Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

First & Then by Emma MillsFirst & Then
Emma Mills
Henry Holt & Co.

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With college application deadlines fast-approaching, Devon is under pressure to be her most extraordinary self. The problem? How would Jane Austen say this? She’s remarkably uninteresting. Devon has never minded the sidelines. Especially when her best friend Cas and secret love takes the football field. When her socially awkward cousin Foster moves in with Devon’s family, his presence changes everything, bringing the local unapproachable football star, Ezra, into Devon’s path. Like, almost constantly. Ezra’s new closeness seems to stir some jealous feelings in Cas, and at first Devon thinks this might be the moment in which he discovers his deep love for her. But as … Continue reading

Review: Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Paper Wishes by Lois SepahbanPaper Wishes
Lois Sepahban
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

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Ten year-old Manami loves her home on peaceful Bainbridge Island. Then her family and other Japanese American members of the community are forced to relocate to internment camps. Manami tries to smuggle her family’s dog, Yujiin, into the camp, but is forced to leave him behind. The foreign circumstances and grief over her lost dog cause her to stop speaking. Instead, Manami expresses herself through drawings she creates every night. She draws memories of Yujiin and writes asking him to find her family. She will only find her voice again if she can work through her guilt over losing Yujiin.

This realistic debut tackles a dark moment … Continue reading

Review: I Woke Up Dead at the Mall by Judy Sheehan

woke-up-dead-mallI Woke Up Dead at the Mall
Judy Sheehan
Delacorte Press

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When Sarah wakes up, still wearing the mango-colored monstrosity of a bridesmaid dress, she is surprised by two things: she’s far from her New York home in the Mall of America, and she’s dead. Murdered. Sarah’s mentor encourages her (and the other teen ghosts who’ve taken up residence in the mall) to let go of her past, but Sarah can’t let go, especially when she learns what happened and realizes someone she loves is still in terrible danger. Now she can’t rest in peace until her murderer has been stopped and her family saved.

The concept of this story might be a bit dark, but the playful, frank … Continue reading

Review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa TotenThe Unlikely Hero of Room 13B
Teresa Toten
Delacorte Press

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Almost-fifteen-year-old Adam meets Robyn at his group therapy session for teens with obsessive-compulsive issues. It’s hardly the setting for romance, but Adam can’t deny how he feels for her. Robyn seems drawn to him, too. Maybe. But while Robyn’s most troublesome days seem to be behind her, Adam’s life continues to spiral out of control. He’s at the mercy of his half-brother’s anxiety issues, and his mother refuses to get help though the threatening letters she receives only seem to be getting worse. As Adam desperately struggles to hold everyone together, he begins to split at the seams. But … Continue reading

Review: Off the Page by Jodi Picoult

Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van LeerOff the Page
Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer
Delacorte Press

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Delilah and Oliver can finally be together in the real world. But in order to maintain Oliver’s presence, Edgar had to take his place in the fairytale story where Oliver really belongs. As Oliver struggles to acclimate to the new and unfamiliar setting outside his story, he must impersonate Edgar well enough to fool Edgar’s mother and to fit in at school. When another portal between the story and the real world opens, two more characters swap for real life counterparts, leaving Delilah and Oliver to untangle the mess. For both of them, one thing is certain: … Continue reading

Review: Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern

Just My Luck by Cammie McGovernJust My Luck
Cammie McGovern
Harper/HarperCollins

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Bad things keep happening to fourth-grader Benny and his family. His best friend moved away, and he hasn’t been able to find a new one. His dad’s still recovering from a brain injury (was it Benny’s fault?) His mom tells him to focus on being kind to others, and with a new kindness program at school, Benny’s trying his best, but no one seems to notice. As things get worse, Benny worries his family will never be able to recover, and nothing will be the same again.

Benny is quite possibly the most lovable boy in literature. He strives to be a good brother both to his oldest brother … Continue reading

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