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Semiosis by Sue Burke

Fleeing a ruined Earth, a small group of colonists land on a planet they name Pax. There they strive to create a perfect society free of the tyrannical systems which doomed their home world. There are many obstacles they must overcome, both human and extraterrestrial. The most fascinating challenge they face is learning to live in balance with the ecosystem of Pax and a massive, sentient plant.

Each chapter jumps ahead a generation making the seemingly immortal plant, which they name Stevland, the main character of Burke’s wildly imaginative novel. Parts of th...

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We'll Always Have Casablanca: The Life, Legend, and Afterlife of Hollywood's Most Beloved Movie by Noah Isenberg

Noah Isenberg’s We’ll Always Have Casablanca is an engaging read for Casablanca devotees and casual fans alike. Brimming with fresh insight, Isenberg walks his readers through the life of this classic film from its inception as a 1940s stage play through its current status as a legendary cultural icon. Highlights of the book include enjoyable anecdotes about the writing and casting of the movie, as well as relevant insights into the world of refugees in the 1940s and today. Isenberg’s intelligent and entertaining study of the genius, mystery, and timeless relevancy of this...

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Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America by Catherine Kerrison

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, had three daughters who lived to adulthood: two by his wife, and a third who was born to an enslaved woman. Each of them found her own way to assert her individuality during her lifetime and historian Catherine Kerrison does an excellent job of bringing all three women out of the shadows of their famous father in this work.

Jefferson’s elder daughters were brought up to secure good marriages, which he saw as the end-all of a woman’s education. Although Martha and Maria lived largely conventional lives, they defi...

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The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

How would you live your life if you knew the exact date of your death?  Would your choices take you to that fateful day or lead you away?  And most importantly, are they even choices anymore?  Benjamin cleverly explores this dilemma in The Immortalists. This imaginative and gripping family drama follows the scatter shot lives of the four Gold siblings.  As young teens they visit a Roma Gypsy fortune teller who foretells the exact date of their deaths.  Armed with this information they make choices regarding their futures and how they live their lives.  These ch...

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African American History Month Teen Reads

Roots by Alex Haley

When I was in 10th grade, we were asked to study the works of a great American author and defend its inclusion in the school’s curriculum. I studied Alex Haley and subsequently read Roots. 10 years later, I still advocate for its inclusion in every teen reader’s library of must-reads. Roots is a book that I have read only once and still remember vividly. To this day, passages of text and detailed descriptions have remained ever present in my mind. This absorbing, intense, emotional, moving, sometimes graphic and always memorable saga of Alex Haley&rsqu...

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Young Adult Programming Survey

Attention 6th-12thgraders! If you print and fill out this survey between February 1-28, you will be entered into a raffle to win a brand new copy of X: A Novel (Ilyasah Shabazz)! Return the completed form to the Zauel Reference Desk. Winners will be notified March 1.

Name:                                                     &nb...

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Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

I have a confession. I do not normally read graphic novels. I have a second confession to make. I read a graphic novel… and it’s seriously great! For fans of beautiful art, coming of age stories and female empowerment, read Pashmina! History students, first and second generation Americans, travelers, dreamers, read Pashmina! If you don’t fit any of the above categories… read Pashmina! Nidhi Chanani’s debut novel is a sweet story of a teenager named Priyanka who finds a magical pashmina scarf that connects her to her Indian heritage in fantastic ways. As Priya...

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Miss E by Brian Herberger

Fans of Across the Universe and The Mixed-Up Files of Basil E Frankweiler are encouraged to read the story of Bets and her mysterious friend “Miss E”. History, mystery, conspiracy and fun are woven together into this delicious tale that, I must admit, I consumed in one sitting! Elizabeth aka “Bets” is a teenage girl in 1967. She is a new girl, an army brat and a young adult about to embark on a series of changes in her life. When given an assignment to identify important figures of American history, Bets notices an incredible likeness between a defiant spunky aviatri...

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Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theois a well-researched presentation of the special bond shared by the Van Gogh brothers. Inspired by their letters, Heiligman recreates Vincent and Theo’s lives from birth to death by using their very own words and sentiments. At just about 400 pages, this book is a bit slow to start. The shorter, almost fragment- like sentences scattering the early pages make for an interesting read that builds anticipation, but borders on driving the reader crazy by wishing that something would happen! However, if the reader hangs on, they are in for quite a treat. Vincent and Theo&rsq...

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The Music Shop: A Novel by Rachel Joyce

Reminiscent of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, this emotionally satisfying novel about love and vinyl records is sure to be one of 2018’s best books.

Frank runs a struggling record store in late 1980’s London and he’ll only sell vinyl, despite the fact that his suppliers are breathing down his neck to modernize and buy CDs.  But Frank is so much more than a stubborn shop owner. He’s the “music whisperer.” The man can connect any person with the right music for them-even if they don’t think they want it, and it can change their lives.&...

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Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

The story of Ceder Songmaker, a young pregnant woman, is told in a series of frantic journal entries. The world she lives in, a few years away from our own, is falling apart. For reasons unknown, evolution has changed course: birds are becoming lizards, insects grow to the size of cats, and almost all pregnant women are delivering stillborn babies. The government has collapsed, and pregnant women are being rounded up in a desperate attempt to find women who can give birth to healthy babies. Cedar decides to find her biological parents, who join her adoptive parents in an effort to hide her ...

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Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke

Darren Mathews grew up in rural East Texas on land his family had owned for generations.  He became a Texas Ranger like his uncle.  When the book begins, he is a little down on his luck.  He and his wife are spending some time apart, and he has been suspended at work.  An old friend asks him to investigate a double murder in the tiny town of Lark, Texas that may be racially motivated.  The body of a black lawyer from Chicago was pulled from the bayou.  A few days later a younger white woman’s body was found.  Darren goes to Lark and finds a mystery w...

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Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

Gather the Daughtersis the haunting debut novel of author Jennie Melamed. It explores the lives of women both young and old in a fictional patriarchal island society in a postapocolyptic America. The island society was founded by a group of male leaders called the wanderers. The wanderers control all aspects of life on the island, controlling access to technology, education, and resources. Female rights are strictly curtailed and summers are the only time of freedom for young girls of non childbearing age. It is during one summer that the young girls begin to rebel against the system that b...

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Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

Mystery author Alan Conway may be horrible to work with, but his bestselling series featuring Detective Atticus Pünd is keeping Susan Ryeland’s publishing company in business. Ryeland is Conway’s book editor and when she receives his latest manuscript, about two murders in a quiet 1950s English village, we read it along with her. We are just as frustrated as she is when the manuscript of the novel-within-the-novel cuts off just as Pünd is set to unmask the killer. Conway’s final chapter is missing.

To make things worse, the author has apparently just commi...

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The Leavers by Lisa Ko

The Leavers, Lisa Ko’s debut novel, tells two stories: the first belongs to Deming Guo, the young child of an undocumented Chinese immigrant. One day, his mother simply never comes home from work. He is eventually adopted by a well-intended white family, who; try as they might, cannot patch the hurt and loss festering within this young boy. He resents his mom for abandoning him and resents his foster parents for being unable to breach the gulf between his own culture and theirs.

The second story goes back in time to follow his mother Polly, born in a small Chinese village who, ...

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