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March 5, 2015

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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 […]

The Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates

The Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates

Considering that it is based on a police case from almost 30 years ago, it is astonishing how much currency Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel has. A black teen is found beaten and apparently raped, naming only “white cops” as the perpetrators before lapsing into silence. The ensuing polarized reactions on the parts of the […]

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, […]

Continuing Mystery Series

Continuing Mystery Series

Today we look at two entries in continuing mystery series – both also parts on ongoing multi-media franchises. The much older of these is, of course, Sherlock Holmes. When last we talked, I mentioned Holmes’s semi-unique place as a character who has leaped the bounds of his original stories. What I didn’t know at the […]

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 […]

Alex Awards Announced!

Alex Awards Announced!

The 2015 Alex Awards were announced this morning (you can find the lists of all the Youth Media Awards winners here). Congratulations to the ten winners: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, published by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt […]

Two Takes on Environmental Destruction

Two Takes on Environmental Destruction

Today, we review two books that examine the environmental destruction of small towns, and the ensuing fallout in the community at large. In Rene Steinke’s Friendswood, the eponymous town has been the victim of chemical leaks from a nearby oil refinery. Most of the town seems ready to move on once the EPA has cleared […]

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 […]

Alex Award Predictions

Alex Award Predictions

MARK: The 2015 Alex Awards–recognizing “ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults”–will be named during the Youth Media Awards on February 2. In our annual quest to pretend we know what we’re talking about, today Angela and I are going to make some guesses about what we think might have […]

The Heart Does Not Grow Back

The Heart Does Not Grow Back

The tagline plastered on the back of Fred Venturini’s debut novel–”Every superhero needs to start somewhere”–may draw in readers, but it may mislead them as well. It is true that the novel’s protagonist, Dale Sampson, has a superheroic ability to regenerate his limbs, but the novel is much less of an origin story than it […]

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 […]

The Rosie Effect: A Sequel That Delivers the Goods

The Rosie Effect: A Sequel That Delivers the Goods

When I read Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, I loved it (and reviewed positively)–funny, charming, sweet, with something real to say about humanity. But I had some doubts about it’s teen appeal, which was the only reason I didn’t give it a starred review. So I was pleasantly surprised when one of our other reviewers […]

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 […]

The World of Ice and Fire

The World of Ice and Fire

As this blog’s resident Game of Thrones reviewer (again, despite having never read the novels), I took it upon myself to read the newest entry into the world of The Song of Ice and Fire, a “nonfiction” companion to George R.R. Martin’s epic world. The book has Martin’s name above the title, but the smaller […]

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. […]

First Frost

First Frost

Happy New Year! Given the frost on the ground in my usually balmy California home, I thought we would ring in the New Year here with the appropriately titled First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen–our first 2015 title, to boot. This book is an example of one of my favorite parts of this blog: when […]