Tag Archive | beliefs

Names They Gave Us – enough against chaos? by Emery Lord (book review)

book cover of Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.com She did everything properly,
all promises kept on her side of the bargain,
but evidently God has other plans for her mom…

Asked by her own parents to be counselor at a different camp, while Mom recovers at their family’s church camp just around the lakeshore – Lucy is angry at God for letting the cancer come back and at her boyfriend for ‘pausing’ their relationship for summer.

If she can salvage even a scrap of comfort from working with little kids who spend the summer at Daybreak to escape terrible situations…

This mid-May 2017 novel is stirring, honest, and powerful – faith isn’t always strong, past history is often murky, and the future is never promised to anyone.

(personally, I think the title has no relevance to the story at all. Wonder why @EmeryLord agreed to it – but authors don’t have total control over titles and rarely have a say about the cover art).

Have you ever bargained with God?
**kmm

Book info: The Names They Gave Us / Emery Lord. Bloomsbury Teens, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: All Lucy wants is summer at her parents’ church camp so she can get over Mom’s cancer returning and her boyfriend ‘pausing’ their perfect relationship, but the midwest teen finds herself at another camp nearby, where worry and hope (and Jones) wrestle for her attention.

The counselors and the campers at Daybreak all carry heavy burdens of past circumstances – Mom thinks this is better for Lucy than being with her between chemo sessions?

Just a mile between both camps so Lucy can still hear Dad’s sermons every Sunday – why does that distance seem to change constantly all summer?

Deepening friendships with fellow counselors during their summer together, especially with Henry Jones – can she have a crush on him, so soon after Lukas?

Big concerns affecting her littlest campers, fretting over chemo effects, wondering if she can remember every tiny detail about Mom, huge secrets revealed and memories made. God didn’t keep his side of Lucy’s bargain to keep Mom healthy, but perhaps Lucy doesn’t have to stay mad at him forever.

Risking it all to earn a Full Ride scholarship, by Margaret Haddix (book review)

book cover of Full Ride by Margaret Peterson Haddix published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comHiding out in a new town,
new name, old worries,
if anyone ever finds out about Daddy…

After her dad is imprisoned for computer fraud, his lawyer helps Becca and her mom forge new identities in a faraway town. But it’s going to be so hard for the teen to keep their secret when her future after high school depends on her academic past.

You can find this suspenseful book about decisions and risks at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

How far should innocent family members suffer for a criminal’s actions?
**kmm

Book info: Full Ride / Margaret Peterson Haddix. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013 (hardcover), 2014 (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The certainty of college for Becca starts slipping away the moment her father is convicted of computer crimes, just before she starts high school. Racing far away from his Atlanta prison (ten years!?), she and Mom take their new identities (courtesy of Daddy’s lawyer) to an Ohio suburb and lay low.

Three staying-unremarkable years later, it’s time for SATs and college choices, and Becca decides to visit her dream school Vanderbilt (Daddy’s favorite) as her friends tour Southern universities.

How can she pay for any college without completing financial aid forms?
Could she win the Court Scholarship – a full ride?
But what if it’s one of Daddy’s scams that kept money in hiding?

Who to trust, how to live so that no one connects them with Daddy’s nationally reported crimes, how to think about a future past high school – Becca and Mom think they have it under control, but…

Asteroid approaching?! Learning to Swear in America, by Katie Kennedy (book review)

book cover of Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comJust ‘on loan’ from Moscow University,
till JPL can divert the asteroid…
is ‘forever’ a reasonable loan length?

Russian physics prodigy Yuri is intent on winning the Nobel Prize, but working with NASA to prevent an asteroid from wiping out the Pacific Rim will keep him busy in California for a few weeks – not his last weeks on earth, he hopes! And then he meets Dovie…

Find this funny and fierce July 2016 hardback release at your local library or pre-order the July 2017 paperback from your favorite independent bookstore (no affiliate links here – indie booksellers deserve all our business).

If the end of our world was approaching, what would you do?
**kmm

Book info: Learning to Swear in America / Katie Kennedy. Bloomsbury USA Childrens,’s Books 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Yuri will just return to Russia to continue his antimatter research after helping NASA prevent an asteroid from obliterating the US West Coast, but when the 17 year old physics prodigy discovers that they might not let him leave California…

Eighteen days to impact – Yuri meets the asteroid team he will work with…and a lovely mysterious girl.

Yes, he will take Dovie to her prom (such a strange American high school custom) and visit her odd hippie family (more strange customs) and find a way to stop the asteroid (if only his team would listen to him).

No, the young PhD won’t let anyone at Moscow University steal his research toward the Nobel Prize or be forced to stay in California against his will!

Counting down the days to impact – the math, the physics, the public doesn’t know true danger… as Yuri falls in love.

Diaries of life, despair, hope – on audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us the hopes, dreams, and fears of American teens in their own varied voices.

Please download these complete, professionally recorded audiobooks before midnight PDT Wednesday, May 17, 2017. You can listen to them whenever you want, as long as you have them saved on your computer or electronic device.

Download great audiobooks all summer long at http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes | Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe Published by Recorded Books |recommended on BooksYALove.comBronx Masquerade (download here free through May 17)
by Nikki Grimes
Read by Jessica Almasy, Kevin R. Free, Marc Damon Johnson, Sisi Aisha Johnson, Melanie Martinez, Cherise Boothe
Published by Recorded Books

During poetry slams at their inner city high school, 18 young people express their fears and hopes aloud.
 

Teenage Diaries: Then and Now (download here free through May 17)CD cover of Teenage Diaries Then and Now by Radio Diaries | Read by Hosted by Joe Richman Published by HighBridge Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Radio Diaries
Read by Hosted by Joe Richman
Published by HighBridge Audio

Five diverse people who recorded their lives as teens on the award-winning NPR series in the 90s return to speak about their lives as adults.

How do you chronicle your life story?
**kmm

Z is for Zlatka, making Paper Hearts secretly in Auschwitz (book review) by Meg Wiviott

book cover of Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comForbidden in Auschwitz:
humanity, relationships, possessions,
and yet…

Her life forfeit if discovered, Zlatka rises above despair in the death camp by celebrating another year of friend Fania’s life with a paper origami heart, crafted in secret.

See the actual paper heart today in the Montreal Holocaust Museum – how fragile things like paper and hope can survive such hate…

As National Poetry Month closes, this novel in verse based on a true story of friendships opens our hearts.
**kmm

Book info: Paper Hearts / Meg Wiviott. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Pulled from their Jewish families in different Polish hometowns to this terrible place, this death camp, young women Zlatka and Fania find hidden ways to bolster their spirits as they try to stay alive.

The guards turn girl against girl, and girls try anything to get another ration of moldy bread. Forced to work as slaves in a German metal factory making bomb casings instead of bowls, Zlatka and Fania and a few others do their best to be human to one another.

Watching the seasons pass, praying to Adonai in whispers no one can hear. As winter comes near, Zlatka decides to make a card for Fania, because a birthday – or any day – is a gift too precious to ignore.

Can the young women barter enough bread to get a piece of paper or pencil stub?
Can they keep this secret from Fania and the guards?
Will they live or die or keep existing in between?

Zlatka and Fania each tell their story through chapters of poems, enduring and persevering because friendship can make its own family in the midst of horror and despair. Based on actual people and events at Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp during World War II, this novel in verse celebrates the best and the worst of humanity.

Y for Alexander Yates’ tale of loss & belonging in The Winter Place

book cover of The Winter Place by Alexander Yates published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com Dad’s sudden death,
fast move to never-seen grandparents’ home – in Finland,
that man, everywhere, and the ghost bear…

Dad made sure that Tess and Axel learned Finnish from their late mother’s childhood book collection, but they weren’t at all prepared to wind up with their maternal grandparents far away in Finland, visited by its mythic spirits.

And the mysterious man who visits them on both sides of the Atlantic, the brown bear where none should be, and the ghost wheelchair that only Axel can see? Who could be ready for that?

Visit the book’s page here on publisher’s website and scroll down to read an excerpt as you begin to discover how Tess and Axel wound up in The Winter Place.

Where is the home of your heart’s memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Winter Place / Alexander Yates. Atheneum, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent abruptly to live with never-met grandparents in Finland after Dad’s death, Tess and little brother Axel find themselves farther from their rural New York home than they could have ever imagined, as ghostly creatures continue to visit Axel and draw them both into mysterious places that could steal them from reality forever.

Mom died when Axel was tiny, so Tess is navigating her teen years with just their offbeat professor father (who jousts at the faire each summer). Losing Dad suddenly propels the siblings to Finland to live with grandparents they don’t know, yet the Keeper who visited them in the woods at home finds them in the forest there, also.

The ghostly wheelchair following Axel is truly the Hiisi of Finnish folklore, and the brown bear spotted in their backyard perhaps is Mom’s spirit wandering in search of…

Why do ghost objects keep pestering Axel?
How many times may Tess or Axel cross over that fine line between death and life?
Will they be able to help Mom’s spirit find peace?

The strangeness that follows them from Axel’s first sighting of the bear to the fortress ruins near a Finnish lake sets this mourning sister and brother on an otherworldly path that may not lead back to the mortal world.

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.

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
**kmm

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

T is The Last Tree, by Denise Getson – final hope for desert Earth?

book cover of The Last Tree by Denise Getson published by CBAY Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAble to make water where there is none!
Mutation? Gift?

Generations after the Devastation of chemical and biological weapons nearly wiped out life on Earth, mutations may be nature’s way of keeping humanity around, perhaps to save the very last tree in the whole world, hidden where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers once flowed.

Look for the first book in the series, Dry Souls (my no-spoiler review here), to visit Kira’s world as she first discovers her affinity for water in this parched future Earth.

How far would you go for friendship?
**kmm

Book info: The Last Tree (Dry Souls, book 2) / Denise Getson. CBAY Books, 2016. [author’s Facebook]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kira isn’t sure how she can call water through solid rock into places where it once flowed, but the United Territory Council government will stop at nothing to capture her and find out how she can bring forth water when all land is desert.

The teen must stay free so she, Tuck, and J.D. can rescue friend Tamara and continue their stealthy mission to get Kira near old lakebeds to call their waters back.

When she is asked to help a special tree, how can Kira say no?
Is this last tree in the entire world truly the Tree of Knowledge?
But how can she keep her family of friends safe from the UTC?

Kira’s adventures in the dry and toxic world introduced in Dry Souls, book one of the series, continue as she jumps across the world from danger into world-altering risks.

R for reach in Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar (book review) – family secrets, magic, doom

book cover of Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar published by Kathy Dawson Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRemoving a troublesome memory
or unneeded physical attribute,
easy enough to do for Aspen’s family.

Using his ‘reach’ to steal thoughts or feelings or fears from others to keep the Cliff from falling on Grandma’s town?

Aspen sometimes can’t believe the ritual works, but the lure of snipping out someone’s memory for his own benefit is very, very hard to resist.

Go to the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt of this spooky tale (free!); the eerie paperback edition releases on June 6, 2017.

Would you reach into someone else’s memories and take one away?
**kmm

Book info: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies / Lindsay Ribar. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Summer vacation in upstate New York is no holiday for Aspen, as the teen discovers that his family’s rituals for keeping the Cliff from falling on Three Peaks are more sinister than he ever imagined.

Being able to ‘reach’ into someone’s memories or passions or skills and remove one, just by touching an important object, is his family’s secret skill, but the townspeople don’t know how the things they leave at the May Day tree are used, to heal faults in the Cliff… and more.

Is family story true, about how they became bound to the Cliff which gave the gift of reach?
What if Aspen doesn’t want to help with the ritual any longer?
And that rule about ‘never steal from family’ when you reach – why?

Superstitious tokens at the May Day tree and the power to remove memories, skills, even life itself – the Cliff and this family have a long, dark history together!