Tag Archive | A2Z

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

Z for ZARA HOSSAIN IS HERE, so deal with it! by Sabina Khan (YA book review)

book cover of Zara Hossain is Here, by Sabina Khan, Published by Scholastic Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The only home she’s ever known,
her city, her beach, her neighborhood,
now a threat, hostility around each corner…

Zara’s college plans are in limbo as the high school senior impatiently waits for her family’s green card status to be approved in Corpus Christi where her father’s medical practice has thrived for years.

The devout Muslims here say her Pakistani family is too secular, while white bullies at school are ratcheting up their harassment of brown people.

Meeting Chloe is like a beautiful seabreeze, and the two young women begin a relationship, despite the disapproval of Chloe’s conservative religious parents.

When her gentle father angrily reacts to a hate crime against their family, Zara’s life shatters into disarray.

What’s their green card application status now?
Why are immigrants hated here so much?
What’s next?

Living next door to the Garcias since she and best friend Nick were toddlers, Zara knows only Texas as home, but maybe this land of opportunity doesn’t want to know her.

New this month and a fitting AtoZ Challenge finale on the 25th anniversary of Dia de los ninos/Children’s Book Day which celebrates connecting the deep, wide, and wonderful range of books to all kids of all backgrounds.

When to stand firm and when to bend?
**kmm

Book Info: Zara Hossain Is Here / Sabina Khan. Scholastic Press, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Y is for Yay, it’s finally time for AudioSYNC Summer!

Yes, yes, yes! AudioSYNC summer starts today! Every Thursday, we’ll have a one-week opportunity to download – free – 2 complete professionally-produced audiobooks with a theme in common.

With the free Sora app on your device, you’ll be able to “read with your ears” for as long as you keep the downloaded audiobooks! The FAQs here tell you how to set up Sora and connect it to the AudioSYNC library.

Sign up here for reminders of each week’s new selections or just stay tuned to BooksYALove.com where I’ll introduce each book pair with links every Thursday through July 29.

CD cover of Come On In, anthology edited by Ali Alsaid. Published by Recorded Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Come On In: 15 stories about immigration and finding home (free download on Sora 4/29-5/5/2021)

by Adi Alsaid [Ed.] | Read by Amielynn Abellera, Jonathan Todd Ross, Katherine Littrell, Leila Buck, Maria Liatis, Sneha Mathan

Yes! I recommended this collection of short stories writing by YA authors who are immigrants or children of immigrants during April 2021 here on BooksYALove – don’t miss the audio version with narrations in many voices and accents.

CD cover of Illegal: Disappeared, book 2, by Francisco X. Stork. Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Illegal: Disappeared, book 2 (free download on Sora 4/29-5/5/2021)

by Francisco X. Stork | Read by Roxana Ortega, Christian Barillas

The siblings seeking to escape Mexico in Disappeared are now across the US border – Sara waits in a detention facility to hear if her application for asylum has been approved while Emiliano is still on the run from both US authorities and the cartel members trying to stop him from exposing their trafficking activities.

This week’s AudioSYNC theme is “After Crossing the Border” – what happens next?
**kmm

X is excitement & mystery of THE INKBERG ENIGMA, by Jonathan King (Graphic novel review)

book cover of The Inkberg Enigma, by Jonathan King. Published by Gecko Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Strange activity in the bay,
the Castle looms above town,
so many secrets and so much danger!

In a new town for dad’s museum job, Miro satisfies his old book habit by selling old diving gear and things that he finds in the attic.

Glimpsing a deep-sea fisherman wrapped by a giant tentacle puts Miro and schoolmate Zia at odds with the Works fish-processing plant manager who threatens to tell Miss Danforth, owner of their town… and employer of their parents.

Digging into the town’s history reveals a tragic last-century Antarctic expedition, eerie creatures discovered on that voyage, and enduring links that may endanger their New Zealand coastal town even now!

What really happens inside the Works?
Will Zia’s photos expose dire secrets?
Would reclusive Miss Danforth help the teens?

A pitch-black iceberg and a perilous journey – the expedition journal is a book of secrets within this graphic novel of mystery and discovery!

What local historical fact has taken you by surprise?
**kmm

Book info: The Inkberg Enigma / Jonathan King. Gecko Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

W is for THE WILLIAM HOY STORY: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, by Nancy Churnin (Picture book review)

book cover of The William Hoy Story, by Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Published by Albert Whitman & Co. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Umpires, coaches, players –
so many hand signals in baseball!
Why do they do that?

Have you watched a baseball game and wondered what story the coach is signalling with their hands touching shoulder, nose, ear, ear, nose?

Each combination tells their players what the pitcher should throw to this batter or whether a runner should steal or stay on base.

Who started this no-words communication on the baseball diamond? It was William Hoy, a Deaf player in the early 1900s who practiced hard so he could run faster and hit harder to play in the Major Leagues!

He couldn’t hear the umpires say ‘ball’ or ‘strike’ at the plate or read the lips of players who hid their mouths behind their mitts – but when the umpires used American Sign Language to signal their calls as William suggested, he could steal bases better than anyone!

His teammates learned signs so they could talk strategy without the other team hearing it. too. Even the fans started waving their hands high in the air as Deaf applause after William’s great plays as an outfielder and base-runner.

Learn more about this game changer and the early days of baseball in this picture book for everyone.

What obstacles have you overcome to do something you loved?
**kmm

Book info: The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game / Nancy Churnin, art by Jez Tuya. Albert Whitmas & Company, 2016. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Personal collection; cover art courtesy of the publisher.

V is Verity & visions in EVENTIDE, by Sarah Goodman (YA book review)

book cover of Eventide, by Sarah Goodman. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

They say she’s a spirit,
went mad from her loss…
a bit of truth in every tall tale.

From studying medicine with her father and preparing for college in 1907 to hoeing corn in rural Arkansas – 17-year-old Verity’s world became so small when the local schoolteacher chose little sister Lilah from the orphan train, but rejected her.

Verity grows to like the Weatheringtons as she toils on their small farm with their teen nephew and fellow book-lover Abel, working hard so she can earn enough to get her and Lilah back home.

The tragic story of Rev. Mayhew’s daughter jilted in love and walking away from home in the snow, the eerie deep woods where no one goes, how swiftly Miss Maeve has Lilah calling her Mama – everyone knows everything about everyone else in this superstitious small town.

Why is there a body beside the well in the woods?
Papa’s in an asylum in New York – how could he get here?
Is Lilah truly safe in Miss Maeve’s stately home?

There’s magic hiding here, a secret seeking to escape, and Verity may have uncovered a dark truth that won’t leave her alone.

Can a family secret be a good thing?
**kmm

Book info: Eventide / Sarah Goodman. Tor Teen, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

U is underground, out of sight, bare hands mining in BEARMOUTH, by Liz Hyder (YA book review)

book cover of Bearmouth, by Liz Hyder. Published by Norton Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No daylight, no school,
few dreams, little hope,
working till they can’t no more…

Sent into the coal mine at age 4, the pittance that Newt earns keeps his mum and siblings from starving up above.

Newt’s crew takes care of their littlest miners, keeping them safe from wicked men, especially on payday when some have money for beer after paying for the candles and boots they need for working.

The new fellow Devlin joins Newt for lessons with Thomas on Maykers Day, hearing stories and learning how to spell words… all quiet-like.

Once a week, the miners hear how humanity’s rebellion against The Mayker condemned them to work in the Master’s coal mine, awaiting “a sine of forgivvness” so they may go back aboveground at last.

Devlin comes up with a plan to help them escape the heat and hellish conditions of Bearmouth’s lowest levels. “Suffokaytin in the dark cos of poyson gasses. Tis the worst way to go.” (pg. 26)

Thomas asks the Master to raise their pay – and one day disappears. Newt hears a shadowy man whispering dangerous words in the tunnel, sees Thomas and other lost friends in dreams and in the deep darkness.

Will the Mayker’s sign come soon?
How long can it stay secret that Nate isn’t a true boy?
Can Devlin and Newt get out of Bearmouth alive?

You can hear Newt’s observations ring true through this story built upon actual working conditions in England’s coal mines in the Victorian era.

Today is Independent Bookstore Day – a great time to find Bearmouth and other BooksYALove favorites at a bookshop near you!

Which muzzled voices should we be listening for?
**kmm

Book info: Bearmouth / Liz Hyder. Norton Young Readers, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

T is 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT PINKY, sort of, maybe… by Sandhya Menon (YA book review)

book cover of 10 Things I Hate About Pinky, by Sandhya Menon, Published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rebel-activist free spirit,
SAT ace in starched shirts –
all summer together?

She supports social causes of all types, he charts out his future law career list by list- Pinky and Samir are nothing alike. But when she’s accused of repeating rebellious behavior and his DC internship is cancelled, maybe he could pose as her new super-responsible boyfriend for the summer… if they don’t bite off each other’s heads!

Pinky’s mom and aunt co-own the lovely summer home on Cape Cod, with a lake that she and cousin Dolly-the-perfect have enjoyed for years with the other summer kids and the butterfly sanctuary that always gives Pinky peace.

Being Pinky’s summer boyfriend gets Samir closer to interning with her mom’s Bay Area corporate law firm and tests his planning-ahead nature every day… walking a rescued fainting opossum on a leash….

Acting like Samir is really her boyfriend strains Pinky’s impetuous nature, but if they can fool her family so she’s not grounded for life, it’ll be worth it… if he can get past planning every moment like his mom was still fighting cancer.

When big-money threatens to bulldoze the butterfly sanctuary for condos, Pinky and Samir pitch in to rally the community against the developers – the clock is ticking!

Mom insists that the ‘summer kids’ have no place in town meetings, some year-rounders say the Indian-American teens aren’t welcome anywhere, but Pinky says they should keep fighting… right, Samir?

Told in alternating voices by Pinky and Samir, this frenemies-to-something-more story is a companion book to When Dimple Met Rishi (I recommend here) and There’s Something About Sweetie (reviewed here).

What’s the cause you’ll stand up for, time after time?
**kmm

Book Info: 10 Things I Hate About Pinky / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2020. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

S is princess Sophie POISONED by her stepmother, saved by 7 small men, by Jennifer Donnelly (YA book review)

book cover of Poisoned, by Jennifer Donnelly. Published by Scholastic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Tomorrow is her 17th birthday –
old enough to inherit her father’s kingdom,
but her evil stepmother has other ideas…

Outwardly, Sophie is haughty and brave, as any princess of Konigsburg must be, but she has a merciful heart like the late much-beloved king and shows mercy to scared hunting dog Zara.

The queen’s mirror whispers secrets and plots – Sophie must have a strong husband to help her rule, but if the princess were attacked by Darkwood beasts, then no need to risk alliance with another country…

The Huntsman brings back only Sophie’s heart from their ride through the Darkwood, but her body is saved by seven short men who heal her with kindness and a clockwork heart.

Rumors of the queen’s war declarations reach even into the woods, and Sophie knows she must get to the prince who courted her so they can stop her land from becoming a bloody battlefield.

As they travel the backroads, Sophie, Zara, and clever young man Will hear how her people have been taxed to death for the Queen’s luxuries and spied on by her Crows.

Can Sophie save the kingdom before her heart winds down?
Will the Queen’s guard find them first?
Who is speaking through the mirror?

This retelling of classic fairy tale Snow White asks readers to reclaim the power of their inner voice.

What future are you running toward?
**kmm

Book info: Poisoned / Jennifer Donnelly. Scholastic Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

R is for RURAL VOICES: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America (YA book review)

book cover of Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America. Published by Candlewick Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Everyone drives a truck and wears muddy boots,
talks slow and walks even slower –
today’s teens outside big cities go way beyond those tired old ideas.

An aspiring rodeo queen in Utah draws strength from her Puerto Rican roots.

A Michigan queer girl’s 4-H showmanship in swine competition might draw her crush closer.

Forced up a tree by an angry bull, best friends finally talk about whether Alina’s stories identify with her home state or strive to distance her from West Virginia.

This collection of viewpoints and vistas includes stories by David Bowles, Joseph Bruchac, Veeda Bybee, Nora Shalaway Carpenter, Shae Carys, S. A. Cosby, Rob Costello, Randy DuBurke, David Macinnis Gill, Nasugraq Rainey Hopson, Estelle Laure, Yamile Saied Méndez, Ashley Hope Pérez, Tirzah Price, and Monica Roe.

I live outside a very small town where FFA and AP classes are on the same schedule, and young people can pursue big dreams with or without moving to the big city.

What rural voices have you heard lately?
**kmm

Book Info: Rural Voices: 15 Authors Challenge Assumptions About Small-Town America / Nora Shalway Carpenter, ed. Candlewick Press, 2020. [editor interview] [publisher site]