Rebecca's Picks

Rebecca is a math and literacy teacher who has recently left the classroom to tutor kids by night and sell books by day.  Her favorite things are learning, music, and delight; her favorite books are non-fiction science and nature, memoir, and kids' fiction.  Her pets are a cat named Tigger, and (of late) a mud-dauber wasp and two cribellate orb-weaver spiders.

Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
An Unkindness of Ghosts Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781617755880
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Akashic Books - October 3rd, 2017

If you are trying to decide whether to read An Unkindness of Ghosts, look at the cover.  Would you like to get to know the woman pictured there? She is not going to entertain you, and if her look is too intense, better stay away. But she will speak truth to you, a difficult, messy truth. This book is more than ambitious; it is the debut of the year. The author is absolutely certain of every step, every risk. It's strange, raw, a little mad, harshly sane.

Aster lives on a generational spaceship en route to a promised new planetary home. The decks of the Matilda are segregated in every way, with each deck virtually sealed off from the others, with its own dialect, customs, and knowledge; the upper decks are populated by the wealthy and pale, and each deck lower becomes progressively poorer and populated by darker-skinned people. Aster, a denizen of Q deck, is the assistant to the ship's surgeon, which gives her much more freedom than most to move between decks, while her deckmates are slaves in the great fields that feed the entire ship. When Aster discovers clues to her mother's suicide, her quest to understand what happened leads her to realizations that will  alter the course of history. With parallels to today's world by turns uncomfortable, illuminating, painful, and hopeful, Aster's tale is full of metaphor and meaning.


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
In Other Lands Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781618731203
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Big Mouth House - August 15th, 2017

"So far magic school was total rubbish."

Do you want something different? Something wickedly funny? Something that grinds up YA tropes and serves up delicious rainbow meatloaf?

With minimalist worldbuilding and maximum subversiveness, it is billed as a young adult book, but I think it might be even more enjoyed by old adults.  Like all the best satire, it has an earnest heart, as does Elliot, the oft-obnoxious main character.  And did I say that it is FUNNY?  Because I'm trying to think of adjectives and all I can come up with is hahahahaha!  (shriek) ahahaha!


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
Feed Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780763662622
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - July 17th, 2012

Savagely skewering consumerist culture, frenetically funny, M.T. Anderson gives us the mother of all dystopian futures in this compelling satire.  About a hundred years from now, most people have the Internet right in their brains (the feed) and are accustomed to a constant onslaught of marketing tailored to their own emotions and experiences.  It's an intense story that will stick with you.
 


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
The Wee Free Men Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780062435262
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - September 1st, 2015

A 9-year-old witch rescues her brother with the aid of a band of 6-inch-tall blue men called Pictsies. The girl, Tiffany, doesn't know any magic. Armed only with a frying pan, her power comes from using her brain - learning, thinking, seeing, and reflecting. An awesome heroine in a funny, smart, creative, thought-provoking book!


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
If the Magic Fits Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780553533699
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Yearling Books - July 25th, 2017

If you like the cover, you'll love this enchanting book!  Darling, the heroine, discovers a trove of dresses that each turn the wearer into a different person. When a plot threatens the castle denizens, she uses her disguises, courage, and some help from her friends to embark on an adventure and save the day. It's a compelling, well-paced, gentle tale, with well-drawn characters of all ages -- plus there are the hundred magical dresses, described in gorgeous detail, which might well inspire many readers to try their hand at fashion design.  
 


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
Beast Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781101937167
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - October 11th, 2016

What is the difference between our bodies and our identities? How are we affected when society seems to box us in based on our appearances? Beast deftly explores these issues while being at heart an engaging love story that perfectly portrays the dizzying realities of a blossoming emotional and physical intimacy between two people.  I was so involved with the characters' emotions, I couldn't put it down. 


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
Jane, Unlimited Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780803741492
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Kathy Dawson Books - September 19th, 2017

Want something different?  Here is an ambitious, audacious, intelligent, wild ride of a novel by the acclaimed author of Graceling.  Jane is a girl who wonders if she is living the wrong version of her life; an invitation to a mysterious island mansion called Tu Reviens might just help her answer that question.  Many layers, many genres, many possibilities are woven into this exciting literary adventure.

 

 


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
Ramona Blue Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062418357
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - May 9th, 2017

This story, populated by sympathetic and interesting characters, is about love  –  between sisters, between old friends, between sweethearts, between people who may not even like each other all that much. It is also about identity, about boxes, and how real life and the people who love you can challenge you to be your true self. Ramona, competent and strong, is still only 17, and Ramona Blue is as insightful a depiction of 17 as I've ever read. I highly recommend it.

 


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
The Black Witch: An Epic Fantasy Novel Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780373212316
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harlequin Teen - May 2nd, 2017

This book does what the very best fantasy should do – teach us about our own world.  I wish everyone would read this extraordinary book about the ingrained complexities of prejudice and the power of education.  "Real education doesn't make your life easy. It complicates things and makes everything messy and disturbing. But the alternative, Elloren Gardner, is to live your life based on injustice and lies."  It isn’t preachy, and it’s often not pretty – but it’s exciting, realistic, powerful, and hopeful. 


Reviewed by: 
Rebecca
Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women Cover Image
By Susan Burton, Cari Lynn, Michelle Alexander (Introduction by)
$25.95
ISBN: 9781620972120
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Press - May 9th, 2017

This is the life story of Susan Burton, from her childhood in Watts and decades in and out of prison, to recovery and her powerful, inspiring life now as a pioneer in the justice reform movement.  It reads almost like a harrowing adventure through deserts and over mountains, except that the deserts are historical and the mountains are political.  It's food for empathy; gripping, unflinching, eye-opening, and encouraging.


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