Tag Archive | communication

J for jitters & The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli (book review)

book cover of Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli published by Balzer+Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot the cute twin,
nor the bold twin,
not ever getting kissed?

Molly and Cassie’s moms (finally getting married – yay!) have lots of great advice, but asking them how to get past just a crush to real relationship? Not gonna do that.

Published yesterday (11 April 2017), The Upside of Unrequited is Molly’s very essence: hopeful yet hesitant, creative and cautious, trying to move out of her shy chubby-girl comfort zone and get close enough to a guy to be accepted… or rejected.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here to read the first chapters free.

I adored Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (my no-spoiler review here) and cannot wait to meet whoever her next novel brings us.

Are you brave enough to try something that might break your heart?
**kmm

Book info: The Upside of Unrequited / Becky Albertalli. Balzer + Bray, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Always crushing on a guy means never getting hurt, but never in a relationship either – maybe summer before senior year will be different for Molly. Her twin Cassie is with Mina now and eager to help things along – if only Molly will be brave enough to talk to someone!

Planning her moms’ wedding (finally legal in Maryland!), working with Reid in his parents’ eclectic shop for the summer, and worrying that Cassie is way too enthusiastic about hipster Will as perfect “Operation Boyfriend” material – no wonder Molly is too anxious to sleep well.

Has Cassie really fallen in love with Mina?
Will Aunt Karen relent and come to their moms’ wedding?
Why is being with Reid so… real?

H for hurricane & The Odds of Lightning healing friendships, by Jocelyn Davies (book review)

book cover of The Odds of Lightning by Jocelyn Davies published by Simon Pulse  | recommended on BooksYALove.comGradually fading away,
or becoming someone else,
how can you stay yourself, when everything else changes?

Maybe the superstorm will wash away what divided these best friends three years ago
– or stop Tiny from fading from view (translucently)
– or reveal Will’s true self beneath his new snarky persona
– or make Lu feel real and take fewer dramatic risks
– or help Nathaniel forget that he cannot replace his genius older brother.

And then the lightning strikes

Don’t wait for the late August 2017 paperback release – read The Odds of Lightning now to see what transpires for these four former friends as they rush through the hurricane-darkened city in search of answers and transformation.

When have you wished you could become someone else?
**kmm

Book info: The Odds of Lightning / Jocelyn Davies. Simon Pulse, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When lightning strikes four teens, the former best friends race through the New York City night trying to reverse its effects on them before the hurricane hits.

Before freshman year of high school, they were inseparable – Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel, and Will as science club buddies. That’s all gone now, on the night before SATs, the night they were struck by lightning and became… other.

Is the lightning still bottled up inside them?
Why is Tiny’s body disappearing and Lu’s all numb?
Who does Will look like now?

Switching from now to then to now and presented from the viewpoints of all four friends, The Odds of Lightning brings us the aftermath of gradual drift and sudden shock with a magical twist that has nothing to do with spells or wands and everything to do with friendship and love.

D is My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

book cover of My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson published by Aladdin  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDragons, mermaids, Sasquatches,
the earth is flat,
every school textbook says so.

If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…

Recently released in paperback, Gracie’s travelogue told through her Diary (chapter 1 here, free) should be at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, ask for it!

When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
**kmm

Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.

Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.

Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?

B = battle, attack, Ninth City Burning, by J. Patrick Black (book review)

book cover of Ninth City Burning by J. Patrick Black published by Ace  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAlien war never ending,
Youth who must master their powers.
Humanity’s future is at stake!

Ninth City Burning is great sci-fi with a magic twist, a big book that reads fast, as its many young characters take turns telling how they can use the aliens’ ‘thelemity’ power against them, find ways to work around centuries of military regulations, and scramble to shift the odds of humankind surviving to fight another day.

Be sure to read the first chapter by young cadet Jax at the publisher’s website here – this is not a drill…

**kmm

Book info: Ninth City Burning / J. Patrick Black. Ace, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Five centuries of predictable alien attacks, then changes. Cities turn thelemity against the aliens through the few who can control it. Country folk don’t even know that Earth is at war for its existence. And then…

Told in many voices – reluctant hero cadet Jax of Ninth City, traveler Naomi missing her musical family, overconfident problem-solver Kizabel, and more – this future filled with powerful choices, harnessing power, and the power of lies is a satisfyingly complex tale of aliens, near-magic, war, loyalty, love, and family ties.

A is Amina’s Voice, by Hena Khan (fiction) – school, mosque, American!

book cover of Amina's Voice by Hana Khan published by Salaam Reads  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSinging her heart out (alone),
Concerned about friends changing,
Trying to fit in, yet stay herself.

Amina has all the middle school worries, plus her slow progress in Arabic and her big brother’s behavior upsetting her Pakistani parents. But what happens to the Islamic Center is so much worse!

Ask for this March 2017 release (first in the new Salaam Reads imprint of Simon & Schuster) at your local library or favorite independent bookstore.

When has your community come together in response to crisis?
**kmm

Book info: Amina’s Voice / Hena Khan. Salaam Reads/ Simon & Schuster, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Middle school is so confusing for Amina, as her best friend Soojin starts hanging out with the popular girls (they’ve always been so mean!) and her parents expect that she and big brother will excel at the Quran recitation contest (so difficult for her to pronounce Arabic properly).

Add to all this stress one chorus concert (her voice teacher wants her to sing a solo, but Amina is too shy), two times the trouble with fidgety Bradley and mean Emily in their group Oregon Trail project, and three months that her strict uncle from Pakistan will be staying in their suburban Milwaukee home!

When terrible things happen to their beautiful Islamic Center, Amina and her family wonder how their community can recover.

What can one girl do to help?
How brave can she be?

AtoZChallenge starts tomorrow – no foolin’

image of April A to Z blogging Challenge badge from http://www.a-to-zchallenge.comEvery spring, I fret about whether I should really participate in the April A to Z blogging challenge.

Can I really write 26 (great) posts in 26 (overscheduled) days in alphabetical (so structured) order?

And just like every spring since 2012, I decide to take the plunge – highlighting 26 wonderful #YAlit books during April.

So get ready – amazing reading ahead!
**kmm

Seven Days of You… not enough! by Cecilia Vinesse (fiction)

US book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

US cover

Why does he show up now?!
Just as she’s leaving everything she loves, forever.
Hmpfff! Hmm… Oh!

Reading this took me back to my September visit to Tokyo – konbini convenience stores, punctual and safe metro, meeting near Hachiko statue at Shibuya. And just like Sophia, I had to move back to the States just before my senior year (not recommended by either of us).

The complication of parted-in-anger Jamie returning just before she leaves? That is Sophia’s alone, and three years of deliberately not emailing each other really hasn’t erased their feelings…

Happy book birthday to Seven Days of You !

Which book cover do you prefer? (that woodblock print on the UK cover is so Japanese to me!)
**kmm

UK book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

UK cover

Book info: Seven Days of You / Cecilia Vinesse. Poppy, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Not fair! Having to go back to the States just before senior year, not visiting Dad’s new family in Paris, knowing that Jamie will be back before she leaves Tokyo, remembering their horrible argument 3 years ago…

With a week to pack up everything, say goodbye to best friends Mika and David, and re-experience her favorite things in Japan, 17-year-old Sophia gets more stressed with every second that clicks by on her countdown watch.

And suddenly Jamie is here – still funny, still cute, still complicated. He’ll get to finish high school at Tokyo Academy with their friends from around the world, while she’ll be back in New Jersey with just Mom.

Can time slow down for just this week?
Can they heal their fractured relationship in just seven days?
Can she leave him behind if they succeed?

Her departure date hasn’t changed, but Sophia’s reasons for wanting to stay have multiplied in this contemporary story weaving together bitter and sweet.

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (fiction) – police + prejudice = self-protection or murder?

book cover of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas published by Balzer + Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnarmed, he’s shot by police.
Horrified, she’s the only witness.
Telling the truth will endanger her family – can she do it?

At 16, Starr should be concerned with grades, love, and her future – not drive-by shootings and police brutality in her poor neighborhood, not white kids at her suburban private school “protesting” Kahlil’s death as a way to skip class, not worrying if her testimony will bring down the wrath of gang members and police.

Happy book birthday to The Hate U Give – wish it could be purely fiction, instead of ‘straight from the headlines’ lived experience…

How can we stop this cycle of threat, miscommunication, and death?
**kmm

Book info:The Hate U Give / Angie Thomas. Balzer + Bray, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kahlil’s murder during a routine traffic stop upends 16 year old Starr’s world as she mourns her friend’s death with her inner city neighbors, struggles to explain it to her white prep school classmates, and must decide whether to testify against that police officer, endangering everything.

Starr is two versions of herself – automatically cool black girl at the suburban prep school her parents sacrifice to pay for and then “Big Mav’s daughter who work in the store” in their poor neighborhood.

Truth or safety? Gangs and their turf wars are woven into Garden Heights.
Will her testimony send the white cop to trial? Not likely.
Can she keep being two different people, at home and at school? Tension, pressure…

If white boyfriend Chris finds out that Starr is the only witness to Kahlil’s death, surely he’ll treat her differently, and that she just couldn’t bear.

Too true, too real, The Hate U Give moves from one fatal mistake to a torrent of prejudgment and violence.

Racism, riot, murders: Dreamland Burning (fiction), by Jennifer Latham

book cover of Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham published by Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRioting and looting for 14 hours,
Murder, torture, arson –
Whites erasing black community

Will is already uncomfortable as son of white father and Osage mother, so when the KKK starts recruiting in Tulsa just as he’s getting to know a Negro brother and sister, how should he react?

Rowan didn’t expect to find a body in her Tulsa yard this summer, or to swap comfortable lab internship for charity clinic work on ‘that side’ of town, or to be slammed with prejudices that her black mother and white father had shielded her from.

Listen to an interview with author Jennifer Latham here for some deep background and insights on why she wrote this book about this 1921 event which wasn’t openly discussed by black or white families in Tulsa for over 50 years.

Happy book birthday to Dreamland Burning! Look for it at your local library or independent bookstore, and find Jennifer’s first book Scarlett Undercover (my no-spoiler recommendation here) there, too.

How to see friendship as a bridge instead of a wall?
**kmm

Book info: Dreamland Burning / Jennifer Latham. Little Brown, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: First day of Rowan’s summer vacation – time to sleep in before lab internship begins, text her best friend, find a dead body in the back yard!? As the biracial teen investigates, details about Tulsa’s vicious and never-discussed 1921 race riot hit her as hard as the new episodes of prejudice she experiences today.

Working in Pop’s store, William sees his father sell Victrolas to Negro families, despite Jim Crow laws. Vernon Fish is recruiting Pop for the KKK and mocks Will as ‘half-breed’ for his Osage mother. Will decides to dare as his Pop does when a black teen wants to buy a record player, little imagining that getting to know Joseph and little sister Ruby as people instead of Negroes may shortly endanger all their lives.

Schedule glitch nixes Rowan’s resume-building internship, so she’s directed to work at the free clinic way across town from her fancy neighborhood and private school. She’ll check with her parents later.

In 1921, reports of a Negro man assaulting a white woman spread like wildfire, and white Tulsans begin attacking the black Greenwood section of town with nooses, guns, and greed.

Can Will really shoot anyone coming to the shop during the riot?
Who is the body under the floor of the servant house?
How does Rowan’s story today converge with Will’s actions over 90 years ago?

Told in voices past and present, this long-silenced episode of history comes vividly alive, as Rowan tries to understand what really happened after World War I when Will struggled to help Joseph and Ruby survive.

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?
**kmm

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.