Tag Archive | Pennsylvania

Still Life With Tornado, by A.S. King (book review) – artist’s block, memory overload

book cover of Still Life With Tornado by AS King, published by Dutton Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn artist who can no longer draw,
A fractured household that never heals,
Memories buried and unearthed.

All Sarah wants to do is make art, until something stays her hand, blocks her power to create, and keeps the 16 year old wandering Philadelphia on a hunt for something (anything!) original instead of finishing school.

Then her 10-year-old self arrives, followed by her 23-year-old self…

Fall into the middle of Sarah’s existential crisis with this free excerpt of chapter one here on the publisher’s site.

Happy book birthday to Still Life With Tornado ! Mighty stoked that I get to hear author A.S. King as keynote speaker at KidLitCon 2016 (aka paradise for kids’ and young adult book bloggers) in Wichita, Kansas, this weekend.

Family stories dis-remembered? Share, please.
**kmm

Book info: Still Life With Tornado / A.S. King. Dutton Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a teen artist stops going to school because she suddenly can’t create, her 10 year old self appears in her Philadelphia neighborhood, prompting Sarah to relocate memories that she’s hidden and consider if anything is original in the world.

As she wanders familiar and distant parts of town, Sarah wonders why big brother Bruce transferred to college in Oregon right after their not-so-good family vacation in Mexico six years ago and has never contacted her.

Ten-year-old Sarah goes with her to the museum, 23-year-old Sarah tells her that 16 is a popular age for existential crisis (even this isn’t original?!), and Dad is still yelling at night nurse Mom all the time.

Is Sarah going crazy?
Why can’t she remember what happened in Mexico?
What is truly original in life?

Whatever happened at school might be the reason Sarah won’t return, but she will have to bring back some memories – old and new – if she wants to be able to draw and create again. Chapters from Mom’s viewpoint and 10-year-old Sarah’s memories of Mexico sketch out the fragile framework of their family life, together yet distant.

Second Chance Summer, by Morgan Matson (book review) – can’t run away from sorrow forever

book cover of Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson published by Simon SchusterFive years later,
nothing has changed,
yet everything has changed,
still running away from hard choices.

Should things that you did or said as a 12 year old still grab you by the gut?

After 5 summers away, middle-child Taylor is not happy to be returning to the lake house where she’ll encounter Henry and Lucy and the unfinished business they all share.

And the reason that Dad wants a final family summer together is even worse…

From the author of Since You’ve Been Gone,  another story of summer transformation, recommended here.

Who should you connect with before those “thousand moments are gone”?
**kmm

Book info: Second Chance Summer /Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012, paperback 2013. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via PulseIT.

My book talk: Stunned by her father’s sudden cancer diagnosis, Taylor must return to their lake house where her decisions as a tween alienated her from best friends…forever.

Between her genius older brother and ballet star younger sister, Taylor feels so average. But the high school junior evidently has uncommon talent for avoiding tough emotional situations, like the ones she abandoned five years ago at the lake.

Now Dad wants one last family summer together in the Poconos, to make the most of the few months he has left.  Taylor knows that she’ll run into Henry (her first kiss!) and Lucy (best friend ever, until…), but this time, there’s no running away.

Who wouldn’t embrace a second chance to mend a friendship or fall back in love?
What better time to appreciate parental strength and let them know it?
So why is it all so hard for her?

A life-changing Second Chance Summer  from the author of Since You’ve Been Gone.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

H for harmonica in Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan (book review) – 3 musicians play a promise

book cover of Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan published by ScholasticTerror as father is taken,
fear of orphan brothers being separated,
despair at losing friends and opportunities.

Three young people whose lives are terribly disrupted in the turbulent years leading into World War II find comfort in playing a harmonica with magical music and unknowingly fulfill a pleasing prophecy.

Find this wonderful spring 2015 release at your favorite local library or independent bookstore so that you can discover the intricate music this wonderful harmonica threads through lives that need it most.

Have a story of an object that connects you to history? Please share in the comments below.
**kmm

Book info: Echo / Pam Munoz Ryan. Scholastic Press, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  A harmonica crafted through magic and mystery links three young people in different countries and times as they use their musical talents to overcome terrible odds.

In 1933 Germany, Friedrich apprentices in the harmonica factory with his father and uncle, away from those who mock his facial birthmark and conducting of the music he’s heard. As the tide of Nazi fervor overtakes his sister, threatens free-thinkers like his father, and condemns the harmonica as uncivilized, the melodies that 12 year old Friedrich plays are a small consolation.

At a Pennsylvania orphanage in 1935, Mike and little Frankie are determined to stay together. When a lawyer requests ‘musical children’ specifically, the brothers find themselves in a grand mansion whose owner wants to adopt one daughter! Tragedy took music out of Mrs. Sturbridge’s life years ago – perhaps 11 year old Mike’s practice for Hoxie’s Harmonica Band auditions can make her smile again.

Ivy plays harmonica concerts for her brother Fernando before he joins the army in 1942, before Papa is hired to care for a Japanese family’s California orange groves while they are detained in internment camp. The bigger cottage is nice, but not the rundown Americanization school for Mexican children – will the fifth grader be allowed to play in the new orchestra at the main school?

“Your fate is not yet sealed.
Even in the darkest night, a star will shine,
a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.”

Bracketed by the prophecy and promise fairy tale of the harmonica’s creation, the stories of Friedrich, Michael, and Ivy playing this fabulous instrument Echo with hope, joy, and longing to ensure their families’ well-being.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Love, Lucy, by April Lindner (book review) – Italy, love, goodbye forever?

book cover of Love, Lucy by April Lindner published by PoppyOne last summer of freedom,
the beauty and glory of Florence,
the excitement of love…

And then Lucy must give up her theater dreams to become a business major, or her father won’t pay for college at all! Hard choices…and Jesse back in Italy so hard to get in touch with.

Read the first 2 chapters on the publisher’s website free here as you listen to the author’s Love, Lucy  playlist, and you’ll be whisked away to Florence with Lucy, love just around the corner.

This modern interpretation of E.M. Forster’s classic A Room With a View  comes from the author of Catherine (based on Wuthering Heights – my review here) and Jane (Jane Eyre).

Could you give up true love for family demands?
**kmm

Book info: Love, Lucy / April Lindner. Poppy, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Giving up her dream of being an actress is hard for Lucy, but giving up the young man she loves so her dad will pay for college is heartbreaking – must she really choose?

Her ever-practical father reluctantly allows Lucy to backpack through Europe with Charlene after high school graduation, in trade for Lucy majoring in business (which she hates).

When Lucy meets Jesse in Italy, she delights in the beauty of Florence, the shimmer of Tuscan sunlight, the warmth of his kisses. However, her troubadour intends to continue traveling abroad, playing his guitar, not returning to his family in New Jersey any time soon.

So it’s a tearful goodbye at the train station, a sad flight back to dad’s alma mater. Spying a poster for theater tryouts puts some pep in Lucy’s step – why can’t a business major be in a play?

How can she reconcile her father’s demands with her love for performing?
Why hang out with college boys when she can’t stop thinking about Jesse?
Will she ever see him again?
(One of 7,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)