Debut author Stacey Lee‘s Under a Painted Sky lyrically intertwines aspects of America’s Western expansion that are rarely, if ever, explored.  Into the very real world of the California Gold Rush, the pioneers’ homesteading journeys  along the Oregon Trail, and the lawlessness of the “Wild West“, Lee creates a powerfully moving story of friendship, race and gender politics, and above all, courage and faith.  It’s a treat to spend time with a writer who takes pains to research and then accurately represent, with beautiful, vivid prose, a world gone by and in so doing, make it vibrant, interesting, and resonant. 15 year old Chinese AmericanRead More →

A hidden past and an uncertain future.  There are mysteries around every shady corner in Atlantia, a crumbling underwater world, once hailed as the last outpost of humanity on earth.  But now, the formerly glorious city is barely breathing, hanging on by the annual exchange of minerals (and people) for food and resources from their long-estranged sister city Above.  The people are restless, afraid, engaged in black market trading in their Deepmarket, and looking to the corrupt priesthood for answers and hope. At the center of this dying world is Rio, daughter of the recently deceased woman who was the beloved leader of their people, and whose mysteriousRead More →

Legendary comic book writer Stan Lee‘s first prose novel, Convergence, is going to fly off your shelves.   A mismatched group of regular teens has suddenly been imbued with mystical ancient powers, linked to the animals of the Chinese zodiac.   At the center is 14 year old Chinese American Steven Lee, who has never really felt like he fits in anywhere and more than anything, wishes he could be a hero.  On a school trip to Hong Kong, Steven stumbles into an underground cavern where he’s unwittingly caught up in an energy convergence that gives him the deadly powers of the Tiger.  Steven’s power comesRead More →

Summertime, St. Kilda, Australia.  The long, languid days of  Christmas holiday break stretch before 15 year old Sky Martin.  She and her family, she says, are “like inverse superheroes, marked by our defects.  Dad was addicted to beer and bootlegs. Gully [her younger brother] had ‘social difficulties’ … I was surface clean, but underneath a weird hormonal stew was simmering. My defects weren’t the kind you see just from looking.” (2)  Into lives of the Martin family that summer come 19 year old enigmatic Nancy, who challenges, thrills, taunts, and awakes something in Sky she didn’t know was there and tragic, broken, and oh-so-hot Luke, who isRead More →

Earlier this Autumn, Newbery Medal winner Christopher Paul Curtis returned to Buxton, Canada, with The Madman of Piney Woods.  It’s forty years later than his last visit and the children we met have grown and the town has flourished.  11 year old “Benji” Alston loves roaming the Piney Woods that surround Buxton, whether he’s playing American Civil War with his friends, or visiting the secret swimming hole, or just passing time outside.  Benji’s set his sights on being a newspaper man and is thrilled when he gets an apprenticeship at the newspaper in neighboring Chatham.  “Red” Stockard is a scientist, observing the world around himRead More →

All Jack wants is to live up to his namesake: “maybe I was born to be great, but great at what?” (2)  And that’s really hard, considering that “we lived on a little farm in a small village, where nothing big or great has ever happened in all my twelve years.” (3).  Young Jack was named after a distant grandfather who purportedly conquered nine giants and married the daughter of a duke.  Ever since Jack can remember, his humble farmer father has told him stories of this grandfather, and Jack has longed for any chance at adventure to prove his right to such a greatRead More →

“The universe is in fact a multiverse. Countless dimensions exist, all layered within one another.  Each dimension represents one set of possibilities. Essentially, everything that can happen does happen.” (6)  I love this idea.  Not only as the premise for Claudia Gray‘s new series, which debuts this Fall with A Thousand Pieces of You, but as a thought experiment and a beacon of wonder.  One tiny choice can change your destiny, right? Imagine who you’d be if you’d chosen another career, a different partner, or even driven to work on a different route.  Of course, all these minor changes probably don’t amount to much inRead More →

Tomorrow’s the Big Day.  Seventeen years and not much to show for it.  The day of the Senior Prom; but for Denton Little, it’s his last day on Earth.  Tomorrow, somehow, he’ll die. Ever since his Death Date was revealed to him at age five, Denton’s just wanted to “live a normal life.”  Not one for taking risks or pushing the envelope, Denton doesn’t really have much of a list of accomplishments or awesome experiences to call his own, just a lot of run of the mill, boring stuff.  Sure, some people in this world where your death date is determined based on genetics, statistics,Read More →

It’s been awhile since the last time I fell head over heels in love. And, like all really good loves, I wasn’t looking for it.  Sure, I was anticipating a good story (I loved her first effort) but, “Hi-Yo, Silver”, I was not prepared for my intense reaction to Kristin Levine‘s The Paper Cowboy.  I’ve set aside everything else and have read this book 3 times (and that’s saying a lot) because there is just so much to unpack within these amazingly written 333 pages.  Rumor has it that there’s already buzz for the Newbery list (I hope so!) and I can’t wait until someoneRead More →