Tag Archive | belonging

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?

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.

Her parents’ dreams or hers? American Panda, by Gloria Chao (book review)

book cover of American Panda by Gloria Chao, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGraduate from best college for prestigious career,
Marry the right person, have many sons…
why is everything already set in stone?

Mei’s parents don’t understand that she wants some traditions of Taiwan and some of America, that she will survive if she doesn’t follow their exacting standards. But what if they disown her, as they cut off all contact with her brother?

Read the first chapter here for free (thank you, Bustle!) to get into Mei’s world, the world of her demanding parents that will stifle her own dreams.

When to break free of the “correct” path?

Book info: American Panda / Gloria Chao. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The path meticulously mapped-out by her Taiwanese-American parents has led Mei to MIT, but the 17 year old now must decide how far from their dreams she can venture in search of what she truly wants.

She uses hand sanitizer constantly, the mere idea of cadavers makes her squeamish, and biology class bores her – why do her parents insist that she must become a doctor?

When older brother Xing announced his engagement, Baba and Mama disowned him because Esther might not be able to give them grandsons, completely erased him from their lives – how can Mei tell them she’s dating a Japanese-American guy from California?

Dancing set her apart from other Asian students applying to MIT, so her parents allowed it just until her acceptance letter arrived – why can’t she tell them what joy it brings her and that she’s teaching dance classes on weekends?

Fast-tracked to college by her parents’ demands, Mei never dated in high school, never chose her own path – maybe with Darren’s support and affection, she can break away from their rigidly traditional expectations without breaking herself.

On their Lion Island, young people of Cuba dream and rebel, by Margarita Engle (book review)

book cover of Lion Island, by Margarita Engle, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSongs for freedom,
words as power –
freedom from Spain, from slavery?

Did you know about Chinese immigrants who fled to Cuba, escaping racist attacks in America? They struggled for freedom from unfair indenture alongside enslaved Africans during the days when Cuba sought its independence from Spain – so many stories forgotten, lost, found, retold.

Look for this historical novel-in-verse at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Could you leave your homeland for safety, then leave again?

Book info: Lion Island: Cuba’s Warrior of Words / Margarita Engle. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At the confluence of Cuban, Chinese, and African cultures, poetic voices of three young people tell the stories of arrival and broken promises, despair and hope, love and the future during their island home’s early years as a nation.

To learn the proper Spanish that his Chinese mother never knew, Antonio’s African father sends him to school in La Habana city.

As he runs errands within the Chinese community for wealthy men displaced from California by anti-Asian prejudice in the post-Gold Rush years, the 12 year old meets twin sister and brother Fan and Wing.

Antonio hears stories of unfairness and change, falls in love with words, wonders if they have true power.

Fan runs away from the sugarcane fields, from forced marriage – to sing and write songs and sing true.

Wing remembers being forced from their California home, wants to help the rebels in Cuba’s mountains.

Months roll into years as the three young people help hide escaped slaves, read letters of protest sent to China and Madrid, long for power over their own lives.

Lyrically, poetically, alternating voices relate the struggles of indentured Chinese workers and enslaved African people fighting for their freedom in the 1870s as Cuba strives for independence from Spain.

Choose his/her Remake or escape? by Ilima Todd (book review)

Male or female?book cover of Remake by Ilima Todd, published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com
Freedom Province gives the choice,
but it’s the only choice they’ll ever get to make!

Imagine being raised with a batch of non-related siblings by a rotating crew of caretakers, medically kept from reaching puberty until age 17 when you decide all your adult physical characteristics including gender…

Visit the book’s site here, then find Remake and its sequel, Resist, at your local library or independent bookstore in hardcover or paperback.

Which cover do you prefer – the misty hardcover or the mix-and-match paperback?

Book info: Remake (Remake, book 1) / Ilima Todd. paperback book cover of Remake, by Ilima Todd, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comShadow Mountain, 2014 (hardcover); Simon Pulse, 2016 (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover images courtesy of the publishers.

My book talk: Perhaps “Uncertain” would be a better name for Nine, who wants to run away on Remake Day instead of deciding whether to remain female or become male. The other 17 year olds in her Batch know exactly who they want to be as adults, unconcerned about the Prime Maker’s master plan for total control over Freedom Province.

When an accident rocks the Remake shuttle, Nine washes ashore on an island with people who aren’t perfectly formed, who don’t live in identical highrise buildings, who nurture the tropical land and each other.

Pregancy? Illness? Disability? What are those things?
How does being a “family” make those worries easier?
Can Nine adapt when Freedom’s medications leave her system?

Decisions that Nine must make on the island may have even greater consequences than her Remake Day choice, as she discovers Freedom Province’s deepest secrets.

In early days of Oz, A Fiery Friendship works for good, by Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino (book review)

book cover of A Fiery Friendship, by Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino, published by Margaret McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comWhen Glinda was a schoolgirl
and the Brick Road didn’t shine brightly,
Oz existed, long-historied already…

Every well-known story has a “before” – before the crisis threatens, before the heroes awaken, before the epic battle.

Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz series brings us the “before” for Glinda the Good and other citizens of Oz, before Dorothy and Toto followed that familiar yellow brick road, as “the Royal Historian of Oz” allows another to be called “author” so these stories can be published in our world.

Look for book 2, A Dark Descent, in May 2018 as A Fiery Friendship comes out in paperback.

How do you know when a convenient alliance becomes a friendship worth fighting for?

Book info: A Fiery Friendship (Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz, book 1) / Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino. Margaret McElderry Books, 2017. [illustrator site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On her Declaration Day, Glinda’s future becomes less certain, as the Scroll doesn’t reveal her foretold occupation, her mother is imprisoned for magic by the Witch of the South, and the young teen is contacted by a secret society intent on reclaiming Oz from its four wicked rulers.

The yellow-hued land of Quadling under Asphidina is only golden for those favored by the Harvester queen, who forbids magic use by most.

Glinda can rescue her mother from Asphidina’s floristic prison – if the magic cards briefly seen have seeped into her very being.

Locasta from purple Gillikin land and Sam from another world entirely – youth joining her to fight ancient Wickedness.

Secrets uncovered will free the four lands of Oz from their bondage – if these friends survive long enough!

First in a series recounting the long-ago history of Oz, Glinda’s new friendships mingle with old prophecies, setting the stage for the Yellow Brick Road story so well-known to us. Followed by A Dark Descent.
text and illustration from A Fiery Friendship by Lisa Fiedler, art by Sebastian Giacobino, published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Away to Mars, maybe – Love, Ish, by Karen Rivers (book review)

book cover of Love, Ish,  by Karen Rivers, published by Workman | recommended on BooksYALove.comPreparations for Mars mission – ongoing.
Hoping for rain – always.
Missing her best friend – must cut that memory off. Entirely.

Everything was easier before Tig moved away! Now Ish has to cope with a brain tumor and seventh grade without him…

Find this March 2017 release at your local library or favorite independent bookstore to see how Ish’s applications to the Mars Now program are received.

When your best friend moves away, what next?

Book info: Love, Ish / Karen Rivers. Algonquin Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Certain that she will someday be selected for a Mars mission, 12 year old Ish lists everything that she’ll miss about Earth, like former best friend Tig and the island on their drying-up California lake, and what she won’t miss, like how Tig never calls from Oregon and the cancer that started hurting her brain and how her sister hates her.

No denying that starting seventh grade is terrible without Tig here, or that Ish was surely adopted with cute older sister Elliott because they were a package deal.

No good reason that Mars Now has rejected Mischa Love’s application 47 times, or that new friend Gavriel can’t be a girl if he wants to be.

A brain tumor the size of a brussels sprout – not Ish’s favorite vegetable.
Radiation treatments – Ish doesn’t like her red hair, but she doesn’t like it falling out either.
Dreams of Mars, all the dreams – never let them stop!

Maybe it will finally rain here in Lake Ochoa again, and maybe Ish can squash that tumor, and maybe she can get to Mars with Tig…

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?

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…)

Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow in 1909 London, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, published by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSuch a fancy new department store!
How lucky that Sophie landed a job there in Ladies’ Hats!
How dreadful that the prized Clockwork Sparrow was stolen…and that Sophie is a suspect!

And how very fortunate that orphaned Sophie finds allies in the store who help her solve the mystery and are willing to risk crossing paths with the evil Baron of 1900s London’s crime underworld!

The author introduces her Sinclair’s Mysteries in this video (love listening to her British accent!) and takes us to real-life London locales which inspired them.

How do you stand by your friends in difficult times?

Book info: Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 1) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked-room mystery, mysterious strangers, and even stranger deliveries make Sinclair’s Department Store of London an intriguing place to work in the early 1900s, but teens Sophie (Ladies’ Hats, recently orphaned) and Lillian (dress model, between acting jobs) discover that a missing clockwork bird holds dangerous secrets within its jeweled feathers.

How can apprentice porter Billy help the police?
Is the Clockwork Sparrow more than a beautiful music box?
Why is underworld crime boss The Baron involved?

First in the series featuring our determined young ladies and their friends in high places and low neighborhoods as they deal with ciphers, codes, churlish villains, and social class.

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?

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.

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.