New Release Spotlight: January 15, 2019

A huge congratulations to Sarah T. from Nova Scotia, Canada for winning last week’s New Release Spotlight giveaway! Sarah chose Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus as her prize. Remember that the NRS giveaway is open internationally, so if you live outside the USA, you are welcome to enter, too! Scroll to the bottom of this week’s Spotlight to enter this week’s drawing.

How boring and bland is January? This week at school is so typical that I could practically do it in my sleep. We are in the middle of a four-week in-between period between Winter Break and our two-week Chinese New Year break. Next week, we’ll start our super-popular “Blind Date with a Book,” so I’m hoping the paper bags I ordered will arrive today. The display is all ready to go, but this time, I’m going to try wrapping the books with paper bags instead of old Scholastic catalogs. I encourage my students create Blind Dates for the display (not just from me!), and many students had a hard time with the wrapping part last year. I’m hoping they will like using paper bags better. I’ll write more about Blind Date with a Book in this week’s New Product Thursday, so stay tuned if you want details!

This week, I’ve found thirteen titles worth a look for your libraries. It’s not as exciting as last week’s list, but there are still several “purpled” titles that received two or more starred reviews. I will be adding Genesis Begins Again, 96 Words for Love, The Gilded Wolves, and Stain to my next book order. I also think Echo North will do well with my Shiver fans.

NOTE: Titles start with YA and go down in age to picture books at the end. Scroll to the bottom for sequels. Titles highlighted in purple are those that received two or more starred professional reviews.

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Stain (A.G. Howard)

After Lyra–a princess incapable of speech or sound–is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest . . . disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight–for she is his true equal. At a whopping 519 pages, this is a standalone novel, no series.

PAGES: 519
GENRES: fantasy
THEMES: found families, inner beauty
READALIKES: Roseblood (Howard), The Glass Spare (Destefano)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Detailed worldbuilding and an intricate setup slow the start of this reimagining of “The Princess and the Pea,” but Howard (the Splintered series) ultimately rewards readers with an emotionally complex tale of fate, inner beauty, and found family that illustrates the strength of love born from friendship.” (Publishers Weekly Annex, 7 Jan 2019)

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Our Year of Maybe (Rachel Lynn Solomon)

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein, eighteen, wonders if seventeen-year-old Peter Rosenthal-Porter, gifted pianist, best friend, and secret crush, will love her back after receiving her kidney. But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie, too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist.

PAGES: 368
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: organ transplants, friendship, bisexuality, musicians
READALIKES: You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone (Solomon), Leah on the Offbeat (Albertalli)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “The story is one of the heart rather than action and the joys and frustrations of discovering oneself are skillfully communicated to readers.” (SLJ, 1 Nov 2018)

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Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday (Natalie C. Anderson)

When Abdi’s family is kidnapped, he’s forced to do the unthinkable: become a child soldier with the ruthless jihadi group Al Shabaab. In order to save the lives of those he loves, and earn their freedom, Abdi agrees to be embedded as a spy within the militia’s ranks and to send dispatches on their plans to the Americans. The jihadists trust Abdi immediately because his older brother, Dahir, is already one of them, protege to General Idris, aka the Butcher. If Abdi’s duplicity is discovered, he will be killed.

PAGES: 464
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: war, refugees, suicide bombers, Africa
READALIKES: City of Saints and Thieves (Anderson), They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky (Ajak)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This is a riveting account of young people living through violence which successfully illustrates the nuance of intent among the jihadi fighters. Greed, guilt, and redemption are layered in a sober yet tender narrative showing the lengths one will go to for loved ones.” (Kirkus, 15 Dec 2018)

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The Gilded Wolves (Roshani Chokshi)

The Gilded Wolves, book 1. Paris, 1889: In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Severin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Severin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance. To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Severin will need help from a band of experts. Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris.

PAGES: 388
GENRES: fantasy, historical fiction
THEMES: heists, secrets, friendship, colonialism
READALIKES: Six of Crows (Bardugo), Railhead (Reeve)
STARS AND AWARDS: FOUR STARRED REVIEWS! Booklist starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starredKirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Kaleidoscopic narration complements the intricate, high-stakes plot and allows Chokshi to showcase numerous aspects of her richly imagined universe all the way to the closing cliff-hanger.” (Publishers Weekly, 22 Oct 2018)

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Famous in a Small Town (Emma Mills)

For Sophie, small town life has never felt small. With her four best friends–loving, infuriating, and all she could ever ask for–she can weather any storm. But when Sophie’s beloved Acadia High School marching band is selected to march in the upcoming Rose Parade, it’s her job to get them all the way to LA. Her plan? To persuade country singer Megan Pleasant, their Midwestern town’s only claim to fame, to come back to Acadia to headline a fundraising festival. The only problem is that Megan has very publicly sworn never to return.

PAGES: 315
GENRES: romance, realistic fiction
THEMES: friendship, heartbreak
READALIKES: Jesse’s Girl (Kenneally)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A late-breaking twist, while somewhat out of sync with the rest of the narrative, doesn’t diminish the truly genuine, humorous heart of the novel. A comfortable, readable tale of deep friendship, small towns, and big love in all its guises.” (Booklist, 15 Nov 2018)

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Echo North (Joanna Ruth Meyer)

Echo’s carefully structured world falls apart after her father leaves for the city and mysteriously disappears. Believing he is lost forever, Echo is shocked to find him half-frozen in the winter forest six months later, guarded by a strange talking wolf-the same creature who attacked her as a child. The wolf presents Echo with an offer: for her to come and live with him for a year. But there is more to the wolf than Echo realizes, including a history she can’t remember.

PAGES: 400
GENRES: fantasy
THEMES: family, wolves, curses, romance
READALIKES: Shiver (Stiefvater), East (Pattou)
STARS AND AWARDS: Publishers Weekly starred, Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Meyer (Beneath the Haunting Sea) refreshes the familiar framework with additional fairy tale elements-‘Cupid and Psyche,’ ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ and ‘Tam Lin’ among them-producing a compelling, satisfying romantic adventure with metafictional undertones.” (Publishers Weekly, 22 Oct 2018)

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96 Words for Love (Rachel Roy and Ava Dash)

A modern retelling of the classic Indian legend of Shakuntala and Dushyanta. Ever since her acceptance to UCLA, 17-year-old Raya Liston has been quietly freaking out. She feels simultaneously lost and trapped by a future already mapped out for her. Then her beloved grandmother dies, and Raya jumps at the chance to spend her last free summer at the ashram in India where her grandmother met and fell in love with her grandfather. Raya hopes to find her center and her true path. But she didn’t expect to fall in love… with a country of beautiful contradictions, her fiercely loyal cousin, a local girl with a passion for reading, and a boy who teaches her that in Sanskrit, there are 96 different ways to say the word “love.”

PAGES: 320
GENRES: romance, retelling, realistic fiction
THEMES: coming of age, Indian folklore, India, human trafficking
READALIKES: From Twinkle, With Love (Menon), Love, Hate and Other Filters (Ahmed), Karma Khullar’s Mustache (Wientge) (middle school readers)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Unlike in most books about diaspora, Raya’s Indian relatives support her, guiding her through conflict rather than creating it. A beautifully crafted, truly feminist coming-of-age story featuring nuanced characters in a unique setting.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Nov 2018)

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The Whispers (Greg Howard)

Debut author! Eleven-year-old Riley believes in the whispers, magical fairies that will grant you wishes if you leave them tributes. Riley has a lot of wishes. He wishes bullies at school would stop picking on him. He wishes Dylan, his 8th grade crush, liked him, and Riley wishes he would stop wetting the bed. But most of all, Riley wishes for his mom to come back home. She disappeared a few months ago, and Riley is determined to crack the case.

PAGES: 252
GENRES: mystery
THEMES: identity, LGBTQIA, grief, intolerance, bullying
READALIKES: Lily & Dunkin (Gephart), The Goldfish Boy (Thompson), Falling Over Sideways (Sonnenblick)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This touching, often wry novel offers a memorable psychological puzzle and explores grief and acceptance.” (Publishers Weekly, 12 Nov 2018)

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Genesis Begins Again (Alicia D. Williams)

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant–even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.

PAGES: 384
GENRES: realistic fiction
THEMES: racial prejudice, poverty, gambling, addiction
READALIKES: The Skin I’m In (Flake), Dark Girls (Duke)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly Annex starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This book may bring readers to tears as they root for Genesis to finally have the acceptance she craves—but from herself rather than anyone else. It’s a story that may be all too familiar for too many and one that needed telling.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Nov 2018)

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China: A History (Cheryl Bardoe)

Young readers learn about prehistoric China, follow the reign of emperors and dynasties, and come to understand how China became the world power that it is today. The book also explores the role of children and women in everyday life as well as how religion, politics, and economics shaped the deep traditions and dynamic changes of modern China.

PAGES: 176
GENRES: nonfiction
THEMES: China, history
READALIKES: The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl (Yan, Haski), Revolution is Not a Dinner Party (Compestine), TITLE (AUTHOR)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A bit dry for casual readers but nonetheless an excellent resource and a beautifully presented, nuanced introduction to pre-20th-century Chinese history.” (Kirkus, 1 Oct 2018)

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Jack Montgomery: World War II: Gallantry at Anzio (Michael P. Spradlin)

Jack C. Montgomery was a Cherokee from Oklahoma, and a first lieutenant with the 45th Infantry Division Thunderbirds. On February 22, 1944, near Padiglione, Italy, Montgomery’s rifle platoon was under fire by three echelons of enemy forces when he single-handedly attacked all three positions, neutralizing the German machine-gunners and taking numerous prisoners in the process. Montgomery’s actions demoralized the enemy and saved the lives of many American soldiers.

PAGES: 112
GENRES: narrative nonfiction, biography
THEMES: World War II, war, Native Americans, military
READALIKES: The Enemy Above: A Novel of World War II (Michael P. Spradlin), Projekt 1065 (Gratz)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “Part of a new series about Medal of Honor recipients—its companion book highlights Ryan Pitts’ exploits in Afghanistan—this effort delivers a Corps-load of facts about Montgomery’s life, the 45th Infantry, and WWII itself.” (Kirkus, 1 Dec 2018)

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Dragon Pearl (Yoon Ha Lee)

Thirteen-year-old Min comes from a long line of fox spirits, but you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times. Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

PAGES: 320
GENRES: fantasy, science fiction, space opera
THEMES: Korean mythology,
READALIKES: Aru Shah and the End of Time (Chokshi), The Storm Runner (Cervantes)
STARS AND AWARDS: Kirkus starred, Publishers Weekly starred, SLJ starred

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “A high-octane, science-fiction thriller painted with a Korean brush and a brilliant example of how different cultures can have unique but accessible cosmology and universal appeal.” (Kirkus starred review, 15 Sept 2018)

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Chicken Talk (Patricia MacLachlan)

This could be a good way to introduce persuasive writing. The chickens on the farm have a message for their farm owners! They’re tired of arugula salad, how about putting a fan in their hot coop, and HEY–watch out for that snake in your tent. As the children walk around their beloved farm, they discover more and more chicken talk scratched into the dirt. The family can hardly believe it. What will the chickens possibly say next!?

GENRES: picture book, humor
THEMES: farms, farm animals
READALIKES: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (Cronin), The Trouble With Chickens (Cronin)

WHAT THE REVIEWS SAY: “This story, suitable for group sharing, will engage readers and could lead to a hunt for clues about the true source of the messages.” (SLJ, 1 Jan 2019)

This week’s sequels (YA):

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