Heartless by Marissa Meyer (2016)

heartlessA dark, imaginative, and romantic Alice in Wonderland prequel.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   453 (for ISBN 9781250044655)

Genre(s) and keywords: romance, fantasy, retellings

Tone/Style: dark, romantic

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: Alice in Wonderland, magic, baking, royalty, nobility, unwanted marriages, Victorian, illicit romance, fairy tales (Alice in Wonderland isn’t quite a fairy tale, but it appeals to the same crowd so I’m sticking the tag in here.)

Themes: romantic love, societal roles, duty, falls from grace

Summary: Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

Continue reading

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (2016)

Romance laced with social issues and philosophical musings.

Recommended grade level: mature 8th graders and up

Pages:   348 (for ISBN 9780553496680)

Genre(s) and keywords: romance, realistic, diverse

Tone/Style: contemplative

Pace: moderate

Topics: Asian-Americans, African-Americans (sort of; she is technically Jamaican), undocumented immigrants

Themes: love, romantic relationships, fate, chance, finding meaning, preparing for the future

Summary: Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story. Continue reading

5 to 1 by Holly Bodger (2015)

5to1A dystopian society, Indian culture, and feminist commentary combine to make this a unique read.

Recommended grade level: 7-10

Pages:  244 (for ISBN 9780385391535)

Genre(s) and keywords: dystopian, verse, diverse, Asia (India, fictionalized)

Tone/Style: bleak, determined

Continue reading

When Parents Text: So Much Said, So Little Understood by Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli (2011)

when parentsRecommended grade level: 8 and up

Pages: 256 (for ISBN 9780761166047)

 Genre(s) and keywords: humor, nonfiction, Internet

Tone/Style: humorous, text

Pace: fast, browsable

Topics: technology, misunderstandings, generation gaps

Themes: parent/child relationships, familial love, challenges of modern communication

Summary: A collection of insanely funny texts between parents and kids, When Parents Text is a surprisingly affecting window into the complicated time when parents aren’t ready to let go, and kids aren’t ready to be let go. Continue reading

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2012)

one foThis story about a witty, sarcastic girl who struggles to open herself to love in a foster home is a favorite with upper elementary and middle school readers.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 224 (for ISBN 9780399256158)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: snarky, longing

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: foster care, domestic abuse, relationships with foster families

Themes: betrayal by a family member, finding familial love, loss, belonging, forgiveness

Summary: In the wake of heart-breaking betrayal, Carley Connors is thrust into foster care and left on the steps of the Murphys, a happy, bustling family. Continue reading

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt (2015)

orbThe tough subject of middle school parenthood is explored with tenderness and grace in this simple and devastating novel.

Recommended grade level: 6-10

Pages: 192 (for ISBN 9780544462229)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fictionreluctant readers

Continue reading