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Wed, Jun. 21st, 2017, 10:46 am
Bestseller Follow-Up (36)

INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins
After a woman turns up dead in the Drowning Pool she is obsessed with in her small town, previous suicides are investigated and the truth begins to come out. Multiple points-of-view, changes in time period, and the large cast of characters make it harder to get into than her debut novel (and it was difficult to understand the surly attitude of the teen daughter after her mother died), but the story is dark enough to be interesting. The small town setting is a good angle for this book where everyone knows everyone else's history and business, and the various conclusions to the deaths are all plausible for a mystery novel. An addition to the genre that will be popular even if not as well received as her addicting first book. (Riverhead Books, 2017)

Wed, Jun. 21st, 2017, 10:32 am
VOYA ghosts? (35)

VOYA review to come! (Amulet, 2017)

Sat, Jun. 10th, 2017, 03:14 pm

GOODBYE DAYS by Jeff Zentner
Carver's three best friends are killed in a car accident that he blames himself for, and he isn't sure he will ever be able to move on until a girl, a grandma, a doctor, his sister, and the dead boys' families help him navigate his grief. The immensely sad premise of this YA novel does evoke lots of crying by the main character and rightly so. However,
it is not completely depressing because there is hope for his own healing and support from side characters. The story serves as a warning about texting and driving without being didactic, and the writing is just really spot on. (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017)

Tue, May. 30th, 2017, 01:17 pm
Love and Aliens (33)

OF JENNY & THE ALIENS by Ryan Gebhart
(Candlewick, 2017)

Tue, May. 30th, 2017, 11:59 am
How Our Justice System [Doesn't] Work (32)

JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson, attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, tells the story of how he came to do his legal work, defending children, poor, and black convicts who were facing life or death row sentences after being denied a fair trial or legal representation. He follows the case of Walter McMillan, a black man in Alabama who was wrongly accused of murder, and the conspiracies against him, and hard fight it takes to establish that he should be free. Eye-opening and scary and thoughtful, this non-fiction documentation reads like a legal thriller in places, a murder mystery in others, and a call to social action and justice system overhaul overall. This was hard to put down and should be recommended reading for all. (Spiegel & Grau, 2014)

Wed, May. 24th, 2017, 10:28 am
International Violent Times (31)

THE CRUELTY by Scott Bergstrom
After Gwendolyn's father disappears, she learns the true nature of his work and, with nothing to lose, sets out on an international mission to track him down and save him. It is difficult to believe that Gwen became a skilled fighter in just three weeks, and that her temperament changed from innocence so quickly given her relatively sheltered background,
but overall readers who enjoy fast-paced adventures with a cinematic feel like TAKEN or THE BOURNE IDENTITY will enjoy this first installment. (Feiwel & Friends, 2017)

Mon, May. 22nd, 2017, 10:10 am
A Take on a Bean Stalk (30)

MIGHTY JACK by Ben Hatke
Jack has to watch his younger sister Maddy for the summer while his mom works three jobs, but when the siblings plant packets of strange seeds, Maddy begins to talk for the first time, and creatures begin to grow in the garden,
making the summer more exciting than he had predicted. This interesting take on Jack and the Beanstalk has appealing illustrations, a mysterious and exciting story, and a total cliffhanger ending. Maddy has autism, which adds diversity to this graphic novel, and Jack's conflict at having to care for her feels authentic. A good choice for fantasy readers and tweens seeking a vibrantly colored comic. (First Second, 2016)

Tue, May. 16th, 2017, 09:38 am
Doodlebug Days (29)

INVISIBLE EMMIE by Terri Libenson
Seventh grader Emmie has one best friend, two older siblings off at college, two attentive parents, and extreme shyness in all other situations, so when her love poem to her crush goes public, she fears she will melt into a puddle of slime unlike her classmate Katie who seems to have it all. Inspired by the author's own middle school days, there is much to relate to in Emmie's quest to go unnoticed and to prefer drawing to speaking in class. The illustrations are detailed in unexpected ways and silly in this graphic novel told from two points of view that converge somewhat predictably in the end. ROLLER GIRL and SMILE fans will enjoy this one, too. (Balzer & Bray, 2017)

Sat, May. 13th, 2017, 11:22 am
Elementary School Memoir (28)

REAL FRIENDS Written by Shannon Hale & Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Shannon, the middle child among five siblings, thinks her elementary school years are set when she and Adrienne become best friends, but when The Group of popular girls lures her away, Shannon tries to find ways to fit in, not be lonely,
and to avoid her oldest sister. The author hits on the complexities of tween friendships very well, and also of sibling rivalries and developments. The emotive illustrations are colorful, the panels are easy to understand, and the whole package will appeal to fans of Raina Telgemeier. A great early graphic memoir. (First Second, 2017)

Thu, May. 11th, 2017, 03:02 pm
Summer Reunion (27)

WILD SWANS by Jessica Spotswood
Ivy's mother left her with her grandfather when she was a baby, but Ivy has come to terms with it and the cursed family legacy that seems to follow her bloodline until her alcoholic mother returns with two more daughters, and her summer is turned upside down in more ways than one. The small beach town setting is well done, and the teen dynamics are realistically portrayed. Some aspects seems to be included simply for lip service, like Ivy's friend's little sister, and some backstory explanations feel tacked on or unnecessary rather than part of the story. But the romance, family, and poetry twist at the end make this a good summer read. (Sourcebooks Fire, 2016)

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