Booktalk: Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

This booktalk was written by Susan Smallsreed of the Northwest Library, part of the Multnomah County Library system.

The book cover for A.J. Hartley's SteeplejackIn an alternate South Africa, steeplejacks climb the highest chimneys & buildings to repair the bricks & mortar that hold them up. And the faster they work, the more money they make for their gang and themselves.

Anglet Sutonga has made a name and living for herself as the best steeplejack in the city. She works more quickly and more efficiently than anyone else. That status provides some protection from the brutality of her gangleader because he doesn’t want to risk losing one of his best sources of income. But if Ang doesn’t perform, all bets are off. And at 17, Ang could also be used for prostitution, a fate she wants to avoid at all costs.

So when she’s told to train a new apprentice, she agrees, even though she knows that this one is afraid of heights. When he doesn’t show at the right time, Ang goes looking for him. Unfortunately, the reason he didn’t show up? He’s dead.

The authorities think he slipped and fell. And since he’s just another one of those poor, lower caste Lani kids, why bother to investigate? Ang thinks he was murdered and that he deserves justice, the same as if he’d been a white Feldish kid. But what to do about it?

And then the Beacon, the source of energy and light for the entire city, is stolen. And it had to have involved a steeplejack … a really good steeplejack … someone as good or even better than Ang.

Are the theft and murder related? How will she keep the gang happy, protect herself AND solve two crimes? Read Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley.

Mock Printz booktalk: Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

The cover for Sonya Hartnett's YA novel, Golden BoysThere’s always a catch with Colt’s father Rex. The kids in his new neighborhood are totally charmed by Rex’s easy manner and generosity, but Colt is not fooled. When he and his family moved to this working class neighborhood, it was clear they did not quite fit in, but Rex launched a campaign to win everybody over by sharing the products of their wealth. The toys, the bikes, the backyard pool. Always the best that money can buy. All are invited to partake, but Colt suspects the point is not to ensure that he and his brother Bastain have friends, but rather that they are envied.

Freya, a sophisticated 12-year-old, has begun to notice that the adults in her life are less than perfect. She says that growing up is like learning you live in a castle and finding yourself in unfamiliar, often ominous rooms as you walk along. Like an unraveling of faith. Rex becomes her confidant, as she refuses to keep silent about her abusive father, her large family’s struggles, and her suspicion that there’s another sibling on the way.

Freya and Colt are both thoughtful young people in pain. Their observations are cutting, but their decisions about where to place their trust, not always wise. The tension in this literary novel builds to a crescendo as Colt and Freya’s families meet, mingle, and clash.

Mock Printz booktalk: The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

passion-of-dolssa-julie-berryIt is the 13th Century, and war has ravaged the people of what is now France and Spain. Wars of land and treasure, but also wars of religion, with entire villages and the people within them burned as heretics. Though people are still afraid, that time has mostly passed. Botille and her sisters have carved a peaceful living amongst their neighbors in the small fishing village of Bajas. Botille’s older sister, the beautiful Plazensa, brews and cooks in their tavern. Her baby sister Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. Botille is a matchmaker.

And all is well until she stumbles upon a frail, starving woman while on a short journey. Something compels Botille to hide Dolssa in her wagon and bring her home. Something keeps her from revealing her sickly charge to the Friar who is searching for her. Somehow, in spite of the deadly risk of helping this young woman branded “heretic,” Botille knows she must keep her safe.

Then the miracles begin, and Botille knows Dolssa, this strange woman who can’t seem to perform the simplest tasks, who spends her time chatting with her invisible Beloved, is certainly holy. She knows she must preserve her life, but when the Friar arrives, with a Bishop and a small army, she feels conflicted about putting her family and the whole village at risk of punishment and worse. How can someone as radiant as Dolssa be evil? And is Botille also evil for harboring her? She doesn’t think so, but dare she disagree with the Church?

Readers who love history, intrigue, a hint of romance, and a story that will stay with you long after the last page will love this dense, but fast-paced book.

Mock Printz booktalk: We Will Not Be Silent by Russell Freedman

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

we-will-not-be-silent-russell-freedmanAs Hitler rose in power and embarked on a mission to take over Europe and wipe out any people that did not fit the “Aryan ideal,” one group of college students risked their lives to create an underground grassroots movement of resistance, to unify those Germans that did not believe in the Fuhrer, but were too afraid to raise their voices in protest. And rightfully so: If they did, they would most likely be jailed or killed.

Siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl were loyal members of the Hitler Youth when they were young, but as they got older they could no longer stomach being required to love their so-called leader without question. As college students, they began to hear rumors of horrific acts committed by the Nazi regime, and they could no longer be silent. Through an underground network of like-minded people, they began to spread the revolutionary word of the White Rose movement through pamphlets reporting secret Nazi atrocities and calling for all citizens to stand up against hate and repression.

Before Hans and Sophie raised their brave, revolutionary voices, and before they were caught for doing so, they were kids, growing up during the rise of the Third Reich, when Germany seemed headed towards a time of prosperity and power, not brutality and loss. You may wonder how Hitler was allowed to remain in power after his tyranny was out in the open. This book chronicles that rise from the perspective of the citizens that felt powerless to stop the Third Reich, and a handful of young people that found a way to say “No, this is not who we are, this is not the Germany we know.”

Mock Printz booktalk: Railhead by Philip Reeve

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Susan Smallsreed of Multnomah County Library.

The cover for the book Railhead by Philip ReeveZen Starling is a thief. He’s pretty good at it too. Until the day a red head dressed in a trench coat follows him across the galaxy to his home. He had hopped the rails as usual and zipped across the cosmos on the Interstellar Express, a sentient train that travels planet to planet using wormholes that only the Guardians understand. He was sure that he had lost her when the train passed through the first gate. Everyone knows that nothing can follow through a dark hole. But, surprise, surprise, the redhead is soon standing outside his crummy apartment on his home world. Zen may be a thief, but he will do anything to protect his disabled mother and bossy older sister, including leaving home. But can he run far enough and fast enough to evade the trench coat? Who, or what, is she? The police? A rival thief? More importantly, if she’s not police, what does she want?

It’s the latest adventure by Philip Reeve, author of Fever Crumb and the Mortal Engines trilogy, and the start of a new action-packed, interstellar chase across space in a far future world filled with rebels and robots.

Mock Printz booktalk: The Reader by Traci Chee

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Susan Smallsreed of Multnomah County Library.

The cover of the book The Reader by Traci CheeFifteen year old Sefia has been on the run for years, ever since her father was brutally murdered. The only clue to the assassin was the heavy smell of copper in the air. When Sefia found him, she automatically followed the instructions that he had drilled into her: Run to her room in the basement, dig out the heavy, cloth-covered square hidden behind a wall and run to “Aunt Nin.” She and Aunt Nin had been moving ever since. Aunt Nin taught her how to hide, pick locks and live in the wild. But one day, Sefia returned to camp and smelled copper … again. And from the bushes, she watched as Aunt Nin was taken away. Vowing to follow and free her, Sefia lost the trail in a heavy rain. Alone, now Sefia wonders, “What is it that is worth killing over?” And finally, she opens the package buried deep in her pack and finds … a book. Knowing that your parents were killed over this, would you teach yourself to read? Would you still try to rescue Aunt Nin? Would you try to find out why someone wants it? Who knew that reading was such a dangerous act? The Reader, the first in the new series: Sea of Ink and Gold.

Mock Printz booktalk: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

What follows is a booktalk for a title on our Mock Printz shortlist. We hope you’ll be able to join us at the event where our winner will be chosen! This booktalk was written by Jackie Partch of Multnomah County Library.

The cover of the book The Lie Tree by Frances HardingeFaith’s family has moved to the island of Vane so her father can help with an excavation of fossils. At least, that’s what they tell everyone, but Faith, who quietly listens in on adult conversations, knows that her father has been accused of doing something unethical. Really they are moving to the island to escape the accusations. But it’s not long before the news of her father’s deeds reaches the island. One night, Faith’s father asks her to help him hide a mysterious package in a sea cave. When they return home, he refuses to come inside. The next morning his body is found at the base of a cliff. Everyone assumes her father jumped, but Faith is convinced he was murdered. To get clues, Faith begins reading his journals, where he talks of finding a magical tree that would grow fruit whenever a person told it lies. When the person ate the tree’s fruit, he would have visions of the truth. Could the murderers have been after the tree, Faith wonders? And do they realize that she may know its location?