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Kristen Lippert-Martin (author)Kate Rudd (reader)
Sept. 2014. 8hr. Brilliance, CD, $24.99 (9781480530188). Grades 9-12.
REVIEW. First published April 1, 2015 (Booklist). Rudd’s impeccable performance beautifully complements this dystopian tale’s adrenalin-pumped pace. She keeps the action pulsing and holds listeners’ attention as she relates the telling details that build texture, propel plot twists, and reveal intriguing character facets. This immersive novel draws the listener into a world that makes Orwell’s vision of a venal, centralized power engaged in societal engineering and mind control seem playfully benign. Test-subject criminals are housed in an isolated “hospital” resembling a prison where their memories—hence, their histories and identities—are removed. Suddenly, armed men arrive and target teen-outlaw Angel, who has been remanded there for her activism against a powerful corporation. She is mysteriously aided in her escape by a hacker, and the two find themselves in a David-and-Goliath battle for survival against the intruders as well as the perils of the richly described and dangerous winter landscape. Rudd skillfully builds suspense in this story, which offers few respites. She ratchets up the pace and suspense when a violent escapee joins them, and Rudd speeds her delivery to a higher-pitched, breathless narration when Angel faces the armed militants. Rudd excels in voicing the wide range of characters, including the frightened but determined Angel; her clever, computer-savvy partner; the gruff speech of the armed attackers; and the corporate enforcer’s honeyed tones, which belie her steel interior. An outstanding marriage of text and narration.— Whitney Scott

School Library Journal

Hello Texas! Visit Macmillan/Griffin Teen at TLA Annual in Austin, April 14–17
The Macmillan/Griffin team can’t wait to see librarians in Austin at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference in just a few short weeks! Peruse the program early and then join them in the exhibit hall in the Macmillan Adult booth #1359.

Spokes People | SLJ Spotlight
Two nonfiction picture books reimagine the benefits of bicycles.

Sexy Retellings, Alternative History, and Road Trip Novels | What’s Hot in YA
From Rosamunde Hodge’s latest fairy tale reimagining to Bill Konigsberg’s road trip YA, the following books for teens are among this year’s must-have titles.

Library Journal

Literary Lagniappe | Wyatt’s World
A collection for the literary minded, from Young Eliot to Elizabeth Bishop to The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings

Anderson to Zweig | French on Fridays
An A (for Wes Anderson) to Z (for Stefan Zweig) reading adventure.

Fiction from Cander and O’Hagan, a “New” Vidal, and Stibbe’s Debut | Xpress Reviews
Despite some glitches, Cander's novel demonstrates her outstanding prose; the psychological acuity and beautiful writing that typify O’Hagan’s work; fans of Stibbe's memoir will want her debut; will anyone be interested in Vidal's early mystery?

Kirkus Reviews

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An elderly woman and her troupe of gay live-ins take in a young man running from a bad romance in Burch’s debut novel.

Aspiring writer Marc Nugent escapes an abusive boyfriend in New York City and winds up in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a small LGBT-friendly resort town on the tip of Cape Cod. On his first morning in P-town, he runs into Dorrie Machado, a foulmouthed octogenarian. She offers him a place to stay in exchange for a car ride home, and he agrees—only to realize later that she wasn’t talking about a room in her own home but a chance at getting a “gardening” job for her elderly neighbor Lola. There’s mysterious bad blood between Dorrie and Lola, who comes from a prominent, wealthy local family. But Marc, in his interview, impresses Lola nonetheless, and he moves into her home the same day. It turns out that the gardener position has little to do with actual gardening; instead, Marc is expected to run occasional errands and keep Lola company, just as her other gay tenants do. They include Helena, a drag queen whose personality is as over-the-top as her outfits; and Cole, a brooding artist-turned-handyman who’s given up painting. Everyone is in one another’s business (“Meddling is a winter sport in Provincetown,” Helena tells Marc), and before long, Marc is investigating why Lola won’t talk to Dorrie. Burch’s exquisite descriptions of Provincetown bring the cape to life, and the more he reveals about the delightfully crotchety Dorrie and Lola and the effervescent, tragic Helena, the more captivating they become. If only the same could be said for Marc; despite a strong start, he becomes less sympathetic as the novel progresses. As the other characters grow more complex and colorful, he remains poorly sketched and juvenile by comparison, despite his traumatic past. A late attempt by the author to add supernatural elements comes off as halfhearted and sappy. By the end, readers will be screaming for less of Marc and for more seascape adventures with Dorrie, Lola, and Helena.

An often vivid portrait of Provincetown life and May-December friendships, despite a bland main character.

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Third in Brennan’s fine natural-history fantasy series, set six years after the events detailed in The Tropic of Serpents (2014).

This time, iconoclastic scientist Isabella, Lady Tren of Scirland, embarks on a two-year global voyage, hoping to determine the relationships among the endless varieties of dragon. Joining her aboard the research vessel Basilisk will be her commoner sidekick, Tom Wilker (here given little to do), her young son, Jake, and the vessel’s captain, Dione Aekitinos, who, we’re frequently reminded, is “mad,” although he never does or says anything that remotely warrants such an epithet. As they approach the tropics, Jake joyfully takes to the seafaring life, though to Isabella’s disappointment, he shows little interest in natural history. Also joining the expedition will be Suhail, an archaeologist whose theories—concerning an ancient, long-vanished civilization whose buildings, artifacts and script suggest they were dragon-tamers—neatly coincide with Isabella’s interests. Their relationship rapidly develops beyond the professional. But politics are never far away, with the expansionist empire of Yelang a looming threat. Then, entering the Broken Sea, a dreadful storm hurls the Basilisk onto a reef, necessitating extensive repairs. The inhabitants of the local archipelago are none too pleased with this development, suspecting them of being allies of the Yelang. Worse, they regard Isabella’s affinity for dragons and sea serpents as unnatural. This volume lacks the complexity and intensity of its predecessor but is nonetheless beautifully worked and thoroughly engrossing.

Fans of this charming series won’t be disappointed.

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An account of tragic years in Armenian history.

In 1915, Haigaz (1900-1986), born Aram Chekenian, his mother and sisters became victims of Armenian persecution by Ottoman Turks, forced from their homes to march across the Syrian Desert. Starving and destitute, they came to a village where they discovered that other Armenian boys, after converting to Islam, found work as servants in Turkish households. Acceding to his mother’s pleas, the young Haigaz became a willing convert. For the next four years, he lived among Kurdish tribes, tending sheep, reaping crops, feeding chickens and serving as a trusted messenger. Living in intimate proximity to the families, he learned their customs, secrets and, with astute cunning, vulnerabilities. After immigrating to America when he was 21, Haigaz began to write and publish his memories of the massacre that killed his father and brothers, and he mined his experiences in short stories that were published in The Armenian Review. The author adapted some of those stories for a memoir, published in Armenian in 1972 and now translated, condensed and edited by his daughter. Haigaz tells a harrowing story of barbaric cruelty by Turks against the people they considered infidels. Nevertheless, after he converted to Islam—a simple matter of declaration—he was treated humanely. When his first master died, Haigaz moved to the household of his younger brother, a “sensible, modest, and godly” man who had not taken part in the Armenian massacres and, in fact, “could not kill a chicken or watch a sheep being slaughtered.” His only vice seemed to be a great love of alcohol, though forbidden by the Quran. Haigaz reveals intertribal struggles and betrayals as world war raged in the background. In the spring of 1919, with the Ottoman Empire defeated, he saw his chance to escape.

A richly detailed testimony to a young man’s courage in the face of unspeakable horror.

<March 2015>