Category Archives: June 2018

La Fosa del Lobo (Wolf Hollow) by Lauren Wolk

La Fosa del Lobo (Wolf Hollow) by Lauren Wolk. May 1, 2018. Loqueleo, 280 p. ISBN: 9786070134272.  Int Lvl: 5-8.

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.

Spanish translation of: Wolf Hollow

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Bullying with the intent to do physical harm, Cruelty to animals, Anti-German sentiments during World War II, Frank descriptions of the harsh realities of war, Frank description of an injury, Death

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 15, 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 14))
Grades 5-8. Eleven-year-old Annabelle is living a relatively idyllic life on her family’s Pennsylvania farm, until its normalcy is interrupted by Betty Glengarry, who has been sent to live with her grandparents because she is “incorrigible.” Betty’s sullen presence quickly upsets the one-room school’s traditional pecking order, and Annabelle and her younger brothers are Betty’s favorite targets—until Annabelle stands up to her. Not to be outdone, Betty shifts her attention to Toby, a strange WWI veteran already saddled with a dubious reputation within the community. Wolk conjures an aura of unease and dread from the first chapter, even as her pastoral setting and Annabelle’s sunny family life seem to suggest that a happy ending is possible. The spare but hauntingly beautiful language paints every early morning walk to school, household chore, emotion, and rational and irrational thought in exquisite detail, while remaining true to Annabelle’s early-adolescent voice. Her craft notwithstanding, Wolk is relentless in her message: lies and secrets, even for the most noble of reasons, have unintended consequences, as Annabelle’s poignant dilemma reminds us long after the last page is turned. Perfectly pitched to be used in classrooms in conjunction with To Kill a Mockingbird.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 15, 2016)
Evil comes to rural Pennsylvania in an unlikely guise in this novel of the American homefront during World War II. Twelve-year-old Annabelle’s coming-of-age begins when newcomer Betty Glengarry, newly arrived from the city to stay with her grandparents “because she was incorrigible,” shakes her down for spare change in Wolf Hollow on the way to school. Betty’s crimes quickly escalate into shocking violence, but the adults won’t believe the sweet-looking blonde girl could be responsible and settle their suspicions on Toby, an unkempt World War I veteran who stalks the hills carrying not one, but three guns. Annabelle’s strategies for managing a situation she can’t fully understand are thoroughly, believably childlike, as is her single-minded faith in Betty’s guilt and Toby’s innocence. But her childlike faith implicates her in a dark and dangerous mystery that propels her into the adult world of moral gray spaces. Wolk builds her story deliberately through Annabelle’s past-tense narration in language that makes no compromises but is yet perfectly simple: “Back then, I didn’t know a word to describe Betty properly or what to call the thing that set her apart from the other children in that school.” She realizes her setting with gorgeous immediacy, introducing the culture of this all-white world of hollows, hills, and neighbors with confidence and cleareyed affection. Trusting its readers implicitly with its moral complexity, Wolk’s novel stuns. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

About the Author

Lauren Wolk is an award-winning poet and author of the bestselling Newbery Honor–winning Wolf Hollow, described by the New York Times Book Review as “full of grace and stark, brutal beauty.” She was born in Baltimore and has since lived in California, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Canada, and Ohio. She now lives with her family on Cape Cod.
Her website is www.laurenwolk.com

Around the Web

La Fosa del Lobo on Amazon

La Fosa del Lobo on Goodreads

La Fosa del Lobo Publisher Page

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A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena. February 27, 2018. Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, 378 p. ISBN: 9780374305444.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 890.

A timeless exploration of high-stakes romance, self-discovery, and the lengths we go to love and be loved. 

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong sexual themes, Smoking, Rape, Physical abuse

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2018)
When Zarin Wadia dies in a car crash with a boy named Porus, no one in her South Asian community in Jeddah is surprised—what else would you expect from a girl like that? Originally from Mumbai, half-Parsi, half-Hindu Zarin moved in with her aunt and uncle after her mother died. The family relocated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to escape rumors about Zarin’s mother’s death, plunging her into a world of abuse and gender-based restrictions against which she rebelled. It was only after Porus, a Parsi friend from Mumbai, moved to Jeddah for work that Zarin began to reconsider her behavior—and her capacity for love. Featuring a diverse cast of Arab and South Asian characters of various classes and faiths, the story is a gripping and nuanced portrait of how teens, both boys and girls, react to patriarchy (the novel contains graphic descriptions of abuse and sexual assault). Bhathena’s prose can be stilted, and her excessive use of multiple voices limits both character development and the resolution of some storylines. In addition, the beginning and ending chapters narrated by Zarin’s ghost feel disjointed from the otherwise searingly realistic narrative. All in all, though, the book is a fast-paced, fascinating read about a community rarely seen in young adult novels in the West. A refreshingly nuanced narrative about gender in the Middle East. (Romance. 16-adult)

Publishers Weekly (November 27, 2017)
Bhathena makes an impressive debut with this eye-opening novel about a free-spirited girl in present-day Saudi Arabia. Orphaned at a young age, Zarin Wadia moves in with her uncle and abusive aunt, who constantly shames and beats her. “Some people hide, some people fight to cover up their shame,” Zarin explains. “I was always the kind of person who fought.” Her treatment at school is even worse-she’s shunned for being different (she’s Zoroastrian, for starters) and responds by smoking cigarettes and sneaking out with boys. After Zarin gets reacquainted with a childhood friend, Porus, she becomes dependent on him for escape, protection, and the type of gentle affection she has not felt since her mother’s death. Readers know from the outset that Zarin and Porus die in a gruesome car accident, and their reflective post-death narratives share space with chapters written from the perspectives of others in their orbits. Bhathena’s novel should spur heated discussions about sexist double standards and the ways societies restrict, control, and punish women and girls. Ages 14-up. Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Feb.)

About the Author

Tanaz Bhathena was born in Mumbai and raised in Riyadh, Jeddah and Toronto. Her short stories have appeared in various journals, including Blackbird, Witness and Room Magazine. A Girl Like That is her first novel.

Her website is tanazbhathena.com

Around the Web

A Girl Like That on Amazon

A Girl Like That on Goodreads

A Girl Like That Publisher Page

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood. March 27, 2018. Flux, 284 p. ISBN: 9781635830163.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 750.

Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she’s dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.

No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.

After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol, Underage drinking, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 11))
Grades 7-10. For 18-year-old Grace, there’s nothing better than walking an airplane’s wings while it soars through the sky. As part of her uncle Warren’s barnstorming team, the Soaring Eagles, she spends her time devising risky new tricks to do in the air, because while her life may be thrilling, it’s far from glamorous. With increasing competition, she and her team work hard to draw a crowd, and often they don’t take in enough money to get a hotel when they’re on the road. Still, Grace has her sights set on competing in the 1922 World Aviation Expo in Chicago, where a win would mean a Hollywood contract and financial stability. Independent and headstrong, Grace is thrown for a loop when Henry Patton, a handsome war vet, becomes the Soaring Eagles’ new mechanic and sets her heart aflutter. Romance, however, takes a backseat to the competition and sabotage attempts by a rival team. Trueblood’s debut is an exhilarating historical novel with a strong feminist core that will appeal to a broad range of readers.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
It’s 1922—an exciting time in aviation. During the previous decade, the world saw planes used in war for the first time. Many returning American war pilots now fly decommissioned training planes in barnstorming teams. These flying circuses are showing up across the country, and competition is fierce. The action takes off with white 18-year-old Grace Lafferty, the only female member of the Soaring Eagles, climbing out of a roadster going 50 miles an hour to grab hold of a ladder attached to a soaring plane. Money is tight, and Grace’s team—her family—is in danger of closing up shop and going their separate ways, so she’s entered them in the World Aviation Expo. This opportunity will be more than a performance; their future depends on winning the grand prize: a Hollywood contract with a steady paycheck. Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to receive a professional pilot’s license, is Grace’s hero and the book’s only character of color. Coleman gives Grace advice about being a woman in a field dominated by men. Action scenes play out with a cinematically breathtaking intensity; however, by comparison, scenes on the ground are slow, though intriguing. Accented with such details as jazz, speak-easies, and period slang, it’s a gas. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Amy Trueblood grew up in California only ten minutes from Disneyland which sparked an early interest in storytelling. As the youngest of five, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite books. After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in journalism, she worked in entertainment in Los Angeles before returning to work in Arizona.

Fueled by good coffee and an awesome Spotify playlist, you can often find Amy blogging and writing.  Her website is www.amytruebloodauthor.com

Around the Web

Nothing But Sky on Amazon

Nothing But Sky on Goodreads

Nothing But Sky Publisher Page

The Hyena Scientist by Sy Montgomery

They Hyena Scientist by Sy Montgomery. May 15, 2018. HMH Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 9780544635111.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.5.

The Hyena Scientist sets the record straight about one of history’s most hated and misunderstood mammals, while featuring the groundbreaking, pioneering research of a female scientist in a predominately male field.

As a scientist studying one of the only mammalian societies led entirely by females, zoologist Kay Holecamp has made it her life’s work to understand hyenas, the fascinating, complex creatures that are playful, social, and highly intelligent—almost nothing like the mangy monsters of pop culture lore.

Part of Series: Scientists in the Field

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (April 15, 2018)
A practiced and proficient team returns to the African plains to visit a field camp in Masai Mara, Kenya, where zoologist Kay Holekamp has been studying spotted hyenas for 30 years. This surprisingly engaging title introduces a species whose bad reputation is nearly universal. Holekamp disagrees. Her study of eight generations of hyenas has revealed the spotted hyena to be “an unexpectedly brave, smart, and extremely social species” as well as the “most formidable carnivore in Africa.” During their 10-day visit, Montgomery and Bishop go with the researchers for morning and evening observations, watch one sedate a young male with a dart gun so all can take measurements and specimens, see a skirmish in a war between rival factions of the large Talek West hyena clan, and, during a downpour, when flood threatens, help evacuate precious specimens and equipment. Montgomery’s graceful prose draws readers into the experience with clear explanations and vivid description. Bishop’s striking photographs show off the doglike hyenas’ furry cuteness. He includes close-ups of cubs at play and rest, researchers at work, and adult hyenas interacting with one another, as well as tent scenes, other wildlife, and the always-impressive scenery. Readers may be inspired by the stories of the white scientist’s diverse team of assistants: a retired medical social worker, U.S. graduate students, and a young Kenyan who hopes to study in the U.S. An appealing, elegantly designed introduction to another much-maligned species. (fast facts, bibliography, acknowledgements, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

About the Author

Part Indiana Jones, part Emily Dickinson, as the Boston Globe describes her, Sy Montgomery is an author, naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, and radio commentator who has traveled to some of the worlds most remote wildernesses for her work. She has worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba, been hunted by a tiger in India, swum with pink dolphins in the Amazon, and been undressed by an orangutan in Borneo. She is the author of 13 award-winning books, including her national best-selling memoir, The Good Good Pig. Montgomery lives in Hancock, New Hampshire.

Her website is symontgomery.com

Around the Web

The Hyena Scientist on Amazon

The Hyena Scientist on Goodreads

The Hyena Scientist Publisher Page

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro

The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro. March 6, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 349 p. ISBN: 9780062398970.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

It’s been a year since the shocking death of August Moriarty, and Jamie and Charlotte haven’t spoken.

Jamie is going through the motions at Sherringford, trying to finish his senior year without incident, with a nice girlfriend he can’t seem to fall for.

Charlotte is on the run, from Lucien Moriarty and from her own mistakes. No one has seen her since that fateful night on the lawn in Sussex—and Charlotte wants it that way. She knows she isn’t safe to be around. She knows her Watson can’t forgive her.

Holmes and Watson may not be looking to reconcile, but when strange things start happening, it’s clear that someone wants the team back together. Someone who has been quietly observing them both. Making plans. Biding their time.

Someone who wants to see one of them suffer and the other one dead.

Sequel to: The Last of August

Part of series: Charlotte Holmes (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Mention of sexual assault and rape

 

Book Trailer

 

About the Author

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, including A Study in Charlotte and The Last of August. She’s also the author of the poetry collection Girl-King (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently, she’s a PhD candidate in English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, cat, and collection of deerstalker caps.

Her website is http://brittanycavallaro.com.

Around the Web

The Case for Jamie on Amazon

The Case for Jamie on Goodreads

The Case for Jamie Publisher Page

Brazen by Pénélope Bagieu

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu. March 6, 2018. First Second, 304 p. ISBN: 9781626728684.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 770.

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit.

With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 9-12. Step aside Susan B. Anthony and Joan of Arc! French graphic novelist Bagieu’s (California Dreamin’, 2017) latest turns standard feminist anthology fare on its head, introducing 29 lesser-known ladies of various backgrounds, time periods, skin colors, and sexualities. Kicking off with Clémentine Delait, a beloved bearded lady in early twentieth-century France, and concluding with Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space, Bagieu’s vivacious collection spotlights rebels such as Las Mariposas (revolutionary sisters!), Sonita Alizadeh (Afghan rapper!), and Nobel Peace Prize–winning Leymah Gbowee (Liberian activist!) along the way. Bagieu’s writing is clever and concise, and panels brim with sly subtleties; Bagieu delivers laugh-out-loud one-liners in bitsy speech bubbles, and summons tragedy with no words at all, and her fine-lined figures are by turns playfully expressive, fierce, and reverent. Additionally, each profile employs its own distinct color palette; Bagieu’s segment on Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson, for example, heavily features the bold blues, greens, yellows, and reds of Jansson’s signature Moomin comics. Bagieu’s dedication to Syrian activist Naziq al-Abid folds in the colors of the country’s flag. This dynamic paean to women’s flair for fearless resistance will have readers happily sifting through history—and tackling the future with renewed verve. Rock on, ladies.

Kirkus Reviews starred (February 1, 2018)
This French graphic novel offers a satisfying collection of minibiographies about bold women—some contemporary, others from centuries ago—who overcame fearsome odds to achieve a variety of goals, becoming the first black woman in space, a rapper in Afghanistan, a pioneering volcanologist, and more.The lives of 33 women of varying geographical, ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds are highlighted in about 10 pages each of colorful, expressive, and often humorous cartoon panels—enough to serve as a catalyst for learning more. Some names are relatively recognizable, such as Temple Grandin and Nellie Bly, while others may be less so, such as Las Mariposas, Dominican sisters who became revolutionaries and human rights activists; Naziq al-Abid, a Syrian humanitarian and feminist; Agnodice, a fourth-century B.C.E. Athenian who disguised herself as a man in order to practice gynecology; and Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian social worker who escaped an abusive marriage and assisted other female survivors of violence. Bagieu delivers a pièce de résistance that succinctly summarizes the obstacles and victories of these daring women. Insightful and clever, at times infuriating and disheartening, this serves as a reminder that the hardships women face today have been shared—and overcome—by many others. (Graphic collective biography. 14-18)

About the Author

Pénélope Bagieu, (born 22 January 1982 Paris), is a French illustrator and comic designer.

Pénélope Bagieu graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Economic and Social studies, she spent a year at ESAT Paris, then at the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and then at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. Multimedia and entertainment, where she graduated in December 2006.

Her website is www.penelope-jolicoeur.com.

Around the Web

Brazen on Amazon

Brazen on Goodreads

Brazen Publisher Page

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre. February 13, 2018. Katherine Tegen Books, 467 p. ISBN: 9780062570994.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Part of Series: The Honors (Book 1)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; War; Violence

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (November 1, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 5))
Grades 8-11. Eighteen-year-old, dark-skinned, petty thief Zara Cole inadvertently steals from a major crime boss not known for forgiveness, but, luckily, fate steps in, and she is chosen to be an Honor in the interspecies exchange program between humans and Leviathans. These sentient creature-ships host humans for a year-long space tour with the option of extending indefinitely. Mystery shrouds this program, and as inquisitive Zara, co-Honor Beatriz (a Rio-born musician), and the Leviathan Nadim travel together, its dark side is revealed. Caine and Aguirre create a fresh and fascinating story of interspecies bonding, the power of music, and the effects of trauma on good creatures. A few culturally specific references seem forced, but the bond between the humans and alien is delicately built and inspiring. Nadim (the ship) and Zara share first-person narrative duties, and this is primarily Zara’s story with a few intercut chapters from Nadim’s perspective. Pair this with Philip Reeve’s Railhead (2016), or for a real throwback, bring out Anne McCaffrey’s Brain and Brawn Ship series.

Kirkus Reviews (November 1, 2017)
Zara Cole is on the run. A distant-future mobster named Torian Deluca is out to find her after she accidentally/on purpose robbed his daughter. A master thief who has lived for years in the Lower Eight of New Detroit, Zara realizes that if Deluca catches up to her, he might kill her. Faking a violent fit, Zara gets herself checked into a youth-detention facility to stay out of his reach. While she’s incarcerated, the story takes a very wide turn when Zara is mysteriously selected to join the Honors space program, a scientific and cultural exchange program between the extraterrestrial Leviathan and humans. Now aboard a Leviathan living ship named Nadim, Zara finds herself communicating with it. She also begins to suspect that there is something sinister about the entire Honors program. Zara’s snarky first-person account of her troubled childhood and overnight transition to astronaut keeps the story interesting at times. However, the story is undermined by the perpetuation of common racial and ethnic stereotypes in this futuristic world. Zara, the young, black female protagonist from New Detroit, is a criminal. Deluca is a stereotypical Italian bad guy, and a Chinese Honor participant is described as having “a degree in something complicated.” The sentient ships that display emotion fall short in execution and don’t give the plot the range it needs. An ambitious premise that is amiable but not believable. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

About the Author

Rachel Caine started writing at 14, and wrote steadily (but privately) until the age of 28, when she got her first novel deal for Stormriders (as Roxanne Longstreet). She published several horror novels under that name, and switched to romantic suspense as Roxanne Conrad. In 2003 she launched into the urban fantasy genre under the name Rachel Caine. In 2006, she created the Morganville Vampires series in young adult, and premiered the TLA-listed novel Prince of Shadows in 2015, and the new Great Library series with Ink and Bone in 2016.

In 2017, she began writing thrillers with the smash bestsellers Stillhouse Lake and Killman Creek.  Her website is www.rachelcaine.com/

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Doctor Who. She writes all kind of fiction in multiple genres, both YA and for adults.

Her website is www.annaguirre.com/

Around the Web

Honor Among Thieves on Amazon

Honor Among Thieves on Goodreads

Honor Among Thieves Publisher Page

Ascent by Roland Smith

Ascent: A Peak Marcello Novel by Roland Smith. May 8, 2018. HMH Books for Young Readers, 240 p. ISBN: 0765383756.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile:.

A few months after returning from Afghanistan, Peak Marcello is in Myanmar visiting Alessia. Myanmar has been in the grips of a brutal military regime for more than fifty years, but recently the government has allowed more tourists to enter.   While there, Peak is invited to climb Hkakabo Razi, one of the most isolated mountains in the world, to discover the exact elevation of the mountain. But getting to the mountain will involve a four-week trek through tropical rain forests rife with hazards—from venomous reptiles and leeches to corrupt police and military. In the end, summiting Hkakabo Razi may be the easiest thing Peak does.

Sequel to: The Edge

Part of Series: Peak (Book 3)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (February 15, 2018 (Online))
Grades 7-10. Climbing-prodigy Peak Marcello has scaled skyscrapers and summited mountains before the age of 16, but crossing the tropical rain forest is deadlier than he bargained for. Fellow young climber Alessia and her bodyguard, Ethan, invite Peak on a mission to measure the height of a remote mountain in Myanmar, but first they must brave the surrounding jungle. Out of their alpine element, Peak and his friends confront vicious wildlife, unforgiving terrain, and foes who will stop at nothing to keep the team from reaching the mountain. Surprising allies new and old join Peak for the trek and the treacherous climb to come. The third book of Peak’s adventures includes the same engaging narration, exotic settings, and plentiful perils that won the series’ debut high praise, but the sequels have fallen short of the first’s originality and sharp storytelling. A rambling plot and flat secondary characters do little to draw in new readers, but fans of Peak’s wilderness exploits and his refreshingly old-school, antitechnology attitude will settle for a series installment shy of the heights of Everest.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2018)
Peak Marcello and his friends Alessia and Ethan are eager to put their ill-fated climbing expedition in the Pamir Mountains behind them as they plan to summit Burma’s highest mountain, Hkakabo Razi.Before they get there, however, Peak and his friends endure a trek through harsh tropical rainforests, encounter the military police, and even help repair a broken rope bridge. As they weather complex and dangerous situations, the young climbers learn that their previous guide, the mahout Lwin, has murdered a girl and is on the run. The narrative is fast-paced and filled with extreme outdoor adventure, and the details about mountain climbing are both thorough and interesting. Although some characters are diverse (Alessia is French, and the climbers’ botanist friend and guide, Nick, is biracial Burmese and British), the narrative employs a primarily Western and androcentric worldview. For instance, Peak refuses to wear a lungi, the traditional male saronglike garment, despite how well-adapted it is for the sweltering heat of the rainforest, instead making a derogatory comment about skirts. The one-dimensionality of the characters and the assumption that readers will be familiar with situations and characters from the preceding books in the series render the novel discordant at times. An absorbing wilderness story that falls flat in characterization. (Adventure. 12-18)

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Roland Smith is the author of 28 young adult novels including PeakThe EdgeBeneathAboveSasquatchElephant RunZach’s Lie, Shatterproof (39 Clues), the Cryptid Hunters series, the I,Q series, and the Storm Runner series. His novels have garnered dozens of State and national book awards. He speaks to over 50,000 children and adults every year at schools and conferences all over the world.

He lives in Portland, Oregon. His website is www.rolandsmith.com

Around the Web

Ascent on Amazon

Ascent  on Goodreads

Ascent  Publisher Page

Becoming Madeleine by Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy

Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters by Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy. February 6, 2018. Farrar Straus Giroux, 163 p. ISBN: 9780374307646.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.8; Lexile: 1090.

This middle-grade biography explores the life and works of Madeleine L’Engle –written by her granddaughters–coming just in time for the all-new A Wrinkle in Time film, directed by Ava DuVernay.

This elegant and insightful biography of Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was written by her granddaughters, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy. Using never-before-seen archival materials that include photographs, poems, letters, and journal entries from when Madeleine was a child until just after the publication of her classic, A Wrinkle in Time, her granddaughters weave together an in-depth and unique view of the famous writer. It is a story of overcoming obstacles–a lonely childhood, financial insecurity, and countless rejections of her writing–and eventual triumph. Becoming Madeleine will speak not only to fans of the icon’s work, but also to anyone interested in writing.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (February 15, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 12))
Grades 4-7. It’s a publishing event when Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughters offer an account of her life as a writer. And they do her proud, organizing the information well, presenting it clearly, and drawing on her journals for the lively excerpts that make this book so very readable. The biographical text provides a sturdy framework, beginning with L’Engle’s parents’ marriage and ending with the publication of A Wrinkle in Time (1962). An epilogue fills in the main events of L’Engle’s later life and includes Voiklis’ and Roy’s recollections of their grandmother as well as comments on the journals that she kept from the age of 11. Beginning with the reflections of 13-year-old Madeleine attending boarding school in Switzerland, first-person passages appear with increasing length and frequency throughout the narrative. They provide the book’s most vivid insights into the writer’s mind and emotions through her teens, her college days, her experiences living in Greenwich Village (working for actress-writer-producer Eva Le Gallienne), her marriage with actor Hugh Franklin, and her years as a working mother in rural Connecticut and New York City. The many illustrations include reproductions of family photos as well as letters, playbills, and book jackets. A fine tribute to a legendary writer, 100 years after her birth.

Publishers Weekly (December 4, 2017)
L’Engle’s granddaughters have produced a perceptive look at the prolific author’s solitary childhood, gawky adolescence, and early adulthood, concluding in 1961 with FSG acquiring the manuscript of the book that would become A Wrinkle in Time. Making generous use of L’Engle’s diary entries (starting when she was 14 and at a Swiss boarding school), correspondence, and memorabilia, the book will appeal to aspiring writers as well as L’Engle’s admirers. The liveliest and most engrossing sections focus on L’Engle’s young adulthood in New York City as she strove to make a career in the theater and as a novelist. Early successes in both arenas gave way to rejection and frustration, but L’Engle persisted, faithful to her need to write, regardless of publication. At 30, she reflected in her journal: “It is just a necessary function to me like breathing and eating and eliminating. And is one of my greatest joys. And one of my greatest agonies.” A personal prologue and a moving epilogue that succinctly touches on L’Engle’s later adulthood from her granddaughters’ perspective are additional highlights, as are the many photos of the writer and her family. Ages 9-12.

About the Author

Léna Roy is a creative writing teacher, and an author of fiction and creative non-fiction, as well as being Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughter. She has written a biography of her grandmother, Becoming Madeleine with her sister, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, coming out in February 2018. Léna is a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab in the suburbs of New York City. Writopia Lab’s mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.   Her website is www.lenaroy.com

Around the Web

Becoming Madeleine on Amazon

Becoming Madeleine on Goodreads

Becoming Madeleine Publisher Page

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury

The Wild Inside by Jamey Bradbury. March 20, 2018. William Morrow, 304 p. ISBN: 9780062741998.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 880.

A natural born trapper and hunter raised in the Alaskan wilderness, Tracy Petrikoff spends her days tracking animals and running with her dogs in the remote forests surrounding her family’s home. Though she feels safe in this untamed land, Tracy still follows her late mother’s rules: Never Lose Sight of the House. Never Come Home with Dirty Hands. And, above all else, Never Make a Person Bleed.

But these precautions aren’t enough to protect Tracy when a stranger attacks her in the woods and knocks her unconscious. The next day, she glimpses an eerily familiar man emerge from the tree line, gravely injured from a vicious knife wound—a wound from a hunting knife similar to the one she carries in her pocket. Was this the man who attacked her and did she almost kill him? With her memories of the events jumbled, Tracy can’t be sure.

Helping her father cope with her mother’s death and prepare for the approaching Iditarod, she doesn’t have time to think about what she may have done. Then a mysterious wanderer appears, looking for a job. Tracy senses that Jesse Goodwin is hiding something, but she can’t warn her father without explaining about the attack—or why she’s kept it to herself.

It soon becomes clear that something dangerous is going on . . . the way Jesse has wormed his way into the family . . . the threatening face of the stranger in a crowd . . . the boot-prints she finds at the forest’s edge.

Her family is in trouble. Will uncovering the truth protect them—or is the threat closer than Tracy suspects?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Hunting, Inhumane treatment of animals, Recollection of a sexual assault, Murder, Two instances of strong language

 

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2018 (Vol. 114, No. 9))
Tracy lives to hunt, sometimes spending days in the Alaska wilderness with nothing but her wits and her knife. Ever since her mother died, her father has kept her on a tight leash, especially when it comes to training for the upcoming Iditarod. Tracy’s preternatural drive to hunt is insatiable, however, so she sneaks out regularly, which is where she is when the stranger attacks her. She fights back, waking up with a bruised head and bloody hands, but she’s convinced he’ll return to finish what he started. When her father takes on a hired hand, Tracy’s careful secrets start to unravel, and she discovers disturbing truths about her desperate need to hunt. Though the pacing can be haphazard and Tracy’s folksy, first-person narration doesn’t always ring true, debut author Bradbury cultivates vivid atmosphere with visceral action and a dynamic cast of characters. Tracy’s unsettling compulsion for hunting takes a magic-realist turn early on, which might disappoint fans of straightforward survival thrillers, but patient readers who like earthy, genre-blending, coming-of-age stories should be pleased.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2018)
An Alaskan teenager on the cusp of adulthood is drawn to the feral life.Although the folksy and stubbornly ungrammatical voice of Bradbury’s first-person narrator, Tracy Petrikoff, takes some getting used to, it conveys a visceral sense of her world. In the nearly two years since her mother’s death, a month before Tracy’s 16th birthday, her home life has been thrown into disarray. Now nearing 18, Tracy hopes to enter her first adult Iditarod. But her father, Bill, a champion musher, has given up the sport and is deaf to Tracy’s pleas to let her train. Younger brother Scott has retreated into his books and photography. Other than tending the fleet of sled dogs her family still maintains, she is officially grounded—she’s been expelled from school for fighting. However, Tracy easily evades her father’s halfhearted discipline to set woodland traps. Her catches—martens, minks, hares, and squirrels—provide meat for the family and pelts to sell in the nearby village. Furthermore, trusty hunting blade in hand, Tracy gains essential strength from drinking the blood of her prey while also temporarily mind-melding with victims. One day in the woods, a strange man slams Tracy against a tree root and she blacks out. When the man, Tom Hatch, shows up at her home, bleeding from a stab wound, Tracy assumes she inflicted it. Returning to the scene of her supposed crime, Tracy finds a backpack containing wads of cash, enough to enter the Iditarod. Jesse Goodwin, a young drifter, appears, taking on the role of hired factotum. Tracy and Jesse develop a special bond after she learns Jesse was fleeing Hatch. However, Jesse is not what he seems. The ingredients of a thriller with surreal elements are all in place, as Tracy suspects that Hatch has recovered and may be seeking revenge. From here the plot veers off in directions that are not only unexpected, but at time beggar belief. Still, readers will warm to the unconventional persona Bradbury has crafted for Tracy, that of wilderness savant. A strange and soulful debut.

About the Author

Jamey Bradbury’s work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Sou’wester, and Zone 3. She won an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

She moved to Anchorage, Alaska, in 2002 but kept leaving to join the Peace Corps, work in Vermont, and go to graduate school. The important part, though, is that she came back. If you’re ever in Anchorage, she recommends Spenard Roadhouse for drinks, Bear Tooth Theater Pub for movies and burritos, and Eagle and Symphony Lakes for hiking. She hails originally from Illinois.

Her website is www.jameybradbury.com

Around the Web

The Wild Inside on Amazon

The Wild Inside on Goodreads

The Wild Inside Publisher Page