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Karen's Picks

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Gold Diggers: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984882035
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Penguin Press - April 6th, 2021

The gold rush, the fountain of youth, folklore, and magical realism combine in a refreshingly modern and original novel that gifts its readers with an incredibly relatable portrayal of American teen life in G.W. Bush era’s Georgia suburbs, before plunging us into Silicon Valley ten years later for a subtle but powerful exploration of what the American dream is to children of immigrants. Neil is a second-generation desi teenager in an Atlanta suburb, having grown up constantly surrounded by other desi kids and parents with exceptionally high expectations for their American sons and daughters. Neil isn’t as driven as his older sister or his friends and classmates, but that all changes when he stumbles upon the major secret his neighbor and crush Anita and her mother have been hiding from the world. Gold Diggers is a feast of a story that swings from teen angst and laugh-out-loud humor to tragedy, from folklore to hard reality, and finally culminates in a heist that would make the Rat Pack proud. It breaks apart the mythology of monolithic culture with the perfect alchemy of humor, magic, and irresistible, albeit flawed, people. Let it sweep you off your feet.

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The Paragon Hotel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735210776
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - December 3rd, 2019

We first meet Alice "Nobody" James as she hides away on a cross-country sleeper train in 1921, nursing a bullet hole in her side. She is tough, smart, and has a spine made of steel, all necessary if you've been raised in the thick of New York City's Italian mafia. As the book progresses, we learn about Alice's life in NYC and what forced her to escape to Portland, Oregon, while also meeting the incredible characters staying at Portland's Paragon Hotel, an all-Black hotel in a city being plagued by a Klu Klux Klan that's growing in numbers and power. When a mixed-race boy from the hotel goes missing in the woods, Alice and her new allies at the Paragon Hotel are faced with revelations about their own pasts and deeply hidden secrets concerning their respective escapes to the hotel. Alice is whip-smart, wise-cracking, and funny, and the dialogue absolutely crackles. If you can stick it out until the last third of the book, twists abound! Definitely pick this one up for some exceptional entertainment.

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The Sea in Winter Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062872043
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Heartdrum - January 5th, 2021

I wish I'd had this to read when I was 12. It took me on an emotional journey I was not prepared for, with characters that are three-dimensional, relatable, and so warm. When we meet Maisie, she's already submerged in the mire of emotional and mental pain. She has no friends outside of her ballet classes, which she can no longer attend due to a terrible knee injury, she can't focus in school, and her grades are suffering. She's keeping secrets from a loving family that doesn't seem to understand what she's going through. She's hurting... and still putting one foot in front of the other. This book is about finding strength in coming to terms with change. It's about asking for help. It's about love and understanding. It's about loneliness and other hard emotions I think adults forget children can go through as well. And it's a beautiful, character-driven, hopeful revelation of a story. 

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Migrations: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250204028
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - August 4th, 2020

Reading this book is like being in a dream in which you're standing in front of an interesting, beautiful painting. You spot paint peeling at the corner of the canvas so you grab it and you start pulling, slowly revealing the absolute masterpiece that was quietly waiting beneath. Franny is a scientist trying to follow the migration of Arctic terns, some of the last birds left in a not-so-distant future in which climate change has caused mass extinction of much of our wildlife. She has to barter her way onto a fishing vessel to follow the Arctic terns, having to reconcile her differences with people whose trade is further depleting the ocean of its fish. As we embark on this adventure with her, we get snippets of her backstory, hints of what has led her to where she is now. McConaghy already uses the English language in a way that makes you hungry for whatever is on the next page, but there is a moment when she reveals the true soul of both the story and our protagonist and it's immeasurably powerful, turning the entire book on its head. Migrations has engrossing writing, a protagonist as wild and untamable as the sea, and, THANK GOODNESS, a thread of hope in spite of the world being on the verge of crumbling. I really insist that you read this book.

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A Whale of the Wild Cover Image
By Rosanne Parry, Lindsay Moore (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062995926
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 1st, 2020

A really cool look at the lives and habitats of orca, from the point of view of two young orcas! Roseanne Parry did an incredible amount of research to create the underwater world of Vega, her brother Deneb, and their pod as they traverse the Salish Sea in search of food. Throughout the book, we meet all sorts of marine animals, and come face to face with the struggles orcas and other whales are facing in an environment in which it's becoming increasingly hard to find food. We learn about the impact humans are having on the survival of orcas as Vega and Deneb become separated from their pod. It's a story of overcoming loss and continuing forward no matter what gets in your way. I highly recommend it if you love animals!