•  The Library Book

    The Library Book

    by Susan Orlean Year Published: 2018 Nonfiction

    It will be almost impossible to make this book fit into a short recommendation.  Ostensibly, it is a book about the most devastating library fire in United States History – the 1986 Los Angeles Public Library fire that raged for over 7 and a half hours, burned over 400,000 books and damaged another 700,000.  (For comparison, our library contains about 18,000 books.)  But this book is about so much more than just the fire; there is something for every interest.  Using the fire as a base, the author touches on the subjects of architecture, art, music, arson, maps, California, history, education, westward expansion, society, law, the current status and future of libraries and so many other topics.  It’s enthralling, captivating and thoroughly enjoyable.  I loved this book and I’m sure you will, too. 

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  •  Hope Nation

    Hope Nation

    by edited by Rose Brock Year Published: 2018 Nonfiction

    Sometimes things seem pretty dark, don’t they?  When we watch the news or read the paper, we’re often bombarded by bad news - civil rights abuses, violence, famine, forest fires, corruption, crime and on and on.  If you’re feeling stressed out by any or all of these things, you may want to read this book.  It’s a collection of thoughtful essays from some well-known young adult authors on the subject of hope.  Hearing where others find hope can be inspiring and uplifting. 

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  •  Dread Nation

    Dread Nation

    by Justina Ireland Year Published: 2018 Alternative History

    Do you like historical fiction?  Do you like zombies?  Then this is the book for you!  In this alternative history, the Civil War came to an end, not because either Army won, but because the dead at the Battle of Gettysburg arose as shamblers (zombies), intent on destroying humankind.  As required by a law passed after Gettysburg, Jane McKeene attends Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore training to kill shamblers and protect the rich and privileged.  During her time at the school, she is unwillingly pulled into the politics of the day and the mystery of a missing family when all she really wants is to return home to her family.  With a fierce female lead, zombies and lots of plot twists and turns, this is an exciting novel, the first of a planned trilogy.   

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  •  Devils Within

    Devils Within

    by S. F. Henson Year Published: 2017 Realistic Fiction

    Devils Within is a novel about a  teenage boy, Nate, who is raised in his father’s white supremacist survivalist compound.  Nate escapes after killing his father.  After a stay in detention, the only person willing to take Nate in is his uncle.  While with his uncle, Nate enrolls in high school and attempts to put his ugly past and indoctrination into hate behind him. 

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  •  Gift of Our Wounds

    The Gift of Our Wounds

    by Arno Michaelis and Pardeep Singh Kaleka Year Published: 2018 Nonfiction Memoir

    The Gift of Our Wounds tells the true story of a former white supremacist, Michaelis, who is horrified when a member of a hate group he helped found opens fire in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012, killing 6 and wounding 4.   To atone for his guilt, Michaelis contacts Kaleka, a young man whose father was killed in the temple attack.  Together, they start an organization called Serve 2 Unite which seeks to prevent hate groups and hate crimes.  Their unexpected friendship is heartwarming and hopeful for the future. 

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  •  The Impossible Fortress

    The Impossible Fortress

    by Jason Rekulak Year Published: 2017

    It’s 1987 and the dawn of the computer age.  14 year old self-proclaimed nerd Billy Marvin is a computer whiz busy designing a game on his family’s Commodore 64.  When he’s not working on the computer, he’s hanging out with his friends Alf and Clark, doing what teenagers do – specifically, trying to get their hands on a copy of the newly released adult magazine containing pictures of their dream girl, Vanna White.  Alas, being only 14, they figure their only chance of getting a copy is to steal one.  In the midst of planning their epic heist, Billy meets a girl named Mary who’s as into computers as he is.  While  they work together to improve Billy’s game enough to enter it into a contest, Billy finds he may like her for more than her programming skills.  But both are hiding secrets from each other that, when they come to light, may change their lives forever.  This novel is endearing and evokes the fun spirit of the 1980s.    

     

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  •  Mary's Monster

    Mary's Monster

    by Lita Judge Year Published: 2018

    2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece, Frankenstein.  Several books about her work were published to commemorate this anniversary, and this is one of the best.  This beautiful, atmospheric, illustrated novel-in-verse tells the story of Mary Shelley’s tragic life, including the deaths of several children, a family member’s suicide and her adulterous affair with Percy Bysshe Shelley.  You may know the story of the creation of Frankenstein’s monster, but do you know the story of the creation of the novel?  It’s dark, creepy and fascinating. 

     

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  •  Love, Hate & Other Filters

    Love, Hate & Other Filters

    by Samira Ahmed Year Published: 2018 Realistic Fiction

    17-year-old Indian American Maya Aziz has a dream of her future that includes film school in New York City, while her traditional parents want her to study law at a college close to home and marry a nice, suitable Indian Muslim boy.  Balancing these differing ideals, school, and her first love is hard enough, but when an act of terrorism occurs and the suspected terrorist has the same last name as Maya, her life is thrown into turmoil.  Her school and her neighborhood may not be the safe places she always believed them to be.  This novel is smart, thought-provoking, and ultimately hopeful. 

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  •  The Book of Books

    The Book of Books

    by foreword by Meredith Vieira Year Published: 2018

    This is the companion book to the PBS Great American Read.  Over the course of the last few months, PBS has been accepting votes to determine America’s best-loved novels.  The winner is in and the best-loved novel in America is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Do you agree or disagree?  This fantastic book has a two-page spread which includes a description of each book and author in the Top 100.  Did your favorite make the list? Browse the book and read up on your favorites.

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  •  The Great Alone

    The Great Alone

    by Kristin Hannah Year Published: 2018

    In 1974, 13 year old Leni along with her Vietnam vet dad, Ernt, and her adored mother, Cora, move to an inherited piece of property in the remote Alaskan wilderness.  Ernt is looking for a new life and peace and Cora will do anything to please him.  Leni and her parents learn to live off the land like pioneers, battling extreme weather, wild animals and the thousands of other ways to die in their new, unforgiving home.  But the most dangerous thing in Alaska is not necessarily nature, but instead may be Ernt.  He suffers from PTSD, drinks too much and regularly becomes violent.  When his violence leads to a horrifying end, Leni and Cora must do what they can to survive and prosper.

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  •  Brazen

    Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World

    by Penelope Bagieu Year Published: 2018 Graphic Novel

    In this outstanding nonfiction graphic work, you will meet some extraordinary women from around the world.  In short vignettes, an immensely wide range of women is introduced – from ancient China’s Empress Wu Zetian to modern-day American astronaut Mae Jemison.  Some are famous, like Josephine Baker; others are lesser known but no less impressive, like Sonita Alizadeh, a rapper from Afghanistan.  Entertainers, athletes, authors, artists, scientists and other inspirational women from all walks of life are included.  You may not recognize all their names but you will be inspired by them all! 

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  •  A Stranger in the House

    A Stranger in the House

    by Shari Lapena Year Published: 2017 Mystery

    Karen is just an ordinary, middle class wife until the night she crashes her car into a pole in a single car accident on the bad side of town.  No one knows why she was there, least of all  Karen herself, as she’s suffering from amnesia as a result of the accident.  Or is she?  Her husband, Tom, wants to believe her, but the police have no reason to, especially once a dead body is found near where Karen had her accident.  Does Karen know the murder victim? Is she guilty of his murder?  What is the truth?  This suspenseful mystery novel will keep you guessing until the end. 

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  •  She Rides Shotgun

    She Rides Shotgun

    by Jordan Harper Year Published: 2017

    Polly is an 11 year old who carries around a ragged teddy bear that she uses as a puppet to act out stressful situations.  One day after school, her father Nate, freshly out of jail, picks her up at school with the news that her mother has been murdered. Nate made enemies with a dangerous prison gang and its members on the outside have orders to kill Polly and Nate, so they go on the run with Polly and her teddy bear riding shotgun.  This novel’s gritty nature is counterbalanced by the love of a father for his daughter and his willingness to do what’s necessary to keep her safe.  It’s gripping and engrossing and you may find yourself unable to put it down until it comes to its thrilling end.  This novel would make an excellent movie! 

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  •  Before We Were Yours

    Before We Were Yours

    by Lisa Wingate Year Published: 2017 Historical Fiction

    This novel is based on the real life story of Georgia Tann, the director of the Tennessee Children’s Home Orphanage during the 1930s and 1940s.  Tann, while claiming to be acting in the best interests of children, would take children from their parents if the family didn’t meet her standards for an ideal family – too poor, too many children, etc.  and then adopt them out to wealthy families for profit.  This fictionalized account takes place is 1939, where Rill and her siblings live a poor but happy life on their family’s rundown houseboat.  One day, while their parents were out, Rill and her siblings were forcefully taken off their boat by agents of the home and then their nightmare began.  The children are separated, mistreated, abused and adopted out to other families.  This is a heartbreaking story with an ultimately heartwarming ending.

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  •  Educated:  A Memoir

    Educated: A Memoir

    by Tara Westover Year Published: 2018

    If you like memoirs like The Glass Castle, you need to read this one.  Tara was raised in a survivalist community in the mountains of Idaho.  Her parents distrusted the government to the extent that Tara and her siblings never went to school, never saw a doctor, never had immunizations and were never even issued birth certificates.   Until an older brother left the community, got an education and came back to tell Tara about it, she never realized life could be any different.  Anxious to break free, Tara manages to teach herself enough to pass the ACT and get accepted into BYU and later Harvard and Cambridge.  In college, Tara was exposed to history, art, philosophy and a whole new wide world of possibilities and opportunities.  You will be amazed by her transformation. 

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  •  Speak

    Speak: The Graphic Novel

    by Laurie Halse Anderson Year Published: 2018

    Melinda starts high school as a friendless outcast.  She is known as the girl who called 911 on a summer teen party.  What no one knows, though, is why she called 911.  Melinda refuses to speak.  Along with the memory of the terrible thing that happened to her at the party, Melinda also has to deal with high school –friends, cliques, boys, teachers, grades and her parents’ disintegrating relationship. You may have read this modern classic in novel form; it is perhaps even better as a graphic novel.  This story is searing, heartbreaking and so, so powerful. 

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  •  Moxie

    Moxie

    by Jennifer Mathieu Year Published: 2017

    High school junior, Viv Carter, is fired up and isn’t going to take it anymore!   She is tired of her small Texas town high school and its emphasis on football.  Football players, and boys in general, rule the school.  They break rules and harass female students without reprisal.  Girls are subjected to strict, sexist dress codes; boys are not.  One day, Viv reaches her breaking point and decides change is needed.  She begins secretly producing a feminist zine and distributing it anonymously to her female classmates and it really takes off.  Viv is not alone; it turns out other students are also fed up with the status quo and begin demanding change.  This novel, with its timely portrayal of young women in the #MeToo movement and its Texas high school setting is an entertaining, empowering read. 

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  •  This is Really Happening

    This is Really Happening

    by Erin Chack Year Published: 2017

    Do you read BuzzFeed stories with titles like, “The Best Way to Eat a Potato, Ranked” or, “19 People Who are So Bad at Following Directions It Hurts My Soul?” If you’ve ever seen any of these stories on Facebook or clicked on a BuzzFeed link because it caught your attention, you’ve probably read something by this author of this book, Erin Chack.  She has the fascinating, somewhat bizarre job of compiling weird stuff from the internet and making a story about it.  This book is a short compilation of 11 essays about her life, from being diagnosed with cancer at 19, to the lessons learned on a post-college cross country road trip.  Each story is humorous and filled with heartfelt observations and experiences.  She has a true gift for finding the humor in every situation. 

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  •  The Thousandth Floor

    The Thousandth Floor

    by Katharine McGee Year Published: 2016

    In 2118 New York City, residents live in a massive, thousand-floor tower built where Central Park used to be.  The higher up you live, the higher in society you are and the more wealthy you must be.  Regardless of which floor they live on, or their status in society, teens are the same – they want success, popularity, and happiness.  Avery Fuller is the genetically engineered “perfect” teen who lives on the thousandth floor.  Her friends all live on high floors and enjoy the life their lofty status provides them. When two teens from the lower floors, Rylin and Watt, are pulled into the lives of the upper-floor teens, things get juicy – romance! parties! high-tech spying! When deep, scandalous secrets come to light, everyone will learn that no one is safe, regardless of their height in society. The sequel, The Dazzling Heights, is already out and the third novel in the series will be out this summer. 

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  •  Wild Bird

    Wild Bird

    by Wendelin Van Draanen Year Published: 2017

    After a tumultuous start to high school and bad choices including drinking and drugs, Wren is shipped off to a wilderness camp where she is expected to turn her life around.  Feeling abandoned and mistreated, Wren at first resents everyone and everything involved with the camp.  However, the time spent in nature provides her with plenty of time for introspection and the necessity of learning new skills in order to eat and survive wears down Wren’s resistance.  As she progresses through the program, she gains awareness and pride in her newfound abilities.  Wren is a complex character who, although she has made bad decisions, is someone you want to see succeed.  This is a beautiful story of growth and redemption.   

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  •  The Takedown

    The Takedown

    by Corrie Wang Year Published: 2017

    Kyla Cheng thinks there are only two ways to leave high school:  scarred or worshipped.  She believes her life makes her one of the few who will leave high school worshipped.  She is pretty, popular, academically high achieving and sure to get into the Ivy League school of her choice.  Someone in her circle, however, wants to ruin Kyla’s life.  When a fake video showing her in a compromising situation blows up on social media, Kyla’s perfect life comes crashing down around her.  Can she find out who’s behind the video before her life completely falls apart?  This is a fast-paced story involving hackers, lies, misperceptions and friends who may or may not be the true friends they pretend to be. 

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  •  Driving Miss Norma

    Driving Miss Norma

    by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle Year Published: 2017

    When Tim’s 89 year old recently widowed mom was diagnosed with cancer, she had two choices:  spend her last days hospitalized undergoing treatment which might prolong her life, or take to the road with her son, his wife and their standard poodle, Ringo.  Miss Norma chooses the road trip.  The family travels across the United States in their camper, intent on showing Miss Norma the beauty of the country and giving her the best life possible by saying ‘yes’ to as many experiences as they can.  Along the way, they encounter old friends, make new friends and enjoy some fame as Miss Norma’s story gets picked up by the media.  Follow along on this heartwarming journey. 

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  •  Far From the Tree

    Far From the Tree

    by Robin Benway Year Published: 2017

    What is a family?  That’s the question three adopted teens must ask themselves when they learn they have biological siblings being raised in different adoptive families.  Grace, an only child in her adoptive family, is dealing with the consequences of teenage pregnancy and putting her own child up for adoption.  Maya, who is Grace’s biological younger sister, has had a happy childhood but has always felt out of place in her adopted family.  And then there’s Joaquin, their biological brother, who was never adopted and has spent his 17 years in the foster care system.  When the three meet and make plans to search for their birth mother, each must determine what it really means to be family.  This heartfelt, moving novel was a National Book Award Winner. 

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  •  The Cruelty

    The Cruelty

    by Scott Bergstrom Year Published: 2017

    Do you like fast-paced spy thrillers?  Do you like books with strong female characters who fight for what’s right?  If you do, you’ll love The Cruelty.  17 year old high school junior Gwendolyn Bloom has traveled the world with her father who is in the US diplomatic corps.  When he goes missing, Gwendolyn learns that she’s been kept in the dark about his actual career with the CIA.  Desperate to find him, Gwendolyn investigates clues to his disappearance and sets out on a mission to locate and rescue him.  Her travels take her from New York to Paris and the Czech Republic where she becomes involved in an underground world of crime, spies and grave danger. 

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  • Allegedly

    Allegedly

    by Tiffany D. Jackson Year Published: 2017

    Wow! There may not be enough adjectives to properly describe this book.  It starts out gritty, intense, beautiful, heartbreaking, and haunting and finishes with a shocking end.  16 year old Mary is in a group home, on parole from “baby jail” where she spent the last 7 years of her life after being convicted of killing a three month old baby.  Allegedly.  Mary maintains her innocence but who will believe the girl who, at just 9 years old, was labeled a monster by the press?  You will be enthralled from the opening page of this book and will not want to put it down.   

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  • Librarian of Auschwitz

    The Librarian of Auschwitz

    by Antonio Iturbe Year Published: 2017

    In this fictionalized account of a true Holocaust survivor, the author has created a vivid picture of the horror that was Auschwitz.  Dita Kraus, a teenage Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz, was assigned to work in the family camp school which was set up in an effort to prove to outside agencies that Auschwitz was not a death camp.  Dita risked her life daily by becoming the keeper of the half-dozen contraband books smuggled into the camp.  Despite the fact that the books were ragged, in several different languages and could only be brought out and used when no guards were around, the children in the school were educated, entertained and kept alive.  This is a truly inspiring tale of survival against the most terrible odds.  This novel is sure to join the canon of young adult Holocaust literature alongside Maus, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl

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  • The Story of Arthur Truluv

    The Story of Arthur Truluv

    by Elizabeth Berg Year Published: 2017

    If you loved A Man Called Ove, you’ll love this novel, too.  Arthur Moses is a simple, uncomplicated man.  He gardens, cares for his cat and visits his wife’s grave.  Maddy Harris is a loner who escapes high school and goes to the cemetery for peace.  Lucille is Arthur’s bossy, lonely, nosy neighbor.  The three come together and by sharing their hopes, dreams, disappointments and daily lives, they create an unconventional but loving family. 

     

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  • Stranger in the Woods

    The Stranger in the Woods

    by Michael Finkel Year Published: 2017

    Many of us dream of a nice quiet weekend of solitude, but Christopher Knight took this to the extreme.  At the age of 20, he walked into the woods of Central Maine, abandoning his car, his job and his family. The Maine woods is a deep, tangled, forbidding place and Knight lived there, completely alone, for the next 27 years, having no contact with anyone at all.  To survive, he broke into summer cabins, taking propane tanks, clothes, books and food which he took back to his hidden camp and used for his survival.  His existence only came to light when we was finally caught by a Maine game warden while breaking into a summer camp.  This true story is strange and intriguing and hard for those of us who live in our world to even imagine.  His story is truly extraordinary. 

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  • Dear Martin

    Dear Martin

    by Nic Stone Year Published: 2017

    Wow.  This book will make you think and make you cry.  Justyce, an African American student at a predominantly white prep school in Atlanta, after a humiliating experience with a police office, channels his thoughts and emotions by writing letters to his hero, Martin Luther King, Jr.  Justyce is captain of his debate team and bound for Yale University but none of that matters to some who will judge him based solely on his color.  After an encounter with a random driver ends in tragedy, Justyce’s faith in justice and fairness may be destroyed.  He has to reconcile his life and experiences with those of MLK’s and struggle to make sense of what has happened and what is still happening.  For those of you who read and loved The Hate You Give, you must also read this book. 

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  • Artemis

    Artemis

    by Andy Weir Year Published: 2017

    Did you love The Martian as much as I did?  This is the new novel by the author of The Martian.  This futuristic adventure novel takes place in the only city of the moon, Artemis. Jazz Bashara is a low-level smuggler, disappointment to her father, and all-around wild child.  When she is recruited by one of the richest men in Artemis to destroy property so he can take over a company, Jazz is in.  Using her superior intellect and skills picked up from her father and in her life of crime, Jazz sets off to fulfill her mission.  As expected, nothing goes as planned and Jazz must fight for her survival in this exciting story that’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

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  • Words in Deep Blue

    Words in Deep Blue

    by Cath Crowley Year Published: 2017

    Henry’s family owns a used bookstore that contains a section of books called The Letter Library.  This library of books is preserved because each book has something personal written in it – from something as simple as notes in the margins to something as meaningful as full-fledged love letters.  Rachel, reeling from the death of her younger brother, is hired to work in the bookstore which means working alongside Henry, a boy she once left a love letter for in one of the books in the Letter Library – a letter Henry either ignored or never received.  Rachel isn’t sure which and isn’t even sure it matters anymore. This novel is a story about the power of words and is a beautiful love story about books, people and the people who love books. 

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  • And I Darken

    And I Darken

    by Kiersten White Year Published: 2017

    Don’t be fooled by the cover that makes this look like a fantasy novel.  It’s not; it’s fantastic historical fiction.  Lada is the fierce, sometimes vicious and unlovable daughter of Vlad Dracul, a 15th century Prince of Wallachia. As a girl, she must fight twice as hard to be recognized by her father, a man she will do almost anything to please.  When her father betrays her by leaving her and her brother, Radu, as captives of the Ottoman Empire as his promise to keep his peace treaty with the Empire, Lada is forced to protect her brother and survive.  Lada is a ferociously strong young woman you will alternately love and hate, but you will always want to know what she will do next.  This is the first novel of a planned trilogy. 

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  • Caroline

    Caroline: Little House, Revisited

    by Sarah Miller Year Published: 2017

    When I was young, I devoured the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I must have read them each a dozen times. Now, as an adult, I was able to experience my love for these stories all over again thanks to this new novel that tells the story of the Ingalls family move from the Big Woods to the little house on the prairie from the point of view of Laura and Mary’s Ma, Caroline.  The story was familiar, comforting, satisfying and so enjoyable.  If you loved the Little House books, you will love this novel. 

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  • Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

    by Lisa See Year Published: 2017

    In China, the lives of the Akha people who live high in the mountains and farm tea, are ruled by centuries of traditions.  Li-yan, a young Akha girl, is forced to give up her daughter who is then adopted by a family in America.  After this heartbreak, Li-yan breaks with Akha tradition and becomes an educated, wealthy businesswoman in the city but always wonders about her daughter.  Throughout their lives, both feel the pull of each other’s existence but distance and the secretive nature of the adoption will work to keep them apart.  This novel will give you entrance into a fascinating world of tradition, tea and the everlasting bonds between mothers and daughters. 

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  • Spinning

    Spinning

    by Tillie Walden Year Published: 2017

    Become immersed in the world of competitive figure skating in this graphic memoir.  (Graphic in the sense that it’s illustrated, not graphic in content!)  Tillie has been competing in figure skating her whole life.  All free time is devoted to practice time on the ice.  It can cause her anxiety, but she also feels pride and a sense of accomplishment.  But as she gets older and finds new interests in art and in romance, figure skating begins to lose its appeal.  This memoir gives the reader insight into the world of competitive skating and into the personal life of a young girl and her hopes and dreams. 

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  • One of Us is Lying

    One of Us is Lying

    by Karen McManus Year Published: 2017

    Five students have detention, but only four of them survive.  The fifth student, Simon, dies from his peanut allergy after drinking from a contaminated water bottle.  Which one of the four killed Simon, the universally feared and disliked gossipmonger who runs the school’s underground What’s Up gossip app which regularly exposes students’ deepest, darkest secrets?  Is it studious, Yale-bound Bronwyn?  Or baseball star Cooper? Prom Queen Addy? Or maybe Nate, who most students consider a future criminal?  Each of them has a secret and each feared being exposed by Simon, but were any of them desperate enough to kill Simon?  This twisty-turny mystery will keep you guessing. 

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  • When Dimple Met Rishi

    When Dimple Met Rishi

    by Sandhaya Menon Year Published: 2017

    All Dimple wants to do her last summer before college is attend Insomnia Con, a summer program for aspiring web designers.  All Rishi wants is a traditional Indian arranged marriage – he likes tradition and stability.  That’s also what Dimple’s parents want for her, so when they and Rishi conspire behind her back to have them meet at Insomnia Con, sparks fly.  Dimple and Rishi think they want completely opposite things, but as the summer progresses, both learn that maybe decisions that seemed rock solid are actually pretty flexible.  The characters are believable and adorable and the book is charming and sweet. 

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  • Max

    Max

    by Sarah Cohen-Scali Year Published: 2017

    This novel is hard to classify or describe.  It is historical fiction/fantasy told from the point of view of Max, the first baby born in Hitler’s Lebensborn program, where “perfect” German men and women were recruited to reproduce with the goal of creating perfect Aryan babies.  The program was real; Max is the author’s creation.  Max, even before his birth, knows he is perfect and is appallingly proud to be chosen to carry on and promote Hitler’s plans for the world. He is a victim of extreme propaganda and is as horrible a baby/child/person as you could imagine.  This novel is both compelling and repelling and I highly recommend it. 

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  •  Keeper of Lost Things

    The Keeper of Lost Things

    by Ruth Hogan Year Published: 2017

    There are three intertwined stories in this sweet, entertaining novel.  The first is the title character – the Keeper of Lost Things, Anthony, an older gentleman devastated by the loss of his fiancée years earlier who now cannot stop picking up every last lost item he finds, bringing it home and cataloging it.  The second story is about his housekeeper, Laura, whom he tasks with the job of somehow finding the owner of all these last items.  The third story follows two friends whose lives are serendipitously tied to the lives of Anthony and Laura.  All the separate story lines are satisfyingly connected by the end of the novel. 

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  •  Lost Girl of Astor Street

    The Lost Girl of Astor Street

    by Stephanie Morrill Year Published: 2017

    Piper, an unconventional young woman in 1920s Chicago, is the heroine of this YA novel.  When her best friend, Lydia, goes missing, Piper is not convinced the police are doing enough to help find her so she starts her own investigation with the help of handsome newspaper reporter Mariano.  As her investigation continues, Piper uncovers several possible suspects, some of whom may be involved in organized crime and some who may be closer to Lydia than anyone expected.  Who can be trusted?  This novel combines historical fiction and mystery together and even though the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance is solved, the ending is left up in the air, demanding a sequel.  If you enjoyed These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly, this is a good book for you. 

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  •  Loving vs. Virginia

    Loving vs. Virginia

    by Patricia Hruby Powell Year Published: 2017

    You’re all familiar with the 1967 landmark civil rights case that struck down the ban on interracial marriage.  This “documentary novel” tells the story of the married couple, Richard and Mildred Loving, in beautiful free-verse poetry, interspersed with drawings, photos and historical documents and quotes.  It is an important story about human rights, family, history and love.  If you’re looking for a worthy book that is well-written, easy to read, and MEANS something, this is your book. 

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  • A Dog's Purpose

    A Dog's Purpose

    by W. Bruce Cameron Year Published: 2010

    Question – Are you ready to cry?  I know I review a lot of “weepies” and this is one of the weepiest.  Told from the point of view of a dog named Bailey, this novel chronicles his many lives as different dogs.  At different points in his many lives, he is a young boy’s golden retriever, a police K-9 German Shepard, and an unwanted mutt.  In each of his lives, he ponders the big question in a dog’s life:  What is the purpose of a dog?  Is it to serve or is it to love?  Or maybe it’s just to eat and play.  This novel is so sweet, touching and occasionally so, so sad.  But overall, you will come away with a new love for dogs and how they make our lives more fulfilling and so much better. 

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  • Born a Crime

    by Noah Trevor Year Published: 2016

    Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, was literally “born a crime.”  In South Africa at the time of his birth, it was illegal for his parents, a white man from Switzerland and a black Xhosa woman, to be in a relationship, to marry or to have a child.  This book is his memoir of growing up in the absurdity of apartheid and is a tribute to his mother who raised him to transcend the life he was born into.  Noah is funny, irreverent and a great storyteller.  You will laugh out loud at some of the scenes he describes. 

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  • The Hate U Give

    by Angie Thomas Year Published: 2017

    Starr Carter lives in two separate worlds –  the poor black neighborhood where she lives with her family, and the fancy suburban private school she attends.  After leaving a neighborhood party with her childhood friend, Khalil, they are pulled over by the police and during the traffic stop, Khalil is shot and killed by the police officer. Starr is caught between her two worlds where her school friends think Khalil’s past and reputation could be justification for his murder and her neighborhood where residents are protesting police brutality in the streets.  As the only witness to the shooting, Starr’s testimony has the power to rock both her worlds.  This novel is so real and so powerful and is a must-read for anyone interested in or concerned by similar events in our society. 

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  • Anna and the Swallow Man

    by Gavriel Savit Year Published: 2016

    In this lyrical, moving novel set in World War II Poland, Anna is left orphaned at age 7 when her university professor father is taken by the German government and sent to a concentration camp.  Anna doesn’t know this, of course; all she knows is that her father is missing and none of his friends can or will help her.  When Anna encounters the Swallow Man, he entrances her by calling a swallow down from the sky to entertain her.  Anna determines he represents her best, safest option so she follows him on his travels.  The Swallow Man is a mystery – he is obviously on the run, he is obviously intelligent – but no one, most of all Anna, knows who he really is. Join them on their dangerous journey across frozen Poland as they seek a way to survive the war. 

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  • Be Frank with Me

    by Julia Claiborne Year Published: 2016

    When the famously reclusive author, Mimi Banning, must return to the literary world and write another book because she’s broke, she hires an assistant.  Alice, excited by the chance to meet the famous Mimi Banning, takes the job.  When she arrives in L.A., she finds she’s responsible for caring for Mimi’s son, Frank.  Frank is a character – a 9-year-old eccentric who dresses like a 1930s movie actor.  Alice is taken with Frank’s charms, but less than impressed with Mimi’s behavior and attitude and she worries Mimi may never finish her new book.  This is a endearing and entertaining story about mother/son relationships, Hollywood and celebrating what makes a person unique.

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  • Love and First Sight

    by Josh Sundquist Year Published: 2017

    You may recognize the author of this book as the one who wrote We Should Hang Out Sometime, his awkward coming of age memoir.  If you liked his memoir, you’ll enjoy this novel, his first foray into fiction.  16 year old Will Porter was born blind and is attending a regular high school for the first time.  Between accidentally inappropriately touching one girl to sitting on another student at lunch on his very first day, Will realizes his time in high school will not be easy.  When Will is given an opportunity to have an experimental surgery that will give him sight for the first time in his life, he has to grapple with the decision and determine if sighted life and really seeing people, like the girl he has a crush on, for the first time is worth it. This novel is filled with tender moments and heartfelt honesty and questions whether love is truly blind. 

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  • Hidden Figures

    by Margot Lee Shetterly Year Published: 2016

    You need to read this book!  By all means, see the movie, too, but don’t ONLY see the movie.  This is the motivational, inspirational true story of the African American women who were the human computers that calculated the math necessary to launch a rocket into space.  The three women profiled in the book were brilliant, driven and proved themselves to be of immeasurable value to the space program in the 1950s and 1960s.  They were the backbone of the space program but had to live and deal with Jim Crow laws which kept black and white Americans in the outrageous status of “separate but equal.” The black men and women employed by the space program in Virginia were required to use “colored” bathrooms, water fountains and separate sections of the cafeteria.  The dignity and perseverance demonstrated by these women was remarkable and to be much admired. 

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  • These Shallow Graves

    by Jennifer Donnelly Year Published: 2015

    Despite its title, this is not a horror story.  Instead, it is a great historical fiction set in turn of the century New York City.  Jo Montfort dreams of becoming the next Nellie Bly but is constrained by society’s expectations that she, as a rich young woman from a good family, will graduate finishing school, marry young and carry on the family name.  But when her father dies and his death is ruled accidental, Jo is suspicious.  Using the investigative skills she thought she would never be able to use, she discovers long-buried secrets, mysteries and possibly murder.  This is an outstanding historical novel complete with suspense, romance and mystery.  

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  • Salt to the Sea

    by Ruta Sepetys Year Published: 2016

    Told from four alternating points of view, this historical novel follows the harrowing escape of four teenagers from the Soviet advance across Eastern Europe in the waning days of World War II.  The four teens, Joana, Florian, Emilia and Alfred are all heading to the Prussian coast in the hopes of boarding a refugee ship to carry them to safety across the Baltic Sea.   Danger surrounds them - from the freezing temperatures, to the airstrikes, to the often dangerous companions on the run with the refugees.  And even if the four are given passage on the refugee ship, safety is not a guarantee.  This powerful novel about a little-known part of World War II will keep you hooked until the very end. 

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  • A Monster Calls

    by Patrick Ness Year Published: 2011

    Thirteen year old Conor’s mother is very ill and Conor can’t stand the way everyone is treating him – giving him pitying looks and letting him get away with more than he should.  He’s convinced himself his mom is getting better and the sooner things get back to normal, the better.  As well as his mother’s sickness, Conor has to deal with his father’s absence, his cold, unfriendly grandmother, and a school bully.  So the last thing he needs is a monster who visits him at 12:07 every night, telling him stories with terrible endings, causing destruction, and forcing him to confront the reality of his mother’s illness.  This beautifully illustrated novel is an emotional read that will haunt you long after you’ve finished reading it. 

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  • The Girl in the Red Coat

    by Kate Hamer Year Published: 2015

    Every parent’s nightmare is losing their child in a crowd.  Beth, a newly single mom, worries about this happening because her 8 year old daughter Carmel is a wanderer.  When Carmel actually does disappear, Beth must live through her worst nightmare.  Was it her fault?  Will her daughter ever be found? Where is she?  Carmel, meanwhile, is living her own nightmare.  This heart-wrenching novel is a must-read for fans of mystery and intrigue. 

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  • A Long Way Home

    by Saroo Brierley Year Published: 2013

    You must read this memoir!  It is such a beautiful story of family, love and survival.  Saroo is a desperately poor 5 year old boy, being raised in a one room house with his mother and three siblings in a small town in India.  When he gets separated from his brother at the local train station, he climbs aboard a train and, being only 5 years old and exhausted, falls asleep.  To his horror when he awakes, the train is moving and he has no idea where he is or how to get home.  The train takes him to Calcutta, where he lives on the streets, surviving by begging and stealing, for a few months before he is taken to an orphanage.  Saroo doesn’t know where home is and the police and the orphanage are unable to locate his family.  Within 2 months, Saroo has been adopted by a family in Tasmania, where he lives for the next 25 years, until the thought of finding his Indian family becomes overwhelming.  Relying on his child’s memory and Google Earth, Saroo painstakingly tries to discover where he came from.  This memoir is heartbreaking and beautiful and will move you to tears.   

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  • Walk on Earth a Stranger

    by Rae Carson Year Published: 2015

    This excellent historical fiction with just a hint of magic is set in 1849 at the height of the gold rush. Leah Westfall has a secret:  she can sense gold in the ground.  When she returns home to find her parents murdered and her uncle the main suspect, she realizes her secret is out.  To escape from her uncle’s control, Leah dresses as a boy and heads west to California with a wagon train.  Now Leah has two secrets and the story is really suspenseful.  Will the wagon train will discover she’s a girl? Will her uncle will find her before she’s safely in California?  This is the first of a planned trilogy and I’m hoping the next two will be as good as this one! 

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  • Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories

    by R.J. Palacio Year Published: 2015

    If you’re like me and millions of other readers who loved Wonder, you’ll also love these three stories by the same author.  And if you’re like me and didn’t want Auggie’s story to end, you’ll love that there is more to read about him.  Wonder was told from the point of view of several people in Auggie’s life but there were many others in his life whose stories weren’t told.  These are their stories:  Julian, the bully in Auggie’s school; Chris, Auggie’s oldest friend; and Charlotte, a classmate.  Each story is unique and wonderful in its own way.  

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  • Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir

    by Stan Lee Year Published: 2015

    You probably recognize Stan Lee’s name – he is the creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and more.  This is his memoir, in comic book style.  In addition to the wonderful illustrations in this book, the story is fascinating too, tracing Stan Lee’s life from 1922 New York through the most prolific comic book age in the 1960s and 70s and right up to his guest starring cameos on The Big Bang Theory.  If you’re a fan of superheroes, this is the book for you! 

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  • Dark Days Club

    by Alison Goodman Year Published: 2016

    18 year old Lady Helen’s life in 1812 London revolves around dancing, flirting and looking for a suitable husband.  Helen wants more than this sheltered life and when one of her relatives is killed under mysterious circumstances, she gets her wish.  She is initiated into the Dark Days Club, a group of men and women who are responsible for finding demons existing in society and banishing them from the world.  If you like historical fiction with paranormal elements, you’ll love this book.       

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  • With Malice

    by Eileen Cook Year Published: 2016

    18 year old senior, Jill, wakes up in the hospital with no memory of the previous weeks that she spent in Italy on an educational trip.  She is informed that she is accused of intentionally driving a stolen car off a cliff, killing her best friend.  How can this be true?  Jill and Simone have been friends since elementary school; there must be some mistake!  Or is it possible?  Since Jill can’t remember and Simone is dead, who will ever know what happened?  Told from Jill’s point of view and in flashbacks, police interview transcripts, TV crime show transcripts and comments on blogs, the story of Simone’s death is brought to light. This taut, suspenseful mystery will keep you guessing until the very end.

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  • A Study in Charlotte

    by Brittany Cavallaro Year Published: 2016

    When Sherlock Holmes’ great-great-great-great-granddaughter and the great-great-great-great-grandson of Dr. Watson wind up attending the same prep school in Connecticut, it is not surprising that a mystery would arise.  One of their classmates is found murdered and the new Holmes and Watson must team up to solve the murder which has many parallels to the Sherlock Holmes’ mystery A Study in Scarlet.  This is a fun, contemporary take on the classic Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. 

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  • Ready Player One

    by Ernest Cline Year Published: 2011

    This novel takes place in the not-to-distant future when Earth has run out of non-renewable energy sources and society has fallen into a dismal state of affairs with rampant unemployment and terrible living conditions.  Most people lose themselves in the giant virtual reality game called the OASIS.  In the OASIS, one can play games, attend virtual school, work, and in general, live a much more pleasant life than reality offers.  When the billionaire creator of the OASIS dies, it is revealed that he has hidden an Easter egg somewhere within the OASIS and whoever discovers it will win his entire fortune.  So begins a years-long competition between gunters (gamers hunting for the egg) and an evil corporation who pays hunters to find the egg for them so they can turn the OASIS into a commercial venture.  Wade Watts, a serious gunter, pits himself against the corporation and other gunters in an epic quest to find the Easter egg.  This novel has everything – science fiction, gaming, a dystopian future and a love story.  It’s fantastic! 

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  • When

    by Victoria Laurie Year Published: 2016

    Maddie has a special gift which often feels more like a curse.  Whenever she looks at a person, she sees the day they will die.  When family finances require, she uses her skill on paying customers.  When a child whose death she has predicted goes missing, Maddie becomes the prime suspect in his disappearance and murder.  Throughout this fast-paced YA thriller, Maddie is alternately the suspected murderer and the actual murderer’s target. You will not want to put this book down and it will keep you guessing until the very end! 

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  • The Serpent King

    by Jeff Zentner Year Published: 2016

    High school senior, Dill’s, father is a snake-handling Pentecostal preacher who suffered a serious fall from grace and is now incarcerated.  If having a father in prison wasn’t hard enough for Dill to deal with, the members of his father’s former church blame Dill for his father’s disgrace.  Dill just wants to make it through senior year and figures his future is limited to getting a job and staying in town to take care of his mother.  His friends, Lydia and Travis, want more for themselves and for Dill.  Lydia plans to escape their small town by means of her famous fashion blog and Travis wants to escape his violent world with his new online crush.  When tragedy strikes, Dill and Lydia must re-evaluate their dreams and determine a new future for themselves. 

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  • Lily and the Octopus

    by Steven Rowley Year Published: 2016

    Are you ready to have a good cry?  If not, then don’t read this book!  Lily is a dachshund and she and her owner, Ted, have a special, wonderful relationship.  He and Lily have conversations about cute boys, play Monopoly, and are each other’s constant companions.  When the octopus appears one day, sitting on Lily’s head, Ted must come to terms with Lily’s mortality.  This is a novel of deep love and a fierce fight to protect a loved one against insurmountable odds.   

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  • Wolf Hollow

    by Lauren Wolk Year Published: 2016

    “The year I turned twelve, I learned how to lie,” says Annabelle, a young girl growing up in rural Pennsylvania between the two world wars.  In this difficult year, Annabelle’s school gets a new bully, Betty, who has targeted Annabelle and her friends.   Annabelle must decide if it’s more courageous to remain silent hoping to protect her younger brothers and the town’s odd, reclusive World War I veteran who Betty has set her manipulative and violent sights on or to speak out and risk her own safety?  This novel is beautifully written and you’ll love this story about a young girl coming of age and learning how to best protect and love her friends and family.

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  • My Lady Jane

    by Cynthia Hand Year Published: 2016

    King Edward, son of Henry VIII, died very young and before his death gave succession to the throne to his cousin, Lady Jane Grey.  Edward’s older sister, Mary, gathered an army and deposed Queen Jane after only 9 days on the throne.  And so on and so on.  You’ve heard it all before, right?  Zzzzzz….  But wait, before you doze off, consider this alternative history of Edward and Jane.  Instead of dying and being beheaded, respectively, in this version of history Edward and Jane survive and fight to take back the crown from Bloody Mary.  And if that’s not enough of an alternative history for you, how about this:  Edward and Jane, as well as many others, possess the power to change into animals!  What’s not to love about this story?!  Give it a try.  It’s silly and fun and very entertaining. 

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