Tag Archive | blogathon2014

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?

And that’s a wrap! Another Blogathon in the books

Hooray – we did it!
Blogathon2014 was a success –
Thirty posts in 30 days (even with a lengthy power outage)!

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming… I plan to post 3 times weekly, so watch for new content on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Please subscribe to BooksYALove by email or your favorite blog aggregator using the handy-dandy links on the right. I also tweet out new posts @BooksYALove (along with info on reading, brains, fun info, and cats), so follow me!

Young ladies do the unexpected in these titles featured during last year’s Blogathon – now out in paperback (click on title for my original recommendation – no spoilers):

book cover of Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick published by Scholasticbook cover of Nobody's Secret by Michaela MacColl published by Chronicle BooksFrom so-so rural teen to international glamour queen, Becky becomes Gorgeous  (with the right dresses… and a little magic?)

Young Emily Dickinson seeks to uncover Nobody’s Secret – does it relate to the mysterious death in her small town?


Thanks again to FreelanceSuccess.com and MichelleRafter.com for hosting this year’s Blogathon and its welcoming Facebook group page – let’s do it again next June!!



One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva (book review) – gay teen comes out of his shell

book cover of One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva published by Farrar Strauss GirouxSummer school – ugh.
Stuffed grape leaves – yum!
Hearing Rufus Wainwright live at Central Park – yay!
Falling in love for the first time – ahhhhh!!!

Ask for One Man Guy today at your local library or independent bookstore, and enjoy Alek’s breakout summer and the glow of first love. (Armenian hospitality also includes the Khederian family recipe for Stuffed Grape Leaves at the end of the book).

Have you ever taken a big leap away from how people perceived you?

Book info: One Man Guy / Michael Barakiva. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: The tedium of summer school gives way to joy as Alek meets skateboarder Ethan who takes the Armenian-American teen under his wing and into his heart – the consequences of their adventures, however…

In summer school to raise his math grade from a B+,  Alek has to miss family vacation, but can’t miss the cute upperclassman who’d rather skateboard than study.

Ethan gleefully convinces by-the-rules Alek to skip algebra and attend a Rufus Wainwright concert in Central Park. At 14, Alek realizes for the first time that he’s probably gay, which explains why his best pal Becky is the only girl he cares to be around (her love of rollerblading and old movies notwithstanding).

As Alek and Ethan grow closer, exploring NYC together instead of going to English class, watching classic movies with Becky, and just hanging out, life is wonderful – until his parents and big brother get home early from vacation with their Armenian church group.

If the Khederian family would only stop reminiscing about the post-WWI Armenian holocaust and critiquing food long enough to accept that Alek won’t be a perfect student… He’s ready to become his own person, a good and faithful person, a One Man Guy.

Can better things come from darkest days? SYNC audiobooks listen in…

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC examine deep and dark secrets, looking for hope.

Please download either or both of these complete audiobooks at no cost from today through Wednesday July 3, 2014.

Then you can read with your ears whenever you like, as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

CD cover of Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, By Matthew Quick Read by Noah Galvin Published by Hachette AudioForgive Me, Leonard Peacock  (download here)
By Matthew Quick
Read by Noah Galvin
Published by Hachette Audio

On his 18th birthday, Leonard says goodbye to 4 special friends as he plans to kill himself and his former best friend.


CD cover of October Mourning, By Lesléa Newman Read by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick Podehl,  Kate Rudd, & Christina Traister Published by Brilliance AudioOctober Mourning: a Song for Matthew Shepard  (download here)
By Lesléa Newman
Read by Emily Beresford, Luke Daniels, Tom Parks, Nick PodehlKate Rudd, & Christina Traister
Published by Brilliance Audio

Newman commemorates the life of Matthew, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was brutally beaten and killed in 1998, through this novel’s 68 poems.

Stories worth telling, books worth listening to!

Chapel Wars, by Lindsey Leavitt (book review) – Las Vegas, love, and rival families

book cover of The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt published by BloomsburyDrunken brides,
Elvis performing the ceremony,
must be Vegas!

Holly loves the wedding chapel that she inherits, but her late Grandpa’s hidden debts and his stipulation that she befriend the (so handsome) grandson of their arch-rival chapel owner… what’s a girl to do?

This novel is a twist on the expected Romeo and Juliet scenario, with the addition of divorced parents, teens concocting strategies to help the “wrong” chapel get more business, and all the wackiness of Las Vegas leading up to Valentine’s Day.

What’s the craziest wedding you’ve ever attended?


Book info: The Chapel Wars / Lindsey Leavitt. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: It’s up to 16 year old Holly to save her family’s wedding chapel from the wrecking ball, with or without the help of their arch-rival’s adorable grandson – only in Vegas!

Holly has always loved the hopeful possibilities in a wedding – must be why Grandpa Jim willed the Rose of Sharon Chapel to her. But he also left her a huge debt which must be paid in full soon and a letter addressed to Dax, whose sneering granddad owns the rival wedding chapel next door!

Having Dax so near makes it hard for Holly to concentrate on what’s important – saving the chapel, getting her just-divorced parents back together, keeping the peace with her older sister and volatile younger brother.

As the loan payment day nears, Dax, Holly, and all her friends go all-out to get new business for the chapel. Maybe there’s hope after all. Maybe there’s hope for Holly and Dax, too! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Sunrise, by Mike Mullin (book review) – bandits outside the walls, challenges within

book cover of Sunrise by Mike Mullin published by TanglewoodLeadership is needed,
Hope is required,
Young people must prevail or die.

The final volume in the Ashfall Trilogy is a blockbuster! Alex and Darla have survived cannibals, bandits, the US government, and near-starvation in Ashfall  (my review here) and Ashen Winter (my review here).

Now they must organize citizens against an oncoming threat or decide to leave the townspeople to their own fate… what a burden for kids just old enough to drive.

Full disclosure: I’ve been eagerly awaiting this book since I won the right to name a character in it through the Authors for Henryville auction which raised money to rebuild school libraries after the 2012 tornado there. The character who shares my husband’s name in Sunrise is somewhat like him (not always the case where naming rights are involved – thank you, Mike); no spoiler to tell you that he dies, because many, many people die in the perpetual winter brought on by the Yellowstone supervolcano eruption, so I’m tangentially in the book as his widow.

I just discovered Darla’s Story eBook,  told from her point of view,  paralleling Alex’s narrative in Ashfall  from the supervolcano eruption to their meeting on her Iowa farm under perilous circumstances (makes this a trilogy with 3.5 books).

How well would you survive a frozen future?

Book info: Sunrise (Ashfall Trilogy, book 3) / Mike Mullin. Tanglewood Press, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  After a year of perpetual winter, Alex and Darla face tough choices when his uncle’s farm suddenly fills with townspeople who think the armed bandit attack is a one-time problem.

Everyone is tired of subsisting on kale and frozen pork, but when refugees flood Uncle Paul’s Illinois farm after renegades attack the nearby town, it’s up to young people like Alex and Darla to find medical supplies and more food (and maybe retaliate against the aggressors).

When folks move back to town but refuse to post guards against the bloodthirsty psychopath’s brigands, Alex and Darla lead another group to establish a safer settlement, complete with greenhouses and electricity from a repurposed wind turbine.

Why is Mom staying in town instead of with Alex?
Why won’t the Mayor post guards against the next attack?
Will Alex and Darla stay alive long enough to make their love a true commitment?

This final volume in the Ashfall Trilogy pits short-sighted leaders against vicious villains, the need for community against the will to go your own way, and the unforgiving brutality of volcanic winter against the hope of love and the possibility of springtime. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

It’s Word Cloud Day!

Gotta love Word Cloud Day for Blogathon!word cloud of most-common words on BooksYALove.com

This year I tried a new word cloud maker from Smashing Apps’ list of “Nine Excellent (Yet Free) Online Word Cloud Generators“: WordItOut (try it here).

Just one week of Blogathon 2014 to go!

Stuff Every College Student Should Know, by Blair Thornburgh (book review) – handy advice for living

book cover of Stuff Every College Student Should Know by Blair Thornburgh published by Quirk Books Do you know how to…
Cook without a microwave?
Take care of yourself when you’re sick?
Request a faculty recommendation letter?

No one gets to college knowing how to do everything, so Blair has compiled great hints and advice to get you through everything from roommates to homesickness.

Check out this handy, pocket-sized hardback book at your local library for your own personal education, or buy it at an independent bookstore for a graduation present or gift of encouragement to a current student.

What life skill tops your list of things to know?


Book info: Stuff Every College Student Should Know / Blair Thornburgh. Quirk Books, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author interview podcast] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: College brings new challenges and opportunities, but how can you learn the best way to accomplish things? This pocket guide gives you concise information about all aspects of your campus experience – from dorm living and personal care to academics and social life to money and the real world.

You can be a better roommate, cook without a microwave (yes, it’s possible), form a useful study group, and pass a test that you forgot to study for.

Learn how to deal with a long-distance relationship, stress, or homesickness. Know how to be smart with your first credit card and why you should interview the landlord of any apartment that you’re considering renting.

Scan through all the many entries, including how to pack for Spring Break, avoid going broke on textbooks, and good verbs to use on your resume, and you’ll be ready for many of the new situations that college life brings.

Portrait of Us, by A. Destiny & Rhonda Helms (book review) – different art styles, masterpiece together?

book cover of Portrait of Us by A Destiny and Rhonda Helms published by Simon PulseShe’s a nerd, he’s a jock.
Her family is well-off, his struggles to get by.
Her art is classic in perspective, his is post-modern slashes and blotches.
They’re like oil and water – how can they make collaborative artwork?

Meet Corrine and Matthew here at the art studio in chapter 1 (free!) as they find out about the big art contest, then see other Flirt series “first love, first kiss” books here.

Ever fall for someone who was your opposite?


Book info: Portrait of Us (Flirt series) / A. Destiny and Rhonda Helms. Simon Pulse, 2014.  [Flirt series site]   [author site]   [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: To win the prestigious young artists’ competition, Corinne and Matthew must get past bad first impressions to mesh their wildly conflicting art styles into a masterpiece.

Corrine is so happy to be in Teni’s studio this summer, but thinks the artist-in-residence wants her to abandon her controlled painting style by partnering the Chicago teen with Matthew, all bold and raw visuals, for the big contest.

Jock guy and nerd-perfectionist girl have a long way to go before they can even begin to put paint to canvas, so different are they in every way.

After several false starts, Corrine and Matthew begin to see how they can create a joint work of art for the national competition, and Corrine begins to fall for Matthew! But what if he’s ready to move on after they finish their summer project?

Part of the Flirt series from Simon Pulse, this Portrait of Us reflects Corrine’s first experience with something she can’t control – love.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Cool reads for hot days

I knew it would happen sooner or later – a long power outage, just as I was writing a post for Blogathon2014… and out here in the country, no power means no internet connection or cellphone signal booster either.

Faced with the choice of driving 15 miles to nearest town to get wifi at our library so I could finish editing my review in progress or staying home to enjoy a new book while waiting for the power to be restored, I chose the latter, of course!

If you’re in the mood for summer reading, too, check out these past BooksYALove favorites, and watch for my newest recommendation tomorrow at its normal 10 am CDT release time.

book cover of Dogtag Summer by Elizabeth Partridgebook cover of Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X StorkLast Summer of the Death Warriors,  by Francisco X. Stork: what’s harder – knowing that you’ll die young or not knowing if you’ll ever really be an adult? (my full review).

Dogtag Summer,  by Elizabeth Partridge: In 1981, 12-year-old Vietnamese-American orphan Traci questions why she’s in this small California town (my full review).

See y’all here tomorrow – I’m going to finish my book now that the A/C is running again!