Among modern children’s classics, few books ring as true or hit as hard as Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. In leu of Bridge of Clay’s release (his first children’s novel since The Book Thief) I thought it would be a good idea to have his first book as our Throwback Thursday review. The Book Thief is a gem in the world of historical fiction, and a timeless tale that will entrance generations to come.
When Liesel picks up a bedraggled book left by accident on her brothers grave, she has no idea what will happen. She has no idea that her mother— a communist in Nazi Germany— is taking her to live in safety with a foster family. She has no idea she will make friends with a boy with yellow hair and learn to read with her father, no idea she will steal books from a bonfire and a mayor’s library. She has no idea what she will learn and love and lose in the brief span of her fleeting childhood.
Have you ever read a book with such vivid imagery that when you close your eyes you can almost imagine you are inside its world? My favorite of those books is An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. Enchantment is set in a lush world of magic and monsters that— in tandem with sweeping world building and compelling characters— makes for a brilliant book. I am not usually a fan of romance stories, but An Enchantment of Ravens drew me in and held on until the very last page.
At seventeen, Isobel is the best portrait artist in generations, and her reputation grows with every passing year. Since childhood, Isobel has painted for the Fair Folk, a powerful race that lusts after human craft.
Isobel is used to having creatures that could murder her in an instant sipping tea in her living room. But when she hears from one of her clients that the Autumn Prince— a powerful Fair One not seen in Whimsy for centuries— is coming to meet her, she’s shaken. But Rook (the Autumn Prince) is not what she expects from a Fair One, and certainly not what she’d expect from one of their princes. He’s nearly human. But just as they grows comfortable towards one another— fond, even, she makes a terrible mistake. Isobel paints human sorrow in his eyes, an unforgivable weakness among his kind. Furious, Rook spirits her off to the Autumn court to stand trial, setting off a whirlwind of adventures and a forbidden romance that will have you on the edge of your seat.
After months of waiting, the time has finally come to welcome into the world What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. The long awaited collaboration between two of the best authors of queer YA more than lives up to both author’s previous books. While Albertalli’s light and cheerful style gives the story a rom-comesque feeling (while still flipping the genres usual stereotypes), Silvera’s chapters ground the book, giving it a thoughtfulness and dimension needed to balance it.
When Arthur accompanied his parents to NYC for the summer he had three goals: make friends at his internship, explore the city, see Hamilton. But now his parents are fighting, one of his best friends won’t text him, and there has been no sign of Lin Manuel Miranda. To top it off he was too clueless to get the name of the cute guy he met at the post office.
Meanwhile, Ben has his own set of problems. His friend group splintered after a couple of breakups, his boyfriend cheated on him and his best friend has all but abandoned him for his latest romance. Oh, and he has to attend summer school. With his ex.
With the help of craigslist, their friends, and plenty of internet stalking via instagram they may find each other, but what then? Will they work together, and what happens when Arthur has to leave at the end of the summer?
Akemi Bowman’s new novel Summer Bird Blue is hard to describe. The entire book is filled with such raw, powerful emotion that it immerses you in the story so deeply it is difficult to take a step back and analyze it. It’s a bit like a wave, beautiful and powerful and able to effortlessly pull you under and pummel you until you reach the end. It’s an incredible book, but not one you want to read in public (you WILL ugly cry).
When her sister Lea is killed in a car crash Rumi feels like she is drowning. Not only has she lost her sister and best friend, but her mother has sent Rumi off to Hawaii to spend the summer with her aunt rather than deal with their shared grief. Lost and alone in a strange place Rumi clings to one thing: Summer Bird Blue. It’s the name of the song she and Lea had been writing when Lea died, and Rumi is determined to finish it for both of them.
But how can she when Rumi sees Lea every time she hears a song or strums a guitar? The only place music doesn’t hurt is at their neighbor Mr. Wantanabe’s house, and the only time Rumi feels remotely normal is when she is with her new friend Kai. With her Aunt and her new friend’s help Rumi slowly learns how to live her life without Lea at her side. Summer Bird Blue is a beautiful homeage to heartbreak, healing and the power of friendship.
Several months ago, a friend of mine sent me a book for my birthday: Caraval. In retrospect, I should have picked it up much sooner. Caraval has become one of my favorite YA books to date, and its sequel- Legendary is, if possible, even better. In her amazing debut Stephanie Garber redefined fantasy in this twisting tale seeped in dark magic and unexpected revelations.
Scarlet Dragna lives on the Isle of Trisda with her sister Tella and their cruel father. For years Scarlet has written letters to Legend, master of the magical circus-game of Caraval, begging him to come to Trisda. Now engaged and ready to escape Trisda with her sister, Scarlet finally recieves a reply from Legend- and three tickets. Now Scarlet must make a choice: marry the man her father chose for her, or run away to attend Caraval with Tella and the handsome young sailor who has offered his help in exchange for a ticket.
Bridge of Clay is a book about stories. It’s about an immigrant girl whose father sent her across the sea with the Odyssey, the Iliad and a love of the piano. It’s about a boy who loved the girl in his paintings more than the one he painted them of. It’s about a jockey and her horse and a very stubborn mule. It’s about a family. It’s about Clay and his brothers. It’s about how everything and everyone has a story if you look hard enough, and those stories shape us into the people we are.
Clay Dunbar’s mother died when he was in middle school. His dad left a few months later. For years it’s just been him and his four brothers and that’s been okay. They made it okay. But now their father is back, and with a request. He wants one of his sons to come back home with him, and help him build a bridge.
Bridge of Clay is a bittersweet story of a father and son reconnecting after years of estrangement. The main plot is interwoven with the lives of the people around Clay, a resonant reminder that there are always other sides to the story and always past experiences that influence the present. Once again, Zusak thoughtfully weaves a masterful tale to stir the hearts of readers everywhere.
Marvin Johnson knows exactly what he wants: an acceptance letter from MIT, a good job, to get out of Sterling Point. His twin brother Tyler however, is a different story altogether. Tyler is outgoing and popular while Marvin focuses his energy on school. Marvin has two best friends, Ivy and G-mo, Tyler on the other hand has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances- most recent and alarming of which is Johntae, a local drug dealer and gangster.
When Tyler invites his brother and his friends to Johntae’s next party, Marvin is reluctant, but he knows that if he wants to find out what’s going on with his twin, he needs to be there. But everything goes wrong when cops raid the party, and two days later Tyler is found dead. Now, battling grief and confusion, Marvin must find a way to process his brother’s death, and the viral video of how it happened. Tyler Johnson Was Here
When Lucie came to Château Beaumont she was looking for a job that would get her away from home. She wasn’t prepared for the cruel and handsome Chevalier de Beaumont, and the strange tale born from her own hatred of him. But when an old witch curses the Chevalier to become a fearsome beast and Lucie a candlestick to watch him, everything changes.
As Beast, the Chevalier is quiet and kind, even to Lucie, only wanting to keep to himself and tend his garden. All too soon, Lucie finds herself drawn to- even befriending, the lonely beast. But with the arrival of Rose, a beautiful young merchant’s daughter, their fragile peace threatens to break. For if Rose offers to marry Beast, the Chevalier will return, and only Lucie knows how terrible that would be. And only Lucie has a chance of stopping it from happening.
Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge
Megan Bannen’s debut novel, The Bird and the Blade is a rich and poignant story of love, loss, and the bloody struggle for power within a fractured Mongol Empire during the 13th century.
Jinghua lost everything on the day the Mongols invaded her home and slaughtered her people. Now she’s a slave in the house of one of the most powerful warlords of their time: Timur Khan, lord of the Kipchak. But when the Kipchak Khanate is invaded and its army destroyed Jinghua must follow Timur and his son Khalaf as they escape their conquered kingdom if she is to have any chance of returning to her own home.
But when Khalaf enters a deadly game to win the hand of a powerful princess, everything changes. Turandokht is treacherous, beautiful, and heir to the Mongol Empire. The man who weds her will be the next Great Khan, the catch? He must first solve three impossible riddles, or die trying. Soon Jinghua is forced to make an impossible choice: betray the boy she has grown to love, or give him up to the princess who would rather be his death than his bride.
Books have always played an important role in educating the next generation, but in this day and age YA authors have become invaluable in providing valuable lessons and role models for teens and adults alike. Brendan Kiely’s new book Tradition is one such novel that will no doubt be considered a modern classic by generations to come.
For James Baxter Fullbrook Academy is a second chance and he’s determined not to waste it. He’s at Fullbrook on a hockey scholarship after his life at home was shattered by a horrible accident. At Fullbrook nobody knows about his past, at Fullbrook he’s the Buckeye, the secret weapon, special and revered.
But then Bax meets Jules Deveraux, the one person at Fulbrook strong enough to stand up for what she believes in. Soon Bax finds himself taking on social injustice with Jules and their friends Aileen and Javi.
But Fulbrook is a place of privilege and toxic rites of passage. Tradition is as much a part of the school as the ivy-covered walls and the unspoken rules that nobody dares defy.