Tag Archive | stepfamily

Listen to African Voices this week on AudioSYNC – free!

It’s finally Audiofile SYNC season! Register free here, then you can download two audiobooks into your Sora shelf free every week (Thursday-Wednesday) through the summer.

Keep either or both of these professionally produced audiobooks on your Sora shelf online so you can listen anytime, on any device.

Enjoy this week’s African Stories, African Voices:

CD cover of The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi, by Ngugi wa Thiong'o | Read by Benjamin A.  Onyango. Published by Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gikuyu and Mumbi (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Ngugi wa Thiong’o | Read by Benjamin A. Onyango
Published by Brilliance Audio

The origin of the Gikuyu people of Kenya is masterfully narrated in this poetic and stirring creation story adventure.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/188758/the-perfect-nine-by-ngugi-wa-thiongo-read-by-benjamin-a-onyango/

http://www.clipartpanda.com/clipart_images/mondays-throughout-the-day-17164159
CD cover of This Book Betrays My Brother, by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit. Published by ECW Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

This Book Betrays My Brother (free Sora download 5/5-5/11/22)
by Kagiso Lesego Molope | Read by Jacqui Du Toit
Published by ECW Press

Thirteen-year-old Naledi stays quiet about her brother’s crime until she realizes years later that the truth must be told in their South African community.

https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/186126/this-book-betrays-my-brother-by-kagiso-lesego-molope-read-by-jacqui-du-toit/

What other African stories would you recommend?
**kmm

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.

V is for VIOLETS ARE BLUE, Wren and her makeup are, too, by Barbara Dee (MG book review) #A2Z

book cover of Violets Are Blue, by Barbara Dee.Published by Aladdin / Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

New town, new school,
same Mom, new stepmom,
same worries, plus some…

They move the summer after the divorce, after her sixth grade sort-of-friends abandon her, after Wren starts learning to do special effects makeup, after Dad marries pregnant Vanessa in faraway Brooklyn.

Wren hides the high-quality makeup that Vanessa buys so she can create mermaids and super-characters like KatFX videos show. Mom adds a lock to her bedroom door to keep the cat out… huh?

When her skills catch the attention of new friends, Wren is asked to do makeup for the school play – turning snooty Avery into so-green Elphaba might be fun.

Kai is really talented – draws superheroes, runs sound and lights for the play. Wren hopes he doesn’t really have a crush on her.

Mom’s an ER nurse on different shifts, sleeps all the time she’s home, pill bottles under the sink… now she’s missing work.

Why can’t Wren make KatFX’s mermaid instructions work?
How can she keep Kai as just a friend?
Why did Dad say she could call him about anything?

Seventh grade year is full of tension for Wren as she tries to balance two families and navigate too many changes at the same time.

When someone you love is in trouble, how do you know when to help?
**kmm

Book info: Violets Are Blue / Barbara Dee. Aladdin / Simon & Schuster, 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.

M is for THE MAN OF THE MOON AND OTHER STORIES FROM GREENLAND, retold by Gunvor Bjerre & Charlotte Barslund, art by Miki Jacobsen (book review) #A2Z

book cover of The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Published by Inhabit Media | recommended on BooksYALove.com

So many folktales, you’ve heard over and over, with slight variations and “happily ever after” to soothe modern listeners.

Not so with this collection introducing us to long-ago stories from Greenland that most folks nowadays have never encountered.

These stories told by elders and parents during the long, dark Arctic winters reflect the difficulties of living in brutally cold terrain where one mistake during a hunt can doom a whole village.

Many begin with “Once upon a time…” like “The Wild Geese Who Made the Blind Boy See” as they punished his greedy grandmother and “Manutooq, Whose Daughters Drifted to Akilineq on an Ice Floe” after their father abandons them on a hunting trip.

It was dangerous to ignore warnings – don’t shout at a harpoonist hunting in their qajaq (kayak) like “The Old Man Who Trapped Children Inside a Rock” and never be rude toward a shaman or else their helper spirits can’t help you find “The Witch Who Abducted Children in Her Amauti.”

Some stories give the history of why things are, like why the Sun and “The Man of the Moon” are never seen at the same time and “The Great Fire, or How the Mussel Came to Be” a coveted food source.

Hunger and death are frequent visitors, and stories of orphans are common – some grow up to be good hunters who provide for all (even after constant bullying), others don’t survive their childhood (even with the help of supernatural beings).

There’s an Inuktitut-English glossary in the back, and illustrations help us place these stories in their habitat of sea and ice, white bears and seals, rocks and snow.

Inhabit Media is based in Nunavut, the northernmost province of Canada, publishing books in English and languages of the First Peoples.

What’s the most unusual “once upon a time” story that you’ve heard?
**kmm

Book info: The Man of the Moon and Other Stories From Greenland / retold by Gunvor Bjerre; translated by Charlotte Barslund; illustrated by Miki Jacobsen. Inhabit Media, 2016. [artist info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

You need to love someone or even like them for ALL THE RIGHT REASONS, by Bethany Mangle (YA book review)

book cover of All the Right Reasons, by Bethany Mangle. Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books / S&S. | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Venting about her dad’s terrible behavior,
privately on her video diary –
oops, on the public channel = goes viral!

It’s a long way from Ohio to Key West, but here they are – fitness expert Mom and 17-year-old Cara, as stars in the new reality show “Second Chance Romance,” here to choose a guy and his kid as a possible instant family!

This gigantic mansion with luxury everything is a far cry from generic oatmeal and overdue bills that made up their everyday life after Dad dumped Mom on their 20th anniversary for a client at the boutique gym that they both still own (and Dad won’t buy Mom’s share).

Together Mom and Cara navigate this new world of filming lingo (another take? really?!) and makeup stylists and designer clothes around the clock and enough to eat, trying to imagine each dad and child as their new family, thankful for their “handler” Sam who tries to keep things rolling smoothly for them.

Cara and Mom have to agree on which pairs to eliminate, which is easy at the beginning, but gets more difficult as they go along.

Brad works hard to woo Mom, but his teen daughter (the shampoo model, as she keeps reminding everyone) is charming to the adults, utterly awful to the other kids.

Connor catches Cara’s attention on the very first evening, but she can’t have a crush on a contestant’s son when they could become siblings, right? He’s so real, so matter-of-fact about how Ehlers-Danlos affects his daily life.

Of course, the show’s producers magnify every conflict or sign of interest for maximum drama! Too bad they aren’t funny and mellow and human like Sam.

Why can’t Mom see past the facades of some contestants?
Which of these kids could Cara live with as a step-sibling?
How can they possibly choose by the show’s filming deadline?

By the author of Prepped (recommended here), who lives with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and is a Korean adoptee with white parents like Cara.

Would you ever appear on a reality show?
**kmm

Book info: All the Right Reasons / Bethany Mangle. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2022. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Lost daughter or just a HOMEWRECKER? by Deanna Cameron (book review)

book cover of Homewrecker, by Deanna Cameron. Published by Wattpad Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Stormy life,
grown up too fast,
Tornado! Where’s Mom?

When her druggie mom is swept away from their trailer park by a tornado, Brownyn is taken in by the family of her long-estranged father, now a rich and powerful senator.

The 17 year old always knew that her birth after David’s short separation from his wife was an accident, hushed up as he rose from young lawyer to the Senate – only once as a kid did she meet his family.

She’s stunned now by their casual wealth, the summer home on the lake, and being accepted by her stepmom and four half-siblings. They’ve always known about her?

Mom’s body is finally found, but she was strangled before the tornado hit! David’s influence keeps the investigation going, even as the media blares out Bronwyn as his secret love-child.

So she’ll get out and meet people, she now works with half-sister Andi (one grade older, YouTube makeup guru deluxe) at the drive-in movie theater. Teenager Ethan next door takes care of their garden, and Bronwyn shares her plant knowledge with him.

But she misses her friends at home, doesn’t think the detectives are really trying to solve Mom’s murder, and decides it’s time to go do some sleuthing herself – Ethan’s more than willing to roadtrip with her.

Was Mom killed over drug money or something else?
How will Bronwyn fit in at a new rich-kid school?
Why is David’s family so nice to her…really?

Secrets old and new collide as the teen struggles to become part of a real family instead of the only responsible person at home.

What long-lost kid story is your favorite?
**kmm

Book Info: Homewrecker / Deanna Cameron. Wattpad Books, 2021. [author info] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Friendship, loneliness & THE CARE AND KEEPING OF FREDDY, by Susan Hill Long (MG book review)

book cover of The Care and Keeping of Freddy, by Susan Hill Long. Published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster | recommended on BooksYALove.com

A hungry lizard amid a cricket shortage,
a sad dad trying to make it through,
a gone mom who made a new family without her…

In their small coastal Maine town, the red-haired boy stealing a cat collar from the pet store definitely stood out to best friends Georgia and Maria.

A new foster kid, Roland insists that his big brother will arrive on August 1st to take him away – the two middle-graders aren’t sure what to believe about that.

Of course, Freddy the bearded dragon is no substitute for her mother’s love, so Georgia is thrilled when her mom Blythe announces that she’s finally bringing baby Rosie to visit… and stay in town, new stepfather and all!

An abandoned glass house in the woods to explore, Maria writing her mystery novel, and the big town parade for July 4th – lots of excitement for the three friends, if Roland’s little foster brother would quit being such a pest.

Can Georgia balance friend-time with being-Rosie’s-big-sister-time?
What’s Blythe’s new big idea?
Why won’t Blythe let Georgia bring Freddy over?

By the author of Josie Bloom and the Emergency of Life (my recommendation here)

What’s the best thing about your town?
**kmm

Book Info: The Care and Keeping of Freddy / Susan Hill Long. Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Ah, France as you’ve never seen it before – journey there with free audiobooks!

This week’s free audiobooks from SYNC take us to an alternate City of Lights, then south to the wonderful tastes of Lyon – read with your ears and dream of travel…

Get your Sora app set up (FAQs here) and download either or both of these complete audiobooks FREE before Wednesday June 9, 2021. Then you can listen anytime you like as long as you keep them on your Sora shelf.

CD cover of audiobook Rook, by Sharon Cameron | Read by Caroline Feraday. Published by Scholastic Audiobooks | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Rook (download free 3-9 June 2021 on Sora)
by Sharon Cameron
Read by Caroline Feraday
published by Scholastic Audiobooks

After the earth’s magnetic poles shift, technology is useless and the world is in turmoil. Among the power struggles of ruined Paris, 18-year-old Sophie works in the shadows to save the helpless from the Razor’s terrors, leaving behind a red-tipped rook feather as her calling card

But can she save herself from a loveless marriage arranged to keep her family from financial ruin?

audiobook cover of  by Mayra Cuevas | Read by Jennifer Jill Araya. Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Salty, Bitter, Sweet (download free 3-9 June 2021 on Sora)
by Mayra Cuevas
Read by Jennifer Jill Araya
Published by Blink

From her Cuban grandmother’s kitchen in Kansas to staying with her father’s new family in southern France for an elite cooking school challenge, Isa finds herself balancing old hurts and new feelings.

I recommended Salty, Bitter, Sweet earlier on BooksYALove – read more here!

What other books set in France would you recommend?
**kmm

MISFIT IN LOVE all by herself? by S. K. Ali (YA book review)

book cover of Misfit in Love, by S. K. Ali, published by Salaam Reads | recommended on BooksYALove.com

She’s ready for yes,
he’s already moved on –
great summer now not-so-great…

Her brother Muhammad’s nikah wedding celebration will be the perfect time for Janna to tell Nuah that his year away at college confirmed she’s finally ready to be together, but there’s hardly a quiet moment as the small Muslim ceremony has become a 300-guest extravaganza at her Indian-American dad’s fancy Illinois lakeside estate!

Between her young half-brothers’ ice cream truck obsession, wondering who her best friend’s date is, and Sarah’s attempts to rein in her fiance’s over-the-top additions to the party, hijabi Janna’s stress levels are rising as family connections and conflicts swirl.

Sarah’s cousin Haytham is a so-charming singing poet, family friend Layth is a brooding young man, and Janna’s long-divorced Egyptian-American mom is suspiciously happy to see a handsome college classmate and his teenage daughters.

Has dad always been such an anti-Black racist?
Is mom’s happiness on hold till Janna leaves for college?
How can everyone have a happily ever after except her?

The story begun in Saints and Misfits (recommended here) continues as Janna tries to envision a future much different than her dreams. By the author of Love From A to Z (recommended here).

Happy book birthday to Misfit in Love!

How to you know when it’s time to let go of a dream?
**kmm

Book Info: Misfit in Love: a Saints and Misfits Novel / S.K. Ali. Salaam Reads – S&S, 2021. (author site) (publisher site) Review copy & cover image courtesy of the publisher.