Tag Archive | LGBTQ

Sports, school, and living Pride with this week’s free audiobook selections!

Your Sora shelf (setup info here) has room for lots of audiobooks, including this week’s Pride stories.

Download either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks – free! – by Wednesday 6/29/22, and they’re yours to listen to as long as you can access your Sora shelf online!

Remember to check your local public library or independent bookstore for any AudioSYNC titles that you may have missed – you’ll be amazed at their selections!

CD cover of Fence: Striking Distance, by Sarah Rees Brennan, Johanna the Mad, C. S. Pacat | Read by Will Collyer. Published by Hachette Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Fence: Striking Distance (free Sora download 6/23-6/29/2022)
by Sarah Rees Brennan, Johanna the Mad, C. S. Pacat | Read by Will Collyer
Published by Hachette Audio

Illegitimate son of an Olympic fencer barely qualifies for the fencing team at his elite high school – how can Nick fit in with his rich classmates?

Team-building exercises bring Nick, Seiji, Aiden, and Harvard closer together… how much closer? This audiobook is based on a graphic novel!

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/185517/fence-striking-distance-by-sarah-rees-brennan-johanna-the-mad-c-s-pacat-read-by-will-collyer/

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CD cover of Honestly Ben - Openly Straight, by Bill Konigsberg | Read by Dan Bittner. Published by Scholastic Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Honestly Ben – Openly Straight, book 2 (free Sora download 6/23-6/29/2022)
by Bill Konigsberg | Read by Dan Bittner
Published by Scholastic Audiobooks

Sensitive 17 year old Ben pushed away his best friend Rafe when like became maybe-love. Now he’s dealing with his grumpy dad, a new school, and super-macho baseball teammates.

Add to this his search to figure out whether he’s straight, gay, or gay-for-Rafe…

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/128289/honestly-ben-by-bill-konigsberg-read-by-dan-bittner/

What other Pride stories would you like to read with your ears?
**kmm

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Magic & music together are forbidden – should SOFI AND THE BONE SONG change that? by Adrienne Tooley (YA book review)

book cover of Sofi and the Bone Song, by Adrienne Tooley. Published by  Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Winter won’t go away,
talent isn’t always rewarded,
what else will Sofi endure? (don’t ask…)

After years of obsessive practicing, long-motherless 16 year old Sofi’s perfect performance is upstaged by an untutored young woman who didn’t even bring a lute to the Guild audition, yet wins apprenticeship to the ruling lute Musik, Sofi’s own father.

Lara didn’t use a Paper to perform, or all would have seen the spell inked into her skin – music is the only craft forbidden to use the Paper spells sold by the king.

When Sofi’s father suddenly dies, Lara must immediately qualify to be the lute Musik by traveling through the country and performing specific complex songs in certain towns – songs that Sofi knows and Lara doesn’t.

Away the two young women go with the Musik’s lute made of bones, through their ever-winter land, knowing that some Musiks of the Guild want Lara to succeed, but if she fails, perhaps Sofi has a chance at her life’s dream.

Why did the seasons stop changing when they were babies?
Is Lara using illegal magic to learn this complicated music so fast?
Will the malfunctioning Papers sold to neighboring kingdoms lead to war?

Rivalry becomes companionship and so much more, as Lara and Sofi begin to truly understand the magic of their musical gifts and their growing bond with one another.

What instrument would you play if magically given the skill?
**kmm

Book info: Sofi and the Bone Song / Adrienne Tooley. Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

SINGING WITH ELEPHANTS, poetry in her heart breaks free! by Margarita Engle (MG book review)

book cover of Singing With Elephants, by Margarita Engle. Published by Viking Books /PRH  | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Home isn’t here.
English is so hard to learn.
Animals always understand her.

Doctors in California after World War II couldn’t cure her grandmother diabetes, but now Oriol’s family is established here, her parents’ veterinary practice thriving, her big sister flirting with elephant handler Surey at the wildlife ranch they serve.

Summer is a release from kids who bully the 11 year old for not speaking English well, for the scents of animal companions that cling to her clothes. Oriol still longs for Cuba, where she and Abuelita cared for whistling birds.

Into their neighborhood comes an older lady whose words ring out with messages of nature and peace and hope. This poet from Chile begins teaching Oriol how to observe the world and bring poetry from her soul onto the page – in Spanish, in English, in both languages at once.

Oriol finally gets to meet wise-eyed Chandra at the ranch and Surey who cares for the pregnant elephant. The wonderful sounds that Chandra makes bring her so much joy, inspiring words and more words!

Can Oriol someday be a poet and a veterinarian, someone who translates animal speech to humans?

The noisy movie star who brought Chandra and Surey from Nepal can’t wait for the baby to be born – is he really the right person to own an elephant?

Big surprise when Chandra gives birth! Then terrible shock – what can Oriol do to help?

This novel-in-verse was inspired by the late 1940s California stay of Gabriela Mistral and her companion Doris Dana, as the educator, writer, and only woman Latin American winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature continued her work as a peace activist.

Another lyrical Cuban-centered story by the author of Rima’s Rebellion (I recommended here), Your Heart My Sky (more here), Lion Island (here) and more.

What words does nature inspire you to write?
**kmm

Book info: Singing With Elephants / Margarita Engle. Viking Books /PRH, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

American experiences you may have missed – time to read with your ears!

“The American story” has millions of chapters, each unique. This week (2-8 June 2022), the AudioSYNC program brings us a baseball life you may have missed and a glimpse of America itself gripped by Red scares during the Cold War.

Be sure you’ve registered here so your Sora shelf is ready to download either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks – free! Listen anytime and anywhere over the next 99 years, as long you can access your Sora shelf online.

If you miss any of the featured audiobooks during their free download time, check for them at your local public library or independent bookstore.

Remember – download these fascinating chapters of American history by Wednesday, 8 June 2022!

CD cover of Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke, by Andrew Maraniss, Read by Kevin R. Free. 
Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke (free Sora download 6/2-6/8/22)
by Andrew Maraniss | Read by Kevin R. Free
Published by Listening Library

Baseball fans saw Glenn Burke invent the high-five in 1977, but only those close to the LA Dodgers’ outfielder knew he was gay.

From the World Series to his post-baseball life fighting addiction during the AIDS epidemic, Burke’s life and legacy influenced the athletic and LGBTQIA+ community.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/194493/singled-out-by-andrew-maraniss-read-by-kevin-r-free/

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CD cover of A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War, 
by Albert Marrin. Read by Jason Culp.
Published by Listening Library | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War (free Sora download 6/2-6/8/22)
by Albert Marrin | Read by Jason Culp
Published by Listening Library

During the Cold War, some Americans thought Communist ideals could erase the nation’s deepening economic and social divides. Others saw Communism as an enormous threat to our democracy and would do anything to stop it – including blacklisting, lying, and trying to erase free speech.

This look at the McCarthy era’s strident bellowing against those who thought differently asks us to consider what’s worth fighting for and how far we each would go to protect our freedoms.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/196649/a-time-of-fear-by-albert-marrin-read-by-jason-culp/

What other American life stories would you like to see featured on AudioSYNC?
**kmm

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Look again – THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: 15 OF SHAKESPEARE’S MOST NOTABLE WORKS REIMAGINED, ed. by Dahlia Adler (YA book review)

book cover of That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare's Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Published by Flatiron Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Ah, the Bard!
His classic plays.
retold and retold – now with a twist!

A brooding bad boy becomes obsessed with a young ballerina from a rival high school – Romeo and Juliet, told completely in text messages.

Finally! Among the everlasting whiteness of the Fairy Court, the brown girl stolen from the mundane world as a baby sees another indigenous person in a gender-queer Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Not madness but anger drives Anne to unmask the vampire who killed her father, allowing her uncle to marry Mother for control of Elsinore in 1892 – the journals and letters of an educated young woman rewind the Hamlet narrative.

This anthology includes reimaginings by YA writers (famous and rising)

Dahlia Adler (The Merchant of Venice),
Kayla Ancrum (The Taming of the Shrew),
Lily Anderson (As You Like It),
Patrice Caldwell (Hamlet),
Melissa Bashardoust (A Winter’s Tale),
A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (Much Ado About Nothing),
Brittany Cavallaro (Sonnet 147),
Joy McCullough (King Lear),
Anna-Marie McLemore (A Midsummer Night’s Dream),
Samantha Mabry (Macbeth),
Tochi Onyebuchi (Coriolanus),
Mark Oshiro (Twelfth Night),
Lindsay Smith (Julius Caesar),
Kiersten White (Romeo and Juliet),
Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (The Tempest)

Each story is introduced by a quote from Shakespeare’s work, and often followed by author’s notes.

Shakespeare wrote in the everyday words of his time; these reimagined works bring his works into our time with clever twists and setting changes (outer space, a school dance, a rooftop greenhouse).

What’s your favorite quotation from the Bard?
**kmm

Book info: That Way Madness Lies: 15 of Shakespeare’s Most Notable Works Reimagined / Dahlia Adler, ed.
Flatiron Books, hardcover 2021, paperback 2022. [editor site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the author.

Their quest is complete! SO THIS IS EVER AFTER – now what? by F. T. Lukens (YA book review)

book cover of So This Is Ever After, by F. T. Lukens. Published by Margaret McElderry Books/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Behead the evil king!
Fulfill the prophecy!
And then…

We all know the quest narrative: a hero answers the Call, they gather companions – mage, knight, healer, bard, rogue – and we follow their Quest journey.

This time, we join the story just as Arek and his teenage companions arrive at the castle, where the 17 year old beheads the Vile One with a magic sword to fulfill the prophecy (rather messily).

Well, the old wizard didn’t say there would be trumpets or lightning when the quest was done, so rogue Lila is sure it’s time to grab some loot and leave.

But the knight Rion reads out the prophecy again – whoever cuts off the Vile One’s head must rule, so Arek grabs the blood-smeared crown and declares himself king (temporarily, as they search for the imprisoned true heir) .

When there’s no living heir to be found, it’s up to Arek and friends to actually manage their kingdom after 40 years of terror – with the help of castle steward Harlow (who really knows how things are supposed to work).

Arek’s lifelong friend, Matt the mage, sets wards to protect them, and Bethany the bard magically sings out invitations welcoming all to the castle.

So many details! Liaisons to rebuild with neighboring kingdoms, a company of knights to assemble, and this little matter of Arek finding his soulmate in the next three months… but only if he wants to stay alive.

Maybe their healer Sionna? (after she stops blushing as castle worker Meredith teaches her to dance)
Perhaps one of the many noble folk invited to the first ball at the castle?
Why, oh, why can’t it be Matt?!

Tick tock, the days count down to Arek’s 18th birthday…

By the author of swoony magical In Deeper Waters , recommended here.

Who would you select for your quest crew?
**kmm

Book info: So This Is Ever After / F. T. Lukens. Margaret McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Z is for ZERO O’CLOCK in Covid-19’s early days, by C. J. Farley (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Zero O'Clock, by C. J. Farley. Published by Black Sheep/ Akashic | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mysterious plague,
not fiction, not science fiction,
how will it end?

Geth’s hometown, New Rochelle, New York, is ground-zero for the Covid-19 pandemic in USA, as the entire world hits the pause button in March 2020.

The sixteen year old and her best friends are unhappier to miss next weekend’s Broadway show than about school being closed for two weeks (more teleteaching, more homework… ugh). Diego is the star quarterback, so that’s his ticket to college. Tovah is tiny and mighty and a math genius; Geth is sure that they’ll both be accepted to Columbia soon.

Two weeks’ closure keeps stretching out, stores in ‘the containment zone’ are running out of essentials, and the neighborhood foxes are scavenging boldly as trash pickup is delayed and delayed again. After each face-touch, the Black teen washes her hands for safety (her OCD compulsions are getting companions now).

Worrying about her mom working at the hospital, the Native American teen who’ll be isolating with them in their little house (Mom’s boyfriend’s stepson?), whether prom will be cancelled – Geth gets more stressed by the day, clinging to her friends’ text messages and BTS songs as a lifeline.

Neighbors dying of Covid at home, friends hospitalized on ventilators, the President saying there’s nothing to be concerned about… .

Why are they still reading The Plague for English class?
Who’s trying to sabotage Diego’s football scholarship?
What advice would her late father have?

Three months, a million emotions, thousands upon thousands of deaths – then 8 minutes 32 seconds of video that sparked a movement.

How do you look back on the early days of the pandemic?
**kmm

Book info: Zero O’Clock / C. J. Farley. Black Sheep/ Akashic, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

P is painting! P is president? BLAINE FOR THE WIN, by Robbie Couch (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of Blaine for the Win, by Robbie Couch. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Dumped! In public!
On their anniversary!
Gotta win him back…

Blaine was sure that Joey was planning to ask him on a ritzy trip with his rich family, not break up on their one-year anniversary! The mural-painting junior doesn’t fit into senior Joey’s long-range plan to become the first out US President, since he’s “not a Serious guy” like Blaine’s classmate Zach.

Well, Blaine will show Joey that he’s serious – he’ll run for Senior class president! His best friend Trish says she’ll be his campaign manager, her girlfriend Camilla will help too (between interning at the Field Museum with dinosaur bones).

His loving, workaholic parents support him, as does his biggest fan Aunt Starr who’s living with them between jobs – best company ever on these long, no-Joey nights.

Whoa, so many requirements to get onto the ballot: 50 junior classmates’ signatures in two days, a speech to the 94-member student council, then a debate between the highest-ranked candidates in front of the whole school!

Trish helps Blaine stand out from the other candidates – he asks fellow students to talk to him, instead of telling them why he’s great. So many concerns that center around stress and mental health issues…

And cute Dannie, whose aloe vera plant was a casualty when Blaine literally ran into him on the sidewalk, joins the group as his dad’s coffeehouse in their Chicago neighborhood becomes their campaign headquarters, complete with amazing Vietnamese pastries.

Can he really make a difference for his classmates?
Will he win back Joey if he wins the race?
Where did his passion for painting murals go?

Easy-going Blaine shifts his focus from big murals to the big picture and finds out what’s really important to him.

When did you step out of your comfort zone?
**kmm

Book info: Blaine for the Win / Robbie Couch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS with cards, candle, dark waters! by Caroline O’ Donoghue (YA book review) #A2Z

book cover of All Our Hidden Gifts, by Caroline O'Donoghue. Published by Walker Books US | recommended on BooksYALove.com

In-school suspension (again),
Storeroom clean-out (boring),
Tarot card deck…hmmm.

Falling behind in high school, Maeve longs for the days when her four much-older siblings lived at home so she wasn’t Mum and Dad’s only focus.

The tarot cards she found in the school basement storage are more interesting than her classes, for sure, especially as she studies more about them online.

Soon her circle of acquaintances at their all-girls school is asking her to do tarot readings for them, with pal Fiona as scheduler, earning Maeve some pocket money and a tiny bit of popularity.

It all goes bust after a unique card appears in a reading for her former best friend Lily. Maeve doesn’t know what it means, so she left it at home! When quiet, hard-of-hearing Lily says it’s all done just for attention, Maeve snaps that she wishes that Lily would disappear. That’s the last time anyone sees Lily…

The police have questions for Maeve several days later; so does Lily’s big brother Roe whom Maeve began talking to just as this tarot thing began. Of course, the headmistress confiscates the tarot deck.

Days crawl along with no progress, as slow as the river Beg through their Irish city. Maeve’s dreams include gender-fluid Roe and his band, the mysterious Housekeeper on the unique card, and eventually Lily by the river. And the tarot deck brings itself to Maeve’s house.

Is the Housekeeper more than ink on a card?
Who will believe that she has taken Lily?
How can the three teens bring her back without losing themselves?

The power of wishing, the power of hope, the power of learning to love your true self – don’t miss this UK novel brought to American readers by Walker Books US – in hardcover now, paperback release in May 2022 – read the first chapter here, free courtesy of the publisher.

What hidden gift has graced your life as you’ve gotten older?
**kmm

Book info: All Our Hidden Gifts / Caroline O’Donoghue. Walker Books US, 2021. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N is no, not again! Oh HONESTLY ELLIOTT! by Gillian McDunn (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Honestly Elliott, by Gillian McDunn. Published by Bloomsbury Publishing | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Some days at different houses,
so many assignments (just hide them),
not sporty, just his messy honest self…

Every kid in town goes to sixth grade in the same building for project-based learning and cool stuff together, except Elliott’s best friend who’s homeschooling across the country with his moms this year…sigh.

That leaves Elliott and his guinea pigs alone to deal with his divorced parents, his ADHD making his brain zone-out more often, and his lunch-buddies to excluding him from their year-end group project.

Well, brilliant Maribel can’t agree with her friends on what project to do, so it looks like she and Elliott are partners – with their semester grade on the line!

Their project must be something they can make themselves to sell, that’s related to their hometown, staying within a budget…hmmm.

Super-organized Maribel must avoid gluten in food or her digestive system goes haywire – how about gluten-free pies?

Easily distractible Elliott loves to experiment with cooking, but baking? His star chef idol says “cooking is about inspiration and baking is about control” (pg. 60) – can’t hurt to try.

In his mom’s cozy kitchen, the pair gets to work. Elliott’s attempt at gluten-free pie crust is disastrous, and Maribel’s wonderful strawberry filling is too expensive, so they search the cookbook library at Avery Local market for ideas.

As the weeks count down, the pressure builds up – have a successful project, get ready for his new step-brother to be born, stop ignoring The Incident, stop disappointing Dad about everything…

Honestly, Elliott is a guy you want to cheer for – and hope he can cope with all these changes!

What do you prefer – baking or cooking?
**kmm

Book info: Honestly Elliott / Gillian McDunn. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.