Sunday, July 19, 2015

Best of the Best Young Adult Books 2015 - Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Magical Realism

Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Magical Realism

The Game of Love and Death, by Martha Brockenbrough
In Seattle in 1937 two seventeen-year-olds, Henry, who is white, and Flora, who is African-American, become the unwitting pawns in a game played by two immortal figures, Love and Death, where they must choose each other at the end, or one of them will die. (CIP)

Undertow, by Michael Buckley
A sixteen-year-old girl is caught in an epic clash of civilizations when a society of undersea warriors marches out of the ocean and into modern-day Coney Island. (CIP)

Ink and Bone (The Great Library, Book 1), by Rachel Caine
Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden. Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service. (Publisher)

Armada, by Earnest Cline
Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe. And then he sees the flying saucer. No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar? 

The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colors of Madeleine, Book 2), by Jaclyn Moriarty
Princess Ko's been bluffing about the mysterious absence of her father, desperately trying to keep the government running on her own. But if she can't get him back in a matter of weeks, the consequence may be a devastating war. So under the guise of a publicity stunt she gathers a group of teens -- each with a special ability -- from across the kingdom to crack the unsolvable case of the missing royals of Cello. (Publisher)

Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older
When the murals painted on the walls of her Brooklyn neighborhood start to change and fade in front of her, Sierra Santiago realizes that something strange is going on – then she discovers her Puerto Rican family are shadowshapers and finds herself in a battle with an evil anthropologist for the lives of her family and friends. (CIP)

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby
Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza, but his inability to distinguish between faces makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying. (CIP)

More Happy Than Not, by Adam Silvera
The Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto … But Aaron can't forget how he's grown up poor or how his friends aren't always there for him … Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn't mind Aaron's obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn't mind talking about Aaron's past. But Aaron's newfound happiness isn't welcome on his block. Since he's can't stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is. (Publisher)

The Alex Crow, by Andrew Smith
The story of Ariel, a Middle Eastern refugee who lives with an adoptive family in Sunday, West Virginia, is juxtaposed against those of a schizophrenic bomber, the diaries of a failed arctic expedition from the late nineteenth century, and a depressed bionic reincarnated crow. (CIP)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, Book 3), by Maggie Stiefvater
Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost. Friends can betray. Mothers can disappear. Visions can mislead. Certainties can unravel. (Publisher)

An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
In a world inspired by ancient Rome and defined by brutality, seventeen-year old Laia has grown up with one rule for survival: Never challenge the Empire. But when Laia’s brother Darin is arrested for treason, she leaves behind everything she knows, risking her life to try and save him. She enlists help from the rebels whose extensive underground network may lead to Darin. Their help comes with a price, though. Laia must infiltrate the Empire’s greatest military academy as a spy. (Publisher)

The Martian, by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first person to die there. (Publisher)

Best Young Adult Books of 2015 - Contemporary/Realistic Fiction

I presented my list of the best young adult books of late 2014-2015 on July 17, 2015,  at the Best of the Best Books Workshop. Here's my list! It may not include every book I think is "best" since I divvied up MANY other books with my fellow presenters. I will add to this list as I get to read their books.

Happy Reading!

Mosquitoland, by David Arnold
When she learns that her mother is sick in Ohio, Mim confronts her demons on a thousand-mile odyssey from Mississippi that redefines her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane. (Publisher)

The Fixer, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
When sixteen-year-old Tess Kendrick is sent to live with her older sister, Ivy, she has no idea that the infamous Ivy Kendrick is Washington D.C.'s #1 "fixer," known for making politicians' scandals go away for a price. No sooner does Tess enroll at Hardwicke Academy than she unwittingly follows in her sister's footsteps and becomes D.C.'s premier high school fixer, solving problems for elite teens. (Publisher)

Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira
When Laurel starts writing letters to dead people for a school assignment, she begins to spill about her sister’s mysterious death, her mother’s departure from the family, her new friends, and her first love. (CIP)

I’ll Meet You There, by Heather Demetrios
Skylar Evans, seventeen, yearns to escape Creek View by attending art school, but after her mother’s job loss puts her dream at risk, a rekindled friendship with Josh, who joined the Marines to get away then lost a leg in Afghanistan, and her job at the Paradise Motel lead her to appreciate her home town. (CIP)

Saint Anything, by Sarah Dessen
Sydney’s charismatic older brother Peyton, has always been the center of attention in the family but when he is sent to jail, Sydney struggles to find her place at home and in the world until she meets the Chathams, including gentle, protective Mac, who makes her feel seen for the first time. (CIP)

None of the Above, by I.W. Gregorio
When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him. But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts." Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self? (Publisher)

The Last Time We Say Goodbye, by Cynthia Hand
After her younger brother, Tyler, commits suicide, Lex struggles to work through her grief in the face of a family that has fallen apart, the sudden distance between her and her friends, and memories of Tyler that still feel all too real. (CIP)

The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby
As a project for her ‘creative non-fiction module’ at a school for the arts, Normandy Pale chronicles the work of the Truth Comission, through which she and her two best friends ask classmates and faculty about various open secrets, while Norm’s famous sister reveals some very unsettling truths of her own. (CIP)

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, by Brian Katcher
When Ana Watson's brother ditches a high school trip to run wild at Washingcon, type-A Ana knows that she must find him or risk her last shot at freedom from her extra-controlling parents. In her desperation, she's forced to enlist the last person she'd ever want to spend time with—slacker Zak Duquette—to help find her brother before morning comes. But over the course of the night, while being chased by hordes of costumed Vikings and zombies, Ana and Zak begin to open up to each other. Soon, what starts as the most insane nerdfighter manhunt transforms into so much more. (Publisher)

All the Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
Told in alternating voices, when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school – both teetering on the edge – it’s the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the ‘natural wonders’ of the state of Indiana, and two teens’ desperate desire to heal and save one another. (Publisher)

Vanishing Girls, by Lauren Oliver
Two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident, a missing a nine-year-old girl, and the shocking connection between them. (Publisher)

The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds
Soon after his mother’s death, Matt takes a job at a funeral home in his tough Brooklyn neighborhood and, while attending and assisting with funerals, begins to accept death and his responsibilities as a man. (CIP)

Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman
Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench. Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior. Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence to document the journey with images. Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head. Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny. (Publisher)

Every Last Word, by Tamara Ireland Stone

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off.  (Publisher)

Friday, July 17, 2015

The "Raid the Arcade" Playlist from Armada by Ernest Cline

If you've read Armada by Ernest Cline, you know how important this killer playlist is to Zack Lightman. Now it can be yours! Enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Playlists from Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

One of the things I love best about Morgan Matson's novels are that they come with bonus features--like awesome playlists perfect for summer parties and driving along sunny backroads.

For your listening pleasure, here are the playlists from her newest novel, Since You've Been Gone.
Sadly, Spotify doesn't have original Beatles music or Curtis Anderson, but otherwise the lists are complete! Enjoy!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Best of the Best Young Adult Books 2013

Once again, I was honored to present at the Best of the Best Young Adult Books workshop in Knoxville on July 19, 2013.  Here is my list for those of you who might be interested in my selections. This year, I presented books that might appeal to older high school students, grades 11-12.

Dystopian/Sci Fi
Bracken, Michelle. The Darkest Minds
Gagnon, Michelle. Don’t Turn Around.
Martin, Michael. The End Games
Summers, Courtney. This Is Not a Test.
Yancey, Rick. The 5th Wave.

Realistic Fiction
Brown, Jennifer. Thousand Words.
Buzo, Laura. Love and Other Perishable Items
Calame, Don. Call the Shots
Dessen, Sarah. The Moon and More
Finneyfrock, Karen. The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door
Forman, Gayle. Just One Day
Herbach, Geoff. I’m With Stupid.
LaBan, Elizabeth. The Tragedy Paper.
Levithan, David. Every Day.
McDowell, Beck. This Is Not a Drill
Medina, Meg. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass
Miller, Ashley Edward. Colin Fischer
Morrill, Lauren. Meant to Be.
Nowlin, Laura. If He Had Been With Me
Rowell, Rainbow. Eleanor and Park
Smith, Jennifer.  This Is What Happy Looks Like.
Suma, Nova Ren. 17 & Gone.
Whitney, Daisy. When You Were Here
Yovanoff, Brenda. Paper Valentine
Zarr, Sarah. The Lucy Variations

Historical Fiction
Septys, Ruta. Out of the Easy.

Bardugo, Leigh. Siege and Storm.
Bray, Libba. The Diviners.
Hand, Cynthia. Boundless.
Marchetta, Melina. Quintana of Charyn.
Sanderson, Brandon. The Rithmatist
LaFevers, R. A. Dark Triumph.

Other (Graphic, Adult)
Hill, Joe. Locke and Key Series.
McGonigall, Jane. Reality is Broken.
Ozeki, Ruth. A Tale for the Time Being.

Coming Soon!
Carson, Rae. The Bitter Kingdom.
Myracle, Lauren. The Infinite Moment of Us
Riordan, Rick. House of Hades.
Roth, Veronica. Allegiant.
Stiefvater, Maggie. The Dream Thieves.

Wein, Elizabeth. Rose Under Fire.