Tag Archive | environment

Can Fox Girl and the White Gazelle become friends? by Victoria Williamson (book review)

book cover of Fox Girl and the White Gazelle, by Victoria Williamson. Published by Floris Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A wounded wild animal,
Two sad-at-heart girls –
What can heal them?

“Immersion” into school when her Syrian family arrives in Glasgow is more like drowning for Reema – new words, new accent, new dangers to face.

Fighting keeps everyone from getting close to Cailyn or discovering her mom’s problems – being a bully is better than being in foster care.

Cautiously, Reema and Cailyn might edge toward friendship as they care for a wounded fox and her babies in this story from Scotland that puts human faces on headline news.

How are refugees welcomed and assisted in your community?
**kmm

Book info: Fox Girl and the White Gazelle / Victoria Williamson. Kelpies/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Reema and her family have run away from the bombings and gas attacks, away from their home in Syria to far-off Scotland, separated from big brother Jamal.

Fox limped away from the metal monster that hurt her, away from the no-longer-safe woods, too close to the tall boxes where the beasts dwell, her babies come now.

Caylin won’t run from anything after Grandad’s death, covering up as Mum mourns in the bottle, stealing to keep them fed, bullying any who mock her lisp or shabby clothes.

Reema and Cailyn find the wounded fox and her small pups, both vowing to keep them safe and hidden from the nosiest neighbor in their small Glasgow apartment block.

Running – like she and Jamal did in the souk of Aleppo, Reema can run school races as fast as the white gazelle she is named for – if Baba and Mama will allow it.

Running – pups will grow and explore, the beasts in the box nearby will find them – mother fox must heal to lead them to safety.

Running – Gran was a national champion and Cailyn could be, too – but if Mum is wrong, kids would make fun of her even more.

This story of risk and safety is told from all three viewpoints as the two junior high girls discover that their differences need not separate them when important things are at stake.

Her future? It Started With Goodbye! by Christina June (book review)

book cover of It Started With Goodbye by Christina June published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot her fault!
Not fair!
Not the worst thing after all?

Tatum’s unwarranted ‘house arrest’ after (former?) BFF Ashlyn’s big mistake plus petsitting to pay the fine and all those community service hours sweltering outdoors… the only good things about this summer are her growing design business (and flirting with one particular client), getting to know Abby (so much ivy to eradicate!), and having grandma Blanche (how could uptight stepmother be this free spirit’s daughter?) at home.

Happy book birthday this week to It Started With Goodbye!

How to draw the line between supporting a friend and enabling them?
**kmm

Book info:  It Started With Goodbye / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Attacking overgrown vines wasn’t Tatum’s plan for summer, but starting her design business online (and flirtatious emails with SK) might make ‘house arrest’ and community service a bit more bearable.

After her BFF’s bad judgment puts the Virginia teen completely under her rigid stepmother’s supervision while Dad is overseas, only pet-sitting or doing community service can get Tate out of the house shared with perfect stepsister Tilly, the ballet prodigy. Luckily, they don’t know how happy Tate is that Tilly’s grandmother Blanche is here for the summer.

Interesting to become friends with Abby and Hunter – will they ever act on their growing attraction?
Exciting that her TLC Design is getting clients online – who is SK and will she ever meet him?
Still sad that Ashlyn won’t acknowledge her part in that fiasco – will she ever answer Tate’s emails?

A bit magical having abuela Blanche on her side – almost like a Cinderella story!

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.

Read with your ears, then eat informed!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC help you think food as you read with your ears!

From Thursday through Wednesday (30 June to late night 6 July), you can download either or both of these these complete audiobooks for free, then listen to them whenever you like, as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Click on the link following each title to go to the SYNC site now (you’ll need Overdrive app to listen; free download link there, also).

CD audiobook cover of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (Young Readers' Edition) by Michael Pollan | Read by MacLeod Andrews Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Omnivore’s Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (Young Readers’ Edition) (download here)
by Michael Pollan
Read by MacLeod Andrews
Published by Listening Library

Journalist/food detective Pollan explored conventional and organic farms, hunting, foraging, mega-corporations and small enterprises to see how food gets to your table and how you can make informed choices about what you eat.

Grasshopper Jungle (download here)CD audiobook cover of Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith | Read by Philip Church Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Andrew Smith
Read by Philip Church
Published by Listening Library

Austin and Robby didn’t intend to create a horde of 6 foot tall praying mantises that want only to eat and reproduce, but that’s what people in their small Iowa town are becoming! Not the most convenient time to fall in love with both your best friends…

What summer food will you snack on as you listen?
**kmm

Ancient One, by T.A. Barron (book review) – forest & livelihood both in peril

book cover of The Ancient One by T.A. Barron published by Puffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comA vanished people,
towering trees of mystery,
a chance to save the world…

Now out in paperback for its 25th anniversary, Merlin Saga author T.A. Barron’s tale of a young teen striving to complete a perilous quest even as she mourns her parents’ deaths is an adventure and a celebration of the interconnectedness of life, as it weaves together old secrets, ancient peoples, time travel, and an evil bent upon conquering the world.

When have you stood strong against wrong?
**kmm

Book info: The Ancient One / T.A. Barron. Puffin Books, 2016 (paperback); Philomel Books, 1992. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video about book] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At her aunt’s Oregon home, grieving teen Kate helps Aunt Melanie try to stop out-of-work loggers from destroying a newly discovered redwood grove and is hurtled back in time to meet nature beings and Native peoples who are struggling to prevent an evil force from overtaking their world. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Pills and Starships, by Lydia Millet (book review) – climate change, drugs, and lies

book cover of Pills and Starships by Lydia Millet published by Akashic BooksToo sad to keep on living in a climate chaotic world,
her parents have chosen their time to die…
or is it the pharma talking?

Nat’s mom and dad – former environmental activists – could have waited just a few more years to invoke the Service Contract ending their lives, till the teen and her younger brother moved out as workers – why now?

In this too-possible dystopia, global warming has changed weather patterns, babies are now illegal, and new diseases mutating weekly make face-to-face contact rare.

Ask for Nat’s story at your local library or independent bookstore to see if she can find a way to keep her family together once she discovers the truths that pharma-corps are trying to hide. (I loved the book, but its title… not so much)

**kmm

Book info: Pills and Starships / Lydia Millet. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author interview on NPR]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Preparing to honor her parents’ final week of life, Nat learns that big money uses pharma to trick the few remaining Americans into thinking that global warming has eliminated the entire natural world.

At a tropical resort devoted to final Contracts, the teen and her hackerkid brother discover real plants and animals and people who think for themselves.  Are pharma-corporations really lying to the public about imminent doomsday?

Her decision about joining the rebels must come soon, as her parents’ date with a lethal farewell drink in mere days will leave Nat and Sam in a group survivors’ home in Oregon – are her parents really sad enough about the state of the world to leave it forever?

When a mega-hurricane hurtles toward Hawai’i, will it be too late to rescue her not-old parents and not-old-enough brother?

Addressed to an imagined friend safely orbiting this climate-chaos world, Nat reflects in the Contract-provided mourning journal about Starships and Pills  and her unexpected opportunity to escape pharma-managed life… if she can. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Sunrise, by Mike Mullin (book review) – bandits outside the walls, challenges within

book cover of Sunrise by Mike Mullin published by TanglewoodLeadership is needed,
Hope is required,
Young people must prevail or die.

The final volume in the Ashfall Trilogy is a blockbuster! Alex and Darla have survived cannibals, bandits, the US government, and near-starvation in Ashfall  (my review here) and Ashen Winter (my review here).

Now they must organize citizens against an oncoming threat or decide to leave the townspeople to their own fate… what a burden for kids just old enough to drive.

Full disclosure: I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book since I won the right to name a character in it through the Authors for Henryville auction which raised money to rebuild school libraries after the 2012 tornado there. The character who shares my husband’s name in Sunrise is somewhat like him (not always the case where naming rights are involved – thank you, Mike); no spoiler to tell you that he dies, because many, many people die in the perpetual winter brought on by the Yellowstone supervolcano eruption, so I’m tangentially in the book as his widow.

I just discovered Darla’s Story eBook,  told from her point of view,  paralleling Alex’s narrative in Ashfall  from the supervolcano eruption to their meeting on her Iowa farm under perilous circumstances (makes this a trilogy with 3.5 books).

How well would you survive a frozen future?
**kmm

Book info: Sunrise (Ashfall Trilogy, book 3) / Mike Mullin. Tanglewood Press, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  After a year of perpetual winter, Alex and Darla face tough choices when his uncle’s farm suddenly fills with townspeople who think the armed bandit attack is a one-time problem.

Everyone is tired of subsisting on kale and frozen pork, but when refugees flood Uncle Paul’s Illinois farm after renegades attack the nearby town, it’s up to young people like Alex and Darla to find medical supplies and more food (and maybe retaliate against the aggressors).

When folks move back to town but refuse to post guards against the bloodthirsty psychopath’s brigands, Alex and Darla lead another group to establish a safer settlement, complete with greenhouses and electricity from a repurposed wind turbine.

Why is Mom staying in town instead of with Alex?
Why won’t the Mayor post guards against the next attack?
Will Alex and Darla stay alive long enough to make their love a true commitment?

This final volume in the Ashfall Trilogy pits short-sighted leaders against vicious villains, the need for community against the will to go your own way, and the unforgiving brutality of volcanic winter against the hope of love and the possibility of springtime. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Aquifer, by Jonathan Friesen (book review) – water is life, light is life, control is power

book cover of Aquifer by Jonathan Friesen published by ZondervanLight – the Rats forgo it so they can control the water,
one of the most basic human needs;
The Prime Minister controls everything – and everyone – else.

Underground for so many generations, the humans guarding Earth’s last freshwater source have mutated into Rat-like darkness dwellers… that’s what the Council tells the Toppers in 2250, when rain on the Earth’s surface is only a memory and emotions are deemed unnecessary.

Imagine having to memorize each step and turn of the long, perilous journey to the Aquifer! If Luca’s father, the Deliverer, is brave enough to face the Rats at the Aquifer every year to renew the water agreement, why is he so sad and distant the rest of the year?

Be sure to have a big drink of cool, clear, fresh water at hand when you read this intriguing tale of a future Australia and a young man whose emotions refuse to stay sedated – just published this month.

**kmm

Book info: Aquifer / Jonathan Friesen.  Zondervan, 2013.   [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Luca knows someday he will be Deliverer, making the dangerous journey underground to ensure New Pert’s freshwater supply, but all the Toppers believe about the Rats controlling the Aquifer in 2250 may be a lie.

Only needful work is allowed, no wasteful emotions or art or writing, say the Prime Minister and the Council, so the precious water lasts all year, until the Deliverer renews the agreement with the dreadful Rats by taking them lightsticks that only the Toppers can make.

At 15, Luca is nearly done with school, trying to train his mind to remain calm, practicing the memorized steps and turns of the journey to the Aquifer that his father teaches him, the dreadful journey that someday will be his to make as Deliverer.

Trying to stay unnoticed by the Watchful Amongus is essential, else the Council’s enforcers will cast offenders in chains and dump them into the sea – “undone” from this life. When Luca hides a classmate who’s declared undone in the Deliverer’s shack, he starts a chain of events that could undo the cautious agreement between the Rats and the Toppers, breaking off the water supply or opening it forever.

Why does the museum-keeper show Luca the things she calls “books” and teach him to write?
What broke the spirit of the Deliverer – his many journeys to the Aquifer or something else?
When the time comes, will Luca be brave enough to travel underground as Deliverer?

Forbidden friendships, shared secrets, widespread lies, and even bigger truths fill this tale of a future Australia where spirits are parched for affection as much as their bodies are longing for water from the Aquifer. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Cats of Tanglewood Forest, by Charles De Lint (fiction) – saved and condemned, quest to make things right again

book cover of Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles De Lint published by Little BrownThe forest cats did what they could.
Is it so wrong to wish death away?
Lillian so wants to be a human girl again, but the consequences…

Trying to follow the instructions of Old Mother Possum, meeting up with the Bear People, Lillian only wants to make things right, even if she cannot undo everything that the cats’ magic set in motion.

An excerpt posted by Tor here gives you the flavor of Lillian’s story in this lyrical tale, much expanded from De Lint’s 2003 “Circle of Cats” 44-page novella also featuring illustrations by Vess.

This most-magical book is being released tomorrow (March 5, 2013), so ask for it at your local library or independent bookstore.

Indeed, is it so wrong to wish death away?
**kmm

Book info: The Cats of Tanglewood Forest / Charles De Lint; illustrated by Charles Vess. Little Brown, 2013.  [author’s website]   [publisher site[illustrator’s website] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: It was the cats who decided to save Lillian. She just wanted to say hello to the fairies, but here she lies, dying of snakebite. Changed by their magic from a dying girl into a live kitten, Lillian can’t comfort her aunt or the neighbors who search the old woods. She must find out how to turn back into herself… and then how to make right the consequences of her choice.

These forest cats know that their magic might anger the Father of All Cats, that great black puma who stalks these ancient woods, who prowls in dark dreams. But they just couldn’t let the girl die, not after she’s been so generous with milk for them and respectful of the Apple Tree Man.

Lillian-kitten sets out to find Old Mother Possum, who might help her turn back into girl-Lillian. Accompanied by T.H. Fox (his mother named him Truthful and Handsome), she makes the long journey, despite his warnings that the part-witch-part-someone may not choose a solution that’s easy or simple.

Oh, turning back one death puts it onto another! Now Lillian has a bigger problem to solve and consults the wise woman at the Kickaha reservation nearby. Aunt Nancy sees only one path and not an easy one, as this problem is so big that Lillian must ask a difficult favor of the fearsome Bear People, no matter what the personal cost.

Does young Lillian have the courage to walk alone into the Bears’ den?
Why do the cats of the forest keep watching her?
Is love enough to turn away death?

Originally a very short picture book, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest brings even more depth to Lillian’s journey as she searches for a way to make things right again in her world, despite the danger to herself. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

A Girl Named Digit, by Annabel Monaghan (fiction) – FBI takes teen math genius undercover

book cover of A Girl Named Digit by Annabel Monaghan published by Houghton Mifflin

A brain for numbers that never, ever stops.
A hunger to have a normal senior year.
A set of digits on television that shouldn’t be there…

And now Farrah goes from understated jeans to completely undercover as the FBI realizes that her OCD about numbers and patterns is their best bet for catching an ecoterrorist whose been sending others out to do his dirty work for years.

Grab Digit’s first adventure now in hardcover or eBook at your local library or independent bookstore (it won’t be out in paperback with the much-better cover until late May 2013) then hang on for Digit’s first year at college when Double Digit  is published in January 2014!

Which of life’s codes would you be most anxious to crack?
**kmm

Book info: A Girl Named Digit / Annabel Monaghan. Houghton Mifflin, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [fan-created book trailer]  

My Recommendation: To get away from the kids who nicknamed her “Digit” for her math abilities, Farrah transfers to another high school for her senior year. But it’ll take the FBI to keep her safe from the terrorist group that she accidentally exposes. Faking her own kidnapping wasn’t quite the way she’d planned to stay unnoticed at her new school…
Farrah wishes that she didn’t see patterns in everything and has had to learn extreme coping strategies to blunt her obsessive-compulsive tendencies when real life is uneven and disorganized. Her math professor dad says she can put her “gift” to work later in life and urges her to enjoy being a teen for now. Wish it were that easy…
Numbers pop up on television when they shouldn’t be there, but the station says she’s imagining them. Her genius skills crack the code, pointing to a terror attack at JFK Airport, but her report to the FBI is ignored…until it happens.
Now a ruthless band of ecoterrorists is gunning for Digit, so she has to fake being kidnapped and go undercover to help the FBI break the rest of the code to prevent more attacks and catch the terrorists. Nice to really be appreciated for her skills, even nicer to be undercover with cute young FBI agent John as they race to interpret more clues.
But somehow, the bad guys find one of the safe houses, John and Digit have to go into deep cover without contacting anyone, and the stakes in this math puzzle get deadly in a hurry.
How fast can they unravel the last parts of this puzzle?
What will the ecoterrorists’ next move be?
Will Digit’s “kidnapping” have an unhappy ending?

(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.