Tag Archive | grandparents

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?

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.

C for compassion – in a Valkyrie maiden of death? by Kate O’Hearn (book review)

book cover of Valkyrie by Kate O'Hearn published by Aladdin | BooksYALove.com War! Glory! Valhalla!
Death. Separation. Loss.
Soul-harvest is a tricky business.

After seeing warriors of all eras battle endlessly for fun and glory in Valhalla, the youngest Valkyrie thinks humans are all war-crazed savages.

But her promise to a dead soldier takes Freya and her raven companion to Chicago, and human school with its bullies, and being hunted by Odin’s own Dark Searchers for breaking the law!

Read the first chapter here (courtesy of the author) and meet Freya as she faces a destiny that she longs to change.

Struggling against “the way it’s always been” – yes?

Book info: Valkyrie / Kate O’Hearn. Aladdin, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Allowed to visit Earth only when reaping valiant warriors’ souls, young Freya defiantly escapes Valhalla to fulfill a soldier’s last request, but at what cost?

As the youngest Valkyrie battle-maiden, Freya is reluctant to interact with humans as they die during their petty wars. Her first soul-harvest may be her last as she agrees to help Tyrone’s family in Chicago, against Odin’s law.

Trying to camouflage her wings, listening to her raven companion (a little), helping kids stand up to school bullies – so far so good, until she begins interfering with Angels of Death, and Odin discovers that she’s on Earth!

Can she protect Tyrone’s family without giving away her identity?
Is Loki the trickster on her side or not?
How far will Odin go to retrieve this absent Valkyrie?

First in a series that brings Norse legend oh-so close to modern Midgard/Earth. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Dissonance, by Erica O’Rourke (book review) – traveling to parallel worlds through music

book cover of Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke published by Simon Schuster BFYREvery choice creates a parallel world.
Nothing can destroy these echo worlds.
But something is!

Del has the talent to Walk between worlds, but when an echo of popular Simon actually notices her, she ignores safety protocols and Walks from echo to echo until she finds a Simon who adores her. Then the trouble really begins!

Read chapter one here for free on the publisher’s site, find this 2014 book at your local library or independent bookstore, and look for just-published book 2 Harmonic, realizing that your choice might spin off another world…


Book info: Dissonance (Dissonance, book 1) / Erica O’Rourke. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Following the family talent of world-walking, Del ventures far beyond what her apprenticeship allows, searching for love in the parallel worlds created by every choice and endangering our Key world with what she discovers!

Having older sister Addie supervise her final practice Walks instead of Mom or Dad or even ditzy Grandpa Monty doesn’t suit the Chicago teen, so musical Delaney explores on her own – entering the pivot where a choice split that echo away from the Key world, listening for an echo world’s specific frequency, leaving a tiny origami star in each world as a breadcrumb trail home, just in case.

When Del interacts too much with an echo, creating a dissonance in that world that the Consort of Walkers will need to erase, she saves them the trouble by doing it herself, with scary results.

Now forbidden by the Consort to Walk alone, stuck on a music class project with standoffish Simon yet aching to return to echo Simon who cares for her, Del only dares to Walk when Grandpa leaves the Key world to continue his search across echos for Grandma, an experienced Walker who never returned home.

Why can’t they just tune a dissonance instead of erasing an echo world?
Can she Walk and make a teensy change to fix something in the Key world?
Will the real Simon ever love Del?

When Del’s extracurricular Walks uncover a startling secret, the Consort of Walkers argues about the best course of action, but it may be too late to save the multiverse! First book in the Dissonance series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Displacement, by Lucy Knisley (book review) – cruising with grandparents, dry-docked by aging

book cover of Displacement A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley published by FantagraphicsCaribbean cruise during winter – yay!
Being with long-lived grandparents – good!
Traveling with them on the cruise – ummm…

Yes, Lucy did volunteer to go with her grandparents on the cruise, but dealing with dementia, body control problems, and boredom at sea weren’t quite what she’d planned on.

Enjoy an excerpt of this autobiographical travel graphic novel at the publisher’s site here. Get your copy soon – you won’t want to miss her grandfather’s actual WWII memoir which Lucy includes as she reads it during their unusual journey.

Lucy chronicled her growing-up years in Relish (my review here) and has written/illustrated other travelogues of her recent years, too.


Book info: Displacement: A Travelogue / Lucy Knisley. Fantagraphics, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [video preview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Lucy volunteers to travel with her 90-year-old grandparents on a cruise, she encounters much more than a change from winter weather as she deals with failing memory, family history, hope, and mortality in this graphic novel autobiography continuing the Relish artist/author’s life story.

Why her grandparents signed up for the cruise is a mystery as they have limited mobility, bad hearing, and no interest in gambling, swimming, or tours. But someone must go with them on planes and shuttles, through TSA security, and aboard the gigantic ship, so away the young woman goes, carrying her granddad’s memoir of WWII along.

Yes, flying with multiple connections, dealing with her grandmother’s dementia and grandfather’s failing health, and trying to find something to do for a week at sea are very difficult for Lucy, as every day brings more glimpses of mortality and the infirmities no one can control. Each day, the chapter title shows the sea level rising and rising, like Lucy’s stress and worry levels.

No, it wasn’t time wasted, as reading the memoir, coaxing her grandmother into the warm pool, and learning how folks stay married for over 65 years are gems that she will treasure. “Good or bad, it’s important to feel connected sometimes. Even if that connection can be painful,” Lucy writes, as she phones to check on how her grandparents are settling in after the trip is over.


Shadows on the Sea, by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review) – German U-boats… off the Maine coast?

book cover of Shadows on the Sea by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by Margaret K McElderry BooksWorries during wartime,
safe with Nana in Maine,
but town is full of secrets…

Staying far from big cities should keep Jill out of danger as her parents travel separately to California and Newfoundland in 1942, but her grandmother’s small town has many secrets, much gossip, and treachery closer than they know.

The author continues her story of teens during World War II with The Watcher,  which follows Wendy from Shadows on the Sea.


Book info: Shadows on the Sea / Joan Hiatt Harlow.  Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003, 2005 pbk. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Jill just wants a friend and good news from her traveling parents in 1942, but the 14 year old soon uncovers a secret that endangers everyone in Nana’s coastal Maine town.

On her first solo train trip, Jill wishes she could be with her father on his USO singing tour, rather than going to Nana’s house to await word that her mother made it safely across to Newfoundland. Those U-boats prowling like wolves…

At least she can visit Wendy, who came to work at her aunt’s inn for the summer, and the lighthouse keeper’s son Quarry, who says there are more rumors than usual in town. As Jill learns her way around Winter Haven, she stumbles upon hidden pigeon coops, meets very snooty girls who invite her into their special club, and finds a wounded bird with a message strapped to its leg… in German.

Will mother make it safely back to the US?
Are the rumors about Wendy’s aunt true?
What does the pigeon’s message mean?

“Loose lips sink ships” – in Winter Haven, the warning on patriotic posters is true in this tale of World War II on the home front. Followed by The Watcher. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Year of the Rat, by Clare Furniss (book review) – Mum dead, baby here…

book cover of The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss published by Margaret McElderry BooksDead from childbirth…
Mum is gone, the preemie baby is here,
except that Mum’s ghost pops by occasionally,
and The Rat isn’t going anywhere…

Highschooler Clare’s never met her birth father, calls her stepfather Dad, and cannot imagine why he and Mum would purposefully have another baby!

Find this intense study of embarrassment turned to deepest grief at your local library or independent bookstore.


Book info: The Year of the Rat / Clare Furniss. Margaret McElderry Books, 2014.   [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Pearl thinks that losing her mom is the worst thing, until the 15 year old must live with her stepdad and premature half-sister as constant reminders of why Mum died.

Why did Dad ask Mum to have a baby? They always said that Pearl was priceless…
How could Molly get a boyfriend now, just when Pearl needs her best friend most?
What’s the point in doing schoolwork? What’s the point of anything in her English country town?

Keeping herself emotionally distant from “the rat” baby is easier than letting go of Mum’s memory, especially when Pearl is visited randomly by her mother – cigarette smoke, big laugh, and all.

Despite cute Finn staying with his grandma next door, despite finally discovering her birth father’s name, grief hollows out Pearl’s very existence – how will she ever get over losing Mum?

Pearl, by Jo Knowles (book review) – mystery fathers, faithful friendship

book cover of Pearl by Jo Knowles published by Henry Holt BooksNo dad,
weird mom,
just one friend, ever –
Henry and Pearl feel like they’re in Bizarro World for sure.

Must have been hard for Pearl’s grandfather when his only child was suddenly pregnant at 15, the age that never-had-a-boyfriend Pearl is now. As much as he loved his little ‘Bean’, he blamed her mom for that mistake every single day for the rest of his life.

Her friend Henry’s mom never got over being abandoned when he was a tiny baby, so she just stays in their house, watching soaps endlessly.

Fate does have its twists and turns, especially when 15 years of neighborhood and family secrets suddenly surface. You’ll have to read Pearl  to find out which layers of those secrets are the truth.

Big thanks to author Jo Knowles for helping Kate Messner offer  the summertime Teachers Write program online so that teachers and librarians can get better at their own writing (and maybe finish the next amazing novel we all can’t wait to read).

When is revealing a secret worse than keeping it?

Book info:  Pearl / Jo Knowles. Henry Holt, 2011. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The summer that her grandpa dies changes everything for 15-year-old Bean and her best (only) friend Henry, trying to grow up despite their oddball moms and missing dads.

Soap operas, junk food, always staying at home – that’s Henry’s mom. Waitressing till late night, always arguing with her dad Gus, never escaping the big mistake she made at 15 – that’s Bean’s mom. Along with grandpa Gus, they’re all that Bean and Henry have, besides one another.

It was Gus who started calling her Bean (instead of Pearl), who took her fishing on the city-smooshed river behind their tired house, who told her stories of the grandmother who died when Pearl’s mom was young.

Gus’s death opens up family secrets, brings Claire into the house (her mom needs her, they both say), makes the summer even hotter and more miserable for Bean and Henry. At least the friends can be together and keep each other sane amid the craziness that their moms and Claire unleash.

Why did Bean’s mom hate her own dad so much?
Will Claire ever go back to her own place?
Why didn’t their dads stick around?

Too many secrets swirl through Bean and Henry’s lives now, but maybe they’re good enough friends to survive it all in this realistic novel of growing up and second chances.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Fated, by Alyson Noel (book review) – spirit worlds, souls unbound, evil or good

book cover of Fated Soul Seeker book 1 by Alyson Noel published by St Martins GriffinShe sees him in her dreams,
those visions that sent her over the edge of sanity,
leading her to an adobe house in the desert,
to the grandmother she’s never known,
to the small town where she sees him, in the flesh.
Bound together by love or for evil?

Happy book birthday to Fated, hitting bookstore shelves today (May 22, 2012) in the USA – lucky UK readers have been devouring this first book in the Soul Seeker series for some time, and raving about it, too.

You may start to see its book trailer on TV or explore the Soul Seekers website or like its Facebook page, but you have to read the book for yourself to discover what Daine finds out about herself, her spirit animal guide, and twin brothers Cade and Dace.  Noel also has released a short story in which Ever from her popular The Immortals series meets Daire.

Book info: Fated (Soul Seekers, book 1) / Alyson Noel. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012. [author’s website]   [publisher site]   [UK book trailer]  [US book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:  Time’s flow restarts, and the glowing people observe Daine from shadowed nooks, as she traverses the Moroccan marketplace on the way to her 16th birthday dinner. Not jet lag, no matter what her mother says – why can Daine alone move among the time-frozen people and animals? And why does she suddenly see severed heads on bloody spikes along the city walls, a murder of crows, the glowing ones attacking?

All her life, it’s been just Daine and her makeup-artist mom, traveling from movie set to movie set, her school classes done online, no other family, no problems. But now these visions and Daine’s uncontrollably violent reactions to them have changed all that.

Suddenly, her grandmother calls – for the first time in Daine’s life, she has another relative – and it’s decided that she must go to her rural New Mexico home and learn how to cope with her… abilities? For Paloma (mother of the father who died before Daine was born) is a seer and a healer who claims that these gifts are part of the teen’s heritage.

First time separated from her mother, first time to attend school, first time to ride a horse – Daine gradually shakes off her mental exhaustion to realize that whatever haunted her in Morocco is even stronger here. As she learns from grandmother Paloma about their family lineage as Soul Seekers, she also discovers that nearby vortexes lead to other worlds and that a strong family of ruthless soul-eaters will try to use them – and her – to bring more evil into this world.

A blind girl who sees auras, a vision quest for Daine’s spirit animal, twins separated at birth who mirror the light and the dark of this struggle – who could imagine that this small town of Enchantment would be the site of a soul-battle on Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead? First in the Soul Seekers trilogy, Daine strives to discover if she’s truly Fated to be part of all this. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)