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Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Ms. Carriger has been kind enough to grace our shelves with this absolutely topping new series of novels for the entertainment and edification of young ladies and gentlemen of discerning taste. Etiquette & Espionage is set in the same fun-fair universe as the wildly popular Parasol Protectorate series but a quarter century before Alexia Tarabotti's debut in Soulless. We see the same brilliant wit and invention, zany adventure, and excellent attention to detail of Victorian life that has made this charming author a steampunk favorite.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia lives in an alternate Victorian Britain whizzing along with all manner of amazing clockwork gadgetry where the aristocracy and military are dominated by vampires and werewolves respectively. (These supernatural citizens are usually too polite to eat the general populace uninvited but, well-there are misunderstandings) Her despairing mother has
had enough of her tomboyish romps and unladylike love for mathematics and engineering. To her horror the girl is whisked off to the terribly exclusive Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, which overlooks the lonely English moors in a dramatic and very original fashion.

Secret and Peculiar Schools are certainly commonplace to young readers, but this institution has a curriculum as unusual as its lofty location. Along with the classical academic subjects, manners, and poise, the young ladies of Mme. Geraldine's are studying to become intelligencers-spies! They will learn all the social graces to gossip, flatter, connive, and seduce information from hapless targets. When that objective is achieved the girls may be required to use unarmed combat, knives, or poison and really "finish" the job. Intrigued, Sophronia applies herself to the demanding coursework despite having the Worst Curtsy in the Empire. She even learns to enjoy the formerly forbidding feminine disciplines of High Fashion, the Coy Smile, and the devastating Batted Eyelashes.

She will make a diverse circle of friends (even cute working-class boys!). With every chapter we meet the highly eccentric staff, Mean Girls, young mad scientists in training, dangerous aerial pirates called flywaymen, and and elite clique of steamgoths, "The Pistons" (more cute boys). Of course Sophronia and the gang will have to solve a big-time mystery without getting demerits. This first book of the new trilogy mostly concerns exploring the school and the wider crazy world around it. The reader will be satisfied and thoroughly entertained while looking forward to the laughs and increasing intrigue ahead. --reviewed by Chris from Compass Books SFO

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

I'll never forget what book got me hooked on reading. Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, was one of thrills and adventure. I realized at a young age that I adored books where the main character was just trying to survive, but was left with nothing or no one. I suppose it was easy to put myself in the place of that character and wonder to myself how would I survive if put in that same place. Ashfall is one of those books! What would you do if a supervolcano erupted and you had no warning and no one to help you figure out what to do? You had no preparations, no family near you, no clean water, and people known as 'flencers' were trying to hunt you down and eat you?! Mullin makes it easy to put you in this person's place, and it's honestly terrifying. I truly loved the twist and turns this book took, and am just engrossed in the second installment. I highly recommend to those who looking for a thrilling story with just a tad of romance and plenty of moments that will have your heart racing. --Reviewed by Courtney, of Books Inc. Burlingame


People are always asking us what book we are reading for Not Your Mother's Book Club, which is a TOTALLY REASONABLE question, considering we're called Not Your Mother's Book CLUB. But the truth of the matter is, for the last 5 years, this has been an author salon, only. NOT SO ANYMORE! Thanks to Anna, the newest member of our Books Inc. Palo Alto team, we are now launching Not Your Mother's ACTUAL Book Club, a book club that reads books! HIGH FIVES ALL AROUND! So join us for our first meeting, no reading required. Yet. :)

Coming Soon, The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin

I loved every agonizing heartbreaking moment of this book!  Set in a small town in Maine best friends Dinah & Skint couldn't be more different, they both want to help and make things better for those around them but while Skint rages against the injustices of the world Dinah's main concern is trying to get Skint to wear a winter coat.  Their friendship also dances
around an elephant in the room, Skint's father is homebound with dementia a topic Skint has made clear is not to be broached.  But his family may be in desperate need of help and by the time Dinah opens her eyes and sees it things will never be the same for them.
--Reviewed by Shannon, Senior Children's Buyer

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

This novel snuck under the wire to get into my top three young adult novels for 2012. I read it in one breathless night, and the next morning, when I saw an airplane flying overhead, I burst into tears. Which, I admit, probably seems like a crazy response, and fairly so. But like all the best, most special books, Ask The Passengers doesn't just satisfy the mind while it's being read-- it also colors life long after it has been put down, making otherwise banal things, like the sight of airplanes overhead, illuminated.
King uses complicated ideas, recurring imagery and deceptively simple language to craft a story of incredible honesty and pathos. Those who were unlucky to be around me in the days after I read it were subjected to my many gushings-and even with the amount of hyperbolic gushery I put forth in those days, I'm not sure I did this novel justice. Gorgeous. Wise. Vibrant. For those who love any of the following authors: David Levithan, Nina LaCour, Sarah Dessen or John Green should certainly take a look.
I cannot wait to pick up more of A. S. King's work. Because if it's even a FRACTION as good... I may have a new favorite author. For ages 15+ --Reviewed by Maggie, Books Inc. Children's Department Director