Tag Archive | A2Z

April AtoZ – I did it!

logo of A2Z Blogging from A to Z April Challenge 10th anniversary

Woo-hoo! Another April AtoZ blogging challenge successfully in the books, offering 25 books and 2 audiobooks for your reading pleasure.

That’s 8 years in a row… which means that BooksYALove is 9 years old yesterday!

Thanks to Michelle Rafter for running WordCount Blogathon in Mays gone by, bringing me into blogging on 1 May 2010, with help from Jan Udlock in later years – a stellar volunteer effort that put many folks on the path to successful blogging.

Will I keep up the Monday through Saturday posting schedule required by the A2Z challenge? Most unlikely, but I will keep talking here about wonderful books from debut authors and smaller presses (not self-published, because there are only so many hours in each day).

Which April-highlighted title intrigued you most?
**kmm

And Z = Kat Zhang’s THE MEMORY OF FORGOTTEN THINGS (MG book review)

book cover of The Memory of Forgotten Things, by Kat Zhang. Published by Aladdin/Simon&Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Born during a partial eclipse, Sophie sees Memories of her late mother… that never happened.
Same birthday as Sophie, DJ sketches his stepdad… whom he’s never met.
Luke knows a solar eclipse specialist, perfect source for their group project…but Mr. Scot is a mystery himself.

All three middle-schoolers have lost someone dear to them, want life to be the way it was before. This is more than just deja vu.

Some people say that parallel universes draw closer during eclipses, like the one they’ll see next week.
Some say that special places have unexplained energies and the barriers between worlds are thinner.
Maybe the old Donway Shallows mill outside town is one of those places…

Their last project before school’s out for summer is almost complete… will whatever happens during the eclipse fill the holes in their lives?
Could they truly cross over into a universe where Sophie’s mom is alive, DJ lives with his stepdad, and Luke’s sister was never in that car wreck?
But what would this universe be like if they left it?

Chance threw them together for this project, granting them a opportunity for friendship in their small town with long memories about family problems.

Any eclipse stories to share?
**kmm

Y is for THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, by Maurene Goo (YA book review)

book cover of The Way You Make Me Feel, by Maurene Goo. Published by Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

School success is everything – or it’s not.
Being a laid-back parent is great for your kid – or it isn’t.
Friendship is worth working for – yes, yes it is.

A Carrie-style stunt at prom lands boundary-pushing Clara and goody-goody Rose together in the same summer job to pay back the school – no spa life in Tulum with Clara’s jetsetting influencer mom, no prestigious internship for Rose’s college applications.

Yep, two not-friends working in a food truck for the entire sweltering LA summer, cooking the Korean-Brazilian fusion food that’s made Clara’s dad legendary – no time for screw-ups or bickering when the lunch rush is on.

Can jokester Clara please her Korean cool-dad enough to get time off and visit her Brazilian influencer mom in paradise?

Can by-the-rules Rose squeeze in dance practices around the full KoBra truck schedule and meet the very high expectations of her African American parents?

Can Hamlet’s homesickness for Beijing and love for California stop tugging at him long enough for him to get Clara to go out with him?

This summer before their senior year will be anything but boring!

Out next week in paperback! From the author of I Believe In a Thing Called Love (which I loved & recommended here).

Best-planned prank that you never pulled?
**kmm

Book info: The Way You Make Me Feel / Maurene Goo. Farrar Strauss Giroux Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2018, paperback 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

X marks pivotal 1968: TODAY’S AUTHORS EXPLORE A YEAR OF REBELLION, REVOLUTION & CHANGE, edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti (YA book review)

book cover of 1968: Today's Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Assassinations – dreams denied.
Protests and retaliation – hope swings forward, then back.
War in our living rooms – who can look away?

This collection of non-fiction essays and memoirs by stellar YA and middle grade authors does go chronologically through 1968, but is vivid and nuanced and anguished – no dry parade of factoids on a timeline!

In “The Death of the Dream,” Kekla Magoon recounts the assasinations of Dr. King and RFK, while Laban Carrick Hill remembers those same days as a young child in a very racist Southern family “On the Wrong Side of History.”

What do you know about the 1968 student riots in Paris and Mexico City?
– the small freedoms gained in Czechoslovakia during “Prague Spring” before the USSR Communist leaders cracked down?
– the protests against Columbia University’s attempt to build a gym by razing a black neighborhood?
– the Red Guard in China during the Cultural Revolution?

Police brutality against protesters in Chicago was viewed by 90 million people on live television in 1968, research on genetics and computing raced forward in laboratories, while the Olympics and Presidential election and space race dominated the headlines.

The authors relay their personal connection or outlook to the event they chronicle, with each quarter of the year headed by Elizabeth Partridge’s recap of the Nightly News including Vietnam war fatalities – military and civilian – night after night after night.

Be sure to read the contributors’ biographies at the end: Jennifer Anthony, Marc Aronson, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Loree Griffin Burns, Omar Figueroas, Paul Fleischman, Laban Carrick Hill, Mark Kurlansky, Lenore Look, David Lubar, Kate MacMillan, Kekla Magoon, Jim Murphy, Elizabeth Partridge.

Get it today at your favorite indie bookstore for Independent Bookstore Day!

What historic moment during your lifetime would you write about?
**kmm

Book info: 1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution & Change / edited by Marc Aronson & Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Candlewick Press, 2018. [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W = Will, walking, wondering WHAT I LEAVE BEHIND, by Alison McGhee (YA book review)

book cover of What I Leave Behind, by Alison McGhee. Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Memories, conflicts, problems –
walking away lets him avoid the pain,
but sometimes easier isn’t better.

Three years since Dad jumped off the bridge, leaving behind Will and Mom and his Bowie t-shirts, but not his famed cornbread recipe.

Three years of walking to school, dollar store job, then home – past the butterfly-watching little boy, homeless Superman, dog-of-insanity forever chained.

Can 100-cent gifts help them, give best friend Playa strength to stand up in court, reveal the cornbread secret to Will?

His LA neighborhood grows larger, sharper as the Black teen walks and walks and walks his memories out and wonders about the future.

One hundred chapters of 100 words (like the blessings store Dad loved) move the story along as Will walks and thinks and weaves David Bowie lyrics into everyday life – in paperback May 2019.

What song is the soundtrack of your days?
**kmm

V for new friends & very good friends, audiobook-style!

Very fine audiobooks,
and FREE each week!
Summer starts today, with friends in very big situations.

So pleased that AudiobookSYNC is once again offering us a pair of free audiobooks to download each Thursday-Wednesday week from now through 1 August 2019, and the variety is simply stunning.

I’ll highlight the new titles each Thursday, so you can just hit the link, enter your name and email address, then download either or both professionally produced audiobooks to enjoy for as long as you keep the file on your device.

CD cover of Swing,  by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess | Read by Kwame Alexander Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Swing, by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess. Read by Kwame Alexander. Published by Blink

Jazz punctuates Walt and Noah’s junior year as the best friends decide to make a difference, take chances on relationships, and look toward their futures with intention. Read by the author, this book highlights what divides us and what can bring us back together.

CD cover of Blink & Caution,  by Tim Wynne-Jones | Read by MacLeod Andrews Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Blink & Caution, by Tim Wynne-Jones . Read by MacLeod Andrews . Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

A fake kidnapping, the “victim’s” cellphone suddenly in a hungry street kid’s hands, when another on-the-run teen tries to steal it. Somehow, fidgety Blink and drug-gang escapee Caution decide to turn this into successful blackmail, neither suspecting that the other will stay true to their doomed, crazy plan.

What’s your wildest friendship adventure?
**kmm

T is for Taja whose future is CALLING MY NAME, by Liara Tamani (YA book review)

book cover of Calling My Name, by Liara Tamani. Published by Greenwillow | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Middle sister Taja breathes in learning like she breathes out prayers, wondering how her feelings about God intersect with her parents’ church-centered strictness, why all the rules for Black girls don’t apply for boys, if she can someday go where she is judged just for her own merits.

Grab at popularity like big brother with his new CDs and beatboxing?

Be all talk like little sister on the house telephone? (you know Taja needs her own line, Mama!)

Dare to change like Daddy wanting to learn saxophone as an adult?

From middle school and kickball with friends (praying to need a bra like they do) to high school and crushes that fizzle out or flame bright (Purity Code, meet Houston public schools), track star Taja observes and writes and tries to understand…everything.

Find this debut release by native Texas author at your local library or independent bookstore.

A generation ago, everything was different, but so much was the same.
What memory from your older relatives would you like to experience first-hand now?
**kmm

Book info: Calling My Name / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S = stay quiet or sing out like THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD, by Janelle Milanes (YA book review)

book cover of The Victoria in My Head, by Janelle Milanes. Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

S is for stage fright, paralyzing Victoria so much that she’ll just sing in her room forever.

S is for salsa, practicing with so-cute bandmate Strand for her quinceanera (her new boyfriend Levi opted out).

S is for shhhh, don’t tell her strict Cuban-American parents that she’s suddenly lead singer in a rock band!

S is for someday, as in someday Levi will really want her, someday she’ll get out of New York City, someday she’ll do what she wants to do… someday.

What’s your someday?
**kmm

Book info: The Victoria in My Head / Victoria Milanes. Simon Pulse, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

R for Kimberly Reid & #Prettyboy Must Die (YA book review)

book cover of Prettyboy Must Die, by Kimberly Reid. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Clever foster kid,
small-time con artist & hacker,
ideal CIA recruit!

The early-training scheme that landed a Black teen from Atlanta in a small Ukrainian town trying to stop a ruthless arms dealer didn’t go well.

So here he is at a new school with a new identity and new friends…but not the only one who isn’t operating under their true name or allegiance!

How do you know who to trust?
**kmm

Book info: Prettyboy Must Die / Kimberly Reid. Tor Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Now undercover at a prestigious Colorado boarding school, Jake is haunted by his first failure as a CIA operative when a candid photo of the 16 year old African American goes viral and the bad guys arrive, more than ready to kill!

Former foster kid Jake has a new identity as Pete for his senior year at Carlisle (double-crossed Ukrainian arms dealers are more than mean), keeping tabs on the kids of diplomats, high-ranking military, and super-scientists – plus his housemate Bunk who lived underground with his dad till last year.

No coincidence that armed hostiles invade Carlisle the morning after that photo hits social media or that the Ukranian hacker has attacked super-secret projects near Denver or that Jake is the only one who can save his classmates and national security!

Someone inside the school let the hostiles in – why?
Mysterious packages arrived recently – for which international student?

The bad guys say that “Prettyboy must die” but Jake is determined to keep everyone at Carlisle alive!

Q = questions, bullies & good-luck pennies IF THIS WERE A STORY, by Beth Turley (MG book review)

book cover of If This Were a Story, by Beth Hurley. Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

If this were a story

…Hannah wouldn’t care about those bullying notes in her fifth grade classroom.
…she would be an even better speller than angry Kimmy.
…her penpal up in 7th grade would be her long-lost sister.

If this were a story

…every heads-up penny would bring really good luck.
…Ambrose the stuffed elephant could tell her the end of their story.
…everything would be perfect at home.

If only this were a story, instead of real life with real questions and serious problems and bad worries…

How would you rewrite the current chapter of your story?
**kmm

Book info: If This Were a Story / Beth Turley. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.