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Extraordinary life stories – listen up! #audiobooks for all

Most of us would say that we lead unexceptional lives. That’s why we’re so intrigued by celebrities and folks whose lives are anything but ordinary.

This week, we get to listen in on the lifestories of superstars in the world of sport and the world of art, with two free audiobooks from AudioSYNC (thanks again, publishers!).

Click on a title below by Wednesday 17 July 2019, follow the easy directions at the AudioSYNC page, and you can keep the downloaded free audiobook on your device as long as you wish.

CD cover of Becoming Kareem,  by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar | Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Becoming Kareem, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Read by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Published by Hachette Audio

US basketball legend recounts his life from boyhood in New York through his professional career and onward as an activist for social change, sharing the many lessons learned from his mentors.

CD cover of Vincent and Theo,  by Deborah Heiligman | Read by Philip Fox Published by Dreamscape Media  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Vincent and Theo, by Deborah Heiligman

Read by Philip Fox

Published by Dreamscape Media

The Van Gogh brothers shared dreams and heartaches throughout their lives, with Vincent leaving their family home to pursue his art and Theo later giving him a place to stay and work in Paris. Based on their lifetime of correspondence.

What other biographies would you recommend?
**kmm

Our freedoms secured by INVISIBLE HEROES OF WORLD WAR II #YAlit by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Invisible Heroes of World War II, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Battling uphill against relentless gunfire,
Surviving tropical torture camps,
Building a bridge today & blowing it up tomorrow…

So many World War II stories concentrate on the big-name heroes we saw in our history textbooks, but thousands upon thousands of people with their own talents, strengths, and courage helped the Allies win.

Meet individuals like photojournalist Dickey Chapelle who made a name for herself as one of the first ’embedded journalists’ during the War and socialite Nancy Wake who worked for the French Resistance, taking escaped Allied prisoners to safety by train, right under the noses of the Nazis in Vichy France.

This book also notes the heroism of groups such as the Nisei Japanese-American Purple Heart Battalion fighting in Europe while their families were interned in concentration camps in the US, the Navajo Code Talkers whose top-secret service went unrecognized for decades, and the combat engineers keeping the US Army moving over land, marshes, and rivers.

The author of Compassionate Soldier (I recommended it here) brings us another good balance of personal stories and collective histories, rarely discussed and well-known, all worth discovering.

What under-told stories of heroism might be found in your family’s old letters, photo albums, and tales shared at family gatherings?
**kmm

Book info: Invisible Heroes of World War II: Extraordinary Wartime Stories of Ordinary People , by Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Gone?! How?! Audiobooks make compelling reading

This week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC are disappearance tales, one a mystery, the other filled with researched facts, both great for summer reading with your ears!

Download before Wednesday 19 June 2019 for free by clicking on the title and following the simple instructions. You have these free AudioSYNC titles as long as you keep them on your device.

You can also check them out from your local library or buy through an indie bookstore – explore all the audiobook titles available so you can read while you ride, run, walk, or work – please stay aware of your surroundings!

CD cover of The Golden Day,  by Ursula Dubosarsky | Read by Kate Rudd Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Golden Day, by Ursula Dubosarsky.

Read by Kate Rudd, Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

On a mysterious field trip, their teacher disappears! Who can the 11 girls tell? Who is the poet they once met with their teacher?

As the Vietnam War rages on the nightly news, the girls fret about events closer to home… perhaps too close!

CD cover of Gulp,  by Mary Roach | Read by Emily Woo Zeller Published by Tantor Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Gulp, by Mary Roach

Read by Emily Woo Zeller , Published by Tantor Audio

The science of chewing, swallowing, digesting, and eliminating what we eat mixes with stories of exorcists, pet-food taste-testing labs, mad scientists, and terrorists in this well-researched and humorous look at food, nutrition, and our alimentary canals from one end to the other.

Disappeared? Gone forever? or not…
**kmm

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

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

X marks pivotal 1968: TODAY’S AUTHORS EXPLORE A YEAR OF REBELLION, REVOLUTION & CHANGE, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti (YA book review)

book cover of 1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Assassinations – dreams denied.
Protests and retaliation – hope swings forward, then back.
War in our living rooms – who can look away?

This collection of non-fiction essays and memoirs by stellar YA and middle grade authors does go chronologically through 1968, but is vivid and nuanced and anguished – no dry parade of factoids on a timeline!

In “The Death of the Dream,” Kekla Magoon recounts the assasinations of Dr. King and RFK, while Laban Carrick Hill remembers those same days as a young child in a very racist Southern family “On the Wrong Side of History.”

What do you know about the 1968 student riots in Paris and Mexico City?
– the small freedoms gained in Czechoslovakia during “Prague Spring” before the USSR Communist leaders cracked down?
– the protests against Columbia University’s attempt to build a gym by razing a black neighborhood?
– the Red Guard in China during the Cultural Revolution?

Police brutality against protesters in Chicago was viewed by 90 million people on live television in 1968, research on genetics and computing raced forward in laboratories, while the Olympics and Presidential election and space race dominated the headlines.

The authors relay their personal connection or outlook to the event they chronicle, with each quarter of the year headed by Elizabeth Partridge’s recap of the Nightly News including Vietnam war fatalities – military and civilian – night after night after night.

Be sure to read the contributors’ biographies at the end: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Omar Figueroas, Paul Fleischman, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, Elizabeth Partridge.

Get it today at your favorite indie bookstore for Independent Bookstore Day!

What historic moment during your lifetime would you write about?
**kmm

Book info: 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press, 2018. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is for PATH TO THE STARS: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, by Sylvia Acevedo (YA book review)

book cover of Path to the Stars, by Sylvia Acevedo. Published by Clarion Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The world of books,
the sisterhood of Girl Scouts,
her chance for dreams to come true!

Papa’s attention went mostly to her big brother, Mama focused on little sister whose bout with meningitis scarred the whole family (not much money, lots of love), so Sylvia discovered her own best way through life, with the help of her Girl Scout troop and leaders.

This biography brings readers into Sylvia’s extended family, into the days when Latinas were just being accepted into science professions, into her growing attitude that she can plan and dream and make those dreams come true.

So excited that she is a keynote speaker this week at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in Austin!

What influences have helped you during your life journey?
**kmm

Book info: Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist / Sylvia Acevedo. Clarion Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Also available in Spanish – Camino a las estrellas (Path to the Stars Spanish edition): Mi recorrido de Girl Scout a ingeniera astronáutica / Sylvia Acevedo and Isabel Mendoza. Clarion Books, 2018.

My book talk: From the rocket science lab and executive board room, Sylvia Acevedo looks back on the events which brought her here from a crowded Las Cruces neighborhood, acknowledging the hardships and help received along the way.

Moving across town from the dirt streets where everyone knows everyone’s business to a new neighborhood with air-conditioned houses in the 1960s, Sylvia fights expectations that she’s academically behind her new classmates and gets used to hearing English spoken everywhere except her home.

An invitation to a Brownie troop meeting changes her life, as Sylvia finds the perfect place to explore her own interests (instead of Papa’s limits), learn how to manage money and speak confidently (cookie sales!), and plan for her future (not a strong skill in her family).

She loves science and math and star-gazing and going to the library and dreams of going to college – determination and planning can get her there!

This true story of one Mexican-American girl’s journey from just getting by to getting rockets into space as an engineer celebrates the strength of family love, the power of positive role models during childhood, and her own persistence in learning everything she needs to move to the next step in her plans.

O is for Nadya Okamoto & PERIOD POWER (YA book review)

book cover of Period Power, by Nadya Okamoto. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Subtitled “A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement,” this informational book seeks to start conversations and remove taboos surrounding a natural body function for half the world’s population.

Look into the history of period products, the mid-20th century educational pamphlets created by their manufacturers, and modern alternatives to their current contribution to plastics pollution.

Did you ever think about the difficulties experienced by homeless persons during their periods? Of school-age menstruators whose families can’t afford period products? Of trans persons who are reminded monthly of a gender identity that is not their own?

Okamoto’s quest to destigmatize menstruation myths and misunderstandings led her to start period.org in high school, and today the Harvard student continues to advocate through this largest youth-run NGO in women’s health – you can, too!

Donate period products at your next food drive or service project.

Choose personal period product options that are less-polluting and fight against the “tampon tax“.

Keep conversations open so women and men can normalize this fact of life.

What’s your next step?
**kmm

Book info: Period Power: a Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement / Nadya Okamoto, illustrated by Rebecca Elfast. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

April AtoZ Challenge begins Monday – no fooling!

logo of 10th April Blogging A to Z Challenge

It’s challenge time again!

For the eighth year in a row, I am participating in the Blogging A to Z April Challenge – 26 posts in 26 days!

So you will get 25 new book recommendations and one surprise during April – Sundays off to catch up!

Ready to kickstart your blog? Sign up at http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ and publish your A post on Monday, April 1st (no fooling!).

Want to find more blogs to follow? Visit http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ and search the categories on the Master List. The Challenge is also on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/atozchallenge) and Twitter (@AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge).

Looking for my A2Z posts from earlier years? Click on the A2Z under Tags in the right hand column.

See y’all on Monday (and Tuesday and….)
**kmm

Here, have A PEBBLE FOR YOUR THOUGHTS & grow kindness, by Megan Murphy (book review)

book cover of Pebble for Your Thoughts, by Megan Murphy. Published by Mango Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The right words
at the right time
can make all the difference.

When Megan Murphy decided to turn off the negativity of the morning news and spread love during her daily walks, The Kindness Rocks Project was born.

“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” – Winston Churchill (pg. 40-41)

This book collects some of her favorite sayings to paint on rocks and leave where others can find them (info on where not to leave them also included).

“If not us, who? If not now, when?” – John F. Kennedy (pg. 56-57)

What uplifting message will you send out into the world?
**kmm

Book info: A Pebble For Your Thoughts: How One Kindness Rock at the Right Moment Can Change Your Life / Megan Murphy. Mango Publishing, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Starting with one person’s attempt to counteract negativity through small encouraging messages to anyone, The Kindness Rocks Project has grown into a worldwide movement trying to uplift everyone.

Chapters featuring quotations on

  • strength -“Never underestimate yourself”,
  • encouragement – “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” – Rumi,
  • grief and healing – “Sometimes, something as simple as a smile can make all the difference”,
  • faith – “Live the way you want to be remembered”,
  • personal growth – “You can go your own way” – Fleetwood Mac, and
  • self-love – “Accentuate the positive”
    show example Kindness Rocks in picturesque natural settings and discuss the word or quotation painted on each one.

Sections on the Project’s origins and how to become involved by painting your own Kindness Rocks round out this handy collection, which reminds us to LeaveNoTrace and place our own #thekindnessrocksproject inspirational rocks in just the right places.