Boxers & Saints

boxerssaintscover

Title: Boxers & Saints

Author/Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang

Summary: In this stunning masterwork, Gene Luen Yang tells an epic story across two books about young people facing the devastating consequences of war in 18th century China. Little Bao and Vibiana both live in the idyllic but impoverished rural countryside with families that are facing challenges. Soon, inspired and driven by the hidden magic surrounding them (Bao by the god-kings of Chinese mythology and Vibiana by the legend of Joan of Arc), they each embark on a journey through the rapidly-changing world around them, finding themselves as they endure the upheaval, war and devastation that comes when people with different points of view cannot coexist peacefully. When their paths finally cross, neither will be the same.

It probably doesn’t matter in which order you read these dual narratives, but I’d suggest you start with Boxers. You might not learn too much about this famous colonial-era Rebellion in your history classes, but this story will immerse you in the violent and bloody struggle between those who wished to reject foreign influence in China and others who welcomed it. You will  be moved by both of these young people as they find themselves leading their people towards an unthinkable destiny, each believing they are right.

Who will like this book: Graphic n0vel readers. Fans of historical fiction and stories laced with magic and spirituality.

If you like this, try this: Yang’s Printz-winning work, American Born Chinese. Another fantastic graphic novel with a supernatural element, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brogsol.For another era in Chinese history, take a look at Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. For more on the history of this era, read The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Maybe A Fox

maybe-a-fox-9781442482425_hr

Title: Maybe a Fox

Authors: Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

Summary: Sylvie and Jules Sherman are sisters who live with their father in the Vermont woods. Each day, they take the bus to school and sit, crammed three-to-a-seat with their best friend and neighbor Sam. All three love the woods that separate their houses, spending their time exploring every nook and cranny, and tossing wish rocks, with their burning desires written on them, into the Slip, a wondrous and dangerous natural formation that alters that path of the local river. Jules hasn’t found her wish yet, but Sylvie’s wish is to run – faster, faster, and faster while Sam wishes for the return of the catamount – a rare, wild thing. All three have been touched by grief: Sylvie and Jules lost their mother years ago, and Sam’s brother Elk has just returned from war but is changed – his best friend Zeke did not survive. One winter’s day before the bus arrives, the unthinkable happens to the Sherman family.

A fox is born in the deep woods. Senna is no mere fox, however: She is Kennen, alive with a thousand years of fox-knowledge in her bones and a sense that she is meant to find someone, and that someone is the girl crying and screaming a name into the trees. And a voice insider her head is always urging her to fun, faster and faster.

This is a lyrical story about loss, unbearable grief, the way we sometimes wish for impossible things and the unknown magic that animates our lives . Co-written by authors Appelt and McGhee, this books features gorgeous, stop-you-in-your-tracks writing in service of a simple and truth-filled tale that will stick with you for a long time.

Who will like this book: This is a great book for all ages. Readers who like stories that make them cry. People living with grief. Animal lovers.

If you like this, try this: Pax by Sara Pennypacker. See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Harvey: How I Became Invisible by Herve Bouchard.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Carry On

carry

Title: Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Orphan Simon Snow is the chosen one – born into the World of Mages to triumph over the Insidious Humdrum, a dark entity that swallows magic whole, leaving devastation and ruin in its path. The problem is that Simon barely understands his power and has almost no control over it. Entering his final year at Watford School of Magicks, he finds himself the focus of an inevitable battle, tutored by a strict and mysterious headmaster, bolstered by support from his best friend, the supremely talented and brilliant Penelope, confounded by his on-again, off-again girlfriend Agatha and tormented by his roommate and nemesis, Basilton, a rich kid from a legendary magickal family.

This sounds…familiar, right? It is supposed to – the story of Simon Snow was introduced to readers of author Rainbow Rowell’s popular book Fangirl, about a college freshman who is also an internet-famous author of slash fiction. But you don’t have to read Fangirl first to fall in love with Simon Snow. As he makes his way through his final year at Watford, he comes face to face with the true nature of the Humdrum, the true motives of his teacher, the mysterious nature of his origin and his true feelings for Baz. This fast-paced and funny fantasy tale is perfect for readers who grew up with The Boy Who Shall Not Be Named (in this post, at least) who are looking for a book with the same sense of emotion and adventure.

 

Who will like this book?: This is the ‘Drarry’ book you’ve been waiting for, shippers!Potterheads. Fan Fic (particularly Slash Fic) devotees. Readers who love coming-of-age adventure stories.

If you like this, try this: The book that inspired this story, Fangirl, also by Rainbow Rowell. For a darker take on fandom, try Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky. Another magical quest/school story with a high page count, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. We don’t need to recommend J.K. Rowling’s stuff, right?

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ink and Bone

A1wi46iw0KL

Title: Ink and Bone

Author: Rachel Caine

Summary: Jess and his family are black market smugglers who trade in the rarest and most dangerous of commodities: Books. The Great Library that rules over the world allows people to download and read things, of course, but very few people are allowed to actually own bound copies of books. In order to get an inside look at the mysterious agents who run the Great Library and it’s satellite locations all over the world, Jess is convinced by his father to apply for entry into the elite Library training program and soon he is on his way to Alexandria, Egypt. As he makes friends and enemies in his class and clashes with his surly, aggressive mentor, Jess begins to realize how seriously the Library takes its stance on the value of knowledge above everything else – including the lives of enemies, innocents and the trainees themselves. When his friend comes up with a radical idea that could change the way information is transmitted forever, Jess must decide what is more important: His family and the mission they have set before him, or exposing the secretive and deadly nature of the Library. Either decision will cost him greatly and be impossible to forgive.

One of the great intellectual tragedies in history was the legendary destruction of the Library of Alexandria. Although there are several different theories about what happened and when, what is not in doubt is that countless scrolls containing works by famous authors were lost forever. This imaginative and fast-paced tale imagines a world where the library not only survived, but managed to become the ruling entity of the entire world. Short communications before each chapter give you a sense of what’s to come and the larger scope of the story as you read, compelling you to keep turning the pages to see how it all works out. There is something here for almost every reader: Action, humor, romance and mystery. This thrilling adventure will leave you begging for the second installment of The Great Library series.

Who will like this book?: Fans of dystopian series like Divergent and The Hunger Games. People who love books.

If you like this, try this: The Archived by Victoria Schwab. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Thirteen Chairs

23436913

Title: Thirteen Chairs

Author: Dave Shelton

Summary: Jack has always been a curious boy. He has always been drawn to the abandoned house in his neighborhood and one night, when he discovers that it is lit from within, he finally summons the courage to step inside. What Jack finds surprises him: thirteen candles, thirteen chairs, and twelve very different people who have gathered to share their stories. The thirteenth chair is for Jack. As each speaker concludes their tale, they blow out their candle and the room grows darker…and Jack must wait his turn.

These short stories are perfect for the spooky season – full of chills and surprise twists and turns. This is a great introduction to horror and ghost stories for younger readers who are interested in this genre. Just don’t read these tales before you go to bed for the night!

Who will like this book?: Fans of short stories. Fans of ghost stories. Readers who like tales that are creepy, but not ‘can-never-sleep-again’ terrifying.

If you like this, try this: The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman. If you want something even more horrific, mature readers can check out Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Wrath and the Dawn

wrath

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

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