Tag Archive | independence

W is for weaving & crafting with NETTLE & BONE she must master to stop great evil, by T. Kingfisher (book review) #A2Z

book cover of Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher. Published by Tor | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom threatened,
no prince as heir,
daughters as pawns… or not.

Third daughter of a king with no sons, 15-year-old Marra is hidden away at a convent, remaining within its walls for years and years, as her older sisters are married in political alliances to save their tiny kingdom.

The weaving and healing skills she learns there will serve her well as now-grown Marra flees the security of Our Lady of Grackles, seeking ways to save her sister from the brutal prince of the Northern Kingdom.

She travels far and then farther to find the powerful dust-wife who communes with the dead and has the magic she needs. The spell requires Marra to make a cloak from nettles and cursed wool, to fashion a dog from bones, and bring moonlight in a jar – three impossible tasks (and she does them).

Away they go to kill the prince – Marra and Bone Dog, the dust-wife and her demon-possessed hen, through enchanted marketplaces and haunted lands, releasing from ensorcelment a man who unwisely slept in a fairy fort.

Secrets of the Northern Kingdom lie deeply buried in the crypts beneath its palace – danger and doom.

Its king lost in madness, the terrible prince rules with an iron fist and paranoia.

How to infiltrate the crypts? How to steer all blame from Marra’s sister? How to escape with their own lives?

A princess exists solely for the kingdom’s benefit, but not Marra…

Just published yesterday (4/26/22) – read the first two chapters on the publisher’s website here, free!

What non-traditional princess story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Nettle & Bone / T. Kingfisher. Tor, 2022. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Beyond THE SOUND OF STARS, is there life here? by Alechia Dow (YA book review)

book cover of The Sound of Stars, by Alechia Dow. Published by Inkyard Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Music – illegal.
Books – illegal.
Emotion – forbidden!

Two years after the alien invasion, 17-year-old Ellie’s favorite song by The Starry Eyed still motivates her, presses her to keep a secret library in their New York City apartment basement, to risk execution so a tiny bit of hope stays alive.

The Ilori believe that humans are untrustworthy because of their emotions. Books, music, and art are forbidden, as are outbursts of anger or joy.

In Ellie’s quadrant, M0Rr15 is ready to test the behavior-muting vaccine he was ordered to develop – only controllable humans will be kept alive when the planet is reconfigured as a habitation for the true Ilori by the armored lab-made Ilori on Earth now.

M0Rr15 finds Ellie with a book, but instead of neutralizing the Black teen, he borrows the book, listens to music (his favorite thing about this odd planet) with her, and tries to save her family from the vaccine.

Hiding their meetings from the all-encompassing Ilori in-brain communication network does drain M0Rr15’s electrical charge, but is vital as their friendship grows – no wonder the Ilori say feelings are so dangerous!

Ilori command sends M0Rr15 westward across America to fix a vaccine production glitch – and he smuggles Ellie with him!

Can he trust her with his secret plans to save humanity?
Will her parents be safe after she’s left?
How long until the Ilori officials catch up with them?

Told alternately by Ellie and M0Rr15 – “If I fail, what is the point of my life?” (p. 59) – this near-future story of hope versus destiny reaches for the stars and tugs at our heartstrings.

Ask for this debut novel at your local library or independent bookstore as we celebrate the work of Black creators this month and always.

If you could share only one song, what would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Sound of Stars / Alechia Dow. Inkyard Press, 2020 (hardcover), 2021 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

OF PRINCES & PROMISES, change & challenge, by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of Of Princes and Promises, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

How dare he dump her?!
Revenge is essential.
But exactly how… aha!

At the world’s fanciest high school in the Rockies near Aspen, Caterina is shocked to find that she cannot have everything she wants, as her boyfriend Alaric leaves the undisputed queen of Rosetta Academy for someone else.

For all their years at Rosetta, shy Rahul has adored Caterina from afar. He was as shocked as everyone else when she kissed him at the Winter Formal – surely that means she wants to be with him!

Mega-rich Caterina decides that transforming chess geek Rahul into the perfect man to escort her to high-profile events is the perfect way to get revenge on Alaric.

So begins a whirl of etiquette lessons, tailor’s appointments, and the amazing hair gel that turns tongue-tied Rahul into suave RC who must surely be a prince of a small kingdom as the society gossips presume.

Will Caterina’s very visible romance with RC bring Alaric back to her?
Does Rahul want to become surface-handsome RC forever?
Can money really buy happiness?

Return to Rosetta Academy (setting for Of Curses and Kisses, recommended here), whose ultra-wealthy and powerful students have worries and goals that sort of sound like ours, in this luxe retelling of The Frog and the Princess fairy tale told in the alternating voices of Rahul and Caterina.

From the author of When Dimple Met Rishi (recommended here), From Twinkle With Love (here), and There’s Something About Sweetie (here).

What less-repeated fairy tale is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Of Princes and Promises (a Rosetta Academy Novel) / Sandhya Menon. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Squirrels, hidden money, wandering grandpa – what next?! JOSIE BLOOM & THE EMERGENCY OF LIFE, by Susan Hill Long (book review)

book cover of Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life, by Susan Hill Long. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Money in the fridge,
water in a saucepan for dinner,
Another emergency, Grandpa?

Josie and Grandpa have done okay since her mom died, but the 11 year old is sure tired of making sure the bills are paid and getting teased at school for her old clothes and worrying about Grandpa’s late-night rambles.

Her best friend Winky loves baseball, but being legally blind keeps him on the sidelines as water boy. If only he could play ball…

Money goes in and out of Grandpa’s bank account strangely, and his outbursts and actions get stranger. If only Josie could find a way to make some money herself…

When Winky’s baseball idol is sent down to their small Maine town’s minor league team, Josie recognizes him from the framed photo on Mom’s nightstand. But Joe Viola doesn’t pitch like he did in the big leagues and doesn’t act like a hero anymore either.

Can Joe Viola break his jinx?
Will Winky ever get the chance to play baseball?
Could Joe be Josie’s long-lost father?

Grandpa’s behavior gets more erratic, Josie redoubles her efforts to keep their home, and her teacher starts getting nosy about their situation. Emergency!

How can you help a friend when things get tough?
**kmm

Book info: Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life / Susan Hill Long. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Solve his life by DOWN AND ACROSS? by Arvin Ahmadi (book review)

cover image of Down and Across, by Arvin Ahmadi. Published by Penguin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His life needs focus, purpose.
Consult an expert?
Yes! Go now!

Almost 17, Saaket (call him Scott) has bumbled his way through school and life, much to the dismay of his doting Persian parents. Surely he can stick with this lab internship for a month while they are away…

On a whim, he travels to DC instead so he can ask an expert how to get grit, that ability to follow through with things. He’ll be back in Philadelphia long before his parents get back from Iran…

Meeting Fiora on the bus as she goes back to Georgetown University is a stroke of luck since that’s where Professor Mallard works! Fiora is a crossword fanatic and a daredevil who introduces him to Trent and a crazy bar, dares Saaket to get out of his comfort zone…

Professor Mallard has a project for him – great!
Fiora has a plan to connect Trent with a mentor – fantastic!
Saaket is running out of time and money – where’s that grit?!

Family expectations can be a balloon or an anchor – Saaket and his new friends are deciding how the answers of their pasts will fill their personal crossword puzzle of future possibilities.

How far can grit take you in life?
**kmm

Book info: Down and Across / Arvin Ahmadi. Viking, 2018, Penguin paperback, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Among P.T. Barnum’s wonders, WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES, by Deborah Noyes (book review)

Book cover of We Are All His Creatures, by Deborah Noyes. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The greatest showman!
Spotlight on him!
Overshadowing all others to reach his dreams…

Barnum’s museum of wonders captivates New York in 1842, yet his daughters feel he cares about the mermaid more than he loves them, would rather transform a little person into General Tom Thumb than tell them stories.

Jo is the decoy, drawing away mobs of fans so that famed opera singer Jenny Lind can safely make her way to each performance hall on Barnum’s 1851 tour, ever in her best friend’s shadow.

At home on her father’s lavish estate in Connecticut, only twelve year old Helen and the Barnum menagerie sense the presence of little sister Frances’ ghost who’s angry enough to wreak havoc as big sister Caroline’s 1852 wedding day approaches.

In 1868, no one can know that the Bearded Lady has a son! Mr. Barnum runs a most respectable establishment, and news of her illegitimate child would doom them both. Luckily, the American Museum is so crowded that Jack can sketch the animals with no one the wiser.

This double-handful of tales re-imagines the lives, dreams, and worries of people locked into their orbits around the self-created brilliance of “there’s a sucker born every minute” Barnum.

Is it ever right for the difference of others to be a show for the rest?
**kmm

Book info: We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman / Deborah Noyes. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is THE ORACLE CODE graphic novel mystery, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano (book review)

book cover of The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano. Published by DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Brilliant hacker,
devoted friend,
her life shattered by one shot.

A bullet meant for someone else puts Babs in the Arkham Center for Independence, where the Gotham City teen will learn everything about being a wheelchair users – or so says the Director.

She’d rather be in her own Gotham City bedroom, wondering what case her police commissioner father is on now, gaming with Ben to earn her own hacker name.

This mansion was modernized for ACI and its residents of differing physical abilities, but old secrets and shadows linger in its halls and walls – secrets that Babs and new friend Jena will puzzle out.

Where did Jena’s brother Michael go?
Why does the Director insist he was never at ACI?
Can Babs hack the Center’s computers to get the truth?

When Jena is released from ACI but doesn’t say goodbye to anyone, Babs knows she’s been “disappeared” like other kids… now to discover where Jena really is and rescue her!

When life puts limits on you, what’s next?
**kmm

Book info: The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel / Marieke Nijkamp (author), Manuel Preitano (illustrator, colorist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer). DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults, 2020. [author site] [illustrator Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

F for FREEING FINCH to be herself, by Ginny Rorby (middle grade book review)

cover of Freeing Finch, by Ginny Rorby. Published by Starscape (Macmillan) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Old neighbor, new friend,
her body is a boy’s, but she is herself,
who else understands?

Momma taken by cancer and Dad who knows where, now all the family that Finch has is her unemployed stepfather and his new wife.

Most folks in their small northern California town think of her as a boy, but “you’re what you are in your head and heart, Finch, not what it says on your birth certificate,” Maddy assures the nearly 12-year-old as they care for rehabilitating wildlife together (p. 16).

Wondering if the scared yellow dog will ever come nearer than the food bowl at the edge of the woods, if Finch can locate her father again, if her new friend Sherri will stay friends….

Then her stepfather’s pastor suggests sending Finch to camp that will ‘cure’ her to match her birth body, Maddy is injured, and Animal Control traps the yellow dog!

Finch has to stay strong, stay true to herself, and find a way to get both Maddy and the dog Ben home.

How can we support trans friends and others whose families pressure them to conform?
**kmm

Book info: Freeing Finch / Ginny Rorby. Starscape (Macmillan), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Teens starting anew – strong stories to read with your ears (audiobooks)

With a support network, difficult times can be easier – but what if you’re trying to reboot your life when those closest to you want to pull you back down?

This week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC bring us the stories of teens who’ve hit rock-bottom and are trying to clamber back up from terrible relationships and hard circumstances.

Download by clicking on the title and following the easy instructions. If you save your AudioSYNC books during their free week, you can keep them as long as you want!

CD cover of The First Time She Drowned,  by Kerry Kletter | Read by Jorjeana Marie Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The First Time She Drowned – by Kerry Kletter

Read by Jorjeana Marie. Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library

Thrown into a mental hospital at 16 by her mother, Cassie is now a legal adult, ready to go to college and push aside her mother’s toxic ‘love’.

But memories try to pull her down, allow her mother to ooze into her life – can she survive it all again?

CD cover of Wild Bird,  by Wendelin Van Draanen | Read by Alex McKenna Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Wild Bird, by Wendelin Van Draanen

Read by Alex McKenna. Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library

Wilderness therapy camp is 14-year-old Wren’s last chance to find her way clear from the drugs and questionable relationships she dove into when her family moved to a small town.

Eight weeks in the desert – to clear her mind, to find her way back into her family, to find ways to be happy with herself….

How can you support someone trying to move forward in life from dire problems?
**kmm

DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS or the sea will take you! by Nina Moreno (YA book review)

book cover of Don't Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno.  Published by Disney Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cursed by the inexorable ocean,
Claimed by the Cuban heritage never discussed,
where is Rosa called to go?

Their unborn daughters never knew their fathers who died in the tumultuous seas…her grandmother and mother are so alike, yet so different.

Mimi is the healer and solid cornerstone of their Florida town, where Mama occasionally wanders back from her art commissions, where Rosa decided to stay after a childhood on the road, where her grandmother’s beloved Cuba is the shared heritage of many, and the sea’s curse on men loved by the Santos women is very well-known.

Rosa is fast-tracking high school to make sure she gets into a college with study abroad in Cuba (why doesn’t Mimi want to go back or even talk about her homeland?) and will never, ever date a sailor (ever).

When Port Coral’s festival loses its sponsor and developers threaten to buy up the waterfront, Rosa’s legendary organizing skills help her neighbors find their own way to bring tourist dollars to town and bring young sailor Alex into her life.

Everyone knows you don’t date Santos women, yet baker Alex dares…and Rosa dreams of happy endings, for once.

When have you gone against ‘common wisdom’ and come out ahead?
**kmm

Book info: Don’t Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno. Disney Hyperion, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.