“The Accidental Empress” by Allison Pataki – “Fifteen-year-old Elisabeth (“Sisi”), …is utterly enchanted by her sister’s intended fiance, Franz Joseph, the dashing young Emperor of the Habsburgs. Franz is equally attracted to her, and before long the free-spirited Sisi has married Franz and taken her sister’s planned place as Empress, to her sister’s relief but her controlling mother-in-law’s horror. Unprepared for the realities of her new role, particularly the stifling rules of protocol and lack of control over her environment, Sisi repeatedly clashes with the wishes of both her mother-in-law and, more dangerously, her husband. VERDICT Sisi’s story is still popular in Austria but is less well known outside of it, and this novel offers an engrossing introduction to this colorful 19th-century personality. Even historical fiction readers who have grown weary of “royal marriage” plots will find much to savor here in the striking depictions of the Viennese court and intriguing descriptions of the political maneuvers between Austria and Hungary. “–Ed.]. Mara Bandy, Champaign P.L., IL. . LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2015.
“Almost Famous Women: Stories” by Megan Mayhew Bergman – “Every so often a work of fiction engages the reader immediately and resonates long after the book is finished. Such a work is this marvelous collection of stories about remarkable people whose lives had been reduced to mere footnotes. At the top of her craft, the empathetic Bergman (Birds of a Lesser Paradise) embellishes select moments in their history. While the stories themselves are unequivocally fictitious, the characters are not. We meet a member of the first all-female integrated swing band and Allegra, Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter. We also meet a cigar-smoking speedboat racer who calls herself Joe; Dolly, Oscar Wilde’s disturbed niece; and Norma, the sister of Edna St. Vincent Millay, to name but a few. The author has infused her characters with passion and yearning; they are so lifelike we feel we know them. VERDICT Writing with brilliant cadence and economy, Bergman is an impressionist who uses her brilliant palette to illuminate facets of the lives of these brave and creative lesser-known strivers.” Joyce Townsend, LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2015.
“Green on Blue” by Elliot Ackerman – “In Ackerman’s debut novel, young Aziz Iqtbal and his older brother, Ali, live in the remote agriculture hamlet of Sperkai, Afghanistan, until a mortar round fired by the Taliban leader Garzan destroys their home and family. Left as orphans, the two brothers escape to the nearby city of Orgun, where they scrape by as panhandlers and transporters in the bazaar, until another explosion leaves Ali legless and requiring expensive long-term hospitalization. Aziz agrees to serve in the Special Lashkar, an American-backed local militia unit, in exchange for Ali’s medical care. Aziz swears as well to follow the Pashtun tribal code to avenge his crippled brother’s honor by fighting against Garzan. Aziz becomes a trained combatant and joins a unit opposing Garzan. While stationed at the firebase near the strategic border village of Gomal, Aziz associates with the corrupt American military liaison known as Mr. Jack and visits the village leader, Atal. An edgy romance emerges when Aziz falls in love with Atal’s ward, Fareeda, also damaged by the war. Aziz is thrown into the maelstrom of deceit, greed, and betrayal as the different factions extend the war for personal gain. Ackemna’s novel is bleak and uncompromising, a powerful war story that borders on the noir.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“House of Echoes” by Brendan Duffy – “In Duffy’s chilling debut, author Ben Tierney, who’s coping with writer’s block, moves with his family from Manhattan to Swannhaven, a village in upstate New York. Ben and his wife, Caroline, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, hope to build a new and better life by converting an old farming estate into a country inn. Instead of the idyllic life they expected, alarming things start happening. A shed on their property mysteriously catches on fire. Someone, whom the Tierneys’ eight-year-old son names “the Watcher,” leaves disturbing messages and animal carcasses in the nearby woods. On one occasion, a deer’s head is left on their stoop. To make matters worse, Caroline becomes increasingly paranoid. Ben needs to discover who or what is responsible. Having decided to write about the village, he begins seeing eerie connections between events in the past and the present. Duffy does a good job building the suspense, but some readers may feel let down by the implausible ending.” –Agent: Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.
“The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy” by Rachel Joyce – A beautiful story which will grip you, make you laugh and cry, uplift your spirit and leave you feeling profoundly grateful and changed by the reading experience…a wonderful book about loss, redemption and joy.” — Daily Mail
“The Mime Order” by Samantha Shannon – “Paige Mahoney, aka the Pale Dreamer and recent escapee of the penal colony Sheol I, is back in her beloved London, but her situation is far from ideal. Branded as Scion’s most wanted, she is forced to go back to Jaxon Hall, her former mime lord, and resume her life as his mollisher so the syndicate will protect her from Scion. But when syndicate Underlord Haymarket Hector and his entire gang are brutally murdered, both Paige and Jaxon see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity–Jaxon wants to be the new Underlord, and Paige thinks she can finally turn the self-serving, corrupt syndicate toward her cause of bringing down Scion. What Paige doesn’t know is that, just as in Sheol I, things in the syndicate are not at all what they seem, and when Warden and his Rephaite allies return, Paige once again finds herself the leader in a fight to change, and quite possibly save, the world. VERDICT Full of the action, turns, and surprising revelations that readers have come to expect from Shannon, this new installment ends on a wholly unexpected twist.” — Elisabeth Clark, West Florida P.L., Pensacola. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
“Mightier Than the Sword” by Jeffrey Archer – “Jeffrey Archer’s compelling Clifton Chronicles continue in this, his most accomplished novel to date. With all the trademark twists and turns that have made him one of the world’s most popular authors, the spellbinding story of the Clifton and the Barrington families continues.” — inside front cover
“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah – “In this epic novel, set in France in World War II, two sisters who live in a small village find themselves estranged when they disagree about the imminent threat of occupation. Separated by principles and temperament, each must find her own way forward as she faces moral questions and life-or-death choices. Haunting, action-packed, and compelling.” — Christine Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train
“Nora Webster” by Colm Toibin – “…the story of a forty-year-old widow in 1960s/70s rural Ireland who’s on the verge of slipping back into the isolated life from which her husband had rescued her. Nora Webster is, like Toibin’s best characters, iconoclastic, strong and deep. When she loses her beloved Maurice to a long and horrible illness, she seems beyond help: she resents the neighbors’ well-meaning questions and concerns and she’s so grief stricken she barely notices how her children are suffering. Nora is not entirely likable—a self-centered person mired in depression rarely is. But Nora is also proud, fierce and angry—and slowly, slowly she wins you over. Even more important, she eventually finds a way to save herself. This is not a novel that makes a lot of noise—and yet it’s musical. It has a kind of deliberate, note-by-note crescendo—but very few crashing cymbals—as Nora rediscovers her love of singing, learns how art can help her navigate through grief, and how music can help even the most quiet among us to regain our voice.” – Sara Nelson
“The Ploughmen” — Kim Zupan – “In a voice that evokes the great contemporary Western landscape, Kin Zupan’s debut novel, The Ploughmen, weaves a gripping tale both personal and epic. This is a story of two men, a deputy and his prisoner, and the uncommon bond forged between them. A stunning work from the first pages to the last, this is a book that will not be let down.” — Claire Davis, author of Winter Range and Labors of the Heart
“Prodigal Son” by Danielle Steel – “Steel… delivers a contrived tale of suspense centered on twin brothers Peter and Michael McDowell. As a child, Peter is troubled and troublesome. In contrast, Michael, the apple of his parents’ eyes, can do no wrong. Growing up, the brothers are always at odds. Peter eventually finds success as an investment banker in New York, while Michael takes over his father’s medical practice and becomes a beloved figure in the small town of Ware, Mass. After a stock market crash wipes Peter out financially, his wife, Alana, leaves him, taking their two boys with her. Peter moves to Ware, where the brothers have a rapprochement that surprises them both and pleases Michael’s invalid wife, Maggie. When Peter contacts Bill, Michael’s estranged son, Bill shares his misgivings about his father with his uncle. Readers should be prepared for revelations of wickedness on a vast scale in a family melodrama that only dedicated Steel fans are likely to find of much interest.”– PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.
“Twelve Days” by Alex Berenson – “Freelance spy John Wells survived the melee that concluded that first installment in this two-parter, but the real business was left undone: Will Wells and his strange bedfellows–Vinnie Duto, the power-hungry, former CIA director turned senator, and Ellis Shafer, veteran agency analyst waiting for a pink slip–find a way to expose the plot of billionaire Aaron Duberman to incite a war between the U.S. and Iran? The president has swallowed the bait, issuing an ultimatum to Iran: allow the U.S. to examine its nuclear facilities within 12 days, or it’s war. Wells, Duto, and Shafer know Duberman and his associate, the mysterious Salome, are behind the scam, but they don’t know where Salome got the enriched uranium that set off the crisis. Track back that connection, and the president will have to listen; fail, and another Middle East fiasco explodes. Lots of thriller writers know how to work a ticking clock, and lots more come to the genre with some experience in international politics, but few put the two together as effectively as Berenson, former New York Times reporter, does in this compelling, globe-trotting time bomb of a novel. Action fans will get all they came for, as Wells slashes his way from Russia to Israel to Egypt and on to South Africa for the High Noon-style finale, but those looking for genuine insight into the subtleties of the geopolitical chess game will be equally satisfied.” — Ott, Bill. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“Blood Infernal” by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell – “All thriller fans would expect from a combination of Rollins (Bloodline) and the Macavity Award-winning Cantrell (A Trace of Smoke): cutting-edge science, ancient history, and a solid gothic mystery plot … Fans of the authors will not be disappointed, and those who lapped up The Da Vinci Code will be clamoring for more in this series.” — The Library Journal
“Crash and Burn” by Lisa Gardner – “Lisa Gardner, the master of the psychological thriller, has delivered another tour de force with Touch & Go…Gardner does an amazing job of creating realistic situations and characters with emotional resonance. The constant surprises will shock even the most jaded thriller reader.” — Associated Press
“Dreaming Spies” by Laurie R. King – “… In April 1924, Russell hopes to enjoy an uneventful boat trip from India to Japan with Holmes, but the onboard presence of Lord Darley, whom Holmes believes to be a blackmailer’s accomplice, suggests that theirs will be a busman’s holiday. Sure enough, the couple soon learn of a missing passenger, possibly a victim of extortion, and reports of a poltergeist that made off with a tennis racquet. On arrival in Japan, they are asked to perform a delicate mission for the prince regent that is vital to the future of his country. While some may not like the idea of a married Holmes, many will find the character deepened by his partnership with the spirited and clever Russell.” –Agent: Linda Allen, Linda Allen Literary Agency. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“Endangered” by C. J. Box – “… Joe Picket …, the Wyoming game warden faces a crime far too close to home. The sheriff tells him that his foster daughter, April, has been beaten and left for dead in a ditch; Joe’s reaction to the alarming news is an unequivocal “I’m going to kill Dallas Cates,” a dazzling local rodeo champion last seen running off with April. As April lies in a medically induced coma, Joe has to balance his personal crisis with an environmental one: finding the poachers who slaughtered a flock of 21 sage grouse, a species approaching endangered status. Meanwhile, the FBI is tracking the every move of Joe’s old friend Nate Romanowski, who went on the run in Stone Cold. Some of the plot devices stretch credulity, and the dialogue isn’t as crisp as usual, but the story carries the day.” — Agent: Ann Rittenberg, Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“Falling in Love” by Donna Leon – “Longtime readers of Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti novels are in for a treat. Her new book, Falling in Love, harkens back to the first novel in the series, Death at La Fenice, in which Brunetti cleared the name of opera singer and murder suspect Flavia Petrelli. The diva is in need of Brunetti’s help once again, this time as victim rather than as suspect. It seems an obsessed fan has entered Petrelli’s life, bombarding her with bouquets of exquisite yellow roses. At first the attention and the adulation was flattering, but that was before the roses began to pile up in her dressing room and in her locked apartment. And before a young singer publicly complimented by Petrelli was brutally thrown down a staircase. Brunetti must intervene (with the able assistance of ever-so-resourceful and devious Signorina Elettra) in an attempt to forestall any further violence. Fans of exceptionally character-driven mysteries will find lots to like here.” — Bruce Tierney. BOOKPAGE, c2015.
“The Fifth Heart” by Dan Simmons – “…a riveting mixture of historical fact and fiction. The year is 1893. Henry James and Sherlock Holmes travel together to America to solve the mystery surrounding the death of socialite Clover Adams (whom, some say, James would later use as his inspiration for his novels Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady). It’s an unlikely pairing: the two men are quite different temperamentally. James is convinced Clover killed herself, while Holmes seems equally convinced it was murder. Oh, and there’s a very good chance Holmes isn’t Holmes at all but rather a fictional character adopted as a persona by the Norwegian explorer Jan Sigerson. Simmons has a lot of fun with the whole “Is Holmes real?” question, and fans of Conan Doyle’s stories (some readers might remember that “Sigerson” was one of the great detective’s assumed names) should have a great time. But the book isn’t just for Holmes’ fans–it’s a solidly constructed, beautifully told mystery; a portrait of one of the nineteenth century’s most important writers; and an intriguing blend of fact and fantasy. Fans of Simmons’ special brand of historical metafiction should seek this one out.” — Pitt, David. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015..
“The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins – “Artfully crafted and utterly riveting, The Girl on the Train’s clever structure and expert pacing will keep you perched on the edge of your seat, but it’s Hawkins’s deft, empathetic characterization that will leave you pondering this harrowing, thought-provoking story about the power of memory and the danger of envy.” — Kimberly McCreight, author of Reconstructing Amelia
“Memory Man” by David Baldacci – “This strong first in a new thriller series from bestseller Baldacci (The Escape) introduces Amos Decker, the memory man, whose unique abilities are the result of a vicious hit he suffered as a 22-year-old NFL rookie that ended his football career. The injury induced hyperthymesia and synesthesia in Decker–he forgets nothing, and he “counts in colors and sees time as pictures in head.” Years later, the murders of his wife and daughter left him too grief-stricken to continue working as a cop in what may be Burlington, Vt. At age 42, the grossly overweight Decker is barely scratching out a living as a PI. The arrest of Sebastian Leopold for the slaughter of his family and a mass shooting at a local high school combine to put an unwilling Decker back into the game with temporary credentials as a policeman. Rusty but still brilliant, he rejoins his former partner, detective Mary Lancaster, in investigating both cases. A startling discovery links the school killings and those of his family. Baldacci supplies a multitude of clever touches as his wounded bear of a detective takes on a most ingenious enemy.” — Agent: Aaron Priest, Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.
“Obsession in Death” by J. D. Robb – “In the fortieth installment in the best-selling In Death series featuring New York police lieutenant Eve Dallas, Robb reminds readers that her protagonist is not someone who “gets by with a little help from her friends.” However, when Eve arrives at her latest crime scene, she discovers that someone sees things rather differently, as evidenced by the note left near the body of defense attorney Leanore Bastwick. Not only does it say that Leanore was murdered because she didn’t respect Eve, but the killer claims to be Eve’s “true and loyal friend.” As it turns out, Eve’s new BFF has compiled a long list of people who haven’t been as nice as they should to Eve, and now they are all going to have to pay. Whether writing as J. D. Robb or Nora Roberts, this author knows how to hook readers, and her latest enthralling Eve Dallas book ticks along as smoothly as a meticulously crafted Swiss watch.” –Charles, John. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“E. E. Cummings: A Life” by Susan Cheever – “Cheever, … begins this dramatic portrait of modernist poet E. E. Cummings, of “when the world is mud- / luscious” fame, with her memories of Cummings performing one of his famed readings and of listening intently in the backseat as her father, fiction writer John Cheever, drove the poet, his good friend, back to Greenwich Village. This intimacy shapes her telling of the up-and-down story of this unlikely rebel–a handsome, “flexible and slight,” rigorously educated “Harvard aristocrat” who discovered “a kind of poetic sweet spot” of scintillating innovation and complex lyric power. Cheever analyzes Cummings’ subterranean anger, anti-Semitism, excessive carousing, and flagrant antiauthoritarianism in France after enlisting during WWI, which landed him in a camp for “undesirables.” Cheever incisively dissects Cummings’ two disastrous marriages and the shocking abduction of his adored only child, Nancy Thayer, who became an artist and poet unaware of who her father actually was. With Ezra Pound as friend and mentor, Cummings deftly created “wild, expressive syntax” and wielded his signature lower-case “i” as critical response ran hot and cold, and ardent fans left flowers on his doorstep. Cheever’s reconsideration of Cummings and his work charms, rattles, and enlightens in emulation of Cummings’ radically disarming, tender, sexy, plangent, and furious poems.” Seaman, Donna. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography” by Laura Ingalls Wilder – “Fans know that Little House in the Big Woods was not Wilder’s first book; that honor belongs to a handwritten autobiography, completed in 1930. Although Wilder and daughter Rose mined it frequently for their fiction, the memoir is only now being published, and Hill’s annotated edition provides readers with much background information and context as well as a sorting out of the facts, fictions, and errors. New details emerge–including that real Pa gave away the family dog, Jack!–but Hill’s most valuable contribution is her careful comparison of this text with the Little House books. She clearly demonstrates how frequently Wilder’s ideas and exact phrasing appear in both–which should reassure those who fear that collaborator Rose was the true genius behind the series. Lengthy footnotes make the manuscript somewhat tricky to navigate, but Hill’s comments are cogent and her arguments strong, and this will be welcomed wherever there are Wilder fans. Illustrated with maps, photos, and artwork, and appended with additional manuscripts and an extensive bibliography. YA/C: Students writing reports on Wilder would be well served to start here.” — SH. Weisman, Kay. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande – “Distressed by how “the waning days of our lives are given over to treatments that addle our brains and sap our bodies for a sliver’s chance of benefit,” surgeon Gawande… confronts the contemporary experience of aging and dying. Culture and modern medicine encourage an end-of-life approach that focuses on safety and protection but is sadly shallow. He frets that residents of nursing homes are often lonely and bored. Physicians are keen on intervening whenever a body is diseased or broken. Yet this “medical imperative” applied to terminally ill individuals can be frustrating, expensive, and even disastrous. Gawande suggests that what most of us really want when we are elderly and incapable of taking care of ourselves are simple pleasures and the autonomy to script the final chapter of life. Making his case with stories about people who are extremely frail, very old, or dying, he explores some options available when decrepitude sets in or death approaches: palliative care, an assisted living facility, hospice, an elderly housing community, and family caregivers. One of these stories is the impassioned account of his father’s deterioration and death from a tumor of the spinal cord. As a writer and a doctor, Gawande appreciates the value of a good ending. ” –Miksanek, Tony. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Brave Men Don’t Cry: The World War II Memoirs of a Veteran of the 99th Infantry Division recognized as a Liberator of a Concentration Camp” by Curt Whiteway – “The vivid memoirs of a combat infantryman of the 99th Division, whose unit was at the forefront of the Battle of the Bulge and the subsequent advance into Germany during the last months of World War II. Curt’s unit came upon all the horrors of war, including brutal concentration camp settings, leading to his unit being recognized as Liberators of the Muhldorf sub-camp of the main Dachau Concentration Camp in May of 1945.” — Amazon.com
“Long Mile Home: Boston Under Attack, the City’s Courageous Recovery, and the Epic Hunt for Justice” by Scott Helman and Jenna Russell – “The Boston Globe’s extensive coverage of the April 15, 2013, attack on the Boston Marathon forms the foundation of this work by Globe reporters Helman and Russell. A compelling and comprehensive narrative woven together from five different perspectives, the title includes a sixth: that of the bombers and their family. It tells the definitive story of the event, starting before the bombings and covering through to their aftermath. Despite the multitude of sources drawn upon, the writing is seamless and riveting; the authors expertly place the reader in the center of the action: on the sidewalk next to the bombers’ backpacks, in a getaway car with the suspects, in a hospital elevator with President Barack Obama, and inside the minds of the responders and investigators. VERDICT This well-crafted tale is likely of most interest to readers similar to the people profiled: marathoners, hospital staff, emergency responders, police, investigators, and Bostonians. Sensitive in its treatment and thrilling in its pace and immediacy, the book will also appeal to those who enjoy reading about crime, disaster-response planning, and current events.” — Ricardo Laskaris, York Univ. Lib., Toronto. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
“Thirty Below Zero: In Praise of Native Vermonters” by Ethan Hubbard – “…a collection of 200 portraits of native Vermonters taken over a forty-year period, 1964-2004. “These are not new transplants. These are men and women whose bloodlines carry 200 years of cold and snow, hardship and laughter, tribulations and triumphs, and thankfulness to be alive.” — Ethan Hubbard, author
“Wanting It” by Diane Whitney – “Behind Diana Whitney’s debut collection of poetry Wanting It is a tremulous spirit full of wonder and imaginative agitation. Her poems are ancient secrets that luxuriate as much in the natural world as they do in the ancient sources and songs for her forebears and our wondrous lives as humans how desire and love. Such an abundance of torrential light will be felt long after this book is read.” — Major Jackson, author of Holding Company, Hoops
ADULT AUDIO BOOK
“What I Know for Sure” by Oprah Winfrey – “You lead life; it doesn’t lead you” is the motivating message behind media super star Winfrey’s life, career, and latest book…Divided into topics including resilience, clarity, gratitude, and awe, each essay provides a brief encouraging and thought-provoking reading moment. Winfrey writes calmly and conversationally. Among many other topics, she addresses personal strength, spirituality, clutter, and debt. She encourages readers to accept and welcome change, to appreciate the gift of life, and to be true to one’s self. She digs into painful memories to share lessons she’s learned, as well as how she has moved beyond pain and regret. Those interested in her personal life will find scattered details of how she spends her days, from time with her partner or her friends to reading and exercising. Gentle and supportive, while concise and sincere, these brief observations invite readers to five minutes of quiet contemplation. Ask yourself what you know for sure, Winfrey says, and “hat you’ll find along the way will be fantastic, because what you’ll find will be yourself.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“22 Jump Street”
“Big Hero 6”
“Downton Abbey Season 5”
“Game of Thrones Season 4”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles
“Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”
“Outlander Season One Volume One”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast”
“1989” by Taylor Swift
“But Not the Hippopotamus” by Sandra Boynton
“Hot Dog, Cold Dog” by Frann Preston-Gannon
“A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat” by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackwell
“The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Dan Santat
“Blizzard” by John Rocco
“The Everlasting Embrace” by Gabrielle Emanuel
“The Grasshopper & the Ants” by Jerry Pinkney
“Home” by Carson Ellis
“I’m My Own Dog” by David Ezra Stein
“Lindbergh the Tale of a Flying Mouse” by Torben Kuhlmann
“My Bike” by Bryon Barton
“My Grandfather’s Coat” retold by Jim Aylesworth
“Outside” by Deidre Gill
“Red: A Crayon’s Story” by Michael Hall
“Rodeo Red” by Maripat Perkins
“Shh! We have a Plan” by Chris Haughton
“Smick!” by Doreen Cronin
“Supertruck” by Stephen Savage
“Use Your Words, Sophie!” by Rosemary Wells
“Waiting is not Easy” by Mo Willems
“Wolfie the Bunny” by Ame Dyckman
JUVENILE AUDIO BOOK
” The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman – “Due to ghastly circumstances, the ghosts of a graveyard take in a young toddler whom they name Nobody, or Bod for short. The enigmatic Silas becomes Bod’s guardian and makes it his duty to protect the boy from those who intend harm. Bod grows up in the graveyard, and although he is still alive, the Freedom of the Graveyard allows him to see in darkness, fade from view, and slide through walls. As he matures, Bod encounters ghouls, a werewolf, and a witch, but none as terrifying as the man who killed his family and now wishes him dead–Jack. For the first time, listeners can hear the music of the Danse Macabre, the slithering echo of the Sleer, and the transformation of Bod from inquisitive child to self-assured young man. The full cast, including Gaiman, skillfully depicts each character’s unique traits and idiosyncrasies. Listeners will also hear some background on the book, read by the author himself, and music by Bela Fleck. A must-have for fans of the original novel and anyone who enjoys engaging fantasy.” — Amanda Spino, Ocean County Library, NJ. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson – “Written in verse, Woodson’s collection of childhood memories provides insight into the Newbery Honor author’s perspective of America, “a country caught/ between Black and White,” during the turbulent 1960s. Jacqueline was born in Ohio, but spent much of her early years with her grandparents in South Carolina, where she learned about segregation and was made to follow the strict rules of Jehovah’s Witnesses, her grandmother’s religion. Wrapped in the cocoon of family love and appreciative of the beauty around her, Jacqueline experiences joy and the security of home. Her move to Brooklyn leads to additional freedoms, but also a sense of loss: “Who could love/ this place–where/ no pine trees grow, no porch swings move/ with the weight of/ your grandmother on them.” The writer’s passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson’s ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family.” –Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014
“Gingerbread for Liberty! How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution” by Mara Rockliff – “Rockliff (The Grudge Keeper) and Kirsch (Noah Webster and His Words) pay playful tribute to a Revolutionary War hero whose legacy lies in his culinary talent. Just before the outbreak of the war, Christopher Ludwick emigrated from Germany to Philadelphia, where he set up a bakeshop specializing in gingerbread (“the best in all the thirteen colonies”) and let no one go hungry: “No empty bellies here!” he booms. “Not in my America!” Ludwick shrewdly uses his baking skills after enrolling in Washington’s army to feed both colonial troops and British-hired German soldiers, in an effort to persuade them to defect to the patriots’ side. Working in watercolor, Kirsch takes a cue from Ludwick’s baking to create characters that resemble gingerbread cookies with white icinglike details; speech-balloon comments add another layer of humor to the story. Rockliff’s story celebrates an unheralded historical figure, reinforces the value of creatively employing one’s skills, and reminds readers that heroes can be found in surprising places. A gingerbread cookie recipe appears on the endpapers.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos” by Stephanie Roth Sisson – “Sisson’s loosely sketched mixed-media illustrations trace the life of Carl Sagan, beginning with his childhood spent in Brooklyn, an environment seemingly ill-suited to learning about the stars. Yet thanks to his natural curiosity, a visit to the World’s Fair, and the library, Sagan’s awareness of science and the universe grew. The book does, too–a spread depicting the hazy sun over Brooklyn rooftops unfolds to show it in space (“Our sun is a big ball of fiery gas held together by gravity,” Sagan learns). Sisson goes on to recap Sagan’s later endeavors, including becoming an astrophysicist, appearing on TV, and sending messages into via the twin Voyagers. A broader message about the role wonder plays in innovation resonates throughout this story, which concludes with extensive biographical and source notes.” — Agent: Abigail Samoun, Red Fox Literary. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014
“The Right Word: Roget and his Thesaurus” by Jen Bryant – “With its spirit of old-fashioned inquiry and cabinet-of-curiosities charm, Jen Bryant’s The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is a delightful tribute to a man of genius who changed the way the world looked at language. Born in London in 1779, Peter Mark Roget was an avid reader with a proclivity for making lists–of Latin words, of weather data, of facts about the natural world. He pursued a medical career in London, indulging his preoccupation with classification and his love of words along the way. Roget’s habits culminated in the 1852 publication of his now-ubiquitous Thesaurus, a reference volume listing words and their synonyms that sold briskly at the time and has never gone out of print. Featuring lists copied from Roget’s own notebooks, antique papers, type blocks and other ephemera, Melissa Sweet’s breathtaking mixed-media illustrations reflect the great man’s intellect–roving yet selective, inclusive but discerning. Young readers will love poring over this book of wonders.” — Julie Hale. BOOKPAGE, c2014.
“Absolutely Almost” by Lisa Graff – “Half-Korean 10-year-old Albie is being forced to switch from his private New York City school to P.S. 183. His new school gives him more specialized attention, but it also means dodging a name-calling bully and making friends other than his buddy Erlan, whose family is starring in a reality TV show. Because of Albie’s academic struggles (especially in spelling and math), his mother hires Calista, a college art student, to tutor and spend time with him. Albie isn’t happy about these and other developments, and his matter-of-fact observations are often both humorous and poignant: “I didn’t think the book was for babies at all, because for one thing babies can’t read,” he thinks after his mother tells him he’s “way too old” for Captain Underpants and hands him a copy of Johnny Tremain. Graff’s (A Tangle of Knots) gentle story invokes evergreen themes of coming to appreciate one’s strengths (and weaknesses), and stands out for its thoughtful, moving portrait of a boy who learns to keep moving forward, taking on the world at his own speed.” — Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander – “The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences–Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks–both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both.”c- Bush, Gail. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Dash” by Kirby Larson – “Mitsi is happy with her life in Seattle, with her family, her friends, her teacher, and, most of all, her white dog, Dash. But after Pearl Harbor is bombed, life takes a turn for Mitsi’s Japanese American family, and they are forced to leave everything they know for an internment camp, including one special member of the household–Dash the dog. This heartfelt story brings close what a girl like Mitsi would have experienced: the loss of friendships, dizzying change, and fear of the future. But for Mitsi, perhaps the hardest thing to bear is missing Dash. Fortunately, a kind neighbor agrees to take him in, and soon she is receiving letters from him that brighten her world. Based on a true story of a girl who had to leave her dog, this book helps readers understand the hardship that Japanese American citizens endured while at the same time offering a story of one girl with relatable hopes and worries. What also comes through is how a strong family can pull together in the worst of circumstances.” — Cooper, Ilene. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing” by Sheila Turnage – “More tightly focused than Turnage’s Newbery Honor book, Three Times Lucky (2012), this absorbing sequel quickly reacquaints readers with the Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, setting and its quirky inhabitants, while introducing a few new characters and another mystery for Mo and her friend Dale (aka the Desperado Detective Agency) to solve. Each question they answer leads to another: Who was the girl whose ghost haunts the dilapidated Old Tupelo Inn, which operated from 1880 to 1938? How did she die? Who killed her? Why does she still haunt the inn? When a sixth-grade history project sends Mo, Dale, and their classmates out to interview elderly residents, the pieces of the puzzle gradually move into place–with an occasional nudge from the ghost herself. The intrepid Mo LoBeau, who narrates the story, gives full credit to her best buddy, the occasionally trepid Dale, and slowly warms up to Harm, an initially cocky newcomer whose family history is intertwined with the mystery. The portrayal of Dale’s attitude toward his father, now in prison, is handled with sensitivity and perceptiveness. Turnage’s ability to create convincing characters and her colorful use of language combine to make this a fresh, droll, rewarding return trip to Tupelo Landing.” Phelan, Carolyn. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Greenglass House” by Kate Milford – “Twelve-year-old Milo’s Christmas looks ruined when five eccentric guests arrive at his parents’ inn on the first day of vacation. But his new friend Meddy has other ideas, and soon the pair is investigating a series of thefts and creating alter egos based on the role-playing game Odd Trails. Milo’s new persona allows him to imagine his Chinese birth family without the guilt he usually feels toward his loving adoptive parents when he does so. The mysteries surrounding the guests and their connections to the inn unravel slowly, but Milo–with his resentment of the unexpected, his growing empathy, and his quick powers of deduction–is a well-drawn protagonist. Likewise, the fictional port of Nagspeake, whose daring smugglers face off against ruthless customs agents, makes for a unique and cozy setting, where Milo’s parents’ inn provides a refuge for “runners,” as the smugglers call themselves. The legends and folktales Milford (The Broken Lands) creates add to Nagspeake’s charm and gently prepare the ground for a fantasy twist.” — Author’s agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“The Madman of Piney Woods” by Christopher Paul Curtis – “In 1901, Benji Alston lives in Buxton, Ont., a real-life town settled by abolitionists and runaway slaves…. Alvin “Red” Stockard, son of an Irish immigrant and a local judge, resides in nearby Chatham. The woods of the title connect the two towns, and both boys have grown up hearing cautionary tall tales about a wild boogeyman who lives there. Writing in his customary episodic style, Curtis relates their separate stories in alternating chapters, incorporating a large cast, his trademark humor and gritty hijinks, and the historical events that shaped the people and the area: slavery, the U.S. Civil War, and Irish immigration. It takes more than half the book for the boys–both 13–and their stories to connect, which may try the patience of some readers. …” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“The Penderwicks in Spring” by Jeanne Birdsall – “. With the addition of baby sister Lydia, the Penderwicks’ blended family returns with all the big-family drama and joys that fans have come to expect. In this fourth installment, musically inclined fifth-grader Batty is delighted to learn that her school’s dull music teacher has been replaced by the more appealing Mrs. Grunfeld; better still, the new teacher thinks Batty has a “rare and beautiful” voice. Inspired, Batty earns money for singing lessons by walking two unusual neighborhood dogs, a job that makes her yearn for her own, recently deceased dog. After overhearing a family secret, she starts to believe that she was responsible for the death of her mother, who passed away when Batty was a baby. It takes a lot of detective work from her older sisters, parents, and neighbors to figure out why Batty is so blue, but in true Penderwick fashion, misunderstandings are soon righted. The warmth and compassion of the Penderwick family comes through in every page of this slice-of-life novel, healing emotional bruises and reassuring readers that most problems can be overcome.” — Agent: Barbara S. Kouts. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2015.
“The Pet and the Pendulum” by Gordon McAlpine – “As a satellite plummets toward Earth, nefarious Professor Perry plots to kill either Edgar or Allan Poe using a diabolical machine inspired by “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Meanwhile, the 12-year-old twin geniuses, their beloved cat, and certain dead poets in the Celestial Office Building work toward a dramatically different conclusion. Zuppardi’s droll ink drawings perfectly capture the tone of the text. Fans of the Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe trilogy will hang on every word of this concluding volume, relish the poetic justice of the ending, and wonder what McAlpine will dream up next. ” — Phelan, Carolyn. Booklist Online. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“The Question of Miracles” by Elana K. Arnold – “Iris is starting sixth grade in a new school in Oregon-new house, new people, new life. Her parents want to distract her from the recent death of her best friend in California. The incessant rain echoes her state of mind and she turns away from potential friends, seeking instead someone she can barely tolerate-so that she must only endure minimal interaction. His name is Boris, and while he is obviously an outcast, Iris prefers to be on the outskirts right now. Her brain is grappling with unanswerable questions-is the essence of Sarah out there somewhere? Would Sarah’s spirit follow her to her new house? Iris explores possible avenues to find the answers-priests, a psychic, and an experiment with electronic voice phenomena. Iris’s relationship with Boris transmutes into a real friendship as she expands her horizons to include him and even confide in him. Boris, meanwhile, enjoys the first real friendship he has had in a long time. This is a realistic view of grief, with particular emphasis on the agonizing longing to know if a lost loved one is truly out there somewhere. Iris’s stay-at-home dad fills the story with great flavors and textures-from the baby chicks he hatches to his homemade bread, giving the story a cozy touch despite Iris’s impossible quest for answers. Recommended for larger collections and anywhere a new title on grieving is needed.” — Kathy Cherniavsky, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
“The Terrible Two” by Mac Barnett and Jory John – “Miles Murphy isn’t happy about moving to small Yawnee Valley (Welcome sign: “Come look at our cows”) or leaving his friends, but he is determined to be Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy’s number one prankster, the title he proudly held at his old school. He is facing serious competition, however, when an anonymous–and, Miles admits, inspired–trickster delays the first day of school by somehow blocking the school’s entryway with the principal’s car. Worse, aptly named Principal Barkin blames Miles and pairs him with goody-two-shoes Niles Sparks; then he is targeted by bully Josh. Undaunted, Miles focuses on achieving premiere prankster status, but he is continually thwarted. Thus begins a rivalry of pranking one-upmanship, but perhaps an alliance is better–and ultimately rewarding in multiple ways. With plenty of humor, quirky characters, interspersed drolly related cow factoids, and fantastical, over-the-top pranking, this entertaining, enjoyable read will especially appeal to Wimpy Kid aficionados. Throughout, lively black-and-white cartoon illustrations depict characters, scenarios, and sundry ephemera with witty details. Readers will be anticipating the prankster pals’ further escapades.” — Rosenfeld, Shelle. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done” by Stephan Pastis – “The too-smart-for-his-own-good kid detective is back for a second zany installment, along with his 1500-pound polar/bear business partner, Total. Timmy has big dreams for his crime-solving empire, fueled by his complete self-confidence, delusions of grandeur, and his assured win in a competition to find a stolen globe worth $500. But first, shenanigans are afoot and must be thwarted. Timmy is a wonderfully frustrating narrator. He is egotistical, oblivious to his own ineptitude, and blames any missteps on the shortcomings of others. Yet, as Timmy’s grip on reality begins to weaken and his actions begin to alienate those around him, readers will nevertheless sympathize with his unraveling. Fans of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series (Abrams) or the “Big Nate” books (Andrew McMeel) will enjoy the sharp, ironic humor as well as the black-and-white comic illustrations. While some advanced vocabulary and a few adult-directed jokes and references may escape middle-grade readers, plenty of the puns, plays-on-words, and clever comedic timing will result in laugh-out-loud moments.” — Elly Schook, Jamieson Elementary School, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2014.
“The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – “When word starts to spread about Germans bombing London, Ada’s mother decides to send her little brother, Jamie, to the country. Not 11-year-old Ada, though–she was born with a crippling clubfoot, and her cruel mother treats her like a slave. But Ada has painfully taught herself to walk, so when Jaime departs for the train, she limps along with him. In Kent, they’re assigned to crotchety Susan, who lives alone and suffers from bouts of depression. But the three warm to each other: Susan takes care of them in a loving (if a bit prickly) way, and Ada finds a sense of purpose and freedom of movement, thanks to Susan’s pony, Butter. Ada finally feels worthy of love and respect, but when looming bombing campaigns threaten to take them away from Susan, her strength and resolve are tested. The home-front realities of WWII, as well as Ada’s realistic anger and fear, come to life in Bradley’s affecting and austerely told story, and readers will cheer for steadfast Ada as she triumphs over despair.” — Hunter, Sarah. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World” by Charles R. Smith Jr. — “… Using a variety of creative techniques (rhymed couplets, free verse, eulogies, primary source documents, and others), complemented by rich, vibrant illustrations, this account, with an entry for each of the 28 days in February, briefly but effectively summarizes significant events and individuals from the Revolutionary War through modern day. Day 17 presents a poem about Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe that lobs words from line to line. Day 25 offers a countdown of 10 biographical facts about the lives of astronauts Guy Bluford and Mae Jemison. Smith’s entries are brief enough to be shared daily during a Black History Month celebration, but they’re also sufficiently compelling to read through in one sitting. Evans’ buoyant and colorful illustrations have the look of cut-paper collage, and their expressive movement and joyfulness only add to the overall feeling of celebration. The book ends with the final day’s exhortation: words of inspiration for young readers to make the most of every day. An inspiring, fresh take on a perennial topic.” — McBroom, Kathleen. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“Bedtime Math2: This Time It’s Personal” by Laura Overdeck – “…another winning fusion of math and mirth, offering dozens of problems inspired by everything from the rate at which fingernails grow to the amount of water used in taking showers and baths. Once again, questions are available for readers at three levels, introducing basic mathematical operations, comparative size and length, counting by 10s, and other topics. On a spread entitled “There’s No Wrong Time for Pajamas,” Overdeck asks youngest participants (“Wee ones”) to predict a pattern using pajama sets, while giving “Big kids” a two-step addition problem (“If you sleep in your PJs from 8:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., then wear them to school for another 6 hours, how many hours do you get to wear them?”). Paillot’s cartoons bring an abundance of energy and comedy to the pages, whether he’s drawing a toilet-paper mummy or a child soaking in a bathtub full of cheese puffs. It’s a smart way to get kids thinking about the ways in which math is part of their daily lives.” — Cathy Hemming, Cathy D. Hemming Literary Agency. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“El Deafo” by Cece Bell – “. A bout of childhood meningitis left Bell…deaf at age four, and she was prescribed a Phonic Ear, with a receiver draped across her chest and a remote microphone her teachers wore. Her graphic memoir records both the indignities of being a deaf child in a hearing community (“IS. THAT. AAAY. HEAR-ING. AAAID?”) and its joys, as when she discovers that the microphone picks up every word her teacher says anywhere in the school. Bell’s earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe (“eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!”), and her invention of an alter ego–the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters (“How can El Deafo free herself from the shackles of this weekly humiliation?” she asks as her mother drags her to another excruciating sign language class)–all combine to make this a standout autobiography. Cece’s predilection for bursting into tears at the wrong time belies a gift for resilience that makes her someone readers will enjoy getting to know.” — Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems” by Paul B. Janeczko – “Never more than six or seven lines long–and some are just a few words–each poem in Janeczko’s (A Foot in the Mouth) spirited anthology celebrates an aspect of the seasons. Evocative and accessible, they make excellent prompts for classroom poetry exercises. “What is it the wind has lost,” ask poets Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser, “that she keeps looking for/ under each leaf?” Sweet’s (Little Red Writing) artwork is marvelously varied. In some spreads, the animals and people are drafted in thoughtful detail, while in others her line is loopy and spontaneous. Dragonflies and crickets blink with flirtatious cartoon-character eyes in one scene, while fireflies and their haunting light are painted with meditative calm in another. Beach towels are striped in hot colors; fog in a city is rice paper glued over a collage of tall buildings. William Carlos Williams’s red wheelbarrow and Carl Sandburg’s little cat feet appear along with lesser-known works. Even Langston Hughes’s poem about a crowded subway sounds a note of hope: “Mingled/ breath and smell/ so close/ mingled/ black and white/ so near/ no room for fear.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust
“Seeds of Freedom: The Peaceful Integration of Huntsville, Alabama” by Hester Bass – “This picture book opens by telling of life in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1962, during the Jim Crow era. While the city takes pride in its world-renowned space center, a black family cannot eat in a whites-only restaurant. Not allowed to try on shoes, a black child draws the outline of her feet on a piece of paper and takes it to the store. When African Americans push for change, they meet resistance. But they persevere. Working with leaders in the white community, they gradually, peacefully break down barriers, gaining equal access to stores, restaurants, and, in 1963, public schools. In an appended note, Bass offers more local details as well as a broader perspective. The use of present tense gives a great sense of immediacy to the text as it transports readers into the past to watch events unfold. The relatively peaceful changes in Huntsville are briefly contrasted with the violence in Birmingham around the same time. Capturing the period with finesse, Lewis’ expressive watercolor paintings record the events and settings in beautifully composed scenes. His portrayal of people is particularly fine, conveying the personalities, attitudes, and emotions of individuals as well as the essential dignity of the nonviolent protesters. A valuable introduction to the civil rights period.” — Phelan, Carolyn. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation” – “Pura Belpre Award-winning Tonatiuh (Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote, 2013) makes excellent use of picture-book storytelling to bring attention to the 1947 California ruling against public-school segregation. The concise, informative text, with occasional and always translated Spanish lines, discusses how being banned from enrolling in an Orange County grade school because of her skin tone and Mexican surname inspired Sylvia Mendez’ family to fight for integrated schools. Soon they were joined by many others, including the NAACP and the Japanese American Citizens League, which led to their hard-won victory. Tonatiuh’s multimedia artwork showcases period detail, such as the children’s clothing and the differences between the school facilities, in his unique folk art style. An endnote essay recapping the events, photos of Sylvia and her schools, and a glossary and resource list for further research complete this thorough exploration of an event that is rarely taught. This would be a useful complement to other books about the fight for desegregation…” Goldsmith, Francisca. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees” by Franck Prevot – “Dramatic and dreamlike paintings celebrate Nobel Peace Prize–winner Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt movement. As a child in Kenya, Maathai learned the importance of nurturing forests, and after receiving her high-school diploma “at a time when very few African women even learn[ed] to read,” she traveled to the U.S. There, she studied the connections between environmental destruction, poverty, and oppression before returning to Kenya: “She asks that people think about the future even if the present is harsh and difficult.” Fronty’s fluid artwork incorporates organic motifs and African textile patterns to stirring effect, and extensive appended materials offer powerful supplemental information to conclude this standout tribute to Maathai’s perseverance and hard-won successes.” —Publishers Weekly, *starred review
“Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold” by Joyce Sidman & Rick Allen – “In Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold, Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen take a fascinating look at how animals endure the shivery, dark weeks of winter. Through rollicking rhymes and breezy free verse, Sidman examines the cold-weather habits of wolves, moose, snakes, beavers, tundra swans and more. Her lines are full of fresh imagery (bees have “eyelash legs” and “tinsel wings”), and the collection as a whole unlocks the secrets of nature in ways young readers will appreciate. (Who knew that snakes hibernate in the same place every winter?) Sidebars offer intriguing survival stories and fun facts about each creature, while Allen’s digitally layered linoleum-block prints provide detailed studies of the season. A collection that’s as crisp as the first snowfall, Winter Bees is the perfect way to pass a chilly afternoon.” BOOKPAGE, c2014.
“Audacity” by Melanie Crowder – “Audacity is an evocative reimagining of a fascinating historical figure who should be remembered for her determination in the face of great odds and powerful opposition–and for her role in changing America. Melanie Crowder’s powerful verse reveals a long-past world, but the combination of hope and outrage that Clara Lemlich brought to her struggle should be both recognizable and inspirational to teen readers longing to right the injustices of our day.” — Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of Uprising
“Firefight” by Brandon Sanderson — “To the public, Epics, and Reckoners alike, David Charleston is now Steelslayer, assassin of Steelheart, the High Epic who ruled Newcago. Having rid that city of its virulent overlord, the Reckoners have infiltrated Babylon Restored, formerly Manhattan, where their new target, High Epic Regalia, rules a flooded city inhabited by devil-may-care Babilarans. David, however, is becoming uneasy with the Reckoners’ goal of slaying Epics. If indeed the Epics’ fears are the keys to their weaknesses, as he speculates, perhaps they are not destined to destroy; perhaps they can learn to control themselves and their evil compulsions. His first target for salvation? His secret love, Megan, aka Firefight. But Prof is sure Megan is playing David in order to infiltrate the Reckoners’ base and so plans to destroy her in spite of David’s protests. This lacks the constant tension and edgy technology of Steelheart (2013), but this second in Sanderson’s Reckoners series concludes in true, violent, high-action Steelslayer style, promising not only more of the same in the still-to-come Calamity, but hinting of future romance as well.” — Bradburn, Frances. 432pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“If You’re Reading This” by Trent Reedy – “Mike Wilson is a good kid. He gets good grades, works at the farm of a family friend to help his single mother make ends meet, and even tolerates his obnoxious little sister. His father died a hero in Afghanistan seven years ago, and as Mike’s fifteenth birthday approaches, he has begun receiving letters from his dad, delivered by an anonymous member of his father’s unit. All Mike wants to do is play football, and when the first piece of his father’s serialized advice encourages him to embrace the glory days of high school, he forges his mother’s signature and joins the team. What follows is hazing from a bully on the team, a complicated relationship with a Muslim girl on the social sidelines, and guilt and confusion about his interwoven secrets. Many readers will anticipate a revelation about a hidden identity, but that won’t stop them from enjoying this literary, nuanced, respectful treatment of military themes, sports dynamics, and small-town life.” — Barthelmess, Thom. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.