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Juvenile Fiction Selection: Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington

Mysti Murphy is starting seventh grade and so far nothing is turning out as expected.  Her best friend Anibal Gomez has blown her off to become a “hipster” and gain the attention of a pretty girl at school.  Meanwhile, Mysti has plenty of problems at home.  Her family has a secret; her mother is agoraphobic which means she never leaves the house.  Mysti and her sister keep this secret and their father takes care of everything that needs to be done outside of the house.  Things take a bad turn when her father falls and suffers an injury that lands him in the hospital for a long stay.  Now it is up to Mysti to move beyond her mother's projected fears and find the courage to help herself and her family.  With the loss of her best friend Mysti ends up at the “loser island” lunch table and eventually befriends a strong and sassy Rama Khan who helps her find that courage.  Mysti is a character that you'll be rooting for from beginning to end!  (Grades 5-8 School Library Journal)

Unsinkable: A Memoir by Debbie Reynolds

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A youngster during movies ‘Golden Age’, Reynolds writes a wonderfully funny & heartfelt memoir of her trials, tribulations and friendships.  She shares her children, Carrie and Todd Fisher, personal problems, as they struggle with their own successes as well as their famous parents.    Her disastrous marriages brought her to bankruptcy, but she never despaired- and that’s the heart of this story, how her spirit, talent and personality kept her from sinking.

The Little Free Library Book by Margret Aldrich

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In 2009, Todd Bol built the first Little Free Library in his front yard as a tribute to his mother, a schoolteacher. It was a small, weatherproof box in the shape of a one-room schoolhouse with a simple message: “Take a book, return a book.” Inspired by the positive response of his neighbors, Bol built more libraries, and a grassroots literary movement was born. As of 2015, an estimated 25,000 Little Free Libraries are in operation across the globe—in small towns without a public library and busy cities; in refugee camps and police stations; front yards and local parks. (Locally, Upper Arlington is home to four Little Free Libraries, while nearby Clintonville is home to six.) The Little Free Library Book tells the story of the movement’s beginning and showcases the libraries—and stories—of dozens of library stewards. The book also includes helpful tips and information for those interested in starting their own library.

Sentinel: A Spycatcher Novel

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Written by an ex-MI6 field agent, Matthew Dunn, this spy thriller exudes authenticity.  Trained to be the ultimate spy, Will Cochran is sent to Russia on a fool’s errand:  to find a deep cover agent who has betrayed the U. S. and wants to start a war.  Not only does Cochran face geographic and physical odds in Russia, political and economic tensions at home, he is up against the clock, and it is ticking!

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal, by Ben MacIntyre

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Kim Philby was a cricket fan, journalist, friend, spy—and traitor. In A Spy Among Friends, Ben MacIntyre examines the life and career of one of the most successful Soviet double agents through his friendships with Nicholas Elliott, a fellow British spy, and James Jesus Angleton, the chief of the CIA’s counterintelligence department. MacIntyre’s telling exposes the strange, almost incestuously intimate world of spying in the 1930’s, 1940’s, and 1950’s: a society of hard-drinking school friends-turned-agents made vulnerable by the peculiarly British belief that only a small circle can be trusted, but that within that circle, trust is absolute—even in the face of overwhelming evidence. Philby exploited this weakness to its fullest, “picking clean” agents from every major intelligence organization in Europe, America, and the Middle East; untold hundreds of British and British-allied agents died as a result.  

Absorbing, well-organized, and marbled with delightful oddities like Elliott’s bodyguard/nanny (who had “enormous feet” and drank gin from a bottle marked “Holy Water”), A Spy Among Friends is a must-read for espionage fans and Cold War buffs.

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