Tag Archive | A2Z

K is for North Korea & wishing on Every Falling Star, by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland (book review)

book cover of Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland published by Amulet Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPrivilege to poverty,
family love to forlorn abandonment,
North Korea then is still North Korea now.

From the easy life as child of favored Army officer to outcast thief and gang member, Sungju kept trying to understand the ‘why’ of changes and finally knew that risking death to escape from North Korea was better than living in his homeland impoverished by dictatorship and lies.

This finalist for the 2016 CYBILS Award for young adult nonfiction brings us unsettling glimpses into a world rarely seen and difficult to imagine.

Without the support of your family, how would you survive a hostile new environment?
**kmm

Book info: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea / Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland. Amulet Books, 2016.   [author Facebook page]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sungju’s family is flung from high-status to deep poverty after a regime change, as his autobiography reveals the disinformation used to repress North Korean citizens

In a forced relocation from the capital city to a desolate rural town after his father is removed from the military, food and clothing are in short supply, Father reluctantly leaves to find more, Mother doesn’t return from visiting relatives, and suddenly young teen Sungju finds himself living on the street and running a gang of homeless kids.

Why haven’t his parents returned?
What else can he do to survive?
How did Sungju escape to write this memoir?

Almost dystopian in its bleakness and violence, this true story of family, loss, and hope echoes what countless other children and families experience in North Korea even today.

J for jitters & The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli (book review)

book cover of Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli published by Balzer+Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot the cute twin,
nor the bold twin,
not ever getting kissed?

Molly and Cassie’s moms (finally getting married – yay!) have lots of great advice, but asking them how to get past just a crush to real relationship? Not gonna do that.

Published yesterday (11 April 2017), The Upside of Unrequited is Molly’s very essence: hopeful yet hesitant, creative and cautious, trying to move out of her shy chubby-girl comfort zone and get close enough to a guy to be accepted… or rejected.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here to read the first chapters free.

I adored Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (my no-spoiler review here) and cannot wait to meet whoever her next novel brings us.

Are you brave enough to try something that might break your heart?
**kmm

Book info: The Upside of Unrequited / Becky Albertalli. Balzer + Bray, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Always crushing on a guy means never getting hurt, but never in a relationship either – maybe summer before senior year will be different for Molly. Her twin Cassie is with Mina now and eager to help things along – if only Molly will be brave enough to talk to someone!

Planning her moms’ wedding (finally legal in Maryland!), working with Reid in his parents’ eclectic shop for the summer, and worrying that Cassie is way too enthusiastic about hipster Will as perfect “Operation Boyfriend” material – no wonder Molly is too anxious to sleep well.

Has Cassie really fallen in love with Mina?
Will Aunt Karen relent and come to their moms’ wedding?
Why is being with Reid so… real?

I = In Over Their Heads, escaping killer robots? by Margaret Peterson Haddix (book review)

book cover of In Over Their Heads by Margaret Peterson Haddix, published by Simon & Schuster BYFR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDisconnect from the network.
Head for the hills!
The robots are coming?

Will what’s hidden in Mammoth Cave help or harm them? Only one way for a blended family forced off the grid in future USA to find out – tell their four teens not to go there under any circumstances…

Happy April 11th book birthday to In Over Their Heads!
For maximum enjoyment, read book 1, Under Their Skin first (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

I was really excited to read this one, but writing about a sequel without spoilers for the first book is hard, y’all…

What makes a family, anyway?
**kmm

Book info: In Over Their Heads (Under Their Skin, book 2) / Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hidden in Mammoth Cave is a key to their past or maybe hope for their future, but if teen twins Nick and Eryn can’t get their stepsiblings Jackson and Ava to help follow local girl Lida Mae into the cave, their blended family may be doomed in this future America of robotics, peace, and mysterious gaps in their history books.

Follows Under Their Skin (book 1).

H for hurricane & The Odds of Lightning healing friendships, by Jocelyn Davies (book review)

book cover of The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies published by Simon Pulse  | recommended on BooksYALove.comGradually fading away,
or becoming someone else,
how can you stay yourself, when everything else changes?

Maybe the superstorm will wash away what divided these best friends three years ago
– or stop Tiny from fading from view (translucently)
– or reveal Will’s true self beneath his new snarky persona
– or make Lu feel real and take fewer dramatic risks
– or help Nathaniel forget that he cannot replace his genius older brother.

And then the lightning strikes

Don’t wait for the late August 2017 paperback release – read The Odds of Lightning now to see what transpires for these four former friends as they rush through the hurricane-darkened city in search of answers and transformation.

When have you wished you could become someone else?
**kmm

Book info: The Odds of Lightning / Jocelyn Davies. Simon Pulse, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When lightning strikes four teens, the former best friends race through the New York City night trying to reverse its effects on them before the hurricane hits.

Before freshman year of high school, they were inseparable – Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel, and Will as science club buddies. That’s all gone now, on the night before SATs, the night they were struck by lightning and became… other.

Is the lightning still bottled up inside them?
Why is Tiny’s body disappearing and Lu’s all numb?
Who does Will look like now?

Switching from now to then to now and presented from the viewpoints of all four friends, The Odds of Lightning brings us the aftermath of gradual drift and sudden shock with a magical twist that has nothing to do with spells or wands and everything to do with friendship and love.

G is Ghost, running from everything, by Jason Reynolds (book review)

book cover of Ghost by Jason Reynolds published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPractice running? Every day?
As fast as he is? Nah…
But winning takes more than speed.

If middle-schooler Ghost can outrun that one terrible night, win his way onto the track team coached by an Olympic medalist, and get the right shoes, then he might just make it out of his NYC neighborhood.

Listen to the author read chapter one at the publisher’s website here for free, to learn exactly why Ghost started running so fast.

The paperback of Ghost (yep, named a National Book Award finalist *after* I read it) releases in August 2017, when book 2 of the series, Patina is published. I loved Reynolds’ Boy in the Black Suit (my no-spoiler review here), and I’m looking forward to the rest of this Track series!

Are you running to something or from it?
**kmm

Book info: Ghost (Track, book 1) / Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Running fast makes Ghost a better basketball player, but when he happens upon a track team practicing in the park, the middle schooler decides he’s faster than they are… and proves it.

Coach Brody convinces Mom to let Ghost run with the team, as long as he stays out of trouble at school. Not gonna be easy, is it?

How can Ghost afford the shoes and uniforms for a Junior Olympic qualifying team?
What if he messes up at school?
Why can’t he forget what sped up his running to start with?

First in the Track series, Ghost shows a solitary young man teetering between staying a loner and becoming a teammate, while still running from his indecisions.

F = fantastic Fashion Rebels, by Carlin Cerniglia Beccia (book review)

book cover of Fashion Rebels by Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia published by Beyond Words  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHigh heels, short skirts,
Sky-high hairdos, hats tall and wide,
Fashion is always in flux!

I was really pleased to see this informative and fun book as a finalist for the CYBILS Award for Middle-Grade Nonfiction, where I got to read and discuss it as second-round judge this year.

Take the Fashion Rebels quiz to see which fashion icon you trend toward, then be your own person!

What fashion trend of the past would you like to see today?
**kmm

Book info: Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World Through Fashion / Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia. Aladdin/ Beyond Words, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fashion trends have signaled rebellion, improved international understanding, and raised parents’ eyebrows for centuries, as this sketch-filled book shows, celebrating Fashion Rebels past and present.

Meet queens Cleopatra and Marie Antoinette, artist Frida Kahlo and dancer Jacqueline Baker, along with Audrey Hepburn, Ellen DeGeneres, and many more as you examine essential components of each woman’s style and discover how you can use their inspiration to make your own fashion statement.

Filled with accurate histories that sound like the best kind of celebrity gossip, lots of DIY techniques and tips for adding signature fashion elements to your wardrobe, and current fashionistas to watch, every section of Fashion Rebels reminds you to be you!

E for Elsie & Eddie in The Art of Not Breathing, by Sarah Alexander (book review)

book cover of The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander published by HMH BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHer twin drowned 5 years ago,
her memory blanked out, her parents can’t cope.
Dive down, deeper, darker.

Free diving – no oxygen, no safety equipment – risky, exhilarating, and the only way that Elsie can get closer to uncovering what happened when she and Eddie were on the beach that terrible day…

In hardcover now and releasing in paperback on 11 April 2017, The Art of Not Breathing takes us where memory just cannot go.
**kmm

Book info: The Art of Not Breathing / Sarah Alexander. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The rough North Sea taunts Elsie, as the 16 year old struggles to remember what happened five years ago on this shore, where her twin Eddie vanished, her parents splintered to bits, and all the town gave up on her family.

Skipping school and retreating to the abandoned boathouse, the Scottish teen is startled to meet mysterious Tay and his pals there, free divers who dare the sea by diving deeper and deeper without oxygen or safety gear.

Of course, Elsie convinces the guys to teach her to free dive, certain that her memories about her mentally challenged twin’s disappearance will be unlocked by the depths.

But, what secret is Tay hiding?
Will Elsie ever remember what happened to Eddie?
Can anything put her family back together again?

D is My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

book cover of My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson published by Aladdin  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDragons, mermaids, Sasquatches,
the earth is flat,
every school textbook says so.

If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…

Recently released in paperback, Gracie’s travelogue told through her Diary (chapter 1 here, free) should be at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, ask for it!

When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
**kmm

Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.

Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.

Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?

C for Citra, chosen as new Scythe, by Neal Shusterman (book review)

book cover of Scythe by Neal Shusterman published by Simon Schuster  | recommended on BooksYALove.comNo war or hunger or illness,
Healing is automatic, births continue,
Someone must reduce the population!

Oversight by their global conclave and statistics from the Age of Mortality guide Scythes as they glean individuals in these long-lived times, keeping humanity’s numbers in bounds.

But one group of Scythes is killing to increase their own power. Do only Scythe Faraday and his reluctant apprentices Citra and Rowan stand in their way?

Yes, I read Scythe *before* it won the Printz Honor Award or was optioned by Universal Pictures!

Only those who don’t want to kill should be called as Scythes – would you be worthy?
**kmm

Book info: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, book 1) / Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Of course there must be a way to reduce the population when there is no longer disease, hunger, or war. Citra just never expected to become a Scythe or learn the arts of bringing death or fall in love with her co-apprentice Rowan or be required to kill him if she wins the apprenticeship!

As Scythe Faraday takes on 2 apprentices (unheard of!) and Scythe Goddard’s crew gleans a year’s quota of people at once (bloodbaths!), the power balance in this future world is shaking – will the covenant between humanity and their Scythes hold firm?

B = battle, attack, Ninth City Burning, by J. Patrick Black (book review)

book cover of Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black published by Ace  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAlien war never ending,
Youth who must master their powers.
Humanity’s future is at stake!

Ninth City Burning is great sci-fi with a magic twist, a big book that reads fast, as its many young characters take turns telling how they can use the aliens’ ‘thelemity’ power against them, find ways to work around centuries of military regulations, and scramble to shift the odds of humankind surviving to fight another day.

Be sure to read the first chapter by young cadet Jax at the publisher’s website here – this is not a drill…

**kmm

Book info: Ninth City Burning / J. Patrick Black. Ace, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Five centuries of predictable alien attacks, then changes. Cities turn thelemity against the aliens through the few who can control it. Country folk don’t even know that Earth is at war for its existence. And then…

Told in many voices – reluctant hero cadet Jax of Ninth City, traveler Naomi missing her musical family, overconfident problem-solver Kizabel, and more – this future filled with powerful choices, harnessing power, and the power of lies is a satisfyingly complex tale of aliens, near-magic, war, loyalty, love, and family ties.