Tag Archive | blindness

Squirrels, hidden money, wandering grandpa – what next?! JOSIE BLOOM & THE EMERGENCY OF LIFE, by Susan Hill Long (book review)

book cover of Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life, by Susan Hill Long. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Money in the fridge,
water in a saucepan for dinner,
Another emergency, Grandpa?

Josie and Grandpa have done okay since her mom died, but the 11 year old is sure tired of making sure the bills are paid and getting teased at school for her old clothes and worrying about Grandpa’s late-night rambles.

Her best friend Winky loves baseball, but being legally blind keeps him on the sidelines as water boy. If only he could play ball…

Money goes in and out of Grandpa’s bank account strangely, and his outbursts and actions get stranger. If only Josie could find a way to make some money herself…

When Winky’s baseball idol is sent down to their small Maine town’s minor league team, Josie recognizes him from the framed photo on Mom’s nightstand. But Joe Viola doesn’t pitch like he did in the big leagues and doesn’t act like a hero anymore either.

Can Joe Viola break his jinx?
Will Winky ever get the chance to play baseball?
Could Joe be Josie’s long-lost father?

Grandpa’s behavior gets more erratic, Josie redoubles her efforts to keep their home, and her teacher starts getting nosy about their situation. Emergency!

How can you help a friend when things get tough?

Book info: Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life / Susan Hill Long. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is THE DISTANCE BETWEEN ME AND THE CHERRY TREE, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir (MG book review)

book cover of The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree, by Paola Peretti, translated by Denise Muir. Published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

First were a few dots in her vision,
then glasses (not so cute),
now clouds cover her view…

Mafalda’s eyesight is failing, and the list of things the Italian girl can do grows shorter by the week – no more having a best friend or counting stars at night.

No more playing soccer, as the black spots widen so she cannot see the ball coming toward the goal, no more walking home from school by herself.

She hates how people have already started treating her differently, hates 11th birthday presents coming many months early while she can still see their colors, hates having to move to a one-story house away from her cat…

Only Estella, the Romanian janitor at school, seems to understand how hard this all is for Mafalda and suggests making a list of things she doesn’t want to forget when she is blind.

As days pass, she must stand ever closer to see her favorite cherry tree… if only Mafalda could live in its branches so no one knew her blindness was happening so fast.

Read an excerpt here (courtesy of the publisher) from this debut novel by an Italian author who was diagnosed as a young teen with the same vision-loss condition as Mafalda.

How do you cope when unhappy changes are inevitable?

Book info: The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree / Paola Peretti; translated by Denise Muir; illustrated by Carolina Rabei. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author interview] [translator interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Love in the future? Love now? Listen and discover!

One love story set in the future, one set in the present day – time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Click on the link for the complete audiobook you want to download before Wednesday (6 June 2018), then you can listen to it as long as you keep it on your device.

CD cover of Extraordinary Means, by Robyn Schneider | Read by Khristine Hvam, James Fouhey Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.comExtraordinary Means (download here through 6 June 2018)
by Robyn Schneider
Read by Khristine Hvam, James Fouhey
Published by HarperAudio

Did Lane do what Sadie thinks he did? As the teens in this near-future convalesce from a new tuberculosis, they redefine their new relationship. And then…

(I recommended Extraordinary Means  here when first published; no spoilers!)
Love and First Sight (download here through 6 June 2018)CD cover of Love and First Sight, by Josh Sundquist | Read by Pat Young Published by Hachette Audio
by Josh Sundquist
Read by Pat Young
Published by Hachette Audio

Blind from birth, Will’s first days at mainstream high school are tense, but he finds friends and the quiz team… and Cecily. When experimental surgery may grant him sight, who can predict what happens next?

Love amid challenging medical situations – any other titles to recommend?

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.

Love Blind, by C. Desir & Jolene Perry (book review) – bucket list before blindness

book cover of Love Blind by C Desir & Jolene Perry published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGoing blind or singing solo?
Confronting Mom or DJing solo?
Lists of true fears, open to true friends?

As Hailey faces encroaching blindness and Kyle faces up to his failure to protect best buddy Pavel, they meet at school and begin inching toward the uncertainties of their futures as they mark items off their personal lists of fears.

Lots of bumps along this relationship road, especially as Kyle kicks himself for allowing anyone else to help Hailey jump into intimacy.

This book in two voices is written by C. Desir (I recommended her Other Broken Things here) and Jolene Perry (check out my recommendation of Stronger Than You Know  here) whose characters in difficult situations are real, heartfelt, and honest.

Meet mostly-fearless Hailey and so-shy Kyle in this free excerpt, courtesy of the publisher.

What fear is on your list-to-conquer?

Book info: Love Blind / C. Desir & Jolene Perry. Simon Pulse, 2016. [Christa’s site]  [Jolene’s site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her eyesight deteriorates, Hailey starts a list of fears to conquer and urges new friend Kyle to do the same. While the Chicago teens start facing their fears head-on, other emotions begin to color their relationship.

When Kyle’s dad left, all the warmth at home did also. Kyle couldn’t protect best friend Pavel from horrific bullying. How can he help Hailey with her fears list… when he’s falling in love with her?

Her guitar and her music – at least those will be left for Hailey when glaucoma takes all her sight. But how can she face a future where she’ll never see the faces of her moms or be able to truly see Kyle?

Told in alternating chapters by two authors known for their strong characters in difficult situations, Love Blind explores friendship, love, and getting beyond reasonable fears to tackle the truest ones.

Blind Guide to Stinkville, by Beth Vrable (book review) – she’s not ‘that blind’, right?

book cover of A Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel published by Sky Pony Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comLearning her way around a new town with limited sight,
coping with albinism in the sunny South,
wondering if Mom’s depression will ever lift…

Maybe Alice is right to think that she will never feel at home in the small paper mill town of Sinkville.
Or maybe she can find connections that will make her new life less stinky.

Travel to Alice’s new town today by visiting your local library or independent bookstore where you can find A Blind Guide to Stinkville as 2015 hardcover or 2016 paperback. Watch for its follow-up title, A Blind Guide to Normal, too (published in October 2016).

Do we let our first impressions of others make them ‘other’ to us?

Book info: A Blind Guide to Stinkville / Beth Vrabel. Sky Pony Press, 2015 (hardcover), 2016 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Moving to a small South Carolina town means new challenges for sight-impaired Alice, but as she tries to get people to not see her as different, she discovers new friends and connections that are at risk when her parents discuss sending the 12 year old to school for the blind.

If people want to think that her farting Shi Tzu is a Seeing Eye dog, Alice won’t correct them.
If her best friend back in Seattle is suddenly busy with parties and boys, Alice can’t do much about that.
But when Mr. Hamlin may be forced into a nursing home, mean girl Eliza lies about Tooter attacking her, and Dad spends even more time at work as Mom retreats into depression, Alice is ready to fight!

Writing her essay for the local contest will fix everything…unless it can’t.

Followed by A Blind Guide to Normal, this story of unlooked-for changes and hopeful new beginnings finds “not that blind” Alice finding new perspectives and friendships. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Not If I See You First, by Eric Lindstrom (book review) – Blind to love?

book cover of Not If I See You First by Eric Lindstrom published by Poppy | recommended on BooksYALove.comA blind runner,
a set of rules for all occasions,
any room for forgiveness?

Lost her mom and her sight at age 7, lost her trust in love in 8th grade, lost her dad last year – Parker has hardened her heart against more pain, but avoiding Scott is no longer an option when their high schools merge.

Jog over to your local library or independent bookstore to meet Parker and see if her blind spot about Scott is bigger than her capacity to forgive.  Not If I See You First just came out in paperback last week.

The author, Eric Lindstrom, curated the contents of the November 2016 package for NOVLbox book service, so enter their contest here and you might be one of ten lucky winners.

What’s your blind spot?

Book info: Not If I See You First / Eric Lindstrom. Poppy, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Merger of the New England town’s high schools places Scott back in Parker’s path, but she wants to ignore the guy who violated her trust during 8th grade, pretend that her aunt and family didn’t have to move into her house to help the blind teen cope after her father’s recent death, and brush off the track coach’s request that she train with a guide-runner for the Paralympics.

Too-honest Parker wears unique blindfolds as a fashion statement, she and best-friend-forever Sarah listen to others’ problems, and at least they didn’t have to move when the schools merged.

But can she cope with having Scott in her trig class, nightly dreams about her late father, and figuring out how this dating stuff goes with Jason?


Wizard of Dark Street (fiction) – magic, crime, beauty creams

Pendulum House, with its namesake device swooshing through the parlor in great arcs.
A dragonbone desk and enchanted daggers.
The Gates of Iron, opening into New York City every midnight for exactly 60 seconds.

Welcome to Dark Street, last of the 13 great roads connecting the worlds of humans and Faerie, in 1877 as yet another crime investigation is bungled by Inspector White. In just weeks, Oona Crate will be considered old enough to select her own life path, and she knows that she must become a true detective, ignoring the magical blood that flows through her.

Stereotypes for wizards and witches go by the wayside on Dark Street, as Oona must deal with slippery memories, the Goblin Tower prison, suppliers of contraband, and a most puzzling riddle.

The author has scripted, scored, and recorded a musical introduction to Oona’s world that you won’t want to miss in a video that charmingly showcases his composing and singing skills.

Look for The Wizard of Dark Street at your local library or independent bookstore.

Book info: The Wizard of Dark Street / Shawn Thomas Odyssey. Egmont USA, 2011. [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

My Recommendation: Oona wants to be a detective, not a wizard. Although she is the first natural-born magician in 200 years, she ought to be allowed to cultivate her other talents – as long as she doesn’t get permanently killed in the process.

As Wizard’s apprentice, Oona was learning spells needed to defend humankind if evil forces from Faerie realms attacked; even in the modern world of 1877, the Wizard must be ready. Dark Street lies in the heart of New York City, but ordinary humans rarely find this last corridor between the worlds of Man and Faerie.

But the Wizard’s disappearance, an increase in crimes along Dark Street, and an incompetent police inspector lead her to investigate many things – Why do only young witch girls venture out of Witch Hill? Who has stolen all of Madame Iree’s dresses? Is the blind actor a victim or a criminal?

A new apprentice must be selected since Oona wants to step away from that role, but which candidate will be chosen – witch girl, human young man, snooty Miss Iree, the clever brother? Something is wrong about all this…

Luckily, Oona has enchanted raven Deacon to tutor her in further magic and her own natural curiosity to lead her in detection. Are the criminals after something bigger than just designer dresses? Were her parents really killed by magic instead of an accident?

This first Oona Crate mystery places readers solidly into its 1877 setting and a very magical place indeed. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Same Difference (fiction)

Sort of rude,
Fairly crude,
Still totally inept at social interaction.

It’s Fun Friday for us, but not so much fun for mid-20s Simon, as a fleeting glimpse of an old high school friend sets off a chain of reminiscences and regrets.

Simon’s high school acquaintances couldn’t even remember that Koreans weren’t Japanese – why did he expect them to show a little respect to Irene who was trying to make her way through the sighted world?

And you’ve got to wonder why Nancy decided to open the letters addressed to the former tenant of her apartment. Did this Sarah really move without a forwarding address to avoid being contacted by Ben? Did Nancy really write back to Ben, pretending to be Sarah!?

Derek won the 2004 Eisner, 2004 Harvey, and 2003 Ignatz Awards with Same Difference as a self-published book; it’s even better in this hardback reissue, published this week with spiffed-up art and Derek’s notes about how he used sites he knew to create an authentic setting for this mostly-not-autobiographical story.

If your local library doesn’t have it yet, head for an independent bookstore to get Same Difference – hope your copy has the cool acetate cover with the fish! Proof again that comics ain’t just for kiddies.

Book info: Same Difference / Derek Kirk Kim. First Second Books, 2011. [author’s website] [author’s blog] [publisher site] [author interview]

Recommendation: Regretting the past is familiar for Simon in his mid-20s, but worrying about his pal Nancy’s offbeat response to misdelivered mail is new territory.

Unexpectedly catching sight of an old friend from his small-town California high school, Simon explains to his friends why he just can’t go talk to her. Even several years after graduation, he feels the pain of being an outsider, a grunge-rock Korean surrounded by waves of belligerent Anglo blockheads.

Irene transferred in during their senior year. Since they had two classes together, sometimes Simon would walk with her to class. Oh, and she was blind, so the local yokels loved to make stupid jokes about that, too. When she hinted about going to the dance together, he bailed out, made an excuse about visiting relatives…but didn’t.

Nancy finally lets Simon know about the mail that’s been coming to her new place – mail from Ben Leland to the last tenant, mail that professes his undying love for Sarah, mail that Nancy opens, week after week, and then answers!

When a package arrives from Ben, Nancy decides that she has to get an actual look at him and wrangles Simon into driving her to Pacifica – Simon’s hometown.

Can they find Ben? Will Nancy really try to take a peek at him? Or contact him? Will Simon cross paths with Irene again and get the nerve to apologize? Sometimes growing up is a lot more difficult than it appears on the surface.

Derek Kirk Kim has successfully melded several episodes of his famed webcomic into a single graphic novel which won several awards as a self-published work. Enjoy this new edition with wacky introduction by fellow West Coast cartoonist Gene Yang, plus Derek’s notes on creating his characters and setting. (Review copy courtesy of the publisher.)

Blindsided, by Patricia Cummings (book review) – sight vanishing, can hope remain?

book cover of Blindsided by Patricia Cummings published by Dutton BooksGoing blind! How could you handle that diagnosis, that reality? Having to leave her school and her family to learn how to truly cope as a blind person in the modern world… I think Natalie is stronger than I ever could be in that situation.

I recently visited with an old college friend who never let blindness stand in his way as he went to law school, practiced law for years, and is now finding great satisfaction promoting the National Federation for the Blind’s Newsline service, which offers over 300 newspapers and magazines read aloud by phone or online 24/7 for those with visual impairment.

If your grandparents, neighbors, or friends can’t see well enough to read print, help them get connected to Newsline for pop culture, science, health, news (gotta love modern technology!).

Book info: Blindsided / by Priscilla Cummings. Dutton Children’s Books (Penguin), hardback 2010, paperback 2011. 240 pgs. [author’s site] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: The summer before 10th grade, Dr. Rose says that Natalie will go blind – completely and absolutely blind, maybe overnight, maybe before Christmas. So she transfers to the Baltimore Center for the Blind boarding school so she can learn Braille and learn how to cope.

With the little tunnel of sight she has left, Nat is sure that she’s not like the other kids there – the ones blind from birth or suddenly blind from an accident – and she just lives for the weekends at home with her parents and the goats, away from lessons about walking with a cane and making the bumps of Braille become letters in her mind. Dr. Rose could be wrong – miracles happen, right?

Bargaining for miracles doesn’t work in real life though. Nat has to decide if she’s going to get ready for her new life or hide forever on her parents’ farm.
Are her old friends starting to forget her?
Can her new friends and teachers help her prepare for a future she can’t envision?

The author’s academic year spent with blind teens and all their hopes, fears, and expectations makes this work of fiction read like real life. (one of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.