Tag Archive | military

Girl in the Blue Coat, by Monica Hesse (book review) – find her before the Nazis do?

book cover of Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse, published by Little Brown Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comLast of her family, gone from a locked room,
Nazis seeking her and so many others…
Closed eyes? Despair? Resistance!

Not the same thing at all, Hanneke’s very quiet black-market activity versus being asked to find a Jewish girl in Amsterdam before the German invaders do!

This World War II story invokes the tenacity of hope even as neighbors collaborate with the enemy and long-time friendships falter.

Last year, I walked the Amsterdam streets that Hanneke slipped through like a shadow and that Anne Frank longed to freely walk again…
**kmm

Book info:  Girl in the Blue Coat / Monica Hesse.  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [Q &A with author] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Struggling to support her parents during the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, Hanneke quietly acquires rationed goods for clients, but the teen is startled when she’s asked to find a missing Jewish girl amid constant deportations and disappearances.

How can she locate Mirjam without alerting the authorities?
What caused the young woman to leave the safe house, anyway?
Oh, why did Hanneke encourage her boyfriend Bas to join the Dutch Navy, just before it was crushed by the Nazi invasion?

Cautiously introduced to the student resistance by Bas’ brother Ollie, Hanneke now has even more reason to steer clear of the Germans in her beloved city and the local sympathizers who will betray neighbors to stay in the Nazis’ good graces. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

P is brother’s Personal Effects & personal secrets, by Kokie (book review)

book cover of Personal Effects by EM Kokie published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com Dad is a bully, no secret there.
Brother is a war hero,
his secrets run deep.

His big brother T.J. joined the Army and got killed in Iraq, and Dad still wants Matt to enlist after high school. Surely something in his service footlocker will tell Matt why T.J. told him never to enlist…

This strong debut title won several awards and has been out in paperback for a while, so you should be able to find it at your local library or independent bookstore easily. (I read an advance copy long, long ago, just found it while moving bookshelves… sigh).

How well can you truly know someone?
**kmm

Book info: Personal Effects / E.M. Kokie. Candlewick Books, 2012 (hardcover), 2014 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Matt doesn’t know what to make of the letters he finds in T.J’s footlocker, the one they finally sent home from Iraq, long after the closed-casket funeral.

Since then, it’s been an eternity of being Dad’s punching bag, of hearing that the Army is his only option in life, even after T.J. warned Matt to never, ever enlist.

But he needs answers, what the shrinks call ‘closure’ about his big brother’s death, so the Pennsylvania teen takes a road trip (never mind that he should be studying for junior year finals) to the Ohio return address on all those love letters to T.J. and finds out that he really didn’t know him at all.

Family ties he never imagined could exist, wondering if his best friend Shauna will ever be anything more, imagining the freedom to choose his own future…

C for compassion – in a Valkyrie maiden of death? by Kate O’Hearn (book review)

book cover of Valkyrie by Kate O'Hearn published by Aladdin | BooksYALove.com War! Glory! Valhalla!
Death. Separation. Loss.
Soul-harvest is a tricky business.

After seeing warriors of all eras battle endlessly for fun and glory in Valhalla, the youngest Valkyrie thinks humans are all war-crazed savages.

But her promise to a dead soldier takes Freya and her raven companion to Chicago, and human school with its bullies, and being hunted by Odin’s own Dark Searchers for breaking the law!

Read the first chapter here (courtesy of the author) and meet Freya as she faces a destiny that she longs to change.

Struggling against “the way it’s always been” – yes?
**kmm

Book info: Valkyrie / Kate O’Hearn. Aladdin, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Allowed to visit Earth only when reaping valiant warriors’ souls, young Freya defiantly escapes Valhalla to fulfill a soldier’s last request, but at what cost?

As the youngest Valkyrie battle-maiden, Freya is reluctant to interact with humans as they die during their petty wars. Her first soul-harvest may be her last as she agrees to help Tyrone’s family in Chicago, against Odin’s law.

Trying to camouflage her wings, listening to her raven companion (a little), helping kids stand up to school bullies – so far so good, until she begins interfering with Angels of Death, and Odin discovers that she’s on Earth!

Can she protect Tyrone’s family without giving away her identity?
Is Loki the trickster on her side or not?
How far will Odin go to retrieve this absent Valkyrie?

First in a series that brings Norse legend oh-so close to modern Midgard/Earth. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Wolf Wilder, by Katherine Rundell (book review) – wolves, friends, revolution!

book cover of The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe snow-laden landscape speaks,
the wolves howl in delight or despair,
a girl and her mother understand them all…

Re-wilding a wolf after its failure to be a calm good-luck charm in an aristocratic household is what Marina and Feo do, but the local commander puts more value on the Tsar’s elk than on any human life.

Arrest, prison, execution – Feo must rescue her mother, accompanied by a very young Russian soldier who’d rather be a dancer and the three wild wolves whose range includes her remote home in the snowiest woods.

“Black had eaten three toes, which, technically, had belonged to an English lord. Her wolves, Feo thought, were a bunch of the most beautiful criminals.” (p. 18)

I usually donate my review copies to school libraries, but I am keeping this one for myself!

Are you brave enough to fight injustice where you live?
**kmm

Book info:  The Wolf Wilder / Katherine Rundell. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015.  [author interview]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Preparing tamed wolves to live free again is Feo’s joy and job, but the general interpreting the Tsar’s wishes arrests her mother for their work, and it’s up to the girl and her wolf friends to rescue her in this lyrical tale of friendship and bravery.

Russian aristocrats believe that a wolf in the house brings good luck, but dare not kill one that won’t become a docile pet. So those wolves are sent to Marina and daughter Feo who help them become wild again.

General Rakov blames the wolf wilders for every wolf attack and arrests Marina when she continues the rehabilitation work that society demands.

Suddenly the young girl is left near their burning house with a newborn wolf pup, young teen Ilya who doesn’t want to be a soldier anymore, and three local wolves who consider Feo part of their pack.

Six days until Marina’s trial – can they travel fast enough in the winter storms?
Asking for help – can revolutionary Alexei rouse his village against harsh Rakov?
Finding a way into the walled city and prison – what will Black, White, and Gray do among so many humans?

This must-read story of friendship, love, and grit hides difficulties behind snow-covered trees, awakens compassion amid frosty hard times, and celebrates the best of loyalty against cruelty. (One of 8,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Courage vs. discrimination – audiobooks free this week!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC feature courage in the face of racial discrimination, ready for you to read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Click on a title to go straight to its free download page at AudioSync – download only requires your name and an email address.

CD cover of Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles  by Tanya Lee Stone | Read by J.D. Jackson Published by Brilliance AudioCourage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles
by Tanya Lee Stone
Read by J.D. Jackson
Published by Brilliance Audio

During World War II, the first American black paratroopers fought a little-known Japanese attack on the West Coast, as well as widespread prejudice throughout the US military.

A great YA novel considering the Triple Nickles from the viewpoint of a black officer’s son is Jump Into the Sky,  by Shelley Pearsall (my recommendation here).

John Ball’s In the Heat of the NightCD cover of John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night by Matt Pelfrey | Read by Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, Travis Johns, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, Tom Virtue Published by L.A. Theatre Works
by Matt Pelfrey
Read by Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, Travis Johns, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, Tom Virtue
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

A black detective from California begins investigating murder in a small Alabama town during desegregation in the 1960s – this is the off-Broadway production based on the novel which was adapted into award-winning movie and television series.

Other tales of discrimination-fighting that you’d recommend?
**kmm

Lois Lane: Fallout, by Gwenda Bond (book review) – Metropolis, new reporter, online dangers

book cover of Lois Lane: Fallout by Gwenda Bond published by Switch PressStay out of trouble,
don’t get involved…
when a friend is being bullied?
Yeah, right.

Lois Lane is a born investigator, and her Army dad’s latest move puts her into a virtual reality mystery at her newest school – yes, that Lois Lane and the Daily Planet  and an online-only friend who calls himself SmallvilleGuy.

Read the free prequel short stories here (look below the book cover on left), then head to your local library or independent bookstore to get Lois Lane: Fallout.

When have you stood up against bullying?
**kmm

Book info: Lois Lane: Fallout (Lois Lane, book 1) / Gwenda Bond. Switch Press/Capstone, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Unnerved by the tech gang at her newest school, fledgling reporter Lois investigates its hush-hush ‘field trips’ and uncovers dangers that her online pal SmallvilleGuy and her Army general father can’t ignore.

She promised herself to fly under the radar at Metropolis High, but Lois can’t stand bullies. The Warheads move in unison, finish each other’s sentences, and work on a special virtual reality project off-campus. Now, they want to ‘assimilate’ computer whiz Anavi who feels them pressing on her mind.

Recruited by editor Perry White for the Daily Planet’s new teen reporting team, Lois investigates the Warheads, finding weird connections between the principal and a local research lab.

While new friends on the Scoop team back her up during her research, her online friend SmallvilleGuy (who is he, really?) warns Lois about ARL and its virtual reality plans.

Can Lois keep Anavi safe from The Warheads?
Are their minds truly connected?
Will she ever meet SmallvilleGuy outside the virtual reality game worlds?

A smart and subtle prequel to the Superman saga that we all know so well, Lois Lane: Fallout  balances high-tech gone wrong with friendship done right.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

When Books Went to War, by Molly Guptill Manning (book review) – readers in WWII trenches

book cover of When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning published by Houghton Mifflin HarcourtIn transports, tanks, and trenches,
packed into troopships and training camps,
ready to read while waiting to fight!

During World War II, librarians were determined to get books into soldiers’ hands. When publishers agreed to help, millions of pocket-sized Armed Services Editions of classics, plays, memoirs, and novels were eagerly shared by service people, sparking a reading culture that led to large participation in GI Bill higher education opportunities after the war’s end.

The ASE program also spurred the paperback publishing that we know today, you’ll learn from this fascinating book. The author provides a free excerpt here so you get a taste of her engaging prose style.

If you could only have a handful books with you during stressful times, as these fighters did, which titles would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II / Molly Guptill Manning. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fighting World War II with more than bullets and bombs, an armada of pocket-sized free books created a positive “war of ideas” and values as they were eagerly read and shared by American soldiers and sailors around the globe.

Librarians began collecting books for American troops in the war’s early days, but couldn’t gather and ship enough suitable volumes for the demand. Working with publishers and authors, a compact format reprinting of classics, popular novels, memoirs, plays and other reading material was developed, using very small print and less paper.

The program put Armed Services Editions of over 1300 separate titles into the hands of countless soldiers, sailors, and airmen during its 3-year existence, with these pocket-books being shared and shared again all over the world.

This fascinating book recounting the history of these little books of big ideas also highlights the Council on Books in Wartime’s efforts to prevent censorship of ASE titles and the impact that this program had in preparing America’s fighters to become higher education students when the war ended.

 

D for Heather Demetrios – I’ll Meet You There (book review) – choose love or escape from sad hometown?

book cover of I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios published by Henry HoltEndure dead-end hometown one last summer,
escape to art school and freedom…
if only it were that easy.

Skylar can’t leave her alcoholic mother now, doesn’t want Josh to face his PTSD alone, but how can she give up her dream of college?

This strong novel tackles questions of responsibility and abandonment, duty and fear, almost-good-enough and too-good-to-abandon as Sky’s narrative is punctuated with Josh’s often-anguished thoughts.

Don’t miss the author’s letter to the reader here and the book’s first chapters that she shares for free.

Have you known a serviceperson who returned from war-front duty unchanged?

**kmm

Book info: I’ll Meet You There / Heather Demetrios. Henry Holt, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As Skylar endures one last summer before college, her growing attraction to a young Marine disabled overseas and her mother’s inability to cope with life could strand the teen artist in her rural California hometown.

Math-genius Chris and artistic Sky have vowed to escape this agricultural backwater, heading for opposite coasts on big scholarships in just a few months. It’ll be hard leaving best friend Dylan (who’s never known that Chris adores her) and her baby, but it would be unbearable to stay in Creek View.

Sky and Chris drop by the as-usual-drunk weekend party to welcome home her former co-worker just returned from Afghanistan, but no one told her that brash, womanizing Josh had left his leg behind, as well as his self-confidence.

Counting down the days until she leaves for college, Sky is stunned when Mom loses her fast-food job and crawls back into the booze bottle where she’d retreated for so long when Dad died in a drunk-driving wreck.

Josh begins working at the Paradise hotel with Sky again, between therapy appointments, and they fall into an uneasy companionship that could become something more. Motel-owner Marge’s son died in the war before she moved here, so she understands when Josh suddenly freezes as a car backfires nearby.

The parts are coming together in the collage that Sky’s creating for Marge – more of the ‘California quirky’ that’s making the Paradise its own destination – but Sky can’t put her mom’s life back on track, can’t figure out where she and Josh fit into one another’s lives, and can’t see how she can give up her dreams or go after them either.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Shadows on the Sea, by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review) – German U-boats… off the Maine coast?

book cover of Shadows on the Sea by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by Margaret K McElderry BooksWorries during wartime,
safe with Nana in Maine,
but town is full of secrets…

Staying far from big cities should keep Jill out of danger as her parents travel separately to California and Newfoundland in 1942, but her grandmother’s small town has many secrets, much gossip, and treachery closer than they know.

The author continues her story of teens during World War II with The Watcher,  which follows Wendy from Shadows on the Sea.

**kmm

Book info: Shadows on the Sea / Joan Hiatt Harlow.  Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2003, 2005 pbk. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Jill just wants a friend and good news from her traveling parents in 1942, but the 14 year old soon uncovers a secret that endangers everyone in Nana’s coastal Maine town.

On her first solo train trip, Jill wishes she could be with her father on his USO singing tour, rather than going to Nana’s house to await word that her mother made it safely across to Newfoundland. Those U-boats prowling like wolves…

At least she can visit Wendy, who came to work at her aunt’s inn for the summer, and the lighthouse keeper’s son Quarry, who says there are more rumors than usual in town. As Jill learns her way around Winter Haven, she stumbles upon hidden pigeon coops, meets very snooty girls who invite her into their special club, and finds a wounded bird with a message strapped to its leg… in German.

Will mother make it safely back to the US?
Are the rumors about Wendy’s aunt true?
What does the pigeon’s message mean?

“Loose lips sink ships” – in Winter Haven, the warning on patriotic posters is true in this tale of World War II on the home front. Followed by The Watcher. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Dirt Bike, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly, by Conrad Wesselhoeft (book review) – grief, honor & gaming

book cover of Dirt Bikes Drones and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft published by Houghton MifflinPlaying chicken with big trucks on the highway,
joysticking into the Drone Zone,
adrenaline removes Arlo’s grief…for a while.

Trying to cope with Mom’s murder, Siouxsie’s progressive neurological disease, Dad’s retreat into the bottle – Arlo keeps his dirt bike running, scrounges change to play Drone Fighter at his tiny town’s online cafe, but then what? One early morning phone call changes things (but not everything).

Traveling recently through bone-dry northern New Mexico where the author strands this small town, I can see why anyone there would want to find a way to get away, even if it means trading the make-believe of gaming for real drone piloting and its violent consequences.

Read this April 2014 book now – right now!
**kmm

Book info: Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly / Conrad Wesselhoeft. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2014. [author blog]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Arlo’s gaming skills could pay his sister’s huge medical bills, his dirt bike prowess could salvage his reputation in their small New Mexico town, but it’ll take something more to rescue his family from their endless grieving for Mom.

When the US Air Force wants Arlo to fly real reconnaissance drones over Pakistan from their base at White Sands, based solely on his Drone Fighter video game world ranking, the 17-year-old’s journalist dad is skeptical – until the Colonel erases their debts for Siouxsie’s treatments.

When gorgeous Lee slides into dusty Orphan County to stay with her aunt until her dad returns from his Afghanistan deployment, Arlo thinks she’ll scorn scruffy dirt bikes after leaving her smooth Harley in Seattle – until she helps his Evel Kneivel-style jump go higher and farther.

Zooming down I-25 from the New Mexico-Colorado borderlands whenever the Colonel phones, Arlo has too much time to think on his way to White Sands. Even if he can discover the most-wanted terrorist’s whereabouts with his drone, how can he recover what his family lost when Mom was murdered?

Mountain vistas, Mom’s ashes spread atop the mesa, small-town football as seen from the snack bar, and a moto-stunt for the ages fill this don’t-miss novel about love, grief, and honor.