Life As We Knew It – Susan Beth Pfeffer

What happens when an asteroid crashes into the moon and shifts it closer to the Earth? Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and volcanic dust are only some of the results of this disaster. The 15- year-old narrator is Miranda, who lives in a rural area of the US. As she details all the struggles she and her family have to survive, I found myself (when involuntarily pulled out of the book) checking outside to see if the air was clear of volcanic ash and the sun was still shining. Utterly captivating, mesmerizing and inspiring, I stayed up till 3am reading this book (the first time I read it). (submitted by SB)

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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – Betty Smith

I loved this book. It is an honest coming-of-age-story about a young girl. I loved the multicultural setting of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the height of immigration to New York City.  An American classic, much better than the movie. Such a delightful read! (submitted by JM)

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Storm Glass – Maria V. Snyder

A great story about a girl who feels overlooked and wants more responsibility and magical ability.  It is a refreshing read, light yet action packed.  There is a slight romantic quality to the book.  I really enjoyed the protagonist’s thought process.  She is by all means an average girl, slightly picked upon by her peers and mildly appreciated by her superiors.  During the course of the novel she begins to understand more about her capabilities, and why others think the way they do about her. First book in the series.  (submitted by CT)

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The Story of Stuff

It’s amazing how shiny new possessions you bring home from the store eventually become trash – at least in North America.  I admire Annie Leonard’s engaging take on how this happens, and how we could – and must – improve the situation.  The huge amount of waste she describes is scary and clearly unsustainable, but she keeps the tone light and constructive.  You may have heard of Leonard through her web videos.  She also hosts a website and blog.  One of her most telling points in the book is that beyond basic needs, owning more stuff does not make you happier.  Europeans are more satisfied with life than Americans, though they have smaller homes and cars, and use less energy.  Keep telling it like it is, Annie!  (submitted by DC)

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Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes

This is the fourth book by Keyes about the Walsh sisters – a wonderfully dysfunctional family of 5 young women and their loving but odd parents. Anna Walsh must return to her family in Ireland to recover from a disfiguring car accident, but she can’t wait to get back to her life in New York as a PR person for Candy Grrrl cosmetics. But when she gets home, Anna can’t figure out why her husband Aiden isn’t returning any of her messages.  Anna’s mum and her scary, beautiful sister Helen are a hoot. Anna’s work for Candy Grrrl also provides a lot of comic relief – Anna is forced to wear “quirky” outfits to work (terrible hats, purses shaped like unpurselike things, pink fishnets) when what she longs for is a charcoal suit. This book is a perfect blend of heartbreak and hilarity. (submitted by GH)

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His Majesty’s Dragon – Naomi Novik

Book 1 of the Temeraire series. This book is great for fantasy fans and fans of alternate histories. I’m actually not a big fan of either, but I still LOVE this series.  I found the premise very intriguing – what if dragons had existed during the Napoleonic Wars and the British and French used them as an Air Corps? When Captain Will Laurence’s ship captures a French frigate with a dragon egg on board, Laurence finds himself swept out of his orderly seafaring life when he is chosen by the hatchling to be its captain. Laurence names the dragon Temeraire and the two bond instantly.  And it’s this bond that makes the series so special. Laurence has to fight against people treating dragons and their captains like second-class citizens in the armed forces – people are still afraid of dragons and the people who ride them are thought of as odd ducks. My verdict? High-flying adventures abound in this tale of a man and his dragon! (submitted by GH)

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