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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

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

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Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

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

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The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage

I LOVED the Newbery honor, Three Times Lucky, and was super thrilled to pick up this sequel, also set in Tupelo Landing. Mo LaBeau is back, and this time she’s ghost hunting for a history project. Turnage’s signature sense of humor is back in full narrative force (“they had about as much in common as yes and no,”) and so is the long, and unforgettable cast of characters.  Replete with true spookiness and paranormal activity, this book stands alone as well as in concert with Three Times Lucky. Ages 10+ --Maggie, Books Inc. Children's Department Director

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