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Summer Buzz Books

Special Feature

Summer Buzz Books

Summer means a lot of things --- going to the beach, relaxing by the pool, going to camp, taking a break from school and...drumroll please…summer reading!

There are so many amazing YA books that came out this spring (and are coming out later this summer), and we asked some of our bookseller friends from aruond the country to weigh in on their very favorites. Read below for some of their suggestions, and get yourself to a bookstore, stat! Then slather on the sunscreen, head to the nearest sunny locale and crack open your literary prize.

 

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN by Renée Ahdieh (5/12/15): THE WRATH AND THE DAWN paints a sumptuous portrait of A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS as told from the perspective of 16-year-old Shahrzad. Her brazen wit and will are the most powerful aspects of her character and this story. But Ahdieh's retelling also disassembles the shroud of mystery around the murderous boy-king, Khalid, without softening his defects or mistakes. There is such careful unraveling of the original story's mystery: why are his wives are doomed, who is Khalid as a man and not just a king, and what is the perspective of a presumptive wife. Ultimately, Shahrzad and Khalid's story is one of love and loyalty. And Ahdieh does a masterful job of examining their story.

I AM PRINCESS X by Cherie Priest (5/26/15):Cherie Priest struck gold with this illustrated contemporary mystery revolving around best friends May and Libby. For fun, they created the comic character Princess X, a sword wielding adventurer in Converse shoes. But Libby's death puts an abrupt hold on their story...or does it? Soon May finds new stories and art with Princess X, and an entire underground culture focused around a webcomic at IAmPrincessX.com. With the help of new friends, she tries to uncover the secret identity of this new creator and resolve her grief around losing Libby. Priest's story is a touching account of friendship situated in a world of fast-paced technology.

--- Romy Griepp, Bookseller at Once Upon a Time (Montrose, CA)

 

EXTRAORDINARY MEANS by Robyn Schneider (5/26/2015): EXTRAORDINARY MEANS is a fictional account of what might happen if we had an outbreak of incurable tuberculosis, and perhaps because Schneider is a bioethicist by training, the book's aesthetic feels completely plausible. Following the narratives of Lane and Sadie at a Northern California sanitarium called Latham House, this novel creates one of the best senses of time and place we've ever read. A must-read for fans of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

NIMONA by Noelle Stevenson (5/12/15): With a teenage girl/shapeshifter protagonist and a villain who's trying to prove the heroes are villains, NIMONA is one of the quirkiest and funniest graphic novels we've ever read. This latest work from Noelle Stevenson fills a major hole in YA literature: we need more girl-power superstars like Nimona who demand to be the heroes (or villains, rather) of their own stories! Set in a world where the heroes are bad and the villains might be good, NIMONA is a summer page-turner you won't put down.  

ANOTHER DAY by David Levithan (8/25/15): We’re eagerly awaiting ANOTHER DAY, which is not a sequel, but rather a companion that revisits the action of EVERY DAY from Rhiannon's perspective (Levithan himself calls this book EVERY DAY’s twin).  Here, Levithan masterfully answers the question of what it would be like if the person you love were different every day, through Rhiannon's eyes. David Levithan has done it again. This book is spectacular, and even more of a heart-string-tugger than EVERY DAY, if that's possible.

--- Johanna Albrecht, Children's Manager & Marisa DiNovis, Children's Coordinator at Flyleaf Books (Chapel Hill, NC)

 

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas (5/05/2015): Sarah J. Maas is an incredible writer, and her version of Beauty and the Beast weaves in faeries seamlessly. Plus, it's absolutely amazing.

HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH by Tiffany Schmidt (5/19/15): The first in the Once Upon a Crime Family series, this book sews together a kingpin crime family in the organ trading business with a bit of The Princess and the Pea woven in.

TROUBLE IS A FRIEND OF MINE by Stephanie Tromly (8/04/2015): The best mysteries are the ones where you aren't sure what the mystery is --- the stated mystery itself or the person trying to solve it. In this case, both are enchanting.

--- Rachel Strolle, Bookseller at Anderson’s Bookshop (Naperville, IL)

 

JESSE'S GIRL by Miranda Kenneally (7/07/15): I've loved Miranda Kenneally since I read CATCHING JORDAN a few years ago, and she never fails to write characters that are vibrant, funny and original. Her latest story centers around a spunky rocker chick, Maya, who spends a day shadowing Nashville teen idol Jesse Scott. The two don't have much in common aside from a love of music and a bad first impression, but as they get to know each other, their chemistry ignites like an electric guitar solo. Full of music, romance and Southern charm, JESSE'S GIRL is the perfect thing to get you through these hot summer months.

THIS BROKEN WONDROUS WORLD by Jon Skovron (8/04/15): You don't have to have read the first book in the series, MAN MADE BOY, to enjoy THIS BROKEN WONDROUS WORLD, but you'll certainly want to. WORLDcontinues the story of Boy, the son of Frankenstein's Monster, and sundry other "monsters" borrowed from classic literature and mythology as they try to keep the mad scientist Dr. Moreau (yes, that Dr. Moreau) from starting a war with the humans. Skovron's writing is always quick, sharp and ripe with humor. This book is the perfect cross between X-Menand classic literature.

WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND by Jessica Verdi (8/04/15): If I had to describe this book in one word, I think it would be "raw." Ryden's voice is so full of grief and anger and guilt that it pulls you into his story. A year ago, he was just like any other 17-year-old boy: playing soccer, planning for college and falling for a pretty girl. Now he's raising his 6-month-old daughter after his girlfriend died of cancer, and he doesn't know how to juggle his own life, let alone a baby's. When he meets Joni at work, he sees a chance to be his old self again, but as it gets harder to hide the truth from her --- and from himself --- Ryden has to choose between being normal and being a father.

--- Leila Nebeker, Book Buyer, One More Page Books (Arlington, VA)

 

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN by Will Walton (5/26/15):One of our booksellers, Will Walton, wrote this incredible book is bursting with heart. Walton breathes life into each and every character with an honest and poignant voice.

SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen (5/05/15): SAINT ANYTHING is a captivating exploration of love, friendship and what it means to make your own way in the world.

WE ARE ALL MADE OF MOLECULES by Susin Nielsen (5/12/15):This is a tender yet humorous exploration of family, adolescence and bullying told in alternating voices.

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera (6/02/15):This is a beautifully-crafted, emotionally-charged tale of finding one’s identity amidst the tensions of homophobia, poverty and mental illness.

--- Hannah DeCamp, Bookseller at Avid Bookshop (Athens, GA)

 

FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella  (6/09/15) --- Sophie Kinsella has written a young adult book and woooo-eeeeee did she make a splash! Her debut YA novel, FINDING AUDREY, is every bit as satisfying as her previous books. Audrey is a 14-year-old girl who suffers from severe social anxiety and a terribly embarrassing family, with the exception of her brother, Frank. Frank is the typical over-protective big brother who loves to play online video games. It is through gaming that Audrey meets Linus, and you guessed it, they develop a sweet relationship that is deserving of a John Green novel. Have you ever met somebody that made you really think about things and realize that your life wasn't quite complete without them in it? That is the way Audrey feels about Linus. They certainly go through turmoil; perhaps unavoidable when dealing with mental health, but love and understanding helps both Audrey and Linus grow. Though mental health is a very large theme throughout the book, Kinsella finds a way to make the reader laugh and feel as giddy as a teenager in love. There is a strong message that everybody has their own demons and deals with their own ups and downs, but things do get better, and friendships can make all of the difference!

--- Kirstyn Horan, Bookseller at McLean and Eakin Booksellers (Petoskey, MI)

 

MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia (5/19/15): I couldn’t put MADE YOU UP down because it was so different from anything I have ever read. Alex, the narrator, is described as the "ultimate unreliable narrator" because of her paranoid schizophrenia. However, it’s easy to forget this when reading the book, so the plot twists come as complete surprises. Alex and the supporting characters around her are wonderfully complex and flawed.

THE WITCH HUNTER by Virginia Boecker (6/02/15):THE WITCH HUNTER seamlessly combines elements of fantasy and historical fiction. In vivid detail, the author transports the reader into an alternate 16th century England, where witches, ghosts and pirates abound. 

--- Kim Bellush, Bookseller, New England Mobile Book Fair (Newton, MA)

 

THE ACCIDENT SEASON by MoIra Fowley-Doyle (8/18/15): My favorite summer debut is THE ACCIDENT SEASON, which follows Cara through one very complicated fall. Every October, her family gets inexplicably accident-prone --- but this year is different. Ghostly, eerie, full of love and tangled friendships and creepy houses, this debut has a perfectly calibrated dusting of the supernatural alongside the more familiar dramas of family and school. 

ABOUT A GIRL by Sarah McCarry (7/14/15): I loved ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS, I adored DIRTY WINGS and now I'm head over heels for ABOUT A GIRL, the third of Sarah McCarry's YA books set in a myth-soaked Pacific Northwest. ABOUT A GIRL follows Tally, the daughter of one of ALL OUR PRETTY SONGS' characters, as she heads West in search of her father. What she finds is not what she thought she was looking for, of course. My favorite comment on it is from Sarah herself HERE

--- Molly Templeton, Events Director, WORD Bookstores (Brooklyn, New York and Jersey City, New Jersey)

 

DEVOTED by Jennifer Mathieu (6/02/15): Seventeen-year-old Rachel Walker is one of ten children in a family who has already laid out her destiny --- to become a wife and mother and to serve the Lord. But Rachel's not sure if that is the life she wants; she loves to read and she wonders about the world outside her own. When she commits the sin of contacting Lauren, who has left her family's church, her father wants to send her to a camp that will reprogram her to become obedient again. Rachel escapes with Lauren's help and tries to build a life away from her family and all she has ever known. Jennifer Mathieu creates a balanced, engaging story of a girl's search for her own journey. I loved it!

THE FIXER by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (7/07/15): When her grandfather's dementia takes a turn for the worse, Tess Kendrick is plucked from the family ranch in Montana to live with her sister in Washington, DC. Her sister, Ivy Kendrick, is Washington's #1 "fixer" --- a woman who makes problems go away for a price. Soon Tess finds that she has the same skills and becomes embroiled in a political conspiracy with deadly consequences.  Well-drawn secondary characters and a roller coaster ride of a plot make this book tough to put down.

THE NOTORIOUS PAGAN JONES by Nina Berry (5/26/15): Pagan Jones was America's sweetheart in 1960. The perfect blonde teenage starlet ruled Hollywood until the night she drove drunk and killed her family. She's stuck in reform school until a mysterious studio executive offers her a deal. She can get out of prison in exchange for appearing in a film being shot in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. Before she knows it, Pagan is on her way to Germany and finds herself in the middle of an espionage case between East and West. An intriguing look at a little-known time in history.

--- Cathy Berner, bookseller at Blue Willow Bookshop (Houston, TX)