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Tease by Amanda Maciel

Amanda Maciel's Tease is a refreshing and original take on how far bullying can go and the consequences that such harsh harassment can have on both the bully and the victim. Tease chooses a different route from most novels about high school bullying and focuses on Sara, the bully, rather than Emma, the victim. Sara's insecurities and willingness to go along with whatever the popular kids tell her to do make Sara an interesting main character as well as a heartless bully. Pushed to the breaking point, Emma kills herself leaving Sara and her friends to stand trial for their actions. Rarely does a book focus on the consequences of bullying, but much like Jennifer Brown's Hate ListTease showcases how bullying can be taken to deadly level.

Sara's unwillingness to understand why she stands trial is one of the most compelling pieces of her character. She's incredibly unlikable and impossible to feel sorry for, yet somehow you do. Her pliability stems from her lack of self-confidence which we can all relate to. Her need to fit in with the popular kids leads her to make hasty decisions and misguided choices. Her best friend, Brielle, is the only friend she truly has, and Brielle is the mastermind behind every viscous prank. Sara, in some ways, is also a victim. A victim of peer pressure, poor self-esteem, bullying on a minor scale, and the harsh realities of high school. I'm not saying that this excuses anything she does, but being that Tease is told from the perspective of the bully, as a reader I wanted to understand her and see her grow into a better person. We've all been bullies because we want to fit in, and we've all been bullied because with some groups we just don't. Tease digs deep into the complexities of high school bullying revealing that sometimes motives aren't as simple as they seem. Tease is an extraordinary novel that tackles real life issues in a way I've never seen before making Amanda Maciel a name to watch out for. 

-- Anna from Books Inc. Palo Alto 

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection is a work of art. No, it isn't an ACTUAL picture, but Kiera Cass weaves lifelike characters with humor and a touch of spunk to make The Selection unforgettable. The thing that makes The Selection different from other dystopian books is its characters. They are people that I could actually see as real people. In a lot of books, the female character either A. sits back and acts like a scrawny weak person, or B. wears revealing clothes, swears, and hates everyone. The Selection is a refreshing break from typical young adult literature. It doesn't have obsessive gore or spend the entire book focused on a romance with NO action whatsoever. The Selection does have elements of romance, but they are interesting and convert non-romance lovers, like myself, into obsessive fans.

The whole plot of The Selection is that 35 girls are competing for Prince Maxon's heart. We, the reader, see the entire book from the perspective of a teen girl named America. But America isn't your typical teenager. At first, she isn't even sure if she loves Prince Maxon. On their first meeting, she scolds and slaps him. In a way, America is sort of similar to Katniss from The Hunger Games. They both are strong woman, and don't like being told what to do.

I was pleasantly surprised by The Selection and would recommend it to everyone. Boys, this includes you too! There isn't that much more than kissing, with the exception of one or two sexual references. If The Selection were a movie, it would be rated somewhere in between PG and PG-13. But honestly, this book's age range is twelve and over. If you have a mature reader, I could see them reading it earlier. I read the book when was ten and still enjoyed it. The Selection is one of the best books that I've ever read and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone!

-- Anna Q. age 12

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Sea of Flames

This month’s featured book and cocktail inspiration is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  Ten years in the writing, "All the Light We Cannot See" is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer "whose sentences never fail to thrill" ("Los Angeles Times").

Sea of Flames
1.5 oz. Hendrick's Gin
1 oz. Byrrh
.5 oz. St. Germain
2 tsp lemon juice
2 dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Bitters
Stir all with ice. Strain into chilled glass.

“This one came together nicely - and I know I'm not supposed to say that about my own concoctions, but there it is! The Byrrh is a really lovely, red-wine based aperitif that was created in France well before WWII (the setting of the novel). The St. Germain is also French. The other story line begins in Germany, so I added the Bitter Truth bitters - a German product.” Enjoy!


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Twinmaker by Sean Williams

Twinmaker is great for kids who want pure science fiction. Reminiscent of the world-building in Uglies, people now use “d-mat” to transport themselves anywhere around the world. However, someone is sending out a message saying that, through the use of d-mat and a code written on a piece of paper, you can change things about yourself. The only problem is that many of those who use improvement end up dead. Clair’s best friend has used improvement and now time is counting down to her death. Clair must team up with an unlikely boy at her school to figure out what’s really going on. This book is fast-paced, descriptive, and exciting. We read it for book club and everyone really enjoyed it!

--Anna Books Inc. Palo Alto
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Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Spring break was supposed to be epic. Aruba. Her best friend, her boyfriend and all their group of friends. Drinking, dancing until dawn and no parents. It wasn't suppose to end like this. Now her best friend Elise is dead and she is in jail awaiting trial for murder. I read this for my book club. It was recommend to me by one of the teens who really wanted me to consider this for the group. I started it and finished it in one sitting and the ending - OH MAN! This is a psychological thriller told through the perspective of Anna who is Elise's best friend and potential murderer. A ripped from the headlines story - compelling, dark and edgy. A teen Gone Girl. --Connie, Books Inc. Opera Plaza

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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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