Tag Archive | Texas

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?

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?

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?

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!

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

Border Town: Crossing the Line, by Malin Alegria (book review) – sisters, competition, the truth

book cover of Border Town Crossing the Line by Malin Alegria published by Point BooksHigh school cliques.
Social pecking-order.
You’ve got to know where you stand
and when crossing the line is the right thing to do.

Big sister Fabi is sure she has all the answers that ninth-grader Alexis will need to succeed in their high school in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. But pretty little Alexis isn’t satisfied with being a quiet Mexican-American good-girl and decides to run with the popular crowd, setting her sights on football star Dex, despite his bad-boy reputation in town.

Alexis and Fabi’s extended family ranges from arguing grandmothers who stay on opposite sides of the Garza restaurant to baby brother Rafael (also known as Baby Oops) to their many, many uncles and aunts and cousins.

Like many border towns, questions of immigration and fair work, legal enterprises and criminal activities “from away” are the unspoken undercurrents that disturb the balance of life in Dos Rios and finally demand answers.

This is the first book in the Border Town series, with the Garza family’s next adventures coming soon: Quince Clash (#2) will be published July 1, 2012, with Falling Too Fast (#3) and No Second Chances (#4) following at three-month intervals. Fans of the popular Bluford High series should jump right into Border Town.

Book info: Border Town: Crossing the Line (Border Town #1) / Malin Alegria. Point (Scholastic), 2012.  [author’s website] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: Fabi is excited that her little sister will attend her high school this year, but worries when Alexis won’t listen to the rules that keep them safe in their Texas border town. Crossing the line into the wrong crowd is more than a social miscue – it could endanger their family’s business.

There have always been tensions between long-time residents of Dos Rios and newcomers, between Mexican-Americans and whites. When it comes to the patrons of her family’s Mexican restaurant, Fabiola Garza knows who to joke with and who to be quiet around. Her cousin Santiago can sweet-talk anyone, especially their two grandmothers, one whose answer to every question is a rosary, the other who just adores conjunto musician Little Rafa.

Alexis starts seeing bad-boy Dex, deciding that being popular is more important than attending the voice lessons that her parents work so hard to pay for. Too bad that Fabi’s best friend moved away – she needs Georgia Rae’s advice more often than just weekends.

Chuy is attacked in the restaurant one night, but the waiter can’t identify the robbers. Luckily new student Milo is with Fabi when she discovers him. As other immigrants are robbed of their earnings on payday, the townspeople get worried. Are the drug cartels coming across the border from Mexico now or is anti-Mexican sentiment in Dos Rios turning violent?

When Santiago starts flashing cash around town, the police decide he’s responsible for the thefts. Fabi overhears Dex bragging to his football buddies about mugging immigrants and asks Georgia Rae and Milo to help her uncover the truth.

Can Fabi convince Alexis to stay away from the football star for good?
Can she keep her cousin out of prison?
Can she convince anyone that the judge’s grandson Dex is a thief?

First in the fast-moving Border Town series, Crossing the Line is followed by Quince Clash (book 2), Falling Too Fast (book 3), and No Second Chances (book 4).  (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Flawless, by Lara Chapman (book review) – big nose, big love, big problem?

book cover of Flawless by Lara Chapman published by Bloomsbury

Welcome to senior year, time to strive for those scholarships (if you’re Sarah) or coast until graduation (apply to a party-school college like Kristen, yeah). It’s all set for these best friends at their Houston high school, until handsome, brainy Rock arrives… sigh!

Funny and truthful, this debut novel by a Texas author is right on the nose, I mean, right on target. How much should Sarah help her friend as Kristen tries to snag the new guy? Just one text message? Their whole online correspondence?

Grab a big Dr Pepper (make it Diet, if you’re Sarah), ignore the rhinoplasty surgery brochures from her mom, and follow Sarah’s journey as she redefines love, friendship, and her own self-worth.

Book info: Flawless / by Lara Chapman. Bloomsbury, 2011. [author’s website ] [publisher site]

My Book Talk: When smart, handsome Rock transfers to their Houston high school, Sarah feels an immediate connection. So does her cute best friend Kristen who does NOT have Sarah’s enormous nose. Sigh…

In fact, the only other person ever burdened with that huge nose is Sarah’s mom, who had plastic surgery on hers before college and is now a popular TV newscaster. No one can believe that they are mother and daughter, because of Sarah’s nose. A career in off-camera journalism is Sarah’s life plan!

When Kristen asks Sarah to help her write ‘smart’ notes and online messages to Rock so that he’ll like her more, Sarah can’t let her feelings for him ruin their friendship, can she? While their English class project brings Sarah and Rock together intellectually, Rock and Kristen become the cutest couple on campus. But can Kris really keep up her pretend love of books and poets when she goes out with Rock? Of course, nothing is easy in high school relationships – does Rock maybe like Sarah a little, too?

Romantic misunderstandings test the bonds of friendship in this fun and funny retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac, as seen from the feminine point of view. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.