Challenger Deep

Cover - Challenger Deep

Mental Illness, Teen Life

 

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

 

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship's artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

 

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Diamond Boy

Diamond Boy

 

Diamond Boy by Michael Williams

My father says that a journey should always change your life in some way.  Well, when you have nothing, I suppose a journey promises everything.

"Diamonds for everyone." That's what fifteen-year-old Patson Moyo hears when his family arrives in the Marange diamond fields. Soon Patson is working in the mines along with four friends, pooling their profits for a chance at a better life. Each of them hopes to find a girazi , a priceless stone that could change their circumstances forever. But when the government's soldiers come to Marange, Patson's world is shattered.

Set against the backdrop of Zimbabwe's brutal recent history, Diamond Boy is the story of a young man who succumbs to greed but finds his way out through a transformative journey to South Africa in search of his missing sister, in search of freedom, and in search of himself. A high-stakes, harrowing adventure in the blood-diamond fields of southern Africa.

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Student Review: Scratch Beginnings

Memoir - Poverty

Memoir

 

Jeffrey Liao  provided this student review of the non-fiction memoir Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard.

Scratch Beginnings

If you’re a teenager who is wondering what it’s like to be poor, read this book.

If you’re a liberal and believe the American Dream doesn’t exist, read this book.

If you’re a conservative and believe the homeless are just lazy, read this book.

If you haven’t heard or read Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard, you’re missing out.

Shepard’s memoir of his journey from “rags-to-fancier-rags” is a very enlightening book that I, admittedly, had trouble putting down.

Will you receive cultural insider knowledge on how the other half lives after reading this book?

Yes. Will you become a financial guru? Probably not. The point is, the purpose of this book is to prove two things: 1) that the American Dream does exist. 2) People who complain about what they don’t have are just whiners.

The book begins with Shepard providing context to his little social experiment. He states the motivation behind his wanting to do this (which was to prove the American Dream does exist), and how he made sure his experiment was controlled and unbiased. He chose a random city, only took an initial amount of $25 to spend, a sleeping bag and the clothes on his back. He establishes that his goal is to get a place to live in, own a car, and become a regular citizen of society, all within a year. Shepard then takes the train to Charleston, where he soon finds a homeless shelter called Crisis Ministries, but not before having several tense encounters with homeless people. At Crisis Ministries, he’s able to get a job, however, it pays very little, and it isn’t even a secure job (as every day is a new job somewhere else). While he still looks for ways to get closer to achieving his goal, he starts to form friendships with the people at Crisis Ministries, often hanging out with them and watching movies together. He discovers more about the personal lives of the homeless, and how they ended up in their poor situation.

As Adam progresses, it is very interesting to see how his attitude changes. See, in the beginning, Adam was absolutely determined to keep a low profile. He did not want to attract attention to himself, either by fighting or doing something illegal. However, after he finishes a stressful and abusive shift at a clothing store, he gets tired of Planet Plump’s (the manager of the store) mistreatment of Adam and his friends and decides to confront her. He transitioned from a very cautious man to a person who just did not care anymore. Adam wanted to just be himself.

Later, Adam discovers that he has a solid opportunity to land himself a job at a carwash, but declines since the wage was slightly smaller than he had wanted. Still though, it was a significant step towards official employment. In the end, he does get hired as a mover for furniture, and considered himself lucky that he got paired with “one of the best movers on the planet.”

In the end, Shepard succeeds in finding a secure job, a place to live, and fitting into society. He also accomplishes more than that, and in lesser time than he had expected.

So, with that summary in mind, I think that Adam’s journey to find the American Dream was very fruitful and was filled with revelations. It may have had its flaws, as Adam himself points out in his book, but I believe that while he may have gotten lucky at times, his story cannot just be ignored. It does have a lot of merits. He did as much as he could to keep his experiment random and as close to a regular homeless man’s situation as possible. And yet, he was still able to get a job and home in less than a year. In general, I recommend this book for anyone. The American Dream theme relates to everyone in different aspects. Like I said at the beginning of this review: If you think the American Dream does not exist, read this book. Adam provides a relatively concrete case that the A.D. is within America’s reach. You will be thoroughly intrigued by how he got so far with so little. If you’re a conservative who believes homeless people just can’t get a job because they’re lazy, you will be surprised when you read how much Adam’s homeless friends eagerly talk about getting a job. You will discover that they don’t spend all their money on drugs. Some of them were just a victim of circumstance.

This book is certainly comparable to Ehrenrich’s Nickel and Dimed, where she concludes that the American Dream does not exist. Adam’s purpose, as he stated in the beginning of his book, was to prove her wrong, essentially serving as a rebuttal to her book. These two authors were people who were trying to discover if the illusive America Dream truly existed. Personally, I think that Adam has a better argument, since his process of starting low and coming out high was a lot more controlled and more realistic than that of Ehrenrich, who allowed herself to use her credit card. Ehrenrich didn’t really have a consistent, legitimate process, so I do not believe her conclusion is supported by her experiment.

But that is all just my opinion. Everyone has their opinions. For me, Adam’s book made quite an impact on how I see the unfortunate victims of circumstance, who are out there in the world, trying to become better people but just can’t seem to find the right chances to do so. Adam has also boosted my confidence that the American Dream could actually be tangible, if not already tangible. Therefore, after considering that he started out with so little, and came out with a lot, I proudly give this book a 4 out of 5 stars.

UnBound

Dystopia, Short Stories

Dystopia, Short Stories

 

UnBound by Neal Shusterman

Set in the world of the UnWind Dystology, this collection of short stories by author Neal Shusterman shares more of what happens to Connor, Risa, and Lev after the destruction of the Proactive Citizenry.  Will they be able to live freely in a peaceful future?  Or will the dark forces of society that found it acceptable to "unwind" out-of-control teens by using them as transplant sources rise again?  Find out what is left for those once destined to be unwound.

 

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A World Without You

Mental Illness, Teen Suicide

Mental Illness, Teen Suicide

 

A World Without You by Beth Revis

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time.  When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him.  So when his worried parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he's actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have "superpowers."

At the academy, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility.  But even the strength of their love isn't enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression.  After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she's not actually dead, that she's stuck somewhere in time – that he has somehow left her in the past, and that now it's his job to save her.

 

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Pope Joan

Biography

Biography

 

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

For a thousand years her existence has been denied.  She is the legend that will not die — Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the throne of St. Peter.  

Brilliant and talented, young Joan rebels against medieval social strictures forbidding women to learn.  When her brother is brutally killed during a Viking attack, Joan takes up his cloak — and his identity — and enters the monastery of Fulda.  As Brother John Anglicus, Joan distinguishes herself as a great scholar and healer.  Eventually she is drawn to Rome, where she becomes enmeshed in a dangerous web of love, passion, and politics.  Triumphing over appalling odds, she finally attains the highest office in Christendom — wielding a power greater than any woman before or since.  But such power always comes at a price . . . 

 

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The Man Who Couldn’t Stop

 

The Man Who Couldn't Stop picture of book cover

 

The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought by David Adam

What might lead a school girl to eat a wall of her house, piece by piece, or a man to die beneath an avalanche of household junk? . . . At what point does a harmless idea, a snowflake in a clear summer sky, become a blinding blizzard of unwanted thoughts?

David Adam has suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder for twenty years, and this memoir is his unflinchingly honest attemp to understand the condition and his experiences.  In this riveting blend of science, history, and memoir, Adam explores the weird thoughts that exist within every mind and explains how they drive millions of us toward obsession and compulsion.  

 

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Just Fly Away

Family, Romance

Family, Romance

 

Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy

Ever wish that you could just fly away?

When fifteen-year-old Lucy Willows discovers that her father has a child from a brief affair, an eight-year-old boy who lives in her own town, she begins to question everything she thinks she knows about her home and her life. 

As her father's secret becomes her own, Lucy grows more and more isolated from her friends, her family, and even her boyfriend, Simon, the one person she thought understood her.  When Lucy escapes to Maine, the home of her mysteriously estranged grandfather, she finally begins to get to the bottom fo her family's secrets and lies.

 

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Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly

Seventeen year-old dirt-bike-riding daredevil Arlo Santiago catches the eye of the U.S. military with his first-place ranking on a video game featuring drone warfare, and must reconcile the work they want him to do with the emotional scars he has suffered following a violent death in his family.  Author Conrad Wesselhoeft takes readers from the skies over war-torn Pakistan to the dusty arroyos of New Mexico's outback in this young adult novel about daring to live in the wake of unbearable loss.

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15 Days Without a Head

15 Days Without a Head

 

15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins

Fifteen-year-old Laurence Roach just wants a normal life, but it's far from easy with his little brother who acts like a dog and their depressed alcoholic mother. If Laurence can win the luxury vacation in a local radio contest, he's certain his mum will finally be happy again. Then one night she doesn't come home from work, and Laurence must face the reality that she might not come back at all. Terrified that child services will separate him from his brother, Laurence does whatever he can to keep their mother's disappearance a secret. For two weeks, he spins a web of complicated lies to friends, neighbors, and the authorities–even dressing up in his mother's clothes to convince everyone she's still around. But Laurence can't hide the truth forever. He begins a desperate search for her, and that's when the real trouble starts in this powerful story about family, forgiveness, and hope.

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Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow

Fantasy

Fantasy

Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

"So now that you know I'm a vampire, for certain, you don't care?"

"Now that I know that you just sneak around, drinking household pets and legal game, yeah, I'm not too bothered.  It's not like I'm a militant vegetarian."

"And you still don't believe that I'm dead."

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right. Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here–it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.

This book wins my award for the most misleading cover on a YA book.  There is romance, and angst, but also monsters and death and misuse of magic and annoying roommates.  More of that needed to show up on the cover!

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The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

Teen Life, Grief/Loss

Teen Life, Grief/Loss

 

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

Andrew Brawlely was supposed to die that night.  His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.  

Now he lives in the hospital.  He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet.  Drew is in hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him.  

Then one night a boy named Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates.  His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them together through all their pain.  In Rusty, Drew sees hope, and a future.

But Drew knows that life is never that simple.  Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusy.  Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so he's determined to bargain with Death and settle his debts once and for all.  But Death is not easily placated, and Drew's life will have to get worse before there is any chance for things to get better.

 

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Bone Gap

 

Mystery - Fantasy

Mystery – Fantasy

"Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps – gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever."

Eighteen-year-old Finn, an outsider in his quiet Midwestern town, is the only witness to the abduction of town favorite Roza.  When she disappears, the people of Bone Gap aren't surprised.  After all, it wasn't the first time.  That's just how things go, they say.

Finn knows she was kidnapped, but no one believes him, and Finn's face blindness, which makes him unable to distinguish between faces, makes it difficult for him to help with the investigation, and subjects him to even more ridicule and bullying.  Finding Roza means exploring the gaps between what is real and what is unseen, the gaps between worlds.

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On Two Feet and Wings

Memoir

Memoir

 

On Two Feet and Wings by Abbas Kazerooni

Abbas Kazerooni is not yet ten when, during the Iran-Iraq War, her is forced to leave his parents, his friends – his entire world – and flee from Tehran.

On his own in the often frightening city of Istanbul, Abbas grows up fast with little more than his wits to guide him.  Here, in a city where he doesn't speak the language, he must determine who is a friend and who is an enemy, walking a tightrope of survival.

His quick thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, and the unexpected kindness of of strangers allow him to make the best of his dire situation in surprising ways.  But does he have what it takes to achieve his parents' ultimate dream for him: a visa to England – and safety?

 

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VIII

Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction

 

VIII by H. M. Castor

Prince Hal is a young man with extraordinary gifts: astonishing warrior skills, sharp intelligence, and a fierce sense of honor.  His older brother will be the next king of England, but Hal knows that he is also destined for greatness – even if his father wishes he would disappear.

When his brother suddenly dies, Hal is thrust into further conflict as he becomes the heir to the throne. Upon his succession, Hal's obsession with regaining France and having an abundance of sons causes him to end marriage  after marriage, casting off and even executing his wives, breaking with the Catholic church, and turning from an honorable and idealistic young prince into the cruel and despotic ruler known as Henry VIII.

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Grunt

Grunt cover image

Military, Science, Nonfiction

 

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you'll never see our nation's defenders in the same way again!

Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries – panic, exhaustion, heat, noise – and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them.  

Mary Roach dodges hostile fire with the US Marine Corps Paintball Team as part of a study on hearing loss and survivability in combat.  She visits the fashion design studio of US Army Natick Labs and leans why a zipper is a problem for a sniper.  She visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds.  At Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, in east Africa, we learn how diarrhea can be a threat to national security.

The author samples caffeinated meat, sniffs an archival sample of a World War II stink bomb, and stays up all night with the crew tending the missiles on the nuclear submarine USS Tennessee.  She answers questions not found in any other book on the military: Why is DARPA interested in ducks?  How is a wedding gown like a bomb suit?  Why are shrimp more dangerous to sailors than sharks?  

 

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Little Fish

Graphic Biography

Graphic Biography

 

Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year by Ramsey Beyer

Told through real-life journals, collages, lists, and drawings, this coming-of-age story illustrates the transformation of an 18-year-old girl from a small-town teenager into an independent city-dwelling college student. Written in an autobiographical style with beautiful artwork, Little Fish shows the challenges of being a young person facing the world on her own for the very first time and the unease–as well as excitement–that comes along with that challenge.

Ramsey Beyer is a comic artist and illustrator living in Philadelphia, PA. She self-published her autobiographical graphic novel, Year One , accounting for her first year in Philadelphia. Beyer has had illustrated and written work published in several books, including Fanzines by Teal Triggs, Make A Zine!, and Don't Leave Your Friends Behind. Little Fish: A Memoir From a Different Kind of Year is her first traditionally published book. Known for her pet portraits, she is also the illustrator of Daisy to the Rescue by Jeff Campbell.

 

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The Suffering

Supernatural Horror

Supernatural Horror

 

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco

      Not all that is lost should be found . . . 

Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless.  But Okiku changed that.  A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she's groomed Tark to destroy the wicked.  But when darkenss pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan's suicide forest, Okiku's justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price.

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Stand Off

Stand Off

Teen Life

 

Stand Off by Andrew Smith

The sequel to Winger, fifteen-year-old Ryan Dean West, now a senior at Pine Mountain Academy, becomes captain of the rugby team, shares his dormitory room with a twelve-year-old prodigy, Sam Abernathy, and through the course of the year learns to appreciate things he has tried to resist, including change.  Dealing with grief, ghosts, nightmares, and romantic challenges in additon to rugby brings on a slew of insecurities related to his own past.

 

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Sing, Unburied, Sing

Cover picture for Sing, Unburied, Sing

 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man.  He doesn't lack in fathers to study, chief among them his black grandfather, Pop.  But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent white father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his grandfather Big Joseph, who won't acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

When his father is released from prison, Jojo's mother packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and and Parchman Farm, the state penitentiary.  At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering.  He, too, has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.

In Jesmyn Ward's first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, she brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America.

 

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Nemesis

cover picture for Nemesis

 

Nemesis by Brendan Reichs

It has been happening since Min was eight.  Every two years, on her birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood.  But hours later, she wakes up in a clearing just outside her tiny Idaho hometown – alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the horrifying crime erased.

On her sixteenth birthday, as she cowers in her bedroom, hoping not to die for the fifth time, Min has had enough.  

Across the valley, Noah just wants to be like everyone else.  But he's not.  Nightmares of murder and death plague him, though he does his best to hide the signs.  But when the world around him begins to spiral toward panic and destruction, Noah discovers that people have been lying to him his whole life.  

For the planet has a bigger problem – an enormous asteroid threatening all life on Earth.

 

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Six of Crows

Fantasy, Suspense

Fantasy, Suspense

 

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker is offered a chance at a dealy heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams.  But he can't pull it off alone. . .

A convict with a thirst for revenge

A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager

A runaway with a privileged past

A spy known as the Wraith

A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums

A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction – if they don't kill each other first.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Soldier

Memoir

Memoir

 

Rock 'N' Roll Soldier by Dean Ellis Kohler

During a time when none of us knew for sure if we would live or die, I came to know the true power of music.‚Äč

Dean Kohler is about to make it big–he's finally scored a national record deal! But his dreams are abruptly put on hold by the arrival of his draft notice. Now he's in Qui Nhon, Vietnam, serving as a military policeman.

He keeps telling himself he's a musician, not a killer, and that he's lucky he's not fighting on the front lines. When Captain orders him to form a rock band, it's up to Dean to find instruments and players, pronto. Ingenuity and perseverance pay off and soon the band is traveling through treacherous jungle terrain to perform for troops in desperate need of an escape–even if it's only for three sets.

And for Dean–who lives with death, violence, and the fear that anyone could be a potential spy (even his Vietnamese girlfriend)–the band becomes the one thing that gets him through the day. During one of the most controversial wars in recent American history, this incredible true story is about music and camaraderie in the midst of chaos.

 

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Some Assembly Required

Memoir

Memoir

 

Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews

Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir. We've all felt uncomfortable in our own skin at some point, and we've all been told that "it's just a part of growing up." But for Arin Andrews, it wasn't a phase that would pass. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight… In this revolutionary memoir, Arin details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes – both mental and physical – he experienced once his transition began.

Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.

 

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Who Killed Christopher Goodman?

Mystery

Mystery

 

Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan Wolf

 

Everybody likes Chris Goodman.

Sure, he's kind of weird.  He wears those crazy bell-bottoms and he really likes the word ennui and he shakes your hand when he meets you, but he's the kind of guy who is always up for a good time and is happy to lend a hand.  Everybody likes Chris Goodman, which is why it's so shocking when he is murdered.

A multi-voiced narrative that includes the perspective of the killer and is inspired by a true and shocking crime from the author's own past, the book endeavors to answer the first question that comes to mind in moments of unthinkable tragedy:

How could a thing like this happen?

 

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Before We Go Extinct

Friendship, Death

 

Before We Go Extinct by Karen Rivers

Since watching his friend fall (jump?) from a skyscraper, JC, nicknamed Sharky, has been holed up in his room, obsessing about sharks and climate change, and texting his dead friend.

When his mom sends him to a remote island in Canada to visit his dad, Sharky meets a girl who just may show hiim how to live – and love – again.

 

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Gem & Dixie

Family relationships

Family relationships

 

Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

Gem has never know what it is to have security.  She's never known an adult she can truly rely on.  But the one constant in her life has been Dixie.  Gem grew up taking care of her her sister when no one else could: not their mother, whose issues make it hard for her to keep food on the table, and definitely not their father, whose intermittent presence is the only thing worse than than his frequent absence.  

When their dad returns home for the first time in years and tries to insert himself back into their lives, Gem finds herself with an unexpected opportunity: three days with Dixie, on their own in Seattle and beyond. 

But this short trip soon becomes something more, as Gem discovers that to save herself, she may have to sever the one bond she's tried so hard to keep.

 

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Student Review: Nickel and Dimed

Nickel and Dimed

Nonfiction

 

Bella Alexander provided this student review of the non-fiction memoir Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. 

Fickle and Timed

What is there to do when the living wage can’t actually be lived on? For most working Americans, it’s finding ways to cut back, even if that means making the decision between paying the rent or feeding their children. But for Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed, it resulted in a whole lot of complaining, some relatively minor stress, and an eventual return to her cushy upper middle class life. This book had an intended message that I found to be quite powerful, that is, the wages around the country that we expect working Americans to survive on, even utilize to pull themselves out of poverty, are extremely inadequate. However, although I commend Ehrenreich’s efforts regarding her going out and attempting to experience the life of a wage slave-might I add, when the economy was perhaps a better place for minimum wage workers than it is now-her writing style continually exuded a very detached, almost “holier-than-thou” perspective on what she went through. Even though Ehrenreich and I walked away with the intended message of her toils, what stood out to me more than the purpose of the composition itself was the attitude of upper class citizens towards those lower than them on the socio-economic ladder, represented by the subtle quips and snarky comments made throughout the book.  Ehrenreich was set on proving that the living wage is not livable. That is what she accomplished. But in my mind, Nickel and Dimed is not only a testament to how skewed our take on the minimum wage really is, but also a testament to the bias that the wealthy have towards the poor and the severity of social stratification between classes in our country, as told by someone who embodies the aforementioned phenomenon.

In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich embarks on a mission to prove that the minimum wage simply isn’t enough. From serving in Florida to scrubbing in Maine to selling in Minnesota, we follow Ehrenreich on her pilgrimage through the life of a working class citizen and are with her as she experiences almost first hand the struggles and realities of situations simulated by her own. She pays special mind to the documentation, analysis, and observation of people she encounters throughout her brief time making it in the world of the working, and overall comes away with a reinforced understanding that the living wage is truly unlivable.

Ehrenreich makes it clear within the first few pages of her memoir that she did not want to do this experiment, stating that it was meant for “someone younger” than herself, “some neophyte journalist with time on her hands.” It is with this sentiment that Nickel and Dimed begins, and also with this sentiment that the entire book is written. Ehrenreich gets a taste, similar in fashion to how a child who does not like broccoli tastes broccoli, of the life of a working class citizen. Despite setting rules for herself regarding finances, jobs, and housing, she self-admittedly smashes each of these rules to pieces at one point or another, sometimes even more than once, which in my mind all but demolishes the scientific validity of her experience, which is ironic because she out rightly states in the beginning of her book that she wanted to make this as scientific an experiment as possible, and this is fitting that she should want this, I suppose, as she does have a PhD in biology that she refuses to let the reader forget.

In addition, Ehrenreich’s writing is chalk full of contradictions. For example, she states "The 'working poor' are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will be low and stock prices high. To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor, a nameless benefactor to everyone else." However, she still, in my mind, fails to fully grasp this concept herself while she continually resents and reproaches all those who she was forced to serve. Another flaw within Ehrenreich’s writing is her at times too humanitarian based actions, as if she were some savior come to rescue her lower class work mates from their depths of despair, as when she was working at WalMart and talked with a fellow employee about improving their situation that perhaps they could have done it had she been able to afford working there any longer.

All in all, Ehrenreich is very aware that she has no place or right to be telling this type of story from the perspective of people she will never fully understand because she chooses not to. Her brief escapade into the world of the working poor was limited in both will and true insight, therefore making her personal experiences essentially irrelevant. However, despite her nauseating personality and upper class slander, the point was delivered with some rather valuable content to accompany it.

There is a saying that goes something like, “Don’t judge someone till you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” In Ehrenreich’s case, she reluctantly decided to make the tumultuous journey into the world of the poor in their beat up sneakers, shuffled along for several steps or so, decided that her feet hurt too much and that the shoes were ugly, then sprinted back to her cushy life. If this attitude is commendable in our society, save for the overall message which in my mind could have been portrayed almost as effectively from behind a desk considering the overall invalidity of Ehrenreich’s little adventure, then what really is there to do for those trying to get by on the living wage that clearly can’t be lived on? If they’re not Barbara Ehrenreich, all there is to do is survive.

The Enemy

Zombie Apocalypse

Zombies

 

Can't get enough news about the zombie apocalypse?  We now have all five books in the series The Enemy by Charlie Higson.

Book 1 – The Enemy:  In this dystopian thriller set in London, everyone over 16 is dead or diseased, and youngsters are in constant danger of being eaten by boil-infested grown-ups who roam the streets like zombies looking for children to kill. 

Book 2 – The Dead:  This prequel takes place just over a year before the events in The Enemy and describes the beginnings of the disease that took everyone over the age of 16. Many people were killed outright but others became mindless cannibals.  Ed, Jack, Bam, and their mates are overmatched by these horrors but must try their best to protect the younger kids around them as well as scavenge food and water in a world with no functioning power supply, distribution network, or media. 

Book 3 – The Fear:  The crew, in search of the friends they lost during the recent attacks and fire, set off on a deadly mission from the Tower of London to Buckingham Palace and beyond, as the sickos lie in wait. 

Book 4 – The Sacrifice:  Small Sam and his unlikely ally, The Kid, have survived. They’re safe with Ed and his friends at the Tower of London, but Sam is desperate to find his sister, which means they must cross the forbidden zone. And what awaits them there is more terrifying than any of the horror they’ve suffered so far . . .

Book 5 – The FallenThe Holloway crew are survivors. They've fought their way across London and made it to the Natural History Museum alive and looking for a cure. All they need are medical supplies. To get them means a journey down unknown roads. Roads where more than crazed, hungry sickos hide in the shadows.

Book 6 – The Hunted: Ella is out in the country, alone now except for her silent rescuer, Scarface, about whom she knows nothing, while Ed leaves London on a dangerous quest, determined to find Ella and keep his promise to Small Sam that he will reunite sister and brother.

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters.

Last Seen Leaving

Cover - Last Seen Leaving

Mystery

 

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

His girlfriend has disappeared. 

How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing.  The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up.  All eyes are on Flynn — as January's boyfriend, he must know something.

But Flynn has a secret of his own.  And as he struggles to uncover the truth about January's dasappearance, he must also face the turth about himself.

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

Author News – Terry Pratchett

Pratchett

Author Terry Pratchett, who died in 2015, chose an unusual method of ensuring his unpublished novels would remain unpublished.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/30/terry-pratchett-unfinished-novels-destroyed-streamroller

Code of Honor

Suspense

Suspense

 

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz

Kamran Smith has it all. He's the star of the football team, dates the most popular girl in school, and can't wait to enlist in the Army like his big brother, Darius. Although Kamran's family hails from Iran, Kamran has always felt 100% American. Accepted.

And then everything implodes.

Darius is accused of being a terrorist. Kamran refuses to believe it, but the evidence is there — Darius has been filmed making threats against his country, hinting at an upcoming deadly attack. Kamran's friends turn on him — suddenly, in their eyes, he's a terrorist, too.

Kamran knows it's up to him to clear his brother's name. In a race against time, Kamran must piece together a series of clues and codes that will lead him to Darius — and the truth.

But is it a truth Kamran is ready to face? And is he putting his own life at risk?

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

The Bitter Side of Sweet

Child Slavery, Fiction

Child Slavery, Fiction

Fifteen-year-old Amadou counts the things that matter. For two years what has mattered are the number of cacao pods he and his younger brother, Seydou, can chop down in a day. This number is very important. The higher the number the safer they are because the bosses won't beat them. The higher the number the closer they are to paying off their debt and returning home to Moke and Auntie. Maybe. The problem is Amadou doesn't know how much he and Seydou owe, and the bosses won't tell him.

The boys only wanted to make some money during the dry season to help their impoverished family. Instead they were tricked into forced labor on a plantation in the Ivory Coast; they spend day after day living on little food and harvesting beans in the hot sun–dangerous, backbreaking work. With no hope of escape, all they can do is try their best to stay alive–until Khadija comes into their lives.

She's the first girl who's ever come to camp, and she's a wild thing. She fights bravely every day, attempting escape again and again, reminding Amadou what it means to be free. But finally, the bosses break her, and what happens next to the brother he has always tried to protect almost breaks Amadou. The old impulse to run is suddenly awakened. The three band together as family and try just once more to escape.

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

Con Academy

Con Academy

 

Con Academy by Joe Schreiber

It's his senior year and Will Shea has conned his way into one of the country's most elite prep schools. But he soon runs into Andrea, a fellow con-artist. With the school not big enough for the both of them, they make a bet that whoever can con Brandt Rush, the richest, most privileged student in the school out of $50K, gets to stay at the school. Will starts setting up his con (an online poker scam) with his uncle who's one of the best grifters in the business, but also with the unwanted help of his father.. The plot thickens as Will starts falling for fellow student Gatsby, and some of Will's lies start to catch up with him. In this twisty tale of scams, secrets, lies and deception, it hard to figure out who's conning who!

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters.

Renegades

Cover picture for Renegades

 

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies – humans with extraordinary abilities – who emerged from the ruins of a rumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned.  As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone . . . except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance.  As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adreian, a REnegade boy who believes in justice, and in Nova.  But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters.

Aspergers and Other Superpowers

Aspergers and Other Superpowers

Memoir, CHS Author

 

Aspergers and Other Superpowers; The Autobiography of an Oddly Blessed (and Cursed) Child by Maximillian Marciel

A memoir written by a graduate of CHS about his experiences growing up in Hawaii, in Camas, and with Asperger's.

What awaits the curious reader who ventures into these strange pages is a coming-of-age sort of thing – a story about a young boy and his mental disability, Asperger's Syndrome.  It can be sad at times, and perhaps happy at others, but I at least guarantee that it will somewhat entertain you.  But hey, who am I to judge?  See for yourself, you crazy animal.

– Maximillian Marciel

 

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl

Teen Life, Friendship

Teen Life, Friendship

 

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melisa Keil

Alba loves her life living behind the bakery and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon, drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.  

But high school has officially ended and everyone else seems to be making plans to move on.  Meanwhile, a long gone guy has reappeared, her best friend is going off the rails, and her latest comic book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending. Awkward.

Alba's life has been upended, and Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

His Majesty’s Dragon

Alternative History - Fantasy

Alternative History – Fantasy

Aerial combat brings a thrilling new dimension to the Napoleonic Wars as valiant warriors rise to Britain's defense by taking to the skies . . . not aboard aircraft but atop the mighty backs of fighting dragons.

When HMS Reliant captures a French frigate and seizes its precious cargo, an unhatched dragon egg, fate sweeps Capt. Will Laurence from his seafaring life into an uncertain future – and an unexpected kinship with a most extraordinary creature. Thrust into the rarified world of the Aerial Corps as master of the dragon Temeraire, he will face a crash course in the daring tactics of airborne battle. For as France's own dragon-borne forces rally to breach British soil in Bonaparte's boldest gambit, Laurence and Temeraire must soar into their own baptism of fire.

Book one in the Termeraire series by Naomi Novik.

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters.

Wild

Biography

Biography

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State–and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters.

 

The Sports Beat Mysteries

Sports, Mystery

Sports, Mystery

 

The Sports Beat mysteries by John Feinsein

Teen sportswriters Susan and Stevie Carol just iintend to cover sporting events – the players, the coaches, the competitions – but shocking truths and dark crimes keep putting the two in dangerous situations where they must solve the mysteries and save their own lives.

      

Vanishing Act

Rush for the Gold

Change-up

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

Every Day – Another Day

Cover of Every Day

Romance, Supernatural

Cover of Another Day

 

Every Day and Another Day by David Levithan

These two books tell the same story from two different perspectives.

In Every Day, A wakes each moring in a different person's body, a different person's life.  There is never any warning about where it will be or who it will be.  A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live:

Never get too attached.  

Avoid being noticed.  

Do not interfere. 

It's all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon.  From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply.  Because finally A has found someone to love – day in, day out, day after day.

* * *

Rhiannon's side of the story is told in Another Day.  For Rhiannon, every day is the same.  She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidleines by which to live:  

Don't be too needy.  

Avoid upsetting him.  

Never get your hopes up. 

Until the morning everything changes.  Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day – a perfect day Justin doesn't seem to remember the next morning.  Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything.  Then one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person . . . wasn't Justin at all.

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

Bright Lights, Dark Nights

Romance

Romance

 

Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond

Walter Wilcox has never been in love.  He just wants to finish high school under the radar with his 2.5 friends and zero drama.  And then there's Naomi Mills, an adorably awkward harpist with a habit of saying the wrong thing at the right time.

It's inevitable that they're going to get together . . . but they're also on the unavoidable path to being torn apart.

When Walter's cop dad is caught in a racial profiling scandal, Walter and Naomi, who is African American, are called out at school, home and online. Can their bond (and mutual love of the Foo Fighters) keep them together?

It's a story about first love, first fights, and finding yourself in a messed up world, from the acclaimed author of Happyface.  

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B

Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B

 

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13 B by Teresa Toten

Adam Ross has made a list:

1. I  believe that I fell in love with Robyn Plummer last Monday.  This feeling is extremely uncomfortable.  I would stop it if I could.

2. I believe that I should have been allowed to skip grade 4.  I would be in grade 11 now and my entire life would be different.  Better.  Somehow.

3. I believe that playing Warhammer games all these years with Stones (Ben Stone) has probably kept both our heads above water, but just barely.

4. I believe that my four-year-old half brother, Sweetie, loves me more than all the adults in our lives put together.  This does not stop him from being a considerable pain.

5. I believe that Group is mucho weirdo (except for Robyn). I can't see how it's going to help with anything, but the superhero stuff is not half bad.

Adam's goals are to: Grow immediately. Find courage. Keep courage. Get normal. Marry Robyn Plummer. The instant Adam Spencer Ross meets Robyn Plummer in his Young Adult OCD Support Group, he is hopelessly, desperately drawn to her. Robyn has an hypnotic voice, blue eyes the shade of an angry sky, and ravishing beauty that makes Adam's insides ache. She's also just been released from a residential psychiatric program–the kind for the worst, most difficult-to-cure cases; the kind that Adam and his fellow support group members will do anything to avoid joining. Adam immediately knows that he has to save Robyn, must save Robyn, or die trying. But is it really Robyn who needs rescuing? And is it possible to have a normal relationship when your life is anything but? 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters.

Symptoms of Being Human

Gender Identity, School Life

Gender Identity, School Life

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

The first thing you're going to want to know about me is: 

Am I a boy, or am I a girl

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid.  Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl.  The thing is . . . Riley isn't exactly out yet.  And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection, the pressure — media and otherwise — is building up in Riley's so-called "normal" life.

Just settling in to a new school, and  developing feelings for a mysterious outcast, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it's really like to be a gender fluid teen.  But the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discover's Riley's real identity, threatening exposure.  

Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created — a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in — or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters

More Happy Than Not

More Happy Than Not

 

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. Why does happiness have to be so hard? 

Want to know more? Use the Destiny Catalog to search for the title – click on the title and look for the Title Peek logo below the cover image to get more plot details, read reviews, and preview chapters.

Feb 06

Every Day – Another Day

Cover of Another Day

 

Every Day and Another Day by David Levithan

These two books tell the same story from two different perspectives.

In Every Day, A wakes each moring in a different person's body, a different person's life.  There is never any warning about where it will be or who it will be.  A has made …

Continue reading »

Jan 30

Scythe

Scythe cover image

 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

 

A World With No Hunger, No Disease, No War, No Misery

Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death.  Now scythes are the only ones who can end life – and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size …

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Jan 30

Grunt

Grunt cover image

 

Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

Take a tour of duty with Roach, and you'll never see our nation's defenders in the same way again!

Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries – panic, exhaustion, heat, noise – and introduces us to the scientists …

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Jan 19

Challenger Deep

Cover - Challenger Deep

 

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

 

Caden Bosch is on a ship that's headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the …

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Jan 19

Symptoms of Being Human

Gender Identity, School Life

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

The first thing you're going to want to know about me is: 

Am I a boy, or am I a girl

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid.  Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a …

Continue reading »

Jan 19

Last Seen Leaving

Cover - Last Seen Leaving

 

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig

His girlfriend has disappeared. 

How can he uncover her secrets without revealing his own?

Flynn's girlfriend, January, is missing.  The cops are asking questions he can't answer, and her friends are telling stories that don't add up.  All eyes are on Flynn — as …

Continue reading »

Jan 19

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley

Teen Life, Grief/Loss

 

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

Andrew Brawlely was supposed to die that night.  His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived.  

Now he lives in the hospital.  He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps …

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Oct 25

A World Without You

Mental Illness, Teen Suicide

 

A World Without You by Beth Revis

Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time.  When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him.  So when his …

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Oct 25

Goldfish

Friendship, Competition

 

Goldfish by Nat Luurtsema

 

I am Lou Brown

Social outcast, precocious failure.

5' 10" and still growing.

I was on the fast track to Olympic Superstardom.

Now, I'm training boys too cool to talk to me.

In a sport I just made up.

In a fish tank.

My life has quickly become very …

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Oct 11

The Female of the Species

Friendship, Lose, Violence

 

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn't feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence. While her crime goes unpunished, …

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