Mock Printz booktalk: Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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 Sonja Somerville of Salem Public Library.

Adri has been chosen for an adventure beyond imagination. She will be one of a small group being sent to colonize Mars, the first part of a plan for humans to escape from a run-down Earth where everything is melting and coastal cities are now mostly water. But first, Adri is going to be drawn into a different kind of adventure, in Kansas of all places. It’s time for Adri’s final training, and she is sent to live with a distant cousin she didn’t know she had in a family home she didn’t know existed. She finds herself living with an old lady who is starting to forget things and an ancient tortoise named Galapagos.

When Adri finds a stash of old letters and a journal in the house, she gets wrapped up in two much older stories about women who lived in this place before her. One is a love-struck teen trying to survive the Dust Bowl, panicking and determined to get away as the money runs out and the constant dust storm leaves her younger sister coughing and wheezing. The other is a young British woman recovering from the grief of losing her bother to World War I who leaves her own home behind to seek out a friend in America. In the end, this is about three women facing disaster –- connected by a house and a tortoise, by desperation and hope.

Mock Printz booktalk: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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.

Starr Carter wasn’t supposed to be at Big D’s annual party. If mom or dad knew, she’d be grounded for life … or worse. But she hadn’t hung out with Kenya for months ’cause Starr moves between two worlds: the fancy Williamson prep, a mostly white, rich, suburban school, and Starr’s neighborhood, Garden Heights, where gangs fight over turf and drug dealing is a way of life. Anyway, with basketball practice, school work, and parents that won’t let her near the gangs, Starr doesn’t hang out much in the neighborhood anymore.

But Kenya begged, so Starr went to the party and it was HUGE. Starr hardly knew anyone and felt totally out of place until Khalil, her best friend from childhood, found her. And a couple of minutes later they had picked up where they left off, laughing and talking. But then shots rang out. Khalil got her out of the crowd and into his car to drive her home. But halfway there, a cop … badge number 115 … Starr made a point to remember that … pulled them over. And before she knew it, Khalil was dying in her arms and she had a gun pointing at her.

One white cop, one dead young black man, one witness. Should Starr talk? To whom? The gangs don’t want the police sniffing around and the police don’t want anyone to know that Khalil was unarmed. So it’s dangerous, no matter what. But what about justice for Khalil? What should Starr do? What would you do?

Mock Printz booktalk: A Face Like Glass 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 Lisa Elliott of Tigard Public Library.

The underground world of Caverna is home to master crafters who create exotic and often magical delicacies. Their wines can erase or restore memories, their perfumes can intoxicate and enchant, and their cheeses can cause hallucinations or explosions. When Neverfell is a young child, she appears in the tunnels of Master Grandible, one of Caverna’s most highly regarded cheesemakers who, in spite of the aristocratic status that comes with his craftsmanship, has rejected the Court and keeps to himself behind intricately locked and booby-trapped doors. He discovers Neverfell in a vat of curds, and takes her under his wing as his apprentice. He also insists that she wear a mask and never reveal her face to strangers, because within it contains horrors Grandible refuses to explain.

By the time Neverfell is a teenager, she grows restless and escapes the cheesemaker’s tunnels and finds herself in a world of intrigue so complex, it is impossible to distinguish enemies from allies, especially considering Caverna’s most curious peculiarity: All of its citizens are born with blank faces and must learn facial expressions. The lower class drudges are taught only friendly, subservient faces, and the upper classes pay top-dollar for a huge variety of expressions they use to help them lie and manipulate in order to gain advantage in the Court. Neverfell’s entrance into this society immediately causes a stir, especially once the face under her mask is revealed. She finds herself a key figure of plot after plot, until she finally gets fed up with being a pawn and decides to take the fate of all of Caverna into her own hands.

Mock Printz booktalk: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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 Ian Duncanson of Beaverton City Library.

Griffin’s first love was a boy named Theo. Unfortunately, first loves have a tendency to end, and the two broke up. Theo headed to California for college, leaving Griffin back in New York City. Despite Theo meeting and starting to date Jackson, Griffin secretly harbored hope that the two would one day reconcile. Sadly, all of those hopes are dashed when he learns that Theo has died tragically in a swimming accident in his adopted state.

Griffin’s grief consumes him and begins to drag his entire life down. When Jackson arrives in New York City for the funeral, Griffin’s mental state continues to spiral down with his Obsessive Compulsive Disorder growing progressively worse. He replays his vanished relationship in his mind, the good times and bad, and ponders the “what might have been.” No matter how much he lives in the past, Griffin is ultimately stuck in the present where Theo is dead and he’s trying to hold it together. Secrets and revelations emerge during his recollections; it turns out that his relationship with Theo had more underlying complexities that he initially realized. Can Griffin ever come to terms with his grief and loneliness, or is he cursed to live in the past while throwing away his future?

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.