Tag Archive | LGBQT

Survive his own Bloodline of violence? by Joe Jimenez (book review)

cover of Bloodline by Joe Jimenez published by Arte Publico Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comOphelia wants him to stop fighting at school,
Uncle wants him to start really fighting, for money –
Hope and despair are always fighting within him…

Ask for this powerful #ownvoices story at your local library or independent bookstore as Abram thinks lyrically of his embattled present while trying to avoid remembering his family’s past or dreaming too much about a future beyond it.

Can we fight destiny, our DNA, our desires?
**kmm

Book info: Bloodline / Joe Jimenez. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Calls to fight ring louder than any teacher’s voice, as 17-year-old Abram struggles to be worthy of Ophelia’s love, to live beyond his family history, to make it past junior year.

“Not all boys need fathers. Better to have no man around than to have a bad one, don’t you think?” says Becky (p.2)- so why did his grandmother invite Uncle Claudio, her son with the long police record, back into their lives again, despite her girlfriend’s advice?

“Be a man!” – what does that mean in their worn-down San Antonio neighborhood? In the dank boxing gym with Uncle? In the world?

“Blood is thicker…” – will Ophelia know if Afghanistan swallows her deployed mother? Is Abram doomed by his parents’ DNA?

Abram forcibly remains in the present moment, as his past brings overwhelming fears and the future beyond tomorrow is too hazy to see, as the cold November rains pelt down and days grow shorter, so much shorter.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (book review) – big heart, big-boned, beauty queen?

book cover of Dumplin' by Julie Murphy published by Balzer + Bray | booksYALove.comBeauty pageants are for Barbies,
Only perfection allowed –
says who?!

Happy book birthday to Dumplin’ as Willowdean decides that the size of her heart matters more than the size of her thighs when pageant season arrives.

Glad that the author finally made it to Texas herself, although breaking the name of our state flower into two piece for the pageant title is dang near treasonous.

Today is also “Sing It Out Day” – how appropriate! Dolly Parton‘s 40 albums and self-acceptance inspire Willowdean to “go big or go home” – what inspires you?
**kmm

Book info: Dumplin’ / Julie Murphy. Balzer + Bray, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A small Texas town beauty pageant gets a big shake-up as non-traditional contestants enter, led by sizeable and sassy Willowdean who’s ready for new things and her share of love.

Mom relives her Miss Texas Blue Bonnet days each year, helping slim cheerleaders prepare for the pageant as her own daughter enjoys being fat and almost happy.

Dumplin’ (oh, Mom, drop that nickname, please!) moons over handsome Bo at work and wonders if she’ll get stuck in this small town like recently deceased young Aunt Lucy whose size finally kept her housebound.

Willowdean and Lucy loved Dolly Parton’s songs and self-acceptance, so when classmates say the pageant isn’t for her, the teen decides it’s time to challenge the system – and so do other not-gorgeous girls from school!

Hone your talent? Time for a roadtrip to Aunt Lucy’s favorite music venue!
Find the perfect dress? Hello, vintage stores!
Get an escort for the pageant? Oh… maybe Bo?

She’s not entering the pageant to piss off Mom, but this sassy sweetheart and her new friends have read all the rules and know it’s their right to try – in front of the whole town.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Never Always Sometimes, by Adi Alsaid (book review) – high school cliche or best idea ever?

book cover of Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid published by Harlequin Teen | http://BooksYALove.comNever be a teenage cliche.
Never do what’s expected.
Never take rules too seriously…

Somehow, the list of “Nevers” that best friends made just before high school (so they would stay originals) isn’t as iron-clad when they unearth it during that interminable spring semester of senior year, so they decide to make each “never” into “always”.

“Never be recognized by your lunch spot”
“Never hook up with a teacher”
“Never pine silently after someone”

Read the beginning of this August 2015 title free here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Dave and Julia and their “nevers” list.

What “I’ll never…” statements have you reappraised in your life?
**kmm

Book info: Never Always Sometimes / Adi Alsaid. Harlequin Teen, 2015.  [author’s tumblr]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Best friends Dave and Julia decide to do every “never” on their long-time list during the final months of high school, but the California teens might wish that some rules had stayed unbroken so their hearts would stay that way, too.

The pair want to stay original (like Julia’s ever-roving birth mom) by avoiding the typical cliches in high school – running for student office or dyeing your hair a rainbow color – and they’ve stuck to that list for nearly four years. Suffering now from senioritis,  it’s time to break all those rules!

From Julia “hosting a beer party” when her dads were gone to Dave and his brother helping her create the ideal lunch spot at school, the ten items on the list start getting crossed off.

When Dave becomes interested in Gretchen, Julia realizes that “never date your best friend” is the rule she most wants to break – but is it too late?

Never…expect Julia’s mom to visit when she promises.
Always…remember their favorite bench overlooking Morro Bay.
Sometimes…rules are there for a reason, but sometimes they’re not.

Friendship, love, and choices fill this funny and sad book as the two best friends have to find out which expectations are worth any risk.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, by Isabel Quintero (book review) – senior year, too many surprises

book cover of Gabi a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero published by Cinco Puntos PressBe a “good girl” until married? (unlike her own mom)
Go to college? (unlike her immigrant parents)
Do anything to be popular? (unlike…hmmm)

Gabi feels pulled apart by all the different demands of her mom, her teachers, her very-Mexican friends, her be-more-white schoolmates, society’s get-skinny-now-fat-girl messages – what’s going to come out on top during her senior year?

Now out in paperback, find Gabi and her outspoken journal at your local library or independent bookstore.

How do you stay strong against societal pressure?
**kmm

Book info: Gabi, a Girl in Pieces / Isabel Quintero. Cinco Puntos Books, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: Conflicting messages from family, friends, and society leave Gabi wondering if she can truly achieve her dreams or if she must conform to the expectations of her Mexican heritage in Southern California.

As her senior year begins, Gabi still wants to lose weight, have a normal family, and have a boyfriend (and a first kiss!). Instead, she copes with her best friend’s unintended pregnancy, her meth-head father’s random appearances, and the fallout of her other best friend finally coming out to his very traditional Mexican family.

Creative writing class becomes an unexpected source of joy in her life, a distraction from the escapades of her younger brother (always overlooked by their mom, who is so critical of Gabi) and the overlong visit of her busybody aunt.

A first kiss – hooray! Macho heartbreaker – boo!
Supporting Cindy through morning sickness – not fun. Working with Martin on poetry – much better!
All the drama with mom and dad – so bad. A chance to attend prom with a real boyfriend – excellent!

Will Gabi be able to escape her mother’s unending lectures on staying ‘a good girl’ and go to college away from this stuffy town? Read her honest journal to find out. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Extraordinary Means, by Robyn Schneider (book review) – a chance of love while dying

book cover of Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider published by Katherine Tegen BooksHighly contagious and deadly,
old TB now resistant to all treatments –
live for now, because tomorrow may be too late!

Sadie cringes when Lane walks into the sanatorium cafeteria – at summer camp years ago, he invited her to the big dance, then dumped her flat.

Lane is sure he’ll be well and out of Latham before the semester is over – his memories of summer camp with Sadie don’t include any dance invitation…

Read the first few chapters here for free to meet Lane and Sadie and the other teens who are hoping for a miracle cure during their time at Latham.

The author of this just-published novel studied medical ethics, and her solid foundation of knowledge makes this fictitious strain of TB unnervingly realistic.

Would you submit to an experimental medical procedure to save your life?
**kmm

Book info: Extraordinary Means / Robyn Schneider.  Katherine Tegen Books, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:When a life-threatening illness pulls Lane out of his overachiever lifestyle, the high school senior can’t imagine that rule-breaking and a now-lovely acquaintance from summer camp could make what’s left of his life so much worth living.

Diagnosed with drug-resistant tuberculosis and sent away for a rest cure, Lane frets about AP classes left behind instead of relaxing to slow down his disease’s progress. Finding Sadie from junior high camp days helps him try for some memorable moments in his life instead of his planned rush to get ahead.

Sadie has been at Latham longer than anyone, has watched other teens with super-TB go out the gate either well or dead, and is sure that falling in love here is a terrible idea. She certainly didn’t count on Lane or his adorable eyes or his willingness to join her group of rule-breakers like wisecracking Nick and musical Charlie.

Planning for college or getting a driver’s license – how does it make sense when they may never leave Latham?

Rumors of a cure for their TB show up on the news regularly – what if the researchers really find one?

Told in alternating chapters by Lane and Sadie, this story of the Extraordinary Means  that folks will use to stay alive celebrates making the most of the time you’ve got, especially when your candle is burning down fast. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)