Stories of humanity & facing change – read with your ears

Time to read these explosive stories with your ears – after you download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC!

Grab these audiobooks free during their Thursday through Wednesday run, and you have free use of them on your device as long as you keep them on Sora shelf (up to 99 years)- bookmark the FAQs here.

CD cover of audiobook Alive: Generations Trilogy, book 1,
by Scott Sigler, Read by Colleen Delaney and a Full Cast. Published by GraphicAudio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Alive: Generations Trilogy, book 1 (download free – May 20-26, 2021)
by Scott Sigler | Read by Colleen Delaney and a Full Cast
Published by GraphicAudio

Young people awaken from long-sleep in space – alone in a metallic world with dangers around every corner.

With no memories to rely on, the group must work together to survive in this sci-fi thriller.

CD cover of audiobook What Makes Us, by Rafi Mittlefehldt. Read by Graham Halstead. Published by Brilliance Audio/Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

What Makes Us (download free May 20-26, 2021)
by Rafi Mittlefehldt | Read by Graham Halstead
Published by Brilliance Audio/Candlewick

Eran’s passion for social justice leads him to protest increased police traffic stops in Houston – and brings his long-gone father’s alleged terrorist activities into the public spotlight.

How can Eran reconcile his father’s choices with the ways that society is now treating the Jewish teen?

When the future is a blank slate, how do you choose the right path?
**kmm

New heart, new dreams, EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW is upended, by Shannon Takaoka (YA book review)

book cover of Everything I Thought I Knew, by Shannon Takaoka, published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A better race time,
better grades for better college,
a better heart?

Chloe’s plans shatter when she’s suddenly sidelined from cross-country running to wait for a heart transplant, missing so much of her senior year that she’ll have to attend summer school with the slackers so she can graduate.

The 17 year old’s new heart came from a young donor within 30 miles of her California home, that’s all the hospital can say. Now everyday life is lots of anti-rejection pills and checkups and nightmares she never had before and avoiding her classmates’ graduation celebrations.

On a sudden whim, she decides to take surfing lessons to get away from her parents’ constant hovering and her unusual boredom with school subjects that plan-everything Chloe used to enjoy.

Kai teaches more by example than words, but every week’s lessons with the cute teen guy give her a focus beyond the yawning boredom of summer school.

Her new pal Jane is fine with Chloe’s out-of-character ideas, like getting a tattoo and trying to find out about her heart donor despite the other family’s wish not to be contacted.

If she gets better at surfing, will Kai stop giving her lessons?
Where did this sudden passion for music come from?
Who had the motorcycle crash in her recurring nightmare?

As Chloe’s dreams unspool incidents related to the crash, she’s compelled to follow those clues around the Bay Area like her life now is a mystical puzzle.

When have you felt an unexplainable connection to someone?
**kmm

Book info: Everything I Thought I Knew / Shannon Takaoka. Candlewick Press, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Singing, dancing, emotions! THAT THING ABOUT BOLLYWOOD, by Supriya Kelkar (MG book review)

book cover of That Thing About Bollywood, by Supriya Kelkar. Published by Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Happy music, angry words,
favorite foods, empty chair…
No more changes!

If family Hindi movie night would get Mom and Dad in a better mood, Sonali and little brother Ronak would be so much happier.

Those classic Bollywood movies remind the California 11 year old of her late grandfather’s video store and their shared love of this vibrant movie style from India, with its familiar patterns of music style and dance for the emotions in each story.

But along with drama class for the new semester and best friend Zara buddying up with Air, Sonali has to cope with the all-cousins dance routine for her aunt’s upcoming wedding and her parents separating.

Too many changes for Ronak’s “robot sister” who decided to lock away her emotions when grandfather died… and now Sonali hears constant music – her own theme song like in the movies!

Boom – her house and school are bathed in bright colors, anyone happy or woeful bursts out into song, and she’s the only one who thinks this Bollywooditis is new!

Why are her parents still arguing when they live apart?
Can Sonali channel her Bollywooditis into a better theater class grade?
When will Zara be her best friend again?

Sonali doesn’t want all her memories to get a Bollywood makeover too, so she has to figure out how to stop this emotional music-storm before it’s too late!

How would folks singing and dancing their emotions make you feel?
**kmm

Book info: That Thing About Bollywood / Supriya Kelkar. Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Historical tales with Chinese roots – read with your ears this week! (audiobooks)

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them on your device as long as you keep them on Sora shelf – more info here.

CD cover of audiobook Descendant of the Crane, by Joan He. Read by Nancy Wu, published by Dreamscape | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Descendant of the Crane (download free – May 13-19, 2021)
by Joan He | Read by Nancy Wu
Published by Dreamscape

Suddenly ascending to the throne when her father dies, Princess Hesina’s search for his murderer puts the young woman in contact with her soon-to-be subjects outside the palace walls.

Is the soothsayer’s forbidden magic telling the truth? Will the secrets of investigator Akira endanger them both?

CD cover of audiobook Monkey, by Wu Ch'eng-en, translated by Arthur Waley. Read by Kenneth Williams | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Monkey (download free May 13-19, 2021)
by Wu Ch’êng-ên, Arthur Waley [Trans.] | Read by Kenneth Williams
Published by Naxos Audiobooks

This 16th century Chinese classic includes demons, gods, and spirits who stand in the way of a priest traveling West to acquire sacred Buddhist texts for his emperor.

Su Wukong, the Monkey King himself, accompanies the priest on his long journey in this abridged version translated into English in 1942 and recently recorded.

What tales reflecting China are your favorites?
**kmm

YOU WERE MADE FOR ME…the perfect guy, created by me! by Jenna Guillaume (YA book review)

book cover of You Were Made for Me, by Jenna Guillaume. Published in USA by Peachtree Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Writing and hoping,
sketching and sculpting –
make your own dream come true…

“The day I created a boy started like any other” (p. 1) with Katie’s sketches and stories, dreaming of her perfect first kiss, swooning over Declan at school, and constant commentary by BFF Libby. Who knew that their art + science creative project last night would bring handsome, adorable Guy into their lives today?

How?! No time for questions when she awakens to the perfect teen boy in her bedroom! Theo from next door comes to the rescue, and they discover that he’s real, he has no belly button (she forgot to sculpt it), and he loves 16-year-old Katie more than anything!

Katie helped Theo as they lost his mum to cancer, and now he lets Guy share his added-on bedroom as they all try to figure out what’s next… a guy with no last name or ID can’t go to school with them, right?

Aside from Guy being utterly delighted by Katie and sunset and the beach and every new food he tries (which means everything), the rest of her life is the same – Mikayla and the mean girls are still hateful to her and Libby, she’s still nervous about painting the big mural at school, and Declan is still cute – what??

How can she balance her part-time job and Guy and school?
Why is Theo starting to act weird around her?
Will her first kiss be perfect?

A story in two voices, as Libby interrupts often to refocus Katie’s narrative of how Guy was created and learned to live in their Australian neighborhood below parental radar (mostly).

What attributes would you give to the perfect person for you?
**kmm

Book Info: You Were Made For Me / Jenna Guillaume. Peachtree Publishing, 2021. (author link) (publisher link) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Feathers, wizard, corn fritters – HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM gets complicated! by Jessica Lawson (MG book review)

book cover of How to Save a Queendom, by Jessica Lawson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mistreated at the inn, 12 year old Stub has years of apprenticeship ahead, until she finds a wizard in her apron pocket – tiny, unhappy, and magically bound to stay near her!

A plot to disrupt 100 years of peace? A journey across the entire queendom to the capital city? Only a week to get there!?

If the orphan girl can just get the maps hidden by Beaman’s mother, she and pet chicken Peck can escape the constant bullying…

If Beaman can brave the trip, he could cook his specialties for young Queen Sonora herself…

If wizard Orlan can guide them through perils while his magic is diminished, maybe they can stay alive long enough to save Sonora and the queendom!

Magical beasts, treacherous terrain, running low on spices – life in their coastal town hasn’t prepared Stub or Beaman for travel’s hazards, but they must get to Maradon Cross in time.

Can they stop the evil regent from shattering the Peace?
Will they get to meet Queen Sonora on her 13th birthday?
Is Orlan telling them everything about this mission?

Quick thinking, spells and transformations, a century of secrets – find out How to Save a Queendom at your local library or independent bookstore today!

How have your best friends helped you through difficult times?
**kmm

Book Info: How to Save a Queendom/ Jessica Lawson. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Consequences of injustice – audiobooks to ponder

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your phone or tablet, using the free Sora app to listen.

CD cover of They Went Left, by Monica Hesse, read by Caitlin Davies. Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

They Went Left (download on Sora free 6-12 May 2021)
by Monica Hesse | Read by Caitlin Davies
Published by Hachette Audio

Liberated from the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in 1945, Zofia is desperate to find her younger brother Abek, the only other family member who wasn’t sent the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

But how will the 18 year old locate him among the sea of refugees in the displaced persons’ camps of Germany and Poland?

CD cover of Trell, by Dick Lehr, read by Bahni Turpin, published by Brilliance Audio Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Trell (download on Sora free 6-12 May 2021)
by Dick Lehr | Read by Bahni Turpin
Published by Brilliance Audio/Candlewick

Trell is certain that her father was wrongfully convicted of murder and convinces a disillusioned Boston investigative reporter to go back to witnesses and uncover the truth.

Can the teen and reporter track down the real killer?

What other stories of confronting injustice would you recommend?
**kmm

Can she stay safe from THE MEMORY THIEF? by Jody Lynn Anderson (MG book review)

book cover of The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn Anderson, published by Aladdin | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Lurking spirits,
Mom mourning loss,
stories hide secrets!

When 12 year old Rosie decides it’s time to burn the stories she’s written to fill the empty spaces in herself, the old seaside house that she shares with so-forgetful Mom is filled with ghosts!

Her best friend Germ (really Gemma) starts liking makeup and boys, but Rosie has other things to worry about, like bringing her widowed mom back to the present long enough to sign progress reports so no one suspects her lack of attention to the sixth grader and her obsession with watching the sea.

The ghosts she can now see lead Rosie to an ancient book, The Witch Hunter’s Guide, that reveals much about her family history and perhaps why Mom can’t remember Rosie from day to day.

Somehow Germ also begins to see the ghosts (when not practicing with mean girl Bibi for the talent show!) who lead them to hidden buildings and warn that the 13 witches controlling the world know Rosie is coming into her powers!

What’s keeping the ghosts tethered to her New England town?
Can Rosie and Germ escape the Memory Thief’s cursing touch?
Could they rescue “him floating out there” that Mom is longing for?

First in a new trilogy by the author of My Diary From the Edge of the World (recommended here).

What family story do you want more details about?
**kmm

Book Info: The Memory Thief (Thirteen Witches, book 1) / Jodi Lynn Anderson. Aladdin, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Celebratory lines – poems about NINE! a Book of Nonet Poems, by Irene Latham (picture book review)

book cover of Nine: a Book of Nonet Poems, by Irene Latham. illustrated by Amy Huntington. Published by Charlesbridge | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rhymes or none,
poems are fun –
you know haiku,
so try something new!

Expressing yourself in verse or song can make everyday life more interesting. That’s what a birthday girl and her little brother and their armadillo pal do, using the nonet form.

What does that look like? She answers readers in the very first poem, “Nonet”:

Grand
poem
with nine lines –
one syllable
first line builds toward
nine-syllable ninth line
(or the reverse). A staircase
for poets and readers alike!
(Any subject, rhyming optional.)
-page 1

Did you count the syllables as you read down the nonet-staircase? Yep – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Some of the girl’s nonets start with the nine-syllable line and get shorter line by line, like “Nine-Banded Armadillo” and “Dressed to the Nines” for her big birthday bash!

Flip to the back of the book to learn more about all the nines in the poems and even the dimensions of the book itself.

Celebrate Children’s Book Week by writing your own nonet!

What’s your favorite nine fact?
**kmm

Book Info: Nine: a Book of Nonet Poems / Irene Latham; art by Amy Huntington. Charlesbridge, 2020. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Whoosh! 11 years of BooksYALove, a decade of April A2Z!

text reads: reflection- Blogging from A to Z April (2021) Challenge http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Like that snowball rolling downhill toward a cartoon character, growing larger and faster as it goes, time seems to pass more swiftly as the calendar pages flip over.

Eleven years ago today, I stepped out into the then-new world of blogging, thanks to the encouragement of Michelle Rafter’s Blogathon in the early 2010s and the repository of book recommendations that I had written for Barb Langridge’s awesome kids’ book discovery site www.abookandahug.com (still going strong – be sure to take the Reader Personality Type quiz here!).

Ten years ago today, I looked back at a whole month of posts (every day but Sunday) pegged alphabetically from A to Z – wow, I really could create content on a daily basis… for at least one month of the year during the April AtoZ Challenge!

At the end of March every year since, I’ve pondered whether I could really complete another AtoZ, not missing a single alphabetical day (X is so hard). And for 10 years straight, I’ve decided that I should try, and I have succeeded!

Book bloggers don’t get medals or awards for our work promoting books, authors, and illustrators.

Most of us don’t get any money for our writing, some of us get review copies from publishers (thank you, thank you!), and many of us pay out of pocket to host our sites.

We all spend innumerable hours reading, deciding which books to write about, looking at our growing TBR (to-be-read) piles of books…and the books waiting for a review.

Book reviewers may never know whether our recommendation of a specific book led someone to read it… but one review and one book may be what makes life better for one reader – and that is enough for me as I begin my 12th year of BooksYALove.

Have you read any of the 1000+ books that I’ve recommended?
**kmm