Tag Archive | death

Names They Gave Us – enough against chaos? by Emery Lord (book review)

book cover of Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.com She did everything properly,
all promises kept on her side of the bargain,
but evidently God has other plans for her mom…

Asked by her own parents to be counselor at a different camp, while Mom recovers at their family’s church camp just around the lakeshore – Lucy is angry at God for letting the cancer come back and at her boyfriend for ‘pausing’ their relationship for summer.

If she can salvage even a scrap of comfort from working with little kids who spend the summer at Daybreak to escape terrible situations…

This mid-May 2017 novel is stirring, honest, and powerful – faith isn’t always strong, past history is often murky, and the future is never promised to anyone.

(personally, I think the title has no relevance to the story at all. Wonder why @EmeryLord agreed to it – but authors don’t have total control over titles and rarely have a say about the cover art).

Have you ever bargained with God?
**kmm

Book info: The Names They Gave Us / Emery Lord. Bloomsbury Teens, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: All Lucy wants is summer at her parents’ church camp so she can get over Mom’s cancer returning and her boyfriend ‘pausing’ their perfect relationship, but the midwest teen finds herself at another camp nearby, where worry and hope (and Jones) wrestle for her attention.

The counselors and the campers at Daybreak all carry heavy burdens of past circumstances – Mom thinks this is better for Lucy than being with her between chemo sessions?

Just a mile between both camps so Lucy can still hear Dad’s sermons every Sunday – why does that distance seem to change constantly all summer?

Deepening friendships with fellow counselors during their summer together, especially with Henry Jones – can she have a crush on him, so soon after Lukas?

Big concerns affecting her littlest campers, fretting over chemo effects, wondering if she can remember every tiny detail about Mom, huge secrets revealed and memories made. God didn’t keep his side of Lucy’s bargain to keep Mom healthy, but perhaps Lucy doesn’t have to stay mad at him forever.

Asteroid approaching?! Learning to Swear in America, by Katie Kennedy (book review)

book cover of Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comJust ‘on loan’ from Moscow University,
till JPL can divert the asteroid…
is ‘forever’ a reasonable loan length?

Russian physics prodigy Yuri is intent on winning the Nobel Prize, but working with NASA to prevent an asteroid from wiping out the Pacific Rim will keep him busy in California for a few weeks – not his last weeks on earth, he hopes! And then he meets Dovie…

Find this funny and fierce July 2016 hardback release at your local library or pre-order the July 2017 paperback from your favorite independent bookstore (no affiliate links here – indie booksellers deserve all our business).

If the end of our world was approaching, what would you do?
**kmm

Book info: Learning to Swear in America / Katie Kennedy. Bloomsbury USA Childrens,’s Books 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Yuri will just return to Russia to continue his antimatter research after helping NASA prevent an asteroid from obliterating the US West Coast, but when the 17 year old physics prodigy discovers that they might not let him leave California…

Eighteen days to impact – Yuri meets the asteroid team he will work with…and a lovely mysterious girl.

Yes, he will take Dovie to her prom (such a strange American high school custom) and visit her odd hippie family (more strange customs) and find a way to stop the asteroid (if only his team would listen to him).

No, the young PhD won’t let anyone at Moscow University steal his research toward the Nobel Prize or be forced to stay in California against his will!

Counting down the days to impact – the math, the physics, the public doesn’t know true danger… as Yuri falls in love.

Z is for Zlatka, making Paper Hearts secretly in Auschwitz (book review) by Meg Wiviott

book cover of Paper Hearts by Meg Wiviott published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comForbidden in Auschwitz:
humanity, relationships, possessions,
and yet…

Her life forfeit if discovered, Zlatka rises above despair in the death camp by celebrating another year of friend Fania’s life with a paper origami heart, crafted in secret.

See the actual paper heart today in the Montreal Holocaust Museum – how fragile things like paper and hope can survive such hate…

As National Poetry Month closes, this novel in verse based on a true story of friendships opens our hearts.
**kmm

Book info: Paper Hearts / Meg Wiviott. Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Pulled from their Jewish families in different Polish hometowns to this terrible place, this death camp, young women Zlatka and Fania find hidden ways to bolster their spirits as they try to stay alive.

The guards turn girl against girl, and girls try anything to get another ration of moldy bread. Forced to work as slaves in a German metal factory making bomb casings instead of bowls, Zlatka and Fania and a few others do their best to be human to one another.

Watching the seasons pass, praying to Adonai in whispers no one can hear. As winter comes near, Zlatka decides to make a card for Fania, because a birthday – or any day – is a gift too precious to ignore.

Can the young women barter enough bread to get a piece of paper or pencil stub?
Can they keep this secret from Fania and the guards?
Will they live or die or keep existing in between?

Zlatka and Fania each tell their story through chapters of poems, enduring and persevering because friendship can make its own family in the midst of horror and despair. Based on actual people and events at Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp during World War II, this novel in verse celebrates the best and the worst of humanity.

Y for Alexander Yates’ tale of loss & belonging in The Winter Place

book cover of The Winter Place by Alexander Yates published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com Dad’s sudden death,
fast move to never-seen grandparents’ home – in Finland,
that man, everywhere, and the ghost bear…

Dad made sure that Tess and Axel learned Finnish from their late mother’s childhood book collection, but they weren’t at all prepared to wind up with their maternal grandparents far away in Finland, visited by its mythic spirits.

And the mysterious man who visits them on both sides of the Atlantic, the brown bear where none should be, and the ghost wheelchair that only Axel can see? Who could be ready for that?

Visit the book’s page here on publisher’s website and scroll down to read an excerpt as you begin to discover how Tess and Axel wound up in The Winter Place.

Where is the home of your heart’s memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Winter Place / Alexander Yates. Atheneum, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent abruptly to live with never-met grandparents in Finland after Dad’s death, Tess and little brother Axel find themselves farther from their rural New York home than they could have ever imagined, as ghostly creatures continue to visit Axel and draw them both into mysterious places that could steal them from reality forever.

Mom died when Axel was tiny, so Tess is navigating her teen years with just their offbeat professor father (who jousts at the faire each summer). Losing Dad suddenly propels the siblings to Finland to live with grandparents they don’t know, yet the Keeper who visited them in the woods at home finds them in the forest there, also.

The ghostly wheelchair following Axel is truly the Hiisi of Finnish folklore, and the brown bear spotted in their backyard perhaps is Mom’s spirit wandering in search of…

Why do ghost objects keep pestering Axel?
How many times may Tess or Axel cross over that fine line between death and life?
Will they be able to help Mom’s spirit find peace?

The strangeness that follows them from Axel’s first sighting of the bear to the fortress ruins near a Finnish lake sets this mourning sister and brother on an otherworldly path that may not lead back to the mortal world.

W for Wilde and weird as 2017 AudioSYNC season begins! (audiobooks)

WOW! It’s already AudioSYNC season, where audiobook publishers provide two FREE professionally narrated audiobooks through SYNC every week through August so you can read with your ears!

Note that these complete audiobooks are only available for free download from Thursday through Wednesday as noted. However, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Each week will feature a classic tale and a current one, related thematically. We begin with horror… just click on the link after each audiobook title and follow the easy download instructions.

CD cover of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde | Read by Greg Wise Published by Naxos AudioBooks | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Picture of Dorian Gray (download here)

By Oscar Wilde
Read by Greg Wise
Published by Naxos AudioBooks

Gray sells his soul’s purity to a painting in exchange for immortal youth and beauty, but must endure seeing the portrait become hideous as his character degrades.

 

The Dead House (download here)CD cover of The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich | Read by Charlotte Parry, Christian Coulson Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

By Dawn Kurtagich
Read by Charlotte Parry, Christian Coulson
Published by Hachette Audio

Discovery of the diary of a girl who never existed reopens the decades-old case of that deadly fire at Elmbridge High school – five students died, Carly vanished, there was no Kaitlyn, where’s the truth?

Have you read either of these spooky titles before?
**kmm

T is The Last Tree, by Denise Getson – final hope for desert Earth?

book cover of The Last Tree by Denise Getson published by CBAY Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAble to make water where there is none!
Mutation? Gift?

Generations after the Devastation of chemical and biological weapons nearly wiped out life on Earth, mutations may be nature’s way of keeping humanity around, perhaps to save the very last tree in the whole world, hidden where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers once flowed.

Look for the first book in the series, Dry Souls (my no-spoiler review here), to visit Kira’s world as she first discovers her affinity for water in this parched future Earth.

How far would you go for friendship?
**kmm

Book info: The Last Tree (Dry Souls, book 2) / Denise Getson. CBAY Books, 2016. [author’s Facebook]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kira isn’t sure how she can call water through solid rock into places where it once flowed, but the United Territory Council government will stop at nothing to capture her and find out how she can bring forth water when all land is desert.

The teen must stay free so she, Tuck, and J.D. can rescue friend Tamara and continue their stealthy mission to get Kira near old lakebeds to call their waters back.

When she is asked to help a special tree, how can Kira say no?
Is this last tree in the entire world truly the Tree of Knowledge?
But how can she keep her family of friends safe from the UTC?

Kira’s adventures in the dry and toxic world introduced in Dry Souls, book one of the series, continue as she jumps across the world from danger into world-altering risks.

R for reach in Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar (book review) – family secrets, magic, doom

book cover of Rocks Fall Everyone Dies by Lindsay Ribar published by Kathy Dawson Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comRemoving a troublesome memory
or unneeded physical attribute,
easy enough to do for Aspen’s family.

Using his ‘reach’ to steal thoughts or feelings or fears from others to keep the Cliff from falling on Grandma’s town?

Aspen sometimes can’t believe the ritual works, but the lure of snipping out someone’s memory for his own benefit is very, very hard to resist.

Go to the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt of this spooky tale (free!); the eerie paperback edition releases on June 6, 2017.

Would you reach into someone else’s memories and take one away?
**kmm

Book info: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies / Lindsay Ribar. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Summer vacation in upstate New York is no holiday for Aspen, as the teen discovers that his family’s rituals for keeping the Cliff from falling on Three Peaks are more sinister than he ever imagined.

Being able to ‘reach’ into someone’s memories or passions or skills and remove one, just by touching an important object, is his family’s secret skill, but the townspeople don’t know how the things they leave at the May Day tree are used, to heal faults in the Cliff… and more.

Is family story true, about how they became bound to the Cliff which gave the gift of reach?
What if Aspen doesn’t want to help with the ritual any longer?
And that rule about ‘never steal from family’ when you reach – why?

Superstitious tokens at the May Day tree and the power to remove memories, skills, even life itself – the Cliff and this family have a long, dark history together!

N for Rachel Neumeier, writing of the war coming to Mountain of Kept Memory (book review)

book cover of The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier published by Saga Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWar on the horizon,
her country’s sometime-god is neutral.
Kick-ass princess leaps into web of diplomacy and deceit.

If Oressa and her brother can stymie the ambition and treachery of their father the King, there’s a tiny chance of avoiding invasion by neighboring country.
Maybe the mysterious Kieba who watches over the dead gods’ memory will help them.
Maybe the brutal princes from across the sea won’t arrive.

Read an extract of epic fantasy The Mountain of Kept Memory here (courtesy of the author) to see how Oressa – and her country – got into this predicament of plagues, princes with visions of conquest, and powerless gods.

What place of power would you like to eavesdrop on?
**kmm

Book info: The Mountain of Kept Memory / Rachel Neumeier. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the author.

My book talk: The King will allow invasion, if it gives him the magic he craves, but his daughter Oressa won’t let Carastind become a slave state. With her princely brother’s help, the young woman travels to the Kieba’s spell-woven mountain domain, looking for answers that will save her homeland.

Lusting for power, the invading princes may unleash catastrophe.
Observing from a distance, the Keiba may act or may not.
Seeking peace for Carastind, Oressa may become a hostage.

A classic high fantasy with its large cast of characters (each with their own agenda regarding the dead gods’ memories) and swirling alliances, The Mountain of Kept Memory holds secrets dark, surprises deep, and worlds within its stone heart.

M = Mars One & missing & mayhem, by Jonathan Maberry (book review)

book cover of Mars One by Jonathan Maberry published by Simon Schuster BYFR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSix years to prepare,
Two ships to Mars,
One pair of broken hearts…

Of course, falling in love was an inconsiderate choice on his part, but how could Tristan’s teen self keep away from charming, lovely, phenomenal Izzy – even when he knew that he’d leave the planet forever at age 16?

In this near-future Earth’s desperate gamble to find more room by settling on Mars, not everyone agrees. Despite years of planning and training and built-in safeguards, small disasters begin on the Mars One spaceships – how?

Should humankind keep reaching for the stars?
**kmm

Book info:  Mars One / Jonathan Maberry. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As part of Earth’s first colony crew to Mars, 16 year old Tristan is elated, fully trained, and ready to launch… except that part about leaving girlfriend Izzy forever and worrying about anti-Mars violence coming to their Wisconsin hometown.

Intense preparations for launch of Mars One’s first two ships have taken years, bypassed national borders, and been documented on all media. Even Izzy’s and Tristan’s “doomed romance” is a reality TV show (paying for her college, that’s why). And the Neo-Luddites have protested every step of the way, now bombing sites related to the mission.

One of four teens on Mars One, Tristan has faith in his mom’s rigorous engineering safety checks – why are systems having problems in space?
These families have been training together for so long – can they keep finding solutions?
Psychological testing over and over – no one aboard either ship wants the mission to fail, right?

The further the two ships travel from Earth, the longer the communications delay becomes – goodbye, Izzy. Goodbye, everything?

K is for North Korea & wishing on Every Falling Star, by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland (book review)

book cover of Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland published by Amulet Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPrivilege to poverty,
family love to forlorn abandonment,
North Korea then is still North Korea now.

From the easy life as child of favored Army officer to outcast thief and gang member, Sungju kept trying to understand the ‘why’ of changes and finally knew that risking death to escape from North Korea was better than living in his homeland impoverished by dictatorship and lies.

This finalist for the 2016 CYBILS Award for young adult nonfiction brings us unsettling glimpses into a world rarely seen and difficult to imagine.

Without the support of your family, how would you survive a hostile new environment?
**kmm

Book info: Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea / Sungju Lee and Susan McClelland. Amulet Books, 2016.   [author Facebook page]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sungju’s family is flung from high-status to deep poverty after a regime change, as his autobiography reveals the disinformation used to repress North Korean citizens

In a forced relocation from the capital city to a desolate rural town after his father is removed from the military, food and clothing are in short supply, Father reluctantly leaves to find more, Mother doesn’t return from visiting relatives, and suddenly young teen Sungju finds himself living on the street and running a gang of homeless kids.

Why haven’t his parents returned?
What else can he do to survive?
How did Sungju escape to write this memoir?

Almost dystopian in its bleakness and violence, this true story of family, loss, and hope echoes what countless other children and families experience in North Korea even today.