Tag Archive | non-US author

Stolen from Sinclair’s! MYSTERY OF THE PAINTED DRAGON, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Painted Dragon, by Katherine Woodfine. Published by Kane Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A famous painting!
A locked-door theft!
A dread criminal threatens everyone…

Better than the “Boy Detective” penny thrillers that Billy reads, the cases that the young employees of Sinclair’s (amazing, astounding) Department Store all seem to have terrible villain The Baron at their core – but why is he targeting Sophie and Sinclair’s in particular?

This is third in the Sinclair’s series set in 1909 London, following The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (my review here) and The Mystery of the Jeweled Moth (here).

Many strands come together in the fourth book, The Mystery of the Midnight Peacock (fireworks! hidden passageways! The King visiting Sinclair’s Department Store!), so ask for the whole paperback set at your local library or independent bookstore.

Which friends do you want by your side when there’s a mystery to unravel?
**kmm

Book info: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 3) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sophie and Lil are on the case again when a famous painting is stolen from Sinclair’s Department Store in 1909, and the investigative teens suspect that London criminal mastermind The Baron is involved.

Snobbish art critic Mr. Lyle allows sudents of the Spencer School of Art to assist with the exhibition at Spencer’s, where a rare dragon painting loaned by the King himself holds a place of honor.

Art school instead of university? Lil’s brother Jack is hiding his enrollment at the Spencer from his parents – scandalous!

Hobbled as much by the expectations of British society as by her crippled leg, Leo eagerly escaped her parents’ country estate to attend art school in London. New friends, new opportunities, an attack in the train station?

Leo and Jack join the team as Sophie (ladies’ hats), Lil (dress model and actress), Jack (stable hand), and Billy (office boy and avid reader of detective fiction) work on their third case together as ruthless crime boss The Baron moves ever closer to his prize.

Is her life in Nazi England part of THE BIG LIE? by Julie Mayhew (book review)

book cover of The Big Lie, by Julie Mayhew. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

England conquered by Germany,
Generations of babies for the Fatherland.
Such a vision! Such a nightmare!

Of course Jessika listens and learns from her parents, so influential in their English town neighborhood and so important in the Party!

Even though it’s 2012, not even her expert ice skating can take her outside the Reich, away from her inevitable future as wife and mother, away to any place where she can love whoever she pleases.

I enjoy alternate history – this Big Lie is so believable that it’s truly frightening.

What historic event would you change to improve our now?
**kmm

Book info: The Big Lie / Julie Mayhew. Candlewick Press, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Liberated by Germany during her great-grandparents’ days, the England where middle sister Jessika lives is ruled by the Nazi Party, yet the teen fights to squelch her own feelings and doubts before trouble takes over.

The idea that an American singer would perform in London for the first time in 70 years – at the Reich’s invitation – enrages Jess’s father, annoys her ice skating coach (such lapses in concentration, Jessika…), and thrills her classmates beyond all measure, especially when those most loyal to the Party are invited to sing and march on stage for the concert!

Perhaps the Fuhrer himself will attend the concert and see how dedicated her squad is!

Maybe preparing for their performance will let Jess be closer to fascinating GG without anyone reporting the girls for unsuitable friendship.

But her best friend questions why suddenly this ‘decadent music’ is allowed instead of banned, and Clementine’s family accelerates their timetable for escaping the Party’s brutal control.

And it could be that Fisher knows something more as they practice and practice… the Storm Troopers are determined to know everything about everyone involved with the explosive concert!

Alternate history brings a chill as the Reich rules Britain in 2012.

Who’s pursuing Spindrift and the Orchid so rare? by Emma Trevayne (book review)

book cover of Spindrift and the Orchid, by Emma Trevayne. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Objects of immense power,
flung to the corners of the world –
together, they are too strong. And yet…

“…the history of Lux, the city spread out around her, was fascinating to Spindrift since it wasn’t her history. She had come here when she was young, after the accident. The sea was her home; she only lived here,” above Grandfather’s shop of curiosities and treasures (p.6).

When he allows her to read mother’s letters, of course the teen will start looking for the final treasure that her parents were voyaging to claim when their ship sank and someone placed baby Spindrift and a glass orb in a small boat that drifted to shore.

Her world is not ours, but much too familiar is the lust for power that drives the person trying to steal the only thing left to Spindrift by her parents.

Where is the line between one’s destiny and being fated to walk into disaster?
**kmm

Book info: Spindrift and the Orchid / Emma Trevayne. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Within the glass orb, the orchid-woman promises that all Spindrift’s wishes can be granted, as Grandfather reveals that her parents paid the ultimate price to find the black orchid and someone begins stalking the orphan girl, willing to do absolutely anything to control the rarest of all magic orchids!

Spin was born on her parents’ ship as they sailed the world in search of unusual goods; now she is landlocked in Lux where her mother’s father sells unique items, where the Seven Sages established order and justice long ago before they transformed.

Reading the letters sent by her mother to Grandfather during her travels, Spin begins to see why the glass orb containing the orchid-woman is important and why someone is trying to take it from her!

As Grandfather prepares to take Spindrift and her best friends on a holiday trip, she learns more about why the orchid-woman is trapped in the orb – can she be freed?

Donning bespelled wings, Spin flies with Clemence and Max as they follow clues from her mother’s last letters – why did the ship sink so near the shore with no other survivors?

There are other orbs with their own powers – did her parents lose their lives hunting for them or because they found them?

In this world of alchemy and power, Spindrift searches for answers on land and sea as the evil collector hunts her.

She must gather all of THE HIDDEN STAR stone! by K. Sello Duiker (book review)

book cover of The Hidden Star, by K. Sello Duiker. Published by Cassava Republic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Math is her best subject,
collecting stones a fun hobby –
the newest one is special, maybe magical!

South African parents warn kids to stay indoors all night so the creature called Zim won’t take them away. This is true in Nolitye’s shanty neighborhood where children are disappearing!

Her mother says neighbors are wrong about her late father’s amazing abilities, the school bullies steal her tiny lunch every single day, the local stray dogs are talking to her – and she finds a special stone that makes her feel giddy with joy!

Someone else wants that stone’s power, the full power of all its pieces that Nolitye is finding….

Published after the author’s early death, this tale of myth, reality, folklore, and family is worth requesting at your local library or indie bookstore – if they don’t have it, they can get it for you!

What would you wish, holding this hidden star?
**kmm

Book info: The Hidden Star / K. Sello Duiker. Cassava Republic Press, 2017. [author obituary] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Math is easy, avoiding the school bullies isn’t, but young Nolitye and her best friends are called on a difficult quest to save their South African neighborhood from an evil wizard’s control.

The lovely stone that Nolitye finds gives her such happiness. Then a mysterious woman stops time to tell her its secrets and that the eleven year old must collect its missing pieces before the wizard can gather them!

The stray dogs warn Nolitye to stay indoors one night – do they know who is stealing away children from their Soweto township?

Why does only Nolitye see that Ma Mtonga’s necklace is a living snake?

Can Nolitye, Bheki, and Four Eyes find all the pieces of the stone and stop the evil ones?

Her mother’s behavior suddenly changes, the neighbours think the mythical Zim may be the kidnapper, but only Nolitye and her friends know the truth!

And she sings… Freedom’s Just Another Word, by Carolyn Stellings (book review)

book cover of Freedom's Just Another Word, by Caroline Stellings. Published by Second Story Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Famous musicians!
Her chance to perform…
and get out of town for good.

Easy doesn’t fit in – a half-Black girl in this Canadian prairie city, raised on zydeco music and working in her dad’s garage.

Then Janis Joplin‘s tour train stops nearby, and Easy’s future path becomes clear… to a certain extent of uncertainty.

Questions, secrets, and such a 1970 roadtrip!

How far have you gone to see someone perform?
**kmm

Book info: Freedom’s Just Another Word / Caroline Stellings. Second Story Press, 2016. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Easy absolutely must find a way to get from Saskatoon to Texas so she can sing with Janis Joplin!

The Canadian prairie is as far from the segregated South as her black parents could get after the war, then a scandalous affair produced biracial Louisiana who’s done with high school and past ready to get out of town.

Between 1970 concerts, Janis Joplin’s train will stop here, and Easy is determined to sing the blues for her idol.

Through her drunken haze, Joplin recognizes Easy’s talent and invites her to Texas so they can sing together!

Hmmm…on the way to Austin, Easy can return some WWII medals to the mother of the man who was injured saving her father’s life at Pearl Harbor…

A road trip with two nuns, a stopover on Route 66, secrets whispered, secrets unleashed.

In wartime, she finds A WHALE IN PARIS! by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders (book review)

book cover of A Whale in Paris, by Daniel Presley & Claire Polders. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Running through the heart of Paris,
the smooth river in the City of Light –
is that a submarine or a whale?

We don’t have reported whale sightings in Paris during World War II, but young ones definitely can become separated from their pod when disoriented by percussive noises like bomb blasts.

Hope, determination, and Mama’s ukelele – that’s all that Chantal and Franklin have to aid them during the long and perilous trip back to the sea.

What is the hope that you cling to during terrible times?
**kmm

Book info: A Whale in Paris: How It Happened That Chantal Duprey Befriended a Whale During the Second World War and Helped Liberate France / Daniel Presley & Claire Polders; illustrated by Erin McGuire. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [Daniel’s author site] [Claire’s author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Miraculously, despite German soldiers swarming through Chantal’s beloved Paris, a whale appears in the Seine River!

Such hope it brings to the war-weary citizens! So angry are the Germans that it won’t obey their orders! The 12 year old names him “Franklin” after the American president who has promised to liberate France.

But food is so scarce in 1944, and some Parisians say that Franklin is eating all the river fish, that perhaps he should be feeding them instead!

Why did this wonderful sea beast come so far up the river?

Can Chantal convince Franklin to go away to safety?

Can she overcome her fear of the water that claimed her mother and go with him?

In the darkest days of World War II for Paris, a young whale and a young woman race to rescue Papa and Aunt Sophie from prison.

Marauding AI? It’s Only the End of the World! by J.A. Henderson (book review)

book cover of It's Only the End of the World, by J. A. Henderson. Published by Kelpies Edge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Robots to do our chores
and fight our wars
Who’s giving the orders here?

His dad took all their savings and disappeared – now he expects Charlie and this girl with the odd name to break a serial killer out of prison to help them save the world…hmmm. Adventure and moral dilemmas!

Read an excerpt from the book here, free courtesy of the Scotland-based publisher.

Artificial intelligence is more than robots or household answer-giving devices – as AI keeps evolving, will pesky high-maintenance, environment-spoiling humans be worth keeping around?
**kmm

Book info: It’s Only the End of the World / J. A. Henderson. Kelpies Edge/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: The girl hiding in his closet has a message from Dad who left last month – Charlie must stop an evil corporation from ending the world!

Charlie’s boring parents were radical computer hackers before he was born, exposing corporate crimes – now Dad is back at it and has uncovered terrible things about Manticorps, including a serum giving superhuman strength to soldiers (and accidentally to Charlie).

Problematic that Daffodil can’t remember anything about her past and didn’t know that ‘Frankie’ giving her info was an artificial intelligence created by Manticorps.

The two Scots teens have to trust that Dad and Frankie are working for the good guys now, on the run as Manticorps’ hired assassins close in – because Frankie has been implanted in Daffodil’s neck!

If AI has advanced this far, perhaps it’s only the end of the world for humans… what has money-hungry Manticorps invented?

Where is her brother who loves the Scarlet Ibis? by Gill Lewis (book review)

book cover of Scarlet Ibis, by Gill Lewis. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

When a parent can’t parent,
when interventions don’t work,
when “what’s best for you” isn’t…

Only Scarlet understands how Red’s mind works, how his systematic collecting of birds’ feathers satisfies a deep-seated need for her younger half-brother with autism.

In a brief calm moment with Red in the zoo aviary where she actually can escape into a book without worrying about him, Scarlet notes “I close my book, imagining the characters frozen in their own time until I open the pages and start reading again. I wonder if our own lives are written down, unchangeable. I wonder what would be written down for me” (p. 42).

Their mother just sits in their London flat, so Scarlet takes care of shopping, laundry, and everything else – until it’s wrested from her control.

How do you cope with sudden changes?
**kmm

Book info: Scarlet Ibis / Gill Lewis, illustrated by Susan Meyer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a disaster separates Scarlet from Red, the twelve year old is ready to search all of London so she can help her little half-brother with autism.

Scarlet and Red share the same mother (who’s not functioning well right now) – would the social worker have kept them together if they looked more alike?

Observing birds is the only thing that calms her autistic brother – where might Red go to find them (and Scarlet find him)?

Being called “my little cousin” by foster brother Jez gives Scarlet a safe identity – but what if her new schoolmates discover the truth?

Family bonds, racial identity, labeling others who are different, the haves and have-nots – life has just become even more complex for this young woman trying to do everything for those she loves.

Reader response to Kat, Incorrigible, by Stephanie Burgis! TBT book review

book cover of Katt Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis. Published by Simon Kids | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Would a proper young lady in 1803 raise her voice?
Dress like a boy? Use magic? Never!
But of course, Kat would!

I love to hear from readers, especially when they’ve just read a great book I recommended some years ago – and it’s still in print! Happy #throwbackThursday!

Bethany recently found my recommendation of Kat, Incorrigible (here) while doing homework research about fashion during the Regency period in England.

She suggests visiting this website to learn more about Regency fashion – no wonder Kat wanted to escape all those petticoats and wear trousers (shocking!) to walk outdoors for secret magic practice!

All three volumes of this magical series are available in paperback.

Thanks for adding to our resource list, Bethany!
**kmm

Ship capsizing! Can she survive the Big Water? by Andrea Curtis (book review)

book cover of Big Water, by Andrea Curtis, published by Orca Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Storm! Shipwreck!
Are they the only survivors?
Scan for land, for rescue!

Hoping to lose herself in Sault Ste Marie, away from her parents never-ending grief, away from memories of her late twin brother, Christina thought the voyage across gigantic Georgian Bay would be summer-smooth like the last time.

Daniel hopes that he’ll be able to escape the illegal schemes that his uncle tricked him into, his heart as troubled as the storm-roiled lake waters.

No chaperones, no supplies, just their own wits and strength will get these young people to safety!

The dangerously overloaded Asia remains at the bottom of the “sixth Great Lake” and only a few bodies were recovered in the days following the 1882 disaster.

What new survival skills are on your list to learn in 2019?
**kmm

Book info: Big Water / Andrea Curtis. Orca Book Publishers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Running away from her parents’ unrelenting grief over the death of her twin brother, 17-year-old Christina is shipwrecked after a Great Lakes steamer capsizes and must work with a mysterious young man if they hope to survive.

Her parents mourn anew every time they see her instead of Jonathan, but she won’t let them pack her off to be a nursemaid or country schoolmarm.

An overheard argument on the Asia between two men – a family quarrel or criminal betrayal?

The massively overloaded steamship cannot survive this storm – how can Christina swim to a lifeboat in these heavy skirts?

She and Daniel of the argument struggle to find other survivors, a safe place to land – are any nearby islands inhabited?

Based on the true story of an 1882 shipwreck in huge Georgian Bay on Lake Huron where only two teenagers survived, Christina and Daniel’s harrowing adventures on the Big Water reveal how strong they really are.