Boot Camp by Todd Strasser

Synopsis: Sent to a teen boot camp for falling in love with his teacher, Garrett fights to keep his integrity through beatings and psychological torture, while planning his escape. Review: Boot Camp was titillating and highly readable, but I don’t know that I’d recommend it. It just felt so extreme, not just in its depiction of the boot camp but in the characterizations and plot. It definitely kept me hooked in, but when it was over I didn’t feel like it rocked my world. Share…

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Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis: After dying in a car crash, popular high school senior Samantha has to re-live Cupid day, facing up to her own weaknesses and those of her best friends, and finding a hope that fuels her will to find out how she can avert her own inevitable fate. Review: Before I Fall was recommended to me by YA book reviewer extraordinaire Renee Fountain, whose site Book Fetish is chock-a-block with a wonderfully diverse assortment of reviews. I had a lovely breakfast with Renee and enjoyed…

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Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Synopsis: Chloe’s always admired her older sister, but when Ruby shows up with a girl who was dead the last time Chloe saw her, Chloe starts to fear that her sister can do anything–absolutely anything–she wants, no matter what Chloe or anybody else thinks about it. Review: Both Ruby and Chloe are compelling characters, for completely different reasons, and that’s what makes Imaginary Girls so successful. Ruby is obsessed with Olive, a town buried under a reservoir thanks to some eminent domain shenanigans in the…

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Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

Synopsis: One family’s attempt to eat locally for a calendar year. Review: I am a bit late to the game in reviewing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I’d read so much about the book that I couldn’t really imagine how it could be more than just “eat local food in season, it’s better for you and better for the planet.” Color me apologetic for my arrogance–the book (and website) are packed with so much useful information that even a city girl like me felt empowered to eat…

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The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Synopsis: Hazel and Augustus have terminal cancer–but that won’t stop them from falling in love. Review: I just can’t do justice to The Fault in Our Stars with a simple logline. Hazel and Augustus are simply two of the most original, quirky, lovable, real, charming, intelligent characters I’ve found in YA fiction–and that’s saying a lot, because I read a lot of awesome YA fiction. The competition is fierce for awesomest couple ever, but Hazel and Augustus win hands down. I loved them, I loved…

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Fracture by Megan Miranda

Synopsis: Dead for 11 minutes after crashing through an icy lake, Delaney now finds herself inexplicably drawn to people who are dying–with frightening results. Review: Fracture has the kind of premise that makes me nervous that I’m just going to end up skimming the thing because I can guess everything that’s about to happen. I’m not going to say that this was the most innovative plot I’ve ever encountered, but it had its share of surprises, not to mention some great sexual tension between Delaney…

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Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton

Synopsis: A memoir by the chef-owner of Prune in New York City’s East Village. Review: I loved Blood, Bones, and Butter, and not just because I have eaten at Prune. Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir is more than just a restaurant tale–it’s an eyewitness account of the gentrification of both New York City, and of a street smart, fearless woman with a work ethic you just won’t believe. My favorite section of the book was an extended musing on what it means to be a “woman chef.”…

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Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

Synopsis: Essays from the chef, commentator, and food chronicler who wrote Kitchen Confidential. Review: I picked up Medium Raw through a sale on Audible, drawn in by the chance to hear Anthony Bourdain read his own book. I really really like the sound of his voice, except for the way he pronounces “restaurant” to rhyme with “runt.” (Or another word he’s really fond of that I won’t type here.) I enjoyed but didn’t love it. I was promised way more Top Chef trivia than I…

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When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley

Synopsis: A homeschooling widow with six kids finds her life thrown into chaos when her pastor announces the whole church is moving to another town–and she doesn’t want to go. Review: I just loved When Sparrows Fall. It’s the rare book about Christians that manages to portray a life of faith while still remembering that the characters are people, too. It was critical of things that are wrong in certain sectors of Christianity without condemning the faith as a whole. And the details brought to…

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