‘Surface Tension’ by Mike Mullin Is that Book You Won’t Be Able to Put Down

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I’ve realized how to know when I’m reading a book I’m just not that into. When I find myself playing Words With Friends for 30 minutes instead of reading, I know that the book I’m reading has just not enthralled me. That’s how I knew that I was loving “Surface Tension” by Mike Mullin; I couldn’t put it down. I started the book in the morning and had finished it by evening. I read every spare minute because I was dying to know what was going to happen next.

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‘The Summer of Broken Things’ by Margaret Peterson Haddix Illustrates What Makes Family in this Touching Young Adult Novel

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In “The Summer of Broken Things,” Margaret Peterson Haddix departs from her beloved sci-fi stories, and she includes no hidden children, just two teenagers from very different families — and very different socio-economic backgrounds — who are going to spend the summer together in Spain. But there is something hidden from their past.

Although Avery and Kayla have known each other since birth, it hasn’t been a close relationship. Originally, Avery was told that Kayla’s mother was friends with her nanny. But even after Avery no longer needed the nanny, Kayla’s mother still brought gifts for Avery at holidays. When Avery’s dad is going to Spain for the summer, he suggests that Avery and a friend go with him. She’s stunned that the person accompanying them isn’t really a friend, it’s Kayla Butts from the middle of nowhere.

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‘The Window’ by Amelia Brunskill Is a Beautifully Written YA Mystery

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How did Anna die? That’s the question that her twin sister, Jess, can’t get out of her head in the novel “The Window” by Amelia Brunskill. Identical twins Anna and Jess were inseparable growing up, but lately, not so much. In fact, after Anna’s death, Jess starts to investigate what really happened, and what she uncovers is that Anna was deliberately increasing the distance between them.

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‘Your Robot Dog Will Die’ by Arin Greenwood Is a Thought-Provoking Coming-of-Age Young Adult Novel about Integrity and Loving Animals

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In “Your Robot Dog Will Die,” author Arin Greenwood packs a lot of ideas for readers — especially young adult readers — to ponder. Why do most of us love our dogs so passionately that if we didn’t have real dogs, we just might grow to love robot dogs as much?  But fear not, the story doesn’t just have robot dogs. There are real dogs, too, for the reader to fall in love with, although Billy the Robot Dog does seem worthy of a good amount of love as well.

Nano is the seventeen-year-old main character, who because of her very isolated life on Dog Island seems much younger. She and the other two children on the island, Wolf and Jack, have never left the island — a place where six wild dogs exist in a world where dogs are basically extinct. In this future time, the world has changed in ways that are not appealing. There is little water because of a huge drought, so those on Dog Island drink recycled urine and are not able to bathe with real water. Worse than that, scientists trying to genetically improve the dog species ended up with dogs who attacked people because of a mutant virus that then spread to all dogs.

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‘Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship’ by L. M. Elliot

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L. M. Elliot’s latest brilliant piece of historical fiction for young adults, “Hamilton and Peggy! A Revolutionary Friendship,” is a fascinating study of the life and loves of Peggy Schuyler. She was the daughter of a famous Revolutionary War general and counter-intelligence agent, the sister of two equally important women of the era, and the romantic partner of two significant revolutionary and post-revolutionary men.

The Peggy Schuyler of “Hamilton and Peggy” was a woman both very much of her time and very much ahead of her time. She was brilliant, independent, witty, strong — and a victim of the limitations that shackled the women of America in 1776. Elliot provides us enlightening glimpses of Peggy’s courage and strength — a dangerous trip through a deadly storm with enemies all around her; the defense of her home during an attack by British forces; the stubborn, constant support of the cause of the Revolution despite the ubiquitous threats of treasonous and cruel betrayals — like those of Benedict Arnold.

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‘A List of Cages’ by Robin Roe Is a Beautiful Tale of Friendship Overcoming Evil

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“A List of Cages” by Robin Roe is a young adult book that is extremely powerful and heartrending, yet also uplifting. It’s a testament to the power of friendship, and it’s a cautionary tale to those who foster or work with children. It’s the story of two boys, Adam and Julian, and the bond that saves the life of Julian.

Julian’s life was difficult when he was bullied as a young child. His mother told him that those who are mean act that way because they are unhappy. He is dyslexic, and his inability to read well makes him self-conscious. Julian’s parents are killed when he is nine years old, and he goes to live with Adam. Julian and Adam had been partners when Adam was in 5th grade and Julian was in kindergarten, so they knew each other a bit.

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‘Being Fishkill’ by Ruth Lehrer Is a Heartbreaking Young Adult Novel About Those Born into Despair

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“Being Fishkill” by Ruth Lehrer is a book that will break your heart and force you to think about the horrors that a troubled family may engender. If you are born into a family filled with incest, abuse, and poverty, your choices, your life, and your future may be forfeit to a fate from which you cannot escape.

Fishkill Carmel, who was named after the exits that the car she was born in was passing at the moment of her birth, has lived the first twelve years of her life with her illiterate mother and her extremely abusive grandfather. When her grandfather dies and her mother disappears, she lives on her own in their cabin. But after befriending Duk-Duk at school, life turns around for Fishkill. For a while.

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‘S.T.A.G.S.’ by M. A. Bennett Is a Thrilling Young Adult That Will Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats

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In “S.T.A.G.S.” by M. A. Bennett, the reader is introduced to the life of the rich and elite through the eyes of a scholarship student who attends a posh British boarding school.

Greer MacDonald, a middle-class girl, is the one token scholarship student attending the $50,000 a year private school attended by Britain’s ultra-wealthy, ultra-upper-class teens. Also attending the school are others who don’t quite fit in with the snobbish students,  especially the group of power students, the Medievals, who practically run the school.

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‘Truly Devious’ by Maureen Johnson Is a Thrilling Mystery

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“Truly Devious” by much-loved young adult author Maureen Johnson is a fabulous novel. It begins as a mystery about a murder that took place over 80 years ago at an elite private school in Vermont.

The novel is really two stories combined into one mystery. There is the decades-old mystery of Albert Ellingham’s wife and daughter, who disappeared while on a car ride. The wife’s body was found, but there has been no trace of the three-year-old daughter, and what happened to her remains a mystery. The kidnappers did contact Ellingham, demanded a huge sum of money, and escaped with the money.

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‘Unearthed’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner Is a Thrilling Young Adult SciFi Ride

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It’s being billed as a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner comes close. It’s the story of a future Earth when climate change has destroyed much of our planet. Scientists on Earth find a message from an extinct alien race that explains how to build a portal to Gaia, another planet, where the astronauts find a piece of technology that powers a clean water supply for all of Los Angeles. Then the astronauts are killed while exploring one of the temples there.

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‘How to Disappear’ by Sharon Huss Roat Is a Beautifully Written Story of the Invisible, the Individual, and the Power of Social Media

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“How to Disappear” by Sharon Huss Roat is a book that once begun, is difficult to put down. It starts innocuously enough with the story of a girl with severe anxiety. Vicky can’t function at high school and must disappear into the stall of the bathroom when she just can’t bear going to class and facing others. Since her best friend moved away, she’s been trying to disappear completely, since that’s easier than actually talking to people and making new friends.

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‘Prince in Disguise’ by Stephanie Kate Strohm: Lovely YA RomCom

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“Prince in Disguise” by Stephanie Kate Strohm is a lovely retake of every novel (or fairytale) in which a prince tries to find true love by going about in disguise so that someone might fall in love with him for his own person, not the fact that he is a prince.

In this sweet retake, the main character Dylan’s older sister has fallen in love with a Scottish lord through the arts of a reality TV show called, of course, “Prince in Disguise.” While Dylan keeps reminding everyone that Dusty is not marrying a prince but rather a lord, no one cares. Dusty is everything that Dylan thinks she is not — beautiful, graceful, outgoing, sophisticated, and comfortable in front of the camera. Their mother is the star of a morning show on the local network, so she also is camera-friendly. Continue reading