She 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?
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.
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?
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.
An 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?
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)
Were you alive on that fateful day in September 2001?
Book info: Nine, Tenn: a September 11 Story / Nora Raleigh Baskin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: On September ninth, many people came through the Chicago airport – Sergio heading back to New York from the math awards, Aimee leaving with Dad for their new life in California while Mom races away on business, Naheed waiting for family arriving to stay with them in Ohio, Will tiredly helping Mom get his sisters to the next plane home to Pennsylvania after a vacation they didn’t want.
On September tenth, Sergio was so mad at his deadbeat dad that he skipped school and met a police officer (the wrong way), Aimee is struggling to find her place in a new school where everyone else’s parents are in the movie business, Naheed faces even more questions about wearing the hijab at middle school, and Will keeps flashing back to the way his truck-driver dad died a year ago.
On the morning of September eleventh 2001, the world changed for everyone, as the World Trade Center towers crumbled not far from Sergio’s Brooklyn school, as Aimee woke up very early California-time to phone Mom before her New York City business appointment, as Naheed decides it’s safer for her to find little sister and walk home together instead of hearing kids say “terrorist Muslims” on their, bus as Will feels the plane crash into a nearby field as skips school to think about Dad.
By September 2002, everything is different for everyone.
Please download these complete, professionally recorded audiobooks before midnight PDT Wednesday, May 17, 2017. You can listen to them whenever you want, as long as you have them saved on your computer or electronic device.
Dad’s sudden death,
fast move to never-seen grandparents’ home – in Finland,
that man, everywhere, and the ghost bear…
Dad made sure that Tess and Axel learned Finnish from their late mother’s childhood book collection, but they weren’t at all prepared to wind up with their maternal grandparents far away in Finland, visited by its mythic spirits.
And the mysterious man who visits them on both sides of the Atlantic, the brown bear where none should be, and the ghost wheelchair that only Axel can see? Who could be ready for that?
Visit the book’s page here on publisher’s website and scroll down to read an excerpt as you begin to discover how Tess and Axel wound up in The Winter Place.
Where is the home of your heart’s memory?
Book info: The Winter Place / Alexander Yates. Atheneum, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Sent abruptly to live with never-met grandparents in Finland after Dad’s death, Tess and little brother Axel find themselves farther from their rural New York home than they could have ever imagined, as ghostly creatures continue to visit Axel and draw them both into mysterious places that could steal them from reality forever.
Mom died when Axel was tiny, so Tess is navigating her teen years with just their offbeat professor father (who jousts at the faire each summer). Losing Dad suddenly propels the siblings to Finland to live with grandparents they don’t know, yet the Keeper who visited them in the woods at home finds them in the forest there, also.
The ghostly wheelchair following Axel is truly the Hiisi of Finnish folklore, and the brown bear spotted in their backyard perhaps is Mom’s spirit wandering in search of…
Why do ghost objects keep pestering Axel?
How many times may Tess or Axel cross over that fine line between death and life?
Will they be able to help Mom’s spirit find peace?
The strangeness that follows them from Axel’s first sighting of the bear to the fortress ruins near a Finnish lake sets this mourning sister and brother on an otherworldly path that may not lead back to the mortal world.
Removing a troublesome memory
or unneeded physical attribute,
easy enough to do for Aspen’s family.
Using his ‘reach’ to steal thoughts or feelings or fears from others to keep the Cliff from falling on Grandma’s town?
Aspen sometimes can’t believe the ritual works, but the lure of snipping out someone’s memory for his own benefit is very, very hard to resist.
Go to the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt of this spooky tale (free!); the eerie paperback edition releases on June 6, 2017.
Would you reach into someone else’s memories and take one away?
Book info: Rocks Fall Everyone Dies / Lindsay Ribar. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Summer vacation in upstate New York is no holiday for Aspen, as the teen discovers that his family’s rituals for keeping the Cliff from falling on Three Peaks are more sinister than he ever imagined.
Being able to ‘reach’ into someone’s memories or passions or skills and remove one, just by touching an important object, is his family’s secret skill, but the townspeople don’t know how the things they leave at the May Day tree are used, to heal faults in the Cliff… and more.
Is family story true, about how they became bound to the Cliff which gave the gift of reach?
What if Aspen doesn’t want to help with the ritual any longer?
And that rule about ‘never steal from family’ when you reach – why?
Superstitious tokens at the May Day tree and the power to remove memories, skills, even life itself – the Cliff and this family have a long, dark history together!
Gradually fading away,
or becoming someone else,
how can you stay yourself, when everything else changes?
Maybe the superstorm will wash away what divided these best friends three years ago
– or stop Tiny from fading from view (translucently)
– or reveal Will’s true self beneath his new snarky persona
– or make Lu feel real and take fewer dramatic risks
– or help Nathaniel forget that he cannot replace his genius older brother.
Don’t wait for the late August 2017 paperback release – read The Odds of Lightning now to see what transpires for these four former friends as they rush through the hurricane-darkened city in search of answers and transformation.
When have you wished you could become someone else?
Book info: The Odds of Lightning / Jocelyn Davies. Simon Pulse, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: When lightning strikes four teens, the former best friends race through the New York City night trying to reverse its effects on them before the hurricane hits.
Before freshman year of high school, they were inseparable – Tiny, Lu, Nathaniel, and Will as science club buddies. That’s all gone now, on the night before SATs, the night they were struck by lightning and became… other.
Is the lightning still bottled up inside them?
Why is Tiny’s body disappearing and Lu’s all numb?
Who does Will look like now?
Switching from now to then to now and presented from the viewpoints of all four friends, The Odds of Lightning brings us the aftermath of gradual drift and sudden shock with a magical twist that has nothing to do with spells or wands and everything to do with friendship and love.
Practice running? Every day?
As fast as he is? Nah…
But winning takes more than speed.
If middle-schooler Ghost can outrun that one terrible night, win his way onto the track team coached by an Olympic medalist, and get the right shoes, then he might just make it out of his NYC neighborhood.
Listen to the author read chapter one at the publisher’s website here for free, to learn exactly why Ghost started running so fast.
The paperback of Ghost (yep, named a National Book Award finalist *after* I read it) releases in August 2017, when book 2 of the series, Patina is published. I loved Reynolds’ Boy in the Black Suit (my no-spoiler review here), and I’m looking forward to the rest of this Track series!
Are you running to something or from it?
Book info: Ghost (Track, book 1) / Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Running fast makes Ghost a better basketball player, but when he happens upon a track team practicing in the park, the middle schooler decides he’s faster than they are… and proves it.
Coach Brody convinces Mom to let Ghost run with the team, as long as he stays out of trouble at school. Not gonna be easy, is it?
How can Ghost afford the shoes and uniforms for a Junior Olympic qualifying team?
What if he messes up at school?
Why can’t he forget what sped up his running to start with?
First in the Track series, Ghost shows a solitary young man teetering between staying a loner and becoming a teammate, while still running from his indecisions.
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