• Reviewed by Issy Volmert, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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In “Whenever I’m With You,” by Lydia Sharp, the main character Gabi has not lived your average teenage life. She grew up the daughter of a rising movie actress. After her mom achieved fame and fortune, she cheated on Gabi's dad and tore the family apart. Now, Gabi and her father live just ou…

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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The prize for one of the most creative covers goes to “Tidy,” by Emily Gravett. A cutout on the front of this ecological tale, a perfect pick for Earth Day, shows a badger picking up leaves from the forest floor, placing each meticulously into a trashcan. With a page turn we learn about this…

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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This spellbinding, jaw dropping memoir by former FBI Agent Joe Navarro discloses the disturbing details of how he captained the 1980s investigation into the biggest breach of military secrets in United States’ history. The enormous traitorous act would have made America dangerously defensele…

  • Reviewed by Antoinette West
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"Based on a True Story" is a gripping tale where nothing is exactly what it seems. In spite of its title, it is a novel, not a biography or an autobiography, yet it is written in the first person, by a writer named Delphine de Vignan, about a writer named Delphine.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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I had no idea what to expect when I picked up a copy of Jonathan Coe’s “Number 11.” It is a sequel to “The Winshaw Legacy,” though, as Coe alludes in his novel, it is not really a sequel. “Number 11” works fine as a stand-alone. It is an entertaining, smart and surprising look at England in …

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Leopard at the Door” by Jennifer McVeigh, is the story of 16-year-old Rachel Fullsmith. She has just returned to the family farm in rural Kenya after spending the past six years in England. During this time things have changed dramatically. Her mother was killed in a car accident a few year…

  • Reviewed by Monica Holtmeyer, Washington High School
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I was honestly not prepared for the roller coaster story that #1 "New York Times" bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, gives readers in her novel, “Something in Between.”

  • Reviewed by Maria Brady Smith
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Tim Gautreaux’s gorgeously written book of short stories, “Signals,” was engaging from cover to cover. From heartbreaking to humorous, each portrait involves working class characters in Louisiana. Throughout the stories, Gautreaux explores themes such as the high price of seeking status, the…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell, Washington Public Library
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Sylvain Neuvel’s first novel, “Sleeping Giants,” surprised me last year. Sleek and fun, it was compulsively readable escapism, the literary equivalent of an intelligent cinematic blockbuster. So it is with great pleasure that I can say that Neuvel’s second book in the series, “Waking Gods,” …

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Some books are pure eye candy, like Kevin Henkes’ picture book, “Egg.” Simple, yet deliciously appealing, it’s a nearly wordless story, a timely title that would be perfect to tuck into an Easter basket, or give to a child with a spring birthday.

  • Reviewed by Brynn Jankowski, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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"Defy the Stars," by Claudia Gray, is a science fiction book that emphasizes the meaning of humanity. In Gray’s world, there are different inhabited planets, robots called mechs, and spaceships – enough adventure to last a lifetime!

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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All the ingredients necessary to develop a green thumb are at young readers’ fingertips with “Plant the Tiny Seed,” an innovative, hands-on picture book by Christie Matheson told in singsong rhyme. Step by step, Matheson walks children through the process of growing flowers from a packet of …

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  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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Candy is dandy but a board book with some Peeps makes an extra special treat. And what could be more appropriate for the upcoming holiday than a tale about how the star of Easter earned his ears?

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Dr. Richard Haass, president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations, has written a primer on contemporary foreign policy that everyone could benefit from reading. Haass examines our disordered world and the United States decades long, failed efforts to shape every nation after its o…

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“The Other Side of the World,” is a fast paced novel by Stephanie Bishop, the story of a young wife and mother who struggles with the difficulties and stress of marriage, and in particularly, motherhood. It is 1963 in Cambridge, England, and Charlotte, an aspiring painter, has just found out…

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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One of the reasons I read a book like Douglas Preston’s “The Lost City of the Monkey God” is the hope of receiving some vicarious Indiana Jones-esque thrills.

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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A wordless book must be wondrous to work – the illustrations strong enough to carry the tale, without the backbone of words.

  • Reviewed by Stephanie Monzyk, The Missourian
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“For one whole year, we worried about Kate. We worried to her face and worried behind her back, credited her with being tough while judging her for being pathetic. Some days we thought she was suicidal; others she seemed homicidal, or as if she had the potential, anyway, not that any of us w…

  • Reviewed by Antoniette West
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In "Charlton Heston, Last Hollywood Icon," Marc Eliot's biography of the actor's long life, extensive acting career and controversial political activism, readers will discover that there was more to the matinee idol than Ben-Hur and gun-rights.

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Cruel Beautiful World,” by Caroline Leavitt, is set in the hippie, peace and love era of the 1970s. The novel makes references to the Manson murders, the Vietnam War, Kent State, and commune living. It is the story of two sisters and their coming of age during the 70s.

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  • Reviewed by Issy Volmert, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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Lizzie Lovett went camping in the woods with her boyfriend Lorenzo Cavetti one night. She never came out and Hawthorn Creeley can't fathom why.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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In 2014, protesters paraded through Ferguson, Missouri, chanting “How many black kids will you kill? Michael Brown, Emmett Till!” Protesters, the same year, circled the White House with the same haunting chant. Why did demonstrators cite the name of an African-American boy lynched six decades ago?

  • Reviewed by Madysen Jones, Washington High School
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“Shadow House: The Gathering,” by Dan Poblocki, is a cryptic, hair-raising novel that will lead you down a path of suspense from the very beginning. This book links the lives of five teenagers to the Larkspur Mansion, but none of the teens are there for the same reasons.

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter” is historical fiction, set in 18th century Ireland, 1744-1822. The book begins in 1791 with the suicide of the astronomer Arthur Ainsworth, who leaves behind an adopted daughter, Caroline. She continues his work observing and charting the universe.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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Kameron Hurley’s big imagination carries the day in her exciting and fascinating novel, “The Stars Are Legion,” a space opera featuring a lead character with amnesia, a society composed entirely of women, and a strange and mucky setting aboard organic spaceships.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Louise Erdrich’s latest novel begins with a tragic shooting that takes place in the Ojibwe Territory of North Dakota. Out hunting deer one day, Landreaux Iron accidentally kills his neighbor’s 5-year-old son, Dusty.

  • Reviewed by Monica Holtmeyer, Washington High School
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“Phantom Limbs,” by Paula Garner, is the beautiful and touching story of a teenager named Otis. His life is definitely not perfect though. In the beginning of the book you learn that he has a few struggles, but you aren’t told the details of those struggles. The author slowly gives you hints…

  • Reviewed by Chris Stuckenschneider, Book Editor
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A heroine returns, spunky, animal-lover Calpurnia Tate who first sprung from the pen of Jacqueline Kelly in 2009 with “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate,” a Book Buzz Pick, perfect for readers in 4th-7th grade.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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Peter S. Beagle, author of the classic fantasy “The Last Unicorn,” returns to unicorns in his novella-length book, “In Calabria.” Set in rural Italy, Beagle’s book explores how people react to the supernatural intruding peacefully into their rural lives.

  • Reviewed by Maria Brady-Smith
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“A Man Called Ove,” by Fredrick Backman, is a lovely story about a Swedish man who is unrelenting in his desire for a well-ordered life. “Right is right,” according to Ove. His days are all structured the same. He loves numbers and machines and can fix anything mechanical.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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Elan Mastai channels Kurt Vonnegut’s spirit (and sense of humor) in his time-traveling/ alternate-timelining “All Our Wrong Today.” Fascinating, intelligent, and written with a solid understanding of human nature, Mastai, an experienced screenwriter, shows a flair for novel writing. Working …

  • Reviewed by Alexis Breitenbach, Washington Middle School
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“1,234 Quite Interesting Facts To Leave You Speechless,” has to be hands-down the strangest book I have ever read. This book has so many interesting facts that some may never have thought them possible. It’s a marvelous book with many impressive facts that are fascinating.

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“The Practical Navigator,” by Stephen Metcalfe, is about the love a father and son share, the story of a dysfunctional family trying to hold it all together.

  • Reviewed by Brynn Jankowski, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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“The Queen of Blood,” by Sarah Beth Durst, is the first in a fiction- fantasy-trilogy titled “The Queens of Renthia.”

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  • Reviewed by Antoinette West
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Travelling throughout rural Oklahoma in 1930, at a time when farms had been devastated by drought, dust, and the Great Depression, Sam Babb, a professor and basketball coach at Oklahoma Presbyterian College (OPC) in Durant, Oklahoma, scouted local girl's high school basketball games. Babb of…

  • Reviewed by Moe Godat
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In the novel “Instrusion,” by Mary McCluskey, the main character, Kat, was born and raised in England in a poor household. She was conditioned to treat family as a lifeline: a means of redemption and a place of asylum. Kat’s family ties followed her through her move to America and were re-es…

  • Reviewed by Kyle Meyer, seventh grade, Washington Middle School
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"”Irena’s Children,” by Tilar J. Mazzeo, adapted in this young reader’s edition by Mary Cronk Farrell, is a true story. It’s about a woman named Irena Sendler during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, Poland.

  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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In Neil Gaiman’s new book, “Norse Mythology,” the ever-popular author updates and retells the myths of the Norse Gods. Gaiman is no stranger to Norse Mythology. He has already drawn upon the subject to inspire several of his previous works, “The Sandman” and “American Gods.” So, speaking as …

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A wayward duckling finds its way into a girl’s hands and heart in “Love Is,” a picture book by Diane Adams that’s a perfect pick for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or graduation. Illustrated by Claire Keane, this book will pluck duck and human heartstrings.

  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek offers his answer to the current European refugee crisis in his latest, insightful book. He brilliantly identifies three uncomfortable aspects of the influx of migrants: the stark contrast between Western values and those of the countless arrivals from Afri…

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  • Reviewed by Bill Schwab
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Richard Fortey, the former senior paleontologist of London’s Natural History Museum, is owner of Grim’s Dyke Wood, four acres of beech trees and bluebells in Oxfordshire in south-central England. For a year he logged all the plants and animals on this small plot and in his latest book descri…

  • Reviewed by Madysen Jones, Washington High School
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“Trouble Makes a Comeback,” by Stephanie Tromly, is a crime novel that features a love triangle. This engaging book will make readers feel lots of different emotions. It hits home for teenagers, because of how comparable it is to real life experiences they face. Zoe thinks her life has final…

  • Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
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“Damaged” is the latest book in Lisa Scottoline’s Rosato and DuNunzio series. Mary DuNunzio is a partner in the all-female law firm. She is preparing for her wedding when a case comes her way that changes her life and puts her engagement in jeopardy.

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  • Reviewed by Issy Volmet, St. Francis Borgia Regional High School
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“Sleeping Beauty” has been a beloved fairytale for generations. Now the timeless classic has been masterfully recreated in “Spindle” by E.K. Johnston.

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  • Reviewed by Nelson Appell
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“The Bear and the Nightingale” is such a finely written, magical novel that it’s hard to believe it is Katherine Arden’s first novel. This captivating and thrilling tale vaults Arden immediately into the rank of authors I will watch for.

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