June 1 & 15, 2017 Booklist 91 www.booklistonline.com
Amid Stars and Darkness.
By Chani Lynn Feener.
July 2017. 368p. Feiwel and Friends/Swoon Reads, $17.99
(9781250123763). Gr. 9–12.
It’s been three years since aliens revealed
themselves as frequent visitors to our planet.
People on Earth have made great strides to accept them; there are even human-alien dating
apps and mixers for those who want to take a
walk on the extraterrestrial side. Delaney, who
accompanies her space-obsessed friend Mariana to a club for just such an event, doesn’t
see the appeal in these visitors—especially
when they kidnap her. Delaney is apparently
a dead ringer for alien princess Lissa Olena,
and while her alien doppelgänger hides out on
Earth, Delaney is stuck on a ship and guarded
by a muscle-bound soldier called Ruckus. In
order to survive, Delaney must fool the prince
and the entire alien delegation into believing she’s the princess, all while falling for her
guard. This is a romance wrapped up in the
trappings of science fiction, and it relies on familiar tropes. There’s nothing really new here,
but this debut still makes for fun, fluffy reading. —Stacey Comfort
The Apprentice Witch.
By James Nicol.
July 2017. 336p. Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99
(9781338118582). Gr. 6–9.
Arianwyn Gribble has suffered a blow. The
evaluation that should have made her a full-fledged witch resulted only in humiliation
and the conciliatory title apprentice witch.
Even so, she’s landed a position in the small
town of Lull, where she is eager to prove
her mettle. Nicol has avoided the well-trod
boarding-school setting and created an interesting magical world where war simmers in the
background, witchcraft is carefully governed,
and witches’ skills are appreciated by non-magical folk. He also centers the practice of
magic around glyphs, written symbols historically linked to witchcraft and spellcasting. As
Arianwyn’s abilities strengthen, she is haunted
by visions of an unfamiliar glyph that both
tempts and terrifies her. Her stint in Lull takes
an unpleasant turn when Gimma, the mayor’s
niece and Arianwyn’s school nemesis, arrives
to lend a hand—just as a dangerous dark spirit
emerges in the Great Wood. While adorned
with funny and charming details, Arianwyn’s
story is primarily one of personal growth and
discovery that will gratify fantasy readers and
Tiffany Aching fans. —Julia Smith
By Abdi Nazemian.
Aug. 2017. 288p. HarperCollins/Balzer+Bray, $17.99
(9780062486462); e-book, $17.99 (9780062486684).
Daria despises the pretenses of the so-called
Beverly Hills Persian princesses, which in-
clude nose jobs, lavish sweet sixteen parties,
and ignoring the current
state of Iran. That’s why
Daria and her friends call
themselves the “Authentics.”
Daria is proud to own her
Iranian heritage, just as the
other Authentics embrace
their own unique identi-
ties. Things begin to unravel
when Daria receives the results from a DNA
kit that reveal she is actually half Middle
Eastern and half Mexican. Dismayed, Daria
secretly begins an investigation to find her
birth parents. In the sequence of surprises
along the way, Daria continually reevaluates
the meaning of identity and authenticity. Au-
thor Nazemian weaves a network of diverse
supporting characters that further explore
these themes, such as Daria’s older brother
and his Chinese American husband, who
are expecting their first child, and Daria’s
birth mother’s attractive stepson. Nazemian
keeps it all real by focusing on the strength
of emotional bonds that transcend all external
differences. Daria’s mother, for example, could
easily be a Persian princess stereotype, but she
is ecstatic about her gay son and the arrival
of her first grandchild. As with the novels of
Benjamin Alire Sáenz or Randa Abdel-Fattah,
Daria’s thought-provoking journey will reso-
nate with teen readers of all backgrounds.
Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales
Ed. by Ameriie.
July 2017. 368p. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (9781681193649).
It’s true: everyone loves a character who’s
a little bit bad. In the case of these 13 tales,
that’s often a lot bad: collection editor and
contributor Ameriie pairs 13 authors with
13 BookTubers tasked with creating stories
that feature infamous villains from literature
and fairy tales. The concept here is that the
BookTuber provides the prompt, the author
writes the story, and then the BookTuber
provides commentary. Some prompts are
more detailed than others, and inevitably, the
best stories are often from the simplest plots:
standouts include Susan Dennard’s “Shirly
and Jim” (“a young Moriarty”), Cindy Pon’s
“Beautiful Venom” (“Medusa. Go!”), Sa-
mantha Shannon’s “Marigold” (“Erl Queen
retelling in nineteenth-century London”),
and Andrew Smith’s “Julian Breaks Every
Rule” (“A psychopath in a futuristic setting").
A diverse array of high-profile authors are
showcased (i.e., Renée Ahdieh, Adam Silvera,
Victoria Schwab, Nicola Yoon), and the inclu-
sion of the Book Tubers is an interesting idea
that allows for a range of perspectives. The
concept alone is enough to draw readers, so
stock up—it’s never been so fun to be bad.
Daughter of the Burning City.
By Amanda Foody.
July 2017. 384p. Harlequin Teen, $19.99
(9780373212439). Gr. 8–11.
A traveling circus city called Gomorrah is
home to blind 16-year-old jynx worker Sorina, whose skill is creating illusions so realistic
they lead their own lives: birdlike Hawk; boneless acrobat Venera; dagger-headed Crown;
bark-wrapped Human Tree; conjoined twins
Unu and Du; fire-breathing baby Blister; and
Trout, a man whose gills let him breath underwater. Sorina, as Gomorrah’s proprietor’s
daughter, holds a place of importance, but
that doesn’t prevent her creations from being
killed off one by one. As she searches for the
killer, family secrets are uncovered, and the
controversy Gomorrah ignites each place it
goes becomes an important political component of the story. Gomorrah is a freak show
on wheels, surrounded by the entourage that
usually supports carnival-like shows, but on
a scale so large it becomes a city in and of itself. On the surface, first-time author Foody’s
mystery seems focused on the illusion-killer,
but there is a darker story of political unrest,
struggles between haves and have-nots, and
those who believe that “different” is perverse.
By Emily Bain Murphy.
July 2017. 400p. HMH, $17.99 (9780544879362).
Scents were the first to go. Then reflections,
stars—even dreams. Every seven years, the
town of Sterling experiences a “
Disappearance.” Aila and Miles Quinn, arriving in town
after the death of their mother, Juliet, are just
in time for the latest departure. Even though
Juliet grew up beneath Sterling’s starless skies,
this is the first the Quinn siblings are hearing
of the town’s curse—or their mother’s alleged
involvement in it. Lucky for Sterling, Aila is
armed with Juliet’s cryptically annotated volume of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, and
she’s discovering that within its many riddles
may be precisely the answers the town needs.
With its bewitching brew of magic realism,
romance, historical detail, and alternating
narratives and time lines—all set against the
dread of WWII—Murphy’s debut is no doubt
ambitious. And while its considerable scope
often comes at the expense of pacing and
character development, Murphy’s expertly
woven world, spun with secrets, lush with
literary allusion, and shimmering with magic
(quite literally), is a place many readers will
happily disappear into. —Briana Shemroske
Dress Codes for Small Towns.
By Courtney Stevens.
Aug. 2017. 352p. Harper Teen, $17.99 (9780062398512).
Stevens’ ( The Lies about Truth, 2015) poignant new novel tells the story of a memorable