Tag Archive | reading

#AprilA2ZChallenge complete – for the 11th year!

April A-to-Z Blog Challenge logo. Blogging from A to Z

Every year, I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with the A2Z Challenge.

Every year, I do recommend a double-handful of new middle grade and young adult books in April that might not be on your radar if you rely on bestseller lists for recommendations.

Every year, a few more folks stop by and comment on the titles I’ve highlighted – welcome!

Thanks again to the #AprilA2Z organizers for providing great graphics, inspiration, and a hub for us bloggers to congregate around as we keep on working to communicate our particular passions to the world.

Now – back to my regular 2-3 times weekly posting schedule, even though there are SO many great new books to recommend!

What was your #AprilA2Z favorite? (Check the tag A2Z for all my April recommendations)
**kmm

Ready…set…MAKE YOUR OWN MANGA! by Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasetya (YA book review)

book cover of Make Your Own Manga: Create Your Own Anime Comics With Action-Packed Story Fill-ins and Blank Comic Panels, by Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasettya. Published by Adams Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

If you love anime and manga,
if you imagine the dialogue you’d write on the next page,
if you sketch and sketch on any paper nearby –
this is the book you need!

Story and art must work together seamlessly in manga, so Make Your Own Manga provides you pages upon pages of practice space for each skill.

Manga artists Elaine Tipping (draws Dubious Company and Licensed Heroes ) and Erwin Prasetya (illustrates Blade Bunny ) give you helpful hints about transfering your imagination to the page, then set you free to create.

Part one – Write Your Own Story – contains six illustrated stories with empty dialogue bubbles so you can practice fitting the story you’ve written into the usual manga framework. Three stories by each author are presented in left-to-right, top-to-bottom pattern, rather than traditional manga reading style, because this is a practice book to help you with the flow of the story. Why are they flying? Who’s the villain? – you decide!

Part two – Write and Draw Your Own Story – is hundreds of professionally drawn comic frames in many styles, just waiting for you to capture your manga! You can divide these 100+ pages into as many anime comics as you like – be sure to note each one’s title and starting page on the blank table of contents at the front of the book.

So get this book now at your favorite independent bookstore or order it through Bookshop.org where you choose the indie bookstore that gets credit, and the books are shipped straight to you! (These aren’t affiliate links; BooksYALove never profits from recommending books)

Whether you’re just starting to draw manga or you’re an experienced creator looking for layout inspiration, grab your pencil and Make Your Own Manga – then keep creating!

What series would you recommend for a first-time manga reader?
**kmm

Book info: Make Your Own Manga: Create Your Own Anime Comics With Action-Packed Story Fill-ins and Blank Comic Panels / Elaine Tipping and Erwin Prasettya. Adams Media / Simon & Schuster, 2021. [Elaine’s site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Almost time for the April #AtoZchallenge!

#AtoZChallenge 2022 alternative badge

The calendar is sliding toward April, so #AtoZChallenge is just ahead!

This will be my 11th year of participating in the blogging challenge to post alphabetically themed entries throughout April (with Sundays off).

My 2022 #AtoZChallenge theme is… books beyond bestsellers!

For y’all, this means a double-handful of new recommendations of middle-grade and young adult books, plus a few surprises.

You have time to sign up your blog for this free Challenge, too – more info here.

As I wrap up my 12th continuous year of recommending books – without giving away the endings, please let me know which April selections go on your wishlist to find at your local library or independent bookstore (remember – no affiliate links here – ever!).

Happy reading to all!
**kmm

This summer could be the best ever for THE ISLANDERS! by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May (MG book review)

Book cover of The Islanders, by Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Published by Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

No videogames or wi-fi?
Driving a golf cart! Or a boat?!
Maybe summer will be okay…

As a military kid, twelve-year-old Jake knows that staying with his grandma Honey will help Mom as she’s at the Army hospital with Dad, but having no internet or cellphone (don’t ask) will be terrible.

Luckily, two kids his age are on Dewees Island for the summer: Macon, a facts-spouting Black guy from Atlanta, whose mom is on bed rest waiting for her baby to arrive, and nature-fanatic Lovie, who drives her own boat over from Isle of Palms every day to stay with her aunt.

Honey doesn’t seem herself after Jake’s granddad died a while ago, and her house on stilts needs lots of care. Dad grew up here, roaming these woods and beaches, learning to drive a boat, leaving his nature journal and favorite books in the loft bedroom where Jake is staying.

Doing chores for Honey still leaves Jake plenty of time to explore the South Carolina coastal island with Lovie and Macon. Lots of lessons too – driving the golf cart, learning his way around a boat, recognizing loggerhead turtle tracks, avoiding alligators.

An incident gets the three friends assigned to Dawn Patrol, checking the beaches early, early every morning for new turtle nests that the licensed specialists verify and encircle with warning tape.

Jake sketches in his own nature journal, writes illustrated letters to Dad, and listens to the worries that Lovie and Macon confide.

Can Jake earn his boating license before summer ends?
How can they keep predators away from the turtle nests?
How fast can Dad recover from the IED explosion?

Sometimes the island seems like paradise, other times it’s not. For these three friends, this will be a summer to remember! First in a new series, followed by Search for Treasure in June 2022.

What’s your favorite summer-with-friends memory?
**kmm

Book info: The Islanders (Islanders, book 1) / Mary Alice Monroe & Angela May. Aladdin/ Simon & Schuster, 2021. [author site] [co-author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Beyond THE SOUND OF STARS, is there life here? by Alechia Dow (YA book review)

book cover of The Sound of Stars, by Alechia Dow. Published by Inkyard Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Music – illegal.
Books – illegal.
Emotion – forbidden!

Two years after the alien invasion, 17-year-old Ellie’s favorite song by The Starry Eyed still motivates her, presses her to keep a secret library in their New York City apartment basement, to risk execution so a tiny bit of hope stays alive.

The Ilori believe that humans are untrustworthy because of their emotions. Books, music, and art are forbidden, as are outbursts of anger or joy.

In Ellie’s quadrant, M0Rr15 is ready to test the behavior-muting vaccine he was ordered to develop – only controllable humans will be kept alive when the planet is reconfigured as a habitation for the true Ilori by the armored lab-made Ilori on Earth now.

M0Rr15 finds Ellie with a book, but instead of neutralizing the Black teen, he borrows the book, listens to music (his favorite thing about this odd planet) with her, and tries to save her family from the vaccine.

Hiding their meetings from the all-encompassing Ilori in-brain communication network does drain M0Rr15’s electrical charge, but is vital as their friendship grows – no wonder the Ilori say feelings are so dangerous!

Ilori command sends M0Rr15 westward across America to fix a vaccine production glitch – and he smuggles Ellie with him!

Can he trust her with his secret plans to save humanity?
Will her parents be safe after she’s left?
How long until the Ilori officials catch up with them?

Told alternately by Ellie and M0Rr15 – “If I fail, what is the point of my life?” (p. 59) – this near-future story of hope versus destiny reaches for the stars and tugs at our heartstrings.

Ask for this debut novel at your local library or independent bookstore as we celebrate the work of Black creators this month and always.

If you could share only one song, what would you choose?
**kmm

Book info: The Sound of Stars / Alechia Dow. Inkyard Press, 2020 (hardcover), 2021 (paperback). [author site] [publisher site] Personal copy; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Let’s keep this BETWEEN YOU, ME, AND THE HONEYBEES, by Amelia Dian Coombs (YA book review)

cover image of Between You, Me, and the Honeybees, by Amelia Dian Coombs. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The contented buzz,
orderly and productive –
bees always tell the truth.

Josie finally got through graduation and just wants to work full-time at her family honey business outside their small North California town.

But Mom insists that Josie apply to college (the chance she never got), and her bossy best friend is more than ready for them both to escape Volana for school in LA.

When the grandson of rival beekeepers arrives for the summer, Josie finally meets someone who understands her anxiety and her love for the bees. Ezra is a manga fan too and really wants to draw graphic novels professionally, despite his father’s disdain for the arts.

This summer, Hazeldine Honey will try for its 25th win for best honey in the state, beating the rival Blumsteins yet again… when disaster strikes.

Why can’t Mom understand that caring for their bees is more important than leaving town?
Will her beloved Gran have to move back with them because of her medical and memory issues?
Can Josie and Ezra keep their relationship secret from their feuding families?

Maybe sweetness doesn’t always have to come with a sting – read Josie and Ezra’s summer story to find out!

What’s your dream that’s outside the expected, tried, and true?
**kmm

Book Info: Between You, Me, and the Honeybees / Amelia Dian Coombs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Gothic intrigue in DIRE DAYS OF WILLOWEEP MANOR graphic novel! by Shaenon K. Garrity & Christopher Baldwin – YA book review

book cover of The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor, by Shaenon K. Garrity (story) & Christopher Baldwin (art). Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A daring rescue,
a ghost in the manor,
a brooding hero with a dark secret…

Haley’s teacher insists that she must write a book report on anything but a gothic romance if the African American teen wants to pass English class… sigh.

When Haley rescues a man from drowning under the river bridge, they emerge from the water into a different world! But what world and when??

The manor house is “three centuries and four European architectural traditions smushed together” on the eerie moors, brooding older brother Laurence says they’re in “the year of our Lord none of your business,” and there’s a ghost that only Haley can see or hear – are they actually inside a book?

Perhaps so, because Haley is now “the Maiden” attired in a long dress, the sinister housekeeper lets a few secrets out, and youngest brother Cuthbert acts more zany by the hour.

But maybe not, because Montague (the brother that she rescued) insists that he was seeking help from her world because a devouring Penultimate Evil was encroaching on Willoweep Manor, a pocket universe that’s the final defense…and there are cracks in the barrier!

As the Bile seeps out, it infects every creature to join in its attack against all things good!

Will the three brothers finally band together instead of bickering?
Can Haley become the Gothic Heroine that Willoweep needs?
Is she trapped in this pocket universe forever?

This clever graphic novel uses every trope, tradition, and cliche of gothic romances to great effect as our intrepid heroine and the desperate caretakers of Willoweep fight to save… everything!

What what you learned from reading fiction that can help in real time?
**kmm

Book info: The Dire Days of Willoweep Manor / Shaenon K. Garrity (story) & Christopher Baldwin (art). Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2021. (author site) (artist site) (publisher site) Book cover image and review copy courtesy of the publisher.

Feathers, wizard, corn fritters – HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM gets complicated! by Jessica Lawson (MG book review)

book cover of How to Save a Queendom, by Jessica Lawson. Published by Simon Schuster BFYR | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Mistreated at the inn, 12 year old Stub has years of apprenticeship ahead, until she finds a wizard in her apron pocket – tiny, unhappy, and magically bound to stay near her!

A plot to disrupt 100 years of peace? A journey across the entire queendom to the capital city? Only a week to get there!?

If the orphan girl can just get the maps hidden by Beaman’s mother, she and pet chicken Peck can escape the constant bullying…

If Beaman can brave the trip, he could cook his specialties for young Queen Sonora herself…

If wizard Orlan can guide them through perils while his magic is diminished, maybe they can stay alive long enough to save Sonora and the queendom!

Magical beasts, treacherous terrain, running low on spices – life in their coastal town hasn’t prepared Stub or Beaman for travel’s hazards, but they must get to Maradon Cross in time.

Can they stop the evil regent from shattering the Peace?
Will they get to meet Queen Sonora on her 13th birthday?
Is Orlan telling them everything about this mission?

Quick thinking, spells and transformations, a century of secrets – find out How to Save a Queendom at your local library or independent bookstore today!

How have your best friends helped you through difficult times?
**kmm

Book Info: How to Save a Queendom/ Jessica Lawson. Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

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?
**kmm

X is excitement & mystery of THE INKBERG ENIGMA, by Jonathan King (Graphic novel review)

book cover of The Inkberg Enigma, by Jonathan King. Published by Gecko Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Strange activity in the bay,
the Castle looms above town,
so many secrets and so much danger!

In a new town for dad’s museum job, Miro satisfies his old book habit by selling old diving gear and things that he finds in the attic.

Glimpsing a deep-sea fisherman wrapped by a giant tentacle puts Miro and schoolmate Zia at odds with the Works fish-processing plant manager who threatens to tell Miss Danforth, owner of their town… and employer of their parents.

Digging into the town’s history reveals a tragic last-century Antarctic expedition, eerie creatures discovered on that voyage, and enduring links that may endanger their New Zealand coastal town even now!

What really happens inside the Works?
Will Zia’s photos expose dire secrets?
Would reclusive Miss Danforth help the teens?

A pitch-black iceberg and a perilous journey – the expedition journal is a book of secrets within this graphic novel of mystery and discovery!

What local historical fact has taken you by surprise?
**kmm

Book info: The Inkberg Enigma / Jonathan King. Gecko Press, 2020. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.