All posts by NJBiblio

About NJBiblio

I am a high school district library media specialist/wannabe tech guru who is always looking for new and innovative materials, resources, and ways to help the teachers integrate 21st century materials in their classrooms. I myself am a little bit geek, a little bit nerd, but always proud of it!

The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi

The Red Bandanna: Young Reader’s Adaptation by Tom Rinaldi. August 29, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 162 p. ISBN: 9780425287620.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.8.

On a day that changed a nation, one young man found his calling.

Welles Crowther didn’t see himself as a hero. He was just an ordinary kid who played sports, volunteered for the fire department in his town, and eventually headed off to college and then to Wall Street to start a career. Throughout it all, he always kept a red bandanna in his pocket, a gift from his father when he was little.

On September 11, 2001, Welles was at his job on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when the Twin Towers were attacked. What he did next would alter the course of many lives.

That day, the legend of the Man in the Red Bandanna was born.

Award-winning ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi brings Welles’s inspirational story of selflessness and compassion to life in this young readers’ adaptation of his New York Times bestselling book.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Terrorism, Graphic description of injuries

 

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Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2017)
On Sept. 11, 2001, in the South Tower of the World Trade Center, a man wearing a red bandanna lost his life leading others to safety. This is his story, adapted for young readers from Rinaldi’s 2016 bestseller for adults. From an early age, Welles Crowther was obsessed with firefighters. He spent many hours hanging out at the firehouse, cleaning the rigs, and listening to his firefighter father’s tales. But after graduating from Boston College, Welles decided to follow another dream. He accepted a position as a junior associate in a finance firm. His office was on the 104th floor of the South Tower, but the call of his childhood obsession was strong. He confided to his father that he wanted to change careers and become a firefighter. But before he could realize that dream, tragedy struck. Welles kept his cool but lost his life leading others through the smoke to safety. Based on an ESPN documentary, this slim book chronicles the life and the legacy of one 9/11 hero. Readers of this youth version will be inspired by Welles’ dedication to school, sports, and his family, but they will also laugh at his mischievous side. Photographs of Welles’ life are sprinkled through the narrative. The real-life story behind The Man in the Red Bandanna. (Biography. 9-12)

School Library Journal (August 1, 2017)
Gr 6-8-Before leaving for church one day, Jeff Crowther gave his then seven-year-old son, Welles, a red bandanna to keep in his pocket, similar to his own blue bandanna. For the rest of Welles’s life, that red piece of fabric remained a constant reminder of his special bond with his father while also serving a variety of practical purposes-a handkerchief, a headband worn underneath a hockey helmet, and eventually a useful piece of life-saving equipment. Welles was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center when it was struck by a plane on the morning of September 11, 2001. Physically unharmed and able to escape, altruistic Welles chose instead to assist an estimated 18 people to safety using his junior firefighter training. To those he helped that day, he was known only as the man with the red bandanna, until, through newspaper reports from eyewitness accounts, his family was able to piece together his final moments of self-sacrifice and courage. At times a documentation of history, at others an emotional journey, this remarkable true story of bravery and heroism places readers directly inside the South Tower as events unfolded; Rinaldi’s writing heightens the senses capturing the smoke, heat, and smells, while also making the uncertainty, confusion, urgency, and raw human emotion very real-a feat not often accomplished in books for this age group. Drawing upon firsthand accounts from family members and friends, readers receive a sense of Welles’s optimism, leadership, perseverance, and his genuine desire to help others. VERDICT Impossible to read without an emotional response, this title is an essential purchase for nonfiction collections.-Rebecca Gueorguiev, New York Public Library

About the Author

Tom Rinaldi has been a national correspondent at ESPN since 2002. A recipient of ten national Sports Emmy Awards and five Edward R. Murrow Awards, he covers human-interest stories across all sports, including his famous feature story about Welles Crowther. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a native of Brooklyn, Tom now lives in New Jersey with his wife, Dianne, and their two children, Jack and Tess.

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The Red Bandanna on Amazon

The Red Bandanna on Goodreads

The Red Bandanna on JLG

The Red Bandanna Publisher Page

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Slider by Pete Hautman

Slider by Pete Hautman. September 12, 2017. Candlewick Press, 288 p. ISBN: 9780763690700.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8.

Competitive eating vies with family expectations in a funny, heartfelt novel for middle-grade readers by National Book Award winner Pete Hautman.

David can eat an entire sixteen-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Not bad. But he knows he can do better. In fact, he’ll have to do better: he’s going to compete in the Super Pigorino Bowl, the world’s greatest pizza-eating contest, and he has to win it, because he borrowed his mom’s credit card and accidentally spent $2,000 on it. So he really needs that prize money. Like, yesterday. As if training to be a competitive eater weren’t enough, he’s also got to keep an eye on his little brother, Mal (who, if the family believed in labels, would be labeled autistic, but they don’t, so they just label him Mal). And don’t even get started on the new weirdness going on between his two best friends, Cyn and HeyMan. Master talent Pete Hautman has cooked up a rich narrative shot through with equal parts humor and tenderness, and the result is a middle-grade novel too delicious to put down.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Negative attitudes toward someone with autism

 

Author Videos

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 5-8. Jack-of-all-genres Hautman turns to the mouthwatering, madcap world of competitive eating. Narrator David admires the greats: Joey Chestnut, who can down 70 dogs in 10 minutes; Takeru Kobayashi, a Guinness Record-holding lightweight; and his personal favorite, Jooky Garofalo—who legendarily lost a Nathan’s Famous championship by one single half dog. David can’t believe when Jooky’s unfinished dog appears on auction site BuyBuy.com. And he’s floored when his bid for the “piece of history” wins. Unfortunately, one mistyped decimal point means BuyBuy just charged $2,000—not $20—to his mother’s credit card. David may be able to inhale a single pizza in under five minutes, but to win the Super Pigorino Bowl’s $5,000 grand prize—and repay his mom—he’ll have to train like never before. More than a story of stomach-shattering determination, this is also an unflinching exploration of David’s bond with little brother Mal, who, though their mother forbids the label, has been diagnosed with autism. With crystalline prose, delectable detail, rip-roaring humor, and larger-than-life characters, Hautman gracefully examines what it means to be a friend, a family member, and, through it all, a kid trying to do the right thing. Readers will race to devour it, but like Papa Pigorino’s colossal BDT pizzas, this infectious tale is a thing to be savored.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
When David accidentally bids $2,000 instead of $20 on a “historic half hot dog” online with his mother’s credit card, he knows he’s dead meat. In a panic, he formulates a plan: enter competitive eating contests and use his winnings to pay his mother back, ideally before she finds out about the charge. Indulging in his particular talent distracts him from life at home; eating astoundingly large quantities of food in impossibly short time spans is obviously not quite the success his older sister, Bridgette, has achieved in college, nor is it the small triumphs of his autistic younger brother, Mal, but David takes pride in it nonetheless. He also takes pride in caring for Mal, even if the responsibility chafes on occasion, and makes some headway with Mal’s increased socialization–Mal travels further with fewer meltdowns when he is wearing sunglasses, for instance, and David also uncovers a pattern to the characteristics that make food appealing to his brother. Despite the often-nauseating drama around the eating contests, the first-person narrative explores the two brothers’ relationship in a nuanced way (except for the main character’s occasional use of ableist language: “With the enormous glasses and his headphones and his hoodie, [Mal] looks like a normal kid pretending to be a rap star”) as David becomes more attuned to Mal’s perspective and ways of communicating. anastasia m. collins

About the Author

Pete Hautman is the author of Godless, which won the National Book Award, and many other critically acclaimed books for teens and adults, including Blank Confession, All-In, Rash, No Limit, and Invisible. Mr. Hautman was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Pete lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

His website is www.petehautman.com.

Teacher Resources

Slider Discussion Guide

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Slider on Amazon

Slider on Goodreads

Slider on JLG

Slider Publisher Page

The Assassin’s Curse by Kevin Sands

The Assassin’s Curse by Kevin Sands. September 5, 2017. Aladdin Books, 532 p. ISBN: 9781534405233.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.7; Lexile: 610.

Christopher Rowe is back and there are more puzzles, riddles, and secrets to uncover in this third novel of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series.

Wherever Christopher Rowe goes, adventure—and murder—follows. Even a chance to meet King Charles ends in a brush with an assassin.

All that’s recovered from the killer is a coded message with an ominous sign-off: more attempts are coming. So when Christopher’s code-breaking discovers the attack’s true target, he and his friends are ordered to Paris to investigate a centuries-old curse on the French throne. And when they learn an ancient treasure is promised to any assassin who succeeds, they realize the entire royal family is at stake—as well as their own lives.

In the third heart-pounding installment of the award-winning Blackthorn Key series, Christopher, Tom, and Sally face new codes, puzzles, and traps as they race to find the hidden treasure before someone else is murdered.

Sequel to: Mark of the Plague

Part of Series: The Blackthorn Key (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Underage drinking, Murder

 

About the Author

Since escaping from university with a pair of degrees in theoretical physics, Kevin Sands has worked as a researcher, a business consultant, and a teacher.

His website is kevinsandsbooks.com.

Teacher Resources

The Assassin’s Curse Reading Group Guide

Around the Web

The Assassin’s Curse on Amazon

The Assassin’s Curse on Goodreads

The Assassin’s Curse on JLG

The Assassin’s Curse Publisher Page

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta. October 10, 2017. Candlewick Press, 421 p. ISBN: 9780763691646.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 2))
Grades 9-12. All theaters have their ghosts, but death is another matter. Death is exactly what Zara Evans encounters when she comes to the Aurelia Theater. New to professional theater, Zara has nevertheless been cast as Echo in the Greek tragedy Echo and Ariston, a role she’s always coveted. The legendary—and difficult—director Leopold Henneman, who claims to have visions, helms the production, and he demands excellence, something that’s easier said than done when members of the cast and crew start dying and people start saying the theater is haunted. As tragedies, both onstage and off, roll through the Aurelia, Zara grows close to Eli Vasquez, the assistant lighting designer. The two girls’ friendship blossoms into romance, and for Zara, it’s a light in a world that grows darker by the day: curse or no curse, there is something wicked in the Aurelia. With timeless, literary prose, Capetta spins a tale that is haunting indeed. Part love story and part mystery, this eerie offering studded with intriguing, secretive characters is beautiful and strange.

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2017)
What do you do when all your dreams come true? What happens if those dreams have a nightmarish edge? Capetta explores the consequences of soured dreams in her latest.When 18-year-old Jewish Zara is cast in her dream roll of Echo in a Broadway production of the Greek tragedy Echo and Ariston, she believes all her hopes are falling into place. It seems even so when she falls unexpectedly for 19-year-old Latina lighting designer Eli (short for Eliza). Yet, amid the thrill of the stage and new romance, signs of cracks in the facade begin to appear. Almost as soon as she arrives in New York City to begin rehearsals, mysterious deaths begin to occur, and eventually Zara herself is in danger. Capetta deftly shifts the tone of the third-person-limited narrator in each chapter to highlight the distinct personalities and motives of the main characters. The style tries to balance the novel between a literary romance and a psychological thriller, occasionally faltering. The suspenseful plot can become tangled in metaphor, hampering the action, especially at the climax. Nevertheless, this tale will appeal to older teen audiences and likely some adults who enjoy their thrillers steamy, with more than a dash of romance.A twisted tale of theater, conspiracy, and romance that, like its protagonist, sometimes struggles with a minor identity crisis. (Romantic thriller. 14-adult)

About the Author

Amy Rose Capetta studied theater at the Stella Adler Studio as a teenager before spending four years in a Shakespeare troupe. Echo After Echo is her first book with Candlewick Press.

Amy Rose Capetta lives in Michigan. Her website is amyrosecapetta.com.

 

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Echo After Echo on Amazon

Echo After Echo on Goodreads

Echo After Echo on JLG

Echo After Echo Publisher Page

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose. August 1, 2017. Viking Press, 384 p. ISBN: 9780735221833.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 870.

Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run. Betrayed by her family after taking the fall for a friend, she finds refuge in a cooperative of runaways holed up in an abandoned building they call the Crystal Castle, but the façade of the Castle conceals a far more sinister agenda, one hatched by a society of fanatical men set on decoding a series of powerful secrets hidden in plain sight. They believe Lee holds the key to it all.

Aided by Tomi, a young hacker and artist with whom she has struck a wary alliance, Lee escapes into the unmapped corners of the city—empty aquariums, deserted motels, patrolled museums, and even the homes of vacationing families, but the deeper she goes underground, the more tightly she finds herself bound in the strange web she’s trying to elude. Desperate and out of options, Lee steps from the shadows to face who is after her—and why.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Theft, Attempted sexual assault, Teen pregnancy

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
A young woman must outthink and outplay a group of men trying to uncover the deepest secrets of the universe (with the help of clues left by Marcel Duchamp) in Rose’s debut novel. Lee has always felt invisible, taking advantage of this by shoplifting and dealing drugs to her high school classmates. When her friend Edie turns her in, Lee is sent to juvenile detention and then the psych ward, from which she manages to escape. Homeless, friendless, and directionless, Lee stumbles upon a group of other lost teens who live in the Crystal Castle under the control of a mysterious figure known as the Station Master. When she steals a strange object that turns out to be a work of art by Marcel Duchamp, Lee has no idea that she has attracted the obsessive interest of a shadowy and dangerous society that effectively worships Duchamp. They believe he left clues in his art that reveal the key to immortality, and they are willing to sacrifice anyone and everyone to decipher them. Together with her friend Tomi, an art fanatic who likes to creep around abandoned buildings, Lee fights to stay one step ahead of the Société Anonyme, which seems to have spies everywhere and which has determined that Lee herself is central to their dastardly plans. The novel is complex on many intellectual levels, drawing heavily on theories of art history and physics, and the mystery is deep and satisfying in both its unpredictability and its culmination. The sheer scope is impressive, as are Rose’s evocative descriptions of underground and abandoned places, reminiscent of David Lynch’s films. Lee, despite being a strong survivor, doesn’t captivate, however. Her survival depends on her ability to be self-sufficient and to separate herself from people, which also estranges her from the reader. Admirably ambitious but lacking in soul.

Publishers Weekly (June 26, 2017)
The 17-year-old heroine of Rose’s debut novel, a richly detailed intellectual thriller set in contemporary Philadelphia, has already been through an adventurous childhood and adolescence when she ends up in juvie, set up by a former friend for a crime she hasn’t committed. Not that Lee Cuddy hasn’t earned her stay there: a natural-born shoplifter, she has also sold enough drugs to accumulate thousands of dollars in cash. Escaped from prison, she winds up in a creepy, cultish home for runaways and then goes on the lam with Tomi, a gentle Czech boy who has a talent for data retrieval, a taste for urban exploration, and a passion for the work of French artist Marcel Duchamp (whose “readymades” cemented the idea that ordinary objects could be considered art if their assembler defined them as such). After Lee steals a satchel from the office of the cult leader, she finds herself pursued by the mysterious Societe Anonyme, which is involved in the production of designer drugs. While Rose may put in one too many obscure references to alchemy and unified field theory, Lee is an excellent character, and the many shadowy settings she travels through make for a fascinating vision of an alternate, underground Philadelphia.

About the Author

Augustus Rose grew up in and around San Francisco, California. His debut novel, The Readymade Thief (Viking 2017), is about a young woman at the center of a mystery involving the art Marcel Duchamp, the dark net, urban exploration, and the shotgun marriage of alchemy and string theory. He teaches fiction writing at University of Chicago.

His website is augustusrose.me

Around the Web

The Readymade Thief on Amazon

The Readymade Thief on Goodreads

The Readymade Thief on JLG

The Readymade Thief Publisher Page

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh. September 14, 2017. Tu Books, 389 p. ISBN: 9781620142998.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, War, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Author Video

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 1))
Grades 8-11. In her brilliantly crafted debut, Oh brings us to the year 2199. The planet’s East and West have been consumed by war for the past 50 years, and the newly formed Neo Alliance (Korea, Japan, and China) are ruthless in their ambition to control the world. Enter Lee Jaewon, fresh off his military placement exam from one of Neo Seoul’s elite military academies and assigned to the Tower—home of the government’s most top-secret project. Here Jaewon meets Tera, a teenage girl who has undergone years of military testing to turn her into a supersoldier with the ability to pilot one of Korea’s advanced God Machines, a weapon capable of leveling a city block in one blow. Abandoned by those who were meant to love him the most, Jaewon is committed to doing his part to contribute to the war effort. But as he and Tera grow closer, and the mystery of his father’s death comes to light, Jaewon begins to question his loyalties. Will love for another open his eyes to the true nature of war? Equal parts K-drama (Korean drama) and sci-fi blockbuster, Oh blends futuristic tech, authentic Korean culture, and romance in this complex, utterly engrossing, and wholly fresh story that is sure to entice a wide array of readers.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2017)
In a militaristic future Korea, a boy and girl meet.It is 2199, and Korea, China, and Japan no longer exist as separate countries but as members of the Neo Council (conveyed to readers in infodumps). Five decades of war have yielded many innovations, such as the God Machines (riffing on the tradition of Japanese mecha movies and Pacific Rim). Preparing to take his military placement exam before graduation from an elite academy, Jaewon is isolated: his father is dead, his mother abandoned him, and his former best friend has turned his back on Jaewon to gain power in one of the Old Seoul gangs. Jaewon’s military posting is to the Tower, the kilometer-tall building in Neo Seoul that serves as headquarters, where he is assigned to supervise Tera, a girl whose strength has been enhanced with drugs in order to pilot a new kind of God Machine. With war still raging and rebel nationalists seeking to make Korea an independent nation again, will two young people be able to find love in this plot-heavy story? While Jaewon is an effective character, much of the supporting cast is relatively flat and the dialogue occasionally stilted, which jars against the mostly colloquial flow. The setting is well-captured, but it’s slow going in this sci-fi adventure. (glossary) (Science fiction. 14-16)

About the Author

Axie Oh is a first-generation Korean American, born in New York City and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California San Diego and holds an MFA in Writing for Young People from Lesley University. Her passions include K-pop, anime, stationery supplies, and milk tea, and she currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her puppy, Toro (named after Totoro).  Her website is axieoh.com.

Around the Web

Rebel Seoul on Amazon

Rebel Seoul on Goodreads

Rebel Seoul on JLG

Rebel Seoul Publisher Page

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. August 29, 2017. Random House Books for Young Readers, 368 p. ISBN: 9780399549748.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 750.

She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Part of Series: DC Icons (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, War, Violence, Underage drinking, Criminal culture

 

Video Reviews

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. Wonder Woman’s backstory is fairly well-known—Amazon princess, isolated island populated only by women, defender of truth and justice, snappy golden lasso, etc.—but Bardugo breathes zippy new life into the story with a twisty plot, whip-smart characters, and her trademark masterful writing. Diana is eager to prove her valor to the other Amazons on Themyscira, but her chosen act of heroism—­rescuing teenage Alia from a shipwreck outside the boundary waters of the island—wreaks havoc on the island’s delicate balance. Of course, that’s not all: Alia is a “warbringer,” and her mere existence will spark global war unless Diana can intervene. Seamlessly integrating classic Wonder Woman lore with her own updated take, Bardugo fleshes out Diana’s backstory and the mythology of Themyscira, adds in sly commentary on feminism and equality, and leavens the package with wry comedy—Diana’s dour obliviousness to contemporary culture will make readers guffaw. This will certainly please seasoned fans of Wonder Woman, but with a cinematic plot and a diverse cast of thoughtfully well-­rounded characters, don’t be surprised if it garners wider appeal, too.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 1, 2017)
DC Comics opens its new line of media tie-in novels with this Wonder Woman origin story.Bardugo introduces readers to Wonder Woman with two alternating perspectives: Diana, princess of Themyscira, and Alia, a 17-year-old New Yorker. While most Amazons are women warriors rewarded with new lives after death, Diana alone is untested, molded from clay, eager to prove herself worthy. Diana’s rescue of Alia from a shipwreck forces the princess into exile in order to prevent a foreordained global catastrophe. Alia wonders if her unusually dressed, oddly naïve rescuer is in a cult. Nerdy, orphaned, biracial, and identifying as black, Alia is awkward and mostly friendless despite her family’s massive wealth. Rescued from disaster by this bronze-skinned white girl who looks “like a supermodel who moonlighted as a cage fighter,” Alia learns her very existence might cause the deaths of millions. With the help of her brother and their two best friends (snarky Brazilian Theo and Indian Nim, who’s queer, fat, fashionable, and fabulous), Alia accompanies Diana on a quest to end the cycle of death. This will absolutely satisfy pre-existing fans of Wonder Woman, but it also readily stands alone for non–superhero fans (although with the first live-action Wonder Woman film opening two months before the novel’s launch, it’s likely to contribute to a new fan base for Diana). Cinematic battles and a race against time keep the excitement high, but the focus on girls looking out for each other is what makes this tie-in shine. Crossed fingers for a sequel. (Superhero fantasy. 12-16)

About the Author

Leigh Bardugo is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Grisha Trilogy (Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising).

She was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and most recently, makeup and special effects. These days, she’s lives and writes in Hollywood where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.

She would be elated if you visited her web site.

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Wonder Woman: Warbringer on Amazon

Wonder Woman: Warbringer on JLG

Wonder Woman: Warbringer on Goodreads

Wonder Woman: Warbringer Publisher Page

 

The New Wild West by Blaire Briody

The New Wild West: Black Gold, Fracking, and Life in a North Dakota Boomtown by Blaire Briody. September 26, 2017. St. Martin’s Press, 336 p. ISBN: 9781250064929.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

Williston, North Dakota was a sleepy farm town for generations―until the frackers arrived. The oil companies moved into Williston, overtaking the town and setting off a boom that America hadn’t seen since the Gold Rush. Workers from all over the country descended, chasing jobs that promised them six-figure salaries and demanded no prior experience.

But for every person chasing the American dream, there is a darker side―reports of violence and sexual assault skyrocketed, schools overflowed, and housing prices soared. Real estate is such a hot commodity that tent cities popped up, and many workers’ only option was to live out of their cars. Farmers whose families had tended the land for generations watched, powerless, as their fields were bulldozed to make way for one oil rig after another.

Written in the vein Ted Conover and Jon Krakauer, using a mix of first-person adventure and cultural analysis, The New Wild West is the definitive account of what’s happening on the ground and what really happens to a community when the energy industry is allowed to set up in a town with little regulation or oversight―and at what cost.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Alcohols

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 1))
In June 2013, then 29-year-old journalist Briody quit her job as senior editor for the Fiscal Times in New York and moved to Williston, North Dakota, to embed herself in the “shale oil revolution,” which turned out to be a five-year free-for-all for anyone willing to do whatever it takes to become rich. Many individuals did become incredibly wealthy, but others were torn from their families, sexually assaulted, abducted, or murdered. Briody, winner of the Richard J. Margolis Award for social justice reporting, tells the fascinating stories of people in pursuit of their piece of the oil boom. There’s triumph and heartbreak in this blend of reportage, profiles, and personal essay. The longer Briody is involved in the intricacies of the assignment and in the pain of the people she meets, the more fluid her writing becomes, and she is careful with details, noting, for example, that oil wells are drilled as deep as 3.8 miles, and that when you buy farmland in Williston, you own only what’s on the surface. But Briody’s account offers far more than information about land rights, fracking, supply-and-demand economics, and greed. It reveals the effect the chance to get rich quick, to be worth something, can have on striving Americans.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2017)
The “darker side” of North Dakota’s “shale oil revolution.”In this deeply reported debut, journalist Briody, a former senior editor at the Fiscal Times, tells the stories of roughnecks and other blue-collar workers attracted to high-paying jobs in the oil fields of Williston, North Dakota, a former “sleepy prairie town” where life has been upended by fracking. Most are young men, often refugees from the construction industry collapse. “When he ran out of money and heard about the oil boom, he decided to give it a try,” the author writes about one worker. They come by the thousands, tripling the population, making housing scarce, and taxing police and other services. In 2013, the author became intrigued by the boom and left her Brooklyn apartment to investigate. Staying for months at a time and getting close to many workers, she soon learned that abundant job opportunities exist in Williston alongside bleak living conditions, homelessness, drunkenness, crime, and more. Sadness and uncertainty pervade the new version of the town. “The only thing that’s out here are jobs. That’s it,” said Tom Stakes, an ex-preacher who arrived with $20, drank too much, and left with $1,000. Often divorced and remarried, Cindy Marchello offers the vantage of a hard-bitten woman determined to improve herself but struggling to keep up in the hazardous fields (“I will never be tough enough for this job”) and wary of her fellow workers (85 percent men): “If you smile at them, they think you’ll spread your legs.” The narrative’s accretion of detail is often overwhelming—e.g., in repetitious, fact-packed sections on a pastor’s sheltering of homeless workers in his church—but sometimes highly revealing, as in a lingering image of a trailer smelling like “cigarettes, dust, booze, and stale A/C air.” Stronger editing would have helped, but the book contains solid explanations of shale oil extraction, the lack of government regulation, and the ruinous environmental impacts. An unvarnished, overlong account of the facts behind America’s newfound oil dominance.

About the Author

Blaire Briody is a freelance journalist who has written for The New York Times, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Fast Company, Glamour, among others. Her first nonfiction book, The New Wild West, about North Dakota’s oil boom will be published in September 2017. The book was the 2016 finalist for the Lukas Work-in-Progress Award from Columbia Journalism School and Harvard University, and she received the Richard J. Margolis Award for social justice journalism in 2014. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in international relations and now resides in Sonoma County. Her website is www.blairebriody.com.

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There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. September 26, 2017. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 289 p. ISBN: 9780525426011.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Grotesque violence, Transphobia

 

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Booklist (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. The ever-popular Perkins (Isla and the Happily Ever After, 2014) takes a sharp turn out of YA romance in her latest offering, a clever—and, to fans, no doubt surprising—foray into the teen slasher genre. When Makani Young moved from her native Hawaii to her grandmother’s house in Nebraska, she thought her biggest concerns would be fitting in, putting her troubled past behind her, and navigating her attraction to a mysterious boy. She didn’t expect the students at Osborne High to start dying as murder after seemingly unconnected murder shocks the small town. And Makani certainly never expected herself to be targeted by the killer. Perkins deftly builds the suspense like a pro: an uneasy opening leads to some legitimately horrifying murders, and the identity of the killer isn’t quite as important as the motivation. Diverse characters, including a transgender boy, are folded into the tale. This is the same reliable formula that spawned the Scream franchise, and Perkins wields it to great effect: readers will be sleeping with one eye open.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2017)
Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false. Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

About the Author

Stephanie Perkins is the New York Times bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. She has always worked with books—first as a bookseller, then as a librarian, and now as a novelist. Stephanie lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her husband. Every room of their house is painted a different color of the rainbow.

Her website is www.stephanieperkins.com

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Patina by Jason Reynolds

Patina by Jason Reynolds. August29, 2017. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, 233 p. ISBN: 9781481450188.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.6; Lexile: 710.

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this? As the stress builds up, it’s building up a pretty bad attitude as well. Coach won’t tolerate bad attitude. No day, no way. And now he wants Patty to run relay…where you have to depend on other people? How’s she going to do THAT?

Sequel to: Ghost

Part of Series: Track (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

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Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 5-8. When Patina “Patty” Jones, the fastest girl on the Defenders track team, comes in second place in a race—a fact she finds unacceptable—her rage is so intense that she mentally checks out. In an effort to make her into a team player, Coach assigns her to the 4×800 relay race and makes the relay team do hokey things like waltz in practice to “learn each others’ rhythms.” Pfft. Meanwhile, Patty feels completely out of place at her rich-girl academy. And then there’s the really hard stuff. Like how her father died, how her mother “got the sugar” (diabetes) and it took her legs, and now Patty and her little sister live with their aunt Emily and uncle Tony. Reynolds’ again displays his knack for capturing authentic voice in both Patty’s inner monologues and the spoken dialogue. The plot races as fast as the track runners in it, and—without ever feeling like a book about “issues”—it deftly tackles topics like isolation, diverse family makeup, living with illness, losing a parent, transcending socioeconomic and racial barriers, and—perhaps best of all—what it’s like for a tween to love their little sister more than all the cupcakes in the world. The second entry in the four-book Track series, this serves as a complete, complex, and sparkling stand-alone novel.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2017)
Back for the second leg of the Track series relay, the Defenders team has passed the baton to title character Patina, nicknamed Patty. First introduced to readers in Ghost (rev. 11/16), Patty has been forced to grow up quickly. After her father dies suddenly, Patty’s role in raising her younger sister Maddy grows larger as their mother gets ill and ultimately becomes a double amputee due to complications from diabetes. While moving in with their godparents, who have adopted them both, has relieved some of the pressure, Patty is not always certain how to relinquish her role as caregiver. She takes it upon herself to braid Maddy’s hair (as opposed to letting their adoptive mother, Momly, do it) because “ain’t no rule book for white people to know how to work with black hair.” Patty pushes Ma in her wheelchair to and from church on Sundays. She does all the work on her group project at school, and angrily counts her second-place ribbon at a track meet as “fake.” At some point, Momly reminds her, “Folks who try to do everything are usually avoiding one thing.” Those words ring true when an almost-tragedy strikes the household and Patty is forced to face the “thing”–the loss she feels at the death of her father–and start to trust others. For his first book featuring a female protagonist, Reynolds has done an excellent job of providing insights into the life of an African American middle schooler. Track scenes (and drama) are interspersed with home and school scenes (and drama); and as the new girl at an elite academy, Patty’s interactions with her vapid “hair-flipper” classmates, especially, are both humorous and authentic. eboni njoku

About the Author

After earning a BA in English from The University of Maryland, College Park, he moved to Brooklyn, New York, where you can often find him walking the four blocks from the train to his apartment talking to himself. Well, not really talking to himself, but just repeating character names and plot lines he thought of on the train, over and over again, because he’s afraid he’ll forget it all before he gets home. His website is www.jasonwritesbooks.com.

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