Tag Archive | art

Change is risky – Letting Go of Gravity, by Meg Leder (book review)

book cover of Letting Go of Gravity, by Meg Leder, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccepted to Harvard? Check.
Chosen for prestigious medical research internship? Check.
Eager and ready for these great opportunities? Nope.

Parker’s meticulous life-plan to cure the cancer affecting her twin brother goes way off course during the summer after graduation, as the introvert finds herself in charge of senior citizen pottery painting classes, is amazed by new friend Ruby’s open-heartedness, and just might find a connection with artistic Finn from grade school.

Happy book birthday to Letting Go of Gravity ! Have you read Leder’s 2016 novel The Museum of Heartbreak ? I recommended it here.

Is it time for you to fly away from expectations?
**kmm

Book info: Letting Go of Gravity / Meg Leder. Simon Pulse, 2018.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A decade of hard work and Parker is accepted to Harvard! After twin Charlie was diagnosed with leukemia when they were kids, med school has been her sole goal (especially after last year’s relapse).

But she can’t stomach the internship at the hospital where Charlie was treated and finds another summer job at a pottery studio where she reconnects with Finn from elementary school.

Her best friend is in Europe for the summer, Charlie is acting so recklessly, and Parker isn’t sure how long she can put off telling her parents about how things have changed.

If Charlie is just flirting with Parker’s new friend Ruby…

O = Outside In with self-taught sculptor, hidden treasures, by Jennifer Bradbury (book review)

book cover of Outside In, by Jennifer Bradbury, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSecret sculpture garden
filled with Ramayana stories,
art threatened by destruction!

Ram lives by his wits and quick feet, as many orphans do in cities and towns of India.

Discovering an immense garden of sculptures hidden in the forest leads him to work and food and thrilling tales from the Ramayana.

But will his repeated journeys into another sector of the city lead the authorities to this art paradise on ‘unused land’?

This fictionalized account of the amazing Rock Garden created from cast-off materials by self-taught artist Nek Chand over 20 years was inspired by the author’s time in Chandigarh, India.

What’s your favorite “people’s art” installation?
**kmm

Book info: Outside In / Jennifer Bradbury. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum BFYR, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She can step into The Painting? by Charis Cotter (book review)

book cover of The Painting by Charis Cotter, published by Tundra Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comThat painting is so real,
she can smell the salt air
and step into its lighthouse?!?

The girl who calls her sister, the girl’s mother who cannot see Annie… or can she?

This lighthouse on a rocky Newfoundland cliff may hold more than a lonely girl and her worries – but how can Annie of today also be back in the past?

You can listen to the author read the opening of this spooky tale at her website here.

Would you believe a specter who shared secrets with you?
**kmm

Book info: The Painting / Charis Cotter. Tundra Books, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Annie suddenly can step into a painting after her mother’s car wreck, the girl in its lighthouse calls her ‘sister’ and insists that their artist mother must never show those paintings with hidden meanings.

Two sisters, separated by death. Claire knows it was her fault.
One lighthouse, one artist, one almost-ghost. Annie isn’t sure why Maisie can almost see her.

Why did Annie’s own mother say she’d never, ever return to Newfoundland?
What if she never comes out of the coma?
Who is Claire of the lighthouse?

Storms battering the Newfoundland coast, cold wind blowing through Claire’s lonely life, Toronto hospital room lights that never sleep – perhaps artistic Annie has fallen down the rabbit hole from the girls’ beloved Alice in Wonderland. A two-voices tale of now and then, connections that blink and fade like the lighthouse’s rotating beam, warning of dangerous currents and cliffs.

K/drama-inspired, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, by Maurene Goo (book review)

book cover of I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maureen Goo, published by Margaret Ferguson Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrades = stellar!
Extracurriculars = outstanding!
Romance = zero, zip, zilch.

Once she sees Luca, Desi is ready to make him fall in love with her – and she has the perfect step-by-step plan in her dad’s extensive K Drama series video collection!

Read the first chapter here (thanks to publisher!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for this 2017 novel and its many, many kinds of drama.

Any dating ‘flailures’ on your love-life list?
**kmm

Book info: I Believe in a Thing Called Love / Maurene Goo. Margaret Ferguson Books, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: With a plan, she can do anything – so Desi decides that cute new guy Luca will become her first-ever boyfriend, through the tried-and-true steps from the Korean dramas that her father loves so much – what could possibly go wrong?

Super-student, soccer star Desi is determined to get into Stanford, honoring her late mother and making her dad proud. But in the romance department, she’s had zero success.

Moody artist Luca’s arrival at her California high school makes Desi willing to risk yet another possibly humiliating try at flirting and relationships.

But wait! What if she simply used the steps that every Korean drama romance follows?

Despite warnings from her best friends (who’ve seen too many of her flirting ‘flailures’), Desi outlines her “K Drama Steps to True Love” and goes after Luca!

Flat tire blowout, romantic boat ride turned rescue, graffiti-enhancement missions… what?!

First kiss, yes! First boyfriend, likely! (as long as Luca doesn’t find out that Desi is directing their every move toward love…)

Twin decisions = You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, by Rachel Lynn Solomon (book review)

book cover of You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandma died from this terrible disease,
Now their mother has it (rather, it has her in its grip) –
do the twins have Huntington’s Disease, too?

What a way to start their senior year, waiting on the genetic testing results… Both girls have their lives all mapped out, but what if this incurable neurological disease is part of their future, too?

Scroll down on this page to read the first chapter, by Adina, courtesy of the publisher, then ask for this January 2, 2018 release at your local library or independent bookstore.

Better to get the test and know for sure, or wait it out?
**kmm

Book info: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone / Rachel Lynn Solomon. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adina loves playing viola, Tovah takes AP courses for best pre-med college admission, and both twins worry about whether they’ll inherit the disease that’s stealing away their mother’s life – this genetic test at age 18 will be the pass/fail for life.

The Seattle teens may look alike, speaking Hebrew and English at home, but they are so different – Adina sharing her Israeli-born mother’s love of old movies, Tovah as big a Nirvana fan as her dad and with him drawn deeper into their Jewish faith.

When the test shows that Adina has Huntington’s disease and Tovah doesn’t, the gap between them begun by an earlier incident widens, and the sisters struggle through senior year separately – Adina ardently pursuing her music and her mid-20s viola tutor while Tovah waits anxiously for acceptance to Johns Hopkins and decides she may finally have time to be with artistic Zack.

As their mother’s neurological symptoms worsen, Adina becomes certain that hers will begin early.
As the university admissions office is stubbornly silent, Tovah wonders if her years of hard work were enough.

Told in alternating chapters by the sisters, this story of faith, hopelessness, and hope spans a year of loss and love.

Oh, such critters in this sketchbook! If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel (book review)

book cover of If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel, by Elise Gravel. Published by Drawn & Quarterly 2017  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWant to become an illustrator?
Ready to step up your drawing style?
Elise says “let out all the ideas” in your sketchbook!

Monsters and microbes and funny mushrooms are some of the “complete nonsense” that this Quebecoise author/illustrator allows herself to draw in her plain black notebook, only later revising them or adding funny stories or spinning them off into her many books for kids.

Her top advice for illustrators-in-training? “Draw all the time!”

Enjoy this sample of Elise’s unique creatures and drawing style here, courtesy of the publisher, then visit your local library or independent bookstore to get your own copy.

What creatures might your doodling reveal?
**kmm

Book info: If Found, Please Return to Elise Gravel / Elise Gravel, translated by Shira Adriance. Drawn & Quarterly, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Creatures large, small, and all whimsical fill this notebook by Canadian illustrator and children’s author Elise Gravel, as inspiration for us to draw, draw, draw!

Draw in spare moments, like Elise does – practice and more practice is the way to improve, as you find your own drawing style.
You can imitate illustrations for practice or create crazy ideas and doodles. Some may inspire a story, so write it.

Look at her Floofs and foxes, bunnies dressed in punk rock t-shirts, and “the Incredible Hulk presents his favourite recipes for a romantic dinner” – mashing up ideas can make really funny pictures!

To become a better illustrator, just grab your notebook (any color, says Elise) and keep on drawing!

V is Vân Ước, wishing hard for love in Cloudwish, by Fiona Wood (book review)

book cover of Cloudwish by Fiona Wood published by Poppy  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWish for love, wish for happiness,
wish to stand out as an artist,
wish to fit in at her new school…

Vân Ước worries about so many things – her mother’s deepening depression as the anniversary of her parents’ escape from Vietnam nears and how to fit in correctly as a scholarship student at her Australian private high school.

And her wishes – becoming an artist instead of a doctor (her parents’ dream), being with handsome rower Billy (her craziest dream) – seem to be coming true after that creative writing class…

Read chapter one here, courtesy of the publisher, then search for Cloudwish at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your highest wish?
**kmm

Book info: Cloudwish / Fiona Wood. Poppy, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [podcast with author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Dreams of being with handsome Billy are fruitless; dreams of making her living as an artist get Vân Ước through tough days. But the Vietnamese Australian teen may have a chance at both, if the guest creative writing teacher is right!

The transition from her Sydney immigrant neighborhood where she shares strong coffee with her lesbian-in-waiting best friend to the private school where she’s a scholarship student is jarring, as is Billy’s transformation from popular prankster to nice guy in their International Baccalaureate classes.

When a tiny bottle marked ‘wish’ just vanishes into her skin during a creative writing seminar, odd things begin to happen to Vân Ước – like Billy really paying attention to her – in a good way!

Will she be able to magically change her parents’ expectations for her future?
Can Mama’s depression be cured, years after that traumatic journey from Vietnam?
What would Jane Austen do in all these strange, changed situations?

Her name means ‘cloudwish’ – and maybe, just maybe, her dearest wishes and dreams could come true.

L is Laurent Linn’s novel about art & self, Draw the Line (book review)

book cover of Draw the Line by Laurent Linn published by Margaret K McElderry Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStay quiet.
Avoid the bullies.
If it’s only words…

Adrian cannot escape reality with video games and his graphic novel art any longer! He must stand up to Doug and the other thugs whose gay-bashing has gone from talk to violence or he won’t be able to live with himself…if he survives their wrath, that is.

Visit the book’s website here to meet all the characters who’ve moved from Adrian’s real world into the graphic novel that he’d rather live in.

The paperback of Draw the Line releases in May 2017, but grab it now to see how this epic superhero battle on paper turns out in real life.

Standing up for what’s right – who’s next?
**kmm

Book info: Draw the Line / Laurent Linn; illustrations by Laurent Linn. Margaret K McElderry Books, 2016. [book website] [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adrian escapes from his homophobic rural Texas high school by creating the detailed Renaissance world of gay superhero Graphite in graphic novel art, until violence demands action.

He finally has a date with super-sweet Lev (‘Teen Drag Queen Bingo’ in Dallas – who knew?), when a hate crime shocks their town, and Adrian knows that he must finally speak out and come out – at home and at school – regardless of the consequences.

Can the support of best friends Audrey and Trent keep him strong?
How can the school and town turn a blind eye to Doug’s attacks?
When will Adrian being himself be good enough for everyone else?

Chapters of his graphic novel with Graphite, Sultry, Willow, Oasis, and villainous Thug punctuate this story of becoming true to yourself and standing up for everyone’s rights.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

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…