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Thu, Dec. 8th, 2016, 04:03 pm
Cake-a-tude (112)

100 DAYS OF CAKE by Shari Goldhagen
During a bout of anxiety two years ago, Molly quit the swim team, art, and almost everything social except for working at FishTopia, seeing her hot shrink, and whining to her bff, but when FishTopia is going to close and her mom's "cake therapy" for her isn't working, Molly needs to find a strategy to get out of her depression that might actually work. The "100 days of cake" through line didn't really connect to the story very much, and for the serious topics addressed (anxiety, depression, crushing on an older man, deceased father) the text itself felt light, but for those seeking a more whimsical treatment of those things, this YA novel dotted with swear words will fit the bill. (Atheneum, 2016)

Wed, Nov. 30th, 2016, 11:02 am
A Literary Oasis (111)

LUCKY STRIKES by Louis Bayard
When 15-year-old Amelia's mama dies, leaving her the gas station business and two little siblings to take care of, she finds herself a daddy so they won't go into foster care and they set out to protect their business from a local, rich businessman who wants to buy them out. Amelia's voice is the star of this literary novel that takes place during the Depression. She is feisty and smart and determined and funny without meaning to be. The story is also endearing and heart wrenching to its inevitable ending. While the cover and premise have an MG feel, the language makes this decidedly YA. (Henry Holt, 2016)

Tue, Nov. 29th, 2016, 07:37 pm
This is Original (110)

Budding artist Sarah stops going to high school after a series of events in her art class send her into an existential crisis, and while she tires to figure out how to deal, she learns buried secrets about her parents and brother. In the author's signature magical realism/surreal style with multiple points-of-view, this novel is original despite the main character's fear that nothing is, which is what makes it refreshing. There are two main things the reader wants to know: what happened in Mexico, and what happened in art class. While the Mexico story is revealed at a logical pace, the art class tension wasn't as necessary and lead to some frustration; however, Sarah's growth and understanding of this feels true. A cool book that doesn't make sense in some ways yet makes perfect sense in others. (Dutton, 2016)

Thu, Nov. 17th, 2016, 09:42 pm
Iranian, 1979 (109)

IT AIN'T SO AWFUL, FALAFEL by Firoozeh Dumas
Zomorod moved from Iran to California for her father's job, but during seventh grade, there is a revolution in her country where American hostages are taken, and it is harder for her to be Iranian in America despite her friends, job, and love of Halloween. Short chapters with an epistolary feel create a novel that spans three years and depicts a plucky heroine with a loving family, loyal friends, and mixed feelings about her home country. Partly based on the author's own experiences, this book contains humor and a good perspective on the immigrant/foreigner experience in America. (Clarion, 2016)

Wed, Nov. 16th, 2016, 09:03 pm
Apple-licious (108)

THE APPLE TART OF HOPE by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
Meg returns to Ireland from a family trip in New Zealand when her best friend Oscar is presumed drowned in the ocean, but Meg doesn't give up hope, and as the story progresses, Oscar's story is revealed. Told in both of their voices, this YA novel has lovely dashes of magical realism and sad misunderstandings reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy. Friendship, foes, jealousy, and love are featured in this beautiful book from the British Isles. (Holiday House, 2016)

Wed, Nov. 9th, 2016, 08:54 pm
The Sister Returns (107)

Thirteen years ago, Faith's older sister Laurel was abducted; now she returns with fame and fanfare and interference, and Faith is torn between being happy, annoyed, and suspicious with good reason. A lot of this book was explained instead of shown, which made it easy to skim. The conclusion was also obvious in some ways, but revealing in others. An acceptable missing person YA novel with a likable narrator. (Crown, 2016)

Thu, Nov. 3rd, 2016, 08:48 pm
Presidents and Spies (106)

Thirteen-year-old Special Service agent Clayton goes undercover at a DC school to keep an eye on the president's son when a threat is suspected, but a school election, suspicious classmates, and girl who could blow his cover make his job harder than he expected. Clayton's wit and intelligence make him a likable hero, and his lacrosse background is unique and lends another dimension to his story. The end is set up for a third book in this series for fans of secrets and spies. Recommended for upper-MG and lower-YA readers. (Holiday House, 2016)

Tue, Nov. 1st, 2016, 08:39 pm
Geek Culture (105)

Graham is in love with his best friend Roxy and plans to tell her during a perfect moment at NY Comic Con, but when his plans keep getting thwarted, he may need to reassess his weekend goal. This novel references John Hughes films and is of a similar ilk in a good way. Graham is funny and honest, his supporting cast is strong on their own, and the Comic Con setting feels authentic. Anyone with any geek-like leanings will enjoy this romantic comedy that ends inevitably. (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

Wed, Oct. 26th, 2016, 09:00 pm
Peachy Keen (104)

Jo goes back in the closet at her liberal preacher Dad's request when he marries into a conservative family and moves to small town Georgia, but when Jo meets Mary Carlson, she can't stop her crush and must decide whether to follow the rules of her father or her heart. The blend of Christianity and LGBT relationships is refreshing, Jo's voice is strong (as is her BFF's), and the romance is sweet. Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this friendship, family, and relationship tale though it comes with more swearing. A solid YA dealing with real issues and small amounts of angst. (HarperTeen, 2016)

Tue, Oct. 25th, 2016, 07:07 pm
Magic Play (103)

THE CROWN'S GAME by Evelyn Skye
Vika and Nikolai must compete against each other to the death to become the tsar's next Imperial Enchanter in an alternate 1800s Russia, but when they meet they discover connections they shouldn't have to each other, unlikely friendships with the tsarevich, and origins about their families they never expected, all while trying to outdo the other's magic to win the Crown's Game. The main characters seemed younger than their reported ages, which was a forgivable slight in this imaginative historical fantasy with hints of The Hunger Games toward the end. The death count was higher than expected and the outcome was satisfying through the multiple points-of-view, including a creepy undead character. More is sure to be revealed about Vika's origin story in a sequel. (Balzer & Bray, 2016)

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