So every day of April (except Sundays), I will post short recommendations for a couple dozen great young adult and middle grade books that I’ve read recently (no spoilers), using the Challenge’s alphabetical format.
You can do the A2Z Challenge too! Sign-ups are open here – let me know what you’re blogging about!
See y’all tomorrow to kickstart your stay-at-home-stay-safe reading list! **kmm
Elisabeth knows only life in the Great Library where the most evil grimoires are caged and triple-locked, hoping to someday earn the rank of Warden and ever keep these sorcerous books from harming her land.
Now someone begins releasing the demons from these dread tomes to wreak havoc – but who and why?
Fantasy, horror, mystery… could you resist the whispers of promised power and keep the grimoires locked up? **kmm
Book info: Sorcery of Thorns / Margaret Rogerson. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2019. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Deeply dangerous Grimoires imprisoned in the Great Libraries are being set loose upon the land of Austermeer – the Wardens suspect high sorcerers, the sorcerers know better.
Raised in a Great Library, Elisabeth hears the beings trapped within the bindings and pages of every grimoire.
Unable to prove that someone else freed the horror at Summershall, the teen is taken by sorcerer Thorn to the capital for trial.
Demon-fed magics, paper-whispered madnesses, treachery, loyalty, love, and the fate of the world!
Winter winds moan across the shipwreck just off the pier and whip snow through Eerie-On-Sea’s cobbled streets, as Violet bursts into Herbie’s office and demands to no longer be lost.
The young Lost-and-Founder of the Grand Nautilus Hotel hides the girl from his ever-angry hotel manager and a sea captain who stabs his boat-hook hand through wooden trunks seeking her!
Her parents vanished from this hotel and left infant Violet behind 12 years ago – will Herbie help her find them?
An Eerie Book Dispensary postcard is her main clue – will its mechanical monkey prescribe a book for Violet with more information?
A writer in town says that her father’s research on the Malamander was inaccurate – why is he trying to find the unpublished manuscript?
Someone (or something) is attacking those who dare ask questions about the legendary Malamander fish-man, and the two orphaned young teens must connect all the story-threads before they are the next victims!
Just published in the US yesterday, Malamander is first in a series set in this creepy English town filled with memorable characters.
What local legends do your friends tell stories about? **kmm
Final book manuscript due to her editor now…
but she’s not the author, not by a long shot!
Floundering in his own publishing woes after the car crash that killed Thistle’s mom, her dad puts the homeschooled young teen’s name on his big, big manuscript based on her short, short story – and it’s a hit!
A few years down the road, with the last book of the series almost complete, Thistle can almost see the finish line – no more book tours in ‘Lemonade Skies’ themed outfits, no more questions about ‘her’ plots and ‘her’ characters.
Thankfully, she’s always had neighbor Liam to talk to – best friend and secret-keeper ever, now maybe more…
During an appearance at her hometown Philly bookstore, Thistle is asked by a young man to visit his very ill sister, and she veers off Dad’s script by going to the hospital.
Djinn of order and of chaos battle in the human world that is home to neither in this adventurous tale, while family loyalties are tested, and a young woman receives an unsought gift that can break boundaries if it doesn’t fracture her first.
Through the Name Giver, ifrits can come from their world to help humans defend theirs from the ravaging Shayateen whose dark night of slaughter left only three survivors hidden in an entire city.
But when the Name Giver is compromised in the now-repopulated city of Noor, its ifrit Emir and human maharajah face a greater peril.
How does the Fire of ifrit Ghazala come to human survivor Fatima who never knew her?
Can the Emir help Fatima navigate this unknown convergence?
What lurks in the opulent halls of the reluctant maharajah’s palace?
Each time the muezzin’s call sounds over her beloved city of a thousand nations, Fatima prays for their safety, yet again…
Happy book birthday to this extraordinary tale of magic, relationships, and the importance of being seen.
What’s in your name? **kmm
Book info: The Candle and the Flame / Nafiza Azad. Scholastic Press, 2019. [author interview] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
Looking forward to a new year, looking back over the past – writers and artists do this, too!
You’ll recognize so many of your favorite authors and illustrators of works for kids and young adults in the “About the Author” section at the publisher’s webpage for this book!
So think about the stories you wrote in earlier years, the comic strips you drew, the plays that you put on for your family, the news reports that you made as a kid.
A new year, new opportunities, what will you begin? **kmm
Book info: Our Story Begins: Children’s Authors and Illustrators Share Fun, Inspiring, and Occasionally Ridiculous Things They Wrote and Drew as Kids / edited by Elissa Brent Weissman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, hardcover 2017, paperback 2018. [editor site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: “When did you start drawing? When did you know that you wanted to write books?” These frequent questions from young readers are answered by 25 of our favorite authors and illustrators – with examples of their very early works – in this anthology which will inspire a new generation of creators.
A grade-school photo from each author and illustrator begins their chapter which includes reproductions of their childhood stories or drawings in crayon, pencil, pen, or typing.
There’s a photo of author Elissa Brent Weissman as a kid with Gordon Korman at his book signing, then turn to Korman’s chapter to read his fifth-grade speech “How to Handle Your Parents”.
Kwame Alexander’s mom still has his first-ever poem (to her on Mother’s Day) framed in her living room. Thanhha Lai and her family fled Vietnam during her childhood, but she can still recite the story-poem “A Bird in a Cage” that she told her mother over and over.
Illustrators’ talents as kids ranged from polished (Grace Lin) to rudimentary (Jarrett J. Krosoczka – graphic novels), and several authors say that they copied their favorite writers’ styles in early stories – all continued to work at their craft and work to be published.
Become the hunters, not the hunted.
Avoid the monsters, human and otherwise.
Survive without killing the human ones?
So many genetically-modified creatures are out to get Lozen, Hussein, and the others who’ve escaped from the Ones who torture for fun. Perhaps she can protect her family and friends without taking a human life…
As Killer of Enemies (my review here) in the tech-blasted future, Lozen had to obey the Ones, or her family would be killed.
Along the Trail of the Dead, Lozen’s family is larger and the dangers are immense.
Arrow of Lightning is a super wrap-up of this #ownvoices trilogy – Lozen is on my heroes list.
To save your family, what lengths would you go to?
Book info: Arrow of Lightning (Killer of Enemies, book 3) / Joseph Bruchac. Lee and Low Books, 2017. [author site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
You’ve read him a million times –
eyes like gems, attitude = #teamme,
Why’s he writing a book instead of starring in one?
Indeed, Broody McHottiepants has made the leap from Twitter sensation to published author (well, creator Carrie has), and as he gives advice to aspiring main characters, he wonders why he’s not in an Author’s book right now.
Maybe his Evil Ex-Girlfriend could help our self-centered bad boy figure that out – if he’d only change and listen!
Reading about Broody’s favorite (predictable) plot twists can show us what great YA writing really is.
Who’s your favorite (non-trite) YA hero?
Book info: Brooding YA Hero: Becoming a Main Character (Almost) As Awesome As Me / Carrie DiRisio; illustrated by Linnea Gear. Sky Pony Press, 2017. [author site] [illustrator site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.
My book talk: Every YA novel has its hero and its supporting characters – can one ever become the other? As Broody McHottiepants waits in New Story City for an Author to write him into his next heartthrob role, he decides to write an advice book (between admiring glances into his own mirror) for minor characters who aspire to his lofty status as Brooding YA Hero.
Interrupted often by his Evil Ex-Girlfriend (who only wants him to see past old tropes and tired stereotypes), Broody catalogues the usual features of young adult fiction – from character arc to literary devices – as he continues to wait for an Author (which should have happened by now…).
Tweeting as @BroodingYAHero was easy (140 characters, then back to describing his marvelous eyes), but writing a whole book is tiring and makes Broody think, despite his superficial gorgeousness and shallow personality.
Why does the YA world look so ‘white bread’ as evil Barbi says?
Can’t a selfish bad-boy star in every novel?
How much longer must Broody wait for an Author to write him in?
Looking at the too-common settings, plot twists, and happily-ever-afters of formulaic YA fiction, Broody and Barbi show readers what to look for in the best of today’s YA writing.
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