Packing For Mars: The curious science of life in the void

From Ellen Druda
author: Roach, Mary
Packing For Mars: The curious science of life in the void
This book was funny. Each chapter took a look at the different ways NASA prepared the astronauts to handle certain personal functions in space: sleeping, going to the bathroom, eating, air sickness, claustrophobia, etc., and how successful they were.  Along the way we learn about the history of the space program both here and in the Soviet Union, some interesting trivia, and the author’s personal experiences researching the book.  Roach focuses on the absurd and the comic in the very serious world of space travel, and the results are enlightening and entertaining.

The Patron Saint of Butterflies

From Joanna, Teen Book Reviewer
author: Galante, Cecelia
The Patron Saint of Butterflies
This month, I read The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante. It is about two girls named Agnes and Honey. Despite their differences, they are best friends. The live at Mount Blessing, a religious commune run by Emmanuel and Veronica. Abandoned there as a baby, Honey is rebellious, resentful towards Emmanuel and Veronica, and longs for a normal life, finding her own comfort at Winky’s butterfly garden. Agnes is the opposite. Firm in her faith, her dream is to become a saint.
When Agnes’s grandmother visits the commune as a surprise, she finds out about the Regulation Room, a hidden room used to beat the “Believers” when they “commit a sin”. She immediately takes them away from Mount Blessing for their own good. Honey is ready to leave without a second glance, but Agnes’s beliefs are firm, and she refuses to leave without a fight. Leaving Mount Blessing was supposed to be a good thing, but it’s the final blow that might rip the  two apart.
On a scale from one to ten, I would give this book a solid 9.5. It’s a nice break from the romance and vampires. Reading the book from two points of view (Agnes’s and Honey’s) really helped me understand the characters. I was a little resentful towards Agnes throughout the book, wanting to just knock a brick over her head and be done with it, but she redeems herself. It’s not too hard of a book to read, but it’s not easy either. To read this, you also have to be able to accept some things, such as Agnes’s annoying belief that can kill them all.
Overall, this was a very good read. I would mostly recommend this to girls though, since it’s told from their point of view and deals with those types of things. Don’t let the outlandish storyline stop you, The Patron Saint of Butterflies is a book worth reading.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

From Monica Salo
author: Larsson, Stieg
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest   
The final book of Larsson’s trilogy is fast-paced and thrilling.  The book continues where the Girl Who Played with Fire left off.  We find Lisbeth in a hospital, shot in the head and accused of multiple murders.  Our favorite hacker is without devices to help prove her innocence.  Mikael Blomkvist sets out to aid her and help clear the charges against Lisbeth.  Many of the characters, who were an ally of Lisabeth’s during the first two books, play a part in helping unravel the mystery.  The mystery involves many components including a secret agency, top ranking officials in the government, and Lisbeth’s father who was a Soviet defector.  The ending is bitter-sweet, knowing that we will never see Larsson’s memorable characters again.

Walk Softly, Rachel

From Chelsea, Teen Book Reviewer
author: Banks, Kate
Walk Softly, Rachel
Walk Softly, Rachel by Kate Banks is a great summer pick! Reading this book you will fall into 14-year-old Rachel’s world. It all started when Rachel was 7 and her brother, Jake, died in a tragic car accident. Her parents have put the past behind them and can barely mention Jake’s name. After that tragic happening her family becomes distant with each other and their ways of coping have torn them apart silently. However, they have left Jake’s room untouched after his death to relive his finest moments and memories. Rachel soon figures out this might be her one and only chance to connect with Jake, by entering his room and searching through his items. As she travels through the items she finds out they each have a story behind them and they each speak to her through Jake’s voice. Through Rachel’s own shortcomings and experiences she finds out who she really is and the power her mind has to heal. Walk Softly, Rachel by Kate Banks is a warm hearting book about love, loss, and letting go through Rachel’s eyes. This is a must read book and I highly recommend it!

The Chosen

From Margie Hartough
author: Potak, Chaim
The Chosen
This book explores the friendship that develops between two Jewish boys in New York City during the Second World War. It weaves together their very different lives, Danny is a Hassidic Jew and Reuven is merely Orthodox.  An accident on the baseball field brings them together and eventually they begin a friendship. It grows deeper when both their fathers are drawn into each other’s worlds.  Potok includes numerous descriptions of Jewish tradition and customs, which is vital to the story as well as fascinating information.

Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

From Andrea Payne
author: Kerman, Piper 
Orange Is The New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison
This is unlike any ‘prison’ story you’ve ever come across. Piper Kerman writes about and accepts responsibility for a drug trafficking crime she committed in her youth. Ten years later, the feds come knocking and the Smith College graduate is placed in the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Danbury, CT. This book chronicles some of the experiences that led to Piper’s incarceration; the life she began to build with her fiance before being indicted and sent to prison; and the relationships she builds in prison, while still somehow maintaining her relationship with her fiance, family and friends on the ‘outside.’ Some moments are very funny, others are deeply moving and thought provoking. This was an enjoyable and very unique read.

The Information Officer

From Eileen Effrat
author: Mills, Mark
The Information Officer
It is the summer of 1942 and the island of Malta is under intense German
bombardment. For the Germans, the island is vital as a strategic and
military supply port. As the British and Maltese courageously defend
the island, a British officer might be killing local dance hostesses.
Major Max Chadwick, the information officer in charge of controlling the
island’s news, secretly begins to investigate the murders. As the
investigation proceeds, Chadwick faces a dilemma. Should he conceal the
news of these killings that have the potential of undermining Maltese
support in the Allied war effort or let this sadistic serial killer
continue? This is a thoroughly researched account of Malta under siege
and a suspenseful spy thriller.