Tag Archives: Steven dos Santos

New Releases – September 2015

Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

“Aidan lives on a farm in Temperance, Ohio, that’s been in his family for generations. When Jarrod Doyle returns to finish his senior year after many years away, Aidan doesn’t recall him at all, let alone believe that they’d been best friends in elementary school. Jarrod reminds him that he used to tell stories of seeing strange things that no one else saw. … Telling the tale in Aidan’s deliberate, meticulous voice, Barzak strikes a nice balance between contemporary teen issues and paranormal adventure. Part ghost story, part love story, this page-turner is a captivating exploration of the power of place, family, memory, and time itself.” — Kirkus

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow (Margaret K. McElderry Books)

“Once there was war, until an artificial intelligence named Talis took over the world. Four hundred years later, Talis still rules; he has made the world peaceful, but the price is the blood of children. Should a government declare war, its heir, raised in a U.N.- (and Talis-) controlled Precepture, a monasterylike enclave, dies. Greta, Crown Princess of the Pan Polar Confederacy, is one of those Children of Peace. … This is no cookie-cutter dystopia. Talis (whose voice lends a sharp, outsize, and very dark humor to his every word and scene) may not be a bad supreme ruler. The boy (Elián) is not Greta’s love interest (Princess Xie is), and anyway the love story is only a piece of a much larger story about love and war, forms of power, and the question of what is right when there is no good answer, all played out on a small and personal stage.” — Kirkus, starred review

A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale by Liz Braswell (Disney Press)

“In a Disney-authorized riff on the animated film Aladdin, one crucial plot twist has horrifying results. The first quarter of the book serves up a straightforward novelization of the film, until evil vizier Jafar traps the roguish protagonist underground—in this version, without the magical lamp. Aladdin escapes to find that with the genie’s aid, Jafar has publicly murdered the feckless sultan, imprisoned the princess Jasmine, and terrorized the people of Agrabah into submission. Fortunately, Aladdin can call upon the Street Rats to spearhead a revolution, but can a gang of petty thieves prevail over Jafar’s black magic? Briskly paced, with nonstop action and clever allusions to classic horror tales …” — Kirkus

Trail of the Dead by Joseph Bruchac (Tu Books)

“In Volume 2 of this post-apocalyptic series, Lozen leads survivors of the insurrection against Haven’s technically augmented human rulers through gemod-infested wilderness to the hidden valley her Apache family once called home—it doesn’t go as planned. As Lozen’s powers to read the now-unwired world around her have grown, so have the responsibilities and stresses of leadership. … To unravel and heal her PTSD requires confronting the toll that killing takes on warriors, however noble their motives or those of the leaders who’ve ordered it. … Bruchac’s focus on these consequences adds welcome emotional depth to Lozen and to the story itself, while her search for healing and wholeness highlights the strengths of a cultural heritage that is up to the challenge. This second act offering deeper characterization and resonant themes enriches an already compelling tale.” — Kirkus

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco (Sourcebooks Fire)

“Seventeen-year-old Tark has adjusted pretty well to life with Okiku, the vengeful spirit that accompanies him wherever he goes. Tark is able to control Okiku’s blood lust, harnessing and aiming it at only those that truly deserve it. When an old friend, Kagura, goes missing, Tark and Okiku travel to the Aokigahara, a forest in Japan infamous for suicide, to search. As the location’s dark past is revealed, Okiku begins to lose sight of her moral compass, and Tark begins to feel that nothing will ever be the same again. The novel’s horror set pieces are the real highlight. Chupeco establishes a creepy, sinister tone early on but never veers into camp or overwrought darkness.” — Kirkus

One by Sarah Crossan (Greenwillow)

“Grace and Tippi are 16-year-old conjoined twins attending private school after only being homeschooled. With an alcoholic and unemployed father, an anorexic sister, and a mother frantically trying to hold her family together, the girls cling to new friends Yasmeen and Jon, two outcasts who defend the girls and treat them as equals. Just when Grace falls for Jon despite Tippi’s warning—“We can never ever fall in love”—the girls learn that an illness in one jeopardizes both. … In asking important questions about how bodies shape identity, Crossan’s novel achieves a striking balance between sentimentality and sisterly devotion.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Courage to Compete: Living with Cerebral Palsy and Following My Dreams by Abbey Curran with Elizabeth Kaye (HarperCollins)

“This uplifting memoir about a young woman living with cerebral palsy who competed in the Miss USA pageant is sure to inspire readers. … Abbey later went on to win Miss Iowa 2008 and to compete in Miss USA. She comes across as positive and hopeful, and her tone is breezy and enthusiastic (”I was just beside myself. I did it! I had made the Top Ten!!! Amazing!!!“). The teenager is honest about her struggles, from wearing leg braces to coping with her parents’ divorce. She exudes hope, confidence, determination, and bravery.” — School Library Journal

The One Thing by Marci Lyn Curtis (Disney-Hyperion)

Book Descriptioin: Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met. Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the magnetic lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future…before she loses everything she has grown to love.

Untwine by Edwidge Danticat (Scholastic Press)

“Giselle, an art lover, and Isabelle, a budding composer, are 16-year-old Haitian-American twins living in Miami. After the SUV carrying the girls and their recently separated parents is hit, Giselle’s world unravels. Danticat (Krik? Krak!) vividly represents the path from shock to healing as Giselle and her parents grapple with Isabelle’s death. … Danticat’s gracious and poetic language haunts as Giselle moves through “star-blinding pain,” both physical and emotional, discovering the inner world of her sister and reconciling the guilt she feels at being the surviving twin.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Dagger by Steven dos Santos (Evernight Teen)

Book Description: When Ultimate Evil engulfs the entire world, only Dagger can pierce the Darkness—even if the Apocalypse falls on a school night! Dagger Beaumont is a High School senior who’s been recruited by D.U.S.T.—a covert governmental organization dedicated to battling supernatural terrorism all over the globe. However, Dagger’s unresolved conflict over his missing brother could be his undoing, as he races around the world battling the Dark Reich, a diabolical organization on a quest to possess an ancient artifact and unleash a mystical plague to enslave humanity. If that weren’t treacherous enough, Dagger must juggle his life as a secret agent with his social life, where he faces romantic rivalry for the guy of his dreams, a mysterious and handsome new student at his haunted boarding school. But in a high-stakes world where nothing is as it seems, and death lurks in every shadow, love rides shotgun with survival!

Sound by Alexandra Duncan (Greenwillow)

“Miyole forged her papers to work on the Ranganathan, a 128,000-acre research-and-development ship. She’s 16, not the required 18, but she’s always wanted to travel into space and was impatient to leave Mumbai, where she was taunted as ”the darkest“ and ”the exotic outlier“ because she’s Haitian, not Indian. Onboard, she bioengineers bees and butterflies to pollinate terraformed planets. Then life takes a sharp turn: pirates attack a nearby spacecraft, and Miyole meets a girl named Cassia. … Connections among her personal history, her ancestral history (the real-life Haitian Revolution; the science-fictional destruction, centuries ago, of Haiti by floods), and the atrocities she discovers in deep space are meaningful and well-wrought, as is the portrayal of Miyole’s tender and bumpy romance with Cassia. Unpredictable plot, vivid settings, and a queer, dark-skinned black girl as a protagonist in far-future science fiction: essential.” — Kirkus, starred review

Michael Vey 5: Storm of Lightning by Richard Paul Evans (Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink)

Book Description: Michael, Taylor, Ostin, and the rest of the Electroclan go on their most dangerous mission yet as the thrilling action continues in this electrifying fifth installment of the New York Times bestselling series!

The resistance movement has been compromised. The Voice is in hiding. Their families are missing. Can the Electroclan pull together to defeat the Elgen once and for all?

Either the Beginning or the End of the World by Terry Farish (Carolrhoda Lab)

“Almost 17-year-old Sofie lives with her fisherman father and dog on the rugged and unforgiving Pisqataqua River in New Hampshire. … An early closure of the shrimping season forces her father down south to the Chincoteague, but not before he unequivocally warns Sofie not to see Luke, a volatile deckhand returned from duty as a medic in Afghanistan. With her father gone, her long-absent mother and grandmother move in to take his place. She grudgingly begins to learn more about their life in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge … Poetic, spare, and sometimes near stream of consciousness, Farish’s writing is haunting. She paints broad strokes and excels at setting a tone that pervades every word and action. The sexual tension between Sofie and Luke is palpable. Beautifully written and briskly paced, the sparse prose evokes the rugged, bleak landscape, the simplicity of Sofie’s former life with her Dad, and the immediate, unspoken union between her and Luke.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Brazen by Christina Farley (Skyscape)

Book Description:Jae Hwa Lee spent her sixteenth year in Seoul, trying to destroy the evil immortals who had been torturing her family for centuries. The last thing she expected was to be forced to become their assassin. Trapped in the darkest part of the Spirit World as a servant to the Korean god Kud, fighting to keep her humanity, and unable to contact her loved ones, Jae Hwa is slowly losing hope. Kud, god of darkness, will do anything to keep her as a pawn in his quest for power over all of Korea, her entire family thinks she’s dead, and Jae’s true love, Marc, believes she is lost to him forever.

When Kud sends Jae to find and steal the powerful Black Turtle orb, Jae sees an opportunity to break free and defeat Kud once and for all…but first she needs to regain Marc’s trust and work with him to vanquish the darkness that threatens to overwhelm Korea. There’s much to lose as Jae struggles to save the land she’s come to call home.

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)

“Moving to Hawaii and enrolling at prestigious Punahou midyear, Lea feels isolated and, despite her island roots, uncertain where she fits in the complex cultural mosaic; everything changes when her mother, Ali, accepts Eddie and Melanie West’s offer of their guesthouse in upscale Kahala. … As in The Descendants (2007), Hemmings turns her plot on intergenerational family complexities and contradictions, secrets and revelations. Appealing and volatile, Lea’s a quintessential teen, by turns hypersensitive and hypercritical, impulsive and cautious, insightful and clueless. Hawaii, Hemmings’ closely observed home turf, is more than interesting wallpaper; details of island life (including tensions among natives and newcomers, locals and vacationers) resonate with theme and plot. Wryly funny, generous-hearted, garnished with sun, surfing, and shave ice—a genuinely literary beach read.” — Kirkus, starred review

Edge: Collected Stories by M. E. Kerr (Open Road Media)

“Family, honesty, and status emerge as themes in a collection of prolific author Kerr’s short stories for teens. A girl’s ne’er-do-well adopted brother returns to her as a ghost. A Holocaust survivor understands her lesbian granddaughter better than the girl’s mother fears. A school outcast visits an inmate at the town prison, pretending to be his son, and thinks he’s lucked into a fortune. Most stories here were originally published in the 1990s, but despite occasional dated preoccupations, the subject matter still feels fresh and the telling, crisp. … Expertly crafted, with enduring relevance.” — Kirkus

Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche (Razorbill)

“After Michelle’s drug-addicted mother is arrested, 17-year-old Michelle is left to fend for her two younger siblings. Again. With virtually no one to help them, Michelle (who is half-black) feels lost until her previously unknown (and “the-color-of-tracing-paper white”) half-sister, Leah, shows up with her stepbrother, Tim. Buck Devereaux—the long-absent father that Michelle, her siblings, and Leah all share—is dying, and he wants to see them. After some persuasion, all five step-siblings pile into Michelle’s broken-down station wagon to travel from Baltimore to California. … [Michelle’s] budding relationship with Tim adds a sweet-natured romantic dimension to this sibling-centered story.” — Publishers Weekly

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt (St. Martin’s Griffin)

“Sixteen-year-old Alma Garcia-Menendez is a brilliant girl from a loving Mexican family living in Georgia, part of a community of undocumented immigrants. Evan Roland is the privileged son of a socialite, the nephew of a powerful senator, and a friend to boys who think sexual assault is a game. It’s love at first sight for Alma and Evan, but the threat of deportation looms for Alma and everyone in her life. … readers seeking a star-crossed love story with a twist won’t be disappointed.” — Publishers Weekly

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore (Thomas Dunne)

“Like all Paloma girls, Lace was born with small escalas decorating her body, “a sprinkling of scales off a pale fish, a gift from the river goddess Apanchanej.” Life revolves around performing as sirenas in her itinerant family’s popular mermaid show, a tourist attraction rivaled only by that of their nemesis family, the Corbeaus, who have feathers instead of scales, and dance high in the trees. … when Cluck, a Corbeau, saves Lace during a chemical rainstorm caused by a nearby adhesive manufacturing plant, he unwittingly dooms Lace’s future with her family. McLemore’s prose is ethereal and beguiling … The enchanting setup and the forbidden romance that blooms between these two outcasts will quickly draw readers in.” — Publishers Weekly

Breaking Up Point by Brian McNamara (Bold Strokes Books)

Book Description: Brendan Madden is starting his freshman year of college and, although excited, he is sad to say good-bye to his high school boyfriend, Mark. After a rough transition, Brendan carves out a place for himself at school, where he has new friends and newfound independence. With the added strain of distance, however, he now finds it hard to maintain his relationship with Mark, especially due to the fact that Mark still must hide the relationship from most of his friends. Brendan’s college life allows him to be open and honest about who he is. He debates whether he is willing to compromise this for Mark, especially since staying in the relationship means forgoing the possibility of finding new romance at college.

Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian (HarperCollins)

“A high school senior struggles to understand himself after he falls for Brandy, a sophomore girl, while at the same time he and his friend Angus, who is openly gay, make out one night while stoned and drunk and then are continually drawn back to one another. … Intense, honestly described, and sometimes awkward sexual encounters will ring true for teen readers, and many will identify with the family strife, too. Pitch perfect, raw, and moving.” — Kirkus, starred review

Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez (Carolrhoda Lab)

“A Mexican-American girl and a black boy begin an ill-fated love in the months leading up to a catastrophic 1937 school explosion in East Texas. … Naomi has begrudgingly left behind her abuelitos in San Antonio for a new life with her younger half siblings, twins, and their long-absent white father, Henry. … Their one friend is Wash, a brilliant African-American senior from the black part of town. … the story ultimately belongs to Naomi and Wash. Their beautifully detailed love story blossoms in the relative seclusion of the woods, where even stepfathers can’t keep them apart. … A powerful, layered tale of forbidden love in times of unrelenting racism.” — Kirkus, starred review

Serpentine by Cindy Pon (Month9Books)

“Pon returns to Xia, a realm inspired by Chinese folklore and introduced in Silver Phoenix (2009), for the first in a duology. Abandoned at birth, Skybright feels lucky to be handmaid to the wealthy, vivacious Zhen Ni, who for 16 years has treated her more as beloved sister than servant. Yet Sky, already bitter with jealousy over her mistress’s new companion and passionately enamored of the charming monk-in-training Kai Sen, hides a dreadful secret: at night, she transforms into a demon, half human, half monstrous crimson serpent. … The economical narrative conjures an entire world, drenched in color and texture and scent, rich in evocative mythology and heady action, and filled with vivid characters. … A fast-paced and engrossing read for anyone weary of the same old hackneyed storylines.” — Kirkus

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)

“In this painful and all-too-timely book, two authors—one black, one white—present a story of police brutality. Reynolds (The Boy in the Black Suit) voices Rashad, the innocent victim of a police beating; Kiely (The Gospel of Winter) writes Quinn, a horrified witness. … The scenario that Reynolds and Kiely depict has become a recurrent feature of news reports, and a book that lets readers think it through outside of the roiling emotions of a real-life event is both welcome and necessary.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

The Inker’s Shadow by Allen Say (Scholastic Press)

“In this continuation of Say’s graphic memoir, Drawing from Memory (2011), he travels to the United States and receives a decidedly mixed welcome. Arriving in southern California in 1953, 15-year-old Allen first settles in a military academy but is soon asked to leave because his sponsor comes to believe that he won’t be (as Say’s own openly hostile father puts it) ‘a wholesome American.’ … all along the way, his determination to become a cartoonist never fades, and at low moments Kyusuke, the free-spirited alter ego created for him back in Japan by his mentor and sensei, Noro Shinpei, pops into view to remind him that it’s all an adventure. This small but firm step on an artist’s journey is both inspiration to his fellows and an informative window into a particular slice of the nation’s history.” — Kirkus

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa (Balzer + Bray)

“Scelsa debuts with an evocative novel about finding friendship, love, and oneself, as well as the pain that often accompanies the journey. When Jeremy, a shy artist who has kept to himself after a humiliating incident at school left him scarred and vulnerable, meets Mira and Sebby, two sophomores with troubled pasts, the three form a strong bond. Mira, who is struggling to tame debilitating depression, makes Jeremy feel a profound sense of belonging, while his attraction to Sebby, an openly gay foster kid, ignites a passion he’s never known. … Themes of betrayal, forgiveness, and resilience resonate strongly, while the characters’ stories are so beautifully told and their struggles so hauntingly familiar that they will stay with readers long after they have finished the book. ” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Lizard Radio by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick)

“In a dystopian future, Kivali Kerwin, nicknamed Lizard, is sent to prepare for adulthood at a government-run CropCamp. Lizard’s adoptive family has always resisted authority, but attending camp as a teen makes it easier to avoid being sent to the prisonlike Blight as an adult. As a midrange bender—roughly equivalent, in today’s terms, to having a nonbinary gender—Lizard is at risk of being sent to Blight. At camp, Lizard unexpectedly forms deep connections to other campers. At the same time, Lizard increasingly suspects something sinister behind the camp’s strong community spirit. … Sophisticated, character-driven science fiction, as notable for its genderqueer protagonist as for its intricate, suspenseful plot.” — Kirkus, starred review

Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash (Candlewick)

“Thrash chronicles one monumental summer at an all-girls’ camp where she experienced her gut-wrenching first love. Every summer, Maggie, an Atlanta native, attends Camp Bellflower, an all-girls’ camp in Kentucky, complete with tents, shooting, and Civil War re-enactments that have been a camp tradition for nearly 100 years. The summer that she turns 15, however, she falls in love for the first time. She meets Erin, a 19-year-old counselor who studies astronomy and plays guitar. … Thrash’s remembrances are evinced with clear, wide-eyed illustrations colored with a dreamily vibrant palette. She has so carefully and skillfully captured a universal moment—the first time one realizes that things will never be the same—that readers will find her story captivating. A luminescent memoir not to be missed.” — Kirkus, starred review

Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti (Simon Pulse)

“This may not be the first tale of a group of crime-fighting teenagers with supernatural powers, but its talented writing team get points for creating some fresh and original superpowerd abilities. Scam has a seemingly omniscient inner voice, which can speak for him and get him out of trouble or, all too often, into it. Flicker is blind but can perceive what others see. Crash can take down any computer and finds the experience embarrassingly—and dangerously—enjoyable. Bellwether can control the energies of the group and unite them in a common purpose. And Anonymous—well, never mind, no one seems to remember anything about that guy. These five, plus one unpredictable new addition, make up the Zeroes … For fans of superhero fiction looking for a character-driven tale and those who enjoy stellar writing.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (Delacorte)

“Suffering from ”bubble baby disease,“ Madeline has lived for 18 years in a sterile, sealed house with her physician mother. … Her life is turned upside down when a troubled new family moves in next door and she sees Olly for the first time. Olly, a white boy ”with a pale honey tan“ and parcours moves, wants to meet her, but Madeline’s mother turns him away. With the help of an indestructible Bundt cake, Olly perseveres until he gets her email address. Madeline—half Japanese, half African-American—chronicles her efforts to get to know Olly as she considers risking everything to be with him. … This heartwarming story transcends the ordinary by exploring the hopes, dreams, and inherent risks of love in all of its forms.” — 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

Let Me Be Your Star: The Evolution of LGBTQ Protagonists in Young Adult Literature

By Steven dos Santos

Author Steven dos Santos
Author Steven dos Santos

Once upon a time, I wished upon a star, a luminous heavenly body, so I could follow my own star, my destiny, and see people like me as stars, playing the lead roles in stories filled with excitement and wonder.

I can’t tell you how empowering it feels to have finally reached the top step of the slippery publication staircase, staring down on my long journey, breathless, clutching copies of  my debut novel, The Culling, the first book in my Post-Apocalyptic The Torch Keeper series (which was recently chosen as a Top Ten Selection of the American Library Association’s Rainbow List), and the newly released sequel, The Sowing.

Life’s good now.

But it wasn’t always so.

Ever since I was a child, I had a passionate love of story in all its forms. Even before I could read on my own, I still remember the excitement of tearing open the shrink wrap of a storybook album, back in those ancient days when we had those vinyl Frisbees called records. I would sit enthralled for hours and listen through the tinny speakers of my portable plastic record player, as narrators spun wondrous tales of cursed Princesses, genies, fairies, giants, evil witches, mischievous gnomes, etc.

It was the heroic and handsome Princes, however, that always captivated most of my attention, though at the time, I wasn’t quite sure why. Part of me wanted to be like them, for sure, charging in on my white horse and saving the day from darkest peril. But another part of me which I never spoke of, wondered what it would be like to be the object of their quest, the one awoken from a long enchanted sleep by true love’s first kiss like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, or whose foot fit the glass slipper like Cinderella’s.

No matter how many stories I devoured, however, I never came across one that ended with two Princes sharing an enchanted kiss, let alone riding off into the sunset together to a sparkling castle in the clouds. The child I was just accepted that these feelings I had must be wrong and I shoved them inside an ivory tower room in my mind, locked away year after year, growing mossy vines while awaiting rescue by a Prince that, it would seem, would never come.

Looking back on it now, I can see the absurdity of the homophobic rhetoric, that pontificates that somehow children will be “turned gay” if they are exposed to same-sex couples. If growing up with heterosexual parents and being bombarded with tale after tale of opposite-sex love in storybooks and animated movies wasn’t enough to turn a gay kid like me and millions of others heterosexual, then  there obviously isn’t enough magic for the converse to be true.

It wasn’t until I hit puberty, though, that the The Mystery of Steven’s Fascination With Heroic Princes was solved at last.

I was one of them. Continue reading Let Me Be Your Star: The Evolution of LGBTQ Protagonists in Young Adult Literature

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