BCPL’s Ultimate Teen Booklist

Let the Teen Read Week celebrations commence! Teen Read Week 2016 officially began this past Sunday and continues through Saturday, October 15th. As has become our tradition here at BCPL, our celebration features the latest updates to our Ultimate Teen Booklist. After making a ton of new additions last year, this year, we’ve made a point of cleaning house and removing titles that we no longer feel merit inclusion. This may be because we feel the book has become dated; because we think there there is a newer, very similar book that is even better; or because we’ve just lost our enthusiasm for a particular title.

That’s not to say we don’t have a few new titles we are excited to add! We’ve evaluated over 40 books for possible inclusion this season, and that’s not even counting the books we read before our committee season began. But to keep the list from getting too out of control, we’ve made extra efforts to be super selective this year while keeping our eye out for awesome books we’ve overlooked in the past as well as recent favorites we believe have the power to endure. We’ve also worked to round out our current list with a few more nonfiction titles.


So without further ado, here are the latest additions to our Ultimate Teen Booklist:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawamba (2009)
This is the highly readable story of a young Malawian teenager who, unable to afford the tuition to attend school, taught himself the principles of physics and electricity from books borrowed from the local elementary school—and then used that knowledge to build a windmill that provided his family with light, heat, and running water. Yet this book is about much more than building a windmill. It contains elements of magic as Kamkwamba relates the folklore and superstitions of his culture, and it touches on many of the troubles in modern Africa without becoming overwhelming or preachy. It’s about inspiring a community and making a difference. Kamkwamba’s story is one of ingenuity, perseverance, and hope, and the easy, conversational style of this book makes the life in a poor African farm family seem both relatable and fascinating. A young reader edition is also available, but most teens should be comfortable with the original version. Middle School/High School.

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (2015)
Joan Skraggs is tired of being undervalued by her father and brothers for the backbreaking work she puts in day after day. Life is hard on a 1911 Pennsylvania farm, and 14-year-old Joan’s only respite is found in the books she loves. Then Joan decides she’s finally had enough of being unappreciated, unpaid labor and decides to get a post in the city as a hired girl. Under a fake name and lying about her age, Joan lucks into a position in the home of a wealthy Jewish family. Everything in her new world is foreign and utterly fascinating, and Joan soon finds herself making mistake after mistake—from setting her hair on fire to crushing on one of her employers’ sons—even as she grows from a naïve country girl to a capable young woman. Told through a series of diary entries, this is a warm and thought-provoking story, laced with humor. Joan’s voice is fresh and hilariously candid, sure to appeal to readers who’ve enjoyed characters like Anne Shirley, Jo March, or Jane Eyre. Middle School (mature)/High School.

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (2005)
Rather than focusing on Hitler himself, this well-rounded history considers the children and teens who pledged their loyalty to Hitler and their motivations for doing so. While some of the youths became disillusioned by Hitler’s ideals as they grew older, others remained steadfastly obedient to their Führer, often despite familial disapproval or their own consciences. Through the stories of twelve Hitler Youth members, Bartoletti  provides a terrifying picture of how Hitler was able to gain such unchecked power and blind devotion while offering a fascinating look at the young people who grew up during his reign. Middle School/High School.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (2005)
After enduring five years of terror and abuse, Alice believes her only escape from her captor is death. And now that she is fifteen, Alice half hopes that Ray will finally take that final step and kill her. But Ray has another idea: he wants Alice to help him select and train his next victim. With spare, lyrical prose, Scott weaves an intensely disturbing tale that promises no safe or easy answers. High School (mature).

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawls with Ali Benjamin (2014)
Paige was in sixth grade when she learned that she had HIV. Although she was born HIV positive, it didn’t really affect her life in ways she was aware of until she told a friend about her diagnosis and rumors began to spread. From that point, Paige became the target of relentless bullying. This is the inspiring and revelatory story of how she coped with the bullying and the challenges of living with HIV into adulthood. Middle School /High School.

Raven Cycle (series) by Maggie Stiefvater (2012–2016)
Blue is an outsider. She comes from a family of clairvoyants but has no psychic abilities herself; instead, her presence acts as an amplifier for others’ gifts. Like most of the Henrietta locals, Blue wants nothing to do with the stuck-up Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy, but then she meets Gansey, whose fate seems tied to Blue and a deadly curse. Despite her better judgment and fear of the curse, Blue joins Gansey and his group of boys’ school misfits in their quest to unravel a mystical mystery involving an ancient Welsh king. Mystery, heartbreak, friendship, betrayal, and moral dilemmas emerge in the first book only to intensify further as the series continues. Lush, descriptive prose; complex characters; and a multi-layered, imaginative plot create a leisurely-paced but riveting series that succeeds in seamlessly combining magic with contemporary social issues. High School.

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki (2014)

Bittersweet and brilliantly paced, this coming-of-age graphic novel centers on a young teen’s summer vacation, during which she finds herself drawn to an older boy and depressed by the strain in her parents’ marriage. Mariko Tamaki’s illustrations wonderfully convey Rose’s frustrations, anxiety, and heartbreaks, and the images are full of life and movement. Middle School (mature)/High School.






Updated:
Giver Quartet (series) by Lois Lowry (1993–2012)
The Giver has been included on our list since the beginning, but now we feel it is time to round out the story of Jonas and the Community by including the full series. We’ve added Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son to the list!
Source: Book News and Reviews

BCPL’s Ultimate Teen Booklist

Let the Teen Read Week celebrations commence! Teen Read Week 2016 officially began this past Sunday and continues through Saturday, October 15th. As has become our tradition here at BCPL, our celebration features the latest updates to our Ultimate Teen Booklist. After making a ton of new additions last year, this year, we’ve made a point of cleaning house and removing titles that we no longer feel merit inclusion. This may be because we feel the book has become dated; because we think there there is a newer, very similar book that is even better; or because we’ve just lost our enthusiasm for a particular title.

That’s not to say we don’t have a few new titles we are excited to add! We’ve evaluated over 40 books for possible inclusion this season, and that’s not even counting the books we read before our committee season began. But to keep the list from getting too out of control, we’ve made extra efforts to be super selective this year while keeping our eye out for awesome books we’ve overlooked in the past as well as recent favorites we believe have the power to endure. We’ve also worked to round out our current list with a few more nonfiction titles.


So without further ado, here are the latest additions to our Ultimate Teen Booklist:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkawamba (2009)
This is the highly readable story of a young Malawian teenager who, unable to afford the tuition to attend school, taught himself the principles of physics and electricity from books borrowed from the local elementary school—and then used that knowledge to build a windmill that provided his family with light, heat, and running water. Yet this book is about much more than building a windmill. It contains elements of magic as Kamkwamba relates the folklore and superstitions of his culture, and it touches on many of the troubles in modern Africa without becoming overwhelming or preachy. It’s about inspiring a community and making a difference. Kamkwamba’s story is one of ingenuity, perseverance, and hope, and the easy, conversational style of this book makes the life in a poor African farm family seem both relatable and fascinating. A young reader edition is also available, but most teens should be comfortable with the original version. Middle School/High School.

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (2015)
Joan Skraggs is tired of being undervalued by her father and brothers for the backbreaking work she puts in day after day. Life is hard on a 1911 Pennsylvania farm, and 14-year-old Joan’s only respite is found in the books she loves. Then Joan decides she’s finally had enough of being unappreciated, unpaid labor and decides to get a post in the city as a hired girl. Under a fake name and lying about her age, Joan lucks into a position in the home of a wealthy Jewish family. Everything in her new world is foreign and utterly fascinating, and Joan soon finds herself making mistake after mistake—from setting her hair on fire to crushing on one of her employers’ sons—even as she grows from a naïve country girl to a capable young woman. Told through a series of diary entries, this is a warm and thought-provoking story, laced with humor. Joan’s voice is fresh and hilariously candid, sure to appeal to readers who’ve enjoyed characters like Anne Shirley, Jo March, or Jane Eyre. Middle School (mature)/High School.

Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (2005)
Rather than focusing on Hitler himself, this well-rounded history considers the children and teens who pledged their loyalty to Hitler and their motivations for doing so. While some of the youths became disillusioned by Hitler’s ideals as they grew older, others remained steadfastly obedient to their Führer, often despite familial disapproval or their own consciences. Through the stories of twelve Hitler Youth members, Bartoletti  provides a terrifying picture of how Hitler was able to gain such unchecked power and blind devotion while offering a fascinating look at the young people who grew up during his reign. Middle School/High School.

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (2005)
After enduring five years of terror and abuse, Alice believes her only escape from her captor is death. And now that she is fifteen, Alice half hopes that Ray will finally take that final step and kill her. But Ray has another idea: he wants Alice to help him select and train his next victim. With spare, lyrical prose, Scott weaves an intensely disturbing tale that promises no safe or easy answers. High School (mature).

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawls with Ali Benjamin (2014)
Paige was in sixth grade when she learned that she had HIV. Although she was born HIV positive, it didn’t really affect her life in ways she was aware of until she told a friend about her diagnosis and rumors began to spread. From that point, Paige became the target of relentless bullying. This is the inspiring and revelatory story of how she coped with the bullying and the challenges of living with HIV into adulthood. Middle School /High School.

Raven Cycle (series) by Maggie Stiefvater (2012–2016)
Blue is an outsider. She comes from a family of clairvoyants but has no psychic abilities herself; instead, her presence acts as an amplifier for others’ gifts. Like most of the Henrietta locals, Blue wants nothing to do with the stuck-up Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy, but then she meets Gansey, whose fate seems tied to Blue and a deadly curse. Despite her better judgment and fear of the curse, Blue joins Gansey and his group of boys’ school misfits in their quest to unravel a mystical mystery involving an ancient Welsh king. Mystery, heartbreak, friendship, betrayal, and moral dilemmas emerge in the first book only to intensify further as the series continues. Lush, descriptive prose; complex characters; and a multi-layered, imaginative plot create a leisurely-paced but riveting series that succeeds in seamlessly combining magic with contemporary social issues. High School.

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki (2014)

Bittersweet and brilliantly paced, this coming-of-age graphic novel centers on a young teen’s summer vacation, during which she finds herself drawn to an older boy and depressed by the strain in her parents’ marriage. Mariko Tamaki’s illustrations wonderfully convey Rose’s frustrations, anxiety, and heartbreaks, and the images are full of life and movement. Middle School (mature)/High School.






Updated:
Giver Quartet (series) by Lois Lowry (1993–2012)
The Giver has been included on our list since the beginning, but now we feel it is time to round out the story of Jonas and the Community by including the full series. We’ve added Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son to the list!
Source: Book News and Reviews

SUMMER READING 2016: 5 Guest Reviews from Tweens & Teens

Summer Reading is on! We’re having a great summer at BCPL with events ranging from fitness activities to a lab with the Kentucky Science Center to awesome magic shows. But the heart of Summer Reading will always be books and reading.

And we’re so excited with the response we are receiving from the participants in our 2016 Reading Challenges. Here are just a few of the book reviews we’ve received so far; more will be posted here over the month to come. Thanks to all of our guest reviewers for sharing!

How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Sara Nickerson
Reviewer: Tyler W., Age 10
Tyler’s Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel/Mystery
Audience: Tween/Teen

Tyler’s Summary & Review:  A boy and his mom move into a mansion only to find out weird things keep happening. It’s ok. Kind of a long book.

Quarterback Sneak by Jake Maddox
Reviewer: Tyler W., Age 10
Tyler’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Sports Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Tyler’s Summary & Review:  A quarterbacks suddenly starts acting very strange, which puts the team in major jeopardy.I enjoyed this book, I can relate to one of the characters because he wants to help his team. I also have a passion for football.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Katelynn’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/School Story
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Katelynn’s Summary & Review:  A boy has a facial disease and has a hard time “fitting in” at school and out of school. I am here to tell you that I really think you should read this book. First, the book makes me feel like I’m in the story experiencing what is going on. Next, the book has really good detail to make me imagine everything that is going on. Last, the book has a really good story behind that and it has a good plot. That is why you should read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Enjoy!?

EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: I couldn’t agree more with Katelynn’s rating and review! I loved this book back when I read it, hence its inclusion on our Best of 2012 book list for middle grade and tween readers and my whining over its exclusion from the 2013 Youth Media Awards. Here’s my brief overview from one of our Book Picks lists:

Ten-year-old Auggie was born with extreme facial abnormalities. When he was younger, he used to wear a space helmet all the time just to hide from the stares. Now Auggie—homeschooled all his life—is ready to come out of hiding and is set to begin fifth grade at a private Manhattan middle school. Heartbreaking, funny, and simply wonderful in every way, Wonder is a must-read for book lovers of all ages. Ages 8 and up



Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Katelynn’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Animal Fantasy
Audience: Middle Grade

Katelynn’s Summary & Review: A zebra and other animals get captured and have to train to be gladiators. Once they train, they have to fight to earn their freedom.

I think you should read the book Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield. First, this book has some great facts about the Romans and other things. Next, the book has really great humor. Last, the book has a lot of feeling in it. That is why I think you should read the book Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewer: Kaylee F., Age 12
Kaylee’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Audience: Teen/Young Adult

Kaylee’s Summary & Review: The storyline is about a girl named Bella Swan and when she moves in with her dad at the town of Forks. I thought this book was a great start to an amazing series.The story itself was great because it explained how Bella felt at all times in amazing words and vocabulary. I loved the characters a lot because they all were a big part of an amazing story. I loved the setting because when the author wrote to explain the setting she made it feel like I was actually looking at it myself. I just enjoyed this book so much I couldn’t even put it down. You should really read this book and fall in love with it just as I did.

EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: As Kaylee says, this book is compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down and read the entire book (about 500 pages) in a single night. I have a few issues with the book (Edward’s stalker tendencies, for one), but nothing that prevented me from staying up till about 6:00 in the morning until I finished!

Are you interested in submitting a guest review? Use the submission form on our website to share your thoughts (positive, negative, or in between) about your latest read. And remember: eligible BCPL patrons earn an entry in our Summer Reading Grand Prize Drawing for each review they submit!

SUMMER READING 2016: 5 Guest Reviews from Tweens & Teens

Summer Reading is on! We’re having a great summer at BCPL with events ranging from fitness activities to a lab with the Kentucky Science Center to awesome magic shows. But the heart of Summer Reading will always be books and reading.

And we’re so excited with the response we are receiving from the participants in our 2016 Reading Challenges. Here are just a few of the book reviews we’ve received so far; more will be posted here over the month to come. Thanks to all of our guest reviewers for sharing!

How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found by Sara Nickerson
Reviewer: Tyler W., Age 10
Tyler’s Rating: 3/5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel/Mystery
Audience: Tween/Teen

Tyler’s Summary & Review:  A boy and his mom move into a mansion only to find out weird things keep happening. It’s ok. Kind of a long book.

Quarterback Sneak by Jake Maddox
Reviewer: Tyler W., Age 10
Tyler’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Sports Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Tyler’s Summary & Review:  A quarterbacks suddenly starts acting very strange, which puts the team in major jeopardy.I enjoyed this book, I can relate to one of the characters because he wants to help his team. I also have a passion for football.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Katelynn’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Realistic Fiction/School Story
Audience: Middle Grade/Tween

Katelynn’s Summary & Review:  A boy has a facial disease and has a hard time “fitting in” at school and out of school. I am here to tell you that I really think you should read this book. First, the book makes me feel like I’m in the story experiencing what is going on. Next, the book has really good detail to make me imagine everything that is going on. Last, the book has a really good story behind that and it has a good plot. That is why you should read the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Enjoy!?

EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: I couldn’t agree more with Katelynn’s rating and review! I loved this book back when I read it, hence its inclusion on our Best of 2012 book list for middle grade and tween readers and my whining over its exclusion from the 2013 Youth Media Awards. Here’s my brief overview from one of our Book Picks lists:

Ten-year-old Auggie was born with extreme facial abnormalities. When he was younger, he used to wear a space helmet all the time just to hide from the stares. Now Auggie—homeschooled all his life—is ready to come out of hiding and is set to begin fifth grade at a private Manhattan middle school. Heartbreaking, funny, and simply wonderful in every way, Wonder is a must-read for book lovers of all ages. Ages 8 and up


Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield
Reviewer: Katelynn W., Age 11
Katelynn’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Animal Fantasy
Audience: Middle Grade

Katelynn’s Summary & Review: A zebra and other animals get captured and have to train to be gladiators. Once they train, they have to fight to earn their freedom.

I think you should read the book Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield. First, this book has some great facts about the Romans and other things. Next, the book has really great humor. Last, the book has a lot of feeling in it. That is why I think you should read the book Julius Zebra: Rumble with the Romans by Gary Northfield.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Reviewer: Kaylee F., Age 12
Kaylee’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Audience: Teen/Young Adult

Kaylee’s Summary & Review: The storyline is about a girl named Bella Swan and when she moves in with her dad at the town of Forks. I thought this book was a great start to an amazing series.The story itself was great because it explained how Bella felt at all times in amazing words and vocabulary. I loved the characters a lot because they all were a big part of an amazing story. I loved the setting because when the author wrote to explain the setting she made it feel like I was actually looking at it myself. I just enjoyed this book so much I couldn’t even put it down. You should really read this book and fall in love with it just as I did.

EXTRA: Tracy’s Thoughts: As Kaylee says, this book is compulsively readable. I couldn’t put it down and read the entire book (about 500 pages) in a single night. I have a few issues with the book (Edward’s stalker tendencies, for one), but nothing that prevented me from staying up till about 6:00 in the morning until I finished!

Are you interested in submitting a guest review? Use the submission form on our website to share your thoughts (positive, negative, or in between) about your latest read. And remember: eligible BCPL patrons earn an entry in our Summer Reading Grand Prize Drawing for each review they submit!

Source: Book News and Reviews

Best of 2012: Young Adult/Teen Books

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Fiction:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer
The Lunar Chronicles #1

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Read Lucinda’s Review

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments #5

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Read Tracy’s Review

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
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Read Tracy’s Review

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
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Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
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Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #2

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Nonfiction:

FLASH REVIEWS: 2013 Picture Books About Friendship

Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Philip Stead
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Adult/YA Crossover (an Alex Award winner)

This stunning coming of age novel tells the story of Jean Patrick Nkuba,
a young Rwandan who dreams of running in the Olympics. He is a
kindhearted and slightly naive boy, but as he grows older he becomes
increasingly aware of the stark ethnic divide in his country and the
challenges his Tutsi heritage will present to achieving his dream.
Gripping and frequently distressing—this is one of the few novels that
has made me cry—Running the Rift is nevertheless a story of hope,
love, and perseverance. Benaron does not shy away from the escalating
violence that eventually leads to the Rwandan genocide, but the story is
not sensationalistic in any way. Instead, through the fictionalized
account of Jean Patrick, it brings a relatable voice to an unimaginable
tragedy and shows that there is much more to the country and its people
than can be surmised from political reports and news stories. In
contrast to the unflinching portrait of violence and moral complexities
are Jean Patrick’s genuine love of his sport, his country, his family,
and a young woman for whom he would do almost anything.

Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgeira and Ploy Bernadette (Illustrator)
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Adult

Set in the real-world dystopia of North Korea, this Pulitzer
Prize–winning novel takes readers on a weird and wonderful journey along
with its anti-hero protagonist. Jun Do begins life with the unlucky
reputation of being an orphan—although in actuality he is not—and
through a series of strange circumstances and fateful choices he finds
himself filling unlikely roles, from professional kidnapper to national
hero to romantic rival of the Great Leader himself. Set in a world where
the “story” is so much more important than truth—where the story becomes
truth—Jun Do seizes opportunities to reinvent himself over and over,
and yet the nature and politics of North Korea can easily take him on a
detour that will rewrite his story all over again. Perhaps because the
world it explores is so very alien, I must admit that I initially found
this book a bit difficult to connect with. I also wonder whether my
occasional dissatisfaction might be related to the audio format. There
are multiple voices and frequent interruptions from propagandist
loudspeakers that perhaps did not translate well in this audio
adaptation. But while it becomes a bit tedious at times (whether due to
format or subject matter), The Orphan Master’s Son is also frequently brilliant, fascinating, and surprising.

The Story of Fish & Snail by Deborah Freedman
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Audience: Adult

In this intimate and poignant book, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
creates a extraordinary portrait of India’s urban poor. By focusing on
Annawadi, one of dozens of tiny slums that exist alongside the modern
new airpo

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon (Illustrator)
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Audience: Adult

In this intimate and poignant book, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist
creates a extraordinary portrait of India’s urban poor. By focusing on
Annawadi, one of dozens of tiny slums that exist alongside the modern
new airpo

REVIEW: Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story by Kim Powers + Bonus Suggestions for Further Reading

Ever since the news about Harper Lee was announced last week, we’ve been a little sad here at BCPL. However, we’ve also been thinking about the contribution Lee’s work and life have made to the literary world despite the fact that she only published two books during her lifetime. So in honor of that, Beth—Assistant Branch Manager of our Lebanon Junction location and a HUGE Harper Lee fan—is contributing her very first review here at Book News & Reviews.

Together, we’ve also compiled a list of related readings we think will appeal to Harper Lee fans. The list includes titles by and about Harper Lee as well as those inspired by her work and life. We’ve also included several “read-alike” titles that we feel reflect similar themes or characters as Lee’s classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Beth’s Rating: 5/5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction/Paranormal Mystery
Audience: Adult

Summary: A fictional tale of the friendship between Harper Lee and Truman Capote with a twist. Here, after a decades’ estrangement that followed the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, the former friends are drawn together again when Truman fears he is being haunted by the Clutter family.

First Lines: “She’s back. She’s after me.”

Beth’s Review: Author Kim Powers takes the story of Truman Capote and Harper Lee and spins a tale full of mystery and haunting memories. Is it the past that comes back to haunt you; or ghosts of those who have touched your lives, revisiting you in your aging years? Or is the ghost regret for what once was? What really happened to end the friendship of Capote and Lee?? A story based on facts will take you back to 1959—the true story of the murder of a Kansas family of four that took four years to become Capote’s In Cold Blood—and to 1960 and the book that took the world by storm, To Kill a Mockingbird. Can someone tortured by the past atone in the present?? A great read that makes you feel like you’re watching a movie as it unfolds.

Check for availability in the library catalog.

Related Readings

By Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird – Check Library Catalog | Read C.W.’s Guest Review
Go Set a Watchman – Check Library Catalog | Read C.W.’s Guest Review

By Truman Capote
In Cold Blood – Check Library Catalog

Nonfiction about Harper Lee & her work
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee – Check Library Catalog
The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee – Check Library Catalog
I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee – Check Library Catalog
Scout, Atticus & Boo – Check Library Catalog

Fiction inspired by Harper Lee & her work
Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story – Check Library Catalog
I Kill the Mockingbird – Check Library Catalog
In Search of Mockingbird – Check Library Catalog

Recommended for To Kill a Mockingbird fans
The Dry Grass of August – Check Library Catalog
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter – Check Library Catalog
A Land More Kind Than Home – Check Library Catalog | Read My Review
A Lesson Before Dying – Check Library Catalog
Mudbound: A Novel – Check Library Catalog
Revolution – Check Library Catalog | A Best of 2014 Selection
The Secret Life of Bees – Check Library Catalog
A Time to Kill – Check Library Catalog
The Undertaker’s Daughter – Check Library Catalog
Whistling Past the Graveyard – Check Library Catalog


Related Films
Capote – Check Library Catalog
In Cold Blood – Check Library Catalog
To Kill a Mockingbird – Check Library Catalog
Source: Book News and Reviews

Love Stories We ♥

Happy Valentine’s weekend! In the spirit of the holiday, we wanted to share with you some of our favorite love stories. Some are straight-up, happily-ever-after romances while others are heartbreaking tearjerkers and genre-bending dramas. Below, I’ve listed a few of my all-time favorites. Joining me is Stephanie from our reference department, who is making her first contribution here at Book News & Reviews.

We hope there is a little something here for everyone who loves a good love story! All titles are available from BCPL, either in print or in e-book format from Kentucky Libraries Unbound,

Steph’s Picks

 The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
When her family leaves for a week-long trip to the state fair, Francesca cherishes the peaceful view from the farm’s front porch. The sojourn ends when a stranger, asking for directions, shows up at the family farm. The two are immediately attracted to one another and find joy and comfort in each other’s company. When her family returns, Francesca must make a decision: Leave her family for the only true love she’s ever known or be a dutiful wife. Heartbreaking and hopeful, this is a love story to cherish again and again!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Genre: Fantasy
When a young scholar inadvertently summons an ancient magical text, her world changes forever. Diana Bishop has always been a loner, but that life is over. Strange creatures start to come out of the woodwork, and who (or what) is that tall dark stranger following her!? Diana flees to her childhood home, and her Aunt/Surrogate Mom, where she learns a surprising truth about herself and her past. Although I was sometimes distracted by the scientific jargon, it is a fascinating read. This is the first book in a series.

First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh
Genre: Historical Romance
The first book in the Huxtable Quintet, this historical romance series focuses on three sisters and their younger brother. When the Huxtable clan are lifted from obscurity by the younger brother’s elevated status the title of Earl of Merton, the hunt for love begins. Each volume focuses on how each sibling finds love among the scandal and seduction of Regency England. Sure to keep you smiling with her witty banter and steamy love scenes, Balogh will have you cheering for the Huxtables.

The Guardian Duke by Jamie Carie
Genre: Christian/Historical Fiction
The Forgotten Castles series tells the story of a strong independent girl, Lady Alexandria Featherstone. When her parents go missing and an arranged marriage is at her doorstep, Alexandria flees the only place she’s ever known. Part romance and all adventure this fun romp through Ireland is full of intrigue.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Genre: Fantasy
Trained since birth to compete, illusionists Celia and Marco, are adversaries. Without knowing, the two fall madly in love and the fate of all involved hangs in the balance. Brimming with mystery and magic, a feast for the senses. The Night Circus, will pull you in and leave you wishing you could go to Le Cirque des Rêves.

The Obituary Writer by Ann Hood
Genre: Fiction
Follows the lives of two women, decades apart, struggling with love. One is in a loveless marriage, possibly pregnant with another man’s child. The second may have lost her one true love and consoles herself helping others celebrate their loss. A fantastic read, one of my top ten.

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
Genre: Biographical Fiction
In his memoir A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway writes of the regret he suffered losing his first wife and his “one true love.” The endearing, hopeful and ultimately heart-breaking tale of Hadley and Ernest’s marriage is palpable. Set in the Roaring 20s, the book is filled with unforgettable characters, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, and brimming with an array of emotions.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Genre: Fantasy
Sisters, Gillian and Sally, are sent to live with their aunts after a tragic accident. They soon learn the meaning of the word “different,” and both sister begin their journeys to find love and normalcy. But, family has a funny way of pulling you back and soon the sisters find themselves living the lives they tried so hard to escape. Full of magic, tragedy, and love (both familial and romantic,) Hoffman’s lyrical prose will haunt you long after the last page is read.

Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love & Tragedy at the Circus by Dean Jensen
Genre: Biography
Sometimes a true story is better than fiction, thus is true of “The Queen of the Air. “At the turn of the 20th century, Leitzel is a household name. Sold to a traveling circus at a young age, she overcame adversity and tragedy to become the star of the trapeze. Unfortunately, celebrity and riches cannot protect us from disaster and heartbreak. Leitzel will fly into your heart with the greatest of ease, just as she did mine.

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
Genre: Fantasy
Take Pride and Prejudice and throw in a little magic and you would have the Glamourist Histories. Set in Regency England, this series is about two sisters searching for love, before they become spinsters at the age of twenty-eight!

Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis-Higgs
Genre: Christian Fiction
Do not let the “Christian Fiction” label fool you. This series is full of passion and heart ache, deceit and jealousy. Based on the biblical characters of Esau and Jacob and set in Scotland the series centers on a love triangle, the likes of which you have never seen, nor are likely to again. Higgs is a master of the human condition, ensuring you will become emotionally attached to these characters. Lucky for you the entire series is available, no waiting for the next volume. You’re Welcome!



My Picks

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Bet Me is a modern Cinderella story of mistaken impressions, chaos theory, and doughnuts. When Min overhears a bar bet—involving her!—between her ex and another man, she responds with her own simple plan for revenge. But thwarted by fate, which seems determined to throw her together with Cal—acknowledged player and participant in the infamous bet—Min finds herself falling for the enemy. This is a smart and funny romantic comedy that ranks high on many romance aficionados’ all-time favorites lists. The repartee between Min, Cal, and their friends, the subtle Cinderella allusions, and the sizzling chemistry easily makes it one of my favorites.

Crazy for You by Jennifer Crusie
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction
When her live-in boyfriend takes her new puppy to the pound, it is the last straw for high school art teacher Quinn McKenzie. Tired of always doing what’s expected of her, Quinn decides it’s time to shake things up a bit. Pretty soon, the entire town is in an uproar, including Nick, Quinn’s good friend—and ex-brother-in-law. I tried to pick just one Crusie novel for this list, but frankly I have a tough time choosing between Bet Me and Crazy for You, although I think I love Crazy for You just a tiny bit more. I love Quinn’s sudden bid for independence and enjoy every moment of craziness her change of heart creates.

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
Genre: Literary Fiction/Modern Classic/Love Story

When people ask me that awful, impossible question—What is your favorite book?—this is the book I most often settle on. William Faulkner called it “one of the most true and moving novels of [his] time.” I think the themes of this book transcend time, and I discover something new each time I read it. This tragic story, set in World War II–era London, recounts the adulterous love affair and the ideological struggles of its protagonists. The End of the Affair is haunting as it questions what constitutes love—jealous passion and obsession vs. spiritualism and self-sacrifice—and hate. For those who are a bit skeptical about love or looking for something a little more philosophical than sentimental, this is a must read.

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Genre: Psychological Fiction/Love Story
This is a book that I simply can’t stop thinking about. The Gargoyle is the story of a severely burned man and the woman—who may or may not be insane—who shows up in his hospital room claiming they loved each other in the past. The unnamed narrator is cynical and jaded, but eventually he finds himself enthralled by Marianne Engel’s stories of her life in a medieval monastery as well as tangential tales of a widowed Victorian lady, plague-stricken lovers in 14th-century Italy, a young maiden in feudal Japan, and Vikings in 9th-century Iceland. It’s ambitious, hypnotic, and often horrifying in in its absolute rawness. The writing is stunningly visceral, with just the right measure of caustic humor, and the love story uniquely captivating. This book has everything: adventure, romance, history, humor, and drama—all served up in a literary masterpiece that is anything but dull.

Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare
Genre: Regency Romance
I’m a total sucker for the brother’s best friend romance trope, and this fabulous regency romp delivers perfectly. The set up of Tessa Dare’s debut novel is nothing out of the ordinary: Lucy, our headstrong, tomboyish young heroine is in love (or so she believes) with her brother’s roguish pal Toby. Toby is toying with the idea of marrying Sophia, whom he believes to be the perfect, ladylike ideal. So in order to convince Toby that she’s his perfect match before it’s too late, Lucy naively decides to hone her seductive skills on Jeremy, another family friend whom she has always gotten a kick out of needling due to his somewhat distant demeanor. Throw in a few more characters, set them all up at a house party in pastoral England, and stir. Goddess of the Hunt could so easily have become a mess of romance clichés, but thanks to Dare’s deft writing it is one of the freshest, most enjoyable romances I’ve read in years. I loved watching Lucy’s gradual realization that Toby wasn’t the right guy for her, and I was impressed with Dare’s ability to keep Lucy’s maturation completely in-line with her stubborn character rather than relying on some sudden epiphany simply to move the plot along. Lucy and Jeremy are truly endearing and multidimensional characters, and several of the secondary characters are equally surprising and delightful. And the writing, from the humorous dialog between characters to characters’ inner dialog, is nuanced, believable, and (please forgive the cliché) utterly captivating. Seriously, if that wardrobe scene doesn’t take your breath away, I can’t believe you have a single romantic bone in your body.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Genre: Literary Fiction/Psychological Fiction
Less a love story than an examination of the emotion, this imaginative literary mystery follows a Polish octogenarian who escaped the Nazis and is now reflecting on his past losses, a young teen seeking to cure her mom’s loneliness, and a very special book that connects them.




A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
Genre: Medieval Romance
Judith McNaught romances tend to be hit and miss for me, but Kingdom of Dreams is a MAJOR hit. In this beloved medieval tale, an enterprising Scottish beauty is abducted from a convent and forced to marry her family’s enemy, the Duke of Claymore, aka “The Wolf.” This is a perennial favorite of romance readers, full of heart-twinging moments before reaching the requisite happy ending. On a personal note, I have to admit this is a book that makes me smile, makes me mad, and makes me tear up every darn time I read it.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Genre: Play/Romantic Comedy
The focal romance plot is a bit Romeo and Juliet, only with a happier ending, but it is the love-hate relationship between Beatrice and Benedick that makes this story memorable. Have I mentioned yet that I love the build-up of witty back-and-forth repartee? Beatrice and Benedick are the gold standard of sexual tension presented in the form of competitive banter, and I love every moment of their fiery exchanges.

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
Genre: Regency Romance
Combining the best elements of Shakespearean comedy with The Graduate (the interrupt-the-wedding-of-your-true-love part, not the seduced-by-an-older-woman part), Julia Quinn’s final installment of her popular Bridgerton series is a must-read for fans of historical romance. Gregory, the last of the eight Bridgerton siblings, finally meets his match in Lucy Abernathy, a practical, slightly obsessive compulsive young lady who definitely doesn’t believe in love at first sight, who scarcely believes in romantic love at all. While Gregory, having grown up surrounded by his siblings’ happy marriages, is a self-described hopeless romantic who has been waiting for the day when he will fall in love. The twist is that when Gregory is finally hit by the thunderbolt he has been anticipating, the object of his affection is not the heroine but Lucy’s best friend, Hermione. But Hermione has her sights set on someone else and, in their combined attempt to get Hermione to fall for Gregory, Gregory and Lucy discover one another. Of course, a few more obstacles pop up—most notably Lucy’s own engagement to the unusual Lord Haselby and the interference of various family members. Lighthearted and spiced with Julia Quinn’s cheeky style and witty dialog, On the Way to the Wedding is a delightful read and a worthy conclusion to the Bridgerton saga. I’m a big fan of the entire Brigerton series, though I’m a bit less enthusiastic about some that others (ahem…To Sir Phillip with Love) and have a hard time choosing a favorite, but On the Way to the Wedding is the one that I can read over and over.

A Place to Call Home by Deborah Smith
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Contemporary Romance
Smith is a master writer when it comes to Southern women’s lit, and with A Place to Call Home she is at her best. As children, Claire (the feisty, protected daughter of the town’s first families) and Roan (the withdrawn son of the town drunk) had a bond that no one else in their small town understood. When they were separated by a near tragedy, neither was able to let go. Twenty years later, they are reunited, but family obligations and secrets from the past threaten their relationship. This novel has all the hallmarks of a dramatic family saga, but there is also a healthy dose of laugh-out-loud country humor. If you love this author as much as I do, you might also want to try one of my other Smith favorites, On Bear Mountain or Stone Flower Garden, next.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Those who love the movie but haven’t read the book are missing out. If you haven’t seen the movie OR read the book? Bump it to the top of your to-read pile right now. Here’s the basics: A former farm boy in disguise must rescue his true love from a handsome (but evil) prince in this timeless twist on the traditional fairy tale. Along the way, he acquires the help of two unlikely allies, a drunken swordsman, and a gentle giant. Maybe it sounds a little silly, but only in the best possible way. Brilliantly combining adventure, fantasy, romance, and humor, The Princess Bride is a swashbuckling fable for all ages.

Thief of Hearts by Teresa Medeiros
Genre: Historical Romance
After being kidnapped by Captain Doom, admiral’s daughter Lucinda Snow remains fascinated by her father’s mysterious nemesis. Combining regency ballrooms with high-seas adventures, this is a wonderful historical romp featuring secret identities and laugh-out-loud humor. It’s a little cheesy and over-the-top, but wonderfully fun.



This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Genre: Contemporary Romance
After Molly Summerville gives in to one of her rare (usually disastrous!) impulses, she finds herself stuck at a run-down resort with footballer Kevin Tucker for the summer. The impulsive action that begins Molly and Kevin’s romance is epically messed up, but the book is so funny and the characters so likable despite their flaws that I love this book anyway. Phillips tackles some seriously touchy ethical and emotional issues in this one, but her deft humor and strong characterizations make for a fun, often hilarious read.

The Wallflower by Jan Freed
Genre: Category Romance
Sometimes I just want a short, old-school category romance, and Freed’s The Wallflower is a classic of the subgenre. The plot is a little bit like Never Been Kissed, though this book actually came out the year before the Barrymore rom-com. Our heroine here is a professional woman on the run from a bad guy who already hunted her down once while she was under witness protection. Since Sarah barely escaped with her life, she’s afraid to trust in the cops’ protection again—so she turns to an old college friend, who just happens to be a high school principal. So Sarah ends up posing as a high school student—and of course falls for the hot English teacher with no patience for the cool new girl’s refusal to kowtow to his authority. It’s funny and chock full of forbidden-romance tension, but my favorite part may be the way Sarah dives into her new identity and ends up helping her less popular classmates find themselves and stand up to the high-school bullies. Though poor Jack’s turmoil over his attraction to his “teenage” student is pretty darn compelling.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2015: Our Favorite Nonfiction for Adults

Sometimes, choosing the “best” of anything can feel like comparing apples and oranges. This was the case for our 2015 Adult Nonfiction committee. This year, we read books on a variety of topics—from mathematics to social justice to historic disasters to celebrity memoirs. Some were entertaining or made us laugh while others impressed us with beautiful writing or startling insights that left us rethinking our perspective on the world around us. Others were just plain good reads. In the end, we believe the books to make our final list of favorites are all good reads—and some of them just might make you laugh or broaden your perspective on the world as well.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
In a letter to his fifteen-year-old son, the author, an award-winning journalist, examines American culture and the social construct of race. Through stories of his own life and other factual events, he explores what it means to be black in modern America, with due attention paid to both the past and the present. In a  small, slim volume of just over 150 pages, Coates’s meditation is poetic, candid, and powerful. Winner of the National Book ward for Nonfiction.

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
Part memoir and part writing guide, this laugh-out-loud book from a New Yorker copy veteran is a must-read for serious readers and self-proclaimed grammar geeks. From musings about Moby-Dick (why the hyphen?, she wonders), to anecdotes about famed writers like Philip Roth, to rants about common language and usage errors, Norris never fails to entertain. 

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Timothy Snyder’s history of the Holocaust implores the reader to see afresh the people, ideas, forces, and ideologies that led to the industrialized slaughter of millions of innocent human beings while much of the world found ways to avoid involvement. Snyder’s in-depth research includes records only recently made accessible to the public and his strong perspective—that the Holocaust is relevant to the world and events playing out in the 21st century—is one worth considering, however difficult the subject matter.

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Move over Joy of Cooking and Martha Stewart, and say hello to The Food Lab! Five years in the making, this new culinary classic from the Serious Eats “nerd-in-residence” provides recipes for a number of American staples and other fantastic meals. Even better, colorful sidebars explain the science behind the varying techniques in layman’s terms and the included test experiments help amateur cooks understand why certain techniques make a difference.

The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle by Lillian Faderman
An exhaustively researched history of the modern era of the LGBT Civil Rights Equality Movement, Lilian Faderman’s book will likely become a primer on the topic. One of our committee members suggests that Faderman’s history if a must-read for all who “care about the LGBT struggle for dignity and equality under the law.”

Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Levoy
This absorbing story of social justice (or injustice) centers on the murder investigation of Bryant Tennelle, a young black man shot down on the streets of South Los Angeles in 2007. In a culture where “just another black man down” was a common refrain, solving  homicide cases wasn’t a priority for a police department focused on prevention over “reaction,” but Tennelle’s case was different. First, he was the son of a detective. Second, there were dedicated homicide detectives who thought the department policy of elevating patrol over investigation was “dumb-ass” and were tireless in their pursuit of truth despite a lack of support from the “brass” and the “ghettoside” communities. In simple yet startlingly effective prose, Levoy paints a vivid picture of the ghettoside culture and those who inhabit it. Yet, more than a one-case true crime story, this is an examination of the epidemic of black-on-black murders and (according to the author) the lack of proper police and legal response that helps to create such a vigilante culture. Informative and thought-provoking, Ghettoside brings to light a serious problem that deserves more attention than it gets. 

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
In this absorbing tale of nature and grief, a woman recounts her attempts to train a goshawk predator while struggling with the death of her father.

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann
The author tells her family’s history in photographs and words, after sorting through a box of old papers that revealed scandals, alcohol and domestic abuse, affairs, family land ownership, and racial complications.

A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power by Paul Fischer
Before becoming the world’s most notorious dictator, Kim Jong-Il ran North Korea’s Ministry for Propaganda and its film studios. Conceiving every movie made, he acted as producer and screenwriter. Despite this control, he was underwhelmed by the available talent and took drastic steps, ordering the kidnapping of Choi Eun-Hee (Madam Choi)—South Korea’s most famous actress—and her ex-husband Shin Sang-Ok, the country’s most famous filmmaker. Fascinating, illuminating about one of the world’s most secret places, and undeniably entertaining to boot.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
In a memoir capturing definitive moments in her career, the feminist activist reflects on events including her time on the campaign trail, interactions with key political leaders, visits to India, and her anecdotal encounters with “civilian” feminists.

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport
Drawing on personal writings and private sources, this book disproves common misperceptions about the sisters, uncovering details of their daily lives and vibrant personalities and revealing their awareness of family turmoil and the approach of the Russian Revolution.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
Based on correspondence, entries in Rose Kennedy’s diaries, and family interviews, describes the plight of a woman who was intellectually disabled and kept hidden by her family after she received a lobotomy at age twenty-three.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
We’ve all seen it happen — someone makes a bad decision in the public eye and people pile on in judgment. His interest piqued by a takeover of his own Twitter account, journalist Jon Ronson dove deep into an exploration of human nature, technology, and humiliation via social media. Interviewing both those famous for being shamed and those doing the shaming, Ronson discusses motivations, consequences, and recoveries. — Description by Shauna Griffin.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think? The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques.

The Stranger She Loved: A Mormon Doctor, His Beautiful Wife, and an Almost Perfect Murder by Shanna Hogan
Recounts the murder of 50-year-old Michele MacNeill at the hands of her husband, a doctor, lawyer and Mormon bishop who, upon further investigation by his daughters, had multiple marital affairs, a past criminal record and conned his way into medical school.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Chronicles the dramatic story-behind-the-story about the Wright brothers, sharing insights into the disadvantages that challenged their lives and their mechanical ingenuity.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2015: Our Favorite Fiction for Adults

Too many books, too little time. 

It’s a common complaint among avid readers and always an unfortunate truth for me as we are wrapping up our annual Best of the Year lists. Especially when so many of 2015’s notable titles are sooooooo long. For those who thought Fates and Furies—at 400 pages—was long, what about Atkinson’s A God in Ruins (480), Franzen’s Purity (563), Yanagihara’s A Little Life (720), or Hallberg’s City on Fire (927)? Honestly, I am still working my way through City on Fire and have yet to get my hands on A Little Life (though I am finally next in line for BCPL’s e-book!).

But I digress. For all those (maybe) wonderful 2015 titles I haven’t yet read, our 2015 Adult Fiction committee has read numerous noteworthy titles that we just didn’t love quite enough to give them a Best of the Year title. Other books greatly enjoyed by committee members (and other library staff) this year include the aforementioned A God in Ruins and Purity, twisty thrillers like In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Luckiest Girl Alive, and the latest books by reliably great authors like Toni Morrison and Harlan Coben. As for those 2015 gems we haven’t yet discovered? We’ll add them in later. For now, here is our current list of our favorite books of 2015:

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki
In this compelling biographical fiction, Pataki brings to life the 19th Austro-Hungarian empire and the scandalous love story of  Emperor Franz Joseph and “Sisi,” the daughter of a Bavarian Duke and younger sister of the Emperor’s fianceé.

 

All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer
Nine years ago, terrorists hijacked a plane in Vienna. Somehow, a rescue attempt staged from the inside went terribly wrong and everyone on board was killed. Members of the CIA stationed in Vienna during that time were witness to this terrible tragedy, gathering intel from their sources during those tense hours, assimilating facts from the ground with a series of texts coming from one of their agents inside the plane. So when it all went wrong, the question had to be asked: Had their agent been compromised, and how? Two of those agents, Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, were lovers at the time, and in fact that was the last night they spent together. Until now. That night Celia decided she’d had enough; she left the agency, married and had children, and is living an ordinary life in the suburbs. Henry is still an analyst, and has traveled to California to see her one more time, to relive the past, maybe, or to put it behind him once and for all. But neither of them can forget that long-ago question: Had their agent been compromised, and how? And each of them also wonders what role tonight’s dinner companion might have played in the way things unfolded. All the Old Knives is Olen Steinhauer’s most intimate, most cerebral, and most shocking novel to date from the New York Times bestselling author deemed by many to be John le Carrâe’s heir apparent. –Provided by publisher

American Meteor by Norman Lock
A scrappy Brooklyn orphan-turned-assassin comes of age, befriends Walt Whitman, apprentices under William Henry Jackson, and stalks General George Custer as railroad construction advances the nation’s expansionist goals. 

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories by Stephen King
From a master of the short story, a collection that includes stories never before in print, never published in America, never collected and brand new- with the magnificent bones of interstitial autobiographical comments on when, why and how Stephen King came to write each story. –Provided by publisher

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
I couldn’t stop reading this fascinating portrayal of Beryl Markham, a complex and strong-willed woman who fought to make her way in the world on her terms. McLain paints a captivating portrait of Africa in the 1920s and the life of expats making their home there. Highly, highly recommended. — Halle Eisenman for LibraryReads.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Fates and Furies is a modern portrait of marriage. Lotto Satterwhite is the center, the hub around which all the characters revolve in the first half of the book. In the second half of the book, the lens turns to Lotto’s wife Mathilde, and her side of the lopsided partnership gives us a totally different view. Groff is a master of language. It’s not a gentle read. But it’s magnificent. –Kelly Currie for LibraryReads.

Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson
This short story collection by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Adam Johnson features only six items, but they’re full-fledged doozies that demand careful reading. Despite differences in plot and setting (like Silicon Valley and North Korea), what they all have in common are realistic characters enduring tragic events and challenges. Taken together, they give the impression that these stories could very well be about real people (one, “Interesting Facts,” has some similarities to Johnson’s own life).
–Description by Shauna Griffin 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Rachel is a washed-up thirty-something who creates a fantasy about the seemingly perfect couple she sees during her daily train ride into London. When the woman goes missing, Rachel manages to insert herself into the investigation of the woman’s disappearance. In the vein of Gone Girl, this dark psychological thriller is fast-paced and features some very unreliable narrators. –Andrea Larson for LibraryReads.

Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman
An Afghani orphan loses everything when his village is attacked by militants and must join a U.S.-funded militia to try to save his injured brother, who fell victim to a marketplace bomb. 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Reunited when the elder’s husband is sent to fight in World War II, French sisters Vianne and Isabelle find their bond as well as their respective beliefs tested by a world that changes in horrific ways.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Beautiful, elegant and poignant, this novel is a distilled experience of Haruf’s writing. The story of how two elders attempt to poke at the loneliness and isolation that surrounds them will stick with me for a long time to come. I’m amazed at how Haruf says so much with such spare prose. He will be missed. — Alison Kastner for LibraryReads

Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen
Discovering an old and strikingly unusual musical composition that causes her to black out and has a violently transformative effect on her daughter, Julia Ansdell travels to Venice to find the man behind the music and uncovers a dark secret dating back to the Holocaust.

Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler
After eight-and-a-half years and three hundred twenty-three pageants, Miranda Miller has become the ultimate stage mother. Her mission in life is to see that her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. But lately, that mission has become increasingly difficult. Bailey wants to retire and has been secretly binge eating to make herself “unpageantable;” and the reality show Miranda has spent years trying to set up just went to their biggest rival. But Miranda has a plan. She’s seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl (thank God), and she is going to make damn sure this one is even more successful than Bailey, even if the new girl is a little different.

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
Follows the continuing story of the friendship between fiery Lina and bookish Elena, now grown with children and successful in their chosen careers, and both again living in Naples, the city of their birth.

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens
Those Girls follows the lives of the Campbell sisters. After running away from their alcoholic father, they find themselves caught in a worse situation when they are kidnapped. As events spiral out of control, they manage to escape and create new lives. This is a tale that will captivate readers and show just how strong the bond between family members can be. — Annice Sevett for LibraryReads.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
Learning after a half-century of family life that their house on Detroit’s East Side is worth only a fraction of its mortgage, the members of the Turner family gather to reckon with their pasts and decide the house’s fate.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2015: Our Favorite Books for Teens

From gritty, realistic fiction guaranteed to kick you in the gut to vivid fantasies with multi-dimensional characters we can’t get enough of to historical tales—both fiction and nonfiction—that bring the past to life, 2015 was another great year for YA literature. And there are still a few promising titles we haven’t yet had time to read, such as Nova Ren Suma’s literary ghost story The Walls Around Us and Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, a powerhouse debut that seems to have everyone talking. I only recently got a hold of copies, so I’ll have to let you know my thoughts on those later.

But my absolute favorite so far? Currently, I am leaning toward Bone Gap, but that may only be because it was the last YA title I finished and because I loved the mythology parallels and the kick-butt ending, which left me grinning like a fool with its perfection. I also loved (loved, loved, loved) The Hired Girl, and I can’t wait to read the next Ember in the Ashes book when it releases in August. But this year’s list is not just about what I’ve read and loved. This year, there have been three other committee members reading and evaluating along with me, so I think this is likely our most well-rounded list of annual Best Books for Teens selections yet!
Fiction

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
When Rashad, an innocent sixteen-year-old, is wrongly accused of stealing, classmate Quinn witnesses his brutal beating at the hands of a police officer who happens to be the older brother of his best friend. This is a gritty, powerful, and thought-provoking book, told through Rashad and Quinn’s alternating viewpoints. 
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Finch is in a constant struggle to remain awake, obsessively reinventing himself in attempts to ground himself in reality. Violet is sunk in a deep depression following the death of her older sister. But after each climbs on the ledge of the school bell tower to consider ending it all, they are bonded. Taking a school project above and beyond, they roam rural Indiana, taking in oddball sights and discovering hope in each other and sights they take in. This is a well crafted picture of depression and mental illness as well as an absorbing, unusual love story sure to appeal to fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park.

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Having moved to Ethiopia to avoid the prejudices of 1930s America, Emilia Menotti, her black adoptive brother Teo, and their mother Rhoda, a stunt pilot, are devoted to their new country even after war with Italy looms, drawing the teens into the conflict. –NoveList

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying. –NoveList

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
It’s almost like Caden is living in two worlds simultaneously. There’s the “real” life with his family, his friends, and school, but that life seems increasingly dangerous and confusing. He is having a hard time understanding his own thoughts—who he is and why he does what he does. Then there is Caden’s voyage on a bizarre ship to the Marianas Trench and his mission to reach the deepest point in the ocean. There is a captain he can’t trust, an oddball crew, and a scheming parrot whispering in his ear. But at least Caden feels like himself aboard the strange ship, even if nothing else makes sense there. But as the two worlds begin to bleed into one another, will Caden be able to separate what is real from what is not?

The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes
Sophomore Hallie Calhoun, her former friend Jonah, and new friend Rachel leave a church youth group hike in the Great Smoky Mountains and become lost for five days, struggling to survive as Hallie finally speaks about the incident that made her a social pariah and Jonah admits why it hurt him so much. –NoveList

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Sixteen-year-old Willowdean wants to prove to everyone in her small Texas town that she is more than just a fat girl, so, while grappling with her feelings for a co-worker who is clearly attracted to her, Will and some other misfits prepare to compete in the beauty pageant her mother runs. –NoveList

An Ember in the Ashes by Saaba Tahir
Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution. –Provided by the publisher

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The story of a teenage girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more. –Provided by the publisher

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs chronicles her life in a journal when she leaves her family’s farm in Pennsylvania to work as a hired girl in Baltimore in the summer of 1911. –NoveList

The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
In Japan, teenaged Abe Sora, who is afflicted with “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” finds friends online and elicits their help to end his suffering. –NoveList

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
After enduring his father’s suicide, his own suicide attempt, broken friendships, and more in the Bronx projects, Aaron Soto, sixteen, is already considering the Leteo Institute’s memory-alteration procedure when his new friendship with Thomas turns to unrequited love. –NoveList

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Graphic novel)
Lord Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, and his sidekick, Nimona, an impulsive young shapeshifter, must prove to the kingdom that Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. –NoveList

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Sydney’s charismatic older brother, Peyton, has always been the center of attention in the family but when he is sent to jail, Sydney struggles to find her place at home and the world until she meets the Chathams, including gentle, protective Mac, who makes her feel seen for the first time. –NoveList

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on–then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the lives of her family and friends. –NoveList

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie TromblyAfter her parents’ divorce, Zoe Webster moves from Brooklyn to upstate New York where she meets the weirdly compelling misfit, Philip Digby, and soon finds herself in a series of hilarious and dangerous situations as he pulls her into his investigation into the kidnapping of alocal teenage girl which may be related to the disappearance of his kid sister eight years ago. –NoveList

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
 A young woman who possesses a supernatural ability to sense the presence of gold disguises herself as a boy and seeks safety and romance in California. –NoveList

 The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
In this reimagining of The Arabian Nights, Shahrzad plans to avenge the death of her dearest friend by volunteering to marry the murderous boy-king of Khorasan but discovers not all is as it seems within the palace. –NoveList

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon
Follows the childhood of the civil rights leader to his imprisonment at age twenty, where he found the faith that would lead him to his path towards activism and justice. –NoveList


Nonfiction


The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose
 The true story of small group of teenage boys in Denmark who organized a resistance after the Danish government conceded to Nazi occupation. BCPL copies on order.

Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone by Rebecca L. Johnson
Looks at the events of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident in the Ukraine, describing how scientists are monitoring the effects of radiation on the wildlife that continue to live there and what this means for the human population surrounding the area. –NoveList

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage — and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality. Don Brown’s kinetic art and as-it-happens narrative capture both the tragedy and triumph of one of the worst natural disasters in American history. –NoveList

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Caitlin Alifirenka & Martin Ganda with Liz Welch
Heartwarming and inspiring, this is the story how how an unlikely, lifelong friendship developed between a 12-year-old white student in Pennsylvania and a 14-year-old in Zimbabwe. Over the years, Caitlin and Martin’s friendship shaped not only their own lives but also profoundly affected the lives of many of their friends and family. BCPL copies on order.

 Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
A suspenseful and thought-provoking glimpse into the man who was labeled the most dangerous man in America after he released top-secret documents during the Vietnam War, and the events and repercussions of his actions.

 Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakivich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson
An account of the Siege of Leningrad reveals the role played by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich and his Leningrad Symphony in rallying and commemorating their fellow citizens. –NoveList

Tommy: The Gun That Changed America by Karen Blumenthal
Examines the origins of America’s debate over gun control sparked by a practical gun intended for military use that became a weapon of choice for outlaws before Congress attempted to remove it from the streets. –NoveList


Did we include your favorite teen book of 2015? Have we convinced you to read something you had previously overlooked? Let us know in the comments!

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2015: Our Favorite Books for Middle-Grade Readers & Tweens

I confess. This list is entirely out of control. But then, 2015 was a fantastic year for middle-grade books. I don’t think the selection has been this strong since 2012, the year that gave us Bomb, The One and Only IvanWonder, Three Times Lucky, Summer of the Gypsy Moths, and the first books in Neilsen’s Ascendance Trilogy and the Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom series. And I didn’t even mention the stellar contributions from MG all-star authors like Christopher Paul Curtis and Rebecca Stead.

But I digress… We’re talking about 2015 here. Although, speaking of Rebecca Stead, she has another major Newbery contender in this list with The Goodbye Stranger, one of my personal 2015 favorites. But as long as this list is, there are still wonderful, buzz-worthy titles we’ve chosen not to include. For example, those who have followed other Best of the Year lists might be expecting to see Ryan’s Echo or Selznick’s The Marvels. Sorry, not on this list. I haven’t yet read Echo, but two of our committee members were bored, so off it went (I’ll let you know later if I agree!). And we really liked The Marvels, but… we just didn’t love it, maybe because in comparison we loved Selznick’s previous novels so, so much more and with The Marvels his work is beginning to seem just a bit too formulaic (if still quite impressive). So instead of regurgitating all the same titles everyone else has named, we’ve also chosen several off-the-radar titles, including awesome graphic novels, hard-to-place niche titles like Confessions of an Imaginary Friend, and a hilarious history of the Vikings!

Fiction

Ares: Bringer of War by George O’Connor
In this 7th  and final volume of Olympians (a superbly executed graphic-novel retelling of The Iliad), the Trojan War is underway and Ares has the starring role. This book and series was a late-in-the year discovery for us and we are still waiting for library copies, but we just couldn’t leave it off the list. One committee member, who claims to not even like graphic novels, loved it—as did her son. 

Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
While visiting her grandmother in the Louisiana bayou, 10-year-old Maddy learns more about the history of her family and discovers she may be destined to carry on a magical legacy. This is an enchanting novel with vibrant characters, strong themes about community and environmentalism, and just the right touch of strangeness. One of our committee members named this her favorite book on the list.

Beastkeeeper by Cat Hellison
Like Bayou Magic, Beastkeeper is a somewhat under-the-radar choice that hasn’t garnered a lot of critical attention, but it is a definite favorite of a (different) member of our 2015 committee. More for the tween set than the younger kids of the group, the story is a very loose retelling of “Beauty and the Best”—with a very important twist!

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
Fifth-grader Micah Tuttle is not okay. His grandfather is very sick and the great-aunt now living in his house is mean and crotchety and refuses to let Micah see his beloved grandfather. Then there is a spark of hope when Micah learns that the magical circus Micah’s grandfather Ephraim describes in stories is true and the powerful Lightbender owes Ephraim a decades-old favor. The magical feats of the circus, the battles with Aunt Gertrudis, and Micah’s friendships with his grandfather and a new student are by turns captivating, hilarious, and touching.  Kids will love this novel, as will teen and adult fans of books like The Night Circus.

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas
Ignored by his parents, teacher, and classmates, Jacques Papier has grown up believing everyone but his twin sister Fleur must hate him. Then it slowly becomes clear that that the problem is no but Fleur sees Jacques because he just a figment of imagination! This is a short, offbeat, and thoughtful book perfect for children ages 8 to 10.

The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville
Featuring talking animals, mystery, family, and more in a delightful fairy-tale mashup, a quick summary of this suspenseful fantasy might read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” meets Jane Eyre.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Jackson believes everything has a scientific explanation. In his crazy family of dreamers, he is the calm, logical on. So how does he explain the giant talking cat that no one else seems to see? Crenshaw appeared once before when Jackson was just a little kid then disappeared for years, but now that Jackson’s family’s financial problems seem to be back, Crenshaw won’t go away no matter how mortified Jackson is to have an imaginary friend.

The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
In this sequel to The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, thirteen-year-old Callie finds her calling when But to achieve her dreams, she know she will have to bravely face off against the pressures of society in 1900 Texas.

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton
In 1969 twelve-year-old Mimi and her family move to an all-white town in Vermont, where Mimi’s mixed-race background and interest in “boyish” topics like astronomy make her feel like an outsider.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
“Ally’s greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn’t know how to read”–.

George by Alex Gino
At first glance, this might seem like a do-over of Gracefully Grayson, one of my favorite 2014 selections. But George, the story of a 4th grade transgender girl finding the courage to speak her truth is a gentler story better suited to the younger end of the MG age range. Also, despite the similarities of story and situation, George has a distinctive voice and viewpoint all its own, making it clear that no matter how similar situations are superficially, each child’s journey—transgender, cisgender, or whatever—is personal and never quite the same as another’s. BCPL copies are on order.

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
In this third and final installment of the Gaither Sisters saga, the three city girls spend the summer with their grandmother in the rural South.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Ever since surviving a near-fatal accident at the age of eight, Bridge has wondered why. Did she survive to fulfill a special purpose she has yet to discover. Now in seventh grade, she and her best friends are struggling with what it means to grow up, and how the changes and new challenges will affect their friendship and their future direction. 

Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
While his family is busy doing the million things they do perfectly—ballet, music, tennis, etc., etc,—DJ is sitting alone thinking he isn’t good at anything, especially since his best friend Gina moved away to the city. Then a blonde boy wearing nothing but silver underwear crashes in from the sky in a ball of fire. Before he knows it, DJ is covering for the strange boy who can’t seem to remember where he’s from and battling (or running from!) robot monsters. When Gina returns, the three team up, each using strengths they didn’t even know they had to help their friends. This is a fun yet substantive graphic novel, full of energy and hilarious, original dialog. As Hilo would say, “Outstanding!”

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
Trent Zimmerman is a sixth grader and a killer. Or at least that is how he has felt since a (sort of) friend was killed by a hockey puck that Trent hit. Now Trent is angry and pulling away from his family and best friend, turning his disturbing thoughts into drawings in his Thought Book. Then oddball outcast Fallon Little decides to befriend him, they bond over sports movies, and things start to seem a little better. But will the secrets of Fallon and her awful scars be too much for the tentative new friends to navigate. Graff has deftly created flawed, likable characters and a wholly believable, mostly upbeat story that manages to tackle serious issues with wit and humor.

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
Assisting her grandmother’s investigation of her grandfather’s fate during the Vietnam War, Mai struggles to adapt to an unfamiliar culture while redefining her sense of family. BCPL copies are on order.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, et. al.
Five best friends encounter a series of creepy happenings—from three-eyed foxes in the forest to a cave filled with living statues and deadly booby traps—while attending a summer Lumberjane camp. The series was originally intended to be a close-ended miniseries, but is now ongoing. Funny, inventive, and wonderfully smart, it’s no wonder this series has become something of a comics sensation. We currently only own the first volume in print, but volumes 1–10 are available from Kentucky Libraries Unbound.

Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb
Vibrating with easy charm and poetic writing, this relatable tale follows 11-year-old Flor as she becomes involved in a geological excavation and struggles with a variety of family and personal issues. The story, characterizations, and tone are reminiscent of Birdsall’s Penderwicks series, and the atmospheric setting—tiny Moonpenny Island in the off season—may appeal to Three Times Lucky fans. 

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
“When wasps come to Steve in a dream offering to fix his sick baby brother, he thinks all he has to do is say yes. But yes may not mean what Steve thinks it means”–Publisher description

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt
 Jack, 12, knows only a handful of things about his new, fourteen-year-old foster brother. (1) Joseph almost killed a teacher; (2) he has been in a correctional facility called Stone Mountain; and (3) he is a father. When he arrives at the Hurd family farm, it is clear the Joseph has suffered terrible abuse and all he wants is to find his baby daughter Jupiter. Jack may or may not grasp the full tragedy of Joseph’s history, but he understands enough and is determined to have his back no matter what. This is a difficult book with some darker themes more often found in YA literature than in middle grade, but they are explored  in an off-scene way that, when combined with a younger protagonist who sees and knows only so much, makes the book best suited to tweens. Stunning and heartbreaking, Schmidt’s latest novel is a work of spare beauty and grace.

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
As spring arrives on Gardam Street, there are surprises in store for each Penderwick, from neighbor Nick Geiger’s expected return fromthe war to Batty’s new dog-walking business, but her plans to use her profits to surprise her family on her eleventh birthday go astray.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Bright, dynamic artwork and sharply humorous text tell a coming of age of twleve-year-old Astrid as she struggles with changing friendships, enemies, and the challenges of roller derby! Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier.

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
When a burning cross set by the Klan causes panic and fear in 1932 Bumblebee, North Carolina, fifth-grader Stella must face prejudice and find the strength to demand change in her segregated town.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Twelve-year-old Suzy Swanson wades through her intense grief over the loss of her best friend by investigating the rare jellyfish she is convinced was responsible for her friend’s death.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
In 1972, after his older brother is killed in a car crash, Peter Lee’s mother is paralyzed by grief and his traditional Chinese father seems emotionally frozen–but Peter hopes that if he joins a Little League team in Pittsburgh he can reawaken the passion for baseball that all the members of his family used to share and bring them back to life. BCPL copies are on order.

Nonfiction

Big Top Burning: The Story of an Arsonist, a Missing Girl, and the Greatest Show on Earth by Laura A. Woollett
Draws upon primary source documents and survivor interviews to recount the story of one of the worst disasters in American history, the 1944 Hartford circus fire, which claimed the lives of over one hundred people.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Reader’s Edition by William Kamkwanba and Bryan Mealer
An adaptation for young readers of a best-selling memoir follows the experiences of 14-year-old William Kamkwamba, who built a windmill out of junkyard scraps to bring electricity to his famine-stricken Malawi village.

Chasing Freedom by Nikki Grimes
In this imaginative biographical story, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony sit down over a cup of tea in 1904 to reminisce about their struggles and triumphs in the service of freedom and women’s rights.

Enormous Smallness: A Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess
Presents the life and work of the twentieth-century American writer, focusing on his fascination with words from a young age and highlighting his poetry’s inspirational properties.

Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow
Chronicles the story of the early 1900s typhoid fever epidemic in New York, providing details as to how its infamous carrier was ultimately tracked down and stopped.

Guts & Glory: The Vikings by Ben Thompson
Presents the history and myths of the Vikings, from their rise in the eighth century, raids throughout Europe, conversion to Christianity, and eventual decline following the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Mesmerized: How Benjamin Franklin Solved the Mystery That Baffled All of France
by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Jacopo Bruno

With whimsical humor and fantastic artwork, Rockliff  and Bruno bring to life the true story of how the American innovator used the scientific method to uncover the secrets of a famous Parisian magician.

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor: An Abolitionist Tale by Nathan Hale
In graphic novel format, Revolutionary War spy Nathan Hale tells a hangman and British officer about the life of Harriet Tubman and her life-risking dedication to helping runaway slaves find freedom. BCPL copies are on order.

The Nitty Gritty Gardening Book: Fun Projects for All Seasons by Kari CornellPresents step-by-step, illustrated instructions for a variety of seasonal gardening projects for children, including how to create a hanging garden, strawberry basket, and compost bin.

The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk by Sy Montgomery
Looks at the work of renowned octopus scientist Jennifer Mather and a team of researchers on the island of Moorea, where they work to learn more about octopuses and their behavior.

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli
Recounts the life of Victor Lustig, an international con man who had swindled thousands of people, including Al Capone, and was best known for “selling” the Eiffel Tower. BCPL copies are on order.

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Linda Blackmon LoweryShares the story of the youngest person to complete the Selma to Montgomery March, describing her frequent imprisonments for her participation in nonviolent demonstrations and how she felt about her involvement in Civil Rights events.

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey
“This biography for children will trace Goodall’s life, but each chapter will also focus on two or more the chimpanzees that she observed, with information in sidebars about these particular animals. Along with biographical details, the book will explore the ethical issues that surround Goodall’s work and show what has changed in our understanding of Great Apes. What do we know today about these animals in terms of language, speech, tool use, and DNA? How has sophisticated technology – GPS systems, Satellite imagery, portable digital microphones – been used to gain new information about animal populations.”–Publisher description BCPL copies are on order.

Source: Book News and Reviews

BEST OF 2015: Our Favorite Books for Young Readers

Over the course of the last several months, our Young Readers Committee read (and often reread) hundreds of books to identify those titles we believe to be the best 2015 had to offer for preschool and early-elementary-school-aged children. So without further ado, BCPL’s favorite 2015 books for young readers are:

Picture Books (Fiction)

8: An Animal Alphabet by Elisha Cooper
Alphabet book meets counting book meets seek-n-find in this clever interactive title sure to appeal to animal lovers of all ages. Each letter of the alphabet features several animals whose names begin with that letter, and readers are prompted to seek out those animals who appear on the page exactly eight times.

Ally-Saurus & the First Day of School by Richard Torrey
Young Ally—who prefers to be called Ally-saurus—absolutely loves dinosaurs. But on her first day of school, she meets children with completely different interests. Will a dinosaur-girl fit in with the wannabe princesses of her class? This is a wonderful story about imagination, discovering new interests, and making friends.  The cartoon-like artwork is playful and fun.

Ask Me by Bernard Waber, illustrated by Suzy Lee
Lee’s stunning colored-pencil illustrations combined with dialog from the late-great Bernard Waber create a heartfelt snapshot of the bond between a young girl and her father. Rather than focusing on a traditional plot, the book depicts bits of conversation between the two throughout the day as they revel in their time together, eating ice cream, playing in the leaves, and exchanging questions. From the dialog, it is clear that this is a special routine for the two of them.

The Baby Swap by Jan Ormerod, illustrated by Andrew Joyner
With retro illustrations reminiscent of Waber’s Lyle Crocodile books, this humorous tale follows Caroline Crocodile’s attempts for swap her drooly, troublesome new brother in for another animal baby that will be a better fit.

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach
At the beginning, an unseen narrator suggests that a bear is the guilty party after a sandwich has gone missing and then proceeds to weave an intricate story of how the bear might’ve gotten the sandwich. A slyly humorous story punctuated with vivid, equally funny illustrations that are pivotal to the storytelling, this tale is sure to please. The kids (and parents) who loved I Want My Hat Back will gobble it up.

Counting Crows by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Ron Dunlavey
With a red, black, and white palette and lively rhyming text, this whimsical book follows the adventures of a flock of crows and offers readers a fresh—and slightly zany—new counting book that stands out from the rest.

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
After various adventures and misadventures—shared with Duncan and readers in a series of hilarious postcards—Duncan’s crayons are back! At least two of our committee members felt this follow-up to the now-classic The Day the Crayons Quit is even better than the first book! 

A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Tracing a single dessert across centuries, continents, and four families, this deliciously illustrated picture book provides a rapid-fire, accessible cultural history of how things have changed over time—from human rights issues to cooking implements—while other things have remained relatively consistent, such as the irresistible pleasure of licking the bowl after a fine dessert. Includes a recipe and historical notes.

Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin
Far more than another bland (if highly popular) fire truck book, this action-packed fire-crew adventure features lively wordplay and bold digital illustrations that practically vibrate with color and energy.

Float by Daniel Miyares
Reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day, the story follows a young boy who goes out in the rain to play with his paper boat and finds more adventure than he expects. Both timeless and modern, it’s a story of exploring, of the excitement and awe found in quiet moments, and—perhaps most touchingly—of the everyday bond between a father and his son. And that’s just the story—the digital art used to tell that story is mostly soft grays with the added punch of the boy’s yellow rain slicker. Subtle detailing, plays on perspective, and wonderfully rendered emotions make for spreads worth savoring. And then there’s that little twist at the end, perfectly flipping the color palette and (hopefully) setting us up for a new story.

It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee
A wacky, slightly ominous sensibility and rhyming text convey the story of the Wimbledon family and their dog Stanley, whose bizarre behavior awakens them on and off throughout the night.

Job Wanted by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Chris Sheban
 In an amusing ode to perseverance and ingenuity, a down-on-his-luck dog looking for a home will do anything to convince a skeptical farmer to hire him on and sets out to prove that he can be just as useful as a horse or cow. Though less attention-getting then many of our other selections, the muted illustrations perfectly reflect the dog’s initial weariness and the farmer’s quietude.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother, who teaches him to appreciate the beauty in everyday things and in caring actions.

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson
With heavily blue, retro-style cartoon images, Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson tell the story of a friendly house ghost who is chased from his home and goes in search of a friend and a new place to stay. Despite the blue hues and the tinge of sadness and loneliness of Leo’s introduction, this is a warm tale of friendship and imagination.

Night Animals by Gianna Marino
Cowering from the frightening sounds of the forest at night, possum’s fear sets off a chain reaction among the other night animals. Before we know it, everything is turned upside down, the animals are all terrified, and readers are laughing out loud at the characters’ over-the-top reactions.

Rhymoceros by Janik Coat
The only board book to make our list, Rhymoceros features a delightfully deadpan blue rhinoceros demonstrating sixteen pairs of rhyming words,  placing him in a variety of amusing situations.  

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith
With only occasional splashes of color, this triumph of visual storytelling features a modern-day Red Riding Hood as she makes her way through the city with her father, who is often too distracted by his phone to notice her silently plucking weeds from cracks in the concrete and bestowing her gifts on those she passes—a dead bird on the sidewalk, a sleeping homeless man, a friendly dog out for a stroll with his owner. And yet the father isn’t wholly inattentive—he waits patiently when she slips away for a bit with her own distraction and is never more than a few feet from his daughter. Like The Last Stop on Market Street, this is a lovely celebration of the beauty to be found in everyday things, though the execution is entirely different. (BCPL copies on order.)
Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier
Minimal text and textured illustrations follow the adventures of two mice while focusing on the numbers one, two, and three. Rhythm and rhyme create a comfortable and familiar pattern even as the mouse adventures offer a hint of danger.

Wait by Antoinette Portis
A busy mom rushes through the city even as curious preschooler is captivated by the activity and objects around him, resulting in a familiar push and pull between the two. Although the illustrations are bolder and more grounded and the book features two words (“hurry” and “wait”), this makes a wonderful complement to Sidewalk Flowers.

The Whisper by Pamela Zagarenski
When she borrows a magical picture book from school, a young girl is disappointed and baffled by the lack of words until a whisper in the wind tells her to create her own story based on the images of each page. With the girl’s imagination unleashed, the bizarre and beautiful stories come to life.

Wolfie the Bunny by Amy Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora
When Dot the Bunny’s parents take in a stray wolf to raise, she is certain her new “brother” will eat them up and lives in a constant state of anxiety until proven otherwise. In the meantime, her earnest concerns and Wolfie’s adorakable innocence make for a whimsical, funny, and memorable story.

Honorable Mentions:
The Boy & the Book
Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho!
Everybody Sleeps (But Not Fred)
Fetch
How to Read a Story
I Don’t Like Koala
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog
Ice Cream Summer
If You Plant a Seed
Land Shark
Look!
Maple & Willow Apart
My Bike
Pig and Pug
Red: A Crayon’s Story
The Tea Party in the Woods (BCPL copies are on order)
To the Sea (BCPL copies are on order)
Supertruck
The Skunk
Special Delivery
Stella Brings the Family
Waiting
What James Said

Picture Books (Nonfiction)

The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond
This gorgeously illustrated book presents facts about the blue whale in an accessible and visually appealing way that helps to put information about the animal’s size and habits into perspective.

The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko, illustrated bu Sean Qualls an Selina Alko
An tribute to the Loving family who fought and won a landmark civil rights case, this book features cheerful mixed medium artwork and an important message about standing up for your family and what you believe in. Endnotes provide further context, including a brief personal story from the author.

A Chicken Followed Me Home: Questions and Answers About a Familiar Fowl by Robin Page
Fascinating facts about chickens are presented through a series of questions and answers; big, bold illustrations; and a touch of humor. 

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
In this sweet tale, a woman tells her young son about their connection to the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. Blackall’s gorgeous watercolor and ink drawings—vibrant yet calm—elevate the story to something truly special. Photographs are included in the back matter.

Founding Fathers!: The Horse-Ridin,’ Fiddle-Playin,’ Book-Readin,’ Gun-Totin,’ Gentlemen Who Started America by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Barry Blitt
This humorous dossier on the the signing of the Declaration of Independence and each of the “founding fathers” is easily browsable and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Market Maze by Roxie Munro
A book about how food gets to local markets, Market Maze challenges readers to guide the food products from their source through the maze-like illustrations to their destinations. In addition to building awareness about food and sustainability, the simultaneous transport of foodstuffs from different parts of the town and the overlapping paths taken for their delivery may offer an opportunity to clue kids into both the vastness and the interconnectedness of the world beyond their immediate surroundings.

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin 
Spectacularly detailed illustrations and an assortment of bizarre facts encourage children to explore the mysteries of the natural world.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre
Close-up photography and lyrical text encourage children and adults alike to admire the beauty of rain and its effects.

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad
A little bittersweet and wholly inspiring, this gorgeously illustrated oversize picture book provides a glimpse into the short life of ballet icon Anna Pavlova, from her poor beginnings through her untimely death. The heart of the story, of course, lies in her immediate and ongoing captivation with dance, which is echoed by the reader’s own fascination with the graceful images and complementary text. (BCPL copies are on order.)

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul, illustrations by Jason Chin
Both engaging and informative, this book follows a group of children as they glimpse and interact with different parts of the water cycle, from fog to a frozen pond. Back matter provides more in-depth scientific explanations within the context of the primary text.

Easy Readers

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
When Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony can’t decide what to do for the day, secrets come out that may threaten their friendship.

Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
The smallest and youngest kid on the team, no one expects much from Mo. But Mo loves football and loves being on the team, even when his coach makes him practice with butter on his fingers. An inspired level 2 reader with large, readable text and fantastic full-color illustrations.

Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather by Grace Lin
The irrepressible twins are back for a new set of silly antics, this time focusing on each of the four seasons.

In! Over! and On! (the Farm) by Ethan Long
Providing both a playful intro to prepositions and plenty of laughter, this easy reader also includes a perfectly placed lift the flap interactive and two gate folds. The illustrations are simple, colorful, and on-point.

What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig by Emma J. Virjan
A pig in a towering red wig, a fluctuating cast of additional colorful characters who end up with the Pig in a Wig on a boat in a moat, and simple rhyming text make for an effective and charming early reader certain to appeal to fans of Mo Willems’s Elephant & Piggie books. Thankfully, this is only the first book in a new series!

Honorable Mentions:
Hot Rod Hamster and the Haunted Halloween Party
Mr. Putter and Tabby Smell the Roses
I Really Like Slop (Elephant & Piggie)

Early Chapter Books

Big Bad Detective Agency by Bruce Hale
When Wolfgang (please don’t call him the Big Bad Wolf!) is accused of destroying the homes of the Three Little Pigs, he has only a day to find the real culprit, or he will be sentenced to the dungeon (and a lifetime of yucky porridge) by the ruler of Fairylandia. Reluctantly, he teams up with Ferkel, the young fourth Pig who wants to assert a bit of independence from his family, to scope out potential suspects.

The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman, illustrated by Deborah Zemke
With plenty of tongue-in-cheek humor and wordplay, Detectives Wilcox and Griswold of Ed’s farm investigate the snatching of Miss Rabbit’s carrot cake.

Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon
The fantabulous Dory Fantasmagory and her gigantic imagination is back, and best of all, this time she has a real true friend. The problem? No one—meaning her older brother and sister—believes her friend isn’t made up.

Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
In this second installment of the Tales of Deckawoo Drive series, DiCamillo brings back a familiar character from her Mercy Watson series and gives her the lead role. Francine prides herself as the best animal control officer around, but she suffers a debilitating blow to her self-confidence after an encounter with a eerie raccoon and an unfortunate fall.

Lola Levine Is Not Mean! by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
Lola Levine is bursting with energy and an ace soccer player—but she is NOT mean! Unfortunately, after her competitiveness gets a little out of control during a schoolyard game, most of her classmates have begun calling her Mean Lola Levine.

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter, illustrated by Qin Leng
When her beloved older brother leaves Peek-a-Boo Island to attend school on the mainland, Piper Green pledges to never take off the earmuffs he gave her. No matter how much trouble her refusal causes.

The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
The Princess in Black’s work is never done. She doesn’t even get a break on her birthday. When the monster alarm rings during her party (again and again and again), Princess Magnolia must find increasingly ridiculous ways to distract her guests so she can don her disguise and keep her kingdom safe without revealing her secret identity.

Honorable Mentions:
The Adventures of Sophie the Mouse: A New Friend
The Critter Club: Ellie and the Good Luck Pig
Jasper John Dooley: You’re in Trouble
My Pet Human
Super Fly: The World’s Smallest Superhero!
Source: Book News and Reviews

FLASH REVIEWS: 3 Great Wordless Picture Books of 2015

Last year offered up a host of fantabulous wordless picture books, including five of our 2014 Best Books for Young Readers. This year as we narrow down our list of our 2015 favorites, we are seeing a similar number of strong wordless contenders. Here are three worthy 2015 titles you should check out:

Float by Daniel Miyares
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Audience: Preschool–Grade 3
For me this year, there have been 2 or 3 picture books that have blown me away. Float is one of them. Reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats’s The Snowy Day, the story follows a young boy who goes out in the rain to play with his paper boat and finds more adventure than he expects. It’s a story of exploring, of the excitement and awe found in quiet moments, and—perhaps most touchingly—of the everyday bond between a father and his son. And that’s just the story—the digital art used to tell that story is mostly soft grays with the added punch of the boy’s yellow rain slicker. Subtle detailing, plays on perspective, and wonderfully rendered emotions make for spreads worth savoring. And then there’s that little twist at the end, perfectly flipping the color palette and (hopefully) setting us up for a new story. In my opinion, this book has the makings of a classic—and I’m pulling for a Caldecott nod.
 

 The Boy & the Book by David Michael Slater and illustrated by Bob Kolar
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Ages 2–5
When a rambunctious young boy runs riot in the library, the library books must evade his wake of destruction. With a healthy dollop of humor, this book provides a not-so-subtle lesson in how to treat (or how not to treat) books and a more unexpected lesson in compassion and second (or even third) chances. The digital artwork is vivid and energetic, and the simplified figure of the boy allows for the books’ panicked expressions to shine.
 

Pool by Jihyeon Lee
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Audience: Preschool–Grade 2
Recalling the magical world explored in Aaron Becker’s Journey books, this Korean import features a shy young boy overwhelmed at a crowded public pool. After finally finding the courage to jump in, he discovers a magical underwater land removed from the chaos above and begins an unexpected friendship. The tall, oversized format allows for the pool’s depth to be better felt as the boy encounters fanciful fish and other strange sea creatures, some of them a little scary with their mouths of needle-like teeth. And yet the previously timid boy and his newfound friend appear unphased, leading readers to suspect that together the children have discovered something far deeper than the underwater land. For me, Pool doesn’t quite live up to the magical adventure of Journey and Quest, but I think it offers a quiet charm and unique appeal all its own.

Source: Book News and Reviews

Congratulations to the 2015 Fall Giveaway Winners!

Thanks, everyone, for your patience waiting for me to announce the winners of our latest giveaway. I was out of town when the contest ended, and it’s been a busy week since my return. But now the winners have all been notified via e-mail so… *Drumroll, please*


  Mary G.-  After the Red RainThe Dead House
  Dawn O.- FishbowlDead Wake
  Devin S.- Illuminae, Another Day, Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly
  Sarah J.- Anna and the Swallow Man, The Madman of Piney Woods, Sleeping Giants
  Karen- Sleeping Giants, Dear Killer
  Greg N.- Blood Guard, The Glass Gauntlet

  Marie W.- Deceptive, Currents
  Rebecca S.- The Beekeeper’s Ball, The Game of Lives
  Denise- Everything Everything, Drift & Dagger
  Misty J.- Truly, Madly, Famously, The Road to You
  Trish C.- Unforgiven, The Traitor
  Darlene H.- A Memory of Violets, Empire of Night
  Tiffany B.- The Court of Fives, The Crossover
  Miss L. Spooky- Slade House
  Tiffany H.- The Haunting of Sunshine GirlLove by the Morning Star
  Laura D.- Those Girls, Diamond Boy

As to the Last-Chance Giveaway that has become a traditional bonus for these winner announcements… This time around, I decided to try something a little different. We had a few participants with incomplete entries, so in thanks for their efforts I decided to offer them first crack at the unclaimed titles. However, if we still have leftovers later, there may still be a Last-Chance Giveaway later this month. And then when spring rolls around (which can’t be soon enough for me), be sure to watch for our next giveaway opportunity here at Book News & Reviews!

Source: Book News and Reviews

BCPL’s Ultimate Teen Booklist: 2015 Updates, Part 2

To wrap up our Teen Read Week celebration at Book News & Reviews, here are our final additions to our Ultimate Teen Booklist for 2015:


New to the List:

Infernal Devices (series) by Cassandra Clare (2010–2013)
In this companion series to Clare’s Mortal Instruments sagas, readers discover more Shadowhunter history. Set in a steampunk London, the series centers on Tessa Gray, an orphaned young woman who travels from New York in search of her missing brother and the secrets of her past. Along the way, she learns more of the mysterious world of demons, discovers her own unusual unique magical abilities, and becomes entangled in a complicated romantic triangle. High School.

Lumatere Chronicles (series) by Melina Marchetta (2008–2012)
Like Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, this series features a historical-style setting with hints of magic. Exiled from his homeland after the royal family was slaughtered and a dying woman cursed the land, Finnikin is determined to find a new home for his people. He was only a child at the time of the murders of his friend Prince Balthazar and the rest of the royal family, but Finnikin struggles with feelings of guilt related to a cryptic prophecy. Then he meets a young novice who goes by the name of Evanjalin who says the prince lives and there is hope of reclaiming Lumatere from the impostor king who butchered the royal family. Finnikin is skeptical, but Evanjalin remains stubbornly committed to her course and the two set off on a mission that takes them across kingdoms, collecting allies and exiles along the way back to Lumatere. While the story begins with the journey of  Finnikin and Evanjalin, each successive book adds depth and intrigue to the story, bringing in new characters and gradually revealing unsuspected secrets to hold readers rapt until the final conclusion. High School (mature).

Night by Elie Wiesel (1955)
In this candid account of the horrors of World War II, Elie Wiesel recounts the atrocities he both experienced and witnessed as a young teen who survived two Nazi concentration camps. But this powerful memoir is far more than a recitation of events; it is a poignant exploration of the evils that that lurk in the human heart and the impact of that evil on the human spirit. High School.

The Pact by Jodi Picoult (1998)
Growing up as neighbors and the children of best friends, Chris and Emily have been inseparable all of their lives. Their happy future together seems inevitable, so when an apparent suicide pact leaves Emily dead and Chris alive, both families are left shaken to the core and doubtful of Chris’s story, Suspense and heartwrenching family drama combine for a riveting read until the full story of Emily’s death and her relationship with Chris is finally revealed. High School.

Paper Towns by John Green (2008)
Just a few weeks before graduating from his Central Florida high school, Quentin, the quintessential nerd, gets a midnight visit from Margo, the wonderfully exciting classmate he’s been desperately in love with since childhood. The mission is to play a series of score-setting pranks on the kids in the popular crowd. After their spree Margo suddenly disappears and Quentin’s next mission is to find out if she’s run away—or worse, done something more permanent. High School.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (2011)
Every November, someone dies in the Scorpio Races, a dangerous horse race unlike any other because the horses are unlike any others. The water horses, both terrible and beautiful, rise from the ocean every autumn to terrorize the people of Thisby. And every year, the people—both awed and afraid—prepare for the traditional race along the beach. This year, Puck—the first female to ever enter the Scorpio Races—is determined to win even though it means taking on the four-time champion, Sean Kendrick. This is an eerie, romantic adventure that is completely original and unforgettable. Middle School (mature)/High School.

The Stand by Stephen King (1978)
Following massive death tolls from the accidental release of a weaponized flu virus, the survivors find themselves drawn into an epic battle between good and evil. This post-apocalyptic horror classic is considered by many to be King’s greatest work. High School (mature).

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (2014)
A story of love, lies, secrets, and deep family dysfunction, We Were Liars is a gorgeously written psychological thriller full of drama and mystery. The tale centers on Cady, a young woman with no memory of the summer that changed her life forever but determined to uncover the secrets her wealthy, Kennedy-like family try to keep hidden. Middle School (mature)/High School.

Source: Book News and Reviews

TEEN GUEST REVIEWS: Teens Take on the Classics

We have one more round of teen guest reviews in honor of Teen Read Week! Of course teens (or any BCPL patron or blog reader!) is always welcome to submit a guest review at any time. You can contact me at tweikel@bcplib.org for details.

In the meantime, here are reviews of two literary classics from local teens!

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Reviewer: Denise
Denise’s Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romanticism
Audience: Adult
 
Summary: In 17th century Boston, Hester Prynne, a young Puritan woman, is accused of adultery and ostracized after conceiving a child outside of her marriage. Hester refuses to name her lover despite pressure from her husband, who hides his true identity from the rest of the community and becomes obsessed with getting revenge against Hester’s lover.

Denise’s Review: Nathaniel Hawthorne, an author known for a few classics (The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables) surely spent vigorous hours in the process of writing The Scarlet Letter as he takes space in his pages to describe in great detail one or two objects at a time. Based in Puritan times, Hester Prynne lives out her life, looked down upon for committing adultery. Hester besides raising Pearl, her daughter from the sin, does a lot for the town. By the end of the novel a lot of secrets are revealed. The book as a whole, I strongly recommend for high school students only.

Extra: Tracy’s Thoughts: I actually read this book in 7th grade at the behest of a friend who LOVED it. I was a bit less enthusiastic, but I did enjoy it though much of it probably went over my head. By the time I was in high school and it became assigned reading, I was better able to appreciate the rich symbolism of the book, especially in relation to the guilt felt by Hester’s secret lover. Of course, the overt emphasis on symbolism tends to detract from character development, as Henry James famously pointed out in his essay “Hawthorne”:

The faults of the book are, to my sense, a want of reality and an abuse of the fanciful element–of a certain superficial symbolism. The people strike me not as characters, but as representatives, very picturesquely arranged, of a single state of mind; and the interest of the story lies, not in them, but in the situation, which is insistently kept before us….

Personally, I love layered books that are brimming with symbolism. However, rich, multi-dimensional characterizations are often the key element to my very favorite books, as I have noted in several previous reviews. And though it’s been a while since I picked up The Scarlet Letter, I must agree with James that the characters are a bit flat. Perhaps that is why I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about this particular classic.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reviewer: C.W., Age 16
C.W.’s Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Coming-of-Age Story/Southern Gothic
Audience: Adult/YA Crossover

Summary: In this classic tale of courage and morality in a small, Southern town, a young tomboy tells the  story of the summer her father defends a black man accused of raping a white woman. This is a  powerful look at discrimination and an emotional exploration of human instinct, as viewed  through the eyes of a child.

C.W.’s Review: I did like reading this. It was told from the eyes of Jem and Scout, which is different from what you normally read from the perspective of an adult. I had to ask my mom about some of the storyline because it was written around some subjects I didn’t understand at first, because I am 16 and didn’t live through them. It was easy to read, and it was surprisingly well made into a movie.

So… that is our teen take on two popular classics, with a brief interjection from me. Now we’re wondering, what it your opinion of the featured titles?
Source: Book News and Reviews

BCPL’s Ultimate Teen Booklist: 2015 Updates, Part 1

Our Teen Read Week celebration continues as promised! We called a wrap on our 2015 Ultimate Teen Booklist Committee today, and now it’s time to share our latest additions and updates. This year’s committee added a number of new and previously overlooked titles, so I’ve decided to post them here in two parts, with Part 2 to come later this week.

New to the List:

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (2014)
This unique novel of two stories told in alternating chapters will especially appeal to perceptive readers interested in the myriad ways authors’ lives influence their work. In the “real” world,  eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel is struggling to build a life as a writer in New York City and falling in love for the first time. Meanwhile, Lizzie—the fictional protagonist of Darcy’s novel—has survived a terrorist attack by posing as a ghost and slipping into a nebulous Afterworld. Realistic fiction meets fantasy meets romance meets thriller in this surprisingly cohesive tale as Darcy navigates the ins and outs of the publishing world and Lizzie comes into new powers and connects with a hunky spirit guide in the ghost world. High School.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (2004)
In this high-octane steampunk adventure, a young cabin boy aboard an airship and a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone team up to prove the existence of mysterious winged creatures that reportedly live hundreds of feet above the Earth’s surface. Featuring daring rescues, brave acrobatics, and even pirates, the plot of this novel centers on adventure over romance—though there is a little of that too! Middle School/High School.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (2005)
This inventive, darkly humorous fantasy centers on Fat Charlie Nancy, a young twenty-something who is haunted by his father’s annoying taunts and embarrassing death. But following Mr. Nancy’s death, Charlie learns that his father was really the African trickster god in human form and that he has a brother—Spider—with otherworldly powers. Before he knows it, Charlie finds himself surrounded by the chaos his brother creates and immersed in a surreal, mythological journey. High School.

Black Butler (manga series) by Yana Toboso (2006–Ongoing)
In Victorian-era London, an orphaned young earl named Ciel and his faithful servant bide their time until they can track down the mysterious organization responsible for his parents’ murders and Ciel’s subsequent kidnapping and torture. To outsiders, Earl Phantomhive’s loyal servant seems extremely capable but otherwise unremarkable. In truth, Sebastian is actually a demon contracted to help the young earl avenge his parents’ deaths. To date, there are 20 volumes in the series. High School (mature).

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (2012)
History and science converge in this engrossing tale of the real-life espionage and secret military operations taking place as scientists secretly worked to split the atom and create the first atomic bomb. Middle School/High School.

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt (2006)
Sixteen-year-old Simone has always been perfectly happy with her adoptive family and never really wondered about her birth parents. But when she is asked to meet her birth mother, a Hasidic Jew who is dying of cancer, Simone’s once simple life is suddenly full of complex questions about life, love, family, and her belief in a God she never thought existed. High School.

The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman (1997)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, this visually and emotionally rich tale of the Holocaust reimagines the author’s parents’ deportation to Auschwitz and their post-war experiences in America in a world where the Nazis are represented as cats and Jews are symbolically portrayed as mice. Includes My Father Bleeds History (1986) and And Here My Troubles Begin (1991). Middle School (mature)/High School.

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger (2011)
Bianca loathes Wesley Rush and his playboy ways. But while coping with the return of the boy who broke her heart and her parents’ crumbling marriage, Bianca is desperate for a distraction… So she kisses Wesley. It’s stupid and she hates herself, but they start hooking up secretly. The plan is to keep everything on a strictly physical level, but then the impossible happens: she actually starts to like Wesley and is horrified to discover that she could actually be falling for the guy she hated more than anyone. This edgy novel is nothing like the watered-down movie adaptation, so if you expect an ugly-duckling makeover story, think again. The DUFF is a sexy, sharply funny novel that examines teen self-esteem and the social labeling of others all in the compelling package of a modern love story and family drama. High School (mature). Read my review from September 2011!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
In this dystopian classic set in a totalitarion society, a “fireman” who burns books for a living begins to question his beliefs and dares to defy the rule that all books must be destroyed. Middle School (mature)/High School.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)
It may be an assigned-reading staple, but there’s a reason this Jazz-age tale of thwarted love, greed, and revenge in a wealthy seaside community has become a classic. High School.

His Fair Assassin Trilogy (series) by Robin LaFevers (2012–2014)
In fifteenth century Brittany, three young women seeking refuge at the convent of St. Mortain are blessed by Death with dangerous gifts and trained as assassins. As each leaves the convent—whether on a mission for Death or for her own purposes—she must navigate a dangerous web of intrigue and deceit to decide what her path will be. High School.

A Hole in My Life by Jack Gantos (2002)
In the summer of 1971, Jack Gantos was an aspiring writer on the hunt for adventure and college tuition money. A few wrong turns later, he’s smuggling drugs and doing time in prison. Darkly funny, insightful, and unflinchingly honest, A Hole in My Life is the true account of the uneven path one of today’s most celebrated authors for children and teens took to reach his dream. High School.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer (2002)
In a future no-man’s land situated between the United States and what was once Mexico, a powerful drug lord known as El Patrón rules ruthlessly. Young Matteo has grown up isolated, but when he is brought to live on the estate of El Patrón, Matt quickly grows to idolize the man he thinks of as a father figure. However, as he grows older and wiser, Matteo begins to see that El Patrón’s protectiveness has a selfish motive and Matt is viewed as nothing more than a commodity meant to keep El Patrón alive. Middle School/High School.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb (2013)
The Taliban tried to silence 14-year-old Pakistani student Malala Yousafazi, but she refused to be give up her demand for an education. In the process, she survived an assassination attempt, became a global inspiration, and became the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize. Middle School (mature)/High School.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014)
Stunning and full of passages readers will want to revisit again and again, I’ll Give You the Sun is the story of fraternal twins Noah and Jude. Three years ago, Noah and Jude were so connected that they communicated without words. Now sixteen, they are practically strangers—to each other and even to themselves. Their closeness has been shattered by secrets and lies and tragedy, but perhaps there is a chance to regain what was lost if first each can face what went wrong before. The novel is narrated jointly between the two siblings, weaving in an out of time seamlessly, Noah in the past and Jude in the present. This is an unforgettable novel, kooky and heartbreaking, full of art and love and even a ghost or two. High School.

Updated:

Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
Insurgent and Allegiant were added to the first installment. For now, we’re sticking to the core trilogy, but what do you think… Does Four belong on the list next year?

Joining me on the committee this year were representatives of several BCPL departments. Thanks for participating, ladies!

Richelle Browner – Teen/Adult Specialist, Outreach/Programs Dept.
Beth Downs – Assistant Branch Manager (Lebanon Junction)
Crystal Neace –  Circulation Clerk
Stephanie Simmons – Reference Clerk

So what do you think of our additions, and what titles do you hope to see on Part 2 of our 2015 updates? What are your favorite titles from this year that we should consider for the next update?
Source: Book News and Reviews

TEEN GUEST REVIEWS: Recent Releases

It’s Teen Read Week! Teen Read Week is a national literacy initiative to encourage teens to read for the fun of it. To celebrate here on Book News & Reviews, throughout the week we will be posting guest reviews contributed by local teens. Plus, we will soon be announcing the latest updates to our Ultimate Teen Booklist! To kick us off, tonight we have three honest (sometimes painfully honest!) reviews of recent releases from three different teens. Thanks to all of our guest reviewers for sharing!

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Reviewer: C.W., Age 16
C.W.’s Rating:
3.5/5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction
Audience: Adult/YA Crossover
Series: Companion novel to To Kill a Mockingbird

Summary: When a now adult Scout returns to Maycomb, Alabama twenty years after the trial of Tom Robinson, she struggles with her own personal beliefs and the prevailing opinions of her hometown in the midst of the political upheaval of the mid-1950s.

C.W.’s Review: I didn’t like this as much as To Kill a Mockingbird, but it was still good. It was kind of a good history lesson, and it shows some ways we have changed in society and a lot of ways we haven’t. I think that Atticus’s character changed too much between the two. He was open-minded and against racism in To Kill a Mockingbird, but he changed and I didn’t see him as the same person. What I do think was done well was that the author was able to warn readers about placing people too high on a pedestal.

The Rule of Three by Eric Walters
Reviewer: Samantha, Age 16
Samantha’s Rating: 2/5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction/Apocalyptic Fiction
Audience: Teen/Young Adult
Series: Rule of Three Trilogy #1

Summary: Civilization quickly begins to crumble following a sudden global technology crash. Sixteen-year-old Adam is stunned by the local chaos, but with the guidance of his police-captain mom and his neighbor—a retired government spy—Adam is determined to do whatever is necessary to survive and rebuild civilization.

Samantha’s Review: This wasn’t too great a read. I had trouble making myself read it, because in parts, it droned on. And on. And on. It was a pretty good set up for the storyline, when Adam realized that something was wrong besides the cell phones not working all of a sudden. But, it didn’t seem very realistic that his mom was the Police Captain and his neighbor used to be a spy. Adam didn’t stand out as a very strong character. It was almost written like he was a bystander in his own life, but then the author made it seem like he was responsible for bigger things all of a sudden.

Minders by Michele Jaffe

Reviewer: Ashleigh, Age 16
Ashleigh’s Rating:
4.5/5 Stars
Genre: Science Fiction/Thriller
Audience: Teen/Young Adult

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Sadie is a privileged overachiever destined for success. But when she joins the elite Mind Corps Fellowship program as an observer monitoring the inner thoughts of an unsuspecting teenage boy, she finds herself falling for a troubled, possibly homicidal boy she has never met.

Ashleigh’s Review: I loved it! There was romance, crime, murder, peer pressure, and a thriller.

I like the idea of a teen mind-reader. And Sadie was so quick to fall for the bad boy, which happens a lot in real life. Then she finds out he might have committed a crime and wonders if she should turn him in to the police. It was kind of scary to think that she had to decide whether or not to turn him in, since the crime was so big, but I know girls who probably wouldn’t do it. I like the way the author describes what Sadie is seeing while in Ford’s mind—especially about the colors coming together into pictures. And the twist is awesome!
Source: Book News and Reviews

Fall 2015 Giveaway

It’s fall giveaway time, and this season we have one of our best giveaway lineups yet!

We have over thirty titles to give away, including in-demand advance reading copies like David Mitchell’s Slade House (released 10/27/15) and not one but TWO advance copies of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (released 4/26/16). Neuvel’s debut novel is already generating buzz and being compared to World War Z and The Martian, and you’ll have a chance to read it months before it hits bookstores or library shelves!
 
As always, the rules of entry are at the end of the post. Please note that all prizes must be picked up at a BCPL location within two months of notification or they will be returned to the stockpile for the next giveaway. Contest runs through the end of Tuesday, November 3rd. No entries will be accepted after midnight.

So without further ado, here are our giveaways for Fall 2015:

Advance Reading Copies (ARCs), in order of publication:

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Themis Files #1
TWO COPIES UP FOR GRABS!

 *ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: April 26, 2016 *
17 years ago: A girl in South Dakota falls through the earth, then wakes up dozens of feet below ground on the palm of what seems to be a giant metal hand. Today: She is a top-level physicist leading a team of people to understand exactly what that hand is, where it came from, and what it portends for humanity. A swift and spellbinding tale told almost exclusively through transcriptions of interviews conducted by a mysterious and unnamed character, this is a unique debut that describes a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts
. –Publisher

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
 *ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: January 26, 2016 *
A stunning, literary, and wholly original debut novel set in Poland during the Second World War perfect for readers of The Book Thief.

Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She’s alone.

And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.

The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he’s in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.

Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.

Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut reveals life’s hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities. –Publisher

The Game of Lives by James Dashner
Mortality Doctrine #3

 *ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: November 17, 2015*
Michael used to live to game, but the games he was playing have become all too real. Only weeks ago, sinking into the Sleep was fun. The VirtNet combined the most cutting-edge technology and the most sophisticated gaming for a full mind-body experience. And it was Michael’s passion. But now every time Michael sinks, he risks his life.

The games are over. The VirtNet has become a world of deadly consequences, and Kaine grows stronger by the day. The Mortality Doctrine—Kaine’s master plan—has nearly been realized, and little by little the line separating the virtual from the real is blurring. If Kaine succeeds, it will mean worldwide cyber domination. And it looks like Michael and his friends are the only ones who can put the monster back in the box—if Michael can figure out who his friends really are.  –Publisher

Unforgiven by Lauren Kate
Fallen #5

 *ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: November 10, 2015*
It’s the book FALLEN fans have been waiting for: Cam’s story, the brooding, bad-boy dark angel readers love.
High school can be hell.
Cam knows what it’s like to be haunted. He’s spent more time in Hell than any angel ever should. And his freshest Hell is high school, where Lilith, the girl he can’t stop loving, is serving out a punishment for his crimes.
Cam made a bet with Lucifer: he has fifteen days to convince the only girl who really matters to him to love him again. If he succeeds, Lilith will be allowed back into the world, and they can live their lives together. But if he fails…there’s a special place in Hell just for him.

Tick-tock. –Publisher

The Traitor House by Sydney Horler
*ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: November 3, 2015 *

August 1918. On his way to the Western Front, Captain Alan Clinton spends a night in Paris with a young Frenchwoman, Marie Roget. Seduced by Marie’s charms, Clinton discloses British military secrets – with disastrous consequences.Seventeen years later. The central European state of Ronstadt is ruled by the ruthless dictator Kuhnreich, and Europe is inching towards another war. Clinton’s son Bobby travels to Europe as the political situation grows tenser, and seems dangerously close to repeating the sins of his father – leaving only his girlfriend to prove his innocence in a race against time.This new edition of The Traitor gives contemporary readers a long overdue chance to rediscover an early thriller that is plotted with dash and verve – a novel that helps to explain the author’s phenomenal popularity in his own time. –Publisher

Slade House by David Mitchell
*ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: October 27, 2015 *

From “one of the most electric writers alive” (The Boston Globe) comes a taut, intricately woven, spine-chilling, reality-warping short novel. Set across five decades, beginning in 1979 and coming to its electrifying conclusion on October 31, 2015, Slade House is the perfect book to curl up with on a dark and stormy night. –Publisher

Illuminae by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff
Illuminae Files # 1
*ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: October 20, 2015 *

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. –Publisher

 

Truly, Madly, Famously by Rebecca Serle
Famous in Love #2
TWO COPIES UP FOR GRABS!
*ARC –
Expected Book Release Date: October 13,2015*

Lights, camera, love!

After being plucked from obscurity, Hollywood’s newest starlet, Paige Townsen, has a hit film to her name and Rainer Devon on her arm. But being half of the world’s most famous couple comes with a price, and soon Paige finds herself dodging photographers; hiding her feelings for her other costar, Jordan Wilder; and navigating tabloid scandals that threaten to tear her and Rainer apart-and end her career as quickly as it began.

Rebecca Serle’s sequel to Famous in Love is filled with the kind of celebrity drama and swoon-worthy romance fit for the silver screen. –Publisher

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
*ARC – Book Release: September 2015*
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster. –Publisher

Drift & Dagger by Kendall Kulper
*ARC – Book Release: September 2015 *
I’ve always been a monster. And monsters destroy things. Things like magic and friendships and futures.

Mal used to have a home, a best friend, and a secret. But he lost all three on the day Essie Roe exposed him as a blank. Blanks cannot be cursed or saved or killed by magic. And everyone is afraid of them—even Mal himself.

Now Mal travels the world in search of dangerous and illegal magical relics, never stopping in any one place too long. When his partner in crime, Boone, hears of a legendary dagger that can steal magic, Mal knows he finally may have found a way to even the score with Essie. Crossing oceans and continents, Mal and Boone travel from Boston to Paris to Constantinople in search of the dagger. Finding it would mean riches, fame, and revenge—but only if Mal can control the monster inside him. –Publisher

Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between by Jennifer E. Smith
*ARC – Book Release: September 2015 *
On the night before they leave for college, Clare and Aidan only have one thing left to do: figure out whether they should stay together or break up. Over the course of twelve hours, they’ll retrace the steps of their relationship, trying to find something in their past that might help them decide what their future should be. The night will lead them to friends and family, familiar landmarks and unexpected places, hard truths and surprising revelations. But as the clock winds down and morning approaches, so does their inevitable goodbye. The question is, will it be goodbye for now or goodbye forever? –Publisher

Currents by Jane Petrlik Smolik
*ARC –
Book Release: September 2015 *

This middle-grade historical novel follows three young girls living very different lives who are connected by one bottle that makes two journeys across the ocean.

It’s 1854 and eleven-year-old Bones is a slave on a Virginia plantation. When she finds her name in the slave-record book, she rips it out, rolls it up, and sets it free, corked inside a bottle alongside the carved peach pit heart her long-lost father made for her. Across the Atlantic on the Isle of Wight, motherless Lady Bess Kent and her sister discover Bones’s bottle half-buried on the beach. Leaving Bones’s name where it began and keeping the peach pit heart for herself, Bess hides her mother’s pearl-encrusted cross necklace in the bottles so her scheming stepmother, Elsie, can’t sell it off like she’s done with other family heirlooms. When Harry, a local stonemason’s son, takes the fall for Elsie’s thefts, Bess works with her seafaring friend, Chap, to help him escape. She gives the bottle to Harry and tells him to sell the cross. Back across the Atlantic in Boston, Mary Margaret Casey and her father are at the docks when Mary Margaret spies something shiny. Her father fishes it out of the water, and they use the cross to pay for a much needed doctor’s visit for Mary Margaret’s ailing sister. As Bess did, Mary Margaret leaves Bones’s name where it belongs. An epilogue returns briefly to each girl, completing the circle of the three unexpectedly interconnected lives. –Publisher

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
Court of Fives #1
*ARC –
Book Release: August 2015 *

On the Fives court, everyone is equal. And everyone is dangerous.
Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege. –Publisher

After the Red Rain by Barry Lyga, etc.
*ARC –
Book Release: August 2015 *

On the ruined planet Earth, where 50 billion people are confined to megacities and resources are scarce, Deedra has been handed a bleak and mundane existence by the Magistrate she works so hard for. But one day she comes across a beautiful boy named Rose struggling to cross the river–a boy with a secretive past and special abilities, who is somehow able to find comfort and life from their dying planet.

But just as the two form a bond, it is quickly torn apart after the Magistrate’s son is murdered and Rose becomes the prime suspect. Little do Deedra and Rose know how much their relationship will affect the fate of everyone who lives on the planet. –Publisher

Another Day by David Levithan
Every Day #2
*ARC –
Book Release: August 2015 *

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person…wasn’t Justin at all.

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you. –Publisher

Fishbowl by Bradley Somer
*ARC –
Book Release: August 2015 *

A goldfish named Ian is falling from the 27th-floor balcony on which his fishbowl sits. He’s longed for adventure, so when the opportunity arises, he escapes from his bowl, clears the balcony railing and finds himself airborne. Plummeting toward the street below, Ian witnesses the lives of the Seville on Roxy residents.

There’s the handsome grad student, his girlfriend, and his mistress; the construction worker who feels trapped by a secret; the building’s super who feels invisible and alone; the pregnant woman on bed rest who craves a forbidden ice cream sandwich; the shut-in for whom dirty talk, and quiche, are a way of life; and home-schooled Herman, a boy who thinks he can travel through time. Though they share time and space, they have something even more important in common: each faces a decision that will affect the course of their lives. Within the walls of the Seville are stories of love, new life, and death, of facing the ugly truth of who one has been and the beautiful truth of who one can become.

Sometimes taking a risk is the only way to move forward with our lives. As Ian the goldfish knows, “An entire life devoted to a fishbowl will make one die an old fish with not one adventure had.”

In the tradition of Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain and Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, Bradley Somer’s Fishbowl is at turns funny and heartbreaking. –Publisher

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
*ARC –
Book Release: August 2015*

Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .

Re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, transcripts of video footage and fragments of diary reveal a web of deceit and intrigue, violence and murder, raising a whole lot more questions than it answers.

Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Chilling, creepy and utterly compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading. –Publisher

The Glass Gauntlet by Carter Roy
Blood Guard #2
*ARC –
Book Release: August 2015*

Ronan Truelove barely survived his first encounter with his father and the Bend Sinister. Now, he’s determined to become one of the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect thirty-six pure souls crucial to the world’s survival.

Eager to prove he’s got what it takes, Ronan is sent on his first mission with his friends Greta and Sammy to visit a weird-sounding school and take a series of tests called the Glass Gauntlet. Paper and pencils and nerdy scholarship—where’s the life-or-death challenge in that?

But the Glass Gauntlet is actually something much more dangerous: head-to-head competitions against ruthless opponents. Nothing and no one are what they seem. Who can he trust, and who will kill him? Ronan has to figure it out fast because his enemies are multiplying, and soon he will have to pass the ultimate test: facing his father again and standing up to those who threaten not only him and his friends but also the world. –Publisher

The Road to You by Alecia Whitaker
Wildflower #2
*ARC –
Book Release: July 2015*

Bright lights… Screaming fans… Cute roadies… Country music sensation Bird Barrett is officially on tour. The months flash by in an exciting whirlwind, due–in no small part–to a certain dreamy lighting tech named Kai.

After the tour wraps up, Bird makes the move to LA, finding herself at the center of a trumped-up rivalry with another country music starlet she barely knows. Meanwhile, Kai’s out on tour again with an indie rock band and growing distant, and Bird has the label breathing down her neck for a new hit song. Finding true love is supposed to be inspiring, so why does penning the next great country pop ballad suddenly feel so hard? –Publisher

Deceptive by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Illusive #2
*ARC –
Book Release: July 2015*

You don’t belong with us.
These are the words that echo through the minds of all immune Americans—those suffering the so-called adverse effects of an experimental vaccine, including perfect recall, body manipulation, telepathy, precognition, levitation, mind-control, and the ability to change one’s appearance at will.

When immune individuals begin to disappear—in great numbers, but seemingly at random—fear and tension mount, and unrest begins to brew across the country. Through separate channels, super-powered teenagers Ciere, Daniel, and Devon find themselves on the case; super criminals and government agents working side-by-side. It’s an effort that will ultimately define them all—for better or for worse. –Publisher

A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery
*ARC –
Book Release: July 2015 *

Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, this breathtaking story of love and loss is guaranteed to break your heart and sweep you off your feet.

When high school senior Kelsey’s identical twin si
ster, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want. –Publisher

Those Girls by Lauren Saft
*ARC –
Book Release: June 2015 *

Some girls will always have your back, and some girls can’t help but stab you in it.

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good?  –Publisher

Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall
*ARC –
Book Release: June 2015 *

Overweight seventeen-year-old Sugar is the object of ridicule everywhere she goes until she meets Even, a boy who sees her for who she is inside. –NoveList

Cassidy’s Guide to Everyday Etiquette (and Obfuscation) by Sue Stuaffacher
*ARC –
Book Release: June 2015 *

Eleven-year-old Cassidy has just inherited a gift from her late great-grandmother. Unfortunately, that “gift” turns out to be a summer trapped in etiquette school. What good are manners, anyway, for a girl who dreams of living life on the road as a hobo—er, “knight of the road”?

As if trying to remember to keep her elbows off the table isn’t bad enough, Cassidy’s best friend, Jack, suddenly seems more interested in doing chores for the new teenage girl who’s moved in next door than in fishing with Cassidy down by the river. Not even her classic epic pranks seem to be saving Cassidy from having her worst summer ever. It’s time to face facts: growing up stinks.

Veteran middle-grade author Sue Stauffacher returns with a cranky, pranky, laugh-out-loud tomboy heroine who might just learn the hard way that manners do matter, and that people can change. –Publisher

Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong
Age of Legends #2
*ARC –
Book Release: April 2015 *

Sisters Moria and Ashyn are the Keeper and Seeker of Edgewood. Or at least, they were.

Their village is gone. Their friends have betrayed them. And now, the emperor has sent them on a mission to rescue the children of Edgewood—accompanied by Prince Tyrus and a small band of imperial warriors. But the journey proves more perilous than they could have imagined. With treachery and unrest mounting in the empire, Moria and Ashyn will have to draw on all their influence and power to overcome deadly enemies—not all of them human—and even avert an all-out war. –Publisher

Dead Wake by Erik Larson
*ARC –
Book Release: March 2015 *

In cinematic terms, this dramatic page-turner is Das Boot meets Titanic. Larson has a wonderful way of creating a very readable, accessible story of a time, place, and event. We get three sides of the global story–the U-boat commander, British Admiralty and President Wilson–but what really elevates this book are the affecting stories of individual crew and passengers. — Robert Schnell for LibraryReads.

Diamond Boy by Michael Williams
*ARC –
Book Release: 2014 *

A high-stakes, harrowing adventure set in the diamond fields of Southern Africa, from the critically acclaimed author of Now Is the Time for Running.
“Diamonds for everyone.”
That’s what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines himself, hoping to find his girazi–the priceless stone that could change his life forever. But when the government’s soldiers comes to Marange, Patson’s world is shattered.
Set against the backdrop of President Robert Mugabe’s brutal regime in Zimbabwe, Diamond Boy is the story of young man who succumbs to greed but finds his way out through a transformative journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister, in search of freedom, and in search of himself. –Publisher

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
*ARC –
Book Release: 2014 *

Benji and Red couldn’t be more different. They aren’t friends. They don’t even live in the same town. But their fates are entwined. A chance meeting leads the boys to discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them have encountered a strange presence in the forest, watching them, tracking them. Could the Madman of Piney Woods be real? In a tale brimming with intrigue and adventure, Christopher Paul Curtis returns to the vibrant world he brought to life in Elijah of Buxton. Here is another novel that will break your heart — and expand it, too. –Publisher

Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft
*ARC –
Book Release: 2014 *

Winner of the “Reading the West” award for young-adult fiction. Seventeen year-old dirt-bike daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family. ADIOS, NIRVANA author Conrad Wesselhoeft takes readers from the dusty arroyos of New Mexcio to the skies over war-torn Pakistan in this young adult novel about daring to live in the wake of unbearable loss. –Publisher

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
*ARC –
Book Release: 2014 *
“With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell. He and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse, in this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood. Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family. –Publisher

Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell
*ARC –
Book Release: 2014 *

Rule One—Nothing is right, nothing is wrong.
Rule Two—Be careful.
Rule Three—Fight using your legs whenever possible, because they’re the strongest part of your body. Your arms are the weakest.
Rule Four—Hit to kill. The first blow should be the last, if at all possible.
Rule Five—The letters are the law.

Kit takes her role as London’s notorious “Perfect Killer” seriously. The letters and cash that come to her via a secret mailbox are not a game; choosing who to kill is not an impulse decision. Every letter she receives begins with “Dear Killer,” and every time Kit murders, she leaves a letter with the dead body. Her moral nihilism and thus her murders are a way of life—the only way of life she has ever known.

But when a letter appears in the mailbox that will have the power to topple Kit’s convictions as perfectly as she commits her murders, she must make a decision: follow the only rules she has ever known, or challenge Rule One, and go from there.

Katherine Ewell’s Dear Killer is a sinister psychological thriller that explores the thin line between good and evil, and the messiness of that inevitable moment when life contradicts everything you believe. –Publisher

Cheesie Mack Is Not Exactly Famous by Steve Cotler
*ARC –
Book Release: 2014 *

Cheesie and his best friend, Georgie, are exploring a construction site when they find a weird-looking . . . thingie . . . sticking out of the muddy ground. Whatever it is, it’s very old. And very valuable! Before they know it, Cheesie and Georgie discover they’re in possession of an object that dates all the way back to pre-Colonial times. They’re instant celebrities! At least at school. Will Cheesie and Georgie hold on to the ancient artifact and the fame it brings, or give it away for the good of all? Only time will tell! –Publisher

The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs
Bella Vista Chronicles #2
*ARC –
Book Release: 2014 *

Isabel Johansen, a celebrated chef who grew up in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel, is transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school—a unique place for other dreamers to come and learn the culinary arts. Bella Vista’s rambling mission-style hacienda, with its working apple orchards, bountiful gardens and beehives, is the idyllic venue for Isabel’s project…and the perfect place for her to forget the past.

But Isabel’s carefully ordered plans begin to go awry when swaggering, war-torn journalist Cormac O’Neill arrives to dig up old history. He’s always been better at exposing the lives of others than showing his own closely guarded heart, but the pleasures of small-town life and the searing sensuality of Isabel’s kitchen coax him into revealing a few truths of his own.

The dreamy sweetness of summer is the perfect time of year for a grand family wedding and the enchanting Beekeeper’s Ball, bringing emotions to a head in a story where the past and present collide to create an unexpected new future.

From “one of the best observers of stories of the heart” (Salem Statesman-Journal), The Beekeeper’s Ball is an exquisite and richly imagined novel of the secrets that keep us from finding our way, the ties binding us to family and home, and the indelible imprint love can make on the human heart. –Publisher

Final Published Copies

The Blood Guard by Carter Roy
Blood Guard #1
* Hardcover *

When thirteen-year-old Ronan Truelove’s seemingly ordinary mom snatches him from school, then sets off on a high speed car chase, Ronan is shocked. His quiet, nerdy dad has been kidnapped? And the kidnappers are after him, too? His mom, he quickly learns, is anything but ordinary. In fact, she’s a member of an ancient order of knights, the Blood Guard, a sword-wielding secret society sworn to protect the Pure—thirty-six noble souls whose safety is crucial if the world as we know it is to survive. Now all those after-school activities—gymnastics, judo, survival training—she made him take, make sense. For suddenly Ronan is swept up in a sometimes funny, sometimes scary, but always thrilling adventure—dashing from one danger to the next, using his wits to escape the Bend Sinister, a posse of evil doers with strange powers. Falling in with two unlikely companions, Greta, a scrappy, strong-willed girl he’s never much liked and Jack, a devil-may-care teenage pickpocket, Ronan is left with only his wits and his mom’s last words of advice: Trust no one. That’s a lot for an ordinary kid to deal with. But then again, maybe Ronan’s not ordinary at all. –Publisher

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
* Trade Paperback *

In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.

Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart. –Publisher

Rules of Entry

1. To enter the drawing, you must complete two tasks:

Entry Task #1
First, you must leave a comment at the bottom of this post stating which titles you would like to receive. To do so, you will need to click on the “Post a Comment” link below the Rafflecopter widget. If you do not leave a comment at the bottom of the post, I will not know which prize(s) to give you if you win the drawing. You may choose as many titles as you like; you are not guaranteed to win your top choices, but I do my best.

Entry Task #2 Second, you must log in to the Rafflecopter Widget with your e-mail address or Facebook account and click on “Leave a comment on this blog post.” Answer the confirmation question and click on “ENTER” at the bottom of the widget only if you have posted your comment as described in Entry Task #1 . After completing the first widget task, you can also earn bonus entries by following the directions in the widget.

2.  All ARCs must be picked up at a Bullitt County Public Library location. Contest ends at the end of the day on Tuesday, November 3rd.Winners will be notified via e-mail and will be posted on this blog. Winners will have up to two months from the time of notification to collect their prizes. If items have not been picked up at the end of this period or if I have not been contacted to request an alternative arrangement, unclaimed prizes will be retained for future giveaways.

Rafflecopter Widget: Enter the Giveaway Drawing Here
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Source: Book News and Reviews

Spring Giveaway Winners + Last-Chance Giveaway

And the winners are… *Drumroll, please*

  Peggy H.-  Empire of Night, The Madman of Piney Woods, Diamond Boy

  Kim- A Memory of Violets, Dead Wake

  Sarah J.- The Book of Strange New Things, Dream Lover, What Alice Forgot

  Tiffany B.- The Mauraders, Irritable Hearts, Alive in Necropolis, Widow Basqiat, Blowing on Dandelions, Soul Healing Miracles, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Advent

  Bethany- The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, Love by the Morning Star, The Aviator’s Wife, Both of Me, The Mapmaker’s Children

….But wait! We still have several unclaimed books! Maybe you missed out on the giveaway the first
time around or simply didn’t list it as one of your selections in the
last round, but now’s your second chance to win!  Here are the titles up for grabs:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
REALISTIC FICTION/NOVEL IN VERSE (Tween/Teen)
“Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with
highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his
declining health.”  –NoveList

NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER & one of BCPL’s Best Books of 2014


Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly
by
Conrad Wesselhoeft
REALISTIC FICTION/ADVENTURE (Young adult/teen)
“Seventeen
year-old dirt-bike-riding daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of
the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring
drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family.”  –Publisher’s Description

 
 Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell
CHRISTIAN HISTORICAL ROMANCE (Adult)
(2nd copy) “Widow and single mother Katherine struggles to run her Oregon
boarding house by herself, but she learns to find the faith, wisdom, and
courage to transform her life and relationships when she meets widower
Micah Jacobs.” –NoveList
 

The Love Playbook by La La Anthony
NONFICTION/SELF-HELP (Adult)
Subtitled Rules for Love, Sex, and Happiness. The author is a television personality, actress, and wife of  New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

Soul Healing Miracles by Dr. & Master Zhi Gang Sha
NONFICTION/SPIRITUALITY/SELF-HELP (Adult)
(2nd copy) Subtitled Ancient and New Sacred Wisdom, Knowledge, and Practical
Techniques for Healing the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical
Bodies.

Each book goes to the
first person to claim it with a comment below (be
sure to leave your e-mail address so I can arrange pickup!). Please only
choose one book per day, but if a title remains unclaimed the following
day, you may choose another title. Ready…
Set…Go! 

Spring 2015 Giveaway

Hello, strangers! Since posting our Best of 2014 lists in January, I’ve been on a bit of a reading hiatus due to the demands of work and school. Thus, with no time to read and even less time (or remaining brain power) to write a considered review, I’ve been lax about keeping up this blog. But that’s all changing now! I finish my degree this month, and I can’t wait to catch up on all the new books I’ve been eying enviously while I’ve been buried in text books.

In preparation for my reading binge, I’ve also been cleaning out the book shelves in my office and at home. I have finished copies and ARCs that I’m ready to part with. A few are remainders from our last giveaway that were never claimed, and others are highly anticipated new or forthcoming releases. So you know what that means: it’s Spring Giveaway time!

As always, the rules of entry are at the end of the post. Please note that all prizes must be picked up at a BCPL location within two months of notification or they will be returned to the stockpile for the next giveaway. Contest ends at 12:00 AM on Tuesday, May 26th.

So without further ado, here are our giveaways for Spring 2015:



Final Copies/Finished Publications:

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl #1
* Hardcover *

Moving from Texas to Washington, Sunshine, an adopted sixteen-year-old,
discovers that her new home is haunted and that the ghosts may have
revelations about her past.. –NoveList

A Memory of Violets by Hazel Gaynor
* Trade Paperback *

Soon after taking a job at a home for orphaned flower girls, Tilly
Harper finds a notebook that tells the tale of two flower girl sisters,
Flora and Rosie, who were heartbreakingly separated forty years before.. –NoveList

Advent  by James Treadwell
Advent Trilogy #1

* Hardcover *
Five centuries after a magician flees with a small ring that contains
all of the world’s magic, fifteen-year-old Gavin is dispatched to the
home of his aunt because of his ability to see things that others do not
believe exist, a power he must use to stop evil from escaping into the
world. –NoveList

Soul Healing Miracles by Dr. & Master Zhi Gang Sha
* Hardcover *

Subtitled Ancient and New Sacred Wisdom, Knowledge, and Practical Techniques for Healing the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical Bodies.
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
* Hardcover *

Suffering an accident that causes her to forget the last ten years
of her life, Alice is astonished to discover that she is thirty-nine
years old, a mother of three children, and in the midst of an
acrimonious divorce from a man she dearly loves. –NoveList

The Love Playbook by La La Anthony
* Hardcover *

Subtitled Rules for Love, Sex, and Happiness. The author is a television personality, actress, and wife of   New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
* Trade Paperback *

A story inspired by the marriage between Charles and Anne Morrow
Lindbergh traces the romance between a handsome young aviator and a shy
ambassador’s daughter whose relationship is marked by wild international
acclaim. –NoveList

Blowing on Dandelions by Miralee Ferrell
Love Blossoms in Oregon #2
* Trade Paperback (2 copies available) *
Widow and single mother Katherine struggles to run her Oregon
boarding house by herself, but she learns to find the faith, wisdom, and
courage to transform her life and relationships when she meets widower
Micah Jacobs. –NoveList

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
Cormoran Strike #1
* Trade Paperback*

Private investigator Cormoran Strike has a day he’ll not soon forget.
The 35-year-old, who lost a leg in Afghanistan, spends the night in his
bare-bones London office after a relationship-ending fight with his
girlfriend. That morning, he sports a cut on his face (she threw an
ashtray) as he rushes out the door, barreling into a new temp secretary
he can’t afford, almost sending her down a staircase. The forgiving
temp, Robin, quickly proves useful when they get a case: a famous young
model supposedly jumped from the top of her penthouse apartment, but her
brother believes she was murdered. Entering the realm of the mega-rich,
Strike and Robin question celebrities and fashionistas, trying to
uncover the truth in a beautifully written book that was pseudonymously
written by none other than J.K. Rowling.  –NoveList



Advance Reading Copies (ARCs), in order of publication:

The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: May 2015 *
When Sarah Brown, daughter of abolitionist John Brown, realizes that her artistic talents may be able to help save the lives of slaves fleeing north, she becomes one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers, taking her cues from the slave code quilts and hiding her maps within her paintings. She boldly embraces this calling after being told the shocking news that she can’t bear children, but as the country steers toward bloody civil war, Sarah faces difficult sacrifices that could put all she loves in peril. Eden, a modern woman desperate to conceive a child with her husband, moves to an old house in the suburbs and discovers a porcelain head hidden in the root cellar–the remains of an Underground Railroad doll with an extraordinary past of secret messages, danger and deliverance. Ingeniously plotted to a riveting end, Sarah and Eden’s woven lives connect the past to the present, forcing each of them to define courage, family, love, and legacy in a new way. –NoveList

Empire of Night by Kelley Armstrong
 Age of Legends #2
*ARC –
Book Release Date: April 2015 *
Separated while trying to save the children of their village, twin sisters Ashyn and Moria must draw on all their power and influence to defeat enemies of legend and avert war in the empire.  –NoveList

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: April 2015 *
George Sand leaves her estranged husband and children to embark on a life of art in bohemian Paris. A talented writer who finds monetary and critical success, Sand adopts a man’s name, often dresses as a gentleman and smokes cigars. Through her writing, politics, sexual complexities and views on feminism, Sand is always seeking love. This novel has spurred me to learn more about George Sand, a woman truly ahead of her time.  –NoveList

Dead Wake by Erik Larson
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: March 2015 *
In cinematic terms, this dramatic page-turner is Das Boot meets Titanic. Larson has a wonderful way of creating a very readable, accessible story of a time, place, and event. We get three sides of the global story–the U-boat commander, British Admiralty and President Wilson–but what really elevates this book are the affecting stories of individual crew and passengers. — Robert Schnell for LibraryReads.  –via NoveList

The Marauders by Tom Cooper
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: February 2015 *
After the BP oil spill devastates the Gulf Coast, the oddballs and lowlifes who live in the sleepy, working-class bayou town of Jeannette will do anything to reverse their fortunes, including Gus Lindquist, a pill-addicted, one-armed treasure hunter obsessed with finding the lost treasure of pirate Jean Lafitte.  –NoveList

Irritable Hearts by Mac McClelland
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: February 2015 *
In 2010, human rights reporter Mac McClelland left Haiti after covering the devastation of the earthquake. Back home, she finds herself imagining vivid scenes of violence and can’t sleep or stop crying. It becomes clear that she is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, triggered by her trip and seemingly exacerbated by her experiences in the other charged places she’d reported from. The bewilderment about this sudden loss of self-control is magnified by her feelings for Nico, a French soldier she met in Haiti who despite their brief connection seems to have found a place in her confused heart. While we most often connect it to veterans, PTSD is more often caused by other manner of trauma, and can even be contagious–close proximity to those afflicted can trigger it in those around them.  –NoveList

Diamond Boy by Michael Williams
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: November 2014 *
When Patson’s family moves to Marange region of Zimbabwe, he begins working in the mines, searching for blood diamonds, until government soldiers arrive and Patson is forced to journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister and a better life.  –From the Publisher, via NoveList

Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: December 2014 *
When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two.  –From the Publisher, via NoveList

Basquiat by Jennifer Clement
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: November 2014 *
An exploration of the achievements and tragic early death of New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is presented through the story of his relationship with his lover and muse, Suzanne Mallouk. –NoveList

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
 *ARC –
Book Release Date: October 2014 *
Called to perform missionary work on a world light years away where the
natives are fascinated by the concepts he introduces, man of faith Peter
Leigh finds his beliefs tested when he learns of natural disasters that
are tearing Earth apart.  –NoveList

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
Companion to Elijah of Buxton

* ARC –
Book Release Date: September 2014 *
Even though it is now 1901, the people of Buxton, Canada
(originally a settlement of runaway slaves) and Chatham, Canada are
still haunted by two events of half a century before–the American Civil
War, and the Irish potato famine, and the lasting damage those events
caused to the survivors. 
–NoveList

The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs
Bella Vista #2
* ARC –
Book Release Date: June 2014 *
While transforming Bella Vista, her childhood home, into a
destination cooking school, chef Isabel Johansen finds her plans
interrupted by war-torn journalist Cormac O’Neill who has arrived to dig
up old history.  –NoveList
Love by the Morning Star by Laura L. Sullivan
* ARC –
Book Release Date: June 2014 *
Mistaken for one another when they are sent to the grand English country
estate of Starkers on the brink of World War II, Hannah, a distant
relative hoping to be welcomed by the family, and Anna, sent to spy for
the Nazis, both unexpectedly fall in love.  –NoveList

Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly by Conrad Wesselhoeft
* ARC – Book Release Date: April 2014 *
Seventeen
year-old dirt-bike-riding daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of
the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring
drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family.  –Publisher’s Description

Crossover by Kwame Alexander
* ARC – Book Release Date: March 2014 *
Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with
highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his
declining health.  –NoveList
NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER & one of BCPL’s Best Books of 2014

Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst
* ARC – Book Release Date: July 2008 *
Navigating adult responsibilities in a California city where the
dead outnumber the living, rookie cop Michael Mercer becomes
increasingly obsessed with the mysterious fate of his predecessor, an
officer who believed he policed the dead.  –NoveList

Rules of Entry

1. To enter the drawing, you must complete two tasks
First, you must leave a comment at the bottom of this post
stating which titles you would like to receive. If you do not leave a
comment at the bottom of the post, I will not know which prize(s) to
give you if you win the drawing. You may choose as many titles as you like; you
are not guaranteed to win your top choices, but I do my best. Second, you must log in to the Rafflecopter Widget with your e-mail address or Facebook account and Click
“+1” and
“Enter” on the widget only after you have posted your comment below. After
completing the first task, you can also earn bonus entries by following
the directions in the widget
.

2.  All ARCs must be picked up at a Bullitt County Public Library location. Contest ends at 12:00 AM on Tuesday, May 26th. Winners will be notified via e-mail and will be posted on this blog.
Winners will have up to two months from the time of notification to
collect their prizes.

Rafflecopter Widget: Enter the Giveaway Drawing Here
(Don’t forget to click “Post a Comment” to leave your comment in the Comments section below!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BEST OF 2014: Adult Fiction & Nonfiction

Once again, the entire BCPL staff was asked to submit their picks for the best books of the year for adults. From ambitious literary triumphs to crowd-pleasing bestsellers, here are our collective picks for 2014’s best:

Adult Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
This beautiful, sprawling story told from multiple viewpoints centers mostly on Mare-Laure, a 16-year-old blind girl, and Warner, a young German soldier, whose paths are destined to cross.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Mystery, humor, and family drama collide in this brilliantly paced page-turner involving a suspicious death during a parent-night fundraiser at a small-town public school and the months leading up to the tragedy. Readers are left guessing until the very end who was was killed and why, but the authentic personalities and situations are what truly make this book shine.

Blood Magick by Nora Roberts
In this final installment of the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy, Roberts delivers another supernatural-spiced romance with a vivid Irish setting and likable characters.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
As a fifteen-year-old runaway, Holly Sykes has no idea of the integral role she will play in a secret war between two groups of near-immortals. Spanning decades and continents, this novel tells the intricate story of that war, weaving in and out of Holly’s life even as she remains mostly oblivious—until the day that the pieces finally come together in time for a final epic battle.

Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett
The epic multigenerational saga of five families whose live intersect through the 20th century comes to a head in this final episode full of family drama, political intrigue, and societal upheaval.

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
A multi-layered story told through many voices, Leaving Time is at its heart a story about motherhood. The novel centers on a precocious 13-year-old girl determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s disappearance ten years ago, with the help of a disgraced former police detective and an infamous psychic.

The Martian by Any Weir
Originally an underground self-published hit and now destined for the big screen, this novel is a quiet but captivating thriller about an astronaut stranded on Mars with limited supplies and no rescue on the horizon.

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts
Full of Irish lore and compelling characters, this second installment of the Cousins O’Dwyer Trilogy features an impending battle against a magical sorcerer and a romance between childhood friends enmeshed in the struggle,

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
On the eve of a pandemic that will wipe out 99% of the global population, a celebrated actor dies on stage during a performance of King Lear. Twenty years later, a group of traveling musicians and actors and a few others struggle to keep art, culture, and history relevant in a world where the struggle for survival has wiped out hope for many. An elegiac and thought-provoking dystopian novel with substance.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A cantankerous young widower finds new purpose when he finds an abandoned two-year-old in his bookstore.

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott
When a young teen lays hands on her injured friend, it is discovered that she has the power of healing. Unfortunately, with each attempt to heal someone else, Ava finds she herself grows weaker.

Adult Nonfiction

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
In this witty graphic memoir about the last years of her elderly parents’ lives, Chast honestly and often humorously depicts the mental and physical struggles of both the dying and their caregivers. 

Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar
Through an empathetic and vivid account, an award-winning journalist brings to life the unfathomable experience of the 33 men who were trapped 2,000 feet underground at a Chilean mine for 10 weeks in 2010. A riveting account of disaster, survival, and coming to terms with the experience in the midst of a media frenzy.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow
This funny, whimsical guide to like is sure to appeal to nostalgic bibliophiles.
The Mockingbird Next Door by Harper Lee
In this intimate biography of Harper Lee, a journalist offers insights into the reclusive author’s life and thoughts based on their conversations in the latter part of Lee’s life.
UnPHILtered by Phil Robertson
The Duck Dynasty star offers his opinions on life and faith as well as other controversial topics.

BEST OF 2014: Favorite Teen/YA Books

From dark, twisty fairy tales to stunning realistic fiction with an otherwordly quality, 2014 was a great year for YA literature. Andrew Smith had not one but two top-notch books (although I must admit that I’ve only read one so far) and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series came to a worthy end (though the final book hints at further Shadowhunter adventures to come). There were excellent titles that just missed making this year’s list including the Smith book I have read (100 Sideways Miles), the latest installment of Maggie Stiefvater’s mind-blowing Raven Cycle (Blue Lily, Lily Blue), and the 2015 Morris Award finalist The Story of Owen. And then there are the promising titles I haven’t read just yet such as Timothée de Fombelle’s Vango, Meg Wolitzer’s Belzhar, and that other Andrew Smith book (Grasshopper Jungle).

My absolute favorite so far? It’s a really, really tough contest between I’ll Give You the Sun and We Were Liars. The writing in each simply stunned me. I also found the artwork and text combination of Through the Woods to be both magically creepy and breathtaking. Anyway, of those titles I have read, these are my picks for the best YA books of 2014:
 
Fiction

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare
This final installment of the Mortal Instruments series includes plenty of twists and turns and doesn’t overdo the happy ending. When a group of rebellious teens take on evil, consequences are to be expected. Here, though, Clare manages an excellent compromise: a fantastic journey with plenty of action and romance, heartbreaking moments of despair, a satisfactory wrap up for favorite characters, and hints of what is to come in her upcoming series, The Last Hours and The Dark Artifices.
Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King 
So Glory and her sort-of best friend got drunk and ingested the remains of a petrified bat. As weird as that sounds, things get even more bizarre when they begin to see glimpses of the pasts and futures of strangers, family members, and acquaintances. While Glory has lived in a sort of limbo ever since her mother’s suicide, now she is forced to face both the past and the idea of a future, even if the apocalypse may be coming. Trippy, powerful, and full of insights into society and coping with grief, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future is yet another gloriously unique novel from the fantabulous A.S. King.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Stunning and full of passages readers will want to revisit again and again, I’ll Give You the Sun is the story of fraternal twins Noah and Jude. Three years ago, Noah and Jude were so connected that they communicated without words. Now sixteen, they are practically strangers—to each other and even to themselves. Their closeness has been shattered by secrets and lies and tragedy, but perhaps there is a chance to regain what was lost if first each can face what went wrong before. The novel is narrated jointly between the two siblings, weaving in an out of time seamlessly, Noah in the past and Jude in the present. This is an unforgettable novel, kooky and heartbreaking, full of art and love and even a ghost or two. 
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Sixteen-year-old Travis Coates was dying of cancer when he did something drastic. Although his entire body was riddled with cancer cells and beyond saving, a doctor suggested an experimental procedure. So his (cancer-free) head was cryogenically frozen until the day medical science would be able to bring him back. Travis didn’t think it would work, but suddenly he finds himself awakening—no longer sick—to discover that it is five years later and the world has moved on without him. For Travis, it has only been moments, but his friends are college-aged now, and his girlfriend has moved on. Wryly honest, pitch-perfect narration, likable characters, and a surprisingly realistic oddball plot make this a surefire winner.
This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki
Bittersweet and brilliantly paced, this coming-of-age graphic novel centers on a young teen’s summer vacation, during which she finds herself drawn to an older boy and depressed by the strain in her parents’marriage. Mariko Tamaki’s illustrations wonderfully convey Rose’s frustrations, anxiety, and heartbreaks, and the images are full of life and movement.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
Vivid, glossy illustrations and text along with creepily evocative prose tell psychological horror stories with a decided fairy-tale inspiration. This is a uniquely beautiful and terrifying graphic novel, where the text and images truly become inseparable.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
A story of love, lies, secrets, and deep family dysfunction, We Were Liars is a gorgeously written psychological thriller full of drama and mystery. The tale centers on Cady, a young woman with no memory of the summer that changed her life forever but determined to uncover the secrets her wealthy, Kennedy-like family try to keep hidden. 

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Rich yet seemingly effortless world-building and compelling characters make for a dynamic introduction to a promising new trilogy. Kestrel is the daughter of a celebrated, powerful general in a society based on slavery. Soon, according to custom and the expectation of her father, she will have to choose between joining the army and marrying. Although she is an expert strategist, Kestral has no desire to do either. Arin is a slave, far brighter and more cunning and that he appears. Despite their many differences, Kestrel and Arin form a tenuous friendship that promises to become more, but betrayal, conflicting loyalties, and potential war may make peace between them impossible.

Nonfiction & Poetry

Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin
Through candid interviews and before, during, and after photos, Kuklin presents the stories of six very different young adults who are transgender, intersex, or gender neutral. The stories are eye-opening and honest, portraying each teen as a complex, real person rather than an idealized “example.” Extensive back matter provide further information,

Eyes Wide Open by Paul Fleischman
Sidebars, graphs, images, and lively prose combine perfectly to provide teens a comprehensive yet appealing overview of modern environmental issues. Best of all, the text does not tell readers what to think or believe; instead, Fleischman focus on the underlying principles and provides the tools teens need to evaluate information and come to their own conclusions. For example, although Fleischman’s views on certain topics are pretty clear, he provides references for locating divergent opinions.

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
This accessible, well-researched history explores the lives, personalities, and relationships of the family Romanov in contrast with the lives of the ordinary workers and peasants of early 20th century Imperial Russia. Fleming does a fantastic job of putting the Romanov story in global context in a way that will not overwhelm teen readers. Glossy photo interests of the family and other personalities enhance the text.
The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell
History readers and true crime aficionados will both find much to appreciate in this extensively researched yet accessible work about the murders of three men in 1964 Mississippi. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner—two of them white, the other black—were civil rights workers encouraging African Americans to vote before they mysteriously disappeared and later found murdered. In his depiction of the events during “Freedom Summer” and the lengthy search for justice for the murdered workers, Mitchell provides a clear-eyed, thought-provoking look at social justice, then and now,  It will also make an excellent pairing for the older fans of Deborah Wiles’s Revolution.

How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson
Through short, free-verse sonnets, the author paints a portrait of coming of age in the Civil Rights era, from the age of five until about 14. The poems reflect the Speaker’s increasing understanding and awareness of the world around her. Though Nelson is reluctant to claim the work as autobiographical, she also describes the work as “personal memoir, a ‘portrait of the artist as a young American Negro Girl'”. Regardless, it is an intimate, nuanced portrait or growing up in 1950s America.

Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann 
Beautiful, haunting poems turn fairy tale tropes inside out to explore the expectation of society and self-doubts of young women.

BEST OF 2014: Favorite Middle-Grade/Tween Books

Five stunning works in verse and two unforgettable graphic memoirs are just the beginning of 2014’s wonderful offerings from middle-grade authors. My
personal favorite so far? I don’t think I can choose, although I might just love Hello, I’m Johnny Cash a tiny bit more than the others. I personally read and adored each of the books on the list except for one, which I haven’t yet read and was submitted by another staff member (thanks, Kirsten!).

So, without further ado, our favorite middle-grade titles of 2014 are:

Fiction

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Far more than “a basketball novel in verse,” The Crossover is an emotionally rich tale of  two twin brothers—middle school basketball stars—facing the first real challenge to their close relationship. As they struggle with their diverging interests and jealousy over a new girl, Josh also begins to worry about the secrets his parents may be keeping. The novel is told from the point of view of Josh, who is funny, talented, slightly immature, and wholly believable.  The Crossover is a kinetic tour de force that will leave readers cheering and probably a little teary eyed.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney
In this ninth installment in the ever-popular Wimpy Kid series, Gregg Heffley and family hit the road for a trip that promises to be wild, crazy, and laugh-out-loud funny.

The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage
Mo LoBeau and the crazy, loveable residents of Tupelo Landing are back, and I couldn’t be happier. The Newbery Honor–winning Three Times Lucky was one of my absolute  favorite books of 2012, and this book is a worthy follow up. Mo still has the same irrepressible charm as ever, and she and Dale have a new mystery to solve. The question is… Can the inn impulsively bought by Miss Lana really be haunted? And if so… Whose ghost is it and how can the new paranormal division of Desperado Detective Agency prove it?

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky
A sixth-grader who appears to be male but who identifies with “girl” behaviors and , Grayson Sender believes it is safest to remain a friendless loner.  Grayson secretly pretends that basketball pants are a lovely flowing skirt and quietly doodles castles and princesses in class, disguising his drawings as abstract shapes only he can decode. Grayson doesn’t really know what all this means but just wants to be comfortable and quit repressing the inner feelings that are becoming increasingly persistent. Finally, with the help of a teacher and a few older classmates, Grayson finds the courage to finally be Grayson. This is an important, triumphant novel told respectfully and gracefully from Grayson’s point of view.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford
When a troop of unexpected visitors descend on the family inn, 12-year-old Milo is not pleased with the interruption to his winter holiday plans. But soon Milo and his new friend Meddy discover that the guests have secrets worth uncovering and launch a secret investigation. Woven throughout is the rich history of the inn—a haven for smugglers—and bits of folklore that may reveal more than anyone suspects. This is a rich, layered story with a bit of the fantastic. It’s a near- perfect  winter read.

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
Twelve-year-old Rose is besieged by storms. There’s a literal hurricane headed her way and even with her difficulty gauging emotions, she can sense her father’s growing tension. Diagnosed with Asperger’s, Rose finds joy in prime numbers and homonyms and can talk about them endlessly. While her uncle Weldon and her dog Rain don’t seem to mind, her father and classmates easily grow tired of her obsession. But when Rain is lost in storm, Rose must step out of her comfort zone of rules and routines in order to locate her beloved dog. This is a nuanced story of devotion and bravery made memorable by a earnest, unique narrative voice.

The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney
In this powerful and moving novel told through poems and pictures, a young Sudanese girl has her hopes shattered by armed militants who attack her village. Heartbroken after the attack, Amira loses her ability to speak until a simple gift helps her find joy and purpose.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles
In small-town Mississippi during the summer of 1964, 12-year-old Sunny’s life is turned upside down by “agitators” and “invaders” who are encouraging African Americans to register for the vote. Her peaceful community is suddenly full of fear and violence, and Sunny becomes a witness to events she can barely understand. Revolution is a powerful novel that gives young readers an intimate glimpse into important history, but it is personalized by the everyday struggles of Sunny as navigates relationships with her new stepfamily and copes with feelings about the mother who abandoned her. The book appears thick an intimidating, but a number of the pages offer up a series of photographs, quotes, song lyrics, and news stories which provide context and enrich the story.
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
When Felicity Juniper Pickle arrives in her mother’s hometown of Midnight Gulch, she hopes that their small family can finally stay put in one place. Her secret hope is that a trace of the magic that once made Midnight Gulch famous will finally cure her mother’s need to travel. What Felicity finds is far more than she ever hoped—her first true friend, a family larger than she knew, and the secrets that just might lead to a renewal of magic in the town  if only she can find the key. Overflowing with lovable, eccentric characters and a folksy tone reminiscent of Ingrid Law’s Savvy, A Snicker of Magic is an exuberant, heartwarming novel that is magical indeed.
The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White
In a closed off community where magic is forbidden, 12-year-old Kara toils to care for her sickly brother and depressed father. Her mother was killed as a witch, and now that she has discovered that she has magic as well, Kara is terrified. And intrigued. With the discovery a magic book in the dangerous, forbidden forest, Kara turns her life—and then the village—upside down. Creepy and thrilling and a little bit scary, this is a truly engaging read about good and evil and belief in oneself. I already can’t wait for the promised sequel!
West of the Moon by Margi Preus
Gripping storytelling weaves elements of folklore and fairy tales in with the tale of two sisters in 19th century Norway who are determined to find a better life together. When 13-year-old Astri is sold by her aunt to a villainous goat farmer, she vows to escape and reunite with her younger sister Greta. Astri is a compelling, resourceful heroine willing to do anything for her sister, and she refuses to regret the morally questionable choices she is forces to make.

Nonfiction

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Through her own recollections and the scattered memories of family members, a celebrated author shares her own childhood and her path to becoming a storyteller (or liar, as her mother called her as a child) and author. This is a lucid and eloquent memoir in poems that speaks to experiences both universal and personal.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
In this funny and heartwarming memoir, the author shares her personal experiences of growing up deaf. The artwork is expressive and engaging, brilliant in concept. As a character, CeCe is irrepressible and someone readers will root for all the way. 

Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis
Brief, anecdotal poems introduce readers to the story of the Harlem Hellfighters, two thousand black New Yorkers who served as musicians and legendarily brave soldiers in World War I France. While the text is engaging and frequently poignant, it is the haunting illustrations that truly make this work shine.

Hello, I’m Johnny Cash by G, Neri
In this stirring biography, Neri (Ghetto Cowboy) presents the life story of Johnny Cash as Johnny himself might tell it. That is, if Johnny Cash were to speak in vivid, powerful free verse. Gorgeously rendered illustrations and explanatory back matter round out a truly special work.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Christian Robinson
Free-spirited verse, dynamic typography, and stunning acrylic illustrations celebrate a truly fascinating woman in this beautifully designed picture book biography.

The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
An important piece of World War II history is related in a very personal way in this story of 50 men—mostly African Americans—who refused to load more ammunition onto ships after over 200 were killed in an explosion. It’s a powerful story of injustice, told accessibly and compellingly by the author of Bomb, one of our Best of 2012 picks.

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat by Gail Jarrow
In this fascinating tale of scientific discovery, Jarrow uses engaging text and striking archival photographs to tell the story of how a fatal illness that became disconcertingly prevalent in the South during the first half of the 19th century was identified and eventually eradicated. The the black, white, and deep red layout of text and images adds visual appeal to help sustain interest.
Sisters by Raine Telgemeier
In her follow-up to Smile, Telgemeier focuses on the ups and downs of her childhood relationship with her younger sister. The two are wildly different and have frequent battles, and yet they have one very important thing in common. Though there are frequent flashbacks to key moments, the narrative centers on a family road trip to attend a family reunion. The pacing, text, and expressive art are top-notch.

The Story of Buildings by Patrick Dillon
David Maccauley fans and aspiring architects will rejoice to discover this comprehensive, gorgeously illustrated history of buildings. The text is informative yet conversational, engaging readers from the first line and addressing everything from historical building practices across the world to notable buildings, past and present.

Strike! by Larry Dane Brimner
Compelling text, presented along with striking images and colorful sidebars, tells story of the American labor movement and creation of the United Farm Workers (UFW). It’s a tale of bravery and determination that begins not with Cesar Chávez but with the little-known story of  Filipino-American farm workers who jumpstarted the movement.