What gift given this time? FOREVER GLIMMER CREEK, by Stacy Hackney (middle grade book review)

book cover of Forever Glimmer Creek, by Stacy Hackney. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Miracles are unpredictable,
a gift that’s useful or not,
in her town, Miracles are real.

Every year a Glimmer Creek resident gets a trace of magic after surviving a danger, and no one knows why a particular person gets their Miracle.

Rosie knows Miracles aren’t a legend, so the seventh grader is going to interview them all for her Festival movie instead of investigating the Lost Train Treasure, like Henry wants.

But not every Miracle holder wants to talk about their experience, Henry and Cam can’t help with every filming session like they used to, and time to finish her documentary is running short.

Mama and Rosie are the perfect pair – why won’t the Sheriff stay away?
Her long-gone dad is filming nearby – why won’t Mama ever let him visit?
Cam is so busy with the soccer team – what if she doesn’t have time for Rosie anymore?

If Rosie could just have her own Miracle – she would bring home her movie actor father, become a noted film director, keep her two best friends forever…

Read chapter one here for free, thanks to the publisher.

What’s your happily-ever-after movie ending?
**kmm

Book info: Forever Glimmer Creek / Stacy Hackney. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

More than meets the eye – read with your ears & AudioSYNC!

Thursday equals a pair of related new titles in the AudioSYNC program, both free for you to download before Wednesday night, 13 May 2020.

For each audioSYNC book you choose, be sure to hit ‘Borrow’ on the Sora app (downloaded on your phone or tablet). Then it will be checked out to you for 35,996 days or 100 years – enough time to listen to all 26 selections of summer 2020!

CD cover of Secret Soldiers: How the US Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis, by Paul B. Janeczko, Read by Ron Butler.  Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Secret Soldiers: How the US Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis (info here)

by Paul B. Janeczko | Read by Ron Butler | Published by Brilliance Audio

Sound effects, inflatable war machines, pyrotechnics, and camouflage – the U.S. “Ghost Army” made up of actors, set designers, audio specialists, and painters fooled German forces during World War II.

Their 20 missions made the Nazis see and hear non-existent troop maneuvers from the Normandy invasion to crossing the Rhine, ensuring Allied victory.

CD cover of Picture Us in the Light, by Kelly Loy Gilbert, Read by James Chen.  Published by Dreamscape | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Picture Us in the Light (info here)

by Kelly Loy Gilbert | Read by James Chen | Published by Dreamscape

A year after his close-knit group of friends ruptures, Danny worries about his future as an artist after high school. When the California teen discovers a box of secrets in Dad’s closet, everything his immigrant family has told him comes into question, too.

How do we camouflage our true intentions from others?
**kmm

Intertwined these three, THE MERMAID, THE WITCH AND THE SEA, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (book review)

book cover of The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

To stay alive, to stay together,
to realize that there’s more to life…
to risk everything?

Killing a man ensures their place on the pirate ship, as dark-skinned Alfie’s little sister Flora becomes Florian in the Nameless Captain’s crew of cutthroats who enslave passengers and harvest mermaids in spite of the Pirate Supreme’s decree.

Daughter of Imperials, Evelyn has never pleased her haughty parents, only wishes to stay with her adored young maid, is sent away in arranged marriage to an officer far across the seas. The teen’s possessions are packed into her coffin, for she will never return to the capital.

Aboard the Dove, Florian is set as Evelyn’s guard against the rapacious crew, gradually becoming fond of the rich young lady (whose heart is captured too), hoping that the Captain’s command to imprison all passengers never comes, marveling at her rapport with the new-caught mermaid.

The Sea will punish those who steal her mermaids, the Witch will draw the tales from Florian’s blood, the Pirate Supreme will stop the Nameless Captain – but will Evelyn and Florian be alive to know?

Japanese names, clothing, and traditions strand through this newly-published debut novel of conquests, colonies, love beyond expectations, and undercover history-changers.

When do you know that your ‘you’ is right?
**kmm

Book info: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea / Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Summer reading time – 13 weeks of FREE audiobooks…starting now!

Happy May, happy AudioSYNC summertime!

Whatever your weather, it is now officially summer reading season because our free weekly audiobooks are here!

This year, the AudiobookSYNC program uses the Sora app for listening through a dedicated ‘public library’ that hosts one pair of free audiobooks weekly. Read more about the 13 week program here.

For every pair of audiobooks, your time to download either or both titles begins at 12 midnight (EDT) Thursday, running through late night Wednesday. For 2020, listeners worldwide can download all books! All you need to register is an email address.

CD cover of Monday's Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson, Read by Imani Parks. Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Monday’s Not Coming (download)

by Tiffany D. Jackson | Read by Imani Parks Published by HarperAudio

How can learning-challenged Claudia start the school year without BFF Monday? Why can’t anyone remember the last time they saw the African American teen? How can a girl just disappear? Claudia wants answers, wants Monday back!

CD cover of The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater, Read by Robin Miles. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The 57 Bus (download)

by Dashka Slater | Read by Robin Miles Published by Recorded Books

Just 8 minutes in the same bus, day after day – but enough for differences in class, race, and gender perceptions to lead one teen to set another on fire, literally.

A true account of the horrific action that made international news – what punishment could fit this dreadful crime? How did the race of each person affect the daily bus ride, the attack, the trial?

Remember to download either or both mysterious titles before Wednesday night, May 6th. As long as they’re on your Sora app shelf, they’re yours to enjoy!

What mysteries – fictional or factual – do you recommend?
**kmm

Nine years of #books… did it!

logo of 10th April Blogging A to Z Challenge

Yesterday, I wrapped up my 9th April A to Z Blog Challenge – 26 new books reviewed in a month. Nine years in a row!

Thank you to the A2Z organizers for providing annual graphics, badges, sign-ups, and promotion for free. During this pandemic, having a scheduled daily task was especially welcome.

Every year, I wonder if I should push myself to post every April day but Sundays, forcing books to fit into that A to Z progression (X, I am looking at you), and every year I am glad that I did it so y’all have 26 more books worth seeking out.

And today marks the beginning of my TENTH year of blogging about books beyond the bestsellers as BooksYALove!

Big thanks to Michele Rafter, whose Blogathon caught my attention in late April 2011 so I could start my very first blog on May 1st and learn the ins and outs of blogging during that May and several to follow.

Huge thanks to Barb Langridge, who asked me in 2010 to join other librarians in writing reviews for her book discovery site for kids www.abookandahug.com. Building up a digital folder of no-spoiler Young Adult and middle grade book reviews to post on my new blog was a true gift.

Much appreciation to the publishers who provide review copies and who have begun bringing us more books by #ownvoices authors, people of color, underrepresented populations – still a long, long way to go, but it’s a start.

All the love to my daughter Emily who designed the BooksYALove logo, helped me move this blog to self-hosting several years ago, and is the best kind of tech support always – mwah!

Will I post every day from now on?
Probably not.

Will I seek out books that are #ownvoices or beyond bestsellers, always worth your attention?
You bet!

Will I promote libraries and independent booksellers over other options?
Always, always, always!

What’s new in your book-reading world?
**kmm

Z for zap! with LIGHTNING GIRL! by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall (middle grade book review)

book cover of Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall, illustrated by James Lancett. Published by Kane Miller Publishing EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sparks from her fingers!
Light beams from her hands!
Growing pains or superpowers?

Big brother is brilliant with computers, little sister is a genuine genius, and Aurora is in the middle, just average at everything, until the birthmark on her hands starts shooting light when she gets angry!

Mum is a secret superhero? Grandma and Aunt Lucinda too? Aurora has inherited superpowers?

Training sessions with Mum, keeping her secret from best friend Kizzy, Mr. Mercury ready to fail her in science – the British 11 year old is stressing out!

Her parents are arguing a lot now, the class trip to her dad’s exhibit of mysterious gemstones gets wild, and Aunt Lucinda drops by with her ostrich sidekick… what was her superpower exactly?

It’s up to Aurora to solve the gemstone mystery, repair her friendship with Kizzy, and make her parents happy together again…but how?

This illustrated adventure is the first in a series as the biracial middle-schooler meets other superheroes and fights against more villains. Look for all 4 books at your local library or independent bookstorehome delivery is a winner!

What superpower would you want to have?
**kmm

Book info: Lightning Girl (Lightning Girl, book 1) / Alesha Dixon with Katy Birchall; illustrated by James Lancett. Kane Miller EDC Publishers, 2020. [author interview] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy, sample page, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

sample page from Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall

Y for be yourself? PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME, by Erin Yun (middle grade book review)

book cover of Pippa Park Raises Her Game, by Erin Yun. Published by Fabled Films Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Scholarship to private school? Cool!
Expectations from family? Heavy.
Keep both worlds apart? Ummm…maybe?

Pippa loves basketball, but her big sister won’t let her try out for the middle school team until her grades are better. Algebra tutor, from snooty Lakeview Private? Yuck.

Their mother agrees, back in Korea after her work visa in Massachusetts expired. Good grades will be Pippa’s path forward, beyond the family laundromat and its long hours of work.

When Lakeview offers Pippa a basketball scholarship, Omma and sister are delighted. Pippa decides to reinvent herself as a cool girl… but can she do it at the same school as her tutor Eliot, where his father is the principal?!

How can Pippa keep her fancy new friends from knowing her humble origins?
Can she keep up her grades to keep this scholarship?
Who recommended her for this scholarship anyway?

Worried about her best friend since forever Buddy, about Omma’s health, about playing against her old school in the big game… action on and off the court is getting intense!

How hard is it to live up to family expectations?
**kmm

Book info: Pippa Park Raises Her Game / Erin Yun. Fabled Films Press, 2020. [book site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

X is where we aren’t, in SPEED OF FALLING OBJECTS, by Nancy Richardson Fischer (YA book review)

book cover of The Speed of Falling Objects, by Nancy Richardson Fischer. Published by Inkyard Press/Harlequin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One eye, one focus,
One week, time to finally be with Dad,
One downed plane, any chance to survive?

It was easier to cope with losing one eye at age 7 than with her dad’s leaving a few months later. Now Cougar’s adventure survival show takes him all over the world, rarely to Seattle where he left Mom and Dannielle.

Big surprise that he’s taking her to Peru for her 17th birthday, filming episodes with teen superstar Guy (bigger surprise that Cougar remembered Danny’s birthday at all).

But their small plane crashes far off-course in the remote Amazon rainforest, with minimal supplies. Of course, Cougar knows everything about survival…right?

Guy isn’t an airhead celebrity after all, even as Cassandra keeps filming the small group’s efforts to get edible plants and find their way in the pathless forest.

Injuries, lethal creatures, rain and rain and rain…how are they going to make it to a river that could take them to civilization?

Danny is a city kid with a true blind side… she’ll just follow Dad’s lead and everything will turn out fine, just like his TV shows…

When someone you idolize turns out to be very human, then what?
**kmm

Book info: The Speed of Falling Objects / Nancy Richardson Fischer. Inkyard Press/Harlequin, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W for HOW WE BECAME WICKED, by Alexander Yates (YA book review)

book cover of How We Became Wicked, by Alexander Yates. Published by Caitlyn Dloughy/Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Safe in their domed towns,
from the zing-sting of plague-bringer Singers,
but not from the secrets, deadly secrets!

Turned into a Wicked cannibal by an insect’s sting! No wonder rich investors fled to this remote resort on the rocky Atlantic coast, fortified it with domes and tunnels and walls and supplies aplenty.

Those turned Wicked by sting or breath or blood look human and are so polite, asking first if they may rip off your arm to eat it – only their inability to answer a certain question unmasks them as no longer True.

Natalie’s grandfather is Wicked, and there are only so many places to lock up a clever cannibal on small Puffin Island – how long can she and her parents keep him at bay?

Years pass and children become few in Goldsport, as the radio voice reminds True families that on a certain night a youngster may be stung by Singers and become immune to the Vex, but no guarantees…

The island lighthouse starts working after years of darkness, a Wicked woman at the Goldsport gate knows Astrid’s father, and the town archives reveal things that teens Astrid and Hank aren’t supposed to see.

Can anyone really become Vexed, infected yet remaining True?
What happened in the little town near Goldsport as the Wickedness advanced?
What happens when the blue spray doesn’t chase the Singers away anymore?

Trying to wall out what you don’t want…has that ever worked?
**kmm

Book info: How We Became Wicked / Alexander Yates. Caitlyn Dloughy Books/ Atheneum, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

V for VALIANT HIGH, superhero teens & secrets, by Daniel Kibblesmith & Derek Charm (graphic novel book review)

book cover of Valiant High, graphic novel by Daniel Kibblesmith & Derek Charm. Published by Valiant Entertainment | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Usual high school cliques,
usual high school worries,
very unusual high school students…

Welcome to Valiant High,”where extraordinary students become extraordinary people” – that’s right, an entire campus filled with superpowered teens who aren’t allowed to use their powers during school (yeah…sure).

When Principal Harada founded this school, he made sure that power-blocking badges were mandatory and that faculty members like scary Coach Bloodshot had superpowers too.

Unlucky for Amanda that her ability to talk to machines won’t work in driver ed – is this the only test she can’t pass?

Lucky for Aric that he found his place on the football field – who could challenge his destiny as Homecoming King?

As for Peter, he’s not so sure that he wants the new guy to transform him from forgotten to unforgettable as a social experiment to challenge Aric.

The creepy janitor they call Shadowman, eternal sophomore Gilad (maybe immortal?), bloodball in PE (dodgeball with no rules and all their superpowers activated), flying Faith (fat and phenomenal) – what other secrets does Valiant High hold?

Time to meet Livewire, X-O Manowar, Zephyr, Quantum and Woody, and others before their super-careers (for good or evil) in the Valiant Universe!

What superpower would you want to have in high school?
**kmm

Book info: Valiant High (Valiant High, issues 1-4) / Daniel Kibblesmith (writer), Derek Charm (artist), David Baron (colorist), Simon Bowland (letterer). Valiant Entertainment, 2019. [author site] [artist Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.