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Juvenile Fiction Selection: The Charming Life of Izzy Malone

Izzy Malone isn't your typical middle schooler.  She's kind of a class outcast, the only girl in her school who isn't interested in clothes or boys.  Instead, she desperately wants to be part of the after school rowing team.  When her temper gets her into trouble, her parents enroll her in Mrs. Whipple's Earn Your Charm School.  She has to complete certain tasks in order to earn “charms” for her charm bracelet.  Unfortunately, her good intentions go vastly awry.  This contemporary realistic novel will leave you with a smile on your face and looking forward to the next book in the series.  Recommended for grades 4-6.

"Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis" by Timothy Egan

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This is the biography of Edward Curtis, a talented photographer.  His obsession was to photograph and document the American Indian before destruction of their ways. Egan writes is a riveting story of how Curtis spent ten years, sacrificed his marriage and family, finances and health to produce a twenty volume work The North American Indian. The photographs at the end of each chapter are a good accompaniment to the text.

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles

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If you're looking for something to brighten your dreary winter day, pick up Pancol's first English-translated novel. The plot revolves around two sisters - Iris, a glamorous, rich attorney's wife and her plain Jane, bookish sister Jo. The story begins when Jo's husband empties their joint savings account and leaves her for his manicurist, who he runs off to farm crocodiles with in Kenya. Jo is left to pick up the pieces of her life and raise her two daughters, Zoe and Hortense, on the meager salary she makes as a 12th century scholar. Iris and Jo hatch the perfect scheme - Jo will write a medieval historical novel that Iris will take the credit for, thus giving Jo the money she needs and Iris the fame she craves. As in life, things don't go quite as planned and hilarity ensues. It's chick lit done up en Francais; humorous, quite charming and perfect to curl up on the couch with and escape to bright, sunny Paris, if only for a few hundred pages.  

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

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What were the girls of Atomic City working on?  Thousands of young women seeking jobs poured into the newly built industrial complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.  They were sworn to secrecy about their new lives at Oak Ridge.  All they knew was they were working with a product called tubealloy that was part of the “Project” to build the “Gadget”. It was all classified but everyone was happy because they had work and were being well paid.

Then on August 6, 1945, the Oak Ridge workers learned what their efforts had wrought: the explosion of the “Gadget”—the first atomic bomb.  Detonated over Japan to end World War II, the “Gadget” announced to the world that the Atomic Age had arrived.  Fans of World War II will enjoy this book about the young women who helped the war effort by working to develop the first atomic bomb.

American Craftsmen, Tom Doyle

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American Craftsmen is what would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined Seal Team Six. Magic workers have operated in America since its founding, sworn to protect and defend the United States as part of secret military units. Army Captain Dale Morton is one of these elite soldier-magicians—until a Persian sorcerer curses him to madness. Now, convinced that an evil from his family’s past has corrupted the highest echelons of military magic, he must hunt down the traitors that placed him in harm’s way—while protecting the innocent woman he loves and avoiding a fellow Craftsman with a family axe to grind. Fast-paced and engrossing, American Craftsmen will appeal to readers of military thrillers and urban fantasy alike.

Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud

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After a particularly frustrating day, writer Elizabeth Greenwood sat down with a friend and griped about her life, her job, and her six-figure student loan debt. After spinning several increasingly unlikely scenarios for paying back her loans, her friend offered, “Or you could fake your own death.”

The conversation moved on, but the idea stuck, leading Greenwood to investigate the who, how, and—especially—why of “pseudocide.” Her search leads her to a gruff skip-tracer, a jet-setting insurance investigator, a middle-aged lothario who managed to disappear in plain sight, and family members left behind. She learns the worst way to fake your death (drowning), the most common reason to fake your death (money), and the quickest way to get caught (keeping your car).

From New York’s Bear Mountain Bridge to Manila’s black-market bodies, Greenwood leads the reader on a wild tour of the world of death fraud, introducing us to death fakers, the people who help them, and the authorities who hunt them. 

Funny Teen Fiction: Croak

Fed up with her wild behavior, sixteen-year-old Lex's parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape.  Uncle Mort is not a farmer, but actually a Grim Reaper and he's going to teach Lex the family business.  

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