Tag Archive | Texas

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.

Too many changes for Trudy, by Jessica Lee Anderson (book review)

book cover of Trudy, by Jessica Lee Anderson, published by Milkweed Editions | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A late-life blessing to her parents,
slightly terrified about starting middle school,
now her dad is acting oddly

If only her Pop would work in his garden again or dance with her in the living room like he used to!

A parent’s illness is lots to handle for kids and teens, Trudy included.

This is the first book by Jessica Lee Anderson who later wrote Border Crossing (my recommendation here) and Calli (recommended here).

How have you dealt with family changes and school changes at the same time?
**kmm

Book info: Trudy / Jessica Lee Anderson. Milkweed Editions, 2005. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Lockers, changing classes, tests with not-so-good grades – middle school isn’t fun for Trudy, especially when her elderly father starts acting odd and best friend Ashley gets popular.

Born when Ma was 53, Trudy now has to correct people who think her grandparents are raising her in their small Austin home.

Math is easier when Roshanda explains it, and the sixth graders quickly become friends – so great to laugh together!

Pop is just digging in his garden now, not planting, and he’s tired all the time – so strange.

Jerome is really cute, and being partnered for a class project will be perfect for Trudy, right?

Canned goods in the bathroom, calling their car a train…it’s Alzheimer’s, says the doctor – what will Pops do next?

This fall semester is more eventful than Trudy ever dreamed.

Only those of The Select will survive! by Marit Weisenberg (book review)

book cover of Select, by Marit Weisenberg, published by Charlesbridge Teen| recommended on BooksYALove.comSmarter, faster,
biologically better in all ways –
is her family more than human?

Unlike her stepsister, daredevil Julia isn’t perfect, hangs out with the not-perfect boy ‘cousins’ and is exiled to public school for letting outsiders see their superhuman strength.

Pretending to be less-strong, less-smart, less-amazing is second nature – but what if she wants to be herself with John?

Look for this first book in The Select series at your local library or independent bookstore, as well as just-released book 2, Select Few.

**kmm

Book info: Select (Select, book 1) / Marit Weisenberg. Charlesbridge Teen, 2017 [author Facebook]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Sent to public school as punishment, Julia discovers that her ‘family talents’ hide a deep secret that the Austin teen may not want to be part of, but does she have a choice?

Her descent from elite untouchable was abrupt after the dumb dare that got Julia and the guys she’s known forever noticed by the police, but is being ignored at a new school (and having to fake being merely outstanding at tennis) any worse than being scorned by her family group?

They heal overnight, run faster and farther than anyone else, sense trends before everyone else – but are those the only talents shared by her extended family?

When she starts sensing John’s thoughts at school, Julia becomes convinced that her charismatic father has been hiding much from the younger family members – but why?

As their feelings grow, Julia knows that she must protect John and his family from hers – but is it too late?

P for Penny & Sam, linked as Emergency Contact & maybe more, by Mary H.K. Choi (book review)

book cover of Emergency Contact, by Mary H.K. Choi, published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comCollege will be better than high school, of course.
Learning fiction writing from an amazing author!
Connecting with Sam is…um …just text, okay?

Her mom still acts and dresses like a teen, her new roommate Jude is vibrantly alive, so Penny is grateful for the quiet text life she has with Sam (who is 21, but somehow Jude’s former step-uncle).

But can the Korean-American teen become brave enough to write like she should, go out with Jude and Mallory, actually visit Sam in person at the coffeehouse?

And P is also for “plans busted to smithereens” as this debut novel told in alternating chapters by Penny and Sam (lots of texts) moved onto the New York Times Bestsellers list last week before our A-to-Z got to P!!

Yes, Mary will be at the North Texas Teen Book Festival on Saturday, 20 April 2018, and you should be there, too!

Real life or by text?
**kmm

Book info: Emergency Contact / Mary H.K. Choi. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

D for faked death list in Lucky Few, by Kathryn Ormsbee (book review)

book cover of Lucky Few by Kathryn Ormsbee, published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.comFaking death without dying?
Oddest hobby ever…

Yeah, Stevie is homeschooled (don’t hold it against her), but new guy Max next door has all her co-op pals beat for weird (more than the usual “Keep Austin Weird” bumper sticker kind of weird).

Should she and best friend Sanger spend their Austin summer helping Max live out his “23 ways to fake my death without dying” list so that he can get over his near-death experience?

And is she seriously falling for Max?

Austin. Summer. Weird. Love. Funny = definitely!
**kmm

Book info: Lucky Few / Kathryn Ormsbee. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016 hardback, 2017 paperback. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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.

L is Laurent Linn’s novel about art & self, Draw the Line (book review)

book cover of Draw the Line by Laurent Linn published by Margaret K McElderry Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStay quiet.
Avoid the bullies.
If it’s only words…

Adrian cannot escape reality with video games and his graphic novel art any longer! He must stand up to Doug and the other thugs whose gay-bashing has gone from talk to violence or he won’t be able to live with himself…if he survives their wrath, that is.

Visit the book’s website here to meet all the characters who’ve moved from Adrian’s real world into the graphic novel that he’d rather live in.

The paperback of Draw the Line releases in May 2017, but grab it now to see how this epic superhero battle on paper turns out in real life.

Standing up for what’s right – who’s next?
**kmm

Book info: Draw the Line / Laurent Linn; illustrations by Laurent Linn. Margaret K McElderry Books, 2016. [book website] [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Adrian escapes from his homophobic rural Texas high school by creating the detailed Renaissance world of gay superhero Graphite in graphic novel art, until violence demands action.

He finally has a date with super-sweet Lev (‘Teen Drag Queen Bingo’ in Dallas – who knew?), when a hate crime shocks their town, and Adrian knows that he must finally speak out and come out – at home and at school – regardless of the consequences.

Can the support of best friends Audrey and Trent keep him strong?
How can the school and town turn a blind eye to Doug’s attacks?
When will Adrian being himself be good enough for everyone else?

Chapters of his graphic novel with Graphite, Sultry, Willow, Oasis, and villainous Thug punctuate this story of becoming true to yourself and standing up for everyone’s rights.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (book review) – big heart, big-boned, beauty queen?

book cover of Dumplin' by Julie Murphy published by Balzer + Bray | booksYALove.comBeauty pageants are for Barbies,
Only perfection allowed –
says who?!

Happy book birthday to Dumplin’ as Willowdean decides that the size of her heart matters more than the size of her thighs when pageant season arrives.

Glad that the author finally made it to Texas herself, although breaking the name of our state flower into two piece for the pageant title is dang near treasonous.

Today is also “Sing It Out Day” – how appropriate! Dolly Parton‘s 40 albums and self-acceptance inspire Willowdean to “go big or go home” – what inspires you?
**kmm

Book info: Dumplin’ / Julie Murphy. Balzer + Bray, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A small Texas town beauty pageant gets a big shake-up as non-traditional contestants enter, led by sizeable and sassy Willowdean who’s ready for new things and her share of love.

Mom relives her Miss Texas Blue Bonnet days each year, helping slim cheerleaders prepare for the pageant as her own daughter enjoys being fat and almost happy.

Dumplin’ (oh, Mom, drop that nickname, please!) moons over handsome Bo at work and wonders if she’ll get stuck in this small town like recently deceased young Aunt Lucy whose size finally kept her housebound.

Willowdean and Lucy loved Dolly Parton’s songs and self-acceptance, so when classmates say the pageant isn’t for her, the teen decides it’s time to challenge the system – and so do other not-gorgeous girls from school!

Hone your talent? Time for a roadtrip to Aunt Lucy’s favorite music venue!
Find the perfect dress? Hello, vintage stores!
Get an escort for the pageant? Oh… maybe Bo?

She’s not entering the pageant to piss off Mom, but this sassy sweetheart and her new friends have read all the rules and know it’s their right to try – in front of the whole town.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality, by Elizabeth Eulberg (book review) – pageant big sis breaks loose

book cover of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg published by PointPageant fees week after week, check.
Hair falls for a seven year old, check.
Reality check for Mom… nope.

Oh, yes, Lexi realistically could be tagging along after her little sister to beauty pageants every weekend of the year – thank goodness for her supportive friends, especially when her mom’s obsession with Mackenzie’s pageant appearances gets out of hand.

Check out this video interview to find out where the title came from (she told this story at TLA2014, too), then find this 2013 release in hardback or paperback now at your own local library or favorite independent bookstore.

Where’s the line between looking good and living for your looks?
**kmm

Book info: Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality / Elizabeth Eulberg. Point, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Her little sister is a Texas beauty pageant princess, so if 16-year-old Lexi wants more from life, she’ll have to overcome the “great personality” label and make her own way (despite their mom).

Downsized into a doublewide trailer because child support won’t cover house rent and Mackenzie’s pageant costs, Lexi feels unappreciated as she saves up for the fashion internship in New York City.

Cam thinks Lexi’s crush on Logan (boyfriend of beauty queen Alyssa) is ridiculous, Benny challenges her to a makeover in teeny steps, and she dares him to let cute guy Chris know his feelings.

Will she really stop hiding behind baggy clothes and messy hair?
Will Lexi and Benny ever escape their judgmental small town?
Will these pageants never ever end?

An average gal in the land of the gorgeous, Lexi decides that she must craft the ultimate Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality if she ever wants to be herself. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Armchair BEA! Book bloggers wishing we were there…

sketch of stacked books typewriter person reading from 1clipart.com

(c) 1Clipart.com

The biggest US book event of the year starts now in NYC, and I am among the many book-fans not attending BookExpo America… sigh.

But, hark! There in the blogosphere… it’s Armchair BEA, a chance for book bloggers not thronging Javits Center to gather together virtually and celebrate our love of books and blogging!

First things, first – introductions:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?
I learned to read when I was so little that I can’t remember ever not being able to read – and I’ve always loved reading a wide range of genres and subjects. In fact, being a non-specialist is why I became a librarian, back in the olden days of mainframes and card catalogs.

A few years ago, my husband’s out-of-state job transfer gave me the chance to ‘retire’ early from school library (the retirement checks will catch up in a few years), and I found myself with time to finally read and read. When Barb Langridge asked for guest reviewers for her website www.abookandahug.com where kids search for books themselves, I sent in a sample…and the rest is history! Barb always reminded me that my recommendations belonged to me and encouraged me to share them, so when I heard about WordCount Blogathon 2011 – blogging every single day for a month – I decided to leap in.

Thankfully, my choice of blog name was available, I had a built-in community of supportive bloggers for that first month, and I found my niche recommending young adult books beyond best-sellers. Because of Blogathon, I also got onto Twitter, where I can hear from authors, bloggers, and everyone else (love it).

This year, Blogathon starts June 1 (you still have time to sign up!). I still contribute many recommendations to www.abookandahug.com, too (over 340, at last count).

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location.
Now in a different location for husband’s work – we stay in an RV park during the week, home to E. Texas most weekends. If you drive straight south on road from RV park, you get to the free Lynchburg Ferry which has been running since 1822! After crossing the river, you come to the San Jacinto Monument and the Battleship Texas.

Have you previously participated in Armchair BEA? If you have not previously participated, what drew you to the event?
This is my first year for Armchair BEA. For the past couple of years, I’ve just pouted when all the tweets and blog reports came in from BEA. It sounds like the Texas Library Association conference exhibit hall on steroids, and that would be some kinda huge!

I really like the chance for interaction and community in what can be such a solitary pursuit. It’s just me and 2 sleeping cats here writing reviews with content enhancements, week in and week out.

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013?
Oh, gosh, ask an easier question, like favorite book this week! I read very, very fast (so my summer #bookaday challenge should be easy), but really take time to craft recommendations with no spoilers.

Since I concentrate on smaller presses and debut authors, finding the gems among them is so cool. Two very different books by M. Scott Carter are recent reads that I’ll recommend during June so Blogathonners see them: Stealing Kevin’s Heart  and The Immortal Von B.  (both from The Roadrunner Press). Laurie Plissner’s Screwed from Merit Press made me cry; it’s so good, but no easy answers.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.photo of couple in traditional Chinese wedding clothes (c) Katy Manck
My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary while he was building the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, so we had a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony as our rededication! The wedding planners said they’d never heard of a Western couple doing that before. Lion-dog dancers, acrobats, being carried in a palanquin, erhu and flute music – quite the experience!

Onward, Armchairers!
**kmm

Clipart of reader with books and typewriter copyrighted by and courtesy of 1clipart.com