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KENSY AND MAX face danger, secrets & spies! by Jacqueline Harvey (middle grade book review)

book cover of Kensy and Max: Breaking News, by Jacqueline Harvey. Published by Kane Miller Books (US) | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not where they expected to be,
family secrets trigger extreme events,
twin-power must save them!

Kensy and Max are used to frequent moves since their parents’ work takes the family to medical clinics all over the world, but this time…Mum and Dad have gone missing!

The 11-year-old twins are suddenly at a magnificent country estate, then their manny Fitz winds up being more bodyguard than housekeeper when they’re enrolled in an unusual school in London.

Glad to make new friends at school, Kensy and Max await word from their parents, learn more about long-lost family members, and are nearly kidnapped!

Kensy is impulsive, messy, and amazing with machines – can she figure out what’s up with the grannies at the corner newspaper shop?

Max is neat, orderly, and brilliant with codes – can he decipher the messages that Mum and Dad left in favorite books?

They keep notes on a wealthy newspaper owner, a butler with mysterious skills, secret classes at school, loads of rubble coming from their neighbor’s renovation – what does it all mean?

First in an exciting series that take Kensy and Max around the world as they search for their parents and keep one step ahead of the bad guys! Four books are available now in paperback in the US.

What mystery would you like to decode?
**kmm

Book info: Kensy and Max: Breaking News (Kensy and Max, book 1) / Jacqueline Harvey. Kane Miller Books, 2020 (US). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Avenging his death? It’s up to ELATSOE & her gifts, by Darcie Little Badger (book review)

of Elatsoe, by Darcie Little Badger, illustrated by Rovina Cai. Published by Levine Querido | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her dreams carry truth,
Every animal, dead or alive, knows her,
Cousin’s death was no accident!

During their dream conversation, Trevor revealed his killer’s name, so Ellie’s sacred duty is justice for her cousin whose Anglo widow Lenore doesn’t fully understand Lipan Apache ways or traditions.

Down the length of Texas go Ellie and her parents for his funeral, to a town that’s shown only on paper maps, with lush green lawns during drought, New England colonial-style buildings, and a strong dislike for newcomers.

The person named by Trevor is rich Dr. Allerton known for his miraculous cures – how did he and a young grade-school teacher ever cross paths?

Like her many-generations-ago grandmother Great-Six, Ellie can raise animals from the dead and has powers against supernatural creatures – will this be enough to stop whatever is keeping her cousin from his final rest?

Vampires, monsters, fairy-ring transport stations, greed and deception – asexual Ellie, her ghost dog Kirby, and best friend Jay try to piece together the mystery to protect her cousin’s son and widow before it’s too late.

Happy book birthday to this debut #ownvoices novel bringing the stories of Great-Six back to the land and waters of south Texas as her descendent Elatsoe lives into her heritage to battle against evil.

How do you support family in difficult times?
**kmm

Book info: Elatsoe / Darcie Little Badger; illustrated by Ravina Cai. Levine Querido, 2020. [author Twitter] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Searching on THE SUPER MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF FREDDY YATES, by Jenny Pearson (book review)

book cover of THE SUPER MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF FREDDY YATES, by Jenny Pearson. Published by Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A missing dad still alive?
Time to go find him!
Here’s the plan, guys…

Grams’ death leaves Freddie and his stepdad all alone their English town, but her final message solves a lifelong mystery – the name of his long-gone biological father!

Best pals Ben and Charlie agree to take the train with him to Wales as their last fun weekend before they’re dragged off to summer activities that their families love (and they despise).

The eleven year olds’ quick trip turns into an adventurous trek – missed connections, a new destination, an onion-eating contest, a bicycle-built-for-two, and emergency change into superhero costumes to elude a jewel thief!

Can they keep convincing their parents that they’re just at a sleepover?
Why did Freddie’s dad never try to contact him?
Why didn’t they bring more underwear?

Their teacher said it was a miracle that their class made it through the school year, but Freddie, Ben, and Charlie encounter real miracles aplenty in this hilarious debut novel.

When does your search become a mission?
**kmm

Book info: The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddy Yates / Jenny Pearson. Norton Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

CATASTROPHES & HEROES of man-made disasters, by Jerry Borrowman (book review)

book cover of Catastrophes & Heroes, by Jerry Borrowman. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Boats and trains,
Dams and bridges,
Engineered to work…or fail.

An overloaded Mississippi River steamboat explodes, killing 1169 Union prisoners heading home from notorious Andersonville Prison, making barely a ripple in the newspapers during the closing weeks of the Civil War.

Flawed designs by self-proclaimed experts caused the horrific 1879 Tay railway bridge collapse and costly 1940 Tacoma Narrows bridge failure.

Ignoring local geological conditions led to terrible loss of life and property as the St. Francis Dam burst in California in 1928, as did Italy’s Vajont Dam in 1963.

A hurricane killed many workers building the railroad to Key West in 1935, then sabotage derailed a new Streamliner train into a desert river in 1939, far from the nearest town.

Each of these harrowing stories includes fateful choices made and their unintended consequences, victims and first responder heroes, and the professional heroes who analyzed the catastrophe and recommended ways to prevent future disasters.

Reaction to these tragedies resulted in stronger safety requirements for the modern marvels of public works and transportation that we now take for granted.

From the author of Compassionate Soldier (recommended here) and Invisible Heroes of World War II (see here) who so ably centers the human factor amid history’s facts and lists.

How can you be more ready to respond to disasters?
**kmm

Book info: Catastrophes and Heroes: True Stories of Man-Made Disasters / Jerry Borrowman. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Victory over violence? Stunning stories to read with your ears!

Our final pair of free audiobooks for 2020 take us back and back in history as young women of color fight the odds to live and move on.

Have the Sora app ready on your phone or tablet, then use the download links to grab these titles for your shelf.

Thanks again to the AudioSYNC program and all the publishers for sharing 26 professionally produced audiobooks this summer so we can read with our ears all year.

CD cover of Burn, Baby, Burn, by Meg Medina. Read by Marisol Ramirez.
Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Burn Baby Burn (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Meg Medina.Read by Marisol Ramirez. Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

During the sweltering summer of 1977, a massive blackout, arson, and the Son of Sam’s murder spree put New York City on edge, especially in Nora’s neighborhood.

The Cuban-American teen wants to get away from her bullying brother, but their mother can’t navigate life without her help. As Hector’s violence grows, Nora wonders if she’ll make it to 18 or not.

CD cover of Kindred by Octavia Butler, read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Kindred (download free 23-29 July 2020)

by Octavia E. Butler. Read by Kim Staunton. Published by Recorded Books

Transported from 1976 California to antebellum Maryland, 26 year old Dana saves a white boy from drowning and suddenly is returned to the present before being shot.

As the young Black woman gets pulled back and forth in time, always encountering the same white man, she begins to realize that she must keep him alive so the family line continues down to her!

How can you stand strong against changes that threaten your very existence?
**kmm

48 HOURS to find THE VANISHING! by Gabrielle Lord (book review)

book cover of 48 Hours: The Vanishing, by Gabrielle Lord. Published by Kane Miller EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Her best friend kidnapped!
She’s being watched, too –
a ‘cold case’ getting hot again?

Anika has been publishing those old diary entries on her blog. Was there a murder 20 years ago in the spooky mansion in their Australian neighborhood?

“No police!” the kidnapper tells Anika’s parents, so her best friend Jazz quietly starts gathering clues and enlists the help of tech whiz Phoenix to help analyze them in his mum’s lab.

Collecting hair samples, footprints, and other observations in their CrimeSeen app, Jazz and Phoenix race to identify the kidnapper.

Jazz knows the first 48 hours of a case are the most important – and Anika’s life is at stake!

The kidnapper is searching for them, too…

Followed by 48 Hours: The Medusa Curse, as Jazz and Phoenix work to retrieve a stolen supercomputer and prove their friend Mack’s father had no part in the museum heist.

When something goes missing, what’s your first step?
**kmm

Book info: 48 Hours: The Vanishing (48 Hours series, book 1) / Gabrielle Lord. Kane Miller EDC Publishing, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Short stories carry big meaning – read with your ears!

Personal vignettes, imagined occasions, inspiring moments, heart-rending choices – this week’s pair of free, professionally produced audiobooks brings us three dozen short stories by a wide array of YALit authors, courtesy of the publishers.

So easy to get these AudioSYNC selections – register free, have the free Sora app on your phone or tablet, then download either title (or both) using the links below, free through late night Wednesday, 8 July 2020.

CD cover of Fresh Ink,  by Lamar Giles [Ed.]. Read by Guy Lockard, Kim Mai Guest, Bahni Turpin. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Fresh Ink (download free, 2-8 July 2020)

Edited by Lamar Giles. Read by Guy Lockard, Kim Mai Guest, Bahni Turpin. Published by Listening Library

These short stories from 13 well-known YA authors are ‘windows and mirrors’ into the lives of teens in cities, schools, neighborhoods, and their own thoughts.

Sponsored by We Need Diverse Books, Fresh Ink includes 10 short stories, a one-act play, and a graphic novel (complete with sound effects).

CD cover of Hope Nation, edited by Rose Brock.  Read by a Full Cast. Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Hope Nation (download free, 2-8 July 2020)

Edited by Rose Brock. Read by a Full Cast. Published by Listening Library

Cutting through today’s bleak news, 23 YA authors share moments and stories that have personally inspired them.

Uplifting messages and honest concern, dark times becoming better, true tales – all remind us that hope can be found and should be shared.

A well-crafted short story is a memorable gem – what’s your favorite?
**kmm

Ready, set, go deliver DRAGONS IN A BAG! by Zetta Elliott (kids’ book review)

Book cover of Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott, art by Geneva B. Published by Yearling-Random House | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Follow the rules to stay safe,
avoid trouble,
keep your eyes open!

Jax doesn’t need a babysitter! The Black 9 year old isn’t happy that he has to stay with old Ma while Mom is in court to fight being evicted.

Hmm…he is intrigued when a squirrel zips into Ma’s apartment and tries to feed whatever is in Ma’s big handbag, the thing that came from Madagascar, something that Ma needs to deliver elsewhere – very special lizards!

There’s a transporter in Prospect Park?
The lizards are really dragons?
Ma is a witch?!

Maybe Jax can help Ma as her apprentice, if he follows the rules: keep the dragons in their case and never feed them.

When a problem with the transporter lands Jax and the baby dragons back in Brooklyn without Ma, he enlists the help of his best friend Vik to get the dragons safely to their new home in another dimension.

First in a series, followed by The Dragon Thief !

What mythic creature would you like to see in your town?
**kmm

Book info: Dragons in a Bag / Zetta Elliott; illustrated by Geneva B. Yearling/ Random House, 2018. [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Dare she tell THE STORY THAT CANNOT BE TOLD? by J. Kasper Kramer (book review)

book cover of The Story That Cannot Be Told, by J. Kasper Kramer. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Leader knows everything,
all must follow his new rules,
everything of the past must be erased!

“History is written by the victors,” goes the saying, but Ileana’s beloved uncle doesn’t believe that’s true and goes missing after a story critical of Romania’s Communist government goes public in 1989.

The teen’s parents whisk her out of the city, to her grandparents’ mountain village, hopefully far away from the secret police who have eyes and ears on every street corner.

In her knapsack is the notebook of stories she’s collected – old ones about the beautiful city before the Leader ruined it, older ones about her namesake princess, new ones from her uncle. Now she can add the stories about her own mother and the villagers as told by Mamaie and Tataie.

Weeks pass without word from her parents, but when strangers settle at the village inn, everyone knows this may be the last harvest festival before the government takes absolutely everything they have.

Can Ileana and her new schoolmates find a way to stop them?
What clues from the tale of Cunning Ileana might help?
Are her parents safe or have they been taken like her uncle?

Like the villagers’ tale of the White Wolf who saves the mountain people, Ileana wants her story to save those she loves… if she can.

When have you taken the truth to those who need it most?
**kmm

Book info: The Story That Cannot Be Told / J. Kasper Kramer. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.