To Harlem and days of change with SYNC audiobooks

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC take us to the African-American experience in Harlem of the 1950s, through personalities famous and everyday.

Click on the title to download either or both of these complete audiobooks. Remember that they’re only available from Thursday through Wednesday, but you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of X  by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon, Read by Dion Graham, Published by Brilliance Audio X: A Novel
by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon
Read by Dion Graham
Published by Brilliance Audio

The daughter of Malcolm X tells of her famous dad’s years as a young adult, struggling to excel in a system where the odds were stacked against him.

CD cover of Here in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers | Read by Muhammad Cunningham, Michael Early, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, Arthur French, Dion Graham, Nathan Hinton, Ezra Knight, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Gail Nelson, Monica Patton, Charles Turner Published by Live Oak Media

 

Here in Harlem
by Walter Dean Myers
Read by Muhammad Cunningham, Michael Early, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, Arthur French, Dion Graham, Nathan Hinton, Ezra Knight, Robin Miles, Lizan Mitchell, Gail Nelson, Monica Patton, Charles Turner
Published by Live Oak Media

Many voices ring out in Myers’ 54 poems about his beloved Harlem, inspired by The Spoon River Anthology – both feature poems where neighbors, friend and enemy alike, talk about their everyday lives.

What other titles reflecting neighborhoods and linked lives do you recommend?
**kmm

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Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, by Brian Katcher (book review) – comics, quizzes, and captures

book cover of Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher published by Katherine Tegen BooksAt a comic-con, he’ll be happy.
Finally away at college, she’ll be overjoyed.
Trouble… who wants that?

When 13-year-old Clayton slips out of the QuizBowl team hotel for his first comic-con, Ana is terrified – if she loses track of him, their hyper-protective parents will disown her like they did when big sister stepped out of line.

And when things go sour during their search for Clayton at WashingCon, Zak boggles at constants that could end and possibilities that arise- without cons in his life, what else would a certified geek do?

Happy book birthday to The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak,  your invitation to explore the world of comic-conventions, gaming, and love among geeks. For some how-to from the female perspective, try The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy recommended here last week.

So, be honest – Star Wars or Star Trek?
**kmm

Book info: The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak / Brian Katcher. Katherine Tegen Books, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chasing her little brother through a comic-con wasn’t on Ana’s list of ways to stay perfect, but with the help of cute slacker Zak, she may get the QuizBowl team back together before curfew… or maybe not.

If no-effort Zak wants to graduate, he must serve as QuizBowl alternate during weekend of Seattle’s biggest comic convention, even though he’d already planned out every moment in geek paradise.

If super-achiever Ana wants to please her parents and not get thrown out of the house like her big sister, she’s got to win this QuizBowl tournament, even though it’s no fun anymore.

If her whiz-kid little brother Clayton wants to check out WashingCon because Zak said it was cool, he’s gonna go, because why not?

The search for Clayton jumps from Ana’s world of well-rounded student activities to Zak’s universes of cosplay and card games to the death, as t-shirt slogans, a backpack mixup with deadly consequences, and the clock ticking down to QuizBowl curfew send them all racing through the night.

Zak’s old friends, Ana’s new enemies, and a cross-cultural wedding (Trek or Wars, the eternal con question) punctuate the pair’s growing appreciation for one another’s strengths and charms, as they chart their progress (or lack thereof) in alternating chapters.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Jesus Jackson, by James Ryan Daley (book review) – death, atheism & Jesus in a linen suit

book cover of Jesus Jackson by James Ryan Daley published by Poison Pen PressBig brother dead,
terrible rumors at school,
surely answers can be found… somehow.

Jon idolizes Ryan and thinks that going to Catholic high school will be less bad because his big brother is there.

But Ryan’s death on orientation day leaves Jon with a huge hole in his heart and no faith to ease his pain.

Jesus Jackson – “spiritual contractor – 100% faith guaranteed – call for free estimate” – promises to help him out; just a few questions to answer.

The book trailer here is great – don’t miss it.

Ask for this October 2014 release at your local library or independent bookstore, and travel with Jonathan through his landscape of grief and the questions that Jesus Jackson asks him to ask himself.

Have you ever found it easier to accept the crazy theory than the true answer for a difficult problem?
**kmm

Book info: Jesus Jackson / James Ryan Daley. Poison Pen Press, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Jonathan’s big brother left this life too early, before they’d finished examining all religions to find one that is true, and now a guy who looks like Jesus offers to help the 14-year-old atheist find some meaning in life.

Following in Ryan’s footsteps at St. Soren’s would be easy for Jonathan if he were athletic or cute or good at pretending that Catholic school made sense. When Ryan is found dead below the school’s steep running path, Jon is devastated.

On the day of his big brother’s funeral, a guy named Jesus Jackson offers to build him new faith in a god, but Jon clings to atheism like a life raft.

Jon and his new friend Henry find suspicious shoeprints at the accident site and decide to investigate Ryan’s friends and classmates when the police ignore this new evidence.

Jesus Jackson shows up here and there, asking just the right questions to get Jon pondering life and faith and whether anything matters at all.

What can Ryan’s girlfriend share about his behavior?
How can Jon get evidence that jealous Alistair pushed Ryan?
Can a ‘spiritual contractor’ really build Jon’s faith in something?

Jon’s divorced parents are dealing with grief in different ways, his school counselor won’t leave him alone, and weird details about Ryan’s time at St. Soren’s keep popping up – freshman year can’t get any worse, can it? And Jesus is just around the corner, with more questions about Jon’s questions.

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Girl Defective, by Simmone Howell (book review) – summer of music, mystery & weird

book cover of Girl Defective by Simmone Howell published by Atheneum Books for Young ReadersScary-sad missing girl mystery.
Little brother thinks he’s a super-detective.
New guy at their vinyl shop has a secret.

Sky isn’t sure what’s worse – Dad ignoring the eviction notice, seeing friend Nancy drift away, or her dreams of drowned Mia.

Watching Gully all summer will be dreadful, since the 10 year old wears his pig-snout mask always and logs every scrap of conversation like a secret agent – can’t Sky just work at the family record shop and go to concerts like everyone else?

Snag a free excerpt of the book here, then ask for Girl Defective  at your local library or independent bookstore.

Did family expectations every make you defer a dream job?
**kmm

Book info: Girl Defective / Simmone Howell. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: This summer, Sky just wants to run her family’s vintage vinyl shop and fall in love, but dire secrets percolate up in their scruffy Australian neighborhood, and her social-skills-lacking little brother Gully keeps calling the police with clues.

After Mom left them to “follow her art” and Dad crawled into his homebrew bottle, it’s been up to Skylark to take care of 10-year-old autist Gully (who melts down when everything isn’t just-so) and keep the doors of their vintage vinyl record shop open for collectors.

Stylish pal Nancy tries to get Sky out for concerts before a developer razes local venues (“progress” – ha!),  a missing person case is deemed suicide (who’s making those memorial murals?), and Dad hires new guy Luke to work in the shop (very cute, in a hidden-sadness way) – quite enough happening in St. Kilda before the eviction notice arrives.

What will become of the vinyl shop?
Did Gully really find clues about Mia’s death?
Could Luke really be interested in Sky?

Music, dreams, lies, love, death, and clues – not quite the summer holiday that Sky had envisioned! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Dickens’ London comes alive with free SYNC audiobooks!

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can visit London of bygone days as you 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. The free Overdrive app you need is available through the Download Prep page.

Click on each title to go directly to its download page, or bookmark the SYNC site here so you can download great audiobooks all summer long.

CD cover of Dodger  by Terry Pratchett | Read by Stephen Briggs Published by HarperAudio Dodger
by Terry Pratchett
Read by Stephen Briggs
Published by HarperAudio

Dodger lives on (and below) the streets of London, encountering mad barber Sweeney Todd, writer Charles Dickens, prime minister Disraeli, and an unforgettable girl.

 

Great ExpectationsCD cover of Great Expectations  by Charles Dickens | Read by Anton Lesser Published by Naxos AudioBooks
by Charles Dickens
Read by Anton Lesser
Published by Naxos AudioBooks

An anonymous benefactor enables Pip to rise from his humble beginnings as an orphan in this classic tale of a young man facing challenges and misunderstandings.

Would you want to live during this era of British history?
**kmm

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Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Sam Maggs (book review) – cosplay, conventions, geek girl heaven!

book cover of Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs published by Quirk BooksStar Trek or Star Wars?
Which Doctor?
Fanfic – yea or nay?

Fangirls of the world, unite!

Stake your claim in the imagined/future/fictional universe of your choice, and find friends online and in-person to share the fun.

Happy book birthday to The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Which fanship(s) do you identify with most?
**kmm

Book info: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: a Handbook for Girl Geeks / Sam Maggs (aka Samantha Magguilli). Quirk Books, 2015.  [author tumblr]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Geeking out about your favorite sci-fi series or superhero comics is even more fun when you get together with other fangirls – online or in person. But where to begin?

Whether it’s gaming or anime, sci-fi or fantasy, Star Trek or Star Wars, you can find other fangirls who share your enthusiasms. Check out all the interviews with women writers and artists who share their advice on living the geek girl life (yep, many began by writing fanfic and drawing fanart).

From staying safe, hydrated and blister-free at conventions to locating online fangirl communities and staying clear of trolls, Sam Maggs tells you all the hows, wheres, and whens in this super guide.

Busting myths about feminism, girl gamers, and cosplay etiquette? Indeed!
Helping others be proud of the stories and characters they love? Awesome!
Discovering new female characters in comics, video, games, and books? The best!

Hone your reviewing skills, find resources for the best cosplay outfit ever, or get tips for amazing theme parties – YA book nerds, Whedonites, Otaku – The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is for you! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Girl in Reverse, by Barbara Stuber (book review) – adopted, bullied, seeking, found?

book cover of Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber published by Margaret K McElderry BooksPrejudice at school,
polite silence at home,
Who am i? Who am I?

Shunned by the in-crowd, bullied as if she were a Commie spy, Lily would just like a few friends who don’t care that she’s Chinese, some answers about her past from her adoptive parents, and a door lock that can keep pesky little brother out of her room!

A box of Chinese sculptures, a new exhibit at the art museum, and a nun nearing retirement change Lily’s priorities – can she finally learn more about her birth mother?

Girl in Reverse was published as a paperback just this week and is available in hardcover and ebook, so choose your favorite way to hold this well-told tale in your hands, as Lily held the objects that connected her with Gone Mom.

What keepsake tells a family story for you?
**kmm

Book info: Girl in Reverse / Barbara Stuber. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014 (paperback, May 2015).  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The new Chinese art exhibit may hold clues about Lily’s long-gone birth mother and is a welcome distraction from the bullying she experiences at her Kansas City high school during the Korean War.

Shortly after Lily’s adoption, Ralph was born to her new parents, who cannot understand the prejudice that Lily faces daily, labeled a ‘Commie’ as the war in Korea rages, even though she is Chinese.

Ralph finds a box in the attic, left with Lily at the orphanage by her gone-mom, and together the siblings decide to find out all they can.  Trips to Chinatown, the old orphanage, and the art museum bring more clues, as artistic Elliot tries to get Lily to embrace her heritage.

Where did Gone Mom go?
Why did she leave Lily behind?
Why was Lily’s mom in Missouri anyway?

Searching for her identity in 1950s American heartland, Lily discovers which bonds of family and culture can bend and which are too fragile to even breathe upon.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Jottery, by Andy Selsberg (book review) – peruse, think, write, repeat

book cover of The Jottery by Andy Selsberg published by PerigeeQuestions to ponder,
unusual lists to make,
brain bits to shift around…

“This guy writes for The Onion?”  Hmm…maybe the review copy being sent to me was a parody or a one-off book of weird lists. Nope.

This book actually contains writing prompts ranging from the profound – “‘Greatness isn’t as great as you think,’ someone great tells you. What are three ways you could prove them wrong?” (p.169) –

to the offbeat – “A colleague has written ‘1,001 Uses for Human Saliva.’ Somehow, it is your duty to come up with uses 1,002 through 1,012.” (p. 117) –

to the sublime – “You’re at peace. Now what?” (p. 29)

More than once while reading it, I found myself looking out the window and mentally writing a list, holding my place in the book with whatever I had at hand, including my hand.

Head to The Jottery and spice up your meditation life, journal entries, blog posts, and boring parties. Just published this week

So, what is reason 1,002?
**kmm

Book info: The Jottery: Thought Experiments for Everyday Philosophers and Part-Time Geniuses / Andy Selsberg. Perigee Books, 2015. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Metaphysical questions with a wry twist and writing prompts way beyond what most writing teachers throw at you are The Jottery‘s stock-in-trade, as The Onion  writer Selsberg gets somewhat serious with this book that will make you think and laugh and think some more.

Its subtitle explains the book’s purpose well: “Thought Experiments for Everyday Philosophers and Part-Time Geniuses” with myriad list-ideas and ‘what’s all that about?’ questions to liven up a dull evening, jumpstart the college entrance essay of the century, or get you pondering beyond the path you usually tread.

“Suggest fifteen endings for the sentence, ‘This is the year I _____ !'” (p. 69) and “Name three appropriate ways to honor the inventor of the armrest, and three inappropriate ways.” (p. 20) are among the hundreds of thought-starters in The Jottery.

So get your copy, then start at the end “List nine things the journey of a thousand miles begins with, besides a single step” (p. 218) as you stretch your philosophical muscles and refresh your mental gears. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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Book-to-movie chillers from SYNC – free audiobooks summer begins!

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

Every Thursday from May through mid-August 2015, I will introduce each pair – 1 contemporary young adult novel with 1 corresponding classic tale – with direct links. You can also bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/ The Overdrive app that you’ll need for listening to these high-quality audiobooks is also available free there.

Click on the CD title to go directly to its download page (free during stated week, source links provided for buying at other times) where you can listen to a clip before downloading (new feature this summer!). Most titles are available to listeners worldwide; check this page for details, if you live outside the USA.

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. The 2015 program runs from May 7 to August 13, so there will be 28 titles for you!

CD cover of Beautiful Creatures by by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl Read by Kevin T. Collins, Eve Bianco Beautiful Creatures
by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
Read by Kevin T. Collins, Eve Bianco
Published by Hachette Audio

In a small Southern town where everyone knows everything about everybody else, two teens unwittingly expose a hidden family curse.

 
RebeccaCD cover of Rebecca  by Daphne Du Maurier | Read by Anna Massey Published by Hachette Audio
by Daphne Du Maurier
Read by Anna Massey
Published by Hachette Audio

Her whirlwind courtship and marriage to a wealthy widower cannot prepare a young woman for her predecessor’s influence from beyond the grave.

Both these eerie titles were made into movies, but have you read the books before?

**kmm

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Seriously Wicked, by Tina Connolly (book review) – avoid witchcraft or save a friend?

book cover of Seriously Wicked by Tina Connolly published by Tor TeenDragon in the RV shed,
former friend denying nose surgery,
homework in spellcasting and algebra…

Camellia has never been happy living with her “aunt” who keeps insisting that the teen can learn to cast spells. The weird ingredients that Cam must acquire are annoying and embarrassing, too.

Now the whole town is in danger because of the demon summoned by the witch!

Happy book birthday to this Tor Teen title – misunderstood teens of the world, unite!

Any strange relative stories to share?
**kmm

Book info: Seriously Wicked / Tina Connolly. Tor Teen, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When her aunt summons a demon for political purposes, Camellia defies the witch’s demands for help until the demon takes over a classmate’s body and threatens their town.

If Sarmine would just accept that Cam isn’t a witch and doesn’t need to learn spells, the sophomore might have a social life, but mucking out the dragon’s barn and not flunking algebra get priority right now.

The auras that best friend Jenah claims to see aren’t as dazzling as the idea of hanging out with new guy Devon and his boy-band music – much better than going to the Halloween dance with robotic Kelvin (the favors she trades to get rare ingredients for the witch… ugh)

A slight error in summoning Estahoth allows the demon to inhabit Devon’s body; without full demon-power, the witch cannot control the upcoming rebirth of the phoenix hidden in their town!

Can Cam locate the phoenix before it arises?
Why won’t Sarmine just let her be a teenager?
What will the devious demon do while Devon is trapped in his own mind?

Power, goat’s blood, and root beer – Camellia’s October just got even weirder than usual as her Seriously Wicked  witch aunt sends spells flying.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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