New Starred Books

Whenever I read collections of book reviews, I pay close attention to books that receive starred reviews, considered the best of the lot. Here are some of the titles we’ve added to the library collection recently that received multiple starred reviews from Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews and other review sources; I expect many of them to be on the Best Books of 2019 lists in December…

With The Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo — Teen mother Emoni Santiago struggles with the challenges of finishing high school and her dream of working as a chef. “Acevedo compassionately challenges her readers with a wide variety of topics, including cultural and personal identity and the needs and desires of older women, something that is so often forgotten. This sophomore novel is simply stunning” (Booklist starred review).

Internment by Samira Ahmed — A terrifying, futuristic United Sates where Muslim-Americans are forced into internment camps, and seventeen-year-old Layla Amin must lead a revolution against complicit silence. “Teens who finish Ahmed’s captivating work won’t soon overlook the ugly truths stamped into our nation’s history” (School Library Journal starred review).

Lovely War by Julie Berry — The Greek goddess Aphrodite recounts two tales of tragic love during WWI to her husband, Hephaestus, and her lover, Ares, in a luxe Manhattan hotel room at the height of World War II. “An unforgettable romance so Olympian in scope, human at its core, and lyrical in its prose that it must be divinely inspired” (Kirkus starred review).

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta — Resets the Arthurian legend in outer space, with King Arthur reincarnated as seventeen-year-old Ari, a female king whose quest is to stop a tyrranical corporate government, aided by a teenaged Merlin. “A stimulating retelling that is adapted from T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. Recommended to fans of Avalon High by Meg Cabot and Damar by Robin McKinley” (School Library Journal starred review).

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi — Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Severin Montagnet-Alarie. “Chokshi shines as a master storyteller in her newest novel; the setting, world building, plot, and conflict are all staggering. However, the elements that perhaps shine the most are the history, riddles, mysteries, and science, woven together in a world brimming with power and magic” (Booklist starred review).

Spin by L.R. Giles — When DJ ParSec, rising star of the local music scene, is found dead over her turntables, the two girls who found her, Kya (her pre-fame best friend) and Fuse (her current chief groupie) are torn between grief for Paris and hatred for each other–but when the police seem to lose interest in the case, the two girls unite, determined to find out who murdered their friend. “This is genre fiction at its best: a taut mystery with rich characterization and a strong sense of place. The depiction of the grassroots music scene that feeds hip-hop and keeps it cutting edge is seamlessly woven into the narrative” (Kirkus starred review).

The Weight Of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf — Amidst the Chinese-Malay conflict in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, sixteen-year-old Melati must overcome prejudice, violence, and her own OCD to find her way back to her mother. “A powerful and raw exploration of mental illness, Malaysian history, and rising above prejudice and hate” (School Library Journal starred review).

Dig by A.S. King — Only a generation removed from being simple Pennsylvania potato farmers, Gottfried and Marla Hemmings now sit atop a seven-figure bank account, wealth they’ve declined to pass on to their adult children or their teenage grand children. Now the five teenagers are lost in a tangled maze of family secrets. “This visceral examination of humanity’s flaws and complexity, especially where the adult characters are concerned, cultivates hope in a younger generation that’s wiser and stronger than its predecessors” (Booklist starred review).

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg — Seventeen-year-old Maximo offers to help a Jordan, a fellow student in high school, with the food truck that belonged to Jordan’s deceased father, and which may be the only thing standing between homelessness for Jordan and his mom. “Like David Levithan and Adam Silvera, Konigsberg portrays gay teen relationships in a way that is consistently authentic, compassionate, hopeful, and empowering; and this story, which also touches on issues of masculinity, homophobia, and rape, is no exception” (Horn Book).

Courting Darkness by Robin LaFevers — When Sybella discovers there is another trained assassin from St. Mortain’s convent deep undercover in the French court, she must use every skill in her arsenal to navigate the deadly royal politics and find her sister-in-arms before her time–and that of the newly crowned queen–runs out. “This rich tapestry of intrigue, betrayal, trauma, protection, old religion, and historically based politics resurrects the urgency and depth of the His Fair Assassin series. Sharp and breathless, full of anger and strength” (Kirkus starred review).

Fear Of Missing Out by Kate McGovern — When Astrid learns that her cancer has returned, she hears about a radical technology called cryopreservation that may allow her to have her body frozen until a future time when–and if–a cure is available. “McGovern’s impeccable writing carries readers through an incredible journey of self-exploration. A compelling and heartrending read that should not be missed” (School Library Journal starred review).

We Set The Dark On Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia — Dani must question everything she’s worked for as she learns about the corruption of the Median government. “With its achingly slow-burn romance and incisive examination of power structures, this is a masterfully constructed novel. This timely examination of how women move through the world is potent and precise, and readers will be eager for the sequel” (Booklist starred review).

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas — Sixteen-year-old Bri hopes to become a great rapper, and after her first song goes viral for all the wrong reasons, must decide whether to sell out or face eviction with her widowed mother. “The rawness of Bri’s narrative demonstrates Thomas’ undeniable storytelling prowess as she tells truths that are neither pretty nor necessarily universally relatable” (Kirkus starred review).

Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, edited by Ibi Zoboi — A collection of coming-of-age short stories that reflect on the African American teenage experience in America. “The teens in these tales are dealing with mental health issues, complicated family dynamics, sexuality and gender constraints, and being part of a marginalized group…the entries offer a rich tableau of the black teen diaspora in an accessible way” (School Library Journal starred review).


10 Great Nonfiction Books at CA Library

Here’s a list of some of the best new nonfiction titles available at CA Library that feature starred reviews:

Attucks! Oscar Robertson and the Basketball Team That Awakened a City by Phillip Hoose — “In 1950s Indiana, the success of a black high school’s basketball team drove integration despite overwhelming odds. Excessively readable, this should appeal to sports fans and those looking for a good book about the civil rights era” (Booklist).

Blacklisted! Hollywood, the Cold War, and the First Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner — “A tightly focused, meticulously detailed account of the 1947 House Un-American Activities Committee hearings that led to the Hollywood blacklist. More broadly, Brimner offers a cautionary tale about the damage done to individuals and society when constitutional rights are denied by officials sworn to uphold them” (Booklist).

Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend by Karen Blumenthal — “This exquisitely researched biography examines the romantic image that made Bonnie and Clyde folk heroes despite the violence they spread. An extraordinarily successful resource about a painful time in history and a complicated, infamous pair” (Booklist).

Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam by Elizabeth Partridge — “This conscientious look at the Vietnam War focuses on the author’s interviews with eight people–soldiers, refugees, medics, Vietnam natives, and more. With an impressive amount of well-chosen photographs, this is a necessary look at a factious time in American and world history” (Booklist).

Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon by Carla Killough McClafferty — “This handsome, well-documented book explores slavery at Mount Vernon in George Washington’s day and introduces six enslaved people who worked there. With meticulous back matter linking quotes to many primary sources as well as more recent works, this is an enlightening presentation on slavery in the late 1700s” (Booklist).

Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America by Marc Favreau — “With lucid writing and well-chosen archive photos, Favreau explains the 1929 stock market crash, subsequent depression, and how the resulting poverty affected the U.S. An enlightening and very readable book on a complex historical period” (Booklist).

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix — “Dynamic artwork and stirring text combine in this biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which also offers eloquent historical context. A poignant, compellingly presented, and timely account of a brave individual who lived his life with true conviction” (Booklist).

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka — “A moving, artful memoir of the comic artist’s complicated upbringing, his mothers heroin addition, and his ever-growing love of art. There have been a slew of graphic memoirs published for youth in the past couple of years, but the raw, confessional quality and unguarded honesty of Krosoczka’s contribution sets it apart from the crowd” (Booklist).

Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice by Bryan Stevenson — “Lawyer and social-justice advocate Stevenson brings the topic of mass incarceration to a teen audience, urging the compassionate treatment of prisoners. Classrooms and book groups will find plenty to discuss and debate. Compassionate and compelling, Stevenson’s narrative is also unforgettable” (Booklist).

Spooked! How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America by Gail Jarrow — “Jarrow dives deep into Orson Welles’ notorious radio broadcast, the panic it sparked, and its parallels with modern media hoaxes. An enriching bridge that connects history with current events” (Booklist).



New and Continuing Series

Many of the new books we get at the library are the beginnings of exciting new series, or the next titles in established series. Here are some of the latest books available in the library that are part of a series:

The Crimes of Grindelwald: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling — Continuing the film series that started with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, The Crimes of Grindelwald finds the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald captured in New York with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escapes custody and sets about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise up pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings.

The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell — In the second book in The Last Magician series, Esta and Harte set off on a cross-country chase through time to steal back the elemental stones they need to save the future of magic. “This sequel needs a scorecard and seat belt, switching quickly between several characters and locations, and the action is fast and furious” (Booklist).

For A Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig — In this first book of a new series by Heilig (The Girl From Everywhere, The Ship Beyond Time), Jetta, a teen who possesses secret, forbidden powers, must gain access to a hidden spring and negotiate a world roiling with intrigue and the beginnings of war. “This start to a new trilogy is fast-paced and gripping while also offering readers a thoughtful commentary on the long-lasting ramifications of war and colonization” (School Library Journal starred review).

Impostors by Scott Westerfeld — While not a direct sequel to the best-selling Uglies series by Westerfeld, Impostors is set in the same world — one that is rapidly descending into chaos. Frey and Rafi are twin sisters, but few people know of Frey’s existence, because she has been raised to be her sister’s body double and lethal bodyguard, while Rafi has been raised to further the family’s political power. “Even if readers aren’t familiar with the original series, they’ll still enjoy this well-paced novel from start to finish” (Booklist).

Light Years by Kass Morgan — Ender’s Game meets The 100 at an interstellar military boarding school in this romantic new series by best-selling author Kass Morgan. After centuries of exclusivity, the Quatra Fleet Academy finally accepts students from the settler planets, forcing four teenagers from different backgrounds, with different ambitions, motives, and missions, to work together to outmaneuver a mysterious alien enemy. “The many space-combat scenarios are convincing enough to thrill ardent Trekkies. A fun, fast-paced read laced with a froth of space romance” (Kirkus Reviews).

A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs — The fourth volume in the best-selling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. After having saved the peculiar world, Jacob Portman is back in Florida with his peculiar friends, where they set out on a journey across America to discover the truth about Jacob’s grandfather. “Riggs’s latest installment is a fast-paced and compelling addition to this unique mythology. As in the previous books, found snapshot photographs illustrate the text, offering a refreshing confirmation that the Peculiars are among us — and have been all along” (School Library Journal).

Otherearth by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller — Return to the series BuzzFeed compared to Ready Player One in the second book in a new fast-paced trilogy from bestselling authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller that’s perfect for fans of HBO’s Westworld. After discovering terrifying information about Otherworld, the Company’s high-tech VR gaming experience, Simon and his friends are on the run, searching for Simon’s old roommate. He may just be the key to shutting the Company down, although if they don’t find him in time, it may be too late for not only them, but for all of humanity. “Fans will be onboard for the ride and left with just enough of an appetite for more, while newcomers will be compelled to seek out the original” (Kirkus Reviews).

Rule by Ellen Goodlett — Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars in this striking new fantasy duology from debut author Ellen Goodlett. The three secret daughters of the king of Kolonya must compete for their father’s throne, all while evading a blackmailer who threatens to reveal their darkest secrets. “An epic fantasy adventure…[with] death threats, political intrigue, and just the right amount of romance. A great purchase for libraries with strong readers and fantasy lovers” (School Library Journal).

Sunny by Jason Reynolds — In the third book in Reynolds’ best-selling Track series, Sunny, the Defenders’ best runner, only runs for his father, who blames Sunny for his mother’s death, but with his coach’s help Sunny finds a way to combine track and field with his true passion, dancing. “This series continues to provide beautiful opportunities for discussion about viewpoint, privilege, loss, diversity of experience, and exactly how much we don’t know about those around us” (Booklist starred review).

The Traitor’s Game by Jennifer A. Nielsen — In the first book of a new series by best-selling author Nielsen (Mark of the Thief, The False Prince), Kestra Dallisor has been summoned back to Antora by her father after three years in exile. When she is intercepted and kidnapped by the Coracks who want to use her to get the Olden Blade, which they believe can be used to kill the seemingly immortal king, Simon, one of the rebels with his own grudge against the Dallisors, is assigned to accompany her — but Kestra has her own plans and she does not intend to let anyone get in her way. “An otherworldly story with a side of fantasy on the surface, the setup and struggle feels universal. This is clearly the first of a series, as the ending is just the reckoning that some much larger battle is at hand” (School Library Journal).

The Traitor’s Ruin by Erin Beaty — In this second book in The Traitor’s trilogy (following The Traitor’s Kiss), the spy Sage Fowler has completed her training and is comfortably situated as the royal tutor — but only longs to be reunited with her betrothed: Captain Alex Quinn. As a way to be near to him again, she accepts a secret mission only to continuously clash with Quinn’s gruff demeanor, until they are separated and she ends up in enemy territory. “Plentiful action scenes, unflinching but never gratuitous violence, and a smoldering yet still-chaste romance should keep readers’ appetites whetted for the third installment” (Kirkus Reviews).