Tag Archive | ocean

Soul calls to soul, WILLA AND THE WHALE, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown (middle grade book review)

book cover of Willa and the Whale, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She observes and learns,
listens and writes,
are her own answers in the sea?

Same island town in Washington that Willa left as a nine year old when she and Mom moved to Japan after the divorce, but now her horizons are wider and her grief is deep.

On a whale-watching trip with Dad just a month after Mom’s death, Willa films a gigantic female humpback whale breaching and calls out to her and the whale Meg talks back!

Too much can change in three years – best friend in a different house, too many people in Willa’s old house (step-siblings, half-sibling, too much noise!), no Mom to help her study the creatures of the ocean.

When Willa calls to Meg from the island beach, the whale answers from the distant deeps.

When friend Marc is secretive, Meg gives Willa good advice. When something dreadful happens on the beach, Willa tells Meg about it first.

Missing her Mom – will it ever get easier?
Being herself – will her island classmates ever understand?

In this tale of grief and loss and love, Willa’s journal entries from then and now reveal her deep appreciation of the sea’s inhabitants and her struggle toward living less-alone on the land.

When have you heard a call from afar?
**kmm

Book info: Willa and the Whale / Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [Chad’s site] [Shelly’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Intertwined these three, THE MERMAID, THE WITCH AND THE SEA, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (book review)

book cover of The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

To stay alive, to stay together,
to realize that there’s more to life…
to risk everything?

Killing a man ensures their place on the pirate ship, as dark-skinned Alfie’s little sister Flora becomes Florian in the Nameless Captain’s crew of cutthroats who enslave passengers and harvest mermaids in spite of the Pirate Supreme’s decree.

Daughter of Imperials, Evelyn has never pleased her haughty parents, only wishes to stay with her adored young maid, is sent away in arranged marriage to an officer far across the seas. The teen’s possessions are packed into her coffin, for she will never return to the capital.

Aboard the Dove, Florian is set as Evelyn’s guard against the rapacious crew, gradually becoming fond of the rich young lady (whose heart is captured too), hoping that the Captain’s command to imprison all passengers never comes, marveling at her rapport with the new-caught mermaid.

The Sea will punish those who steal her mermaids, the Witch will draw the tales from Florian’s blood, the Pirate Supreme will stop the Nameless Captain – but will Evelyn and Florian be alive to know?

Japanese names, clothing, and traditions strand through this newly-published debut novel of conquests, colonies, love beyond expectations, and undercover history-changers.

When do you know that your ‘you’ is right?
**kmm

Book info: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea / Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W for HOW WE BECAME WICKED, by Alexander Yates (YA book review)

book cover of How We Became Wicked, by Alexander Yates. Published by Caitlyn Dloughy/Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Safe in their domed towns,
from the zing-sting of plague-bringer Singers,
but not from the secrets, deadly secrets!

Turned into a Wicked cannibal by an insect’s sting! No wonder rich investors fled to this remote resort on the rocky Atlantic coast, fortified it with domes and tunnels and walls and supplies aplenty.

Those turned Wicked by sting or breath or blood look human and are so polite, asking first if they may rip off your arm to eat it – only their inability to answer a certain question unmasks them as no longer True.

Natalie’s grandfather is Wicked, and there are only so many places to lock up a clever cannibal on small Puffin Island – how long can she and her parents keep him at bay?

Years pass and children become few in Goldsport, as the radio voice reminds True families that on a certain night a youngster may be stung by Singers and become immune to the Vex, but no guarantees…

The island lighthouse starts working after years of darkness, a Wicked woman at the Goldsport gate knows Astrid’s father, and the town archives reveal things that teens Astrid and Hank aren’t supposed to see.

Can anyone really become Vexed, infected yet remaining True?
What happened in the little town near Goldsport as the Wickedness advanced?
What happens when the blue spray doesn’t chase the Singers away anymore?

Trying to wall out what you don’t want…has that ever worked?
**kmm

Book info: How We Became Wicked / Alexander Yates. Caitlyn Dloughy Books/ Atheneum, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M is for MERMAID MOON, as she seeks her mother, by Susann Cokal (book review)

book cover of Mermaid Moon, by Susann Cokal. Published by Candlewick Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Born of land and sea,
young magic, true heart,
her mother is hidden…

Of all the merremind, only Sanna has no mother to guide her in mermaid ways. Her flok remembers only that she was born of a landish woman who fell in love with her seavish father and that their elder-witch laid a forgetfulness spell on all.

Now 16, Sanna has apprenticed long to the elder-witch, learned making and unmaking, and trudges ashore on aching new feet to find her mother and her destiny.

Her blood unwittingly reddens a wall of white roses, her presence gives hope to the poor village cruelly ruled by the Baroness, and Sanna’s half-seavish beauty unfortunately snares the ruler’s son.

With a heart darker than the Thirty-Seven Dark Isles’ bedrock, the Baroness will use bitter bone magic and her hidden eye to complete her grand plan and escape these cold seas – Sanna is the long-awaited key…

Can Sanna escape the magic net now trapping her in the castle?
Will she see past time’s blur and recognize her mother soon?
How long will her mermaid clan wait for her to return to them?

As the villagers pray to the Queen of the Sea statue transformed in the church, Sanna must find her heart’s answers before time runs out!

Told in several voices, Mermaid Moon is a March 2020 book that will take you far away to Sanna’s flok and the dark rock-bound castle of secrets.

What childhood mystery would you unlock if you could find its key?
**kmm

Book info: Mermaid Moon / Susann Cokal. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G for GIRL WHO LOST HER SHADOW and now searches, by Emily Ilett (middle grade book review)

book cover of The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow, by Emily Ilett. Published by Kelpies / Floris Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gail’s shadow slips away on her twelfth birthday, as big sister Kay sleeps away her life in new sadness, and then Kay’s shadow leaves too, and Gail must find them both or lose Kay forever!

Oh, their shadows head for Oyster Cave! She’s heard stories about the caverns – kids wandering in their underground maze for days in that deep darkness where selkies leave their skins to walk among land-folk.

Mhirran and Francis are at ease in Oyster Cave’s tunnels, helping Gail get unlost, but the sister and brother aren’t so helpful about the shadows.

Despite the storm heading for their small Scottish island, Gail has to keep searching – in and out of the cave tunnels, through the forest toward the two Storm Sisters rocks standing tall off the rocky shore.

Why did Francis leave an endangered freshwater pearl on the map he drew in the cave dirt?
Is Mhirran right about the secrets her brother is hiding in his workshed?
How can Gail become a marine biologist if she’s afraid to swim without Kay?

The storm, the map, the waterfall, the secrets, their shadows – it’s up to Gail to puzzle out everything before Kay’s self slips away too.

When someone you love is hurting, how do you know what will help them?
**kmm

Book info: The Girl Who Lost Her Shadow / Emily Ilett. Kelpies/ Floris Books, 2019 (2020 USA). [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Will QUEEN OF THE SEA watch over them all? #GraphicNovel by Dylan Meconis (book review)

book cover of Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis, Published by Walker Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Taken to a remote island as a baby, Margaret lives with the exiled nuns whose life-work is praying for travelers on the treacherous seas.

When Albion’s king dies years later, one of his daughters reigns and one is sent to the island convent as prisoner for life.

Margaret is the only witness to a shipwreck after royal Eleanor’s arrival on the island and finds a survivor in the sea cave – someone who wants to rescue the would-be-queen!

Secrets thread through this full-color graphic novel based on the youth of Elizabeth I. Check out sample pages here free, courtesy of the publisher.

I read and wrote about Queen of the Sea some months ago, but didn’t publish the post till now.

Happy to learn that others love it as much as I do – shortlisted for the 2020 Pacific Northwest Book Awards and appearing on several Best Graphic Novels of 2019 lists!!

Secrets and not-so-secrets – what’s your favorite recent graphic novel?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Sea / story & art by Dylan Meconis. Walker Books US (Candlewick), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SEA SIRENS in epic underwater battle! by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee (book review)

book cover of Sea Sirens, by Amy Chu, art by Janet K. Lee. Published by Viking | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Surf’s up, so paddle out now.
Great wave – wipe out!
Uh-oh…where are we?

Usually Vietnamese-American middle grader Trot and her talking cat Cap’n Bill just bob to the surface when surfing, but this time they’re flung into deeper California waters – right into a battle between sea serpents and sirens!

Bill’s claws end the fight quickly, and they return to the sirens’ city for a celebration.

But how can Trot & Bill breathe underwater?

Why did the serpents leave their home territory?

Can Trot & Cap’n Bill return to land where Mom and Grandpa must be worrying?

This graphic novel delight is based on L. Frank Baum’s Sea Fairies and is the first volume in the Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure series. Watch for Sky Island in mid-2020!

Which legendary creatures from your grandparents’ bedtime stories would you like to encounter?
**kmm

Book info: Sea Sirens: a Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure / Amy Chu; art by Janet K. Lee; lettering by Jimmy Gownley. Viking, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Do they dare seek the MALAMANDER?! by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth (MG book review)

book cover of Malamander, by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth. Published by Walker Books US/Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Secrets throughout the seaside town,
shoes neatly abandoned on the shore,
a man with a boat hook for a hand!

Winter winds moan across the shipwreck just off the pier and whip snow through Eerie-On-Sea’s cobbled streets, as Violet bursts into Herbie’s office and demands to no longer be lost.

The young Lost-and-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel hides the girl from his ever-angry hotel manager and a sea captain who stabs his boat-hook hand through wooden trunks seeking her!

Her parents vanished from this hotel and left infant Violet behind 12 years ago – will Herbie help her find them?

An Eerie Book Dispensary postcard is her main clue – will its mechanical monkey prescribe a book for Violet with more information?

A writer in town says that her father’s research on the Malamander was inaccurate – why is he trying to find the unpublished manuscript?

Someone (or something) is attacking those who dare ask questions about the legendary Malamander fish-man, and the two orphaned young teens must connect all the story-threads before they are the next victims!

Just published in the US yesterday, Malamander is first in a series set in this creepy English town filled with memorable characters.

What local legends do your friends tell stories about?
**kmm

Book info: Malamander (Legends of Eerie-On-Sea, book 1) / Thomas Taylor; illustrated by Tom Booth. Walker Books US/Candlewick, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [book series site] [publisher site] Review copy, display pages, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

2 pages: end of chapter 28 showing Herbie leaping to another rooftop as harpoon speeds toward him and Violet, and start of chapter 29 "Silver-Tipped"

LEARNING TO BREATHE, to make her own destiny, by Janice Lynn Mather (YA book review)

book cover of Learning to Breathe, by Janice Lynn Mather. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

“Doubles, you just like your mamma!” – words that Indira never wants to hear in their small town with eyes everywhere and tongues wagging about easy Sharice.

Sent over to Nassau for school and sleeping on the couch at her ever-angry aunt’s house, Indy has to keep up with her popular cousin Smiley in class and keep well away from older cousin Gary – some things are easy, but Gary is persistent.

Indy is ashamed of being taken advantage of, worried that her beloved Granny always thought she’d wind up just like Mamma, terrified that she could be thrown out of Aunt Patrice’s house at any moment.

Granny’s long-time advice to cool her worries in the sea accidentally leads Indy to a tranquil place away from the busy city – a yoga retreat where she finds friends and a tiny measure of peace…for now.

How long can she keep her condition a secret?
Where has Mamma moved Granny?
When will classmate Churchy abandon Indy too?

Striving to rise above difficult circumstances, this strong young Bahamian woman wants to find her grandmother and find some peace and space to be her own self.

How have you helped friends in tough situations?
**kmm

Book info: Learning to Breathe / Janice Lynn Mather. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2018, paperback Aug 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS or the sea will take you! by Nina Moreno (YA book review)

book cover of Don't Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno.  Published by Disney Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cursed by the inexorable ocean,
Claimed by the Cuban heritage never discussed,
where is Rosa called to go?

Their unborn daughters never knew their fathers who died in the tumultuous seas…her grandmother and mother are so alike, yet so different.

Mimi is the healer and solid cornerstone of their Florida town, where Mama occasionally wanders back from her art commissions, where Rosa decided to stay after a childhood on the road, where her grandmother’s beloved Cuba is the shared heritage of many, and the sea’s curse on men loved by the Santos women is very well-known.

Rosa is fast-tracking high school to make sure she gets into a college with study abroad in Cuba (why doesn’t Mimi want to go back or even talk about her homeland?) and will never, ever date a sailor (ever).

When Port Coral’s festival loses its sponsor and developers threaten to buy up the waterfront, Rosa’s legendary organizing skills help her neighbors find their own way to bring tourist dollars to town and bring young sailor Alex into her life.

Everyone knows you don’t date Santos women, yet baker Alex dares…and Rosa dreams of happy endings, for once.

When have you gone against ‘common wisdom’ and come out ahead?
**kmm

Book info: Don’t Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno. Disney Hyperion, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.