Black Panther

Cover image for Black Panther 1.

Title: Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet Book 1

Author/Artists: Ta-Nehisi Coates/Brian Stelfreeze

Summary: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Upon returning to Wakanda, King T’Challa faces a challenge that he had never anticipated: An uprising of the people. He is not sure if he has the ability to quell the unrest shaking the technologically advanced African nation, and neither are his team of advisors, who are still reeling from the death of T’Challa’s sister Shuri, assassinated while holding the throne on his behalf. With threats both intellectual and supernatural emerging from all corners, including by some disillusioned members of the Dora Milaje, his elite corps of female guards, can T’Challa redeem himself and bring his nation back to a place of peace, prosperity and understanding?

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a fantastic writer known mostly for his non-fiction and essays so it is  thrilling to see him dive into the comic book form. This collection is not a reboot or a reintroduction with an origin story, but it is still a great place for new readers to jump into the Wakandan saga before the release of the Black Panther movie in 2018, as it includes a re-release of the first-ever appearance of T’Challa from 1966.

Who will like this book: Marvel fans, of course. Anyone intrigued by Chadwick Boseman’s performance in Captain America: Civil War.

If you like this, try this: The Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson. The Hawkeye series by Matt Fraction. The March collection by Rep. John Lewis.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

lafayette

Title: Lafayette in the Somewhat United States

Author: Sarah Vowell

Summary: With the surging popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musicalization of Alexander Hamilton’s life, there is new interest in not just the Founding Fathers, but those who fought and served around them. Here with a take on the tale of ‘America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman,’ is humorist Sarah Vowell. While you may not be familiar with her brand of irreverent historical writings, I bet you have heard her voice: as Violet in The Incredibles. Here, she follows the young French nobleman from his early days in France to his final, farewell tour as the last living Revolutionary general.

This isn’t just a date-by-date retelling of Lafayette’s incredible and improbable life as a rebel and statesman. Instead, like all of her books, Vowell uses his story to consider something deeper – when have these States of ours ever truly been United? Her witty, clear-as-the-Liberty-Bell voice is an excellent guide through parts of our history that have been forgotten or romanticized into mythology. You will learn, you will laugh, and you will perhaps see the world a little differently. As we wander through an intensely combative political season, this books is not only a joy to read, but contains important lessons for us to understand.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers. Fans of the new musical Hamilton. American history buffs. Anyone who likes non-fiction that will make them laugh.

If you like this, try this: For more by Sarah Vowell, start with Assassination Vacation. More non-fiction: try Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow or Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. For fiction set in the Revolutionary era, try the graphic novel The Sons of Liberty by Alexander Lagos or Fever, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Andreson, or 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Song Machine

song machine

Title: The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Machine

Author: John Seabrook

Summary: Have you ever wondered why the music on the radio all sort of sounds the same? This book will tell you why…and basically, you can blame Sweden. Author Seabrook investigates the way most pop music is made today: by armies of technicians individually responsible for each element of the tune, from melody to lyrics to the all-important hooks that grab and keep the listener’s attention. The science of modern song craft is explored in-depth, with details about the rise of Scandinavian hit-makers like Max Martin (who has produced more number 1 hits than anyone besides George Martin, who worked with the Beatles), the type of artists who thrive under the guidance of super-producers, the fate of the session musicians who have been replaced by computer beats, and what the digital future of music means for record labels, artists and the listening public.

This book will resonate with anyone who loves music, especially those who love (or love to hate) today’s top hits and hit-makers including Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and the Weeknd. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for something a little different to read this winter season.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are interested in the mechanics of music production. Non-fiction fans who like reading about contemporary topics.

If you like this, try this: How Music Works by David Byrne. Decoded by Jay-Z. For younger readers: Learn to Speak Music by John Crossingham. For a perspective on this trend from a different era: Rhythm Ride: A Roadtrip through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Fables

     Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Title: Fables

Author: Bill Willingham

Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and more

Summary: First printed in 2002, the comic series Fables has endured, becoming one of the most beloved continuing series in recent memory. Forced out of their familiar Homelands by a dark and deadly figure known only as the “Adversary,” the legendary characters of myth and tall tales made their way to our world to establish Fabletown, where, as immortals, they have lived and thrived into our modern age. But the people you meet on these pages bear little resemblance to your favorite cartoon royals and monsters. When Jack (of Beanstalk fame) rushes to tell Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown that his girlfriend, Rose Red has disappeared and their apartment is covered in blood, an investigation into a possible murder begins. Following Bigby’s every move is Snow White, Rose’s sister and deputy mayor of Fabletown.

Over the course of its 12 year run (collected into 20 volumes so far), Willingham weaves in both beloved figures from the most popular fairy tales to obscure characters you may have never heard of. The nature of the story also changes, from murder mystery to domestic drama to epic quest. This is a great story to curl up in, because the twists and surprises will keep you turning pages, and some will even break your heart. With the end of the story coming soon (in early 2015,) this is the perfect time to start Fables at the beginning.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like ‘fractured’ fairy tales – new spins on familiar stories. TV watchers looking for something a bit grittier than Once Upon a Time. Fans of ongoing graphic novel series such as The Walking Dead.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. The series The Unwritten by Mike Carey. And if you can’t get enough of the Fables world, read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

My Friend Dahmer

[Cover]

Title: My Friend Dahmer

Author/Illustrator: Derf Backderf

Summary: Jeffrey Dahmer was a notorious serial killer, responsible for the deaths of 17 men and boys. But before he became a monster, he was a kid growing up in the Midwest alongside author/illustrator Derf. This graphic memoir brings the reader into their world and shows how Dahmer’s crimes had as much to do with the people in his life who failed to see to the warning signs as his own troubled psyche. Beginning with their first acquaintance in middle school in the 1970s, the author tracks his evolving acquaintance with the weird, introverted boy who always seemed to be on the outside looking in.

Derf does not excuse Jeff’s horrifying crimes, but he asks the readers to look a little deeper at the circumstances that enabled Dahmer to become a killer. This book is more about how our actions can have consequences beyond our own understanding at the time. Derf also includes a terrific bibliography and information about his research for those interested in learning more about Dahmer and his crimes. This excellent graphic novel deserves to be read. It is not an easy book, but it is one that you will remember.

Who will like this book?: Older, mature readers interested in crime stories and psychology. This book is disturbing and intense – but it is very thought-provoking and memorable.

If you like this, read this: Stitches by David Small. The true crime graphic novels by Rick Geary, including Jack the Ripper, The Borden Tragedy and The Lindbergh Child. Columbine by Dave Cullen.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Name of the Wind

Title: The Name of the Wind

Author:  Patrick Rothfuss

Summary: In the quiet village of Newarre, the townspeople sense that darkness and danger are gathering. One night, a traveling scribe known as Chronicler is saved from wicked, spider-creatures called Scrael by a local innkeeper named Kote. The scribe soon realizes that this humble man is really the legendary hero Kvothe, made famous in story and song. After much prodding from Chronicler, Kvothe agrees to tell his story and reveal the reasons why he has retreated from the world that seems to need heroes more than ever.

The Name of the Wind is the first book in a planned triology called the Kingkiller Chronicles. In these pages, we learn of Kvothe’s early years as a traveling performer and musician with his family. When his father angers the Chandrian, an ancient, evil force, it brings about an unspeakable tragedy that sets young Kvothe on his life’s mission: revenge. He enrolls at the University to learn, among other things, ‘sympathy,’ a magical skill that allows users to manipulate objects and bend them to their will. Kvothe  makes friends and enemies and even has a sweetly shy romance along the way, but his focus always remains on his goal of discovering how to find and defeat the Chandrian.

Who will like this book?: This book is a great choice for fantasy readers who have read ‘everythingor are looking for another series to begin. Mature readers who like stories set in magical schools and were fans of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson when they were younger.

If you like this, read this: The sequel, The Wise Man’s Fear, which continues Kvothe’s story. The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Age of Miracles

[Cover]

Title: The Age of Miracles

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Summary: Julia is an ordinary girl about to embark on an ordinary summer day: Breakfast with her parents, a soccer game, a sleepover with her best friend. She doesn’t know that in every possible way, this is the last ordinary day she will ever have. For some reason, the Earth’s rotation is slowing down. As scientists try to discover why this is happening and people do their best to carry on, the days get longer: 25 hours. 30 hours. 40 hours of sun. Society begins to change as some people stick to clock time: keeping a 24 hour day even if it means sleeping through the bright sunshine; while others attempt to live within the new rhythms of light and dark.

As this slow apocalypse continues, Julia lives her life: friendships that end and begin, growing suspicions about how much the adults in her life really understand about themselves and what is going on around them and planning for an uncertain and maybe even non-existent future. This is a stunningly good book for readers who like science fiction that tells the story of regular people dealing with incredible circumstances. If you like books that make you think about what you would do if you were a character in the story, this one is for you.

Who will like this book?: This is a great book for sophisticated readers who like science fiction that tells the story of regular people dealing with incredible circumstances. If dystopian stories (like The Hunger Games, Matched and Divergent) are your thing, give this book a try.

If you like this, try this: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Ashfall by Mike Mullin. Trapped by Michael Northrop.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian