You may not know it, but Austin is rife with local authors! Buying local is a great way to put money back into your community, and it works with literature, too! Below are some of my very favorite local author titles for holiday gift-giving. (Psssst – most of these are available in signed editions!)
How Not to Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler
After a life of moving around, leaving friends behind in every town she’s lived in, Maggie has decided that this time will be different. When she starts classes at a new school, she will not try to climb the social ladder – instead she will do her best to become an outcast. Dressing as nerdily as possible, committing the worst taboos, Maggie is sure she has this one in the bag – but things don’t quite go as planned. This witty title, taking place in our very own Austin, is sure to put a smile on the face of any girl who’s ever struggled with her identity. That’s pretty much all of us, right? Also check out Ziegler’s Alpha Dog, available in paperback.
Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith
So I wrote about this yesterday in my favorite paperbacks rundown. But, seriously, this is one of the best gifts to put under your tree this year for teen girls. Vampires, werewolves, and your favorite city (Austin, duh!) – plus an awesome vamp-themed restaurant called Sanguini’s. What’s not to love? Get your teen hooked on a new Gothic Fantasy author in time for Cynthia’s next book, Eternal, due out in February!
My Life as a Rhombus by Varian Johnson
Varian Johnson’s TAYSHAS-Listed novel chronicles the life of math-wiz Rhonda Lee. She spends all her time on academics, desperately hoping to get a full scholarship to Georgia Tech. She’s still getting over her last heartbreak – a boy who left her pregnant – and the abortion that followed. Rhonda may be a wiz at math, but life seems to be throwing her a lot of curve-balls that can’t be solved by calculus. For example: the most popular girl in school being assigned to Rhonda for tutoring, and that very girl facing the same problems that Rhonda knows all too well.
Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb
Following her mother’s death at the hands of cancer, Mia has a lot on her plate. The pain doesn’t go away with the funeral, and neither does the annoying social worker, the socially inept sister, or the dad who is suddenly aware of her existence – not to mention the cute Cancer Boy. Using humor to overcome the solemn topic of her novel, Margo Rabb paints a different picture of life after the death of a loved one. It’s a story of healing and recovery, but also one of deep grief and real love. This is definitely a great title for fans of Sarah Dessen and Laurie Halse Anderson.
The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie
Dylan Fontaine appears to be the boy next door – decent grades, talented athlete, gifted artist, etc. But there’s more going on with Dylan than meets the eye: his mother left for another man, his dad is never around, his brother is a crazy risk taker who’s always smoking pot, and his best (girl) friend has no interest in romance. When he gets caught shoplifting and carrying marijuana, it raises more than a few eyebrows. But Dylan has the opportunity he’s been waiting for: that female friend just broke up with her boyfriend and is making a short film starring Dylan himself. If he can find the courage to make his move, he might finally get what he wants.
Trudy by Jessica Lee Anderson
Trudy’s life seems to be full of drama lately. Her group of friends is changing, school is more challenging than usual, and to make matters worse, her parents are older than everyone else’s – way older. In fact, people always think they’re Trudy’s grandparents. It only gets worse when her dad has to go to the doctor. It turns out he has Alzheimer’s, and Trudy’s life will never be the same. This sweet, touching book won the Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature, and it will certainly find a place in the heart of any teen or tween who has read and enjoyed Judy Blume.
The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover
In her debut novel, P.J. Hoover takes us to Lemuria, a lost continent that has been cloaked from humanity for thousands of years. Benjamin, who has always enjoyed being able to use his extra-sensory powers, is suddenly teleported away to summer school (ew!) where he learns that he isn’t a human but a telegen, for whom these sort of powers are normal. But a strange Emerald Tablet soon attaches itself to Benjamin, and it’s not long before what he thought was a fairly uneventful summer of lessons becomes a rollicking adventure. Hoover’s is a great book to give your favorite Potter-head, with all the excitement of Rowling’s wizard-school fantasy tucked into a sci-fi world.
A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg
Set in small-town Mississippi during the civil rights movement, Shana Burg’s debut novel is the story of Addie Ann, a pretty normal girl coming of age in an era of change. She worships her older brother, but when she makes the wrong comment about a white lady’s hat, her brother disappears and Addie Ann is left with a sinking feeling of guilt. And when a donation of land is made to unite the blacks and whites of Mississippi, everything goes wrong, and it’s up to Addie Ann to find the voice that will save her family and community during these troubling times. This is a truly special novel, perfect for the young history buff on your list.
Zack Proton by Brian Anderson
In these delightful first chapter books, your young reader will follow Commander Zack Proton from adventure to adventure through comics, games and illustrations as well as the text written by Brian Anderson. Zack Proton is an intergallactic space hero that is sure to entice the most reluctant of readers, especially those kids you can’t seem to pull away from Star Wars for even a second. With several volumes of Proton adventures available, a good stack of these books will be an exciting gift for your favorite space cadet. Hurry in, we have free Zack Proton bookmarks and posters while supplies last!