Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Bandits Peak

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[As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.] Bandits Peak; by Chris Eboch. Pig River Press, 2015. 173pp. ISBN 0-978-0692346006. Paper ed. $9.99 Jesse is out for a wander in the wilderness he loves […]

Review of Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep jacket

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman; illus. by Brendan Shusterman High School   HarperTeen   318 pp. 4/15   978-0-06-113411-1   $17.99   g e-book 978-0-06-223172-7   $9.99 This novel is a challenge to the reader from its first lines: author Shusterman takes us into the seemingly random, rambling, and surreal fantasies of fifteen-year-old Caden Bosch (yes, it makes sense to associate […]

Five questions for Neal Shusterman

Brendan and Neal Shusterman.

Neal Shusterman’s novel Challenger Deep (HarperTeen, 14 years and up) is a swirling, surrealistic look inside the mind of one teen, Caden, who is struggling with mental illness. Chapters narrated by Caden alternate between a bizarre shipboard setting and the world we know, all viewed through the teen’s sometimes impenetrable perspective. It’s a very personal […]

Truth, lies, and secrets

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Adolescence is a time of self-discovery — and of deciding how much of that self to reveal to others. These new YA books explore themes of honesty and dishonesty, secret selves and public personas. When compiling the book Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves, editor Ann Angel asked contributors to write “about […]

Review of The Walls Around Us

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The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma High School   Algonquin   321 pp. 3/15   978-1-61620-372-6   $17.95   g e-book ed. 978-1-61620-486-0   $17.95 Orianna Speerling — the so-called “Bloody Ballerina” — is just fifteen when she is convicted of murdering two rival dancers. A month after her sentence begins, all forty-two girls interned at the Aurora Hills […]

Diverted: A Bostonian dystopia

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It was dawn. It was time for the Waiting. Three hundred thousand were Waiting. Some waited for Buses, some waited for Trains that would become Buses. Some tried different routes, and some gave up hope and called Ubers. But many remained. Most remembered the days before The Big One. The days when roads had lanes […]

Review of Tomboy

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Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince; illus. by the author Middle School, High School   Zest Books   256 pp. 9/14   Paper ed. 978-1-936976-55-3   $15.99 e-book ed. 978-1-936976-56-0   $15.99 “When you don’t look or act like what everyone has been told is the norm, you get proverbially barfed on a lot.” In an often funny, sometimes […]

Reading rainbow? Not quite

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Yo, Marsala, I’m happy for you, I’ma let you finish — but Eggplant is the real Color of the Year. At least according to this entire shelf of purple-jacketed books.

Review of I Was Here

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I Was Here by Gayle Forman High School    Viking    272 pp. 1/15    978-0-451-47147-5    $18.99    g Meg Garcia is brilliant and passionate — a standout in her dead-end Washington State hometown and a constant in best friend Cody’s unstable life. But just months after escaping to college on a prestigious scholarship, Meg checks into a motel […]

Most popular boys’ names 2025?

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I read a lot of supernatural romance YA — for the Mag, for the Guide, and for fun — and I’ve been noticing how many dreamy guys in recent series are named either Jared or Cole. Bonus points for a Jared/Cole in a love triangle with the female protagonist, or if the protagonist and said […]