Saturday, March 30, 2013

Moving right along - BooksYALove's new home base (reflective)

drawing of cat lying atop short stack of old books
courtesy of Dover Publications - free clipart for teachers
After 325 posts, over 275 books recommended, and a goodly number of blog challenges, the BooksYALove blog is finally moving to its own website - - taking all its back-stock of enhanced book reviews, comments, and queries over there, too.

So if this final post on the Blogger iteration of BooksYALove reached you by email or RSS, please come to and subscribe there - takes just a moment.  And do change your bookmark to the new address, as I won't be adding any more book recommendations here.

Yes, I still have a large bookcase filled with last year's books which I'll be recommending on as the TBR2012 Challenge continues through this year, new books arriving daily that I can't wait to tell you about, and 26 never-seen-before reviews for the April Blogging AtoZ Challenge that will appear on every day in April (except Sundays).

The WordCount 2013 Blogathon begins June 1st and will include at least one guest blogger recommending a favorite young adult book, some book haiku, word clouds, and a "favorite five" post. Check back with Michelle in April for free registration; it's a great way to start your blog, enhance your blog-writing skills, and meet bloggers in your field and beyond.  In fact, BooksYALove got its start just in time for the WordCount 2011 Blogathon!

Happy reading continues at - c'mon over!

Friday, March 29, 2013

TBR2012 Challenge Marches On (reflective) - more 2012 titles recommended, more to go!

sketch of tired stickman walking from OpenClipartLibrary
Another swath of my to-be-reviewed-2012 bookshelf cleared in March, bringing my total to 28 this-year recommendations of last year's books, including my January and February lists.

Just in case you missed a few, try these 2012 titles:

The Dark Unwinding - Sharon Cameron

Exposure  - Kim Askew and Amy Helmes  

Mothership - Martin Leicht and Isla Neal 

The Secret War (Jack Blank #2) - Matt Myklusch 

Sisters Red  - Jackson Pearce 

Tempestuous  - Kim Askew and Amy Helmes

Making pretty good progress on the TBR2012 Challenge at Evie's Bookish blog, but wait till you see the list after the Blogging from A to Z Challenge in April!

(sketch of Stickyman Tired courtesy of OpenClipArtLibrary

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Secret War, by Matt Myklusch (fiction) - superhero-in-training with a deadly secret

book cover of The Secret War by Matt Myklusch published by Simon Schuster
Job-shadowing true superheroes!
Saving humanity from brutal invading robots!
Finding the robot virus too close to home...

From a bleak orphanage to the technological marvels of the Imagine Nation, Jack has now found true friends, a productive outlet for his power to communicate with machines, and a growing sense of dread regarding the Rustov virus that has crept into his new home city.

You can get all three books in the Jack Blank series now at your local library or independent bookstore.

Be sure to read book one, The Accidental Hero (my no-spoiler review here) before you meet up with the Secreteers in book two, and yes, I'll have a recommendation of The End of Infinity  (book three) on BooksYALove soon!

How can you tell whether an inner voice is friend or foe?

Book info: The Secret War (Jack Blank #2) / Matt Myklusch. Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 2011 hardcover, 2012 paperback. [author's website] [publisher site]

<strong>My Recommendation</strong>:  Jack has found his place in the world at last, a superhero-in-training in the Imagine Nation. But some still think he has connection to the evil Rustov who won’t stop until they’ve conquered all worlds, and something inside Jack whispers that they might be right!

Called into the real world on an emergency with their superhero mentors, Jack and his classmates have their first brush with the Secreteers who keep humanity in the dark about the Imagine Nation. Selective memory wipes erase the superheroes’ involvement in these outside rescues, although Jack is sure he saw the true form of one Secreteer.

Jack’s gift of communicating with any machinery leads him to investigate the rumored Rustov virus that’s targeting the Mecha citizens of his city – another secret to hide from his School of Thought friends, like his growing concern that he really could turn into the most feared enemy of all.

When a rogue Secreteer announces that he’ll sell any and all secrets of the Imagine Nation to the highest bidder, the young superheroes decide to track him down before he can further endanger everyone. But how can you find the best-hidden place in the universe?

Will Jonas Smart buy the secrets and discover that Jack might truly become Revile?
Can Jack disarm the virus before it infects the city with evil?
Can he dismiss the new voice inside him that swears it is Rustov?

This second book in the Jack Blank trilogy follows the astounding developments in Jack’s life told in book one, The Accidental Hero,  and sets the stage for the mighty war at The End of Infinity,  book three.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Monday, March 25, 2013

April's AtoZ Blog Challenge (reflective) - 26 letters, 26 new book recommendations

drawiing of mouse walking with big umbrella from Dover free clipart
April showers of books!
Twenty-six letters.
Twenty-six blog posts.
Twenty-six new book recommendations.
April showers - of books!

You've heard the expression, "If you want something done, ask a busy person." That must be the reason that I'm taking on the Blogging from A to Z Challenge again this April (especially after my so-so experience with it last year). Mainly, I'm using the A through Z theme to help clear more off my To Be Reviewed shelf of last year's titles, so that will get me further along on the TBR2012 Challenge, too.

Most are fiction books (over half with pre-2013 copyright dates), with a couple of brand-new nonfiction titles to keep it interesting.

AND my new website is nearly done, so all BooksYALove posts (old and new) will be there very soon. I'll let y'all know when it goes live and will leave a notice at this site to make sure folks find it if they come to the party later.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Exposure, by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes (fiction) - Predictions, fame, love, death

book cover of Exposure by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes published by Merit Press
Competitive pals Duff and Duncan,
Three masks predict doom,
Bloodstain that will not wash away...
in an Alaskan high school instead of medieval Scotland.

Welcome to the second book in Askew and Helmes' Twisted Lit series, definitely as brooding as Shakespeare's "Macbeth" which inspired it, as dark as the long winter nights in Skye's hometown of Anchorage, as dangerous as Beth's desperation to rise above her modest beginnings.

If you know the "Scottish play" well, some twists here will still surprise you; if not, you'll find that the plotline is largely faithful to the original, so you will have a better chance of following all the action in the play when you read it yourself.

How far should ambition take us? How far is too far?

Book info: Exposure (Twisted Lit #2) / Kim Askew and Amy Helmes. Merit Press, 2013.  [Kim's website]  [Amy's website]   [publisher site]   [book series trailer]  

My Recommendation: Skye would rather be home in Anchorage, but how could she stay after what Craig did? A boyfriend who killed someone…

The summer that he moved north for his dad’s job, cute sophomore Craig hung out with Skye, but once school started, he was rapidly drawn into the popular clique. Skye would much rather hide out in the art room than listen to Beth and her posse giggle and posture. Just one more year, then she can get out of here…

As photographer for the school paper, Skye at least gets to see Craig through her telephoto lens at hockey games. The team was lucky that he’d turned out to be a great power forward since their star player Duff had suddenly gone to Scotland as an exchange student. Rumor has it that former girlfriend Beth had something to do with that, but now she’s all over Craig.

Skye wishes that everything were as easy as developing film (yes, she’s old school about that). Then she could un-separate her parents, un-commit to going to prom with dorky Lenny, un-hear the eerie predictions coming out of the Native Yu’Pik masks worn by her three best pals for their art project.

She told Craig that the party in the woods would only be a drunkfest, but came along anyway just to make his social-climber girlfriend mad. When flashlight tag in the snow begins, Skye retreats to the jeep, never dreaming that she’d overhear Beth telling him they’d keep it all a secret, never imagining that hockey player Duncan would be found dead beside the half-frozen creek the next day or that the police would still be investigating weeks later.  

Life sort of goes on at school after Duncan’s death, with the crush of college applications, protests against chopping down its 200-year-old courtyard tree, the Running of the Reindeer and other efforts to keep the long Arctic winter at bay. Beth is sure that she and Craig will be Prom King and Queen, despite her increasingly bizarre behavior.

How can Skye go away to college if Mom and Dad really do split up? Money was tight before they separated…
What’s the secret that Beth and Craig are keeping? It seems to be eating away at them…
Are the answers in Skye’s huge collection of senior year photos? Those eerie predictions might be right…

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth under the Northern Lights, this sinister tale uses quotations from “the Scottish play” as its chapter headings in Askew and Helmes’ second book of the Twisted Lit series.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mothership, by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal (fiction) - pregnant teens, space yacht, attacked!

book cover of Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal published by Simon Schuster BFYR
Pregnant at sixteen,
the dad leaves town,
by 2074, some things haven't changed.

But having such a surplus of unused earth-orbiting luxury cruise ships that one can be repurposed into a school for unwed mothers? That definitely puts this book into sci fi category (aliens as high school teachers and vid-ads targeted to your personal nutritional and health needs are just bonus!)
You can find Elvie's rather offbeat pregnancy journey at your local library or independent bookstore as it's a 2012 release (still waiting on publication date for book 2).

Anyone you know been abducted by aliens lately?

Book info: Mothership (The Ever-Expanding Universe, Book 1) / Martin Leicht and Isla Neal. Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2012. [Martin's info]  [Isla's info]  [video interview]   [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation: Elvie wanted to go into space, but as part of the Mars colonization project, not as a pregnant teen in the first-ever low-orbit high school for unwed mothers… Getting attacked by paramilitaries wasn’t part of the plan either, but Elvie still has some brains despite the Bump.

She’s been planning her whole life to travel everywhere, like her mom didn’t get to do, dying when Elvie was born, leaving behind a huge book of maps with notes about future family trips. Her dad has an emergency plan for absolutely any possible (or improbable) event and decides that Hanover School for Expecting Teen Mothers is just the place for her; he obviously didn’t know that Elvie’s nemesis in the Class of 2076 would be part of the school’s first group, too.

And the baby’s daddy? Vanished into thin air as soon as Elvie told him the news. Thankfully, she has best-friend-for-life Ducky as backup; that guy is so dorky about researching pregnancy stuff. Too bad he’s on Earth, and Elvie’s in orbit with snooty cheerleader Britta, who got pregnant a couple of weeks before her. No, Elvie won’t tell her that Cole fathered both babies; she doesn’t have a death wish.

When an unexpected ship docks onto the space cruise liner, Hanover is boarded by paramilitary forces…including Cole, who tells Elvie that her teachers are aliens and that their babies aren’t exactly their own anymore. She decides her baby belongs on Earth when it’s born in a few weeks, so she and the other very-pregnant teens waddle through escape routes and try to sabotage the aliens’ plans along the way.

If the teachers are aliens, what are the paramilitary guys?
Should Elvie believe the handsome hunk who knocked her up and left town?
Will there be any chocolate-pretzel-caramel-prenatal ice cream left in the snack center?

In this first book in the Ever-Expanding Universe series, Elvie’s life changes drastically in a short time; the rest of Earth’s population is in for a big surprise as well!  (Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sisters Red, by Jackson Pearce (fiction) - werewolf-hunting sisters long for love

book cover of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce published by LBTeen
Remote town or crowded city,
more "missing" young women reported,
time to hunt down the werewolves.

The first in Pearce's Fairytale Retellings, Sisters Red  takes the Little Red Riding Hood tale several steps into the present-day with chilling effectiveness.

The Atlanta-based author keeps her Retellings series firmly rooted in today's South with Sweetly (Hansel and Gretel...and Fenris) and Fathomless (the Little Mermaid...and Fenris). Click the title links to go to my no-spoiler recommendations.

Which cover art do you prefer - the new paperback release with the hatchet or the original hardback and paperback art with the two girls' faces and those red wolfeyes?

original paperback cover of Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce published by LBTeen
Book info: Sisters Red (Fairytale Retellings #1) / Jackson Pearce. LB Teen, 2010 hardback, 2011 paperback. [author's website] [publisher site] [book trailer]  

My Recommendation:  Girls are disappearing – time for Rosie and Scarlett to take up their hatchets, don their red cloaks, and hunt down the werewolves again. Perhaps the teen sisters can kill enough of these Fenris before their power becomes too strong…

Closer than twins, Scarlett and Rosie feel like they are one heart divided between two people and that they have a mission to protect people from the Fenris who slaughtered their grandmother, clawed out Scarlett’s right eye, left the March sisters selling off Oma’s things to stay afloat – hunting killer werewolves near and far leaves no time for a regular job. At least Silas is back from California, back to being their nearest neighbor out in the Georgia countryside, even if he didn’t take the traditional woodsman’s path like the rest of his family.

Attacks on young women during the Apple Time Festival reveal that outside clans of Fenris are converging on their area, and the sisters’ scan of the news tells them that Atlanta is getting hit hard. It’s Silas who suggests that they temporarily move to the city to deal with the werewolf outbreak, the three of them hunting together again to keep unwitting victims safe.

Now the trio has a whole new landscape to learn, trying to remain unseen as they stalk the leering men whose skin bursts forth into full fur when their prey has no more way to escape, the two girls donning mysterious red capes to entice the Fenris away from others and into the death trap of their hatchets and knives.

Silas insists that Rosie do something – just one thing – that’s not Fenris-related so she can keep her mind and soul together, so she tries an origami class. In the calm classroom, Rosie wonders if she’ll fight the Fenris forever, if she could have a future with Silas.

What is luring the other Fenris into territory not their own?
Can the three young people stop them?
Is there more to life than fighting away this darkness?

Told in alternating chapters by Rosie and Scarlett, Sisters Red brings an old fairytale into the here and now as the author’s home city is plagued by werewolves.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.