Tag Archive | US author

P is PREPPED to survive any disaster…almost, by Bethany Mangle (YA book review)

book cover of Prepped, by Bethany Mangle. Published by Margaret K. McElderry/Simon Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ready for fire, falling into icy waters,
nuclear fallout, kidnap attempts,
but not real-life like other families…

Growing up with doomsday preppers means constant vigilance and training – high school senior Becca has the scars to prove it. Both sets of grandparents established this Ohio neighborhood of survivalists, hidden bunkers in their backyards and all.

Everyone else in town thinks they’re an end-times cult, but there’s no religion here, just paranoia and preparation and more paranoid preparation.

When Roy Kang’s family joined the group, “genetic diversity” was her parents’ first thought, so he and Becca are paired for marriage soon and will learn trades that’ll benefit the group, no matter what they want.

Becca believes in science, her physics teacher believes she can get a full scholarship far away from here, and somehow dumb-as-a-rock Roy turns out to be much smarter than their parents think.

“Always be ready for the worst day of your life,” but improbably her Dad wasn’t, so now Mom’s in charge and pushing younger kids into hazardous training early.

How can she and Roy leave without tripping the perimeter alarms?
Could their new non-prepper friend really help them escape?
How can Becca leave her 10-year-old sister Katie here?

Love could make them a family, but bone-deep fear of everything makes life unbearable in this debut novel of surviving more than just improbable disasters.

Where would a full-ride scholarship take you?
**kmm

Book info: Prepped / Bethany Mangle. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for ODDITY, logic-defying objects, the desire of Clover’s heart, by Eli Brown (YA book review)

book cover of Oddity, by Eli Brown. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A button that whistles when it rains,
the rooster leading US troops into battle,
the search for oddities that killed Clover’s mother…

Far from the city, Clover’s physician father trains her to treat the ills and injuries of country folk. Rarely will he speak of the accident that claimed her mother, a noted scholar of magical Oddities that draw the thirteen year old’s attention and her father’s wrath.

An attack on their home sends Clover fleeing with just their medical bag and papa’s warning that he did keep one necessary Oddity of mama’s collection – but what?

Each Oddity can do one very specific thing and only that – a fiddle that compels hearers to dance, the umbrella that stores lightning bolts – how many uncataloged Oddities are still waiting to be found?

Nessa’s medicine show wagon can get Clover to the city, if they can outwit bandits and avoid magical creature attacks along the forest road.

But the young woman finds more questions than answers when she locates her mother’s colleague in the city – and treachery too!

A hat filled with secrets and fangs, the deadliest snake of all, a destructive ragdoll, the Seamstress who stitches together malign creatures from odd parts – who will gain control of their world?

In this alternate history tale, Napoleon used an Oddity to create platoons of identical soldiers for the Louisiana War that tore apart the New World, a corrupt politician wants to use Oddities to control the now-bankrupt eleven Unified States, and Clover journeys into danger to find the source of the Oddities’ magic.

One small task per Oddity – what would you choose? What price would you be willing to pay?
**kmm

Book info: Oddity / Eli Brown, illustrated by Karin Rytter. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [author video] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N for NOAH MCNICHOL & THE BACKSTAGE GHOST! by Martha Freeman (MG book review)

Book cover of Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost, by Martha Freeman. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Skulls and fake blood and foam swords,
“there are no small parts, only small players”
The play’s the thing!

Dad says wanting to act is just a phase, so the sixth grade play is Noah’s big chance to be on stage! Oh no – the drama teacher is out so the PE coach will direct them… in Hamlet?

Luckily, an older Jewish guy named Mike volunteers to help because strange things are happening while Coach Fig spends rehearsals on his phone!

The “No-Trauma Drama” script now has its original gruesome ending, the costumes and sets are way better than previous years’ Hamlet, and a cold breeze drifts backstage when all the doors are closed.

Despite not being cast as Hamlet, Noah is enjoying play practice and Mike’s interesting advice… and watching Mike vanish into thin air – is their guest director a ghost?

Noah’s college professor parents are arguing again about which subjects are more important – why is Dad the physics teacher so angry about literature?

Shakespeare’s Hamlet is way more interesting than the family-friendly version written by the lady who donated the school’s nice theater – can they do the real one without interference?

Suddenly, their drama club one-night-only performance is the hot ticket in their New York town – break a leg!

Conversing with someone long gone – yes or no?
**kmm

Book info: Noah McNichol and the Backstage Ghost / Martha Freeman. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M for MILLION MILE ROAD TRIP in the purple whale, to Mappyworld and beyond? whoa… by Rudy Rucker (YA book review)

book cover of Million Mile Road Trip, by Rudy Rucker. Published by Skyhorse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Feuding alien beings,
augmented old station wagon (surfboards included),
three teens must save humanity…

Zoe just wants to get through graduation tomorrow, best friend Villy might not get to (math = yuck, guitar = yes), and his younger brother Scud excels at… being annoying.

Her dad’s in a flying saucer cult, Mom hasn’t forgiven him for walking out when Zoe was little, and her half-sister is in jazz band, too – just regular Southern California, right?

When the musical riff that Maisie just taught her opens an interdimensional portal, small yellow aliens Yampa and Pinchley call Zoe, Villy, and Scud on a mission to stop bad aliens from invading Earth!

Stretch crawdads, fleshy flying saucers (friendly vs. evil), Thudd dinosaurs – the three teens meet all sorts of aliens on their million-mile road trip through the basins and ridges of Mappyworld.

Will they make it to Szep City where rebels gather to oppose Lord Groon’s takeover of Ballyworld aka Earth?
Can they get back to Los Perros in time for Zoe to play her trumpet solo at the talent show and save the world?
Is that Maisie over there?

“Upsy downy inside out” plus a saucer-pearl can get the kids out of jams or into multi-worlds trouble!

Zoe and Villy take turns recounting their amazing sci-fi journey through Mappyworld and from friendship to love. One universal truth – chocolate is the ultimate currency.

Which of your skills would help you outsmart an alien invasion?
**kmm

Book info: Million Mile Road Trip / Rudy Rucker. Night Shade Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L is for LOVE & OLIVES, by Jenna Evans Welch (YA book review)

book cover of Love & Olives, by Jenna Evans Welch. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ten days away from Seattle, that’s all,
her artist’s eyes setting up camera angles,
heart breaking because her dad will leave again…

White buildings reflecting sunlight, the sparkling blue Aegean Sea – the Greek island of Santorini has captivated visitors for centuries, but sixteen year old Liv doesn’t want to be impressed by its beauty.

Neither does she intend to quickly forgive her long-estranged father for suddenly interrupting her summer plans by bringing her here for a filming project about their mutual fascination – the lost city of Atlantis.

On a tight schedule, she and dad’s young cameraman Theo crisscross the island to filming locations – why is Dad sometimes a no-show?

Dad is utterly convinced that he can prove the site of Atlantis to the scientific community – what exactly is he trying to prove to Liv?

Sleeping in a hidden nook of Theo’s family bookstore, glorious sunsets, more questions than answers in the village her dad returned to after emigrating to America – how much can 10 days change?

Each chapter is headed by an item from Liv’s list of 26 things left behind by her dad, a list kept close at hand as she and Mom moved often, struggling until meeting now-stepdad James.

A story of journeying from home to learn about love, from the author of Love & Gelato (my review) and Love & Luck (review here).

Where do you need to go to make an old story into a new truth?
**kmm

Book Info: Love & Olives / Jenna Evans Welch. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is THE COST OF KNOWING the future, past & pain, by Brittney Morris (YA book review)

book cover of The Cost of Knowing, by Brittney Morris. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Accidents happen,
life goes on in sorrow,
the future is a mystery… right?

Orphaned by a car wreck, 16 year old Alex and little brother Isaiah now live with Aunt Mackie in a ‘very nice’ Chicago subdivision where a white neighbor rants in the Black family’s kitchen about requiring background checks for renters during a rap mega-star’s concert nearby.

She doesn’t know, no one knows that after the accident Alex began seeing the future of every object – and every person – that his fingers touch. Future of an ice cream dipper at Scoops is no big deal. But the longer he touches, the more of the future he sees, so touching the people he cares about is too much to bear.

When exactly will girlfriend Talia walk away from their future together?
How long can Alex endure the future invading his every breath?
Why is 12-year-old Izzy wearing headphones every single moment of summer?

Braving Izzy’s anger to find common ground before any future happens, Alex bets everything on them going to the Shiv concert together, wishing this curse would vanish… Brand-new speculative fiction from the author of Slay.

Would you want to see the future… really?
**kmm

Book Info: The Cost of Knowing / Brittney Morris. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I is immigration stories: COME ON IN, ed. by Adi Alsaid (YA book review)

book cover of Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home, ed. by Ali Alsaid. Published by Inkyard Press-Harlequin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being uprooted,
Growing in a different place,
Wondering if this is the right spot or not…

Since the earliest days of this country, people have arrived ‘from away’ in waves and trickles, immigrants with high academic credentials or no shoes on their feet, all seeking a better place.

Detained by TSA, keeping diaries of now and then, “where are you really from?” – these 15 stories by noted young adult authors who are themselves immigrants or children of immigrants illustrate the many facets of moving away and starting anew.

“The Wedding” of two Americans must be held in Canada so great-uncle from Iran may attend – travel ban keeping old man and his older brother from seeing each other for years.

High school in New Jersey is so different from Bombay that Priya cannot speak aloud, even as her little brother’s new hearing aids open up the world for him, in “First Words.”

Her grandparents finally have visas from Venezuela, but Valentina’s lost all her Spanish – how will they even communicate? “Hard to Say”…

Short story contributors include Adi Alsaid, Varsha Bajaj, Maria E. Andreu, Sharon Morse, Misa Sugiura, Nafiza Azad, Maurene Goo, Sona Charaipotra, Yamile Saied Méndez, Zoraida Córdova, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Sara Farizan, Isabel Quintero, Justine Larbalestier, and Lilliam Rivera.

How do we welcome people and invite them to come on in?
**kmm

Book Info: Come On In: 15 Stories About Immigration and Finding Home / Adi Alsaid, editor. Inkyard Press, 2020. (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

H is for brainy pigeon HOMER ON THE CASE of the missing watch! by Henry Cole (MG book review)

book cover of Homer on the Case, by Henry Cole. Published by Peachtree Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Racing for home,
Navigating by instinct,
Aware of changing conditions – and crooks!

Homer enjoys training for competitions as Otto and Grandpa drive far from town and let the homing pigeon free to zoom back to his rooftop enclosure – watch out for hawks en route!

He taught himself to read the newspapers lining his cage and keeps up with all the town news, so Homer knows he’ll find his bird friend Carlos and some free food at the street fair in the park.

They witness a bold daytime heist, as two rats steal a gold bracelet! That’s just the first in a rash of thefts as park visitors are suddenly missing a gold pen, a shiny hairclip, jeweled dog collars.

Otto and Homer are happy to meet Charlotte and her vivid green Amazon parrot Lulu in the park – where the new bird-buddles get word from Carlos that Grandpa’s keepsake gold watch has just been stolen!

That’s the last straw! Lulu can speak her own mind in Human, and speedster Homer can read the Dick Tracy comics – this brilliant pair of birds will find the thieves who are stealing lovely keepsakes from their neighborhood park!

Over the streets, down into the storm drains?
Why would rats and cats steal so many things they can’t eat?
Can they convince Otto and Charlotte to help them get to the bottom of this mystery?

Enjoy the author-illustrator’s detailed sketches of our brave bird heroes and their faithful human friends as they follow the clues just like Homer’s favorite fictional detective!

**kmm

Book info: Homer on the Case / Henry Cole, writer & illustrator. Peachtree Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

G for GLIMPSED by a high school fairy godmother! by G.F. Miller (YA book review)

book cover of Glimpsed, by G.F Miller. Published by Simon Schuster BYFR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Seeing their deepest wish,
Sending a few ‘nudges’ into nearby minds –
teen fairy godmother improving lives… right?

Charity can ‘glimpse’ someone’s most-longed-for future and secretly help them attain it – with best friend and fashion maven Sean’s help as needed – and sees past successes in her California high school halls.

Her grandmother (and fairy godmother mentor) warns that trying to nudge Vindhya from robotics club to Homecoming Queen in nine days is too fast, that people need time to change themselves based on the suggestions that Charity plants in their minds.

Uh oh! Adorkable Noah has figured out that the super-popular Pom squad dancer is also a fairy godmother and is ready to tell all!

Eldest in his Star Trek-obsessed family, Noah is sure that her ‘gift’ is logically explainable, and since Charity granted Holly’s wish to be popular which took Holly away from Noah… time to examine the data.

Could she help get Noah and Holly to their Happily Ever After without nudging anyone?

Who’s right – big sister Hope far away from their too-quiet house, workaholic Mom denying that she has any gift, or her grandmother embracing it extravagantly?

Is she pushing Glimpsed relationships in the right direction or are the Glimpses controlling her?

Ask for Glimpsed at your local library or independent bookstore to find out which path Charity chooses for her own future!

Do you want a Glimpse to become true…really and truly?
**kmm

Book info: Glimpsed / G. F. Miller. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

E is empowering words by THE LIGHTNING DREAMER: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist, by Margarita Engle (YA book review)

book cover of The Lightning Dreamer, by Margarita Engle. Published by Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Reading is escape.
Forbidden now, freedom removed –
She will tell new stories!

Of course she must marry someday, but Tula is told by her grandfather that the highest bidder will claim her next year, that her mother and stepfather will gain enough money in 1828 to buy more slaves to save their Cuban sugar plantation from ruin, that the thirteen year old’s too-brief time with her late father’s books will end forever.

Sent to wait at the convent, Tula meets nuns who accept every child abandoned because their skin is darker, who save every book they can find, who allow her to read the silenced poet Heredia’s calls for equality.

She writes plays and allegories that hide freedom’s songs within folktales, hiding them in her brother’s room. She dreams with her best friends of marriage based on love. She is betrayed, and yet continues composing messages of hope.

As the abolition of slavery is discussed publicly in America’s north, silence reigns on the island of Cuba, enforced by the whip and imprisonment. But what prison bars can keep captive the words of truth?

This novel-in-verse by the author of Jazz Owls (my review) and With a Star in My Hand (my review) sprinkles the voices of Mama, the nuns, and others among Tula’s poems about dreams, love, and a better future for all. Based on the life of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873).

What are your powerful dreams?
**kmm

Book info: The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist / Margarita Engle. Harcourt, hardcover 2013, paperback 2015. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; cover image courtesy of the publisher.