Tag Archive | India

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She’ll make him regret it! OF CURSES AND KISSES, by Sandhya Menon (book review)

book cover - Of Curses and Kisses, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His family stole it,
her ancestor cursed it,
a ruby’s home controls their destinies…

As eldest, Jaya does what’s best for her royal family – moving from south India to the US her senior year to keep her younger sister safe, agreeing to a politically arranged marriage soon. Their new exclusive school in the Colorado mountains is a fitting place to wait out the scandal that young Lord Emerson embroiled Isha in from afar.

Banished by his father after Grey’s mother died when he was a baby, the young British lord tries not to care – about this exclusive school, about his classmates, about anyone – since the Emerson family is cursed to die out when he reaches 18.

Finding Lord Emerson at St. Rosetta’s, Jaya won’t pass up the chance to break his heart in retaliation for his great-great’s refusal to return the stolen ruby to her family!

First, she must make him fall in love with her. After she gets him to actually talk to her, that is. Her new friends help her, treat her like a real person instead of a political pawn.

How odd that Jaya and Grey can even stand to be in the same place, in light of their families’ generations-long feud.

How quickly time is ticking toward the announcement of Jaya’s engagement, toward Grey’s 18th birthday…toward the end of their beginning together?

Not unusual that Kiran knows people at her school (the world of the ultra-rich is rather small), but is her future fiance spying on Jaya through ice-queen Caterina?

How strange that small rubies keep falling from Jaya’s rose pendant…

This retelling of Beauty and the Beast in two voices echoes across the hidden spaces of their hearts and the vast halls of their school in the first book of the St. Rosetta’s Academy series. From the author of When Dimple Met Rishi (recommended here), From Twinkle With Love (here), and There’s Something About Sweetie (here).

When is it worth fighting against fate?
**kmm

Book info: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy, book 1) / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean – tales of young women & daring, edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, Anita Roy (book review)

book cover of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, edited by Murray, Dhar & Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books| recommended on BooksYALove.comNo longer victims,
many choices to be made,
young women leap, tiptoe, and march onward!

A cooking show that time-travels back to the days when food was real.

The procession of elders leads young women to the sea where their true names will be revealed.

As authors and artists in Australia and India worked together on stories (in words and/or images) to show the range of experiences that teen girls are facing and have endured and can overcome, a common thread of ‘connections’ emerged in the finished compilation.

What new connections will you make to move forward?
**kmm

Book info:  Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Stories of Imagination and Daring / edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, and Anita Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In response to rapes and attacks on young women, writers and artists from India and Australia created this anthology of stories (several with art) reflecting the possibilities beyond powerlessness.

“Little Red Suit” in future Australia battles to reach Grandmother before the voice snarling unauthorized through her shield-suit radio does.

A young woman travels from India to “Arctic Light” on a ship to protest oil drilling and climate change, despite the loss of her mother, despite the threat of imprisonment.

Kavya wavers between remaining a low-society cleaner who removes magical problems (pixies in the toilet again…) or becoming standardized which would make “The Wednesday Room” with its removed zombies and poker-playing mermaids vanish forever.

Collaborators of different cultures and countries were asked to work together on this theme, resulting in graphic-novel short stories, single-act plays, tales of now and tales of lands imagined.

O = Outside In with self-taught sculptor, hidden treasures, by Jennifer Bradbury (book review)

book cover of Outside In, by Jennifer Bradbury, published by Atheneum BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comSecret sculpture garden
filled with Ramayana stories,
art threatened by destruction!

Ram lives by his wits and quick feet, as many orphans do in cities and towns of India.

Discovering an immense garden of sculptures hidden in the forest leads him to work and food and thrilling tales from the Ramayana.

But will his repeated journeys into another sector of the city lead the authorities to this art paradise on ‘unused land’?

This fictionalized account of the amazing Rock Garden created from cast-off materials by self-taught artist Nek Chand over 20 years was inspired by the author’s time in Chandigarh, India.

What’s your favorite “people’s art” installation?
**kmm

Book info: Outside In / Jennifer Bradbury. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum BFYR, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Arranged marriage? No way! When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

book cover of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon published by Simon Pulse  | recommended on BooksYALove.comApp developers’ camp – yes!
Time away from Mamma’s nagging – yes!
Greeted as “my future wife” by some guy – no way!

Utterly furious at her parents about this arranged marriage they never mentioned to her, Dimple isn’t ready for the feelings that grow between her and Rishi in San Francisco as they try to win the camp competition as a team.

Find this May 2017 release at your local library or independent bookstore – you just have to meet Dimple and Rishi for yourself!

Arranged marriage today – relic of the past or possibility of a harmonious future together?
**kmm

Book info: When Dimple Met Rishi / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Surely if Dimple wins this young web developers’ challenge, her mamma will stop insisting that the California teen will find her “ideal Indian husband” at Stanford this fall. When Rishi coincidentally finds Dimple at InsaneCom, she is furious to discover that their parents have arranged their marriage – and that he thinks it’s wonderful!

No makeup no glitter Dimple won’t let tradition-loving Rishi woo her – but he is sweet and articulate and even a bit charming.

Deeply romantic Rishi is sad that Dimple can’t see their wonderful future together – but maybe he can help her win the app contest now.

As Dimple and Rishi spend more time together, their attraction grows – but how can it go further when they’ll be on opposite coasts for college?

Family expectations and complications, technical issues and too much coffee, new friends with old problems – looks like InsaneCom will live up to its name for Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel!

X on the map, any map for Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig (book review)

book cover of The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig published by Greenwillow | recommended on BooksYALove.comTime traveling,
On a pirate ship,
If there’s a map, she can go there!

Just imagine a Gifted young woman navigating the Temptation and her interesting crew to any port present or past, nations long-swallowed by history, mythic lands – all so that her father the captain can find a way to undo her mother’s death… and perhaps undo Nix herself!

I listened to Heidi speak on a debut YA authors’ panel last week at TxLA, and she was just as funny in person as in this offbeat author interview video.

Sail into your local library or independent bookstore for the February 2016-published first adventure in this two-part sea saga (Heidi is indeed working on the second book now, she assured us!).

If you could travel to any place at any time, where would you come ashore?
**kmm

Book info: The Girl From Everywhere / Heidi Heilig. Greenwillow Books, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [video author interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her father seeks to undo her mother’s death, 16 year old half-Chinese Nix guides their time-traveling pirate ship to ports real and imagined, encountering mythic creatures and real robber barons, wondering if his quest will undo her as well.

She can guide the Temptation to any port on any map, fictional or factual, so onward goes the ship, seeking every possible cure that could keep Nix’s mother from dying in childbirth – if Slate could only find the map for the exact 1886 Honolulu where they lived.

A crowded 1774 Calcutta market where just-a-friend Kashmir rescues her, sugar barons who want to depose the king of Hawaii, today’s Coast Guard with questions for the grand wooden sailing ship in New York harbor – Nix, Slate, Kash, Rotgut, Bee and her ghost-wife Ayen travel through time and oceans on the captain’s quest.

If her mother survives childbirth in her timeline, what happens to Nix?
Is there room for love when a pirate ship can’t put down roots?
What treacherous waters must Nix cross to fulfill her own dreams?

First of a two-part adventure that spans time, tides, and every human emotion, The Girl From Everywhere wants to remain in existence, despite her father’s longing to undo her past. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Tiger Boy, by Mitali Perkins (book review) – personal success or species survival?

book cover of Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins published by CharlesbridgeHonor or money?
A chance for schooling or a chance for wild tigers?

A rich man’s under-the-table reward for a tiger cub could ensure the future for Neel and his family, but the young man must make his own choices on his beloved Sundarban island near the mouth of the Ganges River.

Where is the line between what is best for wildlife and what is easiest for people?
**kmm

Book info: Tiger Boy / Mitali Perkins; illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Clarksbridge Publishing, 2015.  [author site]  [illustrator site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Neel struggles to keep a lost tiger cub on his Bengali island away from a greedy rich man who wants its skin when the reward would pay for scholarship exam tutoring and medicine for Ma.

The headmaster has selected Neel to take the scholarship exam, despite his difficulty with math and no money for the tutor, even though the boy would rather stay in his Sunderban island village.

Rich Mr. Gupta has come to the island, hiring men like Neel’s father to cut down the special sundari mangrove trees. When rangers ask the villagers to find and return the tiger cub that escaped from a nearby island’s game preserve, the greedy man instead offers a reward for its skin.

As time for the exam gets closer and the rare tiger cub has not been found, Neel’s father reluctantly joins Gupta’s men in the search, while Neel and his big sister venture out each night, trying to find the cub before its frantic mother tears through the preserve’s fences and swims over!

Neel’s love for his home island is as strong as the sundari trees that Baba planted long ago to protect their farm from typhoons – now his appreciation for the rangers’ dedication to protecting the endangered wildlife of the Sundarbans is stronger, too.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

5 to 1, by Holly Bodger (book review) – girls valued, men as chattel

book cover of 5 To 1 by Holly Bodger published by Knopf Books for Young ReadersEach girl-child is cherished,
every boy-baby expendable,
the old land’s prejudices reversed –
yet is this more fair?

“The girl problem” – created by cultures valuing male heirs so much that girl babies are discarded, leaving a vast imbalance of men to women when that generation wants to marry – is turned on its head in the fictive land of Koyanagar which walled itself off from (probably) India in 2042 to protect its females.

Yet not every girl in this women-dominated society believes that boys should fight on stage to be lifelong husbands, tasked with fathering girls. And not every impoverished boy believes that becoming a housebound husband with extra food is worth the price that their society demands.

Have you experienced “the girl problem” personally?
**kmm

Book info: 5 to 1 / Holly Bodger. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Three days to decide their fates – a privileged young woman and the 5 boys competing to become her husband and provide daughters – in a series of unfair Tests that two of these 17 year olds are determined not to win!

In this walled country of Koyanagar, women are valued, unlike the land which they separated from in 2042, where so many girl babies were discarded that only 1 in 5 boys could find a wife.

Sudasa is 17 now and must choose a husband at her Test, where she finds that her powerful grandmother has ensured that the teen’s only male cousin is competing against 4 uneducated boys for her hand!

Boy number Five doesn’t think the contests are fair either – because he doesn’t want a life of tame luxuries as a house-husband. He’d rather stay with Abba in their poor coastal village and find a way over the deadly Wall to search for his mother who couldn’t get back inside when its gates closed forever a decade ago.

In Sudasa’s poetic voice and Five’s carefully reasoned tones, the three days of Tests in intelligence, skill, and sport grind on.

Can he find a way to escape both marriage and certain death as a wall-guard?
Can she escape her grandmother’s plotting and choose her own future?
Do any of Koyanagar’s other 200 girls turning 17 this year feel trapped too?

Like a funhouse mirror, the 5 to 1  ratio of girls to boys in this fictional future country points out the disappearing girls in cultures today which value male heirs over all else.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

I is India – All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens, by Gloria Whelan (book review)

book cover of All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens by Gloria Whelan published by Simon Schuster Books for Young ReadersOppressed by outsiders,
India longs for independence,
Gandhi‘s eloquence speaks for millions.

In the 1920s, British young ladies like Rosy oughtn’t concern themselves with political matters, but she believes that her beloved India deserves freedom.

Even though All My Noble Dreams  is a sequel to Whelan’s 2011 Small Acts of Amazing Courage,  you’ll easily be able to follow Rosy’s journey without reading the first book.

Find this fictional look at a tumultuous historical era at your local library or independent bookstore in 2013 hardcover or the paperback edition published on April 1st.

When do you know that it’s time to stand up for what is right?
**kmm

Book info:  All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens / Gloria Whelan. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013 (paperback 2014). [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Rosy thinks it most unfair that India is ruled by England, but even she is surprised at what she will risk in 1921 for its independence.

Her British Army officer father tolerates the teen’s volunteer teaching of Indian children, but forbids her listening to Gandhi’s speeches, insisting that these people cannot govern themselves.

Rosalind agrees to take a letter from the independence leaders to the Prince of Wales himself when he visits. Sneaking the Prince out of his hotel in disguise to see India beyond the jeweled ceremonies is her own idea…

How much can one British girl do to help the land she now loves?

This well-crafted sequel to Small Acts of Amazing Courage  takes readers into the years of India’s struggle for independence with vivid accuracy and great heart.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah, by Paula J. Freedman (book review) – Bollywood plus Hebrew School?

Book cover of My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman published by Amulet BooksHebrew school – check.
Bollywood movie DVD collection – check.
Punjabi and Yiddish grandparents at the same celebration – oy vey!

It’s worth a special trip to your favorite local library or independent bookstore to meet Tara and friends in My Basmati Bat Mitzvah if you like

  • interesting family dynamics
  • a look into two different cultural heritages
  • guys and gals who are trying to sort out relationships and other complicated things
  • middle school experiences that are both funny and typical
  • a strong-minded main character who still has big questions
  • conversations about faith and God that aren’t self-righteous sermons
  • chances to be “both X and Y” instead of having to be “either X or Y”

Samosas at the bat mitzvah reception and chilies in the matzoh ball soup? Count me in!
**kmm

Book info:  My Basmati Bat Mitzvah / Paula J. Freedman. Amulet Books, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Tara just wants to add a hint of India to her bat mitzvah ceremony, to stay friends with her best friends, and to win the robotics contest – how can this all be so hard?!

The twelve-year-old loves her Yiddish-speaking Gran and her Punjabi grandpa, Bollywood movies and cheezy monster flicks, the Diwali and Hanukkah festivals of light that each side of her family celebrates.

Attending Hebrew school in preparation for her bat mitzvah at age 13, she’s confused about God – better talk to Rabbi Aron some more. And she’s confused by best buddy Ben-O’s sudden blushes and breath mints, by the class clown’s attentions, by Rebecca wanting to be best friends with her and that snooty Sheila at the same time.

A mishap with an heirloom sari and continuing jibes that her Indian mother’s conversion to Judaism didn’t really make her Jewish collide with problems on the robotics team and a glimpse into Sheila’s not-so-perfect purple life in the hectic weeks leading up to her bat mitzvah.

How can she balance new friendships and old?
Why are boys so weird now?
Can she really mix India and New York City in her bat mitzvah?

The importance of family traditions and questions about faith thread through this coming-of-age story like the golden threads in Daadiji’s beautiful sari.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)