Mysteries to read with your ears!

Ooh, this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC aren’t your everyday tales of mystery!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday (7-13 June 2018), you can read them whenever you wish, as long as you keep them on your device.

CD cover of Everland, by Wendy Spinale | Read by Fiona Hardingham, Steve West Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comEverland (download here free from 7-13 June 2018)
by Wendy Spinale
Read by Fiona Hardingham, Steve West
Published by Scholastic Audio

Peter Pan retold through steampunk goggles in an alternate history where only children survived a plague after the London Blitz where a ruthless German commandant hunts them as possible source for a cure.


The Just Men of Cordova (Four Just Men, book 3) (download here free from 7-13 June 2018)CD cover of Just Men of Cordova, by Edgar Wallace | Read by Bill Homewood Published by Naxos AudioBooks | recommended on
by Edgar Wallace
Read by Bill Homewood
Published by Naxos AudioBooks

Entering the shady world of horse racing and gambling, The Four Just Men continue their campaign to rid the world of evil-doers, without help from law enforcement or judges.

Taking the law into your own hands – when is it okay?

End of our world with The Strange Round Bird? by Eden Unger Bowditch (book review)

book cover of Strange Round Bird by Eden Unger Bowditch published by Bancroft | recommended on BooksYALove.comKidnapping? Already happened.
Puzzles with world-shaking answers? Did some.
Partnered with parents to save humanity? Ohhh…

Hopefully, you’ve met Noah, Wallace, Faye, Jasper, and Lucy as they investigated The Atomic Weight of Secrets (my no-spoiler review here) in early 1900s America and then traveled to Italy with them (and the mysterious men in black) to study The Ravens of Solemano (reviewed here) in the further adventures of the Young Inventors Guild.

Happy book birthday this month to The Strange Round Bird!, the conclusion of this exciting trilogy as our five amazing young people are promised a reunion with their talented parents in Egypt… but the evil Komar Romak has followed them again!

Where do you dream that adventure will take you in this world?

Book info: The Strange Round Bird, or the Poet, the King, and the Mysterious Men in Black (Young Inventors Guild, book 3) / Eden Unger Bowditch. Bancroft Press, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book Facebook page] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Arriving in Egypt means reuniting with their beloved parents, but evil forces are intent on preventing the Young Inventors Guild from joining them to solve a mystery which will save humanity from destruction!

An ancient manuscript holds clues about the “strange round bird” – is it the same bird from their childhood song?

Even more mysterious men in black are here in the Cairo castle with the five children and their parents – what is their true purpose?

Noah’s mother is kidnapped from the opera stage – can he rescue her without endangering their mission?

Racing through the marketplaces of Cairo, delving into mysterious secrets, seeking answers without waiting to be ‘old enough to help’ – this thrilling conclusion of The Young Inventors Guild series must overcome the ultimate evil to save the world.

Teens’ Top Ten – vote now!

logo of YALSA's Teens' Top Ten book programTime is running short for Teens’ Top Ten voting!

Teens ages 12-18 get to choose 3 of the 24 nominated books, but you must vote by October 24, 2015 (the end of Teen Read Week).

Here are four great books that might have flown under the publicity radar. Click on the title to read my no-spoilers recommendation:

Since You’ve Been Gone, by Morgan Matson

Kiss of Deception, by Mary Pearson

The Winner’s Curse, by Marie Rutkoski

The Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer E. Smith

Head to to see individual book trailers for each title and VOTE!

Tell your friends, talk about books, vote so that this Top Ten list is yours!

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

It’s Teens’ Top Ten time – vote now!

logo of YALSA's Teens' Top Ten book programA wonderful selection of recent fiction makes choosing just 3 titles from this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list difficult, but you can do it!

Of the 24 nominated books,  I’ve recommended several here on BooksYALove (remember, I look for the less-publicized great books). Click on the title to read my no-spoilers recommendation:

Since You’ve Been Gone,  by Morgan Matson

Kiss of Deception,  by Mary Pearson

The Winner’s Curse,  by Marie Rutkoski

The Geography of You and Me,  by Jennifer E. Smith

Voting is open until October 2015 and is limited to teens ages 12-18, so head to when you’ve made your final selections. You can also see individual book trailers for each title on that YALSA page; plot summaries are here.

Here’s a video introducing all 24 nominees, so you can choose more great books to read before voting:

Read, share, discuss, vote – it’s your turn to choose!


Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Sam Maggs (book review) – cosplay, conventions, geek girl heaven!

book cover of Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs published by Quirk BooksStar Trek or Star Wars?
Which Doctor?
Fanfic – yea or nay?

Fangirls of the world, unite!

Stake your claim in the imagined/future/fictional universe of your choice, and find friends online and in-person to share the fun.

Happy book birthday to The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Which fanship(s) do you identify with most?

Book info: The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: a Handbook for Girl Geeks / Sam Maggs. Quirk Books, 2015.  [author tumblr]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Geeking out about your favorite sci-fi series or superhero comics is even more fun when you get together with other fangirls – online or in person. But where to begin?

Whether it’s gaming or anime, sci-fi or fantasy, Star Trek or Star Wars, you can find other fangirls who share your enthusiasms. Check out all the interviews with women writers and artists who share their advice on living the geek girl life (yep, many began by writing fanfic and drawing fanart).

From staying safe, hydrated and blister-free at conventions to locating online fangirl communities and staying clear of trolls, Sam Maggs tells you all the hows, wheres, and whens in this super guide.

Busting myths about feminism, girl gamers, and cosplay etiquette? Indeed!
Helping others be proud of the stories and characters they love? Awesome!
Discovering new female characters in comics, video, games, and books? The best!

Hone your reviewing skills, find resources for the best cosplay outfit ever, or get tips for amazing theme parties – YA book nerds, Whedonites, Otaku – The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy is for you! (One of 6,000 books recommended on

Winterspell, by Claire Legrand (book review) – Nutcracker battle in alternate worlds

book cover of Winterspell by Claire Legrand published by Simon SchusterIs that statue breathing?
Mother said that Godfather would always protect her,
but did she know that his fighting lessons might save them all?

The sugarplum fairy in this retelling of The Nutcracker tale uses her sweetness to conquer humankind, addicting them to her voice, stealing a kingdom and poisoning the land – and a mere human girl could be her undoing? Ha!

From iron mechanical bugs which constantly rebuild the city based on Anise’s dreams to the wizards who’ve barricaded themselves in an impassible forest rather than take any risks, Clare has many challenges as she fights with once-statue-imprisoned Nicholas to free the people of Cane and regain his kingdom.

Fairy tale retellings – which is your favorite?

Book info: Winterspell / Claire Legrand. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Desperate to save her kidnapped father, sixteen year old Clara rushes through a door between worlds, right into a war between iron-wielding fairies and the land’s magical nature – and she could be the deciding factor!

Since her mother’s mysterious death, Clara’s father has allowed organized crime to run the city. The young woman finds safety in Godfather’s workshop of wonders, whispering her worries to the statue there, as she always has.

When the mayor’s home is attacked by supernatural beings, the statue comes to life and Godfather’s inventions fight back, but cannot prevent the kidnapping of Clara’s father.

Clara, Godfather and former statue Nicholas leap into the kingdom of Cane, where time passes more quickly than in New York – and where the evil fairy Anise has enslaved the human population.

If Clara can get Father home in one week, the Concordia will spare her little sister…
If Nicholas can lead the humans against Anise, he can regain his kingdom…

Difficult choices, long-deferred dreams – this steampunk retelling of “The Nutcracker” examines the lure of power and the power of love.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

Of Metal and Wishes, by Sarah Fine (book review) – ghost in the machine?

book cover Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine published by Margaret McElderry BooksAltar offerings to the Ghost are mere superstition,
surely we can free ourselves without its aid…

Wen never thought she could find love within the horrific factory complex where her educated father is compelled to run a clinic, but now her heart is torn between two who demand her loyalty and affection.

This adventure-romance set in an alternative perhaps-China echoes themes found in Phantom of the Opera with a steampunk twist and will be followed by Of Dreams and Rust in August 2015.

Would you trust your very life to a whispered promise?

Book info: Of Metal and Wishes / Sarah Fine. Margaret McElderry Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In the slaughterhouse, Wen and her father fight ever-present death at his medical clinic, but an omnipresent ghost bent on revenge may tip the scales forever.

Migrant workers in the slaughterhouse’s guts, machinists in its metalwork shops, her own educated father – no one can get out of debt to the company, yet the 16 year old tries to find a way, not relying on the gossips’ claim of a ‘ghost’ in the factory who grants wishes.

When her murmured plea for an offensive worker to leave her alone results in a terrible accident, Wen realizes that there is something or someone with eyes and ears everywhere in the factory. When she begins helping the migrant workers whose underground leader Melik talks of overthrowing the bosses, the Ghost’s whispered promises to keep her safe from all harm become shackles instead of security.

Accidents, secrets, revenge, family history – as the factory becomes an ever more dangerous place in this possible China, Wen must decide whether to trust the Ghost or trust Melik – but can she trust her own heart? (One of 6,000 books recommended on

R is Riese: Kingdom Falling, by Greg Cox (book review) – princess undercover, in danger

book cover of Riese Kingdom Falling by Greg Cox published by Simon Schuster Books for Young ReadersWarring kingdoms,
A menacing cult,
Calm future shattered for this princess.

Riese doesn’t relish the tedium of running her kingdom some day, but she didn’t wish to become a fugitive with a price on her nearly 16-year-old head either. All because of a kiss?

Whether you’re already a fan of the series (all 10 webisodes free here) or new to the world of Eleysia, this steampunk-slash-fantasy is a journey into adventure you don’t want to miss.

And who wouldn’t want to have a telepathic wolf fighting on their side? Read chapter 1 here free.


Book info:  Riese: Kingdom Falling / Greg Cox; concept by Ryan Copple and Kaleena Kiff. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  On the run, Riese and her wolf try to save her royal family and kingdom from a strange mechanical cult bent on world conquest.

Meeting a young artist while away from the palace in servant guise is thrilling for Riese, who dreads becoming Crown Princess soon and losing her freedom to ride and explore.  His intentions toward her are honorable; toward her kingdom…no.

Intricate clockwork gifts presented to the royal family by the Sect cannot hide the grumbling of kingdoms destabilized by the harsh goddess’s followers, and soon Eleysia’s borders are threatened.

Will the mind-bond between Riese and wolf cub Fenrir endure?
Can Riese convince the Queen that alliance with the Sect is folly?
Will the King allow his warrior-daughter to fight alongside him?

Ancestral tradition battles malign technology in Riese: Kingdom Falling, an action-packed adventure as well as a prequel to the Syfy web video series.

My to-be-reviewed shelf is slowly shrinking… TBR2014 Challenge update

For most book-folk, TBR means “to be read” (as in “My TBR stack is taller than I am”), but for me it means that lonnng shelf of books that I’ve already read, but still need “to be reviewed” here!

Moving right along, I added recommendations of these books with 2013 or earlier copyright date to BooksYALove in February (click each link to open my no-spoiler review in a new tab/window):

book cover of Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason published by Chronicle Booksbook cover of Go A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd published by WorkmanThe Clockwork Scarab – Egyptian curse stalking young women in steampunk London or merely murder? Eva Stoker and Mina Holmes investigate!

Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design – from color to typography, noted graphic designer Chip Kidd shares info, insight and project ideas.

book cover of Team Human by Sarah Rees Brennan and Justine Larbalestierbook cover of Flygirl by Sherri L Smith published by PenguinTeam Vampire – when transforming to vampire can leave you a zombie, why wouldn’t Mel want to keep her best friend among the living?

Flygirl – passing for white so she can fly during WWII, Ida Mae will face even more dangers on the ground than aloft.

book cover of How Not to Be a Dick by Meghan Doherty published by Zest BooksHow Not to Be a Dick – this common-sense (with a sense of humor) everyday etiquette guide will help you be a better person.

So far in 2014, I’ve 8 recommended of my targeted 50+ pre-2014 titles for this year’s Bookish 2014 TBR Reading Challenge – onward!