Monday, September 12, 2011

Chat, Book Signing and Q&A with YA Author Saundra Mitchell

Sunday, Sept. 18 • 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at KHCPL Main

Saundra Mitchell, author of The Vespertine (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) and Shadowed Summer (Random House, 2009) will be at the KHCPL Main at 220 N. Union St. Sunday, September 18th from 2:30-4:30 P.M. for a book signing, talk, and question and answer session.

Join us for an exciting afternoon while we chat with award-winning young adult (YA) author Saundra Mitchell. She will talk about her books and the writing experience, and will answer questions from the audience.

The Vespertine (The Vespertine, #1)The Vespertine is the story of a teen girl who discovers she has an unusual ability to see the future while visiting relatives in 1889 Baltimore.  It is a gripping piece of historical fiction and fantasy.  It is a 2011 Amazon Summer Reading List Selection and received excellent reviews from VOYA and Kirkus.  A spinoff novel, The Springsweet, will be published on April 17, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Shadowed SummerShadowed Summer was a 2009 ALAN pick, a 2009 Junior Library Guild Selection, and a 2010 Edgar Nominee for Best YA Mystery.  Shadowed Summer takes place in the small town of Ondine, Louisiana.  Fourteen-year-old Iris uncovers family secrets when she conjures up the ghost of a boy missing for decades and decides to solve the mystery of his disappearance

Saundra Mitchell resides in Indianapolis.  I attended a couple of her signings in Indy and she is an excellent speaker.  She can talk about writing and publishing as well as about her experiences in the process of getting her novel published.  This is an excellent opportunity for teens to meet a published author and ask questions.  I hope you will pass this information on to your students.

You may bring books to have signed or purchase books at the event.  Hardcovers of The Vespertine will be $14 and paperbacks of Shadowed Summer  will be $7.  Cash only please.

Coming Soon:

The Springsweet

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser

If I Grow UpIf I Grow Up by Todd Strasser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Growing up in the projects leaves a person with very few options. DeShawn, an intelligent young man knows this very well as he watches the young people around him join gangs, drop out of school, and fall between the cracks of society. The educational system fails them, and society fails them, leaving boys like DeShawn struggling to make ends meet in a world that doesn’t care if he grows up.

There is no doubting Strasser’s talent for getting a reader into the lives and minds of the characters. Strasser took a young man whose intelligence and street smarts attract the reader and shows how he develops over a period of several years. Looking closely at how a smart young man can become a gang member.

I’ll admit, this isn’t my usual type of book. It isn’t one that I would have willingly picked up on my own, but it is one that I am glad I read because it is remarkable. The characterizations are beautifully done. Gang members, who in other hands would have been superficial stereotypes, are wonderfully developed into people you can believe exist. The pacing is perfect. I literally flew through this novel in on sitting—rare for me because I am such a slow reader. Strasser hooks you with the gunshots at the beginning and propels you to the end at breakneck pace. You won’t believe where this novel will take you.

Overall this was a remarkable piece of fiction. Not a book I would have picked up on my own, but one that I am glad to have read. It is a fast, interesting read, with superb characters and remarkable writing.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Violence, drugs, sexual references, I don’t recall any explicit language, and language in the quotes at the beginning of the chapters was edited out.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sixteen year-old Finley Jayne doesn't know exactly what she is, but for your own safety, it is unwise to make her angry. When the son of her employer attacks her, Finley protects herself, and finds herself out of a job and running for her life. While running away from the repercussions of her violent actions, Finley stumbles into Griffin King, the young Duke of Greythorne, who has some unusual abilities of his own. He and his group of unusual friends are after a man they call the Machinist who is turning automatons against their owners, and using them to commit crimes. Griff, recognizes Finley as one of their own, and tries to convince her that she can help him stop the Machinist and find out who and what she is once and for all.

This has to be one of my favorite books this year. It is so original and fun that from start to finish I didn't want to put it down. There are many things that I enjoyed about this book, but to keep this review brief I am only going to name a few.

First, the characters are wonderful--even the supporting ones. Finley Jayne is smart, strong, and even sassy at times. She has two warring personalities, and this is portrayed very well. Plus an unexpected surprise about her parentage added a bit of thrill to the story! I love Griffin, his calm reassurance that he always has a plan and his desire to save everyone. Emily is charming and it is so refreshing to see a girl that is smart and mechanically inclined. Sam was probably my least favorite character, but that is because I felt like he wallowed in his losses. The character development was outstanding. I love these characters and wanted to spend more time with them.

Secondly, the setting was exceptionally well done. The story takes place in a steampunk version of Victorian London. Although steampunk adds technology that doesn't exist in the time period of the book, it blended well into this novel. The technology and the Victorian era go well together, and it never felt forced to me. I could believe that this world existed and I wanted to go there.

Finally, the story keeps the reader engaged. It was vivid, fast paced, and action packed. I couldn't wait to keep reading this novel because I wanted to know what would happen next.

Overall, this novel is positively stunning. I loved this book, these characters, and couldn't stand to step away from it when finished. To be honest, I am already contemplating rereading it because I enjoyed it so much. This book is the first book in the Steampunk Chonicles series. My only regret is that I don't know when book #2 in the series will come out. Not soon enough for this fan!

Cautions for sensitive readers: Violence. No language and no sex, although the attack on Finley was suggestive in nature.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez

In summer I like to pick up light reads.  Ones that are fun, entertaining, and fast reads.  I like to avoid serious books when selecting my summer reads.  Last week I picked up the first book in Marlene Perez's Dead is series and it had me hooked.  Now four books later and only one more to go, I am looking for something else just like it.  I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the fast paranormal reads!  Daisy and her sisters are fun, quirky, and very entertaining. 

If you like paranormal fiction, but want something on the lighter side, check out Dead is the New Black and its sequels.  (Also available on audio!)  Need more convincing?  Check out my review below!

Dead Is the New Black (Dead Is, #1)Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Daisy Giordano is the only one in her family who hasn't inherited psychic abilities, but being a "norm" isn't going to stop her from trying to help her mother solve the case of the teenage girls who are being attacked all over town. With the help of Ryan, the son of the local police chief, and possibly her new boyfriend, Daisy is going to put everything on the line to figure out what is happening to these girls.

This novel was simply charming. I love Daisy and loved her sisters. The characters were fun and felt like people you wanted to know even the Divine Devereaux. Daisy is a fun, likable, teenage girl who wants to prove that she is as talented, just in different ways, as her two psychic older sisters. Ryan is a good guy who will do just about anything for Daisy.

While Nightshade has always been a bit of a mysterious town, it really gets creepy when a girl turns up dead and her body disappears from the morgue. Suddenly other popular girls from the cheer leading squad start getting sick, Daisy knows she needs to stop the culprit before someone else dies.

The audio version of this book is produced by Brilliance Audio and performed by Suzy Jackson. Jackson was a superb narrator for this book. She sounds convincing as a teenager and made the listening experience an exceptional one. I would recommend this audio experience to anyone. It is a great book to listen to.

Overall, this is a remarkably fun book. Dead is the New Black is just a fun light-hearted read. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, light-hearted, fun mystery, with laughs and charming characters.

Cautions for sensitive readers: This book has paranormal touches and even a few paranormal chacters, but the violence in this novel is tame and there is no foul langauge or sex at all in this book.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison

My Unfair Godmother (My Fair Godmother, #2)My Unfair Godmother by Janette Rallison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When her parents divorced, Tansy Miller’s close relationship with her father seemed to evaporate. Living with her mother and her little sister in New York, while her father moved to Arizona made their relationship impossible. Then he got remarried and seemed to have replaced her with a new stepson, Nick. When her sister is offered a part in a Broadway play that will require her sister and mother to travel, Tansy is sent to live with her distant father. Determined to rebel against him, she starts dating the town bad boy, but when she is arrested things start to fall apart for this good girl gone bad. And just when Tansy thinks things have gotten as bad as they could possibly get, in pops her fair godmother, Chrysanthemum Everstar, and things go from bad to worse as she has to deal with Robin Hood, his Merry Me, and the Middle Ages.

This book is a sequel to Rallison’s book My Fair Godmother (Walker & Co. 2009), where you see the return of the leprechaun Clover, and of Chrissy the fair godmother. Other characters are all new so this book will stand alone for readers who haven’t read the first. In fact, this one was so good that if you are interested in reading, but are concerned about not having read the first, I would whole heartedly say, skip the first and pick this one up.

Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy My Fair Godmother, but My Unfair Godmother completely outshines it. The humor is better, the situations are more extreme (and original), and the main character is much easier to connect to. I loved that she used Robin Hood and Rumpelstiltskin fairy tales this time around and showed the darker side of both. I especially loved the occasional Twilight references and humor.

Overall this book is a wild romp and a lot of fun. Highly recommended if you are looking for something light that will make you laugh. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the first, this will stand on its own.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some violence.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Looking for a Great Summer Read? Try As Easy As Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynn Rae Perkins

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the EarthAs Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Ry gets off the train during an unscheduled mechanical stop in hopes of getting better cell phone reception he thought he would have more time, but when the train pulls off without him leaving him in the middle of nowhere Montana he realizes he may be in over his head. Thus begins a journey of thousands of miles, and many many unforeseen circumstances.

I will start out by saying this is the perfect book for summer. Ry was supposed to go to archeology camp for the summer, but when the camp is cancelled and Ry gets off the train in the middle of nowhere, he embarks on another more exciting adventure. This story meanders its way from Montana, to Wisconsin, to Indiana, to Florida, and all the way to the Caribbean. Ry's story is one of luck or lack there of and is a humorous adventure tale that attempts to get one boy to the right place at the right time.

This family has to have the worst luck. Ry's parents are on a Caribbean vacation, and Ry's grandfather is supposed to watch the house and the family dogs. When the grandfather hits his head, losing both his memory and the dogs, Ry has no one he can reach to tell of his own predicament. With the help of some lovable yet unusual characters, Ry embarks on a journey to find his parents.

This story has moments that will make you laugh out loud. As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth meanders its way across the country telling the story of a boy whose destiny seems to be determined by luck alone.

Overall, this fun rambling tale would make a great trip or summer read. I just hope the reader's trip isn't as meandering as Ry's. This is a light read that never takes itself too seriously.

Cautions for sensitive readers: None.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Percy Jackson Is Back! In Rick Riordan's Newest Book Son of Neptune

For those of you who missed Percy when you read The Lost Hero I have great news!  Percy Jackson will be back in the next installment of the series Son of Neptune.  While Son of Neptune won't be out until October 4, 2011, here is a sneak peak to tide you over until you can read the whole thing!

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus, #2)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Book Review: Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton [Plus Movie Trailer]

On April 8th the movie Soul Surfer came out in theaters.  It tells the story of fourteen year-old Bethany Hamilton after she was attacked by a shark while surfing.  It is an inspiring story of her struggle to get back to the sport she loves so much.  In 2004, Bethany wrote a book about her experience and her struggle.  The library owns the book Soul Surfer,  and you are welcome to place a hold on this title. (Click Here to Place Hold on Soul Surfer)  Be sure to check out the trailer for the movie below.

Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the BoardSoul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Soul Surfer is an inspiring story about not giving up. After losing her arm in a shark attack, fourteen year-old Bethany Hamilton returns to her beloved sport of surfing. This novel was written shortly after the accident and primarily focuses on Bethany's faith and her love of surfing. During the attack Bethany stays remarkably calm while her friends get her to shore and later to the hospital. In the book Bethany shares her love of surfing, her love of family, and her strong faith in God.

Soul Surfer has just recently been made into a movie, and I admit that I was curious about the book. The hold list for this title at our library is getting longer by the day as more and more people want to read it. It is a surprisingly quick read. I was able to finish this book in one day. The book is touching and at times heart-wrenching. I kept thinking about what her family was going through as they rushed to the hospital not knowing how Bethany was doing.

My only comment on the book is that there wasn't a lot of meat to the story. Many themes are repeated over and over, especially her faith in God. There weren't a lot of details about her recovery--it seemed kind of brief, and perhaps that is because the book was written so soon after the accident. She was still recovering from the injury. I think this might have been better if she had waited a few years to write it.

Overall this is an inspirational book written by a talented and inspiring teen. I would recommend it to those who are interested in seeing the movie and those who love biographies and inspiring stories.

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Here is the movie trailer:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Review: The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Han Alister, once the famous streetlord of the Raggers better known as Cuffs, is trying to go straight for his sister Mari and his mother. He is out of the gang life, but leaving trouble behind isn't as easy as leaving the gang and changing professions. While hunting with his friend Dancer out on Hanalea he encounters three young wizards with a powerful amulet. Afraid that the wizards might try to use the amulet against him and Dancer, Han demands that they give him the amulet before they leave. Since taking that amulet, Han has known nothing but grief. Now street thugs are dying mysteriously and Han is the prime suspect.

Princess heir of the Fells, Raisa ana'Marianna, has discovered that she has lived a sheltered life, and doesn't know enough about the kingdom she will eventually help inherit. With the help of her friend, now a guardsman, Amon, Raisa hopes to find out more about life in her kingdom. But something bigger is going on. The wizards have too much power over the queen, and as Raisa's nameday approaches, the day she will be eligible to marry, she suspects something more sinister may be going on.

This is a long book, and at first seems rather daunting, but Cinda Williams Chima has a way of pulling you into the lives of her characters. Soon after starting, I found that I couldn't put the book down--it was simply addictive.

Chima's character development is outstanding. You are pulled into the lives of her characters and she makes them so believable you feel like you have known them for years. You root for their successes and you can feel their losses. Her characters are believable and well drawn, they act like you would expect them to, and are very real.

Chima has created a world of fantasy that is hard to leave. You want to understand the politics and the history of the Fells, and how they find themselves where they are now. The world building is rich and vibrant and invites you in to stay.

The audio version of this book, produced by Recorded Books and narrated by Carol Monda, is one of the best audio books I have listened to in a while. She does an excellent job with the individual voices and setting the mood of this fantastic fantasy novel. I was loath to stop listening to this book when it was time to get out of my car.

If you aren't a fan of high fantasy with a lot of world building this book might not be what you are looking for. It kind of reminded me of Kristin Cashore's Fire, with the same type of involved world building. I felt that Chima did an excellent job with the world building and introducing this world through the characters that you grow to love. But I do understand that this type of fantasy isn't for everyone.

Overall, I loved this book and couldn't put it down.

The sequel, The Exiled Queen, is available in both hardcover and in audio CD format.

Cautions for sensitive readers: No language, no sex, some violence.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Review: Fat Cat by Robin Brande

Fat CatFat Cat by Robin Brande
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Cat just wants one thing, to beat Matt McKinney at the science fair to get even for his betrayal four years ago. When the picture she receives as her inspiration for her science project features three naked hominids, man's early ancestor, she is no longer sure what to do for her project. When inspiration or desperation strikes, Cat decides on a project that may change her life forever. For 207 days "Fat Cat" will eat an all natural diet, ignore technology, and start a chain of events that will change her both physically and mentally. Watch out Matt McKinney!
I chose to read this book because it made Indiana's 2011-2012 Eliot Rosewater list. That wasn't the only reason though. I downloaded it as a whim from our Indiana Digital Media (Overdrive) site as a test on my iPod Touch. For whatever reason I originally started this book, it seems like I was meant to read it. From the first chapters displayed on my tiny iPod screen, to the later chapters when I gave up and decided to read it from my nook, and later the book, I can honestly say this book had me hooked. (YIKES! I am rhyming!!!) I don't read a lot of realistic fiction, but I am really glad that fate, or Overdrive, or Eliot Rosewater brought this book to me because I loved it.

The characters in this novel were great! I loved Cat's character. She is a strong young woman who is a good student and determined to do her best. She chooses a project and follows it with all of her heart, and discovers so much about herself along the way. Her best friend Amanda is terrific. If only everyone could have a best friend like her! Amanda's boyfriend Jordan, gives us a nice guy who loves his girlfriend and is willing to help out when necessary.

I loved the idea of the science experiment motivating Cat to change her lifestyle, and I love watching her confidence grow as she began to drop the pounds and discover that there is more to life than holding a grudge. The pacing of this story is superb. You follow Cat through 207 days of her experiment, and discover surprises around every turn.

Overall, this book was a welcome relief from so much of the urban fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction I have been reading lately. It was a light entertaining read and a surprisingly quick one. My only regret is that there wasn't more--I loved the characters so much I wanted the story to keep on going. It was fantastic!

Cautions for sensitive readers: Some kissing and some questions about sex are discussed.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where She Went by Gayle Forman Booktrailer and If I Stay Book Review

If you have read Gayle Forman's If I Stay you won't want to miss the stunning sequel Where She Went.  (See our review below for more information about If I Stay.)  Where She Went is now on order at the library so don't forget to place your hold! (Click here to place hold!)

Where She Went takes place three years after the deadly accident that took the lives of Mia's family.  

For those of you that haven't read If I Stay, find out more in our review below.

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)If I Stay by Gayle Forman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On a snowy day in Oregon, Mia and her family go on a drive that ends in heartache. She finds herself thrown out of her body as a result of an horrific car accident and left with the choice to live with a loss that will change her life forever or to die.

If I Stay is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you are smiling and laughing, loving the main character, Mia and her family, and the next you are crying because of all she has lost. Mia’s family and friends are touchingly and memorably portrayed. The story smoothly transitions between where Mia is now, and her touching memories of her family and friends. The characters are well rounded and real and love between them and the difficulty of the decisions they make are palpable.

This book made me both laugh and cry. It gave be a better appreciation for a good tearjerker. As I read the book it made me think about my family and what is important to me, and how I would feel if I were in Mia’s position. While I won’t go out of my way to find tearjerkers from now on, I must say I was really impressed with this book.

A must read for those who like tearjerkers!

Cautions for sensitive readers: A situation with sexual references and mild language. There are some graphic depictions of the car accident that may disturb some readers, but once past that part, the book is pretty tame.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Review: Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

Saundra Mitchell is an Indiana author.  To find out more about Saundra and her writing visit her website, Making Stuff Up For A Living.  The library owns both her first book, Shadowed Summer and her newest book that just came out on 3/07/11 The Vespertine.  Get your holds in now for The Vespertine.  This book is too good to miss!

The Vespertine (The Vespertine, #1)The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In the Summer of 1889 Amelia van den Broek leaves her country home in Maine to spend a season with her cousins the Stewarts in Baltimore. There she will attend dinners, go calling, and even attend balls where she hopes to find a suitable husband. But as the sun sets Amelia finds more than she ever hoped for, for in the vespers she sees the future. At first intrigued and excited by this new power, Amelia is an immediate sensation, but as her darkest predictions begin to come true those she loves and trusts begin to turn on her. In a world where the slightest misstep can lead to ruin, Amelia walks a fine line between the other world and a love that is unacceptable.

I couldn't put this one down. Saundra Mitchell pulls you into the late 1800s with sounds, settings, and tea services. The novel felt so authentic that I felt like I was right there gossiping with the girls in their tight corsets at teas, dinners, and balls. She leaves you on the edge of your seat as the girl flaunt and tease with propriety knowing that if they were caught it would be ruin.

The characters in this novel are exceptionally well developed. Amelia, who doesn't understand her powers, is at once both excited by and afraid of them. The visions at first positive have a dark side that frightens her. When she meets Nathaniel, he excites her in ways she has never known before, unfortunately he is below her station and not an acceptable match for a well bred girl like her. Zora is a city girl who loves Thomas Rea who just happens to be at the very edge of what is considered a suitable match. Other characters come and go, and all hold your interest.

What I loved about this book was its authenticity. It felt like I was stepping back in time. It pulled me in and kept me reading. I had to know what happened next--every little detail. In a word, it was magic.

Overall, a great historical fiction novel with a touch of the paranormal. A book too good to miss!

Cautions for sensitive readers: Mild violence, but very clean otherwise. A good choice for those looking for novels with paranormal aspects that are also clean reads.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Exciting News for Vampire Academy Fans!

Today in an exclusive article with Entertainment Weekly Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy series,  revealed the cover for the first book in her new series titled Bloodlines.  The book doesn't come out until August 23rd so there will be a bit of a wait before we can read it, but in the mean time, take a look at this fantastic cover and check out the article at Entertainment Weekly for more details about this book and a video interview. Bloodlines is a spin off of the Vampire Academy series that is set in the same world but featuring a different character.

Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)

Unfortunately, no information is available yet from our vendors so we won't be able to pre-order it for a while, but until then we can eagerly anticipate this new addition to a fantastic series.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Teen Books Turning into Movies

Two movies are coming out soon that are based on teen books!

The first is I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore.  Nine are sent to Earth to try and find a place safe from the evil Mogadorian who are killing their people.  Numbers 1-3 have been found and killed by the Mogadorian, now Number four, John Smith, knows he is next.  The movie comes out February 18, 2011.  While you wait for the movie, take the time to check out the book from the library!

I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, #1) 

Find out more about the movie at the I am Number Four movie website.

The second is Beastly by Alex Flinn, a modern retellling of the story of Beauty and the Beast told from the perspective of the beast.  The movie comes out March 4, 2011, but in the meantime, you can check out the book here at the library!


Find out more about the movie and the stars at the Beastly movie website.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And the Winner is.... 2011 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature

Every year YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Division), a division of ALA (The American Library Association) announces its choices for the Michael L. Printz Award.  According to YALSA, this award is given to "a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature" (Printz Award Page).

Over the years there have been a number of wonderful choices.  Here are this year's winners:

Michael L. Printz Award Winner:

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1)

Michael L. Printz Honor Books:

Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Stolen: A letter to my captor

Please Ignore Vera Dietz  by A.S. King
Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Nothing by Janne Teller