Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson (book review) – daring to-do list & a mystery

book cover of Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson published by Simon Schuster BFYR4. Break something.
8. The backless dress. And somewhere to wear it.
11. Hug a Jamie.

If timid Emily does all 13 daring (for her) things on live-in-the-moment Sloane’s epic summer list, will her suddenly-gone BFF return? Maybe with cute Frank’s help…

You’ll want to grab this summer tale at your local local library or independent bookstore today so you can find out if Emily completes Sloane’s list and what she discovers about herself along the way.

What would you add to a gotta-do-this list for your best friend?

Book info: Since You’ve Been Gone / Morgan Matson. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014.   [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The letter with no return address brings Emily her only clue about Sloane’s sudden disappearance  – a to-do list that her vivacious best friend promises will make an epic summer.

With her parents in a playwriting haze and little brother Beckett sulking about missed vacation, Emily is on her own to check off the adventures on Sloane’s list – with help from her new running partner Frank (Captain Responsible to pal Collins), while his girlfriend is away for the summer.

Ride a horse!? Kiss a stranger?! Facing her fears and making new friends in their coastal Connecticut town as she works through the list will surely bring back her best friend – but where is Sloane now? And what about her runs and shared playlists with Frank when summer ends? (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Broken brain, bent mind in SYNC audiobooks – listen and beware!

Go deep into the human brain and mind – if you dare!

Through Wednesday, July 30, you can download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC, then listen to these 2 explorations of what’s inside one man’s skull. Just remember to keep the Overdrive Media files on your device or computer, and read with your ears at any convenient time.

CD cover of Headstrong by Patrick Link Read by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, & Scott Wolf Published by L.A. Theatre WorksHeadstrong (download here)
By Patrick Link
Read by Deidrie Henry, Ernie Hudson, Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, & Scott Wolf
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

The celebrated hard hits in pro football take on new meaning as a retired NFL linebacker faces tragedy in their aftermath.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde CD cover of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde By Robert Louis Stevenson Read by Scott Brick Published by Tantor Audio(download here)
By Robert Louis Stevenson
Read by Scott Brick
Published by Tantor Audio

Everyone has heard of mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and his malevolent alter ego Mr. Hyde – now it’s time to hear the whole dark tale in its original form.

How does the mind work? How does the brain work? How do we go on when they don’t? Read with your ears to find out.

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Anyone But You, by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes (book review) – hate, love, & Chicago pizza

book cover of Anyone But You by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes published by Merit PressFeuding Italian families,
star-crossed secret lovers,
a deep-dish pizza war?

Welcome Shakespeare’s most-famous couple into the 21st century as Roman Monte and Julietta Caputo fall in love during the third generation of their Chicago families’ bitter restaurant rivalry. This third book in the Twisted Lit series takes us back into the early 20th century, too, as we discover what turned best friends into bitterest enemies.

Be sure to check out the Dear Teen Me site where Amy and Kim wrote letters to their teen selves.

Can true love have a happier ending this time?

Book info:  Anyone But You  (Twisted Lit #3) / Kim Askew & Amy Helmes. Merit Press, 2014.  [Kim's website]  [Amy's website]   [series site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  A missed rendezvous at the World’s Fair leads to an Italian restaurant feud decades later, and the boy who makes Gigi swoon is on the wrong side of these marinara wars in this Chicago-based version of Romeo and Juliet.

Gigi’s 16th birthday party at her family’s restaurant is marked by her first kiss, a handsome rival for an investor’s icky son, and potential mayhem from a rival restaurant family – all in the person of  Roman Monte, whom her Caputo cousins would gladly pummel into pesto.

Why the big fight between the Caputos and Montes? Warned by longtime waitress Carmen about digging up old secrets, Gigi and Roman stealthily go on dates and try to uncover what started the feud… something about two pals sneaking into the Chicago World’s Fair ages ago, mistaken identities, social class differences, and pizza?

In this third Twisted Lit book based on Shakespeare’s plays, chapters alternate between Gigi and Roman’s growing relationship in the present and the past when Nick and Benny began a pizzeria only to lose their friendship. (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Kiss of Deception, by Mary E. Pearson (book review) – princess seeks peace, finds danger

book cover of The Kiss of Deception by Mary E Pearson published by Henry HoltA dreaded arranged marriage,
a daring escape,
two girls on the run
with a killer on their trail!

Prepare for a galloping read across lands we’ve never seen as Lia tries to stay unnoticed in the lovely seaside town, the disguised prince seeks to know her, and the hidden assassin waits for the right moment when you grab this July 8 release at your local library or favorite independent bookstore.

Either a medieval future after failed interplanetary travel or space voyagers in the past created the setting of this great new series by the author of the well-known Jenna Fox Chronicles, which wrapped up last year with Fox Forever (my no-spoilers review here).

Marriage as a political alliance tool- yes or no?

Book info:  Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, book 1) / Mary E. Pearson. Henry Holt, 2014. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping a kingdom-uniting marriage, 17 year old Lia finds peace in a coastal village, unaware that the jilted prince and a stealthy assassin have found her.

Indeed, the First Daughter of Morrighan lacks the Gift of prophecy required by the kingdom of Dalbreck. Piqued by her note “I should like to inspect you before our wedding day”, the prince tracks Lia and Pauline to Terravin where they’re working at aunt Berdi’s inn and poses as a young farmer in town for the religious festival.

Also on her trail are the King’s Army scouts (her father won’t forgive Lia for leaving everyone waiting in the chapel) and an assassin bent on easing a Vendan invasion of Morrighan – by eliminating any alliance with Dalbreck.

Secrets shared, secrets kept, disguises and deceit – how long until Lia falls for handsome Rafe or charming Kaden, shattering her hard-sought peace with a Kiss of Deception?  First in The Remnant Chronicle series where crumbling ruins mark the past’s spacefaring technology, and Lia’s gift of Sight may arrive much too late. (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Sherlock Holmes… and his sister? Most mysterious audiobooks!

The great sleuth himself and his younger sister Enola (what? You thought that Mycroft was Sherlock Holmes’ only sibling?) are featured in this week’s pair of audiobooks, free for you to download so you can read with your ears!

Click on each title to open the SYNC download site in a new window. Snatch up either or both of this mysterious cases from today (July 17) through Wednesday; you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

So hurry now, the game is afoot!

CD cover of Case of the Cryptic Crinoline By Nancy Springer Read by Katherine Kellgren Published by Recorded BooksThe Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
By Nancy Springer
Read by Katherine Kellgren
Published by Recorded Books

When her much-beloved landlady is kidnapped, Enola Holmes (yes, Sherlock’s sister) is on the case.


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes IICD cover of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes II By Arthur Conan Doyle Read by David Timson Published by Naxos AudioBooks
By Arthur Conan Doyle
Read by David Timson
Published by Naxos AudioBooks

A missing racehorse, masked royalty visiting 221B Baker Street, and two other famous cases, as reported by faithful friend Dr. Watson: The Engineer’s ThumbThe Silver BandA Scandal in Bohemia,  and The Five Orange Pips.

What’s your favorite Holmes’ case>

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Shadow Hero, by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew (book review) – Asian superhero against crime!

book cover of The Shadow Hero by Gene Yuen Lang and Sonny Liew published by First Second BooksIn Chinatown’s dark alleys,
the ruthless tongs demand payment,
but the Green Turtle arises to protect the innocent!

Happy book birthday to The Shadow Hero, as the origins of the first Asian-American superhero are revealed!

I love this new joint effort of graphic novelists Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew – light-hearted, but underpinned with the historical accuracy which won Gene so many awards for his paired graphic novels of a pivotal time in Chinese history, Boxers and Saints (my review here) .

Get a quick look at its vintage look and action here:

The Green Turtle’s adventures continue in this short sequence published on the Tor website, too.


Book info:  The Shadow Hero / Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew. First Second Books, 2014.  [Gene's site]  [Sonny's site]   [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As a child of Chinese immigrants, Hank expected to follow family tradition, but his mother demands that he become a superhero!

When The Anchor of Justice rescues his mother from a bank robber, she won’t be satisfied until Hank reinvents himself as a superhero, instead of being a grocer like his father.

Hank discovers that intense training and a new costume certainly don’t guarantee superhero success when his attempt to save a young lady from thugs merely earns him a beating and the crime boss’s daughter rescues herself.

Fighting against the tong’s extortion has a high price for Hank’s family, yet he vows to continue, aided by the ancient Tortoise spirit from his parents’ homeland.

As the Green Turtle, Hank battles his way into the tong’s headquarters with the Tortoise spirit’s guidance. Yet the challenges he finds there would tax any superhero’s skill and resolve.

“Sometimes a fight you cannot win is still worth fighting,” counsels the spirit of the Tortoise, and Hank is in this fight until the end.

Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew transform an old comic book into this great graphic novel about the first Asian-American superhero.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Royally Lost, by Angie Stanton (book review) – her prince is here…on a motorcycle?

book cover of Royally Lost by Angie Stanton published by Harper TeenThey’re escaping parents and routines
didn’t know they’d find each other,
the prince and the American girl -
can they bear to lose each other so soon?

Nikolai’s insistence that the Mondovian royal family not be merely a decorative burden on his small kingdom falls on deaf ears. Becca’s horrible recent breakup (and he’ll be in the same college dorm with her in 6 weeks!) and dislike of her so-put-together stepmother lead to the Midwestern teen’s first rebellious acts. And romance blooms from one casual encounter in the quaint European streets…

Find this May 2014 paperback at your local local library or favorite independent bookstore, and travel through Europe by riverboat, motorcycle, and the wings of love!


Book info: Royally Lost / Angie Stanton.  Harper Teen, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Stuck on a boring European tour with her family, Becca finds the love of her life – a real prince taking an unapproved holiday – but after the ten-day tour is over…

When Nickolai’s father orders him to military training, the Crown Prince sneaks away incognito for time off from protocol and formal dinners.

This riverboat tour through Austria should be “good family time” for Becca and Dylan’s harried executive dad and designer-clad stepmom, but both teens want time away from historic sights after day one.

Honoring her late mom’s deathbed admonition to be good hasn’t helped Becca much lately, so it’s time to break some rules and find a way to spend more time with cute Nik  – before the King’s security forces catch up with the errant prince!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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SYNC audiobooks showcase Civil Rights herstory

Courageous teen women in the early Civil Rights movement – this week’s free SYNC audiobooks bring little-heralded history/herstory to life.

CD cover of Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice By Philip Hoose Read by Channie Waites Published by Brilliance AudioClaudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
By Philip Hoose
Read by Channie Waites
Published by Brilliance Audio

Several months before Rosa Parks’ celebrated bus ride in 1955, black teen Claudette rode a segregated Montgomery bus, but her protest was ignored by area Civil Rights leaders.



While the World WatchedCD cover of While the World Watched By Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George Read by  Felicia Bullock Published by Oasis Audio
By Carolyn Maull McKinstry with Denise George
Read by  Felicia Bullock
Published by Oasis Audio

As a 15 year old, Carolyn was an eyewitness to the fatal Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, another KKK atrocity in the South as the Civil Rights Movement grew.

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available for free download from Thursday through Wednesday, you can listen to them as long as you keep the Overdrive Media files on your computer or electronic device.

Visit SYNC for a full list of this summer’s featured audiobooks. If you missed any, try your local library or the publisher.

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Half Life of Molly Pierce, by Katrina Leno (book review) – mind unhinged or memories unleashed?

book cover of The Half Life of Molly Pierce by Katrina Leno published by Harper TeenHer blackouts are more frequent,
suddenly waking up somewhere else,
so disorienting… or is it something more?

There’s a secret about Molly that many people know, but she hasn’t allowed herself to even glimpse it – until now.

Happy book birthday to The Half Life of Molly Pierce!  Find it soon – this distressed teen’s gradual self-awakening is mesmerizing.

How long could you keep someone’s deepest secret – from themself?

Book info:  The Half-Life of Molly Pierce / Katrina Leno. HarperTeen, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A total stranger calls Molly by name as he dies, triggering flashbacks even more confusing than her frequent blackouts since last year’s almost-suicide.

Abruptly regaining consciousness somewhere different is frightening – how did she get from her Massachusetts high school to the family bookstore in a heartbeat?

Why does the guy in the motorcycle wreck ask her to ride in the ambulance with him, calling her name as he bleeds and bleeds, begging her to call his brother like they’re all friends?

With Sayer at his brother’s funeral, Molly thinks he really knows her, that she was close to Lyle, but why can’t she remember them?

As memories of Lyle and Sayer begin flashing into her mind, Molly finally tells her therapist about the blackouts and is shocked to discover that Alex already knows and that only she can unravel her own self-deception.

Discover what the worried teen’s mind is trying to hide from herself in this tense psychological novel.


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Now You Tell Me! 12 College Students Give the Best Advice They Never Got, by Sheridan Scott, Nancy Allen, Anya Settle (book review)

book cover of Now You Tell Me! 12 College Students Give the Best Advice They Never Got by Sheridan Scott, Nancy Allen & Anya Settle published by ArundelGet up,
show up,
keep up!
Yes, classes are the main reason you go to college!

Great advice from real students who survived and thrived at college fills this book: get to know future classmates before you arrive on campus, try new things (but not everything!), stay hydrated, stay healthy, and remember that the dorm staff is there to help you.

You should be able to find this 2012 release at your favorite local library or independent bookstore – its advice is timeless! Download a free excerpt here.

What advice would you share with someone going to college or another new situation?

Book info: Now You Tell Me! 12 College Students Give the Best Advice They Never Got / Sheridan Scott, Nancy Allen, and Anya Settle. Arundle Publishing, 2012.   [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Who better to tell you the real story about college life than recent graduates? This Now You Tell Me title can help you enjoy the good life at college while avoiding major pitfalls.

Whether at a small college or large university, several folks recommend waiting until the end of your first semester (or first year) to declare a major.

Read on for advice about dealing with difficult professors, your roommate’s dating and housekeeping habits, and other common situations of college life.

A dozen different experiences fill this book, so it’s no surprise that some advice contradicts what someone else earlier (join/don’t join a sorority/fraternity, etc.).

So put back half of the stuff you’d planned to take, bring your adventurous spirit, and learn from these 12 varied experience to make your college time the best it can be.

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