Tag Archives: Margarita Engle

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 – March 2014

The Secret Side of Empty by Maria E. Andreu (Running Press Kids)

“In her first novel, Andreu examines immigration from a distinctive angle through the story of Monserrat Thalia, aka M.T., whose family illegally immigrated to New Jersey from Argentina when she was a baby. Now it’s her senior year, and the bright future she’s imagined for herself is threatened by her abusive, embittered father, who’s determined to return to their homeland. … M.T’s immediate, jaundiced, and worldly perspective is eye-opening and wrenching, particularly when it comes to how she weighs her own worth as a human being.” — Publishers Weekly

Lost Girl Found by Leah Bassoff and Laura DeLuca (Groundwood Books)

Much ink has been worthily spent calling attention to the harrowing experiences of the Lost Boys of Sudan. So what of the girls? Addressing a severe imbalance in the amount of attention paid to girls and women victimized in Sudan’s long civil war, the co-authors (one of whom has worked in East Africa) offer a fictional memoir. … Readers will come away with clear pictures of gender roles in Poni’s culture as well as the South Sudan conflict’s devastating physical and psychological effects. Two afterwords and a substantial bibliography (largely on the Lost Boys, perforce) will serve those who want to know more. Moving and necessary.” — Kirkus

Resistance by Jenna Black (Tor Teen)

Book Description: Resistance is the second installment in acclaimed author Jenna Black’s YA SF romance series. Nate Hayes is a Replica. The real Nate was viciously murdered, but thanks to Paxco’s groundbreaking human replication technology, a duplicate was created that holds all of the personality and the memories of the original. Or…almost all. Nate’s backup didn’t extend to the days preceding his murder, leaving him searching for answers about who would kill him, and why. Now, after weeks spent attempting to solve his own murder with the help of his best friend and betrothed, Nadia Lake, Nate has found the answers he was seeking…and he doesn’t like what he’s discovered. The original Nate was killed because he knew a secret that could change everything. Thanks to Nadia’s quick thinking, the two of them hold the cards now—or think they do. Unfortunately, neither of them fully understands just how deep the conspiracy runs.

Returning to Shore by Corinne Demas (Carolrhoda Lab)

“In this coming-of-age novel, Clare must also decide how she feels about her father’s identity, especially when faced with friends’ homophobia. A quiet, thoughtful story for sophisticated readers.” — Booklist

The Sowing by Steven dos Santos (Flux)

Book Description: Lucian “Lucky” Spark leads a double life. By day, he trains to become one of the Establishment elite. At night, he sabotages his oppressors from within, seeking to avenge the murder of his love, Digory Tycho, and rescue his imprisoned brother. But when he embarks on a risky plot to assassinate members of the Establishment hierarchy, Lucky is thrust into the war between the Establishment and the rebellion, where the lines between friend and foe are blurred beyond recognition. His only chance for survival lies in facing the secrets of the Sowing, a mystery rooted in the ashes of the apocalyptic past that threatens to destroy Lucky’s last hope for the future.

Silver People: Voices From the Panama Canal by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

“In melodic verses, Engle offers the voices of three [Panama Canal] workers…Taken together, they provide an illuminating picture of the ecological sacrifices and human costs behind a historical feat generally depicted as a triumph.”
—Horn Book Magazine

Gilded by Christina Farley (Skyscape)

Book Description: Sixteen-year-old Jae Hwa Lee is a Korean-American girl with a black belt, a deadly proclivity with steel-tipped arrows, and a chip on her shoulder the size of Korea itself. When her widowed dad uproots her to Seoul from her home in L.A., Jae thinks her biggest challenges will be fitting in to a new school and dealing with her dismissive Korean grandfather. Then she discovers that a Korean demi-god, Haemosu, has been stealing the soul of the oldest daughter of each generation in her family for centuries. And she’s next.

Dangerous by Shannon Hale (Bloomsbury)

“Her middle name may be Danger, but Maisie “Danger” Brown doesn’t seem a likely action heroine. She is a homeschooled half-Latina science geek with a special love for physics and astronomy, and she has an artificial arm. When she wins a contest to go to astronaut camp with other teens, her life changes dramatically. … This fast-paced science fiction novel with echoes of the “Fantastic Four” comics doesn’t let up for a moment. Maisie is a strong, smart heroine with a wry sense of humor, and readers will be rooting for her to save the world. A must-read for fans of superhero adventures.” — School Library Journal

Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard (Skyhorse Publishing)

Book Description: In Serjana Caelum’s world, gods exist. So do goddesses. Sera knows this because she is one of them. A secret long concealed by her parents, Sera is Lakshmi reborn, the human avatar of an immortal Indian goddess rumored to control all the planes of existence. Marked by the sigils of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world, but all she creates is chaos. A chaos that Azrath, the Asura Lord of Death, hopes to use to unleash hell on earth.

Torn between reconciling her past and present, Sera must figure out how to stop Azrath before the Mortal Realm is destroyed. But trust doesn’t come easy in a world fissured by lies and betrayal. Her best friend Kyle is hiding his own dark secrets, and her mysterious new neighbor, Devendra, seems to know a lot more than he’s telling. Struggling between her opposing halves and her attraction to the boys tied to each of them, Sera must become the goddess she was meant to be, or risk failing, which means sacrificing the world she was born to protect.

Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland (Simon & Schuster)

“A reluctant Harpy discovers her destiny in an elaborate Greek-mythology–based fantasy. … Zephyr’s narration hooks readers with snappy, hilarious one-liners. A dark, slyly funny read.” — Kirkus

The Violet Hour by Whitney A. Miller (Flux)

Book Description: Some call VisionCrest the pinnacle of religious enlightenment. Others call it a powerful cult. For seventeen years, Harlow Wintergreen has called it her life. As the adopted daughter of VisionCrest’s patriarch, Harlow is expected to be perfect at all times. The other Ministry teens must see her as a paragon of integrity. The world must see her as a future leader. Despite the constant scrutiny, Harlow has managed to keep a dark and dangerous secret, even from her best friend and the boy she loves. She hears a voice in her head that seems to have a mind of its own, plaguing her with violent and bloody visions. It commands her to kill. And the urge to obey is getting harder and harder to control …

Black Sheep by Na’ima B. Robert (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

Book Description: Sparks fly when sixteen-year-old Dwayne meets high-flying, university-bound Misha. To Misha, it feels like true love, but her mom is adamant that Dwayne is bad news and forbids her to see him. When Misha decides to follow her heart, the web of secrets and lies begins to tighten, for Dwayne is not quite who he says he is. And as he struggles to turn his life around while hiding his darker side from Misha, his ties with Trigger, Jukkie, and the rest of his boys draw him deeper and deeper into gang violence, more serious and bloody than any he has ever seen. One night, Dwayne’s two lives collide, with devastating consequences.

Because of Her by KE Payne (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: For seventeen-year-old Tabitha “Tabby” Morton, life sucks. Big time. Forced to move to London thanks to her father’s new job, she has to leave her friends, school, and, most importantly, her girlfriend Amy, far behind. To make matters worse, Tabby’s parents enroll her in the exclusive Queen Victoria Independent School for Girls, hoping that it will finally make a lady of her.

But Tabby has other ideas. Loathing her new school, Tabby fights against everything and everyone, causing relations with her parents to hit rock bottom. But when the beautiful and beguiling Eden Palmer walks into her classroom one day and catches her eye, Tabby begins to wonder if life there might not be so bad after all.

When Amy drops a bombshell about their relationship following a disastrous visit, Tabby starts to see the need for new direction in her life. Fighting her own personal battles, Eden brings the possibility of change for them both. Gradually, Tabby starts to turn her life around-and it’s all because of her.

The Unwanted by Jeffrey Ricker (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Jamie Thomas has enough trouble on his hands trying to get through junior year of high school without being pulverized by Billy Stratton, his bully and tormentor. But the mother he was always told was dead is actually alive-and she’s an Amazon! Sixteen years after she left him on his father’s doorstep, she’s back… and needs Jamie’s help. A curse has caused the ancient tribe of warrior women to give birth to nothing but boys, dooming them to extinction-until prophecy reveals that salvation lies with one of the offspring they abandoned. Putting his life on the line, Jamie must find the courage to confront the wrath of an angry god to save a society that rejected him.

Ruins by Dan Wells (Balzer + Bray)

“Wells concludes his post-apocalyptic, action-packed trilogy with a literal bang and a lot of blood. Believable characters face tough moral choices, and though the end is tidy, the twists and treachery that get readers there are all the fun. It’s enjoyable alone but best read after the first two. Science (fiction) at the end of the world done right.” — Kirkus

Drama Queens in the House by Julie Williams (Roaring Brook)

“Williams (Escaping Tornado Season) puts her theater background to good use in this novel about a biracial girl struggling to find her footing in life. … family drama keeps getting in the way, including her father’s affair-turned-committed-relationship with a man, her ‘religious fanatic’ aunt Loretta’s obsession with Arma-geddon, and her mother’s refusal to talk about her collapsing marriage.” — Publishers Weekly

10 Diverse YA Historicals About Girls

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are 10 diverse young adult historical novels about girls. Descriptions are from Worldcat.

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis (Alfred A. Knopf)

Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (Houghton Mifflin)

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove is locked away in the Wildthorn Hall mental institution, where she is stripped of her identity and left to wonder who has tried to destroy her life.

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In free verse, evokes the voice of Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda, a book-loving writer, feminist, and abolitionist who courageously fought injustice in nineteenth-century Cuba. Includes historical notes, excerpts from her writings, biographical information, and source notes.

Willow by Tonya Cherie Hegamin (Candlewick Press)

In 1848 Willow, a fifteen-year-old educated slave girl, faces an inconceivable choice – between bondage and freedom, family and love – as free born, seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, takes it upon himself to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can on the Mason-Dixon Line.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman (Arthur A. Levine Books)

When Jade Moon, born in the unlucky year of the Fire Horse, and her father immigrate to America in 1923 and are detained at Angel Island Immigration Station, Jade Moon is determined to find a way through and prove that she is not cursed.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic)

It is 1969 in Spanish Harlem, and fourteen-year-old Evelyn Serrano is trying hard to break free from her conservative Puerto Rican surroundings, but when her activist grandmother comes to stay and the neighborhood protests start, things get a lot more complicated–and dangerous.

Anahita’s Woven Riddle by Meghan Nuttall Sayres (Amulet)

In Iran, more than 100 years ago, a young girl with three suitors gets permission from her father and a holy man to weave into her wedding rug a riddle to be solved by her future husband, which will ensure that he has wit to match hers.

Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman (Penguin)

In India, in 1941, when her father becomes brain-damaged in a non-violent protest march, fifteen-year-old Vidya and her family are forced to move in with her father’s extended family and become accustomed to a totally different way of life.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)

When young American pilot Rose Justice is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp, she finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery, and friendship of her fellow prisoners.

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang (Delacorte)

Emmajin, the sixteen-year-old eldest granddaughter of Khublai Khan, becomes a warrior and falls in love with explorer Marco Polo in thirteenth-century China.

New Releases – March 2013

Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Read author R.J. Anderson’s post on “An asexual YA heroine? Why not?”
Get Quicksilver at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

The Sin-Eater’s Confession by Ilsa J. Bick

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Get The Sin-Eater’s Confession at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Fat Angie by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo

Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
Get Fat Angie at IndieBound, B&N, or Amazon.

The Culling by Steven dos Santos

Publisher: Flux
Publication Date: March 8, 2013
Get The Culling at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle (Harcourt Children’s Books) — “An inspiring fictionalized verse biography of one of Cuba’s most influential writers… . Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art.” — Kirkus

The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger

Publisher: Buddha Kitty Books
Publication Date: March 2013
Get The Elephant of Surprise at IndieBound, B&N, or Amazon.

When We Wake by Karen Healey

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Get When We Wake at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Get The Summer Prince at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

Flowers in the Sky by Lynn Joseph (HarperTeen) — “Joseph’s quietly compelling novel captures both the colorful sun-filled atmosphere of 15-year-old Nina’s beloved seaside town, Samana, in the Dominican Republic, and the grit of New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood.” — Publishers Weekly

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina!

Publisher: Candlewick
Publication Date: March 26, 2013
Get Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass at IndieBound, B&N, or Amazon.

Operation Oleander by Valerie O. Patterson (Clarion Books) — “Patterson poignantly depicts war’s effect on those at home as Jess and her friends absorb and react to the events. This solid novel joins the growing number of books illustrating the war’s effect on Afghan people.”— Booklist

Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos (Houghton Mifflin) — “This sensitive first novel portrays the struggle of 16-year-old James Whit-man to overcome anxiety and depression.” — Publishers Weekly

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: Feb. 26, 2013
Get Eleanor and Park at IndieBound, B&N, or Amazon.

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: March 7, 2013

Permanent Record by Leslie Stella

Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Get Permanent Record at IndieBound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.

When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudes (Henry Holt and Co.) — “Puerto Rican senior basketballer Francisco Ortiz can’t escape the past… A fresh new voice in teen fiction.” — Kirkus