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By Billy Taylor

51Y1IWD0ytL._SX329_BO1204203200_In a lot of ways, Cam Smith is a model kid. He's putting himself through prep school, working hard, and getting excellent grades. His goal of getting into Princeton is so close he can taste it.

He also happens to be on the lam from his criminal family.

Cam's real name is Skip O'Rourke, and the only reason he made it to prep school is that he secretly took some money promised to him by his late grandfather -- money the rest of his family was convinced was rightfully theirs -- ran away from them, and cut all ties. Or tried to. Soon after the story begins, Skip's uncle and his mother catch up with him again, and they're determined to pull him right back into the life he left behind. Unless he can figure out how to use their own tactics against him, it's goodbye to Princeton, goodbye to his girlfriend, Claire, and goodbye to any hope of living a normal, crime-free life.
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By Jack Thorne, based on a story by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, & J. K. Rowling

51bY71UBtaL._SX329_BO1204203200_Last weekend's frenzy over the new Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child," was much the same as previous Harry Potter frenzies. But the book itself is not exactly the same. For one thing, Harry Potter and his friends are all grown up now, with children of their own, and those children often take center stage. Literally. That's another major difference: This book is actually the script of a play that is currently running in London's West End.

The story centers on the difficult relationship between Harry and his son Albus, who feels uneasy and uncomfortable having the world's best-known wizard for a dad. The two can't seem to communicate, and things only get worse after Albus goes off to his parents' old school. At Hogwarts, Albus strikes up a friendship with Scorpius, the son of Harry's old antagonist Draco Malfoy. But this isn't enough to keep Albus from feeling increasingly out of place at school. When he decides he has to travel into the past to set right what he sees as one of Harry's mistakes, he and Scorpius accidentally set off an explosive chain of events that puts everyone they know and love in danger.
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By Lauren Gibaldi

51n2j4iOhlL._SX324_BO1204203200_Maude's photography teacher has given the class an assignment on "family," leaving Maude confused and flustered. Maude was adopted as a baby, and though the adoption was "semi-open," she'll never be able to meet her biological mother, who died giving birth to her. At an age (17) when she's trying to figure out exactly who she is and who she wants to become, Maude isn't sure what family really means for her.

But the project gives her an idea: She'll go visit her best friend, Treena, at Florida State University, the same school her birth mother, Claire, attended. Maude is looking forward to catching up with Treena and learning more about Claire. But neither goes as she expected -- Treena has already started to change during her short time at college, and the things that Maude learns about Claire paint a very different picture from the one she had imagined. Read More >
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By Malinda Lo

41KLV6Ll42L._SX331_BO1204203200_(Note: This article contains spoilers.)

On a high school debate team trip, Reese Holloway and David Li find their world thrown into chaos when flocks of birds start attacking airplanes, grounding their plane and causing widespread panic. Reese, David, and their teacher try to get home by car, but their teacher is shot in a carjacking, and then another bird strike causes them to crash their car.

Reese is in a coma for nearly a month, and when she wakes up, something has changed. Suddenly she and David have strange new abilities, including rapid healing and telepathy, and suddenly the U.S. government is very interested in both of them. And a strange girl shows up in Reese's life who just might know a lot more than she's telling.
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By J. B. Cheaney

51dGg8Hnj6L._SX338_BO1204203200_[Note: The reviewer has a professional relationship with the author. This review contains some spoilers.]

Twelve-year-old Isobel is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. It's 1918, and her father is serving as a medical officer in World War I. Before he left, he told Isobel she was "the responsible one," and that he trusted her to look after her rambunctious little sister, Sylvie, and help their mother. But all the responsbility and the worry are wearing Isobel down.

But when the family goes to visit her mother's sister in Hollywood, California, Isobel finds a distraction more absorbing and exciting than anything she could have dreamed of. Her step-cousin, Ranger, is obsessed with films and filmmaking, and he quickly conscripts Isobel and Sylvie to star in the amateur movie he's secretly making with his friend Sam. Isobel goes along under protest at first, but before long she's having so much fun, and making so many new discoveries, that she can barely remember what responsibility feels like.

Then a shattering letter comes from her father, and Isobel will need to rely on everything she's learned about strength, resourcefulness, and finding new ways to look at things.
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By Joanne Bischof

51htPiby5tL._SX318_BO1204203200_Eighteen-year-old Riley Kane leads a quiet life in a small, obscure town, and he's just fine with that. If he really wanted to, he could have the fame and fortune that go with being the son of a prominent athlete -- but he doesn't want to. After a rough childhood and adolescence, Riley has found faith, peace, and a decent job at a feed store, and he just wants to be left alone to savor them. But all that changes when he reconnects with Becca, a girl he knew long ago when they were children in Sunday school.

Becca's life couldn't be more different from Riley's -- she's a sweet, innocent girl from a large homeschooled family -- but it's not long before he's completely smitten. When she and her family suddenly have to leave town to be with Becca's father, who's been in a bad accident out in New Mexico, Riley is devastated.

But he soon figures out a way that he can see her again and take her family some much-needed supplies. All it will take is a big favor from his dad . . . whom Riley hasn't seen or spoken to in many years.
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By Rae Carson

Walk_on_Earth_a_Stranger(Note: This review contains spoilers.)

History, magic, and adventure come together in “Walk on Earth a Stranger,” the first installment in The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson. The novel opens in rural Georgia at the onset of the California gold rush in 1849 and introduces us to 15-year-old Leah Westfall. The pragmatic and resourceful daughter of gold prospectors, Leah has managed to become a skilled hunter and capable farmer, all while going to school. But a strong work ethic and uncommon maturity are not the only characteristics that set her apart. Leah possesses a secret power: Much like a water diviner, she is able to detect the presence of gold, whether it’s buried below her feet or in the pockets of those around her.

Leah’s parents instructed her never to tell anyone what she can do. While she understands the importance of such secrecy, the true gravity of her circumstances becomes tragically clear when her parents are murdered. When their killer then attempts to kidnap Leah, to take her to California and exploit her powers, she is forced to run for her life.
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By April Genevieve Tucholke

51BMtJdkf0L._SX326_BO1204203200_(Note: This review contains minor spoilers.)

"The first time I slept with Poppy, I cried," Midnight tells us in the first sentence of April Genevieve Tucholke's "Wink Poppy Midnight." That opening sets the tone for what's to come -- a story that many young readers seem to find wild, rebellious, and exciting, given its bestselling status, but that many adults are likely to see as a book about kids who are in way over their heads.

The book is named after its three main characters, who take turns narrating, providing us with very different views of what's going on. Midnight is a sensitive, imaginative boy who's desperately in love with Poppy, despite her cruel treatment of him and others. But when he and his father move out to the country, he sees it as his "first step to my freedom. My freedom from Poppy."
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By Sarah Rees Brennan

Wind_and_FireIn a future New York City, society is divided between Light and Dark, and people are treated accordingly. Those who live behind walls in the Dark part of the city are referred to as "the buried ones"; they are feared and disliked, but they're also necessary. The Lights and the Darks practice different kinds of magic, and each is dependent on the other for their very survival.

Lucie Manette is a Light magician, born in the Dark city. Her mother was murdered and her father arrested and tortured for violating the city's laws; Lucie decided that she would stop at nothing to get him out.

Now they both live in the Light city, where Lucie is widely admired as a symbol of freedom for what she did for her father, but all she feels about it is guilt and anguish. She can't fully enjoy her exciting new life with boyfriend Ethan, haunted as she is by memories of the past and by her father's shattered state. And then a new threat appears in the form of Ethan's doppelganger, Carwyn, and Lucie realizes that even what little safety and happiness she now has could be taken from her.
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By Neal Shusterman

download_15(This review contains spoilers.)

"I can't remember when this journey began," Caden Bosch tells us, near the start of Neal Shusterman's "Challenger Deep." "It's like I've always been here, except that I couldn't have been, because there was a before, just last week or last month or last year. I'm pretty certain that I'm still fifteen, though. Even if I've been on board this wooden relic of a ship for years, I'm still fifteen. Time is different here. It doesn't move forward; it sort of moves sideways, like a crab."

The journey that Caden is describing isn't exactly what it seems. Though he describes the ship in vivid detail, along with the captain, the crew, and even the captain's parrot, the truth is that none of it is real. Caden Bosch is in fact an ordinary American 15-year-old boy in an ordinary family, going to an ordinary school. But what's happening in his mind is anything but ordinary. Caden is suffering from severe mental illness, and his imaginary life on the ship is his mind's way of interpreting what's happening to him.
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By Kristen Britain

51rNq5PjmL._SX300_BO1204203200_If your teens love fantasy, adventure, and a strong female protagonist, then they're in for a “wild ride” with Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series. (They'll get the joke when they read the books . . . let’s just say there’s magic involved.)

The series, which consists of five books and one more to be released this time next year, is an epic fantasy adventure based in a medieval world called Sacoridia. When our story begins in Book One, it’s been nearly two hundred years since the Long War, a period of chaos and violence. We’re in a time of relative peace and prosperity when we meet Karigan G’ladheon. But that peace is certainly short-lived for poor Karigan.

When she’s suspended from her private school for winning a fistfight with a pompous peer, Karigan runs away. She plans to embark on the small adventure of a few days’ walk home and never expects to encounter real peril.
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By Sharon Cameron

519Tou8JsgL._SX347_BO1204203200_Unfolding in the distant future, Sharon Cameron's "Rook" is set in a world that, many centuries ago, was all but destroyed by polar shifts. The world plummeted into another dark age and, as time passed and countries and cultures started to re-emerge, history began to repeat itself. The one main difference is that, in this new, old world, any advancements in technology are scorned, feared, and forbidden. The technology of “The Ancients” is blamed for the destruction of the world so many centuries ago, and considered dangerous.

Eighteen-year-old Sophia Bellamy lives with her brother, Tom, and their ailing father in The Commonwealth. In the land that used to be known as England, more and more members of the shrinking upper class are driven into poverty as land and business laws and taxes become increasingly stringent. Meanwhile, across the sea, the Sunken City -- once known as Paris -- is in the throes of political upheaval and revolution, the cliffs seeming to echo with the voices and sounds of the French Revolution from long ago.

As the world around her is falling apart, Sophia’s chance for a personal future of her choosing is also destroyed when her father arranges a marriage for her to René Hasard. His family fortune could save the Bellamys from ruin, but his arrogance and buffoonery prove endlessly exasperating for smart, pragmatic, and resourceful Sophia.

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