Dumplin’

dumplin

Title: Dumplin’

Author: Julie Murphy

Summary: Willowdean Dickson is waiting for that moment when her life will really start. Living in a small Texas town famous for it’s beauty pageant as a fat girl isn’t always easy, but Will knows that she is who she is and she shouldn’t have to apologize for it. Even though things have been tougher since her beloved Aunt Lucy passed away, Will has always had her long-time best friend Ellen, a new job at Harpy’s Dogs and Burgers, and her own piece of freedom in the form of her car, Jolene, named after the legendary song by her all-time hero, Dolly Parton. As the summer before junior year begins, Will begins to realize that Bo, the hot athlete from a local private school might want to be more than just co-workers with her. Is this the beginning of her real life? Suddenly she finds her hard-won self-confidence begin to slip away, setting into a motion a chain of events that will reshape her life and her outlook, forever.

There is a strong chance that this might become your new favorite book. It captures some of the raw truths of navigating the high school experience as someone who doesn’t conform to what is supposedly normal to reveal that, in fact, everyone has something unique about them that makes them better than whatever normal is supposed to be. This delightful and emotional story deserves to be read by anyone who has ever felt less than perfect. Readers will feel like they have been transported to Texas and will wish that Willowdean could leap off the page and into their lives.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green. Anyone who ever dreamed of being a pageant queen.

If you like this, try this: Food, Girls and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allan Zadoff. This Book Isn’t Fat It’s Fabulous by Nina Beck. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. For mature readers, The Duff by Kody Keplinger.

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

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

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

LIE

Title:  LIE

Author: Caroline Bock

Summary: Jimmy saved Skylar’s life. Or at least, that what she would say. After her mother died and her dad drifted away to work in the city, it was handsome and funny Jimmy, the new boy in town, who drew her back into the world. But now Skylar is in an impossible position. You see, the girls don’t tag along when the boys go out ‘beaner hopping’ on Friday nights, jumping Latinos to scare them away from town. Usually it’s nothing serious, just some stupid fun. But when Skylar’s boyfriend Jimmy takes it too far and picks up a baseball bat, a Salvadoran man is left dead on the street and a small town on Long Island spirals into disbelief. And as the police begin to ask questions, the words of her best friend echo in Skylar’s ear: “Everybody knows. Nobody’s talking.” If Skylar shares what she knows about what really happened, her whole world will fall apart.

As this breathtaking debut novel alternates points of view between Skylar, her friends, her father, and other members of the community, including the victim’s younger brother, a clearer picture begins to emerge of what exactly happened that night but the question remains: How could such smart kids participate in such a senseless, violent acts. This is realistic fiction at it’s finest, a gripping page-turner with gut-wrenching twists and turns that will leave you stunned.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like intense stories that don’t shy away from difficult topics. People who like books that have multiple characters telling the story.

If you like this, read this: Shine by Lauren Myracle. Response by Paul Volponi.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Eleanor and Park

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Title: Eleanor and Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Park sees Eleanor getting on the bus and he knows she’s in for it. Her weird clothes, her wild red hair, her complete newness. He lets her sit down next to him but makes sure to keep his distance. He does okay at school, which is impressive considering his half-Korean/half-Irish heritage – not a common thing in 1986 Omaha, Nebraska. He’d like to keep his head down, listen to his music, read his comics and get through high school without any issues.

Eleanor sits next to Park on the bus and knows instantly that he is not happy about her presence. He doesn’t say a word to her, unlike the awful kids behind them. She doesn’t say a word either: Not to him, or them, because she has other things to think about, things that are a lot more important than school. Like finding a toothbrush. Or figuring out how she can manage to share a room with four younger siblings. Or how to avoid her merciless, manipulative stepfather.

This is the beginning of a beautiful, heart-shredding love story that will leave you breathless. As the connection between Park and Eleanor grows from silently sharing issues of Watchmen, to trading mix tapes, to falling in love, you will be swept along in their tumultuous, difficult romance. This isn’t Romeo and Juliet – the obstacles that exist within both Park and Eleanor’s lives make their attempt at a relationship something that requires more effort than many people would be willing to make, then or now. And that is what makes Eleanor and Park something rare in this genre. It is more honest, more true and ultimately, more beautiful, than a lot of love stories out there. To say this is the best book I’ve read so far this year is an understatement. This is a story that will stay with me – and you – forever.

Who will like this book: Readers who treasure heartfelt, realistic romance against steep odds. Criers (you know you’re out there)! People who are nostalgic for the ’80s.

If you like this, try this: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian