Tag Archive | teens

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.

Always #teamme says Brooding YA Hero! by Carrie DiRisio & Linnea Gear (book review)

book cover of Brooding YA Hero by Carrie DiRisio, illustrated by Linnea Gear. Published by Sky Pony Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comYou’ve read him a million times –
eyes like gems, attitude = #teamme,
Why’s he writing a book instead of starring in one?

Indeed, Broody McHottiepants has made the leap from Twitter sensation to published author (well, creator Carrie has), and as he gives advice to aspiring main characters, he wonders why he’s not in an Author’s book right now.

Maybe his Evil Ex-Girlfriend could help our self-centered bad boy figure that out – if he’d only change and listen!

Reading about Broody’s favorite (predictable) plot twists can show us what great YA writing really is.

Who’s your favorite (non-trite) YA hero?
**kmm

Book info: Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me / Carrie DiRisio; illustrated by Linnea Gear. Sky Pony Press, 2017. [author site] [illustrator site]   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Every YA novel has its hero and its supporting characters – can one ever become the other? As Broody McHottiepants waits in New Story City for an Author to write him into his next heartthrob role, he decides to write an advice book (between admiring glances into his own mirror) for minor characters who aspire to his lofty status as Brooding YA Hero.

Interrupted often by his Evil Ex-Girlfriend (who only wants him to see past old tropes and tired stereotypes), Broody catalogues the usual features of young adult fiction – from character arc to literary devices – as he continues to wait for an Author (which should have happened by now…).

Tweeting as @BroodingYAHero was easy (140 characters, then back to describing his marvelous eyes), but writing a whole book is tiring and makes Broody think, despite his superficial gorgeousness and shallow personality.

Why does the YA world look so ‘white bread’ as evil Barbi says?
Can’t a selfish bad-boy star in every novel?
How much longer must Broody wait for an Author to write him in?

Looking at the too-common settings, plot twists, and happily-ever-afters of formulaic YA fiction, Broody and Barbi show readers what to look for in the best of today’s YA writing.

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.

Hijacked in 1970! teen Girl on a Plane, by Miriam Moss (book review)

book cover of Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  | recommended on BooksYALove.comFirst-time solo air trip,
not her first time on this flight route.
First airline hijackings by terrorists!

The author was aboard this hijacked flight as a teenager in 1970, when no one knew just how far the Palestinian fighters would go with their threats to blow up the planes and passengers.

Read an excerpt here as the age of terrorism begins with the first plane hijackings as political statement.

Girl on a Plane is being released in paperback today, or find it in hardcover at your local library or independent bookstore.

Cooperate or fight back?
**kmm

Book info: Girl on a Plane / Miriam Moss. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Flying back to boarding school from her father’s Army posting in Bahrain, Anna’s 1970 journey becomes a death watch as Palestinians hijack the BOAC plane headed for England!

At 15, Anna is old enough to fly on her own passport, young enough to be seated with other kids returning to school, routine travel for them all.

Suddenly, men in the cabin flourish guns, forcing the captain to fly far into the Jordanian desert where the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine guerillas await.

Explosives are loaded onto the plane, food is not. With the engines off, their plane becomes a sweltering prison – Anna wonders if she, David, and young Tim with his pet turtle will ever get to school, will live to see another day…

Based on the author’s experiences as a teen, this gripping story is a glimpse into the tension-filled history of the Middle East and the passion of those who’d risk anything and everything for their cause.

She’s no saguaro – Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti_Bowling (book review)

book cover of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling. Published by Sterling Children's Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com Arm count = zero,
Nose for mysteries and secrets = keen,
Sense of humor = boundless!

Moving to a new school can be nerve-wracking, especially in junior high when you don’t know anyone and you don’t have any arms to wave hello or shake hands… but Aven will carry on regardless of the stares.

Just released this week, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus showcases Aven’s curiosity, self-sufficient attitude (thanks to her parents), and witty storytelling as she leaps (or tiptoes) into new situations in her new town and school.

How do you treat new folks who are different from you?
**kmm

Book info: Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus / Dusti Bowling. Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Moving across the country, 13-year-old Aven wonders whether living in Arizona will be more difficult because she has such fair skin or because she has no arms.

Her adoptive parents have encouraged Aven to do everything for herself – button her jeans, brush her teeth, play the guitar – and she can.

Dad really needs a job, so off they go to Arizona where he and Mom will manage an Old West theme park, and Aven will start 8th grade without the longtime friends who are used to her crazy stories about where her arms went, knowing she was born that way.

Eating with her feet (of course she washes them first!) in front of new kids? Yikes! Better after meeting Connor, who never eats in front of anyone because of his Tourette’s tics, and Zion, who eats by himself so kids don’t tease him about being big.

Uncovering the mystery of the missing Cavanaugh photo and the secrets in the locked shed? Just takes persistence and clue-gathering by Aven, Connor, and Zion. And a crowbar. And the right key.

Making sure that Stagecoach Pass park stays open? She’ll have to think on that a while.

Ancient saguaro cacti that guard the hilltops near the park, tarantula photos on the ice cream parlor walls, upcoming soccer tryouts – interesting opportunities for Aven, whose blog posts shout and whisper the happy and challenging parts of her new life.

Words, gestures – All Rights Reserved… or pay! by Gregory Scott Katsoulis (book review)

book cover of All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis published by Harlequin Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com Every word is copyrighted = $$.
Each gesture and sigh is trademarked = $$
At age 15, the free ride is over…

Speth decides the ad-filled speech she must (contractually) read aloud the moment that she turns 15 is too much to bear, so she zips her mouth shut and triggers an unplanned revolution.

By saying not one syllable, day after day, she risks her siblings’ safety, as well as her own, in this future where lawyers and lawsuits rule the domed city.

Ask for this week’s new release at your local library or independent bookstore – and read your favorite passages aloud, while you can still afford it…

How could we afford to not say “I love you” to family?
**kmm

Book info: All Rights Reserved / Gregory Scott Katsoulis. Harlequin Teen, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If she doesn’t speak, then Speth won’t add to her family’s debt, but the 15 year old’s silence is copied by other teens coming of age and deemed defiance by officials in this future where even a sigh is tradmarked and must be paid for.

A fee for every gesture (patented, of course), money charged for every word (all copyrighted) – of course, the poor slide deeper into debt and are taken away to pollinate crops in this bee-less world where Lawyers rule and the Cuff worn by all records every single syllable and shrug.

Speth had hoped that her Last Day speech would earn some product endorsement to supplement what older sister Saretha earned after their parents were Collected from them, but watching friend Beecher commit suicide rather than slave his life away to pay his family’s copyright-debt shocks her – into silence.

Can Speth and Saretha keep little brother Sam safe as their debt rises and rises?
Will she accidentally speak and void her Last Day speech contract?
How do the secretive Product Placers move so swiftly in the city dome?

And hidden in powerful lawyer Rog’s towering high-rise is a book, the book that can free them all…

Isn’t family The Whole Thing Together, really? by Ann Brashares (book review)

book cover of The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares published by Delacorte  | recommended on BooksYALove.comHis mom, her dad,
Once a couple, now a feud,
Sharing their divisions…

Imagine knowing (about) someone for your entire childhood and never meeting, ever! “Shared custody” of a beloved vacation home means that Ray (Mom’s kid) and Sasha (Dad’s kid) often see their half-sisters (kids of Mom & Dad), but have never laid eyes on one another till this summer, this fateful summer…

Ask for The Whole Thing Together at your local library or independent bookstore – hardcover or audiobook – and see how Sasha and Ray learn to interact with each other during dire family troubles.

Stepfamily and shared sibling stories?
**kmm

Book info: The Whole Thing Together / Ann Brashares. Delacorte Press, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As later-born children of divorced and remarried parents with joint ownership of a Long Island beach house, Sasha and Ray have never met one another, despite years of alternately sharing a bedroom there, until the summer before their senior year when a crisis with their half-sisters brings their family together.

Why does Ray dream at the beach house and have nightmares back in the city?
Can he and Sasha really hold the same job on alternating weeks of summer (half-sister Mattie’s idea)?
What secret has Emma unearthed about her ever-feuding parents, Ray’s mom and Sasha’s dad?

This band of siblings must work out how love can keep going when family stories collide with facts, parental bonds are stretched again, and their futures are no longer boringly predictable.

Ghost tours? Really!? Just Kill Me, by Adam Selzer (book review)

book cover of Just Kill Me by Adam Selzer published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comGhosts aren’t real,
Money worries are,
Being a ghost-tour guide will be easy…

Surely her new bosses aren’t serious about making their exclusive ghost tour stops even more haunted by helping senior citizens leave this world a bit early?

You can find the hardcover now at your local library and independent bookstore, with paperback release of Just Kill Me scheduled for late August 2017. (and, yes, the author does run ghost tours in Chicago!!)

Ever visited the death site of someone famous?
**kmm

Book info: Just Kill Me / Adam Selzer. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Ghost tours in Chicago are truly a cut-throat business, Megan discovers as she begins working for Cyn and Rich, who may just be creating a few new ghosts of their own to compete with the big companies.

Megan grew up in a funeral home (a “black diaper baby”), is comfortable with death (naturally), doesn’t believe in ghosts (ditto), but does need a summer job after high school graduation – perfect for the ghost tour biz (as long as Mom doesn’t find out).

As she learns the stories behind famous crime scenes, infamous murder sites, and secret haunted spots, Megan wonders if Cyn and Rich really see the spirits they point out to tourists.

When new ghosts appear on the tour just after her bosses take their nursing home patients on evening outings, she ponders the coincidences.

Cyn continues commenting on Megan’s resemblance to a flapper who mysteriously disappeared in the 1920s, so it’s time to dig into history and get her secretive online-but-no-photos girlfriend to help unravel the mystery… before it’s too late!

Survive his own Bloodline of violence? by Joe Jimenez (book review)

cover of Bloodline by Joe Jimenez published by Arte Publico Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comOphelia wants him to stop fighting at school,
Uncle wants him to start really fighting, for money –
Hope and despair are always fighting within him…

Ask for this powerful #ownvoices story at your local library or independent bookstore as Abram thinks lyrically of his embattled present while trying to avoid remembering his family’s past or dreaming too much about a future beyond it.

Can we fight destiny, our DNA, our desires?
**kmm

Book info: Bloodline / Joe Jimenez. Pinata Books/Arte Publico Press, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Calls to fight ring louder than any teacher’s voice, as 17-year-old Abram struggles to be worthy of Ophelia’s love, to live beyond his family history, to make it past junior year.

“Not all boys need fathers. Better to have no man around than to have a bad one, don’t you think?” says Becky (p.2)- so why did his grandmother invite Uncle Claudio, her son with the long police record, back into their lives again, despite her girlfriend’s advice?

“Be a man!” – what does that mean in their worn-down San Antonio neighborhood? In the dank boxing gym with Uncle? In the world?

“Blood is thicker…” – will Ophelia know if Afghanistan swallows her deployed mother? Is Abram doomed by his parents’ DNA?

Abram forcibly remains in the present moment, as his past brings overwhelming fears and the future beyond tomorrow is too hazy to see, as the cold November rains pelt down and days grow shorter, so much shorter.

Civil War dangers remain in Crossing Ebenezer Creek, by Tonya Bolden (book review)

book cover of Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comFreed by Yankee soldiers!
Not all believe in emancipation.
What does the future hold for former slaves?

Read this book – for the joy that freedom brings.
Read it – for the sorrow that war brings.
Read it – for our shared humanness, as Mariah and Caleb fall in love, despite all.

Every time I see Ebenezer in a church name, I will surely remember this story.

Can hope remain when trust runs thin?
**kmm

Book info: Crossing Ebenezer Creek / Tonya Bolden. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Freed by the Yankees, Mariah and her fellow enslaved persons travel along with the Union Army, but not all soldiers believe they should be free.

The young teen girl rejoices when Capt. Galloway says “You now own yourselves” and promises to keep them free on their journey – away from Miss Callie’s strident commands and slave-driver Nero’s brutal whip.

Caleb lived through the Burning of Atlanta and now forages for Sherman’s Army. Meeting Mariah and little Zeke strains his “no attachments” resolution (and the young man is secretly glad).

How can Mariah keep her simple little brother safe?
Why are some men in the Union Army if they think slavery is right?
Mariah dares to dream of a future, not alone – but what secret does Caleb hide?

Told in alternating chapters by Mariah and Caleb is the story of past slavery and longing for full freedom, but first they must survive the upcoming showdown between Union and Confederate forces.