Tag Archive | dance

B is BRAVE ENOUGH to beat the odds? by Kati Gardner (book review)

book cover of Brave Enough, by Kati Gardner. Published by Flux Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dancing through pain is part of ballet,
Managing pain is part of cancer treatment,
Emotional pain makes both so much harder to handle.

Of course, Davis won’t get addicted to pain medications after chemo is done…

Of course, Cason will ace the national ballet audition and escape her mother’s perfectionism…

But the human body can only do so much, and the teen psyche copes as best it can.

The “minor strain” in Cason’s strong, perfect ballerina’s leg is instead life-threatening.

The need to escape back into drugs after months of rehab is so much stronger than Davis could ever imagine.

She’s in the Atlanta pediatric oncology ward for treatment, he’s there for community service, they get along well enough… maybe.

Is Cason brave enough to even walk again?
Can Davis walk away from the pills and pain he’s caused others?
Maybe time at Camp Chemo will help them both see a future…

+++++
The author is an actor, cancer survivor, and amputee. Her next #ownvoice book, Finding Balance , starts at Camp Chemo and will be published in May 2020.

When did an outside event make you change big plans?
**kmm

Book info: Brave Enough / Kati Gardner. Flux / NorthStar, 2018. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Foster home safe for HOME GIRL Naomi? by Alex Wheatle (YA book review)

book cover of Home Girl, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Black Sheep/Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not half-bad foster family, for once,
iccle bro and sis looking up to her –
why are they so nice?

After Mum died, Naomi took care of alcoholic Dad for years. Now the UK foster care system thinks the 14-year-old needs watching over…

Naomi’s hostility to foster families quickly exhausts her social worker’s options, and the white teen is placed temporarily with a black family.

Colleen and Tony are nice enough, their kids like Naomi, too – but Tony’s parents aren’t keen on a white girl taking space where a black foster kid could be safe.

Alternative school kids are quick with their fists and loud with slangy curses. The black girls there aren’t liking Naomi’s new cornrow braids…

When Colleen discovers Naomi’s love of urban dance, she arranges lessons at a real studio! Now isn’t the time for social services to place her with a suburban white family.

Just published in the US by Black Sheep/Akashic, Home Girl is the latest in Wheatle’s YA books set in working class British towns, examining personal identity, racial relations, and finding one’s place in the world.

When do we become ‘grown up enough’ to take on all of life’s responsibilities?
**kmm

Book info: Home Girl / Alex Wheatle. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

With her math journal & new friends, she’s SOLVING FOR M – #MGlit by Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar (book review)

book cover of Solving for M, by Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar, published by Crown Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mom rushes to doctor appointment not on their calendar,
The fifth grade art teacher thinks drawing isn’t important,
Mika isn’t in any classes at all with her BFF!

But Mr. Vann’s math class turns out to be more fun than she could imagine -“One to a customer! Bonus points! Show your work, thinkers!” Mika really likes sketching her artistic math journal entries and makes new friends who love science puns and ballet.

Uh-oh…that small mole on Mom’s leg isn’t a small problem after all – how many cancer treatments until everything is okay?

Why does the principal always come by Mr. Vann’s class when they’re loud and moving around to demonstrate a math problem?

Why is their school advertising for a new fifth grade math teacher?

Grab this debut novel now and see Mika’s math journal as she works out problems numeric and otherwise. Read a sample chapter free here at the publisher’s website = one of my favorite 2019 titles!

If old friends don’t equal now-friends, how do you solve for new friends?
**kmm

Book info: Solving for M / Jennifer Swender, illustrated by Jennifer Naalgichar. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E = EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Be a dancer? No, go to college!
Who will get the lead role? Watch your back!
Play it safe with her heart? Take a chance, Tilly!

It may be her last opportunity to dance, so she’s working hard with the troupe, refining her technique, hoping her mother will relent and allow Tilly to keep dancing, instead of immediately attending Mama’s dream college.

A backstabbing troupe member, an old friend who may become a new love, late-night stress baking, all of New York City to explore in this too-short summer!

You might have met Tilly earlier in her stepsister Tatum’s story, It Started With Goodbye (I recommended it here), and their abuela and Paolo, too.

And check out Tilly’s guide to New York on the publisher’s website here.

When do you know which dreams are uniquely yours?
**kmm

Book info: Everywhere You Want to Be / Christina June. Blink YA, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: From her quiet DC suburb to New York City’s clamor, Tilly is thrilled to be with a summer dance troupe, but competition for roles gets vicious!

Their choreographer/director is a genius, telling them that ‘slaying the dragon’ will center their dance in a stunning performance space to end the summer.

What a summer! Grueling and rewarding rehearsals, exploring the city with her roommate, increasingly irksome pranks, and trying to undo the way she ended things at home with musician Paolo.

Scouts from major ballet companies will be at their performance. Their families and friends will be there. Will the saboteur strike there, too?

One final summer to dance, to pray that Mama won’t force her to attend college, to dream that her future is all dance (and some Paolo, too) – too much to ask?

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.

Her parents’ dreams or hers? American Panda, by Gloria Chao (book review)

book cover of American Panda by Gloria Chao, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGraduate from best college for prestigious career,
Marry the right person, have many sons…
why is everything already set in stone?

Mei’s parents don’t understand that she wants some traditions of Taiwan and some of America, that she will survive if she doesn’t follow their exacting standards. But what if they disown her, as they cut off all contact with her brother?

Read the first chapter here for free (thank you, Bustle!) to get into Mei’s world, the world of her demanding parents that will stifle her own dreams.

When to break free of the “correct” path?
**kmm

Book info: American Panda / Gloria Chao. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The path meticulously mapped-out by her Taiwanese-American parents has led Mei to MIT, but the 17 year old now must decide how far from their dreams she can venture in search of what she truly wants.

She uses hand sanitizer constantly, the mere idea of cadavers makes her squeamish, and biology class bores her – why do her parents insist that she must become a doctor?

When older brother Xing announced his engagement, Baba and Mama disowned him because Esther might not be able to give them grandsons, completely erased him from their lives – how can Mei tell them she’s dating a Japanese-American guy from California?

Dancing set her apart from other Asian students applying to MIT, so her parents allowed it just until her acceptance letter arrived – why can’t she tell them what joy it brings her and that she’s teaching dance classes on weekends?

Fast-tracked to college by her parents’ demands, Mei never dated in high school, never chose her own path – maybe with Darren’s support and affection, she can break away from their rigidly traditional expectations without breaking herself.

Memory of Things, by Gae Polisner (book review) – amnesia, remembering, 9/11

book cover of The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner published by St Martins Griffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comAshes, smoke, run!
Tension, wings, jumping?
Rescued! Memory? gone…

Kyle can’t unsee the Twin Towers falling on 9/11, can’t unrescue the ash-covered girl with costume wings and no memory, can’t unwish that she would stay with him as he cares for paralyzed Uncle Matt while Mom is stuck in LA with his little sister and Dad is at Ground Zero with his police squad and other rescue workers.

You can find this September 2016 release at your local library or independent bookstore to meet Kyle and Uncle Matt and the jagged-hair girl with wings.

What things have the most weight in your own memories?
**kmm

Book info: The Memory of Things / Gae Polisner. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Rushing across the Brooklyn Bridge on 9/11, Kyle spots a girl wearing wings, covered with ashes, poised to jump?

Safely home, the 16-year-old finds that the girl can’t remember her name, he can’t get his dad in downtown New York City on the phone, his mom and sister can’t get home from LA, and paralyzed Uncle Matt’s caregiver can’t get to his family’s apartment.

What can Kyle do but help Uncle Matt, keep trying to contact Dad, and wonder if the girl will get her memory back?

He longs for Uncle Matt to recover faster from the wreck that ended his police career (all Donohue men are cops, says his granddad, but Kyle loves music so), for his family to be together, for the girl to stay…

A love story in the wake of disaster, a family story that endures, a possibility of happy endings. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Escape from peril to danger! Journey onward with free audiobooks

Tales of difficult decisions and travel travails in this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC.

Nearing the end of this great summer program, so please download either or both books (click on link following title) before Wednesday 3 August 2016, so that you can listen free as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of audiobook Juba! by Walter Dean Myers | Read by Brandon Gill Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.comJuba! (download here 28 July – 3 August 2016)

by Walter Dean Myers
Read by Brandon Gill
Published by HarperAudio

After Mr. Juba dances for appreciative crowds in England at the behest of Charles Dickens, the black freedman must decide whether to return to America where he could be captured and enslaved.

Pennies for Hitler (download here 28 July – 3 August 2016)CD cover of audiobook Pennies for Hitler by Jackie French | Read by Humphrey Bower Published by Bolinda Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Jackie French
Read by Humphrey Bower
Published by Bolinda Audio

Escaping from Nazi Germany, Georg becomes George as this child of British professor is smuggled to England, then Australia, leaving behind family and friends, encountering prejudice and possibilities.

What to do when it’s not safe to stay, dangerous to leave?
**kmm

U is uncertainty & Rules for 50/50 Chances, by Kate McGovern (book review)

book cover of Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern published by Farrar Straus Giroux | recommended on BooksYALove.com Hereditary disease.
Test to find out
or live till it grabs you?

Rose’s mother has Huntington’s Disease and is losing control of herself and her abilities bit by bit.  At 18, Rose can take the genetic test that tells whether she inherited the fatal disease or not. Then she meets Caleb…

Would you want to know how you’re going to die?
**kmm

p.s. May is Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month, so look for a Team Hope HD Walk near you.

Book info: Rules for 50/50 Chances / Kate McGovern. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers , 2015 [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her mother’s condition worsens, 18-year-old Rose wonders whether taking the genetic test to see if she also has Huntington’s Disease would stop her from dancing ballet or planning for college or letting new friend Caleb have her heart.

Not Otherwise Specified, by Hannah Moskowitz (book review) – no dance, no daring, no joy?

book cover of Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz published by Simon PulseDancing her heart out,
Not worried about fitting in (except on stage),
but trying to change what’s impossible to change…

The heart and soul of a tall, willowy ballerina is firmly implanted into Etta’s short and curvaceous body. When the ballet director notes that she stands out too much in the cookie-cutter corps de ballet line, Etta spirals out of the elite dance troupe and into eating disorder group.

Happy book birthday to Not Otherwise Specified!

I just adore Etta and everything she does to rescue herself, to help her friends get to a better place, and to realize her dreams. This book isn’t just ‘checking off the boxes’ for diversity in ethnicity, sexual orientation, talents, and social situations – it turns a few expected tropes sideways, reverses others, and brings us a wholly unique story worth a standing ovation.

How tight do you hold on to your dreams?
**kmm

Book info: Not Otherwise Specified / Hannah Moskowitz. Simon Pulse, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Giving up food so she’d fit in the ballet corps, Etta doesn’t want to give up anything else, including a petite new friend who inspires the buxom, black, bisexual Nebraska native to audition one more time for an elite arts school.

At eating disorder group, curvy and talented Etta meets wispy, fragile Bianca who doesn’t eat (at all) and sings like an angel born on Broadway. Like every musical theater geek, Etta wants to be in New York City, dreams of attending performing arts school there, but has never made it past first round of tryouts.

Now, the principal of her private girls’ school recommends Etta for auditions. Wee Bianca, her equally talented big brother James, and his cute best friend Mason are trying out, too. Maybe concentrating on auditions will take her mind off the escalating bullying by the lesbian clique at school (for dating a guy…).

Hyper-religious parents won’t accept a gay son,
So-called friends won’t accept that a person can change.
And Etta won’t let little Bee starve herself to death, won’t let her own fears keep her from auditioning for Brentwood, won’t let the bullies force her to limit her life.