Tag Archive | ocean

Y is for YOUR HEART, MY SKY, love despite starvation in Cuba, by Margarita Engle (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Food is dwindling,
government rule tightens,
can people survive on hope alone?

Words feed your soul, but not the gnawing hunger across the island during el periodico especial en tiempos de paz in 1991, as the Soviet Union collapses and its food shipments to Cuba cease, starting a decade of starvation.

Out in the countryside, Liana is adopted by a brown dog who sings to the sky and helps the 14 year old find things to cook for her family. No, she won’t go to the government’s “summer camp” working in the sugarcane fields and leave her siblings to starve.

Neither will 15-year-old Amado, even though he’ll be an outcast in the village. If they knew his plan to evade military conscription, he’d be in prison with his brother who did the same. Constant hunger makes rebellious thoughts of freedom difficult, but he will persevere.

As the two young people try to fight their growing attraction, the singing dog called Paz does his best to nudge them together, knowing that they’ll be stronger together.

Can they grow any food without the government finding out?
Can hope alone sustain them as the police keep watch on Amado?
Should they also make a raft and try to escape to Miami?

Celebrate Poetry Month with this verse novel in three voices, by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here).

To this day, Cuba imports most of its food – where do your representative and Senator stand on ending the decades-long US trade embargo?
**kmm

Book info: Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger / Margarita Engle. Atheneum / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

R is for Rowenna, regrets, enchanted swans’ RUSH OF WINGS, by Laura E. Weymouth (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Welcomed by salt spray and wind,
born with a power inside,
ignored, untrained… how long?

So hard for young teen Rowenna to control her temper, amidst all these rowdy brothers. That’s why her mother won’t yet teach her the magic craft needed to protect their seaside Scottish village from wicked creatures of land and water.

A terrible beast steals Mother away, a storm catches father and the older boys in their small fishing boat, and now 18-year-old Rowenna finds a young man Gawen washed up in the cove – searching for her and her craft to save his family, he says.

Amazingly, her menfolk return safe from the storm, bringing with them Mother… who’s someone altogether different on the inside, who angrily turns the brothers and Gawen into swans, who steals Rowenna’s voice.

Banished by her father who believes Rowenna has bewitched them, she follows the swans inland, leaving her beloved sea for the very first time.

Ah! At night, the swans regain human form – and she can speak! Gawen has led them to Torr Pendragon’s castle, where his friend lady Elspeth tells Rowenna how to break the curse.

Even so far from the sea, the wind whispers to her that she can’t trust battle-victor Pendragon, especially when the ruler wants to use her magic to control a foul mystical beast.

Each night, the boys’ time as humans grows shorter and shorter – can Rowenna break the curse before it’s too late?

It’s Pendragon who has captured Gawen’s family – can she save anyone?

And that creature living in her father’s small house on the shore – what can Rowenna do?

Voiceless as those she cares for are threatened, Rowenna must find a way to harness and direct the power that simmers in her breath and blood in this retelling of the Six Swans folktale.

Swans – what’s your story about them?
**kmm

Book info: A Rush of Wings / Laura E. Weymouth. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is for brave KEMOSHA OF THE CARIBBEAN, now free – and a pirate! by Alex Wheatle (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Kemosha of the Caribbean, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Black Sheep/Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Enslaved no more!
Fight for her freedom,
to free her family!

From her late mother, Kemosha learned Spanish and the dream of freedom, gifts kept secret from the brutal English sea captain who owns the Jamaican plantation and its Black workers.

When Kemosha is sold to a tavern owner in Port Royal, the 15 year old leaves little brother Gregory in cook Marta’s care, promising that she’ll return to get him, someday.

Port Royal is surely “the wickedest place on earth” in 1668, filled with drunken sailors who’ll pay Mr. Powell for “time with her” – but not if she can escape first!

She finds refuge with barrelmaker Ravenhide, the only free Black man in town, who teaches her how to fight with a sword, so she can challenge Powell and win her freedom in a public duel.

Through Ravenhide, Kemosha meets Isabella (even lovelier than the sailors’ song about her) and secures a job as cook on Captain Morgan’s privateer ship, away to fight against the Spanish.

Will she survive being on board the same ship as Mr. Powell?
Can she earn enough to buy Marta and Gregory’s freedom?
Will she ever see her beautiful Isabella again?

The author of 1760-set Cane Warriors (recommended here) brings another blood-spattered page from Jamaica’s history to life in this action-packed adventure.

If you could go back in time to talk to someone from history books, who would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: Kemosha of the Caribbean / Alex Wheatle. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

This summer could be the best ever for THE ISLANDERS! by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May (MG book review)

Book cover of The Islanders, by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Published by Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No videogames or wi-fi?
Driving a golf cart! Or a boat?!
Maybe summer will be okay…

As a military kid, twelve-year-old Jake knows that staying with his grandma Honey will help Mom as she’s at the Army hospital with Dad, but having no internet or cellphone (don’t ask) will be terrible.

Luckily, two kids his age are on Dewees Island for the summer: Macon, a facts-spouting Black guy from Atlanta, whose mom is on bed rest waiting for her baby to arrive, and nature-fanatic Lovie, who drives her own boat over from Isle of Palms every day to stay with her aunt.

Honey doesn’t seem herself after Jake’s granddad died a while ago, and her house on stilts needs lots of care. Dad grew up here, roaming these woods and beaches, learning to drive a boat, leaving his nature journal and favorite books in the loft bedroom where Jake is staying.

Doing chores for Honey still leaves Jake plenty of time to explore the South Carolina coastal island with Lovie and Macon. Lots of lessons too – driving the golf cart, learning his way around a boat, recognizing loggerhead turtle tracks, avoiding alligators.

An incident gets the three friends assigned to Dawn Patrol, checking the beaches early, early every morning for new turtle nests that the licensed specialists verify and encircle with warning tape.

Jake sketches in his own nature journal, writes illustrated letters to Dad, and listens to the worries that Lovie and Macon confide.

Can Jake earn his boating license before summer ends?
How can they keep predators away from the turtle nests?
How fast can Dad recover from the IED explosion?

Sometimes the island seems like paradise, other times it’s not. For these three friends, this will be a summer to remember! First in a new series, followed by Search for Treasure in June 2022.

What’s your favorite summer-with-friends memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Islanders (Islanders, book 1) / Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THE COMING STORM of mayhem & magic – can they stand against it? by Regina M. Hansen (YA book review)

book cover of The Coming Storm, by Regina M. Hansen. Published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Magic in their music,
mysteries in the sea,
strange things on land, strange…

Fishing families on Prince Edward Island live and die by the rhythms of the sea, so young fiddler Beet isn’t scared of it, but she’s wary of shapeshifters and other mystical things said to live under its waves, waiting…

The teen’s beloved cousin is lost at sea in early 1949, appearing to her that night as a ghost playing their uncle’s violin in one final sad tune, just as his son is born. All the more reason for Beet to practice and become the best fiddler on the island.

Beet and baby Joseph hear a woman’s so-haunting song from just over the next dune, perhaps the same song that her uncles heard in 1918 after they followed a beautiful gray horse, then found Sarah and her dead husband on the beach.

Trying to save their horse in 1900 during a terrible storm got the Doucets swept out to sea, and her niece from the States inherited their place. They say the Mrs. stayed youthful and lovely into her forties, then her health suddenly declined despite all her husband’s money.

It’s Marina Shaw who owns the gray horse that Beet and Joseph start to see when they walk the shore, a fancy-dressed lady who knows more about folks here than a newcomer should.

Can Beet and her friends find out who Marina really is?
What’s hidden on the tiny offshore island?
Where has toddling Joseph gone?

Seventeen years and seventeen years and seventeen years…this lyrical story jumps between time periods as mythic creatures and an evil secret threaten all in their island town, with the smallest chance that music and love can overcome many decades of wrongdoing.

What’s your favorite legendary creature of the sea?
**kmm

Book info: The Coming Storm / Regina M. Hansen. Atheneum, 2021. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SMALL TOWN HEARTS, don’t fall for a summer boy! by Lillie Vale (book review)

book cover of Small Town Hearts, by Lillie Vale. Published by Swoon Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Future plans – check
Summer to enjoy – check
Romantic complications – ohhhh.

Babe is content to enjoy the summer after graduation, living in the lighthouse and managing Busy’s coffeehouse as tourist season in their little Maine coastal town begins.

Even knowing that her two best friends will leave for college is okay (soon she’ll tell them she’s staying at Busy’s… soon) – until Penny dumps Chad who decides to kiss Babe, then Penny finds out and takes Chad back, freezing her out of their lifetime friendship!

Add to that Babe’s ex-girlfriend Elodie (still not out) back from college and the almost-college guy Levi (already a famous artist!) who’s renting Mom’s house while she’s working away, both here for the summer art residency (small, small world in this small, small town).

Nice to show Levi around, watch him sketch and learn to appreciate life at the shore and her baking skills (always experimenting for the coffeehouse)… and her.

But when the beach picnics and blueberry picking and the residency are over, he’ll leave for art college (so say his parents and agent), and Babe is going to stay here, baking and managing Busy’s.

Summer ends with the artists’ exhibition and the town’s sandcastle building contest – what else will end?

“Never fall for a summer boy” – local wisdom is rarely wrong, but maybe this time?

This debut novel softly celebrates becoming yourself and being yourself in the face of others’ expectations.

What’s your favorite summer out-of-town memory?
**kmm

Book info: Small Town Hearts / Lillie Vale. Swoon Reads, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Who is she truly, THE GIRL FROM THE SEA? by Molly Knox Ostertag (Graphic novel review)

book cover of The Girl From the Sea, by Molly Knox Ostertag. Published by Graphix/Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Slipping off the rainy cliff,
Hitting her head,
Drowning, sinking…saved by a kiss!

Morgan can’t wait to escape from her Atlantic island town and be herself. The 15 year old Korean-Canadian tries so hard to fit in at school, agree with her boy-crazy best friends, channel her clothing designs into acceptable styles … exhausting.

Summer with her grumpy little brother and recently divorced mom becomes a little better because Keltie is there, the selkie who saved her from drowning! They’d met in the sea when Morgan was young, and Keltie’s been watching the shore for her ever since.

Now true love’s kiss has granted Keltie her landlegs, and she wants to be with Morgan, whose friends aren’t so sure about this new girl who loves sparkly clothes instead of the latest fashion.

Stolen moments together in secluded coves, Keltie explaining that she’s the only selkie of her generation, wondering what their future together might be like….

But a huge tourist boat plans to hug the island’s shoreline for summer excursions, endangering Keltie’s seal family – and the parents of Morgan’s friend Serena own it!

Can Keltie stop the boat from getting too close to the rookery?
Can Morgan keep her friends and Keltie, too?

This graphic novel by the creator of the Witch Boy trilogy explores friendship and family, plans and destiny. Find it at your local library or independent bookstore today!

Do you agree with Morgan’s mom: “You have to risk letting your life get messy to get to the good parts” (p. 151)?
**kmm

Book info: The Girl From the Sea / words and art by Molly Knox Ostertag . Graphix/Scholastic, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

IN DEEPER WATERS, treachery & secrets! #YALit by F. T. Lukens (book review)

book cover of In Deeper Waters, by F. T. Lukens.Published by Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Alliances fray,
Loyalty must be earned,
Magic is always evil… or is it?

Prince Tal’s celebratory 16th birthday journey through the realm finally takes him away from the palace where he’s been hidden since his fire magic manifested – the same dread magic as his great-grandfather who wielded it to trying to conquer kingdoms that Harth is still paying reparations to.

But before the first port of call, the youngest royal son rescues a prisoner from a burning ship, sees the handsome young man lost overboard in rough seas, and discovers him days later in the port town! How?

Tal is drawn to Athlen who can sense the prince’s magic and has his own secrets – so that’s why he didn’t drown at sea! How right it feels when they’re together… each the last one with their special powers.

When attackers try to make the prince’s magic flare out in public, the young men flee and are kidnapped by pirates! Every hour away from the shore weakens Athlen, but they absolutely must reach the Queen before Tal’s sister weds the prince of Ossetia!

Who wants to destroy the Queen’s peace treaties?
What keeps Athlen tied to the sea?
Can they escape the pirates and stay together?

Secrets upon secrets in this fast-paced adventure / love story! Read an excerpt here for free.

How far would you travel to help someone you love?
**kmm

Book Info: In Deeper Waters / F. T. Lukens. Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

THE ADVENTURE IS NOW on island of wonders! by Jess Redman (MG book review)

book cover of The Adventure is Now, by Jess Redman. Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

During a truly terrible year at middle school, the Isle of the Wild game on Milton’s HandHeld device is the only good thing left, as he becomes intrepid explorer Sea Hawk instead of the boy no one wants to be friends with anymore.

So Milton is okay with traveling to his uncle’s research station on remote Lone Island for the summer – better than being around as his parents finalize their divorce.

Far out in the Atlantic Ocean, Lone Island is filled with unbelievable tropical flora and fauna, like an elephant that burrows underground and the Incredible Symphonic Cicadas noted in Dr. Paridis’ field journals.

But after her death, the Truth-Will-Out Vine covered the whole island except the research station and researchers’ small houses, even shutting out aerial views of its wonders!

Other kids on the island? Interesting.
No way to recharge his game device? Egad!
A greedy corporation trying to claim the amazing island? No way!

Milton and his new friends must find a way through the Truth-Will-Out Vine so they can verify Lone Island’s uniquely wondrous creatures, plants, and trees before it’s too late!

Look for this May 2021 adventure at your local library or independent bookstore so you can join the search for the Earthworm Pachyderm, Beautimous Lemallaby, and Yes-No-Maybe-So Tree!

When have friends helped you find something wonderful and worth sharing?
**kmm

Book info: The Adventure is Now / Jess Redman. Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Alien earth-visit with one slight problem: LEONARD (MY LIFE AS A CAT), by Carlie Sorosiak (MG book review)

book cover of Leonard (My Life as a Cat), by Carlie Sorosiak. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

He studied all the media and video,
chose his new identity carefully –
ready for a working vacation on Earth… oops!

Getting distracted during atmospheric entry was a huge mistake, as a young 300-year-old alien appears in a coastal South Carolina town as a house cat during a storm instead of becoming a park ranger at Yellowstone!

Animal-lover Olive has a hard time making new friends and feels stranded this summer before middle school as Mom and her new boyfriend are in California for his business. After her dad died, she hadn’t been here in a long time – maybe volunteering at the aquarium with grandmother Norma will be okay.

Rescuing a scruffy cat she calls Leonard makes things better – a very unusual cat who loves being at the aquarium with them… and starts typing messages on her laptop!

Leonard has just a month to do all the things he’s dreamed of for centuries – go to a real movie theater, host a dinner party, create and enjoy a cheese sandwich – so of course Olive will help.

Learning to walk on a leash, trying to do absolutely anything without opposable thumbs, becoming fond of Olive and Norma and Q at the aquarium – these are not the experiences that Leonard planned to carry back to his all-mind society on their helium world…

Of course, that last part wouldn’t leave Earth since only data will return with Leonard, no emotions. And if he doesn’t get to Yellowstone by the end of the month, he won’t return to his galaxy – ever!

Does Q suspect that Leonard isn’t an ordinary cat?
Will Norma ever ask Olive to call her ‘grandma’?
Can Olive and Leonard convince Q and Norma to take a trip to Yellowstone very soon?

Come along on the ultimate summer road-trip for this hyper-intelligent cat and his new friends!

If you could go any place, any time, what’s your ultimate destination?
**kmm

Book Info: Leonard (My Life as a Cat) / Carlie Sorosiak. Walker Books US, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.