmos Flowers: The Children of Hiroshima, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comAfter the A-bomb hits,
surviving winter in Hiroshima is so hard,
then flowers bloom in spring – and perhaps hope also?

Among the packages of desperately needed clothes and food sent to these Japanese schoolchildren when World War II ended were simple gifts of paper, pencils, and crayons from a church in the USA.

So they drew their thank-yous, sent back to the church which displayed and preserved them until today.

Ask for this story of war’s aftermath as seen through children’s eyes and art at your local library or independent bookstore.

The author’s documentary film “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard” includes the restored children’s drawings sent to All Souls’ Church in D.C. as well as archival footage showing life in Hiroshima in the days and months after the bombing.

War…
**kmm

Book info: Running with Cosmos Flowers: the Children of Hiroshima / Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing, 2014.  [book website] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Now her turn to evacuate in summer 1945, Hana-chan arrives at her aunt’s country village shortly before her mother departs with students going home… to Hiroshima.

Struggling to travel from the mountains into the city after the A-bomb strikes, Hana and her aunt are aghast at the devastation, yet try to help where they can.

Back at school in one of the few buildings remaining upright, 7 year old Hana and her young classmates worry about whether radiation sickness is contagious and how they will cope with oncoming winter weather.

Then packages arrive from America – with clothes and food and paper and pencils.

Can small gifts of paper and crayons begin to heal these broken lives?

And their thank-you drawings are sent to the USA, seen by thousands and remembered over the decades.

Based on the author’s experiences as a young girl born in Hiroshima just after World War II ended, hearing survivors’ stories and becoming part of a rebuilding nation. As usual in Japanese fiction, quotation marks aren’t used in the dialogue, but readers will soon be caught up in the story without need of this punctuation.

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.

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.

Real or not? Search for the Homestead Treasure, by Ann Treacy (book review)

book cover of Search for the Homestead Treasure, by Ann Treacy. Published by University of Minnesota Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comA family treasure,
a family tragedy –
which will drive his family’s future?

Not easy for Martin, moving from his town school, learning how to farm, being the man of the house at 14.

If he can just figure out the clues in his great-aunt’s diary and find the “dowry” brought by his grandmother from Sweden, then he can save his father’s last family connection and the farm from foreclosure.

Find this 2016 historical mystery at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your family’s treasure?
**kmm

Book info: The Search for the Homestead Treasure / Ann Treacy. University of Minnesota Press, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A year – that’s how long Martin will help Pa on the long-abandoned family farm in 1903 before he goes back to town, unless they locate its rumored treasure first.

An eternity – every heartbeat since their brother Dan died, when Ma lost her spark and Aunt Ida came to make sure Martin and little Lilly were cared for.

The summer months – how long the 14-year-old can sleep in the hayloft and read great-aunt Cora’s diary, hoping to find clues about what her mother brought to the frontier from Sweden before the war and hid in the doll house.

A fleeting moment – when Martin truly believes he can prepare the land for crops without Pa’s help, when he and Gypsy boy Samson can laugh about baseball, when he imagines finding the treasure to save the farm.

Samson becomes a good friend, the Barker boys are bullies, and Mr. Meehan wants to foreclose on the farm to snuff out Pa’s dream in the Minnesota prairie land where Martin searches for his family’s treasure.

Growing up female in USA: Our Stories, Our Voices – edited by Amy Reed (book review)

book cover of Our Stories, Our Voices. Edited by Amy Reed, published by Simon Pulse. | recommended on BooksYALove.comGirls have been marginalized,
belittled, abused, attacked, ignored –
time to tell the stories and fight injustice!

Strong personal essays by Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Sona Charaipotra, Brandy Colbert, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, Alexandra Duncan, I.W. Gregorio, Maurene Goo, Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Kuehnert, Nina LaCour, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sandhya Menon, Hannah Moskowitz, Julie Murphy, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, and Tracy Walker bring a wide range of young female experiences together in this book, begun in the wake of 2016 election.

You’ll recognize some names from my recent recommendations of their fiction – like Amy Reed – The Nowhere Girls,
Julie Murphy – Dumplin’,
Maureen Goo – I Believe in a Thing Called Love,
Sandhya Menon – When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle With Love
and others from books you’ve encountered in libraries, bookshops, and friends’ collections.

Meet them, hear their voices, find your voice, vote whenever you can!
**kmm

Book info: Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, and Growing Up Female in America / edited by Amy Reed. Simon Pulse, 2018. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Growing up female in the US became even less safe after the 2016 elections, but personal essays by 21 YA authors can bring readers empathy, empowering messages, and a measure of hope mixed with sparks toward moving forward.

Intersectionality – being female and (non-white, immigrant, LGBQT, disabled, fat, bullied) – is the reality for many of these authors who may or may not have transformed their shame, anger, or sorrow into wide-open political activism.

Essays can cover subjects which are very difficult for some readers, so the Editor’s Note specifies which titles discuss abuse, sexual assault, and racist violence.

Read these experiences and seek out others, consult the resources given, be aware of the powers each of us has to steer the future, make your voice heard.

Baseball (and bullies) and The Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser (book review)

book cover of Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser, published by Margaret K McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comBaseball practice needs a flat open space,
so the city park is a great place!
But sharing the outfield with the zoo can be beastly!

Nick and his buddies love baseball, practicing whenever and wherever they can (no Little League yet in Wisconsin in 1948). They’re thrilled when the new owner of the town’s pro team promises a chance for kids to be on the field for opening day! (or is it just for boys?)

Read the first chapter here to meet Nick and the rhino (free, courtesy of the publisher), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for the rest of the story.

Your close encounter with unusual animals and/or minor league baseball?
**kmm

Book info: The Rhino in Right Field / Susan DeKeyser. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: For the chance to be Mudpuppy batboy for day, 12-year-old Nick will do anything – work harder in Pop’s shoe repair shop, help uncle Spiro with mysterious errands – as the baseball team’s new owner plans an extravaganza for Opening Day.

That bully Pete thinks he’ll be chosen batboy, but Nick can win this contest based on essay-writing and baseball skills – if only his Pop would sign the permission slip… hmmm

He and Ace practice fielding with Penny (wow, can she throw!), hoping Nick’s baseball won’t wind up in the rhino enclosure (again).

His Greek immigrant father is sure that working hard in the family shop is Nick’s destiny, but Uncle Spiro wants to make his own way in post-World War II Wisconsin.

Where will Nick be on Opening Day – in the Mudpuppy dugout or listening on the radio in the shoe shop?

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!