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Z

Genre: Children

The First Rule of Torching: Cleanse with fire.

Josh is by far the best zombie Torcher around — at least, he is in his virtual-reality zombie-hunting game. Josh has quickly risen through the player ranks, relying on the skill, cunning, and agility of a real Torcher.

The Second Rule of Torching: Save all humans.

But luckily for Josh, zombies exist only in the virtual world. The real zombie war is now more than fifteen years in the past, and the battle to defeat the deadly epidemic that devastated his family — and millions of others — is the stuff of history lessons.

The Third Rule of Torching: You can't bring them back.

Charlie is the top-ranked player in the game. Since all the players are shrouded in anonymity, Josh never expects Charlie to be a  — and he never expects the offer she makes him: to join the underground gaming league that takes the virtual-reality game off the screen and into the streets. Josh is thrilled. But the more involved he gets, the more he realizes that not everything is what it seems. blood is spilling, members of the team are disappearing, and the zombies in the game are acting strange. And then there's the matter of a mysterious drug called Z….

Genre: Prose

I’m not crazy. I don’t see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it’s a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.

Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year’s Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff’s perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they’ve got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on—the crazies start to seem less crazy.

Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, is a darkly humorous novel from award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford that examines that fuzzy line between "normal" and the rest of us.

From

Grade 9 Up—

Jeff, the irreverent, sarcastic, and utterly terrified 15-year-old narrator, wakes up on New Year’s Day in a psych ward with bandages around his wrists. He copes with his therapy by using extreme denial and avoidance, attempting to one-up his therapist, Dr. Katzrupus, or Cat Poop, with flippant, deflective wordplay and outrageous stories of faux Sugar Plum Fairy fantasies. Jeff spends the rest of his time with the other teens, including suicidal Sadie the sociopath and the gay teen in jock’s clothing, Rankin. While Sadie encourages Jeff’s resentment toward the program, it is Rankin’s actions that force Jeff to come to terms with his suicide attempt and his own sexuality.

This is a story of warped self-perception, of the lies that people tell themselves so they never have to face the truth. Ford is most successful in his withholding of Jeff’s secret, a disclosure not made until the last third of the book. While the book could be named due to many similarities to Susanna Kaysen’s characters and depictions of the mental-health community, Jeff’s wit and self-discovery are refreshing, poignant, and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. Readers will relate to Jeff as a teen bumbling through horrible embarrassment and the shame that follows, and they will be inspired by his eventual integrity and grace.

—Kat Redniss, Brownell Library, Essex Junction, VTCopyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From

After Jeff, 15, wakes up in a psychiatric ward, he won’t talk about why he slit his wrists. He lies to the therapist (whom he names “Cat Poop”) and refuses to relate to the other teens in group therapy. He feels that he is not nutty like them, his parents are fine, nothing is bothering him, and he is “normal”; he just had one bad day. The therapy talk sometimes gets to be too much, but there is rising tension in Jeff’s fast, irreverent, frank, first-person narrative: what is he holding back? He bonds with another patient, Sadie, and tells her about his best friend, Allie, and about Allie’s cute boyfriend. When Jeff sees a jock masturbating in the shower, he feels attraction that is returned, and the two teens have sex. Long before Jeff confronts the truth, readers will realize that he is gay, and his denial is part of the humor and sadness many readers will recognize.

Grades 10–12.

—Hazel Rochman

Genre: Fiction

How will Jane Austen break the news to her fiancé that she’s not only undead, but also a two-hundred-plus-year-old literary icon?

From an Agatha Christie–style murder mystery to a wedding interrupted by the ghosts of the Princes in the Tower to a shocking revelation about Walter’s mother, nothing about this trip is less than pure mayhem. And when a chance encounter puts Jane on the trail of a legendary device reputed to restore a vampire’s human soul, will our beloved heroine finally be able to vow her love and devotion—or will a vampire hunter’s vengeance drive a stake through her eternal life?

Genre: Fiction

Life was a lot easier for Jane when she was just an unknown, undead bookstore owner in a sleepy hamlet in upstate New York. But now the world embraces her as Jane Fairfax, author of the bestselling novel —and she’s having a killer time trying to keep her true identity as Jane Austen a secret. Even the ongoing lessons in How to Be a Vampire, taught by her former lover Lord Byron, don’t seem to be helping much. Jane can barely focus on her boyfriend, Walter, while keeping him in the dark about her more sanguine tastes.

To make matters worse, Walter announces that his mother is coming for a visit—and she’s expecting Jane to be Jewish. Add in a demanding new editor, a convention of romance readers in period costume, a Hollywood camera crew following Jane’s every move, and the constant threat of a certain bloodsucking Brontë sister coming back to finish her off, and it’s enough to make even the most well-mannered heroine go batty!

Genre: Fiction

Two hundred years after her death, Jane Austen is still surrounded by the literature she loves—but now it's because she's the owner of Flyleaf Books in a sleepy college town in Upstate New York. Every day she watches her novels fly off the shelves—along with dozens of unauthorized sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations. Jane may be undead, but her books have taken on a life of their own.

To make matters worse, the manuscript she finished just before being turned into a vampire has been rejected by publishers—116 times. Jane longs to let the world know who she is, but when a sudden twist of fate thrusts her back into the spotlight, she must hide her real identity—and fend off a dark man from her past while juggling two modern suitors. Will the inimitable Jane Austen be able to keep her cool in this comedy of manners, or will she show everyone what a woman with a sharp wit and an even sharper set of fangs can do?

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