Tag Archive | growing up

Can EVANGELINE OF THE BAYOU stop the evil? #mglit by Jan Eldredge (book review)

book cover of Evangeline of the Bayou, by Jan Eldredge. Published by Balzer+Bray | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gator-skin boots with silver tips,
brain full of remedy recipes,
heart full of worries…

Evangeline has to be braver than ever when the otherworldly forces affecting their client in the too-busy city send Gran to the hospital, leaving the haunt-huntress-in-training to complete their mission – with the help of Julian, who will have to push past his self-imposed limits to save his mother.

Johnny revenants from Civil War battlefields and bayou banshees are easy to banish compared to the evil preparing to pounce on the Crescent City!

Is there a power within you that you’re just waiting to manifest?
**kmm

Book info: Evangeline of the Bayou / Jan Eldredge; illustrations by Joseph Kuefler. Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy won in contest; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In the city on a mission with her haunt huntress grandmother, twelve year old Evangeline longs for their bayou cabin and hopes that her own abilities stabilize before the supernatural menace stalking New Orleans gains full power!

With Daddy working offshore and Mama dead before Evangeline could know her, it’s up to Gran to teach her every skill needed to be a haunt huntress who expels shadow crouchers and dixie demons from the parish.

In their big city house (on a corner – unlucky) Mrs. Midsomer’s sickness worsens at night, Mr. Midsomer is so upset that he’s leaving Mardi Gras float details to others in his Krewe, and their adopted son Julian rigidly adheres to rules of his own making.

All symptoms point to the bite of a rougarou, perhaps from the same powerful werewolf clan that attacked Gran years ago, and the moon will be full very soon!

That black grim follows them to the city – whose death is it foretelling?
Her thirteenth birthday is nearing – where is Evangeline’s familiar?

Evangeline and Julian must track down the alpha rougarou before it’s too late for Julian’s mother and all of New Orleans!

Gold, danger, daring – FIRE & HEIST, by Sarah Beth Durst (YA book review)

book cover of Fire & Heist, by Sara Beth Durst. Published by Crown BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Loves gold – check.
Lives in gated community – check.
Breathes fire – not your average rich teen girl!

Being the youngest following super-talented brothers is rarely easy, and being told she can’t attempt the coming-of-age quest means that Sky will try even harder.

Gold sings to her blood – yep, wyvern is the more socially acceptable name for were-dragon.

Her impulsive nature wars against the detailed planning needed to successfully steal the artifact that Mom coveted, but Sky is determined to succeed, with a little help from her friends.

What’s your favorite family-first story?
**kmm

Book info: Fire & Heist / Sara Beth Durst. Crown Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sky wants to restore her family’s status within their exclusive Colorado mountain community, so she does what any 16-year-old wyvern would – attempt the heist scripted by Mom and get back their gold, all their gold and more!

Human on the outside, dragon on the inside, Sky longs to complete her first quest and erase some of the shame brought on her family by Mom’s disappearance during a heist gone wrong.

Luckily, that arcane artifact is in a vault in her boyfriend’s family mansion so he must know ways around the chief were-dragon’s magic protections.

Unluckily, Ryan dumped Sky when her family’s worth plunged at the Reckoning. So much for being soulmates.

Curiously, a human girl at school might be able to help, if only Sky were allowed to tell her that wyverns live right here…

A caper story, a friendship story, a betrayal story, a family-first story – soar with Sky as she uncovers deep secrets high in the Rockies.

Is her life in Nazi England part of THE BIG LIE? by Julie Mayhew (book review)

book cover of The Big Lie, by Julie Mayhew. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

England conquered by Germany,
Generations of babies for the Fatherland.
Such a vision! Such a nightmare!

Of course Jessika listens and learns from her parents, so influential in their English town neighborhood and so important in the Party!

Even though it’s 2012, not even her expert ice skating can take her outside the Reich, away from her inevitable future as wife and mother, away to any place where she can love whoever she pleases.

I enjoy alternate history – this Big Lie is so believable that it’s truly frightening.

What historic event would you change to improve our now?
**kmm

Book info: The Big Lie / Julie Mayhew. Candlewick Press, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Liberated by Germany during her great-grandparents’ days, the England where middle sister Jessika lives is ruled by the Nazi Party, yet the teen fights to squelch her own feelings and doubts before trouble takes over.

The idea that an American singer would perform in London for the first time in 70 years – at the Reich’s invitation – enrages Jess’s father, annoys her ice skating coach (such lapses in concentration, Jessika…), and thrills her classmates beyond all measure, especially when those most loyal to the Party are invited to sing and march on stage for the concert!

Perhaps the Fuhrer himself will attend the concert and see how dedicated her squad is!

Maybe preparing for their performance will let Jess be closer to fascinating GG without anyone reporting the girls for unsuitable friendship.

But her best friend questions why suddenly this ‘decadent music’ is allowed instead of banned, and Clementine’s family accelerates their timetable for escaping the Party’s brutal control.

And it could be that Fisher knows something more as they practice and practice… the Storm Troopers are determined to know everything about everyone involved with the explosive concert!

Alternate history brings a chill as the Reich rules Britain in 2012.

Art school or her traveling family? Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller (book review)

book cover of Your Destination is on the Left, by Lauren Spieller. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Art school!
Real teachers instead of online videos,
real money her family doesn’t have,
really not surprised to be rejected…

Self-confidence is hard for Dessa, and when she freezes with sketchpad in hand, it will take something special to help her get it back.

Maybe not paint now, maybe she should try found art like her mentor, maybe…

How do you make a dream denied become merely dream deferred?
**kmm

Book info: Your Destination is on the Left / Lauren Spieller. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The nomadic life that her parents chose was fun back when Dessa was twelve, but now the 17 year old wants more – art school, life with other students, a home without wheels.

Best-best-ever Cy sent in her portfolio for the internship she knew she wouldn’t get, and now she will be working all summer with her favorite living artist in New Mexico – as long as Fiona thinks Dess is “college-bound” instead of turned down by every art school she applied for.

The families who travel together across the US are sure she’ll rejoin them and Cy on the road once summer is over – can she squeeze her expanded views back into that tiny RV with her parents and little brother?

Staying with her Greek grandmother (in a house!) near Santa Fe, helping Fiona prepare for a big exhibition of her found art pieces, trying to get up the courage to break free with her own art…and tell the truth about art school – what a summer!

But after the internship and the gallery show and no art school for fall – are Cy’s traveling dreams big enough for both of them?

Who’s pursuing Spindrift and the Orchid so rare? by Emma Trevayne (book review)

book cover of Spindrift and the Orchid, by Emma Trevayne. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Objects of immense power,
flung to the corners of the world –
together, they are too strong. And yet…

“…the history of Lux, the city spread out around her, was fascinating to Spindrift since it wasn’t her history. She had come here when she was young, after the accident. The sea was her home; she only lived here,” above Grandfather’s shop of curiosities and treasures (p.6).

When he allows her to read mother’s letters, of course the teen will start looking for the final treasure that her parents were voyaging to claim when their ship sank and someone placed baby Spindrift and a glass orb in a small boat that drifted to shore.

Her world is not ours, but much too familiar is the lust for power that drives the person trying to steal the only thing left to Spindrift by her parents.

Where is the line between one’s destiny and being fated to walk into disaster?
**kmm

Book info: Spindrift and the Orchid / Emma Trevayne. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Within the glass orb, the orchid-woman promises that all Spindrift’s wishes can be granted, as Grandfather reveals that her parents paid the ultimate price to find the black orchid and someone begins stalking the orphan girl, willing to do absolutely anything to control the rarest of all magic orchids!

Spin was born on her parents’ ship as they sailed the world in search of unusual goods; now she is landlocked in Lux where her mother’s father sells unique items, where the Seven Sages established order and justice long ago before they transformed.

Reading the letters sent by her mother to Grandfather during her travels, Spin begins to see why the glass orb containing the orchid-woman is important and why someone is trying to take it from her!

As Grandfather prepares to take Spindrift and her best friends on a holiday trip, she learns more about why the orchid-woman is trapped in the orb – can she be freed?

Donning bespelled wings, Spin flies with Clemence and Max as they follow clues from her mother’s last letters – why did the ship sink so near the shore with no other survivors?

There are other orbs with their own powers – did her parents lose their lives hunting for them or because they found them?

In this world of alchemy and power, Spindrift searches for answers on land and sea as the evil collector hunts her.

She must gather all of THE HIDDEN STAR stone! by K. Sello Duiker (book review)

book cover of The Hidden Star, by K. Sello Duiker. Published by Cassava Republic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Math is her best subject,
collecting stones a fun hobby –
the newest one is special, maybe magical!

South African parents warn kids to stay indoors all night so the creature called Zim won’t take them away. This is true in Nolitye’s shanty neighborhood where children are disappearing!

Her mother says neighbors are wrong about her late father’s amazing abilities, the school bullies steal her tiny lunch every single day, the local stray dogs are talking to her – and she finds a special stone that makes her feel giddy with joy!

Someone else wants that stone’s power, the full power of all its pieces that Nolitye is finding….

Published after the author’s early death, this tale of myth, reality, folklore, and family is worth requesting at your local library or indie bookstore – if they don’t have it, they can get it for you!

What would you wish, holding this hidden star?
**kmm

Book info: The Hidden Star / K. Sello Duiker. Cassava Republic Press, 2017. [author obituary] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Math is easy, avoiding the school bullies isn’t, but young Nolitye and her best friends are called on a difficult quest to save their South African neighborhood from an evil wizard’s control.

The lovely stone that Nolitye finds gives her such happiness. Then a mysterious woman stops time to tell her its secrets and that the eleven year old must collect its missing pieces before the wizard can gather them!

The stray dogs warn Nolitye to stay indoors one night – do they know who is stealing away children from their Soweto township?

Why does only Nolitye see that Ma Mtonga’s necklace is a living snake?

Can Nolitye, Bheki, and Four Eyes find all the pieces of the stone and stop the evil ones?

Her mother’s behavior suddenly changes, the neighbours think the mythical Zim may be the kidnapper, but only Nolitye and her friends know the truth!

And she sings… Freedom’s Just Another Word, by Carolyn Stellings (book review)

book cover of Freedom's Just Another Word, by Caroline Stellings. Published by Second Story Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Famous musicians!
Her chance to perform…
and get out of town for good.

Easy doesn’t fit in – a half-Black girl in this Canadian prairie city, raised on zydeco music and working in her dad’s garage.

Then Janis Joplin‘s tour train stops nearby, and Easy’s future path becomes clear… to a certain extent of uncertainty.

Questions, secrets, and such a 1970 roadtrip!

How far have you gone to see someone perform?
**kmm

Book info: Freedom’s Just Another Word / Caroline Stellings. Second Story Press, 2016. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Easy absolutely must find a way to get from Saskatoon to Texas so she can sing with Janis Joplin!

The Canadian prairie is as far from the segregated South as her black parents could get after the war, then a scandalous affair produced biracial Louisiana who’s done with high school and past ready to get out of town.

Between 1970 concerts, Janis Joplin’s train will stop here, and Easy is determined to sing the blues for her idol.

Through her drunken haze, Joplin recognizes Easy’s talent and invites her to Texas so they can sing together!

Hmmm…on the way to Austin, Easy can return some WWII medals to the mother of the man who was injured saving her father’s life at Pearl Harbor…

A road trip with two nuns, a stopover on Route 66, secrets whispered, secrets unleashed.

In wartime, she finds A WHALE IN PARIS! by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders (book review)

book cover of A Whale in Paris, by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Running through the heart of Paris,
the smooth river in the City of Light –
is that a submarine or a whale?

We don’t have reported whale sightings in Paris during World War II, but young ones definitely can become separated from their pod when disoriented by percussive noises like bomb blasts.

Hope, determination, and Mama’s ukelele – that’s all that Chantal and Franklin have to aid them during the long and perilous trip back to the sea.

What is the hope that you cling to during terrible times?
**kmm

Book info: A Whale in Paris: How It Happened That Chantal Duprey Befriended a Whale During the Second World War and Helped Liberate France / Daniel Presley & Claire Polders; illustrated by Erin McGuire. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [Daniel’s author site] [Claire’s author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Miraculously, despite German soldiers swarming through Chantal’s beloved Paris, a whale appears in the Seine River!

Such hope it brings to the war-weary citizens! So angry are the Germans that it won’t obey their orders! The 12 year old names him “Franklin” after the American president who has promised to liberate France.

But food is so scarce in 1944, and some Parisians say that Franklin is eating all the river fish, that perhaps he should be feeding them instead!

Why did this wonderful sea beast come so far up the river?

Can Chantal convince Franklin to go away to safety?

Can she overcome her fear of the water that claimed her mother and go with him?

In the darkest days of World War II for Paris, a young whale and a young woman race to rescue Papa and Aunt Sophie from prison.

Marauding AI? It’s Only the End of the World! by J.A. Henderson (book review)

book cover of It's Only the End of the World, by J. A. Henderson. Published by Kelpies Edge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Robots to do our chores
and fight our wars
Who’s giving the orders here?

His dad took all their savings and disappeared – now he expects Charlie and this girl with the odd name to break a serial killer out of prison to help them save the world…hmmm. Adventure and moral dilemmas!

Read an excerpt from the book here, free courtesy of the Scotland-based publisher.

Artificial intelligence is more than robots or household answer-giving devices – as AI keeps evolving, will pesky high-maintenance, environment-spoiling humans be worth keeping around?
**kmm

Book info: It’s Only the End of the World / J. A. Henderson. Kelpies Edge/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: The girl hiding in his closet has a message from Dad who left last month – Charlie must stop an evil corporation from ending the world!

Charlie’s boring parents were radical computer hackers before he was born, exposing corporate crimes – now Dad is back at it and has uncovered terrible things about Manticorps, including a serum giving superhuman strength to soldiers (and accidentally to Charlie).

Problematic that Daffodil can’t remember anything about her past and didn’t know that ‘Frankie’ giving her info was an artificial intelligence created by Manticorps.

The two Scots teens have to trust that Dad and Frankie are working for the good guys now, on the run as Manticorps’ hired assassins close in – because Frankie has been implanted in Daffodil’s neck!

If AI has advanced this far, perhaps it’s only the end of the world for humans… what has money-hungry Manticorps invented?

Where is her brother who loves the Scarlet Ibis? by Gill Lewis (book review)

book cover of Scarlet Ibis, by Gill Lewis. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

When a parent can’t parent,
when interventions don’t work,
when “what’s best for you” isn’t…

Only Scarlet understands how Red’s mind works, how his systematic collecting of birds’ feathers satisfies a deep-seated need for her younger half-brother with autism.

In a brief calm moment with Red in the zoo aviary where she actually can escape into a book without worrying about him, Scarlet notes “I close my book, imagining the characters frozen in their own time until I open the pages and start reading again. I wonder if our own lives are written down, unchangeable. I wonder what would be written down for me” (p. 42).

Their mother just sits in their London flat, so Scarlet takes care of shopping, laundry, and everything else – until it’s wrested from her control.

How do you cope with sudden changes?
**kmm

Book info: Scarlet Ibis / Gill Lewis, illustrated by Susan Meyer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a disaster separates Scarlet from Red, the twelve year old is ready to search all of London so she can help her little half-brother with autism.

Scarlet and Red share the same mother (who’s not functioning well right now) – would the social worker have kept them together if they looked more alike?

Observing birds is the only thing that calms her autistic brother – where might Red go to find them (and Scarlet find him)?

Being called “my little cousin” by foster brother Jez gives Scarlet a safe identity – but what if her new schoolmates discover the truth?

Family bonds, racial identity, labeling others who are different, the haves and have-nots – life has just become even more complex for this young woman trying to do everything for those she loves.