Antici…..pation – February 2015

Cover art for I'll Meet You There Cover art for Stone in the Sky






The Book: I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
The Lay Down: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), Feb. 3
Publisher Summary: “Skylar is a trailer-park girl with big dreams. Josh is the combat veteran she never expected to fall for.
“If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating straightedge Skylar from art school is three months of summer… until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.
“Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returned home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.
“What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into a friendship and soon, something deeper.”

The Book: Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton
The Lay Down: Delacorte Books for Young Readers, Feb. 10
Publisher Summary: “The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.
“As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.
“And she’ll be with the boy she loves—who’s also her best friend.
“But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.
“Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought.
“And now it’s too late to walk away.”

The Book: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
The Lay Down: HarperTeen, Feb. 10
Publisher Summary: “Mare Barrow’s world is divided by blood—those with common Red blood serve the Silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.
“To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.”

The Book:  Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale
The Lay Down: Bloomsbury USA Childrens, Feb. 24
Publisher Summary: “After a year at the king’s palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. But the tables turn when the student must become the teacher!
“Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.
“As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen’s interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.”

The Book: Dove Arising by Karen Bao
The Lay Down: Viking Books for Young Readers, Feb. 24
Publisher Summary: “Shy but brilliant Phaet (“Fate”) Theta has spent fifteen years living a quiet existence in a lunar colony founded by scientists generations before. But when her mother is imprisoned and accused of treason, Phaet must save her sibilings from a grim orphan’s future by joining the Militia, a league of faceless enforcers. To survive Militia training, Phaet must rely on her wits, resilience, and fierce ambition—and on Wes, with whom she feels kinship if not exactly trust. But the higher Phaet climbs through the ranks, the more she discovers the world she’s known is a lie.”

The Book: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
The Lay Down: Scholastic Press, Feb. 24
Publisher Summary: “Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.
“Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.”

The Book: Stone in the Sky by Cecil Castellucci
The Lay Down: Roaring Brook Press, Feb. 24
Publisher Summary: “In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.
“After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star Café on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it’s discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula’s worst enemy.”

The Book: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
The Lay Down: Scholastic Press, Feb. 24
Publisher Summary: “Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn’t a member of the court. She’s the executioner.
“As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.
“But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies-a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?”

The Book: Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale
The Lay Down: Bloomsbury USA Childrens, Feb. 24
Publisher Summary: “After a year at the king’s palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. But the tables turn when the student must become the teacher!
“Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.
“As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen’s interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.”

Cover art for The Sin Eater's Daughter  Cover art Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters

Antici….pation January 2015

January means lots of exciting new books on the menu! (And a new year means trying to get back in the habit of reviewing books again…) As always, summary information comes from Edelweiss.

 Cover art for All the Bright Places    Cover art for The Darkest Part of the Forest    Cover art for X: A Novel

The book:  The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Publisher & date:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Jan. 6

Publisher description: “Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

“At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointy as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

“Until one day, he does…
“As the world turns upside down and a hero is needed to save them all, Hazel tries to remember her years spent pretending to be a knight. But swept up in new love, shifting loyalties, and the fresh sting of betrayal, will it be enough?”

The book:  X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz, Kekla Magoon

Publisher & date:  Candlewick, Jan. 6

Publisher description: “Malcolm Little’s parents have always told him that he can achieve anything, but from what he can tell, that’s a pack of lies-after all, his father’s been murdered, his mother’s been taken away, and his dreams of becoming a lawyer have gotten him laughed out of school. There’s no point in trying, he figures, and lured by the nightlife of Boston and New York, he escapes into a world of fancy suits, jazz, girls, and reefer. But Malcolm’s efforts to leave the past behind lead him into increasingly dangerous territory. Deep down, he knows that the freedom he’s found is only an illusion-and that he can’t run forever.

“X follows Malcolm from his childhood to his imprisonment for theft at age twenty, when he found the faith that would lead him to forge a new path and command a voice that still resonates today.

The book:  All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Publisher & date:  Knopf Books for Young Readers, Jan. 6

Publisher description: “Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

“Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

“When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself-a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.”

The book: The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

Publisher & date:  Atheneum books for Young Readers, Jan. 6

Publisher description: “Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more—and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down—in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

“Just when seventeen-year-old Matt thinks he can’t handle one more piece of terrible news, he meets a girl who’s dealt with a lot more-and who just might be able to clue him in on how to rise up when life keeps knocking him down-in this wry, gritty novel from the author of When I Was the Greatest.

“Matt wears a black suit every day. No, not because his mom died-although she did, and it sucks. But he wears the suit for his gig at the local funeral home, which pays way better than the Cluck Bucket, and he needs the income since his dad can’t handle the bills (or anything, really) on his own. So while Dad’s snagging bottles of whiskey, Matt’s snagging fifteen bucks an hour. Not bad. But everything else? Not good. Then Matt meets Lovey. She’s got a crazy name, and she’s been through more crazy than he can imagine. Yet Lovey never cries. She’s tough. Really tough. Tough in the way Matt wishes he could be. Which is maybe why he’s drawn to her, and definitely why he can’t seem to shake her. Because there’s nothing more hopeful than finding a person who understands your loneliness-and who can maybe even help take it away.”

The book: Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland

Publisher & date:  Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Jan. 13

Publisher description: “Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changed when her sister was murdered—and Zephyr used a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.

“On the run from a punishment worse than death, an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend upends Zephyr’s world—and not only because her old friend has grown surprisingly, extremely hot. It seems that Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess that is prophesied to shift the power balance: for hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.

“But how is she supposed to save everyone else when she can barely take care of herself?”

The book: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson, Christine Larsen

Publisher & date:  Simon Pulse, Jan. 20

Publisher description: “Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night, just like the rest of his family.

“Now he lives in the hospital, serving food in the cafeteria, hanging out with the nurses, sleeping in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. His only solace is in the world of the superhero he’s created—Patient F.

“Then, one night, Rusty is wheeled into the ER, half his body burned by hateful classmates. Rusty’s agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together though all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside of the hospital, and away from their pasts.

“But to save Rusty, Drew will have to confront Death, and life will have to get worse before it gets better. And by telling the truth about who he really is, Drew risks destroying any chance of a future.”

The book: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

Publisher & date:  Scholastic Press, Jan. 20

Publisher description: “This exciting new series from […] bestselling author Ally Carter focuses on Grace, who can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world, and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

“Now, at age sixteen, she’s come back to stay–in order to solve the mystery of her mother’s death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.”

The book: Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars mystery) by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

Publisher & date:  Vintage, Jan. 20

Publisher description: “The Neptune Grand has always been Neptune’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and sensationalized events that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and smuggled out and left for dead by its staff, the owners know that they have a problem on their hands. They turn to Veronica Mars-instead of her father and new partner, Keith-to help disprove the woman’s story. It’s true that something doesn’t add up. While security footage clearly shows the woman entering the hotel, there is no evidence that she ever left; how did she end up in that field? And why? As Veronica digs deeper, and exposes a clientele that the hotel would rather not advertise, she finds herself on the trail of a mystery man known only as “Mr. Kiss and Tell.””

The book: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles – Levana’s Story) by Marissa Meyer

Publisher & date:  Feiwel & Friends, Jan. 27

Publisher description: “Fans of the Lunar Chronicles know Queen Levana as a ruler who uses her “glamour” to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story – a story that has never been told . . . until now.”

Antici….pation – December 2014

Well, December is often a quieter month in terms of the books coming out, so this list will include some genres that usually don’t appear, including a fascinating sounding history about books and World War II. (So want!) As usual, publisher summaries come from Edelweiss.


The book:  Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Publisher & date:  Skyscape, Dec. 1

Publisher description: “When Penny Farthing nearly died, the brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick managed to implant a brass “Ticker,” transforming her into “the first of the Augmented!” But soon it was discovered that Warwick kidnapped and killed dozens of people striving to perfect another Ticker for Penny.

“The last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthing factory is bombed, Warwick disappears, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom demand for all of their Augmentation notes if they want to see their parents again. Who is trying to stop their work? Or to control it? Or is the motive more sinister?

“Determined to solve the mystery and reunite their family, the Farthings recruit their closest friends: fiery baker Violet Nesselrode and gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling. Unexpectedly leading the charge is Marcus Kingsley, the young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.”


The book:  When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning

Publisher & date:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Dec. 2

Publisher description: “While the Nazis were burning hundreds of millions of books across Europe, America printed and shipped 140 million books to its troops. The story of how the books were received, how they connected soldiers with authors, and how an army of librarians and publishers lifted spirits and built a new democratic audience of readers is as inspiring today as it was then.

“When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned over 100 million books and caused fearful citizens to hide or destroy many more. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks, for troops to carry in their pockets and their rucksacks, in every theater of war.

“Comprising 1,200 different titles of every imaginable type, these paperbacks were beloved by the troops and are still fondly remembered today. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy; in hellish trenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific; in field hospitals; and on long bombing flights. They wrote to the authors, many of whom responded to every letter. They helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity. They made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into a national icon. When Books Went to War is an inspiring story for history buffs and book lovers alike.”


The book:  Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream by Joshua Davis

Publisher & date:  FSG Originals, Dec. 2

Publisher description: “In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.

“And build a robot they did. Their robot wasn’t pretty, especially compared to those of the competition. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition—and yet, against all odds . . . they won!

“But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan.”


The book:  This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Publisher & date:  Disney-Hyperion, Dec. 23

Publisher description: “Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

“Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

“Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. His sister died in the original uprising against the powerful corporate conglomerate that rules Avon with an iron fist. These corporations make their fortune by terraforming uninhabitable planets across the universe and recruiting colonists to make the planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

“Desperate for any advantage against the military occupying his home, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape base together, caught between two sides in a senseless war.”

Antici…..pation – November 2014

November, cooler temperatures, shorter days (so much shorter) – it means evenings spent reading. Summaries come from edelweiss.

Cover artwork for Mortal Heart The book:  Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
Publisher & date:  HMH Books for Young Readers, Nov. 4
Publisher description: “In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever’s New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

“She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.”


Cover artwork for The Walled CityThe book:  The Walled City by Ryan Graudin
Publisher & date:  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Nov. 4
Publisher description: The Maze Runner meets Legend in this realistic race against the clock to escape a lawless labyrinth

730. That’s how many days I’ve been trapped.

18. That’s how many days I have left to find a way out.

“DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible….
“JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister….
“MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She’s about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window…..
“In this innovative and adrenaline-fueled novel, they all come together in a desperate attempt to escape a lawless labyrinth before the clock runs out.”
The book:  Tainted Blood: A Generation V Novel by M. L. Brennan
Publisher & date:  Roc, Nov. 4
Publisher description: “When the leader of a powerful shifter group is murdered, it’s up to Fortitude Scott to navigate dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas to track down a killer. And even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to find the paranormal assassin…”
(Me: Thoroughly enjoyed books 1 & 2 of this urban fantasy – will be reading 3 shortly!)
The book:  Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie Dunne
Publisher & date:  Harper Voyager Impulse, November
Publisher description: “Everybody in Chicago has a “superhero sighting” story. So when a villain attacks editorial assistant Gail Godwin and she’s rescued by superhero Blaze, it’s a great story, and nothing more. Until it happens again. And again. Now the media has dubbed her Hostage Girl, nobody remembers her real name, and people are convinced that Blaze is just her boyfriend, Jeremy, in disguise.

“Gail’s not so sure. All she knows is that when both Jeremy and Blaze leave town in the same week, she’s probably doomed. Who will save her now?

“Yet, miraculously, the villains lose interest. Gail is able to return to her life … until she wakes up strapped to a metal table by a mad scientist who hasn’t read the news. After escaping—now more than human herself—she’s drawn into a secret underground world of superheroes. She’ll have to come to terms with her powers (and weaknesses) to make it in the new society, and it’s not easy. After all, there’s a new villain on the rise, and she has her sights set on the one and only Hostage Girl.”

The book: Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrathlike water on stone
Publisher & date: Delacorte Press, Nov. 11
Publisher description: “It is 1914, and the Ottoman Empire is crumbling into violence.
“Beyond Anatolia, in the Armenian Highlands, Shahen Donabedian dreams of going to New York. Sosi, his twin sister, never wants to leave her home, especially now that she is in love. At first, only Papa, who counts Turks and Kurds among his closest friends, stands in Shahen’s way. But when the Ottoman pashas set in motion their plans to eliminate all Armenians, neither twin has a choice.
“After a horrifying attack leaves them orphaned, they flee into the mountains, carrying their little sister, Mariam. But the children are not alone. An eagle watches over them as they run at night and hide each day, making their way across mountain ridges and rivers red with blood.”

citizen simThe book:  Citizen Sim: Cradle of the Stars by Michael Solana
Publisher & date:  Prospecta Press, November
Publisher description: “Johnny Clark is an ordinary, teenaged slacker from an ordinary family in an ordinary town. But when he wakes up on his fifteenth birthday with memories and abilities that don’t belong to him, he’s strangely compelled to build a machine that turns him invisible and erases his entire life. Now, with the help of Layla Storm, a rambunctious, teenaged girl with a taste for trouble and a secret that could end the world, he must escape demonic creatures and a lethal band of interstellar assassins as he races to uncover the extraordinary truth about his past.

“The duo’s only hope for survival lies in the mysterious clues left by the enigmatic Citizen Sim, a rogue hacker who will either save Johnny’s life or be his end, but not before pushing him head first into a kaleidoscopic future world that is as dazzling as it is dangerous.”

Antici…..pation for October 2014

October has an abundance of book riches! This post could probably have been twice as long… Summaries, as usual, come from Edelweiss.

The book: The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Publisher & date: Putnam Juvenile, Oct. 7
Publisher description: “Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood plague: marked by a jagged scar, snow-white hair and lashes. Cast out by her family, Adelina has finally found a place to belong within the secret society of Young Elites. To some, the Elites are heroes, here to save innocents in desperate situations. But to the Inquisition Axis, the white-robed soldiers of Kenettra, they are monsters with demonic powers who must be brought to justice. As Adelina learns more about this perilous world where politics and magic clash, she soon realizes that her own powers may be in danger of bringing on an era of panic such as the world has never seen.”

The book: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan
Publisher & date: Algonquin Young Readers, Oct. 7
Publisher description: Leila has made it most of the way through Armstead Academy without having a crush on anyone, which is something of a relief. As an Iranian American, she’s different enough; if word got out that she liked girls, life would be twice as hard. But when beautiful new girl Saskia shows up, Leila starts to take risks she never thought she would, especially when it looks as if the attraction between them is mutual.
“Struggling to sort out her growing feelings and Saskia’s confusing signals, Leila confides in her old friend, Lisa, and grows closer to her fellow drama tech-crew members, especially Tomas, whose comments about his own sexuality are frank, funny, wise, and sometimes painful. Gradually, Leila begins to see that almost all her classmates are more complicated than they first appear to be, and many are keeping fascinating secrets of their own.”

The book: My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories” by Stephanie Perkins, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan, Holly Black, Kelly Link, Gayle Forman, Myra McEntire, Kiersten White, Mathew de la Pena, Jenny Han, Ally Carter
Publisher & date: St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct. 14
Publisher description: “Twelve romantic holiday stories by twelve bestselling young adult authors edited by Stephanie Perkins.”

The book: The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Publisher & date: Amulet Books, Oct. 14
Publisher description: “Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl-a suffragist-in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.”

The book: The Fire Artist by Daisy Whitney
Publisher & date: Bloomsbury USA Childrens, Oct. 14
Publisher description: “Aria is an elemental artist—she creates fire from her hands. But her power is not natural. She steals it from lightning. It’s dangerous and illegal in her world. When she’s recruited to perform, she seizes the chance to get away from her family. But her power is fading too fast to keep stealing from the sky. She has no choice but to turn to a Granter—a modern day genie. She gets one wish at an extremely high price. Aria’s willing to take a chance, but then she falls in love with the Granter . . . and he wants his freedom. Aria must decide what she’s willing to bargain and how much her own heart, body, and soul are worth.
“In a world where the sport of elemental powers is the most popular form of entertainment, readers will be swept away by a romance with stakes higher than life and death.”

The book: Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Publisher & date: HarperCollins, Oct. 14
Publisher description: “Clariel is the daughter of one of the most notable families in the Old Kingdom, with blood relations to the Abhorsen and, most importantly, to the King. When her family moves to the city of Belisaere, there are rumors that her mother is next in line for the throne. But Clariel wants no part of it—a natural hunter, all she ever thinks about is escaping the city’s confining walls and journeying back to the quiet, green world of the Great Forest.
“But many forces conspire against Clariel’s dream. A dangerous Free Magic creature is loose in the city, her parents want to marry her off to a killer, and there is a plot brewing against the old and withdrawn King Orrikan. When Clariel is drawn into the efforts to find and capture the creature, she finds hidden sorcery within herself, yet it is magic that carries great dangers. Can she rise above the temptation of power, escape the unwanted marriage, and save the King?”

The book: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
Publisher & date: Balzer + Bray, Oct. 14
Publisher description: “A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
“Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild their kingdom ever since.
“Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Secretly training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king, Mather—she would do anything to help Winter regain its source of magic and rise to power again.
“So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers and fighting enemy soldiers just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, and never has been, her own.”

The book: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher & date: Scholastic Press, Oct. 21
Publisher description: Book 3 of the Raven Cycle!! (Okay, this part is me)
“Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.
“The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.
“Friends can betray.
“Mothers can disappear.
“Visions can mislead.
“Certainties can unravel.”

The book: The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci & Nate Powell
Publisher & date: Square Fish, Oct. 28
Publisher description: “Two sisters struggle to control their jealousy as their relationship spirals downward over the course of one surreal summer.
“There’s a beast in all of us.
“Every summer the trucks roll in, bringing the carnival and its infinite possibilities to town. This year Tessa and her younger sister Lulu are un-chaperoned and want to be first in line to experience the rides, the food . . . and the boys. Except this summer, jealousy will invade their relationship for the first time, setting in motion a course of events that can only end in tragedy, putting everyone’s love and friendship to the test.”

We all wear masks…

Title: The Iron TrialIronTrial

Author: Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

Publisher & Release Date: Scholastic Press, September 9

The Hook:  Holly Black doing another middle grade series. ‘Nuff said. (No disrespect to Clare, but I would have read this regardless of the co-author.)

The Lowdown (from jacket): “Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. He wants to fail. All his life, Call has been warned by his father to stay away from magic. If he succeeds at the Iron Trial and is admitted into the Magisterium, he is sure it can only mean bad things for him.
So he tries his best to do his worst – and fails at failing.
Now the Magisterium awaits him. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister, with dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future. The Iron Trial is just the beginning, for the biggest test is still to come…”

Overall Impressions: So right from the prologue, his murdered mother’s cryptic message to “KILL THE CHILD” doesn’t bode well for infant Callum Hunt. At twelve years old, father Alastair’s ambivalence toward his child – protectiveness mingled with fear – come out in erratic ways through his attempts to prevent Call’s inclusion into the Magesterium, the magical ruling faction that is waging battle against the Chaos-obsessed Constantine and his minions. Unfortunately for Alastair, Call’s magic is strong enough that his attempts to conceal it backfire spectacularly.

Training at the mountainous Magesterium focuses on controlling and using elemental forces, including deadly elemental spirits.  Of the Mages of the Magesterium, we get the clearest sense of Rufus, Call’s master; the other masters are minimally involved in this first story. The students are drawn in broad strokes – the Friendly Classmate, the Surly Competition, the Bullied One – except for the two fellow students under Rufus, Aaron and Tamara. Their interactions with Callum and each other with the best detail in the book – the three of them navigate rocky personal issues and misunderstandings, as well as dealing with the frustrating and sometimes scary training, with cautious hope in their growing friendship. That more than anything is what I am interested in watching in the rest of the series.

Mind you, the Chaos-Ridden, with the very really possibility of them blending in like  normal, make for an excellent Big Bad; the twist at the end isn’t quite what you think it will be, I will tell you (without further spoilers).

The Highs: A new world of magic to explore, with dangerous elemental spirits! A exploration of destiny, inborn “goodness”, and the circumstances of birth! Secrets and friendship! I’m looking forward to seeing where the rest of the series goes; Black and Clare clearly have a thoughtful trajectory for their trio of student wizards.

Buzzkills:  Sneaking a wolf pup outside several times a day for walkies without being caught was, in a weird way, the most unbelievable part of the book. Dogs are loud and noticeable, and every other time they walked around it seemed like the halls are full of people.

Since any story written with the “boy wizard joins secret magic school” is going to beg comparison to Harry Potter, I was mentally comparing plot and character development the whole time I was reading. Rowling’s superb skill in characterization casts a long shadow, though the Iron Trial does do well in pulling you along quickly and building a unique mythology. I’d like to see more of the backstory of Tamara and Aaron – clearly, they have a great deal of their own baggage to deal with. Tamara’s family angst and her parents’ politics, and Aaron’s lack-of-family angst, speak to deeper issues than the characters can deal with in a single book.

The Source: Galleys from my fellow librarians.

Disclaimer: Neither chocolate nor a wolf pup was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.

It’s not global warming you need to worry about – it’s dragons

Cover art for The Story of OwenTitle: The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim

Author: E. K. Johnston

Publisher & Release Date: Carolrhoda LAB, March 2014

The Hook: Musician becomes bard to a dragon slayer-in-training.

The Lowdown (from jacket): “Listen! For I sing of Owen Thorskard: valiant of heart, hopeless at algebra, last in a long line of legendary dragon slayers. Though he had few years and was not built for football, he stood between the town of Trondheim and creatures that threatened its survival.

“There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition.

“But dragons and  humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected.

“Such was Tronheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds – armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard.

“Listen! I am Siobhan McQuaid. I alone know the story of Owen, the story that changes everything. Listen!”

Overall Impressions:  Loved it, loved it, loved it. I loved the narrative voice, the family units and friendships, the world Johnston created.

Siobhan (our narrator) spins and weaves the story so well. I was fascinated by the bits of history -the ones that have become part of the cultural narrative- the tragic story of Michigan, the unrelenting persistence of Queen Victoria, the beginning of the Oil Watch, the tragedy of the burning oil wells of Kuwait. The decline of the bardic tradition.

You see, fossil fuels may be a tasty treat, but dragons need protein as well, and people and livestock hanging out near delicious dessert – that’s just handy. Hence, dragon slayers. Who don’t actually seem to have any special slaying powers but come from family lines stretching back as far as human records go. It’s all in the training. (And probably good genetics?)

The title of the book says this is Owen’s story. But Owen does not really change during the book. He is a Dragon Slayer (technically an apprentice to his father and aunt) and believes in his aunt’s vision, and his future is essentially set. The person who changes, well, the people who change are Sadie and the other students, the people around the Thorskards, as dragon incidents grow more and more in number.

Lottie’s vision is for dragon slayers to begin returning to the smaller towns and rural spaces, and to slay dragons to protect their communities rather than for a big contract. And for the people who live in the communities to stand with their dragon slayer rather than considering her or him a celebrity to applaud, constantly critique, and follow like paparazzi.

Dragon slaying is not without cost. So begins and ends the book.

The Highs: The partnership between Lottie and her wife, the smith Hannah, in everything from dragon fighting to helping raise and train Owen to cooking to their dream of what dragon slaying could return to.

Siobhan and Owen’s friendship, the easy rapport they develop, and the friendships they form with other students, including Sadie. And I love how Sadie evolved, how she was never what I expected.

The long history of male and female dragon slayers.

The closeness of the various families – Siobhan and her parents; Owen and his father and aunts; Emily and her father.

For such solemn cover art, this book made me laugh a lot.

In an American book, I expect football references. Since it’s a Canadian book, we get hockey references and soccer and track participation. It’s awesome.

Buzzkills:  None.

Well, I’m not sure if this is a buzzkill or not, but Siobhan hints at a greater story for Sadie, but it isn’t told here. On one hand, I’d like to read it. On the other, this book felt like a complete world, and I don’t know that more needs to be told.

(And I did wonder why this world hadn’t explored renewable energy options more, though some people did drive hybrids. Maybe it just didn’t fit into the story? Or maybe I was so into the story that I read right over it?)

The Source: Library book.

Disclaimer: Neither chocolate nor a broadsword was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Antici……pation: September 2014

September promises a plethora of amazing sounding books – we may have gone a bit overboard in our list this time! (And possibly we will add more as the month goes on…) Summaries are primarily from (or adapted from) publisher descriptions on Edelweiss.

collage of four book covers

Title: Half a World Away (middle grades)

Author: Cynthia Kadohata

Publisher & Release Date: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Sept 2

The Hook: An angry adopted boy who considers himself an epic fail discovers the transformative power of love when his parents decide to adopt another child.

The Hook: An angry adopted boy who considers himself an epic fail discovers the transformative power of love when his parents decide to adopt another child.

Title: Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

Author: Edited by KellyLink and Gavin J. Grant.

Publisher & Release Date: Candlewick, Sept. 9

The Hook: “Predatory kraken that sing with -and for- their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side by side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

Title: The Iron Trial (middle grades)

Author: Holly Black & Cassandra Clare

Publisher & Release Date: Scholastic Press, Sept 9

The Hook: Most kids would do anything to pass the Iron Trial and enter the Magisterium. But Callum Hunt has been warned by his father to stay away from magic, so he does his best to fail. And fails at that.

Now he’ll enter the strange magic school whether he wants to or not, slowly make friends, and discover secrets he didn’t know existed, about his father, about magic history and about himself.

Title: Blood of My Blood

Author: Barry Lyga

Publisher & Release Date: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Sept. 9

The Hook: The conclusion to the I Hunt Killers trilogy! Where we left off–  “Jazz Dent has been shot and left to die in New York City. His girlfriend Connie is in the clutches of Jazz’s serial killer father, Billy. And his best friend Howie is bleeding to death on the floor of Jazz’s own home is tiny Lobo’s Nod.”

Title: Afterworlds

Author: Scott Westerfeld

Publisher & Release Date: Simon Pulse, Sept 23

The Hook: “Darcy Patel has put college on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. With a contract in hand, she arrives in New York City with no apartment, no friends, and all the wrong clothes. But lucky for Darcy, she’s taken under the wings of other seasoned and fledgling writers who help her navigate the city and the world of writing and publishing. Over the course of a year, Darcy finished her book, faces, critique, and falls in love.

“Woven into Darcy’s personal story is her novel, Afterworlds, a suspenseful thriller about a teen who slips in the “Afterworld” to survive a terrorist attack. The Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead, and where many unsolved – and terrifying – stories need to be reconciled. Like Darcy, Lizzie too falls in love…until a new threat resurfaces, and her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she cares about.”

Title: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (middle grades)

Author: Julie Berry

Publisher & Release Date: Roaring Brook Press, Sept 23

The Hook: “The students of St. Ethelreda’s School for girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home – unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.”

Title: Firebug

Author: Lish McBride

Publisher & Release Date: Henry Holt & Co., Sept. 23

The Hook: “Ava is a firebug – she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hit men … and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her mother’s death was ordered by Venus – who is now her boss.

“When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably while keeping the murder to a minimum.”

Title: Unmade

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Publisher & Release Date: Random House Books for Young Readers, Sept 23

The Hook: The conclusion to the Lynburn Legacy! “Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

“Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility – and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves the most.”

Title: Love is the Drug

Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson

Publisher & Release Date: Arthur A. Levine Books, Sept. 30

The Hook: “Emily Bird was raised not to ask questions. She has perfect hair, the perfect boyfriend, and a perfect Ivy-League future. But a chance meeting with Roosevelt David, a homeland security agent, at a party for Washington DC’s elite leads to Bird waking up in a hospital, days later, with no memory of the end of the night.

“Meanwhile, the world has fallen apart. A deadly flu virus is sweeping the nation, forcing quarantines, curfews, even martial law. And Roosevelt is certain that Bird knows something. Something about the virus – something about her parents’ top secret scientific work – something she shouldn’t know…”

Be wary of lidded teacups

Cover artwork for Vodník.Title: Vodník

Author: Bryce Moore

Publisher & Release Date: Tu Books, 2012

The Hook: We Need Diverse Books rec’d this book as a read-alike for Lish McBride’s excellent “Hold Me Close, Necromancer.” Naturally, I went looking for “Vodník.”

The Lowdown (from Library of Congress summary): “Sixteen-year-old Tomas and his Roma family left Slovakia because of mysterious attacks on his life when he was a child, but when they return, the same creatures of folklore begin to strike again and Tomas, aided by his cousin, will have to bargain with Death herself to set things right.”

Overall Impressions:  I zipped through this engaging story.

Moving back to his mother’s hometown in Slovakia after their house burns down was supposed to make things easier for Tomas’ financially-strapped family. This does not exactly work out. It’s a familiar story: Awkward teen, kind of a loner, gets caught up in something bigger than himself, in over his head, finds out he has some special abilities. And it works. It works in some interesting ways, partially because I enjoyed my introduction to Slovakian fairy tales, and a lot because Tomas is so far out of his depth but does not give up despite all his very believable fears. And he’s got a little bit of snark, which is always fun.

Tomas has to adjust to living in a country he barely remembers, making Slovakian his primary language, and realizing that his olive skin, mostly unremarkable in the United States, identifies him as a mostly unwanted Roma in Slovakia.

He also has to adjust to the fact that he can see creatures other people can’t, and they all seem to want something from him. Maybe his help. Maybe his death. It’s a tough call.

Knowing who to trust was bewildering, as Tomas received conflicting and/or oblique warnings and information from several supernatural creatures. “The vodník is trying to kill you.” “We were friends – the fire witch lies.” “Don’t mess with my deaths.” His cousin Katka is his one consistent ally, but she also has a brain tumor – one with a nearing expiration date, according to Death. I really felt all his frustration, confusion, fears and increasing desperation.

I expect at least one sequel – and I look forward to reading it.

The Highs: How the family really comes together as a team as the story goes on.

The descriptions of Trenčín Castle.

I really enjoyed the relationship Tomas developed with his uncle and how it complemented his relationship with his father.

Tomas first thinking “friendly attractive girl not repulsed by my burned arm” when he first meets Katka and then making the mental switch to “awesome cousin” and the friendship they develop.

The conversational tone of the excerpts from “Death in the Modern Day” at the beginning of each chapter. For example, from chapter 14: “Humans like to make deals with Death. It comes with the territory. And while you might be tempted, we discourage you from entering into such pacts. Unless they involve really good dark chocolate. Because some deals are just too good to pass up.”

Tomas’ dad is a librarian and his awesome librarian skillset plays an important role near the end of the book.

Buzzkills:  I wish Tomas’ mother played a more proactive role. She has a number of traumatic experiences in her life -particularly the mysterious disappearance/death of her mother- but her refusal to talk about (or let other adults do so) or even acknowledge various things proves dangerous for Tomas and Katka. She and Tomas love each other but her role sometimes seemed peripheral (other than silence) where Tomas’ father and uncle play larger roles in supporting him. Possibly I’m over-reacting?

The Source: Bought the e-book.

Disclaimer: Neither chocolate nor a trip to Slovakia was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.

Summertime and the living is easy…

This One Summer. Art by Jillian Tamaki.

Art by Jillian Tamaki

Title: This One Summer

Author: Jillian Tamaki (art) and Mariko Tamaki (text)

Publisher & Release Date: First Second, May 2014

The Hook: Gorgeous, gorgeous artwork. Two friends spending summer at the beach.

The Lowdown (from jacket): “Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family.

“But this summer is different.

“Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.”

Overall Impressions:  I already mentioned the amazing artwork, right? Because I had to pause and just stare at some of the pages – walking through woods, racing into the ocean, Windy’s body movements as she’s showing off her new dance skills. It’s beautiful. I want to attach so many scans in this post.

This story made me remember family trips – weeks at my great-grandparents and family camping – spending time with cousins and the activities that become traditions.

Tamaki and Tamaki (cousins) capture that uneven transition between childhood and teen in Rose – the year and a half she has on Windy really shows in their reactions and interests. They giggle over words for breasts as they discuss their developing figures, watch local teens warily from the sidelines, and Rose develops a crush on one of the older boys who works at the local video/everything store. They spend practically every day together happily, but the two girls also fight and get touchy about various topics. At one point, Windy wants to dig a giant hole in the sand and Rose has to readjust her thinking and remember that can be fun too.

They also capture that painful feeling of knowing something is wrong in your family, something you don’t know, and not knowing how to respond to it. And how easy it is to lash out when you’re hurting

The Highs: Rose and Windy’s expressions as they watch horror films – at one point, they’re both hiding under a blanket and the reader can just make out the screen of the laptop through the fabric. The first one they rent kind of by accident, but after that, it’s deliberate.

The four pages (spreads?) showing the range of activities Rose and Windy have during the day, from the remains of a lazy breakfast to standing up in swings, mini-golf to racing bikes to shucking corn.

I love that Rose’s body is tall and tomboyish and Windy is shorter and rounder; both are very comfortable with their bodies and very active. Nobody is the book is a supermodel, not even the older teen girls or the young man Rose has a crush on.

The adult female friendships.

Buzzkills:  I understand why this happens -it’s effectively done and it makes sense- but it saddens me that watching the horror films and drama of the older teens, Rose decides the bad situations people are in are the fault of the females’ actions.

Also for possible trigger warnings (spoilers!), highlight the next bit: Miscarriage, potential drowning, 

The Source: Copy provided by publisher at library conference.

Disclaimer: Neither chocolate nor a summer cabin near the beach was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.