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Front country book cover
Front country book cover

Front country

Sara St. Antoine

jFICTION Stantoin Sara
Kids, Travel, Nature

Eighth grader Ginny Shepard attempts to ground herself after realizing that the world is apathetic to the very real, very urgent realities of climate change, and reckoning with her own feelings of guilt and impotence.

This is a slow-burn but powerful coming-of-age novel about a girl who goes to the wilderness to find herself. Ginny is doing all the "right things" - getting straight A's, playing competitive tennis, pleasing her parents, etc. But when she finds out how urgent climate change is and what might be lost if the adults in charge don't act immediately, she can't understand why no one else seems to feel as upset as she does about it. She ends up attending a wilderness camp that is sort of a therapeutic program for "troubled" youth, where she is the only girl among some strange boys and exhaustingly upbeat yet nitpicky counselors. But as she gets to know what motivates her fellow campers and experiences the Montana mountain setting, she begins to find her way and figures some stuff out. This is a sophisticated, nuanced, slow-paced book best for upper-elementary-readers. It has a great message without being preachy or on-the-nose. The dialogue and Ginny's struggles are rendered realistically and empathetically. -Anne W

Marple : twelve new stories book cover
Marple : twelve new stories book cover

Marple : twelve new stories

Agatha Christie

808.83872 /Marple
Mystery, Fiction

A brand-new collection of short stories featuring the Queen of Mystery's legendary detective Jane Marple, penned by 12 remarkable best-selling and acclaimed authors. This collection of 12 original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie's Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery ... Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Agatha Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930's The Murder at the Vicarage. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie's last Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by 12 Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.

I truly enjoyed reading this collection of contemporary authors taking on Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. It was interesting to see what each author emphasized with the character from the knitting to the telling of village stories to her deep understanding of "human nature." I especially loved the stories by Ruth Ware, Elly Griffiths, and Natalie Haynes. It was also a good opportunity to find new authors I've never read. -Anne M

The Cloisters: A Novel book cover
The Cloisters: A Novel book cover

The Cloisters: A Novel

Katy Hays

OverDrive Audiobook
Suspense, Fiction

When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination. Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers' more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs. A haunting and magical blend of genres, The Cloisters is a gripping debut that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

If you are looking for a fun, fast read, I recommend The Cloisters. It is somewhat a mystery and a thriller with elements of dark academia. -Anne M

Slenderman : online obsession, mental illness, and the violent crime of two Midwestern girls book cover
Slenderman : online obsession, mental illness, and the violent crime of two Midwestern girls book cover

Slenderman : online obsession, mental illness, and the violent crime of two Midwestern girls

Kathleen Hale

364.1523 /Hale
Nonfiction, True Crime

"The first full account of the Slenderman stabbing, a true crime narrative of mental illness, the American judicial system, the trials of adolescence, and the power of the internet. On May 31, 2014, in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, Wisconsin, two twelve-year-old girls attempted to stab their classmate to death. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier's violence was extreme, but what seemed even more frightening was that they committed their crime under the influence of a figure born by the internet: the so-called "Slenderman." Yet the even more urgent aspect of the story, that the children involved suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses, often went overlooked in coverage of the case. Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls tells that full story for the first time in deeply researched detail, using court transcripts, police reports, individual reporting, and exclusive interviews. Morgan and Anissa were bound together by their shared love of geeky television shows and animals, and their discovery of the user-uploaded scary stories on the Creepypasta website could have been nothing more than a brief phase. But Morgan was suffering from early-onset childhood schizophrenia. She believed that she had been seeing Slenderman for many years, and the only way to stop him from killing her family was to bring him a sacrifice: Morgan's best friend Payton "Bella" Leutner, whom Morgan and Anissa planned to stab to death on the night of Morgan's twelfth birthday. Bella survived the attack, but was deeply traumatized, while Morgan and Anissa were immediately remanded into jail, and the severity of their crime meant that they would be prosecuted as adults. There, as Morgan continued to suffer from worsening mental illness after being denied antipsychotics, her life became more and more surreal. Slenderman is both a page-turning true crime story and a search for justice"--

This is a thorough, very readable account of the Slenderman-related crime that happened in Wisconsin, in 2014. The author has done their research, and is able to add a lot of great detail due to the interviews they had with involved persons. The gentle focus on mental illness is welcomed, as it brings so much to light here. Also especially interesting is the background on the whole Creepypasta/Slenderman thing, which, to be honest, was a bit of a mystery to me. Adults will like this, but some higher-reading young adults with a judicious interest might as well. -Candice

Parable of the sower book cover
Parable of the sower book cover

Parable of the sower

Octavia E Butler

SCIENCE FICTION Butler, Octavia E.
Science Fiction

When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others' emotions. Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.

"Parable of the Sower" is a powerful and harrowing tale told in a matter of fact tone. At its core, it is a dystopian story that shows how ugly humans can be. It ends up being surprisingly optimistic--and I encourage you to push through even when parts of the book can be difficult to stomach. This was my first Octavia Butler novel, and it won't be my last. -Brian

Team photograph book cover
Team photograph book cover

Team photograph

Lauren Haldeman

BIOGRAPHY Haldeman, Lauren
Memoir, Literary Fiction, Graphic Novels

"In her extraordinary graphic novel—which masterfully incorporates poetry and elements of memoir—Lauren Haldeman layers the warfare of soccer over the battlefields now called Bull Run Regional Park, where, growing up, her soccer team would practice and compete. The park and surrounding town of Fairfax Station Virginia set the landscape for the book, where the narrator regularly encounters spectral visions of wounded soldiers and very real artifacts of war— “wounded wraiths and faceless shapes” float in her hallway at night, and bullet shells, buttons, and human bones surface around the soccer fields in daylight. The narrator turns to poetry and history to make sense of the town and its bloodshed, of its forever attachment to injustice and its inability to restore erased identities. Team Photograph is a journey from research to illumination, and the result is a tender yet powerful reckoning of time and place, proof that the past and the present are inexorably fused together." --publisher

Iowa City poet and illustrator Lauren Haldeman has created a fascinating literary nonfiction memoir that I couldn't stop paging through. I've only just started the book, but I can't wait to keep reading. -Melody

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