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13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough. October 3, 2017. Flatiron Books, 352 p. ISBN: 9781250123855.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

Natasha’s sure that her friends love her. But does that mean they didn’t try to kill her?

Natasha doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy water that night, but she does know this—it wasn’t an accident, and she wasn’t suicidal. Her two closest friends are acting strangely, and Natasha turns to Becca, the best friend she dumped years before when she got popular, to help her figure out what happened.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Strong sexual themes, Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, Slur against mentally disabled people

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (September 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 2))
Grades 9-12. Becca and Tasha were childhood best friends, but now, in sixth form, Tasha is the ringleader of a trio of popular mean girls Becca dismissively calls the Barbies. Yet when Becca hears that Tasha is in the hospital after being revived from near drowning, she goes to see her former friend. Oddly, Tasha now wants to reconnect with her, even confiding in Becca that she suspects the Barbies are complicit in Tasha’s brush with death. The intrigue unfolds through a third-person narrative that alternates with snippets from therapy sessions, text conversations, news reports, and Tasha’s diary entries. Although the tone and vocabulary of these narrative voices could be interchangeable, it’s a device that facilitates some dandy plot twists. Pinborough gets the overwrought drama of teen friendships right, capturing both Becca’s intense feelings and her keen intelligence as she struggles to make sense of a string of seemingly unrelated tragic events. Readers drawn to the kind of debauched chicanery made popular in novels such as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl (2012) will tear through this edgy thriller.

Kirkus Reviews (August 1, 2017)
Tasha doesn’t remember the circumstances following her near drowning, so she enlists Becca’s help in investigating whether foul play was involved.Tasha’s the undisputed queen of the trio of sixth-form girls known around school as the Barbies for their focus on appearances and their general mean-girl behaviors. So it’s surprising that it’s Becca, Tasha’s former best friend, ostracized years ago for her weight, whom Tasha gathers to her side after the drowning. That a near-death experience might cause Tasha to re-examine her friendships seems plausible, especially considering the suspicious behaviors of the other two Barbies, Jenny and Hayley. Transcripts of the girls’ text messages even reveal—to readers—that Jenny and Hayley are far from real friends to Tasha. This initially detracts from the suspense as readers will quickly decide Jenny and Hayley are guilty. But soon Becca and Tasha’s investigation into the world of white, middle-class teen insecurities, betrayals, manipulations, sex, and drug use becomes darkly fascinating on its own. Characters’ desperation for attention lead them to accept treating others badly as the cost of winning Tasha’s affection (or at least avoiding her scorn). And when another student’s sudden death prompts Becca to take the investigation in a surprising new direction, the mystery’s tension ratchets up again. Red herrings lead to a satisfying conclusion in this British import. (Mystery. 14-18)

About the Author

Sarah Pinborough is the award-winning, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes was praised by Stephen King, Joe Hill, Harlan Coben, and The New York Times Book Review, among others. 13 Minutes has been optioned by Netflix.

Sarah lives in London. Her website is www.sarahpinborough.com

Around the Web

13 Minutes on Amazon

13 Minutes on Goodreads

13 Minutes on JLG

13 Minutes Publisher Page

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The Takedown by Corrie Wang

The Takedown by Corrie Wang. April  11, 2017. Freeform Books, 384 p. ISBN: 9781484757420.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 740.

It would have been funny, if it just wasn’t.

Kyla Cheng doesn’t expect you to like her. For the record, she doesn’t need you to. On track to be valedictorian, she’s president of her community club and a debate team champ, plus the yummy Mackenzie Rodriguez has firmly attached himself to her hip. She and her three high-powered best friends don’t just own their senior year at their exclusive Park Slope, Brooklyn high school, they practically define the hated species Popular. Kyla’s even managed to make it through high school completely unscathed.

Until someone takes issue with this arrangement.

A week before college applications are due, a video of Kyla “doing it” with her crush-worthy English teacher is uploaded to her school’s website. It instantly goes viral, but here’s the thing: it’s not Kyla in the video. With time running out, Kyla delves into a world of hackers, haters and creepy stalkers in an attempt to do the impossible—take something off the internet—all while dealing with the fallout from her own karmic footprint.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Strong sexual themes, Discussion of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student

 

Video Review

Reviews

Booklist (March 15, 2017 (Online))
Grades 9-12. Park Prep senior Kyla Cheng owns her school: shoo-in for valedictorian, debate team champ, and one of a group of four popular girls who always have one another’s back. She’s also finally snagged the attention of reigning hottie Mac Rodriguez. Then a (fake) video of her having sex with the attractive English teacher turns up online and suddenly Kyla’s facing trouble on every front. Wang’s debut, set in a barely future Brooklyn, hinges on privacy and betrayal, with cleverly placed clues to guide the reader as Kyla searches for her unknown tormentor. Tech geeks will revel in the unapologetic computerspeak that permeates the text, as well as the humorous (and sometimes stereotyped but always positive) depiction of techies, female and male. In Wang’s future world, one’s cell phone takes on primary importance, something most teens can certainly identify with. Snappy dialogue, a keen empathy for the pressure cooker of high school, and a wryly self-conscious narrative tone combine for a page-turner that may feel dated in 10 years but is extremely relevant right now.

Kirkus Reviews (March 1, 2017)
A fresh take on a tired high school trope.Living in a technologically advanced near-future Brooklyn, 17-year-old Kyla Cheng, better known as Kyle, has it all: top grades, popularity, three fabulous best friends, and the attention of Mackenzie Rodriguez. But in one click, she risks losing everything when a video of her and her English teacher having sex surfaces. Even though Kyle knows the video is fake, no one else seems to believe her. As the views reach astronomical heights and Kyle ascends to internet infamy, her only option is to figure out how to take down the video—with or without the help of her friends. A key player in this mystery is the pervasive nature of technology and social media, which has boomed to encompass all aspects of life in the future. Wang brilliantly balances the complexity of lives lived online, teenage relationships and insecurities, and the double standard of slut shaming. In this world, and reflecting demographic projections, most people are multiracial, a fact which is sometimes strangely emphasized. A classmate who has two white parents is mockingly styled “Aryan Audra”; Kyle herself is half Chinese, half French. A thought-provoking, entertaining read, Wang’s debut illustrates a future that is easily conceivable. (Science fiction. 14-18)

About the Author

Corrie Wang owns and operates the award winning untraditional Japanese food truck, Short Grain. She is passionate about libraries, road trips, and eating all the food, everywhere. Before moving to the south, she lived in Brooklyn where one of her last paying gigs was managing a three story nightclub on the Lower East Side. She and her husband, Shuai, currently live in Charleston, SC with their pup, Moose. The Takedown is Corrie’s debut novel.

Her website is www.corriewang.com

Around the Web

The Takedown on Amazon

The Takedown on Goodreads

The Takedown on JLG

The Takedown Publisher Page

Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail

Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail. February 27, 2017. Viking Books for Young Readers, 320 p. ISBN: 9780670013081.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.3;l Lexile: 620.

Gracie has never felt like this before. One day, she suddenly can’t breathe, can’t walk, can’t anything and the reason is standing right there in front of her, all tall and weirdly good-looking: A.J.

It turns out A.J. likes not Gracie but Gracie’s beautiful best friend, Sienna. Obviously Gracie is happy for Sienna. Super happy! She helps Sienna compose the best texts, responding to A.J. s surprisingly funny and appealing texts, just as if she were Sienna. Because Gracie is fine. Always! She’s had lots of practice being the sidekick, second-best.

It s all good. Well, almost all. She’s trying

Potentially Sensitive Areas: None

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 5-8. Eighth-grader Gracie is certain that she likes A.J., but when she learns he likes her best friend, Sienna, she goes all out to help the two get together. She texts him on Sienna’s phone for her as if she were Sienna, and she consults with Emmett, A.J.’s best friend and her neighbor. Emmett and Gracie have been best buds since they were little, and there’s nothing they won’t do for each other. But when Gracie turns 14, she’s not certain if she can handle some of the shifts and changes that begin to take place. This modern, middle-school retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is heartwarming, funny, and tender, offering a story of young love and loyalty, friendship and family. Characters are pitch-perfect for middle-school musings and milieu: a whirlwind of activity and emotional confusion that is the bane and fuel of any early teen’s existence. Call it cute, call it clever—Vail fluently captures the spirit of today’s American middle-schoolers. See Kristina Springer’s Cici Reno (2016) for another tween take on Cyrano.

Horn Book Magazine (January/February, 2017)
As eighth grade comes to a close and her fourteenth birthday approaches, Gracie Grant discovers she has a problem. Out of the blue, Gracie realizes she like-likes longtime and suddenly very attractive classmate AJ Rojanasopondist. But that’s not the problem. AJ like-likes someone, as well–Gracie’s best friend, Sienna. Despite nursing a mild heartache, Gracie sincerely tries to be happy for her bestie, so much so that when Sienna panics about what to say to AJ in a text, Gracie helps compose it for her. Then she writes anotherâç¦and another, until eventually Sienna hands over her phone, and all texting of AJ, to Gracie. As their correspondence unfolds, Gracie is surprised by AJ’s sense of humor, which feels oddly familiar–kind of like Gracie’s close friend Emmett. Guilt over playing Cyrano to Sienna’s Christian, exacerbated by complex family dynamics (Gracie’s sister died as a young child) and Gracie’s tendency to overthink things, makes her prone to brief but intense emotional outbursts and moments of painful awkwardness in nearly all of her relationships. Gracie’s breakneck narration is presented in and out of text messages, folding in an effortlessly diverse cast, including Latina Sienna and Filipino-Israeli Emmett. Through her protagonist’s rollicking commentary, Vail captures the anguish and hilarity at the heart of middle school. anastasia m. collins

About the Author

Rachel Vail is the author of children’s books including Justin Case, Sometimes I’m Bombaloo, and Righty and Lefty. She is also the author of several books for teens and middle grade readers, including If We Kiss, You Maybe, Gorgeous, Wonder, and Never Mind, which she wrote with Avi. Vail was born in New York City and grew up in New Rochelle, NY, just down the street from her future husband, though she didn’t know that until much later. She attended Georgetown University, where she earned her B.A. in English and Theater. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

Her website is www.rachelvail.com.

Around the Web

Well, That Was Awkward on Amazon

Well, That Was Awkward on Goodreads

Well, That Was Awkward on JLG

Well, That Was Awkward Publisher Page