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Spells & dangers for Apprentice Witch, by James Nicol (book review)

book cover of Apprentice Witch by James Nicol published by Chicken House Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comDidn’t pass her witch assessment,
Sent to a town near the Great Wood’s untamed magic,
She knows she can do all the right spells… right?

After learning every glyph and its spell-powers from her grandmother, Arianwyn was sure the assessment machine would pass her as a witch on the first try, but no…

She didn’t expect to meet a friendly young man at the Civil Witchcraft Authority office or make a best friend right away in her assigned town – or that her archrival from witch school would arrive in that tiny town, either!

Happy US and Canadian book birthday to The Apprentice Witch! Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher. And, yes, there is a sequel on its way!

How do you work with that so-annoying, know-it-all, klutzy co-worker?
**kmm

Book info: The Apprentice Witch / James Nicol. Chicken House Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Posted to a remote town as a lowly apprentice witch during wartime, Arianwyn must keep Lull safe from the Great Wood’s dangerous magical creatures and cope with a snobby classmate’s arrival, all while dreading her re-evaluation for full witch status.

As she and new friend Salle make the long-deserted Spellorium ready for charm-making and witchly duties, Arianwyn finds papers from the town’s last witch who vanished mysteriously, years ago.

Snotlings and the terrible hex, an odd blue feyling and the breathtaking moon hare – magical creatures from pesky to perilous fill her catalog as the young teen defends Lull.

Will she ever get every spell correct on the very first try?
Can she unravel the dark glyph haunting her sleep?
What’s wrong with rival Gimma’s spellcrafting?

Arianwyn is growing in confidence and power, but the perils of the Great Wood are also! First in series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Terrifying future tales – to read with your ears

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC may be fiction, but they bring up possibilities vivid enough to scare you to pieces!

Click the link for each book and download before Wednesday (7/26/17),  so you have them on your computer or electronic device for listening now or later.

Thanks again to all the publishers who’ve let us download their great audiobooks all summer long through AudiobookSYNC!

CD cover of Gone (Gone, book 1) by Michael Grant | Read by Kyle McCarley Published by Tantor Media | recommended on BooksYALove.comGone (Gone, book 1) (download here free from 20-26 July 2017)
by Michael Grant
Read by Kyle McCarley
Published by Tantor Media

Suddenly, everyone over 14 is gone. Hunger and bullies – not gone. Scary new talents – on the rise. Civil behavior – declining fast. Mutating animals, fights over leadership – do Sam and friends have any chance of survival?
 

The One Safe Place (download here free from 20-26 July 2017)CD cover of The One Safe Place by Tania Unsworth | Read by Mark Turetsky Published by HighBridge Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Tania Unsworth
Read by Mark Turetsky
Published by HighBridge Audio

Leaving the farm after Grandfather dies, Devin hopes he’ll find safety and food in the city, or maybe be lucky enough to go the abandoned children’s home. But he finds the home is no safe place for any kid, especially one with his special abilities.

Have you read either of these dystopian tales before?
**kmm

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Mapmakers must Race to the End of the World, by A. L. Tait (book review)

book cover of Race to the End of the World by A.L. Tait published in USA by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnseen lands, unknown dangers,
commanded to map the whole world
ain’t on the farm now!

Quinn’s family has kept his amazing memory a secret so he’s not accused of witchery and attacked, as friend Aysha’s mother was, But the King has discovered it and wants the youngest son to compete at the new mapmakers’ school!

Ask for this first book in the Mapmaker Chronicles, an Australian series now published in the USA by Kane Miller Books, at your local library or independent bookstore.

When have you been called upon to go the extra mile?
**kmm

Book info:  Race to the End of the World (Mapmaker Chronicles, book 1) / A.L. Tait. Kane Miller, 2017. [author site]  [series site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chosen to train as a mapmaker because of his lightning-quick memory, Quinn finds himself on a perilous quest to create a map of all the world for the King of Verlandia.

Youngest of many brothers on his family farm, the 14 year old keeps quiet about his ability to memorize anything he sees or hears – a priceless skill for a mapmaker.

Can Quinn help enslaved captain Zain win his freedom?
Who is the stowaway, discovered when the Libertas is well at sea?
What monsters and dangers will the crew face as they seek uncharted shores?

First in The Mapmaker Chronicles series from Australian author A.L. Tait, three ships are in a Race to the End of the World, striving to bring the most complete world map to their King and earn their dearest wish! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

We are what we eat?? Listen up!

How much should we worry about the effects of the foods we crave? This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC pair a fictional story with fascinating research so you can read with your ears!

Click the link after either title (or both!) to download these complete audiobooks – for free – from Thursday through Wednesday (13-19 July).

Then you can listen whenever you want – just be sure to keep the files on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall | Read by Tara Sands Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comSugar (download here free from 13-19 July 2017)
by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Read by Tara Sands
Published by Brilliance Audio

Sugar doesn’t want to be fat or take care of her housebound morbidly obese mom in their run-down trailer. When a new guy at the 17 year old’s New Hampshire high school actually listens to her instead of mocking – what now?
 

The Dorito Effect: the Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor
(download here free from 12-19 July 2017)CD cover of The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker | Read by Chris Patton Published by Dreamscape Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Mark Schatzker
Read by Chris Patton
Published by Dreamscape Media

Perhaps it’s not the exactly carbs and fat we eat that are ruining our health, but the man-made flavors added to them that make us eat more and more. Fascinating research on chemical food flavors may be interfering with our bodies’ ability to choose nutritious foods.

What food has your own research led you to avoid?
**kmm

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Can they escape The Gauntlet’s deadly game of blood and sand? by Karuna Riazi (book review)

book cover of The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn old board game comes to life,
little brother rushes in and vanishes!
All puzzles must be solved to rescue him…

Although that wooden box looks like an outdated game, the dangers of entering “the Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” are very real – but how else can Farah get Ahmad back?

True friends Alex and Essie go with her – not the birthday party that any of them expected!

How far would you go to help your best friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Gauntlet / Karuna Riazi. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping her 12th birthday party for just a moment to open her aunt’s gift, Farah and her best friends find themselves transported from New York into an exotic board game that they must win in order to find her little brother Ahmad and to stay alive!

A good Bangladeshi girl would welcome her new classmates to the party, but Farah would rather play games with little brother Ahmad (letting him win keeps his ADHD tantrums to a minimum – a Mirza family rule).

Quietly creeping upstairs with Alex and Essie from her old neighborhood, Farah unwraps “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” and the ancient-looking game comes to life. Ahmad vanishes into the gameboard, just as Aunt Zohra says that it ruined her life at age 12!

Of course, Farah, Alex, and Essie must play the game to save him, but if they don’t solve each puzzle in time, none of them will escape the Gauntlet.

Who can they trust in the souk marketplace?
What otherworldly perils will the teammates face next?
How will they find Ahmad in this multi-level city made of sand?

A lifetime of playing board games may help Farah, Essie, and Alex outwit the Architect’s deadly puzzle challenges – if he doesn’t cheat! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Memories and expectations – listen in….

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC tell of memory and expectations, with teens with so much of their futures riding on now.

You can download each title pair (just click on the link below) from Thursday through Wednesday, then you can listen to them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Single-narrator audiobooks or full-cast productions with sound effects? This summertime @AudioSYNC free program lets to try many genres of books – for free!

CD cover of Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer | Read by Will Lasley Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.comRemember to Forget
(download here free from 6-12 July 2017)
by Ashley Royer
Read by Will Lasley
Published by Blink

Sent to Dad’s house in Maine from Australia to shake his depression, Luke isn’t sure he wants to “get over” his girlfriend’s death or to talk again or to meet anybody (especially the girl who reminds him of someone…)
 
Rebuttal
(download here free from 6-12 July 2017)CD cover of Rebuttal by Jyotsna Hariharan | Read by Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch, Nina Mehta, a Full Cast Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Jyotsna Hariharan
Read by Phoebe Strole, Michael Crouch, Nina Mehta, a Full Cast
Published by HarperAudio

A 2nd place at debate tournament gets Alex to her dream writer’s workshop, but she needs a debate partner. Passing AP Biology gets Jeremy closer to becoming a doctor (his parents’ dream), but he needs a tutor.  Helping each other will be easy, right?

Expectations can be a heavy burden – how do you cope?
**kmm

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Read American #ownstories – with your ears

Hurry to get this week’s pair of free audiobooks from SYNC to read with your ears for Independence Day and beyond!

Click the link following the title to download either or both these complete audiobooks before Wednesday night (5 July 2017), then listen to them whenever you like, as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of American Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose by Richard Montoya, Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney | Read by Richard Montoya, Keith Jefferson, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.comAmerican Night: the Ballad of Juan Jose
(download here free through 5 July 2017)
by Richard Montoya, Developed by Culture Clash and Jo Bonney
Read by Richard Montoya, Keith Jefferson, Todd Nakagawa, Sean San Jose, Kimberly Scott, Herbert Siguenza, Tom Virtue, Libby West, Caro Zeller
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

After studying so hard for his citizenship exam, Juan is visited by a parade of American historical figures in his dreams – live performance with large cast, music, and lots of pop culture references.

 

My Name is Not Easy
(download here free through 5 July 2017)CD cover of My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson | Read by Nick Podehl, Amy Rubinate Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Debby Dahl Edwardson
Read by Nick Podehl, Amy Rubinate
Published by Brilliance Audio

In a 1960s Alaskan boarding school where youth are forbidden to speak their Native languages and cross-cultural friendships are discouraged, five boys tell their own stories of loneliness and hope.

What tales of freedom do you recommend?
**kmm

Is Lulu next? Murder Among the Stars, by Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan (book review)

book cover of Murder Among the Stars by Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com “Be your true self!”
“Act like a star!”
“Stay alive!” Two out of three’s not bad…

Lulu hasn’t been in 1920s Hollywood long, but she knows there are schemers who’ll do anything to get a role with the big movie studios – absolutely anything!

After her run-in with gangsters, hidden identities, and murderous gossip in her first mystery as Girl About Town (my no-spoilers review here), the New York native has her eyes wide open and her exit route planned during this raucous extended audition turned deadly.

Glitz, glamour, and gore – ready for your close-up?
**kmm

Book info: Murder Among the Stars (Lulu Kelly mysteries, book 2) / Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan.  Atheneum Books, 2017.  [Adam’s bio]  [Laura’s Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  Playing footsies with a corpse wasn’t what Lulu had expected at this elegant dinner, but the young actress finds even more bizarre things during the weekend-long audition for a movie contract, as she’s drawn into another mystery in 1920s Hollywood.

Imagine being wealthy enough to build a California castle, to own a menagerie with a real lion, to flaunt your mistress in Society, to give expensive gifts to every guest without blinking an eyelash!

For newspaper and movie magnate William Randolph Hearst, this extravagant house-party is just a simple favor for writer Anita Loos, until actresses start being murdered.

For new-to-Hollywood Lulu Kelly, it’s her chance for a starring role, if the 17 year old can outlast the other twenty starlets trying to win over WR and Marion.

For Lulu’s boyfriend Freddie the private eye, this huge party at the remote estate means too many suspects and too many motives for blackmail and murder.

Why is WR’s 10 year old niece Patricia so interested in crimes and murders?
How can anyone believe that the first suspect nabbed for the first murder did it?
Who invited mobster Sal to this party and does anyone know his connection to Lulu?

Dive into the intrigue and gossip of movie legends in this second Lulu Kelly mystery, as silver screen secrets become oh so deadly.

How is videogame rehab a Cure for the Common Universe? by Christian McKay Heidicker (book review)

book cover of Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com Plays videogames more hours than any full-time job,
Sees sunlight on alternate Thursdays (maybe),
Why would they send him to game-addiction rehab?

And just minutes after Jaxon meets a real, breathing teen girl who agrees to go out with him! Quick – how can he level up and prove that he’s cured and get to that date?!

Read an excerpt here, courtesy of the publisher, then go find your own Cure for the Common Universe at a local library or independent bookstore – just out in paperback this month!

What’ll they throw you into rehab for??
**kmm

Book info: Cure for the Common Universe / Christian McKay Heidicker. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author site] [publisher site] [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Banished to a rehab center for videogame addicts, 16 year old Jaxon is desperate to escape in time for his first-ever date with a girl in the real world, but earning his way out could involve actually talking about being abandoned by Mom – no other way to level up?!

Not his fault that his parents divorced when he was just 8 or that his mom’s addictions always make her forget he’s coming to visit or that he is escaping from his stepmother’s perfectionism by living in the videogames that he so loved playing with Mom…

Hustled away to the desert rehab center, Jaxon meets teens who truly are videogame addicts (he isn’t, just likes playing them 60 hours a week in summer) and tries to figure out how he can get back to Salt Lake City in just four days so he can meet Serena (no cellphone, no FaceBook) for their date (first date, first girl who laughed with him instead of at him).

Doing chores earns points, doing dumb stuff loses points for you and your guild (yep, using different names and being in guilds is not like gaming at all – ha!).

Earn enough points, and you can go home from v-hab (again, not at all like gaming – ha!)

But no one in the whole two-month history of Horizons has earned their way out in just 4 days – and that’s what Jaxon has to do, if he wants to see Serena… (was any gaming reward worth this much??)

Soup, Aurora, Meeki, Zxzord, and Fezzik want to help their guildmate get to that golden date with Serena, but he’ll have to see beyond his own limitations first.

People aren’t only Saints and Misfits – some are monsters! by S.K. Ali (book review)

book cover of Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali published by Salaam Reads  | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe darkness is crushing her,
Attacker masquerading as righteous,
Why can’t anyone see it?

Janna can cope with being considered a nerd because she studies or different because she wears the hijab at public school, which her remarried dad says is “too religious”.

But when the guy who assaulted her keeps her in sight at every mosque activity and is welcomed at friends’ homes, her fear grows – and she doesn’t want to be afraid anymore!

This June 2017 debut novel would be better titled as Saints and Misfits and a Monster, as Janna’s attacker stalks her in plain sight of everyone who sees only his pious exterior.

How can you support someone in Janna’s situation?
**kmm

Book info: Saints and Misfits / S. K. Ali. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Mom is the only divorcee at the mosque, brother Muhammad is is taking a year off from college, and Dad cannot understand why Janna wears the hijab – this school year cannot end fast enough for the Illinois teen who loves her friends greatly and is being stalked mercilessly.

Pleasant things: elder-sitting Mr. Ram with his poetic mind, laughing at Nuah’s jokes, daydreaming about cute Jeremy who’s in no school cliques, re-reading Flannery O’Connor.

Less-pleasant: explaining at school that she’s fine wearing hijab on hot days, her BFF’s continued cluelessness about how Janna absolutely cannot date, competing on Islamic Quiz Bowl team (tricked into it!), chaperoning Muhammad and Sarah as they begin spending time together (Saint Sarah as future sister-in-law?!)

Most unpleasant: watching popular kids bully people who are a little different, trying to avoid Farooq of the so-pious Noor family, finding photos online of herself with uncovered hair and tagged with her name!

What’s worse – having a crush on a non-Muslim boy or memories of a ‘pious’ Muslim boy’s assault crushing her?

The imam’s answers to emailed questions are both witty and wise – will Janna take the advice given by her uncle as she edits it for the mosque’s website?

Farooq seems to be everywhere, all the time – will she ever be able to forget what he did to her?

Sometimes saints aren’t so good and the not-good-enough are better than their detractors – it’s up to Janna to decide where the lines are drawn in her own life.