Tag Archive | crime

Gold, danger, daring – FIRE & HEIST, by Sarah Beth Durst (YA book review)

book cover of Fire & Heist, by Sara Beth Durst. Published by Crown BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Loves gold – check.
Lives in gated community – check.
Breathes fire – not your average rich teen girl!

Being the youngest following super-talented brothers is rarely easy, and being told she can’t attempt the coming-of-age quest means that Sky will try even harder.

Gold sings to her blood – yep, wyvern is the more socially acceptable name for were-dragon.

Her impulsive nature wars against the detailed planning needed to successfully steal the artifact that Mom coveted, but Sky is determined to succeed, with a little help from her friends.

What’s your favorite family-first story?
**kmm

Book info: Fire & Heist / Sara Beth Durst. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sky wants to restore her family’s status within their exclusive Colorado mountain community, so she does what any 16-year-old wyvern would – attempt the heist scripted by Mom and get back their gold, all their gold and more!

Human on the outside, dragon on the inside, Sky longs to complete her first quest and erase some of the shame brought on her family by Mom’s disappearance during a heist gone wrong.

Luckily, that arcane artifact is in a vault in her boyfriend’s family mansion so he must know ways around the chief were-dragon’s magic protections.

Unluckily, Ryan dumped Sky when her family’s worth plunged at the Reckoning. So much for being soulmates.

Curiously, a human girl at school might be able to help, if only Sky were allowed to tell her that wyverns live right here…

A caper story, a friendship story, a betrayal story, a family-first story – soar with Sky as she uncovers deep secrets high in the Rockies.

In wartime, love is written WITHIN THESE LINES, by Stephanie Morrill (YA book review)

book cover of Within These Lines, by Stephanie Morrill. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Pearl Harbor,
Evacuations and preparations,
American citizens sent to concentration camps.

Yes, Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and the other ‘relocation camps’ where Japanese-Americans were sent – with only the suitcases they could carry – were concentration camps.

Trusting neighbors to safeguard their houses, selling cars and business equipment for pennies on the dollar, Japanese-Americans on the West Coast hoped to return home soon…

Parents and neighbors wouldn’t approve of their relationship, but after his family is sent to Manzanar, Taichi and Evalina write letter after letter, daring to plan a future together.

Happy book birthday on March 5th to Within These Lines!

Would you speak out against popular opinion in stressful times, as Evalina did?
**kmm

Book info: Within These Lines / Stephanie Morrill. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The budding romance between Evalina and Taichi becomes a long-distance correspondence when his family is ‘evacuated’ to Manzanar concentration camp in the California desert after Pearl Harbor.

Many disagree that Japanese-Americans are true citizens of this country during World War II, but Italian-American Evalina will keep writing persuasive letters to San Francisco newspapers and arguing with her political science professor.

With blankets for apartment walls and dust blowing like despair through any crevice at Manzanar, Taichi will stand against the pro-Japan Black Dragon gang to protect his family.

Even though mixed-race marriage is illegal in their home state, it’s worth dreaming of a future together…right?

Letter by letter, thought by thought, Evalina and Taichi are separated by many valleys and mountains, held together by hope.

Stolen from Sinclair’s! MYSTERY OF THE PAINTED DRAGON, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Painted Dragon, by Katherine Woodfine. Published by Kane Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A famous painting!
A locked-door theft!
A dread criminal threatens everyone…

Better than the “Boy Detective” penny thrillers that Billy reads, the cases that the young employees of Sinclair’s (amazing, astounding) Department Store all seem to have terrible villain The Baron at their core – but why is he targeting Sophie and Sinclair’s in particular?

This is third in the Sinclair’s series set in 1909 London, following The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (my review here) and The Mystery of the Jeweled Moth (here).

Many strands come together in the fourth book, The Mystery of the Midnight Peacock (fireworks! hidden passageways! The King visiting Sinclair’s Department Store!), so ask for the whole paperback set at your local library or independent bookstore.

Which friends do you want by your side when there’s a mystery to unravel?
**kmm

Book info: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 3) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sophie and Lil are on the case again when a famous painting is stolen from Sinclair’s Department Store in 1909, and the investigative teens suspect that London criminal mastermind The Baron is involved.

Snobbish art critic Mr. Lyle allows sudents of the Spencer School of Art to assist with the exhibition at Spencer’s, where a rare dragon painting loaned by the King himself holds a place of honor.

Art school instead of university? Lil’s brother Jack is hiding his enrollment at the Spencer from his parents – scandalous!

Hobbled as much by the expectations of British society as by her crippled leg, Leo eagerly escaped her parents’ country estate to attend art school in London. New friends, new opportunities, an attack in the train station?

Leo and Jack join the team as Sophie (ladies’ hats), Lil (dress model and actress), Jack (stable hand), and Billy (office boy and avid reader of detective fiction) work on their third case together as ruthless crime boss The Baron moves ever closer to his prize.

Time for rebellion! WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, by Tehlor Kay Mejia (YA book review)

book cover of We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Meija. Published by Katherine Tegen Books/HMH | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Analytical, the planner – Primera.
Sensual, the mother – Segunda.
Two wives – harmony or life-long tension?

Because one god couldn’t choose between the two women he loved, now all men of Medio’s ruling class live in luxury with two wives, while the poor of the divided island have too little, and revolutionaries are determined to change that imbalance, whatever the cost.

Dani and Carmen have been groomed for years to take their respective places as Primera and Segunda in prominent households, secure in the gated compound far above the salt-soaked lands of the poor, but their roles quickly become masks hiding their true selves and forbidden affections.

Happy February 26th book birthday to Meija’s debut novel! Her short stories have been published in collections including Toil & Trouble, which I recommended earlier this year.

When marriage is a political business, where is love?
**kmm

Book info: We Set the Dark on Fire / Tehlor Kay Meija. Katherine Tegen Books (HMH), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On their divided tropical island, the rich get richer, the poor are brutalized, and revolution is snaking through the land, even into the mansion that Dani and Carmen share with their new husband and perilous secrets!

As Primera, Daniela rules her emotions and every aspect of their husband’s household; as Segunda, Carmen will be adored as mother of his children. But the teens soon realize that Mateo is planning violence to keep the poor at bay and that their own secrets endanger them as well.

Dani’s parents escaped over the wall into Medio and sacrificed everything to get her into the Academy where society’s daughters train to become co-wives in ruling class households, where Carmen and friends teased her mercilessly for five years, where the La Voz revolution saves her from being found out and imprisoned.

With Carmen in the same household, how can Dani help La Voz?
Her training decrees that Primeras don’t love – what is Dani feeling now?
Her training decrees that a Segunda keeps her husband happy – why is Carmen so torn?

Fearing their husband, loving each other, Dani and Carmen may have to follow La Voz despite the dangers.

Is her life in Nazi England part of THE BIG LIE? by Julie Mayhew (book review)

book cover of The Big Lie, by Julie Mayhew. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

England conquered by Germany,
Generations of babies for the Fatherland.
Such a vision! Such a nightmare!

Of course Jessika listens and learns from her parents, so influential in their English town neighborhood and so important in the Party!

Even though it’s 2012, not even her expert ice skating can take her outside the Reich, away from her inevitable future as wife and mother, away to any place where she can love whoever she pleases.

I enjoy alternate history – this Big Lie is so believable that it’s truly frightening.

What historic event would you change to improve our now?
**kmm

Book info: The Big Lie / Julie Mayhew. Candlewick Press, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Liberated by Germany during her great-grandparents’ days, the England where middle sister Jessika lives is ruled by the Nazi Party, yet the teen fights to squelch her own feelings and doubts before trouble takes over.

The idea that an American singer would perform in London for the first time in 70 years – at the Reich’s invitation – enrages Jess’s father, annoys her ice skating coach (such lapses in concentration, Jessika…), and thrills her classmates beyond all measure, especially when those most loyal to the Party are invited to sing and march on stage for the concert!

Perhaps the Fuhrer himself will attend the concert and see how dedicated her squad is!

Maybe preparing for their performance will let Jess be closer to fascinating GG without anyone reporting the girls for unsuitable friendship.

But her best friend questions why suddenly this ‘decadent music’ is allowed instead of banned, and Clementine’s family accelerates their timetable for escaping the Party’s brutal control.

And it could be that Fisher knows something more as they practice and practice… the Storm Troopers are determined to know everything about everyone involved with the explosive concert!

Alternate history brings a chill as the Reich rules Britain in 2012.

Marauding AI? It’s Only the End of the World! by J.A. Henderson (book review)

book cover of It's Only the End of the World, by J. A. Henderson. Published by Kelpies Edge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Robots to do our chores
and fight our wars
Who’s giving the orders here?

His dad took all their savings and disappeared – now he expects Charlie and this girl with the odd name to break a serial killer out of prison to help them save the world…hmmm. Adventure and moral dilemmas!

Read an excerpt from the book here, free courtesy of the Scotland-based publisher.

Artificial intelligence is more than robots or household answer-giving devices – as AI keeps evolving, will pesky high-maintenance, environment-spoiling humans be worth keeping around?
**kmm

Book info: It’s Only the End of the World / J. A. Henderson. Kelpies Edge/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: The girl hiding in his closet has a message from Dad who left last month – Charlie must stop an evil corporation from ending the world!

Charlie’s boring parents were radical computer hackers before he was born, exposing corporate crimes – now Dad is back at it and has uncovered terrible things about Manticorps, including a serum giving superhuman strength to soldiers (and accidentally to Charlie).

Problematic that Daffodil can’t remember anything about her past and didn’t know that ‘Frankie’ giving her info was an artificial intelligence created by Manticorps.

The two Scots teens have to trust that Dad and Frankie are working for the good guys now, on the run as Manticorps’ hired assassins close in – because Frankie has been implanted in Daffodil’s neck!

If AI has advanced this far, perhaps it’s only the end of the world for humans… what has money-hungry Manticorps invented?

Fight? No, Jazz Owls only want to dance, by Margarita Engle, art by Rudy Gutierrez (book review)

book cover of Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018 | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Smile and dance and don’t make trouble,
Keep up servicemen’s morale at the USO,
War is overseas and in their own neighborhood!

“The musicians call us owls
because we’re patriotic girls
who stay up LATE after working all day,
so we can DANCE with young sailors
who are on their way
to triumph
or death
on distant
ocean waves,” says 16-year-old Marisela in one of the first poems of Jazz Owls (p. 6)

But everyone of every race dancing together enrages some in power and “nothing sells newspapers as quickly as fear” brags an LA reporter (p. 32).

The papers’ sensationalized speculation questioned the true patriotism of non-whites and encouraged violence by sailors itching to get to war, creating a battle zone in Mexican-American neighborhoods where police blamed residents instead of their attackers.

Equal sacrifice demanded, unequal treatment before the law – how far have we come since 1942?
**kmm

Book info: Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018. [author site] [artist interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: During World War II, everyone works – from abuelas with their victory gardens to young women dancing with servicemen before their deployment – but all citizens are not equal, and many powerful people want to keep it that way.

‘English only’ at the cannery, or teen sisters Marisela and Lorena will lose their jobs, be trapped at home with Mama, not allowed to do their patriotic duty by dancing with sailors at the USO club.

Because Nico is serving overseas (somewhere), little brother Ray must accompany his ‘jazz owl’ sisters to and from the USO, pachuco strutting in his wide-shouldered zoot suit.

Afro-Cuban drummer Manolito brings hot Caribbean rhythms into jazz, dances with Marisela, only she keeps him from leaving this hate-filled place to the fake Cuban musicians.

Fame-hungry LA reporters twist facts, sensationalize truth, fan flames of suspicion that Mexican-Americans might be enemies instead of citizens, that jazz musicians are dangerous.

Told in poems by many voices over a year’s time, starting with the Sailor Riots against zoot suiters in 1942, Jazz Owls shows how the fear of Others splintered an American city which needed to stay united during wartime.

Ship capsizing! Can she survive the Big Water? by Andrea Curtis (book review)

book cover of Big Water, by Andrea Curtis, published by Orca Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Storm! Shipwreck!
Are they the only survivors?
Scan for land, for rescue!

Hoping to lose herself in Sault Ste Marie, away from her parents never-ending grief, away from memories of her late twin brother, Christina thought the voyage across gigantic Georgian Bay would be summer-smooth like the last time.

Daniel hopes that he’ll be able to escape the illegal schemes that his uncle tricked him into, his heart as troubled as the storm-roiled lake waters.

No chaperones, no supplies, just their own wits and strength will get these young people to safety!

The dangerously overloaded Asia remains at the bottom of the “sixth Great Lake” and only a few bodies were recovered in the days following the 1882 disaster.

What new survival skills are on your list to learn in 2019?
**kmm

Book info: Big Water / Andrea Curtis. Orca Book Publishers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Running away from her parents’ unrelenting grief over the death of her twin brother, 17-year-old Christina is shipwrecked after a Great Lakes steamer capsizes and must work with a mysterious young man if they hope to survive.

Her parents mourn anew every time they see her instead of Jonathan, but she won’t let them pack her off to be a nursemaid or country schoolmarm.

An overheard argument on the Asia between two men – a family quarrel or criminal betrayal?

The massively overloaded steamship cannot survive this storm – how can Christina swim to a lifeboat in these heavy skirts?

She and Daniel of the argument struggle to find other survivors, a safe place to land – are any nearby islands inhabited?

Based on the true story of an 1882 shipwreck in huge Georgian Bay on Lake Huron where only two teenagers survived, Christina and Daniel’s harrowing adventures on the Big Water reveal how strong they really are.

I Am Alfonso Jones, student shot by police. By Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings (book review)

book cover of I Am Alfonso Jones, by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Published by Tu Books. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Choked, shot, beaten,
arrested, imprisoned on minor charges,
how many black men are gone now?

This graphic novel traces the shortened life of son, friend, musician, bicycle messenger, history scholar Alfonso and the stories of other African Americans killed by police brutality.

Robinson and Jennings’ black and white illustrations expand the #blacklivesmatter narrative written by Tony Medina, whose poems are recited at the Poetry Protest that Alfonso can see and hear as his ghost drifts from the train to his neighborhood and back…

Check out Medina’s article describing how he created this non-stereotypical Puerto Rican Black teen who loves his community’s history so deeply – why should a such a talented young man be dead?

Where is justice? How can everyday people stop the violence?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Alfonso Jones / Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Tu Books, 2017. [author site] [artist Robinson tumblr] [artist Jennings interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Buying his first suit shouldn’t get him shot, shouldn’t keep him from seeing Dad finally home from prison with his name cleared, shouldn’t stop him from trying out for ‘Hip-Hop Hamlet’ at his arts high school in NYC, shouldn’t prevent him from telling bestie Danetta how he really feels about her…

On a subway train filled with ghosts of other African Americans wrongly killed, Alfonso learns more than his history studies revealed – about injustice, unfair treatment, deliberate abuse and prejudice – but dead is dead…

The Black-Puerto Rican young man’s family, friends, and community rally for justice and the prosecution of the police officer who shot Alfonso dead in this too-real #blacklivesmatter graphic novel.

Wild Blues! in the woods, killers on the loose, by Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit (book review)

book cover of Wild Blues, by Beth Kephart. Published by Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Prison break!
Escapees in her woods!
And then the storm…

Lizzie is a keen observer of the natural world, Uncle Davy has an eye for the unusual and beautiful, and Matias’ heart is grander than his body which has stopped growing.

Yes, there was a real prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility (accomplice-aided, like this one), Camping and Woodcraft is a real book written by the author’s great-grandfather, and the memories of war in El Salvador shared by Matias’ parents come from her husband’s experiences.

When it is time to act decisively, do you have the knowledge you need?
**kmm

Book info: Wild Blues / Beth Kephart; illustrated by William Sulit. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Staying with her uncle in his Adironacks cabin during Mom’s radiation treatment, 13-year-old Lizzie and her friend Matias get caught up in a prison break and problems bigger than all of them.

Mom says don’t tell her brother about the cancer, so Lizzie bottles that news inside as she and Uncle Davy visit estate sales for the amazing finds that made him TV-famous.

Best find? Kephart’s Camping and Woodcraft, the book that Lizzie studies all summer, survival and nature skills at their finest.Matias is nearby at his summer cabin with his Salvadorean parents who adore Lizzie too, wishing that the growth hormone shots would have made him taller by now so he could stop using arm-crutches…

And just over the ridge is the prison, where two killers escape – with outside help – setting off a manhunt in the woods where Matias has become lost during a sudden storm! Or was he kidnapped?

What if Uncle Davy gets lost searching for Matias?
How long will the convicts keep a boy who can’t run?
Why won’t the authorities let Lizzie help search?

Based on a real New York prison break, Lizzie powerfully and lyrically recounts the summer’s events as a victim impact statement.