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1.13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

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I adore a good crime thriller and I’m a sucker for a mean teen, and this has both. The 13 minutes refers to the time one of the characters spent being actually dead before being revived with nasty case of amnesia. This weaves the classic twists and turns of a good mystery – even if the victim is still very much part of the action – with the social politics and cruelty of teenage girls. I’ve enjoyed every Pinborough book I’ve ever picked up and this is just another one to add to the HELL YES pile.-Rachel Weber

2.Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

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Humans have always used animals as a natural resource, justifying the killing of our fellow creatures in various ways, but mainly by assuming they are not like us. What if our denialism masks that animals are more like us than we can imagine? Can they think? Are they self-aware? Can they plan, remember and anticipate? Frans de Waal describes scientific research that reveals astonishing answers. When chimpanzees beat human children at video games or birds understand our language or elephants remember people after years, we need to rethink the nature of consciousness. After reading about chimpanzee politics, I felt many people voted not by analytical reason, but by ancient instincts. This book is revealing in two ways – animals are a lot more like us than we believe, and we’re still a whole lot like them.

— James Wallace Harris

3.Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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I’m not sure a book has made me fall in love with characters as deeply as I fell in love with Ari and Dante. This book is something very special, tackling a whole bunch of hard topics, and remains realistic and beautiful the whole way.

–Ashley Holstrom

4.Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

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When I first learned what this two-book series was about, I honestly thought it was too crazypants to work: a young girl sent to a Nazi concentration camp during World War II gains the ability to shapeshift after undergoing painful experiments. She escapes and joins the resistance which, in this alternative version of history, is still working to stop Hitler, who has triumphed, along with Japan. Our heroine, Yael, trains hard to become a kick ass assassin whose mission is to kill Hitler. I don’t want to spoil any details about this book or its predecessor, Wolf by Wolf, but believe me when I tell you that it is a heart stopping adventure with a very satisfying, well-rounded array of characters. Ryan Graudin pulls off the complicated plot with gorgeous prose and an impressive mastery of World War II knowledge. A great enveloping read that will stick with you for a long time.

–Kristy Pasquariello

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