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SEARCHING FOR SUPER by Marion Jensen

Available at IndieBound

 

Winter 2015

January

SEARCHING FOR SUPER by Marion Jensen

KIRKUS
Deprived of superpowers in the previous episode (Almost Super, 2014), can the Bailey and Johnson clans put aside their squabbles to tackle their common nemesis, the Joneses? Determined to prove that they have the mettle to join their parents and relatives in fighting crime, 13-year-old Rafter Bailey, his little brother, Benny, and erstwhile rival Juanita Johnson (definitely the brains of the trio) kick off their own search for the Joneses' secret hideout. Little do they suspect that those clever villains have planted a ringer in their very midst. Sabotage and other distractions ensue, until Juanita's sudden disappearance sharpens not only the urgency of the search, but also Rafter's guilt for being a poor friend. The kidnapping turns out to be a crucial mistake for the bad guys, however, as resourceful Juanita gets off a call for help that both brings the Baileys and Johnsons together for a collective rescue operation and, amid much breakage of glass and heroic feats of derring-do, foils the evil schemes of scenery-chewing archfiend October Jones. Rafter makes a likable narrator, emotionally open and determined to be both a good superhero and a good friend. Like its predecessor, a satisfying, Incredibles-style mix of awesome exploits and common family issues.

 

TOMBQUEST: BOOK OF THE DEAD by Michael Northrop

Available at IndieBound



February

TOMBQUEST: BOOK OF THE DEAD by Michael Northrop

KIRKUS
Scholastic launches its latest multiplatform series, this one steeped in ancient Egyptian magic. Twelve-year-old Alex Sennefer is blessed with a mother who would risk everything for him, a best friend, Ren (short for Renata), who accepts him just as he is, and an insatiable hunger for anything having to do with ancient Egypt. It's a good thing that his second home is the famed Metropolitan Museum of Art, where his Egyptologist mother is preparing to open a groundbreaking new exhibition. If only his body would hang on long enough for him to see it. A lifetime of illness catches up with him, and he is pronounced dead by his doctors—but then Alex is suddenly pulled from the brink and awakens to discover he is not only alive, but also healthier than ever. Unfortunately, Alex isn't the only one being given a second chance at life. Almost immediately, he and Ren find themselves in a battle of ancient Egyptian proportions and embroiled in a quest to find his mysteriously missing mother and save the world. Like a preteen Indiana Jones and Lara Croft, Alex and Ren make a compelling duo, and Northrop balances pathos and action effectively to engage readers. Funny and smart, Alex and Ren are excellent companions for this fast-paced and scorpion-filled ride.

 

THE CIPHER by John Ford

Available at IndieBound

 

THE CIPHER by John Ford

*A Junior Library Guild Pick*

KIRKUS

A dangerous breakthrough in cryptography leads to a high-stakes adventure for ne'er-do-well Robert "Smiles" Smylie Jr., whose father founded computing security giant Alyce Systems.On his 18th birthday, Smiles receives the first installment of his relatively modest trust fund. The following weekend, he drives his geeky teen-prodigy neighbor, Ben, to a cryptography conference at Fox Creek Casino. When Ben realizes he has discovered a fast-factoring algorithm that will destroy modern cryptography, Smiles hatches a scheme to sell the information to the National Security Agency. The basics of public-key cryptography are explained accessibly, but the focus here is on the fast-moving action and web of double-crosses and buried secrets. Smiles' confident, upbeat and largely ingenuous voice lends the book charm, and chapters in which Smiles' fond ex-girlfriend Melanie investigates Alyce Systems' past are both warm and suspenseful. Many different storylines are at play here besides the NSA scheme: Smiles' family history, the upcoming Alyce Systems initial public offering, Smiles' relationship with his dying father and Smiles' growing attachment to a girl he meets at the conference. Each plotline works neatly with the others and achieves a satisfying resolution... readers get plenty of suspense and high-tech high jinks... High-speed fun.

MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS by Lisa Schroeder

Available at IndieBound

 

MY SECRET GUIDE TO PARIS by Lisa Schroeder

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Eleven-year-old Nora is heartbroken when her Grandma Sylvia is killed suddenly in an accident. For as long as Nora can remember, Grandma Sylvia has regaled her with tales of Paris's magic, and they had always planned to travel there together. Then Nora discovers that Grandma Sylvia has left behind a stack of envelopes to be opened in Paris, a map, plane tickets, and a locked box (the key to which Nora is certain is in Paris). It takes some persuasion, but soon Nora is Paris-bound with her mother and teenage brother. With the help of her new British friend Phoebe, Nora follows Grandma Sylvia's letters on a treasure hunt that takes her from John-Paul Hévin's chocolate shop to the Musée de l'Orangerie. This love letter to the City of Light will have readers believing that everything's better in Paris. Schroeder (the Charmed Life series) lets the city's romance shine in a thoughtful story, laced with mystery and French vocabulary, about losing family and gaining individuality in a place where curiosity can bloom.

 

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper

Available at IndieBound
 

Fall 2014

September 2014

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe always thought she would continue her family's line, doling out spells and magical charms as the sea witch of Prince Island. That was before her mother forced her into a traditional Victorian upbringing and the dull life of a pastor's stepdaughter. After Avery predicts her own murder through a dream, she makes increasingly desperate attempts to untangle her family secrets and unleash her magic. While Avery's otherness sets her apart from the natives, she finds an ally in Tane, a harpoon boy with tattoos that carry powers of their own. Their tragic love story is just part of Avery's transformation from captive daughter to a woman who can guide not just her own life, but the very wind and sea that surround her home. Debut author Kulper's fictional whaling island, off the Massachusetts coast, pulsates with vibrancy as the author draws from real events and folk tales to illuminate the toil and turmoil of the industrial age, imperceptibly weaving strands of truth into an inventive story of self-sacrifice and sorcery.

Spirit's Key by Edith Cohn

Available at Amazon and IndieBound
 

Spirit's Key by Edith Cohn

SLJ
A delightfully original plot . . . The island setting is unique, and the people that inhabit it are well worth getting to know.

KIRKUS
An inventive story with a fresh setting and an upstanding moral compass.

VOYA
This delightful novel puts together a typical girl-and-her-dog story with a touch of magic, creating a strong debut for Cohn. The setting becomes a character in this magical middle-grade novel. The island's history, characters, and folklore seep through the pages, enriching the story without hindering the plot. The clever use of Spirit's gift-awakening through scent gives clues about the climax without giving it away too soon... the tween audience will find this animal story magical.

Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry

Available at Amazon and IndieBound
 

Fall of Night by Jonathan Maberry

*BOOKLIST STARRED REVIEW
Maberry does some of his best writing in this sequel to 2011's DEAD OF NIGHT... Maberry, no slouch when it comes to action and suspense (his Joe Ledger novels are deservedly very popular), seems to have found new energy here, as though he's been jump started by the story he's telling. he still has a lot of book ahead of them, so calling this his masterpiece would be premature, but a case could be made that this is the best -- and most terrifying -- book he's written so far.

 

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

Spring 2014

May 2014

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

*PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW
At age 18, Emi Price is making big strides toward a career in production design, with a rent-free Los Angeles apartment and an enviable and promising internship on a movie set. When Emi and her best friend Charlotte discover a letter written by a recently deceased film icon (think Clint Eastwood), it leads them to his unknown granddaughter, Ava. Emi is smitten, and as her life and career take ever more fortunate turns, her recently broken heart begins to heal with the hope of new love with Ava.

LaCour (The Disenchantments) can write her way around a movie set (and L.A., too), and her descriptions of Emi's work raise Emi's character to another level and add fascinating depth to this story. Between Ava's troubled ingénue status, her claim to Hollywood royalty, and the way several characters are both charmed by unexpected fortune and grayed by tragedy, the story can feel like a Hollywood fairy tale. But underneath the privilege surges real pain, longing, and feeling in a way that makes it easy to imagine this novel as a film.

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

*KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW
Trying to go straight, troublemaker Jackson Greene succumbs to the lure of the con when it appears Maplewood Middle School's student-council election is being rigged against his friend Gaby de la Cruz.

Although Gaby's been angry at Jackson for more than four months, the two could be more than just friends. And her twin brother, Charlie, Jackson's best friend, is worried about her electoral chances. So Jackson breaks rule No. 3 of the Greene Code of Conduct: “Never con for love. Or even like.” During the week before the election, a delightful and diverse cast of middle school students with a wide range of backgrounds and interests concocts a series of elaborate schemes to make sure the Scantron-counted ballots will produce honest results. While all this is going on, Gaby is busily campaigning and rethinking her love life. References to previous escapades are so common readers may think this is a sequel, and the cast of characters is dizzying. But the results are worth it. Allusions to Star Trek abound. There is a helpful appended explanation of the cons and their shorthand references as well as the Greene Code.

The elaborate bait and switch of this fast-paced, funny caper novel will surprise its readers as much as the victims. They'll want to reread immediately so they can admire the setup.

 

Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

March 2014

Code Zero by Jonathan Maberry

*BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW
Faithful readers of the Joe Ledger series, of which this is the sixth volume, might be confused by the cover blurb calling this "the sequel to Patient Zero," since that was the first book in the series. But the blurb is correct: although the novel takes place in its proper sequence - there are references to events that took place in earlier books - the story involves elements introduced in the series debut, which means Joe and his team from the ultra-elite Department of Military Sciences (DMS) are going to be battling more zombies, but tougher and more dangerous than anything they've seen before. The person responsible for these new-breed walking dead, and for various other technological and biological attacks on the U.S., appears to be a woman who calls herself Mother Night. And when the DMS figures out who Mother Night really is, they realize they're in for their deadliest fight yet. Sure, the series follows a pretty strict formula - Joe and his DMS team encounter a seemingly supernatural threat that has a twisted scientific explanation; they go up against a fiendishly clever supervillain; they save the world; and they do it all in about 450 pages - but when a formula is this entertaining, is anyone going to complain about it? Like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, Ledger is a hard-edged military man with a deep moral core and a razor-sharp mind; in a series of books about zombies and vampires and biblical plagues, he's the human center, a comforting, familiar face in a world of unfamiliar things. Top-grade horror fiction.

 

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

UNDER THE EGG by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

SLJ, Fuse 8
Things could be better. A lot better. When Theodora's grandfather Jack was alive, the family didn't have a ton of money but at least they got by pretty well on his salary as a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was after Jack died in a freak accident that things took a downward slide. With a mother incapable of dealing with reality (and addicted to pricey tea), Theo knows their money is coming to an end. Soon they won't have enough to live on. It's when things look particularly dire that Theo accidentally spills rubbing alcohol on one of her grandfather's favorite paintings. And as strange as it sounds, beneath his plain picture of an egg lies an incredibly old image of Madonna and Child. The more Theo starts to look into the painting and its history, the more determined she is to track down its story. Now with the help of the daughter of a pair of acting celebrities, a punk librarian, an Episcopalian priest, a guy selling nuts on the street, and more, Theo's about to peel away not just the mystery behind the painting, but also her own grandfather's role in one of the greatest WWII capers of all time.

... Uniquely readable, entirely charming, and a pleasure from start to finish. Debuts this good are meant to be discovered.

 

Almost Super by Marion Jensen

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

February 2014

Almost Super by Marion Jensen

KIRKUS
Inventively tweaking a popular premise, Jensen pits two Incredibles-style families with superpowers against each other - until a new challenge rises to unite them.

The Johnsons invariably spit at the mere mention of their hated rivals, the Baileys. Likewise, all Baileys habitually shake their fists when referring to the Johnsons. Having long looked forward to getting a superpower so that he too can battle his clan's nemeses, Rafter Bailey is devastated when, instead of being able to fly or something else cool, he acquires the "power" to strike a match on soft polyester. But when hated classmate Juanita Johnson turns up newly endowed with a similarly bogus power and, against all family tradition, they compare notes, it becomes clear that something fishy is going on. Both families regard themselves as the heroes and their rivals as the villains. Someone has been inciting them to fight each other. Worse yet, that someone has apparently developed a device that turns real superpowers into silly ones. Teaching themselves on the fly how get past their prejudice and work together, Rafter, his little brother, Benny, and Juanita follow a well-laid-out chain of clues and deductions to the climactic discovery of a third, genuinely nefarious family, the Joneses, and a fiendishly clever scheme to dispose of all the Baileys and Johnsons at once. Can they carry the day? A solid debut: fluent, funny and eminently sequel-worthy.

 

Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

Fall 2013

October

Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta

*PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW
In this accomplished debut, the scattered remains of the human race live as second-class citizens on alien worlds, plagued by the "spacesick" that comes from space travel. Seventeen-year-old Cade survives on the desert planet Andana, contending with the "Noise," a constant jumble of sound in her head. Playing guitar for the spacesicks who love her music both makes her a living and keeps her sane. One night the Noise stops, and the hologram of a dead man appears to tell her why - Cade is the product of an experiment and has been entangled on a quantum level since babyhood with a boy named Xan. Xan is being held captive in Hades, an area of space infested with black holes, and to find him, Cade joins forces with a human smuggler, an alien captain, and his sentient ship. Capetta has a muscular writing style that embodies both Cade's sensitivity to the world around her - essential for the artist she is - and the mental shields she creates to protect herself from the brutality of that world.

Blackout by Robison Wells

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

October

Blackout by Robison Wells

*PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW
Wells (Variant) knows how to snare readers' attention and hold them spellbound. In this unnerving thriller, he ingeniously connects the stories of four teens - all afflicted with a bizarre virus that has given them powers ranging from super-strength and invisibility to mind control - who live in an America under siege by terrorists intent on taking out the country's landmarks, power grids, and populace. The catch? The terrorists are also teenagers infected with the same virus. The army is forced to round up the nation's youth for testing and quarantine, making it difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Wells allows the intensity of the story and the heart and soul of each character to shine through. He doesn't overcomplicate matters with lengthy explanations or political background, and instead lets the teens take center stage: Jack and Aubrey, who just want to stay together and stay alive; Alec and Laura, who are full of vengeance and hate. There is no shortage of white-knuckle action or eyebrow-raising violence - fans of Wells's earlier work won't be disappointed. Ages 13-up.

45 Pounds More or Less by Kelly Barson

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

Summer 2013

July

45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) by Kelly Barson

*VOYA, STARRED REVIEW
45 Pounds (More or Less) is a powerful story of the societal pressures to be thin in a culture where beauty is viewed as skinny. Barson's first novel is a look at women of several generations and how they deal with the pressures of body image and food. The underlying themes of relationships and family, the importance of outward appearance, and self-confidence are the focus in this novel. Ann, the main character, undergoes a powerful transformation internally - as well as externally - as she discovers her mother's secret, and realizations about her loved ones help her understand the complications of life.

Barson offers up a powerful and poignant novel about hope and love in the midst of common and controversial issues about weight gain, weight loss, and the ability to persevere despite our flaws and predispositions to "eating," or not eating, our emotions. Barson presents a balance throughout the novel demonstrating the reasonable way to deal with issues women face every day. Readers will relate to any of the characters in this story. It is a book readers will not want to wait to finish, and when it is done, they will pick it up again.

*LMC, STARRED REVIEW
This is an excellent first person narrative with a feisty, upbeat, contemporary look at the life of 16-year-old Ann who has struggled with weight for most of her life and would like to lose 45 pounds before her aunt's wedding. There are some moments, such as shopping for bathing suits, that are painful to read but Ann handles situations with spirit and sass. She is sharp-witted, strong, and self-deprecating, but is often hurt by her seemingly perfect, stick-skinny, and clueless mom. Barson succeeds in helping the reader understand how Ann has struggled and how it's never easy to cope with repressed feelings, but food is always comforting. This is a great read for a mother-daughter book group and could jumpstart conversation about healthy living. It is written with humor and grace, the writing is fresh and modern which makes it all that much more readable. Ann feels familiar. This book will hit a nerve with students. Highly Recommended.

 

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

May

NANTUCKET BLUE
by Leila Howland

*PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, STARRED REVIEW
Cricket Thompson is inseparable from her best friend Jules Clayton, so much so that she's practically a member of the Clayton family. When Jules's mother, Nina, dies unexpectedly, everything changes, including the friends' plans to spend the summer in Nantucket - it's "family only" now. Disappointed, 17-year-old Cricket heads to Nantucket anyway, becoming a chambermaid at a popular inn ("Would I be churning butter, cleaning chimneys, beating rugs with a broom? Who cared?"). As she tries to handle Nina's death and rejection by Jules, unexpected love awaits. Debut author Howland's descriptions for everything from a summer storm ("The grass in the back yard was rain-drunk") to the stirrings of first love ("There was this lightness that occasionally took me over, making me feel like I was made of balloons") are lush and moving. Readers should feel empowered by Cricket's efforts to grow up into a strong, honest, and emotionally intelligent young woman, even as they are enchanted by the romantic and exclusive island setting. This is a natural beach read, but will easily win Howland year-round fans, too. Ages 14-up.

NEW YORK TIMES
Sarah Dessen, a seasoned young adult author, and the bold newcomer Leila Howland present readers with two different visions of sun and surf. While each features a young woman struggling to make the right decisions about life and love, one reads as smoothly as a rowboat ride across Central Park Lake while the other tumbles you like a rolling Coney Island wave...[Howland] evokes the Nantucket setting vividly, from the "quaint, preserved, one of a kind" streets to the ocean, "a million different shades at once, changing with the few clouds that floated above, darkening with depth, reflecting the deep canyons and sandbar stripes below the surface..." Howland and Dessen offer different kinds of summer pleasures, but when it comes to indulgent beach reading, sometimes it's more fun to get pushed over by a wave than to stay safely on your towel.

A Girl Called Problem by Katie Quirk

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

Spring 2013

April

A GIRL CALLED PROBLEM by Katie Quirk

*KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW
Thirteen-year-old healer Shida (Swahili for "problem") can't save 6-year-old Furaha ("happiness") from an untimely death in the Tanzanian village of Njia Panda that its inhabitants label cursed. Despite having penned this work of fiction as an outsider to the culture, Quirk's debut novel for children gives readers an intimate view of rural Tanzania in the early 1970s through details of daily life, folklore, family dynamics and spiritual beliefs. A budding healer, Shida is blamed for her father's death, which occurred at Shida's birth, and this weighs heavily on her. Since that time, her mother has wallowed in self-pity and refused to work. When President Nyerere asks Shida's village to become a model of ujamaa (familyhood) for the country by moving to Njia Panda and farming communally, Shida eagerly anticipates what she has never had: an education and a nursing mentor. After the move, however, the cotton crop mysteriously fails overnight, the villagers' prize possessions, their cattle, escape from their pens, and Furaha dies of fever. With the help of Shida and her cousin Grace, Babu, their grandfather and the village elder, unearths the truth. The novel offers a captivating introduction to Tanzanian life, culture and language (both Swahili and Sukuma), while the mystery of who has cast the "curse" keeps readers intrigued. A mesmerizing read that expands young readers' worldview even as the pages turn.

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

ROTTEN by Michael Northrop

A troubled teen. A rescued Rottweiler. An unlikely friendship.

Jimmer "JD" Dobbs is back in town after spending the summer "upstate." No one believes his story about visiting his aunt, and it's pretty clear that he has something to hide. It's also pretty clear that his mom made a new friend while he was away -- a rescued Rottweiler that JD immediately renames Johnny Rotten (yes, after that guy in the Sex Pistols).

Both tough but damaged, JD and Johnny slowly learn to trust each other, but their newfound bond is threatened by a treacherous friend and one snap of Johnny's powerful jaws. As the secrets JD has tried so hard to keep under wraps start to unravel, he suddenly has something much bigger to worry about: saving his dog.

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Available at Amazon and IndieBound


TAKEN by Erin Bowman

"An action-packed thrill ride from beginning to end. I devoured this in one sitting and might have gnawed a nail or two off from all the excitement. More, please!" - Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy

There are no men in Claysoot, only boys. But every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends . . . and he's gone.

The villagers call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby's eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he's prepared to meet his fate - until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he's been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. What may lie beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot - a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken - or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

March

DR. BIRD'S ADVICE FOR SAD POETS
by Evan Roskos

"A powerful, brave, and important debut that will make you eager to celebrate yourself. A beautifully authentic yawp." - Matthew Quick, author of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

"A poignant, funny, and bighearted novel about the power of saving oneself." - Nina LaCour, author of HOLD STILL

*KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW
Self-deprecating humor abounds in this debut novel that pulls no punches about the experience of depression and anxiety for its teen protagonist.

The words of Walt Whitman provide solace for 16-year-old James, whose mental health struggles are exacerbated by living with abusive parents and agonizing over what he could have done differently to prevent his older sister, Jorie, from being thrown out of the house. James' intense first-person narration, which includes imagined therapy sessions with a pigeon he calls Dr. Bird, both flares with frenetic silliness and sinks heavily into despair, realistically depicting his mood swings. At times contemplating suicide, he's aware of the gravity of his situation, even as his parents react with heartbreaking ambivalence: "Therapy isn't what you need....You're just at that age where you think everything is so horrible and terrible." His self-awareness makes him an enormously sympathetic character. Readers will root for him to win over Beth, the editor of his school's literary magazine, and forgive him for going over the top ("I know that they're all just going to pretend like I'm not here trying to tear the walls down with my fucking barbaric yaawwwwwppppp!") when he rages at a woman who has been carrying on an affair, with his best friend Derek, behind the back of her fiance.

Captivating introspection from a winning character.

 

Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

Winter 2013

January

THE WATER CASTLE
by Megan Frazer Blakemore

*KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW
Weaving legacy and myth into science and magic, old into new and enemies into friends, Blakemore creates an exquisite mystery.

Crystal Springs, Maine, "isn't on the map," but it's still where Price, Ephraim and Brynn's mother brings their family when their father has a stroke. The "looming stone house" with hidden floors and impossible rooms, owned by their family (the Appledores) for over a century, was once a resort that claimed its spring water had healing properties - possibly a fountain of youth. Ephraim struggles to fit in at Crystal Springs' peculiarly overachieving school; his classmate Mallory steels herself against her mother's recent departure and her teacher's assignment to study Matthew Henson ("He just assumed she would want to do him, because Henson was black too"). While Mallory, Ephraim and another sixth-grader named Will unravel the castle's secrets (each for different reasons, all serious) and confront age-old hostility among their families, a 1908 storyline unfolds: Young Nora Darling (Mallory's relative) assists old Orlando Appledore in feverish scientific research. Peary and Henson's Arctic expedition features in both timelines; science, history and literature references glow; Nikola Tesla visits Nora and Orlando. With keen intelligence and bits of humor, the prose slips calmly between narrative perspectives, trusting readers to pick up a revelation that Ephraim and Mallory don't see - and it's a doozy. This one is special.


Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch

Available at Amazon and IndieBound


Fall 2012

MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch

From the USA TODAY Bestselling Author of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE

On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run -- with only one place to go.

With MAGISTERIUM, Jeff Hirsch brings us the story of a complex, captivating world that will leave readers breathless until the very last page.


Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

MONSTROUS BEAUTY by Elizabeth Fama

KIRKUS
A mermaid's attraction to a man begets both love and evil in the waters off Plymouth, Mass., where these exotic creatures have always lived and will live forever. The romance between Syrenka and her beau, Ezra, in 1872 leads to a particularly disturbing murder-suicide, and the pact she makes with Noo'kas, the queen of the mermaids, has repercussions that reach into the present. In modern times, Hester puzzles over her family history; her female ancestors have tended to die young for generations, her mother included, making her decide to swear off love and maybe have a chance to survive into old age. Fama's lush language makes the past seem as immediate as the present-day scenes. Fantasy elements are incorporated seamlessly, so despite knowing about the mermaids from the first, readers will only gradually comprehend the extent to which they have influenced the lives of those around them. The sense of foreboding grows as Hester learns more and more about the past and struggles to find answers to her questions about her own future. The blend of history and fantasy enhances both storylines as the narrative shifts between past and present, gradually doling out clues. Dilemmas and choices are complex, providing much food for thought. Not so much romance as suspense, this stylish fantasy mesmerizes.

WALL STREET JOURNAL
Elizabeth Fama's 'Monstrous Beauty'…is by far the most sophisticated but also the most mature in its treatment of the consuming loves and violent deaths wrought by mer-folk. The story begins in 1522 when the mermaid Syrenka accidentally murders her mortal beloved. Three centuries later, she renounces her fins and tail for the love of another human man, but the exchange comes at a terrible price. Nor does her transformation go unnoticed: A local woman's suspicion of Syrenka leads to a scene of Grand Guignol that will send ghastly effects down to the present day and into the life of a teenager named Hester.

PW
In a chilling and original story, Fama (Overboard) alternates chapters between Hester and Syrenka, an ancient mermaid with a penchant for human men. Syrenka is no Ariel - to gain human lungs, she eats a pair - but her plight tugs at the same heartstrings as that of another monster, Frankenstein's... The horror and humanity are adroitly handled...


Pickle by Kim Baker

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

PICKLE by Kim Baker

PW
Baker's debut is a lighthearted romp with cross-gender appeal. When good-natured sixth-grader Ben Diaz stumbles on the chance to pull a perfect, anonymous prank at school (the balls from a pizzeria's ball pit are involved), the satisfaction - and his schoolmates' reaction - inspire him to seek out bigger opportunities. He recruits two classmates for his "secret prank task team"; they are soon joined by two more, creating a multicultural and personable crew of mischief-makers. Together they go undercover as the most boring official school club they can think of, the League of Pickle Makers. Soon the school fountain is overflowing with soap bubbles, and kids in soaked clothing are emerging from the restrooms (where the sinks have been wrapped in plastic), thanks to Ben's Prank and Trick Association (the other P.T.A.), which must also keep up its pickle-making cover for an upcoming Pioneer Fair. Fair warning: the practical jokes are troublesome and annoying to authority figures but harmless and hilarious to kids, and thus may prove inspirational to like-minded readers.

KIRKUS
Would you want to join the League of Pickle Makers? Sixth-grader Ben Diaz is not a troublemaker. (His best friend Hector's grandmother is the persnickety principal of Fountain Point Middle School; troublemaking is inadvisable.) Ben does think harmless pranks enhance the school experience, though. So when he sees an ad for thousands of free ball-pit balls, he responds and fills his homeroom. It's so much fun he starts a club of pranksters (by invitation only). The Prank and Trick Association (P.T.A.) masquerades as the League of Pickle Makers ('cause who would want to study veggie brining after school?). Several pranks later, the school's abuzz, and the principal is cheesed off. Success! However, the exclusivity of the club jeopardizes Ben's friendship with Hector, whose grandmother can get him to confess to anything. And then a rogue prank threatens to expose them all. Baker's debut, with genial black-and-white illustrations by Probert, is a gently sarcastic, multicultural tale... Sure to please anyone with a puckish sense of humor or a hankering for innocent prank ideas.

 

Feedback by Robison Wells

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

FEEDBACK by Robison Wells

The Sequel to VARIANT, a PW Best Book of 2011

KIRKUS
In VARIANT, Benson Fisher thought he lucked out when he was admitted to Maxfield Academy in New Mexico, and then even luckier when he escaped what turned out to be a virtual prison populated by robot clones, but...

Ben and Becky have fled to the forest, with Becky badly injured. Ben has to find help before they're discovered. The hunt for them is on, and the clock is running against them. Ben finds a settlement outside the school grounds, but he is shocked to discover that it's populated by people he already knows... or thought he knew. But these people are real, while the kids from his past were no more than clones of these originals. Hiding out until Becky recovers, Ben tries to learn who is for real and who can be trusted, always looking for a path to safety. But it becomes clear there is only one way to go: back to school to destroy the enemy from within. Picking up only moments after the first book ends, this book features the same nonstop, breathless pace, adding new dimension to old characters and new plot twists that are hard to see coming...

An absorbing read that won't let fans of the first down.

Flesh and Bone by Jonathan Maberry

Available at Amazon and IndieBound


Summer 2012

FLESH & BONE by Jonathan Maberry

BOOKLIST
Zombies have run amok in YA lit, but the standard bearer remains Maberry's straight-ahead, action-dramaseries that began with Rot & Ruin (2010) and Dust & Decay (2011). ...Waiting for the full reveal in volume four won't be easy.

KIRKUS
The third time's the charm with even more adventure - and gore - as the series continues....


The Hollow City by Dan Wells

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

THE HOLLOW CITY by Dan Wells

PW
An amnesiac paranoid schizophrenic holds the key to a serial killer's motivation in Wells's provocative new thriller. Michael Shipman is the ultimate unreliable narrator, tortured by his senses and afflicted with delusions about being pursued by Faceless Men. Now the authorities want to know whether Michael's Faceless Men are involved with the Red Line Killer, whose de-faced victims were associated with the Children of the Earth, a cult based in the former home of notorious murderer Milos Cerny - the man who killed Michael's mother. When the Faceless Men start stalking Michael in the psychiatric hospital, he escapes to uncover the truth behind the killer, the cult, and his own shadowy childhood memories of a hollow city of empty houses. Wells (I Am Not a Serial Killer) has created an intense, uncanny protagonist who's trapped in an eerie world where denying the insane and otherworldly truth means death

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

February 2012

THE DISENCHANTMENTS by Nina LaCour

*PW, STARRED REVIEW
"LaCour skillfully draws connections between art and life as she delves into the heart of her characters, revealing their fears and celebrating the creative forces that inspire them to reach for the stars."

*KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW
Each member of the band chronicles their trip in a unique way: journaling, taking photographs, drawing, even with a tattoo. Colby's continued devotion to the self-centered and dishonest Bev is at times irritating, but it is also completely real. Long-held secrets strain friendships and forge new bonds. The old friends quickly realize that dreams are a combination of holding on and letting go. Quirky characters, each with his or her own story, are woven into the narrative, creating a rich tapestry that will make readers confident that they are in the hands of a master storyteller. Hauntingly beautiful.

*SLJ, STARRED REVIEW
"Enchanting in its depiction of the cusp of young disenchantment, this realistic novel will hit home with many thoughtful YAs... Characters and scenes are created with the same care and attention to detail that Bev spends on her tiny sculptures that allow the people and places of Colby's road trip of passage to pop to life. Profundities will be found or echoed for many readers: we all feel pain, need love, overcome fear, crave beauty - and lose ourselves and gain strength in the elemental force of music."

 

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

January 2012

THE WHOLE STORY OF HALF A GIRL by Veera Hiranandani

*KIRKUS, STARRED REVIEW
Four decades separate Sonia Nadhamuni and Judy Blume's Margaret Simon, but these feisty, funny offspring of Jewish interfaith marriages are sisters under the skin.

Perched on the uncertain cusp of adulthood, each grapples with perplexing cultural identity issues, but in very different worlds. While Margaret's grandparents pressure her to label herself as they wish, it's Sonia's peers who expect her to define herself racially and culturally. Having a nominally Hindu, Indian-immigrant dad and Jewish-American mom wasn't a big deal until her father lost his job. Now Sonia must leave her comfortably small private school behind and - with Dad sinking into clinical depression and Mom taking on more work - chart her own course at Maplewood Middle School...

Like Blume, Hiranandani resists simplistic, tidy solutions. Each excels in charting the fluctuating discomfort zones of adolescent identity with affectionate humor. (Fiction. 9-13)

*PW, STARRED REVIEW
In Hiranandani's debut novel, Sonia's struggles are painfully realistic, as she wrestles with how to identify herself, how to cope with her family's problems, and how to fit in without losing herself. True to life, her problems do not wrap up neatly, but Sonia's growth is deeply rewarding in this thoughtful and beautifully wrought novel.

 

Variant by Robison Wells

October 2011

VARIANT by Robison Wells

* PW BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR 2011
* PW, STARRED REVIEW

In a chilling, masterful debut, Wells gives the classic YA boarding school setting a Maze Runner twist, creating an academy of imprisoned teenagers who must fight to survive when the rules change daily, and the punishment for breaking those rules is death. Seventeen-year-old Benson Fisher, tired of foster homes, applies for a scholarship to Maxfield Academy in New Mexico, hoping for a fresh start. Instead, he is trapped with roughly 70 other teens divided into three factions, with no teachers, no real classes, and no chance of escape at a school overseen by the mysterious and sinister "Iceman," who doles out punishments and award points. Though Wells doesn't provide much detail about Benson's past, his honesty and determination to escape make him a compelling protagonist, and it's easy to get drawn into his fellow students' plights as well. There are plenty of "didn't see that coming" moments and no shortage of action or violence. With its clever premise, quick pace, and easy-to-champion characters, Wells' story is a fast, gripping read with a cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting more.

KIRKUS
"Benson's account unfolds in a speedy, unadorned first person. Hard to put down from the very first page, this fast-paced novel answers only some of the questions it poses, holding some of the most tantalizing open for the next installment in a series that is anything but ordinary."

"Variant is a compelling story on so many levels. I loved it! The twist behind it all is my favorite since Ender's Game." - James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER

 

Variant by Robison Wells

DEAD OF NIGHT by Jonathan Maberry

"Jonathan Maberry is the top gun when it comes to zombies, and with DEAD OF NIGHT, he's at the top of his game. Frankly, I'm shocked by how effortlessly he moves between the lofty intellectual heights of T.S. Eliot's poetry and the savage carnality of the kill. DEAD OF NIGHT develops with the fevered pace of a manhunt, and yet still manages to hit all the right notes. Strap in, because Maberry's latest is one hell of a wild ride. I loved it." - Joe McKinney, author of DEAD CITY and APOCALYPSE OF THE DEAD

"Jonathan Maberry has created an homage to death itself and an homage to the undead that is as poetic as it is terrifying. It's a brand new and intriguingly fresh slant on the zombie genre that we all love!" - John A. Russo, co-screenwriter of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

"Maberry is a master at writing scenes that surge and hum with tension. The pacing is relentless. He presses the accelerator to the floor and never lets up, taking you on a ride that leaves your heart pounding. It's almost impossible to put this book down. DEAD OF NIGHT is an excellent read." - S.G. Browne, author of BREATHERS

"DEAD OF NIGHT stands drooped-head and lurching-shoulders above most zombie novels. The nightmare increases exponentially - from minor outbreak to major crisis with unstoppable speed, building to a heart-stopping climax you won't be able to put down." - David Moody, author of the HATER and AUTUMN books

 

Sharks and Boys by Kristen Tracy

September 2011

FROST by Marianna Baer

"Marianna Baer's novel, FROST, puts a unique, 21st Century spin on the usual Gothic ghost story." - Lois Duncan, author of DOWN A DARK HALL and STRANGER WITH MY FACE

"Providing chills and romance at an unflagging pace, Frost is a mysterious, suspenseful thrill ride that refuses to let the reader go even after the last word is read." - Carrie Jones, NYT bestselling author of the NEED series

KIRKUS
Baer has a knack for dialogue and creating creepy situations that will intrigue teens.

BOOKLIST
A lot is going on in this multilayered first novel, much of it beneath the surface, which leaves the reader appropriately on edge... this nuanced blend of psychological suspense and and boarding-school drama will tingle the spines of plenty of readers.

Leena Thomas's senior year at boarding school starts with a cruel shock: Frost House, the cozy Victorian dorm where she and her best friends chose to live, has been assigned an unexpected roommate - confrontational, eccentric Celeste Lazar.

What Celeste lacks in social grace, however, her brother, David, a recent transfer student, makes up for in good looks and charm. But while he and Leena hit it off immediately, Leena finds herself struggling to balance her growing attraction with her fear of getting hurt.

As classes get under way, strange happenings begin to bedevil Frost House - frames mysteriously falling off walls, doors locking by themselves, furniture toppling over. Celeste blames the housemates, convinced they want to scare her into leaving. And while Leena tries to play peacekeeper between her best friends and new roommate, soon the mysterious happenings in the dorm, an intense triangle between Leena, Celeste, and David, and the reawakening of childhood fears all push Leena to take increasingly desperate measures to feel safe. But does the threat lie with her new roommate, within Leena's own mind . . . or in Frost House itself?

 

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE by Jeff Hirsch

"THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE hits disturbingly close to home... An excellent, taut debut novel." - Suzanne Collins, author of THE HUNGER GAMES

Dad turned all around, sheets of water coursing off his head and shoulders. I wanted to scream that it was pointless, that we needed to keep running, but then there was another crack and a flash of lightning, and for a second it seemed like there might be a ridge of some kind out ahead of us. Dad grabbed my elbow and pulled us toward it.

"Come on! Maybe there's shelter!"

By then, the ground had turned to a slurry of mud and rocks and wrecked grass. Every few steps my feet would sink deep into it and I'd have to pull myself out one foot at a time, terrified that I'd lose sight of Dad and be lost out in that gray nothing, alone forever.

As we ran, the ridge ahead of us became more and more solid, a great looming black wall. I prayed for a cave, but even a good notch in the rock wall would have been enough to get us out of the rain and hide until morning. We were only fifty feet or so from it when Dad came to an abrupt halt.

"Why are we stopping?!"

Dad didn't say anything, he simply pointed.

Between us and the ridge there was an immense gash in the earth, a gorge some thirty feet across and another thirty deep, with steep, muddy walls on our side and the ridge on the opposite. A boiling mess of muddy water, tree stumps, and trash raged at the bottom.

Dad searched left and right for a crossing, but there wasn't any. His shoulders slumped. Even through the curtain of rain I could see the sunken hollow of his eyes, deep red-lined pits that sat in skin as gray as the air around us.

"I'm sorry, Stephen. I swear to God, I'm so sorry."

 

DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry

August 2011

DUST & DECAY by Jonathan Maberry

KIRKUS
The zombie attacks are bigger, better - and gorier - in this nearly non-stop action sequel to ROT & RUIN.

BOOKLIST
Maberry knows this world well; when the zombie apocalypse comes down, I want him on my team.

* PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
STARRED REVIEW of ROT & RUIN

"The delineation between man and monster, survivor and victim is fiercely debated in Maberry's (Patient Zero) thoughtful, postapocalyptic coming-of-age tale. In Mountainside, an oasis of civilization in a world ravaged by zombies, residents must find work at age 15 or have their rations halved. With every other option exhausted, Benny Imura reluctantly apprentices with his older brother, Tom, as a zombie killer, despite blaming Tom for their parents' deaths. As Benny accompanies Tom into the hostile wilderness, he learns how wrong he was about many things, from the supposed "coolness" of larger-than-life bounty hunter Charlie Matthias to the inhuman nature of "zoms" and the true purpose of Tom's work. The eye-opening experiences continue when Charlie kidnaps Benny's potential girlfriend, Nix, as part of his efforts to track down the fabled Lost Girl, who holds the key to a deadly secret. In turns mythic and down-to-earth, this intense novel combines adventure and philosophy to tell a truly memorable zombie story, one that forces readers to consider them not just as flesh-eating monsters or things to be splattered, but as people."

 

Sharks and Boys by Kristen Tracy

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

June 2011

SHARKS & BOYS by Kristen Tracy

* KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW
Thoughtless teen behavior leads four sets of twins on a deadly adventure in a horribly realistic but often very funny survival tale.

These eight teens have been part of a research study and know each other all too well. Enid, the only girl (she is a fraternal twin), is on a break from dating Wick, whose brother conspired to diss her in a zine co-authored by Burr and Skate, twins whose parents have just died in an accident. Narrator Enid isn't funny on purpose, but her angst and stalker behavior are hilarious, as she abandons her responsibilities and drives five hours to eavesdrop on the guys, who are partying. The boys head to the Gretchen, a boat owned by Burr and Skate, for a slightly tipsy outing on the high seas, and Enid follows, sure that Gretchen is female and possibly a stripper. She ends up hiding on board in the head. When the boat goes down and they are left with only a plastic raft, the reality turns increasingly deadly as the often-fortunate coincidences of survival tales don't help these kids out. As Enid names a few of the circling sharks, their increasingly dire situation reveals more about all eight twins, with twins Munny and Sov, who've seemed vulnerable, exhibiting unsuspected strength.

William Golding updated with humor.

 

You Don't Know About Me by Brian Meehl

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

May 2011

YOU DON'T KNOW ABOUT ME by Brian Meehl

* PUBLISHERS WEEKLY STARRED REVIEW
Meehl (Suck It Up) draws inspiration from an American classic in this thought-provoking, often philosophical coming-of-age tale. Almost 16, Billy has spent his entire life traveling with his mother and fighting the good fight as "ninja warriors for the Lord." While Billy is secure in his faith and a willing crusader, he's ready to give up homeschooling for high school and lead a normal, nonnomadic life. The arrival of a message from his (supposedly dead) father gives Billy the impetus to break free and go on a wild road trip. Led by clues hidden in a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he travels cross-country, finding an unlikely traveling companion in Ruah Branch, a closeted gay black, professional baseball player. Billy and Ruah's friendship is tested by religious and personal beliefs, forcing Billy to rethink everything he's ever known. Throw in a trip to Burning Man, a pair of con artists, and the legendary sequel to Huckleberry Finn, and you have a recipe for a story both strange and wonderful. Meehl doesn't pull any punches as his characters undergo their own journeys to freedom in this powerful, intelligent tale.

Sixteen-year-old Billy Albright is about to bust out of the sheltered cocoon his mother has created for him and go on a gonzo road trip. He just doesn't know it yet. His ticket to freedom? A mysterious Bible containing two resurrection stories. The second story is about a man Billy has never met, and who is supposedly dead: his father.

But the road to a risen-from-the-grave dad, and the unusual inheritance he promises, is far from straight. Billy zigzags across the American West in a geocaching treasure hunt. After encountering a runaway baseball star, nudists who perform wild sun dances, a girl with neon green beauty parts, and con artists who blackmail him into their "anitaction movie," Billy quickly realizes that the path to self-discovery is mega off road.

Brian Meehl's contemporary reimagining of Mark Twain's ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN is a probing and comic exploration of the enslaving chains that still rattle in America today.

 

The Dragon of Cripple Creek by Troy Howell

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

April 2011

THE DRAGON OF CRIPPLE CREEK by Troy Howell

"I hate it when really wonderful illustrators turn out to be even more wonderful at writing novels. Somehow it's not fair. Yet how could I hate Troy Howell whose sassy, self-aware (and hurting) heroine Kit has one of the freshest voices in children's novels today. Whose dragon Ye has a marvelous world-weary insouciance. Whose landscapes and cave-scapes are as visualized in words as in his paintings. You guessed it. I love this book." - Jane Yolen, author of the Pit Dragon Chronicles, The Dragon's Boy, The Young Merlin Trilogy, and The Devil's Arithmetic

"Troy Howell's heroine, Kat, is as luminous as the gold in her pocket. Readers better hang on to their hats as she tells her funny, sad, lyrical and finally- breathtaking tale. I absolutely loved this book." - Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Treehouse series

When Kat and her father and brother visit the Mollie Kathleen, an old gold mine now open for tours by the busload, Kat gets lost from the group and falls down a shaft, where she discovers an awe-inspiring world of fantasy. She meets an ancient dragon--the last of his kind--and discovers a secret about the god that litters the creature's den and why dragons throughout time have hoarded the sparkling treasure.

The dragon helps Kat escape the endless caverns, but not before Kat greedily takes a piece of gold for herself. Feeling guilty, Kat decides to return it, but before she can do this she drops it in front of a group of visitors, and media frenzy ensues. Soon the mining town is filled with gold seekers. In order to save the dragon and his gold Kat and her brother must venture back into the mine to warn him. But will they get there in time? This fast-paced, beautifully told modern fantasy tale is children's book illustrator Troy Howell's writing debut.

 

I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

March 2011

I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU by Dan Wells

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
In Wells's smart and sassy third supernatural featuring likable teenage sociopath John Wayne Cleaver (after Mr. Monster), The Handyman, a serial killer who removes the tongues and hands of his victims, is targeting the town fathers of Clayton, N. Dak. John, who sometimes assists his mother in the local mortuary business, believes the killer is demon possessed, and consults with a local priest, who's horrified to discover that empathy-empty John is a potential murderer himself. Then a rash of teen suicides breaks out, threatening John's girlfriend, Marci, and forcing him to revise his deductions about the killer's identity. Wells lards his fanciful narrative with enough mortuary pathology to give it a grisly edge. His true achievement, though, is his compelling depiction of John, who nurtures a darkness within that makes him seem much older than his actual years.

Praise for I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER:

* KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW
Wells's debut, the first in a projected trilogy starring a character who seems the love child of Showtime's Dexter and F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack, is an unabashedly gory gem. While certainly not for all audiences, this deft mix of several genres features a completely believable teenage sociopath (with a heart of gold), dark humor, a riveting mystery and enough description of embalming to make any teen squeamish even if they won't admit it.

"This dazzling unputdownable debut novel proves beyond a doubt that Dan Wells has the gift. His teenage protagonist is as chilling as he is endearing. More John Wayne Cleaver, please." - F. Paul Wilson, New York Times Bestselling author

"The beauty of the prose, mixed with the depth of characterization, gives the haunting, first-person narrative a human touch. Regardless of your age or genre preferences, you will find this story both profound and enthralling." - Brandon Sanderson, New York Times Bestselling author



The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

February 2011

THE KING OF PLAGUES by Jonathan Maberry

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
In Maberry's audacious third novel featuring Department of Military Science agent Joe Ledger (after The Dragon Factory), Joe must stop a cult bent on over-throwing the world order. Though Ledger is unofficially retired, a terrorist attack that levels the Royal London Hospital killing thousands compels him to return to action. The London tragedy proves to be just the opening move in a meticulously planned plot. When a viral research facility in Scotland is compromised, the Bombay Stock exchange is bombed, and Ledger himself is almost killed by assassins, he and his DMS cohorts quickly realize that they are up against a terrorist group with virtually unlimited resources--about which they know little except its name, the Seven Kings. Powered by a cast of over-the-top characters, breakneck, pacing, nonstop action, and a subtle sense of humor, this is an utterly readable blend of adventure fiction, suspense thriller, and horror.

Praise for the first Joe Ledger novel, PATIENT ZERO:

"When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week there's either something wrong with your world or something wrong with your skills...and there's nothing wrong with Joe Ledger's skills. And that's both a good, and a bad thing. It's good because he's a Baltimore detective that has just been secretly recruited by the government to lead a new taskforce created to deal with the problems that Homeland Security can't handle. This rapid response group is called the Department of Military Sciences or the DMS for short. It's bad because his first mission is to help stop a group of terrorists from releasing a dreadful bio-weapon that can turn ordinary people into zombies. The fate of the world hangs in the balance..."

* PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Plenty of man-to-zombie combat, a team traitor and a doomsday scenario add up to a fast and furious read."

* KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW
"The book is as fun and funny as it is chilling and thrill-packed. Joe is a fantastic character, full of compassion, real vulnerabilities and a deliciously dark sense of humor. An immensely entertaining package."

"The action is heated, violent, and furious, the writing remains cool, steady, and low-key, framing all the wildness and exuberance in a calm rationality (given an almost comic edge) that renders it as palatable as your favorite flavor of ice cream. This is a lovely treat and Maberry has written a memorable book." - Peter Straub

 

Trapped by Michael Northrop

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

February 2011

TRAPPED by Michael Northrop

The day the Blizzard started, no one knew it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive.

Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision...

BOOKLIST
"It's a setup just plausible enough to give you chills. A nor'easter, which will ultimately be known as the worst blizzard in U.S. history, sweeps into a rural New England community, trapping seven kids inside their high school for days. Northrop begins with some dark foreshadowing - "Not all of us made it" - which makes the students' gradual realization of their predicament all the more frightening. First the snow piles up past the windows; then the water pipes freeze; then the roof starts making ominous noises. What begins as a sort of life-or-death The Breakfast Club (there's the delinquent, the pretty girl, the athlete, and so on) quickly turns into a battle for survival... there's no denying that the pages turn like wildfire."

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Northrop (Gentlemen) offers a gripping disaster story that, for its reliance on luck and coincidences to set things up, is no less exciting... The problems are expected--darkness, infighting, jealousy, illness, hunger--but conveyed with a tight sense of realism through Scotty's narrative voice. He tells readers early on that "not all of us made it," so the surprise is less that things keep going wrong than how they do. Northrop's solid storytelling should keep readers rapt.

 

The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter by Kristen Tracy

Available at Amazon and IndieBound

 

January 2011

THE REINVENTION OF BESSICA LEFTER by Kristen Tracy

When you are in middle school, it is dumb to expect good things to happen to you.

After an unfortunate accident at the hair salon, Bessica is not allowed to see her best friend, Sylvie. That means she's going to start middle school alone. Bessica feels like such a loser. She wants friends. She's just not sure how to make them.

It doesn't help that her beloved grandma is off on some crazy road trip and has zero time to listen to Bessica. Or that Bessica has a ton of homework. Or that the gorgeous Noll Beck thinks she's just a kid. Or that there are psycho-bullies in her classes.

Bessica doesn't care about being popular. She just wants to survive -- and look cute. Is that too much to ask when you're eleven?

* THE BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS
STARRED REVIEW

"Readers negotiating their own middle-school minefields or soaking up all the preparatory information they can find will breathlessly follow Bessica's escapades."

KIRKUS
The first-person narration reveals the inconsistencies of preteendom, the magnified problems and rapid emotional swings. Both family and school are believable, but, appropriately, this is all about Bessica, a character whose newfound bear persona schoolmates and readers alike can applaud.


 

 

Sara Crowe, Literary Agent with Harvey Klinger, Inc