Reader’s Choice Reviews

On February 3, 2017, I had the opportunity to share some of the most fascinating and popular books of the year with James Caldwell High School’s Reader’s Choice classes. Below are the books I talked about and the reviews I shared with the class. Be sure to use your library card or ask your school librarian to get your copy of the book!

Let’s start at the end of the world.

ants

We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

Henry Denton believes he gets abducted by aliens regularly. Nicknamed the clever title of, “Space Boy,” for his beliefs, he spends his life on the bottom of the high school food chain with no friends, no real reason to live and the weight of his high school boyfriend’s suicide on his shoulders. One night the aliens that abduct him tell him the world will end, but he is the only one who can stop it. He is given a choice: save the world by pressing a single button or let everyone die.

Now the world has to prove itself worthy to someone it treats the worst.

Why I think you should read it: This book made me cry three times. It tests the limits of empathy and hate through the voice of a boy who prefers science over people. It is a story of cowardice and bravery and the struggle to make yourself heard when everyone around you is trapped in their own stories.

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On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

The comet is about to hit earth and Denise and her mother are late to getting to their temporary shelter. Denise tries not to panic, tries not to be who she is and get stuck in loops that will mean the end of her life, but her addict mother isn’t helping. When chance leads her to the possibility of safety beyond the comet, beyond the generations of suffering the planet will endure, she must decide between her own needs and the needs of the hundreds of thousands of abandoned humans left on a dying planet, including her own flawed mother.

Why I think you should read it: This book offers a fascinating and powerful insight into the mind of an autistic girl dealing with massive change that is ACTUALLY WRITTEN by an autistic girl. It has powerful and beautiful prose that will capture the imagination and turns the terror of massive change into something to be observed and fascinated by.

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Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson

When Caren sought out to write the story of Sachiko, she started with a few pieces of information:

  1. Sachiko was a Nagasaki bomb survivor.
  2. Caren realized she knew nothing of the people who suffered after the events, nothing of the miracle that any survived at all.

Sachiko’s story at a memorial ceremony stuck with Caren and she sought out the survivor to write a book. When sought out, Sachiko only had one requirement: she would tell her story only if she could look Caren in the eyes as she told it.

What follows is more terrifying and haunting than any story ought to be. Written in a plaintive voice and interspersed by pages of facts and broad expanse perspective, Sachiko tells how the bombing was more than a single event on a page. It was a single event that poisoned the land and its people for generations to come, leaving scars in families and the land that may never fully heal.

Why I think you should read it: It will change your life.

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Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

In 1977, New York was a city of chaos. Between power outages, arson, serial killers, and political upheaval, it is hard to imagine that there were girls just like Nora who only wanted to reach 18 to be free from her parents and family and date cute boys. The author Meg Medina creates a character who must survive the crime and chaos of her neighborhood to get to the things that matter to her most. It challenges what it means to be free and what it means to be part of something bigger.

Why I think you should read it: It’s a fast-paced read that won’t pull you down with metaphors. The stories in it seem real, even though they are only fiction.

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Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

In 1937, New London, Texas, a school explosion marked itself as the worst school disaster in American history. Ashley Hope Perez fills in the lines of this history, pulling taut the threads of segregation, lynchings, and love to weave a story that transcends all those things. Ultimately, this story is a tragedy, but it reads like a poem and brings to life voices from a lost past of segregation and hate that need to be heard.

Why I think you should read it: Told in three different perspectives, the fast pace of the story and powerful individual voices will stick with you past the first reading.

tornado

Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King

Before this book gets a full introduction, I need to talk to you about quantum theory and the uncertainty principle and a cat. The theory goes, if you do not measure an item, it can be all possible states simultaneously. In this strain, if you stick a cat in a box with a nuclear reactor and do not look into the box, the cat is both alive and dead, healthy and sick, old and young at the same time.

This book has nothing to do with science. Instead, it is about art. It is about a girl who wants to drop out of high school, a girl who used to want to be an artist, a girl who is so unseen by her parents and friends and teachers that she exists in multiple forms at once. She converses with her older self and younger self, she calls herself, “Umbrella” and claims to see everything, but she is in denial of the killing blow that will destroy everything she has made of herself.

Why I think you should read this: This book is a piece of art in itself.

bloodline

Bloodline by Joe Jimenez

Abraham thinks people might be born bad. He thinks that his genetics and the men in his family prove this. He thinks his rage and the fights he can’t seem to stay out of prove this. Despite this, he is a poet at heart and thinks that falling in love will be his saving grace. His affections lean toward Ophelia, his close friend, and her name controls her own destiny.

Written in second-person, this novel places you in the shoes of a boy who is trying to be a man without a guide to keep him from a predestined future.

Why I think you should read this: It reads like poetry, but packs a punch.

allegedly

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

When she was nine years old, Mary was convicted of murdering an infant her mother was babysitting. The baby was white. The public convicted her and a jury followed soon after. After surviving six years in jail for kids, she finds herself in a group home and finds Ted. When the court threatens to take away their unborn child, she finally finds a reason to expose the truth behind her alleged crime.

Why I think you should read this: The truth is a tricky thing and nothing makes it more real than this book.

revenge

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

For those who love the movie Mad Max, this wild western adventure into an alternate reality will satisfy your every need. Westie was a child when her family was taken in by kind strangers while they were on the road. These kind strangers turned out to be cannibals, who ate Westie’s entire family and her arm. After stumbling through the woods, Westie is saved by the kindness of a local town. She is raised by a creative genius of an adoptive father, who builds her a new arm. Still, Westie is torn apart by her need for revenge and nothing will stop her from finding the family of cannibals that murdered her father and mother.

This story is packed with magic and machinery, intrigue and vampires, cannibals and zombies. It has everything, but what makes it most interesting is Westie’s emotional dependence on alcohol to keep her sane.

Why I think you should read this: This Western story will not let you go.

exit

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

There are books about sexual assault that will make you hate everything and everyone. This is not that book. Hermione Winters is a victim of a violent crime. Before the crime, she was head cheerleader, top of her class, and a happy and confident girl. After the crime, she still is head cheerleader, top of her class, and a happy and confident girl. Where many stories about sexual assault place blame on the victim and hold public opinion against her, this book does not. Her community is supportive of her and she stands up to anyone who tries to place blame on her. She has to relive the experience through therapy and make decisions about her life that go beyond college applications. Through it all, Hermione is able to take control of her life even after someone took that control away from her for just a night.

Why I think you should read this: This story, which is exceptionally well-written, handles the delicate topic of sexual assault with a perspective of a girl who knows who she is in the world and won’t let “being damaged” make her any different.

sun

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Nicola Yoon wrote a beautiful story last year of a girl who was allergic to everything titled “Everything, Everything.” Keeping with her traditional style of romance, strong characters, and hopeful endings, she writes the story of entangled destiny that is Natasha and Daniel.

Natasha is seventeen years old, but her father’s DUI has just changed her life. In less than 24 hours, she is going to be deported to Jamaica as an undocumented immigrant unless she can find a way to stop it. Daniel has an interview for “second best school” Yale University today, but he doesn’t want to be the doctor his parents want him to be. He wants to be a poet. Circumstance and possibly destiny bring these two together with explosive results.

Why I think you should read this: This book is for skeptics and romantics alike.

march

MARCH: Book Three by John Lewis

Completing the renowned graphic novel trilogy, MARCH tells the story of how one man and one movement can change a country for the better. You do not have to read all three graphic novels, but they are worth it.

Why I think you should read this: It literally cannot win any more awards. It has been definitively picked as the best book of the year.

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Spring Reads for the Hopeless Romantic

Welcome to the booklist that will draw you in with heady possibilities and then either crush your soul or set you on a cheerful little cloud to drift for days. But there’s a twist. These books don’t follow the usual tried and true tropes. This list includes perspectives from males, females, squirrels, AI, and non-entities. Young Adult Romance has its latest and greatest achievements in the following, so choose carefully.

You have been warned.

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These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker

Evelyn has always been special. You can see it in the way people her flock towards her during a country dance, how her patients always get better around her when they nurse them, and family friends celebrate her constantly. Rose can’t blame her younger sister; it’s the way she is. Rose could no more blame herself for the way she pushes the limits of their mother’s patience and disagrees with everyone. When strange characters enter into their lives the day before Evelyn disappears, Rose is sure her beloved sister has been kidnapped.

When one of the strangers, a Sebastian Braddock, asks all the wrong questions and gives even worse answers, Rose runs away to London to investigate. The things he brings up-super powers? the ability to heal?-seem ridiculous to Rose until she sees things her Victorian England education cannot begin to explain. What’s even more troubling is her reaction to him and his “powers.”

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The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

Shahrzad only wants revenge when she agrees to be married to the boy-king Caliph. He murdered her closest friend after one night of marriage, the same way he’s murdered so many of his city’s daughters night after night after night. When she defies all odds and survives the first night, something holds her back from slipping her knife between his ribs.

Has she fallen in love with a murderer? Or is something else at play that she can somehow resolve without bloodshed?

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This love story begins with a break-up and the genocide of an entire planet. As the last survivors of Kerenza try to escape from their pursuers in three re-purposed spaceships, Kady and Ezra find themselves on different paths and different ships. Kady, an extremely quick hand at hacking, goes the illegal route and finds ways to undermine the new military leader’s propaganda. Ezra, a faster hand with reflexes, finds himself drafted as a new Viper pilot. What neither of them expect, each lost in their own struggles and missing the other, is the terrors they left behind them developing in new and horrifying ways.

A race for survival, a deadly virus, and a malfunctioning AI: what could possibly go wrong?

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

It’s all human here with the adorable Lara Jean and her really messed up problems. Every girl writes letters to boys they like, but Lara Jean? No, Lara Jean writes letters to boys she loves and then hides them in her mom’s old hat box. Even worse, the boys she loves are now 1. her ex-best friend’s longterm boyfriend 2. her big sister’s now ex-boyfriend of three years 3. some really awful people 4. some not-so-awful people. When her hatbox disappears, Lara Jean can only imagine the worse.

When the worst happens, it’s up to her to cut her losses and find some way to survive the avalanche of attention she’s getting from all the boys she loved before.

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Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Romance is really hard when you can’t recognize your girlfriend the day she changes her hairstyle. Finn has always had an issue identifying people and he doesn’t understand how no one else can understand how he sees others by the way they move, the color of their hair, or the tenor of their voice. When his older brother’s only chance for love is kidnapped in front of him, no one believes Finn is telling the truth about a man with no face. So they forget about her completely.

As he struggles with how he views the world and how he is falling love with the beekeeper’s daughter, strange pieces of Bone Gap, Illinois start appearing in front of him, challenging him to take on a mystery that no one else but he has the ability to solve.

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

This book is for the fantasy lovers and the romantics and anglophiles in us all. See my in-depth review here. And if you don’t want the fantasy but want all the adventure and romance? Check out Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.

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The Assassin’s Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Lea Saldana has a boyfriend. The problem? Her boyfriend is the son of the family that is plotting to overthrow her family’s place as the highest ranking assassin’s guild in the kingdom of Lovero. Fraught with danger and beautifully-written action scenes, this story tells the tale of a girl whose heart belongs not to a boy–but a god of death.

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The Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre has been bargained away to a Beast by a desperate father. Little does she know that it is not just an enchanted castle that she has entered, but the Faerie kingdom of Summer. Her Beast is Tamlin, the High Lord of the faeries, and if she does not love him truly, then his world will be destroyed by a mad queen with a wicked sense for placing bets.

Beauty and the Beast takes a scheming twist in this fantastical dive into the wild, dark underbelly of a magical kingdom.

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Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden

Liza loves Annie. She tries not to. After the disaster at Foster Academy, she knows no one but Annie herself will understand her reasoning. On that, both of them agree. This small novel broke ground in 1982 and remains one of the keystones of romantic love for LGBTQ youth in literature.

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Every Day by David Levithan

“A” doesn’t wake up the same way anyone else does in the morning. First, he opens his eyes. Then, he rewinds his mind to find out who he is that day. He might be a girl celebrating her 17th birthday. He might be a boy on the verge of losing his after-school job. He might be poor. He might be rich. But he’s always sure it’s him in those bodies day after changing day and he’s only ever just visiting.

Then one day, something changes. He wakes up in a body not his own, never his own, and suddenly he doesn’t want to pretend he’s that person for the day. He sees her, Rhiannon, and he wants to spend the whole, perfect day being himself in front of her. What follows is a love story that surpasses identity, time, and place.

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The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

Let’s say Artificial Intelligence took over the world. Let’s say they were built to protect humanity, saw humanity pointing guns at eachother, and said, “Enough.” Let’s say they figured out how to achieve world peace, if only by kidnapping and raising the future world leaders apart from their families. Let’s say the world leaders allowed this only because the AI would kill their children if they disagreed or, say, decided to war against one another.

Now enter Greta, a master negotiator and the Crown Princess of the Canadian superpower in this new world regime. All she has to do is hope her country does not become part of a war until she turns eighteen, and then she’ll be free. Enter Elian, the grandson of the new rebel President of the American Alliance, a boy who looks ready to die at any moment.

Things. Get. Bad.

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A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Boy meets girl. Boy doesn’t talk to girl. Girl doesn’t know how to start talking to boy. They sit next to eachother in class. Months pass. Everyone notices except the pair. Queue squirrel.

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A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Jamie Watson has been raised surrounded by the stories his ancestor wrote about the famed Sherlock Holmes. When he ends up at a boarding school in America with Sherlock’s descendant, the notorious Charlotte Holmes, he could not begin to imagine his luck. The only problem? She is both nothing and everything like what he’s imagined. Cold, calculating, distant, and addicted to drugs, she has been trained since birth to deduce and solve, but not connect with other people. So when students are attacked and murdered based on Holmes’ famous tales in the small private school, the pair are thrown together for better or worse.

Mostly likely for worse, since they’re being framed and blackmailed to confess.

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Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

Aria Rose has the engagement every girl in Manhattan dreams to have. She has fallen in love and brought together two of the most powerful families in the city with her engagement to Thomas Foster. There is the small issue that she has little to no memory of ever meeting Thomas. When she goes to spy on her supposed beloved and sees a stranger in a cafe, it shocks her that the stranger seems more familiar to her than she can understand why.

Romeo meets Juliet in a futuristic New York City, but he’s all the wrong sort of person and Juliet has more problems to deal with than a nosy nurse.

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Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

Maddy can’t ever, ever go outside. She’s been allergic to the outside world since she was little and has only her nurse and her mother for company in a perfectly sealed, sterile house. She doesn’t mind it. She has her books, all specially cleaned, and her schoolwork to keep her busy. When a boy moves into the next door house and begins entertaining her through her window and talking to her online, she starts to think that going outside might be worth the risk, if only so she can see experience life the way he does.

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Agnieszka’s world is in her small village, so closely tied to the dangerous forest it resides by that she cannot imagine leaving. When the ageless wizard, the Dragon, sees a glimmer of magic in her, he brings her to reside with him in his tower, a fate worse than death for the young woman. While he wars with the forest every day to keep back its malevolent forces, Agnieszka must fight something even greater within herself.

This magical story shows that not all power needs to be of a certain sort and sometimes you cannot give up what you call home, even for love.

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Leslye Walton

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There are few things in this world more intriguing to a bibliophile than asking an author, “What did you mean?” So when Ms. Turgel informed us and the rest of the Somewhat Virtual Book Club that Leslye Walton, author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavendar, had agreed to join in on our session for the month of April, most of the book club knew what questions needed to be answered.

Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: Historical Fiction / Magical Realism
Source Reviewed: eBook

Check It Out Here

Spoiler-Free Review:

Ava was born with wings, giant bulky things she can’t use to fly or glide or do anything fun. Instead, these wings are both the cause of many of her problems and an effect of problems her family has dealt with for generations. Her grandmother, Emilienne, can see patterns of cause and effect in the universe as part of her daily life. Her mother, Viviane, can smell the present with extreme keenness, so much she can tell when a woman is pregnant before the woman knows herself.

As Ava tells her story, she begins with the patterns that eventually created her own story in the generations before her. Alongside these strange and fantastical stories, there is a close connection of love and tragedy that has been the downfall of every member of her family. When tragedy begins to close in on Ava the same way it has for so mush of her family, we can see the universe bend itself to prevent it. Can Ava break free from her family’s curse or will it crush her beneath it?

If you want to know now, check out the Somewhat Virtual Book Club’s meeting below!

Spoiler-Filled Author Chat:

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

carry

Title: Carry On
Series: N/A
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Source Reviewed: Audiobook

Check It Out Here

Spoiler-Free Review:

How do I begin? For those Harry Potter nerds out there, Carry On can be considered a Marauder Era romance between a suave, vampiric Severus Snape and an ill-fated James Potter.

But, then again, it’s not.

Rainbow Rowell strikes again with a romance that sweeps you off your feet, but this time it is in a world that picks and chooses its favorite things from classic King Arthur tales, Harry Potter, and the British television show Skins. For lovers of any fandom, this book is an ultimate mash-up guide to your own beating heart.

Simon Snow is a failed Chosen One with an even worse home life. On arriving to the Watford School of Magicks after a summer spent starving in foster care, he discovers not even his rival, Bazilton Pitch, has bothered to show up to this last year of school. Destiny has paired him to defeat the Insidious Humdrum, the greatest threat to magic the world has ever seen, but he can’t even get his wand to work without setting something on fire. What makes it worse is his problematic relationship with his mentor, The Mage, and the fact that his most perfect girlfriend dumped him. And Baz might be missing. Warring with his own destiny and the dark possibility he may not fit into the world of magic at all, Simon has a tough year ahead of him. And let’s not forget the little problem of Baz.

This book, while already made up of every bit of snark and wit Rowell possesses, invites fans to fill in the gaps while tempting us with the possibility of a second chapter.

Recommended for anyone and everyone ages 14 and up.

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

conspiracy

Title: The Conspiracy of Us
Series: 1 out of ?
Author: Maggie Hall
Genre: Adventure/Suspense
Publication Date: January 13, 2016
Source Reviewed: Audiobook

Check It Out Here

Spoiler-Free Review:

Here comes the classic tale: girl gets pulled out of suburbia boredom and bad home life to find herself as a keystone in both international politics and a secret organization’s prophesy. Avery West, a character hardened by her constantly moving life with her single mother, has more endurance than most female protagonists in YA literature. Somehow she is able to go from prom date worries to a whirlwind romance and sleep-deprived international scavenger hunt with only one major breakdown.

Her primary goal is finding her family and we see that play out through the novel in unique ways. Captivating her attention is also the brooding and fidgety Jack, a figure worthy of romantic interest. Their connection is a live-wire, making the already fast-paced novel ignite with unexpected encounters.

As much as the plot drives through the fantastic views of Paris, Prada, and Istanbul with deadly enemies and allies at their tail, the primary conflict in the story is ill-fated love. However much Jack and Avery fight to be together, there is always someone pulling them apart. One of these someones is Stellan. While he is portrayed as a rogue and a bit of a bully, Stellan could be one of the more intuitive out of all the characters in the novel. He never says exactly what he means, but the few times he expresses himself honestly reveals an empathetic and enduring spirit. For the most part, this is hidden behind the stoic values he is supposed to hold dear for the family he serves.

As for content type, I recommend trying this book out in print. While the audiobook was engaging, the stops and starts of listening did not work well with the fast-paced clue-ridden mystery. Reading it in print would have resolved this issue and more.

WARNING: There is quite a lot of poor contact lens care in this book. For those squeamish of itchy eyes and beheadings, this book may not be for you.

For those who cannot help but loving diving into dangerous waters seeking treasure, this story is perfect. It will finish itself more quickly than you think and leave you wanting more.

Recommended for fans of Dan Brown, Kiera Cass, Victoria Aveyard, and Amy Ewing.

Readers’ Choice for February 2016

In My Humble Opinion

This month, I get the chance to booktalk the Readers’ Choice picks for Mrs. Callaghan’s class. There are a great deal of “Classics” that many people like to push on students to read, but I wanted to bring some of the more relevant and mainstream reads to the forefront with these booktalks. Unfortunately, I could not select all of my personal favorites for this list, so you will have to excuse the absence of Rainbow Rowell and Scott Westerfeld for now.

The following booklist was developed meet the needs of a wide audience with diverse interests. Each book is a taste-test of powerful voices in current YA literature and can capture the attention of guys and girls alike. To order a book with your West Caldwell library account, simply click on the title you are interested in.

Fahrenheit 451 Read-a-likes:
Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Standish Treadwell thinks differently from his comrades. He can’t read or write. His parents, former educators, vanished for their part in keeping those facts secret. His only friend might face the same fate. Then comes the moon man, a man dressed like an astronaut who flees from the wall behind Standish’s house. Behind that wall is a secret so large the government would kill to keep it. And it might be the thing that is taking his family.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Three Laws of Robotics rule the future: do not harm a human, obey human orders, and robots must protect their own existence. These rules play an integral part in this short story collection that deals with the shift of power between humans and their mechanical counterparts.

Historical Fiction:
These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Jo Montfort is respected, privileged, and obsessed with less-than-reputable newspaper reporter Nellie Bly. When her father dies under mysterious circumstances, Jo is not able to accept the few details she is given. She digs into the story, not knowing that her questions will lead her into the mire of corruption that plagued NYC in the late 19th century.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Ryan weaves a unique global narrative that spans from the beginning of WWII to its aftermath. Freidrich is a boy with a birthmark on his face who must deal with the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany, the splitting apart of his family, and the constant threat of being taken away for his medical condition. Mike is an orphan in Pennsylvania who is determined to make sure his brother finds a happy home, even if it means being separated from him. Ivy is the daughter of migrant workers in California and is caught in the binds of segregation, not only in her own life, but also with the forced eviction of the Yamamoto family her family works for. Music ties these stories together and brings hope to otherwise desperate situations.

Romance:
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Lara Jean writes letters to every boy she develops feelings for, then puts them in the hatbox her mother gave her, and moves on with her life. When her letters suddenly find their way out of the hatbox and into the mailboxes of their unintended recipients, it is up to Lara Jean to find a way out of the mess, without getting tangled with best friends and sister’s exes

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Finn O’Sullivan sees people by the way they move, the color of their hair, or how their voice sounds. When his brother’s best chance at love, a beautiful woman named Roza, is taken away by a mysterious stranger, no one believes Finn that she might be in danger. No one believes him because he has no idea what the stranger looked like, other than the way the stranger moved or how his voice sounded. Unable to convince the people of Bone Gap, Finn finds more and more strange occurrences at the edges of Bone Gap and within himself.

Sob Stories:
Orbiting Jupiter by Gary Schmidt

Jack’s new foster brother Joseph has tried to kill a teacher, been incarcerated, has a child, and is 13 years old. The pair bond with an unlikely friendship through the trials of misjudgment of teachers and other children. The only problem is, Joseph will do anything to find his daughter and it leads both boys into more danger than they could have imagined.

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud (Warning: Graphic Novel/Explicit Themes)

David will give his life to art. That’s the deal he makes with an odd uncle in a restaurant on his birthday. He will have 200 days to live, but an incredible ability to shape the physical world around him and transform it into art. The only thing that could change his mind, love, might be the only thing that can lead him to understand true art. But it might be too late.

Hopeful Realistic Fiction:
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Madeleine Whittier is allergic to everything. She has not left her house in 17 years and her world is made up of two people: her mother and her nurse, Carla. Books offer her comfort, but when the boy next door begins to charm her with amusing antics and IM conversations, she may risk everything to experience life the way others do.

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

This rare novel follows the recovery of Vicky Cruz after an unsuccessful suicide attempt. She feels she has no reason to live, but the forces that make up her companions at her psychiatric ward and a persuasive psychiatrist make her reconsider her life before and what life may be ahead.

Action and Fantasy:
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Safiya and Iseult are an unusual pair, stuck together by magical bonds and made a dynamic team by consequence and training. When Safiya’s royal heritage and valued Truthwitch abilities catch up to her, the two must escape from monsters and men alike who wish destroy them before anything like a “prophecy” can accidentally occur. Two other characters fill out the rest of the novel, a prince from a ravaged country sworn to protect Safiya and a hostile Bloodwitch boy who will do anything to stop the two girls from reaching safety.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Ketterdam is a hub of international trade, its leaders being the richest merchants. Kaz Brekker works in the underbelly of Ketterdam, a young but calculating leader of the gang the Dregs. When he is offered a heist that will make him rich beyond his wildest dreams, he brings five others together for the impossible challenge.

Check in later this week for a video of my booktalk.

February New Releases

New Releases
Reserve your copy by clicking the link of the title below.

The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull
Release Date: 1/19/2016
Read this book if you are interested in fantasy, strong heroines, and the wildness of Irish lore.

The Siren by Kiera Cass
Release Date: 1/26/2016
Fans of The Selection rejoice! Cass is back and brings her talented voice to a retelling of the classic tale, The Little Mermaid.

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Release Date: 1/26/2016
Tired of realistic fiction novels that only wear you down with sad endings? Find hope with Vicky as she struggles to find light in the recovery after a suicide attempt.

Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer Nielsen
Release Date: 1/26/2016
This highly-anticipated sequel to The Mark of the Thief follows Nic into The Praetor War of the early Roman Empire. This fantasy-historical novel will pull you through to the very end.

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Release Date: 2/09/2016
After the betrayal in Red Queen, Mare runs from the crown and has unwittingly joined forces with the Rebellion as part of her only hope to survive.

Where Futures End by Parker Peevyhouse
Release Date: 2/09/2016
Fans of The Twilight Zone will delight in this sci-fi tale of futuristic ends and alternate universes.

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker
Release Date: 2/09/2016
Special powers and mystery lie in this fast-paced novel surrounding Evelyn and her sister, Rose in the backdrop of 1882 Victorian London.

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Release Date: 2/16/2016
Time-traveler Nix Song must follow her father to the end of the world and back on a mysterious pirate ship. When her father’s obsessions threaten to take away everything she loves, she must make her own choices and the consequences that follow.

Riders by Veronica Rossi
Release Date: 2/16/2016
Violence is no question for Gideon Blake. He has become the embodiment of War, one of the four horseman of the apocalypse and he and his riders have failed their mission to save the world.

Bluescreen by Dan Wells
Release Date: 2/16/2016
In future Los Angeles, the internet is plugged into you via implant. When Marisa’s close friend finds the latest upgrade, a virtual drug called Bluescreen, the group discovers something far more dangerous behind the screens.

 

Star Wars Read-a-Likes for Grades 9 and Up

Illuminae

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

YA FIC KAUFMAN

The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship’s artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all.


Dune

Dune by Frank Herbert

FIC HERBERT

Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides and House Atreides as they take over control of the desert planet Arrakis from their hated rivals House Harkonnen. Despite its harsh climate, unfriendly native population and hostile wildlife, Arrakis is also the only known source in the universe of the “spice” Melange – an addictive substance which has the ability to extend life and give greater awareness to the user – including the ability to fold space-time for interstellar travel. Suffice it to say, the Spice is the engine that powers the entire Empire, making Arrakis the most strategically important planet in the universe.


Ender's game

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

YA FIC CARD

Once again, the Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who? Ender Wiggin is a brilliant, ruthless, cunning, a tactical and strategic master, and a child. Recruited for military training by the world government, Enders childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. How will Ender perform in real combat conditions? After all, Battle School is just a game. Isn’t it?


I, robot

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

YA FIC ASIMOV

I, Robot is made up of nine short stories; these stories are loosely connected due to the fact that they all have roots in Susan Calvin’s life. Dr. Calvin was the chief robopsychologist at US Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., which is in the book the major manufacturer of robots in the 21st century.


Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

YA FIC MEYER

As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.


These broken stars

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman

YA FIC KAUFMAN

Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.


Pathfinder

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

YA FIC CARD

Thirteen-year-old Rigg has a secret ability to see the paths of others’ pasts, but revelations after his father’s death set him on a dangerous quest that brings new threats from those who would either control his destiny or kill him.


Seeker

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

YA FIC DAYTON

After years of brutal training for what she thinks is the noble purpose of becoming a Seeker, Quin Kincaid, fifteen, learns that she will be using the ancient artifacts and sacred knowledge as an assassin.


The scorpion rules

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

YA FIC BOW

The teenage princess of a future-world Canadian superpower, where royal children are held hostage to keep their countries from waging war, falls in love with an American prince who rebels against the brutal rules governing their existences.


Incarceron

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

YA FIC FISHER

To free herself from an upcoming arranged marriage, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, a futuristic prison with a mind of its own, decides to help a young prisoner escape.


Mystic city

Mystic City by Theo Lawrence

YA FIC LAWRENCE

In a Manhattan where the streets are under water and outcasts called mystics have paranormal powers, Aria Rose is engaged to Thomas Foster and the powerful Rose and Foster families–long time enemies–are uniting politically; the only trouble is that Aria can not remember ever meeting Thomas, much less falling in love with him


The prom goer's interstellar excursion

The Prom Goer’s Interstellar Excursion by Chris McCoy

YA FIC MCCOY

Minutes after eighteen-year-old Bennett Bardo of Gordo, New Mexico, asks Sophie Gilkey, his dream girl, to prom and she says yes, she is abducted by aliens and Bennett catches a ride across the galaxy with a band of misfit musicians to find her.

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