Tag Archive | New York

I Am Alfonso Jones, student shot by police. By Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings (book review)

book cover of I Am Alfonso Jones, by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Published by Tu Books. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Choked, shot, beaten,
arrested, imprisoned on minor charges,
how many black men are gone now?

This graphic novel traces the shortened life of son, friend, musician, bicycle messenger, history scholar Alfonso and the stories of other African Americans killed by police brutality.

Robinson and Jennings’ black and white illustrations expand the #blacklivesmatter narrative written by Tony Medina, whose poems are recited at the Poetry Protest that Alfonso can see and hear as his ghost drifts from the train to his neighborhood and back…

Check out Medina’s article describing how he created this non-stereotypical Puerto Rican Black teen who loves his community’s history so deeply – why should a such a talented young man be dead?

Where is justice? How can everyday people stop the violence?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Alfonso Jones / Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Tu Books, 2017. [author site] [artist Robinson tumblr] [artist Jennings interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Buying his first suit shouldn’t get him shot, shouldn’t keep him from seeing Dad finally home from prison with his name cleared, shouldn’t stop him from trying out for ‘Hip-Hop Hamlet’ at his arts high school in NYC, shouldn’t prevent him from telling bestie Danetta how he really feels about her…

On a subway train filled with ghosts of other African Americans wrongly killed, Alfonso learns more than his history studies revealed – about injustice, unfair treatment, deliberate abuse and prejudice – but dead is dead…

The Black-Puerto Rican young man’s family, friends, and community rally for justice and the prosecution of the police officer who shot Alfonso dead in this too-real #blacklivesmatter graphic novel.

Wild Blues! in the woods, killers on the loose, by Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit (book review)

book cover of Wild Blues, by Beth Kephart. Published by Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Prison break!
Escapees in her woods!
And then the storm…

Lizzie is a keen observer of the natural world, Uncle Davy has an eye for the unusual and beautiful, and Matias’ heart is grander than his body which has stopped growing.

Yes, there was a real prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility (accomplice-aided, like this one), Camping and Woodcraft is a real book written by the author’s great-grandfather, and the memories of war in El Salvador shared by Matias’ parents come from her husband’s experiences.

When it is time to act decisively, do you have the knowledge you need?
**kmm

Book info: Wild Blues / Beth Kephart; illustrated by William Sulit. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Staying with her uncle in his Adironacks cabin during Mom’s radiation treatment, 13-year-old Lizzie and her friend Matias get caught up in a prison break and problems bigger than all of them.

Mom says don’t tell her brother about the cancer, so Lizzie bottles that news inside as she and Uncle Davy visit estate sales for the amazing finds that made him TV-famous.

Best find? Kephart’s Camping and Woodcraft, the book that Lizzie studies all summer, survival and nature skills at their finest.Matias is nearby at his summer cabin with his Salvadorean parents who adore Lizzie too, wishing that the growth hormone shots would have made him taller by now so he could stop using arm-crutches…

And just over the ridge is the prison, where two killers escape – with outside help – setting off a manhunt in the woods where Matias has become lost during a sudden storm! Or was he kidnapped?

What if Uncle Davy gets lost searching for Matias?
How long will the convicts keep a boy who can’t run?
Why won’t the authorities let Lizzie help search?

Based on a real New York prison break, Lizzie powerfully and lyrically recounts the summer’s events as a victim impact statement.

The post-Broadway stage is set for Nate Expecations, by Tim Federle (book review)

book cover of Nate Expectations, by Tim Federle. Published by Simon & Schuster Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

After acting on Broadway,
living in the Big Apple –
back to small town & big bullies?

Back to Pennsylvania where his soon-to-be high school has torn down the theater wing! Of course, Nate will find a way to put on a show, with his BFF’s expert organizational skills.

Even if you missed the first books in the Nate series, you’ll quickly pick up the story of this theater kid who got his big break as a young teen – in a musical with a very short run, despite the outstanding singing of so-cute Jordan.

Head to your local library or independent bookstore for this September 2018 release and the rest of the series.

Check out the audiobook excerpt on the publisher’s website, too – the author is a great narrator.

What’s your workaround for school programs that don’t fit your passions?
**kmm

Book info: Nate Expectations / Tim Federle. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Nate returns to his small Pennsylvania hometown after playing on Broadway, glad to be with best friend Libby as they start high school – where they tore down the theater!?

Transform Great Expectations into a fantastic musical so he can pass English class? Nate and Libby are ready!

Cast the coach’s shy niece in the lead so they can use his gym? The show must go on!

Worry that Jordan is all Hollywood now and forgetting their NYC relationship? All the time…

Time for Nate to eclispe his big brother’s athletic superstar legacy, make new friends (like videographer Ben), and show his school that musicals make the world go round!

Piper in NYC! Can she be an Art Boss? by Kayla Cagan (book review)

book cover of Art Boss, by Kayla Cagan. Published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the Big Apple at last!
Big artistic vision, short time to work.
Pricey place, small paycheck, next steps?

The story begun in Piper Perish opens a new chapter for the teen artist as she arrives in New York City, far from family demands in Houston (= why I prefer this book to #1).

No need to read the first book to get caught up in Piper’s explorations of NYC’s art scene and her own artistic ideas.

Head for your local library or independent bookstore to dive into NYC with Piper.

Away from home and family – what’s your first move?
**kmm

Book info:  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:
In New York City at last, Piper works for a famous artist with a “new vision” but the Houston native also wants time for her own creative desires as she learns to navigate the city in a whirlwind season before starting art school.

Hired by Carlyle Campbell based on photos of her big senior project in Texas, now Piper must replicate that piece and several others for Fashion Week – fast!

Can she keep her own artistic focus while working to reflect what Carlyle wants the world to see?

The intense connection she felt online with her student mentor Silas seems erratic when they’re together in person – hmmm.

Her small salary from Carlyle doesn’t go far in the city – time to find another job, and find a place to paint, and go out with Silas and new friend Grace, and apply for financial aid so she can start next semester…

It’s Piper Perish in the big city as she leaps into the next chapter of her life – as long as she can find a way to stay here!

Riding for justice, on dinosaurs! Dactyl Hill Squad, by Daniel Jose Older (book review)

book cover of Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older, published by Arthur A. Levine Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comCivil War with dinosaurs,
Free black orphans eluding kidnapping slavers,
Actors, mystery, adventure – and pterosaurs, too!

Visit the book website for the Rescue Run video game and ride dinos like Magdalys and Mapper did! Cool map of their New York City, too.

Which dino or ptero would you ride?
**kmm

Book info: Dactyl Hill Squad / Daniel Jose Older. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Civil War, New York City, dinosaurs everywhere – everyday life for Madgalys and friends at the Colored Orphans Asylum is shattered when riots break out and kidnappers attack!

The wonderful theater for black actors is torched, the orphanage is next, so they escape on a brachyosaur, heading for the free black neighborhood across the river, and the Afro-Cuban girl discovers that she can hear and understand the dino’s thoughts!

Riding pteros to gather information, each kid’s skills will be needed as they work together with Dactyl Hill residents to rescue kidnapped orphans from the corrupt judge who’ll send them into slavery.

Who’s this Mr. Reed noted in the orphanage register?
Can Magdalys really communicate with all types of dinos?
Will she see her soldier brother again?

First in an alternative history series, with youth fighting for justice, despicable villains opposing them, and dino battle beasts on both sides of the war between slave states and freedom.

Z is The Weight of Zero – can Catherine escape it? by Karen Fortunati (book review)

paperback cover of Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati, published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

paperback

book hardcover of Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati, published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

hardcover

When her bipolar meds stop working (always do)

will she let herself be crushed by depression (again)

or will she beat Zero at its own game (game over, forever)?

Therapy and medications might keep Catherine’s manic-depressive swings manageable right now, but she feels like such a burden to Mom.

If she can just accomplish a few things first – like being in love or having friends again – when the giant Zero of depression hits, Catherine will end it all, for good.

Can her history project partner Michael, his loud and loving family, and a girl from daily group therapy change her mind?

That depression coming for Catherine, the bottles of pills she’s saving – paperback cover or hardcover?
**kmm

Book info: The Weight of Zero / Karen Fortunati. Delacorte Press, 2016 (hardcover), 2018 (paperback) [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Y = You Are Here, but where and who am I? by Jennifer E. Smith (book review)

book cover of You Are Here by Jennifer E. Smith, published by Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.comShe had a twin brother,
didn’t know till now –
visiting his grave seems right… so far from here.

So… if you just discovered at age 16 that you were a twin, would that explain why you never felt complete?

Emma thinks it’s possible and that traveling from New York to North Carolina to see his headstone will help her in ways that her parents and much older siblings can’t.

Peter longs to escape their small town, and a trip with Emma (just friends) is one way to start.

Another satisfying story of traveling, evolving friendship, and interesting secrets from the author of The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love (my notes here) and Geography of Me and You (noted here).

Your favorite road-trip novel?
**kmm

Book info: You Are Here / Jennifer E. Smith. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

C is for Confessions of a High School Disaster, by Emma Chastain (book review)

cover of Confessions of a High School Disaster by Emma Chastain, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comStarting high school = anxiety.
Mom moving to Mexico to write = bearable, for 4 months.
Never been kissed = terrible, unfair!

Chloe is journaling her freshman year – auditioning for the musical (brave!), ups and downs with her best friend (as always), the weirdness of parties without a boyfriend (typical).

Mom said she should write down all these memories, but really!

Maybe it’s C for crisis mode, as Chloe tries to navigate high school – heartbreaking and humorous.

What high school memory would you keep (or erase)?
**kmm

Book info: Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow’s Diary / Emma Chastain. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author Facebook]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Isn’t family The Whole Thing Together, really? by Ann Brashares (book review)

book cover of The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares published by Delacorte  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHis mom, her dad,
Once a couple, now a feud,
Sharing their divisions…

Imagine knowing (about) someone for your entire childhood and never meeting, ever! “Shared custody” of a beloved vacation home means that Ray (Mom’s kid) and Sasha (Dad’s kid) often see their half-sisters (kids of Mom & Dad), but have never laid eyes on one another till this summer, this fateful summer…

Ask for The Whole Thing Together at your local library or independent bookstore – hardcover or audiobook – and see how Sasha and Ray learn to interact with each other during dire family troubles.

Stepfamily and shared sibling stories?
**kmm

Book info: The Whole Thing Together / Ann Brashares. Delacorte Press, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As later-born children of divorced and remarried parents with joint ownership of a Long Island beach house, Sasha and Ray have never met one another, despite years of alternately sharing a bedroom there, until the summer before their senior year when a crisis with their half-sisters brings their family together.

Why does Ray dream at the beach house and have nightmares back in the city?
Can he and Sasha really hold the same job on alternating weeks of summer (half-sister Mattie’s idea)?
What secret has Emma unearthed about her ever-feuding parents, Ray’s mom and Sasha’s dad?

This band of siblings must work out how love can keep going when family stories collide with facts, parental bonds are stretched again, and their futures are no longer boringly predictable.

Can they escape The Gauntlet’s deadly game of blood and sand? by Karuna Riazi (book review)

book cover of The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn old board game comes to life,
little brother rushes in and vanishes!
All puzzles must be solved to rescue him…

Although that wooden box looks like an outdated game, the dangers of entering “the Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” are very real – but how else can Farah get Ahmad back?

True friends Alex and Essie go with her – not the birthday party that any of them expected!

How far would you go to help your best friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Gauntlet / Karuna Riazi. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping her 12th birthday party for just a moment to open her aunt’s gift, Farah and her best friends find themselves transported from New York into an exotic board game that they must win in order to find her little brother Ahmad and to stay alive!

A good Bangladeshi girl would welcome her new classmates to the party, but Farah would rather play games with little brother Ahmad (letting him win keeps his ADHD tantrums to a minimum – a Mirza family rule).

Quietly creeping upstairs with Alex and Essie from her old neighborhood, Farah unwraps “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” and the ancient-looking game comes to life. Ahmad vanishes into the gameboard, just as Aunt Zohra says that it ruined her life at age 12!

Of course, Farah, Alex, and Essie must play the game to save him, but if they don’t solve each puzzle in time, none of them will escape the Gauntlet.

Who can they trust in the souk marketplace?
What otherworldly perils will the teammates face next?
How will they find Ahmad in this multi-level city made of sand?

A lifetime of playing board games may help Farah, Essie, and Alex outwit the Architect’s deadly puzzle challenges – if he doesn’t cheat! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)