When Middie’s perfect (really, he is the best ever!) boyfriend is kidnapped while on a humanitarian gap year project abroad, she is utterly devastated – and only Nate’s best friend understands how she feels.
If only she and Lee had anything in common besides Nate – or do they?
Read the first chapter here for free, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Middie and Nate as he leaves for Honduras and she tries to start navigating her life without him by her side daily.
How do you cope with folks leaving?
Book info: The Leaving Season / Cat Jordan. Harper Teen, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
We depend on our smartphones
which depend on tantalum found in coltan
whose mining destroys families – human and gorilla!
Why does corporate greed incite kidnapping and environmental catastrophe in the Congo and elsewhere?
How can we individuals make it stop, save children like Imara and Bobo from being kidnapped and enslaved to mine coltan, protect habitat for gorillas?
This middle-grade novel reminds us how interconnected we are and how our unthinking consumer choices can drastically affect others.
When is a smartphone a dumb choice?
Book info: Gorilla Dawn / Gill Lewis; illustrated by Susan Meyer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017 hardcover, May 2018 paperback. [author site] [publisher site] [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
As the river-gods sing, boats are safe on the river,
but they aren’t singing to her yet…
will they deny her?
Following in her father’s footsteps should be easy, but Caro hasn’t been Gifted yet, months and months past time. She will have to captain their boat anyway, and the dangers are more than just sandbars and river pirates now!
What has come to you later than you expected?
Book info: Song of the Current / Sarah Tolcser. Bloomsbury, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: By carrying a secret cargo aboard her family’s river wherry to a seaport, Caro hopes to save her father from unjust imprisonment, but the teen soon finds the crate in her boat’s hold is worth more than mere gold and may cost her life!
Soon, the river gods will sing in Caro’s blood, as they’ve done in all the Oresteia wherry captains in her family’s long history… long overdue, but perhaps soon.
The country’s ruler demands that a heavy crate go now to a sea island, and it falls to Caro and crewmember Fee to take it, out of the safe bends of the river, away from the pirates also seeking it, onto the too-deep ocean waters.
Forbidden to open the crate, Caro does…
Seeking assistance from her mother’s family, Caro dares…
Believing this strange young man’s outlandish story, Caro risks…
The fates of two nations collide on a quiet riverbank, as a young woman who wants only to captain her wherry must travel further than she ever dreamed and face dangers she never imagined in order to save her father’s life and find justice amid webs of political intrigue and glimmers of love. (followed by Whisper of the Tide, May 2018)
My book talk: When an earthquake frightens Genie cat away from the garage, the Lowriders race to find him, right into a volcano filled with mythic creatures of Central America!
Trickster Coyote tries to keep the friends trapped in a corn maze with his outrageous puns, but they follow Genie’s terrified meows toward territory of legends.
Can impala master mechanic Lupe steer the lowrider safely through Earth’s Outer Core?
How can octopus Flappy distract La Llorona so they can sneak into the Realm of the Dead?
Will Mictlan’s love of bones keep them there forever?
This graphic novel is the Southwest itself, with Spanish words jumping into every sentence like Elirio the mosquito zings around every danger, footnotes and endnotes explaining all like Lupe keeps the Lowriders team working together, and Raul the Third’s art bringing details from the oldest of stories to today’s wrestling and dip-drop lowrider cars.
In the West, huge discoveries await!
Giant bones, tremendous deadly teeth,
and only one searcher can be the first to find them!
Early days of paleontology in America were more rough and tumble than scientifically sedate, and this two-voices tale of double-crosses, dangerous digging, and surprising love captures the race for fame and naming rights so well.
Read the first chapter here, courtesy of the publisher (I love when this free peek is offered!), then head to your local library or independent bookstore to continue the search for bones…really big bones.
Ever fallen in love with ‘the enemy’ – according to your family and friends?
Book info: Every Hidden Thing / Kenneth Oppel. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Their fathers racing to uncover dinosaur fossils in the West, Rachel and Samuel seek their own prizes from the prehistoric world – she to be recognized as a scientist in her own right, he to find the first complete T. Rex skeleton – but treachery on Native American lands and their own fathers’ feud may bury their dreams.
It didn’t start with the fistfight between two learned paleontologists at the Academy, and it didn’t end there, because Rachel Cartland’s father had sneaked one fossil set from the New Jersey bog where Samuel Bolt’s father was digging, then denied Bolt a teaching post at Yale, then finally leapfrogged the Bolt team to the Badlands where Pawnee hunted and dinosaur bones waited to be found.
Bones sent to Mr. Bolt hint of the location of T. Rex at last – why is Prof. Cartland heading the same place with his army of helpers?
Despite warnings from his scout, Cartland and company vandalize a Sioux death memorial – does the professor care nothing for humans?
Both teams spy on the others – will this rivalry result in more injuries, damaged priceless specimens, death?
Told alternately by Samuel and Rachel, this tale of the adventurous early days of paleontology includes the discovery of unknown dinosaurs, legends come to life, and love amid the dust of the frontier.
When is it time to take matters into your own hands?
Book info: Right Where You Left Me / Calla Devlin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When Charlotte’s reporter dad goes missing in the Ukraine after an earthquake, she’s ready to jump on the next plane and search for him – until the CIA says he’s been kidnapped by rebels, and any interference by the San Francisco teen or her Russian-born mom will doom him.
Dad’s disappearance shatters her senior year planning college together with best friend Emma and her contentment as school newspaper photographer (on staff with long-time crush Josh!), and Charlotte fears that Mom may retreat into depression that even baking and baking won’t prevent.
Why can’t the ransom be paid to free Dad?
Will Mom ever fully recover from losing Charlotte’s big sister to crib death?
Is Emma right that dating Josh would harm Charlotte’s future?
Love and loss continue to intertwine in Charlotte’s life, as she pushes past her own cautious nature to discover which expectations are worth leaving behind – for her happiness and her family’s future.
From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…
Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.
Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore. Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.
How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?
Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.
After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!
The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??
Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.
Book info: Girl on a Plane / Miriam Moss. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Flying back to boarding school from her father’s Army posting in Bahrain, Anna’s 1970 journey becomes a death watch as Palestinians hijack the BOAC plane headed for England!
At 15, Anna is old enough to fly on her own passport, young enough to be seated with other kids returning to school, routine travel for them all.
Suddenly, men in the cabin flourish guns, forcing the captain to fly far into the Jordanian desert where the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine guerillas await.
Explosives are loaded onto the plane, food is not. With the engines off, their plane becomes a sweltering prison – Anna wonders if she, David, and young Tim with his pet turtle will ever get to school, will live to see another day…
Based on the author’s experiences as a teen, this gripping story is a glimpse into the tension-filled history of the Middle East and the passion of those who’d risk anything and everything for their cause.
Earlier this month in Long Beach, Cindy told me that she is working on the sequel!
What are you doing to make the world better for all?
Book info: Want (Want. book 1) / Cindy Pon. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: To be in Taiwan now means blue sky is ancient history and humanity is one virus away from disaster.
To be ‘mei’ – a have-not – means dying early from pollution and preventable diseases.
To be ‘you’ – privileged, rich – means life-protecting suits, luxury, and ease.
The ransom money will pay for the tech that ‘mei’ Zhou and friends need to infiltrate and destroy the corrupt Jin Corporation.
The sleep-spell drug will ensure that ‘you’ Daiyu will forget that Zhou kidnapped her, brought her to his garden hideout.
Then Zhou masquerading as ‘you’ Jason must pretend that he and Daiyu have never met, ignore their growing attraction, get what he needs to blow apart her father’s suit-technology empire.
Everyone in Jason’s team has lost loved ones due to Jin’s greed which keeps pollution levels high and the cost of life-saving drugs even higher.
All are willing to risk death to give the ‘mei’ majority opportunities for a better life.
Just one chance for 18 year old Jason to get past the best tech in the world, just one…
“Be your true self!”
“Act like a star!”
“Stay alive!” Two out of three’s not bad…
Lulu hasn’t been in 1920s Hollywood long, but she knows there are schemers who’ll do anything to get a role with the big movie studios – absolutely anything!
After her run-in with gangsters, hidden identities, and murderous gossip in her first mystery as Girl About Town (my no-spoilers review here), the New York native has her eyes wide open and her exit route planned during this raucous extended audition turned deadly.
Glitz, glamour, and gore – ready for your close-up?
Book info: Murder Among the Stars (Lulu Kelly mysteries, book 2) / Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan. Atheneum Books, 2017. [Adam’s bio] [Laura’s Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Playing footsies with a corpse wasn’t what Lulu had expected at this elegant dinner, but the young actress finds even more bizarre things during the weekend-long audition for a movie contract, as she’s drawn into another mystery in 1920s Hollywood.
Imagine being wealthy enough to build a California castle, to own a menagerie with a real lion, to flaunt your mistress in Society, to give expensive gifts to every guest without blinking an eyelash!
For newspaper and movie magnate William Randolph Hearst, this extravagant house-party is just a simple favor for writer Anita Loos, until actresses start being murdered.
For new-to-Hollywood Lulu Kelly, it’s her chance for a starring role, if the 17 year old can outlast the other twenty starlets trying to win over WR and Marion.
For Lulu’s boyfriend Freddie the private eye, this huge party at the remote estate means too many suspects and too many motives for blackmail and murder.
Why is WR’s 10 year old niece Patricia so interested in crimes and murders?
How can anyone believe that the first suspect nabbed for the first murder did it?
Who invited mobster Sal to this party and does anyone know his connection to Lulu?
Dive into the intrigue and gossip of movie legends in this second Lulu Kelly mystery, as silver screen secrets become oh so deadly.