Tag Archive | A2Z

#AprilA2ZChallenge complete – for the 11th year!

April A-to-Z Blog Challenge logo. Blogging from A to Z

Every year, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with the A2Z Challenge.

Every year, I do recommend a double-handful of new middle grade and young adult books in April that might not be on your radar if you rely on bestseller lists for recommendations.

Every year, a few more folks stop by and comment on the titles I’ve highlighted – welcome!

Thanks again to the #AprilA2Z organizers for providing great graphics, inspiration, and a hub for us bloggers to congregate around as we keep on working to communicate our particular passions to the world.

Now – back to my regular 2-3 times weekly posting schedule, even though there are SO many great new books to recommend!

What was your #AprilA2Z favorite? (Check the tag A2Z for all my April recommendations)
**kmm

Z is for ZERO O’CLOCK in Covid-19’s early days, by C. J. Farley (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Zero O'Clock, by C. J. Farley. Published by Black Sheep/ Akashic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mysterious plague,
not fiction, not science fiction,
how will it end?

Geth’s hometown, New Rochelle, New York, is ground-zero for the Covid-19 pandemic in USA, as the entire world hits the pause button in March 2020.

The sixteen year old and her best friends are unhappier to miss next weekend’s Broadway show than about school being closed for two weeks (more teleteaching, more homework… ugh). Diego is the star quarterback, so that’s his ticket to college. Tovah is tiny and mighty and a math genius; Geth is sure that they’ll both be accepted to Columbia soon.

Two weeks’ closure keeps stretching out, stores in ‘the containment zone’ are running out of essentials, and the neighborhood foxes are scavenging boldly as trash pickup is delayed and delayed again. After each face-touch, the Black teen washes her hands for safety (her OCD compulsions are getting companions now).

Worrying about her mom working at the hospital, the Native American teen who’ll be isolating with them in their little house (Mom’s boyfriend’s stepson?), whether prom will be cancelled – Geth gets more stressed by the day, clinging to her friends’ text messages and BTS songs as a lifeline.

Neighbors dying of Covid at home, friends hospitalized on ventilators, the President saying there’s nothing to be concerned about… .

Why are they still reading The Plague for English class?
Who’s trying to sabotage Diego’s football scholarship?
What advice would her late father have?

Three months, a million emotions, thousands upon thousands of deaths – then 8 minutes 32 seconds of video that sparked a movement.

How do you look back on the early days of the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: Zero O’Clock / C. J. Farley. Black Sheep/ Akashic, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

X marks the spot for free audiobooks thru summer – it’s AudioSync season! #A2Z

It’s finally Audiofile SYNC season! Register free here, then you can download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Each thematic pair of professionally produced audiobooks is yours to listen to as long as you can access your Sora shelf online!

I’ll highlight each new audiobook pair on Thursdays so you’ll have time to download them. If you miss any, check your local public library or independent bookstore.

This week – time for adventure!

CD cover of Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda, by Jesse J. Holland [Ed.] | Read by JD Jackson, Joy Sunday. Published by Dreamscape | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Black Panther: Tales of Wakanda (free Sora download 4/28-5/4/22)
by Jesse J. Holland [Ed.] | Read by JD Jackson, Joy Sunday
Published by Dreamscape

This “groundbreaking anthology from the African diaspora” features 18 short stories of Wakanda by several authors.

Listen to new adventures of T’Challa, Shuri, and other personalities of the Black Panther universe.

curved lines divider http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of audiobook Four Short Stories, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, read by Carl Rigg. Published by Naxos Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Four Short Stories (free Sora download 4/28-5/4/22)
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle | Read by Carl Rigg
Published by Naxos Audiobooks

Mysterious and terrifying – and not about Sherlock Holmes!

Enjoy “The Horror of the Heights”, “The Terror of the Blue John Gap”, “Lot No. 249” and “The Sealed Room” short stories, professionally narrated. Perhaps you should make sure your door is locked first.

What audiobooks on the AudioSYNC summer list are you looking forward to most?
**kmm

divider clipart by http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159

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.

V is for VIOLETS ARE BLUE, Wren and her makeup are, too, by Barbara Dee (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Violets Are Blue, by Barbara Dee.Published by Aladdin / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New town, new school,
same Mom, new stepmom,
same worries, plus some…

They move the summer after the divorce, after her sixth grade sort-of-friends abandon her, after Wren starts learning to do special effects makeup, after Dad marries pregnant Vanessa in faraway Brooklyn.

Wren hides the high-quality makeup that Vanessa buys so she can create mermaids and super-characters like KatFX videos show. Mom adds a lock to her bedroom door to keep the cat out… huh?

When her skills catch the attention of new friends, Wren is asked to do makeup for the school play – turning snooty Avery into so-green Elphaba might be fun.

Kai is really talented – draws superheroes, runs sound and lights for the play. Wren hopes he doesn’t really have a crush on her.

Mom’s an ER nurse on different shifts, sleeps all the time she’s home, pill bottles under the sink… now she’s missing work.

Why can’t Wren make KatFX’s mermaid instructions work?
How can she keep Kai as just a friend?
Why did Dad say she could call him about anything?

Seventh grade year is full of tension for Wren as she tries to balance two families and navigate too many changes at the same time.

When someone you love is in trouble, how do you know when to help?
**kmm

Book info: Violets Are Blue / Barbara Dee. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

U is being unhappy with TAKING UP SPACE, by Alyson Gerber (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Taking Up Space, by Alyson Gerber. Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Basketball is her favorite thing!
Her changing body isn’t
How to fix this??

Since she’s getting curvier and taller all at once, Sarah feels awkward on the basketball court for the first time ever. Coach says this is normal and that the 7th grader will get used to herself again – but how long will that take!?

As Coach discusses nutrition in health class, Sarah and so-cute Benny decide to be partners for the Chef Junior competition at their Massachusetts school – he cooks such wonderful things for his family!

When Dad’s away, Mom can forget that Sarah needs a good dinner every night. At least she remembered to sign the Chef Junior permission slip.

Mom hides candy from herself, eats only little bits of boring food, forgets to buy Sarah the healthy food she asks for – how will she get back to her best size for basketball?

Will Benny start to really like her as they practice cooking together?
Why can’t Mom remember to keep enough food at home?
When will Sarah feel like herself again on the court?

Big questions during a tumultuous junior high year for her whole friend group.

What advice from health class nutrition do you remember?
**kmm

Book info: Taking Up Space / Alyson Gerber. Scholastic Press, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is for Trix, family secrets & A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES, by Miranda Asebedo (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of A Constellation of Roses, by Miranda Asebedo. Published by Harper Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Thieving is a gift,
all that Trix has now
since Mom has gone again.

Running away from that foster home wasn’t her best idea, but Trixie knows that if drug-addicted Mom is coming back, she’ll come to this cheap motel – exactly where her social worker finds the 17-year-old and takes her to relatives on her dad’s side, a family she never knew about.

Her aunt Mia bakes amazing pies, almost magical Lucky Lime, Never-Lonely Lemon – all the McCabe women have some kind of gift, according to her great-aunt. Eventually her very quiet teen cousin Ember will tell Trix about her gift, maybe.

What’s a streetwise teen with a gift for undetectable theft going to do in this tiny Kansas country town? Live with her aunt and graduate from high school – or go to prison! Okay… but Trix missed so much school that it’ll take two years to finish now!

She’s sketched since she could hold a stolen pencil, so art class is fine (artistic just like her late father, folks say), and some of the students are okay, like Jasper who helps with pie deliveries.

How did Jasper’s brother die last year?
Why does everyone in Rocksaw have a different story of how her dad died?
What future does her great-aunt see in Trix’s palm?

Putting down roots like the climbing roses at the McCabe house or blowing away with the drifters in the city – Trix thinks and thinks…

What paranormal gift would you choose, if you knew it was in control?
**kmm

Book info: A Constellation of Roses / Miranda Asebedo. Harper Teen, hardcover 2019, paperback 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Personal collection; 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.

Q is for questions & quarrels TANGLED UP IN LUCK, by Merrill Wyatt (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Tangled Up in Luck, by Merrill Wyatt. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Two weeks till summer break!
Start a special class project?!
Now? Why? Hidden jewels!

Learn to work together, find things that aren’t on the internet – the seventh graders aren’t too happy to have different assignment partners or go through old newspaper articles at the library for this project.

Find the lost jewels hidden in the late 1880s when Jacob Hoal’s partner Thomas dynamited the safe and jumped on a train – the same train that collided with Jacob and Lucretia’s train, killing them and leaving an orphan son!

Volleyball star Sloane gets paired with class eccentric Amelia – arguing in the town library, sneaking around the historical museum – this won’t be easy as old grudges make the girls wary of each other.

A circus gone bankrupt, a Stock Market wizard, explosion at the mansion, a manhunt through Ohio and beyond, then the fatal train crash – newspaper articles tell the story, but what information is missing?

Their classmates are using the same resources (bad luck), so Sloane and Amelia check the museum and find old timers to interview (good luck), getting a little less uncomfortable around each other as they go.

Did Thomas take the jewels on the train with him?
What happened to the orphaned son?
Why are the kids working on this complicated project right now?

As Sloane frets about her widowed father remarrying and Amelia dreads going home to her ultra-competitive family, they don’t yet realize the danger they’ll face if they solve the mystery!

What local historical event still has people talking in your area?
**kmm

Book info: Tangled Up in Luck (Tangled Mysteries, book 1) / Merrill Wyatt. Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.