Tag Archive | surprises

Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson (book review)

book cover of The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His earbuds are filled with opera,
His neighbors are druggies and the jobless,
Just like any middle-school boy, right?

Bart does love his mum and is sure that someday she’ll be able to keep a job so they can move out of their slum apartment… not so sure about keeping away from the bullies at school.

What advice would you give Bart as he searches for his long-gone dad?

**kmm

Book info: The Ballad of a Broken Nose, by Arne Svingen, translated by Kari Dickson / Margaret K. McElderry Books, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Maybe 13-year-old Bart’s opera singing talent comes from the American father he’s never seen.
Who in his Norwegian town knew that John Jones was such a common name in the world?

Maybe his mom will finally keep a job so they can move out of the slum apartments.
Why is it so hard for her to stay sober?

Maybe learning to box will keep the bullies away or impress Ada.
What made her volunteer Bart to sing at the school show?

Maybe he’ll shake his stage fright… anything can happen, right?

Middle school years are different for each person, but this translated novel shows how common some things are.


Accidents, loss, Phantom Limbs – hope? by Paula Garner (book review)

book cover of Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner, published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.comHe lost his brother,
she lost her Olympic chances…
is there hope, if they work together?

Dara is a no-nonsense taskmaster as she tries to coach Otis into the Olympic Trials for swimming (now one-armed, she can’t swim out her own dreams).

But if Meg returns, how can he keep his focus? Or keep the reality of little brother Mason’s last day locked away safely?

Is what you can do the same as your identity?
**kmm

Book info: Phantom Limbs / Paula Garner. Candlewick Press, hardcover 2016, paperback 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Two different tragedies have left Dara and Otis with missing parts, but as she pushes him through grueling swim practices this summer, another piece of his past returns and may shatter all their hopes.

Dara’s missing arm has become her aggressive swim coaching to put Otis in the Olympic Trials where she should have been.
Otis’s family has become fragile with just memory where little brother Mason should be.
Meg’s silence after she moved three years ago has become a void where Otis’s heart should be.

Dara just graduated from their Ohio high school, but can she move on?
Otis loved – loves – Meg, but does she still care for him?
Meg tried moving away, moving on, but will anywhere feel like home again?

As Otis tries to balance Dara’s demands (swim practice, phantom limb pains, more swim practice, maybe new girlfriend) and his expectations for Meg’s visit (her scent, her voice, her eyes, her not being on the phone with her jock boyfriend back in California), he struggles to stay out of the dark place that swallowed him when little Mason died.

Piper in NYC! Can she be an Art Boss? by Kayla Cagan (book review)

book cover of Art Boss, by Kayla Cagan. Published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comIn the Big Apple at last!
Big artistic vision, short time to work.
Pricey place, small paycheck, next steps?

The story begun in Piper Perish opens a new chapter for the teen artist as she arrives in New York City, far from family demands in Houston (= why I prefer this book to #1).

No need to read the first book to get caught up in Piper’s explorations of NYC’s art scene and her own artistic ideas.

Head for your local library or independent bookstore to dive into NYC with Piper.

Away from home and family – what’s your first move?
**kmm

Book info:  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:
In New York City at last, Piper works for a famous artist with a “new vision” but the Houston native also wants time for her own creative desires as she learns to navigate the city in a whirlwind season before starting art school.

Hired by Carlyle Campbell based on photos of her big senior project in Texas, now Piper must replicate that piece and several others for Fashion Week – fast!

Can she keep her own artistic focus while working to reflect what Carlyle wants the world to see?

The intense connection she felt online with her student mentor Silas seems erratic when they’re together in person – hmmm.

Her small salary from Carlyle doesn’t go far in the city – time to find another job, and find a place to paint, and go out with Silas and new friend Grace, and apply for financial aid so she can start next semester…

It’s Piper Perish in the big city as she leaps into the next chapter of her life – as long as she can find a way to stay here!

Running with Cosmos Flowers, after Hiroshima bombing, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall (book review)

book cover of Running With Cosmos Flowers: The Children of Hiroshima, by Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.comAfter the A-bomb hits,
surviving winter in Hiroshima is so hard,
then flowers bloom in spring – and perhaps hope also?

Among the packages of desperately needed clothes and food sent to these Japanese schoolchildren when World War II ended were simple gifts of paper, pencils, and crayons from a church in the USA.

So they drew their thank-yous, sent back to the church which displayed and preserved them until today.

Ask for this story of war’s aftermath as seen through children’s eyes and art at your local library or independent bookstore.

The author’s documentary film “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard” includes the restored children’s drawings sent to All Souls’ Church in D.C. as well as archival footage showing life in Hiroshima in the days and months after the bombing.

War…
**kmm

Book info: Running with Cosmos Flowers: the Children of Hiroshima / Shizumi Shigeto Manale and Richard Marshall. Pelican Publishing, 2014.  [book website] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Now her turn to evacuate in summer 1945, Hana-chan arrives at her aunt’s country village shortly before her mother departs with students going home… to Hiroshima.

Struggling to travel from the mountains into the city after the A-bomb strikes, Hana and her aunt are aghast at the devastation, yet try to help where they can.

Back at school in one of the few buildings remaining upright, 7 year old Hana and her young classmates worry about whether radiation sickness is contagious and how they will cope with oncoming winter weather.

Then packages arrive from America – with clothes and food and paper and pencils.

Can small gifts of paper and crayons begin to heal these broken lives?

And their thank-you drawings are sent to the USA, seen by thousands and remembered over the decades.

Based on the author’s experiences as a young girl born in Hiroshima just after World War II ended, hearing survivors’ stories and becoming part of a rebuilding nation. As usual in Japanese fiction, quotation marks aren’t used in the dialogue, but readers will soon be caught up in the story without need of this punctuation.

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean – tales of young women & daring, edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, Anita Roy (book review)

book cover of Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, edited by Murray, Dhar & Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books| recommended on BooksYALove.comNo longer victims,
many choices to be made,
young women leap, tiptoe, and march onward!

A cooking show that time-travels back to the days when food was real.

The procession of elders leads young women to the sea where their true names will be revealed.

As authors and artists in Australia and India worked together on stories (in words and/or images) to show the range of experiences that teen girls are facing and have endured and can overcome, a common thread of ‘connections’ emerged in the finished compilation.

What new connections will you make to move forward?
**kmm

Book info:  Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean: Stories of Imagination and Daring / edited by Kirsty Murray, Payal Dhar, and Anita Roy. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [editor site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In response to rapes and attacks on young women, writers and artists from India and Australia created this anthology of stories (several with art) reflecting the possibilities beyond powerlessness.

“Little Red Suit” in future Australia battles to reach Grandmother before the voice snarling unauthorized through her shield-suit radio does.

A young woman travels from India to “Arctic Light” on a ship to protest oil drilling and climate change, despite the loss of her mother, despite the threat of imprisonment.

Kavya wavers between remaining a low-society cleaner who removes magical problems (pixies in the toilet again…) or becoming standardized which would make “The Wednesday Room” with its removed zombies and poker-playing mermaids vanish forever.

Collaborators of different cultures and countries were asked to work together on this theme, resulting in graphic-novel short stories, single-act plays, tales of now and tales of lands imagined.

Can she Escape From Aleppo in time? by N. H. Senzai (book review)

book cover of Escape from Aleppo, by N.H. Senzai. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe bombing gets closer,
it’s time to leave, to run from danger!
She didn’t imagine that she’d have to flee to Turkey by herself…

Five years after the events in Nadia’s dangerous story, there are still daily bombings in Syrian cities and towns, as government and rebel forces continue to fight, killing so many families and children every day.

Read chapter one here (free, courtesy of the publisher) as Nadia’s family must flee their home, then go find this too-true fiction book at your local library or independent bookstore.

When your family’s safety is at stake, what are you prepared to do?
**kmm

Book info: Escape From Aleppo / N. H. Senzai. Paula Wiseman Books/ Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fleeing the bombs targeting her Aleppo neighborhood, 14-year-old Nadia is separated from her family and must use all her courage and cleverness to get to the Syria-Turkey border.

For three years of the Arab Spring, rebellions against corrupt governments have destroyed homes, businesses, and lives – in late 2013, it’s time to use their escape plan, but Nadia gets trapped on her route.

Nadia and her cat sneak through the shadows toward the planned rendezvous site, meeting a friendly grandfather with a donkey cart and two orphan boys – perhaps they will be safer together.

Rebels and soldiers fight street by street to control the city – how can Nadia and her companions get to the border?

Ammo Mazen knows just the right things to say to get both rebels and soldiers to let them pass – why does the old man collect books as they flee the city?

Based on true events, Nadia’s story of facing hunger and danger as Syrian government forces bomb rebels and their own citizens is repeating daily as the conflict continues today.

Surgery to get The Fold or not? by An Na (book review)

book cover of The Fold by An Na, published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com“Western” eyes!
Korean eyelids just aren’t the same.
Plastic surgery to get “the fold” or not?

Read the first chapter here (free, courtesy of the publisher) to discover the depth of Joyce’s crush on John Ford Kang, then check out The Fold in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore to see how far she’ll go to make him really notice her!

Ever considered plastic surgery?
**kmm

Book info: The Fold / An Na. Atheneum, 2008 hardcover, 2017 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When her aunt offers to pay for plastic surgery, pain-averse Joyce must decide how far she’ll go to get her crush’s attention and win his heart.

Adding the eyelid “fold” is a routine procedure for Korean-American women, but everyone can see how Auntie Gomo is addicted to plastic surgery.

Not as smart or pretty as older sister Helen, not as funny as younger brother Andy, Joyce feels like a nobody as her junior year ends and adorable John Paul Kang signs her yearbook with the wrong name.

Work in their parents’ restaurant all summer while Helen does a prestigious internship at college? Not fair.

John Paul comes to the restaurant when her eyes are swollen from chili powder accident? Oh no!

Dr. Reiner says the eyelid surgery is her decision, but how can Joyce disappoint her aunt? Oh my…

Maybe it’ll all be worth it if John Paul notices her enough at church and school to remember her name. Her best friend Gina agrees, her new friend Sam isn’t so sure…

She must learn Rules for Thieves to survive! by Alexandra Ott (book review)

book cover of Rules for Thieves, by Alexandra Ott. Published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.comEscape or be a servant?
Starve or steal?
Trust someone or be captured?

Alli has very few choices when Beck arrives on the scene, but taking his help will involve her in a dangerous guild – only way she can stop the curse from killing her, though!

Read chapter 1 free on publisher’s website, then scurry to your local library or independent bookstore for the first part of Alli and Beck’s adventure – book two, The Shadow Thieves, was published in June 2018!

What’s your moral compass when survival is at stake?
**kmm

Book info: Rules for Thieves (Rules for Thieves, book 1) / Alexandra Ott. Aladdin Books, 2017 hardcover, 2018 paperback. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As the curse moves toward her heart, 12-year-old orphan Alli must decide if she can sacrifice her principles to join the Thieves’ Guild for a chance to buy the cure.

Escaping from the orphanage is easy; not being caught by the city Protectors (again) is more difficult, so Alli accepts a strange boy’s offer to help – what a mistake!

A glancing blow of magic lodges a deadly curse under her skin; Beck knows how she can get money for the cure, so they head for his country – such a journey!

Of course he didn’t tell her the whole truth… entering the Thieves’ Guild is near-impossible for outsiders, but as the curse’s dark tendrils wind ever-nearer to her heart, she’s got to try!

When her initiation quest goes terrible wrong, Alli balances on a knife’s edge – her life or the lives of many?

In a foreign city, on a desperate mission – follow the Guild rules or what she knows is right?

Book one in the series, followed by The Shadow Thieves.

Women, witchcraft, tales of TOIL & TROUBLE, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe (book review)

book cover of Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Published by Harlequin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.comAll witches are old” – no.
“and evil” – not necessarily.
“and far away from here” = nope!

The stories in this teen-witch-centered anthology run from today to far-yesterday, from just around the corner to not-quite-sure-where, with love and pain and healing throughout.

Do you use the abilities that you’ve been entrusted with?
**kmm

Book info: Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft / edited by Jessica Spotswood & Tess Sharpe. Harlequin Teen, 2018. [editor site] [editor site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If one only had the power to create inspiration where none exists, to release the dead from their last earthly bond, to cast a spell to bring love, peace, vengeance – these young women do!

“The Gherin Girls” channel their magic into food and plants, but it’s harder work to heal your own heart.

How can “The Well Witch” escape desperadoes invading her high desert homestead far from the river?

Releasing souls after their “Death in the Sawtooths” is Mattie’s job, but now she must stop whoever is capturing souls against their will by perverting The Lady’s powers.

Los Angeles today with skateboarders, a difficult birth in 1650 New England, the ones ever-waiting by a woodland campfire for another girl to join them – then and now, the witches are.

Moving far beyond the cliche of witch equals black-hatted, cackling old crone, this short story collection by 15 authors features many different young women who eagerly or reluctantly use the magic abilities they’ve been gifted.

The merest Touch of Gold endangers all, by Annie Sullivan (book review)

book cover of A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.comGold calls to her,
like the Sirens call sailors on her ship,
like a friendly voice finally calls her from the castle…

Dangerous waters ahead for the golden-hued daughter of King Midas, restored from entrapment as a living gold statue to human form by a sacrifice that ages her father and keeps her locked away.

Only she can retrieve his stolen treasure trove and save his life – but at what cost to herself and superstitious companions?

This retelling of the King Midas story sails the seas, bringing Kora closer and closer to the stolen gold which could trap her once again.

What have you wished for and ultimately were glad not to get?
**kmm

Book info: A Touch of Gold / Annie Sullivan. BlinkYA, 2018. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Locked away for years after sacrifice saved her from being a statue forever, golden-skinned Kora must travel foreign seas to save her father Midas’s kingdom.

Her uncle will gladly marry Kora off in an alliance to bolster the kingdom, if anyone is brave enough to see if she’s inherited her father’s Touch.

King Midas is slipping deeper into madness after his Touch-made treasures are stolen – can Kora bring them back before it’s too late?

The gold hoard’s call to her is as alluring as the Sirens’ song is to sailors – can she resist keeping it for herself?

Every person hides secrets – are any as dangerous as Kora’s glittering abilities?

As long as her gloves keep gold from touching her skin,
as long as Duke Royce can help her find her father’s treasures,
as long as her best friend and cousin Hettie believes in her…
perhaps the Touch won’t consume Kora after all.