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Books Inc. Kids Review - I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings

I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, Shelagh McNicholas (Illustrator)
Publication Date: September  4th, 2014
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: Picture Book - Special Issues
Ages: 4-8

The story of a transgender child based on the real-life experience of Jazz Jennings, who has become a spokesperson for transkids everywhere
"This is an essential tool for parents and teachers to share with children whether those kids identify as trans or not. I wish I had had a book like this when I was a kid struggling with gender identity questions. I found it deeply moving in its simplicity and honesty."--Laverne Cox (who plays Sophia in "Orange Is the New Black")
From the time she was two years old, Jazz knew that she had a girl's brain in a boy's body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn't feel like herself in boys' clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz's story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.

I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz is what all "special issues" books should be. Clear and straightforward yet breezy and fun, this book tells the story of a transgender child. Jazz is a girl caught in a boy's body and she tells her story without preaching. Her friends and family love her but think she should dress as a boy when she's in public. With the help of a good doctor, her parents begin to understand and even her school lets her play on the girls futbol team. The illustrations by Shelagh McNichols are pink and pretty and perfect for this story.
It will be tough on Jazz as she gets older but, for now, she is a healthy and happy little girl.
Reviewed by Elizabeth from Books Inc. Alameda

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Giveaway - TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS by Leila Sales

Leila Sales is coming to NYMBC to celebrate the release of THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE in paperback and we're getting excited!!
To help Leila with her celebration, we're giving away THREE ARCs of TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS!
Check out the deets below and enter for your chance to win!

The Deets:
* Three lucky winnera will receive an ARC of TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS!
* Entries must be submitted through the Rafflecopter form.
* Must be 13 or older to enter.
* Prize will be shipped via UPS, PO Box addresses not accepted.
* We are not responsible for any lost, stolen, or damaged packages.
* Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to respond.
* Prize will be shipped in 2 weeks - a month.


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Highly Anticipating - Novice by Taran Matharu & Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

The Novice by Taran Matharu
Expected Publication Date: May 5th, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Page Count: 368 pages

He can summon demons. But can he win a war?
Fletcher is working as a blacksmith's apprentice when he discovers he has the rare ability to summon demons from another world. Chased from his village for a crime he did not commit, Fletcher must travel with his demon, Ignatius, to an academy for adepts, where the gifted are taught the art of summoning.
Along with nobles and commoners, Fletcher endures grueling lessons that will prepare him to serve as a Battlemage in the Empire's war against the savage Orcs. But sinister forces infect new friendships and rivalries grow. With no one but Ignatius by his side, Fletcher must decide where his loyalties lie. The fate of the Empire is in his hands.

Why we can't wait: A blacksmith who can summon demons?! This just sounds too good to be true. Also, Orcs? Yeah, we're in.


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Expected Publication Date: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Page Count: 272 pages

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it "a deadpan epic."

Nemeses Dragons Science Symbolism All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

Why we can't wait: We LOVE Lumberjanes over here at Books Inc. and we're so excited for this awesome debut from cowriter, Noelle Stevenson!!! Comics? Check. Girl power? Check. This just sounds AMAZING!

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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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