Tag Archive | surprises

V for new friends & very good friends, audiobook-style!

Very fine audiobooks,
and FREE each week!
Summer starts today, with friends in very big situations.

So pleased that AudiobookSYNC is once again offering us a pair of free audiobooks to download each Thursday-Wednesday week from now through 1 August 2019, and the variety is simply stunning.

I’ll highlight the new titles each Thursday, so you can just hit the link, enter your name and email address, then download either or both professionally produced audiobooks to enjoy for as long as you keep the file on your device.

CD cover of Swing,  by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess | Read by Kwame Alexander Published by Blink | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Swing, by Kwame Alexander, Mary Rand Hess. Read by Kwame Alexander. Published by Blink

Jazz punctuates Walt and Noah’s junior year as the best friends decide to make a difference, take chances on relationships, and look toward their futures with intention. Read by the author, this book highlights what divides us and what can bring us back together.

CD cover of Blink & Caution,  by Tim Wynne-Jones | Read by MacLeod Andrews Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Blink & Caution, by Tim Wynne-Jones . Read by MacLeod Andrews . Published by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio

A fake kidnapping, the “victim’s” cellphone suddenly in a hungry street kid’s hands, when another on-the-run teen tries to steal it. Somehow, fidgety Blink and drug-gang escapee Caution decide to turn this into successful blackmail, neither suspecting that the other will stay true to their doomed, crazy plan.

What’s your wildest friendship adventure?
**kmm

T is for Taja whose future is CALLING MY NAME, by Liara Tamani (YA book review)

book cover of Calling My Name, by Liara Tamani. Published by Greenwillow | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Middle sister Taja breathes in learning like she breathes out prayers, wondering how her feelings about God intersect with her parents’ church-centered strictness, why all the rules for Black girls don’t apply for boys, if she can someday go where she is judged just for her own merits.

Grab at popularity like big brother with his new CDs and beatboxing?

Be all talk like little sister on the house telephone? (you know Taja needs her own line, Mama!)

Dare to change like Daddy wanting to learn saxophone as an adult?

From middle school and kickball with friends (praying to need a bra like they do) to high school and crushes that fizzle out or flame bright (Purity Code, meet Houston public schools), track star Taja observes and writes and tries to understand…everything.

Find this debut release by native Texas author at your local library or independent bookstore.

A generation ago, everything was different, but so much was the same.
What memory from your older relatives would you like to experience first-hand now?
**kmm

Book info: Calling My Name / Liara Tamani. Greenwillow Books, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

R for Kimberly Reid & #Prettyboy Must Die (YA book review)

book cover of Prettyboy Must Die, by Kimberly Reid. Published by Tor Teen | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Clever foster kid,
small-time con artist & hacker,
ideal CIA recruit!

The early-training scheme that landed a Black teen from Atlanta in a small Ukrainian town trying to stop a ruthless arms dealer didn’t go well.

So here he is at a new school with a new identity and new friends…but not the only one who isn’t operating under their true name or allegiance!

How do you know who to trust?
**kmm

Book info: Prettyboy Must Die / Kimberly Reid. Tor Teen, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Now undercover at a prestigious Colorado boarding school, Jake is haunted by his first failure as a CIA operative when a candid photo of the 16 year old African American goes viral and the bad guys arrive, more than ready to kill!

Former foster kid Jake has a new identity as Pete for his senior year at Carlisle (double-crossed Ukrainian arms dealers are more than mean), keeping tabs on the kids of diplomats, high-ranking military, and super-scientists – plus his housemate Bunk who lived underground with his dad till last year.

No coincidence that armed hostiles invade Carlisle the morning after that photo hits social media or that the Ukranian hacker has attacked super-secret projects near Denver or that Jake is the only one who can save his classmates and national security!

Someone inside the school let the hostiles in – why?
Mysterious packages arrived recently – for which international student?

The bad guys say that “Prettyboy must die” but Jake is determined to keep everyone at Carlisle alive!

Q = questions, bullies & good-luck pennies IF THIS WERE A STORY, by Beth Turley (MG book review)

book cover of If This Were a Story, by Beth Hurley. Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

If this were a story

…Hannah wouldn’t care about those bullying notes in her fifth grade classroom.
…she would be an even better speller than angry Kimmy.
…her penpal up in 7th grade would be her long-lost sister.

If this were a story

…every heads-up penny would bring really good luck.
…Ambrose the stuffed elephant could tell her the end of their story.
…everything would be perfect at home.

If only this were a story, instead of real life with real questions and serious problems and bad worries…

How would you rewrite the current chapter of your story?
**kmm

Book info: If This Were a Story / Beth Turley. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

O is for Nadya Okamoto & PERIOD POWER (YA book review)

book cover of Period Power, by Nadya Okamoto. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Subtitled “A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement,” this informational book seeks to start conversations and remove taboos surrounding a natural body function for half the world’s population.

Look into the history of period products, the mid-20th century educational pamphlets created by their manufacturers, and modern alternatives to their current contribution to plastics pollution.

Did you ever think about the difficulties experienced by homeless persons during their periods? Of school-age menstruators whose families can’t afford period products? Of trans persons who are reminded monthly of a gender identity that is not their own?

Okamoto’s quest to destigmatize menstruation myths and misunderstandings led her to start period.org in high school, and today the Harvard student continues to advocate through this largest youth-run NGO in women’s health – you can, too!

Donate period products at your next food drive or service project.

Choose personal period product options that are less-polluting and fight against the “tampon tax“.

Keep conversations open so women and men can normalize this fact of life.

What’s your next step?
**kmm

Book info: Period Power: a Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement / Nadya Okamoto, illustrated by Rebecca Elfast. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. [author Twitter] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

N = NEVERWORLD WAKE where time repeats, repeats, by Marisha Pessl (YA book review)

book cover of Neverworld Wake, by Marissa Pessl. Published by Delacorte Press | recommended on BooksYALove.com

One year later,
questions unanswered,
they can’t move past his death

They’ve endured a year without Jim, their graduation without his snarky brilliance, their pre-college summer without the play he was writing, a season and another without their spark, without Beatrice’s boyfriend.

Her friends keep calling, but Beatrice stays in her parents’ Rhode Island house, until the anniversary of Jim’s death finally pulls her to the seaside mansion where they spent so many weekends with their friends away from the private school where he was found dead.

When a stranger at the door tells the group that time has stuck in a loop for them until they agree on a difficult, terrifying, terrible choice, Beatrice knows they must go back to the scene of Jim’s death and puzzle out how (and why) he really died.

Not a mere nightmare they can wake up from – if they don’t make a unanimous decision, they’ll all be trapped in the Neverworld Wake forever!

A psychological thriller and YA debut by the author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics.

What mystery would invisible-you go back to solve?
**kmm

Book info: Neverworld Wake / Marisha Pessl. Delacorte Press, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

M = Matt & movies & A SHORT HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, by Jared Reck (YA book review)

book cover of A Short History of the Girl Next Door, by Jared Reck. Published by Ember | recommended on BooksYALove.com

If his life were a movie

Matt would be a basketball standout,
Best friend Tabby would know that he loved her,
and the accident would never have happened.

But life isn’t scripted, and Matt has to somehow get through his junior year without redheaded, Nerds-fanatic Tabby right next door or being called up to the varsity basketball team…

How do you react when life goes off-script?
**kmm

Book info: A Short History of the Girl Next Door / Jared Reck. Alfred A. Knopf Books, hardcover 2017, Ember paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

L = Laila and her lingering FINAL DRAFT worries, by Riley Redgate (YA book review)

book cover of Final Draft, by Riley Redgate. Published by Amulet Books | recommended on BooksYALove.com

“So talented!”
“Derivative and unimaginative.”
Did both read the same short story?!

Mr. Madison has told Laila all through high school to be proud of her writing style, but now a renowned novelist substitute teaching that creative writing class says the New York City teen’s work is more sci-fi fanfic than true storytelling. Ouch.

Urged by Nazarenko to get out of her comfort zone, Laila timidly goes to a club with her friends for the first time, meets lovely Hannah, and tries flirting, kissing, escaping her Ecuadorian father’s curfew demands.

Laila’s admission to Bowdoin’s prestigious writing program hinges on this final creative writing grade. May inspiration from Hannah and the city night sky be enough!

When have you decided to move from draft to publicly seen work?
**kmm

Book info: Final Draft / Riley Redgate. Amulet Books, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

K is for Kiki, overwhelmed in STARFISH, by Akemi Bowman (YA book review)

book cover of Starfish, by Akemi Dawn Bowman, published by Simon Pulse | recommended on BooksYALove.com

Divorced parents,
everything is always about Mom-
where do Kiko and her brothers fit in?

Not accepted by art school, constantly belittled by her white mother for having her Japanese father’s appearance, and now her creepy uncle is moving in?

Thankful for Jamie coming back into her life and taking her far, far away from the chaos…Kiko has to find her place and make her art.

Family drama sent you on a new path?
**kmm

Book info: Starfish / Akemi Dawn Bowman. Simon Pulse, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Starting her life anew at Prism will take Kiko far from disdainful Mom and abusive Uncle Max in Nebraska, but the New York art school’s rejection shatters her plans.

When long-lost childhood friend Jamie offers to take her to California to tour art schools, she jumps at the chance to be with her brother’s friend whom she’s adored for years…and to get away from Uncle Max.

Half-Japanese and all confused.
Self-absorbed Mom sucks all the joy out of life for Kiko and her brothers.
Away, away, just get away and make her art…

“We all start at the same place, but you’re completely in charge of where you finish,” says noted artist Hiroshi when Kiko visits his art gallery with Jamie (p. 191) – and he wants to see her portfolio, maybe write a recommendation for someday-art-school!

J is Japan and MY ALMOST FLAWLESS TOKYO DREAM LIFE, by Rachel Cohn (YA book review)

book cover of My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life, by Rachel Cohn. Published by Disney/Hyperion | recommended on BooksYALove.com

From nice house to shabby apartment,
apartment to terrible foster homes,
foster care to luxury hotel?!

Elle is stunned when ‘Uncle’ Masa arrives at her latest foster home (showers allowed once a week) with her new passport and an invitation from her biological father in Japan – happy 16th birthday after all.

Being so obviously hafu (half-Japanese) and gaijin (foreigner) is no big deal at her prestigious new school attended by kids of diplomats and business people from all over the world, but utterly scandalous to Elle’s new grandmother (no wonder Kenji was forbidden to marry her Native American/ African American mom).

Not sure she’s willing to believe all the gossip about Ryuu’s past or her dad’s convoluted business dealings

When have you been suddenly the outsider?
**kmm

Book info: My Almost Flawless Tokyo Dream Life / Rachel Cohn. Disney Book Group, 2018. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy from the library; cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Swept from foster care in Maryland to a Tokyo highrise, sixteen-year-old Elle must figure out where she fits in her biological father’s family and the social order at an elite international school.

Once the painkillers hooked Mom after that car wreck, drugs took their house, Elle’s security, and put Mom in jail.

When her never-seen dad offers Elle a home in Japan with him, she’s wary but goes along – to an amazing apartment in his skyscraper hotel with 24-hour room service…and his displeased mother and sister nearby.

Elle has to work hard at school to catch up, wondering why fellow swimmer Ryuu is shunned by the popular Ex-Brat crowd who inexplicably adopted her.

Will she always see her father by appointment only?
Can her new grandmother accept Elle’s mixed-race maternal heritage?
What happens if things don’t work out with her family in Tokyo?

As Elle and Ryuu get to know each other at swim practice, some Ex-Brats go beyond pushy, and business pressures are affecting her dad, badly.