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July 31, 2015

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Angela Carstensen

About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.

The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty

The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty

The title of Amanda Filipacchi‘s latest novel says it all. So many teens are so very conscious of appearances, I can only imagine that this book will incite discussion. The cover and title alone are likely to inspire certain readers to pick it up. It also fulfills that frequent request for funny books (the humor […]

Two Speculative Fiction Genre Blends

Two Speculative Fiction Genre Blends

Two books with huge teen appeal today, both by authors comfortable writing in multiple speculative fiction genres. First, a fantasy novel by Daryl Gregory. You may have heard of Afterparty, last year’s science fiction novel that created quite a buzz and ended up on a few Best lists. I read Raising Stony Mayhall back in […]

Erik Larson tackles World War I

Erik Larson has another best-seller on his hands, this time illuminating a sea disaster to rival the Titanic. Of course, it’s much more than that. The sinking of the Lusitania was man-made, and pushed the United States into World War I. For teens who savor the best YA nonfiction, books like Bomb and Hitler Youth, or Phillip Hoose’s […]

Falling in Love with a Prince

Falling in Love with a Prince

What must it be like to be Kate Middleton? Now, imagine that you are an American from the midwest, with no idea of the rules of etiquette or the finer points of titles and protocols. Just how much would your life change if you fell in love with Great Britain’s next king? The strength of […]

Next Up for Fantasy Readers!

Next Up for Fantasy Readers!

Today we review the first in one fantasy series and the second in another. Randy Henderson’s debut novel, Finn Fancy Necromancy, is fantasy with a good dose of humor, something that can be hugely popular with teens if it hits them right. (Our reviewer notes call-outs to Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams!) The first three […]

Signal to Noise, Music & Magic

Signal to Noise, Music & Magic

I am so excited to introduce this small press title today. Signal to Noise is a perfect young adult crossover novel, full of appeal, diverse characters & setting, wonderful writing–and magic. What I love about this book is that even in the 2009 sections, when its characters are adults, Meche still has that sulky teen […]

Doomboy by Tony Sandoval

Doomboy by Tony Sandoval

French writer Tony Sandoval has created a tour de force of storytelling in his latest graphic novel. In France, Doomboy was an Official Selection of the 2012 Angouleme International Comics Festival and winner of the Coup de Coeur Youth Jury prize (for best comic book). Published in the States last fall, it is ideal for […]

From Medieval England to the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian Empire

From Medieval England to the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian Empire

Two exciting and very different historical novels today. First, a medieval murder mystery set in 1350 England. A 17-year-old is called home to run his family’s Manor after his brothers and fathers are killed by the plague. That’s hard enough, but then a young girl is murdered. We are not the only ones singing the praises […]

A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic

V.E. Schwab is no stranger to writing for young readers. She has published The Near Witch and the Archived novels for teens and the middle grade Everyday Angel series. Last year her adult debut, Vicious, was the top fantasy pick on the RUSA Reading List. A Darker Shade of Magic made February’s Library Reads. It […]

The Nightingale

The Nightingale

I’ve written about my regard for Kristin Hannah‘s novels before. The last one I read and reviewed was Night Road, and we also reviewed Fly Away in 2013. Hannah has a way with contemporary family stories. She writes deeply emotional women’s fiction with great characters, usually facing loss or tragedy. This year she brings those […]

Nonfiction Roundup

Nonfiction Roundup

A group of nonfiction titles that includes something for everyone. Wes Moore is an advocate for youth, education, and veterans (see the 2014 PBS series Coming Back with Wes Moore). He became well-known in library and school circles with his 2010 debut The Other Wes Moore. Now he’s back with an inspirational book of life lessons, […]

The Sweetheart

The Sweetheart

Here is a great debut novel that brings universal themes to a unique and unusual story. The Sweetheart is a coming of age story set in the world of women wrestlers in 1950s Florida. I found an interesting review on a site titled Pro Wrestling Books, by a professional wrestling journalist, John Lister, who finds the […]

Before and After the Apocalypse

Before and After the Apocalypse

Two science fiction thrillers on review today, from two new Simon & Schuster imprints that highlight speculative fiction: Saga Press and Simon451. Lee Kelly‘s debut, City of Savages, could easily have been published YA. It alternates two YA narrators, sisters, as they survive post-WWIII Manhattan. This is a good post-apocalyptic novel, and readers experience the war itself […]

Awards, Awards, Awards!

Awards, Awards, Awards!

I suppose this post should really be titled Lists, Lists, Lists!  But Awards sound so much more exciting! Mark posted the Alex Awards when they were announced one week ago. I was at the YMA’s, and I have to admit that my heart was in my throat when the announcements began. The very first winner […]

Red Rising and The Bone Season continue

Red Rising and The Bone Season continue

Two of 2014′s stand-out debuts continue! Pierce Brown’s Red Rising was on our Best of the Year list. The second book of the trilogy is even better. EW posted a great interview with the author (mind those spoilers!) and you can see the cover of the trilogy finale, Morning Star, on Brown’s website. The Mime Order is the […]

Descent

Descent

Descent is my favorite book of 2015 so far, and one I expect to see on best lists come next winter. Why? Tim Johnston combines edge-of-your-seat suspense with family drama, tragedy, and an unforgettable setting. The characters are real, which is what makes their fates so suspenseful, of course. And it is incredibly well-written. There are […]

Mort(e)

Mort(e)

Here we have a new kind of apocalypse, one in which humans are at war with ants, joined later by cats, dogs, and more. Just what is going on?? Robert Repino’s debut lands somewhere between Animal Farm and those B-movie sci-fi thrillers with giant, mutated insects. Give this to teens looking for something different. Maybe Grasshopper Jungle fans […]

Illusionists

Illusionists

Two books that follow professional stage magicians, or illusionists, top our week. I was completely entranced by The Magician’s Lie, a terrific historical yarn that reads like a modern thriller. The title magician is a young woman, and the only woman making the circuit in the first decade of the 20th century. It is her […]

Inspirational Memoirs

Inspirational Memoirs

One of my favorite books of 2011 was Little Princes by Conor Grennan. It made that year’s AB4T best list, and Grennan is in demand around the country at schools and colleges where his book is a great Common Read choice. I say all of this to give context to the first of today’s books. […]

Two Very Different Memoirs

Two Very Different Memoirs

When I picked up An Age of License a couple months ago, I had not read Lucy Knisley’s Alex Award-winning graphic novel Relish. (We did not review Relish for AB4T last year–we thought it was a YA publication.) I read An Age of License all in one sitting, and basically fell in love with it. The next morning I checked Relish out of […]