It’s Best Books Season!

It’s coming up on Thanksgiving break, and that means the start of BEST BOOKS SEASON, when various media outlets — magazines, journals, newspaper, websites, etc. — publish their year-end Best Books lists!

The editors at School Library Journal kicked off their review of the Best Books of 2015 with a live tweet of some of the Best Adult Books 4 Teens, hosted by Mark Flowers (@droogmark) and Shelley Vale (@sdiaz101). Here are some of their picks:

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume — A richly textured and moving story of three generations of families, friends and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by unexpected events. “Fans of Blume will clamor for this, but so, too, will any teen who enjoys a well-written coming-of-age novel that strongly evokes a specific time and place” (Sarah Flowers, School Library Journal).

Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates — Winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction. In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. “The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’s journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory” (Toni Morrison).

Trampoline: An Illustrated Novel by Robert Gipe — Dawn Jewell is fifteen. She is restless, curious, and wry. She listens to Black Flag, speaks her mind, and joins her grandmother’s fight against mountaintop removal mining almost in spite of herself. Jagged and honest, Trampoline is a portrait of a place struggling with the economic and social forces that threaten and define it. “This is a killer debut of one teenager’s flight from destruction—strong stuff tempered with humor and love” (Georgia Christgau, School Library Journal).

The Gods of Tango: A Novel by Carolina De Robertis — February 1913: seventeen-year-old Leda, clutching a suitcase and her father’s cherished violin, leaves her small Italian village for a new home (and husband) halfway across the world in Argentina. Shocked to find that her bridegroom has been killed and unable to fathom the idea of returning home, Leda remains in this unfamiliar city, living on the brink of destitution. When she acts on a passion she has kept secret for years — mastering the violin — Leda is seduced by the music that underscores life in the city: tango, born from lower-class immigrant voices, now the illicit, scandalous dance of brothels and cabarets. “A plea to embrace ‘the bright jagged thing you really are,’ and De Robertis captures the enormity of that struggle” (Kirkus Reviews).

Mothers, Tell Your Daughters: Stories by Bonnie Jo Campbell — The strong but flawed women of this collection by National Book Award finalist Campbell must negotiate a sexually charged atmosphere as they love, honor, and betray one another against the backdrop of all the men in their world. “Bonnie Jo Campbell is a master of capturing a roiling central mystery of life: the way love and hate, sadness and hilarity, power and weakness are so often inextricably, tempestuously fused. Mothers, Tell Your Daughters is an exhilarating book by one of our finest writers” (Robert Olen Butler, author of Tabloid Dreams: Stories).

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty by Charles Leerhsen — Leerhsen re-traces baseball great Ty Cobb’s journey, from the shy son of a professor and state senator who was progressive on race for his time, to America’s first true sports celebrity. In the process, he tells of a life overflowing with incident and a man who cut his own path through his times—a man we thought we knew but really didn’t. “This eminently readable biography is a fantastic piece of research and a perfect starting point for teens interested in the early years of baseball” (Mark Flowers, School Library Journal).

The Star Side of Bird Hill: A Novel by Naomi Jackson — This lyrical novel of community, betrayal, and love centers on an unforgettable matriarchal family in Barbados. Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. “The dual coming-of-age story alone could melt the sternest of hearts, but Jackson’s exquisite prose is a marvel too…a gem of a book” (Entertainment Weekly).

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer —  A stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana ­— stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape. “Krakauer’s evocative reporting, honed to a fine edge of anger, vividly conveys the ordeal of victims and their ongoing psychological dislocations. The result is a hard-hitting true-crime expose that looks underneath the he-said-she-said to get at the sexist assumptions that help cover up and enable these crimes” (Publishers Weekly starred review).

Re Jane: A Novel by Patricia Park — For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she’s been trying to escape from her whole life. Journeying from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul, and back, this is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean American debut. “Re Jane is snappy and memorable, with its clever narrator and insights on clashing cultures” (Entertainment Weekly).

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — In this personal, eloquently-argued essay — adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. “[This] might just be the most important book you read all year” (Rupert Hawksley, The Telegraph).

Method 15/33: A Novel by Shannon Kirk — The 2015 National Indie Excellence Award Winner for Best Suspense Novel. Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who’s just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van. Kidnapped, alone, terrified. Now forget her. Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn son and to exact merciless revenge. “It’s nice to know early on that she’ll survive her ordeal…the question is how, and watching the answer unfold is like watching a wondrously complicated, well-oiled Rube Goldberg contraption in action. Welcome a thrilling new voice in crime fiction” (Boston Globe).

More of this year’s best Adults Books 4 Teens titles will be published in the upcoming Best Books issue of School Library Journal.

New Adult Books 4 Teens

In addition to reviews for books written for teens (both fiction and nonfiction), I also read reviews for books written for adults that have teen appeal (the Adult Books 4 Teens column at School Library Journal is an incredibly useful resource for this reason). Here are some recent adult fiction titles we’ve added to the collection that are also recommended for teen readers…

About A Girl by Sarah McCarry — The conclusion to the Metamorphoses series. A contemporary retelling of the Atalanta myth in which a sudden discovery upends eighteen-year-old Tally’s fiercely ordered world, setting her on a quest to seek the reclusive musician who may hold the key to her past, but instead she finds the enigmatic and beautiful Maddy, who may open the door to her future. “A highly recommended and breathtakingly read for sophisticated readers” (School Library Journal).

Armada: A Novel by Ernest Cline — Zack Lightman, a videogame and science-fiction fan, finds a spaceship from his videogame in real life, and uses it to save Earth from aliens. “Cline’s sly, mind-twisting premise and energetically depicted and electrifying high-tech battles make for smart, frenetic, and satisfying entertainment” (Booklist starred review).

Everybody Wants To Rule The World: An Avengers Novel by Dan Abnett — The Avengers face an array of their greatest foes-all at once! In Berlin, Captain America battles the forces of Hydra. In the Savage Land, Hawkeye and the Black Widow attempt to foil A.I.M. In Washington, Iron Man fights to stop Ultron. Only one thing is certain: this isn’t a coincidence. But what larger, deadlier threat lies behind these simultaneous attacks on Earth?

Half The World (The Shattered Sea, Book 2) by Jay Abercrombie — Set in the same world as Half a King, Half a World follows a new protagonist, Thorn, a fifteen-year-old girl in training for the king’s army. But even as she’s learning the ways of war, she’s also growing up…and falling in love for the first time. “The fast-paced story draws readers along while setting up what promises to be an explosive final showdown” (Publishers Weekly).

Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel — Rebecca Lucas cannot understand when thirteen-year-old Callie, a girl she has raised since her mother died, is accused of bullying at school. Things only get worse when Callie is cleared of any wrong-doing, but when she starts receiving threatening notes from the girl who accused her, Rebecca is at a loss as to whether or not she should intervene. “Frankel’s debut includes beautiful turns of phrase and poetic language…this could serve as a quick read for fans of literary thrillers or a cautionary tale for parents of teenagers” (Library Journal).

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume — Thirty-five years after a series of airplane accidents rocked Elizabeth, New Jersey, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown for an event commemorating the disasters, and finds herself surrounded by three generations of families, friends, and strangers whose lives were irrevocably altered by those events in the 1950s. “With its focus on Miri’s coming-of-age, this could have been published as a YA novel, and it will doubtless reach a wide crossover readership” (Booklist starred review).

The Invasion of the Tearling: A Novel by Erika Johansen — In this riveting sequel to the national bestseller The Queen of the Tearling, the evil kingdom of Mortmesne invades the Tearling, with dire consequences for Queen Kelsea, Lily Mayhew and everyone in her realm. “A bold storytelling choice makes this so much more fascinating than just a saga of warring kingdoms. Both Kelsea’s struggles in the Tear to protect her people and Lily’s narrative are completely gripping, and the anticipation of a revelation of how these two women are linked will keep readers turning the pages” (Library Journal).

The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith — Grahame-Smith returns with the follow-up to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter — a sweeping, alternate history of 20th century America as seen through the eyes of vampire Henry Sturges. “Grahame-Smith’s fans, as well as anyone willing to try alternate history, will enjoy this sweeping adventure” (Library Journal).

The Masque of a Murderer (Lucy Campion Mysteries, Book 3) by Susanna Calkins — richly drawn mystery set in 17th century England, Lucy Campion, formerly a ladies’ maid in the local magistrate’s household, has now found gainful employment as a printer’s apprentice. When she accompanies the magistrate’s daughter, Sarah, to the home of a severely injured man to record his dying words, she is shocked to hear an implication of murder. “Calkins’ tantalizing clues and rich historical details depicting everyday life and class differences draw readers into the seventeenth century” (Booklist).

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry: A Novel by Fredrik Backman — From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales. “Full of heart, hope, forgiveness, and the embracing of differences, Elsa’s story is one that sticks with you long after you’ve turned the last page” (Library Journal).

Positive by David Wellington — Years after a plague killed 99 percent of the population, turning them into infectious zombies, Finnegan and his family live in a barricaded New York City, safe from danger. But Finn’s sheltered life fractures when his unsuspecting mother falls sick with the zombie disease–latent inside her since before her son’s birth. “Zombie groupies will eat this one up, but it should also be recommended to readers of all epic-scale fantasy” (Booklist starred review).

The Stranger by Harlan Coben — The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world. “Coben’s latest stand-alone is a great story for people who like to examine the ephemeral nature of those strings that bind our dreams to our reality. And while it is a slight departure from his usual type of thriller, this book will be enjoyed as well by Coben’s many fans” (Library Journal).

Trigger Warning: Short Fiction and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman — In this new anthology, Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath with previously published pieces of short fiction — stories, verse, and a special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the series in 2013 — as well as “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection. “Both enthusiasts of short fiction and fans of Gaiman’s longer works may approach this volume with confidence. Full of small and perfect jewel-like tales, this collection is a thrilling treasure” (Publishers Weekly).


Monday Morning Book Buzz

Welcome to the Monday Morning Book Buzz, a preview of notable books being released this week. Some of them will be added to the Academy Library collection; if you read about a title that you would like added, let me know by either commenting on this post or by contacting me directly at the Library —

Notable New Releases for the week of November 16th:

The Game of Lives (The Mortality Doctrine, Book 3) by James Dashner (11/17) — The final book in the Mortality Doctrine series, an edge-of-your-seat cyber-adventure trilogy. Michael used to live to game, but the games he was playing have become all too real — the VirtNet has become a world of deadly consequences. “The best of the bunch…a fitting end to an exceptional trilogy” (Kirkus Reviews).

Maze Runner Writer James Dashner Is Ending His New Saga—And We’ve Got An Exclusive Look (io9)

The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson (11/17) — Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry. “This retelling, set in the Holy Roman Empire in 1413, incorporates elements of romance, deceit, and revenge through a Christian fiction lens. [Dickerson’s]  will adore this new tale” (School Library Journal).

Strange Girl by Christopher Pike (11/17) — A fascinating and seductive new novel about a girl with a mysterious ability—but one that carries an unimaginable cost. From the moment Fred meets Aja, he knows she’s different. She’s pretty, soft-spoken, shy—yet seems to radiate an unusual peace. Fred quickly finds himself falling in love with her. Then strange things begin to happen around Aja. A riot breaks out that Aja is able to stop by merely speaking a few words. A friend of Fred’s suffers a serious head injury and has a miraculous recovery. Yet Aja swears she has done nothing. “This title is a departure from the horror genre, leaning heavily toward the paranormal. Make room on the shelf for the latest offering from a longtime YA writer” (School Library Journal).

Everything But The Truth (An If Only Novel) by Mandy Hubbard (11/17) — Holly Mathews’ mom is the new manager of a ritzy retirement home, and they just moved in, which means Holly’s neighbors are all super-rich retirees — and gorgeous, notorious Hollywood playboy Malik Buchannan is the grandson of one of the residents. Just one problem: when they meet, Malik assumes Holly’s there to visit her own rich relative. She doesn’t correct him, and it probably doesn’t matter, because their flirtation could never turn into more than a superficial fling . . . right? “Hubbard’s lighthearted romance pulls in Cinderella motifs, while using suspense and complicated subterfuge to step up the plot’s pace…a fun, romantic romp” (Booklist).

Until The End by Abbi Glines (11/17) — The backstory that fans have been clamoring for—how Rock and Trisha fell in love—is the final novel in the Sea Breeze series from bestselling author Abbi Glines. “Glines writes of Trisha’s abusive family fairly compellingly, with most of the plot relying on her plight. Rough and raw” (Kirkus Reviews).