Tag Archive | poetry

Stone Mirrors, breaking sculpture barriers (fiction), by Jeannine Atkins

book cover of Stone Mirrors by Jeannine Atkins published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comAccused unjustly, white against black.
Hurt unfairly, strong against weak.
Dream pursued intensely, self against society.

How did an impoverished young woman, orphaned by her Ojibwe (Chippewa) mother and freedman black father, overcome being on trial for white classmates’ poisoning during the Civil War to become a prominent sculptor living in Italy?

Check out the Google Doodle honoring her on Feb. 1, to meet Edmonia Lewis, whose determination to create art drove her to become the first noted woman sculptor of African-American and Native American descent.

Read an excerpt for this January 2017 novel in verse here courtesy of the publisher, then head to your local library or independent bookstore.

How far would you travel to accomplish your dream?

Book info: Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis / Jeannine Atkins. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sketching is like breathing for Edmonia, but her art classes at Oberlin Academy can’t prepare the scholarship girl for false accusations of theft and poisoning which may steal her opportunity to be an artist.

Living in the North during the Civil War doesn’t make the skin given by her freedman father any less dark. Dressing in crinolines like her white classmates doesn’t lessen her longing for the forests and woodsmoke of her mother’s Ojibwe village. Being poor and different does make her the ideal scapegoat for her white classmates’ indiscreet drinking – “poisoned by Edmonia!”

Days in the courtroom, scholarship revoked, the young woman must leave town, earn a living, seek the smallest possibility that she may ever sculpt again – and she leaps at opportunity when it finds her!

This novel in verse illumines the sparse facts of Edmonia’s life with possible details as we watch her grow into a noted sculptor living in Italy in the late 1800s when neither women nor persons of color were celebrated for their artistic talents.

Language of Stars, by Louise Haws (book review) – poetry or pre-med prose?

book cover of The Language of Stars, by Louise Hawes published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comWhat Mom wants, what Dad demands,
What her boyfriend plans,
When is it her turn to decide?

Mistakes – telling Fry about the Baylor House, trying to please Dad at work, imagining that Mom would allow her off the pre-med career path.

Possibilities – writing poetry with Rufus Baylor himself, finding the ‘me’ instead of only ‘us’ with Fry, discovering her own poetic voice.

So many wonderful (and on-their-way-to-better) poems in this book!

Got a poem to share in the comments?

Book info:  The Language of Stars / Louise Hawes. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sarah should have talked Fry out having a party at remote historic house in their North Carolina coastal town, but after the house is terribly damaged, her dad is even angrier at her than usual, and the partying teens are sentenced to summer school plus house restoration, she is startled to find their class taught by the reclusive poet whose summer home was wrecked and that she has a gift for words, a gift that may take her far from the med school future that her mom has planned out for her.

Filled with poetry – from the first written in many years by “the Great One” to those created during class together to the gems that Fry texts to Sarah while she’s working at her dad’s fancy restaurant – and revelations, The Language of Stars speaks love, second chances, redemption, and hope.

Last True Love Story, by Brendan Kiely (book review) – memory lane or memories lost?

book cover of The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely published by Margaret McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comLosing motivation,
losing opportunities,
losing memories – forever?

Before Alzheimer’s takes everything away from his grandfather, Ted promises to get him back East, to where Gpa and Gma were married – even though the teen poet can’t drive and Gpa must stay at Calypso. Enter guitar-playing Corrina yearning to escape her adoptive parents’ demands to conform – road trip time!

(Today, I’m at a funeral for yet another person whose time with children and grandchildren was stolen away by this terrible disease, despite all their love and excellent care… )

What’s your favorite road trip story?

Book info: The Last True Love Story / Brendan Kiely. Margaret McElderry Books, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Teddy would do anything for the grandfather who raised him, but a roadtrip to the church back east where Gpa and Gma were married is impossible, until Corrina says road trip and the teen poet says yes.

Of course, they can get to Ithaca from Los Angeles before Alzheimer’s takes away Gpa’s memories of Gma his true love, with the help of Ted’s hard-rocking classmate Corrina (who can drive) and Mom’s car (she can’t use it when overseas for business all the time) and the magic of GPS.

Some days on the road are good, like when Corrina plays the music that Gpa and Gma loved when he was a Marine in Vietnam or when she opens up to him about being adopted from Guatemala and not meeting her white parents’ career expectations.

Other days aren’t so good, like when Gpa thinks Teddy is not his grandson, but his son who died in a car crash near Ithaca, leaving behind his California wife, child, and bitterness.

Can Teddy capture this last story in the Hendrix Family Book so he can tell it to Gpa again and again?
Will Corrina’s guitar or Teddy’s poetry keep them safe?
Can they really get to Ithaca before a Silver Alert gets them?

Love and family, truth and half-truths, a road trip worth every bump and mile. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

More than meets the eye – audiobook encounters

Appearances mask the inner being all too well in this week’s free AudioSYNC novels.

Click the book title to go straight to the AudioSYNC download page for it, but hurry! This pair of free complete audiobooks will only available for download from Thursday through Wednesday (May 26 – June 2, 2016).

Once you’ve downloaded an AudioSYNC audiobook,  you can listen to it any time, as long as you have it on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone | Read by Amy Rubinate Published by Ideal Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.comEvery Last Word
by Tamara Ireland Stone
Read by Amy Rubinate
Published by Ideal Audiobooks

Carefully hiding her OCD from her clique, Samantha is introduced to her school’s secret Poet’s Corner by quirky Caroline and discovers a new side of herself, a cute guitar player, and a major threat to her sanity.

I just LOVED this book, recommending it here last August!

Egg and Spoon CD cover of Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire | Read by Michael Page Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Gregory Maguire
Read by Michael Page
Published by Brilliance Audio

How does a wealthy family’s train journey to visit the Tsar intersect with a poor Russian family’s road to starvation, via the chicken-legged house of witch Baba Yaga?

People are not always (or often) the same on the inside as on the outside – listen and learn?

H is haiku – All the Words Are Yours, by Tyler Knott Gregson (book review)

book cover of All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson published by Tarcher Perigee |BooksYALove.comThree lines,
a handful of syllables each,
boundless emotion.

In this heartlifting hardback, poet and photographer Gregson pairs his profoundly simple haiku with evocative photo backgrounds, collecting the best from his tumblr in a celebration of love and togetherness.

“There’s time we can waste
and there’s time we can treasure.
Please have both with me.”

–  perfect for National Poetry Month.

Book info: All the Words Are Yours: Haiku On Love / Tyler Knott Gregson. Tarcher Perigee, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A Montana poet and photographer celebrates the many sides of love in this collected volume of haiku paired with photos, originally posted daily on his tumblr.

“Love me as I am,
see me for who I will be,
forgive who I was.”

Hand-written on sticky notes or set down on paper with an old-fashioned typewriter, each haiku says love, every day.

“It’s okay you know,
to be carried now and then,
Strength too needs a rest.”

Every Last Word, by Tamara Ireland Stone (book review) – can poetry save your life?

book cover of Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone published by Hyperion TeensDig and dig and dig to answer a question,
Swim to the right rhythm (always in lane 3),
Keep obsessions hidden from everyone, always…

Most folks toss around “OCD” for any neat-freak behavior, but Pure-O (Purely Obsessional) OCD isn’t that at all. Reading Sam’s tumblr gives glimpses into the teen’s life, worries, and soul-searching.

This strong book was published in June, so your local library or independent bookstore should have it for you now. Stone wrote it based a young woman that she knew, then fact-checked all behaviors and responses with mental health professionals to bring us a very true Sam.

Venture down the stairs, into the Poet’s Corner – will you bare your soul and share your thoughts with others?

Book info: Every Last Word / Tamara Ireland Stone. Hyperion Teens, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.

My book talk: Sam keeps her obsessional OCD and her at-school persona separate until she is befriended by Caroline and dares to share in the hidden Poet’s Corner.

Her best friends are the Crazy Eights, the popular, snarky girls at their high school –  Samantha can never let them know about her obsession with 3s or the dark thoughts that careen through her head.

She could never tell the Eights about her new-found friendship with smart and unstylish Caroline or share with her therapist her growing attraction to the guitar-playing guy in the Poet’s Corner – why not?

As the poets share their deep feelings and funny reactions to life, Sam discovers her own voice and realizes that she’s grown away from the Crazy Eights – but will she be able to cope with the bullying that her long-time friends will surely unleash if she leaves them?

If only life at school were as simple as swimming to beat her best time in the summer…
If only she could control her obsessional thoughts and be normal…
If only she could glue all her worries onto a wall and leave them, as her new friends do when they paper the walls of the Poet’s Corner with their writings…

Friendship, romance, poetry, becoming your own self – Every Last Word  that Sam writes in her color-coded notebooks comes from her heart.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Haiku for you

booksyalove-blogheader-31.pngThree cheers for theme days!
Hooray for Haiku Day!

Yes, we Blogathonners love playing with that 5-7-5 syllabic pattern, especially when a poem gets us that much closer to our goal of blogging every single day of June!

Again, a blank page.
Desperation? Reflection?
Poetry saves us.

My Blogathon haikus from past years are here and here and here and even here.

Do you haiku?

5 to 1, by Holly Bodger (book review) – girls valued, men as chattel

book cover of 5 To 1 by Holly Bodger published by Knopf Books for Young ReadersEach girl-child is cherished,
every boy-baby expendable,
the old land’s prejudices reversed –
yet is this more fair?

“The girl problem” – created by cultures valuing male heirs so much that girl babies are discarded, leaving a vast imbalance of men to women when that generation wants to marry – is turned on its head in the fictive land of Koyanagar which walled itself off from (probably) India in 2042 to protect its females.

Yet not every girl in this women-dominated society believes that boys should fight on stage to be lifelong husbands, tasked with fathering girls. And not every impoverished boy believes that becoming a housebound husband with extra food is worth the price that their society demands.

Have you experienced “the girl problem” personally?

Book info: 5 to 1 / Holly Bodger. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Three days to decide their fates – a privileged young woman and the 5 boys competing to become her husband and provide daughters – in a series of unfair Tests that two of these 17 year olds are determined not to win!

In this walled country of Koyanagar, women are valued, unlike the land which they separated from in 2042, where so many girl babies were discarded that only 1 in 5 boys could find a wife.

Sudasa is 17 now and must choose a husband at her Test, where she finds that her powerful grandmother has ensured that the teen’s only male cousin is competing against 4 uneducated boys for her hand!

Boy number Five doesn’t think the contests are fair either – because he doesn’t want a life of tame luxuries as a house-husband. He’d rather stay with Abba in their poor coastal village and find a way over the deadly Wall to search for his mother who couldn’t get back inside when its gates closed forever a decade ago.

In Sudasa’s poetic voice and Five’s carefully reasoned tones, the three days of Tests in intelligence, skill, and sport grind on.

Can he find a way to escape both marriage and certain death as a wall-guard?
Can she escape her grandmother’s plotting and choose her own future?
Do any of Koyanagar’s other 200 girls turning 17 this year feel trapped too?

Like a funhouse mirror, the 5 to 1  ratio of girls to boys in this fictional future country points out the disappearing girls in cultures today which value male heirs over all else.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

To Harlem and days of change with SYNC audiobooks

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC take us to the African-American experience in Harlem of the 1950s, through personalities famous and everyday.

Click on the title to download either or both of these complete audiobooks. Remember that they’re only available from Thursday through Wednesday, but you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of X  by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon, Read by Dion Graham, Published by Brilliance Audio X: A Novel
by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon
Read by Dion Graham
Published by Brilliance Audio

The daughter of Malcolm X tells of her famous dad’s years as a young adult, struggling to excel in a system where the odds were stacked against him.

CD cover of Here in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers | Read by Muhammad Cunningham, Michael Early, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, Arthur French, Dion Graham, Nathan Hinton, Ezra Knight, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Gail Nelson, Monica Patton, Charles Turner Published by Live Oak Media


Here in Harlem
by Walter Dean Myers
Read by Muhammad Cunningham, Michael Early, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, Arthur French, Dion Graham, Nathan Hinton, Ezra Knight, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Gail Nelson, Monica Patton, Charles Turner
Published by Live Oak Media

Many voices ring out in Myers’ 54 poems about his beloved Harlem, inspired by The Spoon River Anthology – both feature poems where neighbors, friend and enemy alike, talk about their everyday lives.

What other titles reflecting neighborhoods and linked lives do you recommend?

W for Walrath writing Like Water On Stone (book review) – can siblings survive Armenian holocaust?

book cover of Like Water On Stone by Dana Walrath published by Delacorte PressTied to the land, torn out by the roots,
Furrows running red, victors write the history books.
Holocaust… in Armenia?

Some Christian families fled their Armenian villages when Turkish troops ransacked their homes looking for weapons in 1915.

But Papa stayed put, believing that his Muslim neighbors will remain his friends.

Papa was wrong.

Hear the long-silent voices of the Donabedian family, speaking for all Armenian Genocide victims, as their wonderings, laments, and wishes lyrically weave through this novel-in-verse where an eagle soars from the Palu village sky through the mountains above the youngest ones as they try to find safety.

Did you know about this holocaust – which marked its 100th anniversary last week – before now?

Book info: Like Water On Stone / Dana Walrath. Delacorte Press, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [video author interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Twin brother and sister disagree often, but when Ottoman troops attack their Armenian village, the teens follow their parents’ orders and flee over the mountains with their little sister, away from the slaughter, watched over by an eagle whose quill made music in Papa’s hands in this many-voiced verse-novel.

Shahen longs to attend school in America with his uncle; his twin sister Sosi wants to stay always in their village. Papa counts Muslims and Christians as friends, teaches Shahen to play the oud with an eagle quill. Mama shows Sosi the cooking secrets, the best ways to weave.

In 1915, soldiers arrive in Palu, searching Christian homes for guns, taking away young men, and the killing begins. Mama dresses beardless Shahen as a girl, sends him with Sosa and so-small Miriam up the mountain trail before bravely returning home.

As Ardziv the eagle watches from the sky, the young ones hide and climb and grow hungry…

Can they survive to reach a place of safety?
Will they ever be able to contact Uncle in New York?
How can lifelong neighbors turn into enemies overnight?

This novel-in-verse hauntingly revisits a little-discussed historical event and the terrors experienced by Armenians of all ages when the Ottoman Empire decided that their land and their lives were forfeit during World War I.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)