Summer Reading Recs 2015

Here they are! The theme this year for our in-store Hot Reads (ages 4-12) event was Humor, and while we did skew humorous in our teen picks, there’s also plenty of drama, romance, and plain old weirdness. Hurray for summer!

bonegap Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (HarperCollins, $17.99) When exchange student Roza mysteriously disappears, Finn is the only witness, but no-one else believes she’s been kidnapped. With the help of his classmate and longtime crush Priscilla, Finn is determined to find out what really happened to Roza. And Roza is determined to fight her way back to the town of Bone Gap. Mysterious magical horses! SAT jokes! Bees! Weird, wonderful, and beautifully written, Bone Gap will enthrall fans of E. Lockhart, Maggie Stiefvater, and Andrew Smith. Three starred reviews! –F.

boysknitBoys Don’t Knit by T.S. Easton (Macmillan, $16.99) Sentenced to community college classes as the result of an incident that was totally not his fault, Ben picks the best among bad options… and discovers an unexpected talent for knitting. Soon he’s dealing with knitting competitions, nosy parents, cranky old ladies, useless friends, and a bona fide nemesis. “Wacky characters, a farcical plot and a fledgling romance are all part of the fun.” —Kirkus, starred review. Three starred reviews total!

evillibrarianEvil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen (Candlewick, $16.99) What do you do when your school’s new librarian is an attractive, evil demon who wants to keep your best friend captive for eternity? Obviously you go to your local occult bookshop for answers. “It’s all terrifically entertaining from start to finish, with Cyn’s wry voice narrating her transformation from musical theater-loving, crush-having teen to musical theater-loving, crush-having teen who can also kick some demon butt.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review.

heroattheendA Hero at the End of the World by Erin Claiborne (Big Bang Press, $15.95) Imagine a world where Ron Weasley killed Voldemort and Harry was left working in a coffee shop. Such is the fate of Ewan Mao–he resents his former best friend Oliver Abrams, who is celebrated as the Slayer of Duff Slan. A fun ride that will have you laughing out loud! Accompanied by delightful illustrations. A Kirkus Starred Review and Best Teen Book of 2014. –A.

kidneyhypThe Kidney Hypothetical by Lisa Yee (Scholastic, $17.99) Higgs Boson Bing is a Harvard-bound overachiever with the perfect life, the perfect girlfriend… and the perfect, horrible moment when everything goes wrong. As his life crumbles around him, Higgs discovers that he’s actually kind of a terrible person… and embarks on a journey of reluctant self-discovery, aided by a tattooed, awesomely crabby girl named Monarch. It’s hilarious. And how can you resist a protagonist named Higgs Boson Bing? Two starred reviews! –F.

nogginNoggin by John Corey Whaley (Simon & Schuster, $11.99) After dying at age 16, Travis Coates’s head was removed and frozen for five years before being attached to another body, and now the old Travis and the new must find a way to coexist while figuring out changes in his relationships. Hilarity, hijinks, and some poignant reflections on the human condition ensue! “Whaley’s signature cadence and mad storytelling skillz are worth every page.” —Kirkus. Two starred reviews!

ibg.common.titledetail.imageloaderRook by Sharon Cameron (Scholastic, $17.99) A post-apocalyptic homage to The Scarlet Pimpernel! By day, Sophia Bellamy is a well-bred young lady about to save her family’s fortunes by marrying a rich, airheaded Parisian. By night, she is Le Corbeau Rouge, the Red Rook: a mysterious trickster who snatches prisoners from the very scaffold of the guillotine in a blood-washed, dystopian Paris.  Narrow escapes! Romance! Repartee! Swashbuckling! Swordplay! Sink me, it’s awesome! –F. (Read our full review here!)

scarlettScarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham (Little, Brown, $18.00) Savvy teen P.I. Scarlett investigates what appears to be a straightforward suicide. But things are more complicated than they seem in this fun noir thriller. Great for fans of Veronica Mars! “This whip-smart, determined, black Muslim heroine brings a fresh hard-boiled tone to the field of teen mysteries.” —Kirkus, starred review.

shadowscaleShadow Scale by Rachel Hartman (Random House, $18.99) The thoroughly engrossing, dragon-filled sequel to Seraphina! Prepare to be swept away as Hartman expands the richly-imagined world of Goredd. I felt I was right next to Seraphina for the entire journey. –A.



paintedskyUnder a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee (Penguin, $16.99) A poignant, beautifully written story of friendship and courage. Fleeing for their lives, Chinese-American violinist Samantha and runaway slave Annamae disguise themselves as boys and travel the Oregon Trail to California. “Emotionally resonant and not without humor, this impressive debut about survival and connection, resourcefulness and perseverance will keep readers on the very edges of their seats.” —Kirkus, starred review. Two starred reviews total! –F.


wrathThe Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Adieh (Penguin, $17.99) A fantastic and lush retelling of the Thousand and One Nights! Prepare to be swept away by the impossible love between Shahrzad and the Caliph. A swoony summer read worth staying up all night to finish. Two starred reviews! –A.

Happy reading!

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Hot Reads for a Cool Summer 2015

4_23_RevisedHotReads2015 copyThursday, May 14

Hot Reads for a Cool Summer is back! Special guests Jon Agee, Lisa Brown, and Ian Lendler join our children’s specialists to recommend their top picks for reading this summer for kids K-5. Annotated reading lists,* prizes, refreshments, and 20% off selected titles make this our most popular annual event!

This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. We still have a few seats left; call 510-704-8222 to reserve a spot!

Author-illustrator-playwright-librettist-palindromist Jon Agee grew up along the Hudson River in Nyack, New York. He is probably best known for The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau and the National Book Award-nominated Mean Margaret. His sophisticated wit appeals to kids and adults alike. He lives in San Francisco.

Lisa Brown is a journalist, stylist, and New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of of a number of books for young readers, including Emily’s Blue Period and The Latke That Couldn’t Stop Screaming by the illusive (and elusive) Lemony Snicket. She lives in San Francisco.

When Ian Lendler was younger, he really enjoyed acting in the theater. He was, however, extremely terrible at it. So he became a writer of children’s books (An Undone Fairy Tale, The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth) and nonfiction. He lives and plays the ukelele in San Rafael.

*The event and booklists are aimed at kids grades K through 5, but I’ll post our teen annotated list soon. (As soon as I write it, anyway. Soon!)

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Review: Rook

Rook by Sharon Cameron (Scholastic, 4/28/15) ibg.common.titledetail.imageloader

Rook is a post-apocalyptic homage to The Scarlet Pimpernel, and a remarkably successful one at that. It’s got swashbuckling, derring-do, narrow escapes, danger, swordplay, romance, and–best of all–it’s actually funny! (You may mock, but I’ve been burned before.)

By day, Sophia Bellamy is a well-bred young Commonwealth lady about to save her family’s fortunes by marrying a rich, airheaded Parisian. By night, she is Le Corbeau Rouge, the Red Rook: a mysterious trickster who snatches prisoners from the very scaffold of the guillotine in a blood-washed, dystopian Paris. Swashbuckling! Swordplay! Narrow escapes! Romance! Repartee! Sink me, it’s awesome!


I liked it so much that I hand-wrote my notes in flowing cursive. (That was definitely why, and had nothing to do with eye-strain from overdosing on the BBC’s The Musketeers.)

The most awesome thing of all is Sophia, whose actions both external and internal prove her worthy of the name hero. She is brave and determined to save people–both her family and unknown innocents condemned in a terrifyingly volatile Paris. I must say how wonderful it is to have a heroine who not only breaks all the rules but enjoys the hell out of doing it. Her love of vigilantism is a double-edged sword, though, and this is the crux of her complexity: though she believes in what she does and loves it, Sophia’s greatest fear is not capture and death, but total success and an ensuing loss of purpose. Not many female characters get to have this kind of personal crisis; it’s Inigo Montoya’s second problem, the provenance of mostly male heroes whose purpose forges their whole identity. Sophia can see it coming, but she needs a push to imagine a future life that she might actually want to claim.

That push comes from her airheaded Parisian fiance, Rene Hasard, who has a few secrets himself. Rene is a fun character: handsome, clever, brave, witty, obsessed with the cut of his waistcoat… (Come on, you can’t expect me to review a Scarlet Pimpernel homage and not talk about waistcoats.) He’s a satisfyingly layered trickster, which makes him a great match for Sophia. And he helps her imagine a life outside the Red Rook-vs-conventional-female duality that’s been consuming her. He doesn’t imagine it for her, but helps her imagine for herself and lay claim to a future of her choosing.

Sophia and Rene are a matched pair of scoundrels in the Han Solo sense. And if there’s one thing the post-apocalyptic genre needs, it’s scoundrels. Here are two. You’re welcome.

In fact, I’d read a lot more post-apocalyptic novels if they were all this fun. The far-future setting rather reminds me a little of a Philip Reeve novel (a compliment, as the world of Mortal Engines and Fever Crumb is one of my favorites). A catastrophic shift in the planet’s magnetic poles has destroyed civilization as we know it, leaving satellites to fall like meteors and the survivors to regard technology as deeply suspicious. Puzzled scholars sift among the ruins and smugglers deal in plastic artifacts on the black market. Cameron has already shown herself to be adroit with steampunk-influenced landscapes (The Dark Unwinding, A Spark Unseen), and the world she creates for Rook is at once a fun 18th-century homage and a refreshingly not-grimdark future grounded in the textures and mannerisms of the past.

In addition to finding its audience among fans of Baroness Orczy and lovers of period spy capers and light-on-the-doom-and-gloom-post-apocalypticae, Rook will appeal to those craving a story that has diversity but isn’t about race. Sophia’s skin is described as “brown” and “caramel” once or twice–enough to establish that we’re dealing with a heroine of color–but the story is firmly about her adventures and her heroism and her personal journey, not her race.

Though the plot does slow to a crawl for a good third of the pagecount, it’s still a rollicking good adventure with pleasing prose, some serious thematic underpinnings, a great setting, highly enjoyable characters, and no love triangles (except for that one guy who totally thinks there’s a love triangle, but he illustrates a very specific point about a particular kind of patriarchal privilege. Also, he’s wrong). I think readers will find it extremely entertaining.

As for me? As a Scarlet Pimpernel fan, I’m thrilled that Cameron clearly understands the importance of a good tailor. Sink me!

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Event: Susan Adrian, Whitney Miller, & Stacey Lee moderated by S.J. Kincaid

Susan Adrian, Whitney Miller, and Stacey Lee will join S.J. Kincaid at Mrs. Dalloway’s for a reading and panel discussion on Tuesday, March 24 at 7:30 pm!

tunnelvisionRomance and action come crashing together in Susan Adrian’s Tunnel Vision. When Jake Lukin, eighteen, reveals his psychic ability, he’s forced to become a government asset in order to keep his mother and sister safe, but Rachel, the girl he likes, tries to help him live his own life instead of tunneling through others. “Twists of plot, kids outsmarting the bad guys, and a relatively low-tech but fascinating superpower ratchet up the action to a bizarre conclusion that begs a sequel. With a grandfather that would make Richard Peck or Joan Bauer proud, and government goons, male and female, who morph between good and evil with a single look or comment, this is a must-read.” —Booklist

crimsongateIn Whitney Miller’s The Crimson Gate, sequel to The Violet Hour, Harlow Wintergreen has just been named the new Matriarch of VisionCrest, the powerful religious organization previously led by her father. But there’s one big problem. The real Harlow is trapped inside a Cambodian temple, and her double, the evil Isiris, has escaped confinement and is masquerading as her. Now initiated as their leader, Isiris intends to unleash a killer super virus aimed at cleansing the planet of VisionCrest. In order to stop her, Harlow must find a way out of the temple and locate the Resistance…or the world will be destroyed. “Extreme gore and exciting suspense in a highly strange package.” —Kirkus

paintedskyStacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky begins in Missouri, 1849: Samantha dreams of moving back to New York to be a professional musician–not an easy thing if you’re a girl, and harder still if you’re Chinese. But a tragic accident dashes any hopes of fulfilling her dream, and instead, leaves her fearing for her life. With the help of a runaway slave named Annamae, Samantha flees town for the unknown frontier. Sammy and Andy forge a powerful bond as they each search for a link to their past. In a starred review, Kirkus says: “Emotionally resonant and not without humor, this impressive debut about survival and connection, resourcefulness and perseverance will keep readers on the very edges of their seats.”

Susan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. She holds a degree in English from UC Davis and a Master’s in Technical Communication. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and daughter, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, learning Russian, travelling, and writing more books. Tunnel Vision is her first novel.

Whitney Miller is the author of The Violet Hour and The Crimson Gate. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an MBA from the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. She works in Silicon Valley by day and on her laptop writing novels by night. Whitney loves to travel the world, and she incorporates those global settings into her novels.

Stacey Lee is a 4th-generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She graduated from UCLA, then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She serves as the Director of Legal Affairs for the WeNeedDiverseBooks organization.

S. J. Kincaid was born in Alabama, grew up in California, and attended high school in New Hampshire. She also interned for a politician in Washington, DC, and received degrees from universities in Illinois and Ohio, but it was while living beside a haunted graveyard in Edinburgh, Scotland, that she realized she wanted to be a writer. Catalyst, the final book in her critically acclaimed Insignia trilogy, was published in October 2014.


The event is free and open to the public. Though no purchase is required for attendance, you can reserve a seat by buying a copy of one of the books ahead of time. Please feel free to let us know if you require disability accommodation; we want all attendees to be comfortable and enjoy the event!

Questions? Call 510-704-8222 or email See you there!

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Pick of the Week: The Montmaray Journals

Pick of the Week is a thing I did back in the early days of this blog, when I had more time and less frontlist ordering to do and was more inclined to celebrate older favorites. I’m bringing it back now because I have so many new ARCs that I just end up staring balefully at them and being grumpy that they’re not the new Raven Cycle IV. (I know, Stiefvater, you’ve got that whole Pip Bartlett thing this spring, that’s cool. I know, everyone else, I should give you a chance. And I will. Eventually.)

This particular Pick of the Week is dedicated to Marvel’s Agent Carter.

montmaray1A Brief History of Montmaray introduces sixteen-year-old Sophie FitzOsborne and her eccentric, impoverished royal family living on their crumbling island kingdom between England and France. There’s Veronica, Sophie’s cousin and best friend; Toby, Sophie’s brother and the heir to Montmaray; Henry, their tomboy little sister; Simon, the housekeeper’s son and their maybe-cousin; grimly tempestuous Rebecca the housekeeper; mad Uncle John, the King of Montmaray; and a tiny but loyal band of villagers (to say nothing of Carlos the Portuguese water dog).

Sophie’s voice is so much fun that you won’t notice how little actually happens–until Nazis arrive and overturn their lives in extremely dramatic fashion.

fitzosbornesexileIn Book 2, The FitzOsbornes in Exile, Sophie and her family flee from invading Nazis into the welcoming arms of Aunt Charlotte in England. Aunt Charlotte is determined that Sophie and Veronica be Introduced into Society, while Toby must continue his education as the King of Montmaray and Simon must not get Above His Station. Sophie, keen observer that she is, is more interested in the signs of a coming war than in parties (and the inevitable social awkwardness). With the help of new friends and old, the FitzOsbornes must navigate a strange new world and hold true to each other.

fitzosborneswarThe FitzOsbornes at War is, if possible, even better. The FitzOsbornes are determined to do their part for the nation that has given them refuge. Veronica is doing something mysterious for the War Office–as a “secretary,” of course–and Toby and Simon join the Royal Air Force. Meanwhile, Sophie… is given the task of writing pamphlets on nutrition. Cooper manages to balance seriousness with humor, to be sober without being grim, even in the midst of war. Fans of Agent Carter will love this one, from the period details about silk stocking scarcity to the nuanced portrayal of how women’s roles shifted in a turbulent time.

I actually think the second book is a great place to start with this series. While the first one is charming–I adore Sophie’s voice–it takes a very long time for the plot to show up. In Book 2, there’s enough of a previously-on to fill you in, so you won’t be too lost. Plus, all the intrigues at country houses make it great for Downton Abbey fans! Or if you love Code Name Verity and The Book Thief and want something in that era but slightly less tear-jerking, this is certainly for you. As a side note, I cannot say enough about how refreshingly amazing the female friendships are. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!

Now that I’ve made myself cry with how much I love Sophie and Veronica and Rupert (oh you’ll meet Rupert, don’t worry), it’s time to get back to work and actually sell books. Any books.

But especially these.
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Support literacy in Berkeley!

Happy New Year! We have more news, events, and reviews coming up. Today’s post is about Experience Corps Bay Area, a local volunteer organization dedicated to improving literacy among children in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Are you 50+ and wanting to help the next generation of readers in Berkeley?

Experience Corps Bay Area (ECBA) uses the wisdom of our volunteer members to improve the literacy and reading skills of the children we serve in Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. Our mission is to recruit and train older adults (50+) to become literacy tutors and mentors for public school students in grades K-3.

Research shows that children who read at grade level by the end of third grade are 60% more likely to graduate high school, and 75% less likely to become a part of the juvenile justice system. ECBA is looking for volunteers who enjoy working with children and who are willing to serve at least 4 hours per week tutoring students who are struggling to read.

We’re looking for people who: Are at least 50+ years of age; can volunteer time to tutor and mentor children who need basic literacy skills and guidance; possess a high school diploma or GED; will agree to and pass a criminal background check; can serve 4 or more hours/week for the entire school year.

Additional information: 10 or more hours/week may be eligible for a paid stipend; full training provided.

For more information, visit

Contact Alexis Hawkins at (415) 759-4223, or email

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Holiday Recommendations 2014

Here are our featured holiday recommendations for teens for 2014! If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll notice that the list is quite a bit longer than last year’s. This is because a) I have no self-control when it comes to awesome books, b) Colleague A was vociferous in support of her favorites, c) Other Colleague A was also vociferous in support of her favorites, and d) Other Other Colleague A supported Other Colleague A and e) I have no resistance in the face of All Colleagues A telling me to recommend awesome books (see a)).

Without further ado or alphabet soup, I give you: The Recs!

100sideways100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith (Simon & Schuster, $17.99). After the first girl he’s ever loved moves away, a heartbroken Finn Easton embarks on a road trip with his best friend Cade Hernandez to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour and learn how to write their own destiny. Everyday human behaviors and growing pains meet the improbable-but-true; the most memorable beats of the story occur at the intersection of the tragic, even the grotesque, with the absurd. Smith’s writing is funny and sad and emotionally true at all once. Five starred reviews! Ages 14+.

bluelilyBlue Lily, Lily Blue (Book 3 of The Raven Cycle) by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic, $18.99). Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost. The third installment of the projected Raven Cycle quartet proves that Maggie Stiefvater just keeps getting better and better. Start with The Raven Boys, follow that up with The Dream Thieves, and then dive into Blue Lily, Lily Blue! Though we’re waiting impatiently for the final book, each of the three so far is a breathless, intensely satisfying reading experience. “One unexpected and wonderful surprise after another . . . a marvel of imagination.” —Booklist, starred review. Five starred reviews total! Ages 14+. Click for our review of The Dream Thieves!

complicitsmallComplicit by Stephanie Kuehn (Macmillan, $19.99). Jamie Henry lives with his wealthy adoptive parents in affluent Danville. He’s a talented pianist and honors student, with a bright future and even romance on the horizon. He sees a therapist regularly to deal with lingering amnesia and trauma surrounding his birth mother’s violent, tragic death. But Jamie’s sister, Cate, didn’t cope so well: she’s just been released from juvenile detention. Now that Cate is free again, Jamie fears that she’ll return and destroy his peaceful life. Something in their shared buried past still festers beneath the surface: something that drives the story through to an unputdownable conclusion. A masterful suspense novel by Morris Award-winning local author Stephanie Kuehn! Three starred reviews. Ages 14+. Click for our full review!

CruelbeautyCruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge (HarperCollins, $17.99). Betrothed to the Gentle Lord, the demon who rules her country, seventeen-year-old Nyx Triskelion must now fulfill her destiny and move to the castle to be his wife–and to kill him. Nothing goes according to plan: Nyx is not the good, dutiful youngest daughter we know from fairy tales, and the Gentle Lord actually has a sense of humor about being a hated demon tyrant. Working together, they might actually be able to save the realm from the sinister forces that hold it isolated from the rest of the world. This is an unusual take on “Beauty and the Beast,” with creative mythology, a shivery romance, and luscious prose.  Ages 14+. Click for our full review!

familyromanovThe Family Romanov by Candace Fleming (Random House, $18.99). *Nonfiction Pick!* From the acclaimed author of Amelia Lost comes the riveting story of the Russian Revolution as it unfolded. Figures familiar to the historical imagination come to life: Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas; his beautiful, reclusive wife Alexandria; the compelling Rasputin; the hemophiliac Romanov heir, Alexei; and the elusive Anastasia. Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants–and their eventual uprising–Fleming presents a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts of period photographs and primary-source material. “A heartbreaking page-turner for YAs who prefer their nonfiction to read like a novel.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review. Six starred reviews total! Nonfiction. Ages 12+.

nelsonsunI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (Penguin, $17.99). A gorgeously written story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell. Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick. But three years later, something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways. Only by finding their way back to each other can they begin to heal. “Noah’s narration is dizzyingly visual, conjuring the surreal images that make up his ‘invisible museum’; Jude’s is visceral, conveying her emotions with startling physicality… Here’s a narrative experience readers won’t soon forget.” —Kirkus. Three starred reviews. Ages 14+.

in_real_lifeIn Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang (First Second, $17.99). *Graphic Novel Pick!* From acclaimed teen author Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash. Anda loves playing Coarsegold Online, but her perfect fantasy world gets complicated when she befriends a “gold farmer”–a poor kid whose avatar illegally collects and sells objects within the game. Anda is forced to examine the real-world cost of a virtual reality. Though gamers will love the world of Coarsegold, you don’t have to be a gamer to love In Real Life, which combines Doctorow’s signature technological activism with Wang’s beautiful, impeccably paced art. A starred review from Booklist! Ages 12+. Click for our full review!

princeofshadowsPrince of Shadows by Rachel Caine (Penguin, $17.99). This book is exquisitely crafted, a balancing act between swashbuckling romp and nuanced, moving take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet starring Benvolio Montague and Rosaline Capulet. “Beginning with the premise that friend Mercutio is gay and in love with Tomasso, a shy scholar, the book sets up a series of events that will result in Mercutio’s famous dying words, ‘a plague on both your houses.’ Benvolio…has a new talent: He’s a cat burglar known as ‘The Prince of Shadows,’ using his skills to exact revenge on those who have done him wrong… Simply superb.” —Kirkus, starred review. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a high-quality romantic adventure–or to anyone who knows that Romeo & Juliet is full of dirty jokes. Pair with Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty for a double dose of gorgeous historical-fantasy romantic adventure! Ages 14+.

shadowheroThe Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Liew (First Second, $17.99). *Graphic Novel Pick!* Hank Chu’s dream is to be a grocer, like his father. Alas, his mother–a “tiger mom” if ever there was one–has other ideas. She’s determined that he become a superhero. And thus is the legendary Green Turtle born. Yang puts his own spin on the 1940s comic book hero in this fresh, incisively smart origin story. Sonny Liew’s lively illustrations complement the story’s humor and bring the characters vividly to life. Three starred reviews! Ages 12+.

storyofowenThe Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston (Carolrhoda, $17.95). A Morris Award Finalist! In an alternate world where industrialization has caused many species of carbon-eating dragons to thrive, sixteen-year-old Owen Thorskard is all that stands between small-town Canada and a deadly dragon infestation. Owen and his faithful bard-slash-friend Siobhan McQuaid, that is. Can Owen become the hero the world expects him to be? Can Siobhan’s songs detailing Owen’s deeds get any airtime on national radio? With training taking over their lives, can either of them survive high school? The cleverly developed world with its carbon-hungry dragons and celebrity slayer culture provides the backdrop for a quirky, refreshingly original tale of great friendship, heroism, and algebra tutoring. “Humor, pathos and wry social commentary unite in a cleverly drawn, marvelously diverse world.” —Kirkus, starred review. Three starred reviews total! Ages 12+.

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