Patina - Jason Reynolds

Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasons—to escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school she’s been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY she’s not able to live with her “real” mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her mom’s legs will one day take her away forever. So Patty’s also running for her mom, who can’t. But can you ever really run away from any of this? As the stress builds up, it’s building up a pretty bad attitude as well. Coach won’t tolerate bad attitude. No day, no way. And now he wants Patty to run relay…where you have to depend on other people? How’s she going to do THAT?
"My name is Patina Jones. And I ain't no junk. I also ain't no hair flipper. And most of the girls at Chester Academy are hair flippers who be looking at me like my mom some kind of junk maker. But ain't not of them got guts to co…

They Both Die at the End - Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.

My track record with Adam Silvera's Books: More Happy Than Not = ALL THE TEARSHistory Is All You Left Me = ALL THE TEARSThey Both Die at the End = well, I'm sure you can guess
I know that reading books with not altogether happy endings is not everyone's cup of tea, so I must be a glutton for punishment because I keep picking up Silvera's books anyway! I mean, his titles really give away the more tragic components of each work, but this one in particular says a lot, and though you may be tempted to hope that it's exagge…

The Art of Starving - Sam J. Miller

TW: Eating Disorder; Self-Starvation**

Matt hasn’t eaten in days.
His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.
Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.
So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe?
Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of h…

The Pants Project - Cat Clarke

Whoever wrote the uniform policy decided (whyyy?) that girls had to wear skirts, while boys were allowed to wear pants.

Sexist. Dumb. Unfair.

“Girls must wear a black, pleated, knee-length skirt.”

I bet I read those words a hundred times during summer vacation. The problem wasn’t the last word in that sentence. Skirt wasn’t really the issue, not for me.
The issue was the first word. Girls.

Here’s the thing:
I may seem like a girl, but on the inside, I’m a boy.

So, from the sounds of the excerpt on the jacket copy, this sounds like it's going to be a book about a trans boy, but I have to say if that's what you're hoping for, you may be disappointed. Other than a smattering of descriptive moments (which sound more like authorial interruptions than inner monologue), the overall story is much more focused on overthrowing the school's dress code rather than Liv exploring what it means to be a trans boy.
The narrative voice sounds much more butch grade-six-girl than anything, as th…

Because You Love to Hate Me - Aviie (Editor)

In this rather bizarre, but ultimately worthwhile collection of stories about villains, readers will have the opportunity to explore backstories of known and unknown "evil" characters alike, all of whom are given realistic motivations for their own existence in the world. Without demonizing anyone, these individual stories explore motivations, histories, and family drama that lead to choices which we, as readers, often label as "evil" or "villainous." For instance, did you ever think Medusa could have a good reason for being so pissed off? Or that there might be a reason why a drug lord has killed off a LOT of people around a large urban centre? Or what about the backstory of beauty and the beast? This is a gorgeous collection of stories from a series of truly talented authors. Check it out!!


Kaleidoscope Song - Fox Benwell

Fifteen year old Neo loves music, it punctuates her life and shapes the way she views the world. A life in radio is all she’s ever wanted. When Umzi Radio broadcasts live in a nearby bar Neo can’t resist. She sneaks out to see them, and she falls in love, with music, and the night, but also with a girl: Tale has a voice like coffee poured into a bright steel mug, and she commands the stage.

It isn’t normal. Isn’t right. Neo knows that she’s supposed to go to school and get a real job and find a nice young boy to settle down with. It’s written everywhere – in childhood games, and playground questions, in the textbooks, in her parents’ faces. But Tale and music are underneath her skin, and try as she might, she can’t stop thinking about them.

Warning: Spoilers  /  TW: Corrective rape, physical abuse
This book is hard. I want to say I love it, but that seems like the wrong word for a novel that touches on such intense topics (physical abuse, excommunication, corrective rape, death), and yet…

The Artsy Mistake Mystery - Sylvia McNicoll

Outdoor art is disappearing all over the neighbourhood! From elaborate Halloween decorations to the Stream of Dreams fish display across the fence at Stephen and Renée’s school, it seems no art is safe. Renée’s brother, Attila, has been cursing those model fish since he first had to make them as part of his community service. So everyone thinks Attila is behind it when they disappear. But, grumpy teen though he is, Attila can do no wrong in Renée’s eyes, so she enlists Stephen’s help to catch the real criminal.
In this fast-paced comedy of errors, sometimes silly and sometimes serious mistakes are recorded in meticulous detail by our crime-solving narrator, Stephen. Together with his friend Renée, Stephen inadvertently becomes the primary investigator when Renées brother is considered to be the prime suspect in the theft of a series of painted fish that used to hang on the fence outside of a local school. As one miscommunication after another ends up leading them in the right direction…

Picturebooks Roundup (Part 4)

Picturebook Favorites [Part IV]  ALA (2017)
Where Are You?  Sarah Williamson
"Where are you?" asks the green worm. "I am here!" replies to the pink worm.  But can you see where the pink worm is? In the tradition of hide-and-seek storytelling, this seemingly simple story will keep youngsters engaged right from page one. Simple shapes, delightful textures, and bright, solid colours make this book highly appealing to those with a visual aptitude!
(Already Available - Knopf BFYR)

The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid  Jeanette Winter
Jeanette Winter tells the story of Zaha Hadid, a female, muslim architect who refused to play by the rules. She wanted her buildings to mimic nature: the waving grass, sea shells, and desert sand dunes that she saw around her. This inspirational true story is one that children and adults alike can hold close to spark their own imaginations and hopefully keep the work of Hadid alive.
(08/22/2017 - Beach Lane)

A Pocket Full of …

Picturebooks Roundup (Part 3)

Picturebook Favorites [Part III]  ALA (2017)
Not Quite Narwhal  Jessie Sima
This book is hard to describe without using the word "sparkly" a lot. It is so vibrant and colorful, the images leap off the page. Sima's story is adorable, but has depth as our cute little protagonist works to find out where in the world he belongs. Is he a Narwhal because he was raised by them? Or is he a Unicorn because he looks and plays like them? A sweet read aloud, for any age!
(Already Available - Simon & Schuster)

LIFE  Cynthia Rylant (Author) and Brendan Wenzel (Illustrator)
Life is big, bold, and beautiful, and sometimes a little bit scary. All of life's awesome wonder is expressed radiantly through Wenzel's artistic experimentation. Every animal expresses joy in its given environment, every vista boldly displayed in its full glory. Rylant's elegant prose is paired perfectly with every image. This is truly a work to savor!
(Already Available - Beach Lane)

a small blue whale  Beth …

Picturebooks Roundup (Part 2)

Picturebook Favorites [Part II]  ALA (2017)
La La La  Kate DiCamillo (Author) and Jaime Kim (Illustrator)
A beautiful story of hope and personal exploration told through a simple, repeated refrain, and accompanied by incredible illustrations rendered in a combination of black and white and vibrant color. You won't want this wonderful little book to end!
(10/03/2017 - Candlewick Press)

Love, Triangle  Marcie Colleen (Author) and Bob Shea (Illustrator)
Told through a delightful combination of word play and geometric imagery, Love, Triangle is a hilarious story of friendship and the complications that ensue when a new arrival comes into the picture. As circle and square compete for triangle's attention, Shea's illustrations perfectly capture the and exaggerate their shenanigans.
(10/03/2017 - Balzer + Bray)

Read the Book, Lemmings!  Ame Dyckman (Author) and Zachariah OHora (Illustrator)
Why won't the lemmings read the book‽ Don't they know lemmings don't jump off of cliffs‽ T…

Picturebooks Roundup (Part 1)

Picturebook Favorites [Part I] ALA (2017)
Claymates  Dev Petty (Author) and Lauren Eldridge (Illustrator)
Metafiction at it's finest, this hilarious picturebook features two clay creations playing around with an artist's tools, turning themselves into increasingly bizarre and silly shapes. What a bunch of trouble-makers! What will the artist think when she gets back to her studio?!
(Little, Brown - 06/20/2017)
Little Penguin and the Lollipop Tadgh Bentley
When Little Penguin eats his friend's lollipop, he feels bad and tries to make things better, but he just can't seem to figure out what to do (even a hug doesn't work!) Funny faces and silly escapades abound as Little Penguin tries everything he can think of to make up for his bad behavior. He's certainly learned his lesson: Never take a lollipop from a seagull!
(Balzer + Bray - 10/03/2017)
That is My Dream Langston Hughes (Author) and Daniel Miyares (Illustrator)
Langston Hughes' incredible poetry (Dream Variation) i…

Ashes to Asheville - Sarah Dooley

After Mama Lacy's death, Fella was forced to move in with her grandmother, Mrs. Madison. The move brought Fella all sorts of comforts she wasn't used to at home, but it also meant saying goodbye to her sister Zoey (a.k.a. Zany) and her other mother, Mama Shannon. Though Mama Shannon fought hard to keep Fella, it was no use. Already heartbroken, Fella soon finds herself alone in Mrs. Madison's house, grieving both the death of her mother and the loss of her entire family. Then one night, Zany shows up at Mrs. Madison's house determined to fulfill Mama Lacy's dying wish: to have her ashes spread over the lawn of the last place they were all happy as a family. Of course, this means stealing Mama Lacy's ashes and driving hundreds of miles in the middle of night to Asheville, North Carolina. Their adventure takes one disastrous turn after another, but their impulsive journey helps them rediscover the bonds that truly make them sisters.

This short but deep story of t…

Last Seen Leaving - Caleb Roehrig

Flynn's girlfriend has disappeared. How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing. The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up. All eyes are on Flynn—as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own. And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's disappearance, he must also face the truth about himself.

This was certainly an intriguing tale that went in directions I did not expect. It was pretty brutal at times, but Roehrig did manage to examine some intense themes throughout the narrative, including rape culture, murder, intimidation, and dirty politics.
Flynn in particular was a deeply flawed but interesting character, trying to hide is sexuality even when he knew deep down how he felt about other guys. I kind of expected a relationship to develop eventually, but not quite how it actually happened in the book. Kaz…

Radio Silence - Alice Oseman

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken. Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down.

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets. It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

"Hello. I hope somebody is listening...."
This is how each episode of Universe City begins, and it is also the opening line of Radio Silence, and intriguing, character-driven explor…

Wild Beauty - 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.

Lyrical, rich in detail, and full of magic, Wild Beauty is a feast for the senses. McLemore is a talented writer, and one who understands how to quietly and slowly develop characters and connections. Her previous work, When the Moon Was Ours and The Weight of Feathers, is similarly …