New Additions to Alien Star Books!
I was thinking about this the other day and decided that I needed to add a page where I could feature new additions for a few months. Some of these are new authors, while others are classics, but they're all new to this website. Now you can easily find the latest and greatest books that I've selected for this adventure in reading!
Please note that throughout the website, titles marked in bright green are Accelerated Reading (AR) books. AR books are assigned to your children for their Language Arts (aka English) classes. While your child is either given a list of books or referred to a list on the school's website, I've been trying to make it easier for parents and teens to find books in my favorite genres -- Science Fiction and Fantasy. There aren't any brand new authors with debut novels on the AR list (that I know of). There are, however, a few books in Spanish and a couple in French.
In any case, I keep adding new books, from debut novels to the classics of sci-fi and fantasy, to this website. The target age range is from 10 to 25, so each book is labeled with a grade and/or age range and parental warnings about content. I've also labeled the Kindle, Nook and Smashwords editions. If there's no tag, it's a paperback or hardback edition of the book.
I hope this helps you find new books to interest your teen in the glorious world of speculative fiction -- Science Fiction and Fantasy -- in Color!
NOTE: Be aware that I do not collect information on visitors to any of my websites. I cannot be responsible for Weebly or any email provider. I don't maintain a newsletter and have no need to collect your information.
Click on the image to order your book online!
Girls of Paper and Fire (Ages 16+)
"Uncover a riveting story of palace intrigue set in a sumptuous Asian-inspired fantasy world in the breakout YA novel that Publisher's Weekly calls 'elegant and adrenaline-soaked.'
"In this richly developed fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most persecuted class of people in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards for an unknown fate still haunts her. Now, the guards are back and this time it's Lei they're after -- the girl with the golden eyes whose rumored beauty has piqued the king's interest.
"Over weeks of training in the opulent but oppressive palace, Lei and eight other girls learns the skills and charm that befit a king's consort. There, she does the unthinkable -- she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens her world's entire way of life. Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge."
Find more of the series on the Asian/Pacific Islander and LGBTQ pages.
Parents: Language, violence, caste system, trigger warnings of abuse and rape. Features a female-to-female romance. This series is cross-posted on the Asian & Pacific Islander and LGBTQ pages.
Natasha Ngan grew up between Malaysia and the UK. She is Chinese and white.
The Fever King (Feverwake) (Ages 16+)
"In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
"The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
"Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good." Parents, the book is set in a post-nuclear dystopian world and features an undocumented bisexual Latinx-Jewish protagonist.
Lamar Giles (Author) / Dapo Adeola (Illustrator)
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer (A Legendary Alston Boys Adventure) (Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12)
"The Hardy Boys meets The Phantom Tollbooth, in the new century! When two adventurous cousins accidentally extend the last day of summer by freezing time, they find the secrets hidden between the unmoving seconds, minutes, and hours are not the endless fun they expected.
"Otto and Sheed are the local sleuths in their zany Virginia town, masters of unraveling mischief using their unmatched powers of deduction. And as the summer winds down and the first day of school looms, the boys are craving just a little bit more time for fun, even as they bicker over what kind of fun they want to have. That is, until a mysterious man appears with a camera that literally freezes time. Now, with the help of some very strange people and even stranger creatures, Otto and Sheed will have to put aside their differences to save their town—and each other—before time stops for good."
Lamar Giles is an Edgar Award-nominated author and co-founder of #WeNeedDiverse books. He lives in Harrisonburg,VA. Illustrator Dapo Adeola is of Nigerian heritage, London born and bred.
Gunpowder Alchemy (The Gunpowder Chronicles) (Volume 1) (Ages 16+)
"In 1842, the gunpowder might of China's Qing Dynasty fell to Britain's steam engines. Furious, the Emperor ordered the death of his engineers, eliminating China's best chance of fighting back.
"Since her father's execution eight years ago, Jin Soling has kept her family from falling apart. With her mother addicted to opium and her younger brother in danger of being sent off to the factories, Soling has no choice but to sell off the last of her father's possessions. Unwittingly, her actions bring her to the attention of the imperial court--the same court that betrayed her father.
"The Crown Prince has launched a secret mission to bring together the remnants of the former Ministry of Science. To restore her family's name, Soling must track down the rebel alchemist who holds the key to powering the imperial fleet. Her only ally is a man she's just met--the engineer with a mysterious past who was once meant to be her husband..."
Barnes and Noble Link
See more of the series on the "Asian" page
War Girls (Ages 12+ / Grades 7-9+)
"Two sisters are torn apart by war and must fight their way back to each other in a futuristic, Black Panther-inspired Nigeria.
"The year is 2172. Climate change and nuclear disasters have rendered much of earth unlivable. Only the lucky ones have escaped to space colonies in the sky.
"In a war-torn Nigeria, battles are fought using flying, deadly mechs and soldiers are outfitted with bionic limbs and artificial organs meant to protect them from the harsh, radiation-heavy climate. Across the nation, as the years-long civil war wages on, survival becomes the only way of life.
"Two sisters, Onyii and Ify, dream of more. Their lives have been marked by violence and political unrest. Still, they dream of peace, of hope, of a future together.
"And they're willing to fight an entire war to get there."
African American author, Tochi Onyebuchi, was born in Massachusetts and raised in Connecticut. He graduated from Yale University, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and Columbia Law School, and holds a Masters degree in Global Business Law from L’institut d’études politiques. He won the Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African and appeared in Locus Magazine's Recommended Reading list.
Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya: The Great Classic of Central American Spirituality, Translated from the Original Maya Text by Allen J. Christenson (Translator) (Grades 9+ / Ages 16+)
"The Popol Vuh is the most important example of Maya literature to have survived the Spanish conquest. It is also one of the world’s great creation accounts, comparable to the beauty and power of Genesis.
"Most previous translations have relied on Spanish versions rather than the original K’iche’-Maya text. Based on ten years of research by a leading scholar of Maya literature, this translation with extensive notes is uniquely faithful to the original language. Retaining the poetic style of the original text, the translation is also remarkably accessible to English readers.
"Illustrated with more than eighty drawings, photographs, and maps, Allen J. Christenson’s authoritative version brings out the richness and elegance of this sublime work of literature, comparable to such epic masterpieces as the Ramayana and Mahabharata of India or the Iliad and Odyssey of Greece."
Not a science fiction or fantasy story per se, but an important translation of the K’iche’-Maya creation story. In my opinion, if your child is old enough to read the Bible, then he/she is old enough to read this wonderful translation of Mayan literature. RDJ
Anna Meriano / Mirelle Ortega (Illustrator)
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble (Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12)
"'A charming and delectably sweet debut. Mischief, friendship, and a whole lot of heart—Love Sugar Magic has it all.' —Zoraida Córdova, award-winning author of the Brooklyn Brujas series
"Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.
"Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.
"Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.
"And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?
"Debut author Anna Meriano brings us the first book in a delightful new series filled to the brim with amor, azúcar, y magia."
The Gauntlet (Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12)
"A trio of friends from New York City find themselves trapped inside a mechanical board game that they must dismantle in order to save themselves and generations of other children in this action-packed debut that’s a steampunk Jumanji with a Middle Eastern flair.
"Nothing can prepare you for The Gauntlet…
"It didn’t look dangerous, exactly. When twelve-year-old Farah first laid eyes on the old-fashioned board game, she thought it looked…elegant.
"It is made of wood, etched with exquisite images—a palace with domes and turrets, lattice-work windows that cast eerie shadows, a large spider—and at the very center of its cover, in broad letters, is written: The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand.
"The Gauntlet is more than a game, though. It is the most ancient, the most dangerous kind of magic. It holds worlds inside worlds. And it takes players as prisoners."
Spirit Hunters (Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12)
"We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh returns with Spirit Hunters, a high-stakes middle grade mystery series about Harper Raine, the new seventh grader in town who must face down the dangerous ghosts haunting her younger brother.
"A riveting ghost story and captivating adventure, this tale will have you guessing at every turn!
"Harper doesn’t trust her new home from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors are that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely.
"The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in this house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?"
Parents, this is a middle grade mystery/horror story, so expect some creepiness appropriate for tweens. The main character is Korean and there's a mixed cast of characters.
Sarah Rees Brennan
In Other Lands (Ages 13+)
Hugo & Locus award finalist
"The Borderlands aren’t like anywhere else. Don’t try to smuggle a phone or any other piece of technology over the wall that marks the Border ― unless you enjoy a fireworks display in your backpack. (Ballpoint pens are okay.) There are elves, harpies, and ― best of all as far as Elliot is concerned ― mermaids.
"'What’s your name?'
"'Serena?' Elliot asked.
"'Serene,' said Serene. 'My full name is Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle.'
"Elliot’s mouth fell open. "That is badass."
"Elliot? Who’s Elliot? Elliot is thirteen years old. He’s smart and just a tiny bit obnoxious. Sometimes more than a tiny bit. When his class goes on a field trip and he can see a wall that no one else can see, he is given the chance to go to school in the Borderlands.
"It turns out that on the other side of the wall, classes involve a lot more weaponry and fitness training and fewer mermaids than he expected. On the other hand, there’s Serene-Heart-in-the-Chaos-of-Battle, an elven warrior who is more beautiful than anyone Elliot has ever seen, and then there’s her human friend Luke: sunny, blond, and annoyingly likeable. There are lots of interesting books. There’s even the chance Elliot might be able to change the world.
"In Other Lands is the exhilarating new book from beloved and bestselling author Sarah Rees Brennan. It’s a novel about surviving four years in the most unusual of schools, about friendship, falling in love, diplomacy, and finding your own place in the world ― even if it means giving up your phone."
Parents: Coming of age story, love triangle and main character is bisexual
Emily X.R. Pan
The Astonishing Color of After (Ages 13+)
"'Emily X.R. Pan's brilliantly crafted, harrowing first novel portrays the vast spectrum of love and grief with heart-wrenching beauty and candor. This is a very special book.'--John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars and Turtles All the Way Down
"A stunning, heartbreaking debut novel about grief, love, and family, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Celeste Ng.
"Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.
"Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.
"Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a stunning and heartbreaking novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love."
Parental Warnings: While this is a middle-grade/YA book, it has deep topics, including suicide, loss of a loved one, depression, abandonment, and racial slurs/remarks.
Prism Stalker (Volume 1) (Ages 13+)
"Far from the border of colonized space, a newly discovered planet teems violently with strange psychic life and puzzling telekinetic ecology.
"Vep, a refugee raised away from her devastated home planet as an indentured citizen in a foreign colony, is taken by a private military firm to assist in settling the new planet. What awaits her will test the limits of her will as she grapples with the strange power the planet exerts over her...
"Collects PRISM STALKER #1-5 COMPARISON TITLES If you like Sailor Moon and Cronenberg-esque sci-fi, you’ll love PRISM STALKER!"
To purchase Prism Stalker, visit your local comic book store or purchase online HERE.
Click HERE to purchase
Aru Shah and the End of Time (A Pandava Novel Book 1) (Ages 9-12 / Grades 3-7)
"Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
"One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
"But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.
"The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?"
See more books in the series on the "Asian & Pacific Islander" page.
The Gilded Wolves (Ages 12-18+ / Grades 7+)
"From New York Times bestselling author Roshani Chokshi comes The Gilded Wolves, a novel set in Paris during a time of extraordinary change--one that is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous desires...
"No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.
"It's 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
"To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
"Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history--but only if they can stay alive."
Mixed cast of characters:
Séverin - half-Algerian
Laila - Indian
Zofia - Jewish, Polish, autistic
Enrique - Filipino/Spanish, queer
Tristan - White?
Hypnos - Black, queer
Julián is a Mermaid (Ages 4 - 9)
"A glimpse of three women dressed as mermaids leaves one boy filled with wonder and ready to dazzle the world.
"'Every choice Jessica Love makes imbues the story with charm, tenderness and humor' New York TImes Book Review
"While riding the subway home with his Nana one day, Julian notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train carriage. When Julian gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies and making his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will Nana think about the mess he makes – and even more importantly – what will she think about how Julian sees himself?" A lovely picture book filled with images of an imaginative child who loves mermaids and his abuela's acceptance and love.
Chaneera (Ages 13+)
"In the year 2342, interstellar travel has been established and most of the Milky Way Galaxy charted and colonized. Maxwell Wilkes is a young Native American man returning from a distant mining planet in the Eastern Rim, where he's been with his girlfriend Alexandra Parks. On the way home to Earth, their shuttle is attacked and the warp unit disrupted. The ship jumps into an unknown system within an unknown galaxy. The ship crash lands on a planet with no sign of civilization or technology and the crew find themselves in a medieval kingdom. The Kingdom of Densmere sees them as Strangers from the Stars, but welcomes them. Though enjoying the fairytale world, the crew discovers they lack Fuel Cells to power the warp jump to make the trip home. They discover the answer may lie with a magic rock, whose shards are protected across Chandeera by a Dark Lord and his armies at war with Densmere. Max finds himself tasked with not only finding the rock, but tipping the balance in this war that can save this world Chandeera." The author rates his book as PG-13, with about three swear words and no explicit scenes.
Author Wolf Golan is a member of the Gwich'in Athabascan tribe, originally from Alaska.
Dreadnought: Nemesis - Book One (Ages 12-18 / Grades 7-12)
"Danny Tozer has a problem: she just inherited the powers of Dreadnought, the world’s greatest superhero. Until Dreadnought fell out of the sky and died right in front of her, Danny was trying to keep people from finding out she’s transgender. But before he expired, Dreadnought passed his mantle to her, and those secondhand superpowers transformed Danny’s body into what she’s always thought it should be. Now there’s no hiding that she’s a girl.
"It should be the happiest time of her life, but Danny’s first weeks finally living in a body that fits her are more difficult and complicated than she could have imagined. Between her father’s dangerous obsession with 'curing' her girlhood, her best friend suddenly acting like he’s entitled to date her, and her fellow superheroes arguing over her place in their ranks, Danny feels like she’s in over her head.
"She doesn’t have time to adjust. Dreadnought’s murderer―a cyborg named Utopia―still haunts the streets of New Port City, threatening destruction. If Danny can’t sort through the confusion of coming out, master her powers, and stop Utopia in time, humanity faces extinction."
Not Your Sidekick (Grades 5-8)
"Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship--only it turns out to be for the towns most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there's the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether." Parents, this diverse coming-of-age story features LGBTQ characters. It was a 2017 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist in YA/Children’s Fiction and a 2017 Bisexual Book Awards Finalist in Speculative Fiction.
C.B. Lee is a bisexual Chinese-Vietnamese American writer based in Los Angeles, California.
Zetta Elliot / Illustrator Geneva B
Dragons in a Bag (Grades 3-7 / Ages 8-12)
★ An Amazon Best Children's Book of the Year selection
"The dragon's out of the bag in this diverse, young urban fantasy from an award-winning author!
"When Jaxon is sent to spend the day with a mean old lady his mother calls Ma, he finds out she's not his grandmother--but she is a witch! She needs his help delivering baby dragons to a magical world where they'll be safe. There are two rules when it comes to the dragons: don't let them out of the bag, and don't feed them anything sweet. Before he knows it, Jax and his friends Vikram and Kavita have broken both rules! Will Jax get the baby dragons delivered safe and sound? Or will they be lost in Brooklyn forever?"
AN NPR BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
Darcy Pattison (Author) / Valeria Tisnes (Illustrator)
Nefertiti, the Spidernaut: The Jumping Spider Who Learned to Hunt in Space
(Grades K - 6 / Ages 6 - 12)
"THE AMAZING VOYAGE OF NEFERTITI, THE SPIDERNAUT
"Most spiders spin a web and passively wait for prey to come to them. Jumping spiders, by contrast, actively hunt by jumping to catch their food. What if a jumping spider was sent to the International Space Station? When it jumped, it would simply float. No one knew if the spider could hunt in a weightless environment.
"This nonfiction picture book for elementary kids chronicles the amazing voyage of Nefertiti, the Spidernaut to the International Space Station and back. She's a Phiddipus johnsonii, or Johnson jumping spider, native to western United States. Her colorful anatomy--red, black and teal--made for stunning photography and video. In 2012, Nefertitti clocked a record-breaking 100 days in space, during which time she circled Earth about 1584 times, traveling about 41,580,000 miles.
"Astronaut Sunita Williams, Captain U.S. Navy said, 'It was a suspense story for me as it happened. I didn't know if she would survive when I unpacked her for the first time, or when I packed her up and sent her back home to Earth.'
"This is an astonishing story of change: through the dark and cold, in spite of being weightless and isolated, this incredible spider adapted and learned to hunt. Against all odds, she survived to return to Earth, where she had to re-adapt to Earth's gravity. Nefertiti's story of survival brings hope that we, too, can adapt to a changing world.
"Join Nefertiti in this inspiring journey into space."
Roda Ahmed (Author) / Stasia Burrington (Illustrator)
Mae Among the Stars (Grades Preschool - 3 / Ages 4 - 8)
"A beautiful picture book for sharing, inspired by the life of the first African American woman to travel in space, Mae Jemison.
"A great classroom and bedtime read-aloud, Mae Among the Stars is the perfect book for young readers who have big dreams and even bigger hearts!
"When Little Mae was a child, she dreamed of dancing in space. She imagined herself surrounded by billions of stars, floating, gliding, and discovering.
"She wanted to be an astronaut.
"Her mom told her, 'If you believe it, and work hard for it, anything is possible.'
"Little Mae’s curiosity, intelligence, and determination, matched with her parents' encouraging words, paved the way for her incredible success at NASA as the first African American woman to travel in space.
"This book will inspire other young girls to reach for the stars, to aspire for the impossible, and to persist with childlike imagination."
Margot Lee Shetterly (Author) / Laura Freeman (Illustrator)
Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race
(Grades Preschool - 3 / Ages 4 - 8)
"Based on the New York Times bestselling book and the Academy Award–nominated movie, author Margot Lee Shetterly and illustrator Laura Freeman bring the incredibly inspiring true story of four black women who helped NASA launch men into space to picture book readers!
"Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good.
"They participated in some of NASA's greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America's first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
"In this beautifully illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as 'colored computers,' and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
"'Finally, the extraordinary lives of four African American women who helped NASA put the first men in space is available for picture book readers," proclaims Brightly in their article '18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.' "Will inspire girls and boys alike to love math, believe in themselves, and reach for the stars.'"
Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race Paperback (Ages 15 - Adult)
"The #1 New York Times bestseller
"The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space. Soon to be a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.
"Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
"Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
"Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley’s all-black 'West Computing' group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens.
"Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, four African American women who participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles their careers over nearly three decades they faced challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect to change their own lives, and their country’s future."
Dianna Hutts Aston (Author) / Jerry Pinkney (Illustrator)
The Moon Over Star (Grades 1 - 3 / Ages 6 - 8)
"In July 1969, the world witnessed an awe-inspiring historical achievement when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. For the young protagonist of this lyrical and hopeful picture book, that landing is something that inspires her to make one giant step toward all of the possibilities that life has to offer.
"Caldecott Honor–winning painter Jerry Pinkney and the poetic Dianna Hutts Aston create a moving tribute to the historic Apollo 11 Mission, just in time to commemorate its upcoming fortieth anniversary."
Crier's Knife (Ages 15+)
"In the dark heart of a sweltering summer night, alone and shivering, a young man whispers an incantation. Leagues and miles away, in a creaky cottage atop a mountain, a silver mirror breaks in the night. A woman in white rolls scrimshaw knuckle bones by the light of black candles, frowning at their message before she sends for her grandson.
"Dirk Crier is no stranger to being summoned up the mountain, and this is far from the first time he’s been sent to bring his cousin Teller home when he’s gone too far astray. This time is different, though. This time a shadow looms over the end of the path; a nameless threat, asleep for now, but coming closer to waking with every passing day. He will need to be swift if he wants to bring them both back to the slopes of Ben Morgh.
"And if he isn’t quick enough to save his cousin, Dirk will show those responsible why the folk around the mountain say only a dead man crosses a Crier."
In a word, this book is amazing. Think of the Sackett tales of Louis L'Amour mixed with a swirl of southern Gothic and Lovecraftian horror (without the racism). Some violence and blood, but nothing a teen can't handle. Implications/mentions of sex, but nothing explicit. While the main character is white, I'm putting this in Mixed because there's a mixed cast of characters included in the book and it's my understanding that there will be more books featuring diverse members of the Crier clan. RDJ
Mary Anne Yarde
The Du Lac Chronicles: Book One (Ages 16+)
Winner -- N.N.Light Award Best Romance 2016
Bronze Medal Winner -- Circle of Books Rings Of Honor Awards 2016
Semifinalist -- The Golden Box Book Publishing Golden Book Award 2017
"'It is dangerous to become attached to a du Lac. He will break your heart, and you will not recover.' So prophesies a wizened healer to Annis, daughter of King Cerdic of Wessex. If there is truth in the old crone's words, they come far too late for Annis, who defies father, king, and country to save the man she loves.
"Alden du Lac, once king of Cerniw, has nothing. Betrayed by Cerdic, Alden's kingdom lies in rubble, his fort razed to the ground and his brother Merton missing, presumably dead. He has only one possession left worth saving: his heart. And to the horror of his few remaining allies, he gives that to the daughter of his enemy. They see Annis, at best, as a bargaining chip to avoid war with her powerful father. At worst, they see a Saxon witch with her claws in a broken, wounded king.
"Alden has one hope: When you war with one du Lac, you war with them all. His brother Budic, King of Brittany, could offer the deposed young king sanctuary--but whether he will offer the same courtesy to Annis is far less certain."
The Du Lac Chronicles has a recommend reading age of 16+. See more of the series on the "Everybody Else" page.
A Blade So Black (Ages 15+)
"'With memorable characters and page-turning thrills, A Blade So Black is the fantasy book I've been waiting for my whole life. Alice is Black Girl Magic personified.' ―Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Hate U Give
"A Blade So Black delivers an irresistible urban fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland . . . but it's not the Wonderland you remember.
"The first time the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Now she's trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. Yet even warriors have a curfew.
"Life in real-world Atlanta isn't always so simple, as Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. Keeping the Nightmares at bay is turning into a full-time job. But when Alice's handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by venturing deeper into Wonderland than she’s ever gone before. And she'll need to use everything she's learned in both worlds to keep from losing her head . . . literally.
"Debut author L.L. McKinney delivers an action-packed twist on an old classic, full of romance and otherworldly intrigue."
L.L. McKinnery describes herself as a Blerd (Black nerd). She is a writer, poet and member of the kidlit community as well as an advocate for equality and inclusion in publishing.
Kathryn Elizabeth Jones
LightShade (Grades 8+ / Ages 13+)
"The year is 2037. The Earth is about to be destroyed along with the human race. Fortunately, Aaden’s father is an astronaut. Unfortunately, Aaden’s family is not on the planet’s escape list.
"With only two weeks before Mercury blasts through the Earth, the Prescott family must travel by foot to the Ophir mountains in Utah where a space plane is waiting. They must hide themselves within the plane’s walls and escape Earth before it’s too late.
"With the help of Neva, an alien living secretly on Earth, they will get additional help – enough to keep them going. But will Aaden have the courage to use the powers within him he is only beginning to understand? Will he have the faith to listen? And if so, will time be in their favor, or will the Earth and all its inhabitants, ultimately turn… LightShade?"
Planet Dead (Volume 1) (Ages 16+)
"Catherine Briggs is having a messed up year.
"Her car got stolen.
"Her family thinks she's dead.
"There's an unwelcome late night visitor at her door.
"Oh yeah! And the world's become infested with zombies!
"Catherine is on a mission to find her family, no matter the cost. Yet, fate seems to have other plans. Flesh eating zombies, Killer Clowns, and a number of other batshit problems await her in... Planet Dead: Bloodthirsty!"
Parents, there's some strong language, and of course every zombie book has its share of blood and gore...
(See more of the Planet Dead series on the Black page!)
Biafra and the Werelion King (Biafra Land) (Volume 1) (Ages 15+)
"A life unlived. An incredible power. A world on the brink of war…
"Chima is an outcast among outcasts. He’s on the verge of giving up on life entirely when he encounters the sacred Biafran lion. Gifted with an incredible power and introduced to a world beyond belief, Chima thinks his life may finally be turning around.
"When a rival nation kidnaps Chima’s father, his world is shattered. To save his family and the Biafran people, he must learn to believe in himself and his newfound power. As he fights back against a secret weapon, he wonders if his efforts to protect his adopted home could doom them all.
"Biafra and the Werelion King is a steampunk paranormal fantasy story set in Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant’s Dream Engine world. If you like innovative magic systems, richly detailed worlds, and fantasy tales without werewolves or Tolkien characters, then you’ll love Carl Waters’ fascinating tale based on the Nigerian Civil War and the Igbo people."
Author Carl Waters is African-American, born and raised in Atlanta, GA.
P. Djèlí Clark
The Black God's Drums (Ages 16+)
"Rising SFF star P. Djèlí Clark brings an alternate New Orleans of orisha, airships, and adventure to life in his immersive debut novella The Black God's Drums
"In an alternate New Orleans caught in the tangle of the American Civil War, the wall-scaling girl named Creeper yearns to escape the streets for the air – in particular, by earning a spot on-board the airship Midnight Robber. Creeper plans to earn Captain Ann-Marie’s trust with information she discovers about a Haitian scientist and a mysterious weapon he calls The Black God’s Drums.
"But Creeper also has a secret herself: Oya, the African orisha of the wind and storms, speaks inside her head, and may have her own ulterior motivations.
Soon, Creeper, Oya, and the crew of the Midnight Robber are pulled into a perilous mission aimed to stop the Black God’s Drums from being unleashed and wiping out the entirety of New Orleans.
“'A sinewy mosaic of Haitian sky pirates, wily street urchins, and orisha magic. Beguiling and bombastic!' ―Scott Westerfeld, New York Times bestselling author"
Note: The book is a novella. Author P. Djèlí Clark was born in New York and raised in Houston. His parents are from Trinidad and Tobago.
The Protector's Ring (Grades 4 - 6 / Ages 9 - 12+)
"Jonah Blackstone just turned thirteen when life gave him the worst gift he could imagine, losing his parents in a mysterious accident. Now he's been whisked off to live with relatives in a small town in Georgia, where his troubles continue. Jonah's harassed by a local bully, encounters Reapers, and pursued by supernatural canines, all while learning to use his growing powers. He eventually discovers why his parents died. They refused to reveal the location of a powerful ancient artifact: The Protector's Ring. With the enemy closing in, Jonah must locate the ring to avoid the same grim fate." (See more of the Jonah Blackstone Series on the Black page!)
My Prince, My Boy
"My Prince, My Boy is an urban fairytale of self-discovery and friendship. Tyrone Garrett wanted his life to change. When he meets Jamal, a Forest Elf with a spotty memory, Tyrone's life changes in ways he never would have imagined." (See more of the Forest Heights Series on the Black page!)
Erika M Szabo
Prelude: The Ancestors’ Secrets Trilogy, Book 1 (Ages 16+)
"Book one of The Ancestors’ Secrets, a magical realism, alternate reality, fantasy trilogy. When a young doctor, Ilona, starts to develop unusual powers, her life and her beliefs change. Thrown into a world of clan mysteries, traditions and secrets, she begins remembering her mother’s instructions concealed as rhymes. Punished by the ancestors long ago, Mora has waited centuries for the chance to reunite with her beloved Joland. Now, she seeks to gain the power to rule the ancient clan with a strict hierarchy and deadly laws that still exist hidden among us. Ilona has been chosen by the ancestors to stop Mora and save the future of the clan. Her birthright as a Healer runs alongside her desires as a woman. She has been in love with her best friend but is also drawn to the stranger who appears in her peculiar dream. Ilona must save herself and her family from Mora’s evil plans, uncover ancient tribal secrets, and find her Destiny Box… the box that contains the message of the Ancestors. Does she have the strength to fight evil?"
Note to parents: There are two appropriately placed F-bombs and three tasteful sex scenes that I would not hesitate to allow a teen to read.
Legend of the Boy, In the Window, and Other Short Stories (Ages 13+)
"It’s all about the boy… The boy who must destroy the world so he can save humanity. The boy who sweeps the girl off her feet. The boy who brings two lovers together. The boy who grows into a bad man and changes a woman’s life. The boy who won’t let death stop him from getting what he wants. Everything spanning from science fiction, paranormal, romance, and psychological thriller is here within the pages of this book. Which of these boys will capture your sense of wonder, rage, romance, or perhaps even fear? You decide. 'This is not a book for small children.'* Parents, intense battle scenes may not be suitable for younger readers.
Dragonblood Throne: Legacy (Volumne 1) (Ages 15+)
"Orphaned as a young child and growing up alone in the forest, Delina lives a life of isolation; her only companion a saber-toothed panther. Her strange eyes frighten those she occasionally encounters, so she keeps to herself, until a young, wounded warrior ends up at her doorstep. As she nurses him back to health, she discovers she is more than just a young woman with unusual eyes, she is a dragonblood, destined to become the ruler of Almar. Now hunted by the dark sorcerer who murdered her father, usurped his throne, and killed all her kin, she must find out how she can release the essence of the dragon inside her to defeat him. Everything depends upon her willingness to embrace her legacy and reclaim the Dragon Throne." Parents: The story contains some violence and battle scenes that may be too intense for younger teens.
A Whisper in the Shadows: A Rangers of Laerean Adventure (Volumne 1) (Ages 15+)
"The Rangers of Laerean are the protectors of thepeople, the heroes of Hir. Their exploits are legendary and their greatdeeds recounted in tales across the ages. These are the stories thatwill be told for generations.
"When the Ranger Baric meets the exotic and alluring woman from Vaar'da, Whisper, he agrees to assist her on what seems a simple rescue mission that soon turns into something far more complicated than he expected. Seeking the source of her recurring nightmares, they discover an artifact of unimaginable power that was likely the cause of the Great Disruption, which destroyed all of Hir, over two thousand years ago.
"Their journey soon becomes a deadly and suicidal quest into the Great Divide, an area of Hir where men fear to travel, into the realm of the demonic Manenase, who live under a great volcano in the center of the Boiling Sea. Gathering a small army of Rangers, they delve deep into the bowels of the volcano, Mount Scorch, on a journey to prevent another earth-shattering disruption that could destroy their entire world.
"The fate of Hir depends on the courage and skills of the heroic Rangers and their small Vaar'da companion, as they struggle to save the world from impending disaster and face their greatest challenge, and where Baric must face the destiny he foresaw in a dream, many years before."
Olivia A. Cole
A Conspiracy of Stars (Ages 15+)
"Enter the vivid and cinematic world of Faloiv in the first book of this dazzling YA sci-fi/fantasy series, perfect for fans of Carve the Mark, Red Rising, and These Broken Stars.
"Octavia has always dreamed of becoming a whitecoat, one of the prestigious N’Terra scientists who study the natural wonders of Faloiv. So when the once-secretive labs are suddenly opened to students, she leaps at the chance to see what happens behind their closed doors.
"However, she quickly discovers that all is not what it seems on Faloiv, and the experiments the whitecoats have been doing run the risk of upsetting the humans’ fragile peace with the Faloii, Faloiv’s indigenous people.
"As secret after disturbing secret comes to light, Octavia finds herself on a collision course with the charismatic and extremist new leader of N’Terra’s ruling council. But by uncovering the mysteries behind the history she’s been taught, the science she’s lived by, and the truth about her family, she threatens to be the catalyst for an all-out war."
Rebecca McFarland Kyle
Fanny & Dice (Ages 15+)
"I’m leaving Hell for good, Eurydice…” When she heard those words, Eurydice had a choice: remain in Hades’ realm or escape to Earth with her kinswoman, Persephone. She knew the Earth wasn’t what they’d left. Demeter hadn’t summoned Persephone to bring Spring for quite some time…and the last dead crossed the River Styx many years before. She hadn’t expected to arrive in a world where trains rode across the prairie on metal tracks instead of chariots and men settled disputes with six guns instead of swords. Eurydice will face perils both immortal and mortal, from gun and axe to her own heart…" Greek mythology meets the old West -- fans of Weird Westerns will love this!! Parental warning: Hints of prostitution and a hanging.
I was gifted a copy of this wonderful little book and oh-my-gosh, it was GREAT! Quirky maybe, well, yeah -- but a fascinating and fun read. I wouldn't have any problem allowing a teen to read this book. Greek mythology is far more explicit than anything in this story.
The Flipside (Ages 15+)
"The year is 2046 and dinosaurs are real. Time bubbles across the world, many as large as one hundred square miles, turn like clockwork, revealing prehistoric landscapes from the Cretaceous Period. They reveal the Flipside. Now, thirty years after the first Turn, the clockwork is breaking down as one of the world's powers has decided to exploit the phenomenon for their own gain, possibly destroying everything then and now in the process. Former Head of Security for Topside Command Trevon Cash must navigate his way through the chaos of the broken turns and take a team Flipside to try to figure out what is happening. What Cash and the others don't know is all that waits for them is horror and nightmares– a destroyed base, packs of ravenous carnivores, pterosaurs bent on plucking every human from the ground to be eaten far above, and so much more. Can Cash and his team stop what is happening? Or will they end up stuck Flipside forever in a perpetual, prehistoric nightmare?" Parental warning: Language and since dinosaurs are involved, a certain amount of blood, gore and plenty of screaming.
Steven Allan Pease
Adventures of Rocky and the Bear Claw Club: The Legend of the Pirate Blackbear's Lost Gold Pinecone Series: The Threat of the Wolfkang Clan (Grades 4 to 6+ / Ages 9 to 13+)
"In a hidden valley of Maine surrounded by mountains, a small group of orphans follow secret clues that may lead to pirate treasure. The orphans discover a secret room in the basement of their old orphanage where clues lead them on a journey of discovery about who built the orphanage they live in. In this book series ‘The Adventure of Rocky and the Bear Claw Club: The Legend of the Pirate Blackbear’s Lost Gold Pinecone’ you will learn that danger is coming to the Valley of Bearton. The main character Rocky and his friends have no idea that they are being prepared to face what is coming. In a valley surrounded by un-passable snow covered mountains of Maine the hidden location of the Pirate Blackbear’s lost colony has kept the secret of pirate treasure and the truth of what happened to the original colonists for almost two hundred years. Yes, you may have guessed it. A tale of lost pirate treasure with danger at every turn; far far away from the Caribbean. Complete with the never ending battle between the forces of good and evil. Join Rocky and the Bear Claw Club as they begin their adventure in "The Threat of the Wolfkang Clan". There is one twist, what you may not be expecting is that the orphans are not human. No, they are..."
Marcos and the Pharaoh's Curse (Grades 3 to 8 / Ages 8 to 12+)
"The Beatrice sank in the Mediterranean Sea two hundred years ago. Lost to the world – until now. Divers are preparing to plunder her treasure unaware that any interference of the unusual contents will trigger a catastrophic event. The terrifying consequences of the divers succeeding are unimaginable. Twelve-year-old Marco and a mermaid, Lois, are the only ones who can prevent the curse from happening. Have they overestimated their abilities? They have 48 hours to journey the treacherous underwater route from Malta to Sardinia to find help and then return. Time is tight, but that’s the least of their problems…" I hightly recommend this adventure/fantasy story to parents and kids.
At the Walls of Galbrieth (Wycaan Master - Volume One)
Winner of the 2013 Eric Hoffer Book Award - YA Category and a Grand Prize Finalist.
"The young elf desired only to follow in his mother's footsteps and become a healer. But when the Emperor's army attacks his village to punish traitors and conscript youth, Seanchai flees to the mountains, seeking safe harbor with an uncle he has never met. He is shocked as many people sacrifice their lives to ensure he reaches a Wycaan Master, an enigmatic woman named Mhari, who can teach him to wield a powerful death-and-life magic that might just free the races of Odessiya. In a world defined by strict racial boundaries, where humans rule, dwarves hide deep underground, and elves are a slave nation, Seanchai must find a way to create friendships and trust, unheard of since the fall of the Wycaan Masters, and reunite the races into an alliance that will bring freedom to all. But sometimes one must choose between his companions and his destiny. Seanchai abhors his ability to kill and, in the friendships he forges, discovers something potentially more powerful than his magic. Friendship, however, can be a double-edged sword."
The First Decree (Wycaan Master - Volume Two)
"It was I, King Hothen the Elder, who led the surviving dwarf warriors from the battlefield. Our numbers were perilously small, our prospects harrowing. We left our dead to the vultures and the crows. With our armies decimated, I led our people to a deep cave, far away, and there we built mighty Hothengold. The first law passed was one of survival, known as The First Decree. No man, elf or other – save dwarves – were allowed under the mountains. Those who wandered our way fell to our axes, and the great dwarf nation drifted out of sight and mind of even the most ambitious emperors. But hearken to my words, noble dwarves. The land of Odessiya will never heal until the races reunite. Whether by promise or blade, the Alliance will rise again, and the dwarf nation shall take its rightful place at the council of the great races. Until then, my people, I counsel patience, a trait rarely found among dwarves. Grow our clans and our wealth away from the eyes of the empire, but never forget who we once were. Be vigilant, be patient, and wait the coming of the Wycaan."
Ashbar (Wycaan Master - Volume Three)
"Mastery of your magic can mean the difference between freedom and utter defeat. All Odessiya holds its breath and craves the Wycaan Master who can set them free. Seanchai is a broken elf and a danger to himself and others. His victories have been won at too great a price and he walks alone in darkness, though surrounded by friends and light. All Odessiya waits and watches. A young Wycaan, confident and in his prime may not be enough to defeat the Emperor, but the empty shell that the young elf has become, seems bereft of hope. Seanchai must seek to complete his training with those who have rejected all others. He must pass a great test if he is to return with the skills and resources to set Odessiya free. Seanchai knows how to make friends and form alliances, but he also attracts a dearth of enemies. A Master Assassin seeks vengeance on Shayth and Seanchai. He doggedly tracks them together with three graduates of the Emperor's Military Academy. One holds the destiny of Odessiya in his grasp and the others dirks poised to stab him in the back. Shayth must master his own losses and emotions and make the greatest decision of his life. He was once destined to walk a path to greatness but it is his own past that is most likely to destroy him. All will converge at the Cliftean Pass and when the battle joins, everyone must confront their fears, their enemies, and their destinies."
Book of the Anointed (Saga of the Sons) (Ages 16+)
"Boyz N The Hood meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this heartpounding and terrifying debut novel, that will leave you breathless until the very last page.
"When sixteen-year-old Jaden Davis heads out to the mall one day, he hardly expects to hear the voice of The Creator commanding him to save a baby from a man possessed by a demon. And he’s shocked to discover that he can expel that demon with just his mind. Suddenly Jaden is introduced the secret order of the Anointed, warriors chosen by The Creator to hunt monsters that haunt us at night; such as vampires, demons, shape shifting assassins, and all devouring Locusts.
"Jaden is introduced with a vengeance when this demon returns to kill his mother. Now with the guidance of his new Shepherd, the friendship of three other Anointed, and protection from a guardian angel, he seeks to vanquish the malevolent force that destroyed his family.
"Perfect for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teen Wolf, IT and Supernatural. If you love paranormal romances, Dark fantasy, witty characters, Vampires, Shifters, Demons, Archangels, and funny supernatural creatures, then Book of the Anointed is perfect for you." Parents, there's violence and some language used in the story.
J. Moon is from Sumter, South Carolina and attended historically Black Howard University, where he earned a Bachelors of Science in Biology.
Dillon and the Voice of Odin (Ages 16+)
"He's a soldier of fortune gifted with an astonishing range of remarkable talents and skills that make him respected and feared in the secret world of mercenaries, spies and adventurers. A world inhabited by amazing men and women of fabulous abilities that most of us are unaware even exists. Fueled by a taste for excitement, driven by an overpowering desire to protect the innocent, see that wrongs are righted and assisted by a worldwide network of extraordinary men and women, all experts in their fields, Dillon spans the globe in a never-ending quest for the wildest and most breathtaking adventures of all!"
Honestly, my first reaction after finishing this fast-paced, action-packed story was, "Why isn't this a movie?" Parents, there's violence, blood, some non-explicit sex, but I'd let an older teen read this. It's way better than the James Bond books and movies.
The Reader of Acheron (The Slaves of Erafor - Volume 1) (Ages 15+)
"Reading is forbidden, and the penalty for non-compliance is a life of slavery enabled by the forcible administration of a mind rotting drug. Yet, there are those possessed of the will to seek illumination. Kikkan, a former slave on the run, and Quillion, a mercenary and self-taught scholar. Together they seek out a small band of rebels living in hiding who offer the promise of a better world. Their leader is a mysterious figure known only as The Reader of Acheron."
Author Walter Rhein shared that the books have no vulgar language or overt sex. Unlike much of the current dystopian fiction, these books have male protagonists and may be more accessible to our male teens and young adults (as well as young women). RDJ
Literate Thief (The Slaves of Erafor - Volumne 2) (Ages 15+)
"When tyrants come, fools surrender their books. Reading is outlawed, the people too indoctrinated to care. The populace is held in slavery by a drug called 'Bliss.' Self-taught to read, Quillion, a sell-sword, and Kikkan, a former slave, seek power from ancient forbidden texts. In Edentown, a fortress of tyranny where the literate are put to death, is a keeper of ancient secrets, power hidden in the written word, with knowledge to spark a rebellion. Does the literate thief still live?"
Everfair (Ages 16+)
"From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo.
"What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier?
"Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's 'owner,' King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.
"Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history."
While I would normally place a book with a mixed cast of characters on the "Mixed" page, this alternate history is focused in Africa and thus I feel it belongs on the "Black" page. Note to parents: there are some mature themes and same-sex relationships.
Daniel José Older
Shadowshaper (Grades 7+ / Ages 12+)
"Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes their first party. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep tears... Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on.
"With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers shadowshaping, a magic that infuses ancestral spirits into paintings, music, and stories. But someone is killing the shadowshapers one by one. Now Sierra must unravel her family's past, take down the killer in the present, and save the future of shadowshaping for generations to come."
Shadowhouse Fall (Grades 7+ / Ages 12+)
"The stunning sequel to the New York Times bestseller Shadowshaper is daring, dazzling, defiant."A magical revolution on the page." -- Leigh Bardugo"[Older] leaves us openmouthed and speechless, asking "What just happened to me?!" -- Jacqueline Woodson
"Sierra and her friends love their new lives as shadowshapers, making art and creating change with the spirits of Brooklyn. Then Sierra receives a strange card depicting a beast called the Hound of Light -- an image from the enigmatic, influential Deck of Worlds. The shadowshapers know their next battle has arrived.Thrust into an ancient struggle with enemies old and new, Sierra and Shadowhouse are determined to win. Revolution is brewing in the real world as well, as the shadowshapers lead the fight against systems that oppress their community. To protect her family and friends in every sphere, Sierra must take down the Hound and master the Deck of Worlds . . . or risk losing them all."
Karen Memory (Ages 15+)
"You ain't gonna like what I have to tell you, but I'm gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I'm one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. 'Hôtel' has a little hat over the o like that. It's French, so Beatrice tells me."
"Set in the late nineteenth century-in a city a lot like what we now call Seattle Underground-when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable's high-quality bordello. Through Karen's eyes we get to know the other girls in the house-a resourceful group-and the poor and the powerful of the town.
"Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone's mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap-a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
"Hard on the heels of that horrifying discovery comes a lawman who has been chasing this killer for months. Marshal Bass Reeves is closing in on his man, and he's not about to reject any help he can get, even if it comes from girl who works in the Hôtel Mon Cheri.
"Elizabeth Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the Old Steampunk West with a light touch in Karen's own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science in Karen Memory."
A fun romp but parents, it does feature a whorehouse, alternative lifestyles and a same-sex relationship. Nothing that I would consider explicit.
Dread Nation (Ages 15+)
"At once provocative, terrifying, and darkly subversive, Dread Nation is Justina Ireland's stunning vision of an America both foreign and familiar—a country on the brink, at the explosive crossroads where race, humanity, and survival meet.
"Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—derailing the War Between the States and changing the nation forever.
"In this new America, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Education Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead.
"But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It's a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
"But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston's School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose.
"But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies.
"And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems."
African American author Justina Ireland builds an alternate history set during the time of the American Civil War. Highly recommended for Black speculative fiction fans. I think this was the best YA I read in 2018! Note, there's zombies so of course there's violence and gore as well as a touch on same-sex relationships.
Children of Blood and Bone
"Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls."But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
"Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
"Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy."
Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, California.
Shadows Cast by Stars (Ages 12+ / Grades 7-9)
"Old ways are pitted against new horrors in this compellingly crafted, “atmospherically beautiful” (Kirkus Reviews) dystopian tale about a girl who is both healer and seer.
"Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet—especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the Plague ravaging the rest of the world.
"Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to the Plague, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe—government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cassandra and her family, they flee to the Island: a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors—and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken her under her wing, and the tribal leader’s son into his heart, the creatures of the spirit world are angry, and they have chosen Cassandra to be their voice and instrument...
"Incorporating the traditions of the First Peoples as well as the more familiar stories of Greek mythology and Arthurian legend, Shadows Cast by Stars is a haunting, beautifully written story that breathes new life into ancient customs."
Author Catherine Knutsson is Métis.
Juniper Leaves: The Otherworldly Tale of a Lonesome Magical Girl (Ages 13+)
"Kinky-haired blerd Juniper Bray used to believe in magic, until she lost her best friend: her grandmother. Now this 15-year-old shy girl is headed to her father’s research trip on a farm hundreds of miles away, with a family she barely knows and the opposite of a best friend, her new arch nemesis, Bree Mckinney. As if she wasn’t miserable enough. Little does she know the next few months Juniper will discover magical powers she never knew she had, get a crush on a girl she never knew she’d like and well, quite frankly, save the world. Juniper Leaves is a fantastical coming-of-age tale of a girl who learns to let go, live a little, and best of all, believe in herself — all before her sixteenth birthday." This fantasy story features a black queer protagonist who is obsessed with science. The author describes her as nerdy 15-year-old. Highly recommended.
The Last Faoii (Ages 16+)
"The faoii have protected Clearwall for generations. With militaristic order and stalwart discipline, these women have reigned in prosperity. But when her monastery is attacked and her sisters slaughtered, only young Kaiya-faoii is left alive.
"Forced to cope without the long-standing traditions of her Order, Kaiya travels the country on a mission to avenge her sisters and preserve what is left of her heritage. The search brings her not only to dark discoveries and ancient family secrets, but to something she never wanted or dreamed of: a brother she never knew she had.
"Forced into a war at the heart of a broken empire, the siblings must evaluate the true meanings of enemy, betrayal and freedom―and the gray areas surrounding each. Kaiya slowly learns the true state of the world outside her monastery’s walls, the dangers of the poisonous army that is slowly covering the land, and of her own innate abilities gifted by the Goddess."
Note: Parents should be aware of violence, some language and same-sex relationships. Some of the battle scenes are dark.
The Harlem Shake (Ages 15+)
"Two lovers are reunited by the storm of the century.. Just when New Yorkers were given a wakeup call into the realities of Global Warming by way of Hurricane Sandy, Harlem becomes host to yet another one of Mother Nature’s catastrophic lessons. There was an inactive fault line under the village of Harlem. When this fracture in the bedrock of Harlem’s famed 125th street becomes active, all of Harlem begins to shake as New York experiences a category 8 earthquake.
"Young television audience producer Kenny thinks he is prepared for everything Murphy’s Law can throw at him. With the help of his roommate, Ant, he manages to generate a packed audience to the Apollo Theater despite the hurricane forecast..
"He is full of confidence when he runs into his ex-girlfriend, Deidra, who left him to travel along with a rapper as a glorified manager. Still in all he was having a good day, but not in his wildest dreams would he think that he and his team of audience coordinators and friends would have to navigate crevasses the length of city blocks, collapsing buildings and lawless streets. It will take all of his skills to help them escape being buried under the rubble of this world famous concrete jungle." The main characters are Black and Latino -- as Jeff said, "It's Harlem." Great reviews, some language and violence (what do you expect in a disaster?), no sex. About PG-13.
Danielle Ackley-McPhail and Day Al-Mohamed
Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn: A Steampunk Faerie Tale (Dark Quest Books) (Ages 13+)
"Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined...
"In the Nejd there is nothing at all...except secrets. A band of thieves wish such secrets to remain hidden.
"In England, far from his desert home, Ali bin-Massoud serves as apprentice to the famed Charles Babbage. One night a mysterious box is delivered by a clockwork falcon and Ali's world is never the same again. Heartache, danger, and thieves mark his journey as Ali is summoned home at the death of his father.
"It will take faith, knowledge, and yes, love to realize his destiny, and more than a little skill with steam-driven technology. Can he unravel the mystery of the puzzle box and the clockwork djinn before it is too late? An ancient legacy and Ali's very life depend on his success.
"Hear you the tale of Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn."
Sin Eaters (Devotion) (New Adult/Adult - 18+)
"Khamun Cross has been assigned an objective that will change his life: to protect Sanna Steele from the dark forces that desire to steal her soul. Khamun is a member of a secret society of Guardian Angels whose battle against The Cursed has been raging for centuries. The Cursed roam the earth to harvest souls for the Dark army, while the Guardian Angels desire to protect The Light.
"Khamun has been commissioned to watch over Sanna, but in doing so, he also satisfies his secret cravings for the sins of The Cursed. Like a vampire, he feeds off of his enemies. What was now tainted is purified by his touch, and he returns them to The Light.
"Unbeknownst to Sanna, she is the key to the war, and The Cursed are desperate to have her at all costs. They hunt her, as well as her family and friends, relentlessly. Will Khamun and his team be able to save her from the Dark?
"Kai Leakes delivers a classic tale of good versus evil in this supernatural thriller."
Cinder (Ages 12 to 18+)
"Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth's fate hinges on one girl. . . .Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She's a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister's illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai's, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world's future."
Erika M Szabo and Joe Bonadonna
Three Ghosts in a Black Pumpkin: Creepy Hollow Adventures 1 (Grades 1 - 6 / Ages 6 to 12+)
Golden Book Award Winner
"Spooky and funny, a heroic fantasy adventure for middle-grade children. Nikki and her impish cousin, Jack, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest on Halloween. A wise talking skeleton, Wishbone, tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their wands. The children offer their help, so the skeleton takes them on a journey to the world of Creepy Hollow to retrieve the three wands he hid long ago in Red Crow Forest, the Tower of Shadows, and the Cave of Spooks. Ghoulina, the beautiful vegetarian ghoul, and Catman, who was once a man, join them on their quest. They must face danger and conquer evil every step of the way as they search for the Wands before the wicked Hobgoblin and his henchman, a Tasmanian Devil, can get their hands on them. This is a fun, humorous and touching story for kids, with plenty of character interaction woven into a backdrop of scary danger, heroic action and lessons to be learned."
Legal stuff - “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”