Tag Archive | crime

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.

Can she Escape From Aleppo in time? by N. H. Senzai (book review)

book cover of Escape from Aleppo, by N.H. Senzai. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe bombing gets closer,
it’s time to leave, to run from danger!
She didn’t imagine that she’d have to flee to Turkey by herself…

Five years after the events in Nadia’s dangerous story, there are still daily bombings in Syrian cities and towns, as government and rebel forces continue to fight, killing so many families and children every day.

Read chapter one here (free, courtesy of the publisher) as Nadia’s family must flee their home, then go find this too-true fiction book at your local library or independent bookstore.

When your family’s safety is at stake, what are you prepared to do?
**kmm

Book info: Escape From Aleppo / N. H. Senzai. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fleeing the bombs targeting her Aleppo neighborhood, 14-year-old Nadia is separated from her family and must use all her courage and cleverness to get to the Syria-Turkey border.

For three years of the Arab Spring, rebellions against corrupt governments have destroyed homes, businesses, and lives – in late 2013, it’s time to use their escape plan, but Nadia gets trapped on her route.

Nadia and her cat sneak through the shadows toward the planned rendezvous site, meeting a friendly grandfather with a donkey cart and two orphan boys – perhaps they will be safer together.

Rebels and soldiers fight street by street to control the city – how can Nadia and her companions get to the border?

Ammo Mazen knows just the right things to say to get both rebels and soldiers to let them pass – why does the old man collect books as they flee the city?

Based on true events, Nadia’s story of facing hunger and danger as Syrian government forces bomb rebels and their own citizens is repeating daily as the conflict continues today.

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.

Women, witchcraft, tales of TOIL & TROUBLE, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe (book review)

book cover of Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Published by Harlequin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comAll witches are old” – no.
“and evil” – not necessarily.
“and far away from here” = nope!

The stories in this teen-witch-centered anthology run from today to far-yesterday, from just around the corner to not-quite-sure-where, with love and pain and healing throughout.

Do you use the abilities that you’ve been entrusted with?
**kmm

Book info: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft / edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Harlequin Teen, 2018. [editor site] [editor site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If one only had the power to create inspiration where none exists, to release the dead from their last earthly bond, to cast a spell to bring love, peace, vengeance – these young women do!

“The Gherin Girls” channel their magic into food and plants, but it’s harder work to heal your own heart.

How can “The Well Witch” escape desperadoes invading her high desert homestead far from the river?

Releasing souls after their “Death in the Sawtooths” is Mattie’s job, but now she must stop whoever is capturing souls against their will by perverting The Lady’s powers.

Los Angeles today with skateboarders, a difficult birth in 1650 New England, the ones ever-waiting by a woodland campfire for another girl to join them – then and now, the witches are.

Moving far beyond the cliche of witch equals black-hatted, cackling old crone, this short story collection by 15 authors features many different young women who eagerly or reluctantly use the magic abilities they’ve been gifted.

The merest Touch of Gold endangers all, by Annie Sullivan (book review)

book cover of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.comGold calls to her,
like the Sirens call sailors on her ship,
like a friendly voice finally calls her from the castle…

Dangerous waters ahead for the golden-hued daughter of King Midas, restored from entrapment as a living gold statue to human form by a sacrifice that ages her father and keeps her locked away.

Only she can retrieve his stolen treasure trove and save his life – but at what cost to herself and superstitious companions?

This retelling of the King Midas story sails the seas, bringing Kora closer and closer to the stolen gold which could trap her once again.

What have you wished for and ultimately were glad not to get?
**kmm

Book info: A Touch of Gold / Annie Sullivan. BlinkYA, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked away for years after sacrifice saved her from being a statue forever, golden-skinned Kora must travel foreign seas to save her father Midas’s kingdom.

Her uncle will gladly marry Kora off in an alliance to bolster the kingdom, if anyone is brave enough to see if she’s inherited her father’s Touch.

King Midas is slipping deeper into madness after his Touch-made treasures are stolen – can Kora bring them back before it’s too late?

The gold hoard’s call to her is as alluring as the Sirens’ song is to sailors – can she resist keeping it for herself?

Every person hides secrets – are any as dangerous as Kora’s glittering abilities?

As long as her gloves keep gold from touching her skin,
as long as Duke Royce can help her find her father’s treasures,
as long as her best friend and cousin Hettie believes in her…
perhaps the Touch won’t consume Kora after all.

As her ancestors did, she will fight – R For Rebel, by J. Anderson Coats (book review)

book cover of R Is For Rebel, by J. Anderson Coats. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comParents banished forever,
a life of servitude ahead for her,
acquiesce to the invaders’ plans or fight back?

Taking children from their families, reducing persons devoted to the land’s health for generations to become merely indentured workers, erasing any and every hint of the native language and traditions – typical actions of invading forces…

Read the first chapter as Malley is dragged away to the invaders’ school (preparing her to be a house servant, if she toes the line) here free, courtesy of the publisher, then visit your local library or independent bookstore to see how she deals with its restrictions as she looks for ways to escape.

This historical fiction playing out in a country which doesn’t exist in our history is as satisfying as the author’s The Wicked and the Just (recommended here) set in 12th century Wales, both featuring strong young women who fight against conquerors who invaded their homelands.

How do you rebel against injustice without endangering others?
**kmm

Book info: R is for Rebel / J. Anderson Coats. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Imprisoned at the conquerors’ brainwashing school, Malley seeks ways to fight back like her Melian grandparents did without endangering her chambermates or being sent to the workhouse – small errors equal demerits, rebellion means death… but she feels so dead locked indoors, away from the fields and forests and honest work.

The Wealdan Empire forbids every tradition that made Malley’s life good – hair braided by family pattern, songs celebrating resistance fighters by name and deed, the very names that connect her to her history – but the young woman finds secret picture messages showing that another rebel is here.

How can Malley find others willing to risk rebellion, when every girl is urged to report the tiniest infraction made by another?

Why was she given the part of that butchering General Cur in the play that the girls must perform for Wealdan officials?

Hearing whispered encouragement from her storied name-kin Mallianne in dreams during the darkest nights, perhaps Malley can find an opportunity for rebellion, redemption, escape!

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?