Tag Archives: romance

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

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

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

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

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

 

Author Interview

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

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

 

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Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Author Video

Reviews

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

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

About the Author

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

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Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey

Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey. July 11, 2017. Fiewel & Friends, 272 p. ISBN: 9781250119520.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

I’m never going outside again. 

Mallory hasn’t left the house in sixty-seven days–since the day her dad left. She attends her classes via webcam, rarely leaves her room (much to her brother’s chagrin), and spends most of her time watching The X-Files or chatting with the always obnoxious BeamMeUp on New Mexico’s premier alien message board.

But when she’s shockingly nominated for homecoming queen, her life takes a surprising turn. She slowly begins to open up to the world outside. And maybe if she can get her popular jock neighbor Brad Kirkpatrick to be her homecoming date, her classmates will stop calling her a freak.

In this heartwarming and humorous debut, Mallory discovers first love and the true meaning of home–just by taking one small step outside her house.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Ever since her dad left a few months ago, the world has been too big for Mallory, literally: stepping outside of the house gives her a panic attack. She goes to school via webcam (a development that’s been fodder for the high-school gossip mill) and chats about potential alien sightings on We Are Not Alone, an online message board, with an obnoxious but clever person with the username BeamMeUp. Still, she’s missing things: her younger brother, Lincoln, just came out of the closet a year ago, and Mallory can’t be there for him at school. When she’s unexpectedly nominated for homecoming queen, she tentatively starts to consider stepping outside her house. Of course, she doesn’t have a chance in the world of winning—unless she can get her next-door neighbor, the popular, athletic, and all-around nice guy Brad Kirkpatrick to take her to the dance. This is a charming take on high school—the friendships, the romance, and the snubs—that also tenderly explores mental illness and the stigmas that accompany it. A sweet and funny debut.

School Library Journal (May 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-Authentic teen voices and a gentle love story are paired with a familiar and questionable plot. Mallory copes with extreme anxiety since her father abandoned the family; she hasn’t left her house in more than two months. She spends her time attending webcam classes, hanging out with her best friend Jenni and her brother Lincoln, and posting on a website devoted to alien research. The seemingly cruel nomination of Mallory for prom queen upsets her safe world. Instead of declining the nomination, however, she decides to pursue the crown, if only for the $500 prize; this is just enough money to fund her search for her father. Her friends, the star jock, and his brother pull Mallory out of her sheltered life; on the way, she finds true friendship, love, and acceptance. While the voice rings true and the romance is predictable yet sweet, the downfall of this book is that the protagonist’s ability to overcome her anxiety strains credulity; considering the amount of plot buildup, the conflicts are resolved too quickly. Also, character traits don’t always match character actions. How can Mallory so easily venture out of doors after becoming physically ill during her prior excursion? VERDICT Those who want an accurate portrayal of anxiety disorders should consider John Corey Whaley’s Highly Illogical Behavior. If realism isn’t an issue, the voice here will engage romance seekers.-Lisa Ehrle, Falcon Creek Middle School, CO

About the Author

Kerry Winfrey grew up in Bellville, Ohio, where she spent most of her time reading inappropriate books at the library. Not much has changed. Kerry writes for HelloGiggles and blogs at welcometoladyville.com.

She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, their son, and their dog, Merlin.

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Love and Other Alien Experiences on Amazon

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They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. September 5, 2017. HarperTeen, 368 p. ISBN: 9780062457790.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 870.

Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Mild sexual themes, Gun violence

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 9-12. Imagine a world in which everyone who is about to die receives the shocking news in advance by phone, and you have the premise of the wildly imaginative new novel by Silvera. Eighteen-year-old Mateo receives such a phone call at 12:22 a.m., while 17-year-old Rufus receives his at 1:05. Both boys, who are initially strangers to each other, now have one thing in common: they will be dead in 24 hours or less. Alone and desperately lonely, the two find each other by using an app called Last Friend. At first dubious, they begin a cautious friendship, which they describe in their respective first-person voices in alternating chapters. The ingenious plot of this character-driven novel charts the evolution of their relationship as it deepens into something more than simple friendship. Silvera does a remarkable job of inviting empathy for his irresistible coprotagonists. As the clock continues to tick the minutes away, their story becomes invested with urgency and escalating suspense. Will they really die? Perhaps, but, ultimately, it is not death but life that is the focus of this extraordinary and unforgettable novel.

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
What would you do with one day left to live?In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived. Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

About the Author

Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, marketing assistant at a literary development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller, and Adam was selected as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. He writes full-time in New York City and is tall for no reason.

His website is www.adamsilvera.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 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.

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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

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue on Amazon

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A Million Junes by Emily Henry

A Million Junes by Emily Henry. May 16, 2017. Razorbill, 350 p. ISBN: 9780448493961.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 760.

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. 

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Jack (aka June) O’Donnell IV lives in a place where the divide between the real world and that of ghosts and spirits is thin. These ethereal forces sustain a generations-old feud between the O’Donnells and the Angerts, but when June meets Saul Angert, she only knows he’s beautiful and a kindred soul. The two embark on an odyssey to recover memories of those they loved, learn the truth of their shared history, and maybe put the long feud to rest. With a firm nod to Romeo and Juliet, this supernatural mystery is a gift to readers’ imagination. There are coywolves (a mix of coyote and wolf) who steal shoes so that people can reach the spirit world; “Whites,” puffballs that embody memories that act as clues; and relatable characters tethered and anchored by love. The first-person narrative supports a textured story that is an exploration of duty, family, and faith and yet doesn’t forget the humor of everyday life. Try it with fans of John Green or Anna-Marie McLemore’s The Weight of Feathers (2015).

Kirkus Reviews (March 15, 2017)
In a town where magic is alive and cherries taste like the sun, the children of two rival families must break a curse that’s haunted them for generations and learn what it means to live with loss.Jack O’Donnell IV—called Jack, Jackie, Junior, or June—knows two things for sure. First, she will always be her father’s daughter, even though he passed when she was 8. Second, she must never, ever interact with the Angerts, or terrible things will happen to both families. But when Saul Angert returns to town and the two literally bump into each other, their chemistry is undeniable—as is the fact that they’re suddenly able to enter their deceased loved ones’ memories. As the recollections lead them closer to the truth about the O’Donnell-Angert vitriol, they also reveal that the father June grew up worshipping was more complicated than he seemed. Early on, readers will fall for the teens’ witty repartee and June’s father’s tall tales, but Henry’s (The Love That Split the World, 2016) beautifully crafted if largely white world, which is rich with a strong best friendship, a complicated writing teacher, and a dreamlike touch—becomes unwieldy as fantasy takes over. A potential treat for readers who enjoy magical realism, but there are stronger examples of the genre, such as Laura Ruby’s Printz-winning Bone Gap. (Magical realism. 12-16)

About the Author

Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.

Around the Web

A Million Junes on Amazon

A Million Junes on Goodreads

A Million Junes on JLG

A  Million Junes Publisher Page

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy. May 9, 2017. Balzer + Bray, 492 p. ISBN: 9780062418357.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 780.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Discrimination, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Underage drinking, Criminal culture, Homophobia, Racism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist starred (March 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 13))
Grades 9-12. Julie Murphy (Dumplin’, 2015) knows a thing or two about navigating the worlds of girls on the brink of self-discovery. In Ramona Blue, that girl is Ramona Leroux, over six feet tall and sporting blue hair. She’s also one of only two out lesbians in her little town of Eulogy, Mississippi, where she lives with her father and sister in the FEMA trailer they never left after Hurricane Katrina. Her sister, Hattie, recently pregnant, jokes that Ramona can do whatever she wants with her future, but Ramona has no such illusions. “My sport—” she thinks, “the special skill I’ve developed my whole life—is surviving.” Because of this pragmatism, Ramona has never doubted herself. It’s not easy being gay in Eulogy, but it’s a label she owns proudly, until her childhood friend Freddie moves back to town. Freddie’s a straight guy, African American, and well off, but a love of swimming connects the two. Freddie talks Ramona into spending time at the pool, and as she falls more in love with the sport, she realizes she’s falling in love with him, too, questioning everything she knows about herself—everything she’s fought to make her town and family accept. Murphy mines Ramona’s inner workings with particular skill. Ramona’s often-fraught relationships with her family are carefully, lovingly crafted, and her connection with Hattie is an especially important one. Her growing feelings for Freddie come slowly and organically, never feeling contrived. For many teens, Ramona will be a worthy companion as they undergo their own emotional journeys.

Kirkus Reviews starred (April 1, 2017)
In Murphy’s (Dumplin’, 2015, etc.) third novel, a teenage girl navigates the complexities of romance and identity.Ramona “Blue” Leroux—6 foot 3, white, blue-haired, and gay—has always known who she is and where she is (or isn’t) going. Living in a trailer in post-Katrina Eulogy, Mississippi, Ramona does her best to save and provide for her dad, older sister, Hattie, and soon-to-be niece. One of only three queer kids in town, she’s always been sure she’s attracted to women, and Ramona feels lucky that her coming-out experience was nothing more than “a blip.” But this year, everything is changing. She’s losing her sister to the coming baby and to Hattie’s irresponsible, irritating baby-daddy, who has squeezed into their trailer. Her summer fling with closeted, white out-of-towner Grace may not withstand distance. And then Ramona’s black childhood best friend, Freddie, unexpectedly moves back to Eulogy, and, as they reconnect through their shared history and a passion for swimming, she is surprised to find her desires and feelings for Freddie growing deeper. Ramona’s first-person narration is tender and compelling, and the love she feels for the diverse cast of secondary characters is palpable. Murphy beautifully incorporates conversations about identity and diversity—including the policing of Freddie’s black body, heteronormative expectations, and diverse sexualities (Ramona’s white friend Ruth identifies herself explicitly as homoromantic demisexual)—with nuance and care. An exquisite, thoughtful exploration of the ties that bind and the fluidity of relationships, sexuality, and life. (Fiction. 14-adult)

About the Author

Julie lives in North Texas with her husband who loves her, her dog who adores her, and her cat who tolerates her. When she’s not writing or trying to catch stray cats, she works at an academic library.

Her website is www.juliemurphywrites.com

 

Around the Web

Ramona Blue on Amazon

Ramona Blue on Goodreads

Ramona Blue on JLG

Ramona Blue Publisher Page

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han. May 2, 2017. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 325 p. ISBN: 9781481430487.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 700.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Sequel to: P.S. I Still Love You

Part of Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Book 3)

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

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (May 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 18))
Grades 9-12. Nostalgia hangs heavy in the air as Lara Jean and Peter wind their way through senior year. Their romance is now solid with well-established pastimes, such as sharing favorite movies and testing Lara Jean’s latest batch of chocolate chip cookies. But next year will bring college and the possibility of separation. The suspense of waiting for word from college admission offices, particularly in a town dominated by a large university, is perfectly rendered. Lara Jean, an insightful and authentic narrator, strives to relish the final moments of high school, while mustering the courage to forge her own path onward. Readers of the first two novels will enjoy these final chapters with Lara Jean, which are short on old drama and long on character growth. Those who are starting the series with this novel may find the pace a bit languid. Nevertheless, Han reveals just enough of old subplots to pique curiosity for new readers and reignite interest for her loyal fans. A must-have conclusion.

Kirkus Reviews (April 15, 2017)
Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han’s nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel’s denouement. An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

About the Author

Jenny Han is the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series; Shug; the Burn for Burn trilogy, cowritten with Siobhan Vivian; and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. She is also the author of the chapter book Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream. A former children’s bookseller, she earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School.

Her website is dearjennyhan.com

Around the Web

Always and Forever, Lara Jean on Amazon

Always and Forever, Lara Jean on Goodreads

Always and Forever, Lara Jean on JLG

Always and Forever, Lara Jean Publisher Page