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Choosing Whose Words Have Power Over Us, a guest post by author Meg Kassel

I loved the movie Labyrinth as a little kid. Aside from being fascinated with David Bowie, I liked the main character, Sarah (Jennifer Connelly), whose baby brother is stolen by Jareth (Bowie), the Goblin King. The only way to get him back is to defeat a formidable labyrinth, with traps and twists that render it nearly impossible to navigate. Despite Jareth’s taunts to give up, Sarah enters the labyrinth to save her brother and makes some unusual friends on the way. There is a poem, which if Sarah could remember the ending to, would negate the Goblin King’s power. But she can’t remember the words. . .

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This movie stuck with me. I’ve watched it numerous times, at different stages of my life. Because, well, David Bowie, but more so because Sarah represented. Steely resolve, determination despite terrible odds, and resilience in the face of a cruel foe. It isn’t surprising that these books, movies, music, make an impression on a writer when they start creating work. There is a bit of Sarah in all my heroines, and certainly in Angie Dovage, the seventeen-year-old main character in my debut, Black Bird of the Gallows.

Early in the book, Angie’s traumatic past is exploited by a bullying classmate, Kiera, who makes a point of informing Reece, Angie’s new neighbor and hot new addition to the student body, about the troubled years Angie lived with her late mother. Angie flees the cafeteria in humiliation and shame. She also hides her musical talent behind a disguise, afraid that if her true identity is known, she and her music would be rejected. That’s where she is in the beginning. That’s where lots of teens are, and that’s where I was at various points in my life. The words of another can devastate. In Black Bird of the Gallows, Angie becomes swept into a fight for survival, as events unfold, both natural and supernatural. She learns to trust herself. She learns to choose who has power over her. Late in the book, she faces Kiera again, although this time, the bully must rely on Angie for assistance. Kiera hasn’t changed. She’s still as petty and small and unkind as ever, but Angie IS different. And that’s what makes this interaction so different from the first.

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There were times in school when I felt intimidated, belittled, by another. There were mornings I walked to the bus stop with a pit in my stomach and sweat on my palms. It’s a horrible feeling, and one I usually kept to myself for fear of compounding the bad feelings I already had. There was no defining moment that ended those feelings for me, but many little lessons. Many tiny revelations. Growth that came in the form of a thousand pricks on the finger. Life is always changing. We DO get to choose whose words have meaning and whose does not. At some point in Angie Dovage’s journey, she decides that Kiera’s words do not. If I hadn’t chosen to disempower the negative voices in my life, I wouldn’t be a writer now. Creativity can’t flourish without some level of personal empowerment. Creativity and fear don’t mix. In Labyrinth, Sarah’s journey eventually finds her face to face with the Goblin King. She prevails because she owns her inner strength, sees a larger world, and finds the words which have been with her the whole time: “you have no power over me.”

Black Bird of the Gallows Official Description:

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.

Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.

What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.

 

Buylinks: https://entangledpublishing.com/black-bird-of-the-gallows.html

Add to Goodreads TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33509076-black-bird-of-the-gallows

 

MegKassel-HeadshotAbout Meg Kassel:

Meg Kassel is an author of paranormal and speculative books for young adults. A New Jersey native, Meg graduated from Parson’s School of Design and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer. She now lives in Maine with her husband and daughter and is busy at work on her next novel. She is the 2016 RWA Golden Heart© winner in YA.

Author Links:

Website: http://megkassel.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/megkassel

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megkasselauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seemegwrite/

tumblr: https://megkassel.tumblr.com/

Newsletter: http://megkassel.com/newsletter/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8353652.Meg_Kassel

Book Review: Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over by Amy Bleuel

Publisher’s description

ra6For fans of PostSecret, Humans of New York, and If You Feel Too Much, this collection from suicide-awareness organization Project Semicolon features stories and photos from those struggling with mental illness.

Project Semicolon began in 2013 to spread a message of hope: No one struggling with a mental illness is alone; you, too, can survive and live a life filled with joy and love. In support of the project and its message, thousands of people all over the world have gotten semicolon tattoos and shared photos of them, often alongside stories of hardship, growth, and rebirth.

Project Semicolon: Your Story Isn’t Over reveals dozens of new portraits and stories from people of all ages talking about what they have endured and what they want for their futures. This represents a new step in the movement and a new awareness around those who struggle with mental illness and those who support them. At once heartfelt, unflinchingly honest, and eternally hopeful, this collection tells a story of choice: every day you choose to live and let your story continue on.

Learn more about the project at www.projectsemicolon.com.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

projectThis anthology shares so many powerful stories of suffering, resiliency, treatment, and hope. The book starts with the story of the project’s founder, Amy Bleuel. She talks about her own history with mental illness and about creating the hashtag in 2013 with the idea of people drawing semicolons on their wrists if they have struggled with mental illness or love someone who does. What follows are many short pieces (some just a paragraph) and photographs of tattoos. The pieces address struggles, histories, diagnoses, suicidal ideology and attempts, histories, causes, reactions, and treatments. Collectively, the stories shared here are about fear, hurt, hope, fights, help, advocacy, understanding, suffering, medication, therapy, inpatient and outpatient treatment, love, and support. The stories are a mix of being from those with mental illness and from those who have loved and lost people due to mental illness. The stories are about abuse, rape, addiction, eating disorders, PTSD, OCD, bipolar, depression, anxiety, panic disorders, borderline personality disorder, chronic pain, postpartum depression, self-harm, schizophrenia, dissociative disorders, social anxiety, and more. While no one’s story is the same, they all contain the same message: there is help and there is hope. The anthology helps remove the isolation, shame, and stigma so often felt with mental illness. Resources at the end include helplines, counseling and treatment information, and support groups. This is an important addition to all library collections. 

For more information on mental health issues, check out Teen Librarian Toolbox’s Mental Health in Young Adult Literature project, which has over 100 posts from authors, bloggers, librarians, and other teen advocates. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

ISBN-13: 9780062466525

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication date: 09/05/2017

#MHYALit: Seven Responses for Those Left Behind, a guest post by author Kat Colmer

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Today we are honored to host author Kat Colmer as part of the #MHYALit Discussion. See all of the posts in our Mental Health in Young Adult Literature series here or by clicking on the #MHYALit tag below.

The release of Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix earlier this year has thrust the issue of teen suicide into the mainstream. Whatever your viewpoint is on the show itself, any discussion around the issue should be encouraged, and although the main focus should remain on the prevention of teen suicide, there is another side to the conversation that is addressed less often—the effect of death by suicide of a loved one on those left behind.

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The main character of The Third Kiss, a young adult paranormal romance, is very much affected and shaped by the suicide of his father. Learning to live with the loss following the suicide of a loved one is far from easy, and those left behind are in need of understanding and support to process and move forward from what may easily be one of the most traumatic events of their lives.

Jonas, the hero of The Third Kiss, reacts mainly with anger and avoidance to his father’s death by suicide. His feelings are a response to the pain he doesn’t want to feel. They deeply influence his actions to the point where he almost loses the one person that’s most important to him. His emotions are a sample of the kaleidoscope of reactions that people experience.Read on for an explanation to these, as well as other common responses to the suicide death of someone important to us:

Sadness

The hallmark of grief, this emotional reaction is likely to involve a deeply personal experience of anguish, heartache and despair. Put simply, it hurts to lose someone we love. How this presents will depend on the person; there may be tears, or they may not cry at all. They may mourn openly, or they may mourn only in private. They may be a dark ball of melancholy, or a streak of agitated energy. Every one of these responses is normal.

Guilt

This is overwhelmingly the most common response. What if… If only… I should have seen it… I should have said something… Guilt shouts all these scenarios loudly, underscoring the belief that a loved one needed our help and we didn’t see it, or didn’t do anything to help.

Anger

A difficult, but completely normal, reaction to the loss of someone you love ending their life. This can be anger at the person who has died: ‘So selfish! How could he do this to us?’, or anger at others: ‘Why didn’t you do something?’ In some cases, anger can turn to rage, often expressed as physical violence directed at objects.

Denial

A normal stages of grief, denial is our way of protecting ourselves. Disbelief that something so tragic has occurred is frequently expressed by those who are left behind, often describing a feeling that their loved one will ‘walk into the room any minute’ or ‘she’ll be there when I get home, on the computer like she always is.’

Anxiety

An unexpected loss, particularly when a loved one has chosen to leave us, rocks and shatters your world. What you assumed was solid, safe, and reliable turns out to be a lie. This is frightening, because it makes you question the reliability of all your other assumptions about life. Add this to trying to process significant events when your brain in overloaded with emotion, and the world becomes a confusing place that is difficult to untangle and trust.

Avoidance

Pain hurts. All these emotions are distressing to experience. Avoidance is one way we protect ourselves from discomfort. A person may avoid talking about the loss or the person or the circumstances surrounding their death, sometimes for years to come.

Yearning

The wish for something different. The overwhelming longing that things had gone another way, that a different choice was made, but mostly that the one we’ve lost was still here.

These responses are not exhaustive, but are ones to look out for when supporting somebody who has lost a loved one through suicide. If you, or anyone you know, has lost someone close, make sure to seek help when feeling down. Reach out to a friend, a trusted adult, or find a health professional you feel comfortable talking to.

 

About The Third Kiss:

Love curses don’t exist. At least that’s what Jonas, master of the meaningless hookup, tells himself when a letter warns him he’s an Eros Guardian cursed to endure a test of true love or forever be alone. His levelheaded longtime friend Cora figures it’s a revenge prank by an ex. The way Jonas stamps each girlfriend with a weeklong use-by date, it serves him right.

But when an impulsive kiss between the two friends reveals potential for more, Cora becomes the target of the Groth Maar: demons sent to wipe out the Eros Guardian line. And suddenly the curse becomes dangerously real.

Breaking the curse means Jonas’s biggest challenge yet. Failure guarantees Cora’s death. But success may cost him his own life…and the loss of his carefully guarded heart to the one girl far too sensible to fall for him.

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Entangled Publishing

About the Author:

kat-colmer

Kat Colmer is a Sydney-based Young and New Adult author who writes coming-of-age stories with humor and heart. The recipient of several writing awards, she has won the Romance Writers of Australia First Kiss contest, as well as the Romance Writers of America On the Far Side contest for her debut Young Adult Paranormal Romance.

Kat has a Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship and loves working with teens and young adults. When not writing, teaching, or reading the latest in YA fiction, Kat spends time with her husband and two children.

Website | Instagram |  Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Entangled Publishing

Thank you to PsychWriter Tamar Sloan for contributing her psychology expertise in the writing of this article. Find out more at https://psychwriter.com.au

Blog Tour Book Review: The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

The First Rule of Punk Blog Tour Banner

 

From the publisher:

From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching. 

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

My thoughts:

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Pérez really nails the middle school experience, the angst of moving far from home, and the irritation youth this age feel with their parents and other authorities. Malú is a well drawn, entirely sympathetic character who will hold large appeal for the intended audience. I was a little skeptical at first of the idea of including zines in this novel, and yet Pérez has seamlessly woven them into the story and used them to do a great deal of ‘show, not tell’ while illuminating the inner life of the main character. I especially liked the inclusion of Spanish language terminology and had a good deal of fun looking up words that were new to me.

Author Bio:

Celia C. Pérez has been making zines inspired by punk and her love of writing for longer than some of you have been alive. Her favorite zine supplies are a long-arm stapler, glue sticks, and watercolor pencils. She still listens to punk music, and she’ll never stop picking cilantro out of her food at restaurants. Originally from Miami, Florida, Celia lives in Chicago with her family and works as a community college librarian. She owns two sets of worry dolls because you can never have too many. The First Rule of Punk is her first book for young readers.

 

Book Review: Boy Seeking Band by Steve Brezenoff

Publisher’s description

ra6Great music and great friendships aren’t always in harmony. Terence Kato is a prodigy bass player, but he’s determined to finish middle school on a high note. Life has other plans. In eighth grade, he’s forced to transfer from a private arts school to a public school, where the kids seemingly speak a different language. Luckily, Terence knows a universal one: music. The teen sets out to build a rock band and, in the process, make a few friends. From the acclaimed author of Brooklyn, Burning and Guy in Real Life comes a fresh, funny, genuine novel about enjoying life beyond the opening act.

 

Amanda’s thoughts

boy seeking bandThere’s a lot to like about this book, but the major thing that stands out to me is this: this is a great book for reluctant/struggling readers who want something that looks/feels “older” than they might normally read. While this is about 8th graders, and could easily be a YA title with not much tweaking, kids 10 and up could comfortably read this book. The cover, plot, and deeper issues the story touches on all make this appealing for both fans of middle grade and fans of younger YA.

 

Minneapolis teen Terence has spent a few years attending an arts school, but now is at Franklin Middle School, a public school, after his mom died and he and his father moved across town. There’s no money anymore for the private school tuition and Terence’s dad is in rough shape, debilitated by grief and, understandably, not doing the greatest job parenting or helping Terence grieve or adjust to his new school. Terence, who plays bass, joins the school jazz band, but they’re not up to his standards, so he bails, searching instead to form his own band. Terence is just a bit of a music snob, something that really comes to light as he auditions people for his band. Before long he’s joined by other musicians, and while they sound great and really seem to click, Terence repeatedly makes it clear that this is just a band—he’s not looking for friends at Franklin. Like, he actually, repeatedly says out loud that he does not want friends. Sure, buddy. Whatever you say. It’s clear that Terence is struggling to work through his mother’s death and all the changes that came after, but he absolutely does not want to talk about it with his new friends (sorry, bandmates) to the point that he freaks out on them if they begin to show the tiniest bit of compassion to him.  In fact, things with the band fall apart, thanks to Terence, just when the Wellstone Music Battle of the Kid Bands is coming up. Terence’s band is being buzzed about at school and they seem like real contenders for the battle, but Terence’s anger and grief, and insistence on going it alone, may get in the way of their potential success. 

 

Brezenoff excels in creating interesting characters. Though Terence holds everyone at a distance, including the reader, the depth of his complicated feelings is clear. He’s surrounded by other people who show there is more to them than what they seem. BOY SEEKING BAND is a well-written look at the ways grief can change a life. Packed with music references, this will appeal to a wide range of readers, but especially to anyone who loves music as much as Terence does. A great addition for both middle grade and young adult collections. 

 

Review copy courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

ISBN-13: 9781496544629

Publisher: Capstone Press

Publication date: 08/28/2017

Sunday Reflections: How to Help those affected by Hurricane Harvey

tltbutton5Although my family lives in the state of Texas, we are far enough inland and away from the storm that we are not being affected. We are expected to have rain through all this week and there is a flood warning in effect, but it will be nothing compared to what is happening in the South. The people in Southern Texas are going to need a lot of help in the coming days, weeks, months and I am trying to compile resources for those who would like to help. Please note, I have seen it mentioned multiple times that you should donate to local resources if you can to help make sure the money gets directly to the people impacted by this devastating storm.

Specific Kid/YA Lit and Library Related Aid:

KidLit Cares: Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort – Kate Messner

Disaster Relief and Support for Libraries | Texas Library Association

Additional Types of Aid:

Helping Out After Hurricane Harvey: Where, What & How To Donate

Here’s How To Help The Victims Of Hurricane Harvey | HuffPost

Aid Hurricane Harvey victims – CNN

Houston mayor establishes Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund | khou.com

How to Help the Victims of Hurricane Harvey : Teen Vogue

If you are not in a position to donate money, please consider donating blood if you are able. Also remember that many pets and animals will be impacted so consider donating things like pet food as well.

If you know of additional resources, please add them in the comments.

Recently in Book Mail

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 7.48.21 AMBook mail has picked up considerably – all of these have arrived on my doorstep within the last two weeks. I’m not entirely sure why things have picked up, but I am also admittedly not an expert on publishing and its seasons. But who’s complaining? I guess my one complaint is that I don’t have enough time to read all of these. If there is anything in particular that jumps out at you, feel free to let me know in the comments. Here are a few highlights:

 

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Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

The sequel to the highly praised novel The Jumbies takes Corinne and her friends on another spine-tingling adventure under the sea.

Corinne LaMer defeated the wicked jumbie Severine months ago, but things haven’t exactly gone back to normal in her Caribbean island home. Everyone knows Corinne is half-jumbie, and many of her neighbors treat her with mistrust. When local children begin to go missing, snatched from the beach and vanishing into wells, suspicious eyes turn to Corinne.

To rescue the missing children and clear her own name, Corinne goes deep into the ocean to find Mama D’Leau, the dangerous jumbie who rules the sea. But Mama D’Leau’s help comes with a price. Corinne and her friends Dru, Bouki, and Malik must travel with mermaids across the ocean to the shores of Ghana to fetch a powerful object for Mama D’Leau. The only thing more perilous than Corinne’s adventures across the sea is the foe that waits for her back home.

With its action-packed storytelling, diverse characters, and inventive twists on Caribbean and West African mythology and fairy tales, Rise of the Jumbieswill appeal to readers of A Snicker of Magic, A Tale Dark and Grimm, and Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

Screen Shot 2017-08-26 at 7.57.57 AMSwing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm , illustrated by Matthew Holm

In the mid-1970s Sunny Lewin is back, star of her personal show, facing the prospect of Middle School, and dealing with the problems of her somewhat dysfunctional family — in particular her older brother, Dale, who has been sent off to a military academy because of his delinquent behavior.

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Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo

This beautiful, collectible book is the story of The Wizard of Oz retold from the perspective of Toto the dog, written by master storyteller Michael Morpurgo, and illustrated in full, glorious technicolour by the sensational Emma Chichester Clark.

The winning pairing of Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark had huge success with their re-telling of Pinocchio and are set to create another instant hit with this must-have gift for every child of seven or over (and children at heart).

Toto is a charming, funny, characterful retelling of the classic story of The Wizard of Oz, all told through the eyes of Toto the dog, whose wit and charm suffuse the book.

All the favourites are there: Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Lion, in a tale that is wonderfully familiar, but full of surprises too, as Michael Morpurgo brings his inimitable storytelling talents to this beloved story. The always-hungry Toto, obsessed with sausages, is a loveable and loyal narrator, and gives a unique spin on one of the most original stories of all time!

Emma Chichester Clark, famously a dog-owner with an illustrative blog about her own Plum Dog, brings amazing, lush colour illustrations to the book, conjuring this vivid story to unforgettable life.

9780525428442

Tumble & Blue by CASSIE BEASLEY

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The Silver Mask by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (No publisher’s summary available.)

My thoughts are mixed on these titles. I didn’t read the first Jumbies book, and I’m usually reluctant to read sequels if I haven’t read the others, but I’ve heard such good things about these books. I did read Sunny Side Up and enjoyed it, so will probably be reading the sequel. The last sequel I’ve highlighted, The Silver Mask, has no publisher’s summary available, which isn’t that surprising considering how full of twists and surprise this series is – and how reliant it is upon them. I’ve read books one and two of the Magisterium series, and will probably invest in books three and four eventually. I’m not certain how to feel about Toto. Michael Morpurgo is a fantastic writer, but I’m not a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz in general. This is probably a second tier choice for me.

Finally, the title I’m most conflicted about is Tumble & Blue. I sincerely disliked Circus Mirandus, although I thought it was well written. (I know that’s an unpopular opinion *shrugs*.) On the other hand, I felt the same way about Kelly Barnhill’s The Witch’s Boy, and yet fell in love with The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I can only hope it will be another of those situations.

Friday Finds: August 25, 2017

fridayfindsThis Week at TLT

Sunday Reflections: At Least They’re Coming to the Library ISN’T Always the Right Idea

TPiB: Superhero Lock-In by Michelle Biwer

Things I Never Learned in Library School: That Time Someone Asked for Help Printing out Swastikas

Book Review: Feral Youth edited by Shaun David Hutchinson

#SJYALit: Walk A Mile In Their Shoes, a guest post by Christina June

Video Games Weekly: Sonic Mania

Book Review: The Infographic Guide to College

New and forthcoming YA and MG to have on your radar

Around the Web

The New York Times Pulls The YA Book That Allegedly Gamed The Bestseller List Over ‘Inconsistencies

Did This Book Buy Its Way Onto The New York Times Bestseller List?

My favorite take on the above two articles:

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Common Joins Amandla Stenberg in YA Adaptation ‘The Hate U Give’

Elizabeth Acevedo’s Upcoming YA Book Is For Afro-Latina Teens Who Never Feel Seen

 

 

New and forthcoming YA and MG to have on your radar

tltbutton7Books, books, and more books! My neighbors probably wonder what exactly goes on over here at the house where UPS of FedEx stops nearly every day. The following are the books that have arrived here in the past few weeks. I will be reviewing many of them in the upcoming months on TLT. See something you’ve already read and need to make sure I don’t skip? Or something you’re super excited to read when it comes out? Let me know with a comment here or on Twitter, where I’m @CiteSomething.

All descriptions from the publishers.

 

 

we nowWe Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson (ISBN-13: 9780735227828 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/01/2017)

The Face on the Milk Carton meets The Impossible Knife of Memory in this ripped-from-the-headlines novel that explores the power of being an ally—and a friend—when a kidnapped boy returns to his hometown.

Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor.

And as Sam starts to confide in Josh about his past, Josh can’t admit the truths he’s hidden deep within himself: that he’s gay, and developing feelings for Sam. And, even bigger: that he never told the police everything he saw the day Sam disappeared.

As Beth and Josh struggle with their own issues, their friends and neighbors slowly turn on Sam, until one night when everything explodes. Beth can’t live in silence. Josh can’t live with his secrets. And Sam can’t continue on until the whole truth of what happened to him is out in the open.

For fans of thought-provoking stories like The Face on the Milk Carton, this is a book about learning to be an ally—even when the community around you doesn’t want you to be.

 

 

spellbookSpellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (ISBN-13: 9780525429494 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/08/2017)

The highly anticipated new book from the acclaimed author of The Accident Season is a gorgeous, twisty story about things gone missing, things returned from the past, and a group of teenagers, connected in ways they could never have imagined.

One stormy Irish summer night, Olive and her best friend, Rose, begin to lose things. It starts with simple items like hairclips and jewelry, but soon it’s clear that Rose has lost something much bigger, something she won’t talk about, and Olive thinks her best friend is slipping away.

Then seductive diary pages written by a girl named Laurel begin to appear all over town. And Olive meets three mysterious strangers: Ivy, Hazel, and her twin brother, Rowan, secretly squatting in an abandoned housing estate. The trio are wild and alluring, but they seem lost too—and like Rose, they’re holding tight to painful secrets.

When they discover the spellbook, it changes everything. Damp, tattered and ancient, it’s full of hand-inked charms to conjure back things that have been lost. And it just might be their chance to find what they each need to set everything back to rights.

Unless it’s leading them toward things that were never meant to be found…

 

 

map for wreckedA Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor (ISBN-13: 9780735228115 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/15/2017)

In this twisting tale of loyalty, betrayal, and love, two sisters must survive the wilds, if they can first survive each other—for fans of Pretty Little Liars and Gone Girl.

Emma has always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two have always been best friends. Until something happens that wrecks them.

I’d trusted Henri more than I’d trusted myself. Wherever she told me to go, I’d follow.

Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in a gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart. To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present?

For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore.

 

 

the first ruleThe First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez (ISBN-13: 9780425290408 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/22/2017)

From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.

There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.

The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!

Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

 

 

arsonistThe Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes (ISBN-13: 9780803740716 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/22/2017)

Code Name Verity meets I Am the Messenger in this riveting YA novel from Morris Award finalist Stephanie Oakes, in which three points of view are woven together in a story that’s part Cold War mystery, part contemporary coming-of-age, and completely unputdownable.

Molly Mavity is not a normal teenage girl. For one thing, her father is a convicted murderer, and his execution date is fast approaching. For another, Molly refuses to believe that her mother is dead, and she waits for the day when they’ll be reunited . . . despite all evidence that this will never happen.

Pepper Al-Yusef is not your average teenage boy. A Kuwaiti immigrant with epilepsy, serious girl problems, and the most useless seizure dog in existence, he has to write a series of essays over the summer . . . or fail out of school.

And Ava Dreyman—the brave and beautiful East German resistance fighter whose murder at seventeen led to the destruction of the Berlin Wall—is unlike anyone you’ve met before.

When Molly gets a package leading her to Pepper, they’re tasked with solving a decades-old mystery: find out who killed Ava, back in 1989. Using Ava’s diary for clues, Molly and Pepper realize there’s more to her life—and death—than meets the eye. Someone is lying to them. And someone out there is guiding them along, desperate for answers.

At turns heart-racing, hilarious, and heartbreaking, The Arsonist is an intricate tapestry—of love, loss, and the mysterious connections between us all.

 

 

bold womenBold Women of Medicine: 21 Stories of Astounding Discoveries, Daring Surgeries, and Healing Breakthroughs by Susan M. Latta (ISBN-13: 9781613734377 Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated Publication date: 09/01/2017)

Meet 21 determined women who have dedicated their lives to healing others. In the 19th century, Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton—the “Lady with the Lamp” and the “Angel of the Battlefield”—earned their nicknames by daring to enter battlefields to aid wounded soldiers, forever changing the standards of medicine. Modern-day medical heroines such as Bonnie Simpson Mason, who harnessed the challenges of her chronic illness and founded an organization to introduce women and minorities to orthopedic surgery, and Kathy Magliato, who jumped the hurdles to become a talented surgeon in the male-dominated arena of heart transplants, will inspire any young reader interested in the art, science, and lifechanging applications of medicine. Lovers of adventure will follow Mary Carson Breckinridge, the “nurse on horseback” who delivered babies in the Appalachian Mountains and believed that everyone, including our poorest and most vulnerable citizens, deserve good health care, and Jerri Nielsen, the doctor stationed in Antarctica who, cut off from help, had to bravely treat her own breast cancer. These and 15 other daring women inspire with their courage, persistence, and belief in the power of both science and compassion.

Packed with photos and informative sidebars and including source notes and a bibliography, Bold Women of Medicine is an invaluable addition to any student’s or aspiring doctor or nurse’s bookshelf.

 

 

spinningSpinning by Tillie Walden (ISBN-13: 9781626729407 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 09/12/2017)

Ignatz Award winner Tillie Walden’s powerful graphic memoir captures what it’s like to come of age, come out, and come to terms with leaving behind everything you used to know.

It was the same every morning. Wake up, grab the ice skates, and head to the rink while the world was still dark.

Weekends were spent in glitter and tights at competitions. Perform. Smile. And do it again.

She was good. She won. And she hated it.

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion—and she finally needed to find her own voice.

 

 

kung fuKung Fu High School: A Novel by Ryan Gattis (ISBN-13: 9780374182267 Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Publication date: 09/19/2017)

High school is brutal, but Jen B. has learned to pick her battles. Except the first one—that one is mandatory. At the Good Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King High School, aka “Kung Fu,” everyone gets beaten to a pulp in their first week. Getting “kicked in” helps Ridley, the drug kingpin who runs the school and everyone in it, maintain order. He’s the reason that 99.5 percent of the students know some form of martial art, and why they suit up in body armor and blades before class.

Jen’s life is savage but simple until the day her cousin Jimmy, a world-famous kung fu champion, shows up. Everyone at Kung Fu wants a piece of him, especially Ridley, but Jimmy’s made a promise never to fight again—a promise that sends the whole school hurtling toward a colossal clash, ending in an epic bloody showdown.

Ryan Gattis’s dystopian satire, Kung Fu High School, is a cult classic in the making—a darkly comic, gleefully graphic, barbaric opera about loyalty, survival, and the horrors of high school, which earned comparison with the works of such icons as Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Price, and Anthony Burgess.

 

 

robotsSecret Coders: Robots & Repeats by Gene Luen Yang, Mike Holmes (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781626726062 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 10/03/2017 Series: Secret Coders Series #4)

Dr. One-Zero has added a new class to Stately Academy’s curriculum. But in “Advanced Chemistry,” they only teach one lesson: how to make Green Pop! While their classmates are manufacturing this dangerous soda, the Coders uncover a clue that may lead them to Hopper’s missing dad. Is it time to use Professor Bee’s most powerful weapon: the Turtle of Light?

From graphic novel superstar (and former computer-programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang, comes Robots & Repeats, the fourth volume of Secret Coders. This wildly entertaining series combines logic puzzles and basic coding instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!

 

 

cast noCast No Shadow by Nick Tapalansky, Anissa Espinosa (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781596438774 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 10/10/2017)

Greg has lived in Lancaster his whole life. The town’s always had its quirks, and being born without a shadow means he’s counted among them. When Greg discovers an old mansion in the woods just outside of town, he didn’t expect to meet a smart, beautiful, funny, and…very dead teenaged girl named Eleanor.

Yeah. He’s in love with a ghost.

And before he knows what’s happening, Greg finds himself at the wrong end of a history lesson when the town’s past, and his own, threaten to pull the two of them apart permanently!

From acclaimed comics writer Nick Tapalansky and phenomenal newcomer artist Anissa Espinosa, Cast No Shadow is a teen romance with humor and heart.

 

 

vanillaVanilla by Billy Merrell (ISBN-13: 9781338100921 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/10/2017)

Vanilla and Hunter have been dating since seventh grade.
They came out together,
navigated middle school together,
and became that couple in high school that everyone always sees as a couple.

There are complications and confusions, for sure.
But most of all,
they love each other.

As high school goes, though,
and as their relationship deepens,
some cracks begin to show.

Hunter thinks they should be having sex.
Vanilla isn’t so sure.

Hunter doesn’t mind hanging out with loud, obnoxious friends.
Vanilla would rather avoid them.

If they’re becoming different people,
can they be the same couple?

Falling in love is hard.
Staying in love is harder.

 

 

a very veryA Very, Very Bad Thing by Jeffery Self (ISBN-13: 9781338118407 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 10/31/2017)

Marley doesn’t just want to be labeled The Gay Kid, but he doesn’t have much else going on. He doesn’t have any hobbies. Or interests. He’s the only kid he knows without a passion . . . until Christopher comes to town. He’s smart, cute, gay, and . . . the son of the country’s most famous, most bigoted television evangelist.

Marley and Christopher immediately spark — and become inseparable. For a month, it’s heaven. Then Christopher’s parents send him to a Pray Away the Gay program, which leads to even worse things. Hurt and outraged, Marley tells a very big lie — and then has to navigate its repercussions.

 

 

adamThe Temptation of Adam: A Novel by Dave Connis (ISBN-13: 9781510707306 Publisher: Sky Pony Press Publication date: 11/07/2017)

Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

 

 

the oceanThe Ocean in My Ears by Meagan Macvie (ISBN-13: 9781932010947 Publisher: Ooligan Press Publication date: 11/07/2017)

Meri Miller lives in Soldotna, Alaska. Never heard of it? That’s because in Slow dotna the most riveting activities for a teenager are salmon fishing and grabbing a Big Gulp at the local 7-Eleven. More than anything, Meri wants to hop in her VW Bug and head somewhere exciting, like New York or L.A. or any city where going to the theater doesn’t only mean the movies. Everything is so scripted here—don’t have too much fun, date this guy because he’s older and popular, stay put because that’s what everyone else does.

But when her senior year should be all boys, SAT prep, and prom drama, Meri feels more and more distance between herself and the people she loves. Her grandma dies, her brother gets hurt, and even her best friend checks out to spend more time with some guy. As she struggles with family, grief, friends, and hormones, Meri must decide if she really is ready for the world beyond her backyard.

Meagan Macvie’s debut novel, The Ocean in My Ears , raises questions of love, purpose, and the power to choose your own future even when your future’s the thing that scares you the most.

 

 

rules rainRules of Rain by Leah Scheier (ISBN-13: 9781492654261 Publisher: Sourcebooks Publication date: 12/01/2017)

After a reckless night, the one person Rain has spent her life protecting may be the only one who can save her

Rain has taken care of Ethan all their lives. Before she even knew what autism meant, she was her twin brother’s connection to the world around him. Each day with Ethan is unvarying and predictable, until one night when her world is turned upside down by a mistake she can’t take back. As her new romance with her longtime crush and her carefully constructed life begin to unravel, Rain discovers that the fragile brother she’s always protected has grown into a young man who no longer needs her. And, for the first time, she discovers just how much she needs him…

 

 

fenwayFenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks by Victoria J. Coe (ISBN-13: 9781524737832 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/02/2018 Series: Fenway and Hattie Series #3)

Fenway’s dog’s-eye-view of the world is as enthusiastic as ever, but his favorite short human is not acting the way he expects—and he doesn’t like it one bit!

Fenway’s life is pretty great, except for the strange stripey chipmunks that have suddenly appeared in the Dog Park behind his house. He’s determined to catch them, but one of their hiding places contains some stinging insects. Ouch! Fenway thinks he can take care of this injury himself, but his humans don’t let him. They take him to the Place of Fear and then Hattie doesn’t even help him take off the Cone of Doom!

Fenway never would have expected Hattie to do these things to him. Doesn’t she love him anymore? But even though his family is acting weird, Fenway is determined do whatever it takes to make them all happy again.

 

 

hamster princessWhiskerella (Hamster Princess Series #5) by Ursula Vernon (ISBN-13: 9780399186554 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 01/23/2018 Series: Hamster Princess Series #5)

A funny, feminist twist on the Cinderella fairy tale for fans of fractured fairy tales

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is not the kind of princess who enjoys fancy dresses or extravagant parties. Cliff-diving, fractions, and whacking people with swords are more her thing. So when she’s forced to attend a boring ball in honor of a visiting ambassador, Harriet is less than thrilled—until a bewitchingly beautiful stranger arrives. Who is she? And where did she come from? The mystery leads to a not-so-wicked stepsister, an incontinent lizard, and a fairy’s spell that’s really more of a curse. Luckily, Harriet knows a thing or two about curses…

Smart, funny, and filled with swashbuckling adventure, book five in the critically acclaimed Hamster Princess series is a hilariously re-told fairy tale for the modern age.

 

 

the hazel woodThe Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert (ISBN-13: 9781250147905 Publisher: Flatiron Books Publication date: 01/30/2018)

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away—by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began—and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

 

 

reignReign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen (ISBN-13: 9781681191119 Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Publication date: 01/30/2018)

Shalia is a proud daughter of the desert, but after years of devastating war with the adjoining kingdom, her people are desperate for an end to the violence that has claimed so many of their loved ones. Willing to trade her freedom to ensure the safety of her family, Shalia becomes Queen of the Bone Lands, a country where magic is outlawed and the Elementae–those that can control earth, air, fire and water–are traitors, subject to torture . . . or worse.

Before she is even crowned, Shalia discovers that she can bend the earth to her will. Trapped between her husband’s irrational hatred of the Elementae and a dangerous rebellion led by her own brother, Shalia must harness her power and make an impossible choice: save her family, save the Elementae, or save herself.

Book Review: The Infographic Guide to College

infographic1Publisher’s Book Description:

For fans of the popular Show Me How series, this illustrated guide to college life has everything a student needs to excel in their first year, from tips on getting involved around campus to advice about applying for loans and studying for exams.

College survival just got graphic!

Get a head start at school with this infographic guide to college life, with colorful descriptions of all the skills you need to survive and thrive in college, and advice about how to:

-Avoid the Freshman 15
-Declare a major
-Get around town
-Apply for a loan
-Ace your exams
-Master study habits
-Stay healthy
-And so much more!

With over fifty colorful, easy-to-read infographics, you’ll know how to make the most of your time in college and be fully prepared for the next step in your education. (Adams Media, 2017)

Karen’s Thoughts:

infographic2

Helping my teens plan for and get ready for college is an important part of my job, so I’m always looking for new and engaging resources to add to my collection. And as my daughter just began her high school career, this task takes on personal meaning as well. So I was excited when I learned about this book. For the most part, The Infographic Guide to College is a pretty straightforward and accessible look at college. It includes things like financial aid, selecting a major and even things like how to do laundry. Because it is presented in infographic format it is a quick and easy to read book, colorful, engaging and in many ways very helpful. I almost handed it to my daughter and her friends who just entered high school and was all set to purchase it for my library, but I had some concerns with a couple of issues that stopped me.

Having Said All That, This is Why I’m Not Buying This Book:

In the midst of all this useful information, there is a stunning lack of information regarding sex and sexual violence on campus. I think these are huge oversights for this publication. The subject of sex isn’t listed in the table of contents or in the index. There is no discussion of consent, sexual violence, sexual safety. Nothing.

There are also two pages about drinking. However, there are no mention in these two sections about the law regarding legal drinking ages. The section on Drinking Games 101 begins like this:

“Parties give you a chance to escape the rigors of classes and meet new people. You’ll also get the opportunity to showcase your drinking skills with popular games like beer pong and flip cup. Here’s the lowdown on the top drinking games played on college campuses.”

Beer Pong, Flip Cup, Quarters and King’s Cup are then explained.

Two pages later there is then a spread on Downing a Drink: What You Need to Know. Some basic safety is included here, like never drink on an empty stomach. But again, there is no mention of legal drinking ages, college rules regarding drinking, concerns about binge drinking and consent, or any type of real acknowledgement of the risks involved with drinking. If you Google “college drinking infographics”, you get a much different view of college drinking. You can see examples of them here, here and here. I think some infographics like this would have presented balance to the information presented.

A Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) of 21 saves lives and protects health

Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) laws specify the legal age when an individual can purchase or publicly consume alcoholic beverages. The MLDA in the United States is 21 years.  However, prior to the enactment of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, the legal age when alcohol could be purchased varied from state to state.1 (Source: CDC)

Keep in mind that the average age of a high school student going directly into college is 18 years old, 3 years below the legal drinking age. Yes, there are older and legal aged college students, but a majority of incoming Freshman are around 18 years-old. Without these discussions, I feel this book is almost advocating illegal behavior that puts a teens college career in jeopardy. This coupled with the omission of the sexual violence epidemic on our college campuses just makes this a no go for me. It seems in some ways irresponsible and negligent; it is not a comprehensive look at college life and those omissions seem like real safety issues.

RAINN: Campus Sexual Violence Statistics

If the author or publisher had included a brief caveat about the laws regarding these issues, I would feel differently about this book. Although it’s hard to overlook any book about college not having a genuine discussion about the fact that one in four college students reports being sexually harassed or assaulted on campus. I have often heard it said that you should review a book for what it is, not what you wish it to be, and for the most part I agree with that. However, this is a work of nonfiction and I think the parts that it leaves out are important and meaningful and, perhaps, dangerous.