Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

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Title: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Author: Isabel Quintero

Summary: During her senior year of high school, Gabi Hernandez keeps a diary about the things that are on her mind: friends, her appearance, guys, family, college and the future. Each piece of her life has its own complications and contradictions: Her best friends are dealing with coming out and an unplanned pregnancy. Her dad is in and out of her life due to his meth addiction. And does a Mexican-American girl from a poor neighborhood really have any chance of getting in to college, let alone her top choice school? Gabi finds herself making serious decisions about her life and the person she wants to be, as well as discovering her talents as a writer and artist over the course of an awful, wonderful, unforgettable year.

Don’t let the strange-looking cover fool you  – this is an incredible book and worthy 2017 High School Nutmeg nominee, as well as a Printz Honor winner, for a reason. If the story sounds melodramatic, that’s because it is – but only a bit more so than the life of any teen girl  growing up today. What makes this book extraordinary is its clear-eyed portrayal of the ups and downs that make up an ordinary life. You will be so glad to have spent time observing the world through Gabi’s eyes and will miss her frank, unsentimental voice in your head once the story is done. This is a book that teens and parents should consider reading together – adults could learn quite a bit about what life feels like for young people today.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like realistic, contemporary fiction. People who like multicultural stories. People who like reading books in diary format.

If you like this, try this: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas. Yaqui Delgado…by Meg Medina. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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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

I Am Princess X

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Title: I Am Princess X

Author: Cherie Priest

Summary: You wouldn’t think two people as different as Libby and May would be friends. But the Seattle teens bond over Princess X, with Libby creating the art and May writing the script for a sprawling fantasy epic. When Libby and her mom die in a tragic accident, May’s world is shattered. Not only did she lose her best friend, her parents split up and she has to relocate with her mom. And perhaps worst of all, Libby’s dad threw away every scrap of paper with Princess X on it in his grief. Now May is completely, devastatingly alone. Three years later, May has adjusted to her new circumstances, but has never stopped having dreams about Libby surviving the accident. While visiting her dad back in Seattle, she sees something impossible: Princess X, on stickers, patches, skateboards and graffiti all over the city. This leads May to begin to believe the impossible: Libby has to be alive.

This tense and masterful mystery by noted adult science fiction author Cherie Priest is a great choice for most readers. Dynamic illustrations from Kali Ciesemier bring the Princess X story to life. You can’t help but root for May and her allies as she fights for what she believes in her heart to be true. It is a fast-paced story about the power of friendship that should be at the top of everyone’s reading list.

Who will like this book?: Fans of friendship stories and mysteries. People who like graphic novels and webcomics. Anyone who believes in the impossible.

If you like this, try this: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. If you really liked Jackdaw, try The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Fangirl

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Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Cath is into Simon Snow. Really, really into it. She spends a lot of her free time writing slash fiction about Simon and his roommate Baz as they study at an enchanted school for magicians. Cath might be painfully shy, but her posts online gather thousands of hits and sometimes it seems like she has as many fans as the actual author of the Simon Snow stories. She used to write with her twin sister, but as they head off to college for freshman year, Wren has been drifting away: She cut her hair and left Cath to dorm with a stranger. As if leaving home and having to deal with all sorts of new people weren’t bad enough.

As Cath progresses through freshman year, her life is constantly thrown into disarray – her sister seems to party all the time, her dad is more manic than usual, her brash roommate insists that she eat in public with her and two boys vie for her attention. The one thing that keeps her focused – her epic, two-years-in-the-making fic – needs to be finished before the final Simon Snow book comes out in the spring. Cath is a queen of the fandom – but can she thrive when the computer is off? This book caps off a remarkable year for author Rainbow Rowell, and like her wildly popular Eleanor and Park, this is a beautiful, funny and deeply-felt story that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure.

Who will like this book: Fangirls, of course. Anyone who has spent even a bit of time inserting themselves into the Harry Potter stories. Romance readers.

If you like this, read this: Eleanor and Park, also by Rowell. OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Bunheads

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Title: Bunheads

Author: Sophie Flack

Summary: Nineteen year-old Hannah is not a ballerina: That is the word used for the stars of the company, the ones who dance the best roles and live in the spotlight. She is a member of the corps, one of the many bunheads who work for the prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company, hoping to be noticed and promoted. Her life seems glamorous but it is hard work: Exhausting rehearsals, repetitive performances, keeping  a strict eye on her weight, warding off injury and coping with intense rivalries with the other dancers, even those she considers friends. Hannah left home at 14 to study in the city: This life is the only one she’s ever known or even considered.

Hannah barely has time to step outside the theatre, let alone have any kind of social life. When she meets Jacob, a cute musician who goes to NYU she begins to see that there just might be more to life than dancing. But when you are so close to achieving the dream you have dedicated your life to, how can you begin to even imagine a different path? Author Sophie Flack, a former dancer with the New York City Ballet, takes you backstage into a world very few ‘pedestrians’ get to see.

Who will like this book?: Budding dancers and other performing artists who are mature readers. Anyone who has ever dreamed of leaving home for school. Young athletes will find a lot to enjoy as well.

If you like this, read this: Various Positions by Martha Schabas. Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci. In the Wings: Behind the Scenes at the New York City Ballet by Kyle Froman. I Was a Dancer: A Memoir by Jacques D’Amboise.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Princess of the Midnight Ball

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Title: Princess of the Midnight Ball

Author:  Jessica Day George

Summary:  After twelve years of war, the country Westfalin has finally managed a victory.  It’s a grim victory with the country deeply in debt to her allies and many soldiers lost.  As the King attempts to raise the spirits of his countrymen, a palace mystery begins to create more strife for the entire country.  It has been discovered that every third night the King’s twelve daughters disappear for hours and return exhausted with worn out dancing slippers.  Unbeknownst to all,  the princesses have been cursed to travel deep into the earth and dance with the King Under Stone’s twelve sons .  Cursed so that they are unable to speak about the forced midnight balls, the princesses must continue to dance through exhaustion and illness. 

In hopes of winning the hand of one of the princesses, princes from neighboring countries travel to Westfalin to try to solve the mystery.  All who try meet with failure and the future for the princesses looks bleak as they are now forced to dance every night.  But then a brave young soldier, Galen, comes to town and starts work in the king’s garden.  There he meets the eldest princess, Rose, and is moved to action by her misery.  Armed with an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needles, and a little magically assistance Galen attempts to solve the mystery and break the curse that holds the princesses enslaved. 

Who will like this book?  Fans of fairy tales and romantic adventures.

If you like this, try this:  Beastly by Alex Flinn, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate Dicamillo, Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian