Tag Archives: Austin Aslan

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

New Releases – August 2014

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan (Wendy Lamb Books)

“After 16-year-old, half-Hawaiian Leilani and her father travel from the Big Island to Oahu so she can take part in a trial for a new epilepsy drug, tsunamis sweep across the eastern shores of the Hawaiian islands; additional chaos descends as people realize that other disasters have struck all across the world. … Debut author Aslan shows off his promise as a writer, delivering a fresh, of-the-moment take on apocalyptic fiction.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Island of Excess Love by Francesca Lia Block (Henry Holt)

Book Description: In The Island of Excess Love, Pen has lost her parents. She’s lost her eye. But she has fought Kronen; she has won back her fragile friends and her beloved brother. Now Pen, Hex, Ash, Ez, and Venice are living in the pink house by the sea, getting by on hard work, companionship, and dreams. Until the day a foreboding ship appears in the harbor across from their home. As soon as the ship arrives, they all start having strange visions of destruction and violence. Trance-like, they head for the ship and their new battles begin.

This companion to Love in the Time of Global Warming follows Pen as she searches for love among the ruins, this time using Virgil’s epic Aeneid as her guide. A powerful and stunning book filled with Francesca Lia Block’s beautiful language and inspiring characters.

A Blind Spot for Boys by Justina Chen (Little, Brown)

“After a painful breakup, Shana Wilde has issued a ”Boy Moratorium“ when it comes to dating and relationships, despite her own flirtatious personality. In search of the perfect photograph to bolster her portfolio for college, Shana meets Quattro, and his wit and sweetness make her question her new mantra. Life throws another curveball Shana’s way when her father announces he is going blind. … A book that will appeal to readers who enjoy a side of adventure with their heartache.” — School Library Journal

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks Fire)

“Chupeco makes a powerful debut with this unsettling ghost story, drawing from the same ancient Japanese legend that inspired The Ring and other horror pieces. Okiku is a vengeful spirit who wanders the world. … Told in a marvelously disjointed fashion from Okiku’s numbers-obsessed point of view, this story unfolds with creepy imagery and an intimate appreciation for Japanese horror, myth, and legend.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Can’t Look Away by Donna Cooner (Point)

Book Description: Torrey Grey is famous. At least, on the internet. Thousands of people watch her popular videos on fashion and beauty. But when Torrey’s sister is killed in an accident – maybe because of Torrey and her videos – Torrey’s perfect world implodes.

Now, strangers online are bashing Torrey. And at her new school, she doesn’t know who to trust. Is queen bee Blair only being sweet because of Torrey’s internet infamy? What about Raylene, who is decidedly unpopular, but seems accepts Torrey for who she is? And then there’s Luis, with his brooding dark eyes, whose family runs the local funeral home. Torrey finds herself drawn to Luis, and his fascinating stories about El dio de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

As the Day of the Dead draws near, Torrey will have to really look at her own feelings about death, and life, and everything in between. Can she learn to mourn her sister out of the public eye?

Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson (Simon Pulse)

“One year ago, Hurricane Josephine killed 16-year-old Dovey’s best friend Carly. But after spotting Carly at Savannah’s Paper Moon Coffee Shop, Dovey sets out on a quixotic quest to find her. … Along with Isaac and her loyal friend Baker, biracial Dovey must free Carly from an afterlife of servitude without becoming enslaved herself. This genuinely frightening horror novel is also a character-driven paean to friendship, as Dovey and Baker’s devotion to Carly inspires them to courage and sacrifice.” — Publishers Weekly

Blind by Rachel DeWoskin (Viking)

“With traces of John Green’s Looking for Alaska (2005), DeWoskin’s first teen novel explores death and darkness. Blinded in a fireworks accident, Emma Silver has finally learned to find “shorelines” with her white cane and identify her six wildly different siblings by their breathing. Her rehabilitation is meticulously described, from learning to decipher braille to containing her panic. … A vivid, sensory tour of the shifting landscapes of blindness and teen relationships.” — Kirkus, starred review

Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

“In contrast to dystopian novels with world-shaking stakes, Fine (the Guards of the Shadowlands series) focuses on a detailed microcosm within an unjust society. She centers her tale of forbidden love and social awakening on a single industrial complex, where brutal bosses control workers by keeping them permanently in debt. … Fine creates a memorable atmosphere of desperation, deftly weaving together numerous subplots that intersect in a grisly and satisfying climax.” — Publishers Weekly

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank (Schwartz & Wade)

“Using innovative page design, Frank crafts an unflinching look at illness. … Frank’s portrayal of chronic, mostly invisible sickness is spot-on. Illness isn’t metaphor, it isn’t a consequence, it isn’t a literary vehicle—it’s a precarious and uprooting fact of life, inconvenient and enraging, but not the end of the world.Riveting, humanizing and real.” — Kirkus, starred review

Bombay Blues by Tanuja Desai Hidier

“Long awaited, anticipated, likely to be debated: Dimple Lala is back. Hidier quietly revolutionized YA literature with Born Confused (2002), and this sequel indicates she’s intent on a repeat. Dimple, now in college and still with beat-dropping Karsh, heads to Bombay ostensibly for a wedding but really for so much more; still, perhaps, born confused, she is in search of home. Dense, lyrical, full of neologic portmanteaus and wordplay (“magnifishence”; “candlecadabra”): This is a prose-poem meditation on love, family and homecoming (or not) posing as a novel.” — Kirkus, starred review

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios (Twelfth Planet Press)

Book Description: What do a disabled superhero, a time-traveling Chinese-American figure skater, and a transgendered animal shifter have in common? They’re all stars of Kaleidoscope stories!

Kaleidoscope collects fun, edgy, meditative, and hopeful YA science fiction and fantasy with diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.

Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo (Random House Books for Young Readers)

“Instead of returning home at the end of a summer spent with their grandparents, Leigh and her older sister Kai receive two one-way bus tickets to Hangtown, CA. Their father has bought a graveyard and the family is moving. For the past three years, Leigh has been a stalwart support system for Kia while she battled cancer. … Leigh’s worst fears are confirmed when Dario, the 20-year-old Mexican immigrant who works at the cemetery (and Leigh’s crush), tells her that her birthday, November 1st, is the Day of the Dead in Mexico. … An impressive debut novel—simultaneously hilarious, clever, and poignant.” — School Library Journal

Taken by David Massey (Chicken House)

Book Description: The trip of a lifetime turns into a fight to the death when six extreme athletes are TAKEN hostage by pirates off the coast of Africa. By the author of TORN.

Six crew members are toughing it out, trying to come together as a team to sail around the world on a grueling challenge for charity. Four are teen military veterans disabled in combat: They’re used to being pushed to the limit. But nothing could have prepared them for being kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Suddenly, the trip of a lifetime turns into a dark journey into the African jungle. Taken hostage by a notorious warlord and his band of child soldiers, how will Rio, Ash, Marcus, Jen, Charis, and Izzy survive?

Knockout Games by G. Neri (Carolrhoda Lab)

“New girl Erica falls in with the wrong crowd in an exploration of racial tension in St. Louis. … Neri’s main concern is the ”post-racial“ urban landscape, raising many talking points while letting readers come to their own conclusions.Harsh and relentless, a tough but worthy read.” — Kirkus, starred review

Positive: A Memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin (HarperCollins)

“This realistic and honest biography of a young woman living with HIV will draw readers in, shedding light on this difficult topic. … The book beautifully conveys what it’s like to grow up with HIV, dispelling myths about the virus and imparting useful knowledge.” — School Library Journal

Frida and Diego by Catherine Reef (Clarion Books)

“The intertwined creative and personal lives of two trailblazing artists whose lifestyles were as avant-garde as their work. … Reef offers a balanced and cleareyed examination of this powerful relationship, contextualizing it against the backdrop of national politics in Mexico and international change ushered in by the Great Depression and World War II. … Compelling reading for art lovers.” — Kirkus, starred review

I Love I Hate I Miss My Sister by Amélie Sarn (Delacorte)

“In short anguished chapters, 18-year-old Sohane narrates scenes from the weeks before and months after the brutal murder of her younger sister, Djelila. Raised in an Algerian Muslim family living in Paris, the two girls seek to establish their identity in different ways. … French author Sarn includes a glossary of Arabic words and terms related to Islam, as well as a note about the real-life event that inspired this moving story, which provides rich material for conversation about family relations, religious identity, and civil liberties.” — Publishers Weekly

Lovers & Haters by Calvin Slater (K-Teen)

Book Description: Fifteen-year-old Xavier Hunter is trying to get good grades and get the hottest girl in school. But with his father and brother both locked up in jail, Xavier’s mom is left to provide for the family, and there’s never enough money to go around. If Xavier wants to be with the hottest girl, he has to look the part, so he does what he has to—even if it costs him his grades, good standing with teachers, and leads him to deal with the neighborhood thugs he’s vowed to avoid so he won’t end up like his brother or father. But Xavier will risk it all for Samantha, because for the first time Xavier feels like he has someone on his side— and he wouldn’t give that up for anything…

I Am Malala (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick (Little, Brown)

Book Description: Malala Yousafzai was only ten years old when the Taliban took control of her region. They said music was a crime. They said women weren’t allowed to go to the market. They said girls couldn’t go to school.

Raised in a once-peaceful area of Pakistan transformed by terrorism, Malala was taught to stand up for what she believes. So she fought for her right to be educated. And on October 9, 2012, she nearly lost her life for the cause: She was shot point-blank while riding the bus on her way home from school.

No one expected her to survive.