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Well-Heeled: The Smart Girl's Guide to Getting Rich

Lesley-Anne Scorgie. Dundurn, (IPS, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $19.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-4597-2354-2

Scorgie, a financial consultant and author of Rich by Thirty: A Young Adult's Guide to Financial Success and Rich by Forty: A Young Couple's Guide to Building Net Worth, focuses her attention on building financial literacy in young women. In an informal, friendly tone, Scorgie emphasizes the unique financial challenges that women face — from a society that encourages women to become "shopaholics" to the persistent income gap between men and women. This book distinguishes itself among the many personal finance books published in the last decade by addressing a target audience of young women – those just beginning their financial journey into budgeting, home ownership, and relationships. Scattered with cautionary tales based on the financial mishaps of other women, Scorgie encourages young women to educate themselves and take charge of their finances before someone else takes charge for them. Scorgie offers examples aimed at both American and Canadian audiences, quizzes to engage readers and ends with a 30-day financial challenge. This is a practical and approachable book for young female readers to enjoy. (May)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Relief from Hot Flashes: The Natural, Drug-Free Program to Reduce Hot Flashes, Improve Sleep, and Ease Stress

Gary Elkins. Demos Health, $19.95 (262p) ISBN 978-1-936303-56-4

Baylor University psychologist and neuroscientist Elkins presents a drug- and hormone-free program for significantly reducing hot flashes and night sweats. Utilizing simple, effective techniques gleaned from a decade of research in hypnotic relaxation therapy, Elkins's five-week plan begins with a comprehensive primer on hot flashes (what causes them, ties to breast cancer, the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapies, and non-hormonal therapies) before segueing into a concise explanation and history of hypnotic relaxation therapy. Steps to measure and document hot flashes, their possible triggers, and their impact on self-image and day-to-day life are provided; Elkins then earnestly guides readers through a week-by-week practice of mental imagery and self-hypnosis that's aided by questionnaires, diary entries, self-assessments, and access to downloadable audio files. Inspirational testimonials from women who've successfully completed the program round out the book. While readers may question the idea of hypnosis as a valid treatment, Elkins cites encouraging results (participants in relevant studies decreased the occurrence of hot flashes by an average of 70 to 80 percent) that suggest his all-natural plan is one deserves consideration. (July)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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When Paris Went Dark: The City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940%E2%80%931944

Ronald C. Rosbottom. Little, Brown, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-316-21744-6

When Hitler toured his legendary conquest in 1940, occupied Paris was sinking into a colorless tedium of paranoia and oppression punctuated by grey-clad Germans and miserable Parisians suffering from shortages and overregulation. Rosbottom, professor of French and European Studies at Amherst College, delivers distinctive, humanizing anecdotes that, while occasionally lacking attribution or further identifying context, otherwise illuminate well-documented events of the occupation. After the rise of the weak, disorganized, youth-driven resistance movement and the hunt for increasingly marginalized and imperiled Jews, the bureaucrat-driven 1944 liberation and violent aftermath of the post-occupation period seem almost anti-climactic. Bolstered by a user-friendly chronology and list of personalities, Rosbottom packs his tales with memorable descriptions of both the subtle and overwhelming changes that seeped into daily life, making for a moving portrayal of the awkward coexistence of occupation—from the vantage points of both weary Parisians and confused, low-level German soldiers alike. Rosbottom highlights how leaderless, ordinary people and their formerly glittering city turned as grey as the occupiers' uniforms. Maps & photos. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Big, Bad, Book of Botany: The World's Most Fascinating Flora

Michael Largo. Morrow, $18.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-228275-0

In a quirky, alphabetical collection of folklore, traditional botany, growing suggestions, and modern science and nutrition, Largo (The Big Bad Book of Beasts) shares delight in the weird and wonderful corners of the plant world. Reading like Culpepper's Herbal filtered through Ripley's Believe it Or Not, each plant gets a colorful tagline (castor oil bush is "Nature's Night Light" while nettle is "The Little Warrior") and an illustration lovingly hand drawn by a member of Miami's Tropical Botanic Artists Collective. Common edibles like kiwi and oregano and garden plants like bleeding heart and rose sit alongside both well-known strange plants like corpse flower and more obscure exotics like the West African ordeal poison calabar bean. Similarly, ancient uses like that of hops in beer share space with modern benefits like the efficacy of licorice root as an antiviral. Largo's palpable enthusiasm for the ways in which humans and plants interact means every page yields something to catch the reader's interest. B&w illus. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Through the Woods

Emily Carroll. S&S/McElderry, $21.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4424-6595-4

Canadian graphic artist Carroll uses familiar horror motifs—the first wife's ghost, the monster that dwells in the forest—to create fresh and disturbing tales. Sure in her handling of line, color, and sequential art techniques, she revels in period settings, placing her five stories in identifiable historical eras that include colonial North America and the Roaring Twenties. Carefully drawn clothing and furnishings provide ironic backdrops for Lovecraftian revelations of parasitical possession and hideous evil. In the most explicitly gruesome story, a dowdy girl named Mabel is forced to stay with her prosperous brother and his perfect wife, who, Mabel begins to see, is a monster inhabiting the skin of a human: "I only wanted to wear her," the wife says dreamily of the housekeeper, whose bloodied wrist Mabel has spotted, "but when I tried her on, there was no stretch left." Instead of the gratifying defeat of evil, the gothic stories often leave off unsettlingly with a twist of the knife, just at the moment some fresh horror beckons. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jen Linnan, Linnan Literary Management. (July)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Barbarian Lord

Matt Smith. Clarion, $17.99 (176p) ISBN 978-0-547-85906-4

He may look like a musclebound lug who takes his style cues from Conan the Barbarian, but when it's time to wax poetic, Barbarian Lord shows he has brains to match his brawn. After sorcery and skullduggery drive him from his native Garmrland, Barbarian Lord journeys to the kingdom of Krigsland and earns the chieftain's favor with awesome displays of violence and verbiage. He returns with a mean-looking posse and delivers swift and permanent retribution. Indeed, battle is what Barbarian Lord does best, and whether he's exchanging blows with a troll or insults with a skull-headed bard ("Men will sing for ages beyond count of all your deeds... empty as your sockets, barren as your skull"), he proves an unrivaled warrior and wordsmith. Smith (who illustrated the graphic novel adaptation of Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux) weaves lore and laughs into this bombastic saga; thanks to his dynamic art (the lack of color is but a slight disappointment) and cinematic staging, seeing his hero conquer every challenge that stands in his way never gets old. All hail Barbarian Lord! Ages 12–up. (July)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Four: A Divergent Collection

Veronica Roth. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-234521-9

Four's story is already achingly familiar to fans of Roth's Divergent—his close relationship to protagonist Tris Prior in the author's original trilogy allowed readers to grow fond of this fiercely protective yet guarded character. In this aptly numbered collection of four stories, all told from the perspective of Four (aka Tobias Eaton), readers receive an inside look at how he came to be a Dauntless instructor in the first place, got his name, uncovered the plot by Jeanine Matthews to attack the Abnegation faction, and fell in love with Tris. Divergent fans will thoroughly enjoy this extra bit of backstory, which is filled with names and places that became beloved in Roth's bestselling trilogy. Roth's storytelling retains the same mix of tension, uncertainty, and hope that made the original stories irresistible. For those who were brokenhearted to find themselves at the last page of Allegiant, this brief look back through Four's eyes will be a welcome trip down memory lane. Ages 14–up. Agent: Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media. (July)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Before You

Amber Hart. Kensington/KTeen, $9.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-61773-116-7

Hart debuts with a steamy romance about affirming love. Faith Watters, 18, returns for her senior year in Oviedo, Fla., after a year in rehab that no one knows about except for her family and best friend, Melissa. Ever since Faith was abandoned by her drug-addicted mother 10 years earlier, she has felt compelled to act the part of her pastor father's perfect daughter. Every aspect of Faith's life feels stifling, including her relationship with her bland boyfriend of four years that resembles an "arranged marriage." When she's assigned to be a "peer helper" to cocky new student Diego Alvarez, the physical attraction between them is immediate. Their inaccurate assumptions about one another and defensive personalities cause conflicts, yet as trust builds, Faith reveals her family history, and Diego confesses his involvement with a drug cartel. As Hart alternates between Faith and Diego's self-aware and expressive first-person narratives, readers will be invested in the couple's intense cross-cultural relationship as they persevere despite an onslaught of personal and societal pressures. Ages 14–up. Agent: Beth Miller, Writers House. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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The Truth About Alice

Jennifer Mathieu. Roaring Brook, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-1-59643-909-2

Four high-school juniors—Elaine, Kelsie, Josh, and Kurt—narrate the eponymous Alice's story in turns. A callous jock named Brandon starts a rumor that Alice slept with him and another boy at Elaine's party. Shortly afterward, he dies in a car crash, and Josh suggests that texts from Alice distracted Brandon. These rumors take on a life of their own, transforming Alice from a well-liked girl into a cafeteria pariah with a "Slut Stall" dedicated to her in the girls' bathroom. Mathieu's well-crafted debut portrays all the teens sympathetically, revealing the insecurities that motivate their actions; for example, Kelsie thinks the popular girls "could smell my old middle school nerdiness on me like it was some kind of disease," and would rather betray her best friend than lose her newfound popularity. Their accounts unintentionally reveal Alice's decency, emphasizing the cruelty of the ostracism and underscoring the integrity of the one boy who dares to befriend her. Alice gets the final word, yet Mathieu avoids reducing her story to a revenge narrative, instead offering a quietly powerful testament to perspective and personal resilience. Ages 12–up. Agent: Sarah LaPolla, Bradford Literary Agency. (June)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling

Lucy Frank. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $19.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-307-97975-9

Two girls struggle with Crohn's disease in this moving verse novel from Frank (Lucky Stars). When Chessie winds up in the emergency room after a painful bout of stomach pain and an embarrassing "moment" with a crush, her immediate concern is living through her mortification. During her hospital stay, Chessie grapples not only with tubes up her nose, dietary restrictions, and mood-influencing steroids but also with the psychological effects of being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. Her assertive hospital roommate, Shannon, who suffers from a more aggressive form of Crohn's, makes Chessie's diagnosis easier by cracking jokes and airing her grievances, indirectly encouraging Chessie to follow suit. Frank's decision to split the narrative vertically on the page (the middle line represents the curtain between Chessie and Shannon's beds) doesn't always pay off, sometimes distracting from rather than enhancing the verse. But the girls' anger and palpable fear ("How do you know who you are when you can't trust your own body?") contribute to a raw, unsentimental perspective on the fight to keep an illness from overpowering one's identity. Ages 12–up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

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