Shield of Kuromori, by Jason Rohan (book review) – save all or save her?

book cover of Shield of Kuromori by Jason Rohan published by Kane Miller | recommended on BooksYALove.comEvil ogres attacking Tokyo.
Ninja colleague not yet recovered.
Hero has to wonder who wins this time!

Second in the Kuromori Chronicles, raising the stakes even higher for prophesied warrior Kenny, as the teen soccer player starts learning new sword skills and how to ID evil beings in the supernatural line-up just as the bad guys try to remove him from the picture entirely!

I like that Kane-Miller asks folks to buy their books at a local independent bookstore rather than selling through their own website. Of course, you should ask for it at your local library also, so that more readers can enjoy this exciting series! (my recommendation of Book 1 here, with no spoilers)

After experiencing typhoon rains in Tokyo during my first week there, then an earthquake while waiting at the airport to leave, I can well imagine supernatural creatures below the earth or warring gods among the clouds!

Still wondering… any yokai (evil or benign) where you live?
**kmm

Book info:  Shield of Kuromori (Kuromori Chronicles, book 2) / Jason Rohan. Kane Miller, 2016. [series Facebook page]   [publisher site]   [distributor site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A new threat to his adoptive land and his ninja partner’s growing anger keep Kenny jumping as the young hero foretold in Japanese prophecy strives to master supernatural warfare, stay away from school bullies, and keep Kiyomi calm enough to fight by his side.

With Kiyomi’s behavior becoming more erratic, Kenny must decide whether to search for a way to cure her or to pursue the mysterious threat just uncovered by Japanese gods.

Who is so unleashing so many evil yokai at once?
Can two teenagers really save Japan from slow death?
A mirror or a shield?

Ancient Japanese stories, modern technology, and ages-old greed of man – all collide as Kiyomi and Kenny must unpuzzle this devious plot before evil wins the day. Follows The Sword of Kuromori in the series.

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Birth of Kitaro, by Shigeru Mizuki (book review) – Japanese supernatural Yokai!

book cover of Birth of Kitaro by Shigeru Mizuki published by Drawn & Quarterly | recommended on BooksYALove.com Last of the ghost tribe yokai,
helped by his magic hair (and dead eyeball dad),
fighting evil beings in Japan!

While I didn’t meet any (obvious) supernatural beings during my recent trip to Japan, I am delighted to share this first volume in a new English translation of Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro series. The Japanese manga master died in December 2015, leaving a legacy of yokai tales and other graphic novels, which Drawn & Quarterly is bringing to western readers.

Visit the publisher’s page here to download a free excerpt of Kitaro’s adventures. Next book in the series arrives soon!

Any supernatural folk in your neck of the woods?
**kmm

Book info: The Birth of Kitaro (Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro) / Shigeru Mizuki; text translated by Zack Davisson. Drawn & Quarterly, 2016. [artist’s obituary]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fighting evil creatures is Kitaro’s specialty, but the one-eyed spirit boy and his eyeball-father aren’t always sure that the people of Japan are worth battling monstrous beings of legend.

Single-eyed newborn Kitaro digs out of his mother’s grave and quickly finds himself embroiled in struggles with malicious yokai who want to overrun modern Japan.

Can half-cat, half-girl Neko Mutsume help him outwit greedy Nezumi Otoko?
How long will his late father’s spirit animate the eyeball?
What’s the best way to banish a frightful buru-buru haunting the mountain highway?

Kitaro’s wooden geta sandals clip-clop away from each supernatural encounter, and a letter in just the right forest postbox will always bring him back, as these 7 episodes from his earliest manga appearances show. First in a series, with new English text by Zack Davisson complementing manga master Shigeru Mizuki’s well-loved illustrations.

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All We Have Left, by Wendy Mills (book review) – 9/11 threads past & present

book cover of All We Have Left by Wendy Mills published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrother died in the Twin Towers.
Family fractured ever since.
Time to find some answers.

On the 15th anniversary of 9/11, this split-narrative story is anchored in that terror-filled day in the World Trade Center, linking Muslim teen Alia’s experiences as she tried to escape from the North Tower with Travis and today’s aching void felt by his 16-year-old sister Jesse who’s tired of playing it safe to avoid her father’s grief-fueled alcoholism and hatred of Islam.

What are your family’s memories of 9/11?
**kmm

Book info: All We Have Left / Wendy Mills. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Repercussions of 9/11 echo in 2016 as Jesse’s father rages about Muslims causing her brother’s death in the Twin Towers and are narrated by Muslim teen Alia in 2001 as a visit to her father’s office in the World Trade Center that day becomes a race to escape death, as she and Travis try to help others amid the terror.

2001: Alia’s parents don’t trust her, won’t let her attend the special art training, don’t think that creating comic books is suitable for a young Muslim girl. She goes to father’s office in the WTC to ask him one more time… the permission slip is due tomorrow, on Sept. 12th.

2016: Jesse’s parents ‘coped’ differently when big brother Travis was killed in the WTC on 9/11, Dad retreating into the bottle and violent hatred of Muslims, Mom volunteering for everything so she’s away from the apartment above their climbing supplies store. The 16 year old is mouse-quiet, until she starts going out with tagger Nick – big mistake.

On an elevator together when the plane hits their tower, Alia and Travis work together to escape, she worrying about her parents, he gradually telling why he came from his upstate New York town on this specific day…

Trying to redeem herself from deeds done with Nick’s graffiti crew, Jesse learns more about her new climbing partner Adam as they both work at the Peace Center and decides that she needs to know why Travis was in the Twin Towers on the day of their grandfather’s memorial service here.
(One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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77 Things You Absolutely Have to do Before You Finish College, by Halley Bondy (book review)

book cover of 77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College by Halley Bondy published by Zest Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comDuring college, you can:
try, host, produce, join,
find, create, and also graduate!

From the predictable (find and rent an apartment) to the less-common (get lost…in your town) to the downright unexpected (have a shameless junk food night), this clever and conversational advice book will get you out of your rut at college and help you make memorable experiences with some life-lessons along the way.

You should easily find this 2014 title at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, just ask them to order it for you (did you know that interlibrary loan services are usually free to library card holders?!

What’s your ‘must-do’ advice for a college student?
**kmm

Book info: 77 Things You Absolutely Have to do Before You Finish College / Halley Bondy. Zest Books, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Beyond study skills and resume-writing, college students can broaden their experiences and up their life-satisfaction score with ideas and advice from this slightly offbeat guide to life on and off campus.

Personalize your dorm/apartment room (without forfeiting the damage deposit) or politely ask your roommate to be gone for a time, connect to campus organizations or disconnect from distractions while studying, change your hair or volunteer at a shelter – so many things that can positively impact your college experience!

Whether you choose to have a real conversation with your favorite professor, talk to a local elder, speak up about an issue on campus – or all three – you’ll find plenty of good ideas for taking your college experience far beyond exams and exhausted studying with 77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College.

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Evocative tales, summer drifts away with free audiobooks

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Download either or both of these complete audiobooks before next Wednesday (17 Aug 2016), then enjoy listening to them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Big thanks to the AudioSYNC program and all the audiobook publishers who provided free downloads all summer long!

CD cover of audiobook Bone Gap by Laura Ruby | Read by Dan Bittner Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.comBone Gap (download here free Aug. 11-17, 2016)
by Laura Ruby
Read by Dan Bittner
Published by HarperAudio

Left on her own or kidnapped? Polish immigrant Roza disappears from the small town of Bone Gap, leaving behind brothers Sean and Finn, mysterious sadness, love, loss, and uncertainty.
 

Classic American Short Stories (download here free Aug. 11-17, 2016)
CD cover of Classic American Short Stories  by O. Henry, Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, James Fenimore Cooper | Read by William Roberts, Garrick Hagon, Liza Ross Published by Naxos AudioBooks  | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by O. Henry, Jack London, Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Kate Chopin, James Fenimore Cooper
Read by William Roberts, Garrick Hagon, Liza Ross
Published by Naxos AudioBooks

A variety of styles mark this special collection of 16 short stories by 7 American authors of the 19th and 20th centuries, from Ambrose Bierce’s “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” to Mark Twain’s comedic “Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

What stories stay with you, long after you’ve listened to them?
**kmm

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Flipside, by Shawn Johnson (book review) – Olympic dreams or dreamy guy??

book cover of The Flip Side by Shawn Johnson with A.L. Sonnichsen published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comSuper gymnast – hooray!
Quiet high school kid – okay.
The same girl – really??

Charlie wants to experience just one year of public high school as “normal” teen Charlotte before she tries out for the US Olympic gymnastics team, but keeping up with homework and intensive practice is much easier than staying away from the cute guy who wants to take her to prom… Focus, Charlie, focus!!

Shawn Johnson pulls from her own experiences as a teen Olympic gold medalist (yes, she’s a commentator at the Rio 2016 Games, too) in her first YA book.

Peek into Charlie/Charlotte’s life with the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher, then check out The Flip Side at your local library or independent bookstore.

What’s your gold medal dream?
**kmm

Book info: The Flip Side / Shawn Johnson, with A.L. Sonnichsen. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author Facebook]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Intent on being just a teen for a while, Olympic gymnastic hopeful Charlie remakes herself as Charlotte for school, but balancing her grades with high-level practice time turns out to be easier than avoiding the distraction of cute Bobby.

She is Charlotte at school so no one will treat her like a celebrity – being swarmed by starry-eyed young gymnasts at meets is enough! So Charlie doesn’t even tell best friend Zoe who she really is – after the Olympic trials in a few weeks, everyone will know…

Then upperclassman Bobby starts talking to her and life gets so complicated – now it’s Charlie who is starry-eyed! And he asks her to the prom, which is the weekend before Olympic tryouts!!

Can Charlie stay focused on her training as she and Bobby get closer?
Can Charlotte keep up her grades so her parents let her stay in school?
Can she make the Olympic team???

Written by Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, this story of first love and one-time opportunities flips and twists with Charlie’s emotions. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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How to Be You, by Jeffrey Marsh (book review) – life on your terms, as YOU

book cover of How to Be You by Jeffrey Marsh published by Tarcher Perigee  | recommended on BooksYALove.comStereotypes need not limit you,
perfection is a myth,
learning to respect and love yourself is priority #1!

“Growing up fabulous in a small farming town” wasn’t easy for Jeffrey, but they learned to listen closely to the voice inside, become more confident, and stand up publicly as anti-bullying champion, calling on others to do the same.

Just published on Tuesday (2 August 2016), How to Be You is a question-asking, color-outside-the-lines, story-sharing personal journey that can help you “stop trying to be someone else and start living your life” as the subtitle states.

Be sure to visit the publisher’s website here to read an excerpt opening the book and experience Jeffrey’s writing style and backstory.

What is holding you back from expressing your true self?
**kmm

Book info: How to Be You / Jeffrey Marsh. Tarcher Perigee, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Reject perfectionism and others’ expectations as you learn How to Be You in this engaging journey of self-discovery and self-connection.

Jeffrey embraces gender-neutral pronouns, created the #NoTimeToHateMyself and #DontSayThatsSoGay online conversations, and revels in sharing stories of hero/ines who transcended race, age, and other stereotypes.

Discover more about owning your own emotions, letting go of always being in control, and getting used to not knowing everything with this book of stories, writing prompts, fill-in charts and coloring vignettes. Especially useful: reframing the excuses you make to avoid new possibilities as positive qualities in your personality.

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Voices above the majority crowd to read with your ears!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC speak in voices from beyond and within America’s bordersso you can read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

CD cover of The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez | Read by Yareli Arizmendi, Christine Avila, Jesse Corti, Gustavo Res, Ozzie Rodriguez, Gabriel Romero Published by Random House Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Book of Unknown Americans: a novel (download here 4-10 August 2016)
by Cristina Henríquez
Read by Yareli Arizmendi, Christine Avila, Jesse Corti, Gustavo Res, Ozzie Rodriguez, Gabriel Romero
Published by Random House Audio

As the Riveras travel to the USA so daughter Maribel has a better life, voices from Latin America tell their tales meet them during their exodus and in their new land.
 
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (download here 4-10 August 2016)
CD cover of audiobook Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin | Read by Ray Porter Published by Listening Library  | recommended on BooksYALove.comby Steve Sheinkin
Read by Ray Porter
Published by Listening Library

In the early 1970s reporter Daniel Ellsberg tracks down secrets about the USA’s involvement in the Vietnam War, risking his own life and liberty to disclose government disinformation to the American public.

How can listening to stories beyond the mainstream help you understand more?
**kmm

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Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid, by Guiseppe Catozzella (book review) – run for glory, run to stay alive

US book cover of Don't Tell Me You're Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella translated by Anne Milano Appel published by Penguin Press | recommended on BooksYALove.comRun, so you don’t get caught.
Leave home, because staying is deadly.
Olympic dreams in a war-torn land.

Samia ran for joy when a child, ran for her country in the Olympics, fled Somalia knowing the dangers of “the journey” seeking a better life as her sister had.

A fictionalized account of the real young woman who was part of Somalia’s 2-person team at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, happy US book birthday to this strong story of hope and determination, released earlier this year in the UK as Little Warrior !

Could you leave your family behind, for freedom?
**kmm

Book info: Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid / Guiseppe Catozzella; translated by Anne Milano Appel. Penguin Press, 2016. [author site – in Italian]  [translator website] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In the war-torn streets of Mogadishu, Samia loses her childhood friend and running coach to extremist gangs, perseveres as a athlete dreaming of running in the Olympics, and keeps traveling toward freedom, regardless of the dangers.

From the age of 10, Samia ran with the 2008 Olympics as her goal, inspired by refugee and world-class runner Mo Farah, coached by her best friend Ali, winning race after race in their Somalian city.

As rival militias recruited all young men into their religious factions, Ali left Samia’s neighborhood. Still she ran, gaining the attention of Somalia’s small Olympic Committee and earning a spot at the 2008 Beijing Games as a teen. How proud she was to represent her homeland!

But militia fighters wouldn’t let her practice when she returned to Mogadishu.
Time to take “the journey” as her sister had – through the desert, across the Mediterranean, to Europe – as Mo Farah had – to a place with enough to eat and running shoes that fit and freedom to run…

Based on the true story of Samia Yusuf Omar, who grew up with constant war as an “older sister” and ran anyway.

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Fairies, gnomes, trouble: A History of Glitter and Blood, by Hannah Moskowitz (book review)

book cover of History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz published by Chronicle Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comFairies flee, can never die.
Gnomes stay underground, crave fairy flesh.
Outsiders start the war, but why?

These aren’t flittery fairies with wings, here in Ferrum where gnomes toiled for the up-top fairies and then rebelled when the Tightropers swung into town for war.

“Friends are the family you choose for yourself” was never more true than for Beckan, Scrap, Josha, and Cricket, as the last four ungnawed-upon fairies stay behind in Ferrum where Tightropers and gnomes battle.

Enter the city of Ferrum with Beckan and Scrap when you read the first chapters here, courtesy of the publisher (scroll down to the Scribd box).

How much of yourself would you sacrifice for your friends?
**kmm

Book info: A History of Glitter and Blood / Hannah Moskowitz. Chronicle Books, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Staying alive any way they can, Beckan and her friends (the last fairies left unmaimed by gnomes) search for any bits of Cricket, ignore the Tightropers who came to the fairy city of Ferrum and started the war, try to stay whole while consorting with gnomes (anything to put food on the table), and wonder why their own (sentient) glitter can be so much trouble.

Josha’s boyfriend Cricket was messily devoured, so the three are searching for any bits left; no fairy can be completely destroyed.
Gnomes ate all of Beckan’s dad except the bits she carries in a jar; he’s still aware, just no mouth to talk with.
Scrap killed the gnome’s king in a rage; Crate’s son isn’t king yet, and the gnomes are getting more agitated.

Why do fairies always flee their cities instead of fighting back against the gnomes?
Why did the Tightropers fling their lines across Ferrum’s rooftops and declare ‘fairy liberation’ unasked?
Why can’t fairy females bear their own children?

As the teens resort to more desperate means to avoid starvation, one gets caught, and the others must devise the ultimate rescue caper.

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