Friday, November 25, 2011

My Life Undecided (fiction)

Welcome to Fun Friday (for us) as Brooklyn is not having any fun anymore -
grounded by her parents forever,
shunned by her so-called friends at school,
performing community service to make up for her stupid decisions...

Why not let others decide everything for her for a while? As her blog readers' choices lead her through experiencing a macrobiotic diet, getting bruised up at rugby tryouts, and being unexpectedly good at debate, Brooklyn has a chance to be herself instead of society-queen Shayne's primped and painted sidekick.

And you can visit - yes, Brooklyn's blog - right now if YOU want blog readers to help YOU make a choice! But remember that there are some decisions that you really have to make for yourself...

Book info: My Life Undecided / Jessica Brody. Farrar Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, 2011. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]

Recommendation: Brooklyn didn’t think throwing that party in her mom’s new model home was a bad idea – she just didn’t think at all. Firetrucks, underage drinking, destruction of property – she’s lucky that her parents found a lawyer who got her off with community service. Helping clear the debris of the burned-down model home fits her dumb offense, but 200 hours volunteering in a Denver nursing home? Auggghhhh….

In desperation, Brook decides to anonymously blog about it all – and let her blog readers vote on what she should do next. After all, when was the last time that she made a good decision on her own?

Before the fire, Shayne directed every fashion and makeup choice, since they were both at the top of Parker High’s social ladder – now she snubs her at school. Her older sister Isabelle is perfect at everything. And 10 years after she fell into an abandoned mineshaft as a toddler and was rescued, she’s still recognized as “Baby Brooklyn.”

Eleven people vote in her first poll, and Brook is relieved to go with the majority choice of The Grapes of Wrath for English class. At the nursing home after school, she’s assigned to read to Mrs. Moody, who adores the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Maybe letting others make her decisions will be better after all!

Since she’s letting her blog readers vote on every choice, soon she finds herself trying out for rugby and debate, going to a diner instead of a swanky club opening, and becoming part of a hostage situation (well, she chose that minimart herself). When her blog goes viral, she suddenly has 800,000 readers telling her what to do about the overnight debate trip and which guy to date!

What’s up with Mrs. Moody and that collection of kids’ books? Should Brooklyn decide on her own about going to the Winter Formal? Wait, is Shayne really apologizing for snubbing her?

Brooklyn has to discover some answers for herself in this hilarious, timely, and oh-too-true teen novel. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Paper Daughter (fiction)

When what you "know" about your family isn't true,
When the person with the real answers is gone,
How far can you search back into the past without losing yourself?

Maggie knows that she wants to be a reporter like her father, recently killed by a hit-and-run driver. But when investigations get too close to home, when the truth upends everything she thought she knew about her family background...

Her hometown of Seattle has always been shaped by immigration and change - from its wild days as a frontier logging town through the countless immigrants from China who made one corner of the city their own, despite the strangling restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

So what does Maggie discover about her family's past and her own future?
Find out at your local library or independent bookstore on our World Wednesday - and remember to share family stories around the table this Thanksgiving.

Book info: Paper Daughter / Jeannette Ingold. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. [author's website] [publisher site] [student video book trailer]

Recommendation: As a young journalist, Maggie Chen has her late father's writing skills and reporting instincts. His recent death has left a gaping hole in her life, but she is determined to complete the summer internship he helped her arrange at the local newspaper.

That Jillian rushed in and grabbed photo desk before Maggie could even open her mouth - good thing Maggie won't be working directly with the other intern, who is all talk and nosiness. But internship means trying every aspect of the job, so she'll start at the sports desk and move to other assignments as the summer goes on.

Maggie and her professor mom start to notify Dad's out-of-town contacts about his death, about that hit-and-run driver. When one call connects Maggie to Dad's best friend in college, pieces of his life story begin to crumble as the truth about his past erases the family stories that he'd always told them. Now she's wondering about the unfinished articles in her dad's files.

If Dad wasn't from a well-to-do family, then where did he come from? Why did he contact so many people in California just before his death? Was he in Seattle's old Chinatown on the day he died for a newspaper story or on a personal investigation?

During her first "hard news" assignment, Maggie learns that someone else was killed in the same area on the same day, someone who might have been ready to blow the whistle on corrupt land development deals. Was her father's death connected to that, too?

Murmurs of Chinese immigrants' stories thread through Maggie's search for answers, stories of "paper sons" claimed as blood relatives on immigration applications, of changed names and unchanged resentments. Can she ever know who she really is? (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tag! (reflective)

Hmm... what's the trend?
Recent themes of books recommended here?
Top tags and noteworthy notes?

Wordclouds can give a graphical look at patterns in information.
Try Tagxedo or Wordle to make your own free wordcloud of a passage from a favorite book, your Facebook posts, Twitter feed -
do you see any patterns that surprise you?

And watch for upcoming books on BooksYALove - with familiar subjects and new horizons for us to explore together.

Which recently recommended book intrigues you most?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I Am Tama, Lucky Cat (fiction)

Wait a minute... a picture book on a YA blog?

Yes, of course! Picture books are great for all ages and every interest. That's why Picture Book Month reminds us of the wide range of stories where the pictures make the tale come alive, from Where the Wild Things Are to Grandfather's Journey.

Today's picture book theme celebrates folktales, so we look to a Japanese legend. Now you can discover why Lucky Cat became the friendly image that so often greets you in Chinese restaurants and oriental markets.

A charming book to spice up your world geography report or to share with younger friends. What do you wish the Lucky Cat could bring to you?

Book info: I Am Tama, Lucky Cat / Wendy Heinrichs; illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi. Peachtree Publishers, 2010. [publisher site]

Recommendation: Arriving at an old Japanese temple, the bobtailed cat raises his paw in greeting. The monk brings him in from the snowstorm and calls him a lucky cat. So Tama strives to make life better for the monk in this beautiful retelling of the lucky cat legend. But with no money, how can Tama and the monk repair the temple and help its worshippers?

Watercolor images of the flowering trees and carp pond surrounding the rundown temple evoke the serenity of its setting near a holy mountain. This beautiful picture book for all ages includes short historical notes about the legend’s origins.

You’ll look for new details in the illustrations every time you read about Tama, and you’ll smile every time you see a ‘lucky cat’ in a store window or restaurant, his paw raised in traditional greeting. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy courtesy of the publisher.