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30 August 2013

Diverse Energies

Diverse Energies edited by Tobias S. Buckell and Joe Monti is a collection of short stories by YA science fiction and fantasy authors to raise money for the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund.

"Good Girl" by Malinda Lo takes place in a future New York City. People who are deemed pure live above ground and the mutts live in tunnels that used to house trains. Kyle lives with her mother at their restaurant. She is about to reach her assignment day, which will determine what she will do for the rest of her life. But the day of her brother's assignment, he disappeared. Kyle has to find out if he is living in the tunnels.

Planning to pay someone to search for her brother, Kyle meets Nix. Nix is a tattooed, shaved-headed mutt tries to send Kyle back above ground for her own good. But there is something about Nix that keeps drawing Kyle in, even after she has paid the price promised for information on her brother.

Malinda Lo is a great author of YA speculative fiction, often with lesbian characters. Each of her books is amazing and fans (like me) will read anything she ever writes.

Other authors included in Diverse Energies:
Ellen Oh
Daniel H. Wilson
K. Tempest Bradfort
Ken Liu
Greg van Eekhout
Rahul Kanakia
Paolo Bacigalupi
Cindy Pon
Rajan Khanna
Ursula K. Le Guin

Whether you already like one of these authors, or they are all new to you, this collection is a great introduction to some amazing storytellers who write diverse fantasy and science fiction. For even more diversity in YA see the blog, Diversity in YA!

Buckell, Tobias. (2012). Diverse Energies. New York: Tu Books.

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27 August 2013

The English Girl (Gabriel Allon #13)

The English Girl by Daniel Silva is the thirteenth book in his series featuring Gabriel Allon - a Mossad assassin who just wants to retire, but keeps getting pulled back into a world of espionage, terrorism and politics.

Gabriel is once again retired. He and his wife, Chiara, are living in Israel. He is restoring a painting - at which he is a genius. Chiara is working at the Israel Museum overseeing the building of a new exhibit. Until his old boss comes for a visit telling him that Graham Seymour of MI5 has asked for a meeting.

Madeline Hart is a rising star in British politics. Rumor is it that she could one day be prime minister. But while on vacation in Corsica she disappears. One month later, the senior advisor to the British prime minister receives a photo of Madeline holding a current newspaper. Included in the envelope is a note that she will die in seven days. The note is given to the prime minster, who contacted Graham Seymour, who flew to Israel to recruit Gabriel Allon. Though Allon wants only to spend time with his wife and a string of great works of art, he will help look for Madeline Hart.

Silva is a master story teller. From his first book, The Unlikely Spy, he has been at the top of the espionage genre. His character Allon is a force who readers will follow to the ends of the Earth. Any reader even slightly interested in espionage or thrillers needs to read all Daniel Silva's books.

Silva, Daniel. (2013). The English Girl. New York: Harper.

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20 August 2013

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin is a coming of age novel set in 1926 - a time in American history when young women began to realize they could make choices outside of family expectation.

Garnet Richardson is going to spend the summer with her aunt and cousin at a hotel on the lake in Excelsior, Minnesota. He aunt, Mrs. Harrington, is more well off than Garnets family. While she is away her mother hopes to help her father out the depression he brought back from the war.

Garnet is excited about a town on a lake. She is fascinated with birds. As a young girl, she and her father would walk through the woods and study the birds there. Later, once she got old enough that science and traipsing through the woods became unladylike (according to her mother) she could only watch the birds from afar.

When her aunt and cousin turn out to be boring, Garnet has the idea to get a job. And on the first day of her job, Garnet meets Isabella Strand - a flapper who dances at the local dance hall. And while Garnet can not exactly imagine going home after the summer and marrying her beau, she could see herself spending all of the time she can sneak away with Isabella.

Griffin has crafted a beautiful story of first love in a lush setting and time period. Her characters and descriptions will fill more that the page as readers fall in love with the book. And bird lovers will relish the themes.

Griffin, Molly Beth. (2012). Silhouette of a Sparrow. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed.

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19 August 2013

The Assassin (Grafton and Carmellini #3)

The Assassin by Stephen Coonts is the third book in his series featuring Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini.

After his son is killed in Iraq, a high up political official contacted the president and asked him if there wasn't a back channels way to go after terrorist. He and his group of friends would gladly supply the money if the president could point him toward the expertise. So the president called Jake Grafton - retired Navy Admiral now working for the CIA.

While highly unorthodox (aka illegal) a team is set up to track the active terrorists of al Qaeda, including the leader Abu Qasim who escaped a botched G-8 meeting attack in France due to the interference of Grafton and Carmellini. Now teams of ex-special forces snipers are taking out high ranking terrorists. But Qasim will soon find out where this new threat is originating and who is in charge.Soon Qasim will be after Grafton, Carmellini and the seven financial backer of the group tracking him.

Coonts writes high stakes thrillers with the best of them. And Carmellini, a relaxed CIA sanctioned burglar, teamed up with a no nonsense Admiral will have the bad guys running for cover. These books are intense but light reads that will eat up a subway commute.

Coonts, Stephen. (2008). The Assassin. New York: St. Martin's Press.

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14 August 2013

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi is the second book in her Shatter Me series, which could also be called the Reestablishment series, a dystopian young adult novel.

Juliette has been afraid to touch people her whole life - with good reason. Her skin can hurt others. She is like a human Venus flytrap. Her touch pulls life force from the people she touches. So she tries desperately not to touch anyone.

But she has found someone she can touch without hurting. It is the most amazing feeling to be able to be hugged or to hold some one's hand. And, now that she has escaped from the Reestablishment, she has the chance to learn about others with "gifts."

There is an underground movement opposed to the Establishment. They are not the rebels who cause troubles, but a second group - Omega Point. And though small, their gifts allow them to move about in the military state without much problem. Which is good as they have to steal their supplies from the Reestablishment warehouses.

When Juliette joins Omega Point, she begins to feel like she could belong. But there is not much time for her to settle in because the Reestablishment is looking for her and Omega. Soon they will be at war and she must come to terms with what her body can do and how she can fight.

The Reestablishment series is great dystopian fiction. I could not put either book down and am now impatiently waiting for the third book to be written. (It is due out in 2014.) Read this series!

Mafi, Tahereh. (2013). Unravel Me. New York: Harper.

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12 August 2013

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1)

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is the first book in her Shatter Me series that takes place in the future, after we have destroyed much of the planet and a group called the Reestablishment has taken over as government of the whole world.

Juliette Ferrars has been locked away for much of her life. Her parents locked her in her room and people at school kept their distance. Now she is in a cell and she has not even spoken to anyone in the last 264 days. But that is about to change.

Juliette is getting a roommate. A guy. They will be locked together in a small cell 24 hours a day. What the boy does not know is that her skin can kill him. A simple handshake or hug could overwhelm him with pain until she absorbs his life force. For this reason she has come to believe she is a monster. No one knows why her skin is fatal to others, but it has made for a tough life with no affection.

But the Reestablishment has plans for her. They wish to turn her into a weapon of torture for their cause. They are still fighting rebels in an attempt to eradicate all previous culture and ties to any other form of government. And in order to convince her to work with them, they will use the one person from her past with whom she has an emotional connection.

Mafi has created a great dystopian world. Juliette is a complex and compelling character who readers will root for all the way.

Mafi, Tahereh. (2012). Shatter Me. New York: Harper.

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09 August 2013


Sparks: the Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie by S.J. Adams is a young adult coming of age novel.

Debbie Woodlawn has done everything with her best friend Lisa since sixth grade. Now a junior in high school, it is time for Debbie to come to terms with the fact that she is in love with Lisa. But Lisa just got a boyfriend. Now Debbie has to either find new friends or come out to Lisa in the hopes that she secretly feels the same way.

When a classmate suggests she speak to Emma, Debbie does so reluctantly. Emma and her best friend Tim have created their own religion. It is called the Holy Church of Blue. As Blueists, Emma and Tim has written commandments go on holy quests when necessary. It is necessary for Debbie to go on such a quest now.

With the help of her new friends, Debbie will confront Lisa and hope for the best. But along the way, the quest will take her on a wacky journey of discovery reminiscent of a Libba Bray novel. Adams has created a quirky and lovable story that will inspire readers to be more open-minded and go after what they seek.

Adams. S.J. (2011). Sparks. Woodbury, MN: Flux.

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07 August 2013

Thousand Words

Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown is the story of a text gone wrong.

Ashleigh Maynard is about to start her senior year of high school. Her boyfriend is leaving for college in a few days. At an end of the summer party her friends convince her to send him a picture of herself naked, and she is just drunk enough to do it.

But when Ashleigh and Kaleb break up he proves that he is not the great guy she thought he was. Kaleb shares the picture with his baseball friends - who share it with everyone else.

Now Ashleigh is doing community service. She was charged with distribution of child pornography. Her community service is to create a brochure about sexting and how it can be harmful. Plus she has to go to school every day with everyone staring at her and calling her names.

Jennifer Brown proved she could write a great YA novel about a tough subject when she tackled school shooting in Hate List. With this new novel she cements her place as a brilliant writer.

Brown, Jennifer. (2013). Thousand Words. New York: Little Brown and Company.

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05 August 2013

Starting From Here

Starting From Here by Lisa Jenn Bigelow is a lesbian coming of age story.

Colby Bingham is a junior in high school. She is failing a couple of classes and her grades are not likely to get better now that her girlfriend has broken up with her. To make matters worse, her now-ex-girlfriend has just started dating a boy - and bringing him to the gay-straight alliance meetings.

Colby's best friend, Van, is just about the only person Colby is still talking to regularly. Her father is a long haul truck driver, gone for six days each week. And her mother died two years ago. Now Colby just wants to disappear.

But one night Colby and Van rescue a dog on the side of the road. The dog will give Colby something else to think about besides her life. And when someone from the school newspaper wants to write an article about the rescue, she will have a new change at love.

Bigelow has written a great LGBTQ young adult novel that captures the desperation and hope of being a teen. Colby is a wonderfully flawed character who will capture the heart of readers.

Bigelow, Lisa Jenn. (2012). Starting From Here. Las Vegas: Amazon Children's Publishing.

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03 August 2013

One Sweet Ride (Play by Play #6)

One Sweet Ride by Jaci Burton is the sixth book in her Play by Play series featuring professional sports figures - this time a race car driver.

Gray Preston is a stock car driver. He started his own team that currently consists of two cars. Though his father is a US Senator and a wealthy rancher from Oklahoma, Grey is doing things on his own. He was written out of the family money when he chose a sports scholarship to a school in Oklahoma instead of pre-law at an ivy league.

Evelyn Hill works for Senator Preston, who is in the running for the vice president spot in the next election. He job is to convince Gray to help his father's campaign - bringing he thousands of fans with him. But her job will not be easy. Gray has not spoken to his father for a long time and wants nothing to do with him or politics.

Burton's Play by Play series is filled with sexy stories of hot athletes. This is the first in the series not featuring a member of the Riley family that began the series, but branching out to their friends. Still, look for cameos by the former stars of the series in this book. Grab one of these books to take to the beach this summer.

Burton, Jaci. (2013). One Sweet Ride. New York: Berkley Sensation.

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