Chrononauts, by Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy (book review) – time travel with swagger

book cover of Chrononauts by Mark Millar and Sean Murphy published by Image ComicsTime-travel suits (with longlife batteries),
Science-genius buddies (with a wild streak),
Televised first time jump (with non-scientist commentator),
What could possibly go wrong?

Traveling back in time to film the world’s most important events as they happen, a jump goes wrong so Danny heads to ancient Samarkand to rescue Corbin, only to encounter an armored motor defense!

These best friends are making the most of time with attitude to spare, even if time-hopping to outsmart Roaring 20s gangsters and attend epic concerts wasn’t in their backers’ business plan. Now, if they could just fix what went wrong in their personal and family lives before they began time-tripping…

Ask for this September release at your local library or independent bookstore – because today is National Comic Book Day! No surprise that this mile-a-minute adventure has already been optioned for a movie deal.

So, if you had a time travel suit, where would you go?

Book info: Chrononauts / Mark Millar; art by Sean Murphy. Image Comics, 2015.  [author site]   [artist site]   [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Their time-travel suits can take them back to film important world events, but two science genius buddies find it impossible to remain mere bystanders in history.

Corbin’s marriage and family both lost out to his obsession with inventing the chronosuits, while Danny’s womanizing leaves few who’ll weep if he doesn’t make it back from time-traveling.

Transmitting live video of landmark historical events proves the chronosuits’ worth so when Corbin’s signal is lost, his best friend jumps back to rescue him in 11th century Samarkand, right into a skirmish between motorized forces!

Without the cameras on them, Drs. Quinn and Reilly have some fun with places and persons, knowing that they can time-walk away when the going gets rough. But they have left behind family issues – and bosses waiting for marketable history footage – in their own present-day.

Will these smart guys use their time-suits to repair the broken relationships in their personal pasts or get greedy helping themselves to the riches and experiences of every civilization before now?

Wait, what about the consequences of changing history – for everyone stuck in the present!?

The first four issues of the epic webcomic are published together now to give the full arc of this time-hopping buddy adventure in a single volume.

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Scorpion Rules, by Erin Bow (book review) – hostages for peace or pawns in greater game?

book cover of The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow published by Margaret McElderry Books | BooksYALove.comTo keep the peace,
no price is too high –
if children are the hostages.

Four hundred years from now, the artificial intelligence Talis ensures world peace by holding rulers’ heirs as hostages – attack another country for its water, and your heir is executed on the spot.

A new alliance brings a new boy to the remote Canadian prairie where princess Greta has spent a decade lived for years as schoolchild hostage, and he doesn’t plan on staying there quietly…

Happy book birthday to The Scorpion Rules  – fittingly, yesterday (21 Sept.) was International Peace Day.

Erin Bow also wrote mystical Plain Kate (my no-spoilers review here), and her tale-spinning of a former time works well in this too-possible future narrative.

A bitter and breathtaking view of world peace at great cost.

Book info: The Scorpion Rules / Erin Bow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hostage princess Greta prays that her country stays at peace so she stays alive, but a new Child of Peace is ready to gamble away his life in this water-poor future where omniscient AI Talis holds all the cards.

Humanity can no longer wage war from a distance, 400 years after nearly nuking itself extinct, as Talis holds rulers’ heirs hostage throughout childhood, executing any whose home country attacks another.

Yet newly arrived teen Elian doesn’t care to follow Talis’ strict rules, and Greta gradually begins to question the generations-old method of peacekeeping too.

She’s spent years at this remote Canadian location with other royal youth, learning from AI tutors and working to raise their own food – how can Elian become part of their group so quickly?

Her roommate and first love Xie counsels patience as Elian’s foolish remarks (and threats to Talis) earn him terrible scorpion shocks from their proctors and raise new feelings in Greta.

Surely Greta will survive these last few months until her 18th birthday and return to the palace in Halifax – unless the new confederacy that sent Elian as hostage is a threat to her mother’s kingdom…

Elian’s favorite historical person is Spartacus, Talis decides to communicate directly with Greta, and long-quiet concerns suddenly flare to life – nothing for the Children of Peace will never be the same.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Talk Like a Pirate Day!

clipart of pirate flag drawn by wesd440 from

Pirate flag drawn by wesd440 –

Arggghhh, YALit maties, it’s finally International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Find your own Pirate Name here, outfit your true Pirate self in style using this, choose what your fine piratical ship should be called using this site, and even translate your Twitter and/or Facebook posts into Piratese here.

All in fun and on a Saturday, too!

Searching the seven seas for new YA books with pirates… any sightings?

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Mug It!, by Pam McElroy (book review) – cool cooking for one, the easy way

book cover of Mug It! by Pam McElroy published by Zest BooksHungry & solo?
Don’t settle for ramen (again) –
quick-cook something delicious!

More than just cupcakes, Mug It!  serves up single-serve portions of  breakfast yummies, savory supper choices, and worth-the-splurge sweets.

Hit up your local library or independent bookstore for this September release, grab your favorite microwavable mug, and cook yourself happy!

If Pam’s name sounds familiar, you probably remember The Green Teen Cookbook  she edited (my recommendation here).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear that Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake calling my name!

Book info: Mug It! Easy & Delicious Meals for One / Pam McElroy. Zest Books, 2015.    [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Cooking for one gets a new twist with microwaved mugs of deliciousness and mason jars bearing yummy solo selections when you Mug It!

Begin with breakfast, from Overnight Oats with flavor variations that don’t come from a packet to perfect Sunday Quiche and other egg dishes.

Liven up lunchtime with a variety of Mason Jar Salads (Spinach Chicken Pesto sounds great) or Seven-Layer Dip in a mug.

Mugs go main-meal for dinner with Meatloaf and no-box Mac & Cheese in the microwave.  Gotta have dessert, too, so choose from Oatmeal Cookie for one, an oversize mug of Red Velvet Cake with Homemade Frosting, or Strawberry Shortcake.

Measure carefully, follow the experienced cook-author’s clear instructions, and enjoy many solo meals with this new cookbook.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (book review) – big heart, big-boned, beauty queen?

book cover of Dumplin' by Julie Murphy published by Balzer + Bray | booksYALove.comBeauty pageants are for Barbies,
Only perfection allowed –
says who?!

Happy book birthday to Dumplin’ as Willowdean decides that the size of her heart matters more than the size of her thighs when pageant season arrives.

Glad that the author finally made it to Texas herself, although breaking the name of our state flower into two piece for the pageant title is dang near treasonous.

Today is also “Sing It Out Day” – how appropriate! Dolly Parton‘s 40 albums and self-acceptance inspire Willowdean to “go big or go home” – what inspires you?

Book info: Dumplin’ / Julie Murphy. Balzer + Bray, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A small Texas town beauty pageant gets a big shake-up as non-traditional contestants enter, led by sizeable and sassy Willowdean who’s ready for new things and her share of love.

Mom relives her Miss Texas Blue Bonnet days each year, helping slim cheerleaders prepare for the pageant as her own daughter enjoys being fat and almost happy.

Dumplin’ (oh, Mom, drop that nickname, please!) moons over handsome Bo at work and wonders if she’ll get stuck in this small town like recently deceased young Aunt Lucy whose size finally kept her housebound.

Willowdean and Lucy loved Dolly Parton’s songs and self-acceptance, so when classmates say the pageant isn’t for her, the teen decides it’s time to challenge the system – and so do other not-gorgeous girls from school!

Hone your talent? Time for a roadtrip to Aunt Lucy’s favorite music venue!
Find the perfect dress? Hello, vintage stores!
Get an escort for the pageant? Oh… maybe Bo?

She’s not entering the pageant to piss off Mom, but this sassy sweetheart and her new friends have read all the rules and know it’s their right to try – in front of the whole town.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Hunter, by Mercedes Lackey (book review) – against monsters, against deceit

book cover of Hunter by Mercedes Lackey published by DisneyHyperion | BooksYALove.comHer gift and her hounds, against evil.
Rift between worlds admits monsters,
as does envy and fear…

In this future time after the Diseray blasts, the barrier between humanity and the Otherworld is weaker, the monsters of myth are getting stronger, and Joyeux knows that Hunting them to protect the remaining citizens is her duty and her calling.

So why is it like a media circus in Hunter headquarters? Do the citizens think these creatures are make-believe? And who is covering up reports that the deadliest monsters are appearing inside the city’s unbreakable walls?

The story and writing are great, even if the title is rather humdrum. Head to your favorite local library or independent bookstore to request this Sept. 1 release.


Book info: Hunter / Mercedes Lackey. Disney Book Group, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Called from the remote Mountain to protect citizens from constant monster attacks, Joyeux finds that her magical skills may not help her cope with reality TV hovercams, living in Apex city, or the traitor within its walls.

Joyeux was sent by her uncle to the off-grid monastery after she was orphaned, later discovering her magical talent for hunting the mythological monsters that prey on what’s left of humanity.

Citizens watch the Hunters’ daring attacks on dedicated vid-channels, safe indoors – will Joy ever get used to being followed constantly by videocams?

She and her mystical hounds patrol Apex with her mentor, finding small monsters appearing inside the city walls faster than they can exterminate them – why hasn’t this upward trend been noted already?

And now some large monsters are getting through the city’s impenetrable defenses – who is helping them and why?

Dealing with big egos at Hunter headquarters and the suave attentions of her uncle’s assistant with psychic abilities, Joy’s concern about the city’s fate grows daily as Ketzels, Gazers, Vampires, and worse monsters converge on Apex – with a human’s assistance.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator, by Jen Klein (book review) – eerie stuff unbeliever gets schooled

book cover of Jillian Cade-Fake Paranormal Investigator by Jen Klein published by Soho Teen | BooksYALove.comElectronic gadgets to “see” spirits – check.
Computer-savvy cousin with adventurous streak – yep.
Belief in the paranormal – nah.

Jillian’s disgust with her charlatan dad fleeing home for “research” after Mom’s death doesn’t stop her from taking new cases for Umbra Investigations – just because ghosts and demons aren’t real doesn’t mean she wants to starve.

But this new (cute) guy at school and new missing person case are weird, very weird…

Be sure keep an eye out for Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator, published on Sept. 1st… and for otherworldly creatures, just in case.


Book info: Jillian Cade: (Fake) Paranormal Investigator / Jen Klein. Soho Teen, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Not believing in spooks or demons doesn’t stop Jillian from running the family paranormal business, but the teen may get more than pizza money when the cursed boyfriend case takes her and too-smart new student to LA’s seedy side.

Keeping her dad’s dubious investigation service going while he’s off chasing secrets in the wake of Mom’s agonizing death does let Jillian eat, but the high school junior’s next case is full of shocks – a client who holds back vital information, a cute new guy who knows too much about occult phenomena, and an obituary dated six months in the future, her own!

How can she “be survived by sister Rosemary” when she’s an only child?
Why did Corabelle report her boyfriend missing after just one day?
What’s the real story behind Sky’s sudden appearance at her school?

Creepy things are definitely camped out in LA, ready to wipe out anyone who trespasses in their territory – of course, Jillian soldiers on to find that disappearing boyfriend and who’s behind that scary obituary. (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands (book review) – apprentice in danger, kingdom at risk

book cover of The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands published by Aladdin | BooksYALove.comHorrific killings,
Apothecary victims,
Cult of assassins?

As an apprentice, Christopher has learned many codes and secrets, but a hidden message left by his master will lead the young man into perilous danger – worse than his surreptitious gunpowder experiments or the ailments that bring fellow Londoners into Blackthorn’s apothecary during King Charles II ‘s reign.

Happy book birthday to The Blackthorn Key!


Book info: The Blackthorn Key / Kevin Sands. Aladdin, 2015. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Christopher must use everything he’s learned from his master to solve gruesome murders in 17th century London, but the young apothecary apprentice and his best friend soon find themselves embroiled in dark mysteries threatening the kingdom itself.

Master Benedict has taught Christopher to read and solve puzzles and think for himself. But as the ritualistic murders targeting apothecaries get closer to their shop, the orphan worries when his master stays out late at night.

When his master leaves a secret message, Christopher and his best friend Tom the baker’s son begin investigating, searching for the hidden power worth killing for.

Will Christopher’s skill with codes be enough?
Can they find answers without alerting the King’s Men?
Is there truly a cult of assassins in the Merry Monarch’s kingdom?

Clever ciphers and codes blend with shudder-inducing remedies and everyday details of grimy city life in this debut novel as best friends risk so much to unpuzzle a long-hidden secret.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Writing Clementine, by Kate Gordon (book review) – journaling secrets, reader optional

book cover of Writing Clementine by Kate Gordon, published by Allen & Unwin | BooksYALove.comWhen there’s nothing to write about
and you still have to write,
sometimes big truths appear…

Year 9 is tough on Clementine, with her best friends and family members growing away from her, until fascinating Fred arrives, dressed like a dandy from a bye-gone era, asking her to join his steampunk world and truly become the self she writes about in her philosophy class journal.

This Australian title arrives in the US on Sept. 1st , so your local library or local independent bookstore should be able to easily get it through Independent Publishers Group.

Several in-school personas in Writing Clementine  don’t match up with their leisure-time pursuits – what’s the most unusual public-private contrast you’ve seen?


Book info: Writing Clementine / Kate Gordon. Allen & Unwin, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Clementine feels left behind as family and friends change, so a new student’s invitation to role-play in a steampunk society lets the Tasmanian teen experience acceptance and romance that she never even dreamed about in her journal.

Her best friends demand that Clem grow up in a hurry, then they move on. Her brother’s been holed up in his room for a year, and she feels responsible. Her philosophy teacher requires daily journal writing, but won’t read or comment on it unless asked.

A new student moves to town, like a reviving breeze with his elegant clothes and intriguing smile. Fred is such a contrast to creepy Sam and the other boys at school!

When Fred introduces her to the Burnie Steampunk Society, Clem finds new friends as they pretend to live in Victorian times.

Can she ever accept that Fred likes her just as she is?
Why can’t she just fix what’s wrong for her beloved big brother?
What should she do about Sam’s unwanted attention?

Clementine faces choices, changes, and challenges during her first year of high school, as recounted in the pages of her philosophy class journal. (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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Never Always Sometimes, by Adi Alsaid (book review) – high school cliche or best idea ever?

book cover of Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid published by Harlequin Teen | http://BooksYALove.comNever be a teenage cliche.
Never do what’s expected.
Never take rules too seriously…

Somehow, the list of “Nevers” that best friends made just before high school (so they would stay originals) isn’t as iron-clad when they unearth it during that interminable spring semester of senior year, so they decide to make each “never” into “always”.

“Never be recognized by your lunch spot”
“Never hook up with a teacher”
“Never pine silently after someone”

Read the beginning of this August 2015 title free here, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Dave and Julia and their “nevers” list.

What “I’ll never…” statements have you reappraised in your life?

Book info: Never Always Sometimes / Adi Alsaid. Harlequin Teen, 2015.  [author’s tumblr]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Best friends Dave and Julia decide to do every “never” on their long-time list during the final months of high school, but the California teens might wish that some rules had stayed unbroken so their hearts would stay that way, too.

The pair want to stay original (like Julia’s ever-roving birth mom) by avoiding the typical cliches in high school – running for student office or dyeing your hair a rainbow color – and they’ve stuck to that list for nearly four years. Suffering now from senioritis,  it’s time to break all those rules!

From Julia “hosting a beer party” when her dads were gone to Dave and his brother helping her create the ideal lunch spot at school, the ten items on the list start getting crossed off.

When Dave becomes interested in Gretchen, Julia realizes that “never date your best friend” is the rule she most wants to break – but is it too late?

Never…expect Julia’s mom to visit when she promises.
Always…remember their favorite bench overlooking Morro Bay.
Sometimes…rules are there for a reason, but sometimes they’re not.

Friendship, love, and choices fill this funny and sad book as the two best friends have to find out which expectations are worth any risk.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

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