Tag Archive | adoption

Her luck foretold by Three Pennies? by Melanie Crowder (book review)

book cover of Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comAsk the pennies, get the answer.
Always 3 pennies, always Mom’s pocket book of I Ching,
Mom should be her answer, but where?

So-quiet Marin has bounced around the foster care system so long.
Young owl’s injury has kept him in city, away from big trees for so long.
Earth beneath their city has stayed in tension for so long… too long.

All children need loving homes – too much to ask?

Book info: Three Pennies / Melanie Crowder. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Foggy San Francisco – where any moment can bring an earthquake or the right home or a loving family – young Marin searches for her birth mother, and a wounded owl feels the faraway forest calling him…small beings trying to find their right place in the big city.

From foster home to foster home, quiet 11-year-old Marin seeks answers daily from the I Ching book of changes left behind by her mother seven years ago.

Silently gliding in the night sky, a young owl feels his wounded wing become stronger and soon may leave this not-forest place.

How can Dr. Lucy become her parent when Marin knows she must find her birth mother?
Will young owl go to the giant trees of his ancestors or stay here to watch the small girl?
When will the slowly moving rocks under the city finally slide too far?

Many voices – Marin, the owl, lonely Dr. Lucy, social worker Gilda, the earth beneath the city – tell this story of loss, love, and hope.

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?

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.

F for fear in France with a Drop of Night and deadly peril, by Stefan Bachman (book review)

book cover of A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachman published by Greenwillow Books | BooksYALove.comEscape the adoptive family,
Tap into unusual skill set,
Die in an underground palace of terrors?

Anouk hates so much about her sophisticated adoptive parents, perfect little sister, and their polished life. The chance to join an exclusive teen research team in France is too good to pass up… and definitely too good to be true.

Read the first chapters of A Drop of Night here courtesy of the publisher, and get hooked on this diverse crew of teens assembled for a supposed archaeology exploration… into a death trap.

Can you ever really outrun the past?

Book info: A Drop of Night / Stefan Bachman. Greenwillow Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lured to the French countryside by the promise of a unique historical exploration, 17-year-old Anouk gladly escapes her posh New York City family and finds herself in a subterranean chateau filled with mysteries and death traps.

Maybe the five teens were picked for their various skill sets, but Anouk, Will, Jules, Hayden, and Lilly start wondering about Project Papillon’s true motives soon after they arrive at the remote French chateau with armed guards (and no cellphone service).

Why is Sapani Corporation relying on these kids to explore a historical site that’s been sealed for over 200 years?
Who is controlling the fighters they encounter underground and the hideously deadly puzzle rooms they must get past?
What if Professor Dorf isn’t the only one watching them down here?

The story alternates between the viewpoints of Anouk in the present day and Aurelie during the French Revolution as more secrets about Palais du Papillon and its frightening purpose are revealed. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Girl in Reverse, by Barbara Stuber (book review) – adopted, bullied, seeking, found?

book cover of Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber published by Margaret K McElderry BooksPrejudice at school,
polite silence at home,
Who am i? Who am I?

Shunned by the in-crowd, bullied as if she were a Commie spy, Lily would just like a few friends who don’t care that she’s Chinese, some answers about her past from her adoptive parents, and a door lock that can keep pesky little brother out of her room!

A box of Chinese sculptures, a new exhibit at the art museum, and a nun nearing retirement change Lily’s priorities – can she finally learn more about her birth mother?

Girl in Reverse was published as a paperback just this week and is available in hardcover and ebook, so choose your favorite way to hold this well-told tale in your hands, as Lily held the objects that connected her with Gone Mom.

What keepsake tells a family story for you?

Book info: Girl in Reverse / Barbara Stuber. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, May 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The new Chinese art exhibit may hold clues about Lily’s long-gone birth mother and is a welcome distraction from the bullying she experiences at her Kansas City high school during the Korean War.

Shortly after Lily’s adoption, Ralph was born to her new parents, who cannot understand the prejudice that Lily faces daily, labeled a ‘Commie’ as the war in Korea rages, even though she is Chinese.

Ralph finds a box in the attic, left with Lily at the orphanage by her gone-mom, and together the siblings decide to find out all they can.  Trips to Chinatown, the old orphanage, and the art museum bring more clues, as artistic Elliot tries to get Lily to embrace her heritage.

Where did Gone Mom go?
Why did she leave Lily behind?
Why was Lily’s mom in Missouri anyway?

Searching for her identity in 1950s American heartland, Lily discovers which bonds of family and culture can bend and which are too fragile to even breathe upon.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Opposite of Love, by Sarah Scheerger (book review) – goodbye letter, forever? help!

book cover of The Opposite of Love by Sarah Lynn Scheerger published by Albert WhitmanGone. Just… gone.
No forewarning, phone disconnected,
How can the love of your life disappear so completely?

Chase and Rose are very imperfect people, but they are so right together – until Rose vanishes, and her adoptive parents have no clue where she went.

The author provides an excerpt of this bittersweet story’s first chapter here for free. Check your local library or independent bookstore so you can read it all.

When you can’t keep the only thing keeping you sane in the face of abuse and indifference, what next?

Book info: The Opposite of Love / Sarah Lynn Scheerger. Albert Whitman, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Meeting through mutual friends, artistic Rose and kid-magnet Chase fall in love, but struggle to keep parents and their pasts from tearing apart their future together.

When Chase’s long-gone abusive dad demands visitation rights and Rose’s adoptive parents lock her in the house to keep the Native American teen out of trouble, the high school couple’s plans to leave behind their California town go up in smoke.

How will Rose locate her real mother now?
How can Chase protect his little sister when he’s away at Walter’s?
Why does Rose stop answering texts and calls from Chase and her friends?

Flashing back and forth between Chase’s frantic quest to Rose now before it’s too late and their earlier days of meeting, teasing, and learning to love, this story of choices and possible redemption follows two flawed people as they try to rewrite the dismal future that others predict for them.


Way of the Dragon, by Chris Bradford (fiction) – old Japan, new civil war, teen samurai

book cover of Way of the Dragon by Chris Bradford published by Disney HyperionTry to imagine being suddenly stranded half a world away from home, in a land where conformity is prized, where obedience is rewarded, where rigorous training from childhood ensures future success.

Jack’s amazing story begins with The Way of the Warrior  (book 1 reviewed) and continues in The Way of the Sword  (book 2 reviewed), your best introductions to the social structure, customs, and political unrest facing the young English teen in 17th century Japan.

Jump back into a foreign and fascinating world with the Young Samurai at your local library or independent bookstore


Book info: The Way of the Dragon (Young Samurai, book 3) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2011.  [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Recommendation:  Like juggling knives in a storm – learning the Two Heavens technique is that difficult for Jack. But war looms over Japan in 1613, so he and his friends at samurai school must master the secret sword moves soon.
When he was tossed ashore after ninja pirates hijacked the English ship his father was piloting and wrecked it, Jack couldn’t have imagined this – being adopted by an influential warrior family, learning intricate Japanese language and customs, attending samurai school. Many still sneeringly call him ‘gaijin’ because of his foreign appearance, but those who have seen his fighting skills respect the blond-haired teen.
Now one regional daimyo is gathering troops to attack the Emperor! The daimyo who sponsors Masamoto’s samurai school is loyal to the Son of Heaven, so all his warriors must rush to defend the capital of Osaka. Suddenly “the way of the dragon” is more than daily classes, as martial arts practice becomes urgent, their sword skills are honed, and Jack’s group takes every opportunity to perfect their moves with bo stick or arrow or throwing star.
The noise and dust of the battlefield is tremendous – here, the students’ abilities to concentrate under pressure will mean the difference between life and death. They must protect the future emperor at any cost. If the fighting reaches the tower stronghold that they defend, then only their cleverness and skill will keep the empire from falling into chaos.
Jack still longs to recover his father’s encoded navigation atlas from the one-eyed ninja who stole it. That rutter would allow Jack to pilot any ship away from Japan to his English home port –and back again, defying the Emperor’s command that foreigners stay away. But the evil ninja  DragonEye is not content with stealing Jack’s map home; he wants Jack’s lifeblood as well.
Can Jack and the samurai students keep the young ruler alive? Is there a traitor in their ranks?
Will the assassin DragonEye strike during the confusion of battle?

This exciting third book in the Young Samurai series brings readers into the closed society of 17th century Japan with every swordstroke and ceremonial bow. Be sure to start Jack’s amazing story from the beginning with The Way of the Warrior (book 1) and The Way of the Sword (book 2). (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Way of the Sword, by Chris Bradford (fiction) – English teen, feudal Japan, samurai school challenges

book cover of Way of the Sword bk 2 Young Samurai series by Chris Bradford published by Disney HyperionJapan is closed to the outside world in the 1600s.
Foreigners can see little, learn even less.
But shipwrecked Jack is adopted by a samurai warrior,
training in the samurai ways,
his blond hair drawing attention he would rather avoid,
as a mortal enemy stalks him in the shadows.

In unskilled hands, samurai swords can draw blood from allies as well as enemies, so Jack and his friends must train, train, train to master their weapons – and their emotions.

Will Jack’s growing samurai skills ever overcome the prejudice of those who think foreign ‘gaijin’ should be gone from Japan forever?

This swashbuckling Young Samurai series is available now at your local library or independent bookstore – start with book 1 – The Way of the Warrior (my no-spoiler recommendation here) to learn first-hand how blond, blue-eyed Jack found himself swept into life in feudal Japan.

Book info: The Way of the Sword (Young Samurai, book 2) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2010. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Recommendation: For English teen Jack, a year in samurai school in 1620s Japan has taught him much, but not yet enough to defend himself against classmates who consider it disgraceful that a ‘gaijin’ foreigner learns the samurai ways. No matter that his adoptive father founded the school or that Masamoto is still considered the finest samurai and best swordsman of their time. Now Masamoto has announced that he will teach the fighting skills of The Two Heavens to the school’s best students.

This two-sword technique makes a samurai master almost invulnerable to attack. Those students interested must pass four mighty tests of samurai skill and courage before the New Year festival, then go into the mountains to survive the legendary challenges of the Circle of Three.

Jack realizes that he must learn The Two Heavens to defend himself against Dragon Eye, who still seeks his father’s ‘rutter,’ the precious coded mapbook which is Jack’s only remaining link to his father and his native England. The ninja tried to kill the daimyo, local ruler of the province and patron of their school, but the student samurai forced Dragon Eye’s retreat as the villain vowed further revenge.

Training beyond their normal martial arts classes, Jack and his friends Akiko, Saburo, and adoptive brother Yamato, all strive to prepare for the Circle of Three tests. But rumors of Christians killed in other provinces and the new Scorpion Gang formed by student samurai to force the gaijin out of Japan worry Jack and invade his dreams.

Can Jack learn the new skills he needs to qualify for the Circle of Three? Is there any safe place to hide his father’s rutter so that DragonEye will not find it? Will he ever get home to England, or will he live forever as the gaijin samurai in this tradition-bound land?

This great sequel to Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior  leaves readers eagerly waiting the next book in the series! Includes glossary of Japanese words.(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Way of the Warrior, by Chris Bradford (book review) – feudal Japan, shipwreck, assassins

book cover of Way of the Warrior by Chris BradfordLured into a trap…
all the gaijin must die…
but the youngest crewmember escapes – into a greater peril.

Jack knows that sea voyaging is dangerous, but his father is a skillful English pilot, with his handwritten navigational notes. But as they spot the shoreline of “the Japans” in 1611, their ship is attacked and sunk by ninja pirates, intent on keeping foreigners out of their country.

Only being found by an honorable samurai warrior saves Jack from immediate death.
Only Masamoto’s power within the empire allows the blond-haired teen to accompany him to train with other young men and women in the most-demanding of martial arts.

Only Jack’s determination to survive and someday return to England keeps him going through the mental challenges of fitting into Japanese society and the physical challenges of samurai school. Can blue-eyed Jack truly become an English samurai warrior in feudal Japan?

And DragonEye the one-eyed ninja assassin waits… waits for his chance to steal the navigation charts and to kill Jack. This is the first book in Bradford’s “Young Samurai” series – your chance to travel back into a closed society and heart-pounding adventure on a World Wednesday.

Book info: The Way of the Warrior (Young Samurai #1) / Chris Bradford. Disney Hyperion, 2009 [author’s website] [book series website] [book trailer] Review copy and cover art courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Stormdriven to the rocky shores of 1612 Japan, Jack sees his father and shipmates killed by ninja pirates. Rescued from the wreckage by a samurai’s men, the young blond teen is the first Englishman ever to visit Japan, bringing with him only his father’s secret sea navigation charts.

Jack is adopted into the family of samurai Masamoto who has mourned for 2 years since his elder son was assassinated by “DragonEye,” the same green-eyed ninja who killed Jack’s father. At age 12, Jack must quickly learn how to handle a wooden practice sword and chopsticks, how to speak Japanese and follow the many rules of this polite society, how to “fall seven times and rise up eight.” Akiko, daughter of a fallen samurai, helps Jack learn these many lessons as they prepare to enter the samurai academy in Kyoto.

Will the younger Masamoto son accept this “gaijin” foreigner as a foster brother or keep fighting against him? Will Jack succeed at the samurai academy as he seeks to learn the Way of the Warrior? When DragonEye threatens the capital city, can Jack and the other young samurai stop him? And will Jack ever get home to England again?

This exciting first book in the Young Samurai series includes a glossary and pronunciation guide for the Japanese words essential to the story. Ikinasai! Let’s begin! (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Drowned Maiden’s Hair (fiction)

Seeking answers from The Beyond.
Unwilling to wait until Heaven to see loved ones again.
Willing to pay anything to hear their voices now…

On this mysterious Monday, welcome to the early 1900s during the height of Spiritualism, when bereaved people became convinced that the chasm between this world and the next could be crossed during seances, that someone could connect them with a loved one for just a little time more together. For every truly gifted medium, there were countless charlatans and tricksters who took advantage of immense grief for large profits.

Seances and bringing forth voices from Beyond are just “the family business” for the genteel spinster Hawthorne sisters, now fallen on hard economic times. Who would guess that a child was suddenly living in their attic bedroom, an orphan child with a heavenly singing voice, an unwanted orphan child who can fit in hidden cupboards and manipulate the ghostly vapors and set chandeliers to swinging?

Wondering how long this arrangement can last? How long the illusions will hold? If there are any true connections to the Other Side? Come back to 1909 with Maud and find out for yourself.

Book info: A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama / Laura Amy Schlitz. Candlewick, 2006 (paperback, 2008). [author interview] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Locked in the orphanage outhouse, Maud never imagined that she would be rescued by spinster sisters to become a séance angel…

Suddenly Maud has lovely new dresses and books with all the pages and a bedroom of her own! The Misses Hawthorne have all the “modern conveniences” in their large, remote house – this is 1909, after all. They teach Maud new hymns, buy her a blond wig to cover her flyaway brown hair, have her practice tricks for making chandeliers sway and hiding in secret compartments.

Yes, the Misses Hawthorne are no longer wealthy, so they hold séances to make a living. They help grieving people “hear” their lost loved ones from The Beyond, now assisted by Maud acting as any child who died young. If truth from the doctors and religion from the preachers won’t satisfy a wealthy patron that someone dear has indeed died and gone to heaven, then the Misses Hawthorne are more than willing to act as go-betweens with the Spirit World on their behalf…for a fee.

Moving to a seaside villa to be closer to a grief-stricken mother whose daughter drowned is another new experience for Maud – ice cream! The sea breeze! Sneaking out in the night to play in the sand! For no one outside the house must ever see her, must ever know that a child lives with the Hawthornes…

So, will Maud always have to live hidden in the attic bedroom? What does Muffet, their deaf and mute servant, think about all this trickery? Why does pretending to be dead Caroline feel different from acting as the other child spirits? Is Caroline really speaking to Maud in her dreams?

Go behind the scenes with Maud as she is swept along with the Misses Hawthorne during the height of the Spiritualist movement – and listen for Caroline’s voice…
(One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Dogtag Summer, by Elizabeth Partridge (fiction) – Vietnamese orphan, California challenges

book cover of Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridge published by BloomsburyFor most Americans, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer. We rarely remember its 1868 origins as a remembrance of those who have died protecting our nation and our freedoms.

As her summer begins, 12 year old Tracy thinks it’ll be like most summers, but what she and pal Stargazer uncover changes everything she thought she knew about herself and her adoptive family.

The Vietnam War era was chaotic and divisive for countless families on both sides of the Pacific, with many questions and no simple solutions. Perhaps a few answers will shine through for Tracy after all…

Book info: Dogtag Summer / Elizabeth Partridge. Bloomsbury, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site]

Recommendation: During the summer before 8th grade, Tracy starts having flashbacks to her childhood in Vietnam. Her adoptive parents have pictures of her arrival in the USA as a tiny 6 year old in 1975, but before that time, she has only an empty place inside her memories. As she and her friend Stargazer search in her garage, they find an ammo box and Army dogtags.

Now she dreams of her mother being away at DaNang as a laundry worker for the Americans, her uncle gone as a Viet Cong soldier, soldiers from both sides searching her grandmother’s hut in the jungle, families divided by war. How can she ask her adoptive father about the dogtags with another man’s name when he never talks about being in Vietnam?

As a Vietnamese-American, she was shunned by village neighbors and is taunted by California classmates. Sometimes, things are too quiet at her house now, but Stargazer’s easy-going parents accept her and welcome her to their place in the forest. When his peace-loving father sees the dogtags and calls the US soldiers in Vietnam “babykillers,” Tracy knows that she will have to be brave enough to ask her Dad about the past, about the dogtags, about why she came to this family in the US instead of another.

A story from the heart to go with the history book facts, readers will walk and dream with Tracy through that dogtag summer, through the questions and answers to better understanding of a difficult chapter in America’s history. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.