Tag Archive | US author

In TENMILE mining town, what future does she have? by Sandra Dallas (MG book review)

Back of young girl with long hair, looking at old western town at base of mountains - book cover of Tenmile, by Sandra Dallas

Beautiful mountains above,
gold in the ground below,
the many toiling to benefit a few..

Some have enough, most have little, a few have so much – life in their Colorado gold mining town isn’t fair, her widowed doctor father tells 13-year-old Sissy.

“She’d asked him once why he hadn’t moved to Denver, where there were beautiful houses and grass and leafy trees. ‘Because people in Tenmile need me,’ he’d replied.” (p.85)

When their fathers are injured in the mines, some of her friends must drop out of school to support their families, working as maids, clothes washers, even down in the mines as young teens…

Willie Gilpin’s big brother died of scarlet fever, so his worried mother keeps him home from school. The rich mine owner’s son has gotten spoiled and mean; 13-year-old Sissy will tutor him, but not put up with his bad behavior.

Oh, no! Another mine accident! Sissy runs to help.
Doc has taught her many treatments and remedies; she helps him setting broken bones and delivering babies – but no one thinks a girl can be a doctor in 1880!

Look for this 2022 release in hardcover, paperback, or eBook at your local library or independent bookstore (not affiliate links).

What dream job are you aiming for, despite what others say?
**kmm

Book info: Tenmile / Sandra Dallas. Sleeping Bear Press, hardcover 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

They search to see WINGS IN THE WILD – wings of hope? by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

Standing brown girl paints mural of tropical birds while seated brown boy serenades her with guitar - book cover of Wings In the Wild, by Margarita Engle

Creative people caged like birds,
our overheating planet –
where is justice?

Fleeing Cuba when their massive wood sculptures protesting the imprisonment of artists are revealed by a hurricane in 2018, Soleida is separated from her parents – the sixteen year old animal rescuer must continue out into the world, alone.

Yet another wildfire consumes his parents’ California mansion and the forest where Dariel serenades animals with Cuban love songs. Better to leave their elite expectations and go with Abuelo to help interview Cuban refugees stranded in Costa Rica, experience its natural wonders before climate change destroys them, too.

In spring 2019, Soleida and Dariel meet among the sea of refugee tents – her hopes of freedom shredded to the bone, his anger at these injustices burning hot.

What will she think of the tropical animals and birds that move in closer and closer to hear his songs and guitar?
What will he think of her journey-story, surviving fear and flood and hunger, leaving her parents behind?

Together, they find her artist cousin nearby in the cloud forest.
Together, can they let the world know about her parents, trapped in Cuba?
Together…can they have any future together?

Watching incredible birds, painting them, singing them near, pondering what could be – this novel-in-verse traverses difficult situations and wonder-filled landscapes.

Readers will recognize Soleida’s neighbors Liana and Amado from Your Heart, My Sky (recommended here), much like the interwoven stories of people who have left Cuba connect with those remaining there. Just released in paperback on April 23, 2024.

How far would you go to be free?
**kmm

Book info: Wings in the Wild / Margarita Engle. Atheneum, hardcover 2023, paperback 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Z is for alien Zyx fused with FELIX YZ – can they survive separation? by Lisa Bunker (MG book review) #A2Z

DNA spiral rising vertically from book title of Felix Yz, by Lisa Bunker

Thirty days till the Procedure –
a successful separation
or death sentence for them both?

The gigantic experiment that killed his scientists father fused a fourth-dimensional alien into Felix at age three, leaving his body contorted and hyperintelligent Zyx permanently part of his brain.

Zyx is a secret from everyone except Felix’s older sister Beatrix (piano genius), Mom, and Grandy (grandparent who is Vera with pearls or Vern in flannel or neither) – and the government group where Dad worked.

When Zyx encounters something new, its enthusiasm causes body spasms so Felix is shunned or bullied at school, his own mental capacity questioned by most teachers, except Mrs. C who encourages him to enter the annual essay contest.

The government experts say that the 13 year old and Zyx must be separated now, or Felix won’t grow to adulthood!

Felix journals what he and Zyx think about and encounter during the 30 days leading up to the Procedure – Zyx’s new-found joy in online chess making Mom’s boyfriend think Felix is a chess genius; Felix finally talking to his crush Hector, then a big misunderstanding; Zyx taking Felix on a small journey into the fourth dimension…

Because whether Zyx and Felix survive the Procedure or not, now is the time to celebrate the most important things in life! And finish that essay.

If you knew you had a short time to live, what would you do first?
**kmm

Book info: Felix Yz / Lisa Bunker. Puffin Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

V is for her very disastrous Valentine’s Day, on repeat! THE DO-OVER, by Lynn Painter (YA book review) #A2Z

Girl in blue van crashes back of red truck driven by boy. Second crash, he comforts her. Third crash, they stand apart. Book cover of The Do-Over, by Lynn Painter. Simon & Schuster.

Determined, organized,
people-pleaser –
now what’s all this!?

Her perfect Valentine’s Day plan gets a jolt when Emilie rear-ends her aloof lab partner’s truck, is told that her summer fellowship fell through, and sees her boyfriend kissing his ex!

This is not on her agenda at all: her divorced parents will be furious about the wreck, she needs that fellowship to pay for college, and how could Josh even do that to her?

Escaping to Grandma Max’s after more bad news from Dad, the high school junior turns in early so this horrible day can finally be over… and wakes up in her own bed on Valentine’s morning!

Her van is fine…until she rear-ends Nick’s truck again. Then she loses the fellowship again, and Josh is kissing Macy again… what is going on?

Next morning is Valentine’s Day yet again, and then the next is, too! Does the universe want her to change something to get out of this time loop?

On every repeated February 14th, she gets to know Nick a little better, but he doesn’t remember the next morning (also Feb. 14).

Different outfit, drive another route to school, talk her way back into the summer program, stop Josh from being alone with Macy, talk her way back into the summer program, convince Dad not to move – what else should she try?

Time for ultra-organized Emilie to go way off-script!

What single day would you want a do-over for?
**kmm

Book info: The Do-Over / Lynn Painter. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, hardcover 2022, paperback 2023. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is TASTING LIGHT: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions, edited by A.R. Capetta & Wade Roush (YA book review) #A2Z

vague human figure in spacesuit looking upward at title and author names on book cover of Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions,edited by A R Capetta and Wade Roush

What’s in our future?
Who gets to decide?
Can we change who gets to decide?

She hears a dead friend singing in the park – who selected that voice-mod to replace their own, and why?

Meeting him among the tethers holding together her small space city was electrifying – until she sensed one disintegrating.

Teens on different space habitats exchanging messages and dreams – via junk DNA in bio-sample data packets.

A robot far in the woods, observing the tiniest creatures in its soil – “I am very tired of humans desperately needing me to be something to them” (pg. 119).

Gender assumptions, body image, white entitlement, traditional knowledges, emotions and more…

Go to ten futures with William Alexander, K. Ancrum, Elizabeth Bear, A.R. Capetta, Charlotte Nicole Davis, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, A.S. King, E.C. Myers, Junauda Petrus-Nasah, and graphic novelist Wendy Xu.

The authors were challenged to write YA fiction using classic hard Sci-Fi with “no magic, no faster-than-light travel, just real-world physics,” and they succeeded brilliantly with these stories “about young people discovering themselves and how their bravery can change the world in small or big ways” (pg x).

Check it out at your local library or independent bookstore – hardcover, eBook, and paperback.

What do you see in your future?
**kmm

Book info: Tasting Light: Ten Science Fiction Stories to Rewire Your Perceptions / edited by A.R. Capetta & Wade Roush. MITeen Press /Candlewick, hardcover 2022, paperback 2023. [A.R. site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Q is QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU when I find you, Mom, by Michelle Falkoff (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Questions I Want to Ask You, by Michelle Falkoff. Published by Harper Teen

What a great 18th birthday – Maddie with him at CrossFit, last day of senior year, getting ready for a beach party, then… a letter from his mom?!

She died when Pack was a baby, Dad always said. Now he updates the story: Mom just abandoned them and their small Massachusetts city, then died later of a drug overdose.

After watching true crime shows with his police detective dad for years, Pack is definitely going to dig into this mystery, asking Dad’s school buddies, checking old yearbooks, finding Mom’s sister who lives in Connecticut not far away!

Her letter says not to tell Dad she’s alive, and as Pack meets the family he never knew and hears their side of events, he begins to see why.

Kidnapping, drug raids – what really happened when Pack was a baby?

The more he investigates why Mom left, the more dangerous things get for her and for Pack! Is he ready for the consequences?

Senior year with Maddie made Pack want to stop time. But she’s going away to college; he’s iffy about more school. He’s completely committed to the Paleo diet that changed him from pudgy to fit; she says it’s okay to ease up after reaching major fitness goals. Can they survive a long-distance relationship?

Questions and more questions… check out Pack’s intriguing story at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s the biggest question you have about your family’s past?
**kmm

Book info: Questions I Want to Ask You / Michelle Falkoff. Harper Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy won at Friends for Levine Querido auction; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is for POETRY COMICS through the seasons, by Grant Snider (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Poetry Comics, by Grant Snider. Published by Chronicle Books

“I want to put down on paper the feeling of fresh possibilities” as Spring begins Grant Snider’s collection of poems for kids, portrayed in comics panels.

Some poems take two pages to unfold, like “How To Stop the Spin of the Earth,” some are a single panel with few words, most use several panels on one page in traditional comics format.

All these poems are enhanced by their drawings of kids out in the world or at school or at home, with a few where the images take the written words to a higher level of meaning, like “Shape Story” in Spring (shown below) and “Best Friends” in the Summer section.

Shape Story: On a windy day I flew a kite  (child holds string of red square as kite). The sun was shining (sitting child sees yellow circle as sun) - but not for long (child under gray rain clouds holds blue upright triangle as umbrella). I ran... all the way home (child runs with blue umbrella to house with orange trapezoid as roof).

“How deep can a poem go?” Summer asks.

“I will wait for a poem to fall into my open arms,” Fall patiently says.

Winter sees “A new page – my words huddle close to keep warm.”

Each season ends with a version of “How To Write a Poem” so young readers can begin writing their own poems!

How are you inspired by the world around you?
**kmm

Book info: Poetry Comics / written & illustrated by Grant Snider. Chronicle Books, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for OTHERWORLDLY source of sorrow and joy, by F.T. Lukens (YA Book Review) #A2Z

book cover of Otherworldly, by F.T. Lukens, published by Margaret K McElderry Books / S&S

Bargain made with the Other World,
elixir of life sought by one brings winter for all
… forever?

Supernatural familiar Knox knows he’ll be whisked away the moment that a human-initiated contract is completed, everything about his time in this world erased, as usual. Hmmm…still no response from the queen about his reports.

After spring quit coming to their area five years ago, Ellery stopped believing in the goddess of earth (or river nymphs or gnomes or fae).

Ellery now works in the city to help their family try to keep the farm going (so much for school…sigh). Thankfully, cousin Charley and her girlfriend have a place for the 17 year old to stay – work, shiver, sleep, repeat.

When a hot young guy comes into their diner, Charley dares Ellery to talk to him. Oh, no, too shy!

They literally run into each other that evening, as Knox is fleeing the unearthly Shades trying to return him to the Other World before he’s seen more of this one!

If Knox signs another contract, he’ll regain his magic to fight the Shades and can stay in the human realm, so Ellery agrees – he’ll investigate this perpetual winter’s cause, and they’ll help him experience human life that he’s only seen on TV.

Between local sightseeing and work at the diner, the pair investigates the mystery of ever-winter (with help from Charley and Zada), trying to keep ahead the Shades, requesting assistance from supernatural beings also affected by the unnatural weather, realizing that Knox cannot resist being pulled back to the Other World when the last item on the contract is completed.

Told in alternating chapters by Knox and Ellery as they encounter dryads and pixies in the city, escape a hockey match brawl, and begin falling for one another.

Then Knox is suddenly before the Queen – what can Ellery do?

By the author of Spell Bound (I recommended it here), So This Is Ever After (more here), and In Deeper Waters (here).

What otherworldly being might inhabit your area?
**kmm

Book info: Otherworldly / F.T. Lukens. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N is THE NO-GIRLFRIEND RULE – when his game is closed to her, she finds a better one! by Christen Randall (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The No-Girlfriend Rule, by Christen Randall. Atheneum/S&S

Banned from the tabletop game he plays with his buddies.
Stay home or master the game and change their minds?

To show Chris she’s a great girlfriend, Hollis is determined to learn how to play Secrets & Sorcery RPG.

After an icky experience at their local games shop, the Kentucky teen spots a notice that new players are welcomed to an all-girls S&S group.

And so it is that Hollis (artistic, fat, usually broke) meets Gloria (their Secret Keeper, Colombian-American, curvy) and her preteen sister Fran (live-wire, gonna be a barbarian!!!), Aini (vibrant, cool, haircolor changes often), Maggie (blonde, social media star, also new) and Iffy (black, trans, involved in everything at school).

During the first session, they welcome both newcomers warmly, help Hollis refine her character as an armor-graced paladin with healing skill, and appreciate her cupcake mastery.

Every Friday night, Hollis carpools to Gloria and Fran’s house just across the river in Ohio, enjoying the twists and turns that their Secret Keeper adds to the game and how well their characters are developing together.

Hollis vividly sees each character in her mind, sketching them often, adding colors and metallic highlights – her rendition of Aini’s bard may be the best.

Riding with Aini to game night, dressing up as their characters for the fall festival, buying new game dice with Aini’s advice – so much better than being just-tolerated at school by Chris’s game bros.

The intricate storyline of their long S&S quest is revealed week by week, as Hollis endures her senior year, might pass history with Iffy’s tutoring, and realizes how she likes being with Aini.

How have shared interests brought together a group in your life?
**kmm

Book info: The No-Girlfriend Rule / Christen Randall. Atheneum/S&S, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L is LUMINOUS LIFE OF LUCY LANDRY: orphan, treasure seeker, by Anna Rose Johnson (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry, by Anna Rose Johnson. Published by Holiday House/PRH

Mama the actress died, then Papa,
now her guardian too –
where will Lucy go?

A remote lighthouse on a tiny island in vast Lake Superior!? Living with a family she’s never met? Thankfully, they’re also of Ojibwe and Acadian heritage…

So 11-year-old Lucy goes to the Martin family in 1912, an only child in hand-me-down clothes with a big imagination and few practical skills now among a bustling family of eight.

They gather seagulls’ eggs for cooking, their school lessons arrive every month with the household supply order and a box of books, and not one of the six children believes that Lucy’s mother was a famous actress…

Her ship-captain father told Lucy of a valuable ruby necklace lost when the Elva Jane shipwrecked and how a grand piano from its cargo washed ashore at Mermaid’s Cove across the water from this island – she’s determined to find that necklace in memory of her father!

But first she has to get over her fear of boats and convince the older Martin children to help her search and not make more mistakes at the lighthouse (that scary inspector could arrive any time).

The necklace’s owner is still living? Perhaps she knows a little more.
Who’s that boy searching for the necklace? Lucy must find it first!
A storm is coming while Mr. Martin is away? The children must light up the lighthouse for sailors’ safety!

Lucy tries to find her place in a new family in northern Michigan while keeping memories of her parents alive in this historical novel touched with mystery, glossary of Ojibwe and French words included.

Could you live on an island with little communication to the outside world?
**kmm

Book info: The Luminous Life of Lucy Landry / Anna Rose Johnson. Holiday House, 2024. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.