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.

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

D is My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

book cover of My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson published by Aladdin  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDragons, mermaids, Sasquatches,
the earth is flat,
every school textbook says so.

If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…

Recently released in paperback, Gracie’s travelogue told through her Diary (chapter 1 here, free) should be at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, ask for it!

When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?

Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.

Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.

Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?

Tiger Boy, by Mitali Perkins (book review) – personal success or species survival?

book cover of Tiger Boy by Mitali Perkins published by CharlesbridgeHonor or money?
A chance for schooling or a chance for wild tigers?

A rich man’s under-the-table reward for a tiger cub could ensure the future for Neel and his family, but the young man must make his own choices on his beloved Sundarban island near the mouth of the Ganges River.

Where is the line between what is best for wildlife and what is easiest for people?

Book info: Tiger Boy / Mitali Perkins; illustrated by Jamie Hogan. Clarksbridge Publishing, 2015.  [author site]  [illustrator site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Neel struggles to keep a lost tiger cub on his Bengali island away from a greedy rich man who wants its skin when the reward would pay for scholarship exam tutoring and medicine for Ma.

The headmaster has selected Neel to take the scholarship exam, despite his difficulty with math and no money for the tutor, even though the boy would rather stay in his Sunderban island village.

Rich Mr. Gupta has come to the island, hiring men like Neel’s father to cut down the special sundari mangrove trees. When rangers ask the villagers to find and return the tiger cub that escaped from a nearby island’s game preserve, the greedy man instead offers a reward for its skin.

As time for the exam gets closer and the rare tiger cub has not been found, Neel’s father reluctantly joins Gupta’s men in the search, while Neel and his big sister venture out each night, trying to find the cub before its frantic mother tears through the preserve’s fences and swims over!

Neel’s love for his home island is as strong as the sundari trees that Baba planted long ago to protect their farm from typhoons – now his appreciation for the rangers’ dedication to protecting the endangered wildlife of the Sundarbans is stronger, too.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

Book Scavenger, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – books, puzzles & mysteries in San Francisco

book cover of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Holt Books for Young ReadersMoving again? Another new school?
Oh, well – more places to hide books…
and to find the most unique book of all!

Emily wishes that she could be as laid-back as her big brother about her family’s constant moves, but at least San Francisco is headquarters of her favorite books-puzzles-searching game. Maybe she’ll find someone to search out hidden books with her, too.

Happy book birthday to Book Scavenger, filled with puzzles, books, bad guys, and the joys of friendship!

I’m happy to see that the author was inspired by Book Crossing, which encourages readers to ‘release books into the wild’ with BookCrossing ID labels so their travels can be logged in (fun and free!).

Read an excerpt here at publisher’s site for free, then go get your own  copy – anyone can play the Book Scavenger game (learn more here)! Let me know if you’ve been lucky enough to find one of the copies hidden in each of the 50 US states already!

What other book are you intent on sharing?

Book info: Book Scavenger / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books For Young Readers, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If Emily’s family hadn’t moved to San Francisco, the 12 year old puzzle fan would never have met James or found The Gold-Bug book – or been chased by bad guys who attacked the creator of her favorite book game and will do anything to get that book!

Blame it on her parents’ blog about living in all 50 states – here Emily is in another new school. At least she can solve the Book Scavenger puzzles and find hidden books in beautiful San Francisco.

Luckily, James next door goes to her school and gets interested in Book Scavenger, so they team up with her big brother to find out who attacked the game’s creator Mr. Griswold, following puzzle clues all over town.

What’s different about this copy of The Gold-Bug?
Why do those non-literary thugs want it so badly?
Can they solve the mystery in this book before it’s too late for Mr. Griswold and before Mom and Dad decide to move again?

Filled with puzzles, tributes to authors in the City by the Bay, and lots of action, this adventure-mystery will have readers itching to disguise and hide books like Emily and James do. (One of 6,000 books recommended on

N for Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman (book review) – secrets, community, threat?

book cover of Nightbird by Alice Hoffman published by Wendy Lamb BookxA family curse,
the lure of night and flight,
secrets kept and truths discovered…

Nightbird was published just this week; you can read chapter one here for free.

Hoffman’s magical realism shines here as it does in her Green Angel (my review) and Green Witch (my review), asking questions about love and curses and understanding.

And the wonderful Pink Apple Pie that Twig’s mother bakes? The author kindly provides a recipe here for those of us whose apple trees were not planted by Johnny Appleseed himself!

Should we hide what others might not understand about us?

Book info: Nightbird / Alice Hoffman. Wendy Lamb Books, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As her day-hidden brother soars nightly over their small New England town to taste freedom, thirteen-year-old Twig wishes for friendship, little realizing that the witch’s curse on their family may link both their dreams.

The finest apple pie baker ever, her mother retreated from New York City to the family apple farm when Twig’s father left them, hiding James in the attic where his wings wouldn’t remind the folks of Sidwell about the curse on the Fowler family.

Twig is delighted when teen sisters Julia and Agate from the city move in next door, is devastated when townspeople seriously set to hunting the Sidwell Monster as James flies nightly, is determined to discover the truth about the generations-old curse that gave James his wings.

Will Twig’s mother ever feel safe in her own home town?
Who – or what – else roams the Montgomery Woods besides James?
Can love heal an ancient wrong?

Become a Nightbird  with James, delve into history and happiness with Twig and Julia, and find out why this charming town has a sudden grafitti problem in this magical tale. (One of 6,000 books recommended on

It’s National Readathon Day! Choose your books and get your read on

logo of National Readathon Day 24 Jan 2015Ready!

Today is National Readathon Day – your choice of your books, reading bliss from 12noon to 4 pm local time.

Sponsored by the National Book Foundation and Penguin Random House, National Readathon Day is designed as a fundraiser (you can donate to this tax-exempt organization here) and as an opportunity for readers to share what they love as they take #timetoread.

So tweet out your #timetoread titles during the afternoon today (or any time – we all love a good book list, right?), and please support the National Book Foundation as it strives to create, promote, and sustain a lifelong love of reading in America.

with my stack of to-be-read books at hand for #timetoread

Diverse Books – we ALL need them!

clip art of mostly empty bookshelf (c) Machovka on

bookcase by Machovka @

Imagine going to the grocery store and finding absolutely nothing that fits your nutritional needs or suits your tastebuds…

That’s what faces kids and young people who aren’t white, straight, and middle class when they search the shelves of their library, classroom, and bookstore.

The Cooperative Children’s Book Center studied diversity in US children’s books recently, noting that fewer than 225 books of the 3,200 children’s books received by the CCBC in 2013 were written or illustrated by persons who were African/African-American, American Indian, Asian Pacific/Asian Pacific American, or Latino; just over 200 of these 3,200 books contained important characters from any of these four heritage groups. (Note: the US population is not 93% white).

And while stories based on non-traditional families and gay/lesbian/bisexual/transexual/questioning teens are becoming more common, just try finding the titles on The Rainbow Project Book List in a conservative community. (Note: people of all orientations and families of all types live everywhere)

When I was growing up, I never found books reflecting our Air Force family’s many moves; most military brats and other third culture kids will tell you the same. And how could “lived here my whole life” folks understand what our “make friends quick and be ready to leave any moment” lifestyle was like in those days before cheap long-distance calls and email?

Even if you are white or straight or middle class, ask yourself – does anyone want to read the same story in a different binding, over and over again? Isn’t exploring “being someone else” a big reason that we read anyway? Would people travel across the nation or around the world if they just wanted to see themselves duplicated in those surrounding them?

Diverse books open all of the world to us – other neighborhoods, other traditions, other worries and joys and everyday everything. I hope you’ve seen #weneeddiversebooks trending on Twitter lately and can tweet more reasons, adding to this important conversation.

This weekend, I’m doing the 48 Hour Book Challenge, reading diverse books and writing about them for 48 hours – you’ll see many of these books in future BooksYALove recommendations.

What books featuring diverse characters, families, and cultures have you enjoyed lately? Share in the comments, please!


Crossing the finish line! April AtoZ & TBR2014 Challenge wrap-up

Hooray and three cheers!

cartoon of chocolate cake with 4 birthday candles

Celebrate! (c)OCAL

1. It’s BooksYALove’s fourth birthday!

2. I successfully completed all 26 days of the AtoZ April Blog Challenge (as entry #785). I didn’t have time to visit many AtoZ bloggers, didn’t get many comments or new followers (all the reasons we usually do blog challenges), but I did post on-time every day according to the alphabet and recommended 25 books, which is why I forced myself to do AtoZ during such a busy time for me.

3. For the TBR2014 Challenge (I’m #30 on list), I’m now up to 30 titles toward my goal of recommending 50+ books with 2013 (or older) copyright dates during this year!

Here are April’s 20 additions to my TBR2013 list – just click on the title to get my no-spoiler review in a new window:

All My Noble Dreams and Then What Happens – India’s independence fight and a young British lady’s heart

Americus – graphic novel about freedom to read, book-banning, and bullies

The Apprentices (Apothecary, book 2) – friends battle Cold War peril to save the world

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea – beautiful boy, terrible talent, death by the shore

Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors on Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself

The Butterfly Sister – literary mystery as college tragedy repeats itself?

Control – in 2051 un-United States, genetic diversity is illegal and profitable

Dead Ends – missing dads, finding friends as unlikely allies

Forget Me Not – dead to classmates through social media; paranormal limbo

Hypnotize Me (book 1 of The Hypnotists) – a powerful gift, wrong hands grasping for him

Little Fish: a Memoir From a Different Kind of Year – graphic novel of small town graduate moving to big city college

Mountain Dog – novel-in-verse of lonely boy, rescue dog in training, hope for safety

Riese: Kingdom Falling – princess faces war and treachery

Screwed – pregnant, disowned, rescued, redeemed

When You Were Here – searching in Tokyo to answer California questions

Where Stars Still Shine – kidnapped by mom as tot, returned to family as teen

The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots

Will in Scarlet – young Robin Hood legend begins

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope – first of trilogy, forsooth!

A Wounded Name: A Tragedy – Hamlet at boarding school, from Ophelia’s perspective

If a blog challenge sounds like fun to you, join me in the WordCount Blogathon in June – a very supportive community of bloggers, lots of suggestions for posts, connections to find/become a guest blogger, and a chance to “build up your blogging muscles” by posting all 30 days of June. Registration opens in mid-May.

Taking a breather from daily postings in May, but still planning to recommend a few books every week,

(clipart of birthday cake with 4 candles courtesy of OCAL on

Headed for KidLitCon!

photo of Congress Street, Austin Texas by Mister-E Chris Eason

(c) Chris Eason

Austin, here we come!

Yes, the Kidlitosphere is descending on the capital of Texas to talk blogging, kids’ books, middle grade books, young adult books, and reading as KidLitCon begins tonight with a meet-and-greet (plus ARC swap), followed by a full day of breakout sessions on Saturday, including keynote by Cynthia Leitich Smith!

Charlotte, Melissa, and I will start the conversation about Blogging Middle Grade Books during the last breakout session. Can’t wait to hear what the bloggers, authors, illustrators, and librarians there to have to say about its challenges and joys.

“On the road again…”


Photo of the State Capitol (c) Chris Eason (Mister-E), used under Creative Commons license.