Tag Archive | competition

Spells & dangers for Apprentice Witch, by James Nicol (book review)

book cover of Apprentice Witch by James Nicol published by Chicken House Books | recommended on BooksYALove.comDidn’t pass her witch assessment,
Sent to a town near the Great Wood’s untamed magic,
She knows she can do all the right spells… right?

After learning every glyph and its spell-powers from her grandmother, Arianwyn was sure the assessment machine would pass her as a witch on the first try, but no…

She didn’t expect to meet a friendly young man at the Civil Witchcraft Authority office or make a best friend right away in her assigned town – or that her archrival from witch school would arrive in that tiny town, either!

Happy US and Canadian book birthday to The Apprentice Witch! Read the first chapters here free, courtesy of the publisher. And, yes, there is a sequel on its way!

How do you work with that so-annoying, know-it-all, klutzy co-worker?
**kmm

Book info: The Apprentice Witch / James Nicol. Chicken House Books, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Posted to a remote town as a lowly apprentice witch during wartime, Arianwyn must keep Lull safe from the Great Wood’s dangerous magical creatures and cope with a snobby classmate’s arrival, all while dreading her re-evaluation for full witch status.

As she and new friend Salle make the long-deserted Spellorium ready for charm-making and witchly duties, Arianwyn finds papers from the town’s last witch who vanished mysteriously, years ago.

Snotlings and the terrible hex, an odd blue feyling and the breathtaking moon hare – magical creatures from pesky to perilous fill her catalog as the young teen defends Lull.

Will she ever get every spell correct on the very first try?
Can she unravel the dark glyph haunting her sleep?
What’s wrong with rival Gimma’s spellcrafting?

Arianwyn is growing in confidence and power, but the perils of the Great Wood are also! First in series. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Mapmakers must Race to the End of the World, by A. L. Tait (book review)

book cover of Race to the End of the World by A.L. Tait published in USA by Kane Miller Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comUnseen lands, unknown dangers,
commanded to map the whole world
ain’t on the farm now!

Quinn’s family has kept his amazing memory a secret so he’s not accused of witchery and attacked, as friend Aysha’s mother was, But the King has discovered it and wants the youngest son to compete at the new mapmakers’ school!

Ask for this first book in the Mapmaker Chronicles, an Australian series now published in the USA by Kane Miller Books, at your local library or independent bookstore.

When have you been called upon to go the extra mile?
**kmm

Book info:  Race to the End of the World (Mapmaker Chronicles, book 1) / A.L. Tait. Kane Miller, 2017. [author site]  [series site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Chosen to train as a mapmaker because of his lightning-quick memory, Quinn finds himself on a perilous quest to create a map of all the world for the King of Verlandia.

Youngest of many brothers on his family farm, the 14 year old keeps quiet about his ability to memorize anything he sees or hears – a priceless skill for a mapmaker.

Can Quinn help enslaved captain Zain win his freedom?
Who is the stowaway, discovered when the Libertas is well at sea?
What monsters and dangers will the crew face as they seek uncharted shores?

First in The Mapmaker Chronicles series from Australian author A.L. Tait, three ships are in a Race to the End of the World, striving to bring the most complete world map to their King and earn their dearest wish! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Can they escape The Gauntlet’s deadly game of blood and sand? by Karuna Riazi (book review)

book cover of The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.comAn old board game comes to life,
little brother rushes in and vanishes!
All puzzles must be solved to rescue him…

Although that wooden box looks like an outdated game, the dangers of entering “the Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” are very real – but how else can Farah get Ahmad back?

True friends Alex and Essie go with her – not the birthday party that any of them expected!

How far would you go to help your best friend?
**kmm

Book info: The Gauntlet / Karuna Riazi. Salaam Reads, 2017. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Escaping her 12th birthday party for just a moment to open her aunt’s gift, Farah and her best friends find themselves transported from New York into an exotic board game that they must win in order to find her little brother Ahmad and to stay alive!

A good Bangladeshi girl would welcome her new classmates to the party, but Farah would rather play games with little brother Ahmad (letting him win keeps his ADHD tantrums to a minimum – a Mirza family rule).

Quietly creeping upstairs with Alex and Essie from her old neighborhood, Farah unwraps “The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand” and the ancient-looking game comes to life. Ahmad vanishes into the gameboard, just as Aunt Zohra says that it ruined her life at age 12!

Of course, Farah, Alex, and Essie must play the game to save him, but if they don’t solve each puzzle in time, none of them will escape the Gauntlet.

Who can they trust in the souk marketplace?
What otherworldly perils will the teammates face next?
How will they find Ahmad in this multi-level city made of sand?

A lifetime of playing board games may help Farah, Essie, and Alex outwit the Architect’s deadly puzzle challenges – if he doesn’t cheat! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Is Lulu next? Murder Among the Stars, by Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan (book review)

book cover of Murder Among the Stars by Adam Shankman & Laura L. Sullivan published by Atheneum | recommended on BooksYALove.com “Be your true self!”
“Act like a star!”
“Stay alive!” Two out of three’s not bad…

Lulu hasn’t been in 1920s Hollywood long, but she knows there are schemers who’ll do anything to get a role with the big movie studios – absolutely anything!

After her run-in with gangsters, hidden identities, and murderous gossip in her first mystery as Girl About Town (my no-spoilers review here), the New York native has her eyes wide open and her exit route planned during this raucous extended audition turned deadly.

Glitz, glamour, and gore – ready for your close-up?
**kmm

Book info: Murder Among the Stars (Lulu Kelly mysteries, book 2) / Adam Shankman and Laura L. Sullivan.  Atheneum Books, 2017.  [Adam’s bio]  [Laura’s Facebook] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk:  Playing footsies with a corpse wasn’t what Lulu had expected at this elegant dinner, but the young actress finds even more bizarre things during the weekend-long audition for a movie contract, as she’s drawn into another mystery in 1920s Hollywood.

Imagine being wealthy enough to build a California castle, to own a menagerie with a real lion, to flaunt your mistress in Society, to give expensive gifts to every guest without blinking an eyelash!

For newspaper and movie magnate William Randolph Hearst, this extravagant house-party is just a simple favor for writer Anita Loos, until actresses start being murdered.

For new-to-Hollywood Lulu Kelly, it’s her chance for a starring role, if the 17 year old can outlast the other twenty starlets trying to win over WR and Marion.

For Lulu’s boyfriend Freddie the private eye, this huge party at the remote estate means too many suspects and too many motives for blackmail and murder.

Why is WR’s 10 year old niece Patricia so interested in crimes and murders?
How can anyone believe that the first suspect nabbed for the first murder did it?
Who invited mobster Sal to this party and does anyone know his connection to Lulu?

Dive into the intrigue and gossip of movie legends in this second Lulu Kelly mystery, as silver screen secrets become oh so deadly.

How is videogame rehab a Cure for the Common Universe? by Christian McKay Heidicker (book review)

book cover of Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com Plays videogames more hours than any full-time job,
Sees sunlight on alternate Thursdays (maybe),
Why would they send him to game-addiction rehab?

And just minutes after Jaxon meets a real, breathing teen girl who agrees to go out with him! Quick – how can he level up and prove that he’s cured and get to that date?!

Read an excerpt here, courtesy of the publisher, then go find your own Cure for the Common Universe at a local library or independent bookstore – just out in paperback this month!

What’ll they throw you into rehab for??
**kmm

Book info: Cure for the Common Universe / Christian McKay Heidicker. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2016, paperback 2017. [author site] [publisher site] [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Banished to a rehab center for videogame addicts, 16 year old Jaxon is desperate to escape in time for his first-ever date with a girl in the real world, but earning his way out could involve actually talking about being abandoned by Mom – no other way to level up?!

Not his fault that his parents divorced when he was just 8 or that his mom’s addictions always make her forget he’s coming to visit or that he is escaping from his stepmother’s perfectionism by living in the videogames that he so loved playing with Mom…

Hustled away to the desert rehab center, Jaxon meets teens who truly are videogame addicts (he isn’t, just likes playing them 60 hours a week in summer) and tries to figure out how he can get back to Salt Lake City in just four days so he can meet Serena (no cellphone, no FaceBook) for their date (first date, first girl who laughed with him instead of at him).

Doing chores earns points, doing dumb stuff loses points for you and your guild (yep, using different names and being in guilds is not like gaming at all – ha!).

Earn enough points, and you can go home from v-hab (again, not at all like gaming – ha!)

But no one in the whole two-month history of Horizons has earned their way out in just 4 days – and that’s what Jaxon has to do, if he wants to see Serena… (was any gaming reward worth this much??)

Soup, Aurora, Meeki, Zxzord, and Fezzik want to help their guildmate get to that golden date with Serena, but he’ll have to see beyond his own limitations first.

Arranged marriage? No way! When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

book cover of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon published by Simon Pulse  | recommended on BooksYALove.comApp developers’ camp – yes!
Time away from Mamma’s nagging – yes!
Greeted as “my future wife” by some guy – no way!

Utterly furious at her parents about this arranged marriage they never mentioned to her, Dimple isn’t ready for the feelings that grow between her and Rishi in San Francisco as they try to win the camp competition as a team.

Find this May 2017 release at your local library or independent bookstore – you just have to meet Dimple and Rishi for yourself!

Arranged marriage today – relic of the past or possibility of a harmonious future together?
**kmm

Book info: When Dimple Met Rishi / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2017. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Surely if Dimple wins this young web developers’ challenge, her mamma will stop insisting that the California teen will find her “ideal Indian husband” at Stanford this fall. When Rishi coincidentally finds Dimple at InsaneCom, she is furious to discover that their parents have arranged their marriage – and that he thinks it’s wonderful!

No makeup no glitter Dimple won’t let tradition-loving Rishi woo her – but he is sweet and articulate and even a bit charming.

Deeply romantic Rishi is sad that Dimple can’t see their wonderful future together – but maybe he can help her win the app contest now.

As Dimple and Rishi spend more time together, their attraction grows – but how can it go further when they’ll be on opposite coasts for college?

Family expectations and complications, technical issues and too much coffee, new friends with old problems – looks like InsaneCom will live up to its name for Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel!

X for X-factor kids, the Randoms on space station, by David Liss (book review)

book cover of Randoms by David Liss published by Simon Schuster  | recommended on BooksYALove.comChosen for intelligence,
leadership,
and weirdness…

Of course, an intensive school on space station requires the best and brightest students from every known civilization – so why is sci-fi nerd Zeke the fourth kid on Earth’s team?

Because our popular sci-fi movies and television shows were preparing us for the actual alien tech that’s out there!

Look for Randoms in hardcover or paperback at your local library or independent bookstore now before grabbing book 2, Rebels. Book 3, Renegades, hits the shelves in September 2017.

What does your favorite sci-fi teach us about life and friendship?
**kmm

Book info: Randoms (Randoms, book 1) / David Liss. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2015; paperback 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Recruited by the President for school on a space station, sixth grade gamer and average kid Zeke didn’t expect to be shunned by his fellow Earth students (all incredibly brilliant), visit other planets (picking up more teams for the competition), or discover that his favorite sci-fi shows were based on real alien technologies!

Then the attacks begin!

Earth’s future in the Confederation is at stake, so why was Zeke chosen?
How can he help his team succeed when they want him to stay away?
Can he level up enough that the US government will keep their promise to cure Mom?

Filled with quotes and references to all the science fiction movies, TV shows, games, and books that we love (or hate), Randoms is a rip-roaring ride into interspecies and intergalactic interactions. First in the trilogy, followed by Rebels (book 2) and Renegades (book 3).

U = Unbreakable Code, by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman (book review) – hot book hunt or literary fire bug?

book cover of Unbreakable Code by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers  | recommended on BooksYALove.comCoded messages in books,
ships beneath buildings,
an arsonist who must be stopped!

Emily and James are always on the hunt for books hidden by fellow Book Scavenger fans, but when coded clues in particular volumes link up with revenge-fueled fires at listed hidden-book sites, they decide to solve the mystery… but the fire bug is watching them!

Happy book birthday to The Unbreakable Code! You can read this second adventure in the series by itself, but will enjoy it even more if you get the full background in book one, Book Scavenger (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Be sure to visit the Book Scavenger game website if you want to report a found book or register a book to hide yourself – there are hundreds hidden all over the USA!

What ‘lost treasure’ from a favorite author would you like to find?
**kmm

Book info:The Unbreakable Code (Book Scavengers, book 2) / Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, with illustrations by Sarah Watts. Holt Books for Young Readers, 2017. [Book Scavenger site]  [author site] [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher, via Edelweiss.

My book talk: The unbreakable code? As Emily and James seek out hidden books in the Book Scavenger game, the middle schoolers discover a secret message that sets them hunting for information on Gold Rush ships buried beneath San Francisco’s skyscrapers and the code that author Mark Twain said could never be broken.

But someone with a grudge is setting fires at Book Scavenger hiding places and doesn’t want the young teens to discover the next fire site…ever.

What does their teacher (and fellow Book Scavenger) know about the code – and the fires?
Why must they help with the school dance now when they want work on this mystery?
Ciphers, codes, clues – which ones to follow?

As the fires strike closer to what’s important to Emily and James, they must decide who to trust and how far they can go on their own. Second book in the Book Scavenger series, following Book Scavenger.

G is Ghost, running from everything, by Jason Reynolds (book review)

book cover of Ghost by Jason Reynolds published by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books  | recommended on BooksYALove.comPractice running? Every day?
As fast as he is? Nah…
But winning takes more than speed.

If middle-schooler Ghost can outrun that one terrible night, win his way onto the track team coached by an Olympic medalist, and get the right shoes, then he might just make it out of his NYC neighborhood.

Listen to the author read chapter one at the publisher’s website here for free, to learn exactly why Ghost started running so fast.

The paperback of Ghost (yep, named a National Book Award finalist *after* I read it) releases in August 2017, when book 2 of the series, Patina is published. I loved Reynolds’ Boy in the Black Suit (my no-spoiler review here), and I’m looking forward to the rest of this Track series!

Are you running to something or from it?
**kmm

Book info: Ghost (Track, book 1) / Jason Reynolds. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 2016.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Running fast makes Ghost a better basketball player, but when he happens upon a track team practicing in the park, the middle schooler decides he’s faster than they are… and proves it.

Coach Brody convinces Mom to let Ghost run with the team, as long as he stays out of trouble at school. Not gonna be easy, is it?

How can Ghost afford the shoes and uniforms for a Junior Olympic qualifying team?
What if he messes up at school?
Why can’t he forget what sped up his running to start with?

First in the Track series, Ghost shows a solitary young man teetering between staying a loner and becoming a teammate, while still running from his indecisions.

C for Citra, chosen as new Scythe, by Neal Shusterman (book review)

book cover of Scythe by Neal Shusterman published by Simon Schuster  | recommended on BooksYALove.comNo war or hunger or illness,
Healing is automatic, births continue,
Someone must reduce the population!

Oversight by their global conclave and statistics from the Age of Mortality guide Scythes as they glean individuals in these long-lived times, keeping humanity’s numbers in bounds.

But one group of Scythes is killing to increase their own power. Do only Scythe Faraday and his reluctant apprentices Citra and Rowan stand in their way?

Yes, I read Scythe *before* it won the Printz Honor Award or was optioned by Universal Pictures!

Only those who don’t want to kill should be called as Scythes – would you be worthy?
**kmm

Book info: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, book 1) / Neal Shusterman. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Of course there must be a way to reduce the population when there is no longer disease, hunger, or war. Citra just never expected to become a Scythe or learn the arts of bringing death or fall in love with her co-apprentice Rowan or be required to kill him if she wins the apprenticeship!

As Scythe Faraday takes on 2 apprentices (unheard of!) and Scythe Goddard’s crew gleans a year’s quota of people at once (bloodbaths!), the power balance in this future world is shaking – will the covenant between humanity and their Scythes hold firm?