Tag Archive | religion

From away to here? LOVE FROM A TO Z, by S. K. Ali (YA book review)

book cover of Love From A to Z, by S.K. Ali, published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Hate-filled rhetoric in class – by the teacher!
Unwelcome diagnosis = uncertain future.
This isn’t the time to fall in love, but…

Zayneb clashes with her anti-Muslim teacher one time too many, is suspended from her Indiana high school, and sent early to visit her aunt in Doha for spring break – taking along her marvels and oddities journal – as her friends keep investigating the teacher’s extremist connections.

Adam has dropped out of university in London, devoting every moment to creating before multiple sclerosis robs the feeling from his hands, just as it did for his late mom – now heading home to Dad and little sister in Doha, with his marvels and oddities journal and guitar.

Her aunt and his dad work at the same school, so Zayneb and Adam officially meet each other at a teachers’ party, then socialize with his friends, as a group of course.

Adam keeps his diagnosis secret – how could Dad cope with another loss?
Zayneb mourns for her grandmother – what’s this new news about her death while in Pakistan for a wedding?
Spring break is short – can Adam finish the art installation for his sister before he cannot do anything with his hands?

Long-term, long-distance – their possibility of a forever-relationship might be an oddity or a marvel or impossible…start their story with chapter one, a free excerpt on the publisher’s website.

From the author of Saints and Misfits, which I recommended here.

When have you squeezed much happiness into a small timeframe?
**kmm

Book info: Love from A to Z / S. K. Ali. Salaam Reads, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Fast, fat, funny, real – THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE for him, by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of There's Something About Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Parent-arranged dates,
hokey or helpful?
Hopefully heal his heartbreak.

Ashish needs to get over his breakup (first time he’s ever been dumped) and get back his basketball groove, and his Indian-American parents think setting him up with a nice Desi girl will help?

Sweetie wants her mom to realize that losing weight won’t make the high school junior happier (her friends love her right now) or run any faster (no one can beat her on the track), but how? Time for ‘Project Sassy Sweetie’ and getting out of her comfort zone!

Four very specific dates (and a behavior contract – Pappa is always a businessman) – Ashish’s Ma is sure that Sweetie is the perfect girl for him, but his love-and-leave reputation in the close-knit Bay area Desi community makes Sweetie’s mother say no to the idea.

But Sweetie says yes (Project Sassy Sweetie!), so off they go, to the temple and the Holi festival and his eccentric aunt’s place, each time enjoying one another’s company more.

Surely, on their fourth date for Sweetie’s birthday party, Amma will see this indeed was a good idea…
Surely, Ashish’s white ex-girlfriend will completely fade from his memory…

Told in alternating chapters, this fun (but not frivolous) romantic story is a May 2019 companion to When Dimple Met Rishi (Ashish’s perfect big brother) – you can enjoy this book without reading the other (my no-spoiler recommendation here), but make yourself happier by reading both!

What ingrained family opinion have you overcome for the better?
**kmm

Book info: There’s Something About Sweetie / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

U is for Utah, where writing his AUTOBOYOGRAPHY is dangerously daring, by Christina Lauren (YA book review)

book cover of Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Moved reluctantly from California to Utah,
shutting his expanded heart back into the closet.
Just one year till graduation and escape from the land of Mormon like Mom did,
until he meets the right guy….

Drafting a novel during a single high school semester can’t be impossible, right? After all, Sebastian did it last year and sold his book!!

Not so simple, Tanner and best friend Amber discover, even when Sebastian pops in from BYU to mentor their class.

Tanner’s story begins to revolve around a just-older literary adviser who just happens to look like Sebastian and be adorable and perhaps not out of the bisexual teen’s reach.

Easy enough for Sebastian to read between the lines of Tanner’s manuscript, not so easy for him to react to Tanner’s feelings, but he does!

Four months until Tanner’s final draft is due, four months till Sebastian leaves on book tour then his two-year LDS mission.

Four months is long enough to draft a novel, but not long enough to change an entire culture, and Sebastian is so torn.

Religion, love… when do you know what’s right, what’s best for you?
**kmm

Book info: Autoboyography / Christina Lauren (Lauren Billings & Christina Hobbs). Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is for Taja whose future is CALLING MY NAME, by Liara Tamani (YA book review)

book cover of Calling My Name, by Liara Tamani. Published by Greenwillow | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Middle sister Taja breathes in learning like she breathes out prayers, wondering how her feelings about God intersect with her parents’ church-centered strictness, why all the rules for Black girls don’t apply for boys, if she can someday go where she is judged just for her own merits.

Grab at popularity like big brother with his new CDs and beatboxing?

Be all talk like little sister on the house telephone? (you know Taja needs her own line, Mama!)

Dare to change like Daddy wanting to learn saxophone as an adult?

From middle school and kickball with friends (praying to need a bra like they do) to high school and crushes that fizzle out or flame bright (Purity Code, meet Houston public schools), track star Taja observes and writes and tries to understand…everything.

Find this debut release by native Texas author at your local library or independent bookstore.

A generation ago, everything was different, but so much was the same.
What memory from your older relatives would you like to experience first-hand now?
**kmm

Book info: Calling My Name / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Twin decisions = You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, by Rachel Lynn Solomon (book review)

book cover of You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandma died from this terrible disease,
Now their mother has it (rather, it has her in its grip) –
do the twins have Huntington’s Disease, too?

What a way to start their senior year, waiting on the genetic testing results… Both girls have their lives all mapped out, but what if this incurable neurological disease is part of their future, too?

Scroll down on this page to read the first chapter, by Adina, courtesy of the publisher, then ask for this January 2, 2018 release at your local library or independent bookstore.

Better to get the test and know for sure, or wait it out?
**kmm

Book info: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone / Rachel Lynn Solomon. Simon Pulse, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adina loves playing viola, Tovah takes AP courses for best pre-med college admission, and both twins worry about whether they’ll inherit the disease that’s stealing away their mother’s life – this genetic test at age 18 will be the pass/fail for life.

The Seattle teens may look alike, speaking Hebrew and English at home, but they are so different – Adina sharing her Israeli-born mother’s love of old movies, Tovah as big a Nirvana fan as her dad and with him drawn deeper into their Jewish faith.

When the test shows that Adina has Huntington’s disease and Tovah doesn’t, the gap between them begun by an earlier incident widens, and the sisters struggle through senior year separately – Adina ardently pursuing her music and her mid-20s viola tutor while Tovah waits anxiously for acceptance to Johns Hopkins and decides she may finally have time to be with artistic Zack.

As their mother’s neurological symptoms worsen, Adina becomes certain that hers will begin early.
As the university admissions office is stubbornly silent, Tovah wonders if her years of hard work were enough.

Told in alternating chapters by the sisters, this story of faith, hopelessness, and hope spans a year of loss and love.

Strange Fire! technology is forbidden here – by Tommy Wallach (book review)

book cover of Strange Fire, by Tommy Wallach published by Simon Schuster BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comTechnology destroyed the world,
never repeat the sins of the past!
But ignoring knowledge that could save lives??

Remnants of humankind survived the asteroid hitting Earth, rebuilt their world over thousands of years without the evils of technology, yet some people are seeking out and using forbidden knowledge!

After their parents are killed, older brother Clive vows that the heretic attackers must die.
Studying at the seat of all wisdom, younger brother Clover sees that technology is not purely evil.
The precarious power balance between church and military is shifting, but both want technology-users wiped out!

Look for Strange Fire at your local library or independent bookstore, and also check for Wallach’s earlier book, We All Looked Up , about a community waiting for the asteroid heading for Earth…very soon.

How do we balance technology overload with being truly alive?
**kmm

Book info: Strange Fire (The Anchor & Sophia, book 1) / Tommy Wallach. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their family attacked by heretical rebels, teen brothers Clive and Clover must decide how – or whether – to fight back in their technology-averse society.

After sky-filling lightning devastated the world, its few survivors vowed to erase technology and never repeat the past’s mistakes, for their safety and their future.

Preaching this Descendancy gospel has been the Hamill family’s life work – and may destroy them when they discover a remote settlement purposely experimenting with forbidden science.

Clive knows technology is blasphemy and that long-adored Gemma will help soldiers from the Anchor find the rebels.

Clover wants to learn everything and begins to question the Descendancy’s stranglehold on knowledge.

When technology is blasphemy, can new ideas ever be accepted?
Is it right to keep the people of the Descendancy in ignorance?
What is truth? What is right? Who gets to decide?

This first book in The Anchor and Sophia series pits the power of the status quo against the struggle of knowledge to be free.

Who is spying on her & The Watcher in wartime? by Joan Hiatt Harlow (book review)

book cover of The Watcher by Joan Hiatt Harlow published by McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com From Maine to Berlin,
from suspected to suspicious,
and someone is watching her…

Nothing that this young American teen thought she knew about her family is true – Mom and Dad aren’t her parents, glamorous Aunt Adrie is her mother… and a German spy! And what a terrible truth she discovers about the Lebensborn nursery where she is required to volunteer.

Find this 2015 paperback (or 2014 hardcover) at your local library or independent bookstore.  Be sure to also grab the companion book Shadows on the Sea (my no-spoiler review here) to discover how Wendy finds herself in this perilous situation in the first place.

How far would you go to stand up for your beliefs?
**kmm

Book info: The Watcher / Joan Hiatt Harlow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Kidnapped from America by her German spy ‘aunt’ and taken to Berlin, Wendy learns of her real parentage, encounters the people spying on her, and must decide which path to follow during World War II.

After rescuing a puppy who failed SS police dog school, Wendy walks in the park near Adrie’s house, where she and Watcher meet Barret and his seeing-eye dog – at last, someone who speaks English and doesn’t scorn her for living in America!

The young man’s grandfather says Wendy’s father wasn’t a German officer, as Adrie claims…
Frau Messner says the children at the Lebensborn nursery are orphans; Johanna says they were stolen from parents in occupied countries because they look so Aryan…
Oh, no! Was that White Rose anti-Nazi pamphlet still in Wendy’s coat pocket when she fell terribly ill??

Wendy becomes convinced that she must escape from Nazi Germany in this suspenseful tale which follows the events in Shadows on the Sea.

Read American #ownstories – with your ears

Hurry to get this week’s pair of free audiobooks from SYNC to read with your ears for Independence Day and beyond!

Click the link following the title to download either or both these complete audiobooks before Wednesday night (5 July 2017), then listen to them whenever you like, as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of American Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose by Richard Montoya, Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney | Read by Richard Montoya, Keith Jefferson, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.comAmerican Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose
(download here free through 5 July 2017)
by Richard Montoya, Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney
Read by Richard Montoya, Keith Jefferson, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

After studying so hard for his citizenship exam, Juan is visited by a parade of American historical figures in his dreams – live performance with large cast, music, and lots of pop culture references.

 

My Name is Not Easy
(download here free through 5 July 2017)CD cover of My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson | Read by Nick Podehl, Amy Rubinate Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Read by Nick Podehl, Amy Rubinate
Published by Brilliance Audio

In a 1960s Alaskan boarding school where youth are forbidden to speak their Native languages and cross-cultural friendships are discouraged, five boys tell their own stories of loneliness and hope.

What tales of freedom do you recommend?
**kmm

People aren’t only Saints and Misfits – some are monsters! by S.K. Ali (book review)

book cover of Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali published by Salaam Reads  | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe darkness is crushing her,
Attacker masquerading as righteous,
Why can’t anyone see it?

Janna can cope with being considered a nerd because she studies or different because she wears the hijab at public school, which her remarried dad says is “too religious”.

But when the guy who assaulted her keeps her in sight at every mosque activity and is welcomed at friends’ homes, her fear grows – and she doesn’t want to be afraid anymore!

This June 2017 debut novel would be better titled as Saints and Misfits and a Monster, as Janna’s attacker stalks her in plain sight of everyone who sees only his pious exterior.

How can you support someone in Janna’s situation?
**kmm

Book info: Saints and Misfits / S. K. Ali. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Mom is the only divorcee at the mosque, brother Muhammad is is taking a year off from college, and Dad cannot understand why Janna wears the hijab – this school year cannot end fast enough for the Illinois teen who loves her friends greatly and is being stalked mercilessly.

Pleasant things: elder-sitting Mr. Ram with his poetic mind, laughing at Nuah’s jokes, daydreaming about cute Jeremy who’s in no school cliques, re-reading Flannery O’Connor.

Less-pleasant: explaining at school that she’s fine wearing hijab on hot days, her BFF’s continued cluelessness about how Janna absolutely cannot date, competing on Islamic Quiz Bowl team (tricked into it!), chaperoning Muhammad and Sarah as they begin spending time together (Saint Sarah as future sister-in-law?!)

Most unpleasant: watching popular kids bully people who are a little different, trying to avoid Farooq of the so-pious Noor family, finding photos online of herself with uncovered hair and tagged with her name!

What’s worse – having a crush on a non-Muslim boy or memories of a ‘pious’ Muslim boy’s assault crushing her?

The imam’s answers to emailed questions are both witty and wise – will Janna take the advice given by her uncle as she edits it for the mosque’s website?

Farooq seems to be everywhere, all the time – will she ever be able to forget what he did to her?

Sometimes saints aren’t so good and the not-good-enough are better than their detractors – it’s up to Janna to decide where the lines are drawn in her own life.

Names They Gave Us – enough against chaos? by Emery Lord (book review)

book cover of Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.com She did everything properly,
all promises kept on her side of the bargain,
but evidently God has other plans for her mom…

Asked by her own parents to be counselor at a different camp, while Mom recovers at their family’s church camp just around the lakeshore – Lucy is angry at God for letting the cancer come back and at her boyfriend for ‘pausing’ their relationship for summer.

If she can salvage even a scrap of comfort from working with little kids who spend the summer at Daybreak to escape terrible situations…

This mid-May 2017 novel is stirring, honest, and powerful – faith isn’t always strong, past history is often murky, and the future is never promised to anyone.

(personally, I think the title has no relevance to the story at all. Wonder why @EmeryLord agreed to it – but authors don’t have total control over titles and rarely have a say about the cover art).

Have you ever bargained with God?
**kmm

Book info: The Names They Gave Us / Emery Lord. Bloomsbury Teens, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: All Lucy wants is summer at her parents’ church camp so she can get over Mom’s cancer returning and her boyfriend ‘pausing’ their perfect relationship, but the midwest teen finds herself at another camp nearby, where worry and hope (and Jones) wrestle for her attention.

The counselors and the campers at Daybreak all carry heavy burdens of past circumstances – Mom thinks this is better for Lucy than being with her between chemo sessions?

Just a mile between both camps so Lucy can still hear Dad’s sermons every Sunday – why does that distance seem to change constantly all summer?

Deepening friendships with fellow counselors during their summer together, especially with Henry Jones – can she have a crush on him, so soon after Lukas?

Big concerns affecting her littlest campers, fretting over chemo effects, wondering if she can remember every tiny detail about Mom, huge secrets revealed and memories made. God didn’t keep his side of Lucy’s bargain to keep Mom healthy, but perhaps Lucy doesn’t have to stay mad at him forever.