New Releases – August 2015

The Girl at the Center of the World by Austin Aslan (Wendy Lamb Books)

“Leilani’s epilepsy gave her the ability to communicate with the entity protecting the Earth in The Islands at the End of the World (Random, 2014); now she must face the consequences of her decision to keep it here. Humanity may be safe from its own folly, but it continues to struggle without its conveniences, especially in isolated places like Hawai’i. To survive, Lei’s community returns to the old ways as opposed to the selfishness and turf wars of others. They are far from safe though. … Lei is a remarkable character who carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, but she hardly does it alone. VERDICT An engaging and poignant follow-up with weighty and powerful themes of survival, cooperation, and human nature.” — School Library Journal

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (Little, Brown)

“Bray illuminates the dark side of the American Dream in her long-awaited sequel to The Diviners (2012), weaving xenophobia, industrial progress, Jazz Age debauchery, government secrets, religious fervor, and supernatural horror into a sprawling and always entertaining narrative. … Bray is equally at home constructing gruesome deaths at the hands of bloodthirsty ghosts and deploying incisive commentary on the march of progress, both of which inflict their share of damage.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Most Likely to Succeed by Jennifer Echols (Simon Pulse)

“Kaye is senior in a town on the gulf coast of Florida. Everything in Kaye’s life seems to be perfect. She’s vice president of student council; dates the president, Aidan; is captain of the cheerleading squad; and plans on going to Columbia University with her boyfriend. Aidan is voted Most Likely to Succeed but Kaye is voted half of the high school’s Perfect Couple—with Sawyer, the school mascot and resident bad boy. … Echols seamlessly tells this story of how two people come to fall in love, while including themes of bullying, interracial relationships, class, and family strife. The overall pace, plotting, and character development are even, and the narrative frankly touches upon sex and consent.” — School Library Journal

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz (Scholastic)

“An Iranian-American teen’s faith in his beloved brother is pushed to the limit when it appears that he may be involved in a terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Turkey. High school senior Kamran and his parents are stunned when his brother, Darius, a U.S. Army Ranger, appears in a video following the embassy bombing, disheveled and rambling, claiming responsibility for the attack. The family’s descent into a constantly monitored nightmare of confusion is believably horrific. … Kamran is a smart and sympathetic narrator, and readers will be happy to spend time with him in this action-packed thriller.” — Kirkus

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)

“After the death of the highly placed aristocrat whose patronage ensured their safety, Jessamy’s mixed-race family is targeted by political enemies; spared thanks to her skill at the game of Fives, she must find a way to save them. … Jes finds an outlet from suffocating social strictures by secretly training for the Fives, a complex, mysterious competition popular with both castes. … This series opener, the auspicious teen debut of a seasoned author of adult fantasy and World Fantasy Award finalist, features a gripping, original plot; vivid, complicated characters; and layered, convincingly detailed worldbuilding. A compelling look at racial and social identity wrapped in a page-turning adventure.” — Kirkus

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle (Atheneum)

“Reflecting on her childhood in Los Angeles and her Cuban heritage, Engle’s memoir in verse is, indeed, nothing short of enchanting. Descriptions of Cuba as a tropical paradise and the home of her beloved abuelita come alive in the spare free-verse poems. She evocatively addresses weighty issues, such as her mother’s homesickness, being bicultural, the challenge of moving homes and schools, the Cuban Revolution, and negotiating an identity that is being torn apart by politics and social attitudes at complete odds with her feelings and experiences.” — Booklist, starred review

Of Dreams and Rust by Sarah Fine (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

“A solid continuation of Fine’s Of Metal and Wishes (S. & S., 2014), a unique retelling of Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera. In the year after the slaughterhouse where she worked collapsed, Wen tries desperately to be content in the healing clinic with her father and taking care of the ”Ghost“ that formerly haunted the factory. However, after overhearing a secret plan, the teen must decide if she will risk everything to try to save those she believes are innocent or watch helplessly as war consumes all of her dreams. Fine excels at creating the frenzied chaotic landscape of a racially driven war-ravaged world. … Set in a dystopian landscape with a variety of diverse characters, this romantic steampunk novel will have readers often on the edge of their seats as they try to keep up with the heroine’s adventures.” — School Library Journal

Another Day by David Levithan (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

“Waking up in a new body each day ain’t easy—neither is trying to keep track of the person who does. Readers first met A in Levithan’s ethereal 2013 novel, Every Day (2013). A is a being neither male nor female who wakes up inhabiting a different teenage body every morning. There’s no rhyme or reason for the bodies that A inhabits; they come in all sorts and sizes of teens—large, slight, Caucasian, Asian, athletic, popular, clinically depressed. All are of a similar age, and all tend to be within a certain geographical radius. Where the first novel was told from A’s perspective, this companion novel serves as the former’s mirror image, following the heroine of the first book, 16-year-old Rhiannon … A fast-paced, absorbing companion.” — Kirkus

The Temple of Doubt by Anne Boles Levy (Sky Pony Press)

“Living in Port Sapphire, on the island of New Meridian in the world of Kuldor, almost–16-year-old Hadara chafes under the tenets of a religion headed by the god Nihil that teaches that magic is superior to anything in nature. … When an object falls from the sky into the marsh, Azwans (mages of Nihil) and their oversized Feroxi guards arrive to investigate, complicating things for Hadara and her family, not least because Hadara begins to have feelings for one of the guards. … Levy shines brightest in her potent descriptions of settings and her imaginative scenes.” — Kirkus

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic Press)

“Actress Manzano, best known as Maria from Sesame Street, provides a lyrical and unflinching account of her tough Nuyorican upbringing in the South Bronx. Split into three parts, this touching memoir is a chronological series of vignettes in the author’s life. … Life is full of tragedies and triumphs alike, and Manzano shows how both helped her become the actress that generations of children grew up seeing on Sesame Street. In stark and heartbreaking contrast to her Sesame Street character, Manzano paints a poignant, startlingly honest picture of her youth.” — Kirkus, starred review