What Girls Are Made of

 

TitleWhat Girls Are Made Of

Author: Elana K. Arnold

Summary:  This National Book Award for Young People’s Literature finalist examines the life and choices of an every day teen girl.  One day while fourteen-year old Nina Faye was helping her mother fold a sheet, she was “gifted” with the following advice from her mother, “There is no such thing as unconditional love.”  That simple premise was to shape how Nina perceived her relationship with her mother, how she interacted with friends, and what kind of treatment she deemed acceptable from a romantic partner for years to come.   You see, if love is not unconditional you will do anything to get the boy you love to notice you.   And, you will do anything to keep that boy once you have him.  And, when you lose that boy to another, it will crush you and you will wonder how you can get by in life.

Arnold’s writing is stunningly honest and the issues of body image, sexuality, family dynamics, and friendship will be relatable to many.  That being said, it is definitely written for a mature young adult audience as the handling of the above issues is fairly graphic.  It’s also a very sad story and Nina’s choices may be difficult for some readers to appreciate or understand.    As an aside, I highly recommend reading the author’s note.  It will make you view the story you just read in a whole new light.

Who will like this book?  Mature YA readers who like books that deal with gritty, real life situations with all the drama, sadness and loneliness teens sometimes feel.

If you like this, try readingSpeak, Winter Girls, or The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, any book by Ellen Hopkins,  and Whale Talk or Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher.

Where can I find: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

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A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

a wrinkle in time, graphic novel

Title: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Author: Madeleine L’Engle’s classic book adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson

Summary:  If you’re as excited as I am about the upcoming movie A Wrinkle in Time, then you need to pick up this book.  Illustrator, cartoonist and two-time Eisner Award winner (think the comic book industry’s equivalent of the Oscars) Hope Larson inks this fast-paced graphic adaptation of the Madeleine L’engle classic.  Using a palette of blue, black, and white Larson captures the angst filled Meg, the inconceivable genius that is Charles Wallace, and sheer goodness of Calvin in every pane.

The story opens with the introduction of Meg, a thirteen-year old misfit, struggling to deal with the disappearance of her beloved father.  Her scientist mother and her equally misunderstand and underestimated  five-year-old child prodigy brother, Charles Wallace, seem to be the only ones that understand her.  On a stormy night, a new and eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Whatsit, stops in for a visit with Charles Wallace, Meg, and Mrs. Murry.  The next day while exploring, Charles Wallace and Meg run across Calvin, a popular upperclassman from Meg’s school.  Calvin seems to immediately bond with the two because deep down he too has always felt like a misfit.  The trio then go to the home of Mrs. Whatsit and meet up with her equally eccentric/otherworldly companions- Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which.  Shortly thereafter, adventure ensues when the three otherworldly entities enlist the help of the children to find Mr. Murry and quite possibly save the world from ultimate evil.

Who will like this?: Fans of the original book will want to check out this inventive retelling.  If you’ve never tried reading a graphic novel, but love fantasy with a splash of sci-fi this is a great book to start with.

If you like this, try reading:  Some other graphic novel classic retellings such as: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation by Tim Hamilton; Romeo & Juliet, graphic novel adaptation by Garth Hinds; and The Conte of Monte Cristo Manga Classics by Alexandre Dumas (Author),‎ Nokman Poon (Artist),‎ Crystal Chan (Artist)

Where can I find a copy?:  Paper copies can be found at Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, and the Pequot Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

Renegades

renegadesTitle: Renegades

Author: Marissa Meyer

Summary:  In Renegades, Marissa Meyer envisions a world where prodigies, persons  either born with or who attain later in life superhero type attributes, are relatively plentiful.  From being able to transform into a swarm of butterflies to the ability to create bombs out of thin air, the talents of prodigies are varied and unique.  Once they were persecuted and hated, but then a group of prodigies called Anarchists rose up and challenged the status quo, fighting against prodigy persecution and all forms of government and institutions of order and control.  For a time with the Anarchists in control, chaos reigned and those without powers suffered and starved.  Then the Renegades, five mighty prodigies intent on bringing back order and saving the world from itself, battled the Anarchists killing all but a handful.  Now the Renegades are a huge organization and symbol of justice and hope.  They also basically run the world and people without powers seem to be completely dependent on them.

Enter into the scene, Nova, aka Nightmare.  She was only a child when the Anarchists and Renegades fought- a child born with the ability to put a person to sleep by simply a touch.  She’s  a gifted inventor, has some serious fighting skills, and is bent on the destroying the Renegades.  Nova has a reason for hating the Renegades and plotting their demise.  But, some of her venom is tempered when she gets to know a young Renegade name Adrian.  Adrian truly believes in justice and doing the right thing.  But will being Nova’s burgeoning friendship (and possibly a little more) with Adrian be enough to throw her off her mission to destroy the Renegade organization?

Who will like this?:  Meyer’s writing is a hybrid of fantasy and sci-fi.  If you enjoy strong female protagonist, she is the author for you.   She carefully crafts her worlds and characters so readers must be willing to make a commitment to reading the whole story.  Trust me it is worth it…I would read the back of a cereal box if Marissa Meyer wrote it.

If you like this, try reading:  Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series is a must.  For a little more light-hearted and humorous superhero take try Perry Moore’s  Hero.  And,  for a serious, epic tale of good against evil with strong female characters try An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library and digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen,  Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

Flunked

FlunkedTitle: Flunked

Author: Jen Calonita

Summary:  Twelve-year old Gilly isn’t a bad kid, she’s just done some bad things.  Or, at least the rest of the Enchantasia thinks Gilly’s thieving ways are signs of a tween heading in the wrong direction.  What they don’t take into account is that Gilly steals to keep her siblings fed and provide them with the occasional extra treat or gift.  Unfortunately for Gilly, since motives don’t matter, when she is caught stealing for the third time she is immediately sentenced to the latest development for transforming wayward kids into upstanding citizens- Fairy Tale Reform School (“FTRS”).

FTRS was founded by Flora, the fairly-recently reformed and formerly wicked step-mother of Cinderella, upon realizing the error of her ways and wishing to make amends by helping mischievous youth.  And, FTRS doesn’t just offer troubled youths a second chance, it’s also staffed by former villains like the Sea Witch and Big Bad Wolf.   But with Pegasus riding, big prepared meals, new friends, and only having to share a spacious tower room with one roommate, Gilly is finding reform school really isn’t much of a punishment.  In fact, if she didn’t have a family to worry about it’s the kind of place a kid could get used to.  Then mysterious and dangerous events start to occur, and Gilly and her friends are beginning to wonder if all of their teachers have truly left their villainous ways in the past.

Who will like this?:  This light, quick read is a great selection for middle grade readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings.

If you like this, try reading: The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer, Ever After High series by Shannon Hale, and Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski.

Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

There’s Someone Inside Your House

there's someone insdie your house

Title: There’s Someone Inside Your House

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Summary:  Known for her YA romances, Stephanie Perkins steps out of her comfort zone with this horror/thriller.  Fans of hers don’t despair though, there is still some romance, it just takes a backseat to a serial killer on the loose.  Perkins gives her audience two mysteries to keep them flipping those pages as fast as their brains can process the words.  The first centers around our main character Makani Young.  Raised in Hawaii, she’s a recent transplant to Nebraska.  She was sent to live with her grandmother under the guise of taking care of her, but there’ a story behind her banishment from paradise.  What could she have done to warrant losing all her friends and having her parents turn their backs on her?

Now if worrying about Makani and her secret past weren’t enough, readers will be riveted by the fast-paced death count racked up by a mysterious serial killer.  The murders are grisly and the motivation is unknown.  The killer appears to be unstoppable and on a mission.  Makani seems to be his list, but in order to fight a killer she just might need to make peace with her past.

Who will like this?:  Obviously fans of thrillers and horror will tear through this one.  It’s a good starter book for those new to the genre because there is also a romance and friendship subplot.

If you like this, try reading: One of Us is Lying by Karin McManus or Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Where can I find a copy?: A paper copy can be found Fairfield Public Library and a digital copy is downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

 

When Dimple Met Rishi

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Summary:  Meet Dimple Shah.  She just graduated high school and is ready to start proving to her tradition loving Indian parents that her future lies in coding and college- not marriage and tradition.  Above all, she wants her parents to understand that an arranged marriage has no place in her life…ever.   Considering her parent’s-particularly her mother’s- view on the necessity of a good Indian marriage, Dimple is shocked when they readily agree to her request to attend a prestigious summer program for aspiring web developers.   The program will give Dimple a chance to get a leg up on developing her own app and put her in the running to win a chance to meet and collaborate with her idol app developer Jenny Lindt.

Now meet Rishi Patel.  He also just graduated high school and comes from an Indian family deeply seated in tradition.  However, Rishi embraces those traditions and looks forward to the day he is matched with a traditional Indian bride.  With that in mind, despite almost no interest in web development, he accepts his parent’s proposal to participate in a summer coding camp that will allow him to meet the girl his parent’s hope to match him with, Dimple Shah.

When one person thinks they are meeting a potential partner for life and the other person thinks she is there to get a head start on an education and career opportunity- but instead finds out she is being manipulated by matrimony-obsessed mother- how can you expect anything but disaster?    It may sound like it, but sometimes love works in unexpected ways.

Who will like this book?:  There’s family, tradition, friendship and love all wrapped up in a tidy package in this book.  So, high school and older readers who are looking for a fun summer beach read-for the fall or winter will certainly enjoy it.

If you like this, try readingBorn Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen, and Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock

Where can I find a copy?:  Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

 

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

Wonder Woman

Title: Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Summary:  Don’t read this book if you are hoping for an origins story that simply recycles the summer blockbuster movie.  But wait, don’t stop reading!  First, let me explain why I picked up this book.  I’m a huge fan of Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom series.  She is a master at world creating and crafts complex and compelling characters.  With that in mind, I had to see what she would do with this iconic superhero.  In this origins story, Bardugo takes a modern day setting  and combines it with Themyscira, the mythical place of Wonder Woman’s creation.  She puts her own spin on Wonder Woman’s origins while still managing to stay true to what fans love most about this hero.

In Bardugo’s iteration, Diana, Princess of the Amazons, risks all to save a mortal named Alia Keralis.  Unfortunately, her brave choice puts the entire world in danger because Alia is no mere mortal-but rather a Warbringer.  She is a descendent of Helen of Troy, herself, and is destined to bring war and misery to the world.  Alia’s death would bring an end to the threat of war her existence all but guarantees, but Diana can’t accept that solution.  Instead, Diana and Alia join forces, along with a small group of Alia’s mortal friends, to face both divine and human foes that seek to either destroy or possess the Warbringer.  Only by working together can they hope to succeed in their quest to save the world.

Who will like this book?:  Fans of all things superhero will love this new take on Wonder Woman’s origins.  If you like strong female protagonists this is the book for you.

If you like this, try reading:  The Black Widow Series by Margaret Stohl, The Lunar Chronicles Series by Marissa Meyer, Throne of Glass series by Sarah Maas

Where can I find a copy: Print editions available at Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, and Pequot Library.  Digital copy available through Overdrive.

Recommended by: Jen Laseman,  Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian