Bethan wants nothing more than for Gran to teach her the magic of their Romani people. But knowing magic is dangerous among the gadjos in the neighboring town, and the birthmark on Bethan’s face seems to betray her as a witch to the fearful villagers who hesitate to buy Gran’s herbal cures. Only the young farmer, Martyn, and his father respect her. Bethan finds herself falling for Martyn, and he seems to have already fallen for her. But as if their cultural differences weren’t enough, Silas, the chieftain’s cruel son, wants Bethan and believes he deserves her body. A horrific violence leaves Martyn all but dead and Bethan empty and forever changed. But Gran knows it is time for Bethan to learn dark magic to save Martyn and exact her bloody revenge on those who wronged her.
After days of pondering this book, I still have strong, mixed feelings. The short review is that despite some flaws (a shallow depiction of gypsy culture and awkward and explication-heavy development of the relationship between Bethan and Gran), it is a gripping and deeply, lingeringly disturbing page-turner that fans of violent revenge stories may enjoy. But survivors of sexual violence should be aware that many scenes are graphic and could prompt flashbacks.
If you are a teacher or librarian planning to recommend it to teens, I recommend you read the long review below.
This novel devotes significant attention to the psychological effects of rape on the protagonist. In particular, Bethan wrestles with how the rape had impacted her identity. Who is she now? Who does she want to be? How can she regain control over ever aspect of her life and self–not just her physical body.
Intertwined with this complex exploration is Bethan’s contemplation of herself as a perpetrator of violence. Gran insists that Bethan herself commit the bloody tortures to complete the dark magic that will raise Martyn from the dead. As Bethan tortures her torturers, she sometimes feels satisfaction in her revenge in addition to a conflicting guilt and disgust at the acts of violence she commits.
Ultimately, for Bethan, the violence is worth it. The men who attacked her are far from innocent and despite their pleas for mercy and the tears in their mothers’ eyes as they see their sons tortured, sometimes to death, the end of resurrecting Martyn justifies the morally questionable means. On a broader thematic level, once her attackers are gone and Martyn is once again by her side, Bethan feels a weight lift and feels hopeful for her own emotional resurrection in the future. Reclaiming her own identity, she tells her village that she did what she needed to do and now she is done with violence and dark magic forever.
So here’s where I’m conflicted. It is a common enough trope for an act of evil to turn a victim to further acts of evil. But that isn’t what’s going on here. I believe we are supposed to like Bethan throughout and to approve of her decision to save her love (and herself) by torturing others. The author copiously records Bethan’s distaste and moral conflict about the tortures she commits, but Bethan’s rejection of violence came too late for me–only after she had used it to achieve her end. When she is uncomfortable with violence, Gran pushes her into yet–yet there is no condemnation of Gran. To Gran and Bethan, people who beat a man to death or rape a girl deserve to be burned alive in front of their mothers, have their eyes gouged out, etc. And on an allegorical level, perhaps they do, but given the sensitive and modern treatment of the other aspects of Bethan’s psychological recovery, her embracing of violence (and indeed the seeming necessity of that violence for her psychological recovery) seemed jarringly out of place and has lingered with me.
For that reason, I can’t decide whether I like this book or not. I certainly enjoyed reading it, but upon finishing, find myself still unsettled and not necessarily in a good way.
What do we have to look forward to in 2017? Quite a lot of new Middle Grade and YA novels! While not comprehensive, this list should supply you with numerous titles to consider for your 2017 reading list. If you are looking forward to a soon-to-be released book that I’ve neglected, feel free to add it in the comments.
For highlights of upcoming adult novels, check out the Publisher’s Weekly Adult Announcements: http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/new-titles/adult-announcements/article/72250-spring-2017-announcements-all-our-coverage.html.
Please note: The dates listed below may change, especially for titles due to be released later in the year! Also, I haven’t read any of them yet, so the plot blurbs and age ranges below are based on info from publisher’s websites and reviews.
MG CONTINUING SERIES
Robot Revolution by James Patterson (Jan 16, 2017)
Newest book in the House of Robots series. Ages 9-12.
Secret Origins by James Riley (Jan 17, 2017)
Book 3 of Story Thieves. Ages 8-12.
Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang by Victoria J. Coe (Jan 24, 2017)
Sequel to Fenway and Hattie. Ages 8-12.
Long Live the Queen by Gerry Swallow (Jan 24, 2017)
Sequel to Blue in the Face: Magnificent Tales of Misadventure. Ages 8–12.
The Unwanteds Quests #1: Dragon Captives by Lisa McMann
Book 1 in a continuation of The Unwanteds. Ages 8-12.
The Bodies of the Ancients by Lydia Millet (Feb 14, 2017)
Book 3 of The Dissenters series. Ages 10-12.
Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World by P.J. Hoover (Feb 28, 2017)
Book 2 of Tut: My Immortal Life. Ages 8-12.
Point Guard by Mike Lupica (Mar 7, 2017)
Home Team Book 3. Ages 8-12.
In Over Their Heads by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Apr 11, 2017)
Sequel to Under Their Skin. Ages 8-12.
The Song of Glory and Ghost by N.D. Wilson (Apr 18, 2017)
Outlaws of Time #2. Ages 8-12.
Hello Stars! by Alena & Wynter Pitts (Apr 25, 2017)
Faithgirlz/Lena in the Spotlight. Ages 8-12.
The Fallen Star by Tracey Heche (May 2, 2017)
Book 3 of The Nocturnals. Ages 7-12.
The Emperor of Mars by Patrick Samphire (July 18, 2017)
Sequel to Secrets of the Dragon Tomb. Ages 8-12.
The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan (Oct 3, 2017)
Book 3 of Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard. Ages 10 & up.
Frank Einstein and the Bio-Action Gizmo by Jon Scieszka (Oct 17, 2017)
Book 5 in the Frank Einstein series. Ages 8-12.
MG FAMILIAR AUTHORS
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes (Jan 3, 2017)
A poetry collection weaving the words of Harlem Renaissance poets with Grimes’ own poems. Ages 10-14.
Jay Versus the Saxophone of Doom by Kara Kootstra (Jan 3, 2017)
A young hockey player finds a new challenge learning the saxophone. Ages 8-12.
The Wardens Daughter by Jerry Spinelli (Jan 3, 2017)
Through her unique experiences growing up in a prison, a girl comes to terms with the sacrifice that took her mother’s life. Ages 9-12.
The Sweetest Sound by Sherri Winston (Jan 3, 2017)
After being abandoned by her mother, a shy girl discovers her own talent and a community in a church choir. Ages 9-12.
The Silver Gate by Kristin Bailey (Jan 10, 2017)
When a father threatens to sell his daughter into servitude because of her disability, two children seek freedom in a fairy realm. Age 8-12.
The Matchstick Castle by Keira Graff (Jan 10, 2017)
Two children discover a wooden castle and eccentric family in the forest of Boring, Illinois. Ages 8-12.
Hideout by Watt Key (Jan 10, 2017)
A boy finds another kid repairing a cabin in the woods and uncovers a web of secrets. Ages 10-13.
Train I Ride by Paul Mosier (Jan 24, 2017)
On a long train trip to her new home, orphan Rydr comes to terms with her own past through her interactions with fellow passengers. Ages 8-12.
Gorilla Dawn by Gill Lewis (Jan 31, 2017)
Two children imprisoned in a rebel camp rescue a baby gorilla and escape into the jungles of the Congo. Ages 9-14.
Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan (Jan 31, 2017)
A girl finds a sense of purpose playing a munchkin in a school production of The Wizard of Oz. Ages 8-12.
The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron (Feb 7, 2017)
Two children discover a mysterious castle in the English countryside. Ages 8-12.
Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson (Feb 14, 2017)
Two of the last kids left on Mars get ready to flee the planet with the rest of the humans until they make a startling discovery. Ages 8-12.
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng (Feb 28, 2017)
To give aliens a taste of life on Earth, a boy records an epic roadtrip on his iPod and plans to launch it into space . Ages 10-13.
The Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming by J. Anderson Coats (Feb 28, 2017)
A girl joins the stream of Civil War orphans and widows moving to Washington territory and finds a rough, challenging new life in the West. Ages 8-12.
Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail (Feb 28, 2017)
A version of Cyrano de Bergerac with texting. Ages 10-14.
Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question by Martha Freeman (Mar 7, 2017)
A city girl uncovers secrets spending the summer on a family farm. Ages 8-12.
Baseball Genius by Tim Green and Derek Jeter (Mar 7, 2017)
A boy with a talent for predicting pitches tries to save his favorite Yankee’s career. Ages 8-12.
The Enemy: Detroit, 1954 by Sara Holbrook (Mar 7, 2017)
A teen is forced to confront her prejudices when a German girl moves to her class. Ages 10-14.
Fish Girl by David Wiesner and Donna Jo Napoli (Mar 7, 2017)
A mermaid in an aquarium befriends a human girl and dreams of escaping her tank. Ages 10-12.
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold (Mar 14, 2017)
A boy with autism befriends a baby skunk and hopes to keep it as a pet. Ages 8-12.
When My Sister Started Kissing by Helen Frost (Mar 14, 2017)
With her mom expecting a new baby and her sister starting to date, a girl fears her family is growing apart. Ages 10-12.
The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman (Mar 14, 2017)
On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, four teens uncover magic in an Arthurian manuscript as they try to prevent another attack on American soil. Ages 10-13.
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (Mar 14, 2017)
The lives of four very different kids intertwine when a prank goes horribly wrong. Ages 8-12.
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan (Mar 14, 2017)
A Pakistani-American girl struggles to retain her cultural identity despite pressure to “Americanize” herself. Ages 8-12.
Love, Ish by Karen Rivers (Mar 14, 2017)
A girl’s cancer diagnosis threatens her dream of becoming a Mars colonist. Ages 9-14.
Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd) by Julie Bowe (Mar 21, 2017)
A girl tries to keep her parents’ divorce a secret and risks losing her best friend. Ages 8-12.
Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt (Mar 28, 2017)
A girl is sent to live at her grandfather’s old motel and struggles to build a relationship with him. Ages 8-14.
Girl With a Camera by Carolyn Meyer (Apr 4, 2017)
A historical novel about the first female photojournalist in WWII. Ages 8-14.
Jack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye and Gregory Mone (Apr 4, 2017)
Three children travel to Antarctica to find a missing scientist. Ages 8-12.
The Emperor’s Treasure by Kat Zhang (May 2, 2017)
On a family trip to China, two children search for a long-lost treasure. Ages 8-12.
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby (May 16, 2017)
Three teens must solve an ancient architectural puzzle in order to save their homes. Ages 8-12.
Finding Mighty by Sheela Chari (May 30, 2017)
Two neighbors follow clues to find a boy’s missing brother. Ages 8-12.
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder (May 30, 2017)
On a mysterious island, nine children live together until the inevitable day once a year when the eldest is taken away and a new young child is brought to join them. Ages 8-12.
I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (June 20, 2017)
Inspired by a school assignment, a girl begins writing letters to Michael Collins, the astronaut who stayed on the ship during the 1969 lunar landing. Ages 8-12.
Bubbles by Abby Cooper (July 18, 2017)
A girl whose life seems to be falling apart suddenly starts seeing people’s thoughts in word bubbles above their heads. Ages 10-12.
One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn (July 18, 2017)
A girl dies of the influenza epidemic and returns as a ghost to torment her bullies. Ages 10-12.
Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson (Jan 3, 2017)
The lynching of Emmett Till prompts the granddaughter of a sharecropper to join the fight for justice. Ages 9-12.
The Someday Birds By Sally J. Pla (Jan 24, 2017)
A boy with autism goes on a wild road trip with his family so that his father, a wounded veteran, can seek medical treatment. Age 8-12.
The Ethan I Was by Ali Standish (Jan 24, 2017)
After losing his best friend in an accident, a boy finds new friendships in a new town. Ages 8-12.
Crooked Sixpence by Jennifer Bell (Jan 31, 2017)
Two children search for magical treasures in an underground city. Ages 8-12.
The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson (Feb 28, 2017)
When a toddler disappears, a boy with OCD is the last to have seen the child alive, and all of his neighbors are suspects. Ages 8-12.
The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler (Mar 1, 2017)
A girl embarks on a quest to rescue her mother from witches. Ages 8-12.
Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge by Kristin L. Gray (Mar 7, 2017)
Believing that a pet might help her mom overcome her sadness at the death of her grandmother, a girl tries to become responsible enough to get a dog. Ages 8-12.
Who Let the Gods Out? by Maz Evans (Mar 28, 2017)
A mortal by gets mixed up with the Greek gods when an evil daemon runs amok on Earth. Ages 8-12.
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (Mar 28, 2017)
A girl and her friends must rescue her baby brother from inside a mechanical puzzle board game. Ages 8-12.
Viva, Rose! by Susan Krawitz (Mar 30, 2017)
When a girl’s brother joins Pancho Villa’s revolutionaries, she sets out to convince him to come home, but winds up kidnapped. Ages 8-12.
Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren (Apr 4, 2017)
A girl intentionally gets sent to an icy prison in order to help her twin sister escape from the inside. Ages 8-12.
The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horowitz (Apr 25, 2017
An apprentice who creates mechanical illusions and a magical Faerie princess team up to solve a mystery and win a competition. Ages 10-14.
Dingus by Andrew Larsen (May 2, 2017)
A boy faces a boring summer vacation until he makes a terrible mistake. Ages 8-12.
Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson (May 2, 2017)
When a note passed in class is intercepted, a shy girl’s life collides with the life of a popular girl. Ages 8-12.
The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya (May 16, 2017)
A boy uses poetry and protest to take on the land developer threatening his family’s restaurant. Ages 10 & up.
Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker (Jun 6, 2017)
After a science experiment gone wrong accidentally fuses him to a fourth dimensional being, a boy blogs about his life in the days leading up to the experimental procedure that will be used to separate them. Ages 10-12.
One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson (Jun 6, 2017)
Although he promised his father he’d keep the family together, a Senegalese orphan is tempted to join a gang of malicious boys to keep them from stealing his spirit. Ages 8-12.
Mrs. Smith’s Spy School for Girls by Beth McMullen (Jul 4, 2017)
A girl enters spy training to find a missing agent: her mother. Ages 8-12.
YA CONTINUING SERIES
Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken (Jan 3, 2017)
Sequel to Passenger. Ages 14 & up.
Windwitch by Susan Dennard (Jan 10, 2017)
A Witchlands novel. Ages 14 & up.
Beheld by Alex Flinn (Jan 10, 2017)
New fairytales in the Kendra Chronicles. Age 14 & up.
The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman (Jan 31, 2017)
A Lady Helen novel. Ages 12-18.
Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer (Jan 31, 2017)
A graphic novel in the Lunar Chronicles world. Ages 14 & up.
Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan (Feb 7, 2017)
Book 2 in Reign of Shadows series. Ages 14 & up.
The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig (Feb 28, 2017)
Sequel to The Girl From Everywhere. Ages 12-18.
The Boy She Left Behind by Gregg Olsen (Mar 14, 2017)
Book 2 of Vengeance. Ages 14 & up.
The Adjustment by Suzanne Young (Apr 18, 2017)
The Program, Book 3. Ages 12-18.
Black Tempest by Ryan Dalton (Apr 25, 2017)
Book 2 of the Time Shift Trilogy. Ages 12-17.
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han (May 2, 2017)
Book 3 of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Ages 14 & up.
Count All Her Bones by April Henry (May 2, 2017)
Sequel to Girl, Stolen. Ages 12-18.
A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (May 2, 2017)
Book 3 of A Court of Thorns and Roses. Age 14 & up.
The Battlemage by Taran Matharu (May 9, 2017)
Conclusion to The Summoner trilogy. Ages 12-18.
A Million Junes by Emily Henry (May 16, 2017)
Sequel to The Love That Split the World. Ages 12-18.
Seeker by Veronica Rossi (May 16, 2017)
Book 2 of Riders. Ages 12-18.
Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin (May 23, 2017)
Book 3 of A stranje House. Ages 12-18.
The Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (May 23, 2017)
Book 2 of The Dark Artifices. Ages 14 & up.
Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead (Jun 27, 2017)
Book 2 of the Glittering Court series. Ages 14 & up.
Now I Rise by Kiersten White (Jun 27, 2017)
Sequel to And I Darken. Ages 14 & up.
YA FAMILIAR AUTHORS
Because of the Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Jan 3, 2017)
A girl travels from Florida to New Mexico to process her mother’s violent death. Ages 14 & up.
Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist (Jan 3, 2017)
A blind teen falls in love but questions his feelings when an operation restores his sight. Ages 12 & up.
Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (Jan 3, 2017)
A teen girl’s terminally ill father auctions himself on eBay. Ages 14 & up.
The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt (Jan 17, 2017)
Two teens who have survived trauma find a connection on their first meeting. Ages 14 & up.
History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera (Jan 17, 2017)
A boy’s life begins to unravel when his ex-boyfriend dies. Ages 14 & up.
The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydn (Jan 31, 2017)
A group of girls believe they are cursed when the boy they love suddenly dies. Ages 14 & up.
That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson (Jan 31, 2017)
A teen girl hides an injured Polish pilot who has crashed in England and does not wish to return to war. Ages 14 & up.
Fire Color One by Jenny Valentine (Jan 31, 2017)
A young arsonist is sent to England to live with the wealthy father she has never met. Age 12-18.
Factory Girl by Josanne La Valley (Feb 1, 2017)
A girl works in appalling conditions in a factory in China to earn money to save her family’s farm. Age 14 & up.
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza (Feb 7, 2017)
An exiled empress and the boy falsely accused of killing her must unite to overcome a galactic evil. Ages 14 & up.
At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson (Feb 7, 2017)
A teen’s best friend disappears and seems to have been erased from everyone else’s memories. Ages 14 & up.
A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom (Feb 7, 2017)
A teen fears her friends will abandon her if they find out she has bipolar disorder. Age 14 & up.
The Lost Girl of Astor Street by Stephanie Morrill (Feb 7, 2017)
In Jazz-Age Chicago, a girl embarks on a mission to find her missing best friend. Ages 12-18.
Romeo and What’s Her Name by Shani Petroff (Feb 7, 2017)
An understudy wishes she were playing the lead opposite the boy of her dreams, until she has to actually step into the role and realizes she is totally unprepared. Ages 12-18.
Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (Feb 21, 2017)
A teen girl discovers a skeleton that provides a link back to the Tulsa race riots a century earlier. Age 14 & up.
Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot (Feb 28, 2017)
A girl tries to hide her eating disorder from the boy she loves. Ages 14 & up.
10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac (Feb 28, 2017)
A girl struggling with anxiety falls in love with a girl who isn’t afraid of anything. Ages 14 & up.
The Free by Lauren McLaughlin (Feb 28, 2017)
A teen in juvie comes to terms with his past and who he wants to be in the future. Ages 12-18.
A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho (Feb 28, 2017)
When her best friend is murdered, a teen returns to her hometown to plot revenge. Ages 14 & up.
Waking in Time by Angie Stanton (Mar 1, 2017)
A young woman traveling backward in time meets a young man traveling forward in time and falls in love. Ages 14 & up.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (Mar 7, 2017)
A young witch accidentally raises her brother from the dead and discovers her own dark powers come at a price. Ages 12-18.
The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (Mar 7, 2017)
As he nears the end of high school, a boy begins to question his place within his adopted family. Ages 14 & up.
Nemesis by Brendan Reichs (Mar 21, 2017)
Brought together by murder and nightmares, two teens must sift through lies and conspiracy, hoping to save their doomed planet. Ages 14 & up.
Worthy by Donna Cooner (Mar 28, 2017)
An app that asks students whether girls are worthy of their boyfriends causes high school relationship chaos. Ages 14 & up.
Just Another Girl by Elizabeth Eulberg (Mar 28, 2017)
Two best friends struggle with their crush on the same guy and the secrets they keep from each other. Ages 14 & up.
Frogkisser! by Garth Nix (Mar 28, 2017)
A princess whose kiss can break curses goes on a quest to reclaim her kingdom from her evil stepparents. Ages 12 & up.
100 Hours by Rachel Vincent (Mar 28, 2017)
A Spring Break beach trip turns into a nightmare when six teens are kidnapped. Ages 14 & up.
The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianne Baer (Apr 4, 2017)
A teen becomes the center of attention when she discovers she is pregnant but has no memory of ever having sex. Ages 14 & up.
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray (Apr 4, 2017)
A soldier and a machine on opposite sides of an interstellar war find themselves on a joint mission. Ages 14& up.
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemper (Apr 4, 2017)
A grieving girl leaves letters at her mother’s grave and makes an unlikely connection with the troubled classmate who finds them and responds. Ages 14 & up.
Toward a Secret Sky by Heather Maclean (Apr 4, 2017)
An orphaned girl is targeted by the enemies her parents left behind and embarks on a frantic mission to save the lives of those around her. Ages 14 & up.
Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr (Apr 4, 2017)
Two sisters struggling to care for each other despite their poverty find surprising challenges and opportunities when their estranged father returns. Ages 12-18.
Duels & Deception by Cindy Anstey (Apr 11, 2017)
A young heiress is kidnapped along with a poor law clerk and, to her dismay, finds herself falling in love with him. Ages 12-18.
Unearthly Things by Michelle Gagnon (Apr 11, 2017)
A modern Jane Eyre, in which an orphan moves in with a wealthy family with dark secrets. Ages 12-18.
Missing by Kelley Armstrong (Apr 18, 2017)
A girl discovers that the scores of teens who supposedly left her hometown over the years may actually have been murdered. Ages 14 & up.
The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares (Apr 25, 2017)
Though their parents were once married and they share half siblings, a boy and girl have never met until one summer at a shared beach house when their lives intersect. Ages 12-18.
Dreamfall by Amy Plum (May 2, 2017)
Teens must battle their worst nightmares in virtual reality when an experimental insomnia treatment goes horribly wrong. Ages 14 & up.
Noteworthy by Riley Redgate (May 2, 2017)
A girl masquerades as a boy to join an all-male a capella group. Ages 12-18.
My Future Ex-girlfriend by Jake Gerhard (May 16, 2017)
Three eighth graders struggle with their first relationships, hoping to hang onto their girlfriends so they don’t start high school as losers. Ages 12-18.
The Go-Between by Veronica Chambers (May 9, 2017)
When her actress mom gets a job in LA, a girl goes from being the most envied teen in Mexico City to the kid everyone assumes is the daughter of a “domestic.” Ages 12-18.
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord ( May 16, 2017)
A girl finds her faith challenged when her mother’s cancer returns and her life begins to unravel. Ages 14 & up.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo (May 30, 2017)
A girl studies Korean romance movies to figure out how to get the attention of the boy she likes. Ages 12-18.
House of Furies by Madeleine Roux (May 30, 2017)
A maid at a Gothic boarding house hopes to save a young man from the harsh punishments inflicted by her employer on his house guests. Ages 14 & up.
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (Jun 6, 2017)
After her brother dies, a girl returns to her hometown and exchanges letters with the boy she once loved by hiding them in the pages of books. Ages 14 & up.
Internet Famous by Danika Stone (Jun 6, 2017)
When a teen blogger begins flirting with a fan online, a troll starts harassing her. Ages 12-18.
Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Jun 13, 2017)
A girl about to embark on a journey to Mars discovers a journal from the past and the stories of two other girls facing life-changing moments. Ages 12-18.
Roar by Cora Carmack (Jun 13, 2017)
A Stormling princess, born without her family’s signature magic power, tries to steal power for herself in order to avoid an arranged marriage. Ages 14 & up.
Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios (Jun 13, 2017)
When her relationship turns abusive, a teen struggles to escape it. Ages 14 & up.
Be True To Me by Adele Griffin (Jun 13, 2017)
Two teen tennis rivals compete for the love of the boy of their dreams. Ages 14 & up.
All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher (July 11, 2017)
With her dad dying and her best friend moving away, a girl feels like the world is ending. Ages 12-18.
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell (Jul 18, 2017)
A young thief is sent back in time to steal a book and save a mysterious and perhaps sinister magical order. Ages 12-18.
Lucky in Love by Kasie West (Jul 25, 2017)
A teen wins the lottery and everyone starts treating her differently–except the boy she has a crush on, who hasn’t heard the news yet. Ages 12-18.
Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle (Aug 8, 2017)
Two teens begin to lose important things, until they find a mysterious spellbook that lets them bring things back from the past–even things that should have stayed lost. Ages 14 & up.
The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser (Jan 3, 2017)
A girl discovers the power to jump into books and must stop a mysterious thief from altering her life. Ages 12-18.
The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti (Jan 3, 2017)
Following a wild theory, a teen tries to track down a girl who disappeared. Ages 14 & up.
Frostblood by Ella Blake (Jan 10, 2017)
A teenage Fireblood conceals her powers from the Frostblood rulers until she must use them to save her world and avenge her mother’s death. Ages 14 & up.
You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando (Jan 10, 2017)
A teenage spy’s career is jeopardized when she falls in love. Ages 12-18.
A List of Cages by Robin Roe (Jan 10, 2017)
As assistant to the school psychologist, a teen boy must help his former foster-brother open up about his troubling secrets. Ages 14 & up.
Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields (Jan 10, 2017)
A teen whose kiss can kill works as an assassin until she gets an assignment she can’t complete: to kill the boy she loves. Ages 14 & up.
After the Fall by Kate Hart (Jan 24, 2017)
A girl struggles to balance her relationships with her best friend and his brother–her secret boyfriend–when tragedy strikes. Age 14 & up.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson (Jan 24, 2017)
Convicted of murdering an infant when she was nine years old, a pregnant teen must fight for the right to keep her baby. Ages 14 & up.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Jan 31, 2017)
Two sister run away to escape arranged marriage and get swept up in a magical and deadly game. Ages 14 & up.
The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles (Jan 31, 2017)
A teen girl and a bounty hunter from Hell get wrapped up in a romantic adventure. Ages 14 & up.
Wait for Me by Caroline Leech (Jan 31, 2017)
A Scottish Red Cross volunteer falls in love with a German POW during WWII. Age 14 & up.
The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (Feb 7, 2017)
To save her father from the vicious men holding him prisoner, a teen girl must become as cruel as the assassins and spies she faces. Ages 14 & up.
Traveler by L.E. DeLano (Feb 7, 2017)
When a boy she thought existed only in her imagination shows up in real life, a teen learns that she has the ability to travel to alternate realities and that in every one of them, she is dying. Ages 14 & up.
#famous by Jilly Gagnon (Feb 14, 2017)
A photo goes viral and sweeps a girl and her crush into a whirlwind or fame that may or may not be worth it. Ages 12-18.
American Street by Ibi Zoboi (Feb 14, 2017)
A girl struggles to adjust when her family moves from Haiti to Detroit. Ages 12-18.
Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle Van Arsdale (Feb 28, 2017)
Although she was raised to fear the soul eaters of the forest, a girl feels a connection to the creatures that killed the adults of her village and goes in search of them. Ages 14 & up.
Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow’s Diary by Emma Chastain (Mar 7, 2017)
While her mom is in Mexico working on a novel, a girl chronicles her life in high school. Ages 12-18.
A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl (Mar 14, 2017)
When an abducted girl returns, the sister of a dead girl begins an investigation into her sister’s death and uncovers secrets about the abduction. Ages 14 & up.
Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy (Mar 28, 2017)
The discovery that her father has a child from an affair prompts a teen to go on a rebellious journey of self-discovery. Ages 14 & up.
Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brandt (Apr 4, 2017)
A math wiz who sees visions of people’s emotions falls in love with a troubled new kid. Ages 14 & up.
The Exo Project by Andrew DeYoung (Apr 4, 2017)
Desperate money, a boy volunteers for a 100 year mission to search for a new habitable planet after Earth is tainted by solar radiation. Ages 12-18.
Keeping the Beat by Marie Powell and Jeff Norton (Apr 4, 2017)
A teen girl band wins a talent contest and embarks on an adventure that ends in tragedy. Ages 14 & up.
Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer (Apr 11, 2017)
Two sisters with different faerie gifts find their lives torn apart when they are plunged into an enchanted dream world. Ages 12-18.
The Takedown by Corrie Wang (Apr 11, 2017)
A faked video of a girl having sex with her English teacher goes viral and threatens to destroy her life. Ages 14 & up.
Sucktown, Alaska by Craig Dirkes (May 1, 2017)
After getting kicked out of college his first semester, a young man struggles to find his way in the most boring town in the world. Ages 16 & up.
Textrovert by Lindsey Summers (May 2, 2017)
When a boy and girl who dislike each other accidentally swap phones, they get to know and like each other better through text messages. Ages 14 & up.
Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi (May 2, 2017)
A girl struggles to deal with the aftermath of her older sister’s suicide. Ages 14 & up.
The Traitor’s Kiss by Erin Beatty (May 9, 2017)
A matchmaker’s apprentice is recruited as a spy and enters the world of military espionage. Ages 12-18.
City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino (May 9, 2017)
A homeless teen investigates the disappearance of another homeless girl she met on the streets of LA. Ages 14 & up.
It Started with Goodbye by Christina June (May 9, 2017)
After being falsely accused of a crime, a teen under house arrest tries to start a graphic design business. Ages 12-18.
It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura (May 9, 2017)
Two girls from different cultural backgrounds fall in love. Ages 14 & up.
Antisocial by Jillian Blake (May 16, 2017)
Private lives become public when students at a wealthy prep school are hacked and their secrets exposed. Age 14 & up.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus (May 30, 2017)
A teen who created a school gossip app is murdered in detention, and all four of the other students in the room with him had a motive. Ages 12-18.
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (May 30, 2017)
Two teens whose parents have arranged their marriage meet at summer camp. Ages 12-18.
Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser (Jun 6, 2017)
In exchange for her father’s release from prison, a girl sail a mysterious cargo over the realm of the river god. Ages 12-18.
Sunshine doesn’t mind moving from Texas to Washington State. She has to leave her good friends behind, but she still has her best friend–her mother–and she is thrilled that her mom got this awesome new job opportunity. But when they arrive in their new house, it quickly becomes clear to Sunshine that something is wrong. There are strange noises in the night, and unexplained occurrences that can only mean one thing: ghosts. But her mother doesn’t believe her. And worse than that, something seems to be taking hold of her mother’s mind and changing her. With the help of her new friend Nolan, Sunshine races to find out what is happening to her mother before it is too late, and in the process, stumbles upon a secret about herself that she never could have imagined.
I never got into the web series, of the same name but I loved this novel adaptation, which has a quicker start, more character development, and a fleshed-out plot. It has all of the elements of a creepy ghost story, as well as the start of a suspenseful fantasy series with an endearing heroine. I highly recommend it to teen readers to enjoy ghost stories, coming-of-age stories, and suspense!
There are some cliff-hangers just itching to be resolved this year! Here are some of the 2014 sequels and series finales for books that I’ve blogged the past couple of years.
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs — released January 2014
The long, long, long awaited sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has finally arrived! I just started it, and a quick piece of advice–make sure you either remember Miss Peregrine really well or you reread it before you start Hollow City. The sequel picks up exactly where book one left off and it doesn’t give you many reminders. I know those cheesy shoe-horned in summaries used to drive me nuts when I was a kid (“The main character thought back on his previous year, which had included so many important plot points, such as. . . . “), but now that I don’t have time to reread an entire series every time a new book comes out I’m kind of lost without them. Just one of the many downsides of adulthood.
The Boy in the Smoke by Maureen Johnson — February 24, 2014
What we really want is a sequel to The Madness Underneath because of the cliff-hanger-of-shock-and-weeping. But instead she’s giving us a novella prequel to tide us over. At least we’ll get to hear about Stephen’s childhood. Not that it will be so much comforting as increase our anxiety and anticipation for . . .
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson — September 16, 2014
Ok, Maureen. Make with the resolution already.
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket — April 1, 2014
Speaking of prequels and teasers, 13 short mystery stories starring detective Lemony Snicket will be coming out this April. But what we are really waiting for is . .
Shouldn’t You Be in School? by Lemony Snicket–September 30, 2014
Book three in the All the Wrong Questions series.
Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan — October 7, 2014
Percy Jackson’s final installment (take two) will be released this fall and answer all of our burning questions. Will Gaea’s evil plan succeed and the mortal world perish!? Ok, we can probably guess the answer to that one. But is he going to kill off one of the demigods? I don’t know about you guys, but that prophecy has me kind of antsy… Any guesses about who might break their oath with a final breath?
In two companion novels, Yang tells the story of the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China from the perspective of a member of the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists and the perspective of a Chinese Christian. These National Book Award recognized graphic novels are violent, though-provoking, challenging, and perhaps even inspiring. Yang exposes both virtue and corruption in characters on both sides of this historical tragedy, while violence undermines, propels, but ultimately balks before spirituality. I would recommend these novels (which must be read together, in the order listed) to anyone who enjoys truly thought-provoking historical/war fiction—and who doesn’t mind a fair bit of violence.
Bao grew up loving the opera stories of the ancient Chinese gods. When he sees his a foreign Catholic priest smash a statue of one of his gods, he is infuriated. His father goes on a journey to seek justice for the actions of the foreigner and the Chinese Christians (“secondary devils”) who were with him, but the foreign army beats him nearly to death. In response, Bao joins a secret society which vows to honor the ancient Chinese traditions, protect their families, and eradicate the devils (foreign and Chinese) from their land. Through a cleansing ritual, Bao and his brethren become possessed by the ancient gods when the fight. They are all but invincible. But as they through travel China, slaughtering foreigners and secondary devils, Bao finds that his values are frequently called into question as he struggles to balance justice and mercy. And when a woman wishes to join their order, he must decide whether he accepts the ancient belief that too much involvement with women can taint a man’s soul.
Four Girl has grown up without a name, the only one of her mother’s children to survive infancy and believed by her grandfather to be cursed. Deciding she will live up to her nickname as a “devil,” Four Girl makes horrible faces whenever anyone looks at her. Her mother takes her to an acupuncturist to be healed of her “devil face.” The kind man “heals” her by making her laugh. But Four Girl is intrigued by the crucifix on the man’s wall. She begins asking him questions about Christianity. After having several visions of the Christian warrior woman Joan of Arc, Four Girl decides to convert to Christianity and takes the Christian name Vibiana. But when her family learns of her conversion, they have her beaten. She runs away and seeks refuge at a Christian stronghold. In her new life, Vibiana feels called to pursue justice and protect her Christian community from the violence that threatens it. Thinking it an obvious course of action given her calling, she starts training to be a warrior maiden like Joan. But Vibiana’s calling may not be as simple as she thinks.
Daphne, daughter of Lucifer and Lilith, has spent her entire life in Pandemonium. She has no stomach for the kinds of things her demon sisters do, prowling about on Earth, stealing bits of the souls of mortal men. Instead she admires her older brother, Obie (son of Lilith and Adam), who finds other half-humans on Earth who are floundering and helps to get them back on the right track. Truman is one such lost child, ending up in Hell after a suicide attempt. From the moment Daphne sees him—bleeding in half-conscious terror beside the demon that “collected” him—she feels an instant connection that she tries to ignore. Beelzebub gives Obie permission to take Truman back to Earth for a second chance. But shortly afterward, Lilith has a vision of Obie being kidnapped. Fearing that her brother has been taken prisoner by the vengeful archangel Azrael, Daphne disobeys Beelzebub’s orders and travels to Earth on her own, seeking the last person that she knows saw her brother alive: Truman.
If you’re ever in the mood for really dark fantasy, turn to Brenna Yovanoff. I loved her NYT bestseller The Replacement, and was not disappointed by her second novel. Her portrayals of Pandemonium and the life of demons on Earth are detailed, believable, and chilling. Because of all of the references to Roman Catholicism in the text, I do think it is worth noting that Yovanoff’s fantasy is not based directly on Catholic tradition/beliefs. Some characters she portrays are figures in mainstream Christian tradition (Lucifer, Adam, Eve, Michael) while others (notably Lilith & Azrael) are not believed to be real by most Christian sects, including Roman Catholics. Instead, Yovanoff taps into the early Gothic literature tradition which pulled some elements from Catholicism (particularly rituals stripped of their religious significance) and some elements from mythology and horror literature to create a dark and ritualistic backdrop for a romance. Yovanoff does this skillfully (while thankfully rejecting the Gothic tradition of weak and useless female characters!) and creates a story that is exciting, frightening, and heartbreaking. I literally could not put it down and stayed up all night reading it! I highly recommend The Space Between to lovers of the Gothic romance!
Michael Teitelbaum has gathered urban legends from each of the 50 states and put them together in this creepy and intriguing book. In addition to some standard urban legend classics, Teitelbaum brings in some local legends that I had never heard before. Some of the stories are scary. Others are just weird–and a few are kind of lame. But most of these legends will appeal to kids and teens who love ghost stories and “strange but true” tales.
After growing up in a small town in southern Louisiana, Rory is excited to spend her senior year of high school studying abroad in London. It is a big change—living in a new culture with a strange academic system and attending a boarding school where you are stuck living with everyone in your class, whether you like them or not. But Rory gradually finds good friends in Jazza and Jerome, and her life settles into a comfortable rhythm. That is, until Jack the Ripper shows up. The murders occur on the anniversaries of Jack the Ripper’s infamous attacks, and they mimic his style exactly. But no one can see the murderer—not even on camera—except Rory. Now her life is turned upside down as she has to figure out who the Ripper is, how she can see him, and most importantly, whether she and her friends are in danger.
What begins as a simple, realistic fiction about girls at boarding school ends a suspenseful supernatural thriller. Starting about halfway through, I couldn’t put it down! As usual, Maureen Johnson was spot on in her portrayal of teen relationship angst and dorm-life drama. And her descriptions of Rory’s life in England took me back to my days of studying abroad in the UK. This book was right up my alley—a fast-paced, character driven, fantasy-but-almost-sci-fi murder mystery. I highly recommend it to teens who enjoy books in any of these genres!
Coraline’s world is decidedly uninteresting. She has explored all there is to explore in her new flat and the surrounding grounds, and her parents never seem to have enough time to play with her. It is her boredom and a desire to explore something new that leads her to unlock the door in the corner of the drawing room, even though she knows it only leads to the brick wall dividing her flat from the empty flat next door. But this time, the brick wall is gone. Now there is a long, dark corridor that leads instead to another world–a distorted mirror of her own. The pictures on the walls are similar; the furniture is similar. Even her Other Mother and Other Father are similar—except for their black button eyes, sewn onto their pale, papery faces. Although this world is undeniably more interesting than her own, Coraline cannot help but feel she is in danger and hurries back through the corridor, determined never to return. But when the Other Mother kidnaps Coraline’s real parents, she must face her fears and travel back into the Other Mother’s world to rescue them.
Coraline is a short book with a fairly simple and linear plot, though the reading level is challenging. The world Gaiman creates for Coraline’s Other Mother is creepy, mysterious, and brilliantly crafted. I highly recommend this book to middle grade and teen readers who like fantasy and horror stories. Particularly since the reading level may be higher than the interest level, I also recommend the audio book which is performed by the author. The only thing that can make Coraline creepier is hearing it read in Neil Gaiman’s voice!
When Jacob was a young child, he believed his grandfather’s stories about growing up in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and fighting monsters. He believed that the photographs of the flying girl, the invisible boy, and his grandfather’s other peculiar playmates were all real. By age 16, however, Jacob has grown to understand that the photographs are fake and his grandfather’s stories merely fantasies invented to mask the horrible reality of growing up in Poland and being hunted by human monsters, the Nazis. But when Jacob finds his grandfather dead in the woods, he has to admit that either he is going crazy or the tentacled creature he saw slithering away from his grandfather’s bleeding body was no fairytale. Finding a letter from Miss Peregrine in his grandfather’s study, Jacob travels to England in search of the Home for Peculiar Children, all too aware that if Miss Peregrine is real, the monsters must be real too.
I absolutely loved this book. From its beginnings playing with the blurred lines between true horrors and fantastical horrors to the full-fledged fantasy of Miss Peregrine and her wards and through all of the photographs in between, the book was fascinating and fast paced. I couldn’t put it down. Unfortunately, the ending was not as strong as the beginning and middle. It was clumsy and poorly timed, and instead of providing the cliff-hanger incentive to read a sequel that the author intended, it just seemed awkward and dissatisfying. If only he had ended it about a page earlier! But I hope that the poor ending will be remedied by the sequel that is promised for 2013. For that reason, I will give this book a strange recommendation: I highly recommend reading it, but if you are picky about endings like I am, you may want to wait to read it until the sequel is released to avoid an awkward interruption in the action.