Imagine being quarantined as a teenager, away from the life you knew, and just told to relax, take it easy. Think permanent summer camp in the mountains. Sounds great right? Oh, but, the internet is only available to you in the library for an hour a week via ancient laptops. Your body is monitored at all times by a wristband you always wear. And all those cliques you thought you'd left behind? They're still here, but now you all have something in common, an incurable disease that kills half of those who get it. But maybe you’ll make the best friends of your life, and fall in love.
Lane is quarantined at Latham House where he will receive treatment for drug resistant tuberculosis, derailing his plans to go to Stanford. Sadie, who has been living at Latham for the last three years, is the girl who smuggles in contraband for everyone else. As she and Lane begin a tentative relationship, their friends start to get sicker, secrets are revealed, and there are rumors of a cure.
Why I picked it up: It was recommended for the Gateway Reader's Award list by Shannon, whose reading tastes I usually agree with.
Why I finished it: The emotional tug of ill teens was delicate rather than maudlin. (Sadie uses a group movie event to create a homecoming-like photo-op for Lane, so his Facebook will look normal.) Even though totally drug resistant tuberculosis doesn't exist (yet), it felt very real in the contemporary setting. The way the teachers give an assignment then leave the classroom and the isolation of Latham from the town, are measures I can imagine being taken today.
It’s perfect for: Laura, who loved John Green's The Fault in Our Stars, and is looking for more heartrending romances where you keep hoping for that happy ending, even though you know you probably won't get it.
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.
Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win . . . unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.
Willowdean (Will) Dickson has always been a big girl. (Her mom calls her Dumplin’.) Her friends El and Tim love her because she’s funny, sarcastic, and a die-hard Dolly Parton fan. She refers to herself as the "resident fat chick at Harpy's Hot Dogs" when meeting a cute new coworker, Bo Larson, but her size doesn't phase him, and the two start crushing on each other. Unfortunately, Will finds out Bo was using her as a summer rebound, and that others are laughing at her behind her back. To get revenge, Willowdean and other class misfits sign up to compete in the Blue Bonnet Beauty Pageant. (Her disapproving mother is a contest coordinator.) Will wants to prove she is a real girl who has real feelings. She knows she has to "GO BIG OR GO HOME!" The competition will either restore her self-esteem or the other competitors (those "bitchy twigs”) will totally destroy her.
Why I picked it up: I used to be a very petite girl, but because of medication I was on for six years I am no longer as tiny as I used to be. I have been ridiculed for my size, though nobody has had the guts to ask me about the weight gain. And I loved the cover art showing a larger girl who seemed more than happy with her size -- it’s cool to read about anyone, especially a teenager, who is happy with themselves.
Why I finished it: I am a Southern girl, born and raised, so I understood why high school football and beauty pageants were the two main events Clover City, Texas, has going for it. Even though Will knows she is probably the biggest girl at her high school, her sarcasm was her weapon, and she didn’t hesitate to fire back at bullies. I loved the way she was able to stick up for herself and the other high school “losers.” Yes, Will sometimes could be harsh when defending them, but at least she took a stand -- I admired her courage.
It’s perfect for: My little baby sister, “Oopi," an exercise fanatic who doesn't weigh more than ninety-five pounds. She has never been teased for being a big girl. Dumplin’ would (I hope) teach her that her comments about my weight aren’t going to encourage me to lose it; they just make me more depressed, and I want to eat even more than usual.
Readalikes: In The DUFF by Kody Keplinger, Bianca Piper has always been the "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" and for the most part she accepted it. But when her school’s hottest slimeball, Wesley Rush, tells her so, she snaps, throws a Coke in his face, and decides to kiss him just to see his reaction. Things get crazy.
A whimsical, touching debut about loneliness, friendship and hope.
Vivian doesn’t feel like she fits in―and never has. As a child, she was so whimsical that her parents told her she was “left by fairies.” Now, living alone in Dublin, the neighbors treat her like she’s crazy, her older sister condescends to her, social workers seem to have registered her as troubled, and she hasn’t a friend in the world.
So, she decides it’s time to change her life: She begins by advertising for a friend. Not just any friend. She wants one named Penelope.
Meanwhile, she roams the city, mapping out a new neighborhood every day, seeking her escape route to a better world, the other world her parents told her she came from.
And then one day someone named Penelope answers her ad for a friend. And from that moment on, Vivian’s life begins to change.
Debut author Caitriona Lally offers readers an exhilaratingly fresh take on the Irish love for lyricism, humor, and inventive wordplay in a book that is, in itself, deeply charming, and deeply moving.
Quackers knows he’s a duck even though he doesn’t always fit in. But then he meets a strange "duck" named Mittens who introduces him to a bunch of other "ducks" like them.
Why I picked it up: Former librarian and author extraordinaire Kelly Jones told me I’d love it, then handed me a copy at the Texas Library Association conference.
Why I finished it: I love Wong’s art, which seems to be some combo of ink, watercolors, and paper cutouts, the latter of which works particularly well for word balloons and text boxes. The soft edges to the drawings make everyone look friendly, and the colors are just beautiful.
It’s perfect for: My nephew, Leighton. It’s tough to get him to eat his vegetables -- I think he’d eat nothing but white bread and hot dogs if given the chance -- but there’s a subtle message about realizing you might like your veggies, even the ones you hate. (In this case it’s duckweed.)
Geoff Johns’s bestselling, critically acclaimed blockbuster comic is now available in a deluxe edition hardcover in DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH DELUXE EDITION, featuring expansive bonus material, from early concept sketches to variant covers!
Wally West is trapped out of time and space, lost in the recesses of dimensional bleed due to the Flashpoint caused by his mentor Barry Allen. Drifting in this nothingness, only Wally—the man once known as Kid Flash and then the Flash—can see the mystery pervading the universe . . . someone has stolen ten years.
Wally must now return to Earth and the loved ones who have always acted as his lightning rod. Can he reach Linda Park—the woman who was once his wife and mother of his children—or Bruce Wayne—the Batman—the world’s great detective who might be able to unravel the mystery Wally sees before him. But no matter who he contacts, he always slips away, closer to nothingness.
The story that began one of the most critically acclaimed launches of all-time is here in DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition. Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author Geoff Johns (Justice League) with art from four of the industry’s greatest talents in Ivan Reis (Aquaman), Gary Frank (Batman: Earth One), Ethan Van Sciver (Green Lantern: Rebirth), and Phil Jimenez (Infinite Crisis), this new hardcover graphic novel edition has ramifications that will reverberate through the DC Universe for years to come!
Meera Sodha's parents and grandparents lived in India, Kenya, Uganda, and England, and each country influenced the food they cooked and the recipes they loved. Sodha collected the best of that home cooking, and shares it with humor and charm.
Why I picked it up: I'm trying to eat more vegetables and wanted to try something with more of a spicy kick.
Why I finished it: These aren't gloppy, cream-heavy restaurant style recipes but fresh, deliciously spiced, addictive home cooking. The roasted butternut squash with garlic and tomatoes was amazing and got lots of compliments at a family meal. Junjaro, an African take on kidney bean stew, was a great dinner and even better as reheated leftovers. The roasted cauliflower with cumin, turmeric, and lemon will be in heavy rotation from now on.
It’s perfect for: While not all the recipes are written to be healthy and vegetarian, there are so many that are that Vicki, famous for such contributions to work potlucks, will find plenty of great new dishes to try.
The Hanna-Barbera cartoon classic is re-imagined for a new generation in Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 1!
When the world is tossed into chaos, it’s up to a group of meddling kids—Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and their dog, Scooby-Doo—to solve the mystery and survive hordes of zombies! But can they save the day and cure everyone or will they become brain-eating zombies? The creatures of the night are among us, and the crew of the Mystery Machine has to fight to survive—because in the apocalyptic badlands of the near-future, the horrors are real!
Hanna-Barbera has created some of the most recognizable animated characters of all-time. As part of DC Comics’ re-imagination of cartoons like Scooby-Doo, The Flintsones, Johnny Quest, Space Ghost and Wacky Racers, these new series will be infused with modern and contemporary concepts while keeping the heart and soul of the classic animation.
Best friends Mark and Ryan tell their parents they are staying at each others’ houses and sneak into San Francisco to check out Pride. Neither has come out at school yet, and the experience changes everything. Ryan goads Mark into entering an underwear contest, and while Mark is dancing on the bar, he meets Taylor. Mark is heartbroken -- he was hoping that coming to the city would help Ryan admit that they might be more than friends. Mark is saved by Katie, an acquaintance who happened to come into the bar while dodging her own romance-related stress. Over the next week Mark and Katie become fast friends, helping each other negotiate their last days of high school and the painful shift to adulthood.
Why I picked it up: I really love David Levithan's work, particularly his recent pair of novels Every Day and Another Day. And I also adored Nina LaCour's road trip band book, The Disenchantments. Levithan has pulled off terrific collaborations with lots of great teen authors, so I had high hopes for this one.
Why I finished it: There was so much anticipation within this story, propelling me along. Can Mark win Ryan back with an honest declaration of his devotion? Will Katie ever meet the mysterious Violet, her best friend's cousin? Can she possibly be as wonderful as Katie has been imagining?
Readalikes: I thoroughly enjoyed the depiction of San Francisco. Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City series also does a wonderful job of documenting the history of both San Francisco and its LGBT community.