Friday, October 12, 2012

Jump Into the Sky, by Shelley Pearsall (fiction) - black paratroopers in WWII, secret mission or phony war?

book cover of Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall published by Knopf
Levi Battle was always being left.
His mom left when he was a baby,
His dad left to serve in the Army.
Now his aunt says it's his turn to leave his friends and go be with his father - in the middle of World War II!

Hard to be a teenager without his dad around, harder to trade the big city of Chicago for the prejudices of the South, harder still to imagine what life would be like if every paratrooper of the 555th doesn't come home from their missions...

Be sure to visit the "Triple Nickle" website to learn more about this little-known battalion and the brave paratroopers who served the nation during World War II, like Bradley Biggs, the first African-American officer accepted for parachute duty in the US Army.

Get this great book today at your local library or independent bookstore; it is also available as an audiobook. Could you be as brave and loyal in the face of prejudice and danger as Lt. Battle and the men of Triple Nickle?

Book info: Jump Into the Sky / Shelley Pearsall. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.  [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation:  Rattling over the rails, Levi tries to figure out how he got here, dress shirt covered with coal dust, stuck on a “Jim Crow” train car so very far away from home. Why his Aunt decided right now it was time for him to be with his father on an Army base in the middle of the War, he’ll never know.

Sure, he missed his dad, but in 1945 so many fathers and brothers and cousins were gone. If it wasn’t war-time, the Army wouldn’t let a colored man be an officer, says everyone in their Chicago neighborhood, and not one single soul believes that Charles Battle is a paratrooper.

It doesn’t help that Levi’s jazz-singer mother left home when he was a little baby, that his father has no idea that the tall thirteen-year-old is on his way to North Carolina to join him, that Aunt Odella’s prayers and fried chicken might not get him safely to Fort Bragg.

Levi couldn’t believe that white people in the South would act so hateful, but he learns quickly to stay away from town, stick with the other black soldiers’ families, and be ready to move at a moment’s notice. When the Army says leave for Oregon, off they go, Levi helping Sgt. Cal’s wife with the new baby on the long cross-country trip.

But why is the 555th battalion really in Pendleton? Is it just busy-work to make it look like the Army is letting black soldiers fight? What if Lt. Battle doesn’t come back from the next mission or the one after that?

Inspired by interviews with real veterans of the original 555th, this journey of discovery will take readers back to the home front during World War II as Levi watches his father and brothers-in-arms Jump Into the Sky  to defend the USA, whether acknowledged for their bravery or not. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another Life, by Keren David (fiction) - London gangs, family ties, choices that can't be unmade

book cover of Another Life by Keren David published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books
So that's it then,
Ty will spend some weeks in young offenders' institution for having the knife.
What if other gang members are there, too?
The ones that he testified against?

World Wednesday takes us back to London - not the spic-and-span home of the 2012 Summer Olympics, but the hardscrabble, workingclass corners where rival crime gangs control more than we really want to know about.

And typically-teenage guy middle-class Archie thinks he can figure out how to help Ty, by going undercover into his cousin's multicultural, rough neighborhood...

You'll want to read all of Ty's story, so pick up When I Was Joe  (book 1) and Almost True (book 2) at your local library or independent bookstore then jump into Another Life  to see what becomes of these unlike cousins.

Book info: Another Life / Keren David. Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2012.  [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation: Archie didn’t even know he had another cousin until recently, let alone one who’s had run-ins with London gangs and the police. Too busy trying to get tossed out of yet-another boarding school, trying to get girls interested in him. But passing messages between Ty and his girlfriend shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Just because his cousin is in witness-protection programme and all that…

Still strange to Archie that his mum and dad could cut off contact with a whole branch of their family for years. Ty is just a year older than he is, but certainly isn’t coping well with being confined. Yeah, some of the guys that Ty testified against are locked up now, but not in the same facility as him, right? Right? Hmmm…will Claire wait for Ty once she discovers the real reason he’s gone?

Maybe if Archie ventures out of his posh neighborhood and into the gritty quarter where Ty lived before the knife incident, he can figure out what makes his cousin tick. Maybe joining the boxing club there will let him see why his own dad worked so hard to get out of there. Maybe cute Shannon there in the park will take a shine to him.

Dad always said that Archie acted first and thought occasionally – and he’s dead-right this time. How long until someone in Ty’s neighborhood figures out their connection? How long until the gang bosses take action against the snooping teen? How long until Ty’s post-traumatic stress reactions get the better of him?

Told mostly in the rambling voice of Archie with sudden bursts of Ty’s frantic, worried thoughts, Another Life closes the stories started in When I Was Joe (book 1) and Almost True (book 2) – a gripping look at modern London gangs, choices gone wrong, and the quest for family connections at any cost. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ivey and the Airship, by Cheryl Ammeter (fiction) - dark shadows, steampunk quest

Ivey and the Airship by Cheryl Ammeter published by Wisdom House Books
A luxury dirigible high above the clouds,
Fine dinners and stealthy footsteps,
Sudden visions through others' eyes,
Rumors of vicious war.

Welcome to the steampunk world of Aether, where a young lady's social skills are far more valued than her intelligence, where a good marriage is a barometer of success, and where Ivey Thornton is determined to do things differently.

Favorite of her father's five botanically-named daughters, she wants to follow in his scientific footsteps, investigating the new otheophainers that allow flight without use of a balloon. But first, she must discover why otheocoils affect her so strangely - and break off her arranged engagement to Miles (and his mother).

Ask for the first book in The Aether's Edge series at your local library or independent bookstore. The author is busily at work on book 2 right now; let's hope that the life-sucking leeches don't make an encore in Master of the Manor!

Book info: Ivey and the Airship (The Aether's Edge, Book 1) / Cheryl Ammeter. Wisdom House Books, 2012.  [author's website] [publisher site]

My Recommendation: Ivey just wants to research the unknown with her father. But Aether’s society frowns upon girls as scientists, so Ivey's family arranges her betrothal to the son of her father’s best friend. Perhaps she can make Miles so angry during their airship voyage that he’ll break off the engagement – if the murderer on board doesn’t get them first!

Wrestling underwater with her secret pet waterdog and experimenting with explosives aren’t the ladylike arts that her sisters learned; it’s doubtful that Mrs. Fenchurche will appreciate Ivey’s ideas about the essential skills of life. However, the young man’s mother must admit that his late father would have delighted in this union between their innovative families. If Miles would only cease his world travels and settle down to provide heirs to the transportation industry fortune…

The luxuries and gadgetry of the airship Monarch take Ivey by surprise, as does Miles’ appreciation of her curiosity about his inventions. Neither is happy about the idea of marriage, but their scientific discussions are quite interesting. Someone else is paying extremely close attention to the awkward young couple, as strange ‘accidents’ begin to occur around them once the airship is far from port.

Sabotage, murder, killer bubble baths? Who wants to bury the Monarch and her passengers deep into the mountains? What is drawing Ivey into a sinister dreamworld that threatens Aether? Who is trying to unearth a secret that will shatter the world? Does the Institute of Sciences hold the key to these mysteries?

Steampunk meets dark and mystical forces in this action-packed first book of the Aether’s Edge series, where Ivey and Miles use quick thinking and their own kind of courage to meet dangers head-on. (One of 5,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the author.