Guide Baby Grand Conspiracy (Gifted Racers Book 2)

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I cannot begin to see the expression of the faces. These are the souls of seemingly ordinary human beings that stand tall and they are those who deserve to ride in the chariot of God. View all 7 comments. Apr 16, BlackOxford rated it it was amazing Shelves: australian , favourites. Don't die without reading. In order to tempt readers into Riders in the Chariot, I can think of no better strategy than simply sampling White's prose: Perhaps somebody will tell me. And show me at the same time how to distinguish with certainty Don't die without reading. And show me at the same time how to distinguish with certainty between good and evil.

Except to children. White is witty, humorous, philosophical, and gently ironic in about equal measure. He constitutes an entire literary world on his own. An Australian national treasure. View all 6 comments. May 01, Roger Brunyate rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Fergus. Shelves: top-reviews , religion , art , australia-nz , nobel-laureates , holocaust. The Visionaries What makes a great novel? All three of these qualities are to be found in this towering novel by Patrick White. It is the first book by the Nobel laureate that I have encountered; it will not be the last.

This is a long book pages , but a very easy one to read. In any case, when speaking of scale, physical length is less important than breadth of implication. White concentrates on a small g The Visionaries What makes a great novel? White concentrates on a small group of people living on the outskirts of Sydney after WW2, but makes them seem emblematic of the entire continent.

There is also a wide range of origin and social class; the characters include the last survivor of a once-rich aristocratic family, a German Jewish professor fleeing the Holocaust, a poor washerwoman who emigrated from England as a child, and a half-aboriginal painter. Since each character is given almost pages of back-story, the novel is by no means confined in place or period either; the section set in Germany between the wars can hold its own with the best Holocaust writing anywhere, with particular insights into Jewish social, intellectual, and spiritual life.

But the most important aspect of the book's scale is the feeling held by each of the four major characters that the universe is an immensely greater place than anything they may see around them. White has the great gift of loving his characters. Each of the four is something of an outcast. Miss Hare, the faded aristocrat, is clearly mad; Himmelfarb, the professor, now chooses to work in a menial job, without possessions or other signs of status; Mrs.

Godbold, the washerwoman, lives with her many daughters in a tumbledown shack; Alf Dubbo, the half-caste painter, works by day as a janitor and is given to fits of drunkenness. And yet White writes so convincingly through the eyes of each that we do more than feel sympathy for them; we begin to see the others around them as impoverished of spirit, living only partial lives. White is brilliant in creating a gallery of semi-comic secondary characters—some bad, some well-meaning, some merely lacking in imagination—to set off the qualities of his principal quartet, but even these have dimension and are far from caricatures.

One of the curious aspects of the book is that the four characters hardly ever meet, although they recognize an immediate kinship when they do. For all four are religious visionaries. Their visions may occur only once or twice in their lives, but the image is the same for each: the approach of Ezekiel's fiery chariot, both wonderful and terrible.

I can think of few books that are so successful at portraying the mystical dimension while being so firmly rooted in the mundane. This is clearly a religious book, but not at all a sectarian one. It is White's strength that he endows his visionaries with everyday failings, and gives each a very different religious background. Miss Hare's religion, if she has one, is a pantheism rooted in the plants and animals on her moldering estate.

Himmelfarb has returned to Judaism only after years of secular life, and considers himself morally unworthy. Godbold is a staunch evangelical, but her religion shows more in her practical kindnesses to others than in any doctrinal fundamentalism. And Alf Dubbo, though raised by a preacher and especially inspired by religious subjects, is dissolute and virtually autistic in his day to day life.

A fourth quality that I might have mentioned is Style. White's writing, as I say, is easy to read, but very varied and always appropriate to the tone of the moment. While he can neatly skewer the social pretensions of the Rosetrees the employers of Himmelfarb and Alf , he can also shift to the kind of description that portrays everyday things as symbolic of eternal conflicts or reflections of the infinite.

His descriptions of Alf Dubbo's paintings, for example, are equaled by no author I can think of except perhaps Chaim Potok in My Name Is Asher Lev , in their ability to convey a truly incandescent artistic vision. Such mastery of style is essential because, as loners, his characters cannot interact much together in terms of everyday plot, and in narrative terms the concluding section of the book is less compelling than the long set-up. But where the characters do meet is in their common vision, their unspoken sense of rightness, and it is precisely in White's evocative language that this sounds, resonates, resounds.

View all 22 comments. Sep 06, Eddie Watkins rated it really liked it Shelves: australian-fiction. The more I read the more Patrick White seemed like an inspired eccentric rather than a Nobel Laureate. I prefer inspired eccentrics to Nobel Laureates, but then Patrick White proves that one can be both. This is a book about the burdens and dangers of being a visionary; the Chariot of the title coming from Ezekiel and representing a palpable vision of a higher order of reality. The four main characters have all had their own particular visions of the Chariot, the four roughly representing four di The more I read the more Patrick White seemed like an inspired eccentric rather than a Nobel Laureate.

The four main characters have all had their own particular visions of the Chariot, the four roughly representing four different pathways to the divine. One is an eccentric old maid nature mystic living alone in a crumbling estate, another is a German Jew whose parents arranged for his escape from the evil that soon killed them and who connects with the divine through Cabala, one is a half-aborigine outcast who gets there through oil painting, while the last is an old washerwoman who abides in the higher orders through humility.

His naturally ornery nature is rarely obscured by objectivity, throbbing with spleen that only reaches the comic at its outer limits, the bulk of it being a smoking disgust only slightly tempered by his gentility. His eccentricity also flowers in the structure of the book. The present tense gets oddly short shrift, and characters who aren't provided with back stories have no chance against White's stinging portrayal of them. While reading I kept imagining large paintings that, say, have an irresistibly attention-grabbing, obsessively detailed section in the bottom left, while the center of the canvas is rendered in loose non-specific strokes; this juxtaposition causing eye cramps and brain discomfort as you move back and forth between them.

This effect left me uncertain how to proceed at times, as I went from prose that demanded undivided attention to prose that almost begged to be skimmed. Mahler's symphonies also came to mind for similar reasons. The overall plot itself is a well-handled religious allegory roughly mirroring the life of Christ that only rarely becomes heavy-handed.

It is also a portrayal of the old notion that there are at any one time on Earth a very limited number of wise souls who are responsible for the salvation of the world by propogating that wisdom, but wedded to this arefied idea is the notion of the artist as filling this role also. This book will appeal to outsiders, to people who feel generally at odds with the times and their environment, but who are substantial and significant in and of themselves; or just to someone who seethes with hate at what they say but who still harbors some vision of goodness.

Oddly, I lost this book just before I finished it, and just as everything in the book was falling apart - main characters dying, the mansion crumbling, paintings being thoughtlessly sold off - and just as I was wondering if there would be a Resurrection in keeping with the overall Christ-allegory.

Losing the book dashed my hopes for any positive outcome in the novel, and besides being pissed I got a bit depressed. But the next day after fruitlessly checking the library lost and found and the various help desks, I went to the chair where I had been sitting the day before, and there was the book! And even though the low-keyed joy that the "resurrection" of my copy brought me wasn't exactly paralleled in the book itself, the coincidence somehow injected an optimism into my reading experience.

View all 9 comments. Jun 12, Jonfaith rated it it was amazing Shelves: samizdat. Her instinct suggested, rather, that she was being dispersed, but that in so experiencing, she was entering the final ecstasy. Walking and walking through the unresistant thorns and twigs. Ploughing through the soft opalescent remnants of night.

Never actually arriving, but that was to be expected, since she had become all-pervasive: scent sound, the steely dew, the blue glare of white light off rocks. She was all but identified. Riders in the Chariot wrestles throughout its sprawling page c Her instinct suggested, rather, that she was being dispersed, but that in so experiencing, she was entering the final ecstasy.

Riders in the Chariot wrestles throughout its sprawling page course with this notion of Ascension. The core quartet of characters struggle and persevere. Their motivations and responses are hardly ideal. The craven and the petty are a common currency here. Colonial traditions wither, crack and collapse. A modern mediocrity arrives at the end of the war, along with streams of refugees and migrants. Names are nativised, genealogies whitened, decisions to emigrate are regretted and allowed to petrify in the bleak sun of the Outback. It does force one to contemplate the nature of the Elect.

I found a number of analogies with Faulkner here. Whereas the original sin of Faulkner's South was slavery, a misdeed which poisoned the history, the land and the souls of Southerners, Patrick White isn't that specific, but finds the hollow idols of postwar Australia to be sufficiently damning. Many of the accursed are slain in atonement. Those that survivie maintain faith but little hope. Apr 20, Tony rated it really liked it Shelves: nyrb-classics , australian. Think, first, David Mitchell's interconnectivity, how we link: person to person, era to era, war to war, genre to genre.

Transmigrating spirits. Miss Hare is an only child, born to some money, in Australia. She is, let's just say, a disappointment. Not pretty; not pretty at all. And something wrong with her, too. She likes the woods, and the creatures there. She prefers it there. There it is where she meets Himmelfarb, the Jew, who has survived Auschwitz, and made it down under. He is no safer th Think, first, David Mitchell's interconnectivity, how we link: person to person, era to era, war to war, genre to genre.

He is no safer there. An aborigine painter, of sorts, is drawn to him, fulfilling the agony of painting Christ. Ruth Joyner, a washerwoman and abused wife, stout, will heal them all while she can. This is a large canvas: history, mythology, bible. Who brings the light? Who brings the sun? The Chariot of the title is a constant presence.

For each of the players, as they try to find meaning. And yet, the Riders in the book title are absent from the painting. I could jabber for a long time about what that means, about the colors of heaven, the driving forces of history, the reader filling a void; but it'd just be me, well, jabbering. Instead, let me tell you that near the end of the book there is a crucifixion. It's written over the top, obvious. And no poorer for it. View all 5 comments. Mar 23, Justin Evans rated it it was amazing Shelves: fiction.

White is fascinating: he has precisely two tools in his kit, and when they're working, I couldn't care less about his failure to, you know, structure his books or think through his incredibly vague ideas. When the two tools aren't working, I can't stomach more than about 15 pages at a time. Luckily, in 'Riders', White is at or near peak. Here, I do not care, because the individuals are so fascinating--whether they fill me with joy, as in the case of Mordecai; with hatred for my country, as in with Dubbo a victim of it or the Mrses Jolley and Flack the victors ; love, as with Mrs Godbold; or deep ambivalence, as with Miss Hare.

And their interactions are things of stupendous wonder. I do not care about White's failings, because he hits you over the head with things like: "Where fippancy is absent, truth can only be inferred" and "I am afraid it may soon be forgotten that our being a people does not relieve us of individual obligations" I can't help but wonder if White and Arendt stole each other's ideas and, gloriously--I say this as someone who isn't much impressed by descriptions in literature-- "the plump, shiny, maculated birds, neither black nor grey, but of a common, bird colour, were familiar as her own instinct for air and twigs.

And one bird touched her deeply, clinging clumsily to a cornice. Confusion had robbed it of its grace, making it a blunt thing, of ruffled gills. Don't worry, the bird is okay in the end, too. Similarly, there's a scene at the end of chapter 12, too long to quote, in which a train makes its way through the city, which is simply too good.

Well, well. It is also, in the end, a book about how good will triumph over evil, and how nature mysticism, art, the major world religions and general kindness are all one, and all good. The plot is a fine, but overly schematic, retelling of the great world religious myths. That's okay. White, like Joyce, is a great wordsmith, and it would be silly to read him for ideas--not because his ideas are bad or wrong, but they are uninteresting.

I, too, hope that good triumphs over evil. But that train in the city: "Sodom had not been softer, silkier at night than the sea gardens of Sydney. The streets of Ninevah had not clanged with such metal.

The waters of Babylon had not sounded sadder than the sea, ending on a crumpled beach, in a scum of French-letters. Oct 16, Szplug rated it really liked it. Patrick White is an Australian writer who should be better known, and more widely read. Riders in the Chariot is probably my favorite novel of his, a moving and beautifully written testimony to the yearning for redemption so inherent even in these, the days of the ascension of science and rationalism. The novel takes place in White's fictional Australian city of Sarsaparilla, a locale wherein the rising tide of recent immigrants intermingle with an ofttimes suspicious and bigoted populace.

Four r Patrick White is an Australian writer who should be better known, and more widely read. Four residents of the city—an eccentric heiress, a tormented Jewish refugee from post-Nazi Europe, a big-hearted and long-suffering working class washerwoman, and an alcohol-ravaged but artistically gifted aboriginal—are united by the baleful ghosts of their past, and a shared vision of the Chariot , the redemption offered through faith by a forgiving God. Surrounded by actors motivated by pettiness, malice, ignorance and fear, the four individuals—haunted by glimpses of the Chariot and pursuing their archetypal personal salvation—come together in the final act in a lovingly-rendered testimony to human grace.

White deftly illuminates how very many of our fears and doubts are engendered by guilt—survivor's guilt, the guilt of being different, the guilt of disobedience, guilt from violence and from succumbing to the endless temptations proffered to both flesh and spirit. Yet guilt itself can be the prime motivator for the very acts of deliverance and succor that will assuage, if not our stains, then the dreadful burden of another's sin.

Guided by wisdom and faith, sprinkled with lacerating barbs, populated by lost and damaged souls even amongst the wicked, White's novel renders a unique homage to the transformative power of art and the spirit. The best review I've ever come across for this book is Eddie Watkins' , a poignant and thoughtful reflection that makes me want to proceed directly into rereading Chariots to discover anew its unique charms.

View 1 comment. Sylvie and Jules, Jules and Sylvie. Jules is devastated, but she refuses to believe what all the others believe, that—like their mother—her sister is gone forever. At the very same time, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born—half of the spirit world, half of the animal world. She too is fast—faster than fast—and she senses danger.

And when Jules believes one last wish rock for Sylvie needs to be thrown into the river, the human and shadow worlds collide. But in truth, Michael is extremely special—he has electric powers. Michael thinks he is unique until he discovers that a cheerleader named Taylor has the same mysterious powers. A communications blackout with Earth hits, and all of Perses is on its own for three months. But they never prepared for an attack.

Landers, as the attackers are called, obliterate the colony to steal the metal and raw ore. Now in a race against time, Christopher, along with a small group of survivors, are forced into the maze of mining tunnels. The kids run. They hide. But can they survive? City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. From Amazon: When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons.

Then the body disappears into thin air. Or was he a boy? But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…. Need by Joelle Charbonneau. Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. He strikes out on his own despite the encroaching war, spurred by love, loyalty, and grief, to be reunited with his fox. Meanwhile Pax, steadfastly waiting for his boy, embarks on adventures and discoveries of his own.

They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom.

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This time, he will not be denied. Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles. From Amazon: Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge.

But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own. To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons.

As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard—a growing Red rebellion—even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach. My name is Felton Reinstein, which is not a fast name.

But last November, my voice finally dropped and I grew all this hair and then I got stupid fast. Fast like a donkey. Now they want me, the guy they used to call Squirrel Nut, to try out for the football team. With the jocks. But will that fix my mom? Make my brother stop dressing like a pirate? Most important, will it get me girls-especially Aleah?

So I train. And I run. And I wonder what will happen when I finally have to stop. Super Burp by Nancy Krulik. The first day at a new school is always the hardest, right? No, not always as George finds out the hard way. On the second day at…Sugarman Elementary School, he is suddenly seized by uncontrollable burps, burps so loud they practically break the sound barrier, burps that make him do wild and crazy stuff and land him in trouble with a capital T.

One thing is for sure: these are not normal burps, they are magic burps—and they must be stopped! But how? The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.

To give up or to get up. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. The Body in the Woods by April Henry. What they find instead is a dead body. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Stop all that quivering. The Enemy series by Charlie Higson. In the wake of a devastating disease, everyone sixteen and older is either dead or a decomposing, brainless creature with a ravenous appetite for flesh.

Teens have barricaded themselves in buildings throughout London and venture outside only when they need to scavenge for food. The group of kids living a Waitrose supermarket is beginning to run out of options. When a mysterious traveler arrives and offers them safe haven at Buckingham Palace, they begin a harrowing journey across London. But their fight is far from over-the threat from within the palace is as real as the one outside it.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. The Finisher by David Baldacci. Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but a forest filled with danger and death. And she always believed it — until the night she saw Quentin Herms run away. And he left behind a trail of clues that point to a dark conspiracy at the heart of Wormwood.

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To follow the clues will attract the attention of influential people willing to kill to keep their secrets. If Vega wants to stay safe, she just needs to keep her head down and her mouth shut. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games.

The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. Eragon by Christoper Paolini. Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power.

Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire. The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer. The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success, and be average no longer! Can he do it? Lies I Told by Michelle Zink. Grace Fontaine has everything: beauty, money, confidence, and the perfect family. Grace has been adopted into a family of thieves who con affluent people out of money, jewelry, art, and anything else of value. From Amazon: As twelve-year-old Marlee starts middle school in Little Rock, it feels like her whole world is falling apart.

Until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. But when Liz leaves school without even a good-bye, the rumor is that Liz was caught passing for white. She just wants her friend back. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are even willing to take on segregation and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families. The Lord of the Rings series by J. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose. The Martian by Andy Weir.

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Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him? The Maze Runner by James Dashner. When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade. Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. Everything is going to change. Then a girl arrives.

The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying. Will West is careful to live life under the radar. Then Will slips up, accidentally scoring off the charts on a nationwide exam. Now Will is being courted by an exclusive prep school.

The Best Books for Middle School According to My Students – Pernille Ripp

When Will suddenly loses his parents, he must flee to the school. Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories. Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. They are both growing weaker.

Depression is setting in. Two brothers will need all their wilderness skills to survive when they set off into the woods of Wyoming in search of their absent father. Jake and Taylor Wilder have been taking care of themselves for a long time. Their father abandoned the family years ago, and their mother is too busy working and running interference between the boys and her boyfriend, Bull, to spend a lot of time with them.

Thirteen-year-old Jake spends most of his time reading. Eleven-year-old Taylor likes to be outside playing with their dog, Cody, or joking around with the other kids in the neighborhood. But one night everything changes. The boys discover a dangerous secret that Bull is hiding. And the next day, they come home from school to find their mother unconscious in an ambulance.

Knowing they are no longer safe and with nowhere else to go, the Wilder Boys head off in search of their father. They only have his old letters and journal to help them, but they have to make it. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships.

So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away. Victor Cruz, the Super Bowl-winning and record-breaking wide receiver, is best known for his explosive plays and salsa touchdown celebrations. While his meteoric rise in the NFL looked like the result of a magical year, it was actually a lifetime in the making. Clay and his friends have grown up under a mountain, secretly raised by the Talons of Peace to fulfill a mysterious prophecy. But not every dragonet wants a destiny. When one of their own is threatened, Clay and his friends decide to escape.

Take Ethan, a. Enter Nate, a. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. At the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases. Thanks so much for this! I had a small amount of money left, and found 4 new to us titles on your list.

Thank your students from mine, please! Mary, I hope one of the books was Eleven by Tom Rogers listed above. My students say it is one of the best books they have ever read! It renders news anchors and ex-boyfriends into strangers, reducing them to the base level of politeness required by the social contract. It sharpens respect into a shiv.

And yet it is vexing in its restraint, pre-emptively silencing any retaliatory efforts. We are living in a time of great pettiness. A big star can grow two sizes by doing something very small. Bhad Bhabie chucked a drink at Iggy Azalea and cemented her status as a memetic folk hero. Pusha T lobbed a literal baby into the middle of his rap war with Drake. The next level of beef is always the high road — ascending to that rarefied realm of conflict where put-downs are joined seamlessly with self-respect.

Amanda Hess is a critic at large for The Times. She writes about internet culture for the Arts section. From the vocal singularity embodied in Aretha Franklin to the otherworldly dance moves of Michael Jackson, black folks have long expected rigor from our R. Being the best in R. I grew up hearing debates about the worthiness of this or that singer devolve into shouting matches, the assertion that a favored artist could sing but not really sang being an affront to your system of taste and judgment.

Mariah Carey was always an easy win. In a single verse, her melismatic contralto might argue with her teasing falsetto, alternating between lower and higher notes until she sounded more bird than human. Her desire for cross-genre acceptance is part of what pushed her to write and arrange songs for herself that few other human beings could cover. Through the mids, to listen to a Mariah album, from lead single to deep cut, was to marvel at a maximalist pulling off her excesses, every run more dazzling than the last.

And yet by the end of the aughts, she had begun receding behind her production, talk-singing and whispering where she used to overaccentuate each phrase. The rumored loss of her voice seemed to mark the end of an era altogether. Few people argue over the voice of a singer the way they used to, but R. But the terms by which we expect rigor from these artists have changed, too. Contemporary R. The preferred feel is that of a raw outpouring of emotion alone in a bedroom with a laptop.

To see R. The track has a few elastic moments at the top of verses, but for the most part, Carey maintains a syncopated, crooning sing-speak. She comes down from the vocal stratosphere to some place closer to the younger R. What makes it different from her previous attempts at less ornate vocal arrangement is the confidence Carey exudes.

This new phase of R. She has always been a quick study of current trends, and as a writer on 17 of her 18 No. Carey possesses a mischievous sense of humor best employed on Eminem diss tracks that is fit for our current age of trolling and lyrics made for memes. Over the past three decades, Mariah the vocalist has been so singular that other Mariahs went overlooked — the canny recognizer of trends, the pop star who pushed her label to make unlikely hip-hop collaborations happen and the songwriter who was funnier than people understood.

Mariah, queen of glitter and lover of glamour, might never pull off a down-to-earth visual aesthetic, but she still possesses the tools to make music that embodies that feeling — and she has had these tools for years. Last year, in a span of months, Meek Mill went from solitary confinement in a Pennsylvania prison to releasing an album that debuted at No. Sentenced at 21 to prison and years of probation, the year-old rapper has spent his entire adult life in and out of courts and prison, often for noncriminal violations like not adequately reporting his travel plans.

But proved transformative. Along with writing an op-ed for The New York Times and appearing on national news shows, the rapper helped start the Reform Alliance, an organization dedicated to getting one million Americans out of the prison system. How long did you work on the album? Probably eight months. Since I came out. I usually take about eight months to produce a piece as well. I feel the same way. So much of what you write is sociological, a study of the neighborhood.

Your being from Philadelphia made me think about W. One of the older guys probably gave it to me. This was known as the first sociological study of black Americans in the country. He was trying to understand why black folks lived the way they lived. And the social problems he identified — poverty, crime, illiteracy, white discrimination — are the exact same things you talk about years later. That was my life coming up, so it was normal. You said you were on the honor roll? I used to be, until, like, third grade. There was another book I got in prison, about black kids — the fourth grade, things go wrong and grades start to decline.

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That was my life. Mine was because I moved to a different neighborhood, rougher than the one I came from. Yeah, but I never believed that. I used to say I was going to be a normal story of the ghetto. Was school easy for you? Pretty easy. Even if I ran the hallways, I would still be fairly good. Later on, when I really stopped trying, I was put in disciplinary schools. It was like a jail. You get strip-searched before you go in, fingerprinted every day. One day I just climbed over the gate and left. It was a public school organized like a jail?

In other words, it was early conditioning for what everybody assumed your future was going to be. When I finally went to jail, I already knew everybody. Everybody I went to school with was in the jail. What were you put in that school for? Fighting and acting up. I said in one of my raps, I was acting up in school because I thought it was cool, but really I was hurt. What type of motivation do you get if your mom is on drugs?

Your self-esteem is automatically just low. Some people have the determination to shoot to the top. I always say anger is an easier emotion to deal with than pain. They hurt, they torn, they scarred. Michelle Alexander. I went to public school. The books were falling apart. They probably still got the same books from when I was in school. I read a lot as a child, mostly because I was grounded all the time.

Then we had a black-studies course in high school, and I became obsessed with black history because it felt like, for the first time, the world made sense. You would see your community and how people lived, and they would tell you we just did not want better. But I could see how hard people worked, and they still could not get ahead.

Studying history calmed me. The most I ever read was in prison. Reading made me process the system. Because I am already a conspiracy theorist. People locked in the basement for 23 hours a day, being beat by the officers. Yes, the 13th. So you were first arrested — for the original charge — at 19? My first arrest was actually going to school. In sixth or seventh grade. I got caught and went to jail for trespassing. My mom had to come get me. Selling crack. When I got back, I had to get back in the street and start really selling weed to get me a lawyer, because everyone who had a public defender got crucified.

My mug shot has my face swollen, both sides of my face beat up. You know how his hand got fractured? Yeah, punching you. He charged me for him punching my face. They said I pointed a gun at them. That always stuck with me. But if you were on probation and began smoking weed? I barely sleep from so much trauma. Sometimes you just want to smoke and go to sleep.

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This is your dad right here. My mom was a probation officer. In a place with no public transit, they would drive to work and get violated. That makes no sense. If you gave me three months, that is not lenient. In prison, you were and-1, right?

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Isolated all but one hour a day? Nobody can. I kept blacking out in the middle of the day — not passing out, but like falling asleep. Twenty-three and a half hours a day. Come out to take a shower, back to your cell. When did you realize that you had a platform, and that you should use it to advocate for more than yourself? When I saw the support people gave me. He keeps going to jail. I caught one case at the age of I am I have never been back to prison for a crime.

Basically all billionaires except me. Robert Kraft saw me in prison, and he was like, How are you still smiling? He was like, If that was me, I would be depressed, mad, angry. Yeah, but that comes from my environment. So how do you deal with the trauma? I just override it. Rapping is one of my therapies. The saddest thing I can think about is Lil Snupe, an artist I had signed, got killed at 18 by a grown man.

That bothered me a lot for two years, but I suppressed it and never really addressed it. Then one day, I started realizing that had damaged me, and I thought about it a lot. Do you actually think Reform Alliance can change the system? That will be a big win for a lot of kids who will enter the system and probably would have gotten 10 to Hell, yeah. I got a mean team with me. How many people does it take to write a No.

Aubrey Graham, a. Drake, is the first voice we hear, though his verse will be abruptly cut off. Just wait till it drops. In , the Swiss producer Ozan Yildirim, a. Oz, was given an email address that supposedly belonged to Travis Scott. Keep sending. Oz got help with a synthesizer sound from his friend Mirsad Dervic, a. M-Dee, an appliance salesman who makes music on his days off. Oz also used a sound from a pack of samples created by the German producing duo Tim and Kevin Gomringer, a. Things telescope from there …. Kid Hood. Big Hawk, who was killed in The beat grinds to a halt with a series of distorted kick drums before moving to its final section.

He was producing for local M. Music crew, of which Young is a member. Young helped Scott in crafting lyrics. Jonah Weiner is a contributing writer for the magazine. His last feature for the magazine was about the director Adam McKay. Tay Keith: Zach Boisjoly. Mirsad Dervic by Ozan Yildirim. I was under pretty deep. I, at least, assumed that Ally would turn into somebody like Brandi Carlile, a songwriter whose singing regularly reaches the stratosphere but who we can tell is grounded and real because she holds a guitar the way, for some of us, a lawyer holds a degree from Yale — and because Thanks, craft-neutral manager!

But these women are grilling that cheese.

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Why did you do that — do that, do that, do that, do that — to ME? But I watched Ally perform it with my hand to my mouth. This song is confection and sex and feel-copping. Jackson thinks so. As much as I wanted to save this sexy, damaged, doomed man, on this, we disagree.