Archive for the ‘New Books’ Category
Let’s kick off the new year with resolutions. First, I highly suggest making a reading resolution, whether it is to read more books, read more of a certain kind of books, read a different way (i.e. try to finish books more quickly, make more time to read, try to savor books more, try new ways of finding good books, etc.) or whatever else you can think of. Me? I’m resolving to read fewer than two books at once. That sounds nutty, but reading more than two was a problem for me in 2013 – I felt like I didn’t care as much about each book when I was balancing three (or more – I know, insane) at once!
But of course there are the classic resolutions about health and wellness (“I will exercise”), friends and family (“I will be nicer”) or school (“I will try harder”). With that in mind, here are some books to help you kick off your resolutions. Resolve to read them.
Resolution: “I will start planning for college! EEEEEEK” This is one you juniors (or even sophomores…) might make if you are feeling anxious about the planning process. Resolve to kick it off and stop being scared.
You might know Sara Zarr from all her awesome books. In this one she teams up with fellow author Altebrando to take a much-needed look at the trials and tribulations of transitioning from high school to college. With last year’s Fangirl (by Rainbow Rowell) it seems like books about that time period are becoming popular – and with good reason because it’s definitely a unique experience. Roomies tells the story of brand new roommates EB and Lauren as they get to know each other and college. Roommates aren’t always well-matched, of course, so very-different EB and Lauren must overcome differences in order to find trust in the person they’re sharing a tight space with.
Resolution: “I will practice more so I can follow my dreams!” Whether your an artist or an athlete, you might resolve to hone your craft so you can go farther.
Beth is shy, so when she takes a chance and posts a video of herself singing on YouTube, she doesn’t expect it to garner much attention. Maybe some of her peers will see it, and she’ll feel cool for putting herself out there. Never in her wildest dreams did she think a big-shot music exec would see it and offer her a way to make her singing dreams a reality: an internship in NYC at his recording company. Soon Beth is confronted with serious choices – when a collaboration with Bonified Records’ biggest stars means both girls might get to follow their hearts, or see their dreams disappear. This is a cool story that lets you explore the industry from the inside while inspiring your own dreams of stardom.
Resolution: “I will stand up for what I believe in!” Anyone seeking to be more courageous, more confident, or more self-aware might make this resolution.
After her father dies and her grief-stricken mother immigrates to the U.S., Angel is left feeling alone and bereft in her home country, the Philippines. With her sister and grandmother left essentially in her charge, Angel doesn’t have much time for herself. Soon, though, her grandmother inspires her to get involved with the Filipina Comfort Women, an activist group that teaches Angel about the revolution going on in the Philippines. When Angel is forced to move to the U.S. to join her mother, she again feels unmoored and disconnected, and finds herself having to confront the grief and anger she has carefully hidden since her father’s death. Angel is an inspiring character, and you’ll also learn more about the rich history of the Philippines.
This will be the last New Books Highlight post for 2013!
Instead of the usual showcase of three new books on one subject or theme, I thought I’d put together a few different themes that have been popular recently and a few books from each.
The First Dragon by James Owen – book 7 in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica
Palace of Spies: Being a True, Accurate and Complete Account of the Scandalous and Wholly Remarkable Adventures of Margaret Preston Fitzroy, Counterfeit Lady, Accused Thief, and Confidential Agent at the Court of His Majesty, King George I by Sarah Zettel
Dark Dystopian (with less romance than your average dystopian.):
The literary remix is fast becoming its own genre. Let me define: literary remix is when an author takes a work of literature or lore and reworks it as a new piece of fiction. Whether the story uses the same character names and relatively the same plot but puts it into a different time or place, or uses the plot and its symbolism as bones to build a pretty new story around – a lot of authors take inspiration from literature and lore. It’s a really fun genre because if you’re familiar with the original, the reworked piece is more vivid. It’s fun to see where the plot is similar, or how the author of the remix has transformed objects, places and people for the modern day or future. Here are a few new books that remix either fairy tales or canonical literature.
The fact that this is a remix is right in the title: twists on timeless tales. Melissa Marr works in the fairy-tale remix genre often, so it is not surprising that she co-edited this. It features new stories by authors like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Stohl, Rick Yancey and Holly Black. Each story reworks a classic piece of literature or lore, and in the remixing author identifies which story inspired them, and tells you a bit about why. This is the most fun to read if you know the stories being reworked, but if you don’t you will be inspired to find them.
This is the second volume in the Woodcutter sisters series. The author remixes not one but many fairy tales, even throwing in some Greek mythology for good measure. Most of Saturday Woodcutter’s family understands their magical gifts – everyone but her, it seems. So when the tossing away of a magic mirror puts her whole family in danger, Saturday is ready to take on the adventure in the hopes of better-understanding her gifts. She set sails on a conjured sea only to be imprisoned by a blind witch who mistakes her for her brother. But the witch has other prisoners and with their help Saturday may be able to orchestrate their escape – if she doesn’t accidentally fall in love first.
This is a dark and story paranormal romance retelling of Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. In this remix, the style of writing and the structure of the story remain very close to the original work – but author Croggon sets the story in a world in which women practicing magic has been made illegal, and main character Lina may have supernatural powers. As in the original, Lina is in a star-crossed lover situation with her adopted brother, Damek, which amps up the danger Lina faces. It is as haunting and atmospheric as the original, with even more Gothic touches and a paranormal overtone.
This is not a classic remix because it is set after the events in the original story, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Author Taub imagines what comes next after Romeo and Juliet have both died (and now you’re totally saying, “I have always wondered!”). Verona has found some piece in its grief over the young lovers’ deaths. But the Montagues and the Capulets have not set aside their rivalry. Their is violence in the streets, and Prince Escalus decides he must take action: by forcing a Montague to wed a Capulet, thereby uniting the two families once and for all.
Based on the classic Gothic novel Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. Tess has transferred to elite boarding academy Thorn Abbey. Despite her lack of confidence – or perhaps because of it – she draws the attentions of Max de Villars. However, Tess, and everyone at the school in some way or another, seems to be haunted by the ghost of Max’s last love, Becca, who tragically drowned the previous year. Tess’s roommate was especially changed by Becca’s death, and now seems to be channeling her madness towards Tess and Max’s union.
Last week I featured three new books that take music as a central theme, a plot driver, a character changer. This week, let’s look at sports in that role. Sports books aren’t a huge genre. Besides the big names, Mike Lupica and Carl Deuker, there aren’t many authors that spring to mind. This fall, though, there have been several new releases featuring sports as a plot point and theme – not to mention the fact that I think they may be quintessential and classic sports stories! So if you love to read about your favorite sport – whether you play or not – pick these up.
Publisher summary: “Felix O’Sullivan, standing in the shadow of his dead brother, an angry, distant father, and racial tension, must lead the last-ever Muckers high school football team to the state championship before a mine closing shuts down his entire town.” It’s a small-town story about a football team no one thinks will make it, based on a true story, written by a former ESPN sportscaster: what’s not to love?!
Sneak Peek! “I come to the shanty in the Barrio from behind, dipping under the broken shutters so the late-October moon won’t cast a shadow and wake up Cruz.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Sandra Neil Wallace)
Maybe baseball stories are more your thing. Well then, Pitcher is a home-run for you. Ricky Hernandez dreams of being a pitcher and has done ever since he learned he had an arm while playing a carnival game. Thing is, now that he’s 14 and he’s got even more speed behind his pitches, he still has not learned to control the ball. He needs a chance and training, but he can’t afford it. He does have this reclusive neighbor, though, who is rumored to have been a big-shot MLB player, long-retired. Ricky’s mom wants nothing more than for Ricky to succeed, so she approaches their neighbor pleading for help; but she has no idea how much this will help them all, in the end.
Sneak Peek! “I never knew I had an arm until this guy calls out, ‘Hey, you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?'” (Text copyright © 2013 by William Hazelgrove)
With all the recent coverage of the NFL’s head injury policies, or lack thereof, this is a particularly perfect book. Another football story, this time one that also features media scandals – high school paper style. The story is told in the form of emails and blog posts, making it a fast read. Jerry is the star quarterback, with all the drama that entails. When he’s thrown off the team after a drunk-driving incident, he thinks he’ll never get back into the world of sports. Enter, Carla, the high school paper’s star reporter. She recruits Jerry to work on a sports blog for the paper. Before he knows it, Jerry is deeply involved in Carla’s attempts to unearth a scandal surrounding head injuries sustained in contact sports at their school – something no one wants to hear as the school and town are poised for glory. It’s as dramatic as a perfectly timed interception when the team is down and needs to get on the board.
Sneak Peek! “On game day, I usually wake up very early and lie in bed thinking things over.” (Text copyright © 2013 by David Klass and Perri Klass)
This week, several new books that take music as a central theme. In each, the main character’s life comes to be defined in a unique way by music.
16-year-old Elise is unhappy, unpopular, and unsatisfied. A year ago, all of these feelings came together in an ugly way and she attempted suicide. Her home is not her happy place, so she gets out often at night – leading her to discover a world she had no idea existed. She quickly falls in love with the warehouse parties – and in lust with a hot older DJ – but even more she falls in love with DJing. She is excellent at it and through it she feels an escape from the pain. This is a true-to-life story of triumph – despite, or because of, Elise’s stumbles along the way. Bonus: the publishers made a playlist for the book so you can be completely immersed.
Sneak Peek! “You think it’s so easy to change yourself. You think it’s so easy, but it’s not.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Leila Sales)
Like your musical tales a little more magical? Our unnamed narrator and her best friend Aurora grew up like sisters in the atmospheric Pacific Northwest. Their mothers were both wild, and their fathers are both long gone, so mostly they have had each other – similar and yet different like mirror images. When a mysterious and magical musician arrives along with a charmingly conniving boss, the differences between the two girls cause their bond to rupture. Infused with art and music, this is a darkly romantic punk-rock tale for fans of Francesca Lia Block – and it’s the first book in a planned trilogy.
Sneak Peek! “Aurora and I live in a world without fathers. Hers is dead and mine was gone before I was born.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Sarah McCarry)
What if you accidentally fell backwards through time and found yourself at Woodstock? Yes, THE Woodstock. With Jimi Hendrix in all his glory rocking the Star-Spangled Banner. When he finds a white Stratocaster played by Hendrix, Rich wonders what on earth his uptight dad is doing with it. Even weirder, when he plays the right chord, he’s transported back to 1969. There, he runs into his dad and uncle as teens – the thing is Rich’s uncle OD’d at Woodstock, and his death is what left Rich’s dad the angry, sad man ruining Rich’s life. So Rich does the only thing that makes sense in this love-filled hippy fest: sets out to save his uncle – and thereby his dad and himself. Sound like a wacky premise? It may be but it is ultimately a realistic, funny and fun read.
If you loved The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, you will love this book. It’s the 1970s. Lewis is the only kid from the Tuscarora Reservation in the smart-kid track at the county middle school. So you could say he’s a misfit. Used to being bullied and without many friends at his mostly white school, Lewis is surprised when he finds himself becoming friends with the new kid. Misfit meet misfit: they bond over their shared love of rock and roll – The Beatles and other greats – and both slowly begin to trust and understand one another. But when the school’s biggest bully decides Lewis is his next target, their friendship is tested. Given the barriers of class, race, and bullies – can their friendship survive?
There have been some major books released over the last couple of months, so it’s been hard to choose which ones to highlight. This week, though, I was struck by how many “challenging” books I’ve seen hitting the new shelves recently.
By “challenging,” I mean books that suck you in, mess with your head, and knock you back out again as a new person. Books that leave you feeling winded, introspective…changed. Books that make you think – and keep you thinking even when you’ve finished them. One that sticks out in my memory as a challenging read for me is Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.
Not everyone likes these kinds of books: some of us read to be entertained or for comfort, and don’t want to be messed up by a book. That’s okay. You might be surprised, however, next time you reach for what sounds like a comforting read. One thing that is unique about “challenging” reads is that they come in all genres – and they sometimes come out of nowhere. You remember how you felt the first time you read The Hunger Games? You thought, “Boy, my life is different now that I have lived through that.” It’s entertainment, yes, but it left you breathless and altered. Personally, I read it in one night, convinced I wouldn’t like it, but completely changed by watching these children (children!) fight and die for nothing in the messed up world of Panem.
I digress. Without further ado, here are some challenging new reads I hope you pick up soon!
What if you knew the world was ending soon? The characters in this book do. An asteroid is headed for Earth, and all anyone can do is wait. Sienna returns from a mental health facility in time to watch her father get married. Zan must face her fears and get past the recent death of her boyfriend. And Caden is confronted by his long-lost father. Despite the terrifying premise, or maybe because of it, this is a deep and quietly wise book that will make you stop and think about your own life. It’s really kind of joyfully sad, in a way – so perfect for a “challenging” read that leaves you thinking.
Sneak Peek! “The day she gets out, it feels like the end. It’s funny to think about endings now. Now that all there is to do is wait. Now that the real end is coming, all of the other endings feel like something else completely.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Alexandra Coutts)
This one is challenging on several levels. It’s short – so it has less time to hook you, but it still manages to do so quickly and effectively. Narrated by Hannah in somewhat broken English, she tells the story of her youth. When her parents died in a flash flood on a river, she and her friend Becky were left to fend for themselves in the forests of Tasmania. They were essentially adopted by a pair of tigers who managed to keep them safe and fed, despite the girls’ fear and worry. But when Becky’s father finally found them, they were forced to reintegrate into human society at great cost.
Sneak Peek! “Me name be Hannah O’Brien and I be seventy-six years old. Me first thing is an apology – me language is bad cos I lost it and had to learn it again.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Louis Nowra)
The title sure puts it all out there, huh? In a sense, that’s the point: these two topics run rampant in our society, many believe to the detriment of it. And this story tells just how the normalization of sex and violence hurts young people – without preaching a moral message. It’s is honesty on a plate – and it’s not always pretty. 17-year-old Evan is a master of being the new kid in school, after spending his lifetime moving around with his dad’s job. Evan is also the master of figuring out which girl will say ‘yes.’ But this time, he picks the wrong one and ends up getting beaten by the kings of his school. When he moves to a quiet small town to recover with distant family, he must confront the fears and weaknesses that have driven him, and result from his miscalculations. Gritty, funny, life.
Sneak Peek! “When I came out of the Connison gang shower, Collette Holmander was waiting for me.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Carrie Mesrobian)
Mila is highly attuned to people – able to read the room, sense emotions and put together the puzzles people make of themselves. When her father’s best friend goes missing, what was to be a visit to him turns into Mila and her father on the case, so to speak. But this story is far more than a mystery with an easy solution. Written in first person, so much so that the dialogues is filtered through Mila’s head, without quotes, you are drawn into Mila’s world in a strange and thrilling way. This is a complex story that will challenge your worldview and assumptions.
Sneak Peek! “The first Mila was a dog. A Bedlington terrier. It helps if you know these things. I’m not at all resentful at being named after a dog.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Meg Rosoff)
We have a huge manga following in Shorewood, and a lot of readers of graphic novels, too. I post frequently about what’s new in that section because of those fans!
Here’s what’s hot on the manga/graphic novel shelves this week:
On the recommendation of some manga fans, we now have Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure! We will eventually have Volumes 1-7, but for now you can get started in the middle with Vol. 4 or Vol. 7. This is an older Shonen Jump manga from way back in 2006. Jojo is possessed by an evil spirit – and that’s why it’s a bizarre adventure.
Roll Percy Jackson and Superman together and you’ve got Battling Boy. Paul Pope is a comics genius, too, so this is an awesome read. Battling Boy – a demigod – is sent into Acropolis to see what he can do about a little child-snatching ghoul problem they are having. Along the way, his godly status and manhood are tested by problems both normal – an overbearing father and a meddling young lady – and not so normal – uncontrollable superpowers granted by his magical t-shirts.
Yes, this is non-fiction. But this epic saga of American life from the early twentieth century is made more epic by the fact that it’s told as a graphic novel. The Dust Bowl is anything but dusty history when told this way – with clear imagery, cite-able facts (you can use it for research!) and compelling narrative both visual and textual. It’s a really fun way to learn your history.
There are a lot of horror-type books written these days. Even non-horror fans can find horror books they like simply because authors are rolling thrilling, chilling moments and plot lines into all kinds of genres in all kinds of ways. Check out a few brand new ones guaranteed to be a little haunting:
For realistic fiction fans: Marshall survived the car accident that killed his twin brother. This fact consumes him with guilt and drives him to search fora way to communicate with the dead in an effort to somehow assuage his guilt. He seeks a thin space, where the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is not as solid, something he could potentially reach right through. A woman in his neighborhood – Mrs. Hansel – may have created one with her death, but a new family moves into her home before Marsh can investigate. He befriends the new residents and soon has their help locating the thin space. He’s barely keeping it together as the weight of regular life coupled with keeping dark secrets weighs on him. This is a spooky – and yet realistic – story, with a chilling atmosphere of grief, guilt and secrets.
Sneak Peek! “Every morning, I walk by Mrs. Hansel’s house and plan my break-in. Today I think about kicking down doors, shattering windows. I have a one-second flash of myself climbing down the chimney. Which just shows how far gone I am lately.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Jody Casella)
She wakes to hear what she thinks is her death sentence. All she knows is what she can see and hear – the ramshackle cabin surrounded by nothing, and the two men fighting over killing her. Who she is and how she got here is a mystery. Spurred into action by fear, she moves fast and manages to escape, but has no idea where she should go. Thanks to a stranger she meets soon after her first escape, she manages to evade capture and begins to piece together her story. But what she finds about who would want to silence her is shocking. It’s a race against the clock that will keep you turning pages.
Sneak Peek! “I wake up. But wake up isn’t quite right. That implies sleeping. A bed. A pillow. I come to.” (Text copyright © 2013 by April Henry)
Dystopia meets zombies in this thriller. In a bleak future, millions have been transformed into zombie-like creatures thanks to a mass market weight loss beverage. Velvet’s mother was among the unlucky ones. Now, Velvet and her family must live amongst the undead of America. The suspense that comes from Velvet sharing her world with a crew of unpredictable demonized former humans is palpable – and will keep you up at night.
Sneak Peek! “They keep them in cages. The unclaimed. Long rows of narrow, filthy cages lined up along dark corridors lit by bare, hanging bulbs.” (Text copyright 2013 by Em Garner)
From one of the authors of the Beautiful Creatures series comes this haunting new paranormal romance. Kennedy Waters discovers she is a member of an ancient secret society called the Legion when two other members sweep in to rescue her from an attack by a poltergeist. Her mother has just died, so joining forces with the Legion provides some comfort, even as it gets spookier by the minute. The Legion must protect themselves from a demonic force that wants them all dead, and their only hope to do so is to brave the scenes of grisly murders to track down a mysterious device that is supposed to be their savior. From haunted mansions to abandoned mental hospitals – this book takes you to all the creepy spots while keeping you enthralled in the haunting story.
Next week is Teen READ Week! The theme this year is Seek the Unknown, so think about that when you visit the library in the coming days.Here are some new books that ask you to seek the unknown, too!
Sanderson is a reliable author of really cool books. He’s always taking us to unexpected worlds. In Steelheart, it is a world populated by superhumans known as Epics who became that way after a mysterious event everyone calls the Calamity. The most powerful Epic of all, Steelheart, brutally murdered David’s father when he was eight. Now, ten years later, he has joined group called the Reckoners, bent on destroying Steelheart. Action-packed, mysterious, thrilling sci fi at its best!
Set in an anonymous town, in an unknown time, with a mute narrator, calling this book a mystery is an understatement. The setting is a village, a close-knit community, but in an undefined place and time. Judith is mute – her tongue was cut out by a madman who held her prisoner for two years. Just to complicate matters, this madman happens to be the father of the boy she pines for from afar. Another girl went missing around the time Judith was being held hostage, and she may know the truth behind her disappearance – if only she can find a way to get it out.
Pick this up if you loved the Maze Runner series by James Dashner, the Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa and/or the Gone series by Michael Grant. It’s the same kind of fast-paced, gritty storytelling. A great take on both the vampire genre and the dystopian genre. Gene is a human in a world where humans are food. But Gene has not let the vampires know the truth about him, carefully keeping it secret through a web of lies. When Gene is chosen to go on the hunt to kill the last remaining humans, the web begins to unwind and Gene must find a way to protect his very humanity without succumbing to the merciless vampires.
Sneak Peek! “There used to be more of us. I’m certain of this. Not enough to fill a sports stadium or even a movie theater, but certainly more than what’s left today. Truth is, I don’t think there’s any of us left. Except me. It’s what happens when you’re a delicacy. When you’re craved. you go extinct.” (Text copyright 2012 ©by Andrew Fukuda)