Tag Archive | art

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.

All We Have Left, by Wendy Mills (book review) – 9/11 threads past & present

book cover of All We Have Left by Wendy Mills published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrother died in the Twin Towers.
Family fractured ever since.
Time to find some answers.

On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, this split-narrative story is anchored in that terror-filled day in the World Trade Center, linking Muslim teen Alia’s experiences as she tried to escape from the North Tower with Travis and today’s aching void felt by his 16-year-old sister Jesse who’s tired of playing it safe to avoid her father’s grief-fueled alcoholism and hatred of Islam.

What are your family’s memories of 9/11?
**kmm

Book info: All We Have Left / Wendy Mills. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Repercussions of 9/11 echo in 2016 as Jesse’s father rages about Muslims causing her brother’s death in the Twin Towers and are narrated by Muslim teen Alia in 2001 as a visit to her father’s office in the World Trade Center that day becomes a race to escape death, as she and Travis try to help others amid the terror.

2001: Alia’s parents don’t trust her, won’t let her attend the special art training, don’t think that creating comic books is suitable for a young Muslim girl. She goes to father’s office in the WTC to ask him one more time… the permission slip is due tomorrow, on Sept. 12th.

2016: Jesse’s parents ‘coped’ differently when big brother Travis was killed in the WTC on 9/11, Dad retreating into the bottle and violent hatred of Muslims, Mom volunteering for everything so she’s away from the apartment above their climbing supplies store. The 16 year old is mouse-quiet, until she starts going out with tagger Nick – big mistake.

On an elevator together when the plane hits their tower, Alia and Travis work together to escape, she worrying about her parents, he gradually telling why he came from his upstate New York town on this specific day…

Trying to redeem herself from deeds done with Nick’s graffiti crew, Jesse learns more about her new climbing partner Adam as they both work at the Peace Center and decides that she needs to know why Travis was in the Twin Towers on the day of their grandfather’s memorial service here.
(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love, by Sarvenaz Tash (book review) – Romance or reality at ComicCon?

book cover of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comPlanning the best day ever at New York ComicCon!
Telling her how he truly feels about her!
Getting cut off by a random guy…

Next-door neighbors and comic creators together, Roxy and Graham enjoy fan fiction based on the Althena universe, keep their grades up, and can’t wait to go to ComicCon! (p.s. That’s where he will tell her how much he cares for her – until Devin crashes their group!)

Don’t wait till BookCon at NYCC to pick up this June 2016 release! Visit at your favorite local library or independent bookstore today to see if Roxy and Graham get any tips from famous cartoonists and if she ever figures out how he feels about her!

Been to a Con?
**kmm

Book info:  The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love / Sarvenaz Tash. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Graham realizes that he’s fallen for girl next door/ best friend /comic co-creator Roxy, but his plans to tell her on the perfect New York ComicCon day are foiled by a handsome British student.

It’s a miracle that famously reclusive artist-author Zinc is scheduled to appear at NYCC, years after his legendary Althena comic went dark. It’s a tragedy that a cool Brit runs into their group and decides to tag along while flirting with Roxy!

Graham and Casey can grab those limited-seating tickets for Zinc, right?
How can Graham convince Roxy to sneak past her conservative parents and skip school for another day of ComicCon?
Is there any way to get her away from Devin without looking like a jerk?

Somehow, this real-life relationship stuff is so much more complicated than the ones that he and Roxy write and draw in their comic series or any of the romantic comedy movies that Graham’s late mother loved so much. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Museum of Heartbreak, by Meg Leder (book review) – why can’t it all stay the same?

book cover of Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe perfect trio of friends,
all that she needs in life,
but not all that they need…

Pen seems such a clinging friend, sure that a romance from her favorite classic books will magically appear. But when she finally realizes that life changes, despite all her efforts to make time stand still, she discovers that you usually have to create happy endings yourself.

Ask for this new release at your local library or favorite independent bookstore to see if carefully cataloging significant items makes heartbreak any easier to bear.

Mementos of broken relationship – save or toss?
**kmm

Book info: The Museum of Heartbreak / Meg Leder. Simon Pulse, 2016. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her best friends Audrey and Eph embrace other relationships, Penelope cowers in familiar routines until she ventures to handsome Keats’ party and finds herself heartbroken more than once.

Pen stumbles across their New York City high school’s literary magazine club after Audrey starts hanging out with snobby Cherisse after French Club.

Eph’s dad works with Pen’s at the Museum of Natural History; the dinosaur skulls may wait in that attic, even as dinos hide in all Eph’s amazing cityscape sketches.

Beautiful boy Keats actually talks to Pen! (how can he be bad, Audrey?) Junior year might be okay after all … maybe.

Why do her best friends need other friends?
How do they know Keats isn’t a nice guy?
Why is change so difficult for her?

As Pen reflects on new guy and old friends, she must come to terms with the impermanence of things and the depths of her own feelings.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Positivity Kit, by Lisa Currie (book review) – better your life, better yourself!

book cover of The Positivity Kit by Lisa Currie published by TarcherPerigee | recommended on BooksYALove.comGood times,
great memories,
just waiting to uplift you!

Seize the happy moments, large and small, that have made you chuckle and nearly snort milk out your nose.

Map out what you’re looking forward to most in the future.

Memorialize your favorite snack foods and Good Choices Made in Life So Far.

Happy book birthday to The Positivity Kit! Ask for it today at your favorite independent bookstore so that you can list, doodle, and chronicle your way to a happier and more positive you.

Share a “recent moment of pure joy” in the comments, please!
**kmm

Book info: The Positivity Kit: Instant Happiness on Every Page / Lisa Currie. TarcherPerigee, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Create “instant happiness on every page” of The Positivity Kit as you record wonderful experiences, thoughts, and joys using its interactive and intriguing prompts to look past boring days and bad moods.

Capture perfect moments – Favorite quotes from favorite movies, Top 20 countdown of the Best Moments of My Life So Far, wish list & got list – with your favorite pen and colored pencils, so that you can page back through this witty do-it-yourself book whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Whether it’s the 7 New Holidays that you’re introducing this week, the Ongoing List of Things I Like About Myself, or your illustrated packing list for an Escape to Paradise, every happy thing that you doodle, jot down, color, and list will contribute to your future positive outlook on life and your current grin as you remember and celebrate.

Keep The Positivity Kit on your bedside table to end your day in gratitude for the good things you’ve experienced, to derail negative thoughts on sleepless nights, or to start your day on an uplifting note – all experienced and documented by you yourself!

Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, by Melissa Keil (book review) – end of the world? with pastry?

book cover of Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil published by Peachtree | recommended on BooksYALove.com School days are over,
future looms ahead,
till Doomsday countdown starts?

Alba never expected
(a) sleepy Eden Valley as gathering place for the just-announced end of the world, 10 days from now,
(b) then-chunky pal, now-hunky TV star Daniel to return after years away,
(c) best friend Grady really expecting them to move to college at summer’s end,
(d) all of the above, plus a demand for vegan choices at Mum’s bakery (where they live, too).

Surely she can become an award-winning graphic novelist with her Cinnamon Girl character without leaving everything she loves about their little back-country town…

Published in Australia in 2014 and brought to the USA by Peachtree Publishers in 2016, the longing and love story of Cinnamon Girl is so worth asking for at your local library or independent bookstore – you’ve got to find out if the world ends, right?

So, the world ending – caused by humans, nature, aliens?
**kmm

Book info: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl / Melissa Keil. Peachtree, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Alba and Grady have been best buddies forever, but when a psychic’s ‘end of the world’ pronouncement names their little Australian town, the recently graduated teens must cope with strangers in the pasture and old friends with new perspectives, as she wants everything to stay the same and he longs to head for college.

Can’t she be a brilliant graphic artist without leaving her tiny hometown?
If her dad hadn’t died in a motorcycle crash and Grady’s dad hadn’t fled for the city, what would life be like now?
Wait, is old pal, now TV actor Daniel flirting with her? Grady is acting so weird these days…

Each chapter is headed with a panel from Alba’s graphic-novel-in-progress as her sorta-superhero Cinnamon Girl also copes with time passing too fast, enjoys terrible television shows, worries about the impending apocalypse, and stars in the Albany Bakery’s scrumptious menu.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

She sees way too much as Fly on the Wall, by e. lockhart (book review)

book cover of Fly on the Wall by e lockhart published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comBeing ordinary,
seeing differently,
transformed… into a fly?

After reading The Metamorphosis while longing for a guy, stressed-out Gretchen gets her wish to “be a fly on the wall” and hear what people are saying about her = she’s now a fly trapped in the boys’ locker room!

Take a peek at Gretchen’s life at Ma-Ha in this excerpt (free, courtesy of the author), then take the scenic route to your local library or favorite independent bookstore to see what she sees as a Fly On the Wall.

Would you want to hear what everyone says about you?
**kmm

Book info: Fly On the Wall / e. lockhart. Delacorte Press, 2007.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [60-second book recap video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Feeling like a nonentity in her New York City arts high school, Gretchen agonizes over her comic-drawing skills (teacher is unimpressed), her mom’s demands during the divorce (throw away how much before we move? no, thank you), her best friend (getting distant), and her crush (he will never notice her, will he?) until she amazingly turns into a fly who can see and hear everything, especially what the boys are saying (and not wearing) in their locker room! Friendship, love, identity, dumplings, and Title IX protests – all in one fly-tastic story.

Lois Lane: Double Down, by Gwenda Bond (book review) – crime, corruption, conspiracy!

book cover of Lois Lane: Double Down by Gwenda Bond published by Switch Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comMobster-controlled doctor,
conspiracy theorist with a grudge,
just another day in Metropolis…

Yes, that Metropolis, where student reporter Lois Lane is tracking down city corruption, worrying about online pal (maybe more?) SmallvilleGuy, and trying to keep a low profile at school, while learning how this ‘being a friend’ thing works (Maddy has a twin?).

Second in the series, but if you haven’t read Lois Lane: Fallout (my no-spoilers recommendation here) you can still enjoy Double Down as backstory to the well-known Superman saga.

Any advice about friendship for moved-too-many-times-to-count Lois?
**kmm

Book info: Lois Lane: Double Down (Lois Lane, book 2) / Gwenda Bond.  Switch Press, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author interview video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher; all opinions are my own.

My book talk: When Lois discovers her best friend’s twin in a perilous situation, the student reporter begins to unearth a diabolical doctor’s connection to Metropolis’ underworld while a conspiracy theorist online threatens her friend Smallville Guy.

It should have been a routine news story about a young mural artist, but Lois finds Maddy’s too-cool twin sister delirious and searching for a mysterious doctor in Dante’s slum neighborhood.

‘The Boss’ controls this slum, rumor says, along with much of Metropolis behind-the-scenes, so Lois’ nose for news is on the hunt – is the new mayor in his pocket?

Her online friend SmallvilleGuy is concerned about new predictions of ‘flying man’ sightings, as reported on their favorite discussion site – how could Insider01 really know?

Maddy and Melody say that the supposed ‘twin connection’ is just a myth – why is Melody seeing through someone else’s eyes now?!

This second installment of the Superman backstory as told from Lois Lane’s teen point of view is a race to uncover corruption in the city and save her friends’ sanity.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Plotted, by Andrew DeGraff (book review) – mapping literary landscapes

book cover of Plotted by Andrew DeGraff published by Zest Books | http://BooksYALove.com reviewBefore and after of Robinson Crusoe‘s island,
Moby Dick and the ship chasing him,
Huckleberry Finn‘s meandering voyage down the Mississippi with Jim…

Happy book birthday this week to Plotted: A Literary Atlas!

I liked it so much that I almost posted this recommendation well before its publication date, but rescheduled so as not to whet your appetite for these uniquely visualized story-maps before you could actually acquire this fascinating book.

Enjoy literary maps of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol  and of Richard Adams’ Watership Down  in this free preview from the publisher, then go get this book to see all the intricately detailed maps, so evocative of each of the 19 books selected while using no quotations at all.

Do you create mental (or actual) maps as you read a book?
**kmm

Book info: Plotted: A Literary Atlas / art by Andrew DeGraff, essays by Daniel Harmon. Zest Books, 2015.  [artist’s site]  [publisher site]  [time-lapse artist’s video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Mental maps created by reading stories blossom into intricately designed maps on the page in this “literary atlas” covering 19 selections from ancient days to the present, as seen through one artist’s eyes.

Whether mapping the movements of selected characters (as in his panels for A Wrinkle in Time) or conveying a wider sense of the book’s narrative (like the Kafka story, “A Report to the Academy”), DeGraff includes numerous details from each work in his hand-painted maps.

Says the artist, “These are maps for people who seek to travel beyond the lives and places that they already know (or think they know). The goal here isn’t to become found, but only to become more lost. Like a poorly informed but over-confident urbanite, I seek to help you get more lost.” (Introduction)

Wander through Elsinore act by act with the many characters of Hamlet, travel the Mediterranean with Odysseus, and trace the complicated path of true love in Pride and Prejudice. Essays by Daniel Harmon accompany each nearly wordless map-set which brings fresh views of stories for readers to consider and appreciate.

So many stories

Looking through oval window into gallery at Rembrandt's house in AmsterdamGaze out?
Peer inward?
Focus on something unseen?

Art, music, and books can help us do all these things.

But please don’t let preference for favorites keep you from trying new genres and types of books!

Grab a graphic novel like Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks and Canaan White to go into WWI trenches with underappreciated African American heroes – these aren’t “just comic books” for sure.

Read books aimed at younger readers that can bring important issues and hard truths to light. Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath gives voice to victims of the Armenian Holocaust.

If you think all novels about death are depressing, reconsider with funny yet realistic Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark.

So, about my photo here: I visited Rembrandthuis to see how the great artist lived and worked, others were there for his paintings up close, a few were obviously dragged there by art-loving companions.

Standing in his recreated studio was decidedly worth climbing all the narrow, twisting stairways. But I was most pleased by seeing how the same etching looked when printed on different papers – the same story, with a slightly changed look.

How have you experienced different stories lately?

Staying off the tourist track in Amsterdam and meeting booklovers from all over (hi, Izzie and Mom and Dad!),
**kmm