With works by heavy hitters such as Scott Westerfeld, Gregory Maguire, Andrew Smith, Katherine Paterson, Garth Nix, Jacqueline Woodson, and Maggie Stiefvater, this month’s column is chock-full of upcoming YA and nonfiction titles that will have teens adding to overflowing TBR piles. There’s something below for reluctant readers (Peter Jay Black’s Urban Outlaws), history buffs (Timothée De Fombelle’s Vango), aspiring actresses (Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes), wannabe scientists (Sandra Markle’s The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bat ), and Game of Thrones enthusiasts (The Kiss of Deception).
Adler, Dahlia. Behind the Scenes. 360p. Spencer Hill. 2014. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781939392978; ebk. ISBN 9781939392985.
Gr 9 Up–Everyone Ally Duncan knows is jealous of her best friend, Hollywood star Vanessa Park, but Ally is not. Van has always wanted to be an actress, and Ally couldn’t care less about living that life. But when her father’s medical bills threaten her ability to attend Columbia in the fall, Ally knows that she needs to find a way to make money, fast. Van hires her as an assistant, and the protagonist finds that life on the set is just as superficial as she suspected, until she gets to know Van’s costar, Liam. As Ally starts to find herself attracted to Liam, Van’s publicist convinces the actors to pose as a couple to attract more publicity for their new show. Overall, this is an enjoyable pick that merges a handful of topics—family, illness, friendships, and relationships—successfully.
Akins, Karen. Loop. 336p. St. Martin’s Griffin. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250030986; ebk. ISBN 9781250030993.
Gr 9 Up–Bree is a Shifter, one of the lucky few born with the ability to travel through time. For Shifters in the 23rd century, history exams are hands-on affairs. When Bree’s midterm sends her to the 21st century, she bungles it magnificently. The teen manages to kidnap a boy named Finn, lose a valuable device belonging to a temporal smuggler, and earn a ‘D’ for her trouble. Later, when she returns to retrieve the contraband, she accidentally transports Finn back to the future with her. The intricate plot circles back on itself, exploring themes of inevitability and predestination. Akins avoids many of the paradoxes that plague time-travel stories, laying out the rules of Shifting, then tweaking those rules without breaking them. Loop is time well spent.
Angelini, Josephine. Trial By Fire. 384p. (The Worldwalker Trilogy: Bk. 1). ebook available. Feiwel & Friends. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250050885.
Gr 8 Up –Lily Proctor knew she shouldn’t have gone out on Friday night with her best friend, and now boyfriend, Tristan. Lily has powerfully debilitating allergies, can’t handle even a sip of alcohol. When the vodka slipped into her soda sends Lily into a fever-induced seizure, she is transported into another world, Salem, by an evil version of herself. Salem features Crucibles (witches who control technology) and monsters that haunt the shadows. Lily must befriend Rowan Fall, a moody yet irresistible man who becomes her guardian, and train with Rowan and his friends, Caleb and Tristan, to become the strongest witch Salem has ever seen. Meanwhile, the cruel Lillian is doing everything in her power to stop any scientific advances, and will stop at nothing to see the downcast Outlanders that Lily has allied with completely destroyed. Much like Anna Jarzab’s Tandem (Delacorte, 2013) and Shannon Delaney’s “Weather Witch” books (St. Martin’s), Angelini’s latest series opener combines the best elements of a magical fantasy with hints of sci-fi, history, and romance.
Bellin, Joshua David. Survival Colony 9. 336p. ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Sept. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481403542. LC 2013034595.
Gr 7 Up –Fourteen-year-old Querry Genn is a member of Survival Colony Nine, the last remaining human group on a war-ravaged Earth. The colony is nomadic. They must move at the slightest hint of danger or risk being attacked and consumed by the Skaldi, an alien creature that invades and mimics a human host until they eat the person from the inside out. No one lives through a Skaldi attack except for Querry, who miraculously survived—minus his memories. Now, the protagonist’s father, a domineering man who has led the colony all over the desert, is desperate for his son to recover his past for the sake of the colony’s survival. The novel’s premise feels like a mix of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host (Little, Brown, 2008) and Justin Cronin’s The Passage (Ballantine, 2008). The Skaldi are terrifying creatures, but perhaps not as terrifying as the desolate landscape that Querry and the colony must traverse. There’s only survival. Survival Colony 9 will appeal to sci-fi fans who will anxiously await the planned sequel.
Black, Peter Jay. Urban Outlaws. 320p. Bloomsbury. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781619634008.
Gr 5-8–Heads up, fans of Alex Rider: here’s the next thing. Five British tweens use their advanced skills in hacking, thievery, and deception to take from the powerful and give to those in need. In this first book of the series, the Urban Outlaws (Jack, Charlie, Obi, Slink, and Wren) investigate a villain who uses a supercomputer for nefarious purposes. The gripping plot twists through underground lairs, rooftop break-ins, shadowy government interrogations, and more—almost all at night—with all the fancy tech gadgetry, disguises, and awesomely dangerous athletic skills readers could want. Characters, while distinguished primarily by their independent skills, show off their individual personalities with ready-for-television snappy dialogue. A fun, fast pick worthy of every middle-grade collection, this may even catch the attention of older reluctant readers.
Bond, Gwenda. Girl on a Wire. 360p. ebook available. Amazon/Skyscape. Oct. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781477847824.
Gr 7-10 –The Garcias and Maronis, two prominent circus families, have been feuding ever since Nan Maroni had been accused of cursing her fellow performers decades earlier. Not believing in old feuds or magic, 16-year-old Jules Maroni, Nan’s fearless high-wire walker granddaughter, convinces her family to take a gig with Cirque American. The Maronis are greeted with icy stares by the performers, especially the Garcias, but it is not until strange things begin to happen—objects from the past appearing and causing similar accidents as the last time the two families worked together—that Jules begins to take her family’s history seriously. The heroine teams up with an unexpected ally, the handsome and talented Remy Garcia, to uncover the truth before it is too late. With a thrilling mystery, a hint of magic, and a touch of romance, Girl on a Wire takes readers into the fascinating world of circus performers. The characters’ motives are believable and the resolution does not feel contrived. Jules and Remy have a relationship of equals, with each pushing the other to better their performances. There are some sweet scenes between the two, but this is not a romance novel. The excellent quality of the narrative makes it a solid choice for readers seeking a unique setting and a strong female protagonist.
Boyle Crompton, Laurie. Adrenaline Crush. 192p. ebook available. Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300616.
Gr 9 Up–Dyna is a young daredevil and outdoor challenge junkie who loves nothing more than reveling in the mountains and forests of her mid-Hudson Valley home. The teen comes by her thrill-seeking naturally from tattooed and free-spirited parents and an older brother whose addiction is skydiving. A fast and flirty bike ride with a guy from school turns dangerous: Her impromptu cliff climb leads to a desperate fall into a shallow part of the swimming hole—and a splintering open break on her ankle. Doctors warn that it may not ever be right again. Jay, then just an afternoon’s diversion, was there to get her help, maybe even save her life, and the two become romantically involved as Dyna attempts to recover. He is a little tame for wild-girl Dyna, but the chastened and more subdued daredevil likes him just fine. Her mom forces Dyna to sessions at a wellness center for physical and mental therapy, and that brings Pierce into the picture. A young injured veteran, who lost his leg in the course of saving another soldier overseas, Pierce assists Dyna’s therapy group and challenges her assumptions about where her life will go next. Thoughtful teens will enjoy this satisfying read with well-crafted characters and a nice sense of place.
Brown, Rachel Manija & Sherwood Smith. Stranger. 432p. Viking. Nov. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780670014804; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101615393.
Gr 7 Up–Intrigue, feuds, hypocrisy, and a love triangle fill the pages of this dystopian tale narrated by a diverse cast of characters in alternating chapters. After a solar flare, all electronic devices are useless. A mysterious, wounded stranger wanders into Las Anclas (formerly Los Angeles) with a secret; Ross has narrowly escaped the diabolical ruler Voske, who desires a rare book that Ross possesses. Mia’s family shelters Ross as he heals and receives warrior training from 16-year-old Jennie, Mia’s best friend and the town’s teacher. Both teens are attracted to the newcomer, and he can’t decide between them. Authors Brown and Smith create a village in which flora and fauna exhibit flesh-eating powers and symbiotic relationships with select people. Some humans remain “Norms” while others are “Changed,” and therein lies the only prejudice; no one looks askance at homosexuality and all races are appreciated. Stranger is a fresh story with well-developed characters, fast-paced action, a fantastical world, and a hint of romance.
Chang, Leonard. Triplines: An Autobiographical Novel. 236p. Black Heron. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781936364091; ebk. ISBN 9781936364107.
Gr 8 Up–A thought-provoking story of a Korean American boy growing up in Long Island with an abusive, alcoholic father. Lenny observes his parents’ marital troubles and financial stresses, tries to avoid his father’s rages, and sympathizes with his hard-working mother. Though his father has few redeeming qualities, young Lenny does try to understand the source of the violence and drinking—perhaps it was his father’s difficult childhood, or brutal experiences in the South Korean Navy. Readers will root for the precocious protagonist. He’s teased at school by racist bullies, but because he doesn’t speak Korean, he also has trouble fitting in with his mother’s church group and communicating with his grandmother. The story really takes off when Lenny gets involved with an older pot-dealing teen. Sal offers to pay Lenny to guard a patch of marijuana hidden in a swamp, and then help harvest it. The protagonist soon discovers library research as a means to learn about everything, from cultivating marijuana to descrambling cable TV signals. The ending is harsh but satisfying. This is a welcome addition to a multicultural library collection. Teens will relate to Lenny’s desperate wish to understand his father, and his eventual realization that some things will never change.
Chupeco, Rin. The Girl from the Well. 304p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781402292187.
Gr 9 Up –This tale continues and reimagines the Japanese folktale of “Okiku and the Nine Plates.” The title character is a ghost wandering Earth to free the souls of murdered children who live chained to their murderers. The author delivers on this interesting premise, which lends itself to some creepy moments, as the protagonist avenges the murdered children. A human teenage boy, Tark, catches her attention because she can sense something in him, tied to the strange moving tattoos his mother gave him when he was five. As she gets to know more about Tark and his disturbed mother, a friendship forms as they travel to Japan to figure out his story. A dark novel that will appeal to horror fans, lovers of Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl (S. & S., 2008), and also potentially to teens interested in Japanese culture.
Cooner, Donna. Can’t Look Away. 272p. Scholastic/Point. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545427654; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545634014. LC 2013049369.
Gr 9 Up–Torrey Grey (Beautystarz15) is a YouTube teen sensation. Her videos on fashion and shopping “hauls” have earned her articles in Teen Vogue and a league of online worshipers. Younger sister Miranda could not care less about beauty or fashion; her main interests lie with comics and superheros. While accompanying Torrey and a friend on a video shoot, Miranda is killed by a drunk driver while standing in the middle of a crosswalk. Sympathy for Torrey is quickly changed to blame when a video of an argument between Torrey and Miranda, recorded shortly before the accident, is posted. Newspaper articles about the accident and aftermath and tips from Torrey on fashion introduce chapters. Thoughtful messages about regret and the price of fame are poignant without being heavy-handed. Day of the Dead customs are significant aspects of the story, which makes for a unique multicultural twist. The portrayal of the impact of a child’s death on a family is authentic. The protagonist’s pain and remorse are raw and deeply defined. Although Torrey’s story is atypical, common themes of fitting in, boy-girl relationships, and sisterhood are universal.
de Fombelle, Timothée. Vango: Between Sky and Earth. tr. from French by Sarah Ardizzone. 432p. ebook available. Candlewick. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763671969. LC 2013955696.
Gr 7 Up–A thrilling historical adventure set in the mid-1930s, this novel opens with a dramatic scene in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris where 19-year-old Vango is about to become a priest. Just before he is ordained, he is falsely accused of a murder. After scaling the Cathedral, the teen’s exploits unfold across rooftops, on land and sea, and even by the Graf Zeppelin airship. Vango’s journey takes him from the Sicilian Islands, where he was raised by a nanny under mysterious circumstances, to Germany where Nazi power is on the rise. He remains just one step ahead of a determined—and somewhat comedic—police superintendent and several other characters whose obsession with capturing Vango leads to more questions than answers. With numerous characters and a winding and often complicated story, this breathtaking tale is guaranteed to keep teens on the edge of their seats, and will appeal to confident readers who enjoy intricately plotted tales.
Ewing, Amy. The Jewel. 368p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062235794.
Gr 9 Up–Violet lives in a city divided into five concentric circles; with the poorest in the farthest outlining ring (The Marsh) and the wealthiest (The Jewel) at the center. The women of the Jewel are unable to produce healthy babies, so every year girls from the Marsh are tested and purchased to become surrogates; surrogates who demonstrate skills and are able to control the way the baby looks and special talents the child might have. Violet was tested at age 12 and taken from her family to be trained and sold after her 18th birthday. In this corrupt circle, Violet falls in love with an escort who has been hired to teach Violet’s mistress’ niece how to be a woman; a love that is ill-fated. Ewing writes a fast-paced story that takes readers into the inner workings of a society that is obsessed with power and perfection. Fans of Lauren DeStefano’s “The Chemical Garden” trilogy (S. & S.) will enjoy this YA debut.
Fehlbaum, Beth. Big Fat Disaster. 288p. Adams Media/Merit. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781440570483; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781440570490.
Gr 9 Up–Colby is fat, and her family never lets her forget it. Her family appears perfect on the outside—politician father, beauty-queen mother, two perfect sisters. Her father is in the midst of an important campaign when Colby accidentally discovers a photograph of him with another woman. Once her father’s affair and misuse of campaign money are exposed to the media, the image her family has tried to maintain is destroyed. After her father abandons them, Colby, her sisters, and their mother have no choice but to move into a trailer behind her estranged aunt’s house in Texas, and the family blames her for their misfortune. Fehlbaum focuses on many of the issues that teenagers deal with today: body-image shaming, eating disorders, domestic violence, bullying, rape, depression, victim blaming, and suicide. Colby’s story can be emotionally upsetting and frustrating; this book is best suited for mature readers.
Feuer, Stephanie. Drawing Amanda. illus. by S. Y. Lee. 292p. ebook available. Hipso. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780988739444; ebk. $6.95. ISBN 9780988739451.
Gr 7 Up–The aptly named protagonist Inky Kahn attends an exclusive international prep school in New York City. Introverted and artistic, Inky connects with a game developer online and is given a drawing assignment. The teen uses his crush as the model for the project, not realizing that the site is run by a creepy pedophile. The main character and his friends use their unique skills to take justice into their own hands. Feuer expertly leads readers into a deep dive through real and raw issues that young adults face: a parent’s death, overcoming grief, friendship issues, and Internet security. Although there are heavy concepts throughout the story, the topics are handled in an age appropriate way. Lee’s intermittent illustrations help pull readers into Inky’s the plight. A debut novelist to watch.
Finnegan, Amy. Not in the Script. 368p. (If Only). ebook available. Bloomsbury. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781619633971; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781619633988.
Gr 9 Up–Emma Taylor is a Hollywood starlet who is used to living her life in front of the camera. In the tabloids, she’s developed a reputation as the good girl who falls for bad boys. When she is cast in a lead role on the television show, Coyote Hills, with reformed Hollywood bad boy Brett Crawford, both of their reputations are on the line again. While the media concocts a romance between the two, Emma is secretly falling hard for another castmate, fashion model-turned-Hollywood newcomer Jake Elliott. Mystery surrounds Jake’s family life. Their under the radar budding relationship is threatened when the tabloids reveal footage of a kiss between Emma and Brett. Teens will appreciate the behind-the-the-scenes look at celebrity life and the entertainment industry. The drama between Emma and her childhood best friend Rachel, as well as between the protagonist and her manager mother is realistic and relatable. Emma’s wit and humor will keep readers with her right until the end.
Forman, Gayle. Just One Night. 40p. Viking. 2014. ebk. $.99. ISBN 9780698184893.
Gr 9 Up–Forman adds the final puzzle piece to Allyson and Willem’s happily-ever-after in this euphoric e-novella connecting Just One Day and Just One Year (both Dutton, 2013). After spending one life-altering day in Paris with free spirit and charming Shakespearean actor Willem De Ruiter, homebody American good girl Allyson “Lulu” Healey was separated from her Dutch fling and spent the first volume trying to locate him, while ultimately finding herself. In the second book, readers are given Willem’s perspective of that same year. In this slim digital volume, the pair first makes tentative steps toward each other, as they slowly fill in the gaps for each other and anxious readers. As much a comedy of errors as an exhilarating romance, misunderstandings are unraveled, new and old characters are introduced, and twists of fate are wholeheartedly embraced. Fans will devour this enthralling epilogue to the duology. School Library Journal
Grace, Amanda. No One Needs to Know. 240p. ebook available. Flux. Sept. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9780738736259.
Gr 9 Up–Olivia and her twin brother, Liam, are wealthy latchkey kids who don’t see their parents much. Zoey is a working-class girl helping support her single mother and little sister in their rough neighborhood near Seattle. When Liam falls for Zoey, Olivia and the other girls at her school don’t approve, since Zoey has a reputation as a notorious boyfriend-stealer. But when Liam invites Zoey to come with him and Olivia to their lake house, Olivia and Zoey discover a mutual attraction. It’s a surprisingly sweet take on two girls falling in love and struggling with their feelings, their families, and their baggage, but not with any homophobia—not even from the jilted brother, who is surprised but approving. Told in alternating viewpoints, readers see Olivia and Zoey navigate their feelings and their complex social situation with clear writing and a well-paced plot. There is some language and drug usage, but the general message of love and support among different people shines through brightly.
Grant, Michael. Messenger of Fear. 272p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062207401; pap. $12. ISBN 9780062354440; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062207425.
Gr 9 Up –Mara wakes up one day in a strange place. She is confused and scared by her mist-shrouded, grass-covered, pitch-black surroundings. She is soon approached by a beautiful young man who emerges from the mist and calls himself the Messenger of Fear. He demands justice for those who can not speak for themselves by observing their lives prior to their moment with him and playing a simple game of life and death. Mara travels with the Messenger across this unfamiliar universe to confront the truth of why she is in this unique world and what is her purpose in it. Grant’s new series starts off with a bang and never lets up. Mara is a strong, relatable character who stands up for herself, while also regretful of some of the things she has done in her past. The games the Messenger of Fear plays with his victims are gruesome and graphic, which will delight those readers who enjoy a little gore and horror in their books. Even though the twist ending will probably be guessed by those readers who pay close attention to the text, it is still a satisfying one. A promising start to a series with a truly unique concept.
Gray, Claudia. A Thousand Pieces of You. 368p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062278968.
Gr 9 Up–An engaging first book in a new trilogy by the author of the popular “Evernight” series (HarperCollins) that focuses on the possibility of multidimensional travel and its implications. The novel grabs readers from the first page: Marguerite Caine is hot on the trail of her father’s suspected murderer. She and two graduate assistants are able to travel between dimensions using “Firebird” lockets that her scientist parents developed—the theory being that one can only jump into a dimension where a version of oneself already exists. As Marguerite unravels the truth and discovers more about herself with each leap, further questions arise: Is it ethical to hijack another body—even if it’s an alternate version of yourself? Are there cycles of betrayal? Does fate really exist? Background information is weaved seamlessly in this well-blended mix of adventure, sci-fi, and romance that will appeal to a wide audience.
Griffin, Adele. The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. 350p. Soho Teen. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781616953607; ebk. ISBN 9781616953614.
Gr 8 Up –Everyone knows who Addison Stone was, even if they didn’t know anything about her. Addy was a small-town girl with dreams of artistic immortality. Her talent was incredible, and she landed an agent almost the moment she set foot in New York at the age of 17. Soon her life became a whirlwind of parties, love affairs, and bursts of creativity. But Addison was keeping secrets, and burning too brightly. This fictional biography of a visual and performance artist Addison Stone is compelling and tragic from the very first page. Griffin tells the teen’s story through compiled interview excerpts from those who knew, loved, and hated her. The media, which include texts to and from her friends, paint a picture of a brilliant artist full of life and potential, but also reveal the young woman’s unbalanced mental state and her loved ones’ concern. Interspersed are photos and reproductions of the protagonist’s artwork, magazine covers and articles, and interviews with Addison herself for various publications, layering level upon level of reality to the story. Readers will be caught up in the drama right up to the end.
Gurevich, Margaret. Making the Cut. illus. by Brooke Hagel. 384p. (Chloe by Design). Capstone. Aug. 2014. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781623701123. LC 2013050317.
Gr 6-8 –Sixteen-year-old Chloe Montgomery is a self-described fashion addict. Not only does she devour fashion magazines and TV shows, but she is also an aspiring fashion designer. When her favorite fashion reality show, Design Diva (think Project Runway), offers teen designers an opportunity to audition for the teen version of Design Diva, she decides to apply. With the support of her parents, best friend Alex, and a few inspirations, she makes the final cut and lands a spot on the show. Much to her chagrin, her nemesis, Nina, also gets a spot. Filming in New York is more difficult than Chloe anticipated, and the competition is fierce and intimidating. Chloe has difficulty conquering her self doubt and her suspicions about Nina’s true intentions. The fun and frothy plot reads quickly, and the fashion sketches add to the enjoyment of the book. This will find a fan base with fashion and reality TV show addicts alike.
Hidier, Tanuja Desai. Bombay Blues. 560p. Scholastic/PUSH. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545384780; ebk. ISBN 9780545633871.
Gr 10 Up –In this lengthy sequel to Born Confused (Scholastic, 2002), 19-year-old, American born NYU student, Dimple Lala travels to Bombay with her Indian parents and her longtime DJ boyfriend, Karsh Kapoor, to attend the wedding of a cousin, Sangita. As Dimple immerses herself in family, culture, photography, music, love, and a search for self, Karsh embarks on his own spiritual journey, which draws him away from her. Traditions begin to falter when Sangita abruptly announces she is not marrying but instead pursuing a burgeoning art career. Sangita’s sister, Kavita, opens up to the family about her homosexuality. While Dimple struggles to understand her unraveling relationship with Karsh, she has a spontaneous sexual affair with a “Cowboy” she just met. The protagonist and her remarkably progressive desi parents help Sangita and Kavita’s traditional parents accept the liberated lives of their daughters. Visits to Bombay locales, temples, and landmarks add vivid authenticity to this middle-class story of self-discovery. Dimple narrates the ups and downs of her spiritual, cultural, sexual, and social journey in a challenging, often rhythmic “blues” style of inventive words, elliptical phrasing, colors, music, and artistic references. For Dimple, exploring Bombay becomes a liberating metaphor for expressing passions and establishing beliefs.
Hutchins, M. K. Drift. 400p. Lee & Low/Tu Bks. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781620141458; ebk. ISBN 9781620141465. LC 2014002568.
Gr 7 Up –Tenjat is a farmer who wants more than a life of planting cassava on the shores of hell. Hell is their ocean, which is filled with naga monsters that feed on people who get too close to the shore. The teen wants to be a Handler, one who fights the nagas and helps support their island—a massive Turtle on which the islanders live. He does not want to be a farmer or a father who slows down the island by bearing children. In spite of the pleas of his sister, Eflet, Tenjat refuses to get married, and joins the Handlers, even though the group might have been the cause of his parents’ death years ago. Eflet has many secrets of her own though, and they could change the way Tenjat has understood their world. As the protagonist hones his fighting skills, a budding romance with his trainer complicates his internal conflict. This book has an interesting premise rooted in Mayan folklore. The world-building is clear and well-developed; details about the setting’s mythology are deftly integrated into Tenjat’s story and will engage high fantasy fans. Themes of marriage, family, friendship, and loyalty are evident throughout and are not overly done.
Johnson, Alaya Dawn. Love Is the Drug. 352p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545417815; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545662895.
Gr 10 Up –Her mother calls her Emily, but she calls herself by her last name, Bird, and so does Alonso, known as Coffee, the strangely compelling drug-dealer and diplomat’s son who attends Bird’s private Washington, DC, school. When Bird wakes up after eight days in a coma to discover she was drugged at a party and left with no memory of what happened, she turns to Coffee for help—even though the authorities, including the mysterious Roosevelt, insist that he was the one who poisoned her. But Emily suspects that Roosevelt, her boyfriend Paul, and possibly even her scientist parents are involved in a conspiracy: a conspiracy that is connected to the Venezuelan flu, a virus planted by terrorists that is currently killing hundreds of thousand around the globe. The author of The Summer Prince (Scholastic, 2013) writes beautifully. The story is strongest when following Bird, a self-described “assimilated” DC black girl, as she tries to stay true to herself amid not only the terror of the quarantine, but also the restrictive expectations and assumptions of her family and classmates. Teens looking for a fast-paced tale with diverse characters will find it in Johnson’s latest offering.
Johnston, E. K. The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim. 312p. Carolrhoda Lab. 2014. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781467710664; ebk. $12.95. ISBN 9781467724067. LC 2013020492.
Gr 7 Up –Siobhan is a typical teenager. Her hobbies include composing music, hanging out with friends, and driving her first car. Her biggest conflict is whether or not to tell her parents that she would rather pursue music than go to a university. All of that changes when she meets Owen Thorskard, currently failing algebra and potentially the nation’s next great dragon slayer. Owen, nephew of famous Slayer Lottie Thorskard, goes to high school by day and trains to protect the rural town of Trondheim by night. The two teens become friends when it becomes painfully evident that Owen needs a math tutor. Little does Siobhan know that she’s signing up for a lot more than tutoring. Soon she finds herself working as Owen’s personal Bard. Johnston seamlessly blends fantasy with realistic fiction; readers will have a hard time remembering that dragons aren’t an everyday aspect of life. Suggest this title to reluctant readers as the fast-paced plot and witty dialogue will keep them turning pages until the tale’s exciting conclusion.
Knudsen, Michelle. Evil Librarian. 352p. ebook available. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763660383.
Gr 8 Up –If Louise Rennison and Christopher Moore had a bibliographic love child it would be this cheekily narrated supernatural offering. Cyn is initially thrilled when her teasing BFF Annie finally shows signs of infatuation, until she discovers the object of Annie’s affections is the new school librarian. Mr. Gabriel’s attention to Annie unsettles Cyn and readers alike. At first suspecting the creepy Gabriel is a manipulative and inappropriate authority figure (awful enough), Cyn learns that he’s a horned and winged demon. He wants brainwashed Annie for his human consort, when he returns to his realm to fight for the throne with the life essence he’s poached from her classmates. Musical theater crush, Ryan in tow, Cyn fights to save her best friend; enlisting help from the ill-fated, the duped, and the demonic, all while struggling to keep her hormones in check and trying to create a kick-ass barber chair for the school’s production of Sweeney Todd. The protagonist is the most developed character. Her narrative voice and the novel’s dialogue make it worth the read. Occasional swearing, a dash of romance, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments round out Knudsen’s enjoyable comedic tale, reminiscent of the original “Buffy” film.
Lane, Lindsey. Evidence of Things Not Seen. 240p. Farrar. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374300609.
Gr 9 Up –Tommy Smythe is brilliant, awkward with people, and missing. His classmates haven’t seen him, his father can’t find him, and no one knows where he could have gone. As the days tick by with no sign of him, Tommy’s fascination with theoretical physics and science leads some to wonder if Tommy has managed to do the impossible—to step through a portal or pass into another dimension. The story unfolds through interviews with witnesses, scraps of scribbled notes from Tommy himself, and private moments between seemingly unrelated people. Tommy’s disappearance is at the forefront of some stories, at the back of others. Chapters are arranged by lead-characters or items, some more hard-hitting than others, but the picture of a small border town caught up in a mystery and bound by its secrets is an intriguing one that Lane does well. Some chapters do deal with more adult subject matter (drug use, teen pregnancy, racism, prostitution) and adult language is prevalent throughout, but isn’t gratuitous.
Little, Kimberley Griffiths. Forbidden. 400p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Nov. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062194978.
Gr 9 Up –In this novel set in ancient Syria at the time of Hammurabi, 16-year-old Jayden is betrothed to Horeb, future king of her tribe, a contract she views with apprehension. When her mother dies in childbirth, Jayden, her sister Leila, and her father are left behind to bury the dead. While mourning at her mother’s gravesite, Jayden meets a mysterious young man from the south who tells her his name is Kadesh and that he has been stranded in the desert after an attack on his trading caravan. As Kadesh travels with her and her family, Jayden falls in love with him, a forbidden romance because of her betrothal to Horeb. When Horeb turns violent, Jayden must find a way to save herself, her family, and Kadesh. Middle Eastern dance is a major part of this story. The protagonist and the women of her tribe dance to celebrate betrothals, to ease childbirth, and to mourn death. This is a fast-paced, entertaining choice which will appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance, as well as readers interested in this dance form.
Lupica, Mike. Fantasy League. 304p. Philomel. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399256073.
Gr 5 Up –Charlie “The Brain” Gaines may be an average seventh grader in most respects, but he possesses an uncanny knowledge about football teams and a sixth sense about game strategy. A so-so linebacker for his own Pop Warner team, the Culver City Cardinals, Charlie would much rather be on the sidelines, calling plays along with the coach. Best friend Anna Bretton shares Charlie’s passion for football, as it is in her blood—her grandfather and uncle own and manage the Los Angeles Bulldogs. She invites Charlie to meet Grandpa Joe and Uncle Matt at a game, and it isn’t long before Gramps is captivated by Charlie’s commentary. His advice to replace the quarterback with an older and relatively unknown player named Tom Pinkett helps to turn around their losing record. Signing Pinkett to the team turns out to be a winning idea, and when word gets out that the call was made by a 12-year-old, Charlie is hounded by the media and thrust into a spotlight he isn’t sure how to handle. Nearly losing his friendship with Anna, Charlie learns a lesson about fame and valuing relationships. This will be devoured by young football fans, who appreciate intricate game details and won’t mind a touch of heartwarming sentiment.
McBride, Susan. Very Bad Things. 240p. Delacorte. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385737975; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780385907040; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780385371025.
Gr 7 Up –Katie has mostly recovered from the tragedy of her father’s suicide and is excited about her future: graduation and college with her boyfriend Mark, a popular hockey athlete. She attends a prep school on scholarship and has found a best friend in her roommate Tessa. Katie’s senior year takes a sudden turn, though, when a mysterious package arrives at the dorm for her and contains a gruesome object within. Soon she’s questioning who she can trust and trying to piece together a story from a hazy night of partying that resulted in the death of an innocent teen girl. Fans of Sara Shepard’s “The Pretty Little Liars” series (HarperCollins) will appreciate the high drama and plot twists.
Maguire, Gregory. Egg & Spoon. 496p. Candlewick. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763672201; ebk. ISBN 9780763675820.
Gr 7 Up –With one brother conscripted into the Tsar’s army and another bound to serve a local landowner, Elena is left alone to care for her widowed and ailing mother in early 20th-century Russia. When an elegant train bearing a noble her age rolls through their barren village, Elena and her counterpart, Cat, accidentally swap places. Twin journeys to restore their former stations in life lead to encounters with murderous kittens, royal families, and even the famed witch Baba Yaga, and the challenges that lie ahead go far beyond a simple mix-up. Maguire marries the traditional “Prince and the Pauper” narrative to the Russian folktale of Baba Yaga with his trademark wit and aplomb. His lyrical descriptions of the drab countryside are equally detailed and moving as the charmed, floating courts of the Romanov dynasty. Each character is well-drawn and fascinating, whether its the prim, terrified governess to young Ekaterina or Baba Yaga herself, a cannibal with a heart of gold constantly cracking wise in her enchanted, walking house. Egg and Spoon is a beautiful reminder that fairy tales are at their best when they illuminate the precarious balance between lighthearted childhood and the darkness and danger of adulthood.
Martinez, Jessica. Kiss Kill Vanish. 432p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062274496; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062274519.
Gr 9 Up –Wealthy Valentina is taking a chance with falling for her father’s 24-year-old employee, Emilio. It’s a chance that seems absolutely worth it until the night when, while hidden in a closet, she sees him shoot a man point-blank while her father stands and watches. Terrified and confused, the teen flees to Montreal, leaving behind the comforts her father’s success in the art trade have brought her—the yachts, the Klimts and Picassos that adorn her Miami mansion, and the freedom to never have to think about money. Her reality up north is radically different. Accompanied only by Emilio’s mandolin, under the simple moniker Jane, she busks for money, barely making enough to eat, when an encounter with Lucien, a spoiled and cocky artist, lands her a job as his muse and model. She manages to coast by until a run-in with Emilio at an art show spirals her back into his arms. From the heat of Miami to the cold streets of Montreal, Martinez’s modern-day film noir is a wild ride for romance and thriller fans alike.
Nix, Garth. Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen. 400p. HarperCollins. Oct. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780061561559.
Gr 7 Up –Over a decade has passed since Nix’s last Old Kingdom novel, Abhorsen (HarperCollins, 2003), but he has lost none of his skill in depicting this fantasy realm. Nix sets Clariel 600 years before his other Old Kingdom novels, in a time when the king is old and weary and the current Abhorsen prefers to hunt game rather than Free Magic creatures and necromancers. Clariel is a young woman who is close kin to both the King and the Abhorsen but with little knowledge of either. She has reluctantly come to the capital city of Belisaere with her mother, Jaciel, who has been declared a High Goldsmith. Clariel would prefer to roam free amongst the forest near her childhood home of Estwael and seeks any way to escape the odious city with its lifeless streets and political squabbles. Clariel’s instructor in Charter Magic, Magister Kargrin, promises his help to leave the city in return for her aid in capturing a Free Magic creature that he believes is in league with Governor Kilp. Little does she realize the effect that the touch of the creature will have on her or the depths to which Kilp will stoop to assuage his ambition. Nix pens a compelling character in Clariel while his skill in rendering both politics and magic is strong. This excellent work can be enjoyed independently of the other Old Kingdom novels, but will certainly draw readers to those works.
Novak, Ali. My Life with the Walter Boys. 384p. ebook available. Sourcebooks Fire. 2014. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781402297861.
Gr 8 Up –Jackie is used to high-rise apartments, the big-city life, and the prestige of attending a private school. Then, catastrophe strikes and her parents and sister are killed in a car accident. Jackie’s nearest living family member isn’t equipped to take care of her so he ships her off to her mother’s childhood friend, Katherine Walters, in Colorado. Katherine lives on a horse ranch with 12 kids (11 boys and one girl). Jackie arrives to the house to a pretty cold welcome, especially because her new bedroom was Katherine’s sanctuary and art studio. Six of the brothers attend the narrator’s school where the attractive Walter boys are sought after by all of the girls. As she struggles to make friends and acclimate to her new environment, she begins to embrace her newfound siblings. Especially confusing for the protagonist is the palpable chemistry that grows between her and one of the brothers. Ultimately, life with the Walter boys helps Jackie cope with the loss of her family while embracing another one, and pushes her to discover who she really is in this coming-of-age novel.
Ostow, Micol. Amity. 368p. Egmont USA. Aug. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781606841563; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9781606843802.
Gr 9 Up –Can a house be evil? Connor and Gwen know that it can. Two families, separated by 10 years, both move into Amity. Once they do, the house will not let go until it’s wrenched every bit of terror out of them. Connor’s vivid nightmares haunt him even in the daylight. Gwen, brought to Amity by her family to recover from her mental breakdown, senses the danger her family is in, but can’t get them to believe her. Ostow’s YA horror novel, inspired by the true-crime history of the Amityville Horror house, is told in two distinct voices in alternating sections. The thrilling plot keeps the pages turning and provides a few genuine gasps along the way. Steer teen horror fans who aren’t quite ready for Stephen King, Peter Straub, or John Ajvide Lindqviste to this one.
Pearson, Mary E. The Kiss of Deception. 496p. (The Remnant Chronicles). ebook available. Holt. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805099232.
Gr 9 Up –This genre-bending novel begins with 17-year-old Princess Lia, First Daughter of the House of Morrighan, about to undergo a ceremony of preparation for her wedding to the prince of Dalbreck, a man she has not yet met but already loathes. Rather than follow the demands of her father and the expectations of her mother, Lia and her maid, Pauline, slip away before the wedding can take place and travel to the coastal town of Terravin. Disguised as tavern maids, the teens manage to remain hidden until two strangers come to town; young men, each with their own agenda—one the prince Lia should have married, one an assassin bent on killing her. Pearson, author of the popular “Jenna Fox Chronicles” (Holt), has created the first in a marvelous new fantasy series that is sure to find an audience with devotees of Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games” and John Flanagan’s “Ranger’s Apprentice” books (Philomel). Romance, adventure, mysticism—this book has it all and it just may be the next YA blockbuster.
PERKINS, Stephanie. Isla and the Happily Ever After. 352p. Dutton. Aug. 2014. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9780525425632.
Gr 9 Up– When Isla, loopy on medication after a dentist appointment, finds herself in the same Manhattan café as her crush object, Josh, she’s able to do something she’s never managed in the three years they’ve attended the same boarding school in Paris: talk to him. Lo and behold, it turns out that he likes her too, and once they’re back in France, a relationship blossoms. Alas, the course of true love never did run smooth, and pressures both internal (Isla’s self-doubt) and external (Josh’s father’s Senate reelection campaign) force them apart. Is their love strong enough to bring them back together? Fans will relish appearances by characters from Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss (2011) and Lola and the Boy Next Door (2013, both Dutton) in this sweet, charming series third that will make readers feel like they’re in Paris too. Realistic characters, spot-on dialogue, and a truly delightful romance make for a novel that will delight the author’s fans and win her legions of new ones. Library Journal
PHILPOT, Chelsey. Even in Paradise. 368p. HarperCollins/Harper. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062293695; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062293718. LC 2013047956.
Gr 9 Up –Julia Buchanan is an enigma with a famous name—thanks to her father, a former senator. When she arrives at St. Anne’s boarding school in her junior year, the other students observe her from a distance, assuming they know everything about her because of what they’ve heard. Charlotte Ryder, a scholarship student, doesn’t even give much thought to Julia until a random act of kindness brings them together. The girls quickly form the kind of close friendship that, to the outside world, looks like they’re falling in love. Being Julia’s best friend introduces her to a new normal: sneaking out of the dorms at night, spending summers in Nantucket, and keeping dark secrets. As Charlotte spends more time with Julia and the rest of the Buchanans, she begins to love them all as though they were her own family, and they come to rely on her to keep Julia from falling apart. There is tragedy in the Buchanan past, and Charlotte’s need to know the truth—and her growing feelings for Julia’s older brother, Sebastian—threaten to disrupt a delicate balance. Philpot’s debut is a mournful meditation on the intensity of love in all its forms: familial, platonic, and romantic. Inspired by Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the text blends elements from these novels to create something that is a modern romance and classic tragedy.
Pinkney, Andrea Davis. The Red Pencil. illus. by Shane W. Evans. 336p. Little, Brown. Sept. 2014. Tr $17. ISBN 9780316247801; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316247818.
Gr 5-7 –Set during the early years of the Darfur conflict, this stunning collaboration between Coretta Scott King Award winners Pinkney and Evans tells a moving story of the scarring effects of war but also brings a message of hope and inspiration. Twelve-year-old Amira wishes to attend school, but her mother, “born into a flock of women/locked in a hut of tradition,” does not support the girl’s aspirations and expects her to only marry and bear children. In contrast, Amira’s father praises her talents and gifts her with a special “turning-twelve twig” that she uses to sketch her dreams in the goz (sand). These dreams are brutally shattered when the Janjaweed militants invade and cut a swath of terror through her village. After enduring a heartbreaking loss, Amira and her family must rally their strength in order to make the treacherous journey to the Kalma refugee camp. There, the girl is given a red pencil; this simple gift reveals a world of endless possibilities and imbues the tween with a strong sense of agency. Amira’s thoughts and drawings are vividly brought to life through Pinkney’s lyrical verse and Evans’s lucid line illustrations, which infuse the narrative with emotional intensity.
Portes, Andrea. Anatomy of a Misfit. 336p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062313645.
Gr 9 Up –Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl in school, despite being of mixed heritage in an overwhemingly white neighborhood. She’s smart, attractive, and knows that the most popular girl, Becky Vilhauer, is a bully. Still, Anika clings to the tenuous friendship for fear of the total social annihilation that Becky will put her through if she displeases her in any way. When she finds herself falling for former nerd turned hottie, Logan McDonough, she manages to keep their relationship secret by arranging regular midnight rendezvous. In a clandestine act of defiance as employee of Bunza Hut, when she is angered by her boss’s hateful treatment of her best friend/coworker, she exacts revenge by covertly dosing him with her mother’s valium and routinely stealing from the till. But it’s not until her feelings for Logan become muddled by his own personal spider stew that Anika finds her life completely unraveling. Told in the first person, Anika’s droll voice shines, and her emotions are palpable. After a heartbreaking tragedy, Anika’s ending will leave readers cheering.
Raasch, Sara. Snow Like Ashes. 432p. HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062286925; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062286949. LC 2013047971.
Gr 7 Up – In classic fantasy style, Meira is a feisty orphan girl with aspirations of being a soldier for her icy province, Winter, which has been enslaved by a neighboring territory. Her weapon of choice: the chakram, or throwing circle. Meira partners with her childhood playmate, an heir to the throne, in a quest to locate the broken locket that holds the magic for their province. Meira has romantic feelings for this young man, so she is startled when it becomes apparent that she will be used as a pawn to forge a marriage alliance with another territory. As the story unfolds, the history of the provinces is revealed, magic explained, and all is not as it seems. The plot and writing are superlative, and fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone (Holt, 2012) and the like will not be disappointed.
Reilly, Nichola. Drowned. 304p. Harlequin Teen. Jul. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211227.
Gr 7 Up –In the future, there will be only water and one’s distance from the rising tides. This is where strong-willed Coe finds herself with the water always rising on the small island where she has lived since her birth. There are only so many places of dry land left on Earth, and in order to make sure inhabitants don’t get washed away into the tide, Coe’s people, who have dwindled to 496, have created a standing formation in order to stay safe. In this formation, the closer one is to the rising waters, the lower her station in life. Unfortunately, Coe is the Craphouse Keeper, and it’s just as dirty and smelly as one might imagine and closer to the edge of the water than she’d like to be. Then, her former playmate, Princess Star, daughter of the King of Coe’s people, has asked for Coe to be her new Lady-in-Waiting, which brings Coe protection from the tides as well as gorgeous clothes and fragrant baths. There’s also Tiam, the beautiful boy who has stood next to her in the formation since they were children, and with whom she’s desperately in love. But, Princess Star has a plan for him, too. This suspenseful and dramatic tale will make readers feel just as trapped as Coe feels by the rising tides. Coe is an interesting and well-developed character that teens will root for every step of the way, and the other inhabitants of her island provide foils and allies alike. The book ends on a cliff-hanger, and readers will clamor for a sequel.
Richmond, Peter. Always a Catch. 288p. Philomel. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399250552.
Gr 9 Up –Jack Lefferts is trying to find his place in the world. He has a difficult relationship with his father; the two of them have never quite seen eye to eye, until Jack is given the chance to transfer to Oakhurst Hall Boarding School. It is a prestigious academy where Jack will presumably receive an excellent education. Jack’s piano talent is the key to his acceptance into the school, but he surprises everyone by trying out for the football team instead. Jack must balance his time on the gridiron with school work and his music. The story moves quickly as the football season progresses. Jack as well-crafted character, for whom readers will root. Jack faces a true test of who he is and what kind of player he wants to be when he finds out that members of his team are using steroids. Richmond has written a story that will appeal to fans of the genre and authors, such as Mike Lupica and Tim Green. There are moments of teen drinking and drug use that make this title for older readers.
Ritter, William. Jackaby. 304p. Algonquin. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781616203535; ebk. $16.95. ISBN 9781616204341.
Gr 9 Up –Fans of Jonathan Stroud’s The Screaming Staircase (Disney-Hyperion, 2013) will appreciate Ritter’s initial foray into the realm of supernatural. When Abigail Rook abandons university, and her parents’ hopes, she arrives at the fictional New England town of New Fiddleham. There, she promptly meets R. F. Jackaby, a paranormal detective, and is flung into the investigation of a serial killer suspected of being nonhuman. Where Ritter excels is in the fast and furious plotline—events unfold rapidly while satisfying tastes for mystery and a small amount of gore. Avid lovers of fantasy will enjoy this quick read.
Roy, Carter. The Blood Guard. 288p. Amazon/Two Lions. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781477847251.
Gr 4-8 –When Ronan Truelove’s mother arrives unexpectedly to pick him up from school, Ronan assumes she’s just there to give him a ride to gymnastics class. Instead, Ronan and his mom are suddenly involved in a terrifying high-speed car chase by suited robot assassins. Ronan’s mom explains that not only is Ronan’s father missing but that she is a member of a secret society, the Blood Guard, dedicated to protecting the 36 Pure Souls, whose goodness must be preserved to stop the world plunging into darkness and evil. When his mother drops him off at the train station with only the cryptic advice “Trust no one,” Ronan starts to understand why up to now his life has been a progression from one martial arts class to another—he was unknowingly in training for the Blood Guard all along. Conveniently meeting up with Greta, a sarcastic friend from a past school who happens also to be an expert in the use of firearms, and his assigned Blood Guard protector Jack Dawkins, Ronan sets off on a whirlwind adventure, to prevent the agents of evil from stealing the souls of the pure. Although Ronan’s exploits are reminiscent of Alex Rider and Percy Jackson, the background mythology comes from the Christian Old Testament with a touch of Men in Black. Roy writes so well that the story is completely fresh and manages to be funny while dealing with superhuman enemies and apocalyptic terror. Ronan is an appealing hero, and readers will want to see what happens next. A great new series for middle school students who love fantasy and adventure.
St. Claire, Roxanne. They All Fall Down. 352p. Delacorte. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385742719; lib. ed. $20.99. ISBN 9780375990724; ebk. ISBN 9780307977007.
Gr 9 Up –Junior year promises to be life-changing for Kenzie Summerall. It’s been two years since her brother’s tragic death and her mother became seized with a fear of accidents, holding Kenzie practically hostage in her own home. It hasn’t been too bad for Kenzie who has had less than a hopping social life until now. Now Kenzie is voted onto a list of the top 10 hottest girls in school. All of a sudden there are popular boys noticing her in the hall and parties to attend. It all seems like a harmless popularity game until the girls on the list start dying in their own tragic accidents one by one. It is up to Kenzie to determine whether it is simply a coincidence, a curse, or the act of a killer before it’s too late. Part high school drama, part mystery, this fast-paced novel will appeal to a broad range of readers who will have a difficult time putting it down. The surprise discovery at the end begs for a sequel.
Schindler, Holly. Feral. 432p. HarperCollins/ HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062220202.
Gr 9 Up – Two brutal attacks are described in detailed flashbacks: one resulting in death, the other in extreme psychological trauma. Although each event happened at separate times and were miles apart, the victims seem to be eerily connected: both were burgeoning writers on their school newspaper staff; both lived a somewhat marginalized existence when compared to their BFFs; both were victimized in retaliation for their investigative reporting; and one wants the other one dead. Seventeen-year-old Claire Cain was rescued by Chicago police after having barely survived being attacked by a gang for snitching on them to clear her best friend’s name. Even though she’s been receiving treatment for the trauma, Claire continues to relive the horrible attack in her dreams. When Claire’s father gets the opportunity to take a sabbatical from his job to do anthropological research in the small Missouri town of Peculiar, Claire and her dad are hopeful that the change of scene will help her heal. She soon gets swept up in the town’s frantic search for a missing girl named Serena Sims. Claire accidentally stumbles upon Serena’s broken corpse in the icy woods behind the high school; it is surrounded by what seems to be the town’s entire feral cat population. With the discovery of Serena’s body and the casual handling of her death by the local police, Claire’s investigative juices, which have lain dormant for months, resurface driving her to dig for the backstory and the truth behind the heinous act. Readers who like a gripping psychological thriller will thoroughly enjoy this tale with echoes of classic Hitchcock. Issues of cliques, peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem, post-traumatic stress syndrome, teacher-student relationships, and pet abandonment will provide substance for discussion.
Shull, Megan. The Swap. 400p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Sept. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062311696.
Gr 5 Up –This is realistic fiction with a twist—two characters form an unlikely friendship when they swap bodies. Meet Ellie: a girl who lives with her mom and is entering seventh grade with her former best friend, Sassy. Sassy is crazy in love with Jack Malloy, “The Prince.” Jack, an eighth grader, has it all: good grades, athletic ability, great manners, and good looks to boot. When circumstances land both Jack and Ellie in the nurse’s office on the first day of school, they admire the ease at which each other has it in life. The next thing they know, that strange new nurse is gone and they are in each other’s bodies. Now they have to make it through the weekend—filled with soccer tryouts, doctor appointments, hockey practice, and sleepovers—before they can get the nurse to switch them back. Told in alternating perspectives, Shull creates two authentic main characters with unique tween voices. They deal with familial issues (death, divorce) as well as social (bullying, sibling relationships, friends) with clumsy grace. The book is heartbreaking and hilarious. A great, entertaining read that will appeal to boys and girls. Ultimately this is a highly recommended purchase.
Smith, Andrew. 100 Sideways Miles. 288p. S. & S. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442444959; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442444973.
Gr 9 Up –Finn Easton has lived his life in the shadow of a book. As a child, Finn was severely injured and his mother killed in a freak accident: a dead horse landed on them when it fell off a truck that was traveling over a bridge. After the accident, his father took many of Finn’s unique characteristics (his name, heterochromatic eyes, propensity to measure time in miles traveled by the Earth in orbit, struggle with epilepsy, and a particular scar along his back) and made them into a character in a Robert Heinlein–esque novel, The Lazarus Door. The novel has attained cult status around the world and made Finn’s life a nightmare. The only person who treats him as though he is not the character in the book is his best friend, Cade Hernandez, the tobacco-chewing, sex-obsessed, teacher-baiting hero to their classmates, beloved for his pitching skills and his ability to get most people—especially girls—to do whatever he wants. Late in their junior year, Julia Bishop moves in and Finn falls in love. She is creative and funny. When she announces that she is moving back home to Chicago shortly after Finn’s birthday, he is heartbroken, but decides to continue with his planned road trip with Cade to Dunston University in Oklahoma, a school they plan to attend unless Cade is drafted by the major leagues or is given an athletic scholarship to another university. The trip is the first time Finn has been out of California or away from home, and Cade helps him cut the cord by throwing away his cell while on the road in Arizona. This will appeal to teens who like novels with a bit of an absurdist edge, such as Libba Bray’s Going Bovine (Delacorte, 2009).
Smith, Dan. My Friend the Enemy. 288p. Scholastic/Chicken House. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545665421; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545665438. LC 2103042572.
Gr 6 Up –Twelve-year-old Peter lives just outside a small town in England during World War II and is feeling the effects: rations are tight, tensions are high, and many of the men are on the front lines of the battle. A German plane crashes in a field near Peter’s home, and the town is thrown into a frenzy when it is discovered that the German soldier inside the aircraft escaped death by parachuting into the nearby woods. Peter and his friend Kim are exploring in the forest when they come upon the soldier. Seeing that he is just a scared young man, the two friends decide not to turn him in, and instead they find him a safe place to stay and help him recover from his wounds. Filled with action and tense situations, this story will keep readers engaged from its explosive beginning to its dramatic ending; lovers of historical fiction will especially appreciate this interesting take on life on the homefront during World War II. Although Peter and Kim have an emotional understanding that seems beyond their years, their struggles will remind readers to look for the humanity in everyone, even in those considered enemies.
Stiefvater, Maggie. Sinner. 368p. Scholastic. Jul. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780545654579; ebk. $18.99. ISBN 9780545654586.
Gr 9 Up –Cole St. Clair, the bad-boy frontman of the band NARKOTIKA is back in LA and the spotlight. He had it all—stardom, good looks, money, women—and then it all went terribly wrong. Suffering from destructive behavior and addiction, Cole fell hard and then just disappeared. But Baby North of SharpT33th.com has decided to chronicle Cole’s possible comeback or failure on her reality show as he produces his first album since the band’s demise.Complicating matters is his “relationship” with Isabel Culpeper. She knows the real Cole and his dark secret. In order to heal, they both must reflect on what truly matters in life and whether or not they are worthy of happiness and love. Stiefvater’s companion novel to the “Wolves of Mercy Falls” series (Scholastic) is brilliantly written. The alternating chapters from Cole’s and Isabel’s points of view not only drive the plot, but also capture the intensity and vulnerability of these deep, but flawed, characters. This powerful and compelling story is certain to be a hit with fans of the series and bring new ones to the pack.
Talley, Robin. Lies We Tell Ourselves. 384p. ebook available. Harlequin Teen. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780373211333.
Gr 9 Up –As seniors in Jefferson High School’s class of 1959, Sarah Dunbar and Linda Hairston have much in common. Both are strong-willed and smart. Both love to sing. Both are desperate to break out of the mold society prescribes for young ladies. Yet despite their similarities, the teens stand on opposite sides of the school integration debate. Sarah is one of eight black students selected to integrate the all-white high school. Linda hates the turmoil these students have caused in her community and truly believes the pro-segregation editorials her father writes for the local newspaper. But when they are forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda slowly learn to respect each other and—eventually—become friends, and then something more. Set in Virginia, this well-paced, engrossing story features strong female characters living in the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Each chapter title is a “lie” that either Sarah or Linda tells herself as a defense mechanism against intense racial tension and strict gender roles. This format, along with alternating viewpoints, work well with the story. It’s a beautifully written and compelling read.
WESTERFELD, Scott. Afterworlds. 608p. S. & S./Simon Pulse. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781481422345; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481422369.
Gr 8 Up –Darcy Patel, just graduating from high school and accepted to the college of her choice, has a written a book that has been picked up by a major publisher. She decides that instead of going directly to college, she will move to New York City, live on her advance, and edit Afterworlds and write the sequel. She heads to the city with no friends, no place to live, and a sense of adventure and excitement. Lizzie, traveling home from a visit with her father, changes planes at the Dallas airport where terrorists attack and she is almost killed. During those moments when she hovers between life and death and plays dead so that she will not be shot, she travels to the afterworld where she meets Yamaraj, who guides her back to life. As a result of this near-death experience, she can now see ghosts and travel back and forth between the real world and the afterworld; she has become a “pschopomp.” And yes, Lizzie and her story are actually Darcy’s book. Westerfeld has once again written a story with characters so compelling and a plot so intriguing that despite the book’s length, readers still want more. With the interweaving of Darcy’s rewrite of Lizzie’s story, the background of Hindu legend and death gods, and the allusions to the YA literary world, including mentions of the Printz award and BookExpo America, this is a book that can be enjoyed on multiple levels. The blend of realism and supernatural is especially strong. A riveting and unique read.
White, Kiersten. Illusions of Fate. 288p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062135896; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780062135919.
Gr 8 Up –Jessamin Olea earns her way into a boarding school in Albion where she is considered second class by the other students and referred to as “Island Rat” because she is from the island of Melie. She spends most of her time studying and alone until she meets Finn, a young lord who belongs to the nobility of Albion.Readers will be intrigued by the mysterious birds that visit Jessamin as she learns more about Finn’s world and the danger that surrounds him. Lord Downpike, one of Finn’s enemies, is trying to do away with him and only Jessamin can stop Downpike’s wrath. While the protagonist has no powers, she fortunately has good instincts and is about to help Finn. Jessamin is a strong, well-developed character to whom readers will relate; even readers who are not typically fans of the genre may be drawn into the narrative by the realistic voice of the main character. This well-written historical fantasy has romance, suspense, a fairy-tale feel, and a great ending that will leave teens cheering.
Whitney, Daisy. The Fire Artist. 275p. Bloomsbury. Oct. 2014. RTE $17.99. ISBN 9781619631328.
Gr 7 Up –In the not-too-distant future, elemental arts have replaced sports as the world’s most popular form of spectator entertainment. Young people gifted with the ability to control fire, ice, earth and wind are recruited into “leagues,” whose teams perform extravagant stunts before sold-out crowds. Rare and highly desirable, an elemental gift can be acquired legally, through genetics at birth, or illegally, through a directed lightning strike to the heart or through a wish exchange with a “granter.” Aria Kilandros, the daughter of two elemental artists, appears to have inherited no such gift herself. Something her abusive and controlling father, who “want(s) another fire child more than anything in the world,” simply cannot accept. Every night, he sets Aria’s hands on fire in a cruel, crude attempt to release fire power from her body. Desperate to get away from her father and save herself, Aria uses both illegal methods to become a fire artist. And though her ill-gotten skills do catapult her out of the Florida backwaters and into the prestigious leagues of New York City, Aria’s every day is shadowed by the fear that her Faustian bargain will be discovered. Fantasy readers will root for the smart, tough Aria and be awed by her beautifully articulated and actualized desire for independence.
Wilson, Rachel M. Don’t Touch. 432p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062220936; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780062220950.
Gr 8 Up –Caddie is starting over: she’s earned a spot at the performing arts high school for her junior year, and reconnects with an old friend in doing so. Caddie’s parents are also starting over, in new, individual lives. Caddie is pretty sure that her dad will come back, as long as she listens to the part of her brain telling her not to touch anyone. No skin contact would be difficult anywhere, but it’s doubly hard when rehearsing as Ophelia to her crush’s Hamlet. This novel offers a good look at Obesseive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders, though it stops short of exploring treatment and recovery. The protagonist connects with a former therapist, but her healing seems more about pulling herself up by her own bootstraps than utilizing therapeutic methods. There is an Author’s Note describing the Wilson’s own struggles with OCD. Pair with Aaron Karo’s Lexapros And Cons (Farrar, 2012) for another look at OCD in teens.
Wood, Fiona. Wildlife. 385p. Little, Brown/Poppy. Sept. 2014. Tr $18. ISBN 9780316242097.
Gr 9 Up –This story takes place in the mountains outside Melbourne, Australia. Sib’s class is spending a quarter of their 10th grade year at Mount Fairweather, an “outdoor education campus” of their private school. The students go on solo hiking overnight trips, have to follow chore charts, and learn to adapt to shared living spaces. Holly, Sib’s best friend and a drama queen, has dominated their relationship since childhood. Sib is likable but not popular, naïve but not clueless, smart but not a show-off: Why does she cling to someone this mean and insecure? When Ben Capaldi, a catch, moves in on unsuspecting Sib, she’s all aflutter at first. But as she befriends Lou, a defiant newcomer, she realizes that her self-worth is all tied up in what others see and expect of her. Lou, privately battling grief and loss, isn’t an easy person to know or to take advantage of; she’d rather be alone. Still, she’s self-possessed; when she chooses to speak, it’s through a performance of the Beatles’s “Blackbird” that earns her the audience’s hushed silence. Before Fairweather, Lou had another life. Memories of her first times with Fred suggests that puppy love can be the real thing; in fact, Lou and Sib relate losing their virginity with such refreshing candor that Wildlife validates the sexual needs of girls everywhere.
Worthen, Johnny. Eleanor. 356p. (The Unseen: Bk. 1). ebook available. Jolly Fish Pr. Jul. 2014. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781939967343.
Gr 7 Up –This is a fast-paced paranormal story of love and family, remembrance and survival. Eleanor Anders lost her family at a young age due to a tragic incident. As the sole survivor, she fled into the forest for safety. When she was finally saved by Tabitha, she was not quite certain how long she had been in the woods. All she knew was that she needed Tabitha and miraculously, Tabitha needed her. Ten years later, Eleanor is in high school in the small town of Jamesford, Wyoming. She is shy and withdrawn and hopes to go mosty unnoticed. Tabitha is close to death from cancer and Eleanor is petrified of a future alone. Tabitha is the only person on earth that she can trust, and the only person that knows her true secret. When the tall, dark, and mysterious David Venn comes back into Tabitha’s life, Eleanor doesn’t understand why she’s so drawn to him and almost risks exposing her secret to stay by his side. This first installment of the three-part series is based on a Navajo legend. Worthen’s handling of the volatile issues of racism, societal inequalities, gossip mongering, peer pressure, bullying, death, and abandonment will provide readers with numerous opportunities for in-depth discussion.
Zhang, Amy. Falling into Place. 304p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062295040.
Gr 8 Up –Liz Emerson, a junior, “accidentally” runs her car off an icy roadway. Ashamed and depressed about the person she has become; detesting the loneliness when her widowed businesswoman mother travels; tired of being equally admired and deservedly hated by peers, she decides to end it all. Told from the inventive and effective viewpoint of Liz’s childhood “imaginary friend,” illuminating scenarios fluctuate between the hospital where Liz hangs on to life, to Liz’s early youth, to past and present interactions between Liz and those around her. Liz and her two best friends, Kennie and Julia, party hearty often and treat others cruelly, yet it’s Liz who confronts the guys’ basketball team as they sexually taunt a lesbian classmate. Liz pushes pregnant Kennie to have an abortion, prods Julia into drug dependency, and plots to bully Liam who has a crush on her, yet she silently acknowledges and internalizes her faults, wishing someone would make her pay. After an unsuccessful last-ditch effort to get help, she designates herself as that someone by planning her suicide. Although the subject matter is heavy and there are a few easily brushed-off awkward moments, the breezy yet powerful and exceptionally perceptive writing style, multifaceted characters, surprisingly hopeful ending, and pertinent contemporary themes frame an engrossing, thought-provoking story that will be snapped up by readers of Todd Mitchell’s Backwards (Candlewick, 2013) and Gayle Forman’s If I Stay (Dutton, 2009.)
Carroll, Emily. Through the Woods. illus. by Emily Carroll. 208p. ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Jul. 2014. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781442465954; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781442465961. LC 2013030969.
Gr 8 Up –Not exactly a book of fairy tales, these illustrated short stories are more a series of ruminations interwoven with dreams and fairy tales. Classic elements are here—there’s a girl in a red hooded cloak, and a girl who wears a ribbon around her throat—but the entries expand and wander in different (and darker) directions. The illustrations (done in ink and graphite on Bristol board and then digitally colored) fill the entire page, so at first glance the work looks more like a picture book than a graphic novel. The hues are bold and striking, with the color red dominating the pages in the form of sunsets, flushed cheeks, bloodshot eyes, twisted word balloons, a deep crimson ruby, and even pools of blood. This collection contains four new stories and one (“His Face All Red”) that was originally published as a webcomic on Carroll’s website. This is a beautifully rendered but deeply chilling collection of vignettes that will be most appreciated by teens and adults who are fans of fairy tales, horror, and the things that hide in the dark.
GAIMAN, Neil. The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Vol 1. adapted by P. Craig Russell. illus. by P. Craig Russell, et al. 192p. ebook available. HarperCollins. Jul. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062194817.
Gr 5 Up–The award-winning tale about an orphaned boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts is successfully adapted for the graphic novel format by Russell and his cadre of artists. The arresting opening image of a bloody knife sets the tone for this sometimes gory, but often playful, illustrated version. A toddler’s family is murdered by a mysterious stranger, and the denizens of the neighboring cemetery (ie. ghosts, vampires, and even a werewolf-type creature) take on the responsibility of being his caretakers. Renamed Nobody “Bod” Owens, the inquisitive boy grows up among the specters, making friends with a human girl, and escaping from several brushes with death. The panel’s dark blues, grays, and purples are punctuated with vibrant greens, yellows, and crimson red. Each chapter is illustrated by an artist or two, who in turn infuse the entry with their own technique, while reflecting the story’s original heart and atmosphere. This adaptation celebrates friendship, loyalty, and family with similar humor and aplomb. The concluding interlude segues eerily into the next volume, for which middle graders will anxiously be waiting.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
Harrop, Isobel. The Isobel Journal: Just a Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens. illus. by Isobel Harrop. 208p. Capstone/Switch Pr. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781630790035.
Gr 7 Up –Blogger and Tumblr fan Isobel Harrop, 18, shares her thoughts and insights on the highlights of her life. Through a scrapbook-type journal—much like the one teens may have by the side of their beds—full of drawings, taped-in pictures, and ticket stubs, Isobel tells readers about her desire to make beautiful things, and her difficulty fitting in with the arty kids. She shares her feelings on love, wanting to put forget-me-nots inside her crush’s head; and breakups, hating boys who make fun of things she likes. The slightly moody, artistic, confused young adult narrator embodies most teen readers. Reminiscent of Tavi Gevenson’s “Rookie Yearbooks” (Drawn & Quarterly) and Jessica Anthony’s Chopsticks (Penguin, 2012), this creative mixed-media work by a UK teen will devoured quickly—and will inspire readers to created their own illustrated notebooks. For those who are ready to move past Rachel Renée Russell’s “Dork Diaries” (S. & S.)
Liniers. Macanudo. tr. from Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem. 96p. (Macanudo: Bk. 1). Enchanted Lion. 2014. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781592701544.
Gr 7 Up –This collection of comics that were originally published in the Argentine newspaper La Nacion combine elements of different comic strips that have been popular among American audiences. There are several recurring characters, such as Martin the penguin, Fellini the cat, and Z-25 The Sensitive Robot, who find themselves in humorous and surreal situations. The ink and watercolor artwork is vibrant and cartoony, and the artistic style is a cross between the Jim Meddick’s Monty and Harold Gray’s Little Orphan Annie ouevres. Some comics are surreal, as in Gary Larson’s “The Far Side.” A few look at childhood relationships in a nostalgic and sentimental way akin to Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes.” Others mix the sweet and the absurd like Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County.” There is no ongoing story line and each strip stands on its own, so this title would be a good choice for those looking for a sweet, lighthearted graphic novel.
TELGEMEIER, Raina. Sisters. illus. by Raina Telgemeier. 208p. Scholastic/Graphix. Aug. 2014. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780545540599; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780545540605; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9780545540667. LC 2013008700.
Gr 4 Up –Telgemeier has returned with a must-have follow-up to Smile (Scholastic, 2010) that is as funny as it is poignant, and utterly relatable for anyone with siblings. This realistic graphic memoir tells the story of Raina; her sister, Amara; and her brother, Will, as they take a road trip with their mother from California to Colorado to join a family reunion. The author’s narrative style is fresh and sharp, and the well-placed flashbacks pull the plot together, moving the story forward and helping readers understand the characters’ point of view. The volume captures preadolescence in an effortless and uncanny way and turns tough subjects, such as parental marriage problems, into experiences with which readers can identify. This ability is what sets Telgemeier’s work apart and makes her titles appealing to such a wide variety of readers. Not only does the story relay the road trip’s hijinks, but it also touches on what happens with the advent of a new sibling and what it means to be truly sisters. Fans of the graphic novelist’s work will be sure to delight in this return to the Telgemeier’s family drama.–Krishna Grady, Darien Library, CT
For those interested in nonfiction, take a look at these stellar offerings subjects as diverse as author memoirs, how to break into the fashion industry, science mysteries, and a programming with Scratch primer.
Behnke, Alison Marie. Up for Sale: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery. 72p. bibliog. ebook available. further reading. index. notes. photos. websites. Twenty-First Century. Sept. 2014. lib. ed. $34.60. ISBN 9781467716116. LC 2013022607.
Gr 7 Up –“In modern times, slavery has a different face and goes by a different name: human trafficking” states this well-sourced overview of human rights violations. Although the book is fairly brief, it offers a good first look at human trafficking, and the text is substantial enough to provide an overview for those unfamiliar with the topic. Though Behnke includes examples of trafficking in the United States, she also casts her eye globally, looking at debt bondage, sweatshops, forced prostitution, the illegal selling of body organs, child soldiers, and children illegally taken from families and sold for adoption. The narrative is concise, clear, and factual, and there are plenty of photos and text boxes to break up text, though they are sometimes repetitive, and stock photos are occasionally used. While this book doesn’t get too close to its difficult subject, the images and stories, especially those of young people, will inform teen readers. A strong stepping-off point for further inquiry into the subject.
HANCOCK , James Gulliver. Artists, Writers, Thinkers, Dreamers: Portraits of 50 Famous Folks & All Their Weird Stuff. illus. by James Gulliver Hancock. 112p. Chronicle. 2014. pap.$19.95. ISBN 9781452114569.
Gr 8 Up –This quirky visual take on famous figures goes heavy on graphics to present brief profiles of people based around objects associated with them. Hancock explains in his introduction that people’s relationships to their possessions have always interested him, discussing how Che Guevara is associated with his beret or Grace Kelly with her scarf: “Like possessions, small quirks reflect a person’s identity—their clothes, their favorite food, the house they grew up in, the people they know.” Hancock has chosen an array of well-known individuals, from royalty (Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana) to musicians (Elvis Presley, John Lennon) to artists (Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol) to politicians (Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama) to scientists (Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci). Crammed to the brim with whimsical line drawings depicting the subjects’ hobbies, romantic partners, favorite articles of clothing, vices, and more, each page explodes with creative and intriuging details. An irreverent tone runs through the work; for instance, Billie Holiday’s page features an image of heroin with the words “abused this.” Hancock has captured the essence of his subjects with these snarky and humorous mini-biographies. Browsers will be in for a treat, and more artistic readers may even be inspired to create their own portraits of celebrities or friends. School Library Journal
Heppermann, Christine. Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty. 128p. ebook available. illus. photos. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062289575.
Gr 8 Up –Traditional folk and fairy tales collide with feminist observations of modern beauty and hygiene culture in this compilation of 50 free verse and easy to read poems. Each one grapples with the state of femininity with caustic wit, heavy with criticism. Readers will also be treated to moody and eye-catching artwork that complements the poems perfectly. The accessibility of the poems coupled with the striking book cover and photos will appeal to a wide range of readers. The poems should spark interesting questions and insights for contemplation about obtaining a pop culture–derived, air-brushed perfection. Overall, however, this is an engaging and enjoyable volume.
McGuire, Kara. The Money Manual: A Guide to Cash, Credit, Spending, Saving, Work, Wealth, and More. 208p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. photos. Capstone. Aug. 2014. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781623701352.
Gr 6 Up –This solid book explains the choices teens can make now that will impact their future credit and financial life. It is well organized into four sections: earning, saving, spending, and protecting. Each one has three chapters that offer informative options and practical advice. The section on earning covers making money, from getting a job and becoming an entrepreneur to deciphering one’s paycheck. The part about saving discusses options, investing, time horizon, risk, and diversification. Spending discusses budgeting, expenses, borrowing, credit cards, paying for college, figuring costs of college, and tools for financial aid. Protecting your property looks at different types of insurance, as well as how to protect against identity theft and what readers should do if they think their identity has been stolen. Up-to-date tips and resources include statistics, worksheets, sample documents, websites, and apps. Side bars share financial experiences of young entrepreneurs, investors, and others. This handy manual teaches teens about financial literacy in a helpful, casual tone. Clear and accessible explanations will help readers to build a “rock solid financial future.”
Marji, Majed. Learn to Program with Scratch: A Visual Introduction to Programming with Games, Art, Science, and Math. 288p. No Starch Press. 2014. Tr $34.95. ISBN 9781593275433. LC 2013043492.
Gr 5 Up –This book delves into the world of Scratch and the limitless ways in which students can use it to learn concepts relating to logic, math, and digital design. Scratch is an MIT-created visual programming language aimed at imparting knowledge of programming concepts to young users. This textbook-like guide covers the fundamentals of Scratch, building in difficulty as chapters progress. Basic programming concepts such as the usage of variables, string processing, and lists are discussed in detail, as are the different methods in which said concepts can be demonstrated in Scratch. Chapters mimic those from math and science textbooks, with conceptual ideas listed first and followed by rich diagrams and images, a summary, and finally example problems and challenges. Explanations are offered on how to transfer skills learned in Scratch to actual programming languages like Python, C++, and Java, which sets this book apart from other lessons that do not present a clear enough link from Scratch to the real world of programming languages. Overall, this is a solid volume that fills a void in the current literature on how to play with and manipulate Scratch.
Markle, Sandra. The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery. 48p. further reading. glossary. index. maps. photos. websites. Millbrook. Sept. 2014. Tr. $29.27. ISBN 9781467714631. LC 2013030953.
Gr 4-6 –This informative title sheds light on a mystery of nature: how little brown bats, nature’s insect eaters, are mysteriously dying in their caves during hibernation. Each chapter takes readers into the problems that plague this endangered member of our ecosystem, describing how teams of scientists examined how “white-nose syndrome,” caused by a fungus called Pd, is infecting the brown bat population. Scientists have searched different caves and mines in the eastern United States and discovered that Pd affects bats by damaging their wings. Since this discovery, they have been exploring ways to change the conditions so that these small mammals can survive hibernation. The text is written in a clear tone, providing information on the plight of the bats in an accessible style. The book integrates textual and visual information well, and strong back matter allows students to do additional research. An excellent work that will enlighten readers about a growing problem in the natural world.
Morgan, Genevieve. Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School. 256p. bibliog. further reading. index. websites. Zest. 2014. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781936976324. LC 2013951198.
Gr 10 Up –Some students know exactly what they want to do after graduating from high school, whether continuing their education or starting careers. Others aren’t as sure. Morgan’s book targets these readers, taking them through the many options available today—both traditional and nontraditional. Part one is a planning guide and asks readers to analyze what fuels their passions, gives advice on how to make a plan for the future, and evaluates how much money is needed to fulfill one’s goals. In parts two through five, teens are given the pros and cons of each possible scenario post-graduation, including attending college, both two year and four year; engaging in service, both domestic and foreign; obtaining a job, whether getting hired or starting one’s own business; and traveling, for fun, to perform service, or to learn a language. Morgan gives substantial advice and suggestions on how to make the right choice and how to succeed once that choice has been made.
Paterson, Katherine. Stories of My Life. 320p. chron. photos. Dial. Oct. 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803740433; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781101620656.
Gr 6 Up –A beloved author shares family lore and personal history in a collection of stories wending casually from her parents’ youth to her husband’s recent death, with many illuminating stops—geographical and temporal—in between. This set of personal tales offers the same openness and vibrant detail that helped Paterson garner Newbery Medals and National Book Awards. The chapters and accompanying photographs lace together family history with professional triumphs and struggles, sometimes leaping decades and continents in one or two sentences, with many episodes focusing on her family’s experiences during her childhood in China and her own adult missionary life in Japan. Longtime fans will delight in the origin stories dotted throughout, revealing inspirations for familiar characters, locations, and incidents. In the introduction, Paterson dismisses the notion of publishing her memoirs, and the meaningful compilation of anecdotes here does not present as a single, cohesive narrative. Some chapters display a nuanced interweaving and a sense of resolution, while others appear as lists or simple, chronological accounts. Paterson’s Christian faith and her missionary background inform many of the tales, and her robust family relationships suffuse the entire book with contented warmth. For those of us never invited to dinner in Paterson’s undoubtedly welcoming home, this book allows us at least to imagine the stories we might hear while doing the dishes.
Rawl, Paige with Ali Benjamin. Positive: A Memoir. 288p. ebook available. further reading. glossary. notes. websites. HarperCollins/Harper. Aug. 2014. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062342515; ebk. ISBN 9780062342539.
Gr 7 Up –This realistic and honest biography of a young woman living with HIV will draw readers in, shedding light on this difficult topic. Though Rawl was born with HIV, she never experienced symptoms of the virus or AIDS, as she was diagnosed early and used medications. In middle school, she confided in a friend about her HIV-positive status, who told others, leading to bullying and name-calling from fellow students as well as lack of support from her school’s administration. While the experience was painful, Rawl eventually gained control of her life. Now a college student planning to study molecular biology, she is an advocate against bullying and an HIV/AIDS educator. Through short chapters, teens will get a sense of the girl’s life, including her happy childhood, the strong bond between her and her mother, and the difficulties she faced, as well as gain accessible information on HIV/AIDS. Back matter incorporates websites and resources on AIDS, HIV, bullying, and suicide. The book beautifully conveys what it’s like to grow up with HIV, dispelling myths about the virus and imparting useful knowledge.
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. 320p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Aug. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399252518.
Gr 4-7 –“I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins” writes Woodson as she begins her mesmerizing journey through her early years. She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, “as the South explodes” into a war for civil rights and was raised in South Carolina and then New York. Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse, (Martin Luther King is ready to march on Washington; Malcom X speaks about revolution; Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat only seven years earlier and three years have passed since Ruby Bridges walks into an all-white school). She experienced firsthand the acute differences in how the “colored” were treated in the North and South. “After the night falls and it is safe for brown people to leave the South without getting stopped and sometimes beaten and always questioned; We board the Greyhound bus bound for Ohio.” She related her difficulties with reading as a child and living in the shadow of her brilliant older sister, she never abandoned her dream of becoming a writer. With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience, from her supportive, loving maternal grandparents, her mother’s insistence on good grammar, to the lifetime friend she meets in New York, that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss.
Wooster, Patricia. So, You Want to Work in Fashion?: How to Break into the World of Fashion and Design. 192p. (Be What You Want). bibliog. ebook available. further reading. glossary. illus. notes. Atria/Beyond Words. Sept. 2014. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781582704531; pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781582704524.
Gr 7 Up – This inspirational title emphasizes the importance of schooling and finding a niche in the industry and covers all the areas of career interest: design, styling, production, public relations, retail, media, modeling, and photography. A variety of engaging profiles and interviews of successful fashion professionals of all ages is distributed throughout. A special emphasis on teen and young adult fashion success stories will encourage readers to follow their dreams. Relevant quotes from fashion notables often serve as transition markers for topic changes within a chapter. Some simple, black-and-white drawings and handcrafted word art provide a bit of decoration. The text is written without gender bias, and many of the profiles and interviews are of males. The book closes with a few DIY projects to get readers started and a list of resources. Those who enjoy fashion television will enjoy the many references and nods to perennial small screen favorite Project Runway. Teens will enjoy poring over the well-written, relatable text and uncovering new blogs, classes, and even a website that allows readers to create their own fashion magazine. A fun and informative read for fashion fans.
And from SLJ’s Adult Books 4 Teens blog, the following titles are perfect for teens looking to cross over to adult books.
NG, Celeste. Everything I Never Told You. 304p. Penguin Pr. Jun. 2014. Tr $26.95. ISBN 9781594205712.
Lydia is dead. So starts this compelling tearjerker that is a mystery buried inside a painful family drama. Set in 1970s Ohio, readers experience first-hand the racism felt by Asian Americans and mixed-race families, as well as the sexism and bourgeoning women’s movement of the time through the alternating narratives of members of this dysfunctional family. Mom and Dad are trying to live vicariously through their teen middle child, Lydia. She is pressured to pursue a medical career, and to fit in socially; both things that were lacking in the mother and father’s lives respectively. The older brother, who is just on his way to Harvard, and the younger sister are relegated to non-favored status by the parents, and we watch the effects of that dynamic and others as this family struggles with secrets, guilt, and the pain of mourning and not knowing the truth. Readers will find themselves mentally screaming at and crying for these characters, turning page after page, and hoping for solace and answers in this narrative. Not until the very end will they find out the truth about what caused Lydia’s demise, and gain some understanding of the motives for the torturous actions of the protagonists. The somewhat hopeful ending seems a bit forced, but teen girls especially will flock to this book. Hand this one to fans of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002), and tell them to read it with a box of tissues close at hand.—Jake Pettit, American School Foundation, Mexico City
RACCULIA, Kate. Bellweather Rhapsody. 352p. Houghton Harcourt. May 2014. Tr $25. ISBN 9780544129917. LC 2013026339.
Rabbit Hatmaker has been working towards one goal for years: making it to Statewide. The typically reserved small-town high school senior is thrilled to unpack his bassoon for the first time at the prestigious music conference with peers from around New York. His twin sister, drama queen and vocalist Alice, hopes her second year affords her the chance to be a social butterfly and show others the ropes. But neither knows about the murder/suicide that happened 15 years ago at the festival’s Catskills venue, the faded Bellweather Hotel, in the very room to which Alice is assigned. At the weekend’s outset, Rabbit gains instant popularity by speaking up to the arrogant orchestra conductor, while Alice is left in the shadow of her famous roommate, a preternaturally talented flutist and daughter of Statewide’s notorious director, diva Viola Fabian. When that roommate goes missing (Alice swears she saw her hanging from the ceiling pipes) and a snowstorm bears down, tensions heighten as long buried secrets and sublimated desires are forced to the surface for those gathered in the sprawling, atmospheric Bellweather. Racculia tells her multilayered coming-of-age/mystery/suspense novel from a variety of viewpoints, successfully intertwining the haunted past of the world-worn adults with the hopeful future of the gifted teens. Laced with dark humor and remarkable insight, this smart page-turner offers an insider’s look at the competitive nature of high school music performance, the higher stakes professional world, and the complex relationships that lie within both.—Paula J. Gallagher, Baltimore County Public Library, MD
SCHRAG, Ariel. Adam. 320p. Mariner. June 2014. Tr $13.95. ISBN 9780544142930.
A story set in 2006 against a background of gay-marriage demonstrations and the rise of transgender rights. The opening chapter of Schrag’s debut novel finds Adam climbing a tree leading to Kelsey’s bedroom window in Piedmont, California, hoping to score. He doesn’t, and his shame follows him to the cafeteria the next day where all of his friends are paired up and discussing summer plans. How to be cool and avoid more shame? He decides, too quickly, to visit his older sister, Casey, a lesbian, in New York for the summer, and this geeky awkward straight boy is put into even more geeky awkwardness. “This is my shithole,” Casey welcomes him, “And this is June.” June is wearing a T-shirt that reads: I WON’T GO DOWN IN HISTORY BUT I’LL GO DOWN ON YOUR SISTER. Adam notes to himself, in a wry and sarcastic voice, “Just in case the shaved head and bull nose ring hadn’t tipped me off that she was gay.” Thus begins a summer that will change his life forever: he falls in love with Gillian, a lesbian, and she falls in love with him, believing him to be transgender. This unexpected and entirely original love story is laugh-out-loud hilarious, tender, and insightful—an all-around brilliant romp of a coming-of-age story. Teens will feel they have hit the jackpot when they find it.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Juvenile Hall, CA
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