Tag Archive | TBR2012

Chopsticks, by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral (book review) – love story mystery in pictures

book cover of Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral published by RazorbillPiano prodigy,
demanding dad,
no room for spontaneity, for love?

While the story of an almost-talented parent pushing their extraordinary child to perform far longer than s/he wants to is not new, this novel’s presentation of Glory’s life, talent, found love, and lost joy is entirely unique.

There’s not a single chapter (or paragraph) of traditional novel text in this book, as we learn of Glory’s talent, Frank’s family history, and their growing love for one another through newspaper clippings, text messages, old photos, concert programs, and notes slipped under the door. This novel has a website and app with bonus material, as well as a two-minute whirl through Glory and Frank’s story with this book trailer.

You’ve seen many of the book covers designed by Rodrigo at your local library or independent bookstore – now find this fascinating 2012 novel-graphic-novel-not-cartoons there, too.


Book info: Chopsticks: A Novel / Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral. Razorbill, 2012. [novel tumblr]  [Rodrigo’s site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Surely, Dad understands that there’s more to Glory’s life than performing… but as he demands that the piano prodigy tour overseas, away from her new boyfriend Frank who appreciates her for herself, things begin to fall apart.

Perhaps if Mom hadn’t died in the wreck when Glory was young, she would have kept Dad’s ambitions in check, allowing some interludes of real life into the teen’s strict regimen of homeschool, practice, performance, and more practice.

Frank’s family knows that attending a good school in the US will prepare him better for their winemaking business in Argentina, but fitting in at a ritzy school is difficult for this intelligent guy pigeonholed into ESL class and demeaning worksheets.

As neighbors, Glory and Frank become friends, become more than friends. Glory’s days have non-classical music seeping in; Frank’s occasional sketches become works of art dedicated to their love.

When her dad whisks Glory out of the country on an extended concert tour to get her away from Frank, she begins falling apart, playing only the simple melody of “Chopsticks” instead of her unique creative interpretations of piano classics. Can she ever recover her gifts? Can Frank find her again when all seems lost?

Conveyed completely through newspaper clippings, photos, text messages, and drawings, Chopsticks  is a unique portrait of love, loss, and hope. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, adapted by Stacy King, art by Po Tse (book review)

book cover of Manga Classics Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen adapted by Stacy King published by Udon EntertainmentLove, misunderstanding,
ambition, social constraints,
Jane Austen told the story so well…

And Stacy King uses Austen’s own text along with Po Tse’s stylish illustrations to bring Pride and Prejudice  to lovers of classic lit, love stories, and manga in the newest of Udon’s Manga Classics series.

Which classic work would you like to see in manga style?

Book info: Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice / Jane Austen; adapted by Stacy King; art by Po Tse. Udon Entertainment, 2014.  [series Facebook page]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Yes, a true manga version of Jane Austen’s classic tale of sisters, ambitions, misunderstandings, and love gone awry!

As you read it from back to front, enjoy Po Tse’s visual interpretations and Stacy King’s well-chosen selections from the original Austen text.

Mrs. Bennet is all a-flutter as the frenetic, social-climbing mother striving to marry her five daughters into higher social status. The aristocratic young men are portrayed as elegant and slim in their well-tailored attire, and the young ladies are most properly frocked, befrilled and doe-eyed (as manga style decrees).

This clever and enjoyable journey from countryside to country estate, from bad first impressions to proclamations of love and eternal devotion is one of the Manga Classics series by Udon Entertainment. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

2013 can’t be nearly over – I still have books left!

logo for @Bookish's 2014 TBR ChallengeWait – how did we get ten months through 2013 already?!?

Thanks to the TBR2013 Challenge on Bookish blog, I’ve been steadily catching up on my 2012 TBR shelves this year (click the TBR2012 tag in the right-hand column for posts about the 50+ pre-2013 books that I’ve recommended this year).

But every time I write up a recommendation for a 2012 book that means I’ve set aside a 2013 book… so I’m still behind, and my to-be-read and to-be-reviewed shelves never get smaller!

So I’m signing up with Bookish again for the TBR2014 Challenge so I’ll get these great 2013 books written up for you, even if it’s during 2014!

And, looking at the stacks of 2013 (and earlier!) books that I won’t have time to write up before year’s end, I am planning on hitting the 50+ mark again in 2014… does it never end??

Which 2012 or earlier books highlighted this year on BooksYALove have you read?

TBR 2012 update – slowly, but surely!

Since my last update on July 1 chronicling my progress through the shelves full of pre-2013 books that I was determined to finally recommend on BooksYALove, I have

  • traveled to Singapore and Indonesia, via Japan and Korea,
  • driven several hundred miles in Texas presenting IASL’s GiggleIT Project for global student writing through school libraries,
  • moved 3 truckloads of  semi-tropical plants in containers to their winter home,
  • and read many, many eGalleys online with 30-60 day expiration dates.

Book cover of The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson published by Margaret McElderry BooksI haven’t written up as many TBR2012 Challengebook cover of Pearl by Jo Knowles published by Henry Holt Books books as I did earlier in the year, but did spotlight Nalo Hopkinson’s highly inventive Canadian-Jamaican fantasy The Chaos  (my no-spoiler review here) and Jo Knowles’ growing up novel Pearl  (more here), which brings my total to 51 for the year. Over one per week – not bad!

What’s on your to-be-read shelf these days?

The Chaos, by Nalo Hopkinson (book review) – myth to reality on city streets

Book cover of The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson published by Margaret McElderry Books“Sasquatches, demonic Tinker Bells,
purple hippos wearing party hats;
they were all real now.” (p.167)

Auntie Mryss, cousin of Scotch’s white Jamaican dad, has been waiting for the End Times – looks like maybe they’re here and somehow related to the tarry growths inching along Scotch’s chocolate brown skin.

Hopkinson’s comments on “Noticing Race” are worth hearing, as you can well imagine that questions of race and identity have threaded through Scotch’s life for a long time before the Chaos brings every bedtime story and nightmare to life in Toronto.

Grab this imaginative novel at your favorite local library or independent bookstore and get ready for a mind-blowing ride through the dream-tainted city.


Book info: The Chaos / Nalo Hopkinson.  Margaret McElderry Books, 2012.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fitting in at school becomes the least of Scotch’s worries as legendary creatures descend on Toronto with terrifying results and her big brother goes missing.

Scotch (like the Jamaican hot pepper) doesn’t stand out for being biracial at this more-diverse school. Her dancing is stand-out good, like her big brother’s rap poetry. Their conservative parents don’t like either gift. And how they turned in their own son to the police for one joint! Chuh!

The black gooey growths on Scotch’s arm worry her, the hallucinations she sees flying all over worry her, then everything goes crazy as a bubble of light zings her and Rich disappears!

A volcano erupting in Lake Ontario, monsters from myth stomping through the city streets, cell phones not working – Scotch tries to help people as she doggedly makes her way to Auntie Mryss’s house. And those things from nursery rhyme dreams appearing everywhere? Mryss is sure that Scotch is the key to fixing it all…

Why are all these subconscious images becoming real now?
Why is the black goo spreading over Scotch’s skin so fast?
Where is her brother? Where!?

Jamaican author Nalo Hopkinson brings the myths and stories of many cultures into this nightmare reality threatening her adopted Canadian hometown where a heroine who doubts her own strength perseveres amid The Chaos.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Pearl, by Jo Knowles (book review) – mystery fathers, faithful friendship

book cover of Pearl by Jo Knowles published by Henry Holt BooksNo dad,
weird mom,
just one friend, ever –
Henry and Pearl feel like they’re in Bizarro World for sure.

Must have been hard for Pearl’s grandfather when his only child was suddenly pregnant at 15, the age that never-had-a-boyfriend Pearl is now. As much as he loved his little ‘Bean’, he blamed her mom for that mistake every single day for the rest of his life.

Her friend Henry’s mom never got over being abandoned when he was a tiny baby, so she just stays in their house, watching soaps endlessly.

Fate does have its twists and turns, especially when 15 years of neighborhood and family secrets suddenly surface. You’ll have to read Pearl  to find out which layers of those secrets are the truth.

Big thanks to author Jo Knowles for helping Kate Messner offer  the summertime Teachers Write program online so that teachers and librarians can get better at their own writing (and maybe finish the next amazing novel we all can’t wait to read).

When is revealing a secret worse than keeping it?

Book info:  Pearl / Jo Knowles. Henry Holt, 2011. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The summer that her grandpa dies changes everything for 15-year-old Bean and her best (only) friend Henry, trying to grow up despite their oddball moms and missing dads.

Soap operas, junk food, always staying at home – that’s Henry’s mom. Waitressing till late night, always arguing with her dad Gus, never escaping the big mistake she made at 15 – that’s Bean’s mom. Along with grandpa Gus, they’re all that Bean and Henry have, besides one another.

It was Gus who started calling her Bean (instead of Pearl), who took her fishing on the city-smooshed river behind their tired house, who told her stories of the grandmother who died when Pearl’s mom was young.

Gus’s death opens up family secrets, brings Claire into the house (her mom needs her, they both say), makes the summer even hotter and more miserable for Bean and Henry. At least the friends can be together and keep each other sane amid the craziness that their moms and Claire unleash.

Why did Bean’s mom hate her own dad so much?
Will Claire ever go back to her own place?
Why didn’t their dads stick around?

Too many secrets swirl through Bean and Henry’s lives now, but maybe they’re good enough friends to survive it all in this realistic novel of growing up and second chances.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Blogathon2013 on the horizon; TBR2012 rolls on

Phillip Martin cartoon of girl lying down with book

image (c) Phillip Martin

The merry month of May…
reading, writing, reading,
slow progress on TBR2012 shelf,
WordCount Blogathon2013 dead ahead!

Oh, I recommended plenty of books in May, but only 2 from my to-be-reviewed shelf had publication dates of 2012 or earlier:

Renegade Magic, by Stephanie Burgis
Arm of the Starfish, by Madeleine L’Engle

So totaled with my January, February, March, and April TBR2012 Challenge title lists, that makes 46 pre-2013 books that I’ve offered for your consideration this year (just click on the link to get to that month’s wrap-up post with titles and links to my recommendations; each opens in new tab/window).

Now, I’m poised to take on the blog-every-day-of-June-challenge of WordCount Blogathon2013! (remember, if you sign up by 11 pm EDT/8 pm PDT today and blog each day in June, you’re eligible for nifty prizes)

I plan to take full advantage of the traditional Blogathon days for haiku, word clouds, “my top five” and at least one guest blogger, as well as sending a guest post to another Blogathonner’s blog or two. Even with those special days counted in, that still means over two dozen new books will be recommended for you in June as I #blog2013!

During the summer, I will be joining many librarians and teachers in trying to read a #bookaday (thank goodness I also review picture books for www.abookandahug.com!), Tweeting my progress @BooksYALove. Since I read fast and write with due deliberation, there may be quite a gap between my #bookaday tweet and its appearance here on BooksYALove. If you spot a title that you can’t wait to hear more about, give me a holler here, and I’ll try to move its recommendation post up the calendar.

Of course, not every book I read makes the cut for BooksYALove – only the best are good enough for YA readers to spend their time and money on, in my opinion.

So, what will you be reading and writing this summer??

Image of reader lying down copyrighted by and courtesy of Phillip Martin http://reading.phillipmartin.info/la_reading_comprehension.htm

Renegade Magic, by Stephanie Burgis (book review) – dark magic, Regency manners, secrets everywhere

book cover of Renegade Magic by Stephanie Burgis published by AtheneumThe pointed comments about their mother,
the deliberate snubs by those in high society,
the accusations of magic being used…
can the healing waters of Bath wash away their troubles?

The Guardians have refused to train Kat to handle the magical powers she inherited from her mother, and all of England may be in dreadful peril because of it!

This funny and suspenseful series owes much to the author’s love of Regency romances, like those of Georgette Heyer, and her own life as one of several siblings.

Kat, Incorrigible is the first book of the series (my recommendation here), and Stolen Magic  is the third (review coming soon).

Try out the first chapter of Renegade Magic  here and get swept into A Tangle of Magicks  in “The Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson” series, as it’s known in the UK.
And the “Dueling Magicks” short story is currently available free (grab it now here!).

What magic powers would you like to use against the stuffier conventions of  society?

Book info: Renegade Magic (Kat, Incorrigible #2) / Stephanie Burgis. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2012 hardcover, 2013 paperback.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer]

My recommendation: Kat doesn’t care about polite society, but when accusations of witchcraft during her eldest sister’s wedding send the family fleeing to see-and-be-seen Bath, she’ll take the change of scenery. But this spirited young lady had no idea that evil magic was gathering in the fashionable city – she may have to break a few more Guardian rules to stop it!

No one could have imagined that Frederick’s mother would storm the little country church to accuse middle sister Angeline of bewitching her son – with real witchcraft! Never mind that the three sisters really did inherit their mother’s magical skills and that Stepmama pretends they are not excluded from polite Regency society because of that scandalous family history.

Suddenly, they’re off to the resort city of Bath so that Angeline may acquire a new fiance to quell the gossips, with Stepmama settling the family into her distant relative’s well-placed townhouse by hinting that Lady Fotherington is Kat’s godmother. Of course, everyone important in society respects that great Lady; only Kat knows she’s one of the Guardians using magic to protect England against evil magic-wielders – and that she despises Kat for inheriting her mother’s powers.

As Angeline and Stepmama and reluctant Kat visit all the right places during the proper hours, brother Charles gets himself entangled in gambling again (all he learned at Oxford, it seems), a notorious man singles out Angeline, and Kat seeks out the unusual magic giving off sparks of evil with her cousin Lucy’s unexpected help.

Are the famous spring waters of Bath hiding a darker secret?
Why is scandalous Viscount Scarwood wooing Angeline?
How will Kat ever get the Guardians to train her properly?

Good magic, bad magic, and treachery lurk below the surface of 19th century Britain’s preoccupation with fashion and manners in this fast-paced sequel to Kat, Incorrigible.  Be sure to follow Kat’s quest to recover Stolen Magic  in the third book of the series, too.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

TBR and A-to-Z – Reflecting on April alphabet soup!

sketch of cloud with face blowing out wind April just whoooshed by, didn’t it? Suddenly it’s May 1st, BooksYALove’s second birthday!

This month, I shared twenty-six new book recommendations here, over half for books published before 2013, so I’m making progress on the TBR2012 Challenge and my overstuffed to-be-reviewed shelves, and attended the Texas Library Association annual conference in Fort Worth, where I met authors, got autographs, and received advance reader copies of upcoming titles which look amazing!

Last year was the first time I’d participated in the April A-to-Z Blog Challenge, and I really stressed out about it, trying to visit and comment intelligently on far too many participants’ blogs while squishing my recommendations into the restrictive A-on-this-day, B-on-next format (and also attending TLA with activities in every waking moment).

This year, I signed up anyway as a good way to prod myself into clearing my to-be-reviewed shelves of the great books which had just gotten passed over for even-more-wonderful books as time went along. I got a few new followers (which is one reason to do a blog challenge), and they left insightful comments (which is why you want followers), so I feel better about April A-to-Z Blog Challenge than I did last year and am likely to sign up next year to do it again (my to-be-reviewed shelves will undoubtedly refill themselves, as I read much quicker than I write recommendations).

Here are the prior-to-2013 books which I recommended in April for TBR Challenge; just click on the title to read more about it:

Fantasy/Fairy Tale:
Darkbeast – Morgan Keyes
Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses – Ron Koertge; illustrated by Andrea Dezso [in verse]

Historical fiction:
The Lost Crown – Sarah Miller
Where the Broken Heart Still Beats – Carolyn Meyer

Death Cloud (Young Sherlock Holmes #1) – Andrew Lane

Born Wicked (Cahill Witch Chronicles #1) – Jessica Spotswood
Exile (Mercy #2) – Rebecca Lim
Radiant Days – Elizabeth Hand

Realistic Fiction:
The Candymakers – Wendy Mass
The Day Before – Lisa Schroeder [in verse]
Freaks Like Us – Susan Vaught
The Key to the Golden Firebird – Maureen Johnson
Nothing Special – Geoff Herbach
Pink Smog: Becoming Weetzie Bat – Francesca Lia Block
Surviving High School – M. Doty
Wish You Were Here – Barbara Shoup

So, I’ve recommended 44 titles for TBR2012, including those featured in January, February, and March, with some still on my shelves! Stay tuned…

Which new-to-you pre-2013 books have you enjoyed lately?

(blowing cloud image (c) FreeClipArtNow.com)

Y for Yehudi Mercado’s wacky Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out! (book review) – racing, mischief, and giant chicken challenge

book cover of Pantalones TX Don't Chicken Out by Yehudi Mercado published by ArchaiaTexas legends and tumbleweed pompons,
a schoolkid planning the biggest prank ever,
and a giant chicken that blocks out the sun!

Y is for Yehudi Mercado and for yee-haw!

Welcome to Pantalones, Texas, the town where underwear was invented, Chico Bustamante’s souped-up go-kart outruns the sheriff’s chicken-shack-mobile, and the jail doubles as the schoolhouse.

Ask for this first book in the series at your local library or independent bookstore now so you can enjoy the feuding, friendship, and sunglasses-wearing dog Baby T, Chico’s cool sidekick. Yehudi’s website says the book is “Smokey and the Bandit meets Peanuts!”  Hope we’ll see book two soon – Pantalones, TX: Night of the Underwear Wolf!

What’s your best chicken-chasing story?

Book info: Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out / written and illustrated by Yehudi Mercado.  Archaia Entertainment, 2012.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer]   (Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher)

My Book Talk: The dry riverbeds of Pantalones, Texas, are great for go-kart racing and tumbleweed chasing, but Chico wants to make his mark on history. With his trusty sidekick Baby T the sunglasses-wearing dog and best friend Pigboy (yes, he’s a boy who’s part pig), Chico plans one stunt after another, always one step ahead of the shifty sheriff.

In this tiny town where underwear was invented, the jail also serves as schoolhouse, the schoolbus is an armadillo-drawn wagon, and the sheriff speeds around in a mobile chicken-shack trying to catch Chico the prankster. Everyone thinks the New York weatherman and his son are from a foreign country, but no one knows they’re closet vegetarians.

Sheriff Cornwallis plans to make Pantalones famous for more than just underwear, so he creates a gigantic chicken and dares Chico to ride the bucking cluck like a rodeo star! Of course, Chico Bustamante and Baby T are hungry for adventure!

Can schoolkid Chico ride the giant chicken for the whole nine seconds?
Will the people of Pantalones ever realize that New York isn’t a foreign country?
What does a surfing rabbi have to do with all this?

Texas graphic novelist Yehudi Mercado uses his signature vivid color palette and wild imagination to create this bigger-than-life little town where anything could happen (and usually does) in the first book of his Pantalones, TX series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)