Tag Archives: Fiction

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper

She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper. June 6, 2017. Ecco, 272 p. ISBN: 9780062394408.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 610.

A propulsive, gritty novel about a girl marked for death who must fight and steal to stay alive, learning from the most frightening man she knows—her father.

Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school into a world of robbery, violence, and the constant threat of death. And he does it to save her life.

Nate made dangerous enemies in prison—a gang called Aryan Steel has put out a bounty on his head, counting on its members on the outside to finish him off. They’ve already murdered his ex-wife, Polly’s mother. And Polly is their next target.

Nate and Polly’s lives soon become a series of narrow misses, of evading the bad guys and the police, of sleepless nights in motels. Out on the lam, Polly is forced to grow up early: with barely any time to mourn her mother, she must learn how to take a punch and pull off a drug-house heist. She finds herself transforming from a shy little girl into a true fighter. Nate, in turn, learns what it’s like to love fiercely and unconditionally—a love he’s never quite felt before. But can their powerful bond transcend the dangerous existence he’s carved out for them? Will they ever be able to live an honest life, free of fear?

She Rides Shotgun is a gripping and emotionally wrenching novel that upends even our most long-held expectations about heroes, villains, and victims. Nate takes Polly to save her life, but in the end it may very well be Polly who saves him.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Alcohol, Criminal culture, Murder, Death of a parent

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 15))
When short-timer Nate McClusky kills a member of the Aryan Steel prison gang in Susanville, California, the victim’s brother (who happens to be the gang’s president) sends a death warrant from Supermax—not only for Nate but also for his ex-wife, Avis, and his daughter, Polly. Nate survives his last week in prison but returns home to find Avis dead. Picking up 11-year-old Polly from middle school, he intends to drop her off with a relative until circumstances suggest the only way to keep her permanently safe is to take on Aryan Steel and hit them where it hurts. Polly is at first terrified (and contacts the police) but soon displays an aptitude for crime—she’s her father’s daughter, after all—and decides she wants to be more than just a passenger. Meanwhile, in chapters that read like mid-period James Ellroy, Detective Park searches the bleak and barren parts of California for the girl who now regrets her call for help. From its bravura prologue to its immensely satisfying ending, this first novel (Harper previously penned the short story collection Love and Other Wounds, 2015) comes out with guns blazing and shoots the chambers dry. It’s both a dark, original take on the chase novel and a strangely touching portrait of a father-daughter relationship framed in barbed wire.

Kirkus Reviews starred (April 1, 2017)
In his first novel, Harper returns to the seamy criminal fringe he explored in his story collections (Love and Other Wounds, 2015, etc.) for a grim yet moving tale about an ex-con’s efforts to protect his young daughter.Meek, intellectually precocious 11-year-old Polly finds her tattooed, heavily muscled father, Nate, waiting outside her school in Fontana, California. Having been in prison for more than half of Polly’s life, Nate has now been granted an early release. Unfortunately, though, the head of the Aryan Steel gang has just put out a call from his prison cell for his gang members to kill Nate, his ex-wife, and their daughter. Polly’s mother is knifed before Nate can reach her, but he takes Polly on the run to evade hit men while planning how to stop the vendetta. His love for Polly overpowers and empowers him, but there is no sentimentality here—he recognizes with paternal pride that she shares his “buried rage.” He trains her to fight, then takes her along when he robs stores and attacks his Aryan Steel enemies. Although she remains attached to her teddy bear, Polly discovers she takes after her badass daddy more than she or he imagined. The novel combines striking images, like Nate’s “gunfighter eyes” and the “old man of a car” he shows up driving, with disturbingly raw violence—a drug mule gutted by a crooked sheriff to get out the merchandise, the same sheriff gouging out an eye. Even more disturbing are the characters’ raw emotions: after witnessing Nate hold an Aryan Steel member’s back against the coals from a barbecue-grill fire until he gives desired information, Polly finds herself smiling. Yet there is a moral core here. Acknowledging that his vengeful behavior is “dumb and selfish,” Nate knows he isn’t good for Polly. And despite her developing toughness, Polly retains her urge to save the innocent. For all the darkness and even ugliness displayed, the characters’ loyalty, love, and struggle for redemption grip the reader and don’t let go.

About the Author

Jordan Harper was born and educated in Missouri. He’s worked as an ad man, a rock critic and a teevee writer. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

His website is www.jordanharper.com

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In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody

In Some Other Life by Jessica Brody. August 8, 2017. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), 464 p. ISBN: 9780374380762.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 640.

A fresh and funny novel about how one different choice could change everything.

Three years ago, Kennedy Rhodes secretly made the most important decision of her life. She declined her acceptance to the prestigious Windsor Academy to attend the local public school with her longtime crush, who had finally asked her out. It seems it was the right choice―she and Austin are still together, and Kennedy is now the editor in chief of the school’s award-winning newspaper. But then Kennedy’s world is shattered one evening when she walks in on Austin kissing her best friend, and she wonders if maybe her life would have been better if she’d made the other choice. As fate would have it, she’s about to find out . . .

The very next day, Kennedy falls and hits her head and mysteriously awakes as a student at the Windsor Academy. And not just any student: Kennedy is at the top of her class, she’s popular, she has the coolest best friend around, and she’s practically a shoo-in for Columbia University. But as she navigates her new world, she starts to wonder whether this alternate version of herself really is as happy as everyone seems to believe. Is it possible this Kennedy is harboring secrets and regrets of her own? A fresh and funny story about how one different choice could change everything, Jessica Brody’s In Some Other Life will keep readers guessing, and find them cheering for Kennedy until the final page.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 7-10. Right before her freshman year, Kennedy Rhodes made a life-changing decision: she declined acceptance to the prestigious Windsor Academy to attend the local public school with her longtime crush and new boyfriend. Three years later, the decision seems to have been the right one—at least until a series of events makes her wonder what life would have been like if she had chosen differently. Luckily, she gets to find out when she mysteriously wakes up as a Windsor student the following day in a life that she’s only dreamed of having. Kennedy quickly learns how that life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, either. Brody crafts a lighthearted story very much in the vein of her A Week of Mondays (2016), examining the impact our choices can have on our lives, and showing that even the things that we most desire can come with unknown sacrifices. Though the plot itself can be slightly predictable at times, Brody’s novel captures the essence of high school through her well-developed characters. A whimsical exploration of the theory of the multiverse.

Kirkus Reviews (June 1, 2017)
Three years ago, Kennedy Rhodes passed up her dream—a spot at a prestigious high school—for a boy she hardly knew. Now 18 and a senior at an underfunded public school, Kennedy is still with Austin, serves as editor-in-chief of the award-winning school paper, and dreams of studying journalism at Columbia—but she still wonders “What if?” Following a few humiliating incidents, Kennedy goes to Windsor Academy to beg for the spot she gave up. Angered by the dean’s predictable rejection, Kennedy storms out, falls, and is knocked unconscious. She wakes in a reality in which she had accepted that space at Windsor: she’s now at the top of her class and will no doubt get into Columbia. As she navigates this privileged new life and puzzles out the differences between herself and the seemingly perfect Other Me, Kennedy discovers the latter harbors a troubling secret. Kennedy needs to right Other Me’s wrongs, but at what cost? Aside from some non-European surnames such as Wu and Patel, race is ambiguous, implying that Kennedy and Austin are both white. Many readers may find it difficult to drum up sympathy for a girl who gave up her dream for a boy, but the temptation to second-guess decisions is an instantly recognizable one, and Brody’s execution of Kennedy’s process is a thoughtful one. Readers will find themselves wondering “What if?” right along with Kennedy. (Fiction. 13-18)

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About the Author

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Her website is www.JessicaBrody.com

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The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson

The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson. May 16, 2017. HarperCollins, 368 p. ISBN: 9780062368270.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 6.3; Lexile: 840.

Caroline Carlson, author of the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates series, returns with The World’s Greatest Detective, a story of crime, tricks, and hilarity for those who know that sometimes it takes a pair of junior sleuths to solve a slippery case.

Detectives’ Row is full of talented investigators, but Toby Montrose isn’t one of them. He’s only an assistant at his uncle’s detective agency, and he’s not sure he’s even very good at that. Toby’s friend Ivy is the best sleuth around—or at least she thinks so. They both see their chance to prove themselves when the famed Hugh Abernathy announces a contest to choose the World’s Greatest Detective. But when what was supposed to be a game turns into a real-life murder mystery, can Toby and Ivy crack the case?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Theft, Murder

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 17))
Grades 4-7. Since his parents disappeared while on a trip to the sea, Toby Montrose has been passed around to every one of his relatives, and now he’s on his last one, so he has to be on his best behavior or he fears he will be doomed to the orphanage. Luckily for Toby, this last relative is Uncle Gabriel, owner of Montrose Investigations, who lives on the notorious Detectives’ Row, right down the street from a famous detective Toby idolizes: Hugh Abernathy, who has a line of customers waiting every morning, and whom Uncle Gabriel can’t stand. When Hugh Abernathy invites Uncle Gabriel to a competition to determine who’s the world’s greatest detective, he refuses. And when Toby decides to go in his place, the contest transforms into a real mystery when someone turns up dead. As Toby and his new friend Ivy and her dog, Percival, begin to question suspects, they uncover secrets about the detectives, including a long-buried history between Uncle Gabriel and Hugh Abernathy. Toby is an instantly endearing lead, and the fictional world of Colebridge, with its sleuthing population, crimes, and Detectives’ Row, is sure to captivate readers. The witty dialogue, clever characters, and twists and turns are sure to keep young sleuths riveted. A dream come true for young mystery fans.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2017)
With his parents missing and presumed dead, eleven-year-old Toby is sent to live with his uncle, a down-on-his-luck private investigator. When Uncle Gabriel’s nemesis, successful celebrity detective Hugh Abernathy, sponsors a contest offering a $10,000 prize and bragging rights as the next “world’s greatest detective,” Toby enters, without his uncle’s knowledge. But when Toby arrives at the manor where the contest’s “murder” is to take place, his hosts’ abrasive daughter Ivy–a would-be detective herself–discovers Toby’s deception and inveigles him into teaming up with her to solve the mystery. Even worse, the pretend murder turns into a real murder, and all the detectives gathered for the competition are now suspects! Clues drop where and when they will be most useful, and the mystery structure is solidly built, with multiple red herrings and surprising reversals that will leave readers guessing up until the climax. Toby’s often-luckless character keeps sympathies firmly on his side, whereas Ivy’s social rough edges humanize her interactions with Toby, even as she remains unapologetically smart and ambitious. With a wink and a tip of the hat, Carlson uses cozy-mystery tropes–motive, means, opportunity; gossipy spinsters with underappreciated sleuthing skills–to create a warm, humorous jaunt that could infect readers with a lifelong love of the genre. anita l. burkam

About the Author

Caroline Carlson holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is an assistant editor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature at the literary journal Hunger Mountain. Before writing her first book, she worked as a textbook editor and helped to organize the children’s summer reading program at her hometown library.

Caroline grew up in Massachusetts and now lives with her husband in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Her website is www.carolinecarlsonbooks.com

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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

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Even the Darkest Stars on Amazon

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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

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. September 5, 2017. Delacorte Press, 288 p. ISBN: 9780375991844.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 650.

From the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel–the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

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

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 9-12. It’s difficult to describe Lockhart’s latest psychological thriller without dipping into spoilers, but here are the pertinent details: Jule, a peripatetic, athletic, superhero-obsessed teen girl is best friends with rich, restless Imogen, who recently committed suicide. When readers meet Jule, she’s lounging at a tony resort in Mexico, eating junk food, and enjoying the sun. It’s clear she’s on the run, though from whom or why isn’t clear, and Lockhart strings readers along with a clever narrative gambit. In a clipped, detached tone, Lockhart tells Jule’s story in reverse, and with each step backward, she peels away juicy layers of intrigue. As the relationship between Jule and Imogen comes into focus, Lockhart explores themes of jealousy, loyalty, privilege, and origins. Imogen, who was adopted, is fixated on the idea of feeling a strong sense of identity, while Jule constantly relies on an unlikely story to explain her childhood. But can they really know each other at all? It’s a captivating, suspenseful story made all the more bewitching by Lockhart’s twisty narrative, and she constantly keeps readers guessing with unpredictable turns and eye-opening reveals. This quietly unsettling, cinematic novel is deliciously suspenseful, and while it’s slim, it packs a real punch. Teens who love to hate antiheroes will be enraptured.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
Can Jule recognize her own true self within the tangled story of the past year? Jule West Williams is 18, white, and an orphan, all of which she has in common with her best friend, heiress Imogen Sokoloff—or does she? Jule, an impulsive, complicated protagonist like no other, tells her story as though she were living in an adventure movie. She imagines herself a heroine in contrast to the “great white hetero hero on his fucking epic journey.” She’s proud of her strength and fighting ability, her talents for disguises and imitating accents. Outside of her fantasy life, she feels inferior to practically everyone—Immie and her boyfriend, Forrest, as well as Immie’s parents and friends from college. Starting the book with Chapter 18 and the instruction “Begin here,” Jule traces a year backward, revealing startling secrets along the way. The fast-paced plot moves among New York, London, California, and Mexico as Jule stays one step ahead of those who’ve underestimated her skills. Jule’s intense narrative frequently includes clipped snatches of dialogue with herself: “No, she had. / No, she hadn’t. / She wished she had not. / She wished it could be undone.” Her unsettling storytelling, filled with energy and a fair amount of violence, comes from deep inside her own mysterious background. This thriller from the author of We Were Liars (2014) will challenge preconceptions about identity and keep readers guessing. (Suspense. 12-adult)

About the Author

E. Lockhart wrote the New York Times bestseller We Were Liars, which is also available in a deluxe edition. Her other books include Fly on the Wall, Dramarama, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and the Ruby Oliver Quartet, which includes The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys, and Real Live Boyfriends.

Her website is www.emilylockhart.com

Teacher Resources

Genuine Fraud Teacher’s Guide

Around the Web

Genuine Fraud on Amazon

Genuine Fraud on Goodreads

Genuine Fraud on JLG

Genuine Fraud Publisher Page

The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne

The Wendy Project by Melissa Jane Osborne. July 18, 2017. Super Genius, 98 p. ISBN: 9781545805275.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

16-year-old Wendy Davies crashes her car into a lake on a late summer night in New England with her two younger brothers in the backseat. When she wakes in the hospital, she is told that her youngest brother, Michael, is dead. Wendy — a once rational teenager – shocks her family by insisting that Michael is alive and in the custody of a mysterious flying boy. Placed in a new school, Wendy negotiates fantasy and reality as students and adults around her resemble characters from Neverland. Given a sketchbook by her therapist, Wendy starts to draw. But is The Wendy Project merely her safe space, or a portal between worlds?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Attempted suicide

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (May 1, 2017)
In this heart-wrenching graphic novel, a teen girl responsible for her younger brother’s death must decide to accept the harsh reality or lose herself in escapist denial. One fateful evening, Wendy Davies’ car goes off the road. Her brothers, John and Michael, were inside, and Michael doesn’t survive the wreck. After the crash, Wendy is sent to therapy to help her process her feelings and is instructed to draw her emotions. She envisions that Peter Pan has taken Michael to Neverland and begins seeing parallels in her everyday life. As Wendy becomes more enmeshed in her reveries, her grasp on reality becomes ever more tenuous. Will she be able to leave her daydreams behind and see the accident for what it was? Through a dreamlike and elegiac lens, Osborne and Fish conjure a visually striking portrait of mourning and acceptance. Wendy’s reality is evinced through black-and-white sketches, transitioning to a glorious wash of watercolors when her imagination takes over. While undeniably breathtaking in its style, the narrative of this slender volume occasionally falters. Its secondary characters—such as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell and their real-world counterparts—are intriguing but not as well developed as Wendy, and though Wendy’s plight is moving, it resolves itself a bit too tidily. However, readers should easily overcome these quibbles due to the sheer emotional impact of this beautifully tragic story and its gravitas. An ethereal and haunting exploration of grief and death. (Graphic fiction. 12-adult)

Library Journal – web only (November 18, 2016)
Here, Peter Pan’s Wendy Darling is reimagined as a 16-year-old who survives a car accident that renders one of her brothers mute and the other missing. Is that brother’s body lost to the watery crash site, or did Wendy really see him fly away with a mysterious figure? As Wendy struggles at a new high school, the people in her life begin to resemble Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and other J.M. Barrie characters. Wendy’s therapist prescribes drawing in a sketchbook as a coping mechanism, but the journal takes on a life of its own, one that may let Wendy shape her circumstances in more ways than one. Osborne sensitively scripts this tragic scenario-which has an especially satisfying conclusion-and Fish’s (Archie Comics) well-matched artwork often fittingly resembles that of a talented teenager, with color skillfully used to denote Wendy’s visions intruding into reality. Verdict This unexpected gem stands out among latter-day versions of Peter Pan thanks to its embrace of genuine emotion and psychological gravity. Highly recommended to all graphic novel and fantasy fans, and especially to YA readers. Some disturbing content; suitable for all but the youngest.-J. Osicki, Saint John Free P.L., NB

About the Author

Melissa Jane Osborne is an actor and writer who has worked with Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Samuel French Festival, NYFringe, Playwright’s Horizon’s Theatre School, and Stella Adler Studio of which she is an alum. Her work in new media spans from the Internet sensation The Burg to creating the first interactive scripted iPhone game Campus Crush for the Episode App, which has spawned multiple sequels and become an international teen sensation with over 6 million views per month. Her short film OMA is currently in production starring Lynn Cohen (The Hunger Games). She is a member of NYC’s FAB Women and Los Angeles’s IAMA Theatre Co. When Melissa was a kid, she broke four puppet theater kits from telling stories too hard. Now that she’s an adult, she hopes to break even more.

Around the Web

The Wendy Project on Amazon

The Wendy Project on Goodreads

The Wendy Project on JLG

The Wendy Project Publisher Page

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke. September 5, 2017. First Second, 208 p. ISBN: 9781626722675.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 2.87; Lexile: 460.

Like a bolt from the blue, Jack’s little sister Maddy is gone—carried into another realm by an ogre.

When Jack and Lilly follow Maddy’s captor through the portal, they are ready for anything . . . except what they find waiting for them in the floating crossroads between worlds. Even the power of their magic plants may not be enough to get them back to earth alive.

Alone and injured, Jack and Lilly must each face their own monsters—as well as giants who grind the bones of human children to feed their “beast” and a fearsome goblin king in the sewers down below.

But when Jack finds himself in a tough spot, help comes from the most unlikely person: the goblin king!

Ben Hatke, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Zita the Spacegirl, concludes his latest middle-grade fantasy-adventure graphic novel series, Mighty Jack, with the energetic finale to his retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk

Sequel to: Mighty Jack

Part of series: Mighty Jack (Book 2)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Video Reviews

Reviews

Booklist (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 3-6. At the end of Hatke’s series starter, Mighty Jack (2016), Jack and Lily chased after the plant ogre that spirited Jack’s sister, Maddy, away through a portal. The story picks up immediately afterward as Jack and Lily clamber into an utterly unknown place, where strange floating islands are connected by thick vines. Driven by the urge to rescue his sister at all costs, Jack brashly presses on, and when he and Lily get separated, he continues up the vine, while Lily finds herself among a gang of friendly goblins, though they have some ulterior motives. As he did in the first book, Hatke fills his full-bleed pages with hordes of fantastic monsters rendered in wild, organic shapes, and he further enlivens the story with snappy, comical dialogue. Well-wrought action scenes clearly depict the many battles, and swooping perspectives make the kid heroes look even more gallant. Fans of Hatke’s Zita the Spacegirl series will be especially delighted by the cliff-hanger ending, which ensures many more adventures for the plucky, clever kids.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2017)
Jack and Lilly return in a new adventure in which they must navigate a fantastic and foreign land to save Jack’s autistic sister, Maddy.The story dives in where Mighty Jack (2016) had left off on a breathless cliffhanger, which finds Jack and Lilly emerging through a strange, keyhole-shaped portal in order to save Maddy from a fierce monster. Rather like Alice down the rabbit hole, the kids find themselves in an unfamiliar world where they must climb a tenuous beanstalk and face vicious, biting rats, lovably bumbling goblins, and fearsome giants. Hatke’s reimagined fairy tale is a masterpiece that blends all the familiar elements of “Jack and the Beanstalk” with a decidedly fresh eye in a visually arresting graphic format. His art, brilliantly colored by Campbell and Sycamore, is vividly kinetic, taking over with many wordless action scenes that fire off with rocketlike propulsion. Though Hatke’s cast is predominantly white, he gives diversity a nod with an autistic main character and defies gender convention when another female character is crowned king. Though Jack is given sole titular credit, he and Lilly share the heroic spotlight in this installment, as she is every bit as mighty and important as he. Expect demand for the next installment to be through the roof; Hatke’s brilliant final scene should elicit audible exclamations from fans of his work. Another outstanding adventure from a master storyteller. (Graphic fantasy. 7-14)

About the Author

Ben Hatke is the author and illustrator of the New York Times–bestselling Zita the Spacegirl trilogy, the picture books Julia’s House for Lost Creatures and Nobody Likes a Goblin, and the graphic novels Little Robot and Mighty Jack. He lives and works in the Shenandoah Valley with his wife and their boisterous pack of daughters.

His website is www.benhatke.com

Around the Web

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King on Amazon

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King on Goodreads

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King on JLG

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King Publisher Page

Edgeland by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

Edgeland by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski. May 9, 2017. G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 272 p. ISBN: 9780399175817.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.4; Lexile: 690.

An upper-middle grade thriller by the New York Timesbestselling Nightfall authors perfect for fans of James Dashner’s Maze Runner books.

Thousands of miles south of the island of Bliss, day and night last for 72 hours. Here is one of the natural wonders of this world: a whirlpool thirty miles wide and a hundred miles around. This is the Drain. Anything sucked into its frothing, turbulent waters is never seen again.

Wren has spent most of her life on Edgeland, a nearby island where people bring their dead to be blessed and prepared for the afterlife. There the dead are loaded into boats with treasure and sent over the cliff, and into the Drain. Orphaned and alone, Wren dreams of escaping Edgeland, and her chance finally comes when furriers from the Polar north arrive with their dead, and treasure for their dead.

With the help of her friend Alec, Wren plans to loot one of the boats before it enters the Drain. But the boat–with Alec and Wren onboard–is sucked into the whirlpool. What they discover beyond the abyss is beyond what anyone could have imagined.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Disturbing imagery, Suicide, Cannibalism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 17))
Grades 5-8. Life on Edgeland is devoted to funerary arts, due to its nearness to the Drain—the waterfall-like ocean drop-off believed to lead to purgatory. Dodging through the somber island’s streets, 12-year-old Wren snatches what valuables she can in order to buy passage off Edgeland and find her missing father. It’s a cutthroat existence that ultimately lands her at the scene of a murder, rendering Wren its prime suspect. Before making her escape, she agrees to help her friend Alec retrieve a considerable payment to his bone house (a cross between a funeral parlor and church) that was accidentally loaded onto a funeral raft. Their daring plan goes spectacularly wrong, sending Wren and Alec over the Drain’s edge along with the dead, who are reviving for their journey to the afterlife. Purgatory is a dangerous place for the living, and as Wren and Alec endeavor to escape, their core beliefs are challenged in unexpected ways. Halpern and Kujawinski have constructed a refreshing, original fantasy that thoughtfully probes the subjects of class, religion, and morality. Wren’s and Alec’s responses to the astonishing sights in the Drain are believable and reflective of their individual personalities, maintaining the importance of their inner lives. Compellingly written, this otherworldly adventure is a unique offering that deserves attention. Happily, an open ending suggests Wren and Alec’s adventures have only begun.

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
After being banished from House Aron for stealing, orphan Wren must endure the bleak life of a grayling on the island of Edgeland, living underground and supporting herself through thievery. Her banishment has separated her from her best friend, Alec, who by the age of 12, has risen from an apprentice to a high-ranking position within House Aron, conducting complex funeral ceremonies. Dead bodies are kept in ice blocks, then sent sailing into the Drain, a large circular waterfall down which the frozen dead disappear into a seemingly bottomless mist that is the entryway to the afterlife, either the Sunlit Glade or the Moonlit Beach. The two friends are brought together when the chest with the payment for a funeral mistakenly tumbles, along with the dead, into the Drain. Desperate to recover it, Alec and Wren find themselves descending with it. Alec and Wren are now “breathers” in the world of the dead—where they learn the afterlife isn’t quite what the ancient songs profess it to be. Unfortunately, this compelling premise, bolstered by complex worldbuilding, loses its steam about halfway through, as the protagonists make their way from one realm of the dead to the next, with more running and hiding than actual story. The occasional mention of pale skin but no other racial markers implies a white default. As the living help to liberate the dead, intriguing characters roam the pages of a lifeless story. (Fantasy. 10-14)

About the Authors

Jake Halpern is an acclaimed journalist, author, and radio producer who has written for several publications including The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.  As a contributor at NPR, Jake produced one of the most listened-to episodes of This American Life. He co-wrote the Dormia series with Peter Kujawinski and is the author of Bad Paper, a nonfiction book for adults.

His website is worldofdormia.com

Peter Kujawinski is an author and diplomat, currently serving as US Consul General for Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. His next book, Nightfall, will be released this September by Penguin Books for Young Readers. He co-wrote the Dormia series with Jake Halpern and has written for The New York Times.

His website is peterkujawinski.com

Around the Web

Edgeland on Amazon

Edgeland on Goodreads

Edgeland on JLG

Edgeland Publisher Page

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. June 27, 2017. Katherine Tegen Books, 513 p. ISBN: 9780062382801.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 900.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Strong language, Racial taunts, Discrimination, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Smoking, Criminal culture, Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (April 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 16))
Grades 9-12. Henry Montague is the son of a lord, and as such, his behavior is entirely inappropriate. A lover of vice and hedonism, Monty prefers to spend his time drinking (acceptable) and trysting, both with girls and boys (decidedly not acceptable). Still, Monty is in high spirits as he prepares for his grand tour of the Continent. At his side is his best friend: polite, gentlemanly Percy is the orphaned product of an English lord and a woman from Barbados. Monty, of course, is hopelessly in love with him and plans to make the most of the tour, until his distinct flair for trouble gets in the way. Several miscommunications, one truly terrible party, and an act of petty thievery later, Monty and Percy find themselves on the run across Europe with Monty’s sister Felicity in tow. Tongue-in-cheek, wildly entertaining, and anachronistic in only the most delightful ways, this is a gleeful romp through history. Monty is a hero worthy of Oscar Wilde (“What’s the use of temptations if we don’t yield to them?”), his sister Felicity is a practical, science-inclined wonder, and his relationship with Percy sings. Modern-minded as this may be, Lee has clearly done invaluable research on society, politics, and the reality of same-sex relationships in the eighteenth century. Add in a handful of pirates and a touch of alchemy for an adventure that’s an undeniable joy.

Horn Book Magazine (May/June, 2017)
Eighteen-year-old Monty, spoiled heir to a wealthy estate in eighteenth-century Britain, embarks on a year-long “Tour” of Europe, after which he will settle unhappily into respectable life. One social offense and an antiquities theft later, Monty and his companions (prickly little sister Felicity and lifelong best friend Percy, with whom Monty is hopelessly in love) are on the run from a power-hungry duke. When Monty discovers that Percy–whose social status as the mixed-race nephew of a wealthy landowner is already precarious–suffers from epilepsy and will be permanently committed to a sanitarium upon their return, Monty is determined to retrieve the alchemical panacea that his stolen artifact supposedly unlocks. Mayhem, adventure, and a swoon-worthy emotional roller-coaster of a romance ensue. Lee’s attention to issues of privilege in this setting, and the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender as embodied by the three travelers (and the compelling secondary characters who populate their travels, including a formerly enslaved crew of so-called pirates who have been denied the papers they need to conduct legal seafaring business) add dimension to the journey. At the center of all this, Monty is pitch-perfect as a yearning, self-destructive, oblivious jerk of a hero who inspires equal parts sympathy, frustration, and adoration from readers–as well as from Percy himself. A genre tribute, satire, and exemplar in one: trope-filled in the most gleeful way. claire e. gross

About the Author

Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in history and an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Simmons College. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the historical fantasy novels This Monstrous Thing and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (HarperCollins), as well as the forthcoming The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (coming in 2018 from HarperCollins) and Semper Augustus (coming in 2019 from Flatiron/Macmillan). She is also the author of Bygone Badass Broads (Abrams, 2018), a collection of short biographies of amazing women from history you probably don’t know about but definitely should, based on her popular twitter series of the same name.

She currently calls Boston home, where she manages an independent bookstore, drinks too much Diet Coke, and pets every dog she meets.

Her website is www.mackenzilee.com

Around the Web

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue on Amazon

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue on Goodreads

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue on JLG

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue Publisher Page