Tag Archive | England

Secrets abound at A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS! by Kathleen Baldwin (book review)

Book cover of A School for Unusual Girls, by Kathleen Baldwin. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Torture or merely draconian discipline?
Surely her parents won’t make her stay…

High society frowns on girls who prefer chemistry to needlepoint or whose frequent migraines are really visions of disaster – shutting them far, far away from the cotillions and balls of Regency London.

Yet the science experiment that burned down Father’s stable may be a blessing in disguise for Georgiana as the teen finds herself not in a reform school for rebellious girls, but a secret spy school!

Under the direction of Miss Stranje and Madame Cho, several young ladies with highly unusual talents are honing their skills in self-defense and espionage in the fight against Napoleon.

Georgie’s secret ink may give England the upper hand, if she can perfect its formula, if she can keep her heart safe from young Lord Wyatt, if they can keep French agents from stealing it!

Set in an alternate 1814 where Napoleon successfully returns from exile, this first book in the Stranje House series is followed by the equally adventurous and properly romantic Exile for Dreamers (centered on Tess), Refuge for Masterminds (Jane’s story), and Harbor for the Nightingale (Maya’s tale).

Where might your unusual talents take you?
**kmm

Book info: A School for Unusual Girls (Stranje House, book 1) / Kathleen Baldwin. Tor Teen, hardcover 2015, paperback 2016. [author site] [publisher site] Personal purchase; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Secrets and more secrets – audiobook summer continues!

A journey across the Big Pond or summer job together with your crush? You can have both with this week’s free audiobooks from AudioSYNC!

After you’ve registered and gotten the Sora app on your phone or tablet, you can easily download either or both titles -free- using the links below.

CD cover of The Bronte Plot, by Katherine Reay. Read by Laura Kirman.
Published by Thomas Nelson | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Bronte Plot (download free here, 18-24 June 2020)

by Katherine Reay. Read by Laura Kirma. Published by Thomas Nelson

Asked by her ex-sweetheart’s grandmother Helen to lead a literary excursion in Great Britain, Lucy leaps at the chance to leave Chicago and the bad choices she’s made at her job.

Helen is confronting ghosts from her past as they travel – perhaps Lucy can absorb some of her wise advice, become as strong as the Bronte sisters, and make amends for her past actions.

CD cover of The Music of What Happens,  by Bill Konigsberg. Read by Joel Froomkin & Anthony Rey Perez. 
Published by Scholastic Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Music of What Happens (download free here 18-24 June 2020)

by Bill Konigsberg. Read by Joel Froomkin, Anthony Rey Perez. Published by Scholastic Audio

Relaxed jock Max and high-strung Jordan are determined to revive the vintage food truck business for Jordan’s mom to pay her mortgage.

As they work together that sweltering Arizona summer, the guys begin falling for each other – but will their secrets keep them apart?

More than halfway through our AudioSYNC summer of free audiobooks – thank you for sharing, publishers! Which title is your favorite, so far?
**kmm

If only he could meet her… SHE WORE RED TRAINERS, by Na’ima B. Robert (book review)

book cover of She Wore Red Trainers, by Na'ima B. Robert, published by Kube Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Family life is funny and frustrating,
community expectations can be a heavy burden,
how to stay true to your faith, yet find your own path?

Her stepfather is especially mean to Amirah’s younger brother who is deaf – hopefully getting all three younger siblings out of the house to the Islamic Center’s summer program will help Mom’s depression (another divorce coming?) sigh…

Mum’s death sent Dad’s business into freefall, brought Ali back to their faith – now the house is sold and they’ll be in London for his summer before college…

Playing basketball with the guys in their city Muslim neighborhood, Ali sees a young woman in hijab over there…who is she of the red shoes?

Will the right circumstances allow these new neighbors to meet properly, correctly, soon?
Can Amirah find a way to attend art school before her older brother arranges her marriage?
Can Ali convince his dad that law school was Mum’s dream, not his own?

Meet these Muslim families in south London and know more about their lives and worries and dreams. Find this 2014 book at your local library (worldcat.org/libraries) or independent bookstore (indiebound.org/indie-store-finder or https://bookshop.org/).

What happy ending are you willing to work for and wait for?
**kmm

Book info: She Wore Red Trainers / Na’ima B. Robert. Kube Publishing, 2014. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Might rethink those partnerships! Chilling audiobooks…

A deal with the Devil!?
Are the police ignoring evidence?
Are you sure this partnership is on the up-and-up?

Hope you’ve already downloaded the Sora app on your phone or tablet and selected Audiobooksync as your public library there so you can quickly download and save a scary story or two from this week’s free selections.

Each pair of professionally produced audiobooks is available from Thursday morning to Wednesday night – the full calendar with selections and summaries is here.

CD cover of Faust,  by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read by Samuel West, Toby Jones, Anna Maxwell Martin, Stephen Critchlow, Derek Jacobi, Daniel Mair. Published by Naxos AudioBooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Faust (download here May 14-20, 2020)

by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Read by Samuel West, Toby Jones, Anna Maxwell Martin, Stephen Critchlow, Derek Jacobi, Daniel Mair. Published by Naxos AudioBooks

When the Devil offers a scholar the chance for a life filled with pleasure and power, Faust willingly gives up his soul.

But later he has second thoughts. Can one outwit the Devil?

CD cover of Stalking Jack the Ripper,  by Kerri Maniscalco, Read by Nicola Barber. Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stalking Jack the Ripper (download here May 14-20, 2020

by Kerri Maniscalco, Read by Nicola Barber. Published by Hachette Audio

Secretly assisting her uncle in his forensic lab, wealthy teen heiress Audrey encounters all the maimed corpses attributed to the Ripper. What secret clues might they find?

What too-good-to-be-true opportunity have you gladly passed up?
**kmm

She’ll make him regret it! OF CURSES AND KISSES, by Sandhya Menon (book review)

book cover - Of Curses and Kisses, by Sandhya Menon. Published by Simon Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

His family stole it,
her ancestor cursed it,
a ruby’s home controls their destinies…

As eldest, Jaya does what’s best for her royal family – moving from south India to the US her senior year to keep her younger sister safe, agreeing to a politically arranged marriage soon. Their new exclusive school in the Colorado mountains is a fitting place to wait out the scandal that young Lord Emerson embroiled Isha in from afar.

Banished by his father after Grey’s mother died when he was a baby, the young British lord tries not to care – about this exclusive school, about his classmates, about anyone – since the Emerson family is cursed to die out when he reaches 18.

Finding Lord Emerson at St. Rosetta’s, Jaya won’t pass up the chance to break his heart in retaliation for his great-great’s refusal to return the stolen ruby to her family!

First, she must make him fall in love with her. After she gets him to actually talk to her, that is. Her new friends help her, treat her like a real person instead of a political pawn.

How odd that Jaya and Grey can even stand to be in the same place, in light of their families’ generations-long feud.

How quickly time is ticking toward the announcement of Jaya’s engagement, toward Grey’s 18th birthday…toward the end of their beginning together?

Not unusual that Kiran knows people at her school (the world of the ultra-rich is rather small), but is her future fiance spying on Jaya through ice-queen Caterina?

How strange that small rubies keep falling from Jaya’s rose pendant…

This retelling of Beauty and the Beast in two voices echoes across the hidden spaces of their hearts and the vast halls of their school in the first book of the St. Rosetta’s Academy series. From the author of When Dimple Met Rishi (recommended here), From Twinkle With Love (here), and There’s Something About Sweetie (here).

When is it worth fighting against fate?
**kmm

Book info: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta’s Academy, book 1) / Sandhya Menon. Simon Pulse, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Z for zap! with LIGHTNING GIRL! by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall (middle grade book review)

book cover of Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall, illustrated by James Lancett. Published by Kane Miller Publishing EDC | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Sparks from her fingers!
Light beams from her hands!
Growing pains or superpowers?

Big brother is brilliant with computers, little sister is a genuine genius, and Aurora is in the middle, just average at everything, until the birthmark on her hands starts shooting light when she gets angry!

Mum is a secret superhero? Grandma and Aunt Lucinda too? Aurora has inherited superpowers?

Training sessions with Mum, keeping her secret from best friend Kizzy, Mr. Mercury ready to fail her in science – the British 11 year old is stressing out!

Her parents are arguing a lot now, the class trip to her dad’s exhibit of mysterious gemstones gets wild, and Aunt Lucinda drops by with her ostrich sidekick… what was her superpower exactly?

It’s up to Aurora to solve the gemstone mystery, repair her friendship with Kizzy, and make her parents happy together again…but how?

This illustrated adventure is the first in a series as the biracial middle-schooler meets other superheroes and fights against more villains. Look for all 4 books at your local library or independent bookstorehome delivery is a winner!

What superpower would you want to have?
**kmm

Book info: Lightning Girl (Lightning Girl, book 1) / Alesha Dixon with Katy Birchall; illustrated by James Lancett. Kane Miller EDC Publishers, 2020. [author interview] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy, sample page, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

sample page from Lightning Girl, by Alesha Dixon & Katy Birchall

T is train tickets & FIELD NOTES ON LOVE, by Jennifer E. Smith (book review)

book cover of Field Notes on Love, by Jennifer E. Smith. Published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Transcontinental train trip…romantic!
She dumps him before departure…tragic.
Non-refundable tickets…anyone have her same name?

Hugo’s big chance to travel, and it all goes sideways when Margaret breaks up with him. Oh, she’ll just fly to university in California, but he’ll stay home in the UK, quietest of the ‘Surrey Sextuplets’ forever, unless…

He just has to find another Margaret Campbell to travel with him, since everything was booked in her name! Such interesting responses to his social media request…

Maybe the train trip with this British guy will inspire Mae’s new movie to make the film school admissions committee reconsider…

Nana convinces her two dads that Mae is traveling with her new roommate to college in California, finally escaping her small New York hometown.

Rolling westward, cell service is erratic, so there’s lots of time for Hugo and Mae to talk, instead of calling to reassure her family that all is well or texting to remind his siblings that he needs time apart…time to keep talking and dreaming.

Can one week together make such a difference?
How can it not?

Her best friend says Mae’s usual impulsiveness deserts her at the most important times… is that now?

Hugo’s biggest question is whether the university will honor their full scholarship if all six siblings aren’t there…or is it?

Now out in paperback, Field Notes on Love is another travel tale of understanding and romance from the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (my recommendation here), The Geography of You and Me (my notes here), and You Are Here (see here).

How do you decide what’s best for you instead of rolling along with everyone else?
**kmm

Book info: Field Notes on Love / Jennifer E. Smith. Delacorte Press, hardcover 2019, paperback 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Will QUEEN OF THE SEA watch over them all? #GraphicNovel by Dylan Meconis (book review)

book cover of Queen of the Sea, by Dylan Meconis, Published by Walker Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Taken to a remote island as a baby, Margaret lives with the exiled nuns whose life-work is praying for travelers on the treacherous seas.

When Albion’s king dies years later, one of his daughters reigns and one is sent to the island convent as prisoner for life.

Margaret is the only witness to a shipwreck after royal Eleanor’s arrival on the island and finds a survivor in the sea cave – someone who wants to rescue the would-be-queen!

Secrets thread through this full-color graphic novel based on the youth of Elizabeth I. Check out sample pages here free, courtesy of the publisher.

I read and wrote about Queen of the Sea some months ago, but didn’t publish the post till now.

Happy to learn that others love it as much as I do – shortlisted for the 2020 Pacific Northwest Book Awards and appearing on several Best Graphic Novels of 2019 lists!!

Secrets and not-so-secrets – what’s your favorite recent graphic novel?
**kmm

Book info: Queen of the Sea / story & art by Dylan Meconis. Walker Books US (Candlewick), 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Do they dare seek the MALAMANDER?! by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth (MG book review)

book cover of Malamander, by Thomas Taylor, art by Tom Booth. Published by Walker Books US/Candlewick | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Secrets throughout the seaside town,
shoes neatly abandoned on the shore,
a man with a boat hook for a hand!

Winter winds moan across the shipwreck just off the pier and whip snow through Eerie-On-Sea’s cobbled streets, as Violet bursts into Herbie’s office and demands to no longer be lost.

The young Lost-and-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel hides the girl from his ever-angry hotel manager and a sea captain who stabs his boat-hook hand through wooden trunks seeking her!

Her parents vanished from this hotel and left infant Violet behind 12 years ago – will Herbie help her find them?

An Eerie Book Dispensary postcard is her main clue – will its mechanical monkey prescribe a book for Violet with more information?

A writer in town says that her father’s research on the Malamander was inaccurate – why is he trying to find the unpublished manuscript?

Someone (or something) is attacking those who dare ask questions about the legendary Malamander fish-man, and the two orphaned young teens must connect all the story-threads before they are the next victims!

Just published in the US yesterday, Malamander is first in a series set in this creepy English town filled with memorable characters.

What local legends do your friends tell stories about?
**kmm

Book info: Malamander (Legends of Eerie-On-Sea, book 1) / Thomas Taylor; illustrated by Tom Booth. Walker Books US/Candlewick, 2019. [author site] [illustrator site] [book series site] [publisher site] Review copy, display pages, and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

2 pages: end of chapter 28 showing Herbie leaping to another rooftop as harpoon speeds toward him and Violet, and start of chapter 29 "Silver-Tipped"

Foster home safe for HOME GIRL Naomi? by Alex Wheatle (YA book review)

book cover of Home Girl, by Alex Wheatle. Published by Black Sheep/Akashic Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Not half-bad foster family, for once,
iccle bro and sis looking up to her –
why are they so nice?

After Mum died, Naomi took care of alcoholic Dad for years. Now the UK foster care system thinks the 14-year-old needs watching over…

Naomi’s hostility to foster families quickly exhausts her social worker’s options, and the white teen is placed temporarily with a black family.

Colleen and Tony are nice enough, their kids like Naomi, too – but Tony’s parents aren’t keen on a white girl taking space where a black foster kid could be safe.

Alternative school kids are quick with their fists and loud with slangy curses. The black girls there aren’t liking Naomi’s new cornrow braids…

When Colleen discovers Naomi’s love of urban dance, she arranges lessons at a real studio! Now isn’t the time for social services to place her with a suburban white family.

Just published in the US by Black Sheep/Akashic, Home Girl is the latest in Wheatle’s YA books set in working class British towns, examining personal identity, racial relations, and finding one’s place in the world.

When do we become ‘grown up enough’ to take on all of life’s responsibilities?
**kmm

Book info: Home Girl / Alex Wheatle. Black Sheep/Akashic Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.