"I like the truth, even when it does trouble me."
~ Juliet Marillier, Wildwood Dancing
To Catch a Cheat by Varian JohnsonFiction. To protect what's left of his reputation, retired eighth-grade con man Jackson Greene will have to pull off one last heist. After Jackson and his crew are framed for a prank they didn't commit, the culprits blackmail Jackson into helping with a bigger job: stealing the answers to Mrs. Clark's famously hard-to-pass history test. It seems like an impossible task, but if anybody can pull it off, it's Gang Greene -- and they'll find a way to expose the blackmailers while they're at it. You don't need to have read The Great Greene Heist to appreciate the diverse characters and pop culture references in this twisty, page-turning sequel.
Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer A. NielsenHistorical Fantasy. Though being a Roman charioteer is better than being a slave in the mines, impulsive young Nic is far from free. Now he's at the mercy of the rebellious Praetors, who are holding his mother hostage until Nick helps them find a magical amulet -- an amulet powerful enough to destroy Rome. Refusing to choose between his family and his city, Nic takes a risky gamble that might just save both. Good thing he's used to having the odds stacked against him! To understand the breathless action and complex plot in this 2nd book in the Praetor War series, you'll want to start with book one, Mark of the Thief.
Valkyrie by Kate O'HearnFantasy. Now that she's 14, winged Valkyrie Freya has to take her place as a reaper, collecting the souls of human warriors and bringing them to Valhalla. Unlike her mother and sisters, however, Freya hates violence, and when the first person she reaps turns out to be a reluctant soldier who's worried about his family, Freya promises to help. Risking the wrath of Odin, she sneaks away to current-day Chicago, where she gets a crash course in humanity and starts to realize that heroism extends beyond the battlefield. Combining high-stakes action, realistic angst, and characters form Norse legends, this modern/mythological mash-up is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan.
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner; illustrated by Gareth HindsBiography. Minamoto Yoshitsune was not a likely samurai. Raised in a monastery after his father lost a conflict with a rival family, Yoshitsune didn't have a warrior's usual skills or physical bulk. But after running away as a teenager to rejoin his family in a new bid for power and revenge, he trained hard and soon became notorious for his intensity, intelligence, and recklessness in battle. Peppered with artwork by graphic novel illustrator Gareth Hinds and overflowing with blood and beheadings, this dramatic glimpse into the samurai culture of 12th-century Japan is "pure excitement" (Booklist).
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet MarillierFantasy. Jena and her four sisters, who live with their merchant father in Transylvania, use a hidden portal in their home to cross over into the Other Kingdom every time the moon is full. For the past nine years, they've joined dwarves, trolls, and other fairy folk in the Dancing Glade for all-night revels. Jena found her best friend -- a talking pet frog -- there, and eldest sister Tati has fallen in love with one of the Night People. But now the sisters' cousin Cezar, who loathes and fears the Other Kingdom, threatens to raze the Wildwood where the kingdom lies. This fast-paced, suspenseful, and romantic tale will keep readers enchanted through the very last page.
West of the Moon by Margi PreusHistorical Fiction. Imagination is a source of strength in this brutal yet lyrical story from Newbery Honor-winning author Margi Preus. Set in Norway in the 1800s, West of the Moon is the story of Astri, whose aunt and uncle have separated her from her sister, Greta, and sold her to a cruel goat farmer named Svaalberd. Drawing courage from the brave characters of Scandinavian folktales, Astri manages to outwit the wicked Svaalberd, stealing his hidden treasure before rescuing Greta and embarking on a perilous escape to America. Astri is a gutsy, compelling heroine, and her adventure will appeal to those who love historical fiction tinged with fantasy.
Sisters by Raina TelgemeierGraphic Memoir. Fans of Smile will be delighted to revisit Raina Telgemeier's real-life adventures in this companion memoir. Sisters tells the story of a fateful family road trip, with a focus on artsy, awkward Raina and her prickly younger sister, Amara. Through the vivid cartoon illustrations, you'll experience all of their funny and bittersweet family drama, as well as a memorable incident with a pet snake that will make you shriek with either horror or laughter (or maybe both). Whether or not you've got siblings of your own, this memoir is a "wonderfully charming tale of family and sisters that anyone can bond with" (Kirkus Reviews).
One Came Home by Amy TimberlakeHistorical Fiction. It's 1871, and Georgie Burkhardt is sure that the unrecognizable body by the roadside can't actually be her runaway sister, Agatha. But since everyone else in her family and their small Wisconsin town is convinced, Georgie -- armed with a single-shot rifle and reluctantly accompanied by Billy McCabe, Agatha's former boyfriend -- sets out to learn her sister's fate, whatever it might be. As she faces cougars, counterfeiters, and firestorms, Georgie's fierce, folksy narration will "capture readers' imaginations" and "hold them hostage until the final page is turned" (Kirkus Reviews). For another bold heroine in a frontier setting, try Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson.
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