“The Book of Strange New Things” by Michel Faber – “…It is a portrait of a living, breathing relationship, frayed by distance. It is an enquiry into the mountains faith can move and the mountains faith can’t move. It is maniacally gripping. It is vibrant with wit and overcast with prescience and social commentary. Like all superlative science fiction, its real subject is that most mystifying of alien species, humanity. I didn’t so much read The Book of Strange New Things as inhabit it, the way you inhabited that handful of books which, as a kid, first got you hooked on this wonderful drug known as reading.” —David Mitchell
“The Bricks that Built the Houses” by Kate Tempest – “”[The Bricks that Built the Houses] marks the arrival of a significant new voice . . . deeply affecting: cinematic in scope; touching in its emphatic humanity . . . Tempest’s voice–by turns raging and tender–never falters. By the time the novel reaches its cleareyed climax, cleverly undercutting its own promised happy ending, the reader is left with the impression of a work that hums with human life.” ―New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice
“Brighton” by Michael Harvey – “Harvey has taken the elements of a classic crime novel and heightened them with race and class tensions, as well as the story of a remarkable friendship and an unforgettable family drama. The result is a novel that crackles with energy and makes you hold on until the final page.” — (Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street)
“The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick – “A year after the death of his wife, Miriam, Arthur Pepper discovers a charm bracelet she’d hidden away, and the charms point to parts of her life he’d never known during their 40 years of marriage. Arthur sets out on a quest to uncover the provenance of the charms. From a family home in India to a tumbledown English manor to an author’s home in London to a Parisian wedding-dress shop, Arthur is surprised and rattled by the places, people, and experiences he discovers shaped Miriam’s life before their simple, content existence in York. With the help of his adult children and a meddlesome neighbor, Bernadette, Arthur realizes that what their life lacked in adventure was made up for in abiding love. Patrick’s debut novel tells a sweet and poignant story about marriage, grief, and memory. Readers will find bumbling, earnest Arthur utterly endearing.” — Walker, Aleksandra. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2016.
“Dear Fang, With Love” by Rufi Thorpe – Lucas has only recently been involved with his 17-year-old daughter, Vera, and the past year has been a doozy. Newly diagnosed with a severe mental illness after a psychotic break, Vera is now heavily medicated and deeply depressed. Hoping to snap her out of the funk, Lucas takes her on a guided tour of his ancestral town in Lithuania. There, while touring the town’s Russian, Polish, and Jewish sites, he hopes to forge a stronger relationship with Vera while chasing down more information about his family’s mysterious past. But while the truth seems elusive, being father and friend to a scared teenager proves harder than he imagined, and Vera has her own questions about his role in her life. Lucas’ point of view is an honest account of parenting a teen with mental illness, while e-mails and messages give voice to Vera’s perspective. Thorpe… sets this tale of parental guilt and teenage angst against the town’s WWII past, adding true-life authenticity to an already stirring story.” — Ophoff, Cortney. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
“The Distant Marvels” by Chantel Acevedo – “…a significant contribution to contemporary literature. The elderly Maria Sirena has lived through and, as a young girl, participated in the Cuban war for independence; now, in 1963, at the dawn of Castro’s new Cuba, with Hurricane Flora on the way, she is evacuated with other women to a historic mansion being used as a shelter. A former cigar-factory lector (a reader-out-loud of fiction into which she surreptitiously weaves her own stories), Maria Sirena entertains her fellow refugees with personal and richly imagined stories that will remind delighted readers of everything from Chaucer to Garcia Marquez. Her life story and that of her mother, including their time spent with the insurgents and in a reconcentrado during the 1890s, becomes a stunning confession. This extraordinary narrative tells, from these women’s perspectives, how war brings lovers together and tears families apart. This is a major, uniquely powerful, and startlingly beautiful novel that should bring Acevedo’s name to the top echelon of this generation’s writers.” — Levine, Mark. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2015.
“Fatal Thunder” by Larry Bond – “Guaranteed to scare the hell out of you . . . Loose nukes are on the march, and you won’t be able to put Fatal Thunder down till the last page.” —W. E. B. Griffin, New York Times bestselling author of Top Secret
“Heart Like Mine” by Maggie McGinnis – “”Joshua and Delaney’s hot and emotionally charged romance will delight readers.” — Publishers Weekly
“Heat and Light” by Jennifer Haigh – “…a stunning book, a grand book, a book of old-fashioned power and scale…it takes aim at power and greed, plunder and the profit motive, the rapacity inherent in the American Dream and the complicity of its victims..This is an unsparing book, and one that sings.” (Joshua Ferris, author of THEN WE CAME TO THE END)
“Ice Chest” by J.D. Rhoades – “A whip-smart and really funny crime novel. The dialogue is snappy and entirely believable. There are twists and turns galore and enough heroes to populate a war movie. If you only read one crime novel this year, make it this one. You will be entirely entertained.”—Manhattan Book Review
“The Last Painting of Sara de Vos” by Dominic Smith – “… Smith crafts a novel about three individuals connected over centuries by a single painting. In 1631, Sara de Vos is the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the Guild of St. Luke’s in Holland. Now, her only surviving painting belongs to a wealthy descendant of the original owner, though it was forged by celebrated art historian Ellie Shipley in her desperate youth, when she needed to pay the rent. That’s a problem, because she’s currently curated a show on Dutch women painters.” — Barbara Hoffert. LJ Prepub Alert Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2015.
“Like Never Before” by Melissa Tagg – “Amelia has sought redemption in Maple Valley for the past three years, after a difficult divorce left her reeling. The arrival of Logan Walker and his sweet daughter, Charlie, starts to mend her broken heart as they pursue the mysterious story of Kendall Wilkins, the town’s oldest citizen, who died and left behind a secret. Amelia and Logan’s love forms quickly in the short time they are together, brought together by small-town charm and their knowledge that people matter more in life than fame. Tagg (From the Start) fashions another endearing, pithy story of finding love at the perfect time.” — Publishers Weekly
“Lily and the Octopus” by Steven Rowley – ““A quirky and deeply affecting charmer of a novel, Lily and the Octopus is funny, wise, and utterly original in its exploration of what it means to love any mortal creature. This brave little dachshund will capture your heart, as will her prickly, tenderhearted, and irresistible owner. Don’t miss their adventures together.” —Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants
“Missile Paradise” by Ron Tanner – “…set in the Marshall Islands, this poisoned island paradise besieged by poverty, disease, and rising sea levels precipitated by global warming, each irresistibly self-embattled character makes grievous mistakes, suffers from regret, and plunges into disaster. Tanner (From Animal House to Our House, 2012), who lived in the Marshall Islands and launched the Marshall Islands Story Project, brings this microcosm of human folly and valor to captivating realization with bracing insights, tangy humor, profound respect, and rebounding resonance.” Seaman, Donna. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2016.
“People Who Knew Me” by Kim Hooper – “Hooper’s debut novel poses the evocative question, have you ever thought about what it would be like to start your life over? Emily Morris answers that question in the most extreme way possible. On 9/11, while the U.S. is experiencing its first wave of mass terror as the World Trade Towers collapse, Emily, who would have died if she had gone to work that day, makes the rash decision to let her family assume that she was killed so that she can disappear from her life for good. However, as she learns, such a selfish, desperate act rarely leaves the actor truly free, especially when there is a child involved. Readers will ponder Emily’s difficult situation and often disturbing choices as they are glued to this compulsively readable tale. Hooper does not shy away from human nature’s less attractive qualities but rather engages with them head on, asking ever more demanding questions: what must one sacrifice in a marriage? What does it take to care for someone who is chronically ill? What does it mean to love yourself?” –. Spanner, Alison D. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2016
“Solemn” by Kalisha Buckhanon – “Focusing) on the coming of age of Solemn Redvine, as well as life in the small town of Bledsoe, Miss. Solemn’s life changes when a baby who could be her half-sibling is born to her neighbor Pearletta Hassle, and she sees Pearletta’s husband throw the baby into a well. The plot becomes more complicated when Pearletta disappears and Earl Redvine, Solemn’s father, commits a robbery, landing Solemn in a group home. Solemn’s relatives, including older brother Landon and sister-in-law Akila, attempt to support her and look to the future, but her uneasy alliance with her roommate, a Chicago girl named Majority, makes the situation even more tense. Eventually, Majority and Solemn are forced to make a decision together about which directions to take in their respective lives. Buckhanon memorably depicts the difficulty of Solemn’s situation, but as she attempts to move forward, Buckhanon also gives readers glimpses of hope. This standout novel is anchored by its vulnerable and brave heroine.” — Al Zuckerman, Writers House. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2016.
“Some Possible Solutions: Stories” by Helen Phillips – “Helen Phillips sings like a Siren on the page (if a Siren also had a killer sense of humor). The short stories in Some Possible Solutions feature doppelgangers and sister-savants, impossible staircases and surreal city parks; they swing open like doors onto rich, strange worlds, which, on closer inspection, reveal themselves to be our own…These tales are true originals, shining their eerie, lovely lights on the water and asking questions that linger.” ―Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
“After the Fire” by Jane Casey – “A fatal fire rages through the rundown Murchison House, part of north London’s Maudling Estate, in Casey’s thrilling sixth mystery featuring feisty, determined Det. Constable Maeve Kerrigan…. Surprisingly, among the dead is the “far-right, immigrant-hating, welfare-criticizing MP” Geoff Armstrong, who either jumped or was pushed from the 10th floor and who seemingly would have no cause to be in such a disreputable place. Uncertain whether the fire is arson, Maeve and her colleagues, including her rough-edged former partner, Det. Insp. Josh Derwent, painstakingly wade through the evidence, witness statements, and profiles of the estate’s down-and-out residents. Maeve and her team succeed in identifying a number of suspects capable of criminal acts. Meanwhile, Maeve is battling health problems resulting from job stress and avoiding a rapist who has been following her for years. Well-drawn characters and engaging subplots compliment the intricate main investigation. Casey keeps the suspense high throughout.” — Ariella Feiner, United Agents PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2016.
“Beijing Red” by Alex Ryan – “This earnest, workmanlike series debut.. introduces Nick Foley, a former Navy SEAL now working with a nongovernmental organization. Foley is leading an irrigation project in western China when a worker collapses with symptoms that look like Ebola. At a local hospital, the victim and Foley are treated as if they were living biohazards, and the government rushes Chen Dazhong, a representative of the Chinese version of the CDC, to the scene from Beijing. The situation could be bioterrorism, but Chen’s investigation is covered up by Commander Zhang of the Snow Leopard unit of China’s counterterrorism team. Foley and Chen, predictably, can’t let go of the matter, which spirals outward to involve a Russian spy, an American spy, and an evil genius who wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond movie.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2016.
“Extreme Prey” by John Sandford – A Hillary Clinton-like presidential candidate is slated for death… Lucas has quit the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but the state’s governor, Elmer Henderson, needs his help. Henderson is running for president in the primaries against Michaela Bowden, who’s seeking to be the first woman to hold that office. Henderson expects her to win and hopes that she will name him as her running mate. However, he fears that she may be assassinated after two people separately approach him and advise him to “be ready for the nomination” in case something were to happen to Michaela. With little more than a bad photograph of one of the two to go on, Lucas must identify the plotters before it’s too late. Sandford reveals the plans of the would-be assassins, Marlys Purdy and her son, Cole, from the opening chapter, and the plot follows a familiar path toward the dramatic resolution that suggests a new direction for the long-running series. Readers who are looking for yet another assassination thriller that paints within the lines will be satisfied..” — Esther Newberg, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2016.
“Fool Me Once” by Harlan Coben – ““Harlan Coben, master of the suburban thriller, has written another compelling and twist-filled tale with ‘Fool Me Once.’…The unpredictability of the story will keep readers literally turning the pages to try and figure out what is really going on. Even those savvy enough to figure out some of the ending will not uncover everything, and the whopper of a payoff not only will have jaws dropping, but also demonstrates Coben’s skill as a writer.” —Associated Press on Fool Me Once
“The Forgotten Room” by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig – “Even with three authors, the story is seamless, and the transitions between narrators are smooth. Focusing on both a family and a single location throughout time makes for a compelling and emotionally worthwhile novel.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Honky Tonk Samurai” by Joe R. Lansdale – “Listening to a Joe R. Lansdale’s East Texas detective yarn in the Hap Collins-and-Leonard Pine series is like hanging out with a skilled barroom raconteur. Lansdale’s language dances with colorful and regular profanity as he performs a shotgun wedding between wild and ridiculous, tying it together with enough cartoonish violence and abundant wit to send you reaching for your wallet to buy the next round. . . . Altogether it’s wild, funny, utterly improbable and thoroughly satisfying entertainment.”―Jenni Laidman, Chicago Tribune
“June: A Novel” by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore – “Love between a small-town girl and one of Hollywood’s leading men leads to murder, blackmail, and secrets. Beverly-Whittemore returns with another charming page-turner, this time marrying old Hollywood elegance to Midwestern practicality… A lightly gothic tale of hearts broken and mended in small-town America.” – Kirkus
“The Last Mile” by David Baldacci – “Amos Decker, the former pro football player, then cop, then private eye introduced in Memory Man (2015), is now working for the FBI, using his special gift–he has hyperthymesia, giving him essentially a perfect memory–to bring criminals to justice. Amos is especially curious about Melvin Mars, convicted of the murders of his own parents two decades ago and who now might be set free because someone else has suddenly confessed to the killings. But is the confession legit? Is Mars a wrongly convicted man, or a murderer whom someone, for some reason, wants back on the streets? The story might be a bit more convoluted than it needs to be, but the characters are solid, and Decker moves from an interesting one-off protagonist to an engaging and multilayered series lead.” — Pitt, David. Booklist Online. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2016.
“Murder Comes by Mail” by A. H. Gabhart – “As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished, as Deputy Michael Keane learns when he saves a man from jumping off a bridge. The man tells Keane he will wish he’d pushed him, which proves to be correct when Keane learns that he has saved the life of a serial killer, who has now escaped from the hospital. Even though the killer’s first murder after his escape is out of Keane’s jurisdiction, the deputy wants to assist the detective in charge, who makes it clear he doesn’t want Keane’s help. Keane investigates anyway, and soon the killer seems fixated on Keane, taunting him, then beginning to threaten the women closest to Keane, including high-powered Washington, D.C., attorney Alex. Deeply rooted in Hidden Springs, Kentucky, Keane is a decent, hardworking deputy who hopes he can persuade the ambitious Alex to join him in his charming village, far from the Beltway. Well-drawn, sometimes-quirky characters and the charming frame of small-town America add to this page-turning mystery chock-full of plot twists.” — O’Brien, Sue. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2016
“The Only Street in Paris” by Elaine Sciolino – “”Countless authors have used a city as their muse… In The Only Street in Paris, Elaine Sciolino explores the rue des Martyrs, a quiet street that cuts through the French capital’s ninth arrondissement… Vivid… a blend of memoir and research, as Sciolino mixes her personal memories of expat life with the stories of artists and luminaries who walked the rue des Martyrs before her.” – (The New Republic)
“Alter Egos : Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle Over American Power” byY Mark Landler – “A superb journalist has brought us a vivid, page-turning, and revelatory account of the relationship between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as of their statecraft. Alter Egos will make a signal contribution to the national debate over who should be the next American president.”—Michael Beschloss, bestselling author of Presidential Courage
“Galvanized: New and Selected Poems” by Leland Kinsey – “All of Leland Kinsey’s poetry is closely connected to the natural world, with its expert (and highly entertaining) use of history, stories, characters – many from Leland Kinsey’s own family and ancestors – and images from nature, rural work and avocations, and the traditions of a very harsh but authentic, off-the-beaten track Vermont.” ―Howard Frank Mosher, author of Stranger in the Kingdom
“The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt’s New World” by Andrea Wulf – “Alexander von Humboldt may have been the preeminent scientist of his era, second in fame only to Napoleon, but outside his native Germany his reputation has faded. Wulf does much to revive our appreciation of this ecological visionary through her lively, impressively researched account of his travels and exploits, reminding us of the lasting influence of his primary insight: that the Earth is a single, interconnected organism, one that can be catastrophically damaged by our own destructive actions.” —The New York Times Book Review,
“Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination that Changed America” by Wil Haygood – “If the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the civil rights movement’s brightest star, Thurgood Marshall was its unsung hero. But to his contemporaries—admirers, allies and enemies alike—Marshall’s string of legal victories, highlighted by Brown vs. Board of Education, placed him at the epicenter of this crusade for justice. . . . Showdown’ is not a standard biography. . . . Instead, Haygood, who has written biographies of Sugar Ray Robinson and Sammy Davis, Jr., frames the book through this confirmation fight. And what a fight it was. . . . A richly textured account that brings to life the political and cultural stakes involved.”
—Los Angeles Times
ADULT AUDIO BOOK
“And Then There Were None”
“The Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 1”
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Good Dinosaur”
“The Hunger Games” Mockingjay Part 2″
“The Last Unicorn”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
“The Wiz Live!”
“Maisy’s First Numbers” by Lucy Cousins
“You Are My Sunshine” by Jimmie Davis
“Amelia Bedelia Helps Out” by Peggy Parish
“The Bell in the Bridge” by Ted Kooser
“Circle” by Jeannie Baker
“The Cow Who Climbed a Tree” by Gemma Merino
“Douglas, You Need Glasses” by Ged Adamson
“Explorers of the Wild” by Cale Atkinson
“Fred” by Kaila Eunhye Seo
“A Goofy Guide to Penguins” by Jean-Luc Coudray & Philippe Coudray
“Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks” by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez
“How to Babysit a Grandma” by Jean Reagan
“I’m Trying to Love Spiders” by Bethany Barton
“The Lion Inside” by Rachel Bright & Jim Field
“A Morning with Grandpa” by Sylvia Liu
“My Baby Crocodile” by Gaetan Doremus
“Nobody Likes a Goblin” by Ben Hatke
“Over on a Mountain: Somewhere in the World” by Marianne Berkes
“A Piece of Home” by Jeri Watts
“Ragweed’s Farm Dog Handbook” by Anne Vittur Kennedy
“Suite for Human Nature” by Diane Charlotte Lampert
“Woodpecker Wants a Waffle” by Steve Breen
“The Zoomers’ Handbook” by Ana & Thiago de Moraes
JUVENILE AUDIO BOOK
“The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
“Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine” by Laurie Wallmark – “”This enchanting book brings to vibrant life the biography of Ada Lovelace, a girl who loved numbers and dreamed up the world’s first computer program before computers existed. By rescuing Ada’s story from the overbearing shadow of her famous father, poet Lord Byron, Laurie Wallmark and April Chu provide a valuable role model for all young women destined to pursue careers in math and science.” — Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
“The Blackthorn Key” by Kevin Sands – “An auspicious debut middle grade novel . . . The story is well paced, managing not only to keep readers hooked, but also second guessing everything they think they know. Sands integrates a series of fun and interesting riddles and codes with chemistry concepts—no easy feat. The ending is dynamic and rewarding, with just the right blend of the fantastical and realistic. One of the true triumphs is the author’s ability to create a character who feels accurate for the time period, while also displaying a modern sensibility that will keep readers engaged . . ” (School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW)
“The Case of the Girl in Grey: The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, No. 2) by Jordan Stratford and Kelly Murphy – “This history-mystery series continues with another fine display of brains and bravery from the Wollstonecraft GirlsAda Bryon Lovelace and Mary Shelley. Inspired fun for middle grade readers and fans of The Mysterious Benedict Society and Lemony Snicket! The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency was supposed to be a secret constabulary, but after the success of their first case, all of London knows that Lady Ada and Mary are the girls to go to if you have a problem. Their new case is a puzzle indeed. It involves a horrible hospital, a missing will, a hasty engagement, and a suspiciously slippery servant. But Marys stumbled onto a mystery of her own. She spotted a ghostly girl in a grey gown dashing through the park. A girl who is the spitting image of their new client. The two cases must be linked . . . or else theres a perfectly supernatural explanation.” — Onix annotations
“Demigods & Magicians” by Rick Riordan – “Magic, monsters, and mayhem abound when Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase meet Carter and Sadie Kane for the first time. Weird creatures are appearing in unexpected places, and the demigods and magicians have to team up to take them down. As they battle with Celestial Bronze and glowing hieroglyphs, the four heroes find that they have a lot in common–and more power than they ever thought possible. But will their combined forces be enough to foil an ancient enemy who is mixing Greek and Egyptian incantations for an evil purpose? Rick Riordan wields his usual storytelling magic in this adrenaline-fueled adventure.” — back cover
“Full Cicada Moon” by Marilyn Hilton – “Half-Japanese, half-black, Mimi Yoshiko Oliver loves looking at the moon and wants to be an astronaut. In January 1969, she moves from California to the frosty Vermont town of Hillsborough, an unwelcoming place. The farmer next door is always rude, and Mimi is teased at school. Even after she forms a tentative friendship with a girl named Stacey, she’s not invited to Stacey’s home. Then there’s the matter of shop class. Mimi would rather take shop than home ec so she can use power tools to work on her science project, but girls are supposed to “learn how to cook and sew so they can be good homemakers.” Slowly, Mimi and her family discover small moments of harmony, like finding the first crocuses in the snow. When Mimi and Stacey decide to challenge the exclusion of girls from shop classes, their courage inspires the entire eighth grade to an act of civil disobedience. Told in evocative free verse, Full Cicada Moon is a lyrical portrait of a strong family at a time of immense change, perfect for that budding scientist who loves to look at the stars.” — Deborah Hopkinson, BOOKPAGE, c2015.
“The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell” by Chris Colfer – “It’s been a hard year for twins Alex and Connor since their father passed. They miss his stories, especially the fairy tales he used to teach them about life, as well as soothe their fears. They know better now: life rarely has a happy ending. But then a magic book from their grandmother, a gift on their twelfth birthdays, sends the twins hurtling into the Land of Stories, where happy endings are usually expected. Their biggest concern is gathering the materials needed for the Wishing Spell, which will send them back home. So begins a scavenger hunt for some of the most recognizable symbols and characters in fantasy lore: Cinderella’s glass slippers, a lock of hair from Rapunzel, tree bark from Little Red Riding Hood’s basket, etc. Golden Globe–winner Colfer writes for an audience that will likely include plenty of teen readers (i.e., fans of Glee), and generally they will not be disappointed by the giddy earnestness of the writing, cut with a hint of melancholy.” – Jones, Courtney. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition” by J.R.R. Tolkien – “This is a single-volume edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which the hobbit Frodo and his elfish friends get swept up in a mighty conflict with the dark lord Sauron (who owes much to proud Satan in Paradise Lost), the monstrous Gollum, the Cracks of Doom, and the awful power of the magical Ring. The book’s characters–good and evil–are recognizably human, and the realism is deepened by the magnificent detail of the vast parallel world Tolkien devised, inspired partly by his influential Anglo-Saxon scholarship and his Christian beliefs. (He disapproved of the relative sparseness of detail in the comparable allegorical fantasy his friend C.S. Lewis dreamed up in the Chronicles of Narnia, though he knew Lewis had spun a page-turning yarn.) It has been estimated that one-tenth of all paperbacks sold can trace their ancestry to J.R.R. Tolkien. But even if we had never gotten Robert Jordan’s The Path of Daggers and the whole fantasy genre Tolkien inadvertently created by bringing the hobbits so richly to life, Tolkien’s epic about the Ring would have left our world enhanced by enchantment.” —Tim Appelo, Amazon.com
“A Night Divided” by Jennifer A. Nielsen – “The sudden construction of the Berlin Wall stranded her father and middle brother in West Berlin, while Gerta, her mother, and her older brother Fritz were stuck in Communist East Berlin. When life gets unbearable, Gerta, now twelve, and Fritz try to tunnel their way to the West. Rich with period detail and tense, nail-biting action, Nielsen’s historical thriller holds wide appeal.” — THE HORN BOOK, c2016.
“The Seventh Most Important Thing” by Shelley Pearsall – “After hurling a brick at the “Junk Man,” thirteen-year-old Arthur is sentenced to community service helping the local trash-picker rummage for items for his artistic masterpiece. The punishment not only helps the dying artist, but also helps Arthur cope with his father’s death. Set in 1963, Pearsall’s semi-biographical story of little-known folk artist James Hampton delicately addresses redemption through art, friendship, and understanding.” — THE HORN BOOK, c2016.
“Stella by Starlight” by Sharon M. Draper – “…Draper draws inspiration from her grandmother’s journal to tell the absorbing story of a young girl growing up in Depression-era, segregated North Carolina. One frightening night Stella and her brother Jojo witness a meeting of the Ku Klux Klan, practically in their own backyard. This meeting is the signal of trouble to come to the black community of Bumblebee. The townspeople must come together to find strength and protection to face the injustices all around them. This is an engrossing historical fiction novel with an amiable and humble heroine who does not recognize her own bravery or the power of her words. She provides inspiration not only to her fellow characters but also to readers who will relate to her and her situation. Storytelling at its finest.” —Tiffany Davis, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY
“The Thing About Jellyfish” by Ali Benjamin – “Benjamin’s sense of timing and delivery is extraordinary, as she blends the visceral experiences of Suzy’s journey with an internal dialogue that is authentic and poignant….readers…will fully immerse themselves in this superbly written, heartfelt novel.”―School Library Journal, starred review
“Waiting for Unicorns” by Beth Hautala – “After her mother dies of cancer, twelve-year-old Talia accompanies her whale-researcher father to Canada. As she grapples with the “Mom-sized space” separating her and her father, Talia finds comfort in her jar of wishes, a narwhal (“sea unicorn”) folktale, and new friendships. It’s a touching novel, with a strong sense of place and well-developed themes of loss and grief, hope and healing.” — THE HORN BOOK, c2015.
“Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay” by Susan Hood – “Cateura, a town built on a landfill in Paraguay, one of the poorest areas of South America, is where Ada Rios lives. Most people in the town spend their days searching through the landfill for things that can be sold, and Ada is no different, until the day a man named Favio Chavez offers to start teaching music classes to the children of the neighborhood. There aren’t enough instruments to go around, so he improvises, building drums and violins out of objects he finds in the landfill. Ada chooses a violin, and the hodgepodge group of kids slowly becomes an orchestra, eventually gaining confidence and fame, touring around the world. The mixed-media collages are a particular effective medium for this true story, layering images of Ada and the orchestra over the landfill. The nuances of the subject may strike a stronger chord with adults rather than children, but the interesting visuals and the underlying message of hope and perseverance should help this find an audience.” — Reagan, Maggie. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2016.
“Awkward” by Svetlana Chmakova – “Flawed protagonist Peppi is fantastically imperfect in this middle school graphic novel. She is the new girl at Berrybrook Middle School and is having a hard time fitting in because of her struggles with social anxiety. The work opens with the young teen pushing away the first person who tries to help her, Jaime, and it only gets more awkward from there. A feud between Peppi’s after-school art club and Jaime’s science club springs up. Can the two groups stop fighting long enough to earn a spot in the school fair? Will Peppi overcome her social anxiety and apologize to Jaime? Will any of them feel comfortable enough in their own skins to have a good school year? The story is told with a clear, believable voice. Diversity is reflected in this average middle school setting, and there are characters from a variety of ethnicities and are differently abled. Chmakova is an adept storyteller and organically incorporates messages of kindness and understanding without being preachy. The placement of the text and images were carefully considered. The illustrations and lettering are playful, bright, and fun, in keeping with the tone of the work. Readers will connect with the relatable, complex characters.” —Julie Zimmerman, Brooklyn Public Library
“The Blobfish Book” by Jessica Olien – ““A misunderstood deep-sea dweller gets its moment in the sun in this tongue-in-cheek informational picture book…Olien pulls off the humor and the positive friendship message without a hitch, while also whetting the appetites of young readers to find out more about Earth’s most mysterious frontier.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club” by Phillip Hoose – “In April 1940, occupying German forces made Denmark a “protectorate” of the Third Reich. The Danish government accepted the occupation, but a small group of teen boys, angry at their nation’s cowardice, formed the secret Churchill Club to resist the Germans and conducted a six-month spree of sabotage and destruction. Incorporating lengthy first-person reminiscences of one of the group’s leaders, Knud Pedersen, Hoose describes how the club recruited members, exploited their youth and innocent looks to deceive their parents and the Germans, appropriated weapons, and carried out guerilla-style attacks from their bicycles.” —Mary Mueller, Rolla Public Schools, MO
“Dear Pope Francis: The Pope Answers Letters from Children Around the World” by Pope Francis – “A uniquely candid project that reveals the curiosities, dreams, and insecurities of contemporary children and offers comfort and advice from a Catholic perspective.” –Publishers Weekly
“Good Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition” by Lizzy Rockwell – “This picture book about healthy eating begins at the beginning: food is necessary for one’s well-being and it tastes good, too. Six categories of nutrients are introduced: carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. Digestion is described, as is the Food Guide Pyramid. Five recipes are given at the end. The large, square format invites readers in, beginning with a bright watercolor scene of a hungry family: the dog is howling, the baby is crying in her high chair, the cranky boy is bringing in the bread, and the mother and father are doing what they can to get everyone fed. …There’s an amazing amount of information packed into this inviting, clear, and valuable book.” — Carolyn Jenks, First Parish Unitarian Church, Portland, ME
“Hare and Tortoise” by Alison Murray – “A delightful and witty retelling of the traditional Aesop fable. The story remains true to the original, while adding in wonderfully quirky descriptions of the main characters. In doing so, Murray makes the well-known animals that much more lovable. It is impossible not to smile at Tortoise’s catchphrase, “I may be slow, but watch me go,” as she trundles along at the bottom of the pages. An added bonus is the modeling of good sportsmanship by both characters, who go off to celebrate in the lettuce patch at the end of the tale. The illustrations are the perfect blend of full color and white space. Each character, though simply rendered, shows emotions and energy levels that really aid in telling the story. ” — Jasmine L. Precopio, Fox Chapel Area School District, Pittsburgh. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2016.
“Hilo, Book 2, Saving the Whole Wide World” by Judd Winick – “Hilo, a robot from another dimension, disappeared after saving Earth from destruction. His human friends DJ and Gina miss him and are thrilled when he suddenly returns, even though he’s accompanied by a giant explosion. But now portals are opening all over town, dropping killer robots and aliens from other realities, and DJ, Gina, and Hilo must stop these invaders before their friends and family are hurt. Book two of Hilo’s adventures amps up both the silliness and the action. Young readers will laugh at Hilo’s wacky jokes and Winick’s terrific comic timing while appreciating the bravery shown by not only DJ and Gina but also DJ’s little sister and Polly, a warrior cat from another dimension. In vibrant color, Winick’s art is cartoonish, especially when drawing aliens or robots, but also reflects a realistically multicultural world. There is a recap for new readers as well as a cliff-hanger ending that prepares readers for the next volume in this satisfying and fun series.” — Wildsmith, Snow. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2016.
“Lost City: The Discovery of Machu Picchu” by Ted Lewin – “In 1911, a Yale professor in search of a lost Inca city was led to the site of Machu Picchu by local Indians. In this lavishly illustrated picture book, Lewin traces Professor Bingham’s steps through the tangled mountain jungle to his exciting discovery. The language is graceful and uncomplicated, weaving in bits of background history along the way, and Lewin builds suspense at just the right pace: “They came to a grand stone staircase. Where could this lead? What else was here?” But it’s the artwork that will really attract attention. Full-page watercolor spreads of the stunning vistas and thick forests contrast with dark, intimate views of Bingham inside homes and walking along walled city streets, searching for leads. …An exciting, eye-catching story .”– Gillian Engberg
“Masters of Disguise: Amazing Animal Tricksters” by Rebecca L. Johnson – “Duped! Hoodwinked! Bamboozled! Animals have long developed fantastic traits and abilities, or disguises, to help them survive and navigate their environment. Johnson hooks readers with gripping descriptions, close-up photographs, and profiles of the various scientists dedicated to studying these animals. Each creature and scientist combo is given four pages–just enough to whet readers’ appetites. As Johnson includes more recent discoveries (Cyclosa, the “puppeteer spider,” was discovered only in 2012), readers will feel the rush of learning something before anyone else. Scientists working in both field and lab are presented in candid photographs. With an almost equal number of men and women scientists featured, this work makes it easy for today’s students to picture themselves in similar scientific shoes.” — Jennifer Wolf, Beaverton City Library, OR. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2016.
“Nature’s Day: Discover the World of Wonder on Your Doorstep” by Kay Maguire and Danielle Kroll – “This attractive look at nature attempts a lot. The author covers eight settings… describing the changes that occur to each throughout four seasons. The result is 32 oversize spreads of painted birds, flowers, animals, and insects. Most enlightening are the “Veg-Patch” pages, which provide labeled illustrations of a large variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as facts about general garden maintenance. “The Pond,” “The Forest,” “The Garden,” and “The Orchard” offer general tips for observing nature, including looking for (but not touching) animal scat. Captions present more detail in addition to the introductory paragraph on each page. …” -Jennifer Wolf, Beaverton City Library, Library Journals LLC
“Nimona” by Noelle Stevenson – “Ballister Blackheart (ex-knight and current supervillain) gets a new sidekick: plucky shapeshifter Nimona. Although Nimona proves an effective accomplice, Blackheart must rein in her powers due to her blasi attitude about human life and love of explosives. This webcomic-cum-graphic-novel’s setting–a medieval-type kingdom mixed with futuristic science–entertainingly tweaks both the science-fiction and fantasy genres. Nimona is a beautifully flawed, refreshingly unstereotypical protagonist.” — THE HORN BOOK, c2015.
“Orangutan Orphanage” by Suzi Eszterhas – “…explores why orangutans are in danger, how they come to the care center, and the process of healing and rehabilitating these amazing creatures for return to the wild.” — back cover
“Rutabaga: The Adventure Chef: Book 2: Feasts of Fury” by Eric Colossal – “…Exploring abandoned castles and haunted forests, Rutabaga and his pet pot scour the land for the rarest ingredients possible to make the most unique dishes imaginable. Once again, he is in over his head; this time, the young chef tries to assist everyone from a troupe of actors putting on a play about a poisoned meal to a befuddled old man who can’t remember how his favorite recipe is made. Overall, the individual stories that comprise the book feel more tied together than in the previous installment, resulting in a more complete narrative. Colossal’s anime-inspired artwork continues to serve up action and laughs, while his simple language and fast pace make this a perfect recommendation for reluctant readers. Kid-friendly recipes at the end, inspired by Rutabaga’s adventures, are a nice touch that will certainly motivate some children to venture into the kitchen….” Peter Blenski, Greenfield Public Library, WI. 128p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2016.
“Somewhere There is Still a Sun” by Michael Gruenbaum with Todd Hasak-Lowy – “Young Misha’s narration sets this Holocaust memoir apart from others. Initially unaware of the dark implications of the events, Misha adapted to camp life, playing soccer and making new friends, until he could no longer ignore the truth. His innocence contrasts with what readers (and the adults around Misha) know is going on, which creates a foreboding tone. The use of present-tense narration contributes to the urgency of the narration, and Misha’s sense of fairness and his unfailing faith that things will improve will resonate with students.” — (School Library Journal)
“All American Boys” by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely – “When a quick stop at the corner store suddenly escalates into police brutality, high school classmates Rashad (who is African American) and Quinn (who is white) are linked and altered by the violence–Rashad as victim and Quinn as witness. This nuanced novel explores issues of racism, power, and justice with a diverse (ethnically and philosophically) cast and two remarkable protagonists.”– THE HORN BOOK
“After the Woods” by Kim Savage – “Savage offers up a mystery wrapped in a psychological breakthrough tied with the bow of lyrical language. The characters are engaging beyond their habitation of an intricately woven plot and supply readers with the motivation to care beyond the simple solving of the mystery. A riveting exploration of what it’s like when the enemy is much closer than you suspect.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir – “This epic debut, set in a fantasy empire with nods to ancient Rome and Egypt, relates the intersecting struggles of Elias, an elite enforcer, and Laia, a Resistance spy. Nuanced, multileveled world-building provides a dynamic backdrop for an often brutal exploration of moral ambiguity and the power of empathy. A compelling emergent romance is only one reason among many to anticipate the sequel.” — THE HORN BOOK, c2015.
“Between the World and Me” by Ta-Neshi Coates – In a series of essays, written as a letter to his son, Coates confronts the notion of race in America and how it has shaped American history, many times at the cost of black bodies and lives. Thoughtfully exploring personal and historical events, …the author poignantly asks and attempts to answer difficult questions that plague modern society. In this short memoir,… (he) sums up the terrible history of the subjugation of black people in the United States. A timely work, this title will resonate with all teens—those who have experienced racism as well as those who have followed the recent news coverage on violence against people of color. … This stunning, National Book Award-winning memoir should be required reading for high school students and adults alike.—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal
“Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans” by Don Brown – “It has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and, in the highly capable hands of Brown, the story remains as immediately captivating and tragic as it was in 2005. Told chronologically from the hurricane’s seemingly benign origin in West Africa, the story follows the storm almost hourly, revealing every misstep along the way that resulted in so much unnecessary loss. By the time Katrina passed over New Orleans, more than 1,400 people were dead and hundreds of thousands had fled the city. Brown’s narrative is clear and precise, relying exclusively on data and statistics interspersed with quotes from residents, rescue crews, journalists, and news reports. Alone, the text might lack impact, but combined with the haunting imagery, it hits readers like a punch in the gut. The illustrations capture the intensity of the disaster with saturated monochromatic panels featuring figures who appear to be literally melting with oppressive heat and fear. Small poignant scenes punctuate the narrative throughout, constantly reminding viewers of the very human costs of the disaster. Spare but emotionally resonant, this outstanding title will appeal to graphic novel and nonfiction readers alike.” Hayes, Summer. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
“Exit, Pursued by a Bear” by E. K. Johnston – “A unflinching exploration of what it means to be a girl, what it means to be a friend, and what it means to be a survivor. A determined, transformative book that every teen girl should read.” — Tess Sharpe, author of Far From You
“School’s Out Forever – A Maximum Ride Novel” by James Patterson – “Max and her flock are back in this new volume in the Maximum Ride series…. In a flying fight with Erasers, Fang is injured so seriously that the flock takes him to a hospital. It’s obvious he’s not a normal human (having wings and avian DNA), so it isn’t long before the FBI shows up. Anne Walker, the lead agent, takes the flock home to her Virginia farm, where she tries to mother the kids and enrolls them in a nearby private school. Living a somewhat normal life for the first time, Max, 14, manages a date and a first kiss, and others in the flock begin the quest to find their birth parents. Then everything falls apart, and the six kids face betrayal and extreme danger. Patterson, an accomplished storyteller, once again demonstrates his ability to write page-turning action scenes, this time leavening the suspense with some surprising humor; at one point, Max declares that she’s “Avian American.” — Diana Herald, Booklist
“Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad” by M.T. Anderson – “The storytelling is captivating, describing how Shostakovich began composing the symphony under relentless bombardment in Leningrad and later finished it in Moscow, its triumphant performance in Leningrad during the siege, and how it rallied worldwide sympathy for Russia’s plight. Music is at the heart of the story. As Anderson writes in the prologue, “it is a story about the power of music and its meanings,” and he communicates them with seeming effortlessness in this brilliantly written, impeccably researched tour de force. A triumphant story of bravery and defiance that will shock and inspire.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)