She can step into The Painting? by Charis Cotter (book review)

book cover of The Painting by Charis Cotter, published by Tundra Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comThat painting is so real,
she can smell the salt air
and step into its lighthouse?!?

The girl who calls her sister, the girl’s mother who cannot see Annie… or can she?

This lighthouse on a rocky Newfoundland cliff may hold more than a lonely girl and her worries – but how can Annie of today also be back in the past?

You can listen to the author read the opening of this spooky tale at her website here.

Would you believe a specter who shared secrets with you?

Book info: The Painting / Charis Cotter. Tundra Books, 2017.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Annie suddenly can step into a painting after her mother’s car wreck, the girl in its lighthouse calls her ‘sister’ and insists that their artist mother must never show those paintings with hidden meanings.

Two sisters, separated by death. Claire knows it was her fault.
One lighthouse, one artist, one almost-ghost. Annie isn’t sure why Maisie can almost see her.

Why did Annie’s own mother say she’d never, ever return to Newfoundland?
What if she never comes out of the coma?
Who is Claire of the lighthouse?

Storms battering the Newfoundland coast, cold wind blowing through Claire’s lonely life, Toronto hospital room lights that never sleep – perhaps artistic Annie has fallen down the rabbit hole from the girls’ beloved Alice in Wonderland. A two-voices tale of now and then, connections that blink and fade like the lighthouse’s rotating beam, warning of dangerous currents and cliffs.

In early days of Oz, A Fiery Friendship works for good, by Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino (book review)

book cover of A Fiery Friendship, by Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino, published by Margaret McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comWhen Glinda was a schoolgirl
and the Brick Road didn’t shine brightly,
Oz existed, long-historied already…

Every well-known story has a “before” – before the crisis threatens, before the heroes awaken, before the epic battle.

Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz series brings us the “before” for Glinda the Good and other citizens of Oz, before Dorothy and Toto followed that familiar yellow brick road, as “the Royal Historian of Oz” allows another to be called “author” so these stories can be published in our world.

Look for book 2, A Dark Descent, in May 2018 as A Fiery Friendship comes out in paperback.

How do you know when a convenient alliance becomes a friendship worth fighting for?

Book info: A Fiery Friendship (Gabriel Gale’s Ages of Oz, book 1) / Lisa Fiedler, illustrated by Sebastian Giacobino. Margaret McElderry Books, 2017. [illustrator site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On her Declaration Day, Glinda’s future becomes less certain, as the Scroll doesn’t reveal her foretold occupation, her mother is imprisoned for magic by the Witch of the South, and the young teen is contacted by a secret society intent on reclaiming Oz from its four wicked rulers.

The yellow-hued land of Quadling under Asphidina is only golden for those favored by the Harvester queen, who forbids magic use by most.

Glinda can rescue her mother from Asphidina’s floristic prison – if the magic cards briefly seen have seeped into her very being.

Locasta from purple Gillikin land and Sam from another world entirely – youth joining her to fight ancient Wickedness.

Secrets uncovered will free the four lands of Oz from their bondage – if these friends survive long enough!

First in a series recounting the long-ago history of Oz, Glinda’s new friendships mingle with old prophecies, setting the stage for the Yellow Brick Road story so well-known to us. Followed by A Dark Descent.
text and illustration from A Fiery Friendship by Lisa Fiedler, art by Sebastian Giacobino, published by McElderry Books | recommended on

Her soul dangerously called by Song of the Current, by Sarah Tolcser (book review)

book cover of Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser, published by Bloomsbury | recommended on BooksYALove.comAs the river-gods sing, boats are safe on the river,
but they aren’t singing to her yet…
will they deny her?

Following in her father’s footsteps should be easy, but Caro hasn’t been Gifted yet, months and months past time. She will have to captain their boat anyway, and the dangers are more than just sandbars and river pirates now!

What has come to you later than you expected?

Book info: Song of the Current / Sarah Tolcser. Bloomsbury, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: By carrying a secret cargo aboard her family’s river wherry to a seaport, Caro hopes to save her father from unjust imprisonment, but the teen soon finds the crate in her boat’s hold is worth more than mere gold and may cost her life!

Soon, the river gods will sing in Caro’s blood, as they’ve done in all the Oresteia wherry captains in her family’s long history… long overdue, but perhaps soon.

The country’s ruler demands that a heavy crate go now to a sea island, and it falls to Caro and crewmember Fee to take it, out of the safe bends of the river, away from the pirates also seeking it, onto the too-deep ocean waters.

Forbidden to open the crate, Caro does…
Seeking assistance from her mother’s family, Caro dares…
Believing this strange young man’s outlandish story, Caro risks…

The fates of two nations collide on a quiet riverbank, as a young woman who wants only to captain her wherry must travel further than she ever dreamed and face dangers she never imagined in order to save her father’s life and find justice amid webs of political intrigue and glimmers of love. (followed by Whisper of the Tide, May 2018)

Geology trek with Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, by Raul the Third & Cathy Camper (book review)

book cover of Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper, art by Raul the Third, published by Chronicle Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comEarthquake! ¡Terremoto!
It’s all shaking!
…and their cat is missing!

Time to travel again with Lupe, Elirio, Flappy, as the Lowriders follow their friend Genie deep into the earth, down into the realm of Mictlantehcutli, Lord of the Dead.

The same author-artist team brought us Lowriders in Space, which I recommended here. Check out the book trailer videos for both books, too!

How far have you traveled to help a friend?

Book info: Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Lowriders, book 2) / Cathy Camper; illustrated by Raul the Third. Chronicle Books, 2016. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When an earthquake frightens Genie cat away from the garage, the Lowriders race to find him, right into a volcano filled with mythic creatures of Central America!

Trickster Coyote tries to keep the friends trapped in a corn maze with his outrageous puns, but they follow Genie’s terrified meows toward territory of legends.

Can impala master mechanic Lupe steer the lowrider safely through Earth’s Outer Core?
How can octopus Flappy distract La Llorona so they can sneak into the Realm of the Dead?
Will Mictlan’s love of bones keep them there forever?

This graphic novel is the Southwest itself, with Spanish words jumping into every sentence like Elirio the mosquito zings around every danger, footnotes and endnotes explaining all like Lupe keeps the Lowriders team working together, and Raul the Third’s art bringing details from the oldest of stories to today’s wrestling and dip-drop lowrider cars.

Fly away – with free audiobooks!

Earthbound worries are minor, compared to the faraway plights and plots in this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC!

Choose either or both of these complete audiobooks during their free download time (Thursday through Wednesday, 27 July-2 Aug 2017), by clicking the link after the title. Listen whenever you wish, as long as you download during the stated time and keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Away to other times, other worlds, as you read with your ears!

CD cover of Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott | Read by Amy Rubinate Published by Brilliance Audio recommended on BooksYALove.comShadows on the Moon
(download here free 27 July- 2 August 2017)
by Zoe Marriott
Read by Amy Rubinate
Published by Brilliance Audio

As shadow weaver, Suzume’s identity changes with each illusion she crafts. Will who she truly is (and who she really loves) interfere with her quest to ensnare the Moon Prince and avenge her family’s death caused by evil stepfather?

Airborn CD cover of Airborn by Kenneth Oppel | Read by David Kelly Published by Full Cast Audio |recommended on
(download here free 27 July- 2 August 2017)
by Kenneth Oppel
Read by David Kelly and full cast
Published by Full Cast Audio

Matt Cruse’s predictable life as cabin boy on a dirigible takes a dramatic turn when he rescues someone from a derelict balloon, starting a chain reaction of intrigue and danger.

Where would you fly to? And in what unbreakable disguise?

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?

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

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?

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

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?

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

Must get to Dragon’s Green! by Scarlett Thomas (book review)

book cover of Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comGrandfather didn’t really teach her magic,
Dragons don’t really eat lovely young ladies,
Kids can’t really go to the Otherworld or Underworld…

These are just a few of the wrong, wrong, and very wrong things that “everyone knows” in Effie’s post-Worldquake England, with its throttled-down technology and disdain for magical arts.

Perhaps she and her friends from the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled, and Strange can use the ring, spectacles, and other objects that Grandfather left to Effie in their search for answers that someone or something is trying to hide from them!

What kharakter in this alternate Worldquake universe are you?

Book info: Dragon’s Green (Worldquake, book 1) / Scarlett Thomas. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book series website] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Magical thinking and bravery may help Effie and her school friends outwit the man who stole her grandfather’s magical library, but only the eleven-year-old herself can use his ring to travel to the Otherworld and solve the mystery of Dragon’s Green (and save the world).

Ever since the Worldquake five years ago disrupted the internets and made technology erratic (and perhaps killed Effie’s mother), grandfather Griffin has kept to himself. Of course, Effie’s father and stepmother know that magic is not real (except that it is, and Griffin had begun teaching it to Effie before his demise).

Effie learns more about the unscrupulous man who claims that Griffin’s priceless ancient books belong to him and glimpses what their true powers might be, as she begins to make friends with classmates at her unusual school.

Why are Maximilian and Wolf suddenly brave against their tyrannical teachers?
Who in the Otherworld would willingly become a dragon’s favorite meal?
How can someone be the last reader of a book?

Effie, Lexy, Raven, Maximilian, and Wolf each have to master their gift from the small bag left by Griffin – without letting the magical item master them – if their Realworld is to remain safe from the darkness of the Underworld in this first book of the Worldquake series.

Beastly fiction – to read with your ears!

Time to download this week’s exciting beastly free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

From Thursday morning (June 1) through Wednesday night (June 7), you can click on the link for each title, download the free professionally produced audiobook onto your electronic device, and listen to it whenever you wish – it’s yours to keep, as long as the downloaded file is kept on that device!

Thanks to the audiobook publishers for giving us these free reads all summer long:

CD cover of Beast by Donna Jo Napoli | Read by Robert Ramirez Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comBeast  (free download here June 1-7, 2017)
by Donna Jo Napoli
Read by Robert Ramirez
Published by Recorded Books

Transformed into a lion to be hunted by his father, Orasmyn flees Persia for Europe, where encountering a young woman named Belle may change him yet again.


Of Beast and Beauty  (free download here June 1-7, 2017) CD cover of Of Beast and Beauty by Stacey Jay | Read by Julia Whelan Published by Tantor Media | recommended on
by Stacey Jay
Read by Julia Whelan
Published by Tantor Media

As princess, she will be a sacrifice for her city. As beast, he must risk death to save his people. Imprisoned by destiny and a prisoner through daring – can they change the future of their world, together?

What other retellings of classic fairy tales and legends can you recommend?