Tag Archive | competition

Accidents, loss, Phantom Limbs – hope? by Paula Garner (book review)

book cover of Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner, published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe lost his brother,
she lost her Olympic chances…
is there hope, if they work together?

Dara is a no-nonsense taskmaster as she tries to coach Otis into the Olympic Trials for swimming (now one-armed, she can’t swim out her own dreams).

But if Meg returns, how can he keep his focus? Or keep the reality of little brother Mason’s last day locked away safely?

Is what you can do the same as your identity?
**kmm

Book info: Phantom Limbs / Paula Garner. Candlewick Press, hardcover 2016, paperback 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Two different tragedies have left Dara and Otis with missing parts, but as she pushes him through grueling swim practices this summer, another piece of his past returns and may shatter all their hopes.

Dara’s missing arm has become her aggressive swim coaching to put Otis in the Olympic Trials where she should have been.
Otis’s family has become fragile with just memory where little brother Mason should be.
Meg’s silence after she moved three years ago has become a void where Otis’s heart should be.

Dara just graduated from their Ohio high school, but can she move on?
Otis loved – loves – Meg, but does she still care for him?
Meg tried moving away, moving on, but will anywhere feel like home again?

As Otis tries to balance Dara’s demands (swim practice, phantom limb pains, more swim practice, maybe new girlfriend) and his expectations for Meg’s visit (her scent, her voice, her eyes, her not being on the phone with her jock boyfriend back in California), he struggles to stay out of the dark place that swallowed him when little Mason died.

She must learn Rules for Thieves to survive! by Alexandra Ott (book review)

book cover of Rules for Thieves, by Alexandra Ott. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.comEscape or be a servant?
Starve or steal?
Trust someone or be captured?

Alli has very few choices when Beck arrives on the scene, but taking his help will involve her in a dangerous guild – only way she can stop the curse from killing her, though!

Read chapter 1 free on publisher’s website, then scurry to your local library or independent bookstore for the first part of Alli and Beck’s adventure – book two, The Shadow Thieves, was published in June 2018!

What’s your moral compass when survival is at stake?
**kmm

Book info: Rules for Thieves (Rules for Thieves, book 1) / Alexandra Ott. Aladdin Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As the curse moves toward her heart, 12-year-old orphan Alli must decide if she can sacrifice her principles to join the Thieves’ Guild for a chance to buy the cure.

Escaping from the orphanage is easy; not being caught by the city Protectors (again) is more difficult, so Alli accepts a strange boy’s offer to help – what a mistake!

A glancing blow of magic lodges a deadly curse under her skin; Beck knows how she can get money for the cure, so they head for his country – such a journey!

Of course he didn’t tell her the whole truth… entering the Thieves’ Guild is near-impossible for outsiders, but as the curse’s dark tendrils wind ever-nearer to her heart, she’s got to try!

When her initiation quest goes terrible wrong, Alli balances on a knife’s edge – her life or the lives of many?

In a foreign city, on a desperate mission – follow the Guild rules or what she knows is right?

Book one in the series, followed by The Shadow Thieves.

Treasure and dragons, Scales & Scoundrels! by Sebastian Girner & Galaad (book review)

book cover of Into the Dragon's Maw (Scales & Scoundrels v. 1) by Sebastian Girner & Galaad. Published by Image Comics | recommended on BooksYALove.com Magic, mystery, peril,
bandits, allies, dwarfs,
elves, dragons, mermaids…

Luvander reluctantly joins forces with three other adventurers also heading for the fabled treasure hidden deep within the Dragon’s Maw caverns.

Hmm… why does she love roast meat and riddles so much?

Who’s the guy stalking them, with that Wanted Dead or Alive poster in hand?

Elves in battle, creatures of water, and beings of fire – time and again, Luvander is asked “Who are you?”

We join her story in volume 1 as the team journeys “Into the Dragon’s Maw,” then go further afield on land and sea with “Treasurehearts” (each volume collects 5 issues of the continuing comic).

Any adventurous blood singing in your veins?
**kmm

Book info: Into the Dragon’s Maw (Scales & Scoundrels, vol.1), Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels, vol. 2) / Sebastian Girner, art by Galaad, lettering by Jeff Powell. Image Comics, 2018.   [author site]  [artist Tumblr] [publisher site] Review copies and cover images courtesy of the publisher.
book cover of Treasurehearts (Scales & Scoundrels v. 2) by Sebastian Girner & Galaad. Published by Image Comics | recommended on BooksYALove.com

My book talk: Meet one who hunts treasure, another seeking a lost brother, a prince looking for adventure, and the bodyguard sworn to protect him on the quest in this graphic novel series set in a medieval world of magic and no little mayhem.

Luvander bows to no one during her ongoing treasure hunt, Dorma brings her dwarven guiding talents to the team, the prince wants to see beyond his kingdom while completing his adulthood challenge, and Koro must stand between him and excessive folly to get him home in one piece.

They traverse a land where dragons fiercely guard their treasure, misfortune takes many a peasant from their family, and bandits eagerly take hostage any well-to-do travelers crossing their territory.

Finding the legendary hidden treasure cave called The Dragon’s Maw is much easier than successfully avoiding its traps and perils – not even a bespelled dragon gives up one bit of its hoard without a fight!

Can Dorma find her brother who also sought to go “Into the Dragon’s Maw”?

What is the strange language Luvander speaks to statues down there?

If they escape with treasures, what curse might the team set loose on the world?

Surprises and secrets continue in volume 2 “Treasurehearts” as more of Luvander’s true self is revealed, the treasure hunters are hunted, and fire battles against the balance of power.

Only those of The Select will survive! by Marit Weisenberg (book review)

book cover of Select, by Marit Weisenberg, published by Charlesbridge Teen| recommended on BooksYALove.comSmarter, faster,
biologically better in all ways –
is her family more than human?

Unlike her stepsister, daredevil Julia isn’t perfect, hangs out with the not-perfect boy ‘cousins’ and is exiled to public school for letting outsiders see their superhuman strength.

Pretending to be less-strong, less-smart, less-amazing is second nature – but what if she wants to be herself with John?

Look for this first book in The Select series at your local library or independent bookstore, as well as just-released book 2, Select Few.

**kmm

Book info: Select (Select, book 1) / Marit Weisenberg. Charlesbridge Teen, 2017 [author Facebook]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent to public school as punishment, Julia discovers that her ‘family talents’ hide a deep secret that the Austin teen may not want to be part of, but does she have a choice?

Her descent from elite untouchable was abrupt after the dumb dare that got Julia and the guys she’s known forever noticed by the police, but is being ignored at a new school (and having to fake being merely outstanding at tennis) any worse than being scorned by her family group?

They heal overnight, run faster and farther than anyone else, sense trends before everyone else – but are those the only talents shared by her extended family?

When she starts sensing John’s thoughts at school, Julia becomes convinced that her charismatic father has been hiding much from the younger family members – but why?

As their feelings grow, Julia knows that she must protect John and his family from hers – but is it too late?

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico, by David Bowles (book review)

book cover of Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico, by David Bowles. Published by Cinco Puntos Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comGods walk the earth,
demigods arise, humans also,
in the lands we now call Mexico.

As a single narrative, this recounting of the traditional tales of creation and learning, good and evil, progress and conquest runs from the pre-dawn of the First Age through the rise of civilization with the Toltecs, Maya, and Aztecs to the coming of the Spanish whose swords and diseases killed so many and whose religion silenced these stories.

Encounter Aztec and Maya names that you might recognize, like Kukulkan and the ancient city of Chichen Itza, and many more whom you need to meet (some from as far away as possible, like god of war Huitzilopochtli).

Other mythic traditions we should pay more attention to?
**kmm

Book info: Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky: Myths of Mexico / David Bowles. Cinco Puntos Press, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The myths threading through the ancestral memories of Mexico’s native peoples are brought together here in an entrancing narrative that spans the five ages.

World-shaking jealousy between bright-burning Heart of Sky and knowledge-bringing Feathered Serpent raged over millenia, the Hero Twins journeyed down into the lands of Death, the gods toyed with human kingdoms throughout time to turn peaceful allies into feuding neighbors – so many stories of loyalty and betrayal wind through the history of the place now called Mexico.

Discover the origin of the mosquito and spider monkey, learn how the Mixteca-Cloud People were born of river trees and challenged Lord Sun himself, wonder as eagle, wolf, and jaguar journey with Ce Acatl Quetzalcoatl as willing sacrifices to the temple where his bloodthirsty uncles await.

Weaving together separate Toltec, Maya, and Aztec traditional tales with accents from Purepecha, Zapotec, and many more kingdoms, this deeply researched story-stream begins before humankind existed and ends with the near-erasure of the peoples of Mesoamerica by Spanish conquistadors.

Teen tales of Love & Profanity, bullying, friendship, and more (book review)

hardback book cover of Love & Profanity, edited by Nick Healy et al. Published by Switch Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comTeen angst and adoration,
family, friends, love, work –
40 true stories from authors you know and authors you’ll want to meet.

The book’s subtitle explains it all: “a Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life” and its subject index includes Stories about… Authority Figures, Being Sneaky, Friends-Bad, Friends-Good, and much more.

You can find this eclectic book at your local library or independent bookstore as the 2015 hardcover or 2016 paperback (2 different covers).

What personal story would you be bold enough to share?
**kmm

Book info: Love and Profanity: a Collection of True, Tortured, Wild, Hilarious, Concise, and Intense Tales of Teenage Life / edited by Nick Healy, with Kristen Mohn, Nate LeBoutillier, and Lindsy O’Brien. Switch Press, 2015 (hardcover), 2016 (paperback) [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Writers share vignettes from their teen years in this collection of autobiographical short stories, ranging from mild to wild, mundane to life-altering, divided into four “Love and” sections – profanity, physics, madness, and apologies.

By including YA authors we recognize like Kwame Alexander, Carrie Mesrobian, and Jon Scieszka alongside new-to-us writers like essayist Joey Franklin and science writer Esther Porter, we see a wide range of teen experiences from different genders and sexualities, regions of the US, economic and social conditions, and family configurations.

The subject index itself portrays teenage life, noting Stories About… Being Helpful (or Not), Bullying, Cars, Crushes, Romance Gone Wrong, Siblings, Struggling to Fit In, Working, and much more.

Baseball (and bullies) and The Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser (book review)

book cover of Rhino in Right Field, by Susan DeKeyser, published by Margaret K McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comBaseball practice needs a flat open space,
so the city park is a great place!
But sharing the outfield with the zoo can be beastly!

Nick and his buddies love baseball, practicing whenever and wherever they can (no Little League yet in Wisconsin in 1948). They’re thrilled when the new owner of the town’s pro team promises a chance for kids to be on the field for opening day! (or is it just for boys?)

Read the first chapter here to meet Nick and the rhino (free, courtesy of the publisher), then head to your local library or independent bookstore for the rest of the story.

Your close encounter with unusual animals and/or minor league baseball?
**kmm

Book info: The Rhino in Right Field / Susan DeKeyser. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: For the chance to be Mudpuppy batboy for day, 12-year-old Nick will do anything – work harder in Pop’s shoe repair shop, help uncle Spiro with mysterious errands – as the baseball team’s new owner plans an extravaganza for Opening Day.

That bully Pete thinks he’ll be chosen batboy, but Nick can win this contest based on essay-writing and baseball skills – if only his Pop would sign the permission slip… hmmm

He and Ace practice fielding with Penny (wow, can she throw!), hoping Nick’s baseball won’t wind up in the rhino enclosure (again).

His Greek immigrant father is sure that working hard in the family shop is Nick’s destiny, but Uncle Spiro wants to make his own way in post-World War II Wisconsin.

Where will Nick be on Opening Day – in the Mudpuppy dugout or listening on the radio in the shoe shop?

G is Gorilla Dawn on dangerous days, by Gill Lewis (book review)

US book cover of Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comWe depend on our smartphones
which depend on tantalum found in coltan
whose mining destroys families – human and gorilla!

Why does corporate greed incite kidnapping and environmental catastrophe in the Congo and elsewhere?

How can we individuals make it stop, save children like Imara and Bobo from being kidnapped and enslaved to mine coltan, protect habitat for gorillas?

This middle-grade novel reminds us how interconnected we are and how our unthinking consumer choices can drastically affect others.

When is a smartphone a dumb choice?
**kmm

Book info: Gorilla Dawn / Gill Lewis; illustrated by Susan Meyer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017 hardcover, May 2018 paperback. [author site] [publisher site] [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Fossil-hunt feud & love – Every Hidden Thing, by Kenneth Oppel (book review)

book cover of Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel published by Simon & Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the West, huge discoveries await!
Giant bones, tremendous deadly teeth,
and only one searcher can be the first to find them!

Early days of paleontology in America were more rough and tumble than scientifically sedate, and this two-voices tale of double-crosses, dangerous digging, and surprising love captures the race for fame and naming rights so well.

Read the first chapter here, courtesy of the publisher (I love when this free peek is offered!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore to continue the search for bones…really big bones.

Ever fallen in love with ‘the enemy’ – according to your family and friends?
**kmm

Book info: Every Hidden Thing / Kenneth Oppel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their fathers racing to uncover dinosaur fossils in the West, Rachel and Samuel seek their own prizes from the prehistoric world – she to be recognized as a scientist in her own right, he to find the first complete T. Rex skeleton – but treachery on Native American lands and their own fathers’ feud may bury their dreams.

It didn’t start with the fistfight between two learned paleontologists at the Academy, and it didn’t end there, because Rachel Cartland’s father had sneaked one fossil set from the New Jersey bog where Samuel Bolt’s father was digging, then denied Bolt a teaching post at Yale, then finally leapfrogged the Bolt team to the Badlands where Pawnee hunted and dinosaur bones waited to be found.

Bones sent to Mr. Bolt hint of the location of T. Rex at last – why is Prof. Cartland heading the same place with his army of helpers?

Despite warnings from his scout, Cartland and company vandalize a Sioux death memorial – does the professor care nothing for humans?

Both teams spy on the others – will this rivalry result in more injuries, damaged priceless specimens, death?

Told alternately by Samuel and Rachel, this tale of the adventurous early days of paleontology includes the discovery of unknown dinosaurs, legends come to life, and love amid the dust of the frontier.

Spells & dangers for Apprentice Witch, by James Nicol (book review)

book cover of Apprentice Witch by James Nicol published by Chicken House Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comDidn’t pass her witch assessment,
Sent to a town near the Great Wood’s untamed magic,
She knows she can do all the right spells… right?

After learning every glyph and its spell-powers from her grandmother, Arianwyn was sure the assessment machine would pass her as a witch on the first try, but no…

She didn’t expect to meet a friendly young man at the Civil Witchcraft Authority office or make a best friend right away in her assigned town – or that her archrival from witch school would arrive in that tiny town, either!

Happy US and Canadian book birthday to The Apprentice Witch! Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher. And, yes, there is a sequel on its way!

How do you work with that so-annoying, know-it-all, klutzy co-worker?
**kmm

Book info: The Apprentice Witch / James Nicol. Chicken House Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Posted to a remote town as a lowly apprentice witch during wartime, Arianwyn must keep Lull safe from the Great Wood’s dangerous magical creatures and cope with a snobby classmate’s arrival, all while dreading her re-evaluation for full witch status.

As she and new friend Salle make the long-deserted Spellorium ready for charm-making and witchly duties, Arianwyn finds papers from the town’s last witch who vanished mysteriously, years ago.

Snotlings and the terrible hex, an odd blue feyling and the breathtaking moon hare – magical creatures from pesky to perilous fill her catalog as the young teen defends Lull.

Will she ever get every spell correct on the very first try?
Can she unravel the dark glyph haunting her sleep?
What’s wrong with rival Gimma’s spellcrafting?

Arianwyn is growing in confidence and power, but the perils of the Great Wood are also! First in series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)