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W is for weaving & crafting with NETTLE & BONE she must master to stop great evil, by T. Kingfisher (book review) #A2Z

book cover of Nettle & Bone, by T. Kingfisher. Published by Tor | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom threatened,
no prince as heir,
daughters as pawns… or not.

Third daughter of a king with no sons, 15-year-old Marra is hidden away at a convent, remaining within its walls for years and years, as her older sisters are married in political alliances to save their tiny kingdom.

The weaving and healing skills she learns there will serve her well as now-grown Marra flees the security of Our Lady of Grackles, seeking ways to save her sister from the brutal prince of the Northern Kingdom.

She travels far and then farther to find the powerful dust-wife who communes with the dead and has the magic she needs. The spell requires Marra to make a cloak from nettles and cursed wool, to fashion a dog from bones, and bring moonlight in a jar – three impossible tasks (and she does them).

Away they go to kill the prince – Marra and Bone Dog, the dust-wife and her demon-possessed hen, through enchanted marketplaces and haunted lands, releasing from ensorcelment a man who unwisely slept in a fairy fort.

Secrets of the Northern Kingdom lie deeply buried in the crypts beneath its palace – danger and doom.

Its king lost in madness, the terrible prince rules with an iron fist and paranoia.

How to infiltrate the crypts? How to steer all blame from Marra’s sister? How to escape with their own lives?

A princess exists solely for the kingdom’s benefit, but not Marra…

Just published yesterday (4/26/22) – read the first two chapters on the publisher’s website here, free!

What non-traditional princess story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book info: Nettle & Bone / T. Kingfisher. Tor, 2022. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is for sisters & THE SPLENDOR, hotel of secrets & stolen memories! by Breeana Shields (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Splendor, by Breeana Shields. Published by Page Street Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Glamour, luxury,
delights and dreams,
upheld by secrets, dark secrets!

At the Hotel Splendor, whatever you wish for comes true! This glittering promise has kept hope alive for orphaned sisters Juliette and Clare, now young women struggling to make ends meet.

A year of working extra jobs allowed Juliette to save up enough to give Clare the chance to live out her dreams at The Splendor, but a few weeks later, Clare returns as a stranger instead of Juliette’s dearest friend!

Whatever happened at the Splendor, Juliette must find a way to reclaim her sister’s love, so she takes their rainy-day money and becomes a guest at the dazzling hotel up on the hill.

There, she finds possibilities beyond her dreams – diving beneath the sea, riding on a giant bird, a garden made of sweets – as the staff creates a Signature Experience for each guest using the Splendor’s unique magic.

It is handsome young Henri who makes those Experiences seem more than real, with his mother Stella directing their huge staff of seamstresses, chefs, and concierges at the glittering, luxurious hotel.

How can Henri grant Juliette’s dearest wish when it was the Splendor that took away Clare’s love for her?

Every elegant inch of the Splendor Hotel is enhanced by Henri’s magic, but at what cost?

After Juliette is caught exploring behind the scenes, will the extravagant costume ball be her last dance?

Told in alternating chapters by Juliette and Henri, the dark secrets of the Splendor Hotel are gradually revealed! By the author of The Bone Charmer (recommended here).

What amazing experience would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Splendor / Breeana Shields. Page Street Publishing, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Cover image from the author; review copy courtesy of the publisher.

R is for Rowenna, regrets, enchanted swans’ RUSH OF WINGS, by Laura E. Weymouth (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Rush of Wings, by Laura E. Weymouth. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Welcomed by salt spray and wind,
born with a power inside,
ignored, untrained… how long?

So hard for young teen Rowenna to control her temper, amidst all these rowdy brothers. That’s why her mother won’t yet teach her the magic craft needed to protect their seaside Scottish village from wicked creatures of land and water.

A terrible beast steals Mother away, a storm catches father and the older boys in their small fishing boat, and now 18-year-old Rowenna finds a young man Gawen washed up in the cove – searching for her and her craft to save his family, he says.

Amazingly, her menfolk return safe from the storm, bringing with them Mother… who’s someone altogether different on the inside, who angrily turns the brothers and Gawen into swans, who steals Rowenna’s voice.

Banished by her father who believes Rowenna has bewitched them, she follows the swans inland, leaving her beloved sea for the very first time.

Ah! At night, the swans regain human form – and she can speak! Gawen has led them to Torr Pendragon’s castle, where his friend lady Elspeth tells Rowenna how to break the curse.

Even so far from the sea, the wind whispers to her that she can’t trust battle-victor Pendragon, especially when the ruler wants to use her magic to control a foul mystical beast.

Each night, the boys’ time as humans grows shorter and shorter – can Rowenna break the curse before it’s too late?

It’s Pendragon who has captured Gawen’s family – can she save anyone?

And that creature living in her father’s small house on the shore – what can Rowenna do?

Voiceless as those she cares for are threatened, Rowenna must find a way to harness and direct the power that simmers in her breath and blood in this retelling of the Six Swans folktale.

Swans – what’s your story about them?
**kmm

Book info: A Rush of Wings / Laura E. Weymouth. Margaret K. McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

I is for the Impossible Task they must complete or stay mere WITCHLINGS forever! by Claribel A. Ortega (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Witchlings, by Claribel A. Ortega. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not chosen for a coven,
doomed as a Spare –
or complete the Impossible Task!

Seven Salazar is sure she’ll be placed in the same five-witch coven as BFF Poppy at the Black Moon Ceremony, but instead the 12 year old is left out as a Spare with new girl Thorn and bullying classmate Valley.

When their coven bond doesn’t take, Seven invokes the Impossible Task so the three tweens don’t stay Forever Witchlings with limited magic. Even being outcast Spares in their witchy town would be better than no flying.

Consulting the Oracle, the Town Gran announces their Impossible Task: fell a Nightbeast in 21 days or be toadified!

Soon the vicious monstruo Nightbeast will fully waken from hibernation, fed by its minion cucos darting out of the Cursed Forest, seeking food like Seven’s powerfully magical baby brother.

Their families believe in them (except Valley’s haughty rich parents), and the Town Uncle puts protective spells on their houses.

The girls research in the Ravenskill Library and the bookstore that Thorn’s parents now own, practice useful spells (some unapproved for their level, but desperate times…), and begin to trust one another.

Days tick by, and their plan comes together – they’ll have to be as brave as the Witches of Heartbreak Cove in their favorite book series to make it work!

In the long history of the Twelve Towns, only one group of Spares has completed their Impossible Task and bonded as a coven – can these not-quite-friends succeed or will they become toads forever?

The name given at their birth is sign and prophecy – will Seven, Thorn, and Valley discover their true meaning during this ordeal?

Hurry along to your local library or independent bookstore for this exciting just-published book!

What spell would you learn to fight a huge, hungry monstruo?
**kmm

Book info: Witchlings / Claribel A. Ortega. Scholastic Press, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

A is more adventure than THE ACCIDENTAL APPRENTICE expected, by Amanda Foody (MG book review) #AtoZchallenge

book cover of The Accidental Apprentice, by Amanda Foody. Published by Margaret McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No running, no dirt,
nothing exciting –
especially no magical beasts!

One of Dullshire’s many, many rules: stay away from the Woods after one of its Beasts attacked the village and killed Barclay’s parents.

Forced into the Woods, Barclay encounters Viola, a Lore Keeper whose trap summons a Beast that chases him… no, that runs with him! A wolfish Lufthund that chooses to bond with the 11-year-old orphan!

No place for him now in rules-restricted Dullshire, Barclay goes unhappily with Viola to the magical town of Sycomore, filled with all sizes of Beasts and all kinds of people.

Barclay hopes that a Master can remove his Mark, the golden tattoo where the Lufthund dwells when not out in the world, but it’s not so simple.

Only if he places first in the Exhibition testing new Lore Keepers will he have any chance of losing the Lufthund!

Most youth preparing to test are jealous that such a powerful Beast chose to bond with a boring outsider, but Viola and a few others decide to help him learn some Lore so he has a chance to pass.

Barclay must quickly discover how he and his Beast can work together, avoid the bullies who will sabotage his Exhibition matches, and decide how much he’ll risk to go home.

So many fantastical Beasts, so many Lore Keepers with different abilities, so many chances to fail – or to win!

First in the Wilderlore series, followed by The Weeping Tide .

Which of your personal skills would you want your Beast to amplify?
**kmm

Book info: The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore, book 1) / Amanda Foody. Margaret McElderry Books, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SECRET OF THE STORM is… a tiny kitten? by Beth McMullen (MG book review)

book cover of Secret of the Storm, by Beth McMullen.  Published by Aladdin Books S&S | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sad without Dad,
best friend ghosting her,
does she hear meows in the storm?

In this foggy coastal California town, Cassie just trudges through her days at middle school, avoiding the Popular Posse that took away her best friend, ignoring comments about her non-fashion sense.

Volunteering at the public library is the only bright spot in Cassie’s life, as Mom is still not-all-here after Dad’s death, even when cool Ms. Asher partners her with geeky Joe, whose tech skills have finally made the bullies leave the Black boy alone.

When the tweens rescue a tiny black kitten during a wild storm, life gets more interesting. How did Albert survive when lightning struck that dumpster? Cassie takes him home and is amazed at how fast and strong he is!

More unusual weather events in town, Albert’s water bowl steaming when he plays in it, and a strange symbol appearing on Cassie’s closet door – the same symbol that’s on the notebook that Ms. Asher hides when anyone comes near!

Scorch marks on her bedroom carpet, an old college friend ranting to Ms. Asher about storms and dragons, mysterious events in their town’s history – Joe and Cassie (and Albert) need more information so they visit the library… after hours.

When little kitten Albert comes to Cassie’s defense during a slumber party (best friend’s mom said she had to be invited), there are suddenly flames, screaming popular girls, and a viral video…of a dragon!

The police start asking questions, Ms. Asher’s friend is threatening them, and they have to leave town with Albert – now!

When have you and your friends stood up for someone who needs help?
**kmm

Book info: Secret of the Storm (Secret of the Storm, book 1) / Beth McMullen. Aladdin Books/Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Climb aboard the DREAM WEAVER train! by Gary Wright & Rob Sayegh Jr. (Picture book review)

book cover of Dream Weaver - words by Gary Wright, art by Rob Sayegh Jr. Published by Akashic Books / Lyricpop | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Bad day?
Boring day?
Dream it away!

A young Black boy is crying as he sleeps. Even his toy lion looks so sad.

But here comes the dream weaver train to take away his worries – all aboard!

“Oo-hoo Dream Weaver
I believe you can get me through the night”

The toy lion drives the train through sky and forest and outer space as the boy looks back at his bad day and looks forward to future fun.

“Oo-hoo Dream Weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light”

Grown-ups may sing out the Gary Wright hit song as they turn the pages, and young bookworms will enjoy the catchy repeated chorus and vivid collage-style illustrations by the artist of Let the Good Times Roll (recommended here).

Another fun book from LyricPop, an imprint that matches well-known song lyrics with fresh new art to produce picture books that everyone will love (whether you know the song or not)!

What books or songs do you turn to at the end of a bad day?
**kmm

Book info: Dream Weaver / words by Gary Wright, art by Rob Sayegh Jr. Akashic Books / Lyricpop, 2021 [author site] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Only THE MIDNIGHT UNICORN can save their kingdom! by Alice Hemming (MG book review)

book cover of The Midnight Unicorn, by Alice Hemming. Published in USA by Kane Miller/ EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A kingdom at peace,
protected by the Midnight Unicorn.
Now danger approaches!

Enchanted raven Corvus relays a message to the Queen as her newborn twin daughters sleep nearby – her evil brother has escaped his banishment and is bringing an army to Essendor!

Away from the castle they flee – one baby with court wizard Maneo to the west, the other with their Nanny to the east, the queen and king to the south.

Thirteen years later, Alette and her sorcerer father leave their chilly, isolated home and begin searching for the sister she never knew about. How could he keep this secret so long?

In her mind, Audrey has told Shadow for years how she longs to escape the small dusty town where she works in her mother’s bakery. She’s shocked when Shadow sends a visual message in return one night – she is coming to Audrey!

Finally together, the twin sisters feel whole, just like their necklaces join to make a picture of a unicorn. Evil King Zelos told the kingdoms that the princesses died when the castle was taken, but they are alive – and they have more right to the throne than he does!

When will Audrey be able to transform into a unicorn as Alette can?
Who can they trust with their secrets?
Can they reach the city without alerting the king?

Danger and secrets are everywhere, even in a drowsy apple orchard, as Maneo accompanies the sisters on their quest.

First in the Dark Unicorns series, followed by The Darkest Unicorn (information here).

Can you envision a unicorn in your neighborhood?
**kmm

Book info: The Midnight Unicorn (Dark Unicorns, book 1) / Alice Hemming. Kane Miller/ EDC, 2022 (US), 2019 (UK). [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Best friends vs. sorcery! BEETLE & THE HOLLOWBONES. by Aliza Layne (Graphic novel review)

book cover of Beetle & the Hollowbones, words & art by Aliza Layne; coloring by Natalie Riess & Kristen Acampora. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Boring little town,
everything’s the same –
until it’s not!!

As a young goblin-witch, Beetle is apprenticed to her Gran, learning potions and trying to master that dratted flying broom… ho-hum, not real magic like sorcery, is it?

At least the 12 year old sometimes can escape those boring lessons and meet her best friend Blob Ghost, who’s cursed to live forever in the mall. She’s tried so many ways to get them out, of course, but the mall basement always pulls them back.

Oh, great – her former best friend Kat is back from the exclusive Academy, apprenticing to witch Marla Hollowbone who controls so much of their town. Kat has already earned her sorcery stone and is eager to learn more spells and secrets from her powerful aunt.

Ack! Blob Ghost tells her that they’ve learned the mall will soon be torn down – on Marla Hollowbone’s orders!

Can a ghost die twice?
How can Beetle free them from their curse?
Will Kat defy her aunt and help?

Into the depths and into the sky, Beetle will try her goblin-witch best to help her friend, even as Marla threatens her Gran! (Yes, sequels to this strongly colored graphic novel are in the works!)

What’s the scariest adventure that you and your best friend ever had?
**kmm

Book info: Beetle & the Hollowbones / words & art by Aliza Layne; coloring by Natalie Riess & Kristen Acampora. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

IN DEEPER WATERS, treachery & secrets! #YALit by F. T. Lukens (book review)

book cover of In Deeper Waters, by F. T. Lukens.Published by Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Alliances fray,
Loyalty must be earned,
Magic is always evil… or is it?

Prince Tal’s celebratory 16th birthday journey through the realm finally takes him away from the palace where he’s been hidden since his fire magic manifested – the same dread magic as his great-grandfather who wielded it to trying to conquer kingdoms that Harth is still paying reparations to.

But before the first port of call, the youngest royal son rescues a prisoner from a burning ship, sees the handsome young man lost overboard in rough seas, and discovers him days later in the port town! How?

Tal is drawn to Athlen who can sense the prince’s magic and has his own secrets – so that’s why he didn’t drown at sea! How right it feels when they’re together… each the last one with their special powers.

When attackers try to make the prince’s magic flare out in public, the young men flee and are kidnapped by pirates! Every hour away from the shore weakens Athlen, but they absolutely must reach the Queen before Tal’s sister weds the prince of Ossetia!

Who wants to destroy the Queen’s peace treaties?
What keeps Athlen tied to the sea?
Can they escape the pirates and stay together?

Secrets upon secrets in this fast-paced adventure / love story! Read an excerpt here for free.

How far would you travel to help someone you love?
**kmm

Book Info: In Deeper Waters / F. T. Lukens. Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.