Log In

Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Get a digital subscription to Publishers Weekly for only $19.95/month.

Your subscription gives you instant access exclusive feature articles on notable figures in the publishing industry, he latest industry news, interviews of up and coming authors and bestselling authors, and access over 200,000 book reviews.

PW "All Access" site license members have access to PW's subscriber-only website content. To find out more about PW's site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time.

Max and the Midknights

Lincoln Peirce. Crown, $13.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-101-93108-0

Max’s uncle Budrick is a traveling troubadour in a 14th-century Europe-like countryside, and he’s the only family Max has. When the two visit Budrick’s homeland, the kingdom of Byjovia, they encounter King Gastley, who kidnaps Budrick and orders him to be his court jester. Max, who has always yearned to be a knight, must figure out how to rescue Budrick with the aid of new friends, the newly anointed Midknights. Thus begins a winding adventure filled with laughs, hijinks, and unexpected revelations, including a few about Max’s identity. Peirce mixes the formats of traditional and graphic novel, conveying much of the tale with panels but including prose passages on many pages. Filled with exciting elements, including wizards, dragons, zombies, and flying rats, this mischievous medieval tale in characteristic cartoons by Big Nate creator Peirce will entertain young and adult readers with adventure and humor. Ages 8–12. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA

Brenda Woods. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-5247-3709-2

Woods (Zoe in Wonderland) contemplates American history in this sobering novel set in Birdsong, S.C., during the summer of 1946. On the day that Gabriel, who is white, receives a new bicycle for his 12th birthday, he runs a red light and is nearly struck by a car. Meriwether Hunter, an African-American mechanic who is looking for work, saves him. Gabriel helps Meriwether, a U.S. Army veteran who can fix almost anything, land a job at his father’s auto shop—much to the frustration of another mechanic, who is white, “mean as a raccoon with rabies,” and rumored to have friends in the KKK. Hearing Meriwether’s stories, and taking his advice to “try to see the goings-on of life through more eyes than just your own,” Gabriel is made aware of the divide between the lives of the town’s white and black residents, but his new knowledge might not be enough to save Meriwether and his family from harm. Even readers who have been taught about segregation in the South are likely to deepen their knowledge of the nuanced history through the novel’s handling of how white and African-American veterans were treated differently after WWII. The characters of impressionable Gabriel and Meriwether, whose patience is tried by society’s unfair rules, ring true as the story shows that “the world, including Birdsong USA, isn’t always pretty.” Ages 10–up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Strange Days

Constantine Singer. Putnam, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5247-4024-5

In this ambitious yet uneven thriller, Alejandro “Alex” Mata struggles to save the world from an alien invasion by using his ability to see the future and influence events toward his desired outcome. After being framed for his parents’ murder by extraterrestrial Locusts, Alex finds refuge in the compound of tech billionaire Jeff Sabazios, who uses time-gliding “witnesses” like Alex to shape the future so that humankind can survive. As Alex gains greater control and understanding of his powers, he receives a message from his own future self that could change everything. Debut author Singer delivers a fast-paced adventure with a diverse cast and an intriguing premise, but the various parts don’t quite hold together. The inclusion of time travel and predestination paradoxes mean that Alex’s actions are written in stone before they happen, and certain major twists will come as no surprise. However, the tense atmosphere and memorable characters will keep readers turning the pages to the ambiguous ending, which leaves the door open for a sequel. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Ship of Smoke and Steel

Django Wexler. Tor Teen, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9724-9

In this pulse-pounding epic fantasy, first in the Wells of Sorcery trilogy, a young woman with an uncanny affinity for combat magic is pushed to her limits when she’s sentenced to serve as crew aboard the mythical ghost ship Soliton. Eighteen-year-old Isoka, who can channel the Well of Combat to summon blades of energy, is given an ultimatum by the head of the empire’s magical enforcers: she must find a way to commandeer the ship and its power on behalf of the empire, or her sister will die. Soliton teems with hostile monsters and fellow exiles, all of whom also have mage-born talents, and Isoka must navigate the community’s precarious politics. As she repeatedly defies death in the ancient ship’s treacherous depths, she earns power and respect from the ship’s crew and officers while developing unexpected feelings for Meroe, a princess with her own dark secrets. When Soliton’s true nature is revealed, Isoka may be the only one who can save everyone aboard. In his YA debut, Wexler (Fall of the Readers) delivers an atmospheric adventure that expertly mixes visceral action sequences, a compelling mystery, a diverse cast, and vividly described settings. Ages 13–up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Searching for Lottie

Susan L. Ross. Holiday House, $17.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4166-2

Seventh grader Charlie was named after her great-aunt Charlotte, known as Lottie, who disappeared during the 1938 Anschluss, and who, like Charlie, was a gifted violinist. A school assignment sends Charlie on a research mission to learn what happened to Lottie: did she perish in the Holocaust, or did she survive, unbeknownst to her family? As Charlie follows clues found in mementos and memories from her beloved Nana Rose, Lottie’s younger sister, she becomes intent on finding Lottie. She researches Ellis Island archives online, tracks down translators of old German and Hungarian, and telephones strangers in other cities. Ross (Kiki and Jacques) convincingly depicts Charlie’s growing passion for—and persistence in—her quest, together with her love for music and a blossoming crush on a fellow musician. Family relationships, as well as issues of aging and Alzheimer’s, are drawn with gentleness and compassion. Ross moves the story at a smooth pace as Charlie encounters new obstacles and overcomes them, thanks to several serendipitous events. This is a tender, hopeful work with just the right level of suspense for younger fans of historical fiction. Ages 8–12. (Feb.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Inventing Victoria

Tonya Bolden. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-68119-807-1

This captivating historical novel, set in rapidly changing post–Civil War Savannah, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., traces a young African-American woman’s transformation as she moves from service into high society. With evocative flashbacks and richly layered narrative, Bolden deftly sketches Essie’s early years in a brothel, where she is neglected by her prostitute mother in favor of “uncles” and laudanum, and she aches “to be somebody else’s child.” Essie’s “first rescue, first refuge” comes at 14, when sympathetic house cleaner Ma Clara helps her find a service job in a boarding house. Tension mounts when a stratospheric opportunity arises: the benevolent Dorcas Vashon, an elegant African-American patron who seeks out “young women of promise,” offers to make 16-year-old Essie her companion, at which point Essie renames herself Victoria. Bolden (Crossing Ebenezer Creek) offers a compelling, complex look at the African-American social elite as Victoria receives a rigorous education in how to be a lady after launching into D.C. society amid such luminaries as Frederick Douglass. Though romance beckons, the true star here is Victoria herself. Ages 13–up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Girl King

Mimi Yu. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (496p) ISBN 978-1-68119-889-7

The struggle for succession in a powerful empire pits two sisters against each other after their father, the emperor, shocks everyone by announcing the girls’ cousin as his heir. Princess Lu always assumed she’d become the Empire of the First Flame’s first female ruler, and she has no desire to be betrothed to her degenerate cousin, Set. When her challenge for dominance fails and Set attempts to assassinate her, she’s forced to flee north, seeking new allies among the empire’s subjugated populations, including the residents of the secretive city of Yunis, long thought to be destroyed. Meanwhile, Lu’s younger sister, Min, forges her own alliance with Set while exploring her newfound magical abilities, which might reshape the empire. With the sisters on a collision course, their separate tales seem destined to end in tragedy. It’s easy to get lost in the multiple narrative threads with so much going on in this tale, and Lu’s journey feels more developed and nuanced than Min’s. But with its Asia-inspired worldbuilding, lush descriptions, and a weighty sense of history, this sprawling fantasy is still a strong debut for Yu. Ages 14–up. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
Genesis Begins Again

Alicia D. Williams. Atheneum, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6580-9

Genesis Anderson is a fragile middle schooler whose turbulent home life and drive for acceptance fuel this emotionally rich debut. Forced to start over time and again because of a series of evictions, Genesis has a dearth of self-confidence (and a list of 96 reasons that she hates herself) and trouble making new friends. That slowly begins to change when her African-American family moves to an upscale white suburb, and Genesis has to find her footing in an entirely new environment. While some students uphold the same racist ideas she’s familiar with, others treat her with a depth of compassion that has her questioning the colorism that’s seeped into her own psyche. It’s agonizing to follow Genesis through attempts to bleach her skin to fit in, but the lows only make her triumphs feel sweeter as she slowly begins to find strengths she never suspected she possessed, friends who love and accept her, and a mentor who encourages her to let herself shine. With its relatable and sympathetic protagonist, complex setting, and exceptional emotional range, this title is easy to recommend. Ages 9–13. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaësia

Christopher Paolini. Knopf, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-9848-9486-1

In a collection of three short pieces, Paolini returns to the world of his bestselling Eragon series for the first time since 2011’s Inheritance, picking up not long after that installment’s conclusion. A framing sequence sees dragon rider Eragon chafing at his newfound responsibilities in developing the next generation of riders, and he finds a measure of both distraction and inspiration in others’ exploits, which are conveyed through visions and storytelling. In “The Fork,” a rambunctious innkeeper’s daughter encounters a mysterious traveler whose attempt to broker a deal goes sour. In “The Witch,” cowritten by Paolini’s sister, Angela Paolini, Eragon gains new insights into the mysterious origins of an herbalist, also named Angela. And in “The Worm,” one of the monstrous Urgals seeks to defeat an ancient dragon that slew her father and periodically terrorizes her village. Though very little occurs in these stories, established fans may enjoy checking in on favorite characters and a world they enjoy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (Dec.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Cold Is in Her Bones

Peternelle van Arsdale. S&S/McElderry, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4814-8844-0

This feminist retelling of the Medusa legend by van Arsdale (The Beast Is an Animal) brims with raw emotion and offers adult crossover appeal. Isolated on her parents’ rural farm and forbidden from contact with the outside world, 16-year-old Milla leads a sheltered life. She is desperate to please her parents, who view her with fear and disappointment, and her only consolation is her older brother, Niklas, who is being inexorably pulled away from her by new responsibilities. When Iris, a young woman from the village, comes to stay with her grandparents nearby, Milla finds a true friend for the first time in her life. It’s through Iris that Milla learns the dark truth about a demon claiming girls and women in the village. Even worse, Milla begins to experience changes that raise terrifying questions about her own identity. Lush with detail and symbolism and filled with strong characters who defy basic labels, the tale brings into sharp relief the experiences of the disenfranchised, the angry, and the powerless. Van Arsdale unrolls an artfully constructed series of events that will engage, frighten, and delight. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on 12/07/2018 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.