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Current Obsession - Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
Expected Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 224 pages

Fans of Polly Horvath or Roald Dahl will love this quirky story of a determined girl, and some extraordinary chickens.
Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they've inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the "entire" henhouse....
And then more of her great-uncle's unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.
Told in letters to Sophie's "abuela, " quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, "Unusual Chickens" is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

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Current Obsession - An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Expected Publication Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Page count: 464 pages

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.
Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire's impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They've seen what happens to those who do.
But when Laia's brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire's greatest military academy.
There, Laia meets Elias, the school's finest soldier--and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he's being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined--and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Yes, we're currently completely obsessed with An Ember in the Ashes and you should be too! It's fascinating, beautifully written, and heartbreaking with a well-developed world. Reading this on the train is dangerous. On more than one occasion I almost missed my stop. Also, crying in public gets you a lot of strange looks...

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Author Interview with Renee Ahdieh!!

Renee Ahdieh is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs, and college basketball. The first few years of her life were spent in a high-rise in South Korea; consequently, Renee enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog. She is the author ofThe Wrath and the Dawn.







1. You’ve taken the classic tale of Arabian Nights, thrown in some Beauty and the Beast and put your own twist on it. How difficult is it to take something that’s so well known and make it your own?
I definitely found it daunting at first. But something my agent said to me early on really stuck with me and helped me push through—she said I was too close to the source material and that I needed to take a step back and make it my own. In general, I think there is a lot of pressure on people to perform to a certain standard, regardless of their chosen profession. It helps a great deal to realize that the only standard you should be measuring yourself by is your own—how well can you write this particular story? Does your work do you justice?

2. Khalid, the boy-king is such a deep character. How much time did you spend developing his character? Was there ever a time you tried to mold him into something different that just didn’t work for you or your story?
Thank you so much for saying so! I really enjoyed developing Khalid as a character. One of the first things I do even before I begin plotting a story is spend time creating character arcs. I make a web for each main character, and I put specific traits I’d like that character to embody around that character’s name. Since Khalid was such an important part of the narrative, I did spend a large amount of time developing him as a character. There were a few times in the story where I wanted him to do or say things that didn’t quite fit with how I’d developed him, but I was always able to go back to the initial web I’d created and remind myself of his specific traits. So that was extremely helpful.

3. What inspired your decision to write this story?
Many things inspired me to write this book, but two things in particular always stick out to me. The first is my husband’s family. They’re Persian, and the story of Scheherazade is actually Persian in origin. My in-laws have beautiful pieces of art and tapestry all throughout their home, and I always wanted to write a story to reflect the beauty of their culture and the richness of its history. The second source of inspiration was my own upbringing. As a child of mixed race, I was constantly searching for narratives highlighting different backgrounds. So I knew when it was time for me to write a story, I wanted to write one that brought a different world to life for younger readers.

4. While Khorasan doesn’t exist anymore (it was located near Iran and Afghanistan) it was a real place. How much of your Khorasan is based off of the ancient area? What kind of research did you have to do?
Since I knew I wanted to base my fantasy world on ancient Persia, I did a good bit of research into Persian history to develop the world in THE WRATH AND THE DAWN. Both Khorasan and Parthia were names for parts of what is now present-day Iran. Much of the geography in the book is rooted in history, but I’ve definitely taken some liberty with it!

5. If The Wrath and the Dawn were made into a film, who would you like to see cast?
This is such a fun question! Of course I have some favorite actors and actresses in mind, but since the book is actually being shopped for film, I think I’ll keep silent on that for now. The most important thing for me—if the book were made into a film—would be that the actors/actresses cast adequately reflected the diversity written into the book.

6. What’s your go-to method for getting yourself out of writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writer’s block. But I do believe in writing oneself into a corner. For me, that usually means I’m forcing myself to write something that isn’t organic. The best thing to do is to take a step back to either find a new source of inspiration or re-evaluate what it is I’m doing. I can always put something on the page. Sometimes it’s terrible and needs to be discarded in its entirety, but I can always write something. I don’t, however, believe you should force yourself to write something that isn’t working for you. If you can’t write the story you’re working on, write something else. And if you need a break, take a break.

7. Who was your favorite character to write? Your least favorite?
My favorite character to write was probably Khalid. I also really enjoyed writing Shazi. I didn’t have a least favorite character, but writing Jahandar was difficult at times because he was such a sad character, both inside and out.

8. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
An insane plotter. Seriously. My plots are biblically long.

9. Coffee or tea?
Tea. Always tea.

10. Favorite movie? TV show? Band?
Movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Singin’ in the Rain; TV show: Sherlock, Game of Thrones, Empire, Avatar: The Last Airbender; Band: Metallica, Explosions in the Sky, M83, Radiohead, Bassnectar

A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by "A Thousand and One Nights"
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi's wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she's falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

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Highly Anticipating - Sea Rex by Molly Idle & Unicorn on a Roll by Dana Simpson

Sea Rex by Molly Idle
Expected Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 40 pages
Ages: 3-6

What could that be

down in the sea?

Is it a fish?

A snail?

A mermaid's tail?

No, it's bigger than that . . .

a LOT bigger . . .

it's Sea Rex

Join Cordelia and her crestacious companions as they spend a memorable day at the beach, as only dinosaurs can do

Why we can't wait: We LOVE Molly's books at Books Inc. and this is going to be THE PERFECT book for summer vacation!

Unicorn on a Roll: Another Phoeve and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson
Expected Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Page Count: 224 pages
Ages: 8-12

The magical friendship of Phoebe and her best friend, unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, is back in this second adventure of a girl and her mythical creature
One year has passed since Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond, accidentally hit a unicorn in the face, and was granted a single wish--which she used to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. In some ways, not much has changed. At school Phoebe still clashes with her rival--and sometimes "frenemy"--the ever-taunting and imperious Dakota. Outside of school, she still fills her free time with extra-credit homework assignments, dramatic monologues about the injustices associated with school cliques, and imaginative conspiracy theories regarding global forces like the "powerful construction paper lobby." But unlike before, Phoebe now has a best friend to share it with--someone to make her laugh and to listen to all her extravagant ideas.
In this second volume of "Heavenly Nostrils," titled, "Unicorn on a Roll," the reader is invited on a journey into the lives of Phoebe and Marigold as they navigate the difficulties of grade school, celebrate the winter holidays, and explore their super hero/super villain personas together. Join in the fun, as Phoebe competes against Dakota for the leading role of "Lisa Ladybug" in their fourth-grade play--or as she struggles to "manage" the PR debacle related to her nose-picking-scandal. ("I will neither confirm nor deny the events surrounding Boogergate.") Witness a band of unicorns staging an "intervention" and learn all the details of Marigold's secret crush on a mysterious creature she has never seen. Perhaps most important, watch as this surprising friendship between a charming, nine-year-old dreamer and a vain, mythical beast forever changes both of them for the better.

Why we can't wait: Yes, Phoebe and Her Unicorn was probably one of our favorite books last year and WE CAN'T WAIT for more Marigold Heavenly Nostrils! Cay you?!

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Highly Anticipating - Cage by Megan Shepherd & Rook by Sharon Cameron

The Cage by Megan Shepherd
Expected Publication Date: May 26th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Page Count: 400 pages

The Maze Runner meets Scott Westerfeld in this gripping new series about teens held captive in a human zoo by an otherworldly race. From Megan Shepherd, the acclaimed author of The Madman's Daughter trilogy.

When Cora Mason wakes in a desert, she doesn't know where she is or who put her there. As she explores, she finds an impossible mix of environments--tundra next to desert, farm next to jungle, and a strangely empty town cobbled together from different cultures--all watched over by eerie black windows. And she isn't alone.

Four other teenagers have also been taken: a beautiful model, a tattooed smuggler, a secretive genius, and an army brat who seems to know too much about Cora's past. None of them have a clue as to what happened, and all of them have secrets. As the unlikely group struggles for leadership, they slowly start to trust each other. But when their mysterious jailer--a handsome young guard called Cassian--appears, they realize that their captivity is more terrifying than they could ever imagine: Their captors aren't from Earth. And they have taken the five teenagers for an otherworldly zoo--where the exhibits are humans.

As a forbidden attraction develops between Cora and Cassian, she realizes that her best chance of escape might be in the arms of her own jailer--though that would mean leaving the others behind. Can Cora manage to save herself and her companions? And if so . . . what world lies beyond the walls of their cage?

Why we can't wait: We absolutely LOVED The Madman's Daughter and her new book sounds FANTASTIC!!! We love the concept of being trapped in a zoo and having to escape!


Rook by Sharon Cameron
Expected Publication Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Scholastic
Page Count: 464 pages

A remarkable and utterly inventive novel bursting with intrigue and romance, from Sharon Cameron, acclaimed author of THE DARK UNWINDING, which USA TODAY called "spellbindingly imaginative."
Centuries after a shifting of the Earth's poles, the Sunken City that was once Paris is in the grips of a revolution. All who oppose the new regime are put to the blade, except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?
Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy's arranged marriage to the wealthy Rene Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiance is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.
As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and Rene find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.
Daring intrigue, delicious romance, and spine-tingling suspense fill the pages of this extraordinary tale from award-winning author Sharon Cameron.

Why we can't wait: The concept of this just sounds AMAZING! Also, a little birdie told us David Levithan is a HUGE fan!!! So obvi we have to read it.

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Riley’s Moon

In Marian Palaia’s debut, The Given World, we glimpse a somber but beautiful roadmap through one woman’s heartbreak.  After Riley’s brother goes MIA in Vietnam, she tries to numb herself with sex, drugs and drinking.
I can’t use mescaline (one of Riley’s drugs of choice) because the authorities frown on it, so I used mescal instead – that and a little black vodka to mimic the night sky, some mint-infused simple syrup to smooth any rough edges, and a cocktail onion in place of the moon.

Riley’s Moon
2 oz. Blavod Black Vodka
1 oz. Mescal
.25 oz. Mint-infused Simple Syrup
Cocktail onion for garnish

Stir all with ice.  
Strain into chilled glass.  
Garnish with the moon.

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