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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Desert Angel
by Price, Charlie

Publishers Weekly Price (The Interrogation of Gabriel James) delivers a visceral thriller that starts with the murder of 14-year-old Angel's mother and ratchets up the tension from there. Angel finds her mother's body and vows to escape Scotty, the latest in a line of abusive men her mother had been involved with. After Scotty's failed attempt to burn her alive in his trailer, in the remote southwestern desert, Angel makes her way to a neighboring home, where she soon finds help in the form of Rita, a Head Start worker in a nearby town who takes in a reluctant Angel. The story doesn't shy away from the horror of the violence Scotty inflicts, killing animals and those who help Angel, while she contemplates taking revenge on her mother's murderer and worries about the repercussions of drawing Scotty closer to her newfound family. Price's pacing is tight, aided by direct, clipped prose that underscores Scotty's brutality and Angel's fragile emotional state. Both the best and worst of humanity shine through in this gripping novel. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Angel's life is a nightmare. Her mother drinks and does drugs and her mother's boyfriend, Scotty, sexually abuses her. One morning after a night of hiding from him in the desert, Angel returns home to find that he has killed her mother and has been waiting so he can murder her, too. Angel barely escapes, but since Scotty is an expert tracker, the hunt has only just begun. During her flight, she meets people who put themselves in danger to protect her, acts of kindness that the untrusting 14-year-old cannot understand. As these caring folks keep shielding her from Scotty, who always seems to know where she is, Angel struggles with the danger she's putting them in and she wonders if she would be better off on her own. She begins to realize that no matter how worthless she feels, she needs and deserves love and that she is important to others. The story is a fast-paced adventure with an interesting premise, but at times it's hard to believe that so many strangers would risk their lives to hide the teen in their homes. Fans of dramatic, high-adrenaline books with hard-knocked protagonists might enjoy the basic premise.-Traci Glass, Eugene Public Library, OR (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list From Night of the Hunter to countless westerns, the theme of a bad man coming is a powerful one: there is an unstoppable force on its way to deliver a brutal reckoning, and the fun is in watching the heroes try (in vain) to avoid the final battle. Price's fast, sharp, unsentimental contribution follows 14-year-old Angel, on the run since a villain named Scotty (ominously kept offstage for almost the duration of the book) murdered her mother and is now coming after Angel to wipe up the last bit of evidence. After racing across the desert, Angel stumbles into the lives of an extended family of immigrants some legal, some not who want to help the shell-shocked, rage-filled girl without putting their own loved ones in danger. Price's biggest curve is turning the hunted into the hunter after Angel decides that she must find Scotty first. Never showy, this is hard, gritty realism, and Price's depiction of the twitchy psyche of an abused girl is dead-on. Serious thriller fans will be more than satisfied.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Billions of Years, Amazing Changes: The Story of Evolution
by Laurence Pringle

Publishers Weekly Pringle provides an accessible introduction to complex concepts such as natural selection and genetics, paired with Jenkins's characteristically elegant collages. A chapter about variation opens with a discussion of the differences between dog breeds, and how such variation within a species "makes evolution possible." Pringle describes missing links as "in-between" fossils that have helped construct a clearer picture of evolutionary stages. Compelling photographs of fossils and living creatures, as well as Jenkins's paper collages, augment the substantial text. The presentation should help children gain a confident grasp on the fundamentals of evolution. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Pringle's exemplary title offers a carefully researched and clearly written history of the evolutionary process and real-time examples of evolutionary events. "Evolution is, simply, change over time." From floating continents and isolated islands to the formation of fossils, natural selection, and the deductions of Charles Darwin, the lucid text offers a clear understanding of an ongoing natural phenomenon and the light that recent discoveries have brought to bear on it. Clear, color photos complement the text, as does Jenkins's nifty artwork. Pale blue information boxes pop up on occasion, as do a couple of maps. Simpler, and far more lively than Thom Holmes's dry Evolution (Chelsea House, 2011), more difficult than Steve Jenkins's own elegant Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution (Houghton Harcourt, 2002), and more solid than Robert Winston's somewhat fragmentary Evolution Revolution (DK, 2009), Pringle's intelligent and eye-catching book is an engaging, readable lodestone for researchers.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list This ambitious book surveys the history of scientific discoveries related to the evolution of species on earth. It begins with early geologists puzzled by fossil remains of extinct animals and evidence that the earth must be older than previously thought. After presenting Darwin's research and his theory of evolution, the discussion moves on to topics such as genetics, the discovery of various missing links, the development of species on isolated islands, and evolution as an ongoing process, expressed today through drug-resistant bacteria and a new study of Galapagos finches. The historical organization of material works well, and Pringle writes clearly, though a few chapters, such as the one on variation, would benefit from fuller, more precise explanation. Colorfully illustrated throughout, the book includes many photos from different sources and some handsome images created by cut-paper collage artist Jenkins. Using early discoveries as a foundation for those that follow, Pringle builds a solid presentation of evolution as a pivotal idea and an ongoing field of scientific study.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog And The Good News Is . . .
by Dana Perino


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Do Unto Others
by Jeff Abbott

Publishers Weekly Abbott's debut mystery is a bright, often funny portrayal of the social mechanics of a small town, where, as the narrator/accused/detective quickly discovers, everyone has something to hide. Jordan Poteet has left a thriving publishing career back East to return to his home town in Mirabeau, Texas-a town as backward and insulated as any cliché-to care for his ailing mother and work as the local librarian. Quickly, Jordan is accused of the gruesome murder of a nasty, churchgoing town elder who is at odds with the library's ``liberal'' policies. With a redneck assistant D.A. on his heels, Jordan tries to prove his innocence. Abbott is highly skilled and at ease with the twang and tone of Texas folk and often seems in control of his story. The problem is Abbott has stuffed his relatively short book full-too full. He covers almost every hot topic from censorship to religious fanaticism to Alzheimer's to blackmail. The cast of characters is so vast that Abbott is forced to rehash his hero's suspect list more than once, and though the sweetly handled and satisfying romantic subplot stands out, more often readers will find themselves lost in a sea of personalities. While often engaging, Abbott simply weaves too large a web for a small-town tale. It's a little hard to imagine how this once-in-a-lifetime will translate into the series promised by the cover. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Jeff Abbott's Do Unto Others (Ballantine. 1994. ISBN 0-345-38948-4. pap. $6.50) introduces small-town head librarian (though non-MLS) Jordan Poteet, who leaves a Boston publishing job for his Texas home town to care for his ailing mother. Jordan's run-in with local gadfly and ex-library board member Beta Harcher over removing "smut" from the shelves takes an ugly turn when Harcher is found beaten to death in the library. The weapon, a baseball bat, bears Jordan's fingerprints. Fortunately for Jordan, the victim left a list of other potential suspects complete with topical Bible verses. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list When his mama gets Alzheimer's and needs a caregiver, Jordan Poteet leaves his job in Boston to go home to Mirabeau, Texas. Luckily, the job as head of the Mirabeau library opens up, so even though Jordy doesn't have an MLS (gasp!), he's hired. Local harpy Beta Harcher immediately jumps on Jordy's case about the library's owning smut by authors like Twain, Lawrence, and Hawthorne. Unfortunately, the day after she and Jordy have a big argument, the woman is found bludgeoned to death, and Jordy ends up tops on Sheriff "Junebug" Moncrief's suspect list. Jordy knows he didn't kill Beta, and he doesn't want to end up in the pokey, so he decides to find the murderer. Abbott's writing is folksy and full of cornpone humor, and the plot is one of those every-small-town-has-secrets types, but there are some nice comic touches, Jordy is a likable fellow, the action is flashy, and the ending is heartwarming. And it's always nice to encounter a librarian-sleuth, even one sadly lacking in professional credentials. ~--Emily ~Melton

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Paradise
by Toni Morrison


Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Empire Falls
by Richard Russo

Library Journal "Elijah Whiting...had not succeeded in killing his wife with a shovel, nor had he recovered from the disappointment." These lines from the prolog of Russo's (Straight Man) latest novel prove prototypical. A keen observer of human nature, Russo explores the tragicomic realities of life in a small mill town in central Maine whose best days are behind. Miles Roby is a basically decent guy who runs the Empire Grill for the widow of the last Whiting male (who shot himself when he, too, couldn't recover from his failure to dispatch his wife). Miles's own wife has left him for a sleazy gym owner, and his angst-ridden teenage daughter has befriended a sullen, ominously silent classmate shunned by the rest of his peers. Meanwhile, his ne'er-do-well father is in the process of trying to con a senile old priest into financing his annual jaunt to Key West. As the world careens around him and his fellow townfolk, Miles is trying desperately to figure out what went wrong and the answers, both complicated and simple, seem to lie mostly in the house across the river in which Mrs. Whiting resides. Russo has constructed a sensitive, endearingly oddball portrait of small-town life, a wonderful story that should appeal to a wide audience. Especially appropriate for public and larger academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly In his biggest, boldest novel yet, the much-acclaimed author of Nobody's Fool and Straight Man subjects a full cross-section of a crumbling Maine mill town to piercing, compassionate scrutiny, capturing misfits, malefactors and misguided honest citizens alike in the steady beam of his prose. Wealthy, controlling matriarch Francine Whiting lives in an incongruous Spanish-style mansion across the river from smalltown Empire Falls, dominated by a long-vacant textile mill and shirt factory, once the center of her husband's family's thriving manufacturing dominion. In his early 40s, passive good guy Miles Roby, the son of Francine's husband's long-dead mistress, seems helpless to escape his virtual enslavement as longtime proprietor of the Whiting-owned Empire Grill, the town's most popular eatery, which Francine has promised to leave him when she dies. Miles's wife, Janine, is divorcing him and has taken up with an aging health club entrepreneur. In her senior year in high school, their creative but lonely daughter, Tick, is preoccupied by her parents' foibles and harassed by the bullying son of the town's sleazy cop who, like everyone else, is a puppet of the domineering Francine. Struggling to make some sense of her life, Tick tries to befriend a boy with a history of parental abuse. To further complicate things, Miles's brother, David, is suspected of dealing marijuana, and their rascally, alcoholic father is a constant annoyance. Miles and David's secret plan to open a competing restaurant runs afoul of Francine just as tragedy erupts at the high school. Even the minor members of Russo's large cast are fully fleshed, and forays into the past lend the narrative an extra depth and resonance. When it comes to evoking the cherished hopes and dreams of ordinary people, Russo is unsurpassed. (May) Forecast: A 100,000-copy first printing of this impressive effort would probably fly off shelves even without the support of a 16-city author tour, national advertising and promotion, national media appearances, bookmarks, posters and a reading group guide. Returning with a flourish to familiar smalltown territory after his foray into academia with Straight Man, Russo could make a splash on big-city bestseller lists. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list In a warmhearted novel of sweeping scope, Russo animates the dead-end small town of Empire Falls, Maine, long abandoned by the logging and textile industries that provided its citizens with their livelihood. Miles Roby surveys his hometown with bemused regret from the Empire Grill, owned by a local magnate but run by him ever since he was called home from college to take care of his ailing mother. His daily parade of customers provides him with ample evidence of both the restrictions and forced intimacy of small-town life and has left him with a deep appreciation for irony: his ex-wife's new paramour, "the Silver Fox," has suddenly become a loyal customer and is constantly challenging him to an arm-wrestling contest; his father, always a day late and a dollar short, has talked a senile priest into running off to Key West for the winter (where they tie for first place in the local Hemingway look-alike contest); and the diner owner's daughter, apprised of Miles' impending divorce, is forever trying to engulf him in a teary embrace. Russo follows up his rollicking academic satire, Straight Man (1997), with a return to the blue-collar milieu featured in his first three novels and once again shows an unerring sense of the rhythms of small-town life, balancing his irreverent, mocking humor with unending empathy for his characters and their foibles. --Joanne WilkinsonAdult Books Young adult recommendations in this issue have been contributed by the Books for Youth editorial staff and by reviewers Nancy Bent, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, Elizabeth Drennan, Connie Fletcher, Sharon Greene, Leone McDermott, Karen Simonetti, Candace Smith, Daniel Winslow, and Linda Zeilstra. Titles recommended for teens are marked with the following symbols: YA, for books of general YA interest; YA/C, for books with particular curriculum value; YA/L, for books with a limited teenage audience; YA/M, for books best suited to mature teens.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Scientific America Young Readers Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Calculus Made Easy
by Silvanus P. Thompson

Book list Thompson has rescued three generations of math students from the vexations of calculus. Now Gardner has applied his acclaimed gifts as a science writer in revising Thompson's classic work, writing new chapters on functions and limits, updating symbols, and adding a delightful appendix of recreational problems. The revisions naturally ease the way for frustrated students looking for help with problems. But the title still does not do justice to this improved work, which provides more than how-to assistance. In addition to helping students reach the right answers, this book opens new mental vistas for readers previously afraid of or hostile to higher mathematics. So while many readers will be thankfully digging out useful tricks of calculation, others will be marveling at the discoveries that first made possible a mathematics of change. So long as students struggle with advanced math, looking for quick answers or deeper insights, public libraries will see demand for this volume--especially around exam time. --Bryce Christensen

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
by Ben Fountain

Library Journal Lots of underground anticipation for this first novel from PEN/Hemingway winner Fountain, helped by this movie pitch: "A Catch-22 for our time." (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Written in a voice that is at once hopeful, cautious, naive, profoundly wise, and completely lost yet utterly knowing, Fountain's most recent work of fiction delivers a brilliant, powerful examination of how modern warfare affects soldiers back at home. Billy Lynn is 19 and already a war hero after footage of a fierce battle between his squad and Iraqi insurgents went viral. Briefly back from Iraq on a victory tour through the states, the young Silver Star winner lives an entire lifetime over the course of one day, Thanksgiving, while he and his more worldly Bravo Squad members are feted by a deliriously grateful and mostly misunderstanding public. Attending a Dallas Cowboys game, Billy Lynn and Bravo Squad must juggle the possibility of endless love with cheerleaders, Hollywood producers seeking to make a movie about them, football players morbidly curious about what it's like to kill another human being, and all the conflicting emotions, thoughts, and actions each of them experiences while back in the land of sports mania, mass consumerism, and coveted yet fleeting fame before they return to the war itself. Billy's journey carries the reader along with its richly detailed, pitch-perfect language and characterizations, leaving an indelible impression.--Trevelyan, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Billy Lynn is a member of Bravo Company, which acquitted itself heroically in a deadly confrontation early in the Iraq War. An embedded reporter captured the battle on widely broadcast video. Now, on the last day of a victory tour, an insane PR event put on by the army, the company is at a Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving football game. Native Texan Billy has been deeply affected by the death of squad leader Shroom, who gave him books to read and challenged him to think about what he was doing with his life. During a brief stop at home, Billy's sister urges him to refuse to return to Iraq. Billy also meets one of the fabled Cowboys cheerleaders, with whom he improbably forms an immediate and passionate connection, something that has opened a door to the possibility of a new, more hopeful life. But though Billy has had his eyes opened, in many ways he and his company are happier and feel more purposive as soldiers. VERDICT Employing intricate detail and feverish cinematography, Fountain's (Brief Encounters with Che Guevara: Stories) vividly written novel is an allegorical hero's journey, a descent into madness, and a mirror held up to this society's high-definition TV reality. Tragically unhinged, it also rings completely, hilariously true. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/11.]-Jim Coan, SUNY at Oneonta (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Unfolding over the course of one Thanksgiving Day, Fountain's (Brief Encounters with Che Guevara) second novel follows Bravo Company, the eight survivors of a savage clash with Iraqi insurgents, on the last leg of their government-sponsored "Victory Tour" in this witty and ironic sendup of middle America, Fox News politics, and, of all things, football. One minute, the soldiers are drinking Jack and Cokes, mobbed by hordes of well-wishers demanding autographs and seeking "the truth" about what's "really going on" over there; the next, they're in the bowels of Texas Stadium, reluctantly hobnobbing with the Dallas Cowboys and their cheerleaders, brokering a movie deal with a smarmy Hollywood producer, and getting into a drunken scuffle with the stadium's disgruntled road crew, all in a series of uncomfortable scenes that border on the farcical. Texan Billy Lynn is the 19-year-old hero who learns about life and himself on his visit home to his family, and the palpable camaraderie between soldiers ground the book. But despite much valid pontificating on what it means to be a soldier and the chasm that exists between the American public's perception of the war and the blunt reality of it, the often campy writing style and canned dialogue ("We, like, we wanna do somethin' like you. Extreme, you know, cap some Muslim freaks...") prevents the message from being delivered effectively. Agent: Heather Schroder, ICM. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Joyful Noise
by Paul Fleischman

Publishers Weekly In resonant voices and striking use of language, this 1989 Newbery Medal-winner explores the various sounds and concerns of the insect world. All ages. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly In resonant voices and striking use of language, this 1989 Newbery Medal-winner explores the various sounds and concerns of the insect world. All ages. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.