Tag Archive | sisters

Can they escape The Gauntlet’s deadly game of blood and sand? by Karuna Riazi (book review)

book cover of The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn old board game comes to life,
little brother rushes in and vanishes!
All puzzles must be solved to rescue him…

Although that wooden box looks like an outdated game, the dangers of entering “the Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” are very real – but how else can Farah get Ahmad back?

True friends Alex and Essie go with her – not the birthday party that any of them expected!

How far would you go to help your best friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Gauntlet / Karuna Riazi. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping her 12th birthday party for just a moment to open her aunt’s gift, Farah and her best friends find themselves transported from New York into an exotic board game that they must win in order to find her little brother Ahmad and to stay alive!

A good Bangladeshi girl would welcome her new classmates to the party, but Farah would rather play games with little brother Ahmad (letting him win keeps his ADHD tantrums to a minimum – a Mirza family rule).

Quietly creeping upstairs with Alex and Essie from her old neighborhood, Farah unwraps “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” and the ancient-looking game comes to life. Ahmad vanishes into the gameboard, just as Aunt Zohra says that it ruined her life at age 12!

Of course, Farah, Alex, and Essie must play the game to save him, but if they don’t solve each puzzle in time, none of them will escape the Gauntlet.

Who can they trust in the souk marketplace?
What otherworldly perils will the teammates face next?
How will they find Ahmad in this multi-level city made of sand?

A lifetime of playing board games may help Farah, Essie, and Alex outwit the Architect’s deadly puzzle challenges – if he doesn’t cheat! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Nine, Ten: a September 11 Story, by Nora Raleigh Baskin (book review)

book cover of Nine, Ten: a September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comA beautiful day for travel on September 9th,
nice weather in much of the USA on September 10th.
On September 11th, planes were crashed into buildings…

Many young folks today have no personal memories of the Twin Towers falling – or weren’t even born yet.

By seeing this history through the eyes of four different kids whose paths briefly crossed just before those terrible events of 9/11, we get viewpoints beyond the television images and news stories.

You can find the 2016 hardcover or May 2017 paperback at your local library or independent bookstore.

Were you alive on that fateful day in September 2001?
**kmm

Book info: Nine, Tenn: a September 11 Story / Nora Raleigh Baskin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On September ninth, many people came through the Chicago airport – Sergio heading back to New York from the math awards, Aimee leaving with Dad for their new life in California while Mom races away on business, Naheed waiting for family arriving to stay with them in Ohio, Will tiredly helping Mom get his sisters to the next plane home to Pennsylvania after a vacation they didn’t want.

On September tenth, Sergio was so mad at his deadbeat dad that he skipped school and met a police officer (the wrong way), Aimee is struggling to find her place in a new school where everyone else’s parents are in the movie business, Naheed faces even more questions about wearing the hijab at middle school, and Will keeps flashing back to the way his truck-driver dad died a year ago.

On the morning of September eleventh 2001, the world changed for everyone, as the World Trade Center towers crumbled not far from Sergio’s Brooklyn school, as Aimee woke up very early California-time to phone Mom before her New York City business appointment, as Naheed decides it’s safer for her to find little sister and walk home together instead of hearing kids say “terrorist Muslims” on their, bus as Will feels the plane crash into a nearby field as skips school to think about Dad.

By September 2002, everything is different for everyone.

End of our world with The Strange Round Bird? by Eden Unger Bowditch (book review)

book cover of Strange Round Bird by Eden Unger Bowditch published by Bancroft | recommended on BooksYALove.comKidnapping? Already happened.
Puzzles with world-shaking answers? Did some.
Partnered with parents to save humanity? Ohhh…

Hopefully, you’ve met Noah, Wallace, Faye, Jasper, and Lucy as they investigated The Atomic Weight of Secrets (my no-spoiler review here) in early 1900s America and then traveled to Italy with them (and the mysterious men in black) to study The Ravens of Solemano (reviewed here) in the further adventures of the Young Inventors Guild.

Happy book birthday this month to The Strange Round Bird!, the conclusion of this exciting trilogy as our five amazing young people are promised a reunion with their talented parents in Egypt… but the evil Komar Romak has followed them again!

Where do you dream that adventure will take you in this world?
**kmm

Book info: The Strange Round Bird, or the Poet, the King, and the Mysterious Men in Black (Young Inventors Guild, book 3) / Eden Unger Bowditch. Bancroft Press, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book Facebook page] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Arriving in Egypt means reuniting with their beloved parents, but evil forces are intent on preventing the Young Inventors Guild from joining them to solve a mystery which will save humanity from destruction!

An ancient manuscript holds clues about the “strange round bird” – is it the same bird from their childhood song?

Even more mysterious men in black are here in the Cairo castle with the five children and their parents – what is their true purpose?

Noah’s mother is kidnapped from the opera stage – can he rescue her without endangering their mission?

Racing through the marketplaces of Cairo, delving into mysterious secrets, seeking answers without waiting to be ‘old enough to help’ – this thrilling conclusion of The Young Inventors Guild series must overcome the ultimate evil to save the world.

Depression cured by baking 100 Days of Cake!? by Shari Goldhagen (book review)

book cover of 100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen published by Atheneum BfYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comLow-key job at pet store,
Golden Girls reruns for comfort,
should make anyone happy enough, except…

Mom’s offbeat depression remedy (“just bake the perfect cake!”), therapist’s soothing talk (and he is just so cute!), trying not to disappoint friend Elle and new co-worker Alex (but sometimes even putting on her sandals is too much effort) – Molly isn’t exactly reveling in her summer before senior year as depression digs its claws into her.

Find the May 2017 paperback or 2016 hardcover at your local library or independent bookstore to see how Molly copes with change, her bake-happy mom, and trying to throw off the crushing load of depression during all 100 Days of Cake.

When is it okay to pass on advice that might be more placebo than not?
**kmm

Book info: 100 Days of Cake / Shari Goldberg. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback).  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The waves of depression keep getting deeper for Molly during summer before senior year, as the Florida teen wishes that therapy really would help her, longs for her so-cute therapist, and wants everything to stop changing so she has time to get better.

Her successful hairdresser mom is certain that the 100 Cakes Challenge will perk up Molly, her best friend Elle is easing away, and FishTopia’s owner wants to sell out.

Without their job together, what will happen to her sorta-relationship with Alex?
How can she think about the SAT and college choices when she’s too tired, all the time?
Why can’t she just spend all day talking about music with dreamy Dr. B?

Ooey-Gooey Butter Cake (very gooey), Wedding Cake with Fondant (extra-lumpy), Asian Bubble Tea Cake (would her late dad like that one?) – one hundred cakes, one hundred summer days, one million chances to try again…

Y for Alexander Yates’ tale of loss & belonging in The Winter Place

book cover of The Winter Place by Alexander Yates published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com Dad’s sudden death,
fast move to never-seen grandparents’ home – in Finland,
that man, everywhere, and the ghost bear…

Dad made sure that Tess and Axel learned Finnish from their late mother’s childhood book collection, but they weren’t at all prepared to wind up with their maternal grandparents far away in Finland, visited by its mythic spirits.

And the mysterious man who visits them on both sides of the Atlantic, the brown bear where none should be, and the ghost wheelchair that only Axel can see? Who could be ready for that?

Visit the book’s page here on publisher’s website and scroll down to read an excerpt as you begin to discover how Tess and Axel wound up in The Winter Place.

Where is the home of your heart’s memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Winter Place / Alexander Yates. Atheneum, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent abruptly to live with never-met grandparents in Finland after Dad’s death, Tess and little brother Axel find themselves farther from their rural New York home than they could have ever imagined, as ghostly creatures continue to visit Axel and draw them both into mysterious places that could steal them from reality forever.

Mom died when Axel was tiny, so Tess is navigating her teen years with just their offbeat professor father (who jousts at the faire each summer). Losing Dad suddenly propels the siblings to Finland to live with grandparents they don’t know, yet the Keeper who visited them in the woods at home finds them in the forest there, also.

The ghostly wheelchair following Axel is truly the Hiisi of Finnish folklore, and the brown bear spotted in their backyard perhaps is Mom’s spirit wandering in search of…

Why do ghost objects keep pestering Axel?
How many times may Tess or Axel cross over that fine line between death and life?
Will they be able to help Mom’s spirit find peace?

The strangeness that follows them from Axel’s first sighting of the bear to the fortress ruins near a Finnish lake sets this mourning sister and brother on an otherworldly path that may not lead back to the mortal world.

P is A Pocket Full of Murder & magic & treachery, by R. J. Anderson (book review)

book cover of A Pocket Full of Murder by RJ Anderson published by Atheneum BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCommon spells to wash clothes,
intricate spells to power vehicles,
Sagery spells to steal your breath away – forever.

Writing more adventures of lady justice Auradia won’t put food on the table or get Papa out of jail, so Isaveth and Quiz, an eyepatch-wearing streetboy, decide to save Papa by discovering who really had reason to kill the governor of Tarreton College, but someone wants them to stop!

Step into Isaveth’s world of spell-tablets, political scheming, and religious intolerance with the first chapter of A Pocket Full of Magic here, courtesy of the author.

Now in paperback, followed by A Little Taste of Poison (hardcover 2016).

Who’s the friend who’ll help you with any mystery?
**kmm

Book info: A Pocket Full of Murder (Uncommon Magic, book 1) / R.J. Anderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After Papa is unjustly arrested for murder, 12 year old Isaveth searches for clues from her impoverished neighborhood to the wealthy districts of Tarreton, assisted by ingenious streetkid Quiz, with his eyepatch and uncanny knowledge of society gossip.

Baking and selling spell-tablets from her late mother’s recipes is Isaveth’s best chance to feed her sisters and find out more about Papa’s case, with Quiz appearing just in time during dangerous situations.

Who made it look like Common Magic killed Master Orien?
Was Papa framed because of his Moshite beliefs or his support of the Workers’ Club?
Where does Quiz go when he’s not helping Isaveth?

In a world powered by Common spells and elite Sagery, someone is trying to gain political power, no matter who stands against them, but Isaveth and Quiz won’t let her Papa take the blame for murder! Followed by A Little Taste of Poison.

O for Oregon, home to Crystal, Amber & impossible plans in Speed of Life, by J. M. Kelly (book review)

book cover of Speed of Life by JM Kelly published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comIdentical twins share so much –
genetics, mindset, memories,
even a baby…

Crystal and Amber have promised each other that they’ll graduate and get out of this terrible neighborhood, for baby Natalie’s sake. No way that college is even possible, let alone one for auto restoration, Crystal’s ultimate dream career.

Find Speed of Life at your local library or favorite independent bookstore to see if the twins can make it out of their low-rent, low expectations neighborhood… together.

When have you reached far, far for a dream?
**kmm

Book info: Speed of Life / J.M. Kelly. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: It’ll take both Crystal and Amber to raise the unexpected baby, keep up with school and work, and become the first women in their hard-scrabble family to ever graduate from high school – that’s the plan, that’s the promise.

But the twins didn’t expect that Crystal’s good grades and love of auto restoration might give her a chance to go further than a decent apartment in a less-bad part of Portland.

Or that working full-time at their aunt’s tavern would be more appealing to Amber than staying in school, where the childcare center allowed them both time to work.

Or the cute guy at the body shop would help Crystal get ready for the SAT, not knowing about baby Natalie or the sisters’ struggle to make ends meet.

J for jitters & The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli (book review)

book cover of Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli published by Balzer+Bray  | recommended on BooksYALove.comNot the cute twin,
nor the bold twin,
not ever getting kissed?

Molly and Cassie’s moms (finally getting married – yay!) have lots of great advice, but asking them how to get past just a crush to real relationship? Not gonna do that.

Published yesterday (11 April 2017), The Upside of Unrequited is Molly’s very essence: hopeful yet hesitant, creative and cautious, trying to move out of her shy chubby-girl comfort zone and get close enough to a guy to be accepted… or rejected.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here to read the first chapters free.

I adored Albertalli’s debut novel, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (my no-spoiler review here) and cannot wait to meet whoever her next novel brings us.

Are you brave enough to try something that might break your heart?
**kmm

Book info: The Upside of Unrequited / Becky Albertalli. Balzer + Bray, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Always crushing on a guy means never getting hurt, but never in a relationship either – maybe summer before senior year will be different for Molly. Her twin Cassie is with Mina now and eager to help things along – if only Molly will be brave enough to talk to someone!

Planning her moms’ wedding (finally legal in Maryland!), working with Reid in his parents’ eclectic shop for the summer, and worrying that Cassie is way too enthusiastic about hipster Will as perfect “Operation Boyfriend” material – no wonder Molly is too anxious to sleep well.

Has Cassie really fallen in love with Mina?
Will Aunt Karen relent and come to their moms’ wedding?
Why is being with Reid so… real?

D is My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

book cover of My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson published by Aladdin  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDragons, mermaids, Sasquatches,
the earth is flat,
every school textbook says so.

If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…

Recently released in paperback, Gracie’s travelogue told through her Diary (chapter 1 here, free) should be at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, ask for it!

When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
**kmm

Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.

Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.

Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?

Seven Days of You… not enough! by Cecilia Vinesse (fiction)

US book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

US cover

Why does he show up now?!
Just as she’s leaving everything she loves, forever.
Hmpfff! Hmm… Oh!

Reading this took me back to my September visit to Tokyo – konbini convenience stores, punctual and safe metro, meeting near Hachiko statue at Shibuya. And just like Sophia, I had to move back to the States just before my senior year (not recommended by either of us).

The complication of parted-in-anger Jamie returning just before she leaves? That is Sophia’s alone, and three years of deliberately not emailing each other really hasn’t erased their feelings…

Happy book birthday to Seven Days of You !

Which book cover do you prefer? (that woodblock print on the UK cover is so Japanese to me!)
**kmm

UK book cover of Seven Days of You published by Poppy Little Brown  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

UK cover

Book info: Seven Days of You / Cecilia Vinesse. Poppy, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Not fair! Having to go back to the States just before senior year, not visiting Dad’s new family in Paris, knowing that Jamie will be back before she leaves Tokyo, remembering their horrible argument 3 years ago…

With a week to pack up everything, say goodbye to best friends Mika and David, and re-experience her favorite things in Japan, 17-year-old Sophia gets more stressed with every second that clicks by on her countdown watch.

And suddenly Jamie is here – still funny, still cute, still complicated. He’ll get to finish high school at Tokyo Academy with their friends from around the world, while she’ll be back in New Jersey with just Mom.

Can time slow down for just this week?
Can they heal their fractured relationship in just seven days?
Can she leave him behind if they succeed?

Her departure date hasn’t changed, but Sophia’s reasons for wanting to stay have multiplied in this contemporary story weaving together bitter and sweet.