Blind Guide to Stinkville, by Beth Vrable (book review) – she’s not ‘that blind’, right?

book cover of A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel published by Sky Pony Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comLearning her way around a new town with limited sight,
coping with albinism in the sunny South,
wondering if Mom’s depression will ever lift…

Maybe Alice is right to think that she will never feel at home in the small paper mill town of Sinkville.
Or maybe she can find connections that will make her new life less stinky.

Travel to Alice’s new town today by visiting your local library or independent bookstore where you can find A Blind Guide to Stinkville as 2015 hardcover or 2016 paperback. Watch for its follow-up title, A Blind Guide to Normal, too (published in October 2016).

Do we let our first impressions of others make them ‘other’ to us?
**kmm

Book info: A Blind Guide to Stinkville / Beth Vrabel. Sky Pony Press, 2015 (hardcover), 2016 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Moving to a small South Carolina town means new challenges for sight-impaired Alice, but as she tries to get people to not see her as different, she discovers new friends and connections that are at risk when her parents discuss sending the 12 year old to school for the blind.

If people want to think that her farting Shi Tzu is a Seeing Eye dog, Alice won’t correct them.
If her best friend back in Seattle is suddenly busy with parties and boys, Alice can’t do much about that.
But when Mr. Hamlin may be forced into a nursing home, mean girl Eliza lies about Tooter attacking her, and Dad spends even more time at work as Mom retreats into depression, Alice is ready to fight!

Writing her essay for the local contest will fix everything…unless it can’t.

Followed by A Blind Guide to Normal, this story of unlooked-for changes and hopeful new beginnings finds “not that blind” Alice finding new perspectives and friendships. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Not If I See You First, by Eric Lindstrom (book review) – Blind to love?

book cover of Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom published by Poppy | recommended on BooksYALove.comA blind runner,
a set of rules for all occasions,
any room for forgiveness?

Lost her mom and her sight at age 7, lost her trust in love in 8th grade, lost her dad last year – Parker has hardened her heart against more pain, but avoiding Scott is no longer an option when their high schools merge.

Jog over to your local library or independent bookstore to meet Parker and see if her blind spot about Scott is bigger than her capacity to forgive.  Not If I See You First just came out in paperback last week.

The author, Eric Lindstrom, curated the contents of the November 2016 package for NOVLbox book service, so enter their contest here and you might be one of ten lucky winners.

What’s your blind spot?
**kmm

Book info: Not If I See You First / Eric Lindstrom. Poppy, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Merger of the New England town’s high schools places Scott back in Parker’s path, but she wants to ignore the guy who violated her trust during 8th grade, pretend that her aunt and family didn’t have to move into her house to help the blind teen cope after her father’s recent death, and brush off the track coach’s request that she train with a guide-runner for the Paralympics.

Too-honest Parker wears unique blindfolds as a fashion statement, she and best-friend-forever Sarah listen to others’ problems, and at least they didn’t have to move when the schools merged.

But can she cope with having Scott in her trig class, nightly dreams about her late father, and figuring out how this dating stuff goes with Jason?

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Into the Dim, by Janet B. Taylor (book review) – time travel into danger

book cover of Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.comMom is not dead?
Just trapped in the past,
One chance to rescue her…

Hope’s photographic memory is no fluke, but an essential part of her heritage as a Viator time traveler. And she’ll need it to complement her hasty training in knife-fighting and proper lady’s behavior before the team’s one-shot trip to 12th century England.

When Outlander author Diana Gabaldon praises a time travel book, you know it’s something special.

Read the first few chapters here courtesy of the publisher, and you’ll be hooked on Hope’s story – past and present. The sequel is due in May 2017, so start your journey Into the Dim now….

If you could travel into the past, where/when would you go?
**kmm

Book info: Into the Dim / Janet B. Taylor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hope is relieved to discover that Mom didn’t die in that earthquake, startled to learn that her mother is trapped in the 12th century, and completely unprepared to time-travel back to Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court to rescue her!

After Mom is declared dead in an earthquake, her adoptive dad’s family in Arkansas wants to ‘stop this homeschool nonsense’ that allows Hope to edge past her crippling phobias and harness her photographic memory.

Luckily, her never-met Aunt Lucinda invites Hope to Scotland, where the teen learns of her Viator lineage which enables her aunt and others to travel – carefully, very carefully – back in time, as her mother did. But Mom missed the rendezvous and is stranded in the time of King Henry II.

Ley lines, costumes, computers, training in martial arts, languages, and customs – all necessary to make that single trip back to a certain time and place. One chance per Viator, that’s it.

Can Hope master enough skills to pass as a young lady traveling with chaperone?
What does handsome neighbor Bran Cameron suspect about her aunt and the Viators?
Why did Mom bolt back into time without telling her?

First in an exciting time-travel series where one false move could undo Hope’s sanity, the Viator secret, and the world’s history. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Black River Falls, by Jeff Hirsch (book review) – epidemic memory loss (almost)

book cover of Black River Falls by Jeff Hirsch published by Clarion | recommended on BooksYALove.comSchool, family, changes.
New places, familiar faces –
Who are we without our memories?

He remembers, after the virus slammed all memories out of everyone else in Black Falls.

Now a paramilitary force has taken control of the quarantined town… not good at all.

Start at the beginning, with this free sample of the first chapters here, courtesy of the author, whose post-apocalyptic The Eleventh Plague I recommended here (no spoilers. ever).

Which memory would you never ever want to lose?
**kmm

Book info: Black River Falls / Jeff Hirsch. [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The only person to keep his memories, Cardinal discovers startling secrets as private police roll into his quarantined town six months after the virus sweeps through Black Falls.

High above the New York town, Cardinal and former bully Greer are sheltering kids whose parents forgot them (and everything else) in the woods, venturing down only when supply drops are scheduled.

So eerie and sad to visit his own house and know he’s the only one who remembers living there as a family – at least his brother was away at college when the virus hit… 10 hours after exposure, and all your memories are gone.

When Cardinal spots a new girl in town after its borders have been sealed for months, the teen knows something is wrong.

When private forces take over from the National Guard, he knows that things are going to get worse.

What caused this weird virus that only affects memory?
How can he bear seeing his mom fall in love with someone?
Why is remembering his comic book creator dad so hard?

Scary, possible, unsettling – there is no reset button on the the human brain…

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.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights, by Stephen Emond (book review) – challenging times for first love

book cover of Bright Lights Dark Nights by Stephen Emond published by Roaring Brook | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe’s white, she’s black,
Foo Fighters fans, first love delights!
Their friends and family? not so happy…

Until scintillating Naomi comes into Walter’s very dull urban life, he hadn’t really worried about girls before. Complicates things a bit, that she’s little sister of his pal for all things comic books and rap.

Shouldn’t be a big issue that they’re an interracial couple in these days, but then his cop dad is reprimanded for racial profiling and decides to present his side of the case on social media…

Read chapter one here (without the artwork, alas) courtesy of the publisher, then check out the story in all its duality – black and white, love and anger, words and art, urban smooth and suburban entrenchment, personal responsibility and anonymous attacks – at your local library or independent bookstore, as hardcover or new August 2016 paperback.

When to stand together in the face of society’s obstacles?
**kmm

Book info:  Bright Lights, Dark Nights / Stephen Emond. Roaring Brook, 2015 (hardcover); 2016, Square Fish (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A racial profiling scandal gone viral imperils the new relationship between Walter and Naomi, as his white cop dad ‘tries too hard’ to solve vandalism in their grim urban neighborhood.

Why can’t they just enjoy the Foo Fighters’ music and start falling toward being in love?
Shouldn’t being an interracial couple just be normal now?
How does the old news of his parents’ divorce become a new crisis?

Dealing with guys who think Naomi should stay with her old friends, with his family’s ingrained racism louder than ever, and with Dad’s sudden insistence on clearing his name on social media, Walter isn’t sure of himself or of Naomi’s affection, then things really get tough.

Bright Lights, Dark Nights is an illustrated story of first love, music, self-respect, classic movies, and finding your place in the world.

Never check out of Hotel For the Lost, by Suzanne Young (book review)

paperback cover of Hotel For the Lost by Suzanne Young published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.combook cover of Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comFabulous resort hotel,
remote, elegant, luxurious,
who would ever want to check out?

Audrey’s drowning in grief from her mom’s recent death, but handsome Elias at the Hotel Ruby distracts her a bit… if Dad will just keep extending their stay, perhaps she and brother Daniel won’t get dumped at Grandma’s (forever)

When you visit your local library or independent bookstore, ask for Hotel For the Lost if you want the October 2016 paperback or Hotel Ruby for the original hardback – the story is identical.

I think the publisher really goofed here by changing title and cover.
What do you say?
**kmm

Book info: Hotel For the Lost / Suzanne Young. Simon Pulse, 2016. (published in 2015 hardback as Hotel Ruby) [author site]  [publisher site]  For both hardback & paperback: Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A mountain shortcut takes Audrey, her brother, and their dad to the elegant Hotel Ruby, where guests and staff members conceal a mysterious secret.

The Arizona teen’s grief over her mother’s recent death is occasionally diverted by tales of the Nevada hotel’s ghosts, especially if told by handsome Elias as they roam its halls, despite warnings from a friendly young housekeeper that Eli is a heartbreaker.

Why did only her dad and brother get invitations to the nightly gala party in the ballroom?
If Elias and Catherine have broken up, why is she so vicious to Audrey?
How much power does the concierge have over absolutely everyone in the Hotel Ruby?

Maybe Dad will keep delaying their departure, and never take them to live forever with their maternal grandmother – but does anyone ever check out of the Hotel Ruby?

Memory of Things, by Gae Polisner (book review) – amnesia, remembering, 9/11

book cover of The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner published by St Martins Griffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comAshes, smoke, run!
Tension, wings, jumping?
Rescued! Memory? gone…

Kyle can’t unsee the Twin Towers falling on 9/11, can’t unrescue the ash-covered girl with costume wings and no memory, can’t unwish that she would stay with him as he cares for paralyzed Uncle Matt while Mom is stuck in LA with his little sister and Dad is at Ground Zero with his police squad and other rescue workers.

You can find this September 2016 release at your local library or independent bookstore to meet Kyle and Uncle Matt and the jagged-hair girl with wings.

What things have the most weight in your own memories?
**kmm

Book info: The Memory of Things / Gae Polisner. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Rushing across the Brooklyn Bridge on 9/11, Kyle spots a girl wearing wings, covered with ashes, poised to jump?

Safely home, the 16-year-old finds that the girl can’t remember her name, he can’t get his dad in downtown New York City on the phone, his mom and sister can’t get home from LA, and paralyzed Uncle Matt’s caregiver can’t get to his family’s apartment.

What can Kyle do but help Uncle Matt, keep trying to contact Dad, and wonder if the girl will get her memory back?

He longs for Uncle Matt to recover faster from the wreck that ended his police career (all Donohue men are cops, says his granddad, but Kyle loves music so), for his family to be together, for the girl to stay…

A love story in the wake of disaster, a family story that endures, a possibility of happy endings. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Desert Dark, by Sonja Stone (book review) – school for spies, time to die?

book cover of Desert Dark by Sonja Stone published by Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrilliant students wanted,
Puzzle-solving a plus.
Survival through graduation not guaranteed…

Whoa! Full tuition for boarding school for math genius problem-solvers? And across the country from her cheating boyfriend, too? Best idea that cryptographic whiz Nadia has heard in a long time, till she arrives at… a secret Black Ops academy, funded by the CIA, with a killer double-agent on campus!

The first chapters (provided here free by the publisher) set up the dangerous world that Nadia finds herself in.

How far can you run from heartbreak?
**kmm

Book info: Desert Dark / Sonja Stone. Holiday House, 2016.  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Recruited for an exclusive boarding school where her math abilities will be prized, Nadia discovers that Desert Mountain Academy covertly trains students for CIA black ops careers. When rumors of a double-agent on the remote Arizona campus prove true, suspicion falls on the newly-arrived Virginia teen whose mother is Lebanese.

Nadia is overwhelmed with martial arts and Mandarin, trying to master firearms and survival skills with the other juniors in her team – and resisting her attraction to their senior leader, Jack.

Teammate Damon is willing to help her catch up, but socially-challenged Alan (grandson of a Jewish Mossad agent) is openly skeptical, sure that she’ll bring down the team.

Her germophobic roommate Libby is hiding something – is it about the girl whose death opened a spot for Nadia after the semester had begun?

Chapters by Nadia, Libby, Jack, and the mysterious double-agent tell of assassination attempts (yep, plural), gradual team bonding, survival training, academic challenges, and a growing romance – if Nadia can survive her first year at Desert Mountain Academy!

Still Life With Tornado, by A.S. King (book review) – artist’s block, memory overload

book cover of Still Life With Tornado by AS King, published by Dutton Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn artist who can no longer draw,
A fractured household that never heals,
Memories buried and unearthed.

All Sarah wants to do is make art, until something stays her hand, blocks her power to create, and keeps the 16 year old wandering Philadelphia on a hunt for something (anything!) original instead of finishing school.

Then her 10-year-old self arrives, followed by her 23-year-old self…

Fall into the middle of Sarah’s existential crisis with this free excerpt of chapter one here on the publisher’s site.

Happy book birthday to Still Life With Tornado ! Mighty stoked that I get to hear author A.S. King as keynote speaker at KidLitCon 2016 (aka paradise for kids’ and young adult book bloggers) in Wichita, Kansas, this weekend.

Family stories dis-remembered? Share, please.
**kmm

Book info: Still Life With Tornado / A.S. King. Dutton Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a teen artist stops going to school because she suddenly can’t create, her 10 year old self appears in her Philadelphia neighborhood, prompting Sarah to relocate memories that she’s hidden and consider if anything is original in the world.

As she wanders familiar and distant parts of town, Sarah wonders why big brother Bruce transferred to college in Oregon right after their not-so-good family vacation in Mexico six years ago and has never contacted her.

Ten-year-old Sarah goes with her to the museum, 23-year-old Sarah tells her that 16 is a popular age for existential crisis (even this isn’t original?!), and Dad is still yelling at night nurse Mom all the time.

Is Sarah going crazy?
Why can’t she remember what happened in Mexico?
What is truly original in life?

Whatever happened at school might be the reason Sarah won’t return, but she will have to bring back some memories – old and new – if she wants to be able to draw and create again. Chapters from Mom’s viewpoint and 10-year-old Sarah’s memories of Mexico sketch out the fragile framework of their family life, together yet distant.