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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?
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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?
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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?
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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?
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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.

Who’s trying to kill over THE TRUTH APP? by Jack Heath (book review)

book cover of The Truth App, by Jack Heath. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A little programming,
a car crash,
a lot of trouble!

Begun as a lie-detector coding experiment, Jarli’s “truth app” becomes an overnight international sensation, and the Australian high schooler immediately receives acclaim, criticism, and death threats.

From the source code Jarli uploaded to an obscure site to get help testing it, someone has created a commercial app that gives an “honesty score” – very unpopular with teens.

Jarli’s best friend Beth and new student Anya are on his side at least. Then the guy who purposely crashed into Dad’s car comes after them – time to run!

“Did it not occur to you,” Mom said, “that almost everyone has secrets?” (p. 56). Some very powerful people will apparently do anything – legal or otherwise – to keep theirs from the public.

Is Dad’s security company job at risk?
Will the bad guy go after Jarli’s sister too?
Who is behind these attacks?

Just why did Jarli want a lie detector? You’ll have to read the first book in this Australian series to find out.

How would a “truth app” affect your life?
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Book info: The Truth App (Liars, book 1) / Jack Heath. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2020 US. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Great powers…at what cost? Thrilling tales to read with your ears!

Adventure, peril, grand reward, danger – this week’s pair of free audiobooks from AudioSYNC take us far beyond our everyday world.

Use the links with each title to download these professionally produced audiobooks before late night Wednesday 17 June 2020.

They’re listenable through the Sora app for your phone or tablet as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf – more details here.

CD cover of Mark of the Raven, by Morgan L. Busse. Read by Jaimee Draper. Published by Oasis Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mark of the Raven (download here free 11-17 June 2020)

by Morgan L. Busse. Read by Jaimee Draper. Published by Oasis Audio

Lady Selene of Ravenwood walks through people’s dreams to gather information or manipulate their desires and fears.

But what if the young woman’s inherited powers are instead causing death? First in the Ravenwood Saga series, a world of seven ruling houses, conflict, love, and turmoil.

CD cover of Easy Prey, by Catherine Lo. Read by Nick Mondelli, Elizabeth Cottle, Jack Meloche. Published by Dreamscape Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Easy Prey (download here free 11-17 June 2020)

by Catherine Lo. Read by Nick Mondelli, Elizabeth Cottle, Jack Meloche. Published by Dreamscape Media

One student uncovered a teacher’s racy photos and shared them, but who?

Super-nerd Mouse who would do anything to get to MIT (and away from his father)? Super-charmer Drew whose athletic charm easily gets girls’ info and sexy photos? Super-rebel Jenna who wants justice after someone leaked her photos and ruined her good name? A mystery in three voices, past and present.

How would you deal with deep secrets and deep powers?
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Soul calls to soul, WILLA AND THE WHALE, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown (middle grade book review)

book cover of Willa and the Whale, by Chad Morris & Shelly Brown. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She observes and learns,
listens and writes,
are her own answers in the sea?

Same island town in Washington that Willa left as a nine year old when she and Mom moved to Japan after the divorce, but now her horizons are wider and her grief is deep.

On a whale-watching trip with Dad just a month after Mom’s death, Willa films a gigantic female humpback whale breaching and calls out to her and the whale Meg talks back!

Too much can change in three years – best friend in a different house, too many people in Willa’s old house (step-siblings, half-sibling, too much noise!), no Mom to help her study the creatures of the ocean.

When Willa calls to Meg from the island beach, the whale answers from the distant deeps.

When friend Marc is secretive, Meg gives Willa good advice. When something dreadful happens on the beach, Willa tells Meg about it first.

Missing her Mom – will it ever get easier?
Being herself – will her island classmates ever understand?

In this tale of grief and loss and love, Willa’s journal entries from then and now reveal her deep appreciation of the sea’s inhabitants and her struggle toward living less-alone on the land.

When have you heard a call from afar?
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Book info: Willa and the Whale / Chad Morris and Shelly Brown. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [Chad’s site] [Shelly’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Intertwined these three, THE MERMAID, THE WITCH AND THE SEA, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall (book review)

book cover of The Mermaid, the Witch and the Sea, by Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

To stay alive, to stay together,
to realize that there’s more to life…
to risk everything?

Killing a man ensures their place on the pirate ship, as dark-skinned Alfie’s little sister Flora becomes Florian in the Nameless Captain’s crew of cutthroats who enslave passengers and harvest mermaids in spite of the Pirate Supreme’s decree.

Daughter of Imperials, Evelyn has never pleased her haughty parents, only wishes to stay with her adored young maid, is sent away in arranged marriage to an officer far across the seas. The teen’s possessions are packed into her coffin, for she will never return to the capital.

Aboard the Dove, Florian is set as Evelyn’s guard against the rapacious crew, gradually becoming fond of the rich young lady (whose heart is captured too), hoping that the Captain’s command to imprison all passengers never comes, marveling at her rapport with the new-caught mermaid.

The Sea will punish those who steal her mermaids, the Witch will draw the tales from Florian’s blood, the Pirate Supreme will stop the Nameless Captain – but will Evelyn and Florian be alive to know?

Japanese names, clothing, and traditions strand through this newly-published debut novel of conquests, colonies, love beyond expectations, and undercover history-changers.

When do you know that your ‘you’ is right?
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Book info: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea / Maggie Tokuda-Hall. Candlewick Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Z for zap! with LIGHTNING GIRL! by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall (middle grade book review)

book cover of Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall, illustrated by James Lancett. Published by Kane Miller Publishing EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sparks from her fingers!
Light beams from her hands!
Growing pains or superpowers?

Big brother is brilliant with computers, little sister is a genuine genius, and Aurora is in the middle, just average at everything, until the birthmark on her hands starts shooting light when she gets angry!

Mum is a secret superhero? Grandma and Aunt Lucinda too? Aurora has inherited superpowers?

Training sessions with Mum, keeping her secret from best friend Kizzy, Mr. Mercury ready to fail her in science – the British 11 year old is stressing out!

Her parents are arguing a lot now, the class trip to her dad’s exhibit of mysterious gemstones gets wild, and Aunt Lucinda drops by with her ostrich sidekick… what was her superpower exactly?

It’s up to Aurora to solve the gemstone mystery, repair her friendship with Kizzy, and make her parents happy together again…but how?

This illustrated adventure is the first in a series as the biracial middle-schooler meets other superheroes and fights against more villains. Look for all 4 books at your local library or independent bookstorehome delivery is a winner!

What superpower would you want to have?
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Book info: Lightning Girl (Lightning Girl, book 1) / Alesha Dixon with Katy Birchall; illustrated by James Lancett. Kane Miller EDC Publishers, 2020. [author interview] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy, sample page, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

sample page from Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall

X is where we aren’t, in SPEED OF FALLING OBJECTS, by Nancy Richardson Fischer (YA book review)

book cover of The Speed of Falling Objects, by Nancy Richardson Fischer. Published by Inkyard Press/Harlequin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One eye, one focus,
One week, time to finally be with Dad,
One downed plane, any chance to survive?

It was easier to cope with losing one eye at age 7 than with her dad’s leaving a few months later. Now Cougar’s adventure survival show takes him all over the world, rarely to Seattle where he left Mom and Dannielle.

Big surprise that he’s taking her to Peru for her 17th birthday, filming episodes with teen superstar Guy (bigger surprise that Cougar remembered Danny’s birthday at all).

But their small plane crashes far off-course in the remote Amazon rainforest, with minimal supplies. Of course, Cougar knows everything about survival…right?

Guy isn’t an airhead celebrity after all, even as Cassandra keeps filming the small group’s efforts to get edible plants and find their way in the pathless forest.

Injuries, lethal creatures, rain and rain and rain…how are they going to make it to a river that could take them to civilization?

Danny is a city kid with a true blind side… she’ll just follow Dad’s lead and everything will turn out fine, just like his TV shows…

When someone you idolize turns out to be very human, then what?
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Book info: The Speed of Falling Objects / Nancy Richardson Fischer. Inkyard Press/Harlequin, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.