Children - Young Adult

A Sitting in St. James by Rita Williams-Garcia - Book Review

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$17.99
ISBN: 9780062367297
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Published: Quill Tree Books - May 25th, 2021

Set on a Louisiana plantation in the summer of Lincoln's 1860 presidential campaign, this novel explores themes of identity and control. Madame Sylvie Guilbert, elderly mistress of the plantation, commissions a portrait to mark her self-perceived successes, setting off a complex chain of events among her family, guests, and the many people she enslaves. Williams-Garcia writes from the point of view of nearly every character, giving a kaleidoscope effect to the novel and highlighting the conflicting desires and opinions between characters of different races, social classes, and genders. Dominant voices include Thisbe, a woman enslaved as a personal attendant to Madame Sylvie and completely forbidden from speaking aloud, and Byron, Sylvie's grandson and the plantation heir, who is forced to hide his gay relationship with a fellow West Point cadet out of fear of repercussions from his family and community. This is an incredibly layered and meticulously researched book, the goal of which, Williams-Garcia states, is to examine the enduring legacy of racism handed down within white families, and to task her white characters with dissecting it. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky


Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao - Book Review

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$17.99
ISBN: 9780735269934
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Published: Penguin Teen - September 21st, 2021

A sci-fi fantasy of epic proportions inspired by Chinese history and culture that subverts every expectation of YA literature! Set in a world under constant alien threat in which rigid gender roles and social class define everything, our protagonist Wu Zetian (inspired by Tang Dynasty China's first woman emperor of the same name), is set to tear down these structures no matter how violent and deadly the cost. ~ Reviewed by Virginia Edinger


The Jasmine Project by Meredith Ireland - Book Review

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$19.99
ISBN: 9781534477025
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Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 7th, 2021

Jasmine's huge, loving, zany adoptive family has decided that the best way to help her get over her scummy sort-of-ex boyfriend is to secretly make her The Bachelorette in their own private reality show. What could possibly go wrong? This young adult romcom is a funny sweet adventure. ~ Reviewed by Rachel Person


Fable: A Novel by Adrienne Young - Book Review

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$18.99
ISBN: 9781250254368
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Published: Wednesday Books - September 1st, 2020

This book has everything one could ask from a swashbuckling YA adventure set at sea: danger, romance, intrigue, and just a dash of magic. Fable is the exiled daughter of a ruthless sea merchant, scavenging as a deep-sea diver while working her way off an island of thieves near a dangerous strip of sea known as the Narrows. Hell-bent on revenge, she teams up with a rag-tag crew to exact it, but it won't be easy; after all, "The Narrows are the edge of a blade. You can’t live here and not get cut." ~ Reviewed by Virginia Edinger


Once More with Chutzpah by Haley Neil - Book Review

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$17.99
ISBN: 9781547607099
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Published: Bloomsbury YA - February 1st, 2022

Tally and her twin brother, Max, visit Israel on a temple exchange trip loosely modeled after the author's own experience with Birthright. Max has been depressed since last summer, when he was in a car accident that injured him and killed a friend, and this trip is Tally's plan to force Max back into the world and make him happy again. As they travel around the country, Tally grapples with her place in the Jewish diaspora, her sexual identity, her relationship with her brother, and her own mental health. I love this book's nuanced exploration of the many different ways there are to be Jewish, and know many readers will see themselves reflected in Tally's anxiety over whether or not she's "Jewish enough." If you're one of the many people who, upon learning the setting of this book, immediately jumped to the conclusion that it's anti-Palestine, I'd challenge you to examine your own reaction. Would you expect any book set in America to directly address issues of racism, police brutality, anti-abortion law, or other controversial political topics? To quote another reviewer, Jane Kohuth, "criticism of Israel is not antisemitism...but rejecting an author writing about her own Jewish experience definitely is." For what it's worth, this book does discuss the Israel/Palestine conflict, as thoroughly as could be expected in a novel whose plot is not dependent on politics. There are many incidents where Tally notices and pushes back against racism, problematic microaggressions, or political propaganda. Since she's an American, and a child, who is learning about these issues for the first time, these moments are less about her own opinions and more about her observing, listening, and learning from those more informed than she. ~ Reviewed by Nadja Tiktinsky


Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson - Book Review

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$18.99
ISBN: 9781534477117
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Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - October 5th, 2021

Wow, what a read! This is fantasy writing at it’s finest. I simply adore Rogerson’s new world, and the characters and her female protagonist are outstanding! The first in a series, we encounter our lead character, Artemisia, happily living a monastic life, training to be a Gray Sister, it’s everything she wants to be in life, and no more. However, Our Lady has other plans for her, and soon she finds herself heralded as a Saint, and wielding the immense power of a long forgotten spirit. When Old Magic comes into play, and past evil resurfaces, it is a race to save everyone from being killed, or worse, possessed. Highly, highly, recommend! ~ Reviewed by Becky Doherty


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