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FOUR THREE TWO ONE…survivor’s guilt may explode, by Courtney Stevens (YA book review)

book cover of Four Three Two One, by Courtney Stevens. Published by Harper Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

An art installation,
recreating the NYC bus bombing
where they almost died with the others…
almost.
Is almost enough or too much?

A year after an angry white boy explodes himself on a sightseeing bus, the four teen survivors are still trying to piece their lives together:

Golden and Chan – young sweethearts from the same Kentucky commune,
Caroline – from New York wine country, unable to escape vicious Simon,
Rudy – former athlete, now wheelchair-bound in Florida.

A medic who helped them away from the burning bus has spent the past year honoring the victims online and will soon unveil the rebuilt bus with their families’ memories – on the very street where it happened.

He asks people who can’t attend to donate scholarship money for the survivors and invites Golden, Chan, Caroline, and Rudy to be there.

Can they really face that bus where 19 others died?
Can they undo their connections to the bomber’s choice to bomb that bus at that moment?
Can they move forward, alone or together, ever?

Golden’s tennis partner Becky arranges the road trip that will get them all to NYC for the ceremony…ready to remember or not.

How have you worked through being a survivor?
**kmm

Book info: Four Three Two One / Courtney Stevens. Harper Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

She thought her home is WHERE THE HEART IS, but is it? by Jo Knowles (MG book review)

book cover of  Where the Heart Is, by Jo Knowles. Published by Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gotta get a job,
help with the bills…
what a 13th birthday surprise!

Rachel and best friend Micah want to have a summer filled with lazy days at the lake, ice cream, and her little sister tagging along.

But money troubles are piling up for Mom and Dad, so she gets a job caring for their new neighbors’ hobby farm animals. Are they really raising that mean ol’ pig for bacon?

Too many things are changing – next year is eighth grade, the Townsends built their big new house on the best winter sledding hill, Micah wants to be her boyfriend… no crushes on boys for her.

Does Cybil want to be more than a casual friend?
Will Mom and Dad ever stop fighting about money?
Will Rachel’s pay as a farm helper be enough?

Rachel’s summer seems more like a raging river of worries than their favorite calm lakeshore beach as she tries to navigate around so many new obstacles.

Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher, to meet Rachel and family on her big birthday.

Is home really “where the heart is”?
**kmm

Book info: Where the Heart Is / Jo Knowles. Candlewick Press, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Home= empty, camp =more, NO PLACE LIKE HERE, by Christina June (YA book review)

book cover of No Place Like Here, by Christina June. Published by BlinkYABooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dad’s lies catch up with him,
Mom’s depression is so deep,
what’s the appropriate quotation for this?

No summer with friends for Ashlyn after being unfairly sent to boarding school last year for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time!

While Dad is in prison for tax evasion and Mom’s taking spa treatments to cope, Ash has to work at summer camp with the cousin she hasn’t seen since they were little kids.

Actually it’s a retreat center in the Pennsylvania woods, worlds away from her DC suburb… who knows what she’ll be doing or how her rarely-visited family will treat her.

Her aunt and uncle welcome her warmly, cousin Hannah will show her everything at the center, and surely summer will pass smoothly so Ashlyn’s parents will let her transfer home for her senior year.

Of course the newest employee gets the most boring jobs (sports equipment checkout for family reunion? yawn), but even she can tell that the recently hired director isn’t keeping up with essentials.

Flirting with lifeguard Marcus and ziplining with Baxter are definite high points; visiting Dad in prison isn’t.

Will the camp owner listen to Ashlyn’s concerns about the director?
When will Dad’s stern voice stop invading her thoughts?

We met Ashlyn last summer in It Started With Goodbye (my no-spoiler recommendation here) as she and best friend Tatum made small choices with big consequences – now see what’s next (like this same summer for T’s stepsister recounted in Everywhere You Want To Be (more here)).

How have you turned a bad situation into a better one?
**kmm

Book info: No Place Like Here / Christina June. Blink YA Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

From away to here? LOVE FROM A TO Z, by S. K. Ali (YA book review)

book cover of Love From A to Z, by S.K. Ali, published by Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Hate-filled rhetoric in class – by the teacher!
Unwelcome diagnosis = uncertain future.
This isn’t the time to fall in love, but…

Zayneb clashes with her anti-Muslim teacher one time too many, is suspended from her Indiana high school, and sent early to visit her aunt in Doha for spring break – taking along her marvels and oddities journal – as her friends keep investigating the teacher’s extremist connections.

Adam has dropped out of university in London, devoting every moment to creating before multiple sclerosis robs the feeling from his hands, just as it did for his late mom – now heading home to Dad and little sister in Doha, with his marvels and oddities journal and guitar.

Her aunt and his dad work at the same school, so Zayneb and Adam officially meet each other at a teachers’ party, then socialize with his friends, as a group of course.

Adam keeps his diagnosis secret – how could Dad cope with another loss?
Zayneb mourns for her grandmother – what’s this new news about her death while in Pakistan for a wedding?
Spring break is short – can Adam finish the art installation for his sister before he cannot do anything with his hands?

Long-term, long-distance – their possibility of a forever-relationship might be an oddity or a marvel or impossible…start their story with chapter one, a free excerpt on the publisher’s website.

From the author of Saints and Misfits, which I recommended here.

When have you squeezed much happiness into a small timeframe?
**kmm

Book info: Love from A to Z / S. K. Ali. Salaam Reads, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Teens starting anew – strong stories to read with your ears (audiobooks)

With a support network, difficult times can be easier – but what if you’re trying to reboot your life when those closest to you want to pull you back down?

This week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC bring us the stories of teens who’ve hit rock-bottom and are trying to clamber back up from terrible relationships and hard circumstances.

Download by clicking on the title and following the easy instructions. If you save your AudioSYNC books during their free week, you can keep them as long as you want!

CD cover of The First Time She Drowned,  by Kerry Kletter | Read by Jorjeana Marie Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The First Time She Drowned – by Kerry Kletter

Read by Jorjeana Marie. Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library

Thrown into a mental hospital at 16 by her mother, Cassie is now a legal adult, ready to go to college and push aside her mother’s toxic ‘love’.

But memories try to pull her down, allow her mother to ooze into her life – can she survive it all again?

CD cover of Wild Bird,  by Wendelin Van Draanen | Read by Alex McKenna Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Wild Bird, by Wendelin Van Draanen

Read by Alex McKenna. Published by Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library

Wilderness therapy camp is 14-year-old Wren’s last chance to find her way clear from the drugs and questionable relationships she dove into when her family moved to a small town.

Eight weeks in the desert – to clear her mind, to find her way back into her family, to find ways to be happy with herself….

How can you support someone trying to move forward in life from dire problems?
**kmm

Fast, fat, funny, real – THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE for him, by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of There's Something About Sweetie, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Parent-arranged dates,
hokey or helpful?
Hopefully heal his heartbreak.

Ashish needs to get over his breakup (first time he’s ever been dumped) and get back his basketball groove, and his Indian-American parents think setting him up with a nice Desi girl will help?

Sweetie wants her mom to realize that losing weight won’t make the high school junior happier (her friends love her right now) or run any faster (no one can beat her on the track), but how? Time for ‘Project Sassy Sweetie’ and getting out of her comfort zone!

Four very specific dates (and a behavior contract – Pappa is always a businessman) – Ashish’s Ma is sure that Sweetie is the perfect girl for him, but his love-and-leave reputation in the close-knit Bay area Desi community makes Sweetie’s mother say no to the idea.

But Sweetie says yes (Project Sassy Sweetie!), so off they go, to the temple and the Holi festival and his eccentric aunt’s place, each time enjoying one another’s company more.

Surely, on their fourth date for Sweetie’s birthday party, Amma will see this indeed was a good idea…
Surely, Ashish’s white ex-girlfriend will completely fade from his memory…

Told in alternating chapters, this fun (but not frivolous) romantic story is a May 2019 companion to When Dimple Met Rishi (Ashish’s perfect big brother) – you can enjoy this book without reading the other (my no-spoiler recommendation here), but make yourself happier by reading both!

What ingrained family opinion have you overcome for the better?
**kmm

Book info: There’s Something About Sweetie / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Torn in two, reunited – Berlin & its wall in audiobooks

The before and the after of the Berlin Wall speak to you in this week’s free AudiobookSYNC selections!

In one title, a fictional family divided in 1961 by the Wall echoes the plight of thousands of Germans during the Cold War, while a nonfiction examination of the Cold War’s end and the fall of the Wall shows long-awaited reunions.

Choose one, choose both! Just be sure to download before Wednesday 29 May 2019 so you can read with your ears as long as you retain the audio file on your device.

Big thanks to the publishers for making each week’s pair of professionally produced audiobooks available to us – free!

CD cover of A Night Divided,  by Jennifer A. Nielsen | Read by Kate Simses Published by Scholastic Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Night Divided, by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Read by Kate Simses.
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks

Suddenly, her father and brother are on the western side of the new wall dividing Berlin! The guns of East German soldiers threaten Gerta, Fritz, and their mother constantly as hope of reunion dims and even neighbors cannot be trusted. There is just one chance for freedom – Gerta and Fritz must tunnel under the Wall!

CD cover of Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War,  by Romesh Ratnesar | Read by Wes Bleed Published by Oasis Audio  by Romesh Ratnesar | Read by Wes Bleed Published by Oasis Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Tear Down This Wall: A City, A President, and the Speech That Ended the Cold War, by Romesh Ratnesar

Read by Wes Bleed. Published by Oasis Audio

President Ronald Reagan’s provocative 1987 speech in West Berlin called on Mikhail Gorbachev of Russia to tear down the Wall, which fell just two years later. This book uses information from Western and Soviet sources to chronicle the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

What literal or figurative walls have you seen change in your lifetime?
**kmm

Her future fractured for THE BONE CHARMER, by Breeana Shields (YA book review)

book cover of The Bone Charmer, by Breeana Shields. Published by Page Street Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No, she doesn’t want to be a seer through bone-charming like her mother and grandmother!
Yes, a thief is stealing family bones, taking away memories forever!
Maybe she can avoid a future she dreads, maybe a future is choosing her.

As breaks the bone, so her future path divides, and 17-year-old Saskia lives both lives, as tutor in her hometown paired with charming Declan (her best dream) and as apprentice bone charmer paired with gloomy Bram as both train their magical abilities in the capital (her worst fear) – but one path must become a dead end.

Perhaps the bone broken during Saskia’s kenning can be mended and her dual lives after that day become one – but that requires darker magics and secrets hard to keep.

In a world where visions are granted through ancestral bones, master bone charmers like Saskia’s mother and late grandmother can see only the past or the present or the future – but someone longs for the forbidden power to see all three and will gladly kill Saskia in either timeline to get it!

Happy book birthday to The Bone Charmer ! Request it now at your local independent bookstore or library.

Which vision gift would you choose – past, present, or future?
**kmm

Book info: The Bone Charmer / Breeana Shields. Page Street Publishing, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

DON’T DATE ROSA SANTOS or the sea will take you! by Nina Moreno (YA book review)

book cover of Don't Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno.  Published by Disney Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cursed by the inexorable ocean,
Claimed by the Cuban heritage never discussed,
where is Rosa called to go?

Their unborn daughters never knew their fathers who died in the tumultuous seas…her grandmother and mother are so alike, yet so different.

Mimi is the healer and solid cornerstone of their Florida town, where Mama occasionally wanders back from her art commissions, where Rosa decided to stay after a childhood on the road, where her grandmother’s beloved Cuba is the shared heritage of many, and the sea’s curse on men loved by the Santos women is very well-known.

Rosa is fast-tracking high school to make sure she gets into a college with study abroad in Cuba (why doesn’t Mimi want to go back or even talk about her homeland?) and will never, ever date a sailor (ever).

When Port Coral’s festival loses its sponsor and developers threaten to buy up the waterfront, Rosa’s legendary organizing skills help her neighbors find their own way to bring tourist dollars to town and bring young sailor Alex into her life.

Everyone knows you don’t date Santos women, yet baker Alex dares…and Rosa dreams of happy endings, for once.

When have you gone against ‘common wisdom’ and come out ahead?
**kmm

Book info: Don’t Date Rosa Santos / Nina Moreno. Disney Hyperion, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Spoil the sea, fear the sky – eco-drama to read with your ears! (audiobooks)

Scary stuff this week with @AudiobookSYNC’s two free titles to download – because the stories are so true!

Download the audiobook you want by clicking on the title and following the instructions. You can get both of these professionally produced works free of charge through Wednesday, 20 May 2019.

CD cover of Spill,  by Leigh Fondakowski | Read by Elisa Bocanegra, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Nicholas Hormann, Travis Johns, Jane Kaczmarek, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, Kate Steele, Mark Jude Sullivan Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Spill – by Leigh Fondakowski

Read by Elisa Bocanegra, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Nicholas Hormann, Travis Johns, Jane Kaczmarek, James Morrison, Darren Richardson, Kate Steele, Mark Jude Sullivan Published by L.A. Theatre Works

This documentary about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico includes conversations, interviews, and court proceedings – dramatized by a full cast in front of a studio audience.

CD cover of Meet the Sky,  by McCall Hoyle | Read by Morgan Fairbanks Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Meet the Sky – by McCall Hoyle

Read by Morgan Fairbanks. Published by Blink

Sophie didn’t intend to ride out the hurricane on their Outer Banks island, especially with the guy who broke her heart by vanishing only to reappear recently – but they do want to survive! I recommended Meet the Sky here last month (no spoilers!)

What’s your scariest humans against Mother Nature story?
**kmm