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The Crazy Rich Asians are crazy for these YA books

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- Written by By Ava and Amanda


 

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’ve compiled a list of which YA books the Crazy Rich Asian characters are crazy for.

 

1. Rachel Chu is crazy for OUTRUN THE MOON

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

By Stacey Lee

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2. Nick Young is crazy for YOU'D BE MINE

 You'd Be Mine by Erin Hann

Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

By Lauren Shippen

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3. Eleanor Young is crazy for IF I'M BEING HONEST

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

High school senior Cameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: bitch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school—she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her cutting and brutal honesty. So when she puts her foot in her mouth in front of her crush, Andrew, she fears she may have lost him for good. In an attempt to win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Katherine in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. First, she’ll have to make amends with those she’s wronged, which leads her to Brendan, the guy she labelled with an unfortunate nickname back in the sixth grade. At first, Brendan isn’t all that receptive to Cameron’s ploy. But slowly, he warms up to her when they connect over the computer game he’s developing. Now if only Andrew would notice… But the closer Cameron gets to Brendan, the more she sees he appreciates her personality—honesty and all—and wonders if she’s compromising who she is for the guy she doesn’t even want.

By Emily Wibberley

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4. Oliver T’sien is crazy for EARTH TO CHARLIE

Earth to Charlie by Justin Olson

A high school outcast spends his life hoping to be abducted by aliens in this funny, quirky novel about finding your footing in a world that sometimes feels like Mars.

Convinced his mother has been abducted by aliens, Charlie Dickens spends his nights with an eye out for UFOs, hoping to join her. After all, she said the aliens would come back for him. Charlie will admit that he doesn’t have many reasons to stick around; he doesn’t get along well with his father, he’s constantly bullied at school and at work, and the only friend he has is his 600-pound neighbor Geoffrey, and Geoffrey’s three-legged dog, Tickles.

Then Charlie meets popular, easy-going Seth, who shows him what real friendship is all about. For once, he finds himself looking around at the life he’s built, rather than looking up. But sooner than he expected, Charlie has to make a decision: should he stay or should he go?

By Justin Olson

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6. Peik Lin Goh loves THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT

This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

Katsuyamas never quit—but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop.

She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of.

Then her mom decides to sell the shop—to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.

By Misa Sugiura

 

7. Astrid Leong-Teo is crazy for GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

By Natasha Ngan

 

Romper Announces New Wonder Woman Graphic Novel for Tweens by Shannon and Dean Hale!

Shannon and Dean Hale, beloved authors of Princess in Black, Real Friends, Princess Academy, Spirit Animals, and many many more, announced on Romper that they've been working on a graphic novel series for a new imprint of DC comics: DC Zoom, featuring the adventures of 11 year-old Diana, before she becomes Wonder Woman! Take a look at this beautiful cover!

Diana Princess of the Amazons by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by Victoria Ying

The art is done by the magnificent Victoria Ying, who's most known for her work on the Unicorn Magic series. 

Read the Romper article for an interview with Shannon and for a look inside the book. 

Diana Princess of the Amazons hits shelves January 7th. Preorder your copy today! 

New Review! - Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

 

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Teen Advisory Board Member Ava Reviews Wild Beauty

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore

“For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.”

With elegant, stylized prose, Wild Beauty is a rare magical realism read featuring diverse characters. McLemore is renowned for her ability to paint a scene so vividly that it almost feels tangible, and this book proves why. We expect no less from her! The cast is implied to be Latinx, a refreshing sip of water from your typical straight white cast. Also, the LGBT+ representation is worth raving about. The five sisters are bisexual, and the woman they love is revealed to be genderqueer.

Also, it is worth mentioning that this book does not shy away from talking about periods, as most do. McLemore definitely puts the “real” in “magical realism!”
Wild Beauty is perfect for lovers of lush, flowery prose and those longing for diversity (basically, everyone)!

Wild Beauty is in stores now! 

It's Children's Book Week!

Children's Book Week 100th Anniversary

What is Children’s Book Week and how can you join in the celebrations?

Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading.
Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes — wherever young readers and books connect!

The 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week will take place all year long with a dedicated week of celebrations, April 29 – May 5, 2019, and another week this fall, November 4-10!

Books Inc. is proud to celebrate Children's Book Week with local and visiting authors! See our schedule below:

 

Tuesday, April 30th 

Judd Winick at Books Inc. Palo Alto

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Children's Book Week with the hilarious and talented New York Times-bestselling author & illustrator Judd Winick sharing his latest action-packed book, HiLo Book 5: Then Everything Went Wrong. (Ages 7+)

Books Inc. Palo Alto at 6:30PM

 

Wednesday, May 1st

Gareth Hinds at Books Inc. Mountain View

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Children's Book Week with acclaimed and award-winning graphic novelist Gareth Hinds sharing his masterful new adaptation, The Iliad.

Books Inc. Mountain View at 7 PM  

 

Storytime with K-Fai Steele & Andrea Tsurumi at Books Inc. Alameda

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Children's Book Week with a Storytime featuring not just one, but two critically-acclaimed special guests! Illustrator K-Fai Steele reads from her hilarious & delectable new book, Noodlephant; and Andrea Tsurumi shares her playful under-the-sea romp, Crab Cake: Turning the Tide Together. (Ages 4+)

Books Inc. Mountain View at 6 PM 

 

Saturday, May 4th 

Storytime with Christie Matheson at Books Inc. Laurel Village

Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Children's Book Week with critically-acclaimed author & illustrator Christie Matheson sharing her engaging and educational new book, Bird Watch. There are treasures hiding in the trees! Can you find them? From the author of the acclaimed and bestselling Tap the Magic Tree, this stunning picture book merges basic math concepts with elements of a treasure hunt. (Ages 4+)

Books Inc. Laurel Village at 11AM

 

Storytime with Mariam Gates at Books Inc. Campbell

elebrate the 100th Anniversary of Children's Book Week with Mariam Gates, director and founder of KidPower Yoga, for a storytime reading of her fantastic & fun new book, Breathe with Me: Using Breath to Feel Strong, Calm, and Happy. In additon to a read-aloud, Mariam will be leading a fun Yoga session! (Ages 4+)

Books Inc. Campbell at 11AM

For the Little Fans of The Avengers!

The world has been gripped by Avenger's Fever! The final installment of the Avengers' story arc, Avengers Endgame, hits theaters today, Friday April 26th! If you have little ones that love The Avengers then Random House and The Little Golden Books have you covered:

The Mighty Avengers The Might Avengers: Lights Out!
The Big Freeze by Billy Wrecks Marvel Avengers: The Threat of Thanos
Avengers Adventures 3 Books in 1! Marvel Spiderman: Night of the Vulture!
Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket to the Rescue! Marvel Thor: Thunder Strike!
The Amazing Spider Man:Trapped by the Green Goblin! Marvel Black Panther: Warriors of Wakanda

And this is just a small sample! Stop by your local Books Inc. to see what they have available for you and your little Avenger! 

Mo Willems' Thank-O-Rama-Join the Fun with Books Inc!

Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie Thank-O-Rama

 

The Thank-o-Rama! Tour is pulling up to Books Inc. in Campbell! From 4:30 to 6:30 PM, join us for a fun-filled afternoon featuring photo ops with Elephant & Piggie, a cozy Reading Corner perfect for perusing the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series, including the latest installment Harold & Hog Pretend For Real!, and a Craft Station supplied with spectacular themed activities. Plus, don't forget to spin the Thank-o-Rama Prize Wheel for a chance to win a premium prize! (Ages 5+)

Avenge the Fallen —The Fallen would’ve loved these YA books

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- Written by By Ava and Amanda


 

**SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS INFINITY WAR by MARVEL**

so unless you're like Cap below, continue at your own risk...

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We threw our popcorn at Thanos in outrage when he snapped his fingers and killed half of our beloved Avengers. (Don’t worry, the popcorn was stale. We would never waste good popcorn.) In memorial of the Fallen, we’ve compiled a list of the YA books they would’ve loved, had they still been alive. Please offer your sincere condolences by cracking open a spine. (Not literally, as that would worsen the situation.)

 

1. Black Panther would’ve loved BEASTS MADE OF NIGHT

Beasts Made of Night By Tochi Onyebuchi

In the walled city of Kos, corrupt mages can magically call forth sin from a sinner in the form of sin-beasts – lethal creatures spawned from feelings of guilt.

Taj is the most talented of the aki, young sin-eaters indentured by the mages to slay the sin-beasts. But Taj’s livelihood comes at a terrible cost. When he kills a sin-beast, a tattoo of the beast appears on his skin while the guilt of committing the sin appears on his mind. Most aki are driven mad by the process, but 17-year-old Taj is cocky and desperate to provide for his family.

When Taj is called to eat a sin of a royal, he’s suddenly thrust into the center of a dark conspiracy to destroy Kos. Now Taj must fight to save the princess that he loves – and his own life.

By Tochi Onyebuchi

 

2. Spiderman would’ve loved THE INFINITE NOISE

 The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

(Available in stores September 24th!)

Caleb Michaels is a sixteen-year-old champion running back. Other than that his life is pretty normal. But when Caleb starts experiencing mood swings that are out of the ordinary for even a teenager, his life moves beyond “typical.”

Caleb is an Atypical, an individual with enhanced abilities. Which sounds pretty cool except Caleb's ability is extreme empathy—he feels the emotions of everyone around him. Being an empath in high school would be hard enough, but Caleb's life becomes even more complicated when he keeps getting pulled into the emotional orbit of one of his classmates, Adam. Adam's feelings are big and all-consuming, but they fit together with Caleb's feelings in a way that he can't quite understand.

Caleb's therapist, Dr. Bright, encourages Caleb to explore this connection by befriending Adam. As he and Adam grow closer, Caleb learns more about his ability, himself, his therapist—who seems to know a lot more than she lets on—and just how dangerous being an Atypical can be.

By Lauren Shippen

 

3. Loki would’ve loved CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. Now we rise. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

By Tomi Adeyemi

 

4. Dr. Strange would’ve loved THE LAST MAGICIAN

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

 

5. Shuri would’ve loved THIS MORTAL COIL

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.

That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.

When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.

Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?

By Emily Suvada

 

6. The Star-Lord would’ve loved AN EMBER IN THE ASHES

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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.

By Sabaa Tahir

 

7. Gamora would’ve loved THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

Esha is a legend, but no one knows. It’s only in the shadows that she moonlights as the Viper, the rebels’ highly skilled assassin. She’s devoted her life to avenging what she lost in the royal coup, and now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.

Kunal has been a soldier since childhood, training morning and night to uphold the power of King Vardaan. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has been growing only more volatile.

Then Esha’s and Kunal’s paths cross—and an unimaginable chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces. As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both rebel and soldier must make unforgivable choices.

By Swati Teerdhala

 

8. The Scarlet Witch would’ve loved WICKED SAINTS

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings.

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

By Emily A. Duncan

 

9. Mantis would’ve loved STRANGE THE DREAMER

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

By Laini Taylor

 

10. The Winter Soldier would’ve loved MARKSWOMAN

Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra

Kyra is the youngest Markswoman in the Order of Kali, one of a handful of sisterhoods of highly trained elite warriors. Armed with blades whose metal is imbued with magic and guided by a strict code of conduct, the Orders are sworn to keep the peace and protect the people of Asiana. Kyra has pledged to do so—yet she secretly harbors a fierce desire to avenge her murdered family.

When Tamsyn, the powerful and dangerous Mistress of Mental Arts, assumes control of the Order, Kyra is forced on the run. She is certain that Tamsyn committed murder in a twisted bid for power, but she has no proof.

Kyra escapes through one of the strange Transport Hubs that are the remnants of Asiana’s long-lost past and finds herself in the unforgiving wilderness of a desert that is home to the Order of Khur, the only Order composed of men. Among them is Rustan, a disillusioned Marksman whose skill with a blade is unmatched. He understands the desperation of Kyra’s quest to prove Tamsyn’s guilt, and as the two grow closer, training daily on the windswept dunes of Khur, both begin to question their commitment to their Orders. But what they don’t yet realize is that the line between justice and vengeance is thin . . . as thin as the blade of a knife.

By Rati Mehrotra

 11. Groot would’ve loved... 

Admittedly, this is where we start to run out of ideas. Groot is a tree...

Do you have any ideas for what Groot would like?!

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Happy Poetry Month!

It's Poetry Month! Poetry is a beautiful form of creativity and expression. It tells stories in a succinct format that allows for both urgency and pause. In honor of Poetry Month, here's a short list of some of our favorite YA books written in verse. Pick one up, grab a good seat, and settle in for a couple hours. 

 

1. Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.

With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.

Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.

Note: As you can see from the medals on this cover, Poet X is the winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Michael L. Printz Award, and the Pura Belpré Award! Even more exciting, you can meet Elizabeth Acevedo at Books Inc. Opera Plaza on May 13th. It is a ticketed event, so purchase your ticket (which includes a copy of her newest novel With the Fire on High) here.

 

2. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

A cannon. A strap.
A piece. A biscuit.
A burner. A heater.
A chopper. A gat.
A hammer
A tool
for RULE

Or, you can call it a gun. That’s what fifteen-year-old Will has shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother Shawn was just murdered. And Will knows the rules. No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will’s now heading, with that gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, the gun that was his brother’s gun. He gets on the elevator, seventh floor, stoked. He knows who he’s after. Or does he? As the elevator stops on the sixth floor, on comes Buck. Buck, Will finds out, is who gave Shawn the gun before Will took the gun. Buck tells Will to check that the gun is even loaded. And that’s when Will sees that one bullet is missing. And the only one who could have fired Shawn’s gun was Shawn. Huh. Will didn’t know that Shawn had ever actually USED his gun. Bigger huh. BUCK IS DEAD. But Buck’s in the elevator? Just as Will’s trying to think this through, the door to the next floor opens. A teenage girl gets on, waves away the smoke from Dead Buck’s cigarette. Will doesn’t know her, but she knew him. Knew. When they were eight. And stray bullets had cut through the playground, and Will had tried to cover her, but she was hit anyway, and so what she wants to know, on that fifth floor elevator stop, is, what if Will, Will with the gun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans, MISSES.

And so it goes, the whole long way down, as the elevator stops on each floor, and at each stop someone connected to his brother gets on to give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows. A story that might never know an END…if WILL gets off that elevator.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

Note: If you're looking for a book you can't put down until the very end, this is for you. This book will pull you along through heart-pounding verse, one floor at a time. 

 

3. Solo by Kwame Alexander 

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he'd give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy, including the loss of his mother. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming Blade will become just like his father.

In reality, the only thing Blade and Rutherford have in common is the music that lives inside them. And songwriting is all Blade has left after Rutherford, while drunk, crashes his high school graduation speech and effectively rips Chapel away forever. But when a long-held family secret comes to light, the music disappears. In its place is a letter, one that could bring Blade the freedom and love he's been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Note: Music and poetry aren't too different so Solo weaves them together to bring you a lyrical story that navigates, death, family, and love. 

 

4. White Rose by Kip Wilson 

White Rose by Kip Wilson

A gorgeous and timely novel based on the incredible story of Sophie Scholl, a young German college student who challenged the Nazi regime during World War II as part of The White Rose, a non-violent resistance group.

Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators. This debut novel recounts the lives of Sophie and her friends and highlights their brave stand against fascism in Nazi Germany.

Note: This book is perfect for those looking for a different way to learn about history. Its a beatiful, heart-breaking window into a young woman's life and death during one of the world's darkest times.

 

5. Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

Bestselling author David Elliott explores how Joan of Arc changed the course of history and remains a figure of fascination centuries after her extraordinary life and death. Joan of Arc gets the Hamilton treatment in this evocative novel. 

Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood), Voices offers an unforgettable perspective on an extraordinary young woman. Along the way it explores timely issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.

Note: Another unique way of looking at a historical figure through her eyes, as well as people, creatures, and objects she comes in contact with. 

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