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Ah, France as you’ve never seen it before – journey there with free audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC take us to an alternate City of Lights, then south to the wonderful tastes of Lyon – read with your ears and dream of travel…

Get your Sora app set up (FAQs here) and download either or both of these complete audiobooks FREE before Wednesday June 9, 2021. Then you can listen anytime you like as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf.

CD cover of audiobook Rook, by Sharon Cameron | Read by Caroline Feraday. Published by Scholastic Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rook (download free 3-9 June 2021 on Sora)
by Sharon Cameron
Read by Caroline Feraday
published by Scholastic Audiobooks

After the earth’s magnetic poles shift, technology is useless and the world is in turmoil. Among the power struggles of ruined Paris, 18-year-old Sophie works in the shadows to save the helpless from the Razor’s terrors, leaving behind a red-tipped rook feather as her calling card

But can she save herself from a loveless marriage arranged to keep her family from financial ruin?

audiobook cover of  by Mayra Cuevas | Read by Jennifer Jill Araya. Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Salty, Bitter, Sweet (download free 3-9 June 2021 on Sora)
by Mayra Cuevas
Read by Jennifer Jill Araya
Published by Blink

From her Cuban grandmother’s kitchen in Kansas to staying with her father’s new family in southern France for an elite cooking school challenge, Isa finds herself balancing old hurts and new feelings.

I recommended Salty, Bitter, Sweet earlier on BooksYALove – read more here!

What other books set in France would you recommend?
**kmm

O is for ODDITY, logic-defying objects, the desire of Clover’s heart, by Eli Brown (YA book review)

book cover of Oddity, by Eli Brown. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A button that whistles when it rains,
the rooster leading US troops into battle,
the search for oddities that killed Clover’s mother…

Far from the city, Clover’s physician father trains her to treat the ills and injuries of country folk. Rarely will he speak of the accident that claimed her mother, a noted scholar of magical Oddities that draw the thirteen year old’s attention and her father’s wrath.

An attack on their home sends Clover fleeing with just their medical bag and papa’s warning that he did keep one necessary Oddity of mama’s collection – but what?

Each Oddity can do one very specific thing and only that – a fiddle that compels hearers to dance, the umbrella that stores lightning bolts – how many uncataloged Oddities are still waiting to be found?

Nessa’s medicine show wagon can get Clover to the city, if they can outwit bandits and avoid magical creature attacks along the forest road.

But the young woman finds more questions than answers when she locates her mother’s colleague in the city – and treachery too!

A hat filled with secrets and fangs, the deadliest snake of all, a destructive ragdoll, the Seamstress who stitches together malign creatures from odd parts – who will gain control of their world?

In this alternate history tale, Napoleon used an Oddity to create platoons of identical soldiers for the Louisiana War that tore apart the New World, a corrupt politician wants to use Oddities to control the now-bankrupt eleven Unified States, and Clover journeys into danger to find the source of the Oddities’ magic.

One small task per Oddity – what would you choose? What price would you be willing to pay?
**kmm

Book info: Oddity / Eli Brown, illustrated by Karin Rytter. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [author video] [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.

Vampires, BRASS CARRIAGES & GLASS HEARTS, by Nancy Campbell Allen (book review)

book cover of Brass Carriages and Class Hearts, by Nancy Campbell Allen. Published by Shadow Mountain | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A menacing letter,
a dashing detective –
she cannot stop in her quest for justice!

Emme firmly believes that shape-shifters have the same rights as every other person – most of those transformed for 3 days by each full moon are no danger to anyone.

Detective Oliver Reed has arrested the young woman more than once in London during her protests against new restrictive laws, and Emme’s so-elegant stepsisters are dismissive of her new role as regional spokesperson for the International Shape-Shifter Rights Organization.

As the ISRO Summit in Edinburgh nears, Emme receives a credible death threat, Detective Reed is assigned as her bodyguard, and near-accidents become frequent.

Who is trying to stop Emme from speaking at the Summit?
Can Emme and Oliver deny their growing attraction?

A fascinating steampunk world of automaton, airships, vampires, and Tesla lights, with a smattering of story elements from the Cinderella tale, this August 4, 2020 release stands on its own among the author’s ‘retellings’ under the Proper Romance banner.

Where are you standing up for the rights of the oppressed?
**kmm

Book info: Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts: a Steampunk Cinderella (Proper Romance) / Nancy Campbell Allen. Shadow Mountain, 2020. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Alien contact? AXIOM’S END, by Lindsay Ellis (book review)

book cover of Axiom's End, by Lindsay Ellis. Published by St Martin's Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Being watched,
conspiracy theory?
Alien! Monster! Friend?

Cora feels like a failure in 2007, dropping out of college, back home with her mom and brothers, all trying to avoid renewed public interest in her estranged father’s untraceable messages detailing government lies.

Then he reveals that aliens (from space!) are being detained at secret US bases, and federal agents hurry to question Cora about where her dad is hiding, so she escapes.

Someone else is trailing her, too – someone not-human…

With a language descrambler implanted in her ear, Cora considers the alien’s plea – help it rescue the imprisoned aliens before they perish!

Infiltrating a California computer research lab, speeding across the Nevada desert, Cora and the alien begin to understand each other bit by bit, knowing the agents are on their trail.

As her aunt shares her research into alien communication, they realize that there are no corresponding terms in human languages for complex alien relationships, but that concepts of genocide, treachery, and fear are all too understandable by all.

Will the agents believe that Cora hasn’t been in contact with her father?
How long has the government been hiding the aliens?
Why did the aliens allow themselves to be captured at all?

This wasn’t aliens accidentally landing on a strange planet – it’s much, much more complicated than that…

Just published on 21 July 2020, this debut novel of “first contact” and further alien encounters goes way beyond Roswell and flying saucers!

What bonds would connect you across space?
**kmm

Book info: Axiom’s End (Noumena, book 1) / Lindsay Ellis. St. Martin’s Press, 2020. [author Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and 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.

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?
**kmm

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.

O is THE ORACLE CODE graphic novel mystery, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano (book review)

book cover of The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel, by Marieke Nijkamp & Manuel Preitano. Published by DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Brilliant hacker,
devoted friend,
her life shattered by one shot.

A bullet meant for someone else puts Babs in the Arkham Center for Independence, where the Gotham City teen will learn everything about being a wheelchair users – or so says the Director.

She’d rather be in her own Gotham City bedroom, wondering what case her police commissioner father is on now, gaming with Ben to earn her own hacker name.

This mansion was modernized for ACI and its residents of differing physical abilities, but old secrets and shadows linger in its halls and walls – secrets that Babs and new friend Jena will puzzle out.

Where did Jena’s brother Michael go?
Why does the Director insist he was never at ACI?
Can Babs hack the Center’s computers to get the truth?

When Jena is released from ACI but doesn’t say goodbye to anyone, Babs knows she’s been “disappeared” like other kids… now to discover where Jena really is and rescue her!

When life puts limits on you, what’s next?
**kmm

Book info: The Oracle Code: a Graphic Novel / Marieke Nijkamp (author), Manuel Preitano (illustrator, colorist), Jordie Bellaire (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer). DC Graphic Novels for Young Adults, 2020. [author site] [illustrator Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Time for rebellion! WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, by Tehlor Kay Mejia (YA book review)

book cover of We Set the Dark on Fire, by Tehlor Kay Meija. Published by Katherine Tegen Books/HMH | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Analytical, the planner – Primera.
Sensual, the mother – Segunda.
Two wives – harmony or life-long tension?

Because one god couldn’t choose between the two women he loved, now all men of Medio’s ruling class live in luxury with two wives, while the poor of the divided island have too little, and revolutionaries are determined to change that imbalance, whatever the cost.

Dani and Carmen have been groomed for years to take their respective places as Primera and Segunda in prominent households, secure in the gated compound far above the salt-soaked lands of the poor, but their roles quickly become masks hiding their true selves and forbidden affections.

Happy February 26th book birthday to Meija’s debut novel! Her short stories have been published in collections including Toil & Trouble, which I recommended earlier this year.

When marriage is a political business, where is love?
**kmm

Book info: We Set the Dark on Fire / Tehlor Kay Meija. Katherine Tegen Books (HMH), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: On their divided tropical island, the rich get richer, the poor are brutalized, and revolution is snaking through the land, even into the mansion that Dani and Carmen share with their new husband and perilous secrets!

As Primera, Daniela rules her emotions and every aspect of their husband’s household; as Segunda, Carmen will be adored as mother of his children. But the teens soon realize that Mateo is planning violence to keep the poor at bay and that their own secrets endanger them as well.

Dani’s parents escaped over the wall into Medio and sacrificed everything to get her into the Academy where society’s daughters train to become co-wives in ruling class households, where Carmen and friends teased her mercilessly for five years, where the La Voz revolution saves her from being found out and imprisoned.

With Carmen in the same household, how can Dani help La Voz?
Her training decrees that Primeras don’t love – what is Dani feeling now?
Her training decrees that a Segunda keeps her husband happy – why is Carmen so torn?

Fearing their husband, loving each other, Dani and Carmen may have to follow La Voz despite the dangers.

Is her life in Nazi England part of THE BIG LIE? by Julie Mayhew (book review)

book cover of The Big Lie, by Julie Mayhew. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

England conquered by Germany,
Generations of babies for the Fatherland.
Such a vision! Such a nightmare!

Of course Jessika listens and learns from her parents, so influential in their English town neighborhood and so important in the Party!

Even though it’s 2012, not even her expert ice skating can take her outside the Reich, away from her inevitable future as wife and mother, away to any place where she can love whoever she pleases.

I enjoy alternate history – this Big Lie is so believable that it’s truly frightening.

What historic event would you change to improve our now?
**kmm

Book info: The Big Lie / Julie Mayhew. Candlewick Press, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Liberated by Germany during her great-grandparents’ days, the England where middle sister Jessika lives is ruled by the Nazi Party, yet the teen fights to squelch her own feelings and doubts before trouble takes over.

The idea that an American singer would perform in London for the first time in 70 years – at the Reich’s invitation – enrages Jess’s father, annoys her ice skating coach (such lapses in concentration, Jessika…), and thrills her classmates beyond all measure, especially when those most loyal to the Party are invited to sing and march on stage for the concert!

Perhaps the Fuhrer himself will attend the concert and see how dedicated her squad is!

Maybe preparing for their performance will let Jess be closer to fascinating GG without anyone reporting the girls for unsuitable friendship.

But her best friend questions why suddenly this ‘decadent music’ is allowed instead of banned, and Clementine’s family accelerates their timetable for escaping the Party’s brutal control.

And it could be that Fisher knows something more as they practice and practice… the Storm Troopers are determined to know everything about everyone involved with the explosive concert!

Alternate history brings a chill as the Reich rules Britain in 2012.