Tag Archive | New York

FOUR THREE TWO ONE…survivor’s guilt may explode, by Courtney Stevens (YA book review)

book cover of Four Three Two One, by Courtney Stevens. Published by Harper Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

An art installation,
recreating the NYC bus bombing
where they almost died with the others…
almost.
Is almost enough or too much?

A year after an angry white boy explodes himself on a sightseeing bus, the four teen survivors are still trying to piece their lives together:

Golden and Chan – young sweethearts from the same Kentucky commune,
Caroline – from New York wine country, unable to escape vicious Simon,
Rudy – former athlete, now wheelchair-bound in Florida.

A medic who helped them away from the burning bus has spent the past year honoring the victims online and will soon unveil the rebuilt bus with their families’ memories – on the very street where it happened.

He asks people who can’t attend to donate scholarship money for the survivors and invites Golden, Chan, Caroline, and Rudy to be there.

Can they really face that bus where 19 others died?
Can they undo their connections to the bomber’s choice to bomb that bus at that moment?
Can they move forward, alone or together, ever?

Golden’s tennis partner Becky arranges the road trip that will get them all to NYC for the ceremony…ready to remember or not.

How have you worked through being a survivor?
**kmm

Book info: Four Three Two One / Courtney Stevens. Harper Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

X marks pivotal 1968: TODAY’S AUTHORS EXPLORE A YEAR OF REBELLION, REVOLUTION & CHANGE, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti (YA book review)

book cover of 1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Assassinations – dreams denied.
Protests and retaliation – hope swings forward, then back.
War in our living rooms – who can look away?

This collection of non-fiction essays and memoirs by stellar YA and middle grade authors does go chronologically through 1968, but is vivid and nuanced and anguished – no dry parade of factoids on a timeline!

In “The Death of the Dream,” Kekla Magoon recounts the assasinations of Dr. King and RFK, while Laban Carrick Hill remembers those same days as a young child in a very racist Southern family “On the Wrong Side of History.”

What do you know about the 1968 student riots in Paris and Mexico City?
– the small freedoms gained in Czechoslovakia during “Prague Spring” before the USSR Communist leaders cracked down?
– the protests against Columbia University’s attempt to build a gym by razing a black neighborhood?
– the Red Guard in China during the Cultural Revolution?

Police brutality against protesters in Chicago was viewed by 90 million people on live television in 1968, research on genetics and computing raced forward in laboratories, while the Olympics and Presidential election and space race dominated the headlines.

The authors relay their personal connection or outlook to the event they chronicle, with each quarter of the year headed by Elizabeth Partridge’s recap of the Nightly News including Vietnam war fatalities – military and civilian – night after night after night.

Be sure to read the contributors’ biographies at the end: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Omar Figueroas, Paul Fleischman, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, Elizabeth Partridge.

Get it today at your favorite indie bookstore for Independent Bookstore Day!

What historic moment during your lifetime would you write about?
**kmm

Book info: 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press, 2018. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S = stay quiet or sing out like THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD, by Janelle Milanes (YA book review)

book cover of The Victoria in My Head, by Janelle Milanes. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

S is for stage fright, paralyzing Victoria so much that she’ll just sing in her room forever.

S is for salsa, practicing with so-cute bandmate Strand for her quinceanera (her new boyfriend Levi opted out).

S is for shhhh, don’t tell her strict Cuban-American parents that she’s suddenly lead singer in a rock band!

S is for someday, as in someday Levi will really want her, someday she’ll get out of New York City, someday she’ll do what she wants to do… someday.

What’s your someday?
**kmm

Book info: The Victoria in My Head / Victoria Milanes. Simon Pulse, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L = Laila and her lingering FINAL DRAFT worries, by Riley Redgate (YA book review)

book cover of Final Draft, by Riley Redgate. Published by Amulet Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

“So talented!”
“Derivative and unimaginative.”
Did both read the same short story?!

Mr. Madison has told Laila all through high school to be proud of her writing style, but now a renowned novelist substitute teaching that creative writing class says the New York City teen’s work is more sci-fi fanfic than true storytelling. Ouch.

Urged by Nazarenko to get out of her comfort zone, Laila timidly goes to a club with her friends for the first time, meets lovely Hannah, and tries flirting, kissing, escaping her Ecuadorian father’s curfew demands.

Laila’s admission to Bowdoin’s prestigious writing program hinges on this final creative writing grade. May inspiration from Hannah and the city night sky be enough!

When have you decided to move from draft to publicly seen work?
**kmm

Book info: Final Draft / Riley Redgate. Amulet Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E = EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of Everywhere You Want to Be, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Be a dancer? No, go to college!
Who will get the lead role? Watch your back!
Play it safe with her heart? Take a chance, Tilly!

It may be her last opportunity to dance, so she’s working hard with the troupe, refining her technique, hoping her mother will relent and allow Tilly to keep dancing, instead of immediately attending Mama’s dream college.

A backstabbing troupe member, an old friend who may become a new love, late-night stress baking, all of New York City to explore in this too-short summer!

You might have met Tilly earlier in her stepsister Tatum’s story, It Started With Goodbye (I recommended it here), and their abuela and Paolo, too.

And check out Tilly’s guide to New York on the publisher’s website here.

When do you know which dreams are uniquely yours?
**kmm

Book info: Everywhere You Want to Be / Christina June. Blink YA, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: From her quiet DC suburb to New York City’s clamor, Tilly is thrilled to be with a summer dance troupe, but competition for roles gets vicious!

Their choreographer/director is a genius, telling them that ‘slaying the dragon’ will center their dance in a stunning performance space to end the summer.

What a summer! Grueling and rewarding rehearsals, exploring the city with her roommate, increasingly irksome pranks, and trying to undo the way she ended things at home with musician Paolo.

Scouts from major ballet companies will be at their performance. Their families and friends will be there. Will the saboteur strike there, too?

One final summer to dance, to pray that Mama won’t force her to attend college, to dream that her future is all dance (and some Paolo, too) – too much to ask?

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.