What to read in June & July

North Valley Magazine––What to read in June & July

By Julie Carlson

THE CONSPIRACY OF USThe conspiracy of us

By Maggie Hall

Young adults may find this debut novel intriguing. Main character Avery West continually moves from place to place with her mother. Avery wants to lay down roots, date, and make lifelong friends. It bothers her that she hasn’t been able to do so, especially when she meets Jack. But when her mother once again tells Avery they have to move, she rebels by attending a dance with Jack. Soon Avery’s world is spun out of control, and she is whisked away into Jack’s secret world and finds that she’s part of it. She learns that she’s connected to a powerful European family who are part of a secret society called the Circle and soon after discovers she’s the key to stopping WWIII. Readers may not be so keen about Avery’s naivety and also might question some of the elements used in the novel to portray the family, such as their control of the world and every war that’s ever happened. But fans of books like The Da Vinci Code will enjoy the puzzles, trails of clues, and locations.

3 Stars


By Jeff Marshall

Annie Oakley is a great iconic heroine whose fascinating American story will resonate with readers. Debut author and Arizona resident Jeff Marshall’s Little Miss Sure Shot is a terrific read for history buffs. There have been countless biographies, movies, and a Broadway musical about the life of Annie Oakley, and now, Marshall has written a fictionalized version of Oakley’s life. Interwoven with her childhood, her lasting marriage to Frank Butler, and fame as an expert markswoman in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Little Miss Sure Shot is right on the mark. Readers familiar will Oakley’s story will enjoy its accuracy as well as the fictional characters among the real-life ones. Those not so familiar will learn about this strong and independent woman who was willing to take up any challenge. The novel could have had a little more depth, particularly in the description part, but all in all, Marshall does a good job of making Little Miss Sure Shot adventurous, conversational, and entertaining. Add this to your summer list!

4 Stars


By Frank Bruni

Who doesn’t remember the dreaded SATs in high school? Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be is a rare look at how students sweat too much over attending college. The book , but the title is Bruni’s real message. Bruni, a columnist for The New York Times, shows us that there are many small and large colleges and universities perfect for anyone. He demonstrates that students who believe that a prestigious college holds the key to their success can change their minds and motivations when they’re not accepted or change their mind and find a better fit. Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be gives readers a fresh perspective on choosing a college. It helps those ready to prep, test, or apply to overcome their fears and failures by offering a different perspective and realistic options for college-bound students.

5 Stars




The 13 Lives of a Television Repair Man

M.D. Thalmann

North Valley Magazine writer M.D. Thalmann’s novel is an alternative-history, post-apocalyptic tale of an adolescent genius who comes unhinged. Written with a unique voice and style, it’s fascinating in its scope.

Lost Lake

Sarah Addison Allen

Newly widowed Kate and her 8-year-old daughter head to a magical place in Georgia to heal and find more than they bargained for in this sweet story about love lost––and found.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

By Elizabeth Kolbert

There have been five mass extinctions on this planet, each of which has changed the earth dramatically. Author Elizabeth Kolbert explores what scientists around the world are currently monitoring––the sixth extinction––which is predicted to be devastating for life as we know it.



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