Monday, October 26, 2015


The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow is one of those books that I wasn't really aware of leading up to its release, and then suddenly everyone I knew was reading it. (Including Clarissa--check out her shelf-talker in Young Adult.) It's a post-near-apocalypse novel, near rather than apocalypse because, on the brink of world catastrophe, a United Nations-operated artificial intelligence named Talis decides enough is enough. He ignores the U.N., bombs a few cities out of existence, makes a few speeches, makes a few rules, and four hundred years later, you have a lot less war...and the Children of Peace.

Greta and the other Children of Peace are the offspring of world leaders, gathered as hostages under the care of a loving but ruthless robot Abbot in former Canada. If any ruler in the world chooses to go to war, their hostage dies. As the book opens, war is looming and Greta is certain of her own death--but danger isn't coming from the direction she expects. The true peril arrives with brash, bewildered Elián, the newest of their number. 

All of the things I loved about this book are wildly big spoilers, so I won't tell you exactly what any of them are. I'll just say that the peril is constant, nailbiting, and real. The relationships that develop are nothing like what I expected. And the the kind of ending you are going to have an opinion about it. I loved it, and I can't wait to read what happens next.

Books to read after, and vice versa: 

Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey -- Amid dangerous rumblings between humans, fairies, and dragons, Tess emerges from a violent and tragic childhood in the woods, into a dangerous, kingless world where witches are burned, and the future is by no means guaranteed to be a romantic and comfortable thing.

Graceling by Kristen Cashore -- The Graceling books are basically superheroes in fantasyland. Gruff, wonderful Katsa's superpower is killing people. Her goal is to wrest control of her life back into her own hands, out of the clutches of people who make her murder for their gain.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins -- You know how it is. Katniss Everdeen, the girl who volunteered, trapped in a game where only one person is supposed to live, and the odds are never in your favor.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliot-- Class politics and family betrayal meet high-risk sports in this complex fantasy, as teenage Jessamy defies her parents and disguises herself to partake in THE FIVES.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer -- A boy named Matteo discovers he is a clone of the powerful drug lord of the country called Opium, created in case the Patron ever has need of spare parts.

Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes -- Olwen has lived alone on the planet Isis for years, keeping the lighthouse light that protects passing ships. When other humans land, her own humanity becomes a question.

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner--I love The Thief, but skip right over it if you're looking for an ideal female lead. The Queen Attolia is ruthless by necessity, having to protect her throne and her life from threats in all directions, by any means necessary. But she's clever, complicated, and by no means heartless. If you like Katsa or Katniss, try Irene.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein -- If you want a brutal and incredible book about steadfast love under interrogation that is somehow for teen you go. Here's the book! I've heard maybe one person ever say that they weren't that into it.

If you go out and read all of these heart-punchers in a row and your emotions cease functioning normally and You Can No Longer Handle This, please come and consult your Brookline Booksmith children's booksellers. We will be happy to prescribe a restorative fluff. Happy reading!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Every Scary Story

Kidsmith is celebrating Halloween in style this month. In addition to our decked-out displays of Halloween-themed picture books and activity books, we've also got a couple things happening for older kids and teens.

FIRST: Readers who like to take a chance can grab one of our bookseller-selected mystery reads from our TRICK OR TREAT YOURSELF display. (If any of you enjoyed our Blind Date With A Book display this February, come in for a second round!) These are some of our favorite wickedly creepy books for middle grade and young adult readers. Don't you trust us?

SECOND: K-12 readers, let us know the name of your favorite scary book, and be entered to win free advance copies of this year's best and scariest MG/YA books! We'll be drawing our winners on Halloween. (Check out the great and various books people have picked so far on the pumpkins all over our display.)

Head back to the tree in the kids' section to find our display!

Even with all this going on, the kids' booksellers still haven't been able to talk enough about some of our favorite recent Halloween-y books. Here are a few more titles that you might want to check out.


OUR FAVORITE: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel. The best horror stories have something true right at the center of them, and this book does that exquisitely. It's about an anxious boy with a sick little brother, being asked in his dreams by sentient wasps to just...maybe...let them...replace...his brother with a better one, a healthier one. Despite the fear factor and the big themes, this one is good for grade-schoolers and parents alike.

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano
Took by Mary Downing Hahn
Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith
The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud

Young Adult

OUR FAVORITE: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle is the story of a family that, each October, suffers an unusual storm of accidents, from the minor to the fatal. Hiding beneath the cuts, burns, and bruises, the bubble-wrapped tables and the plaster casts, are the bitter secrets of a family--one that has failed to keep itself safe so badly that now, once a year, everything is dangerous. This book gets dark, but its ghostly atmosphere and fiercely devoted characters will draw you through to the end.

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill

Lastly, for those younger princesses, goatherds, and mighty warriors among you, don't forget to join us on Sunday, October 18th at 2 PM for our PRINCESS IN BLACK party, celebrating the second book in our favorite chapter book series! Feel free to dress up, and look forward to crafts and fun!

Monday, October 5, 2015


For the last week, Brookline Booksmith has joined the American Library Association in celebrating Banned Book Week--a yearly recognition of books that have been challenged and banned in American libraries and schools. As much as it's a celebration of books and their freedom to express, it's also a vocal reminder that censorship occurs in our country on a regular basis.

This year, to demonstrate our belief as a bookstore that readers should be allowed access to the books they want and need, we've put our favorite banned and challenged books on display.

A lot of the titles (and the reasons they've been banned for) have come as a surprise to staff and customers alike. You'll notice a lot of classics up there--as well as a lot of children's books. Books for young people are the most frequently banned and challenged literature in the U.S.; classics that appear on school curricula are also targeted.

Censorship is all about ending conversations. We wanted to start one. All week, as we've been sharing our favorite banned books with our community of readers, we've been adding your favorites to the bulletin board outside our front door. We have to say, we love the results.

We are always thankful for a community that would rather be challenged by books than challenge a book's right to exist. Thank you for stopping to look and think about what Banned Books Week means. Thank you for talking to us about the books we love. Thank you for taking part in the conversation. We hope you'll keep supporting books of all kinds. Where a challenge arises, let's keep the conversation going.