New Release Spotlight: October 15, 2019 (Part I, YA)

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Another whopper New Release Spotlight that I’m–once again!–breaking up into separate sections for YA, middle grades, and picture books. If you are looking for the middle grade or picture book lists, the links are available at the bottom of this post.

For the YA list, there are two books that look particularly interesting to me. The first is Fireborne, a debut fantasy novel that combines high action with dragons with political revolution. I haven’t read a high fantasy novel in awhile (I think the last one might have been The Cruel Prince, way back in January), so I’m long overdue for a gripping, action-packed fantasy.

The second book that I’m sure to read is Accused!: The Trials of the Scottsboro Boys: Lies, Prejudice, and the Fourteenth Amendment. I read a lot of social justice nonfiction on audiobook, so it’s just a matter of time before I get this one on Audible.

*War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi

The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky. In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.

Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together. And they’re willing to fight an entire war to get there.

Booklist and Publishers Weekly starred. Give this to fans of Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.

  • Genre(s): science fiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 9-12
  • Themes: cyborgs, Nigeria, post-apocalypse, war, sisters, colonization

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Debut author! A secret beats inside Anna Thatcher’s chest: An illegal clockwork heart. Anna works cog by cog–donning the moniker Technician–to supply black market medical technology to the sick and injured, against the Commissioner’s tyrannical laws. Nathaniel Fremont, the Commissioner’s son, has never had to fear the law. Determined to earn his father’s respect, Nathaniel sets out to capture the Technician. But the more he learns about the outlaw, the more he questions whether his father’s elusive affection is worth chasing at all.

Reviews praise the world-building in this novel, but some also mention a plot that drags in places. To me, that means this is better for strong sci-fi and fantasy readers than it would be for reluctant readers. Give this to students who loved Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series.

  • Genre(s): science fiction, steampunk, dystopia
  • Recommended for: Grades 8-12
  • Themes: medical ethics, #ownvoices, crime, space opera, LGBT

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance, Ali and Chase fall for each other.

But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she thought she knew.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, romance
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: Asian-Americans, Taiwan, Asian folklore, prejudice and discrimination, family secrets, Indiana, arranged marriage

*Fireborne by Rosaria Munda

Debut author! Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal revolution changed their world, giving everyone–even the lowborn–a chance to test into the governing class of dragonriders.

Now they are both rising stars in the new regime, despite backgrounds that couldn’t be more different. Annie’s lowborn family was executed by dragonfire, while Lee’s aristocratic family was murdered by revolutionaries. Growing up in the same orphanage forged their friendship, and seven years of training have made them rivals for the top position in the dragonriding fleet. But everything changes when survivors from the old regime surface, bent on reclaiming the city.

Four starred reviews! Give this to fans of Kagawa’s Talon Saga.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 7-12
  • Themes: dragons, caste systems, gender roles

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon–until one sister’s betrayal split their world in two. A Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in eternal night, the other scorched beneath an ever-burning sun.

While one sister rules the frozen fortress of Aranth, her twin rules the sand-locked Golden City–each with a daughter by their side. Now those young goddesses must set out on separate, equally dangerous journeys in hopes of healing their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.

Though The Never Tilting World didn’t receive any starred reviews, professional reviewers praise its strong world-building, character development, and multi-faceted plot. It’s the first book in a planned duology.

  • Genre(s): fantasy
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: twins, sisters, LGBT, alternating perspectives

Jackpot by Nic Stone

Meet Rico: high school senior and afternoon-shift cashier at the Gas ‘n’ Go, who after school and work races home to take care of her younger brother. Every. Single. Day. When Rico sells a jackpot-winning lotto ticket, she thinks maybe her luck will finally change, but only if she–with some assistance from her popular and wildly rich classmate Zan–can find the ticket holder who hasn’t claimed the prize. But what happens when have and have-nots collide?

Inanimate objects narrate some chapters–how cool is that? Pair this with Jennifer E. Smith’s Windfall.

  • Genre(s): realistic fiction, humor
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: poverty, lottery, teens with jobs, single parents, social class, privilege, discrimination

*Accused!: The Trials of the Scottsboro Boys: Lies, Prejudice, and the Fourteenth Amendment by Larry Dane Brimner

There’s no doubt in my mind that I will read this soon; it’s is exactly the kind of nonfiction I love reading on audiobook. Booklist and Kirkus starred.

In 1931, nine teenagers were arrested as they traveled on a train through Scottsboro, Alabama. The youngest was thirteen, and all had been hoping to find something better at the end of their journey. But they never arrived. Instead, two white women falsely accused them of rape. The effects were catastrophic for the young men, who came to be known as the Scottsboro Boys. Being accused of raping a white woman in the Jim Crow south almost certainly meant death, either by a lynch mob or the electric chair. The Scottsboro boys found themselves facing one prejudiced trial after another, in one of the worst miscarriages of justice in U.S. history.

  • Genre(s): narrative nonfiction
  • Recommended for: Grades 8+
  • Themes: Jim Crow laws, civil rights, false accusations, crime, racism, Scottsboro trial, criminal justice system, 14th Amendment



green forest background with New Release Spotlight overlay  cover image--New Release Spotlight--Middle Grades--Oct. 15, 2019  Cover image--New Release Spotlight--Young Adult--Oct. 15, 2019


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