The Wrath and the Dawn

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Title: The Wrath and the Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Summary: Khalid, the dangerous and mysterious young Caliph of Khorasan, has an unsettling habit: He marries a new young girl from his city of Rey each night, only to have them killed each following dawn, strangled by a silken cord. One of the most recent victims of his bewildering cruelty was Shiva, the dearest friend of Shahrzad, daughter of a former vizier. Planning to exact revenge, Shahrzad volunteers to be Khalid’s next bride. While she is able to survive the first night of her marriage due to her skill as a charming storyteller, her place in the palace as Calipha is not secure and she is in constant danger from everyone around her. Meanwhile, outside the city, Shahrzad’s childhood friend and first love Tariq plots to free Shahrzad and the kingdom of Khorasan from the tyrannical rule of the hated Khalid. Of course, there is more to the Caliph than meets the eye. As an improbable connection begins to form between the married strangers, a tale of curses, true love and political intrigue begins to swirl that is as mesmerizing as one of Shahrzad’s nighttime tales.

This dynamic, un-put-downable page-turner is an outstanding debut by author Ahdieh. It is a fascinating retelling of The Arabian Nights and a great interpretation of its narrator, Scheherazade. There is romance, intrigue, adventure and even a dash of the supernatural to satisfy most readers, even those who are not interested in the revived trend of updated and fractured fairy tales. With the second book in the series, The Rose and the Dagger, due in 2016, you’ll want to get your hands on this title as soon as possible.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like intrigue and love-triangle romance with a dash of the supernatural. Fans of historical fiction based in non-European settings.

If you like this, try this: The forthcoming A Thousand Nights by Emily Kate Johnson. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. The original Arabian Nights tales, found in many translations. For mature readers, another fairy-tale retelling along these themes, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Queen of Someday

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Title: Queen of Someday

Author: Sherry D. Ficklin

Summary: Sophie knows she must do her duty to her family, her country and the emperor. That this means leaving the only home she has ever known to attempt to secure a marriage to a boy prince she has only met once in her life is out of her control. Driven by her ambitious mother, Sophie makes the journey to the cold heart of Russia, ruled by Empress Elizabeth and her nephew, the heir, Peter. Once she arrives, she must defend herself against palace intrigue, rival princesses and the desires of her own heart. Can she master the subtle rules of the court, form the alliances she needs to surpass her enemies and survive the treacherous atmosphere to someday become queen?

This is a great, quick read for anyone who likes romance and historical fiction. Sophie is a strong, resourceful character who you will root for, even as she makes mistakes. While it can be a little loose with the historical facts of young Sophie’s life, the basic story follows the biographical record. You will race through this book and want to read the whole series to see how it all turns out for the princess as she begins the journey that will see her become one of the most powerful and controversial royals in history.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like historical fiction based on real people. Romantics. People who like stories about royalty. Fans of the television show Reign.

If you like this, try this: The forthcoming books in the series, Queen of Tomorrow and Queen of Forever. For a quick look at the (scandalous) reign of Catherine II, read her installment of the Wicked History biography series. You can also take a look at the princess-based series of Carolyn Meyer and Esther Friesner.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Nimona

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Title: Nimona

Author/Illustrator: Noelle Stevenson

Summary: Nimona is brave, snarky, wild and bad to the bone. She has the ability to shapeshift into any living form and she plans to use her mysterious skills to aid ex-knight and mad scientist Lord Ballister Blackheart, a supervillain, wreak havoc on the world. Skeptical of his new sidekick at first, Blackheart soon realizes that despite her temper and her refusal to always listen to his rules, Nimona will make a sterling ally in his war against the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics, which is led by his archnemesis and former schoolmate Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. As Nimona and Blackheart delve deeper into the real schemes being launched by the mysterious Institution, friendships and lives are gained and lost and tragedies occur.

This is a very special graphic novel. While the action takes place in a strange world that feels a bit like fantasy and a bit like today, and the action can be intense, it really is a story about friendship. Nimona is at times breezy, riotously funny and sometimes achingly sad. Most impressively, it manages to be all of these things at the same time. As you read the story, the connections between the characters grow deeper and you might just find yourself changing your mind about who should win out in the end. The final pages are simply stunning, with an ending that will surprise and delight you. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Who will like this book?: Everybody. Seriously.

If you like this, try this: The ongoing story of another witty, super-powered young girl, the Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson. Another story about shapeshifters, Talon by Julie Kagawa. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

srsly Hamlet

hamletTitle: srsly Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone

Summary: I am a hardcore bardolator – I love Shakespeare. I read his plays for fun. I get really excited when new productions of his plays, especially the ‘boring’ historical ones, come to town. I’m the first person in line to see the latest movie adaptation. And yes – I am recommending a series of books that retells some of the greatest plays ever written using emojis. I know what you are thinking – I need to reconsider my membership to the Shakespeare Fan Club. I’m the last person I’d ever think would say this, but these books are so much fun! I expected to ‘hate-read’ them but as I kept turning pages, I found the design of the book, featuring not just emojis but all sorts of modern communication techniques, to be very, very charming. Take a look:

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These books are quick and light and probably best suited to readers who have already read the original plays or seen productions or film adaptations. Sometimes you just need a good laugh and these books provide that, making them perfect for end-of-summer reading. As the adapter of this volume, Courtney Carbone states perfectly in her dedication: “To all my extraordinary English teachers, I’m sorry.”

Who will like this book?: This book would put a smile of the face of pretty much any reader. It might make some Shakespeare lovers angry, but it’s all in good fun!

If you like this, try this: More books in the OMG Shakespeare series, including YOLO Juliet and the forthcoming Macbeth #killingit and A Midsummer Night (no filter). If you are interested in learning more about Shakespeare’s plays, along with his life and times, try DK’s The Shakespeare Book. And if you want to take a deep dive, read Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by critic Harold Bloom.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

None of the Above

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Title: None of the Above

Author: I.W. Gregorio

Summary: Kristin Lattimer takes things in stride – literally. She’s a star athlete with a full track and field scholarship awaiting her once she finishes senior year of high school. She has a wonderful father, great friends and a beloved boyfriend who mean the world to her. No one is surprised when she is voted Homecoming Queen – except for Kristin herself and her best friend Vee who was convinced the crown was hers. Kristin had already planned for that night to be special – she and her boyfriend Sam had decided to become intimate. But when their experience turns out to be one of intense pain for Kristin, she goes to the doctor and learns a shocking truth that turns her life inside out – she is intersex.

While she has the outward appearance and features of a woman, Kristin’s internal anatomy and chromosomes are male. Dealing with this diagnosis would be challenge enough, but when her classmates find out, the intolerance of many of her friends sends Kristin on a downward spiral. She stands to lose everything she believes make her who she was and feels that she has no way to get a handle on who she is now.

This riveting book by debut author Gregorio, a surgeon who based Kristin on a patient she had early in her training, brings this rarely-discussed condition to light. Readers will root for Kristin to overcome the struggles brought on by her diagnosis, while also learning more about intersex people and the lives they lead. The story leads to some wonderfully unexpected places and will have you thinking more carefully about what it really means to be a girl or a guy, all or none of the above.

Who will like this book?: Readers of LGBTQ fiction. Anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable in their own skin. Fans of stories about high school friendship and/or relationship drama.

If you like this, try this:  Alex as Well by Alyssa Brugman. For mature readers, try Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin, Annabel by Kathleen Winter, or Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Archivist Wasp

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Title: Archivist Wasp

Author: Nicole Kornher-Stace

Summary: Wasp was chosen by the goddess Catchkeep to become an Archivist – the person who will protect her desolate village from the hordes of wordless, mindless ghosts that swarm just outside the walls. In order to maintain her position, she must battle – and kill – the three Upstarts who challenge her each year. Wasp is weary of her work, her isolation from the others in her town, the barely-contained hatred of the Upstarts who want to see her fall, and most of all, the abusive mind games of the Catchkeep priest who she reports to. She has a rebellious nature – while she is supposed to catch and destroy ghosts, she finds herself fascinated by them and takes her other responsibility – to study and learn more about them, as seriously as the first.

After a brutal near-defeat at the hands of the latest batch of Upstarts, Wasp goes hunting and makes a startling discovery: She meets a ghost who can communicate with her. He is unlike any other ghost she has encountered – physically strong, mentally aware and very, very persistent. This ghost needs her help. And so begins an incredible, sometimes brutal story about what it means to be a good person, the nature of friendship versus self-reliance, and the potential benefits of breaking all the rules. While this is technically a dystopian story, it has a timeless, almost fairy tale-feeling about it. This impressive novel will leave you with a lot to think about.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers of fantasy who like ‘otherworldly’ tales. Fans of strong, smart female characters. Anyone who likes books that keep revealing details on how they work as you read them.

If you like this, try this: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. For mature readers, What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ms. Marvel

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Title: Ms. Marvel

Author/Illustrator: G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt

Summary: Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl living in Jersey City. She goes to school, hangs out with friends and fangirls over pretty much everything, including her favorite hero, Captain Marvel. She does her best to be a good daughter to her strict parents, as well as a faithful Muslim. But one night, she disobeys the rules to sneak out to a party, when something impossible happens: A strange mist drifts across the city, rendering everyone unconscious. When she wakes up, Kamala discovers that like her hero, she has superhuman (or, Inhuman) abilities – she can shape shift and even heal herself! Calling herself Ms. Marvel in homage to her hero, Kamala decides to use her new powers to protect and serve her community.

To say this is a groundbreaking comic is an understatement: This is the first ongoing storyline to have Muslim headline character. Kamala’s heritage is skillfully woven into the story as she tries to balance being a good and respectful person while discovering the full scope of her sometimes-scary new abilities. She is diligent and brave, even when facing dangerous situations, horrifying villains and potentially-embarrassing run-ins with legendary heroes. She is also lighthearted, silly and headstrong – an ordinary girl with extraordinary powers. This series, of which three collected volumes are now available, are perfect for summer reading. Funny, bold and heartfelt, the story of Kamala Khan is not to be missed.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like strong, sassy and brave heroes. Pop culture obsessives. Comics fans who like to see classic characters rebooted.

If you like this, try this: The Hawkeye books by Matt Fraction, which also spend time with a superhero going about their ‘ordinary’ life. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword Back by Barry Deutsch.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian