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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

Edward E. Baptist: IMG The Two Bodies of The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

My new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is the story of two bodies. The first body was the new... Continue »
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Customer Comments

Beverly B has commented on (202) products.

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey
Buzz Kill

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

Buzz Kill is a fun, traditional who-done-it with a great amateur detective. It refreshing to read a novel where the surly teen slacker protagonist is female rather male, and Mollie Ostermeyer is the most likable anti-social surly teen slacker to come along in a while. Mollie is confident that her love of the Nancy Drew books she read when she was nine gives her the knowledge and guidance she needs to solve the murder of the football coach. But Mollie is no Nancy Drew. She is more like Shaggy from Scooby Do. Her goal of just barely graduating high school without joining cliques or clubs, or standing out at all - ever, is turned upside down when she stumbles upon a dead body. Reluctantly, she is forced to take center stage when her father is targeted as the #1 suspect. Mollie perseveres battling mean girls, teachers with a grudge, and unmotivated cops, all the while trying not to be distracted by the gorgeous football player she thinks may be the killer. Hopefully, this will not be Mollie's only detective adventure.
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The Testing (Testing) by Joelle Charbonneau
The Testing (Testing)

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

The Testing is an entertaining quick read. It has all of the required dystopian plot details - totalitarian plutocracy government, food shortages, poverty, secret communities, etc. The Testing also has an exciting surprise twist and a nail-biting suspenseful conclusion. Its strongest element is Cia, a protagonist who has led a sheltered life and is not ready for the cruel and diabolical actions of her opponents as she tries to win a spot in the competition to attend the university. Cia's father warned her to "trust no one no matter what." Of course, being a teen, Cia does not listen. She suffers some painful and heartbreaking consequences for not heeding her father's advice. But most importantly, is she entering into a romantic relationship with someone who is using her to get ahead and is intending to betray her? Have to read the sequel to find out, of course.
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Knightley and Son by Rohan Gavin
Knightley and Son

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

Middle grade readers who are new to detective mystery stories will enjoy Knightley and Son. The premise for the characters is promising - - Darkus, a young teen who has spent the last four years mastering his father's legendary observational and problem solving skills; Tilly, his much more interesting teen step-sister who is even smarter than Darkus and may be smarter than his father; And Allen, Darkus' father, a brilliant detective who suddenly woke from a mysterious coma after four years. There are a couple of twists in the secret society conspiracy plot, but no real surprises. The characters are not very developed, but since this is the first in a series, the characters may become more intriguing as the series continues.
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Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington
Sure Signs of Crazy

Beverly B, September 22, 2014

I was skeptical that a book dealing with catastrophic mental illness could be targeted to middle grade readers and deal with the subject in an authentic and significant way. I was very wrong to be skeptical. Karen Harrington's novel is moving and memorable and not even a little bit overly sentimental or superficial. Protagonist Sarah Nelson is an inspiration and a role model for how to deal with life's difficulties. From minor horrors like having to buy a box of "girl supplies" from a young male clerk, to having her Dad humiliate her by interrogating her new friend - the teen boy from across the street - to unimaginable burdens like making sure no one learns her mother is in a mental hospital for trying to kill her when she was a baby, Sarah struggles, but survives with courage and resilience. Using Atticus Finch as her guide, and her diary as her therapist, Sarah vents her anger, owns her fears, and plans out how to be happy anyway. Sure Signs of Crazy is going to be a classic.
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Numbers by Rachel Ward

Beverly B, September 1, 2014

Although labeled a sic-fi/paranormal normal novel, it is the compelling relationship between the two poor, street tough teens that grabs the reader and makes Numbers a memorable story. The sci-fi element is almost irrelevant. Jem's ability to know when people will die is horrifying and isolating, but growing up in a series of abusive foster homes has given her the strength to survive on her own. When she meets Spider, she rejects his attempts at friendship. She can see his time is almost up, and she does not want any more sadness in her life. But luckily for Jem, Spider is persistent. Soon they are on the run together. The tense action events are the catalyst of huge growth and changes in Jem and Spider. Author Rachel Ward creates an authentic, sweet friendship that helps each become a happier, better person.
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