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Spells & dangers for Apprentice Witch, by James Nicol (book review)

book cover of Apprentice Witch by James Nicol published by Chicken House Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comDidn’t pass her witch assessment,
Sent to a town near the Great Wood’s untamed magic,
She knows she can do all the right spells… right?

After learning every glyph and its spell-powers from her grandmother, Arianwyn was sure the assessment machine would pass her as a witch on the first try, but no…

She didn’t expect to meet a friendly young man at the Civil Witchcraft Authority office or make a best friend right away in her assigned town – or that her archrival from witch school would arrive in that tiny town, either!

Happy US and Canadian book birthday to The Apprentice Witch! Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher. And, yes, there is a sequel on its way!

How do you work with that so-annoying, know-it-all, klutzy co-worker?
**kmm

Book info: The Apprentice Witch / James Nicol. Chicken House Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Posted to a remote town as a lowly apprentice witch during wartime, Arianwyn must keep Lull safe from the Great Wood’s dangerous magical creatures and cope with a snobby classmate’s arrival, all while dreading her re-evaluation for full witch status.

As she and new friend Salle make the long-deserted Spellorium ready for charm-making and witchly duties, Arianwyn finds papers from the town’s last witch who vanished mysteriously, years ago.

Snotlings and the terrible hex, an odd blue feyling and the breathtaking moon hare – magical creatures from pesky to perilous fill her catalog as the young teen defends Lull.

Will she ever get every spell correct on the very first try?
Can she unravel the dark glyph haunting her sleep?
What’s wrong with rival Gimma’s spellcrafting?

Arianwyn is growing in confidence and power, but the perils of the Great Wood are also! First in series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Can they escape The Gauntlet’s deadly game of blood and sand? by Karuna Riazi (book review)

book cover of The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn old board game comes to life,
little brother rushes in and vanishes!
All puzzles must be solved to rescue him…

Although that wooden box looks like an outdated game, the dangers of entering “the Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” are very real – but how else can Farah get Ahmad back?

True friends Alex and Essie go with her – not the birthday party that any of them expected!

How far would you go to help your best friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Gauntlet / Karuna Riazi. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping her 12th birthday party for just a moment to open her aunt’s gift, Farah and her best friends find themselves transported from New York into an exotic board game that they must win in order to find her little brother Ahmad and to stay alive!

A good Bangladeshi girl would welcome her new classmates to the party, but Farah would rather play games with little brother Ahmad (letting him win keeps his ADHD tantrums to a minimum – a Mirza family rule).

Quietly creeping upstairs with Alex and Essie from her old neighborhood, Farah unwraps “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” and the ancient-looking game comes to life. Ahmad vanishes into the gameboard, just as Aunt Zohra says that it ruined her life at age 12!

Of course, Farah, Alex, and Essie must play the game to save him, but if they don’t solve each puzzle in time, none of them will escape the Gauntlet.

Who can they trust in the souk marketplace?
What otherworldly perils will the teammates face next?
How will they find Ahmad in this multi-level city made of sand?

A lifetime of playing board games may help Farah, Essie, and Alex outwit the Architect’s deadly puzzle challenges – if he doesn’t cheat! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Listen for witches – read with your ears!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC are downright witchy! Do you dare to read with your ears?

Download either or both of these complete audiobooks from Thursday through Wednesday (6/22-28/2017) by clicking on the link following title, then you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Bookmark the SYNC site now so you can download great audiobooks all summer long: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

CD cover of The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff | Read by Eliza Foss Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.comThe Witches: Salem, 1692 (download here free 6/22-28/2017)
by Stacy Schiff
Read by Eliza Foss
Published by Hachette Audio

Historical figures of the Salem Witch Trials come to life in this non-fiction narrative, noting one of the few times in early US history when the voices of women were truly heard.

The Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories (download here free 6/22-28/2017)CD cover of The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett | Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt Published by HarperAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com
by Terry Pratchett
Read by Julian Rhind-Tutt
Published by HarperAudio

Funny short stories written by acclaimed fantasy humor author Sir Terry Pratchett when he was a young man include cowboys and trolls, men in a submarine in a bathtub, sorcery, and assorted mayhem.

Do you prefer your witches serious or sarcastic?
**kmm

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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: http://www.audiobooksync.com/

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 BooksYALove.com
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?
**kmm

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P is A Pocket Full of Murder & magic & treachery, by R. J. Anderson (book review)

book cover of A Pocket Full of Murder by RJ Anderson published by Atheneum BFYR  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCommon spells to wash clothes,
intricate spells to power vehicles,
Sagery spells to steal your breath away – forever.

Writing more adventures of lady justice Auradia won’t put food on the table or get Papa out of jail, so Isaveth and Quiz, an eyepatch-wearing streetboy, decide to save Papa by discovering who really had reason to kill the governor of Tarreton College, but someone wants them to stop!

Step into Isaveth’s world of spell-tablets, political scheming, and religious intolerance with the first chapter of A Pocket Full of Magic here, courtesy of the author.

Now in paperback, followed by A Little Taste of Poison (hardcover 2016).

Who’s the friend who’ll help you with any mystery?
**kmm

Book info: A Pocket Full of Murder (Uncommon Magic, book 1) / R.J. Anderson. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: After Papa is unjustly arrested for murder, 12 year old Isaveth searches for clues from her impoverished neighborhood to the wealthy districts of Tarreton, assisted by ingenious streetkid Quiz, with his eyepatch and uncanny knowledge of society gossip.

Baking and selling spell-tablets from her late mother’s recipes is Isaveth’s best chance to feed her sisters and find out more about Papa’s case, with Quiz appearing just in time during dangerous situations.

Who made it look like Common Magic killed Master Orien?
Was Papa framed because of his Moshite beliefs or his support of the Workers’ Club?
Where does Quiz go when he’s not helping Isaveth?

In a world powered by Common spells and elite Sagery, someone is trying to gain political power, no matter who stands against them, but Isaveth and Quiz won’t let her Papa take the blame for murder! Followed by A Little Taste of Poison.

N for Rachel Neumeier, writing of the war coming to Mountain of Kept Memory (book review)

book cover of The Mountain of Kept Memory by Rachel Neumeier published by Saga Press  | recommended on BooksYALove.comWar on the horizon,
her country’s sometime-god is neutral.
Kick-ass princess leaps into web of diplomacy and deceit.

If Oressa and her brother can stymie the ambition and treachery of their father the King, there’s a tiny chance of avoiding invasion by neighboring country.
Maybe the mysterious Kieba who watches over the dead gods’ memory will help them.
Maybe the brutal princes from across the sea won’t arrive.

Read an extract of epic fantasy The Mountain of Kept Memory here (courtesy of the author) to see how Oressa – and her country – got into this predicament of plagues, princes with visions of conquest, and powerless gods.

What place of power would you like to eavesdrop on?
**kmm

Book info: The Mountain of Kept Memory / Rachel Neumeier. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the author.

My book talk: The King will allow invasion, if it gives him the magic he craves, but his daughter Oressa won’t let Carastind become a slave state. With her princely brother’s help, the young woman travels to the Kieba’s spell-woven mountain domain, looking for answers that will save her homeland.

Lusting for power, the invading princes may unleash catastrophe.
Observing from a distance, the Keiba may act or may not.
Seeking peace for Carastind, Oressa may become a hostage.

A classic high fantasy with its large cast of characters (each with their own agenda regarding the dead gods’ memories) and swirling alliances, The Mountain of Kept Memory holds secrets dark, surprises deep, and worlds within its stone heart.

D is My Diary From the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

book cover of My Diary From the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson published by Aladdin  | recommended on BooksYALove.comDragons, mermaids, Sasquatches,
the earth is flat,
every school textbook says so.

If only Gracie’s family can get to the edge of the world and cross over to the The Extraordinary World, that mythical globe-shaped Earth where they can find a cure for her little brother’s illness before the Cloud takes him from them forever…

Recently released in paperback, Gracie’s travelogue told through her Diary (chapter 1 here, free) should be at your local library or independent bookstore; if not, ask for it!

When have you seen a Dark Cloud and wondered?
**kmm

Book info: My Diary From the Edge of the World / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2015 (hardcover), 2017 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: When a Cloud comes for Gracie’s little brother, the 12 year old’s family packs up the RV and goes searching for the mythical ‘Extraordinary World’ to find a cure.

Leaving their Maine hometown, the Lockwoods (plus Oliver, recently orphaned by a Sasquatch attack) visit a witch (Gracie’s grandmother), then head west where they encounter a strange circus, gamble against a genie in Luck Town, and hire a guardian angel on the coast for the perilous voyage to the far south edge of the world.

Can’t they outrun that Dark Cloud?
Will her big sister ever stop complaining about the trip?
How far is it to a miracle?

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?
**kmm

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.

Sword and Verse, by Kathy MacMillan (book review) – ink + paper = death??

book cover of Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan published by HarperTeen | recommended on BooksYALove.comTaught to write by her late father.
Captured, now teaching the future king,
A slave in danger… and in love.

This land where higher order writing is reserved for the monarch has indeed rewritten history after conquering her home islands, Raisa discovers, as her good memory of Father’s lessons and her terrible curiosity reveal hidden scrolls’ secrets – but no one would believe what a slave says, even if she is the heir-apparent’s tutor!

Read an excerpt here for free, courtesy of the publisher, then look for this suspenseful January 2016 tale at your local library or independent bookstore.

Love or justice – which is the better choice?
**kmm

Book info: Sword and Verse / Kathy MacMillan. HarperTeen, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Suddenly a royal tutor in the conquerors’ land, slave Raisa must be careful not to show that she knows how to read, not to betray other Arnath slaves as they plan to escape, not to let Prince Mati see how she feels about him, even as she finds shocking information in old scrolls that could overturn everything.

Why can only the King use higher order writing to communicate with Qilara’s gods?
What treacheries are being plotted in the palace?
How can Raisa stay calm during Mati’s betrothal ceremonies?

As the slave Resistance gains strength and outside enemies threaten Qilara, Raisa must balance what she wishes for and what she has discovered in the history of the gods if she hopes to keep her head attached to her neck or any shred of Mati’s affections. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Ancient One, by T.A. Barron (book review) – forest & livelihood both in peril

book cover of The Ancient One by T.A. Barron published by Puffin | recommended on BooksYALove.comA vanished people,
towering trees of mystery,
a chance to save the world…

Now out in paperback for its 25th anniversary, Merlin Saga author T.A. Barron’s tale of a young teen striving to complete a perilous quest even as she mourns her parents’ deaths is an adventure and a celebration of the interconnectedness of life, as it weaves together old secrets, ancient peoples, time travel, and an evil bent upon conquering the world.

When have you stood strong against wrong?
**kmm

Book info: The Ancient One / T.A. Barron. Puffin Books, 2016 (paperback); Philomel Books, 1992. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video about book] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: At her aunt’s Oregon home, grieving teen Kate helps Aunt Melanie try to stop out-of-work loggers from destroying a newly discovered redwood grove and is hurtled back in time to meet nature beings and Native peoples who are struggling to prevent an evil force from overtaking their world. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)