Tag Archive | civil rights

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?
**kmm

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.

Audiobooks with true soul & saddened hearts

Time to download this week’s soulful audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears – at no cost!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday (June 15-21, 2017), you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois| Read by Rodney Gardiner Published by Dreamscape Media | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Souls of Black Folk (download here free from 15-21 June)
by W.E.B. Du Bois
Read by Rodney Gardiner
Published by Dreamscape Media

Following the Civil War and Emancipation, African-Americans were systematically denied their rights, as Du Bois chronicled in this 1903 work which rings true today, as progress has been uneven, at best.
 
The Red Umbrella (download here free from 15-21 June) CD cover of The Red Umbrella by Christina Diaz Gonzalez | Read by Kyla Garcia Published by Ideal Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Read by Kyla Garcia
Published by Ideal Audiobooks<

Abruptly moved to prairieland Nebraska from tropical Cuba when Castro’s control grows tighter in 1963, teen Lucia must cope with new language and new worries – will she and her little brother ever see their parents again?

Displacement, change, and loss – can you relate?
**kmm

Fiction shows difficult truths in free audiobooks

More free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Each download period runs from Thursday through Wednesday, so grab this pair of strong stories now – you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of audiobook How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon | Read by Cherise Boothe, Shari Peele, Kevin R. Free, Patricia R. Floyd, Avery Glymph, Korey Jackson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Peter Jay Fernandez, Ezra Knight, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Brian Hutchinson Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com How It Went Down (download here June 16-22)
by Kekla Magoon
Read by Cherise Boothe, Shari Peele, Kevin R. Free, Patricia R. Floyd, Avery Glymph, Korey Jackson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Peter Jay Fernandez, Ezra Knight, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Brian Hutchinson
Published by Recorded Books

I recommended this many-voiced story in early 2015 here – still relevant, alas still being repeated.

Black teen Tariq is shot by white Jack – now police, neighbors, family, and friends of both men try to untangle this not-so-simple tale.

The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (download here June 16-22)CD cover of audiobook Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man by James Weldon Johnson | Read by Alan Bomar Jones Published by Tantor Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by James Weldon Johnson
Read by Alan Bomar Jones
Published by Tantor Media

As the first fictionalized memoir published by a black author, this compelling look at the life and travails of a biracial man strongly influenced many authors of the Harlem Renaissance and rings true today.

How can fiction help us reflect on real life?
**kmm

A Girl Called Fearless, by Catherine Linka (book review) – unwilling May-December marriage!

book cover of A Girl Called Fearless by Catherine Linka published by St Martin's GriffinNo rights to an education,
sold in marriage to the highest bidder,
teen girls in an “advanced” society?

When all the mothers died because of corporate greed, young women like Avie became America’s only hope for the future. So love is a priceless luxury, and arranged marriages are major financial transactions. The Paternalists monitor young women constantly to stop kidnappings… but the power-hungry political movement has a more sinister agenda.

Read the first three chapters here for free, then grab this May 2014 release at your local library or independent bookstore to see what path Avie chooses.

Who is allowed to determine our freedoms? How far would you go to protect yours?
**kmm

Book info: A Girl Called Fearless / Catherine Linka. St Martins Griffin, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Contracted to marry a man twice her age, Avie wants to escape to Canada, but can she leave her true love behind in today’s totalitarian California?

After a hormone in beef kills all women of childbearing age, young girls become incredibly valuable and are Signed as teen brides to the highest bidders. The Paternalists say this will prevent kidnappings, but 16-year-old Avie and her best friend Yates aren’t so sure.

When her dad Signs Avie to marry Jessop Hawkins as part of a deal to save his biotech company, suddenly her dreams of attending college are dust. Hawkins wants Avie with him on the campaign trail as he runs for governor, so they will marry in 3 weeks – unless she follows Yates’ advice and joins the underground Exodus to Canada. Now that she knows she’s in love with Yates, what else could she do? But Hawkins isn’t about to let his prize slip away…

An alternate history tale of a chilling today which really could happen tomorrow, first in a series.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

SYNC audiobooks showcase Civil Rights herstory

Courageous teen women in the early Civil Rights movement – this week’s free SYNC audiobooks bring little-heralded history/herstory to life.

CD cover of Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice By Philip Hoose Read by Channie Waites Published by Brilliance AudioClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
By Philip Hoose
Read by Channie Waites
Published by Brilliance Audio

Several months before Rosa Parks’ celebrated bus ride in 1955, black teen Claudette rode a segregated Montgomery bus, but her protest was ignored by area Civil Rights leaders.

 

 

While the World WatchedCD cover of While the World Watched By Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George Read by  Felicia Bullock Published by Oasis Audio
By Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George
Read by  Felicia Bullock
Published by Oasis Audio

As a 15 year old, Carolyn was an eyewitness to the fatal Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, another KKK atrocity in the South as the Civil Rights Movement grew.

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available for free download from Thursday through Wednesday, you can listen to them as long as you keep the Overdrive Media files on your computer or electronic device.

Visit SYNC for a full list of this summer’s featured audiobooks. If you missed any, try your local library or the publisher.
**kmm

Safekeeping, by Karen Hesse (fiction) – on the run, will home still be there?

book cover of Safekeeping by Karen Hesse published by Fiewel and Friends

The president assassinated!
Martial law declared.
No travel without permits.

She got her plane ticket home as soon as she could, leaving the sweet children at the Haitian orphanage where she volunteered. But there was no way for Radley to know that her parents would not be at the airport waiting for her and that everything she knew as safe would be gone.

Listen to the first chapter of Safekeeping  here, then grab the book at your local library or independent bookstore so you can consider each of each black-and-white photograph as you worry through Celia, Radley, and Jerry Lee’s desperate journey away from despair and danger.

What would you do to survive if you were in Radley’s mud-soaked shoes?
**kmm

Book info: Safekeeping / Karen Hesse. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2012. [author’s blog]  [author video interview]  [publisher site]

My Recommendation: When the president is assassinated, Radley rushes home from volunteering at a Haitian orphanage, but everything is going wrong. Her parents should be waiting for her at the airport, but they’re not. No one answers the phone at home, her credit cards no longer work, her cellphone is dead, and US marshals are everywhere.

New curfews and travel restrictions mean that the teen must walk for days to cover the hour’s drive home, avoiding checkpoints and scavenging food where she can find it. Arriving at her empty house, Radley passes dark stains on the pavement and hides in a secret attic room as police pound on the door in the morning, over and over.
No electricity, no food left, only mom’s photos escaped the looting. She can’t stay here, she’s got to get away – from the marshals, from the uncertainty about her parents’ whereabouts, from the totalitarian state that New Hampshire has become.

So she heads north to Canada, traveling by night, avoiding other people and their potential dangers, staying clear of the small towns swarming with soldiers, until a big dog comes to her and begs that she follow him. Radley finds Celia ill and feverish, nurses her until the trio can continue plodding north through the rainy woods.
A small, safe place – that’s all they need – somewhere away from the soldiers and curfews and guns.
Can Radley, Celia, and Jerry Lee actually make it to Canada?
Where are their parents, their neighbors, their friends?
Will they ever be able to go home, or will martial law grip the US forever?
Karen Hesse’s own black-and-white photographs of the places where the girls and dog travel fill this book with darkness and light, as the cadence of her words measures the steps and steps and steps that Radley takes on this long journey.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

The Forsaken, by Lisa M. Strasse (book review) – teens on prison island, survival at any cost

book cover of The Forsaken by Lisa M Strasse published by Simon SchusterHer parents torn away from her,
Easier to pretend she’s always been an orphan.
Government mind drugs don’t work on her.

Keeps her head down, keeps quiet.

The government-mandated brain scan shows that she has  tendencies toward anti-social behavior and criminal violence, so 16-year-old Alanna Fanshawe is no more. All mention of her is erased from official records of the UNA, the chaotic nation founded by force when the food crisis hit Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The Forsaken  evokes reflections of The Hunger Games, similarities with Lord of the Flies, and echoes of 1984, yet is truly its own dystopian world. Grab this first book in the Forsaken series now at your local library or independent bookstore.

Who knows how long Alanna will survive feral hoofer boars, manipulative leaders, and attacking drones on the prison island?
**kmm

Book info: The Forsaken (Forsaken, book 1)  / Lisa M. Strasse. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:  Banished to the Wheel?! Alanna was sure she’d pass the government test that weeds out subversives, but she failed. Now she’ll be deported to a remote island, into a savage world of other teen misfits where few survive.

When she was ten, her parents were dragged away by United Northern Alliance soldiers for quietly questioning the new government’s policies. After six years in UNA orphanage with so many others, Alanna has learned to ignore her implanted earpiece’s constant propaganda and the prescribed thought pills, just going along quietly, not making trouble.

But the Test brain scan shows that she has “criminal tendencies” so she’s whisked away to Prison Island Alpha, where the life expectancy is 18 – no overcrowding, no chance of escape, no hope of ever finding her parents now.

Alanna and new friend David try to avoid wild animals as they search for a rumored settlement. Suddenly they find themselves in a war zone, since they were dumped into an area being disputed between the villagers and the Monk’s followers. Soon this city girl must learn to fight, to track through the tropical forest, to trust (or not trust) the village leaders. Avoiding the drugged-up “drones” who blindly follow the masked Monk is survival priority one.

Why is the mysterious Monk controlling his follower-drones like throwaway toys? What secrets are the village leaders hiding? Why did the UNA abandon so many kids who are as normal as their classmates? How long will Alanna survive on the Wheel?

This compelling book leaves questions in the reader’s mind about how much a government should control its citizens and how far someone would go to defend their freedom to think, their family, their very life. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Jump Into the Sky, by Shelley Pearsall (book review) – black paratroopers in WWII, secret mission or phony war?

book cover of Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall published by KnopfLevi Battle was always being left.
His mom left when he was a baby,
His dad left to serve in the Army.
Now his aunt says it’s his turn to leave his friends and go be with his father – in the middle of World War II!

Hard to be a teenager without his dad around, harder to trade the big city of Chicago for the prejudices of the South, harder still to imagine what life would be like if every paratrooper of the 555th doesn’t come home from their missions…

Be sure to visit the “Triple Nickle” website to learn more about this little-known battalion and the brave paratroopers who served the nation during World War II, like Bradley Biggs, the first African-American officer accepted for parachute duty in the US Army.

Get this great book today at your local library or independent bookstore; it is also available as an audiobook. Could you be as brave and loyal in the face of prejudice and danger as Lt. Battle and the men of Triple Nickle?
**kmm

Book info: Jump Into the Sky / Shelley Pearsall. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site]

My Book Talk:  Rattling over the rails, Levi tries to figure out how he got here, dress shirt covered with coal dust, stuck on a “Jim Crow” train car so very far away from home. Why his Aunt decided right now it was time for him to be with his father on an Army base in the middle of the War, he’ll never know.

Sure, he missed his dad, but in 1945 so many fathers and brothers and cousins were gone. If it wasn’t war-time, the Army wouldn’t let a colored man be an officer, says everyone in their Chicago neighborhood, and not one single soul believes that Charles Battle is a paratrooper.

It doesn’t help that Levi’s jazz-singer mother left home when he was a little baby, that his father has no idea that the tall thirteen-year-old is on his way to North Carolina to join him, that Aunt Odella’s prayers and fried chicken might not get him safely to Fort Bragg.

Levi couldn’t believe that white people in the South would act so hateful, but he learns quickly to stay away from town, stick with the other black soldiers’ families, and be ready to move at a moment’s notice. When the Army says leave for Oregon, off they go, Levi helping Sgt. Cal’s wife with the new baby on the long cross-country trip.

But why is the 555th battalion really in Pendleton?
Is it just busy-work to make it look like the Army is letting black soldiers fight?
What if Lt. Battle doesn’t come back from the next mission or the one after that?

Inspired by interviews with real veterans of the original 555th, this journey of discovery will take readers back to the home front during World War II as Levi watches his father and brothers-in-arms Jump Into the Sky  to defend the USA, whether acknowledged for their bravery or not. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Amped, by Daniel H. Wilson (fiction) – amp your brain, lose your humanity?

book cover of Amped by Daniel H Wilson published by DoubledayWelcome to the near-future!
A simple implant negates epilepsy,
another upgrades low IQ,
yet another amplifies physical performance.

We’re not talking 3-D headgear to improve complex visualizations – these are directly attached to relevant brain areas to control problems or enhance capabilities. Shouldn’t disadvantaged children be given help to overcome obstacles to their success, to keep them off the welfare rolls as adults?

And people who don’t use this technology – the pure humans – feel more-threatened every day by it. Should amps really be recognized as citizens? Aren’t they now less than human because of their implants? From lawsuits to concentration camps to outright violence, if you’re Amped, you’re a target – until it’s time to fight back!

The author of Robopocalypse brings us another all-too-possible view of a technology-enhanced future that’s more nightmare than dream-come-true. Published in early June, you’ll find Amped  at your local library or independent bookstore.
**kmm 

Book info: Amped / Daniel H. Wilson. Doubleday, 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation: Brain implants to control seizures help millions like Owen; why shouldn’t implants help amplify limited intelligence or upgrade physical strength for those with challenges? Wealthy parents began enhancing their children’s mental skills and physical prowess with amp implantation, then The Uplift Act authorized amp implants for low-income kids to help them overcome long-standing disadvantages.
Soon, the “pure humans” worry that the “amps” have unfair advantages for college admissions, athletic contests, and job applications. Senator Vaughn and his Pure Pride organization file so many lawsuits against amps that their case goes to the Supreme Court.
Suddenly, amps are no longer full United States citizens, are hounded by Pure Pride, corralled into small enclaves under constant attack. All research on human amplification is stopped, and its leading researchers and doctors are arrested – if the authorities can reach them before they commit suicide.
A final message from his father shocks 29-year-old Owen to the core: his amp is not just for medical assistance, but contains information on amazing skills and abilities that he’ll be able to use some day.  All he has to do is cross half the country without being picked up by the FBI and find Dad’s friend Jim in Oklahoma for some answers.
Did Owen really want to find out about the Echo Company of amp-enhanced soldiers who can access levels of superhuman strength with the flick of a mental switch? Can this calm schoolteacher stand by while Pure Priders attack innocent kids who were amped under The Uplift Act so they could concentrate in class? And exactly what skills did his researcher father add to Owen’s amp?

Newspaper articles and news reports punctuate this fast-moving story, showing the rise and flow of public opinion and occasional outright propaganda in a future not-so-distant from today. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Legend (fiction)

Elite soldiers and expendable worker drones.
Iffy electrical power and repeated plagues.
Endless slums and a handful of luxury apartments.

Future Los Angeles is a far cry from today’s sunny tourist destination. Most of its 20 million people are doomed to slums because of their mediocre Trial scores at age 10. Those who score too low are removed by the Government as a useless burden on society.

Scoring well on the Trial means high school and college and a good position in the Elector’s own police force. June is the only person who ever made a perfect score and has raced through all her classes in just four years, getting ready to stand as an officer on the front lines with her brother Metias.

When he is murdered by the notorious teen-criminal Day, who’s survived on his own since escaping from prison after his failed Trial, June’s hunger for revenge and Day’s drive to protect his impoverished family set the pair on a collision course with consequences that no one could envision.

Scheduled for Nov. 29 publication, so grab the first book in the Legend trilogy at your nearest indie bookstore tomorrow!
**kmm

Book info: Legend / Marie Lu. Putnam, 2011. [author’s website] [series website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: No one expected a 10-year-old to break out of prison like Day did. No one expected a 10-year-old to get a perfect Trial score like June did either. Future Los Angeles only educates the very brightest – the middling ones become drudge labor, the Trial failures are turned over to government prisons or research labs.

Now 14, June is bored with her military college classes and longs to be on active duty full-time like her older brother Metias. Her parents would be so proud of them both, if they were still living… When Metias is killed on a routine patrol, June is not sure she can keep on living, but duty to the Elector keeps her going.

Day moves along the fringes of underground society, stealing supplies to keep his family alive in the slums, even though they think he’s gone forever. Fleetingly captured on security cameras, Day’s exploits against government stations are becoming legendary, even though no one knows exactly who he is.

Another plague is stalking the poor areas of the city, and Day spies as his family’s house is marked with the infected-quarantine mark. Now, getting the plague suppressant for his brother is Day’s main concern – and that means infiltrating high-security hospital labs undetected.

As Day searches for the medicine, the police continue searching for Day. June is assigned to the case and takes to the streets in disguise, trying to capture this renegade before he becomes more of a folk-hero in the slums.

The more Day learns about this plague, the more worried he is for his family. The more June learns about Day, the more she questions the Republic’s actions.

Was Day involved in Metias’s death? Why are the plagues so common in the City? Will June find answers in her brother’s journals or just more questions?

Leap into a gritty future adventure with Legend, recounted by Day and June in alternating chapters, first in a series. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy courtesy of the publisher.