Tag Archive | grandparents

Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson (book review)

book cover of The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His earbuds are filled with opera,
His neighbors are druggies and the jobless,
Just like any middle-school boy, right?

Bart does love his mum and is sure that someday she’ll be able to keep a job so they can move out of their slum apartment… not so sure about keeping away from the bullies at school.

What advice would you give Bart as he searches for his long-gone dad?

**kmm

Book info: The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson / Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Maybe 13-year-old Bart’s opera singing talent comes from the American father he’s never seen.
Who in his Norwegian town knew that John Jones was such a common name in the world?

Maybe his mom will finally keep a job so they can move out of the slum apartments.
Why is it so hard for her to stay sober?

Maybe learning to box will keep the bullies away or impress Ada.
What made her volunteer Bart to sing at the school show?

Maybe he’ll shake his stage fright… anything can happen, right?

Middle school years are different for each person, but this translated novel shows how common some things are.


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.

Change is risky – Letting Go of Gravity, by Meg Leder (book review)

book cover of Letting Go of Gravity, by Meg Leder, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccepted to Harvard? Check.
Chosen for prestigious medical research internship? Check.
Eager and ready for these great opportunities? Nope.

Parker’s meticulous life-plan to cure the cancer affecting her twin brother goes way off course during the summer after graduation, as the introvert finds herself in charge of senior citizen pottery painting classes, is amazed by new friend Ruby’s open-heartedness, and just might find a connection with artistic Finn from grade school.

Happy book birthday to Letting Go of Gravity ! Have you read Leder’s 2016 novel The Museum of Heartbreak ? I recommended it here.

Is it time for you to fly away from expectations?
**kmm

Book info: Letting Go of Gravity / Meg Leder. Simon Pulse, 2018.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A decade of hard work and Parker is accepted to Harvard! After twin Charlie was diagnosed with leukemia when they were kids, med school has been her sole goal (especially after last year’s relapse).

But she can’t stomach the internship at the hospital where Charlie was treated and finds another summer job at a pottery studio where she reconnects with Finn from elementary school.

Her best friend is in Europe for the summer, Charlie is acting so recklessly, and Parker isn’t sure how long she can put off telling her parents about how things have changed.

If Charlie is just flirting with Parker’s new friend Ruby…

A filmmaker’s heart (broken?) – From Twinkle, With Love, by Sandhya Menon (book review)

book cover of From Twinkle. With Love by Sandhya Menon, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comInspired by women filmmakers,
Enraptured by cutest guy at school,
Long beloved by his twin brother?!

Twinkle knows she’s just a background character at her Colorado high school, child of immigrants from India, longing to attend film school (big dream, small chance).

When classmate Sahil (twin of heartthrob Neil) offers to produce Twinkle’s short film for the school festival, of course she accepts – casting (almost former) bff Maddie in the lead for gender-reversed Dracula is inspired, Sahil is clever and funny and not Neal, but…

Happy book birthday to From Twinkle, With Love by the author of When Dimple Met Rishi (my no-spoiler recommendation here)

When has the unexpected become the best thing ever, for you?
**kmm

Book info: From Twinkle With Love / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: So many regrets in Twinkle’s life – from being a burden on her hardworking parents to letting best friend Maddie slip away into the popular crowd – but making a film for their school festival may let the Indian-American teen finally show her true talents (and impress her crush Neil and get Maddie back).

If only she can stay true to herself… and not get distracted by her attentive producer Sahil (Neil’s twin brother) or the ‘anonymous’ emails from N (who must be Neil, right?) or grandmother Dadi’s unnerving pronouncements from the beyond.

N is Name of the Blade calling Mio to danger & love, by Zoe Marriott (book review)

US book cover of Name of the Blade, by Zoe Marriott, published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandfather said she would become guardian of this katana at age 16, as Yamatos have done for over 500 years.

Surely it’s okay if Mio takes the ancient sword from its hiding place a little early, while Mom and Dad are away…

Monsters and gods, worlds of humans and spirits, from Japan to London to the depths of despair to first love – the katana connects them all to Mio as she struggles to master herself and the legendary blade’s powers.

Glide into Mio’s no longer boring life by reading the first chapter here free (courtesy of the publisher). Yes, all 3 books of the trilogy are available in the US!

Family secrets – what to share?
**kmm

Book info: Name of the Blade (Name of the Blade trilogy, book 1) / Zoe Marriott. Candlewick Press, 2014. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Hurricane Boy, separated from family after Katrina! by Laura Roach Dragon (book review)

book cover of Hurricane Boy by Laura Roach Dragon, published by Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandma scoffs at weather warnings,
Hurricane Katrina proves her unwise!
Rescue! Safety? Separated!!

This fictional account of one family’s struggles to survive Katrina’s fury, then be reunited after their rescue has been heralded as true-to-life and as frightening as reality by people in the Ninth Ward who were also there during the devastating hurricane.

Recent Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria spread similar destruction and disruption – be ready for more hurricanes hitting unusual locations.

But have we really learned from these disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Hurricane Boy / Laura Roach Dragon. Pelican Publishing, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When their Ninth Ward home is swept away by Hurricane Katrina, Hollis and his younger siblings are separated from big brother Jonas and grandma Gee during the evacuation – will they be able to find each other and get back to New Orleans?

Good thing that Gee had an axe in the attic so they could escape through the roof when the levee broke and flooded the house.

Lucky that rescuers could read ‘insulin’ painted on the roof and save her after the long first days with no drinking water.

Most unfortunate that Jonas had swum over to help others when Hollis, Leta, and Augie are finally taken to safety – far, far from home!

As Augie refuses unfamiliar food at the shelter, Hollis deals with people trying to take advantage of the three siblings and other kids separated from their parents, all the while wondering why his dad abandoned the family as mom died of cancer and whether he even survived the hurricane.

Survive his own Bloodline of violence? by Joe Jimenez (book review)

cover of Bloodline by Joe Jimenez published by Arte Publico Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comOphelia wants him to stop fighting at school,
Uncle wants him to start really fighting, for money –
Hope and despair are always fighting within him…

Ask for this powerful #ownvoices story at your local library or independent bookstore as Abram thinks lyrically of his embattled present while trying to avoid remembering his family’s past or dreaming too much about a future beyond it.

Can we fight destiny, our DNA, our desires?
**kmm

Book info: Bloodline / Joe Jimenez. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Calls to fight ring louder than any teacher’s voice, as 17-year-old Abram struggles to be worthy of Ophelia’s love, to live beyond his family history, to make it past junior year.

“Not all boys need fathers. Better to have no man around than to have a bad one, don’t you think?” says Becky (p.2)- so why did his grandmother invite Uncle Claudio, her son with the long police record, back into their lives again, despite her girlfriend’s advice?

“Be a man!” – what does that mean in their worn-down San Antonio neighborhood? In the dank boxing gym with Uncle? In the world?

“Blood is thicker…” – will Ophelia know if Afghanistan swallows her deployed mother? Is Abram doomed by his parents’ DNA?

Abram forcibly remains in the present moment, as his past brings overwhelming fears and the future beyond tomorrow is too hazy to see, as the cold November rains pelt down and days grow shorter, so much shorter.

Must get to Dragon’s Green! by Scarlett Thomas (book review)

book cover of Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandfather didn’t really teach her magic,
Dragons don’t really eat lovely young ladies,
Kids can’t really go to the Otherworld or Underworld…

These are just a few of the wrong, wrong, and very wrong things that “everyone knows” in Effie’s post-Worldquake England, with its throttled-down technology and disdain for magical arts.

Perhaps she and her friends from the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled, and Strange can use the ring, spectacles, and other objects that Grandfather left to Effie in their search for answers that someone or something is trying to hide from them!

What kharakter in this alternate Worldquake universe are you?
**kmm

Book info: Dragon’s Green (Worldquake, book 1) / Scarlett Thomas. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book series website] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Magical thinking and bravery may help Effie and her school friends outwit the man who stole her grandfather’s magical library, but only the eleven-year-old herself can use his ring to travel to the Otherworld and solve the mystery of Dragon’s Green (and save the world).

Ever since the Worldquake five years ago disrupted the internets and made technology erratic (and perhaps killed Effie’s mother), grandfather Griffin has kept to himself. Of course, Effie’s father and stepmother know that magic is not real (except that it is, and Griffin had begun teaching it to Effie before his demise).

Effie learns more about the unscrupulous man who claims that Griffin’s priceless ancient books belong to him and glimpses what their true powers might be, as she begins to make friends with classmates at her unusual school.

Why are Maximilian and Wolf suddenly brave against their tyrannical teachers?
Who in the Otherworld would willingly become a dragon’s favorite meal?
How can someone be the last reader of a book?

Effie, Lexy, Raven, Maximilian, and Wolf each have to master their gift from the small bag left by Griffin – without letting the magical item master them – if their Realworld is to remain safe from the darkness of the Underworld in this first book of the Worldquake series.

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.

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!