Gary Paulsen has long been beckoned by nature, and throughout This Side of Wild, he recounts numerous tales from his decades of outdoor adventures. As he does, he comes to realize that the one constant throughout is his ever-evolving and maturing relationship with the animals he both raises at home and encounters out in the wild, all of whom seem to know far more than humans have ever assumed.
Fantasy lovers proceed with caution when publishers promise a book will be “the next Harry Potter,” as so many new titles given that moniker ultimately disappoint. But Lauren Oliver’s latest—billed as co-written by the shadowy H.C. Chester—may be the closest thing to another Potter book to hit shelves in a long time.
For nine months The Girl on the Train has been lauded as the best thriller of 2015, but it has some real competition with the arrival of The Killing Lessons, a dark, violent novel from British author Glen Duncan (The Last Werewolf) writing under the pseudonym Saul Black.
The challenge for an author who writes about a lonely character is to make that character interesting—and keep him that way. Happily, this is what Lori Ostlund has done in After the Parade, her sensitive and realistic tale of the excruciatingly lonely Aaron Englund. What’s intriguing about him is that he seems not to mind his loneliness. This may seem odd, for the difference between loneliness and solitude is that a person minds the former and doesn’t mind the latter. But Aaron holds his pain like a shield against a world that never had much use for him.
Centuries in the future, after humans have decimated the Earth’s population with war and pestilence, artificial intelligence (AI) is fed up and has taken control of the planet. Talis, Earth’s AI ruler, has proposed a sinister plan to keep warring nations at peace: Each nation must provide a royal child as a hostage. If the child’s country goes to war, the child dies.
In her previous novel, the Newbery Medal-winning The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate tackled issues of animal welfare while offering readers the opportunity to expand what they typically expect from traditional storytelling. In Crenshaw, Applegate once again tackles big issues with plenty of heart and humor.
Two months after moving to Hawaii in the middle of her junior year, Lea Lane still feels like the new girl. For the most part, she’s OK with that, but when her mother announces that they’ll be moving into the wealthy West family’s guest cottage, Lea is mortified. Embarrassed at feeling like a charity case, she’s more determined than ever to keep her head down and fit in.
Leah Westfall can sense the presence of gold. It sings to her, thrumming and tingling. This secret talent helps keep her family afloat in their fading mining town in 1849 Georgia. When news of boundless California gold reaches town, her best friend Jefferson dreams of joining the burgeoning gold rush.
The seedy, soap opera-tinged underbelly of Hollywood is fertile ground for fiction. Los Angeles resident Alex Brunkhorst makes the most of that setting in her second novel, the suspenseful and romantic The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine. It’s the star-crossed story of two lives that are wildly different yet forever intertwined.
Every once in a while a book comes along that inspires readers to rethink everything they thought they knew about how fiction works. Given author A.S. King’s talent for writing boundary-pushing YA lit, it’s no surprise that her latest offering does exactly that.