Tag Archive | A2Z

S is princess Sophie POISONED by her stepmother, saved by 7 small men, by Jennifer Donnelly (YA book review)

book cover of Poisoned, by Jennifer Donnelly. Published by Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Tomorrow is her 17th birthday –
old enough to inherit her father’s kingdom,
but her evil stepmother has other ideas…

Outwardly, Sophie is haughty and brave, as any princess of Konigsburg must be, but she has a merciful heart like the late much-beloved king and shows mercy to scared hunting dog Zara.

The queen’s mirror whispers secrets and plots – Sophie must have a strong husband to help her rule, but if the princess were attacked by Darkwood beasts, then no need to risk alliance with another country…

The Huntsman brings back only Sophie’s heart from their ride through the Darkwood, but her body is saved by seven short men who heal her with kindness and a clockwork heart.

Rumors of the queen’s war declarations reach even into the woods, and Sophie knows she must get to the prince who courted her so they can stop her land from becoming a bloody battlefield.

As they travel the backroads, Sophie, Zara, and clever young man Will hear how her people have been taxed to death for the Queen’s luxuries and spied on by her Crows.

Can Sophie save the kingdom before her heart winds down?
Will the Queen’s guard find them first?
Who is speaking through the mirror?

This retelling of classic fairy tale Snow White asks readers to reclaim the power of their inner voice.

What future are you running toward?
**kmm

Book info: Poisoned / Jennifer Donnelly. Scholastic Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

R is for RURAL VOICES: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America (YA book review)

book cover of Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Everyone drives a truck and wears muddy boots,
talks slow and walks even slower –
today’s teens outside big cities go way beyond those tired old ideas.

An aspiring rodeo queen in Utah draws strength from her Puerto Rican roots.

A Michigan queer girl’s 4-H showmanship in swine competition might draw her crush closer.

Forced up a tree by an angry bull, best friends finally talk about whether Alina’s stories identify with her home state or strive to distance her from West Virginia.

This collection of viewpoints and vistas includes stories by David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Nora Shalaway Carpenter, Shae Carys, S. A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price, and Monica Roe.

I live outside a very small town where FFA and AP classes are on the same schedule, and young people can pursue big dreams with or without moving to the big city.

What rural voices have you heard lately?
**kmm

Book Info: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America / Nora Shalway Carpenter, ed. Candlewick Press, 2020. [editor interview] [publisher site]

Q for a queer COMPLICATED LOVE STORY SET IN SPACE aboard Qriosity, by Shaun David Hutchinson (YA book review)

book cover of A Complicated Love Story Set in Space, by Shaun David Hutchinson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A message he can trust,
new friends in this adventure,
why can’t they remember how they got here?

It’s disorienting to wake up in a spacesuit floating outside a spaceship amid flashing warnings of imminent explosion – and to have another 16 year old inside Qirosity trying to shut down the faulty reactor and help Noa get to the airlock at the same time!

Noa stumbles out of the resuscitator (first death is the hardest), meeting Jenny on his way to find DJ – who abducted them from all over the US?

Just the three teens on this spaceship… and a grown-up kid actor’s hologram with unhelpful messages, and a murdered girl, and the kid actor’s entire mystery series to watch, and more than a lifetime supply of Nutreesh bars in the galley.

DJ and Noa are falling for each other, Jenny is plotting revenge on the aliens/kidnappers, and strange events keep them hopping as one day seems to repeat itself, repeat itself.

Steered automatically to a high school on an asteroid, they find cliques and yucky PE class and teachers who stop all the fun and the murdered girl from Qriosity who doesn’t remember being on the spaceship at all…

Why is there a high school in space?
Why does Jenny prefer Nutreesh to what Noa cooks?
Is DJ and Noa’s love real?

The three teens must rely on each other to survive months in space, a monster or two, crisis after crisis, and a school dance as they keep trying hack into Qriosity’s navigation system and get back to Earth.

Another tale of strange happenings and learning to love from the author of The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza (I recommended here) and At the Edge of the Universe (more here).

Aliens – yes or no?
**kmm

Book Info: A Complicated Love Story Set in Space / Shaun David Hutchinson. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site]

P is PREPPED to survive any disaster…almost, by Bethany Mangle (YA book review)

book cover of Prepped, by Bethany Mangle. Published by Margaret K. McElderry/Simon Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ready for fire, falling into icy waters,
nuclear fallout, kidnap attempts,
but not real-life like other families…

Growing up with doomsday preppers means constant vigilance and training – high school senior Becca has the scars to prove it. Both sets of grandparents established this Ohio neighborhood of survivalists, hidden bunkers in their backyards and all.

Everyone else in town thinks they’re an end-times cult, but there’s no religion here, just paranoia and preparation and more paranoid preparation.

When Roy Kang’s family joined the group, “genetic diversity” was her parents’ first thought, so he and Becca are paired for marriage soon and will learn trades that’ll benefit the group, no matter what they want.

Becca believes in science, her physics teacher believes she can get a full scholarship far away from here, and somehow dumb-as-a-rock Roy turns out to be much smarter than their parents think.

“Always be ready for the worst day of your life,” but improbably her Dad wasn’t, so now Mom’s in charge and pushing younger kids into hazardous training early.

How can she and Roy leave without tripping the perimeter alarms?
Could their new non-prepper friend really help them escape?
How can Becca leave her 10-year-old sister Katie here?

Love could make them a family, but bone-deep fear of everything makes life unbearable in this debut novel of surviving more than just improbable disasters.

Where would a full-ride scholarship take you?
**kmm

Book info: Prepped / Bethany Mangle. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for ODDITY, logic-defying objects, the desire of Clover’s heart, by Eli Brown (YA book review)

book cover of Oddity, by Eli Brown. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A button that whistles when it rains,
the rooster leading US troops into battle,
the search for oddities that killed Clover’s mother…

Far from the city, Clover’s physician father trains her to treat the ills and injuries of country folk. Rarely will he speak of the accident that claimed her mother, a noted scholar of magical Oddities that draw the thirteen year old’s attention and her father’s wrath.

An attack on their home sends Clover fleeing with just their medical bag and papa’s warning that he did keep one necessary Oddity of mama’s collection – but what?

Each Oddity can do one very specific thing and only that – a fiddle that compels hearers to dance, the umbrella that stores lightning bolts – how many uncataloged Oddities are still waiting to be found?

Nessa’s medicine show wagon can get Clover to the city, if they can outwit bandits and avoid magical creature attacks along the forest road.

But the young woman finds more questions than answers when she locates her mother’s colleague in the city – and treachery too!

A hat filled with secrets and fangs, the deadliest snake of all, a destructive ragdoll, the Seamstress who stitches together malign creatures from odd parts – who will gain control of their world?

In this alternate history tale, Napoleon used an Oddity to create platoons of identical soldiers for the Louisiana War that tore apart the New World, a corrupt politician wants to use Oddities to control the now-bankrupt eleven Unified States, and Clover journeys into danger to find the source of the Oddities’ magic.

One small task per Oddity – what would you choose? What price would you be willing to pay?
**kmm

Book info: Oddity / Eli Brown, illustrated by Karin Rytter. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [author video] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N for NOAH MCNICHOL & THE BACKSTAGE GHOST! by Martha Freeman (MG book review)

Book cover of Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost, by Martha Freeman. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Skulls and fake blood and foam swords,
“there are no small parts, only small players”
The play’s the thing!

Dad says wanting to act is just a phase, so the sixth grade play is Noah’s big chance to be on stage! Oh no – the drama teacher is out so the PE coach will direct them… in Hamlet?

Luckily, an older Jewish guy named Mike volunteers to help because strange things are happening while Coach Fig spends rehearsals on his phone!

The “No-Trauma Drama” script now has its original gruesome ending, the costumes and sets are way better than previous years’ Hamlet, and a cold breeze drifts backstage when all the doors are closed.

Despite not being cast as Hamlet, Noah is enjoying play practice and Mike’s interesting advice… and watching Mike vanish into thin air – is their guest director a ghost?

Noah’s college professor parents are arguing again about which subjects are more important – why is Dad the physics teacher so angry about literature?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is way more interesting than the family-friendly version written by the lady who donated the school’s nice theater – can they do the real one without interference?

Suddenly, their drama club one-night-only performance is the hot ticket in their New York town – break a leg!

Conversing with someone long gone – yes or no?
**kmm

Book info: Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost / Martha Freeman. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L is for LOVE & OLIVES, by Jenna Evans Welch (YA book review)

book cover of Love & Olives, by Jenna Evans Welch. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ten days away from Seattle, that’s all,
her artist’s eyes setting up camera angles,
heart breaking because her dad will leave again…

White buildings reflecting sunlight, the sparkling blue Aegean Sea – the Greek island of Santorini has captivated visitors for centuries, but sixteen year old Liv doesn’t want to be impressed by its beauty.

Neither does she intend to quickly forgive her long-estranged father for suddenly interrupting her summer plans by bringing her here for a filming project about their mutual fascination – the lost city of Atlantis.

On a tight schedule, she and dad’s young cameraman Theo crisscross the island to filming locations – why is Dad sometimes a no-show?

Dad is utterly convinced that he can prove the site of Atlantis to the scientific community – what exactly is he trying to prove to Liv?

Sleeping in a hidden nook of Theo’s family bookstore, glorious sunsets, more questions than answers in the village her dad returned to after emigrating to America – how much can 10 days change?

Each chapter is headed by an item from Liv’s list of 26 things left behind by her dad, a list kept close at hand as she and Mom moved often, struggling until meeting now-stepdad James.

A story of journeying from home to learn about love, from the author of Love & Gelato (my review) and Love & Luck (review here).

Where do you need to go to make an old story into a new truth?
**kmm

K is THE COST OF KNOWING the future, past & pain, by Brittney Morris (YA book review)

book cover of The Cost of Knowing, by Brittney Morris. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Accidents happen,
life goes on in sorrow,
the future is a mystery… right?

Orphaned by a car wreck, 16 year old Alex and little brother Isaiah now live with Aunt Mackie in a ‘very nice’ Chicago subdivision where a white neighbor rants in the Black family’s kitchen about requiring background checks for renters during a rap mega-star’s concert nearby.

She doesn’t know, no one knows that after the accident Alex began seeing the future of every object – and every person – that his fingers touch. Future of an ice cream dipper at Scoops is no big deal. But the longer he touches, the more of the future he sees, so touching the people he cares about is too much to bear.

When exactly will girlfriend Talia walk away from their future together?
How long can Alex endure the future invading his every breath?
Why is 12-year-old Izzy wearing headphones every single moment of summer?

Braving Izzy’s anger to find common ground before any future happens, Alex bets everything on them going to the Shiv concert together, wishing this curse would vanish… Brand-new speculative fiction from the author of Slay.

Would you want to see the future… really?
**kmm

J is CANE WARRIORS fighting enslavement in Jamaica, by Alex Wheatle (YA book review)

book cover of Cane Warriors, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The marks of the back-ripper whip,
fear in every breath,
time now to rise and fight!

Moa wishes that Tacky’s plan was quiet, but the 14 year old has seen too many fellow slaves worked to death in these Jamaican sugar cane fields or whipped for anything, like mentioning Midgewood who escaped from this plantation or talking about the old Akan ways and gods.

Three days from now – might be soon enough for young Hamaya since no slave can defend herself against their brutal overseer.

Can they kill all the white people on Easter Day so no one can warn the other plantations?
Can they tek the good foot across the green mountains and capture Fort Haldane?
Will Moa and his friend Keverton survive long enough to fight tomorrow?

“De blood will remember!” is the cane warriors’ cry.

Tacky’s leadership in 1760 is recounted in books and family stories, especially in St. Mary’s parish where Trinity and Frontier plantations once watered the fields with the blood of the enslaved. By the author of Home Girl (my review here).

When injustice is known, how can we answer with bravery?
**kmm

Book info: Cane Warriors: a Novel / Alex Wheatle. Akashic Books, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I is immigration stories: COME ON IN, ed. by Adi Alsaid (YA book review)

book cover of Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, ed. by Ali Alsaid. Published by Inkyard Press-Harlequin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being uprooted,
Growing in a different place,
Wondering if this is the right spot or not…

Since the earliest days of this country, people have arrived ‘from away’ in waves and trickles, immigrants with high academic credentials or no shoes on their feet, all seeking a better place.

Detained by TSA, keeping diaries of now and then, “where are you really from?” – these 15 stories by noted young adult authors who are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants illustrate the many facets of moving away and starting anew.

“The Wedding” of two Americans must be held in Canada so great-uncle from Iran may attend – travel ban keeping old man and his older brother from seeing each other for years.

High school in New Jersey is so different from Bombay that Priya cannot speak aloud, even as her little brother’s new hearing aids open up the world for him, in “First Words.”

Her grandparents finally have visas from Venezuela, but Valentina’s lost all her Spanish – how will they even communicate? “Hard to Say”…

Short story contributors include Adi Alsaid, Varsha Bajaj, Maria E. Andreu, Sharon Morse, Misa Sugiura, Nafiza Azad, Maurene Goo, Sona Charaipotra, Yamile Saied Méndez, Zoraida Córdova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Sara Farizan, Isabel Quintero, Justine Larbalestier, and Lilliam Rivera.

How do we welcome people and invite them to come on in?
**kmm