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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Nimona

nimona

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

Archivist Wasp

wasp

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

kamala

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

I Am Princess X

princess x

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

In Real Life

IRL

TitleIn Real Life

Author: Cory Doctorow

Illustrator: Jen Wang

Summary: Anda is shy in real life, but online she is a kick-butt character in the massively-multiplayer role-playing game Coarsegold Online where she has begun to make friends with other players. The line between what is right and wrong starts to blur when she befriends a gold farmer who collects valuable objects in game to sell for money out of the game.

Who will like this book?: Fans of characters with strong morals. Graphic novel readers, and online game players.

If you like this, try this: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, No Normal  by G Willow Wilson,illustrated by Adrian Alphona.  Page by Paige by Laura Gulledge. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

Recommended by: Stephanie, Librarian

Cinder

Cover

Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Summary: This futuristic re-imagining of  Cinderella hits all the fairytale basics: unappreciated hard-working daughter, spoiled stepsister, cruel stepmother, handsome prince, and a ball for the entire land.  But, there are also cyborgs, androids, a fatal plague, a cruel Lunar alien queen set on planetary domination, and magic-well not so much magic as bioelectrical manipulation.

It’s a fairytale  like no other, set in New Beijing sometime after the Fourth World War-a war where nuclear and chemical warfare killed millions, decimated entire cultures, and reduced dozens of cities to rubble. This is the world of Cinder, a sixteen-year-old cyborg with an uncanny ability to understand how to fix things.  She supports her stepmother and two stepsisters by running a mechanic’s booth in the market and has earned a reputation for being the best in New Beijing.  Then, everything changes for Cinder when a disguised Prince Kai brings a broken android to her booth jokingly telling her that fixing the broken robot is “a matter of national security.”  Cinder believes there may be some truth to the prince’s joke and agrees to the job.

However, Cinder is quickly side-tracked from the job when her young stepsister, the only human friend she has in the world, is stricken with a deadly plague.   The same plague that threatens the life of the Prince Kai’s father, the Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth.  Cinder’s stepmother blames Cinder for her daughter’s illness and in retaliation she volunteers Cinder for plague research, a task no one has survived.  The lead scientist soon discovers that there is something special about the latest volunteer.  Something that others would kill and die for.

Who will like this book?:  Readers who are looking for something a bit different from typical sci-fi/ fantasy story and open to a bit of fairytale romance.

If you like this, try this:  The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian