An addictive literary puzzle that introduces an unforgettable young heroine plunged into the twisted world of a secret society with a dark agenda.
Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and on the run, alone on the streets of Philadelphia.
After taking the fall for a rich friend, Lee reluctantly accepts refuge in the Crystal Castle—a cooperative of homeless kids squatting in an austere, derelict building. But homeless kids are disappearing from the streets in suspicious numbers, and Lee quickly discovers that the secret society’s charitable façade is too good to be true. She finds an unexpected ally in Tomi, a young artist and hacker whose knowledge of the Internet’s black market is rivaled only by his ability to break into and out of buildings. From abandoned aquariums to highly patrolled museums to the homes of vacationing Philadelphians, Tomi and Lee can always chart a way to the next, perfect hide-out.
But the harder Lee tries to escape into the unmapped corners of the city, the closer she unwittingly gets to uncovering the disturbing agenda of the very men who pull the strings of the secret society she’s hoped to elude, a group of fanatics obsessed with the secrets encoded in the work of early-twentieth-century artist Marcel Duchamp. What these men want is more twisted than anything Lee could’ve imagined, and they believe Lee holds the key to it all.
The Readymade Thief heralds the arrival of an astoundingly imaginative and propulsive new voice in fiction for fans of Marisha Pessl and Ernest Cline.
About Augustus Rose
Augustus Rose is a novelist and screenwriter. He was born in the northern California coastal town of Bolinas, and grew up there and in San Francisco. He lives in Chicago with his wife, the novelist Nami Mun and their son, and he teaches fiction writing at the University of Chicago.
In this stunning debut, author Bill Beverly delivers a story unlike anything else in fiction: a dark, haunting, literary crime novel that is also a powerful coming-of-age narrative, and one that will be sure to appeal to fans of Richard Price or The Wire.
.Dodgers. is the story of a young man named East who works for an LA drug gang, sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hotheaded younger brother—to kill a witness connected to a major case, who is hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, and over the course of his journey the book brings in elements from a diverse array of genres, ranging from crime fiction to road narrative to coming-of-age novel. Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, .Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.
‘Every road had a number and joined up a hundred times with other roads. He saw how they would go. This was like the mazes they use to do in school while the teacher slept. What they said in school was: Don’t worry. Keep looking at it. You can always get there.’
At only fifteen-years-old, East has been working as a lookout for two years at a Los Angeles drug house in a place known as the Boxes. He’s a tough young man and does his job well but when the established system fails and the house falls to the authorities, East is concerned he won’t be trusted any longer. His uncle, Fin, the drug lord he works for, has a new job for him though: a road trip with a crew of boys to kill a witness before he can testify in rural Wisconsin. While the murder is the objective, this road trip becomes much more a coming-of-age tale (regardless of the fact that these boys are mature beyond their years) when they get a glimpse of a world outside of Los Angeles that they have never seen before.
‘Flight, they called it. One part fear, one part the blindest excitement you’d ever known. It freed you from time, from who you were or the matter of what you’d done. You darted, like a fish away from a net, like a dog outrunning a dogcatcher.’
East has street smarts, there’s no doubt about that, but thrown into a world far different from his own causes him to almost regress and become more childlike and naive than the young man we were first introduced to. He adapts and does so quickly, with his determination to survive anything kicking into gear. In addition to East is Walter who has big dreams with a love of science, Michael Wilson who helps aid the drug runs at UCLA, and East’s thirteen-year-old brother Ty who has quickly become callous and hardhearted from the life he leads. None of the boys get along with one another, not even East and his brother, so they not only have to contend with learning how to navigate a world they’ve never been a part of but curb their conflicts with one another so they can make it there in one piece in order to finish the job. Things don’t exactly go to plan, despite the clear-cut path laid out for them.
Bill Beverly manages to successfully portray a calamitous way of life in an undisclosed time period. The research he conducted on criminal fugitives for his non-fiction book, On the Lam, clearly was utilized in this fictional tale. The aspect of this story that really shined for me were the descriptions of the surroundings and how these boys visualized the simplest of things them through their naiveté. This is not an action-packed story of street crime but is rather a haunting, character driven tale that succeeded in balancing despair and hope in equal measure.
Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.
When Jude's best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.
Now everyone is a suspect--family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that's the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude's got a few skeletons of her own.
About Sherri L. Smith
Sherri L. Smith is the award-winning author of YA novels LUCY THE GIANT, SPARROW, HOT SOUR SALTY SWEET, FLYGIRL and ORLEANS. In October 2015, she makes her middle grade debut with THE TOYMAKER’S APPRENTICE from G.P. Putnam and Sons for Penguin Random House.
Sherri has worked in film, animation, comic books and construction. Her books have been listed as Amelia Bloomer, American Library Association Best Books for Young People, and Junior Library Guild Selections. FLYGIRL was the 2009 California Book Awards Gold Medalist.
She loves her family, travel, chocolate chip cookies, reading, and and a really good cup of tea.
Jude is visiting her estranged father on the East Coast when she receives the call about Maggie. They tell her she committed suicide. That she was found floating in her pool with a belly full of drugs. But that simply doesn’t make sense, because everyone loved Maggie Kim’s vivacious and charismatic attitude; she was a girl who truly had everything to live for. Jude flies back home immersing herself in the mystery surround her death, convinced that it wasn’t suicide and that she’s going to discover the person truly responsible for her death.
‘Maggie Kim was the sun in our universe. We all circle her. Never the other way around. And now that she’s gone, we’re shifting orbits.’
Maggie was Jude’s best friend, however, once her absence becomes all the more apparent, she begins to recognize that Jude wasn’t necessarily Maggie’s best friend. Her group of friends are a diverse bunch that come together to celebrate her life but clash constantly with one another. Maggie was the bond that linked everyone and now that she’s gone, there’s nothing left to keep the friendships from surviving. As Jude begins looking beneath the glossy veneer of Maggie Kim’s life, she starts to realize that there was a reason for it: to cover all those fine cracks hidden just below the surface. All the unexpected secrets slowly being uncovered that Jude would have expected a best friend to confide to her. We’re frequently shown flashbacks of time spent with Maggie, and with all the new knowledge she’s exposed, Jude reflects on these encounters with her best friend in a different light.
While the mystery itself was appealing on its own merits, the coming-of-age type story and self-reflection it causes Jude to go through is a surprisingly heavy yet affecting facet. The story uncovers Jude’s own past, the inner demons which she is constantly struggling with, and forces her to finally bring them to the light. The glitzy L.A. backdrop is vivid, describing the stifling heat and the wildfires that constantly consume the hillsides surrounding the city. Each aspect of this story is written with a startling intensity that manages to be completely captivating. Pasadena is just my second read by this author, Orleans being my first, and I continue to be riveted by each story she’s told, regardless of genre.
Thanks to the wonderful individuals over at Penguin Books, I have a finished copy to share with one lucky reader! Leave a comment expressing your interest in this story to enter.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on September 30th, 2016.
On Halloween, 1991, a popular high school basketball star ventures into the woods near Battle Creek, Pennsylvania, and disappears. Three days later, he’s found with a bullet in his head and a gun in his hand—a discovery that sends tremors through this conservative community, already unnerved by growing rumors of Satanic worship in the region.
In the wake of this incident, bright but lonely Hannah Dexter is befriended by Lacey Champlain, a dark-eyed, Cobain-worshiping bad influence in lip gloss and Doc Martens. The charismatic, seductive Lacey forges a fast, intimate bond with the impressionable Dex, making her over in her own image and unleashing a fierce defiance that neither girl expected. But as Lacey gradually lures Dex away from her safe life into a feverish spiral of obsession, rebellion, and ever greater risk, an unwelcome figure appears on the horizon—and Lacey’s secret history collides with Dex’s worst nightmare.
Like The Virgin Suicides or the novels of Elena Ferrante, Girls on Fire stalks the treacherous territory between girlhood and adulthood. By turns a shocking story of love and violence and an addictive portrait of the intoxication of female friendship, set against the unsettled backdrop of a town gripped by moral panic, it is an unflinching and unforgettable snapshot of girlhood: girls lost and found, girls strong and weak, girls who burn bright and brighter—and some who flicker away.
‘Origin stories are irrelevant. Nothing matters less than how you were born. What matters is how you die, and how you live. We live for each other, so anything that got us to that point must have been right.’
Girls on Fire left me incredibly conflicted and I sat on my review for several weeks hoping that time would help elucidate my feelings. (It did not. Yet here I am.) Girls on Fire consists of the types of teenagers of a Megan Abbott novel; Dare Me is the one that immediately comes to mind. These teenagers are not the teenagers of a Sarah Dessen novel. They are crude and vulgar, whose actions go well beyond shocking and insulting. I was constantly bouncing back and forth between being impressed by their brazenness and appalled by their impudence. It was a bit exhausting.
‘I loved it. Loved it like Shakespearean sonnets and Hallmark cards and all that shit, like I wanted to buy it flowers and light it candles and fuck it gently with a chainsaw.’
Girls on Fire is set in the early 90s when Nirvana was at the top and Real World was everyone’s obsession. A small town in Pennsylvania is horrified after the supposed suicide of the town jock, Craig Ellison. No one thinks he could have done it but the evidence clearly proves otherwise. While the story begins with Craig’s death and is constantly affected by it, the girls are center stage. Hannah Dexter is diffident and Lacey Champlain is fearless, so when Lacey takes “Dex” under her wing, their relationship becomes increasingly virulent the more time the duo spend together. Nikki Drummond is the requisite “mean girl” of the school and Lacey and Dex’s whole relationship is based on their shared hatred of her.
The writing was opulent and whenever the story lost me slightly in its meanderings, the writing always kept me enticed. The story though, there was something excessive and tiresome about the way these young women were written. Something superfluous about their actions and their demeanor in general. The relationship between Lacey and Dex was intense and so very exorbitant. It wasn’t that the writing didn’t properly portray their relationship with one another, but rather it was written with such detail that you became a part of them and a part of their relationship. The whole thing was distasteful and depleting and something that you definitely did not want to be a part of.
It’s a coming of age tale, about the metamorphose that, especially in individuals so young, can undergo because of the lives they’re forced to lead and the people they choose to surround themselves with. Bit by bit, each girl’s story unfolds and I once again found myself torn between how exactly I should be feeling. Despite my wavering opinion and low rating, this was certainly an audacious story to tell and is likely a very accurate portrayal (if a bit extreme) of female relationships and all the dark niches that are rarely exposed.
‘What matters isn’t how we found each other, Dex, or why. It’s that we did, and what happened next. Smash the right two particles together in the right way and you get a bomb. That’s us, Dex. Accidental fusion.’
This innovative, heartfelt debut novel tells the story of a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world. When a new family moves in next door, she begins a complicated romance that challenges everything she’s ever known. The narrative unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, illustrations, and more.
My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
‘Maybe I’m holding out hope that one day, someday, things will change.’
Imagine living your entire life inside your house only ever having seen your mother and your nurse. Imagine never being able to feel the wind on your skin, or grass between your toes. Imagine growing up never having friends, never having a sleepover, and never being able to anticipate going on a date. This is the life that Madeline Whittier has been forced to live due to an immunodeficiency that causes her to be allergic to practically everything. When a new boy named Olly moves in next door, Madeline begins to test her boundaries because conversing with Olly slowly opens her eyes to what she’s been missing all this time.
Everything, Everything, despite the serious topic, read like a breath of fresh air. Madeline was such a wonderful character with such a quirky sense of humor and a resiliency you can’t help but admire. Her constant breaking of rules lacks what you would expect would come as completely reckless, but instead shows Madeline’s tenacity to experience the world for however long she’d be able to survive it. The narrative is told in typical story form but we’re also given snippets of her journal and the online chat sessions with Olly. The writing style flows wonderfully and it’s easy to get completely immersed in it and consume it quickly. Reminiscent of Jandy Nelson, Katie Catugno, and Jessi Kirby’s writing styles.
The romance was shockingly wonderful and I loved the progression that their relationship took. Their cutesy antics constantly put a smile on my face and I just loved reading how he slowly taught her about the world he lived in, that she had never experienced. With this being such a quick read, I was pleased that their romance didn’t feel quick as well. There were some real heart-wrenching moments that left me blubbering just a bit, because you can’t help but feel from the very beginning that there couldn’t possibly be a happy ending in sight. It only helped matters that I kept envisioning Madeline and Olly as these two:
While I won’t get into spoilery detail, the ending does have to be mentioned because it’s been a game-changer for a lot of people and their overall opinion of the book. Admittedly, there is a definite twist at the end that changes everything and is hastily “resolved” and not adequately so in my opinion. For me though, the magic of the book was the heartwarming romance and the incredibly charismatic characters which were both solid enough to withstand a somewhat skimpy resolution. Everything, Everything is no doubt an impressive debut from a promising new author.
A small, quiet Midwestern town, which is unremarkable save for one fact: when the teenagers reach a certain age, they run wild.
When Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn't have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact, she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown. When We Were Animals is Lumen's confessional: as a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, she fell beneath the sway of her community's darkest, strangest secret. For one year, beginning at puberty, every resident "breaches" during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path.
Lumen resists. Promising her father she will never breach, she investigates the mystery of her community's traditions and the stories erased from the town record. But the more we learn about the town's past, the more we realize that Lumen's memories are harboring secrets of their own.
A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey into the American heartland.
‘We live our lives by measures of weeks, months, years, but the creatures we truly are, those are exposed in fractions of moments.’
Lumen Fowler recounts her childhood growing up in a small town in the Midwest that is anything but ordinary. Children in this town, once they hit puberty, they go through what is called “breaching” where they let go of all social constraints and literally run wild and naked in the streets at night when the moon is full. Lumen is a bit of a late bloomer and believes herself to be different from the other children until she inevitably succumbs with the need to feel the night air on her skin.
First and foremost, this is not a werewolf story despite how the summary seems to allude to it. There is no physical transformation that these children undergo, only a surrendering to the madness that we’ve all felt stirring inside us at one time or another. The fact that this all occurs beneath the light of the full moon seems to be pure happenstance. When We Were Animals brought to life the horrors of coming of age and learning to navigate the trickiness betwixt childhood and adulthood.
‘…she was some nightmarish inversion of the person who had played in the sprinklers with me years before. This girl was raw, viperous, glutted on nature and night. They all were. Like coyotes, they made mockery, with their bleating voices, of those who needed light in order to feel safe. And yet they were all too human.’
This was one of the most exquisitely written books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Vibrant and completely full of (animalistic) life. It’s not a traditional horror story, however, it is a very simplistic horror that we’ve all suffered through in life. It details a savageness; a rawness. It was incredible. The plot itself is quite meandering, just as growing up seems to take forever to get through. Also, like a typical teenager that can’t wait to grow up and for life to finally happen (of which it never seems to meet your expectations), this story never amounted to anything. I kept anticipating something monumental that never came. Still, this story of growing up is well worth the effort.
‘In the daylight you scoff at the shadows you cowered from the night before.’
Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.
They always say that high school is the best time of your life.
Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.
Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.
‘Andy pointed upward. She followed the line extending from his index finger out into the dark distance. A single spark of bright blue, like a puncture in the black skin of the sky.’
Imagine if you had to grapple with the knowledge that there’s a 66.6% chance that the bright light hovering in the sky is headed straight towards Earth. Imagine if you were told that even if there’s a chance it won’t happen, if it does, you have only six weeks before it happens. What would you change? What would you do? How would you choose to live your final six weeks of life?
We All Looked Up centers around four high school seniors trying to find out who they are while struggling to look beyond who they’ve been defined as. Their attempts to do so take on a frantic state when the news gets out about the asteroid named Ardor. Peter is a star athlete with a steady girlfriend but is drawn to Eliza in a way that he can no longer ignore even if it means for once not doing what is expected of him. Eliza fought against being labeled a ‘slut’ but has since decided to simply be and do whatever she wants despite the names people call her. Her father is dying of cancer and her mother has abandoned them; taking pictures of the crumbling world around her is the way she finds to cope. Anita is a straight A student that has only ever done what her father has told her to do but has finally decided that for once it’s time she admits to herself that what she truly wants to do in life is sing. Andy is the stereotypical slacker that hangs with the wrong crowd and must decide for himself whether he’s able to continue following the pack or if he’s ready to finally wake up and make his own decisions.
While all four of these characters (and several secondary characters) were all stereotypical in their own way, Wallach adds an impressive depth to each one of them that I loved watching unfold. The story itself is almost stereotypical as well, with the asteroid headed to Earth and all of humanity faced with their impending doom. Dun Dun Dun. But this story managed to complete impress me with the route that it took and the ambiguous ending that will manage to leave you satisfied even when you’re still left with questions. Nothing is for certain, anything could change… you just never really know for sure about anything in life. We All Looked Up is an elegantly written and philosophical pre-apocalyptic tale that will leave you contemplating your own existence.
“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.
“We have no way of knowing if this trend will continue. But we suspect it will continue.” Our days had grown by fifty-six minutes in the night.
I had some difficulty getting into this story at first and I set it aside a number of times. Once I fell into the pattern of life right along with Julia I found myself enthralled and I couldn’t put it down. It took me 5 days to read the first 25% and 6 hours to read the final 75%.
This is essentially a written account told from the POV of an eleven-year-old girl, Julia, of when the Earth’s rotation began to slow. The slow build-up, in the beginning, was interesting I thought because it wasn’t truly suspenseful since it was told from the POV of someone so young, someone who really lacked the ability to comprehend what was happening.
‘I could tell he was hoping not to scare us, but that was the thing: We kids were not as afraid as we should have been. We were too young to be scared, too immersed in our own small worlds, too convinced of our own permanence.’
The commentary that alluded to a future that had yet to happen was eerie yet made you desperate to find out what happened to these people as a result of the phenomenon. Through Julia’s eyes, we watch her and the people in her life grow and adapt to the changing times. Slowly but surely more issues start occurring and life on Earth became anything but simple.
It’s hard to imagine a normal day lasting any longer than 24 hours but after that first night, the day extended beyond that: 24 hours and 56 minutes. That in and of itself was shocking but as each day passes more and more time is added on to the ‘normal day’. The innocence of Julia definitely tones down the seriousness of the situation but it’s still a scary and potentially realistic reality. This is one any apocalyptic fan shouldn’t miss.