Tag Archive | teens

In wartime, love is written WITHIN THESE LINES, by Stephanie Morrill (YA book review)

book cover of Within These Lines, by Stephanie Morrill. Published by BlinkYA | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Pearl Harbor,
Evacuations and preparations,
American citizens sent to concentration camps.

Yes, Manzanar, Heart Mountain, and the other ‘relocation camps’ where Japanese-Americans were sent – with only the suitcases they could carry – were concentration camps.

Trusting neighbors to safeguard their houses, selling cars and business equipment for pennies on the dollar, Japanese-Americans on the West Coast hoped to return home soon…

Parents and neighbors wouldn’t approve of their relationship, but after his family is sent to Manzanar, Taichi and Evalina write letter after letter, daring to plan a future together.

Happy book birthday on March 5th to Within These Lines!

Would you speak out against popular opinion in stressful times, as Evalina did?
**kmm

Book info: Within These Lines / Stephanie Morrill. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The budding romance between Evalina and Taichi becomes a long-distance correspondence when his family is ‘evacuated’ to Manzanar concentration camp in the California desert after Pearl Harbor.

Many disagree that Japanese-Americans are true citizens of this country during World War II, but Italian-American Evalina will keep writing persuasive letters to San Francisco newspapers and arguing with her political science professor.

With blankets for apartment walls and dust blowing like despair through any crevice at Manzanar, Taichi will stand against the pro-Japan Black Dragon gang to protect his family.

Even though mixed-race marriage is illegal in their home state, it’s worth dreaming of a future together…right?

Letter by letter, thought by thought, Evalina and Taichi are separated by many valleys and mountains, held together by hope.

Stolen from Sinclair’s! MYSTERY OF THE PAINTED DRAGON, by Katherine Woodfine (book review)

book cover of Mystery of the Painted Dragon, by Katherine Woodfine. Published by Kane Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A famous painting!
A locked-door theft!
A dread criminal threatens everyone…

Better than the “Boy Detective” penny thrillers that Billy reads, the cases that the young employees of Sinclair’s (amazing, astounding) Department Store all seem to have terrible villain The Baron at their core – but why is he targeting Sophie and Sinclair’s in particular?

This is third in the Sinclair’s series set in 1909 London, following The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow (my review here) and The Mystery of the Jeweled Moth (here).

Many strands come together in the fourth book, The Mystery of the Midnight Peacock (fireworks! hidden passageways! The King visiting Sinclair’s Department Store!), so ask for the whole paperback set at your local library or independent bookstore.

Which friends do you want by your side when there’s a mystery to unravel?
**kmm

Book info: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (Sinclair’s Mysteries, book 3) / Katherine Woodfine. Kane Miller/EDC Publishing, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sophie and Lil are on the case again when a famous painting is stolen from Sinclair’s Department Store in 1909, and the investigative teens suspect that London criminal mastermind The Baron is involved.

Snobbish art critic Mr. Lyle allows sudents of the Spencer School of Art to assist with the exhibition at Spencer’s, where a rare dragon painting loaned by the King himself holds a place of honor.

Art school instead of university? Lil’s brother Jack is hiding his enrollment at the Spencer from his parents – scandalous!

Hobbled as much by the expectations of British society as by her crippled leg, Leo eagerly escaped her parents’ country estate to attend art school in London. New friends, new opportunities, an attack in the train station?

Leo and Jack join the team as Sophie (ladies’ hats), Lil (dress model and actress), Jack (stable hand), and Billy (office boy and avid reader of detective fiction) work on their third case together as ruthless crime boss The Baron moves ever closer to his prize.

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.

Sister’s big wedding! SAVE THE DATE, by Morgan Matson (book review)

book cover of Save the Date, by Morgan Matson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Wedding on the horizon!
Family all here again!
well, almost everyone…

Charlie misses the days when her older siblings were all home, when Mom’s cartooning career really took off, but not when the comic made her brother so very angry.

Surely Mike will be here for Linnie’s wedding and his best friend will conveniently forget Charlie’s crush and the grumpiest neighbor ever will decide to act neighborly for once, right?

From the author of The Unexpected Everything (my review here), Second Chance Summer (ditto), and Since You’ve Been Gone (here too).

What would the award-winning comic strip based on your family be like?!
**kmm

Book info: Save the Date / Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Charlie is delighted that all her siblings will be home for her sister’s wedding, but how many things can go wrong before everything falls apart?

Lots of changes coming – Mom and Dad selling the house, Mom ending the 25-year-long run of “Grant Central Station” comic featuring their family, Charlie graduating soon (but maybe staying here in Connecticut for college?).

Then it gets crazy – their wedding planner suddenly vanishes, the house alarm system goes bonkers, and their neighbor is calling the cops about the delivery vans.

Deep breaths everyone – more drama than usual in the groom’s family, brother Mike still isn’t here as the wedding hour approaches, the Good Morning America crew is on the way, and Charlie’s crush shows up.

What now?! The groom’s suit goes missing at the cleaners, a stray dog is suddenly underfoot, and the new wedding assistant is efficient and charming… very charming.

The more that Charlie wants things to be the way they used to be for her family, the more they’re not!

And she sings… Freedom’s Just Another Word, by Carolyn Stellings (book review)

book cover of Freedom's Just Another Word, by Caroline Stellings. Published by Second Story Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Famous musicians!
Her chance to perform…
and get out of town for good.

Easy doesn’t fit in – a half-Black girl in this Canadian prairie city, raised on zydeco music and working in her dad’s garage.

Then Janis Joplin‘s tour train stops nearby, and Easy’s future path becomes clear… to a certain extent of uncertainty.

Questions, secrets, and such a 1970 roadtrip!

How far have you gone to see someone perform?
**kmm

Book info: Freedom’s Just Another Word / Caroline Stellings. Second Story Press, 2016. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Easy absolutely must find a way to get from Saskatoon to Texas so she can sing with Janis Joplin!

The Canadian prairie is as far from the segregated South as her black parents could get after the war, then a scandalous affair produced biracial Louisiana who’s done with high school and past ready to get out of town.

Between 1970 concerts, Janis Joplin’s train will stop here, and Easy is determined to sing the blues for her idol.

Through her drunken haze, Joplin recognizes Easy’s talent and invites her to Texas so they can sing together!

Hmmm…on the way to Austin, Easy can return some WWII medals to the mother of the man who was injured saving her father’s life at Pearl Harbor…

A road trip with two nuns, a stopover on Route 66, secrets whispered, secrets unleashed.

What’s causing The Year of Lightning? by Ryan Dalton (book review)

book cover of Year of Lightning, by Ryan Dalton. Published by Jolly Fish Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lightning storms go on and on.
Frost on the window in summer.
A house across the street that no one else in town can seem to remember…

Big change, moving from Chicago after Mom’s death to the small Arizona town where Dad grew up.

So many weird things are happening here – of course the twins and their new friends are going to investigate!

Can you escape sorrow by moving to a new place?
**kmm

Book info: The Year of Lightning (The Time Shift Trilogy. book 1) / Ryan Dalton. Jolly Fish Press/North Star Editions, 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Malcolm sees someone in an abandoned house which has no doors, the fifteen-year-old and his twin Valentine uncover a dangerous force that imperils their small town – lightning can strike much more than twice in the same place!

New to grandmother’s old house, new to Dad’s old high school, the twins start making friends as Malcolm dives into history and Valentine impresses her science teacher.

But Patrick disappears right after Fred’s back-to-school party, so school newspaper editor Winter gets everyone investigating, as the lightning storms get more and more intense.

Is the lightning striking the abandoned house or coming from it?

Why must the strange watch found there stay with Malcolm constantly?

Who’s the shadowed man lurking around town now?

The teens and longtime town residents must hurry to find out what’s going on in that house and with the watch that won’t keep normal time before it’s too late! (first in Time Shift Trilogy).

First day of school…again!?! PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY, by Laurie Boyle Crompton (book review)

book cover of Pretty in Punxsutawney, by Laurie Boyle Crompton. Published by Blink Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

First day at her new high school!
Excited? Nervous?
Not when it repeats day after day after…

Andie is starting her senior year at Punxsutawney High (yep, same town as the famous groundhog), so sure that Colton will continue their summer movie-theater flirtation, but no.

Movie-obsessed Mom named her for the “Pretty in Pink” redhead, but Andie’s life has turned into “Groundhog Day” as she awakens the next morning and the next and the next… for the first day of school, over and over again!

Maybe Mom’s wish for Andie’s first kiss to be with her true love has something to do with it….hmmm.

Published last week, just in time for Punxsutawney’s annual moment in the weather world’s spotlight!

If you had the chance to repeat a day and only you knew it, what would you change?
**kmm

Book info: Pretty in Punxsutawney / Laurie Boyle Crompton. Blink Young Adult Books, 2019. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Repeating her first day of school over and over, Andie realizes that only her true love’s kiss will break her out of this “Groundhog Day” loop, but as a new senior at Punxsutawney High, she finds cliques that shut out others and her summer crush taken!

Mom loves to use classic movies as life lessons, but Andie thinks the wrong guy goes to the prom with Andie (yes, same name) in “Pretty in Pink.”

Andie is certain that cute Colton is attracted to her during their summer at the movie theater, but as soon as he starts showing her around the school, Kaia moves in.

Waking up the next morning to her parents urging her to get ready for the first day of school, Andie tries a different outfit, a different way to stay around Colton, but same results.

Repeat, repeat – try to be a cheerleader, a goth kid, on yearbook staff, but Kaia still gets Colton.

When Andie realizes who she really cares for and that her classmates have lots in common if they could see past clique labels (thank you, “Breakfast Club”!), she uses everything she’s learned throughout these many, many do-over days to make it happen.

But how will someone fall in love with her – in just one day?

Marauding AI? It’s Only the End of the World! by J.A. Henderson (book review)

book cover of It's Only the End of the World, by J. A. Henderson. Published by Kelpies Edge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Robots to do our chores
and fight our wars
Who’s giving the orders here?

His dad took all their savings and disappeared – now he expects Charlie and this girl with the odd name to break a serial killer out of prison to help them save the world…hmmm. Adventure and moral dilemmas!

Read an excerpt from the book here, free courtesy of the Scotland-based publisher.

Artificial intelligence is more than robots or household answer-giving devices – as AI keeps evolving, will pesky high-maintenance, environment-spoiling humans be worth keeping around?
**kmm

Book info: It’s Only the End of the World / J. A. Henderson. Kelpies Edge/ Floris Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: The girl hiding in his closet has a message from Dad who left last month – Charlie must stop an evil corporation from ending the world!

Charlie’s boring parents were radical computer hackers before he was born, exposing corporate crimes – now Dad is back at it and has uncovered terrible things about Manticorps, including a serum giving superhuman strength to soldiers (and accidentally to Charlie).

Problematic that Daffodil can’t remember anything about her past and didn’t know that ‘Frankie’ giving her info was an artificial intelligence created by Manticorps.

The two Scots teens have to trust that Dad and Frankie are working for the good guys now, on the run as Manticorps’ hired assassins close in – because Frankie has been implanted in Daffodil’s neck!

If AI has advanced this far, perhaps it’s only the end of the world for humans… what has money-hungry Manticorps invented?

I Am Alfonso Jones, student shot by police. By Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings (book review)

book cover of I Am Alfonso Jones, by Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Published by Tu Books. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Choked, shot, beaten,
arrested, imprisoned on minor charges,
how many black men are gone now?

This graphic novel traces the shortened life of son, friend, musician, bicycle messenger, history scholar Alfonso and the stories of other African Americans killed by police brutality.

Robinson and Jennings’ black and white illustrations expand the #blacklivesmatter narrative written by Tony Medina, whose poems are recited at the Poetry Protest that Alfonso can see and hear as his ghost drifts from the train to his neighborhood and back…

Check out Medina’s article describing how he created this non-stereotypical Puerto Rican Black teen who loves his community’s history so deeply – why should a such a talented young man be dead?

Where is justice? How can everyday people stop the violence?
**kmm

Book info: I Am Alfonso Jones / Tony Medina, illustrated by Stacey Robinson & John Jennings. Tu Books, 2017. [author site] [artist Robinson tumblr] [artist Jennings interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Buying his first suit shouldn’t get him shot, shouldn’t keep him from seeing Dad finally home from prison with his name cleared, shouldn’t stop him from trying out for ‘Hip-Hop Hamlet’ at his arts high school in NYC, shouldn’t prevent him from telling bestie Danetta how he really feels about her…

On a subway train filled with ghosts of other African Americans wrongly killed, Alfonso learns more than his history studies revealed – about injustice, unfair treatment, deliberate abuse and prejudice – but dead is dead…

The Black-Puerto Rican young man’s family, friends, and community rally for justice and the prosecution of the police officer who shot Alfonso dead in this too-real #blacklivesmatter graphic novel.

Wild Blues! in the woods, killers on the loose, by Beth Kephart, illustrated by William Sulit (book review)

book cover of Wild Blues, by Beth Kephart. Published by Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Prison break!
Escapees in her woods!
And then the storm…

Lizzie is a keen observer of the natural world, Uncle Davy has an eye for the unusual and beautiful, and Matias’ heart is grander than his body which has stopped growing.

Yes, there was a real prison break from Clinton Correctional Facility (accomplice-aided, like this one), Camping and Woodcraft is a real book written by the author’s great-grandfather, and the memories of war in El Salvador shared by Matias’ parents come from her husband’s experiences.

When it is time to act decisively, do you have the knowledge you need?
**kmm

Book info: Wild Blues / Beth Kephart; illustrated by William Sulit. Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Staying with her uncle in his Adironacks cabin during Mom’s radiation treatment, 13-year-old Lizzie and her friend Matias get caught up in a prison break and problems bigger than all of them.

Mom says don’t tell her brother about the cancer, so Lizzie bottles that news inside as she and Uncle Davy visit estate sales for the amazing finds that made him TV-famous.

Best find? Kephart’s Camping and Woodcraft, the book that Lizzie studies all summer, survival and nature skills at their finest.Matias is nearby at his summer cabin with his Salvadorean parents who adore Lizzie too, wishing that the growth hormone shots would have made him taller by now so he could stop using arm-crutches…

And just over the ridge is the prison, where two killers escape – with outside help – setting off a manhunt in the woods where Matias has become lost during a sudden storm! Or was he kidnapped?

What if Uncle Davy gets lost searching for Matias?
How long will the convicts keep a boy who can’t run?
Why won’t the authorities let Lizzie help search?

Based on a real New York prison break, Lizzie powerfully and lyrically recounts the summer’s events as a victim impact statement.