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Can she be both HEALER & WITCH without peril? by Nancy Werlin (MG/YA book review)

book cover of Healer & Witch, by Nancy Werlin. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A family of healers,
an unlooked-for skill,
now her future is uncertain…

A healer relieves pain with herbs and treatments – wouldn’t removing a painful memory from the mind also be healing? But this action in 1531 France will definitely not be seen as a gift from God!

Soon after her beloved grandmother’s death, 15-year-old Sylvie leaves her mother as lone healer for their village, departing to seek a teacher to help her tame this new skill.

Martin decides to travel with her, having no skill at his family’s trade – now Sylvie has to feed a growing young boy and keep them both safe.

In the market town, they find a healer who knew her grandmother and tells Sylvie where she might find a teacher – a long, dangerous journey away.

Of course, the healer’s friend Robert whose caravan is going to Lyon is the same young man that Martin insulted at the market…

Can the merchant’s caravan avoid robbers on the way?
Will this Madame du Bois help Sylvie learn to contain her gift?
What’s the connection between Robert and Madame and…the archbishop?

The divide between being a healer or a witch is thinner than one of Martin’s red hairs, and Sylvie must decide for herself where to make her stand. Read the first chapter here free, courtesy of the publisher.

Have you ever wished to see inside another’s mind?
**kmm

Book info: Healer & Witch / Nancy Werlin. Candlewick Press, 2022 [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image by Jade Zhang courtesy of the publisher.

THE FIRE STAR jewel is missing – will these your courtiers be next? by A. L. Tait (YA book review)

book cover of The Fire Star (Maven & Reeve Mystery, book 1), by A. L. Tait. Kane-Miller Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A wedding almost delayed by goats,
a new squire for the groom,
a reluctant lady’s maid for the bride…

Rennart Castle is swirling with preparations for Sir Garrick’s wedding to Lady Cassandra – and rumors that its Airl will oppose the new King who is using the kingdom’s wealth for himself alone.

Reeve’s training in court etiquette and observing people should help Sir Garrick through this new situation – and is the 16 year old’s final chance to become a knight himself.

Maven now waits upon a young noblewoman displeased to be marrying a lowly knight. Not long ago, Maven also wore fine clothes, but the teen’s family has fallen upon desperately hard times.

The priceless Fire Star gem always goes to the family’s youngest daughter upon her betrothal – never to a son – and that is what Lady Cassandra brings into this marriage. The Airl will soon demand that she gives it to his headstrong daughter.

When the Fire Star is stolen before the wedding, Reeve and Maven find themselves searching for clues in the castle and countryside new to them both.

Is the secret Birch Circle of women involved?
Why is the Airl’s daughter taking so many risks?
Can Maven’s forbidden ability to read and write stay hidden?

Told in alternating chapters by the two teens, The Fire Star takes us to a medieval land where their detecting skills can save the castle household and perhaps the entire kingdom! Followed by The Wolf’s Howl (info here).

What part of courtly life would you like to experience for yourself?
**kmm

Book info: The Fire Star (Maven & Reeve Mystery, book 1) / A. L. Tait. Kane-Miller Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Searching for THE LOST RYU, dragon of his memory, by Emi Watanabe Cohen (YA book review)

book cover of The Lost Ryu, by Emi Watanabe Cohen. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kohei still dreams of being three years old at the last dragon parade, holding his smiling grandfather’s hand as huge winged Western dragons flew overhead and sinuous Japanese ryu dragons strode along Osaka’s streets at the end of World War II.

His maternal grandfather was so angry about Kohei’s father dying soon afterward that he made the boy take his mother’s family name – maybe Ojiisan would be happy if he had a big dragon again, bigger than ryu Yuharu who rides on Kohei’s shoulder.

Isolde moves in downstairs, with her Japanese-American mom, Polish-American dad, and winged dragon Cheshire (very small, Kohei is so disappointed) – imagine starting middle school in a new country and language!

When Ojiisan is suddenly hospitalized, Kohei decides that he must bring a ryu to him. Isolde never knew her grandparents who died in concentration camps in the United States and Poland during the War, so she wants to help.

Venturing into Papa’s study, Kohei finds details about how ryu are hatched, so he and Isolde travel to the faraway New Ryugyu-jo where their dragons will help bring a special ryu into the world.

When the biggest ryu Kohei has ever seen snatches the baby ryu, of course he has to follow and save her!

His memories shift like a kaleidoscope as Kohei learns more about his father’s and grandfather’s pasts.

How far, how far will we go to bring comfort to those we love?
**kmm

Book info: The Lost Ryu / Emi Watanabe Cohen. Levine Querido, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Eerie Southern gothic tales to read with your ears (Audiobooks)

Are you ready for delightful frights? This week’s free, professionally produced audiobooks are ready for you to download into your Sora account (info here), through Wednesday, 6/22/22.

Choose either or both selections, and they’re yours to listen to as long as you can access your Sora shelf online!

Did you miss any earlier free AudioSYNC selections? Just check your local public library or independent bookstore.

Time to shiver and watch over your shoulder…

cd cover of Bacchanal, by Veronica G. Henry. Read by Robin Miles. Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bacchanal (free Sora download 6/16-6/22/22)
by Veronica G. Henry | Read by Robin Miles
Published by Brilliance Audio

The carnival traveling through her southern town during the Depression intrigues a young woman whose ability to communicate with animals averts an alligator wrestling disaster.

She gladly accepts the owner’s invitation to join the carnival, little realizing what evil it hides.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/198866/bacchanal-by-veronica-g-henry-read-by-robin-miles/

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cd cover of Cemetery Girl: Book One: The Pretenders, by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden. Read by a Full Cast. Published by Graphic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Cemetery Girl: Book One: The Pretenders (free Sora download 6/16-6/22/22)
by Charlaine Harris, Christopher Golden | Read by a Full Cast
Published by Graphic Audio

Waiting for her memory to return after nearly being murdered, Calexa stays in a suburban cemetery crypt.

Who tried to kill the young woman – and why?

This audio adaptation of a graphic novel includes sound effects and a full cast of 15 performers.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/96952/cemetery-girl-book-one-the-pretenders-by-charlaine-harris-christopher-golden-read-by-a-full-cast/

What’s spookier – reading a scary story or hearing it?
**kmm

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SINGING WITH ELEPHANTS, poetry in her heart breaks free! by Margarita Engle (MG book review)

book cover of Singing With Elephants, by Margarita Engle. Published by Viking Books /PRH  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Home isn’t here.
English is so hard to learn.
Animals always understand her.

Doctors in California after World War II couldn’t cure her grandmother diabetes, but now Oriol’s family is established here, her parents’ veterinary practice thriving, her big sister flirting with elephant handler Surey at the wildlife ranch they serve.

Summer is a release from kids who bully the 11 year old for not speaking English well, for the scents of animal companions that cling to her clothes. Oriol still longs for Cuba, where she and Abuelita cared for whistling birds.

Into their neighborhood comes an older lady whose words ring out with messages of nature and peace and hope. This poet from Chile begins teaching Oriol how to observe the world and bring poetry from her soul onto the page – in Spanish, in English, in both languages at once.

Oriol finally gets to meet wise-eyed Chandra at the ranch and Surey who cares for the pregnant elephant. The wonderful sounds that Chandra makes bring her so much joy, inspiring words and more words!

Can Oriol someday be a poet and a veterinarian, someone who translates animal speech to humans?

The noisy movie star who brought Chandra and Surey from Nepal can’t wait for the baby to be born – is he really the right person to own an elephant?

Big surprise when Chandra gives birth! Then terrible shock – what can Oriol do to help?

This novel-in-verse was inspired by the late 1940s California stay of Gabriela Mistral and her companion Doris Dana, as the educator, writer, and only woman Latin American winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature continued her work as a peace activist.

Another lyrical Cuban-centered story by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here), Your Heart My Sky (more here), Lion Island (here) and more.

What words does nature inspire you to write?
**kmm

Book info: Singing With Elephants / Margarita Engle. Viking Books /PRH, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Just a little fun for Kenyan boys or PLAYING A DANGEROUS GAME? by Patrick Ochieng (MG book review)

book cover of laying a Dangerous Game, by Patrick Ochieng. Published by  Accord Books /Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His baba has been promoted by the Railway, so now 10-year-old Lumush and little sister Awino can attend the Hill School, a big step up from their neighborhood school in 1970s Kenya.

More homework, less time to hang out by that old rusted car with his buddies, playing pata potea or dreaming up stunts to do – Mama is so happy this opportunity has finally come.

But everyone at Hill School except Lillian treats him with suspicion, his friends think he’ll become stuck up, and cute Nijah frets that he’ll get distracted by the Hill girls.

Ripe zambarau fruits tempt the boys to climb the tree at the ghost house; a dare sends them back at night to spy on the ghosts of the white woman and her daughter who died there!

The friends hear all the gossip as they ramble the neighborhood – medicine stolen from the dispensary, bags of coffee beans disappearing from railway cars, a delivery lorry stolen.

What will the thieves target next?
Do ghosts always smell like cigarette smoke?
What’s hiding in the junkyard?

Wander the Railway Estates with Lumush and his friends as they try to solve the ghost house mystery without becoming ghosts themselves!

Lumush tries to be a good Hill School student and also a good friend to his buddies as their manhood ceremonies approach, holding onto good times in the neighborhood even as his parents and teachers insist that his school success now will determine his entire future.

What landmark in your town has ghosts?
**kmm

Book info: Playing a Dangerous Game / Patrick Ochieng. Accord Books /Norton Young Readers, 2021. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Politically charged choices – history to read with your ears! (audiobooks)

Thursday means it’s time for a new pair of free audiobooks from Audiofile SYNC. Use the simple registration steps here, then download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Once you download either or both of these history-related audiobooks to your Sora shelf online, you have 99 years to listen to them.

If you miss these or any other AudioSYNC featured titles, check your local public library or independent bookstore.

Making choices means living with the consequences, especially when it’s political! This week, two shorter audiobooks with big impact:

CD cover of A Brief History of Fascist Lies, by Federico Finchelstein | Read by Edoardo Ballerini. Published by Post Hypnotic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Brief History of Fascist Lies (free Sora download 19-25 May 2022)
by Federico Finchelstein | Read by Edoardo Ballerini
Published by Post Hypnotic Press

From Hitler and Mussolini to Peron and Trump, lies have been the weapon of choice for fascist and populist political leaders during the past century.

This short audiobook by a noted Argentinian historian examines the connections between fascism and lying – can the former succeed without the latter?

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/190749/a-brief-history-of-fascist-lies-by-federico-finchelstein-read-by-edoardo-ballerini/

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CD cover of No-No Boy, by Ken Narasaki | Read by Kurt Kanazawa, Emily Kuroda, John Miyasaki, Ken Narasaki, Sharon Omi, Joy Osmanski, Sab Shimono, Greg Watanabe, Paul Yen. Published by L.A. Theatre Works | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No-No Boy (free Sora download 19-25 May 2022)
by Ken Narasaki | Read by Kurt Kanazawa, Emily Kuroda, John Miyasaki, Ken Narasaki, Sharon Omi, Joy Osmanski, Sab Shimono, Greg Watanabe, Paul Yen
Published by L.A. Theatre Works

During World War II, a Japanese-American man refuses to make a loyalty oath to the US or to serve in its armed forces, instead staying in internment camps and prison for years.

When he finally returns to Seattle, he is shunned by the Japanese-American community, the girl he loves has married someone else, and his mother believes that Japan has won the war.

This full-cast performance shows a full range of emotions as the man wonders about finding hope while living with the choices he has made.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/200997/no-no-boy-by-ken-narasaki-read-by-kurt-kanazawa-emily-kuroda/

What other historical events would you like to read with your ears as AudioSYNC summer audiobooks?
**kmm

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Classic tales retold – read with your ears!

Get ready for week 3 of Audiofile SYNC season by registering free here.

Every Thursday through Wednesday this summer you can download either or both featured audiobooks onto your Sora shelf and listen to them online whenever you like.

If you miss any AudioSYNC titles during their free download time, just check your local public library or independent bookstore.

This week: classics retold take us back to vital roots of relationships:

CD cover of Never Look Back, by Lilliam Rivera | Read by Almarie Guerra, Samuel Maria Gomez. 
Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Never Look Back (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Lilliam Rivera | Read by Almarie Guerra, Samuel Maria Gomez
Published by Recorded Books

This retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth centers Afro-Latinx characters in the Bronx today: upbeat, suave Pheus who serenades all the girls and Eury who’s troubled by the spirits that haunt her after she survived Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

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CD cover of When Morning Comes, by Arushi Raina | Read by Jamie Bloch, John Fleming, Patience Mpumiwana, Tony Ofori. Published by ECW | recommended on BooksYALove.com

When Morning Comes (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Arushi Raina | Read by Jamie Bloch, John Fleming, Patience Mpumiwana, Tony Ofori
Published by ECW

Romeo and Juliet set in the apartheid struggles of 1976 South Africa: a white boy from the best school in Johannesburg falls in love with a black girl from the poor side of the city in the time leading up to the bloody Soweto Youth Uprising for racial justice.

What other classic retellings would make great audiobooks?
**kmm

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THEY CALLED US ENEMY – Japanese-Americans in WWII, by George Takei (Graphic novel review)

Book cover of They Called Us Enemy, by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Published by Top Shelf Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Leaving their home and possessions,
not his parents’ choice…
Why? Why!?

His mama’s purse is full of treats for five-year-old George and little Henry as they make the long train trip with her, Daddy, and baby Nancy from their home in Los Angeles to a camp in the woods of rural Arkansas.

Not a vacation place, but an internment camp with barbed wire fences, unfamiliar foods, very little privacy, and their loyalty to the USA constantly in question – boring for kids, disheartening for adults.

Later, George’s family was moved to a facility in the California desert at Tule Lake, another of several concentration camps that housed 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese who were forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II.

At war’s end, they hoped to move back to their homes and businesses, but their properties had been seized and sold to others… time to start all over again.

Will the US government deport George’s family?
How can they live in a country that hates them?
What will the future be like in a world after war?

This is a sobering portrayal of a dreadful time in America’s history, as seen through a child’s eyes and reinforced by decades of subtle and overt racism against Asian Americans.

(One of the white co-authors had worked previously with Takei and pitched the idea of capturing his childhood memories as a graphic novel. The book’s artist is Japanese-American, creator of Himawari House graphic novel that I recommended here.)

The well-known Star Trek actor and social activist continues to speak out against discrimination, racism, and the rights of all to love and be loved.

What young childhood memory would you write or draw?
**kmm

Book info: They Called Us Enemy / George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott; illustrated by Harmony Becker. Top Shelf Media, 2019. [author site] [co-author site] [co-author interview] [illustrator interview] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Y is for YOUR HEART, MY SKY, love despite starvation in Cuba, by Margarita Engle (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger, by Margarita Engle. Published by Atheneum / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Food is dwindling,
government rule tightens,
can people survive on hope alone?

Words feed your soul, but not the gnawing hunger across the island during el periodico especial en tiempos de paz in 1991, as the Soviet Union collapses and its food shipments to Cuba cease, starting a decade of starvation.

Out in the countryside, Liana is adopted by a brown dog who sings to the sky and helps the 14 year old find things to cook for her family. No, she won’t go to the government’s “summer camp” working in the sugarcane fields and leave her siblings to starve.

Neither will 15-year-old Amado, even though he’ll be an outcast in the village. If they knew his plan to evade military conscription, he’d be in prison with his brother who did the same. Constant hunger makes rebellious thoughts of freedom difficult, but he will persevere.

As the two young people try to fight their growing attraction, the singing dog called Paz does his best to nudge them together, knowing that they’ll be stronger together.

Can they grow any food without the government finding out?
Can hope alone sustain them as the police keep watch on Amado?
Should they also make a raft and try to escape to Miami?

Celebrate Poetry Month with this verse novel in three voices, by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here).

To this day, Cuba imports most of its food – where do your representative and Senator stand on ending the decades-long US trade embargo?
**kmm

Book info: Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger / Margarita Engle. Atheneum / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.