BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray

50 Beauty Queens from 50 states are on their way to the big pageant when their plane, like, totally crashes on a creepy tropical island.

There is no food.  No guys (well, not until the pirates show up, anyways).  And no sign of rescue… unless the weird red lights in the distance are from a subversive, mercenary Corporation with a secret base on the island.  But they could just be the volcano.

What’s a girl gonna do?  Set fishing lines?  Build huts from palm fronds?  Battle giant snakes and quicksand?  Work on her tan?  And how long can a group of teenage girls keep secrets from each other?

Libba Bray won a Printz Medal in 2010 for Going Bovine.

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A HANDFUL OF TIME by Kit Pearson

Patricia is miserable.  Her parents are separating, and she is sent to spend the summer with her aunt and cousins on a lake in Alberta, Canada.  Her loneliness is made worse by her cousins’ bullying and her increasing conviction that she will never understand her own mother.

When Patricia discovers a special pocket watch beneath the floorboards, she is whisked back in time and observes her mother as a young girl.  Bit by bit, she begins to understand her mother, and, in turn, herself.

Kit Pearson is a Canadian treasure, less well-known in the USA.

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DAIRY QUEEN by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

D.J. Schwenk has a lot on her plate.  Her father has been injured, her little brother is becoming a selective mute, her mother is disengaging with the family, and her college-athlete older brothers haven’t called home in 6 months.

But if there’s one thing D.J. can do, it’s work hard.  She takes on the running of her family’s small dairy farm, as well as the project of training the star quarterback of the rival high school’s football team, Brian.

Soon enough, she’s dealing with a major crush on top of everything else.  But never one to give up, D.J. comes up with a creative solution to her woes: she’ll try out for the football team at her own school.

I couldn’t resist posting both the hard and paperback covers for this.  I wonder which one sold better? 😉

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BODY DRAMA by Nancy Amanda Redd

Bodies can be problematic – especially when questions are embarrassing!  It’s easy to look for information online, but how do you know if what you find is accurate?  And when it comes to your body, you deserve the best.

Nancy Redd’s book (written with help from Dr. Angela Diaz) provides the best-quality answers to any and all body questions.  Redd shares her own personal story — how she won the Miss America Swimsuit contest but still struggled with body issues.

Real photos provide a refreshing break from impersonal, unrealistic pen-and-ink drawings.  This book provides the facts — all of them — and also helps with the emotional side of things.

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Out of Africa

It’s the early 1900s.  Bored and desperate for status, Karen Dinesen (Meryl Streep) marries the Baron Bror von Brixen.  It is a marriage of convenience; she receives the title of Baroness, and he receives access to her wealth.  Karen uproots her life and moves to Africa to live at Bror’s plantation.  He plans to use her money to grow coffee.

The trouble begins when Karen first arrives in Africa.  She makes her way to the Muthaiga Country Club, hoping to find her husband there.  When she unwittingly walks into the men’s bar, she is forcibly removed, unable even to leave a message for her husband.

The film documents a huge portion of the Baroness von Blixen’s life in Africa, including her frightening experience with syphilis, contracted from her philandering husband.  She eventually embarks upon an affair of her own with the dashing, free-spirited Denys (Robert Redford).  Directed by Sydney Pollack, based on the book by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen’s pen name).

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A NORTHERN LIGHT by Jennifer Donnelly

Mattie Gokey carries many responsibilities on her shoulders.  She promised her mother (now dead) that she would care for her father and younger siblings, who live in poverty on the family’s run-down farm.  She has a budding romance with Royal Loomis, but is not sure whether “love” enters into the equation.

It’s 1906, and women don’t have a lot of options.  Mattie has taken a summer job as a serving girl at a fancy hotel in the Adirondacks, and as she works relentlessly to save money, she comes closer and closer to a choice she must make: whether to marry Royal and stay at her family farm, or use her hard-earned money to attend Barnard College.

Amidst her troubles and decisions, Mattie becomes involved in a secondary – and deadly – plot.  A young woman staying at the hotel presents Mattie with a sheaf of love letters and asks Mattie to burn them.  But before Mattie can, the woman is found drowned, and her lover disappears.  Custodian of the letters, Mattie begins to read, hoping to find escape from her own difficulties as well as answers to the mystery.

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Princess Mononoke

Humans are polluting the earth, destroying the environment and exhausting its natural resources.  This is a fact, and most of us have grown used to it.

But for Ashitaka, San, and the people of Irontown, this fact is a living, daily reality.  Ashitaka is banished from his village after a battle with demon leaves him horribly scarred.  He finds the people of Irontown and the spirits of the Forest locked in battle.  Irontown, led by Lady Eboshi, is destroying the Forest.  The Forest spirits strike back and kill several Irontown inhabitants.

In the center of the battle is San — a fearless, beautiful girl abandoned by humans and raised by wolves.  When the two worlds collide, she fears that she fits into neither.

Directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.  Trailer here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkWWWKKA8jY

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