The First YA Warrior Chick?

The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce


First Look: 

These books have been out for a while (almost 30 years), so they’ve had a few covers.  Here’s a selection; I have a hard time choosing a “best” from these, but it’s not the third one.

Jacket Copy:

The Song of the Lioness quartet is the adventurous story of one girl’s journey to overcome the obstacles facing her, become a valiant knight, and save Tortall from conquest. Alanna douses her female identity to begin her training in Alanna: The First Adventure, and when she gains squire status in In the Hand of the Goddess, her growing abilities make her a few friends — and many enemies. Books 3 and 4 complete Alanna’s adventure and secure her legend, with the new knight errant taking on desert tribesmen in The Woman Who Rides like a Man and seeking out the powerful Dominion Jewel in Lioness Rampant. Continue reading


Grim Futures

Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi

First Look:

Looks hardcore and appropriately mixed-up for a collection of (mostly) unrelated stories.

Jacket Copy:

Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut collection demonstrates the power and reach of the science fiction short story. Social criticism, political parable, and environmental advocacy lie at the center of Paolo’s work. Each of the stories herein is at once a warning, and a celebration of the tragic comedy of the human experience.
The eleven stories in Pump Six represent the best Paolo’s work, including the Hugo nominee “Yellow Card Man,” the Nebula and Hugo nominated story “The People of Sand and Slag,” and the Sturgeon Award-winning story “The Calorie Man.” Continue reading

Truth and Lies, War and Friendship

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

First Look:

Dramatic and intriguing.  An artistic representation of the story as well.

Jacket Copy:

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.
That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.
We are a sensational team. Continue reading

Poetic Tales

Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block

First Look:

Strangely Gorgeous.  The pieces of the design make sense, symbolically, to the themes of the book.

Jacket Copy:

But this is what 

I could not give up: 

I could not give up myself.

Psyche has known Love–scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back. Continue reading

Dead Awesome

Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers

First Look:

Yes, Ismae is wearing a fancy gown, but it makes sense, because she lives in the end of the 1400s, and most of the book is spent at a ducal court.  Also, it’s very pretty; she looks badass, and she has all parts of her body!  I call this a win.

 Jacket Copy:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart? Continue reading

African Magic for Beginners

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

First Look:

Beautiful!  It’s unique in today’s world of fancy ball gowns and big faces on novel covers.  Best of all, it looks like the book describes!  Sunny looks right, she’s wielding her juju knife…there are even some Nsibidi words along the top.

Jacket Copy:

Twelve-year-old Sunny lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she’s albino. She’s a terrific athlete, but can’t go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a “free agent,” with latent magical power. Soon she’s part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too? Continue reading