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?












Fairies, gnomes, trouble: A History of Glitter and Blood, by Hannah Moskowitz (book review)

book cover of History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz published by Chronicle Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comFairies flee, can never die.
Gnomes stay underground, crave fairy flesh.
Outsiders start the war, but why?

These aren’t flittery fairies with wings, here in Ferrum where gnomes toiled for the up-top fairies and then rebelled when the Tightropers swung into town for war.

“Friends are the family you choose for yourself” was never more true than for Beckan, Scrap, Josha, and Cricket, as the last four ungnawed-upon fairies stay behind in Ferrum where Tightropers and gnomes battle.

Enter the city of Ferrum with Beckan and Scrap when you read the first chapters here, courtesy of the publisher (scroll down to the Scribd box).

How much of yourself would you sacrifice for your friends?

Book info: A History of Glitter and Blood / Hannah Moskowitz. Chronicle Books, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Staying alive any way they can, Beckan and her friends (the last fairies left unmaimed by gnomes) search for any bits of Cricket, ignore the Tightropers who came to the fairy city of Ferrum and started the war, try to stay whole while consorting with gnomes (anything to put food on the table), and wonder why their own (sentient) glitter can be so much trouble.

Josha’s boyfriend Cricket was messily devoured, so the three are searching for any bits left; no fairy can be completely destroyed.
Gnomes ate all of Beckan’s dad except the bits she carries in a jar; he’s still aware, just no mouth to talk with.
Scrap killed the gnome’s king in a rage; Crate’s son isn’t king yet, and the gnomes are getting more agitated.

Why do fairies always flee their cities instead of fighting back against the gnomes?
Why did the Tightropers fling their lines across Ferrum’s rooftops and declare ‘fairy liberation’ unasked?
Why can’t fairy females bear their own children?

As the teens resort to more desperate means to avoid starvation, one gets caught, and the others must devise the ultimate rescue caper.

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!


Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas (book review) – as payment to the Fae, she lives

book cover of Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, published by BloomsburySo her family won’t starve,
so the land of her new prison will live,
so an impossible love can grow…

So that her ungrateful family will live, Feyre goes with the beast to Fae, even though entering that magical land will kill her – and does not die.

The beast shapeshifts into a handsome fae prince who grows to appreciate the young human woman. As passion blooms between Tamlin and Feyre, dark forces are plotting to enslave both worlds.

Published on May 5th, this first blockbuster in the series of the same name should be readily found at your local library or independent bookstore – get on the waiting list, if you need to!

How much could you sacrifice for your family’s well-being, for love?

Book info: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, book 1) / Sarah J. Maas. Bl0omsbury, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy from book fan and author Claire Caterer; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Centuries’ old truce broken by her uncanny aim, Feyre willingly becomes sacrifice to protect her family, little realizing that she will arrive in Fae not to die, but to live, love, and save her enemies’ magical land.

Desperate to keep her feckless father and spoiled sisters alive, she shoots a wolf going after the same deer in the winter woods. But it’s one of the shapeshifter fae who rule the North, and the human girl must pay for his life with her own.

Given the option to leave humanity behind and live forever beyond The Wall dividing the two realms, Feyre is taken to Fae by shapeshifter Tamlin, the wolf’s best friend and a prince in his own right. Contrary to all she’s been told, the young woman isn’t made a slave, doesn’t die of magic poisoning,and is encouraged by Tamlin to draw and paint – after all, she’ll live in Fae forever.

Whispers of dark Fae magic that seeks to conquer all beings reach Tamlin, and what Feyre overhears spurs her into action.

How can her tracking skills help uncover the traitor?
How can she resist the passion building between her and Tamlin?
Why should she even try?

First in a new fantasy series by the author of The Throne of Glass series, the fate of all realms hangs in the balance as evil warps time and minds to suit its purpose.

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

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

A2Z Blog Challenge this year? My TBR shelf says yes!

logo of A to Z Blog Challenge April 2014 Every spring, I agonize over whether or not to participate in the April AtoZ Blog Challenge.

Twenty-six posts in 26 days…

By no means impossible, but it sure is tough for me to get all the posts’ subjects to align with the A-through-Z daily schedule in April (we have Sundays off, thank God!).

However, my to-be-reviewed shelf of worthwhile reads is so overflowing that I  easily set aside 26 great books, each with a wee-bitty alpha tag, just waiting for April – and I still have scads more to write about in the meantime!

So yes, I’m committing myself to 26 A2Z posts in April again – third time’s a charm? See me at #785 on the AtoZ list?  (This will also help immensely with my pre-2014 books backlog as part of the Bookish blog TBR2014 Challenge)

Are you up for the Challenge too?

Fantasy and fairy tales to read with your ears

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC bring us an old tale with new twists and the ‘rest of the story’ of an old favorite.

The first book in the Woodcutter series is filled with fairy tale characters you’ll recognize and spells and prophecies – my no-spoiler review of Enchanted  is here.

And Alice’s further adventures after returning from Wonderland are recounted as she steps Through the Looking Glass  to meet nursery rhyme friends and a terrible enemy.

Be sure to download these free, full-length audiobooks with professional narration by Wednesday, August 14; this summer’s last YA and classic audiobook pair goes live for download on Thursday, August 15.

CD cover of Enchanted by Alethea Kontis read by Katherine Kellgren published by Brilliance AudioEnchanted
By Alethea Kontis
Read by Katherine Kellgren
Published by Brilliance Audio





Through the Looking GlassCD cover of Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll read by Miriam Margolyes published by Bolinda Audio
By Lewis Carroll
Read by Miriam Margolyes
Published by Bolinda Audio

Which fairy tale or nursery character would you like to meet ‘for real’?

Splintered, by A. G. Howard (book review) – Alyssa in Wonderland, forever?

book cover of Splintered by AG Howard published by Amulet Books“Off with her head!”
Red Queen and White Queen,
Wonderland was never as benign as the animated Disney movie version led us to believe!

Even the newer movie of Alice’s return to Wonderland isn’t as life-and-death gritty as what Alyssa finds when she goes down the rabbit hole, trying to break the Liddell family curse of madness.

Texas author A.G. Howard compiled a playlist of songs to keep her in the Splintered  mood – alternative rock, dark, experimental. Wonder what she’s listening to now as she writes book 2, Unhinged

Got a favorite Wonderland character to share?

Book info: Splintered / A.G. Howard. Amulet Books, 2013.   [author blog]   [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If hearing plants means you’re crazy, then soon Alyssa will be as insane as her mother, unless she can make the treacherous journey to a forbidden place that could save them both or doom her forever.

It was her great-great-great-grandmother whose dreams inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland,  and the Liddell women have been cursed with madness ever since. Dad had to put Alison in a psychiatric home when he found her snipping at little Alyssa’s hands with garden shears. Of course, he couldn’t hear the flowers whispering or know that Alyssa was just trying to protect them. A car wreck is the convenient explanation for her scars, for Mom’s crazy talk at Soul’s Asylum.

Alyssa can ignore the everyday whispers of flowers and bugs, but not the enormous moth in her dreams who promises release from their madness. Too bad her best friend Jeb won’t keep his promise to go with her to England, preferring the company of beautiful, rich Taelor.

Her long-ago memories include dreams of a little boy in a strange land, who has grown up to become that moth in her dreams! Morpheus says that Alyssa can break the curse and save her mother, if she’ll just bring back what Alice Lidell took from Wonderland, things that Alison hid in their house.

If Alyssa can get to England and find the rabbit hole into Wonderland…
If she can let Jeb help her when she’s afraid he’ll be trapped, too…
If they can fix what went wrong when Alice escaped carrying Wonderland objects…
even when nothing is as it appears and not everyone wants the wrongs made right!

A journey into madness to break insanity’s curse, the solid friendship of a good human guy against the enchanting promises of Morpheus, secrets and sacrifices – this is no cutesy fairy tale, but a gritty, dark-angel quest that will take everything Alyssa’s got and perhaps more! Followed by Unhinged.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

Gorgeous, by Paul Rudnick (book review) – beauty more than skin deep?

book cover of Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick published by Scholastic
Red dress, white dress,
duckling becomes swan!
One day will she awaken
to find the magic gone?

Stepping cautiously out of her trailer park and into Tom Kelly’s heady world of high fashion and celebrity, shy Becky puts on the first dress he creates for her and instantly becomes Rebecca, the most beautiful woman in the world. Of course, such a magical transformation comes at a price…

Paul Rudnick has written essays, plays, movies (Addams Family Values and others), but this is his first young adult book – and he nails it! Read the first two chapters here for free, and you’ll be hooked! Find Gorgeous at your local public library or independent bookstore to see if Rebecca/Becky succeeds.

If you had one year to do something extraordinary, what would you choose to do?

Book info: Gorgeous / Paul Rudnick. Scholastic Press, 2013 [author NPR  interview]  [publisher site] [book Facebook page]

My book talk: After her mom dies suddenly, Becky calls the mysterious phone number she left, and designer Tom Kelly swears he can transform the shy teen into the most beautiful woman in the world – how could she say no? If she’d only foreseen the consequences…

What made her sweet, funny mom hide in their trailer house and overeat herself to death, Becky never knew. As she gathers up Mom’s clothes for charity, the 18-year-old finds a ring box containing just a phone number. When she dials it, the lady answering sends her a plane ticket to New York – the world’s most famous designer must see her, right now!

Her first plane trip, first limo ride, first time out of Missouri – suddenly Becky is swept into a sophisticated glass mansion overlooking the New York skyline. Tom Kelly knew her mother (why didn’t Mom ever tell her?) and promises that if Becky will wear the 3 dresses he designs for her then she’ll be the most beautiful woman in the world. There is a catch – she must fall in love and get married within one year.

Agreeing to his idea, she finds herself being measured, fitted, and fabulously attired in the most amazing red dress as Rebecca. When she accompanies Tom into the city, the reporters and bloggers go wild – who is she? The reclusive designer escorts Rebecca to her Vogue cover photo shoot, to the opera where her unearthly beauty upstages the diva. When anyone else is around, Rebecca is stunningly beautiful, but when she’s alone, the mirror shows shy, dumpy Becky is still there.

Whisked away on a motorcycle by her teen idol Jate, Rebecca effortlessly becomes a movie star in his latest action adventure. Her best friend Rocher from home joins her as she tours the world as the face of Tom Kelly Designs. When Rebecca meets and charms Prince Gregory as they open a London children’s hospital, she decides that he’s the one for her.

Will Gregory fall in love with her, too?
Could the British public accept an American as wife of the royal heir?
Can Rebecca slow down time so her year lasts long enough?

More than a Cinderella fashion story, Gorgeous  takes aim at our insatiable appetite for who’s who, beauty,and the latest style in everything, as Becky/Rebecca tries to discover her true self during twelve too-short months. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.