Friday, August 5, 2011

My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star, by Joyce Raskin (fiction) - rock music greatness, high school freshman blues

Fun Friday, especially for anyone who's dreamed of being in a rock band.

Alexis has a bad case of teen dissatisfaction, cured by learning to play bass guitar and being in her brother's rock band. And skateboarding, don't forget her skateboarding.

A rock star at 14?! It's up to Alexis to navigate around other people's choices (bad and good) while staying true to herself.

Joyce Raskin knows what she's writing about since she's a bassist with the band Scarce (back together after time off for other projects) and even has a series of beginning guitar lessons for girls on YouTube! Rock on!

A fast, fun read that demands your favorite rock music in the background.

Book info: My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star / Joyce Raskin, illustrated by Carol Chu. Graphia, 2011 [author's Facebook page] [publisher website] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Uncoolness and zits, that’s life for Alexis, until her brother teaches her to play bass guitar for his band. Eventually, she masters the bass (blisters!). Eventually, her body catches up with other teen girls (at last!). Eventually, she has a boyfriend (yay!), then a heartbreak (cry!), then some fame (wow!), and some major disappointments (parents!).

Fast-moving chapters chronicle this eventful year in Alex’s life - her skateboarding and punk rock adventures, making a record with the band at age 14, her former-hippy parents supporting her big-time before going super-strict!

Written by a former teen-rocker (who still plays in a band!), Misadventures includes getting-started information about guitars, learning chords, writing songs, and sticking to your dreams – major girl power in a small package! (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When I Was Joe, by Keren David (fiction) - gang threats, witness protection, murder

book cover of When I Was Joe by Keren David published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books
Imagine leaving behind everything.

Just vanishing from your school and neighborhood without a word to anyone.

The only witness to a murder, a gang-related knife crime, one that could shut down one of the biggest crime rings in London.

So Ty and his mother must disappear into the Witness protection programme... far away from their multicultural London neighborhood.

Starting anew. Reinventing yourself. What teenage guy wouldn't want that chance? But how can Ty balance the required secrecy and security with his need to help a new friend, a girl-type new friend?

For our World Wednesday, a brilliant first novel followed by the equally gripping Almost True.

Book info: When I Was Joe / Keren David. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2010. [author's blog] [publisher site]

Recommendation: It was just a test, but the boy died - Arron’s gang initiation, but A’s knife went too deep. Ty is the only witness, his life in danger, his mum’s life in danger. Escaping from London by back roads, Ty and Nicki are transformed by Witness Protection agents – dyed hair, contact lenses, different clothes – and taken to a new city, a new school, a new life.

Suddenly, shy Ty is no longer Arron’s shadow, but “Joe”, the cute new guy with cool hair and a mysterious past. His new school specializes in sports (never an option at St. Saviour’s), and Joe finds a talent for running track, thanks to an observant student-teacher who’s a gifted para-athlete.

Not everyone is happy that Joe is a track star, and the bullying at school escalates. Joe’s nightmares about Arron and the knife get worse, Nicki/Mum is stuck at the new house with no job, and misunderstandings with new school friends get out of hand.

How long can Ty and Nicki keep up this charade? Will they have to uproot and move again and again, changing names and identities over and over? Can the detectives really keep the rest of their London family safe until Joe testifies at the murder trial?

A gritty and absorbing read that reflects all too well how fast young lives can change – or stop – with just the flick of a knife blade. Be sure to grab the sequel, Almost True, for the rest of the story! (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dry Souls, by Denise Getson (fiction) - drought forever, water-bringer, escape

The power to bring water to dry land - any desert-dweller would want to have that gift, to create an oasis of water for drinking and crops, right?

But access to water is a powerful need, as any farmer or city manager will tell you, even today.

Imagine water-access as a political tool, as a crowd-management strategy, and you'll see why Kira's gift of water in the drought-stricken, devastated environment of our possible future is something that powerful people want so very badly to control.

A stunning debut novel with memorable characters and pacing worthy of a motion picture (and I mean that in a good way). Have your local independent bookstore order Dry Souls for you, and be sure to tell your library about it so they can get a copy, too.

Book info: Dry Souls / Denise Getson. CBAY Books, 2011. [author's Facebook page] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: A flower? Kira wonders how a non-food plant survived the pollution and planetary drought that are killing humanity. In her desperation to keep the flower alive, Kira discovers that she can bring water to the ground with her fingertip!

When Matron finds the flower and decides to send her away from the orphanage, Kira knows that it’s time to run away, to head for the Dead Lakes Region where her mother had lived. Crossing toxic streams, encountering mutant wildlife, how long can Kira make it through this desolation created by worldwide chemical and biological warfare on her own?

Meeting up with JD who’s escaping from a boys’ orphanage was a stroke of luck for both teens, as they pool their skills and resources to survive. When they have to steal algae-bars from remote outposts, Kira creates water in repayment. They hide by day, traveling at night, heading for a Biosphere where they can get more nutritionals and sunblock to counteract the pollutants in the food and air.

But officials searching for Kira have reached the Biosphere first, and the friends must find a way to escape again before she’s captured for her water-creating abilities. A blind woman reading Kira’s palm recites an old proverb about water – and that’s supposed to help them find their way to Slag?

Can JD and Kira really survive a journey through the wasteland that the Devastation left behind? What might they discover at the far-distant Dead Lakes to make it worth the journey? If the officials are tracking them, will they even make it to tomorrow?

This debut novel is a brilliant dystopian future-view that begs to be made into a movie, that warns us of what our future could be, that urges us to have the vision to preserve our world. (194 pages) (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Read around the world (reflective)

We've circled the globe during July and the Ultimate Blog Challenge, highlighting books set in many countries (and eras).

The Grassland Trilogy reaches back beyond written history, showing the courage of young people trying to Escape the Mask, see Beneath the Mask, and go Beyond the Mask.

Cate of the Lost Colony traveled from the glittering court of Queen Elizabeth I to the desolate sand dunes of Roanoke in the New World, and Plain Kate, driven from her home by superstition, must search for answers down the river, into the mists.

Esty's Gold took us from famine-stricken Ireland to the Australian goldfields in the 1880s, while The Reformed Vampire Support Group sticks together in today's Sydney.

Online gamers in China, India, Singapore and the US are fighting For the Win and a fair chance at life.

Annexed and Briar Rose brought us perspectives on the Holocaust - the Netherlands, Germany, Poland - so many bitter sorrows, so many untold tales.

Modern-day Paris hides decades-old secrets in Die For Me, while in Montreal, Mira just wants her own today in Pieces of Me.

And we've just begun the Rivers of Time trilogy, as Lia and Gabi go back to 14th century Tuscany in Waterfall.

Oh, the photo up there? That's me aboard the wooden sailing ship Southern Swan in Sydney Harbour in the 21st century. Ready for more great books in August?