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Into the Dim, by Janet B. Taylor (book review) – time travel into danger

book cover of Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | recommended on BooksYALove.comMom is not dead?
Just trapped in the past,
One chance to rescue her…

Hope’s photographic memory is no fluke, but an essential part of her heritage as a Viator time traveler. And she’ll need it to complement her hasty training in knife-fighting and proper lady’s behavior before the team’s one-shot trip to 12th century England.

When Outlander author Diana Gabaldon praises a time travel book, you know it’s something special.

Read the first few chapters here courtesy of the publisher, and you’ll be hooked on Hope’s story – past and present. The sequel is due in May 2017, so start your journey Into the Dim now….

If you could travel into the past, where/when would you go?
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Book info: Into the Dim / Janet B. Taylor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Hope is relieved to discover that Mom didn’t die in that earthquake, startled to learn that her mother is trapped in the 12th century, and completely unprepared to time-travel back to Eleanor of Aquitaine’s court to rescue her!

After Mom is declared dead in an earthquake, her adoptive dad’s family in Arkansas wants to ‘stop this homeschool nonsense’ that allows Hope to edge past her crippling phobias and harness her photographic memory.

Luckily, her never-met Aunt Lucinda invites Hope to Scotland, where the teen learns of her Viator lineage which enables her aunt and others to travel – carefully, very carefully – back in time, as her mother did. But Mom missed the rendezvous and is stranded in the time of King Henry II.

Ley lines, costumes, computers, training in martial arts, languages, and customs – all necessary to make that single trip back to a certain time and place. One chance per Viator, that’s it.

Can Hope master enough skills to pass as a young lady traveling with chaperone?
What does handsome neighbor Bran Cameron suspect about her aunt and the Viators?
Why did Mom bolt back into time without telling her?

First in an exciting time-travel series where one false move could undo Hope’s sanity, the Viator secret, and the world’s history. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Black River Falls, by Jeff Hirsch (book review) – epidemic memory loss (almost)

book cover of Black River Falls by Jeff Hirsch published by Clarion | recommended on BooksYALove.comSchool, family, changes.
New places, familiar faces –
Who are we without our memories?

He remembers, after the virus slammed all memories out of everyone else in Black Falls.

Now a paramilitary force has taken control of the quarantined town… not good at all.

Start at the beginning, with this free sample of the first chapters here, courtesy of the author, whose post-apocalyptic The Eleventh Plague I recommended here (no spoilers. ever).

Which memory would you never ever want to lose?
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Book info: Black River Falls / Jeff Hirsch. [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The only person to keep his memories, Cardinal discovers startling secrets as private police roll into his quarantined town six months after the virus sweeps through Black Falls.

High above the New York town, Cardinal and former bully Greer are sheltering kids whose parents forgot them (and everything else) in the woods, venturing down only when supply drops are scheduled.

So eerie and sad to visit his own house and know he’s the only one who remembers living there as a family – at least his brother was away at college when the virus hit… 10 hours after exposure, and all your memories are gone.

When Cardinal spots a new girl in town after its borders have been sealed for months, the teen knows something is wrong.

When private forces take over from the National Guard, he knows that things are going to get worse.

What caused this weird virus that only affects memory?
How can he bear seeing his mom fall in love with someone?
Why is remembering his comic book creator dad so hard?

Scary, possible, unsettling – there is no reset button on the the human brain…

Wax, by Christina Damico (book review) – wick of life burns low?

book cover of Wax by Gina Damico published by HMH Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comCandle scents galore,
Rising above her town,
Hiding ominous secrets.

Poppy loves her Vermont hometown, tolerates the tourists who flock to its legendary candle factory, cannot leave a good clue unfollowed – even when it takes her deep into the castle-like factory and its dark secrets!

And the naked guy who jumps out of her car trunk later? There must be a good explanation…

Read the first 2 chapters of Wax here free, courtesy of the author, then go get it at your local library or independent bookstore to see what Poppy and Dud discover about the candle factory’s luminous past and shadowy present, by the author of Croak (my no-spoiler review here) and other scary stuff.

Favorite candle scent?
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Book info: Wax / Gina Damico. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When Poppy investigates strange rumors about Paraffin, Vermont’s fabled candle factory, the 17 year old won’t let Blake’s malicious pranks or Dud’s sudden appearance stop her from saving her hometown – if she doesn’t get waxed herself.

Poppy is just trying to get everyone in Paraffin to forget her horrific performance on national TV when she hears a disturbing rumor about the Grosholtz Candle Factory and takes the tourist-tour to see for herself.

Not sure which is more weird – the old lady in the hidden hall beyond the factory tour route, the lifelike wax mannequins she creates, or the naked teen guy who leaps from the trunk of Poppy’s car at home!

Introducing Dud as a foreign exchange student to her ditzy parents gets around his complete lack of knowledge about anything in town (or life or anything), but where did he actually come from?

Poppy lets her nose for news take her back to the factory, with Dud by her side and an eerie theory in mind, despite the obvious danger and the escalating pranks pulled on her by the mayor’s son.

Who’s following Poppy and Dud?
Why can’t the police get more leads on missing persons cases?
Was the old lady’s chat just factory history or a prophecy?

Humor, horror, and miasmic clouds of candle scent fill this mysterious tale.

Desert Dark, by Sonja Stone (book review) – school for spies, time to die?

book cover of Desert Dark by Sonja Stone published by Holiday House | recommended on BooksYALove.comBrilliant students wanted,
Puzzle-solving a plus.
Survival through graduation not guaranteed…

Whoa! Full tuition for boarding school for math genius problem-solvers? And across the country from her cheating boyfriend, too? Best idea that cryptographic whiz Nadia has heard in a long time, till she arrives at… a secret Black Ops academy, funded by the CIA, with a killer double-agent on campus!

The first chapters (provided here free by the publisher) set up the dangerous world that Nadia finds herself in.

How far can you run from heartbreak?
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Book info: Desert Dark / Sonja Stone. Holiday House, 2016.  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Recruited for an exclusive boarding school where her math abilities will be prized, Nadia discovers that Desert Mountain Academy covertly trains students for CIA black ops careers. When rumors of a double-agent on the remote Arizona campus prove true, suspicion falls on the newly-arrived Virginia teen whose mother is Lebanese.

Nadia is overwhelmed with martial arts and Mandarin, trying to master firearms and survival skills with the other juniors in her team – and resisting her attraction to their senior leader, Jack.

Teammate Damon is willing to help her catch up, but socially-challenged Alan (grandson of a Jewish Mossad agent) is openly skeptical, sure that she’ll bring down the team.

Her germophobic roommate Libby is hiding something – is it about the girl whose death opened a spot for Nadia after the semester had begun?

Chapters by Nadia, Libby, Jack, and the mysterious double-agent tell of assassination attempts (yep, plural), gradual team bonding, survival training, academic challenges, and a growing romance – if Nadia can survive her first year at Desert Mountain Academy!

This is Not a Werewolf Story, by Sandra Evans (book review) – spirit animal in the woods?

book cover of This is Not a Werewolf Story by Sandra Evans published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.comFriday night escape,
away from boarding school,
back to his true form, running on four legs

A hidden lighthouse, a sadistic gym teacher, White Deer Woods where Raul just knows Mom is waiting for him – a little further from the sadness that weighed Dad down to the floor when she was gone, out into the freedom of being his wolf-self again, wondering about the missing Fresnel lens and why the new kid Vincent is nice to him.

Happy book birthday to this self-discovery story! Visit the publisher’s page here and scroll down to read chapter one, as Raul meets the new kid and secrets begin to unfold.

Have you ever felt like two beings at once?
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Book info: This Is Not a Werewolf Story / Sandra Evans. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: It’s okay that Dad doesn’t come over from Seattle to pick up Raul for the weekends – more time to explore White Deer Woods near the boarding school and learn more about his mom who disappeared.

Tuffman, the three-time Olympian who now teaches PE at this small school for kids with individual learning needs? He’s not okay, not ever!

There’s a real white deer in the woods, and magic, Raul learns. Magic that lets him become his true wolf-self (no, not a werewolf! that’s movie make-believe) and run with the beautiful wolf who must be his mother.

When a cougar is sighted in the woods, Dean Swift restricts students to the main building – but how can Raul stay away?
The abandoned lighthouse where his change-magic happens – where did its giant lens go?
Mary Anne, Sparrow, new kid Vincent, even Mean Jack are on his side – but can he escape Tuffman’s torment?

A white wolf, secrets that divide and bring together – Raul is a young man trying to unravel a hidden agenda at school as the secret in White Deer Woods might free him or doom him. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Prince Without a Kingdom, by Timothee de Fombelle (book review) – rooftops, espionage, war, love, danger

book cover of A Prince Without Kingdom by Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, published by Candlewick Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com A zeppelin, skyscrapers, a quest,
war looming, young people fleeing,
across countries, toward memories…

Through the early years of World War II, intrepid teens try to outwit ingenious villains in a game of chase through the US and Europe with deadly consequences.

Yes, it’s Book 2 of a duology. No, you don’t have to read Vango: Between Earth and Sky to get up to speed on the complex and fascinating storylines (I had only this one and easily got up to speed on who was who, etc.). But if you can get Book 1, do it, just so you can doubly glory in the wordplay, round-the-world plots, and stunning translations of the adventurous tale of Vango, Cat, the invisible monastery, Ethel, and Zefiro.

Who would you follow across oceans?
**kmm

Book info: A Prince Without a Kingdom (Vango, book 2) / Timothee de Fombelle, translated by Sarah Ardizzone. Candlewick Press, 2015. [author bio] [translator interview] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chased from his childhood refuge, orphaned teen Vango uses disguise and stealth to track down the man trying to kill him, while Ethel formulates plans to assist him as World War II erupts.

Intricate webs of love, hatred, family, loss, and intrigue flow between Vango and Ethel, a nanny in Russia and a doctor in Italy, an out-of-tune piano and the Black Sea in 1913 and a prize-fighter impersonating a prince, as oceans are crossed by airships, identities are cross-wired, and missed connections can mean life, death, or dessert…

The Cat connects clues and Resistance fighters as she traverses the rooftops of Occupied Paris – too many enemies?
How can the abbot of the Invisible Monastery be aboard the Hindenburg zeppelin?
Is Edith’s brother safe as an Allied aviator?

Second in the Vango duology, A Prince Without a Kingdom can easily be read alone as a cross-continent, multi-stranded adventure of love and loyalty during wartime, stunningly translated from the French original.

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S is Stone Rider, racing for better future, by David Hofmeyr (book review)

book cover of Stone Rider published by Delacorte | recommended on BooksYALove.comRide out of town or die there.
You and the byke as one being,
the desert ready to eat you both…

If Adam can win the treacherous Blackwater race for a one-way ticket to Sky-Base and luxury, without being attacked by gangs trying to race their way to freedom too, or ambushed by bandits, or captured by the mythical Nakoda…

Love, death, and motorcycles that contain the essence of every owner who’s ever ridden them in this futuristic desert world.

Could you gamble it all for one chance to be free?
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Book info: Stone Rider / David Hofmeyr. Delacorte Press, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Only way to Sky-base and the good life from the grubby town where the Colonel owns everything and controls everybody? Gotta win the Blackwater Trail race through unforgiving desert with bandits, cannibals that might not be myths, and a hundred other riders on their motorcycles that are part living things.

Adam has lost his father and his brother, all reasons to play it safe gone now. When the stranger Kane keeps the Scorpion gang from stealing Adam’s entry fee for the race, maybe the teen has a ally…

Will Adam survive long enough to tell Sadie how he feels?
Can he remember all race lore that his brother told him?
Who is Kane, really?

In this future world, there is no future as long as the Colonel has control of the mines and the people – unless Adam can ride his way to freedom.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

C for compassion – in a Valkyrie maiden of death? by Kate O’Hearn (book review)

book cover of Valkyrie by Kate O'Hearn published by Aladdin | BooksYALove.com War! Glory! Valhalla!
Death. Separation. Loss.
Soul-harvest is a tricky business.

After seeing warriors of all eras battle endlessly for fun and glory in Valhalla, the youngest Valkyrie thinks humans are all war-crazed savages.

But her promise to a dead soldier takes Freya and her raven companion to Chicago, and human school with its bullies, and being hunted by Odin’s own Dark Searchers for breaking the law!

Read the first chapter here (courtesy of the author) and meet Freya as she faces a destiny that she longs to change.

Struggling against “the way it’s always been” – yes?
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Book info: Valkyrie / Kate O’Hearn. Aladdin, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Allowed to visit Earth only when reaping valiant warriors’ souls, young Freya defiantly escapes Valhalla to fulfill a soldier’s last request, but at what cost?

As the youngest Valkyrie battle-maiden, Freya is reluctant to interact with humans as they die during their petty wars. Her first soul-harvest may be her last as she agrees to help Tyrone’s family in Chicago, against Odin’s law.

Trying to camouflage her wings, listening to her raven companion (a little), helping kids stand up to school bullies – so far so good, until she begins interfering with Angels of Death, and Odin discovers that she’s on Earth!

Can she protect Tyrone’s family without giving away her identity?
Is Loki the trickster on her side or not?
How far will Odin go to retrieve this absent Valkyrie?

First in a series that brings Norse legend oh-so close to modern Midgard/Earth. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Teens’ Top Ten – vote now!

logo of YALSA's Teens' Top Ten book programTime is running short for Teens’ Top Ten voting!

Teens ages 12-18 get to choose 3 of the 24 nominated books, but you must vote by October 24, 2015 (the end of Teen Read Week).

Here are four great books that might have flown under the publicity radar. 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

Head to http://www.ala.org/yalsa/reads4teens/ to see individual book trailers for each title and VOTE!

Tell your friends, talk about books, vote so that this Top Ten list is yours!
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Talk Like a Pirate Day!

clipart of pirate flag drawn by wesd440 from openclipart.org

Pirate flag drawn by wesd440 – https://openclipart.org/detail/220801/pirate-flag

Arggghhh, YALit maties, it’s finally International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Find your own Pirate Name here, outfit your true Pirate self in style using this, choose what your fine piratical ship should be called using this site, and even translate your Twitter and/or Facebook posts into Piratese here.

All in fun and on a Saturday, too!

Searching the seven seas for new YA books with pirates… any sightings?
**kmm