Tag Archive | politics

Time for rebellion! WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, by Tehlor Kay Mejia (YA book review)

book cover of We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Meija. Published by Katherine Tegen Books/HMH | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Analytical, the planner – Primera.
Sensual, the mother – Segunda.
Two wives – harmony or life-long tension?

Because one god couldn’t choose between the two women he loved, now all men of Medio’s ruling class live in luxury with two wives, while the poor of the divided island have too little, and revolutionaries are determined to change that imbalance, whatever the cost.

Dani and Carmen have been groomed for years to take their respective places as Primera and Segunda in prominent households, secure in the gated compound far above the salt-soaked lands of the poor, but their roles quickly become masks hiding their true selves and forbidden affections.

Happy February 26th book birthday to Meija’s debut novel! Her short stories have been published in collections including Toil & Trouble, which I recommended earlier this year.

When marriage is a political business, where is love?
**kmm

Book info: We Set the Dark on Fire / Tehlor Kay Meija. Katherine Tegen Books (HMH), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On their divided tropical island, the rich get richer, the poor are brutalized, and revolution is snaking through the land, even into the mansion that Dani and Carmen share with their new husband and perilous secrets!

As Primera, Daniela rules her emotions and every aspect of their husband’s household; as Segunda, Carmen will be adored as mother of his children. But the teens soon realize that Mateo is planning violence to keep the poor at bay and that their own secrets endanger them as well.

Dani’s parents escaped over the wall into Medio and sacrificed everything to get her into the Academy where society’s daughters train to become co-wives in ruling class households, where Carmen and friends teased her mercilessly for five years, where the La Voz revolution saves her from being found out and imprisoned.

With Carmen in the same household, how can Dani help La Voz?
Her training decrees that Primeras don’t love – what is Dani feeling now?
Her training decrees that a Segunda keeps her husband happy – why is Carmen so torn?

Fearing their husband, loving each other, Dani and Carmen may have to follow La Voz despite the dangers.

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.

Fight? No, Jazz Owls only want to dance, by Margarita Engle, art by Rudy Gutierrez (book review)

book cover of Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018 | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Smile and dance and don’t make trouble,
Keep up servicemen’s morale at the USO,
War is overseas and in their own neighborhood!

“The musicians call us owls
because we’re patriotic girls
who stay up LATE after working all day,
so we can DANCE with young sailors
who are on their way
to triumph
or death
on distant
ocean waves,” says 16-year-old Marisela in one of the first poems of Jazz Owls (p. 6)

But everyone of every race dancing together enrages some in power and “nothing sells newspapers as quickly as fear” brags an LA reporter (p. 32).

The papers’ sensationalized speculation questioned the true patriotism of non-whites and encouraged violence by sailors itching to get to war, creating a battle zone in Mexican-American neighborhoods where police blamed residents instead of their attackers.

Equal sacrifice demanded, unequal treatment before the law – how far have we come since 1942?
**kmm

Book info: Jazz Owls: a Novel of the Zoot Suit Riots / Margarita Engle; art by Rudy Gutierrez. Atheneum Books, 2018. [author site] [artist interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: During World War II, everyone works – from abuelas with their victory gardens to young women dancing with servicemen before their deployment – but all citizens are not equal, and many powerful people want to keep it that way.

‘English only’ at the cannery, or teen sisters Marisela and Lorena will lose their jobs, be trapped at home with Mama, not allowed to do their patriotic duty by dancing with sailors at the USO club.

Because Nico is serving overseas (somewhere), little brother Ray must accompany his ‘jazz owl’ sisters to and from the USO, pachuco strutting in his wide-shouldered zoot suit.

Afro-Cuban drummer Manolito brings hot Caribbean rhythms into jazz, dances with Marisela, only she keeps him from leaving this hate-filled place to the fake Cuban musicians.

Fame-hungry LA reporters twist facts, sensationalize truth, fan flames of suspicion that Mexican-Americans might be enemies instead of citizens, that jazz musicians are dangerous.

Told in poems by many voices over a year’s time, starting with the Sailor Riots against zoot suiters in 1942, Jazz Owls shows how the fear of Others splintered an American city which needed to stay united during wartime.

Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow in 1909 London, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodfine, published by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comSuch a fancy new department store!
How lucky that Sophie landed a job there in Ladies’ Hats!
How dreadful that the prized Clockwork Sparrow was stolen…and that Sophie is a suspect!

And how very fortunate that orphaned Sophie finds allies in the store who help her solve the mystery and are willing to risk crossing paths with the evil Baron of 1900s London’s crime underworld!

The author introduces her Sinclair’s Mysteries in this video (love listening to her British accent!) and takes us to real-life London locales which inspired them.

How do you stand by your friends in difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 1) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller Books, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked-room mystery, mysterious strangers, and even stranger deliveries make Sinclair’s Department Store of London an intriguing place to work in the early 1900s, but teens Sophie (Ladies’ Hats, recently orphaned) and Lillian (dress model, between acting jobs) discover that a missing clockwork bird holds dangerous secrets within its jeweled feathers.

How can apprentice porter Billy help the police?
Is the Clockwork Sparrow more than a beautiful music box?
Why is underworld crime boss The Baron involved?

First in the series featuring our determined young ladies and their friends in high places and low neighborhoods as they deal with ciphers, codes, churlish villains, and social class.

African stories of truth and justice – this week’s free audiobooks

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Be sure to download these complete audiobooks before Wednesday (27 July 2016) night, so that you can listen to them any time, as long as they’re stored on your computer or electronic device.

Click on the link after each title to go to the AudioSYNC site for your free download.

CD cpver of audiobook Mandela: An Audio History by Nelson Mandela | Read by Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Joe Richman Published by HighBridge Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comMandela: An Audio History (download here)
by Nelson Mandela
Read by Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Joe Richman
Published by HighBridge Audio

From Mandela’s 1964 trial to conversations during his life sentence in prison to his inauguration as President of South Africa in 1994, interviews, music, and radio broadcasts are woven into a stunning narrative of this lifelong crusader against apartheid.
 

Things Fall Apart CD cover of audiobook Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe | Read by Peter Francis James Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com(download here)
by Chinua Achebe
Read by Peter Francis James
Published by Recorded Books

Onkonkwo is becoming a most respected man in his African village, erasing the shame of his father, but incoming Christian missionaries cause conflicts with tradition, threatening his family, neighbors, and happiness.

These stories of struggle and justice – how do you respond?
**kmm

Unexpected Everything, by Morgan Matson (book review) – summer plans? poof, woof & wow!

book cover of The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson published by Simon Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.comShe’s got it all planned:
internship, great college, med school…
until step one is revoked!

Andie loves her checklists, her plans to become a doctor, her best friends – and sticks to short-term boyfriends.

Then her fancy internship gets yanked away, her politician father is suddenly home from DC, she lands in a summer job far outside her experience or comfort zone, and she meets Clark…

Happy book birthday week to The Unexpected Everything!  This is a great summer read, like Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone  (my no-spoilers recommendation here) and Second Chance Summer  (more here) with less road trip, but just as much self-reflection and heart.

What do you do when a perfectly crafted plan falls apart?
**kmm

Book info: The Unexpected Everything / Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When problems at her congressman father’s office cause her pre-med internship to vanish, Andie is forced out of her structured life of success checklists and into a summer job as a dog-walker (never had a dog), wanting to stay around new guy Clark (never mind her 3-weeks-only rule for boyfriends), and trying to keep her best friends in sync as an outside relationship threatens to dissolve their group.

A world-famous author in their midst?
Dad home in Connecticut all summer instead of away in Washington DC?
A long-time crush keeps his distance, or does he?

An epic scavenger hunt, bridging the father-daughter gap 5 years after Mom’s death, emojis-only text message challenge, a committed relationship (wait! this is Andie we’re talking about…) – such an unexpected summer before senior year!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Willful Machines, by Tim Floreen (book review) – big worries for First Son, first love

book cover of Willful Machines by Tim Floreen published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comRogue robots,
attacks on America,
risky new love (trumps all the threats!)

Artificial intelligences gone self-aware are US government prisoners, or so AI-in-the-cloud Charlotte claims, as she directs terrorist robot attacks against their captors who are legislating flesh-and-blood as the only humans.

Intrigued by hot new student Nicolas, closeted Lee weighs following his heart against the daunting expectations of his presidential father and war-hero grandfather in this near-future adventure-love story.

What makes a being human?
**kmm

Book info: Willful Machines / Tim Floreen. Simon Pulse, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Constantly watched by bodyguards and dronecams, Lee completes his robotic creations and endures boarding school for future world leaders, until new student Nico steals his heart and a self-aware computer threatens world peace – what should US President’s teen son do now?

His mother killed by humanoid robot Charlotte that she helped to create and his father propelled to the Presidency by the resulting Human Values backlash, Lee can’t imagine what his war-hero grandfather/headmaster or dad would do if they discovered he was gay.

But so-hot Chilean transfer student Nico looses Lee’s tightly-boxed heart as they evade surveillance for stolen moments alone – until Lee’s clever robots turn against them, controlled by Charlotte who demands release of imprisoned 2B humanoids.

Can Lee really trust Nico?
Is Charlotte acting alone?
Just how different are humans and self-aware machines?

At the gothic elite school built atop a waterfall, secrets long-buried threaten not only Lee and Nico’s happiness, but humankind’s role on earth in the not-so-distant future.

 

Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands (book review) – apprentice in danger, kingdom at risk

book cover of The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands published by Aladdin | BooksYALove.comHorrific killings,
Apothecary victims,
Cult of assassins?

As an apprentice, Christopher has learned many codes and secrets, but a hidden message left by his master will lead the young man into perilous danger – worse than his surreptitious gunpowder experiments or the ailments that bring fellow Londoners into Blackthorn’s apothecary during King Charles II ‘s reign.

Happy book birthday to The Blackthorn Key!

**kmm

Book info: The Blackthorn Key / Kevin Sands. Aladdin, 2015. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Christopher must use everything he’s learned from his master to solve gruesome murders in 17th century London, but the young apothecary apprentice and his best friend soon find themselves embroiled in dark mysteries threatening the kingdom itself.

Master Benedict has taught Christopher to read and solve puzzles and think for himself. But as the ritualistic murders targeting apothecaries get closer to their shop, the orphan worries when his master stays out late at night.

When his master leaves a secret message, Christopher and his best friend Tom the baker’s son begin investigating, searching for the hidden power worth killing for.

Will Christopher’s skill with codes be enough?
Can they find answers without alerting the King’s Men?
Is there truly a cult of assassins in the Merry Monarch’s kingdom?

Clever ciphers and codes blend with shudder-inducing remedies and everyday details of grimy city life in this debut novel as best friends risk so much to unpuzzle a long-hidden secret.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Courage vs. discrimination – audiobooks free this week!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC feature courage in the face of racial discrimination, ready for you to read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Click on a title to go straight to its free download page at AudioSync – download only requires your name and an email address.

CD cover of Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles  by Tanya Lee Stone | Read by J.D. Jackson Published by Brilliance AudioCourage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles
by Tanya Lee Stone
Read by J.D. Jackson
Published by Brilliance Audio

During World War II, the first American black paratroopers fought a little-known Japanese attack on the West Coast, as well as widespread prejudice throughout the US military.

A great YA novel considering the Triple Nickles from the viewpoint of a black officer’s son is Jump Into the Sky,  by Shelley Pearsall (my recommendation here).

John Ball’s In the Heat of the NightCD cover of John Ball’s In the Heat of the Night by Matt Pelfrey | Read by Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, Travis Johns, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, Tom Virtue Published by L.A. Theatre Works
by Matt Pelfrey
Read by Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Hammond, Kalen Harriman, Travis Johns, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, Tom Virtue
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

A black detective from California begins investigating murder in a small Alabama town during desegregation in the 1960s – this is the off-Broadway production based on the novel which was adapted into award-winning movie and television series.

Other tales of discrimination-fighting that you’d recommend?
**kmm

Z for Zach in Fire Sermon, by Francesca Haig (book review) – her twin, her enemy

book cover of The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig published by Gallery BooksBorn together, yet separated forever,
always one perfect and one flawed –
when one twin dies, so does the other.

Centuries have reduced radiation levels, but now every human pregnancy bears twins – one perfect, one deformed. Alphas have all power, outcast Omegas have none, no one has the power to stay alive when their twin dies!

Cass can control neither her visions nor her brother’s lust for power, but she still seeks a place where his captive seer cannot peer into her mind, where Alphas and Omegas can coexist.

First in a series, The Fire Sermon of nuclear holocaust seared technology’s dangers into the souls of survivors and a convenient blindness to justice into the genes of their descendants.

If your life-thread were entwined forever with that of someone you despised, how careful would you be?
**kmm

Book info: The Fire Sermon (Fire Sermon, book 1) / Francesca Haig. Gallery Books, 2015.  [author’s Twitter]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Four hundred years after the Blast, a young seer wishes that her life-link could carry these visions of tragedy into her twin’s brain to stop his power-grab that will shatter their society forever.

Hiding her visions kept Cass with her Alpha twin brother into their teens, but now powerful Zach uses another seer to probe her mind about the Island where the Omega resistance is said to hide.

Mutated Omegas cast out as tots are being herded into refuges so they can keep their perfect Alpha fraternal twins alive. But how can that work when every birth is an Alpha-Omega pair and every injury to one twin is experienced by the other?

As she escapes from the Alpha prison, Cass locates the tanks seen in her visions with a young man alive and aware inside one! They head to the coast, to the possibility of the Island, to a chance that the young Omega can find his missing memories.

In this world, every death is doubled – is Cass the only one who mourns both?
Omegas and Alphas living as equals – does anyone besides Cass imagine this?

First in a series, this debut novel of power and balance asks if the lessons taught by The Fire Sermon  that nearly destroyed civilization have been forgotten. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)