Tag Archives: Cynthia Leitich Smith

New Releases – February 2015

The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy by Peggy Caravantes (Chicago Review Press)

“An honest, revealing portrait of the famed entertainer and activist who was born into extreme poverty and became an international iconic star of the Jazz Age. … This warts-and-all portrait reveals that Baker was a complex, enigmatic personality who could be as selfish as she was generous, as mean-spirited as she was compassionate, and as inconsiderate as she was thoughtful. A fascinating, compelling story of a remarkably resilient woman who overcame poverty and racial prejudice to become an international celebrity.” — Kirkus

The Oathbreaker’s Shadow by Amy McCulloch (Flux)

“In a fantasy world with the flavor of the Central Asian steppes, Raim is a 15-year-old nomad determined to join the elite forces of the Khanate. Since he was a child, he’s been best friends with the Khan’s heir, and if he passes his tests he’ll be young Khareh’s most trusted fighter. He need only make an Absolute Vow, an oath sworn on a knot. If the maker of a knotted promise is forsworn, the knot burns a hideous scar on the oathbreaker’s body, and a grotesque shadow appears, haunting the breaker of the promise and causing his countrymen to drive him into the wilderness.” — Kirkus

Soulprint by Megan Miranda (Bloomsbury)

“Miranda (Vengeance) introduces a heroine with a strong voice and a thirst for freedom, thrust among a vividly delineated supporting cast with competing agendas. In a future where reincarnation can be scientifically tracked, 17-year-old half-Hispanic Alina Chase has spent her life isolated, allegedly for her own protection. She carries within her the soul of a charismatic and destructive whistleblower turned blackmailer, June Calahan. … The beauty of Miranda’s latest novel is in watching Alina, unused to human relationships, fall in love, earn trust, and form fast friendships in a high-adrenaline atmosphere, as she and her companions fight to stay ahead of the authorities while following the trail left by June.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Third Twin by CJ Omololu (Delacorte)

“Twins Lexi and Ava have been playing a game since they were little girls: they have created an imaginary third twin, Alicia. … Now as teenagers, the sisters vicariously imagine the free-spirited Alicia indulging in the wilder side of life. … Then the game begins to have dangerous consequences. … This compelling story filled with serpentine twists and turns will leave readers guessing at every step, and breathless at the climactic conclusion. Hand to readers who crave suspenseful, plot-driven thrillers.” — School Library Journal

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez (Bloomsbury)

“This realistic novel invites readers into the lives of two high schoolers, Elizabeth Davis and Emily Delgado, as they struggle with unrelated painful events, reacting in ways as different as their personalities. … Latino culture, and bicultural and gay family relationships are woven easily into the story; popular culture references and some romance will also resonate with adolescents. Overall, this text provides important insights into the various stressors that can lead to depression and suicide, as well as the type of support required to move toward potential healing.” — School Library Journal

Hold Me Down by Calvin Slater (Dafina)

Book Description: Xavier Hunter’s dreams of graduation and college are even more crazy-impossible this sophomore year. Flipping on his former BFF has put more than one target on his back. And thanks to vicious baby-daddy lies, his dream girl Samantha Fox has quit him for good. The only person who seems to understand what he’s going through is Nancy Simpson. She’s a gorgeous chance to make things right—but she’s more dangerous drama than Xavier has ever seen.

Samantha isn’t going to let heartbreak break her. Maybe Xavier wasn’t the down-deep-decent guy she thought. And maybe what they had wasn’t as true as she hoped. But there’s something about his new boo, Nancy, that’s screaming bad news. And exposing what’s real means she and Xavier must face some hard truths—and survive.

Feral Pride by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick)

“A battle pitting a group of werepeople and their vampire compatriot against demons in disguise concludes this trilogy that began with Feral Nights (2013). … As in previous volumes, the wickedly funny, quickly paced style is anchored by the novel’s underlying theme of the marginalization of people and its effects, both those obvious (”Our legal rights are slippery,“ explains Kayla) and more insidiously subtle. … A final episode that is witty, smart and moving—sure to satisfy those who’ve been following the series.” — Kirkus

This Side of Home by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury)

“The summer before Maya and Nikki’s senior year of high school brings new challenges as their previously all-black neighborhood becomes attractive to other ethnic groups. The twins, while still close, have been changing in recent years and now find they have very different views about the changes. … Maya’s straightforward narration offers an intriguing look at how families and young people cope with community and personal change. Maya and her friends are well-drawn, successful characters surrounded by a realistic adult supporting cast.” — Kirkus

New Releases – February 2014

Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers by Steve Berman (Lethe Press)

“The positivity that runs throughout the book, even in stories that end on gruesome or eerie notes, is the best part: the sense of ‘coming out’ in many of these pieces is also a sort of coming to life, or a coming into the self. The undercurrent of acceptance despite the odds is pleasant and heart-warming. These are stories about kids finding out what it means to be themselves, and how to be with other people. That’s good stuff…” — Tor.com

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson (Knopf)

“A teenage girl from an unnamed Middle Eastern country attempts to come to terms with her dictator father’s bloody legacy in this absorbing character-driven novel authored by a former CIA official. … Laila is a complex and layered character whose nuanced observations will help readers better understand the divide between American and Middle Eastern cultures. Smart, relevant, required reading.” — Kirkus, starred review

Changers Book One: Drew by T Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper (Akashic Books)

“A thought-provoking exploration of identity, gender, and sexuality. … An excellent read for any teens questioning their sense of self or gender.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The Worlds We Make by Megan Crewe (Hyperion)

Book description: When Kaelyn and her friends reached Toronto with a vaccine for the virus that has ravaged the population, they thought their journey was over-but hope has eluded them once again. Now there is a dangerous group of survivors intent on tracking them down and stealing the cure no matter the costs.

Forced onto the road again, Kaelyn redoubles her efforts to find a safe haven. But when the rest of her group starts to fall apart, the chances for her success grow slim. Kaelyn’s resolve is strong, but is she willing to surrender everything in order to stay alive?

Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings (Candlewick)

“Henry ‘had never seen anyone as ugly as himself’; his odd appearance and clubfoot make him a target for bullies, and his stutter and difficulties with reading lead him to keep his emotions bottled up. … a poetic and powerful novel.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin (Candlewick)

“A solid historical foundation, strong characterizations, and lyrical descriptions highlight Hegamin’s rich novel about slavery and black/white relations before the Civil War. … Engrossing and educational.” — Publishers Weekly

The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe (Viking)

“Learning that her parents plan to place her unpredictably violent autistic brother in a group home, accomplished trumpet player and responsible older sister Daisy Meehan experiments with bad behavior in her junior year in high school, trying to figure out how she feels about it. … An intriguing medley of music, teen romance, high school life and serious family issues.” — Kirkus

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin (Candlewick)

“In a sorely needed resource for teens and, frankly, many adults, author/photographer Kuklin shares first-person narratives from six transgender teens, drawn from interviews she conducted and shaped with input from her subjects. … its chief value isn’t just in the stories it reveals but in the way Kuklin captures these teenagers not as idealized exemplars of what it “means” to be transgender but as full, complex, and imperfect human beings.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Unintentional Time Traveler by Everett Maroon (Booktrope Editions)

Book Description: Fifteen-year-old Jack Bishop has mad skills with cars and engines, but knows he’ll never get a driver’s license because of his epilepsy. Agreeing to participate in an experimental clinical trial to find new treatments for his disease, he finds himself in a completely different body—that of a girl his age, Jacqueline, who defies the expectations of her era. Since his seizures usually give him spazzed out visions, Jack presumes this is a hallucination. Feeling fearless, he steals a horse, expecting that at any moment he’ll wake back up in the clinical trial lab. When that doesn’t happen, Jacqueline falls unexpectedly in love, even as the town in the past becomes swallowed in a fight for its survival. Jack/Jacqueline is caught between two lives and epochs, and must find a way to save everyone around him as well as himself. And all the while, he is losing time, even if he is getting out of algebra class.

Storm by Donna Jo Napoli (Paula Wiseman Books)

“Napoli (Skin) draws from the story of Noah’s Ark in this account of a Canaanite girl, Sebah, with a big problem: rain, which sweeps away her family, home, and the ground beneath her feet. … Napoli’s focus on Sebah’s immediate circumstances allows her to grow organically as a character, bringing a satisfying realism to this familiar story.” — Publishers Weekly

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier (Strange Chemistry)

Book Description:  Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge—the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases—like for Natividad’s father and older brother—Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)

“Schrefer switches focus from bonobos to chimpanzees in this engrossing, meticulously researched, and gripping tale of survival in the deep wilds of Gabon, a thematic follow-up to 2012’s Endangered. … Schrefer’s passion for the material and empathy for the characters shows on every page, and his non-human subjects are every bit as complex and fascinating as narrator Luc.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Happy Endings Are All Alike by Sandra Scoppettone (Lizzie Skurnick Books — re-release)

Book Description: Sandra Scoppettone’s 1978 lesbian young adult romance was a novel ahead of its time. The story follows the relationship between high school seniors Jaret and Peggy. At a time when girls were only allowed to date boys, Jaret and Peggy know they had to keep their love a secret. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and before long they have to contend with the confusion and outright hatred of those closest to them. But nothing compares to the danger ahead, and the tragedy that will not just test their faith in their relationship, but their belief in themselves.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (Dutton)

“Austin is in love with two people—his girlfriend, Shann, and his best friend Robby; neither of them is okay with it but, as Austin frequently repeats, ‘I was so confused.’ … Filled with gonzo black humor, Smith’s outrageous tale makes serious points about scientific research done in the name of patriotism and profit, the intersections between the personal and the global, the weight of history on the present, and the often out-of-control sexuality of 16-year-old boys.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Candlewick)

“Campy humor is paired with themes of social justice in this fast-paced, clever second volume in the Feral series. … [T]he dynamics among characters are fascinating and are well-served by the first-person narration alternating between Yoshi and Kayla. A neat, smart middle novel that clearly sets the stage for an epic showdown between those who champion the rights of shifters and those blind to their humanity.” — Kirkus

The Tinker King by Tiffany Trent (Simon and Schuster)

“The prize for saving the world is having to do it all over again in this companion to the steampunk romance The Unnaturalists (2012). … lush, with a nice touch of Victorian post-humanism for an original twist.” — Kirkus

New Release – February 2013

Feral Nights by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: Feb. 12, 2013

Fans of the Tantalize quartet will thrill to see werepossum Clyde and other favorite secondary characters — plus all-new ones — take to the fore in book one of an all-new series.

When sexy, free-spirited werecat Yoshi tracks his sister, Ruby, to Austin, he discovers that she is not only MIA, but also the key suspect in a murder investigation. Meanwhile, werepossum Clyde and human Aimee have set out to do a little detective work of their own, sworn to avenge the brutal killing of werearmadillo pal Travis. When all three seekers are snared in an underground kidnapping ring, they end up on a remote island inhabited by an unusual (even by shifter standards) species and its cult of worshippers. Their hosts harbor a grim secret: staging high-profile safaris for wealthy patrons with evil pedigrees, which means that at least one newcomer to the island is about to be hunted. As both wereprey and werepredator fight to stay alive, it’s up to mild-mannered Clyde — a perennial sidekick — to summon the hero within. Can he surprise even himself?

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Dialogue that sparkles with wit, filled with both literary and pop-culture references.” — Kirkus

“Smith’s fantasy smoothly switches between the three protagonists’ perspectives, while expertly blending the mythical and the modern. The story’s sharp banter and edgy plot make for an entertaining and clever story about loyalty and reconciling differences.” — Publishers Weekly

“Smith’s blend of supernatural suspense, campy humor, and romantic tension is addictive; allusions to both pop culture (‘Thriller,’ Monty Python) and literature (The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Most Dangerous Game) add to the fun. Most satisfying of all, Aimee and especially unassuming, injured Clyde leave their sidekick roles behind to come into their own.” — The Horn Book

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