Tag Archive | England

Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands (book review) – apprentice in danger, kingdom at risk

book cover of The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands published by Aladdin | BooksYALove.comHorrific killings,
Apothecary victims,
Cult of assassins?

As an apprentice, Christopher has learned many codes and secrets, but a hidden message left by his master will lead the young man into perilous danger – worse than his surreptitious gunpowder experiments or the ailments that bring fellow Londoners into Blackthorn’s apothecary during King Charles II ‘s reign.

Happy book birthday to The Blackthorn Key!

**kmm

Book info: The Blackthorn Key / Kevin Sands. Aladdin, 2015. [author Twitter]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Christopher must use everything he’s learned from his master to solve gruesome murders in 17th century London, but the young apothecary apprentice and his best friend soon find themselves embroiled in dark mysteries threatening the kingdom itself.

Master Benedict has taught Christopher to read and solve puzzles and think for himself. But as the ritualistic murders targeting apothecaries get closer to their shop, the orphan worries when his master stays out late at night.

When his master leaves a secret message, Christopher and his best friend Tom the baker’s son begin investigating, searching for the hidden power worth killing for.

Will Christopher’s skill with codes be enough?
Can they find answers without alerting the King’s Men?
Is there truly a cult of assassins in the Merry Monarch’s kingdom?

Clever ciphers and codes blend with shudder-inducing remedies and everyday details of grimy city life in this debut novel as best friends risk so much to unpuzzle a long-hidden secret.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Travel in the elegant age as you read with your ears

Summertime is a great time to travel the world when you download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC and read with your ears!

Download of these two free complete audiobooks begins today (Thursday, July 9th) and continues through Wednesday. Remember that you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device.

Ready to travel during adventurous times? Just click on the title to go to the download page (super easy to do):

CD cover of The Explorers Club  by Nell Benjamin | Read by Jack Cutmore-Scott, Carson Elrod, David Furr, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt, Matthew Wolf Published by L.A. Theatre WorksThe Explorers Club
by Nell Benjamin
Read by Jack Cutmore-Scott, Carson Elrod, David Furr, John Getz, Martin Jarvis, David Krumholtz, Lorenzo Pisoni, Jennifer Westfeldt, Matthew Wolf
Published by L.A. Theatre Works
In 1879 London, the male-only Explorers Club debates admitting a woman to their ranks. Full-cast audio with music includes humor and a possible international incident.

Around the World in Eighty DaysCD cover of Around the World in Eighty Days  by Jules Verne | Read by Michael Prichard Published by Tantor Audio
by Jules Verne
Read by Michael Prichard<
Published by Tantor Audio

If Phileas Fogg and his valet can journey completely around the world in a mere 80 days, Fogg keeps his fortune… however, travel in the 1870s holds its fair share of perils and adventures!

Where have you traveled through stories lately?
**kmm

Tales of crime and death on free audiobooks

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC are ready for you to download now!

As long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device, you have free use of these complete audiobooks – but you must download that week’s featured titles before Wednesday night.

Pairing a current young adult book with a classic is brilliant, especially this week’s selections – click on title to download, free.

CD cover of Monster  by Walter Dean Myers | Read by A Full Cast Published by Listening Library Monster
by Walter Dean Myers
Read by A Full Cast
Published by Listening Library
As Steve awaits his trial for felony murder, the 16 year old writes a screenplay of the events to prove his innocence.

 

Lord of the FliesCD cover of Lord of the Flies by William Golding | Read by William Golding Published by Listening Library
by William Golding
Read by William Golding
Published by Listening Library

Schoolboys marooned alone develop a savage society in this classic, read by the author.

One decision, brutal consequences – have you read either of these acclaimed books before?
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Geography of You and Me, by Jennifer E. Smith (book review) – postcards from the road?

book cover of The Geography of Me and You by Jennifer E. Smith published by Little Brown Books for Young ReadersConversation while stranded in an elevator,
exploring the city as the blackout continues,
but having just met, they must travel in opposite directions!

This long-distance “wondering what if?” story should be at your local library or independent bookstore – if not, ask for it! Jennifer also wrote The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love (my no-spoiler recommendation here).

Read the first chapter here (thank you, Poppy Books!) for the stuck-in-elevator meeting that starts it all.

Surprise someone by sending them a postcard today!
**kmm

Book info: The Geography of You and Me / Jennifer E. Smith. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014 (hardcover); Poppy Books, 2015 (paperback). [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Stranded in an elevator during a blackout before moving away from New York City, Owen and Lucy send postcards from places they travel and think of each other more and more.

Owen wouldn’t even have been in the elevator if he and Dad hadn’t fled Pennsylvania after Mom died. Lucy had ridden this elevator for 16 years without getting stuck – why now, when her jetsetting parents are in Paris and her brothers away at college?

Lucy’s dad accepts a position in Scotland, not exactly the London job that her British mom had hoped for. Owen’s dad decides that they should head west, find a job somewhere away from NYC where they cannot see the stars.

No smartphone or email for Owen, by choice – he sends Lucy postcards from the road. He meets a beautiful girl at Lake Tahoe, and yet…

Each postcard spurs a lengthy email from Lucy, full of her life in Scotland, excluding mention of the handsome rugby player who’s interested in her, however…

When Lucy’s family gathers for a wedding near San Francisco where Owen’s dad is trying to get a job, the pair will get to see each other after all these months, but what if…

Does absence truly make the heart grow fonder?
Is “wish you were here?” ever enough?

A tale of travel, love, and learning from the author of The Statistical Probability of Falling in Love.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

When Books Went to War, by Molly Guptill Manning (book review) – readers in WWII trenches

book cover of When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning published by Houghton Mifflin HarcourtIn transports, tanks, and trenches,
packed into troopships and training camps,
ready to read while waiting to fight!

During World War II, librarians were determined to get books into soldiers’ hands. When publishers agreed to help, millions of pocket-sized Armed Services Editions of classics, plays, memoirs, and novels were eagerly shared by service people, sparking a reading culture that led to large participation in GI Bill higher education opportunities after the war’s end.

The ASE program also spurred the paperback publishing that we know today, you’ll learn from this fascinating book. The author provides a free excerpt here so you get a taste of her engaging prose style.

If you could only have a handful books with you during stressful times, as these fighters did, which titles would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II / Molly Guptill Manning. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [author video interview] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Fighting World War II with more than bullets and bombs, an armada of pocket-sized free books created a positive “war of ideas” and values as they were eagerly read and shared by American soldiers and sailors around the globe.

Librarians began collecting books for American troops in the war’s early days, but couldn’t gather and ship enough suitable volumes for the demand. Working with publishers and authors, a compact format reprinting of classics, popular novels, memoirs, plays and other reading material was developed, using very small print and less paper.

The program put Armed Services Editions of over 1300 separate titles into the hands of countless soldiers, sailors, and airmen during its 3-year existence, with these pocket-books being shared and shared again all over the world.

This fascinating book recounting the history of these little books of big ideas also highlights the Council on Books in Wartime’s efforts to prevent censorship of ASE titles and the impact that this program had in preparing America’s fighters to become higher education students when the war ended.

 

Identity-switch magic to read with your ears – SYNC audiobooks for free

Magic, malice, bodies switched, perhaps love? Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can read with your ears!

These complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, but once downloaded, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device

Click on the title to go directly to its AudioSYNC download site, enter your name and email, and follow the instructions to get these magical, dangerous tales for yourself.

CD cover of The Ring and the Crown  by Melissa De La Cruz | Read by Jennifer Ikeda Published by Recorded Books, Inc. The Ring and the Crown
by Melissa De La Cruz
Read by Jennifer Ikeda
Published by Recorded Books, Inc.

To escape an arranged marriage in the Franco-British Empire, the princess will give her identity to Morgan whose magical talents almost equal those of the Empress herself. But can the deception keep both girls safe?

 
CD cover of Sea Hearts  by Margo Lanagan | Read by Eloise Oxer, Paul English Published by Bolinda PublishingSea Hearts
by Margo Lanagan
Read by Eloise Oxer, Paul English
Published by Bolinda Publishing

As the sea witch discovers how to turn a seal into a woman, the magical consequences may affect everyone on her remote island. Is creating the perfect wife for a sailor worth the risk?

Have you ever wished that you were someone else?
**kmm

Dickens’ London comes alive with free SYNC audiobooks!

Time to download this week’s free audiobooks from SYNC so you can visit London of bygone days as you read with your ears!

Remember that although these complete audiobooks are only available from Thursday through Wednesday, you have free use of them as long as you keep them on your computer or electronic device. The free Overdrive app you need is available through the Download Prep page.

Click on each title to go directly to its download page, or bookmark the SYNC site here so you can download great audiobooks all summer long.

CD cover of Dodger  by Terry Pratchett | Read by Stephen Briggs Published by HarperAudio Dodger
by Terry Pratchett
Read by Stephen Briggs
Published by HarperAudio

Dodger lives on (and below) the streets of London, encountering mad barber Sweeney Todd, writer Charles Dickens, prime minister Disraeli, and an unforgettable girl.

 

Great ExpectationsCD cover of Great Expectations  by Charles Dickens | Read by Anton Lesser Published by Naxos AudioBooks
by Charles Dickens
Read by Anton Lesser
Published by Naxos AudioBooks

An anonymous benefactor enables Pip to rise from his humble beginnings as an orphan in this classic tale of a young man facing challenges and misunderstandings.

Would you want to live during this era of British history?
**kmm

William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace, by Ian Doertcher (book review) – May the Force be with thee!

book cover of William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher published by Quirk BooksKnights Jedi guard while evil Sith draw near,
Out in that “galaxy – far, far away.”
As beings fight for homeworld held so dear
Can heroes rise ‘gainst Federation’s sway?

Villains squeeze the planet of Naboo,
Whose patriots do try, do fight, do die.
When Gungan Jar-Jar offers his aid, too,
Queen Amidala finds a strong ally.

Seek out this so-readable retelling of Star Wars: Episode One at your local library or independent bookstore – ’twas published mere weeks ago.

Why speak just now of this most-worthy tome,
Why note it not upon its natal day?
Mark well today’s harmonious date, kind one,
And may the Force be with us all, I pray!
**kmm

post scriptum – Verily I say, forthcoming and much-anticipated are part two The Clone Army Attacketh  in July 2015 and part three Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge  in September 2015.

post-post scriptum – Mine thoughts on earlier-released parts of this series? Look ye here: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars  (part 4), The Empire Striketh Back  (part 5), and The Jedi Doth Return  (part 6).

Book info: William Shakespeare’s The Phantom of Menace (Star Wars, Part the First) / Ian Doescher. Quirk Books, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: In the very style of Shakespeare comes this peril-laden tale of Star Wars’ early days as The Phantom of Menace  relays the fall of the Republic, the rise of Anakin, and much swordplay, speeder racing, and treachery.

R2-D2’s bleeps and boops become clear through the droid’s asides, and finally, Jar-Jar Binks’ pidgin and pratfalls are nearly tolerable, as Doescher reveals Jar-Jar’s hidden political agenda of uniting Naboo’s humans and Gungans, using trenchant inner dialogue:

“Such thoughts as these were reprehensible
To all the bosses; thus my banishment.
Yet this is not the story I’ll relate.
[to Obi-Wan:] O issa longa tale you seeuh” (p. 31)

The young queen’s masquerade as her own maid, the fortuitious finding of Anakin Skywalker and arguments among the Jedi about training him (Yoda speaks in haiku), romance cut short, and enemies growing stronger – it’s all here.

While awaiting the newest Star Wars movie, refresh your memories of the history leading to it – The Phantom of Menace  will soon be followed by The Clone Army Attacketh  (part 2) and Tragedy of the Sith’s Revenge  (part 3), while William Shakespeare’s Star Wars  (part 4), The Empire Striketh Back  (part 5), and The Jedi Doth Return  (part 6) are available now.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Y is You’re Not Proper, by Tariq Mehmood (book review) – Christian or Muslim? She cannot be both!

book cover of You're Not Proper by Tariq Mehmood published by Hope RoadWhite mother, Pakistani father – who is Kiran?
Hijab-wearer, track star – who is Shamshad?
Tied to the old ways, seeking the new ways – who are they?

Two Pakistani-British teen girls share a school and neighborhood, but not much else until Kiran decides that the Christian church isn’t her place and begins asking Dad about Islam. Shamshad certainly doesn’t want to teach Kiran at the mosque school – her father said to always stay away from that family!

You’ll probably need to ask your local library or independent bookstore to get You’re Not Proper  since it’s a recent release from a small publisher, but you’ll definitely want to read both girls’ views on where religion and teen life can intersect, how life in their crowded London neighborhood is/isn’t good, and how searching for identity can bring uncomfortable insights.

Have you seen prejudice or bullying of those who wear clothing that reflects their faith?
**kmm

Book info: You’re Not Proper (Striker, book 1) / Tariq Mehmood. Hope Road Publishing, 2015.  [author interview]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Trying to find their place in their British urban school’s pecking order and in a society that distrusts Muslims, Kiran and Shamshad are enemies until a crisis brings the girls closer to understanding one another.

Kiran is uncomfortable at the Christian church she attends with her white mum (who doesn’t even believe) and wonders why her Pakistani dad drinks beer instead of going to mosque.

Shamshad wishes her Pakistani family were a bit more modern, so Father would let her have TV and music in the house. Of course, he is right to warn her away from that mixed-race Kiran girl!

When Kiran decides to wear the hijab and learn more about Islam, Shamshad is furious that her friends want to help – that’s not proper!

A white classmate’s brother serving in the British Army goes missing in Afghanistan, and tensions rise between Christians and Muslims in their town.

Should the girls listen to the young imam with radical ideas?
Why is Kiran’s mom so depressed now and Shamshad’s mother suddenly so outspoken?
What’s the truth about the feud between their families which began back in Pakistan?

Alternating chapters by Kiran and Shamshad unfold the complexities of being different, being accepted, being rejected, and being yourself during troubled current times in their English city. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

K is killing rain in H2O, by Virginia Birgin (book review) – one drop of rain, one more death

book cover of H2O by Virginia Birgin published by Sourcebooks FireEvery cloud carries death, rain that kills millions –
now in the drinking water, no cure in sight…
but somehow she will find her father!

“If you are reading this, you are very, very lucky to be alive…but you already know that, right?” (p. 7) says Ruby, in a near-future where an asteroid – blasted to bits before hitting Earth – brings a deadly plague that rains down, seeking the iron of our blood.

Listen to the prologue of the UK audiobook here free, as Ruby begins the story of the end of humanity, raindrop by raindrop, and her race to find Dad in far-off London.

Published as The Rain  in UK, there is a sequel to H2O; hope it gets to the US soon!

Ruby was kissing Caspar in the hot tub when the rain began – where would you want to be when the world started to end?
**kmm

Book info: H2O / Virginia Birgin. Sourcebooks Fire, 2014.  [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: As deadly rain sweeps across the world, Ruby fights thirst, well-meaning survivors, and the army so that she can get to London and her father.

Blowing up the asteroid saved earth, but doomed mankind to die by the blood-eating virus it carried, now sweeping down as rain, every drop lethal, no cure.

Trying to find anything safe to drink, staying away from rain and groundwater and tapwater, the teen and her stepdad survive longer than most.

Despite the odds, Ruby must get to her father, so she finds a car with keys and heads toward London with a nerdy classmate, a frightened-silent child, and a single driving lesson – watching the sky every minute for the clouds bringing more death.

Is there any place to hide from the rain?
How much further?
Dad, are you there?

The Rain (UK title) doesn’t care where it falls, but will Ruby survive to see The Storm sequel? (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)