Tag Archives: fantasy

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

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Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorarfor. October 3, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 477 p. ISBN: 9780670785612.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

A year ago, Sunny Nwazue, an American-born girl Nigerian girl, was inducted into the secret Leopard Society. As she began to develop her magical powers, Sunny learned that she had been chosen to lead a dangerous mission to avert an apocalypse, brought about by the terrifying masquerade, Ekwensu. Now, stronger, feistier, and a bit older, Sunny is studying with her mentor Sugar Cream and struggling to unlock the secrets in her strange Nsibidi book.

Eventually, Sunny knows she must confront her destiny. With the support of her Leopard Society friends, Orlu, Chichi, and Sasha, and of her spirit face, Anyanwu, she will travel through worlds both visible and invisible to the mysteries town of Osisi, where she will fight a climactic battle to save humanity.

Sequel to: Akata Witch

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Underage drinking, Smoking, Language, Hazing, Bullying, Racial slur

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 7-10. This highly anticipated sequel to Akata Witch (2011) begins a year after Sunny unearthed secrets pertaining to her heritage and joined the secret Leopard Society. Plagued by strange dreams, Sunny endeavors to increase her magical powers by studying with her demanding mentor, and she continues to grapple with secrets that lie within her peculiar and wondrous Nsibidi book. However, the fate of humanity rests on her shoulders and time is not a luxury she has. Soon, she must step into her destiny and fight a looming, apocalyptic battle. If she loses or isn’t up to the task, it will spell catastrophe for all. While the story’s beginning is a bit jarring and doesn’t immediately sweep you away, the feeling is fleeting. A few chapters in, the reader gets tangled up in Sunny’s journey in the most delicious of ways. The lush world and high-stakes plot are fun, imaginative, timely, and authentic. Sunny as a character is beautiful, strong, and resilient, and her host of friends and allies are well-drawn and compelling, adding to the magic of the story. Okorafor’s novel will ensnare readers and keep them turning pages until the very end to see if and how Sunny fulfills the tremendous destiny that awaits her.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
Ekwensu, the supernatural “masquerade” whom Sunny and her coven defeated in the first installment in this contemporary Nigeria-set fantasy series (Akata Witch, rev. 5/11), is pushing back through into this world, and when she does, she ruthlessly rips Sunny’s spirit face away from her. Separated from their spirit faces, most Leopard People would die, but Sunny’s visions of a city of smoke guide her and her coven to a place in Lagos where the living world and the wilderness (the spirit world) coincide. There Sunny and her now-independent spirit face, the ancient spirit Anyanwu, can take on Ekwensu before she destroys the earth. Although the plot reaches its destination by a circuitous route, each episode works on its own, and the detours do eventually tie into the story arc. Sunny, who endures discrimination because of her albinism, grows stronger physically and emotionally in this volume, showing off new soccer skills and choosing to break Leopard Society rules for a greater purpose. Reader assumptions about Nigeria will be broadened by details showing, yes, traditional ceremonies but also flat-screen TVs, while the centuries-old (but-still-new-to-most-readers) West African mythological foundation will satisfy fans eager for more of Okorafor’s signature brand of magic. anita l. burkam

About the Author

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian American author of African-based science fiction, fantasy and magical realism for both children and adults and a professor at the University at Buffalo, New York. Her works include Who Fears Death, the Binti novella trilogy, the Book of Phoenix, the Akata books and Lagoon. She is the winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards and her debut novel Zahrah the Windseeker won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature.

She lives with her daughter Anyaugo and family in Illinois.  Her website is www.nnedi.com

Around the Web

Akata Warrior on Amazon

Akata Warrior on Goodreads

Akata Warrior on JLG

Akata Warrior Publisher Page

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey. July 18, 2017. Thomas & Mercer, 309 p. ISBN: 9781477848470.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

An instant Wall Street Journal bestseller. Soon to be a major motion picture from Imagine Entertainment and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds…and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion—a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people—until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love…with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect—and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

From the author of the million-copy bestselling Brilliance Trilogy comes a mind-bending thriller that explores our most haunting and fundamental question: What if death is just the beginning?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Murder, Cannibalism, Gore

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 17))
Sakey began his career with a series of smart, compulsively readable thrillers about more or less ordinary Chicagoans wrestling with personal problems and the zeitgeist, and getting into potentially fatal trouble. But with Brilliance (2013) and the Brilliance series that followed, he stepped brilliantly into the realm of speculative fiction. Afterlife is a deep dive into the unknowable. Chicago is being terrorized by a preternaturally lethal sniper, and FBI agents Will Brody and his lover, Claire McCoy, are desperate to end the terror. But Will is murdered by a bomb in an abandoned West Side church. Claire is bereft, but the dead Brody finds himself wandering the streets of a Chicago populated only by people armed with clubs, axes, and swords. Some threaten him, but Will encounters a group of people who lead him to their refuge. Meanwhile, Claire kills the sniper but dies in the effort. The couple are reunited, and they conclude that being together in the afterlife isn’t bad—except for the “eaters,” dead people who have learned that killing makes them stronger. Even worse, the sniper is organizing eaters into an army. Afterlife is simultaneously a beautiful love story, a grim tale of apocalyptic conflict, and an opportunity for an insightful writer to ruminate on the eternal verities. Great appeal across genres.

Kirkus Reviews starred (May 15, 2017)
When two FBI agents are killed in the line of duty, they discover death isn’t at all what they imagined.Sakey (Written in Fire, 2016, etc.) follows up his incredible Brilliance trilogy with an otherworldly stand-alone thriller about a subterranean war between gods and monsters. The book opens with a story about a young boy in a cannibalistic horror scene on a ship at sea circa 1532. Then the book cuts to the present day, where FBI Agent Claire McCoy is leading a task force hunting the sniper terrorizing Chicago. She’s also newly in love with fellow agent Will Brody. But when Brody runs down the sniper, Simon Tucks, he’s killed instantly by a bomb. For Claire, that should have been the end of Will Brody, and yet….Next, Brody awakens in an ethereal version of Chicago leached of color and deprived of technology. His new companions explain that this is the Echo, a kind of purgatory for souls killed suddenly, violently. Unfortunately, this fate also falls upon Claire when Simon Tucks kills her in a suicide bombing, reuniting them even in death. From here, Sakey spins out an ambitious mythology that mixes horror, police procedural, and tense action with big questions about the nature of existence. In this new world, Eaters kill other people all over again to gain their life force. There is also a race of Elders, most notably our cannibal Edmund, who have lived hundreds of years by torturing the living. “All the random, inexplicable brutalities,” Sakey writes. “The school shooters and psychotic Uber drivers. The mothers who drowned their children. The serial killers with their duct tape and their butcher knives. The maniacs who fired round after round into crowded nightclubs, pausing only to reload. The atrocities for which there was no answer.” It’s a disturbing book born in dark times but one in which Sakey employs all his storytelling gifts to craft a noodle-bender of the first order. A love story enmeshed in a twisty thriller that peels back the universe to see what lies beneath.

About the Author

Marcus Sakey is the bestselling author of nine novels, including the Brilliance Trilogy, which has sold more than a million copies.

His novel Afterlife is soon to be a major motion picture from Imagine Entertainment and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. His novel Good People was made into a film starring James Franco and Kate Hudson.

Marcus lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. His website is www.marcussakey.com

Around the Web

Afterlife on Amazon

Afterlife on Goodreads

Afterlife on JLG

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. September 5, 2017. Flatiron Books, 375 p. ISBN: 9781250077738.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 920.

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale 

Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone―has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do―and who to be―to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything―unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Lynet has grown up in the shadow of her mother, Emilia, who died giving birth to her—or so she was told. In reality, she’s the product of dark magic: her heartbroken father asked a magician, Gregory, to make him a daughter out of snow in the image of his late wife, the queen. Lynet chafes under her father’s expectations that she emulate the mother she’s never known; instead, she idolizes her steely stepmother, Mina, who’s always treated Lynet with tenderness, despite believing that she’s incapable of love, thanks to the glass heart her father, Gregory, gave her as a child. Alternating between Lynet’s and Mina’s perspectives, Bashardoust gracefully illustrates their fraught relationships with their fathers and each other and builds captivating tension between love and ambition. Mina’s calculating efforts to gain power by marrying Lynet’s father are in sharp contrast to the tenderness she feels for Lynet, while Lynet’s reluctance to become queen transforms once she recognizes her own considerable power. Drawing from both Snow White and the Snow Queen, this beautifully wrought novel offers plenty of fairy tale wonder, but Bashardoust resists the most common tropes; instead, she tells a story where women save each other with their own ingenuity, bravery, and love, and power and compassion can exist hand in hand. Compellingly flawed characters, vivid world building, and pitch-perfect pacing make this utterly superb.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2017)
Magic, mother-daughter conflict, and the quest for self-identity are given a dark and fantastical treatment in this chilling feminist adaptation of the “Snow White” fairy tale.Bashardoust sets her debut novel in a kingdom cursed with eternal winter, which serves as a pointed metaphor for the physical beauty that is currency and curse for both Lynet, the beloved daughter of King Nicholas, and Mina, the neglected daughter of an infamous magician who eventually becomes Lynet’s “wicked” stepmother. The narrative, which alternates between the characters’ points of view, unites them with a mutual feeling of objectification. Both women are shaped and magically controlled by their fathers, who are also their creators, the insidiousness of which the story fully explores. Well-developed, strong female characters abound, from the tree-climbing Lynet (whose skin is olive-brown) and golden-brown Mina, a sympathetic survivalist queen, to a court surgeon and a royal ancestor whose maternal grief is powerful enough to eternally banish springtime from the northern kingdom. The author’s rich fantasy landscape incorporates the fairy tale’s traditional iconography while providing her with room to create a new story emphasizing the shallowness of a male-dominated society that places a ruinously high premium on beauty at the expense of female individuality. The decisive clash is between mother and daughter, but misogyny is the narrative’s true destructive force. A hauntingly evocative adaptation that stands on its own merits. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Melissa Bashardoust received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is her first novel.

Her website is www.melissabashardoust.com

Around the Web

Girls Made of Snow and Glass on Amazon

Girls Made of Snow and Glass on Goodreads

Girls Made of Snow and Glass on JLG

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Publisher Page

The Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner

The Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner. June 6, 2017. Sky Pony Press, 378 p. ISBN: 9781510712485.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 700.

In a world where music is magic, the echoes can kill you.

Chester has been traveling from village to village, searching for his kidnapped father. One night while fiddling to earn a few coins, he accidentally connects to the Song—the music that fuels every aspect of the world. It’s illegal to interact with the Song—only a licensed Songshaper may bend music to his will—and when Chester is caught, he’s sentenced to death.

But just before the axe is about to fall, someone in the crowd—a member of the infamous Nightfall Gang—stages a daring rescue, whisking Chester into the Hush, a shadowy nightmare mirror-world where Music can be deadly and Echoes can kill.

Susanna, captain of the Nightfall Gang has been watching Chester. She needs his special talent to pull off an elaborate plan. And she’ll risk everything to succeed. Even Chester’s life.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Alcohol, Smoking, Homophobia, Religious fanaticism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 8-11. Music is the vehicle for magic in Chester’s world, where the elite are trained to be songshapers, who run society and guard against untrained magicians. Though of poor background, and therefore limited training, Chester possesses a strong natural connection to the Song, which eventually leads to his arrest for heresy. As he stands on the gallows, the killing blade moving toward his neck, the world suddenly stills and Chester is whisked away to become a member of the notorious Nightfall Gang, whose mission is a revenge-based strike at the heart of the Conservatorium. The Australian author’s world tends toward steampunk, although machinery is not the focus of this imaginative tale of loyalty and commitment. Additionally, conversation pertaining to environmental consequences arises toward the story’s end, part of a surprise twist about the book’s setting and the meaning of reality. At times the main character’s navel gazing is repetitive, but his angst is balanced by the lively members of the Nightfall Gang and a touch of romance.

Kirkus Reviews starred (May 1, 2017)
Chester Hays has been on the road for months, searching for his vanished father.The 17-year-old plays his fiddle in return for room and board, but one night at a Hamelin saloon, he’s caught tapping into the Song, the source of life in a world where Music is magic and only licensed Songshapers are allowed to connect to “the heartbeat of the world.” His punishment for committing this blasphemy: death. Fate intervenes when the ambiguously “tan” Chester is rescued from the chopping block by the infamous Nightfall Gang. There’s mercurial, burly, white cowboy Sam; white lesbian Dot, an inventive Songshaper; foppish, brown-skinned lady’s man Travis; and pale-skinned, trouser-wearing redhead Susannah, their headstrong captain. This group of teenage, Robin Hood–esque outlaws travels in their echoship through the Hush, a terrifying distorted parallel reality formed from excess Music and populated by deadly Echoes. The Nightfall Gang may hold the clues to Chester’s father’s disappearance, but the only way he’ll find out is to go along with a very dangerous plan that might cost Chester his life. The story is beautifully paced as it unfolds one tantalizing, shocking detail at a time. Masterfully drawn details are so crisp, so tangible, that readers will be surprised they can’t just reach out and touch this rich world. A steampunk-tinged fantasy adventure with plenty of breath-holding action. (Fantasy. 12-18)

About the Author

Skye Melki-Wegner has been a saleswoman, an English tutor, and a popcorn-wrangler. In addition to writing fiction, in her spare time she devours a ridiculous amount of caffeine and fantasy literature. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Her website is www.skyemelki-wegner.com

Around the Web

The Hush on Amazon

The Hush on Goodreads

The Hush on JLG

The Hush Publisher Page

Castle in the Stars by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 (Book 1) by Alex Alice. September 12, 2017. First Second, 64 p. ISBN: 9781626724938.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.5.

In search of the mysterious element known as aether, Claire Dulac flew her hot air balloon toward the edge of our stratosphere―and never returned. Her husband, genius engineer Archibald Dulac, is certain that she is forever lost. Her son, Seraphin, still holds out hope.

One year after her disappearance, Seraphin and his father are delivered a tantalizing clue: a letter from an unknown sender who claims to have Claire’s lost logbook. The letter summons them to a Bavarian castle, where an ambitious young king dreams of flying the skies in a ship powered by aether. But within the castle walls, danger lurks―there are those who would stop at nothing to conquer the stars.

In Castle in the Stars, this lavishly illustrated graphic novel, Alex Alice delivers a historical fantasy adventure set in a world where man journeyed into space in 1869, not 1969.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Violence, Alcohol, Smoking, Criminal culture

 

Reviews

Booklist (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 5-8. What do you get when you mix steampunk, historic scientific theories, Jules Verne-style adventure, and King Ludwig II of Bavaria? A rollicking good time, that’s what. In 1869, a year after Seraphin’s mother disappeared in her hot air balloon while in search of the mysterious energy source called Aether, an unsigned letter arrives in which the writer claims to have found her logbook. On their way to Bavaria to claim it, Seraphin and his father become entangled with Prussian spies who are also on the hunt for the logbook, hoping that the secret of Aether will help them overthrow King Ludwig II and take over the world. The romantic setting of the iconic Neuschwanstein Castle is the perfect backdrop for this steampunk adventure story, and the author and artists use both interior and exterior views to good advantage. Done in soft watercolors, the illustrations are gorgeously detailed and alive with color and motion, giving the whole book a cinematic feel. This series starter ends on an extreme cliffhanger, so readers will be eager for the sequel.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2017)
Some people will love this fanciful tale of a 19th-century space race so much they never finish it. This graphic novel is filled with distractions. Every scene has a new detail to focus on, usually off in the corner of a panel: a watercraft decorated with golden cherubs or an airship shaped like a swan. When one character holds up a book of blueprints (for a craft that travels “through aether”), readers may be tempted to crane their necks to get a better view of the tiny drawings. The artwork, which combines loose pencil outlines with elaborate watercolors, is that spectacular. Many panels could be framed as paintings, and it would be easy to ignore the text and just stare at the pictures of cloud banks. But that would be a mistake, as it’s a terrific adventure story with disguises and air chases and a plot against Bavarian royalty in the late 1800s. The story is full of digressions, though, and the digressions are the best part, as when the main character (a schoolboy named Seraphin) explains why there must be dinosaurs on Venus. In another, the royal architect shows off the orchestra pit on an airship. This is bad science and bad history (and surely not everyone in Bavaria was white), which makes it fantastic steampunk. Like the best steampunk, this story is one excellent distraction after another, with enough blueprints to hold people’s attention while they’re waiting for Book 2. (Graphic steampunk. 10-16)

About the Author

Alex Alice is a French graphic novelist, working in France and sometimes the U.S. His works have been translated into more than fifteen languages.

Born in 1974, he grew up in the south of France and had the chance to travel around Europe, where he developed a lifelong passion for the ruins and castles of the medieval and romantic ages. This experience influenced his art, from the grim setting of his esoteric thriller The Third Testament (co-written with Xavier Dorison and published by Titan Comics) to the primeval, mythic world found in Siegfried, an operatic re-telling of the northern saga of the great dragon slayer (published by Boom Entertainment). In Castle in the Stars, he draws on Jules Verne and nineteenth-century romanticism to create a watercolor world of adventure and wonder to enchant adults and younger readers alike.

His website is www.alexalice.com

Around the Web

Castle in the Stars on Amazon

Castle in the Stars on Goodreads

Castle in the Stars on JLG

Castle in the Stars Publisher Page

The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

The Ship of the Dead  by Rick Riordan. October 3, 2017. Disney-Hyperion, 423 p. ISBN: 9781423160939.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.4; Lexile: 710.

Magnus Chase, a once-homeless teen, is a resident of the Hotel Valhalla and one of Odin’s chosen warriors. As the son of Frey, the god of summer, fertility, and health, Magnus isn’t naturally inclined to fighting. But he has strong and steadfast friends, including Hearthstone the elf, Blitzen the dwarf, and Samirah the Valkyrie, and together they have achieved brave deeds, such as defeating Fenris Wolf and battling giants for Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir. Now Magnus and his crew must sail to the farthest borders of Jotunheim and Niflheim in pursuit of Asgard’s greatest threat. Will they succeed in their perilous journey, or is Ragnarok lurking on the horizon?

Sequel to: The Hammer of Thor

Part of Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Violence, Racism and racist language, Anti-Islamic sentiment, Child abuse, Terrorism

 

Book Trailer

 

About the Author

Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

His website is www.rickriordan.com.

Teacher Resources

Magnus Chase Discussion Guide

Norse mythology Teaching Resources

Around the Web

The Ship of the Dead on Amazon

The Ship of the Dead on Goodreads

The Ship of the Dead on JLG

The Ship of the Dead Publisher Page

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Lee. August 8, 2017. Amulet Books, 336 p. ISBN: 9781419725487.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 720.

She annihilates standardized tests and the bad guys.

Genie Lo is one among droves of Ivy-hopeful overachievers in her sleepy Bay Area suburb. You know, the type who wins. When she’s not crushing it at volleyball or hitting the books, Genie is typically working on how to crack the elusive Harvard entry code.

But when her hometown comes under siege from hellspawn straight out of Chinese folklore, her priorities are dramatically rearranged. Enter Quentin Sun, a mysterious new kid in class who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. While Genie knows Quentin only as an attractive transfer student with an oddly formal command of the English language, in another reality he is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate—right down to the furry tale and penchant for peaches.

Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Racial taunts, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol, Smoking, Body humor

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 15, 2017)
A tough, self-disciplined Chinese-American teen deals with the supernatural derailing of her college-prep activities in this speculative fiction novel that draws on the folklore of the Chinese Monkey King. In a dry, wickedly funny, first-person voice, overachiever Genie Lo easily brings readers into her corner as she puzzles with irritation over the behavior of gorgeous, goofy Quentin, newly arrived from China, who presents himself as a new student at her school and seems to think he knows her. As his story—and subsequently hers—reveals itself, it will surprise no one that the two have an extensive history together, though her actual relationship to him is a clever and fascinating detail. Genie gradually warms to him in a true-to-type romantic comedy that is filled with witty banter and valiant attempts by Genie to resist their attraction. Genie’s poignantly rendered immediate family history and incisive observations about her mostly Asian classmates and community balance the plentiful action in the battles she and Quentin undertake against a plethora of ferocious, eerily described yaoguai. Readers unfamiliar with the story of the Monkey King are easily brought up to speed early on, and the contemporary setting provides plenty of comedic juxtaposition. An exciting, engaging, and humorous debut that will appeal widely, this wraps up neatly enough but leaves an opening for further installments—here’s hoping. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Publishers Weekly Annex (July 3, 2017)
When Eugenia “Genie” Lo, a 16-year-old Chinese-American overachiever, discovers that she’s the reincarnation of the Monkey King’s legendary weapon, the Ruyi Jingu Bang, it throws her carefully ordered life into upheaval. It turns out that there has been a massive jailbreak from Diyu, the Chinese hell, and only Genie has the power to defeat the escaped demons. Charged by the goddess Guanyin to work with Quentin Sun, the annoying (yet alluring) teenage manifestation of the Monkey King, Genie has to master her newfound powers and return dozens of demons to Diyu, while still making time for her best friend and staying on top of homework-too bad Harvard doesn’t offer scholarships for fighting evil. In this dazzlingly fun debut, Yee mixes humor, Chinese folklore, and action to deliver a rousing, irreverent adventure packed with sharp-edged banter. Genie is resourceful and ferocious as she juggles her tyrannically strict mother’s demands while holding the fate of the world in her hands, and her fiery love-hate relationship with Quentin steals the show. Ages 13-up.

About the Author

F. C. Yee grew up in New Jersey and studied economics at Brown University. For his debut novel, he drew inspiration from the best and wisest people in his life. Outside of writing, he practices capoeira, a Brazilian form of martial arts. He currently calls the San Francisco Bay Area home.

His website is www.fcyee.com

Around the Web

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo on Amazon

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo on Goodreads

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo on JLG

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo Publisher Page

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett. September 5, 2017. Balzer + Bray, 432 p. ISBN: 9780062463388.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 740.

Kamzin has always dreamed of becoming one of the emperor’s royal explorers, the elite climbers tasked with mapping the wintry, mountainous Empire and spying on its enemies. She knows she could be the best in the world, if only someone would give her a chance.

But everything changes when the mysterious and eccentric River Shara, the greatest explorer ever known, arrives in her village and demands to hire Kamzin—not her older sister, Lusha, as everyone had expected—for his next expedition. This is Kamzin’s chance to prove herself—even though River’s mission to retrieve a rare talisman for the emperor means cimbing Raksha, the tallest and deadliest mountain in the Aryas. Then, Lusha sets off on her own mission to Raksha with a rival explorer, and Kamzin must decide what’s most important to her: protecting her sister from the countless perils of the climb or beating her to the summit.

The challenges of climbing Raksha are unlike anything Kamzin expected—or prepared for—with avalanches, ice chasms, ghosts, and other dangers at every turn. And as dark secrets are revealed, Kamzin must unravel the truth about their mission and her companions—while surviving the deadliest climb she has ever faced.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Alcohol, Smoking

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. Though she’s grown up hearing that magic is a tool like any other, Kamzin, second daughter of the village elder, has never had much of a talent for it, despite her inevitable future as village shaman. Kamzin dreams of becoming an explorer, traversing and documenting the cold, treacherous mountains of the Empire and the dangerous witches who live there. When River Shara, the infamous Royal Explorer, comes to Kamzin’s village seeking help from her older sister, Lusha, Kamzin hopes to impress him. River is on a mission to retrieve a talisman from Raksha, the tallest and most feared of the mountain peaks; when Lusha, an excellent astronomer but not much of an explorer, shocks the village by leaving with a rival explorer, Kamzin finds herself accompanying River on his perilous journey, torn between beating her sister to the top and keeping her from harm. But both natural and supernatural dangers wait in the mountains, and Kamzin might not have much choice about what happens. There are glimmerings of a love triangle here, but the focus remains squarely on Kamzin’s brutal trek through the icy mountains, a fascinating, fantastical twist on early expeditions to Mount Everest. Add in a detailed, well-realized setting, an unsettling villain that lingers just off the page, and buckets of danger to result in an utterly inventive and wholly original debut.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2017)
Debut author Fawcett offers an Everest-inspired fantasy.Kamzin’s world boasts magic in the form of inhuman witches, defeated some 200 years ago, and small dragons domesticated for the illumination cast by their glowing bellies. Shamans routinely cast spells; some fortunate souls, like Kamzin and her perfect older sister, Lusha, have familiars. River Shara, the young Royal Explorer, has come looking for a guide to climb the never-before-scaled Raksha in search of a magical talisman, and he ignores Lusha’s charms for often overlooked Kamzin, whose climbing ability and endurance are almost magical. The novel follows the often harrowing journey to Raksha; Fawcett’s descriptive skills bring the icy terrain to life and make what could be an endless trek largely compelling reading. She also ably combines magic with details borrowed from Nepalese life and language; characters wear chubas (Nepalese coats) and fight fiangul (fictional monsters). While the characters clearly live in an Asian-inspired world and seem to be Asian (physical descriptions are limited), this is a thin layer over the more developed fantasy elements and strongly evoked landscape. With a dash of romantic entanglement, a rich original mythology, and a sizzler of a twist at the end, this duology opener will appeal to fans of femalecentric fantasy by such authors as Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Maas. (Fantasy. 12-16)

About the Author

Random trivia about me:

*I strongly believe ice cream is a food group.
*I read all sorts of things. Favourite writers include Maya Angelou, Diana Wynne Jones, and Charles Dickens (I love wordy, twisty Victorian novels with sentences so long you get lost in them).
*When I was a kid I wanted to be a 1) ballet dancer 2) astronaut 3) bus driver and 4) writer. One out of four isn’t bad?
*I love photography.
*I grew up in Vancouver and am often annoyingly outdoorsy. I’ve spent extended periods of time in Italy and Ireland.
*I like making lists. A lot.

Her website is www.heatherfawcettbooks.com

Around the Web

Even the Darkest Stars on Amazon

Even the Darkest Stars on Goodreads

Even the Darkest Stars on JLG

Even the Darkest Stars Publisher Page

Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie

Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy edited by Ameriie. July 11, 2017. Bloomsbury USA Childrens, 368 p. ISBN: 9781681193649.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 810.

Leave it to the heroes to save the world–villains just want to rule the world.

In this unique YA anthology, thirteen acclaimed, bestselling authors team up with thirteen influential BookTubers to reimagine fairy tales from the oft-misunderstood villains’ points of view.

These fractured, unconventional spins on classics like “Medusa,” Sherlock Holmes, and “Jack and the Beanstalk” provide a behind-the-curtain look at villains’ acts of vengeance, defiance, and rage–and the pain, heartbreak, and sorrow that spurned them on. No fairy tale will ever seem quite the same again!

Featuring writing from . . .

Authors: Renée Ahdieh, Ameriie, Soman Chainani, Susan Dennard, Sarah Enni, Marissa Meyer, Cindy Pon, Victoria Schwab, Samantha Shannon, Adam Silvera, Andrew Smith, April Genevieve Tucholke, and Nicola Yoon

BookTubers: Benjamin Alderson (Benjaminoftomes), Sasha Alsberg (abookutopia), Whitney Atkinson (WhittyNovels), Tina Burke (ChristinaReadsYA blog and TheLushables), Catriona Feeney (LittleBookOwl), Jesse George (JessetheReader), Zoë Herdt (readbyzoe), Samantha Lane (Thoughts on Tomes), Sophia Lee (thebookbasement), Raeleen Lemay (padfootandprongs07), Regan Perusse (PeruseProject), Christine Riccio (polandbananasBOOKS), and Steph Sinclair & Kat Kennedy (Cuddlebuggery blog and channel).

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Criminal culture, Sexual assault, Murder

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. It’s true: everyone loves a character who’s a little bit bad. In the case of these 13 tales, that’s often a lot bad: collection editor and contributor Ameriie pairs 13 authors with 13 BookTubers tasked with creating stories that feature infamous villains from literature and fairy tales. The concept here is that the BookTuber provides the prompt, the author writes the story, and then the BookTuber provides commentary. Some prompts are more detailed than others, and inevitably, the best stories are often from the simplest plots: standouts include Susan Dennard’s “Shirly and Jim” (“a young Moriarty”), Cindy Pon’s “Beautiful Venom” (“Medusa. Go!”), Samantha Shannon’s “Marigold” (“Erl Queen retelling in nineteenth-century London”), and Andrew Smith’s “Julian Breaks Every Rule” (“A psychopath in a futuristic setting). A diverse array of high-profile authors are showcased (i.e., Renée Ahdieh, Adam Silvera, Victoria Schwab, Nicola Yoon), and the inclusion of the BookTubers is an interesting idea that allows for a range of perspectives. The concept alone is enough to draw readers, so stock up—it’s never been so fun to be bad..

Kirkus Reviews (May 15, 2017)
Are villains born evil, or do life circumstances force them to choose a dark path?Thirteen book bloggers challenge as many young-adult authors to write stories about the villains we love to hate. There are reimaginings of familiar fairy-tale and mythological villains alongside the nefarious adventures of the newly infamous. Benjamin Alderson’s challenge to Cindy Pon—“Medusa. Go!”—yields the origin story “Beautiful Venom,” which places the Greek myth in an Asian setting (the collection’s only sign of racial diversity). Samantha Shannon’s “Marigold” is an “Erl-Queen Retelling in Nineteenth-Century London” that grants the primary female character agency denied Victorian women in real life. “You, You, It’s All About You,” by Adam Silvera, introduces “A Female Teen Crime Lord Concealed by a Mask.” Slate, that story’s villain-protagonist, deals in mind-altering drugs in order to gain control of her life after an abusive childhood. Nicola Yoon’s chilling “Sera” is a “Gender-Flipped God of War” story about a young woman with terrifying powers who becomes deathly ill when she suppresses her true nature. Each story is followed by commentary from the blogger who set the challenge. Some react with thoughtful critical pieces, while others take a creative, metafictive approach to the fruits of their authors’ labors. Some stories don’t quite meet their challenges, but overall, this anthology is an explosively entertaining joy ride of villainous goodness. (Short stories/fantasy. 13-18)

About the Editor

Ameriie is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, producer, and writer of fiction. She is the editor of the villains anthology Because You Love to Hate Me. The daughter of a Korean artist and an American military officer, she was born in Massachusetts, raised all over the world, and graduated from Georgetown University with a bachelor’s in English. She lives mostly in her imagination, but also on Earth with her husband, her parents and sister, and about seven billion other people.

Her website is www.Ameriie.com

Around the Web

Because You Love to Hate Me on Amazon

Because You Love to Hate Me on Goodreads

Because You Love to Hate Me on JLG

Because You Love to Hate Me Publisher Page