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I was moved by the beauty and magic of this novel. I had to remind myself this is a young adult novel and honestly I’m convinced this may find its home amongst other greats such as One Hundred Years of Solitude and Song of Solomon.  Magical realism is a non-genre that grants literary clout but also gives us a new view of the world that is delicious as the baked goods the women of the family create in their bakery. The promised tragedy hinted throughout the book is brutal; a comparison to Lovely Bones can be a helpful guide for potential readers. Oh, yes did I forget to mention our protagonist Ava has wings? Her family’s story does little to explain this but it does illuminate the magic, mystery, and tragedy of love. Is it a blessing or a curse? Can we protect our loved ones from the world or does it simply seal their fate?

Recommended for age 14 and up. --reviewed by Renee, Books Inc. Castro

This book is effing whack. It’s about Catholic school. Or, it’s about the Midwest. Or unstoppable corn. Or being horny all the time. Or else an apocalypse caused by gigantic man eating praying mantises, the size of refrigerators. Or about coming of age, and still being confused. I don’t know. It’s awesome. Just read it. For ages 14+ --Reviewed by Maggie, Books Inc. Children's Department Director

The Violet Hour is a heart-pounding fast-paced debut novel from local author Whitney Miller. With twists and turns and a sprinkle of lies, it's a novel that will have you questioning just about everything you have ever seen or believed. Follow 17-year-old Harlow Wintergreen asshe tries to confront the murderous voice in her head...and unravels the very fabric of the world as she does so. With a heroine this strong, a plot this refreshingly new, and a voice decidedly different from anything else out there, why wouldn't you give this book a try? -- Katherine from Books Inc. Laurel Village

 

I know it’s only March, but I can already tell that Panic is going to be one of the best books I’ll read all year. Upon starting it, I didn’t stop, not once, and I read through all the way to the end in just one day. I’ve been a long time fan of Lauren Oliver and when I found out about Panic I had to keep myself from screaming inappropriately in the faces of everyone around me. Panic is intense, mysterious, and psychologically thrilling. On more than one occasion I found my hands pressed up against my face and my jaw dropped in shock. This is a book that will keep you guessing and sweating until the very last page. Panic may be her newest, but it’s also Oliver’s best book so far. 

The game of Panic is simple: compete in every challenge, do the best, and win the prize. The prize is always money and this year it’s over $60,000. It seems easy enough, but not every one has the courage to play. The challenges are difficult, sometimes even deadly. How far would you go to win? You’ll never believe what these kids will do for money.

Recently dumped Heather is insecure and emotionally damaged due to her troubled home life and Dodge is the unpopular kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Told in duel points of view between these two teens, Panic tells the story of not just the kids competing, but the small town as a whole. Oliver’s writing style makes it easy to discern Heather’s voice from Dodge’s and the authenticity of their emotions and motives creates a realistic experience for the reader. I found myself immersed in this small town, rooting for Heather and Dodge, but unsure about who I truly wanted to win the game.

Panic is a book that you’ll remember long after you’ve finished. It’s brilliant, terrifying, and heartbreaking. Not since The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin have I read a book so psychologically mind-bending, and I truly think Lauren Oliver has found her new calling. This is a book you don’t want to miss! -- Anna at Books Inc. Palo Alto 

Harbinger "Harry" Robert Francis Jones was tied up to a tree, which was then hit by lightning. And he bears the scars of that horrific event into his teen years, which forces him into solitude. But when he gets older, he meets Johnny, his becomes best friend. Soon, they start a punk rock band called The Scar Boys and craziness ensues. This book revolves around their dysfunctional, and at times toxic, relationship. Johnny is a persuasive, self-important, narcissistic jerk but Harry literally doesn't have any better options. He just goes along with whatever Johnny wants, even after Johnny pursues a relationship with the girl Harry falls in love with. Full of great rock music and complicated characters, this book is a quick read for anyone who loves music and it's power.

--Reviewed by Ren, Compass Books in SFO

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