Lee, Mackenzie. 2018. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. HarperCollins (Katherine Tegen Books). 450pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-279532-8.
Felicity Montague is done with parties and primping and pretending. She wishes her days to be filled with fulfilling her ambitions to become a doctor. However, in Mackenzie Lee’s The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, the puffed up men running the medical school she desperately wants to attend see her womanliness as an insurmountable barrier. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy tells the charming tale of stubborn and passionate Felicity. Though it is the sequel to Lee’s The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue, the easy to follow plot line and dialogue enhances realistic conversations make it very easy to fall into the carefully constructed world Lee built without reading The Gentlemen’s Guide first. As Felicity bounces around Europe, the characters she meets are relatable, interesting, and enjoyable. Though the book may seem slow at first, it picks up readily not far in and maintains a realistic pace which does not fill up endless pages with monotony. The plot is exciting, unexpected, and will be thoroughly enjoyed by eighth to twelfth graders who like adventure mixed with feminism and defiance. (EAB)
Mafi, Tahereh. 2018. A Very Large Expanse of Sea. HarperCollins. 310pp. $18.99. ISBN 978-0-06-286656-1.
A sixteen-year-old Muslim girl named Shirin is constantly locked in battle against stereotypes and the cruelness of the post 9/11 world. She has just moved to a new school and has perfected the art of cutting everybody out and seeing the world as a horrible place. The book goes through Shirin’s transformation, with the help of a guy named Ocean, to being able to see the brighter side of life. The perspective of this book from a Muslim girl challenges previous perceptions and allows for more critical thought on the subjects of racism, terrorism, and nationalism. Mafi does an excellent job of catching the reader's attention from the beginning with excellent character and plot development throughout. Any young adults looking for a thoughtful book challenging prior understandings will find delight in this page-turner. (DML)
Jean, Emiko. 2018. Empress of All Seasons. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH Books for Young Readers). 366pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-54-453094-2.
In the beginning, all the earth was created - forests, oceans, deserts, and mountains. Then the yokai were made: monsters and demons, skin shades of blue, white, and yellow. Some had horns, eternal childhood, multiple mouths, impossible numbers of fingers, and long necks. All of them were filled with magic. Next were the humans, all relatively the same in design but without the powers of the yokai. Instead, they had curses to protect themselves. The emperor was chosen by the gods to be human. His empress had to master the seasons; she had to be his equal, but she could never be yokai. Humans soon enslaved most of the yokai, collaring them with cursed iron that burned the skin. Yokai who set foot in the royal palace were killed. Mari, a yokai whose tribe has human skin, has trained her entire life for the competition for the empress. Prince Taro, heir to the throne, does not want to be a prize to be won. Akira, a half-blood, both human and yokai, resists the effect of curses. The fate of the empire is decided by these three. The books does not have the ending most readers are hoping for, but it is the ending they need. Long live the emperor! (RLW)