Sunday, February 12, 2017

It's Not Me, It's You by Stephanie Kate Strohm

What a fun story. The premise is one used before - a person tracks down ex's to find out what went wrong. In this case, the person is Avery Dennis. Just before prom, she is dumped by Luke Murphy. Even though she is the head of the senior prom committee, Avery decides she will go without a date; in fact, she is done with dating.

In her history class, Avery is assigned to do an oral history project about a historic event. What could be a better subject than her own dating experiences? Her teacher thinks there are many, but Avery is persistent.

Avery's story is told through her assignment using the input of her, her best friend Coco, other students (like that annoying Bizzy Stanhope), teachers, coaches, and, of course, the former boyfriends. Avery also enlists Hutch, her lab partner since freshman year, to help analyze the findings.

Avery starts with her first boyfriend from kindergarten and works her way through summer camp romances, vacation flings, and more than a few boyfriends outside her social circle. Avery is smart and funny and obviously not a stuck up stereotypical popular girl. She is willing to see her flaws and defends herself when needed. Can she really discover why she can't keep a boyfriend? With Avery's determination, anything's possible.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

Five young men, close friends, enter the woods after a night of partying to go hunting, but only four come out alive. Grant, the prankster, is left lying on the ground with a gunshot wound. Which one of the four took the shot? None will admit to it. Grant was killed with his own Remington rifle, the only one in the group. Who grabbed the rifle that morning?  While standing over Grant's body, they all agree not to say anything.

While the five River Point Boys go to an expensive private school, Kate Marino attends the public school. As a senior, she has a paid internship at the district attorney's office. Her job is mostly filing for Mr. Stone, a lawyer who is close to retiring. Bowing to the pressure of the boys' fathers (who are highly influential in the community), the DA assigns the River Point Boys case to Stone with instructions to go easy with it. Mr. Stone and Kate agree that determining the shooter should be a priority.

Under normal circumstances, Kate would have no involvement with a case. Mr. Stone's vision is deteriorating and Kate is a photographer with a keen eye for detail, so he asks Kate to help him interpret evidence. She watches taped interviews, examines photographs and even visits the crime scene.

Things get complicated when the four accused boys are expelled from school and start attending Kate's school. She is told not to interact with them. Although Kate knows the importance of the case and her potential conflicts due to working for the prosecuting attorney, she can't completely avoid the boys. Of course, she never told Mr. Stone or her mom (who works in the same office) that she had been texting Grant in the weeks leading up to his death - including the night before he was shot.

It is a compelling story with enough nail biting moments to keep you guessing to the end.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.



Saturday, December 31, 2016

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

There was a time not so long ago when dinosaurs were new. Not to the planet, but to the knowledge of humans. The fossilized bones of dinosaurs had to be discovered and dug up to reveal the extinct creatures. The bones had to be assembled and the creature classified and named. Some of the men doing such work were formally educated like Professor Cartland. Some were self-taught like Michael Bolt. Cartland and Bolt are rivals and hate each other so much that they often stoop to petty sabotage.

This story is about the children of those two men - Rachel Cartland and Samuel Bolt. Both were raised without their mothers by fathers who surrounded them with science and the new discipline of paleontology. Rachel and Sam want to search for bones like their fathers. Sam might not have the money to go to school, but could be like his father. Rachel...well, women do not go to university and become dinosaur hunters. It's not proper.

Sam and Rachel meet for the first time on the night Sam's father is presenting his latest find and Rachel's father is there to embarrass him. Sam feels a connection to Rachel (even as they are both pulling their fathers apart during the fight that breaks out). Rachel has never had boys show interest in her (and is considered plain by most standards), so she hesitates in the face of Sam's interest.

Maybe they would never see each other again...until their super competitive fathers end up pursuing the same dinosaur that could be the most extraordinary find of all. The search takes them all out west (Rachel had to beg to go since a young lady does not travel in the wilds of the west with a bunch of young male students). The heated battle between the two parties is not even the worst of it. They face the hot dry conditions and the ever looming presence of Sioux who view the Badlands as sacred ground.

Through it all, Sam and Rachel find each other. If they survive this expedition, can they be together when their fathers hate each other so much?

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.



Thursday, December 8, 2016

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

Claire enters 8th grade not having much fun. Ryder, the kid who's been tormenting her since 6th grade, is in all of her classes. The mean girls seem even worse this year. Dance has always been an escape for her, but now her friends have been moved up to a higher group leaving her with the kids.

Worst of all, Claire's dad has a stroke. One minute they are talking in the kitchen; the next he is slumping to the floor mumbling nonsense. Her world is turned upside down. She needs her funny dad who writes books for teens. He cannot speak, can barely walk and struggles to get food to his mouth. The annual Dad's Dance performance was one thing Claire always looked forward to. Now, she will not be able to dance with her father on stage like the other girls.

Claire's mom is always super positive (which is sometimes annoying in a crisis). Her older brother is practically perfect. Her father's prolonged illness tests them all.

We follow Claire through her whole 8th grade year. Her friendships are tested along with her patience and self-esteem. Middle school is tough enough without having an almost non-functioning parent. Once again, Jordan Sonnenblick has given his readers wonderful characters to cheer on.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Three Day Summer by Sarvenaz Tash

For three days in 1969, the Woodstock music festival made the small town of Bethel, New York, the center of the rock world. Thousands of people gathered in the name of peace to hear some of the biggest names in music. Two of those people are Michael and Cora, and this is how they met and spent those three days.

Michael drove from Massachusetts with his friend Evan, his girlfriend Amanda, and Amanda's two friends. He's not sure what to do with his life. Go to college? Join the military? He's also not sure about his girlfriend Amanda. Sometimes it seems like she doesn't even like him, so why is she with him at all?

Cora lives in Bethel on a farm. Her dad has nothing but disdain for the people coming to the festival. He is a veteran with great pride in his oldest son's current service in Vietnam. He's not as happy with Cora and her war protesting twin brother. Cora wants to be a nurse...no, she really wants to be a doctor, a lofty goal for a woman from a small town in those times. She works as a candy striper in the medical tent at the festival.

Michael takes some acid with bad results, so his friends take him to the medical tent where he is attended to by Cora. Michael doesn't remember much about their first encounter, but soon realizes Cora is nothing like Amanda. Separated from his friends, Michael asks Cora to hang with him.

The festival allows to Michael and Cora to escape their worries for a bit: Cora's strict father and her brother in Vietnam; Michael's future and his issues with Amanda. Michael gets lost in the music and takes Cora with him. They run into famous people and share in the generosity of their fellow festival goers. Neither, of course, knows the mythical quality that Woodstock will one day represent to generations. But we do, so we can go along with them to feel just a little bit of what it could have been like for those three days of peace, love and music.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.



Friday, October 28, 2016

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

Justin, Gabe and Bobby have been making short horror movies for a while. When things fall apart on their most recent one, they decide to make an epic movie, one to stand among the best. They will make the greatest zombie movie ever. OK, so they have no money, no actors and only two months to do it (Gabe is leaving for the summer so they have to get done before the end of school). What could go wrong?

The first order of business is finding the perfect lead actress. Alicia is the best choice except for the fact that she is Justin's major crush. She agrees to the part but wants to see the script. No problem she is told. They will show it to her on Monday. They have a whole weekend to write the script - they each can write a third. It is totally worth not sleeping and possibly failing a test to make the greatest zombie movie ever.

As you can imagine, further complications happen causing many compromises along the way. An obnoxious birthday party clown, Bobby's crazy uncle, a male lead who has way too much chemistry with Alicia, an angry principal, broken equipment, a few injuries and one house destroying fire are not enough to make them stop the production. But Gabe begins to question whether they are really still trying to achieve their goal.

Three good friends and lots of humorous situations make for a quick, fun read.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.



Monday, October 24, 2016

Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker

Girl meets boy. Boy likes girl. Boy and girl rob a bank. OK, it's more complicated than that. Let's start with the boy...

Christian lives in rough part of Los Angeles. Even though he is a good student and gets accepted to college, he has not been able to avoid being involved with a gang. The gang takes care of his alcoholic dad's debts as long as Christian fulfills his obligations: robbing banks with his crew.  The crew (aka the Romero Robbers) stage hold ups and keep some of the money with the rest going to the gang leaders. Keep the jobs quick and small - get too ambitious and you get careless. That's how you get caught. But now Christian's boss wants a big job: breaking into a vault.

Lexi goes to an exclusive private school. She, her brother and their friends do extreme activities (like illegally BASE jumping from the top of an office building). Her life is pretty good until her father is arrested for a fraud scheme at the bank where he works. Her family's accounts are frozen and the school kicks her and her brother out. Lexi is so angry that her father's boss is probably also guilty but continues to live his luxurious life. She must find a way to take him down even if it means breaking into the bank to find incriminating evidence.

After a few chance encounters, Lexi and Christian have an attraction, but are suspicious of each other. Once they reveal their plans, they decide the best course is to team up to rob the bank - him to get money and her to get documents. They need each other, but they have different objectives that do not always mesh.

The story is involved, suspenseful and a fun exploration of a topic not often seen in teen books.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.



Thursday, October 6, 2016

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

A giant asteroid is heading for earth. Southern California is the target, but the whole world will be impacted. The smartest minds are assembled in a NASA facility in Pasadena to solve the problem. With less than a month left, a young Russian physicist arrives to join the team. Yuri's mathematical skills are unquestioned, but since he is only seventeen he is often not taken seriously by his fellow scientists. That is most unfortunate when Yuri knows he has the best solution to stop the asteroid.

One day Yuri decides to eat lunch outside and finds a pretty young woman named Dovie. Having spent most of his life focused on physics, Yuri is socially awkward and does not know how to interact with other people his age. In addition, Yuri has never been to the U.S. and does not understand the customs (or often the subtleties of the English language). Fortunately, the artsy Dovie takes a liking to Yuri and invites him to her house. Dovie's hippie parents and wheelchair bound brother Lennon are welcoming but live a very different existence than Yuri's.

With the world in peril, Yuri gets to spend time as a regular teenager while simultaneously trying to convince his colleagues that his unique knowledge holds the key to saving the planet. It's possible his overzealous behavior will keep him from returning to Russia.

This is a nice blend of science and teenage uncertainty about their own future.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash

Graham really likes Roxy. They have been friends ever since Graham moved next door to her after his mother died eight years ago. The first thing she asked him was which Hogwarts house he would be sorted into. How could he not love her after that? Graham is ready to tell Roxy how he really feels, and he is planning to do it at Comic Con.

Graham and Roxy collaborate on their own graphic novel (he writes, she illustrates) and are huge fans of the reclusive Robert Zinc, creator of The Chronicles of Althena. Zinc has not been seen in public for years, but with the movie adaptation in production he will be appearing at the convention in a Q&A session with limited seating. What a perfect time for Graham to express his true feelings.

Things are complicated from the start. To get tickets to see Zinc, Graham will have to wait in line all night outside in New York City. Roxy's parents would never allow her to do that, so Graham convinces his best friend Casey to get Roxy's ticket (but not before agreeing to convince his sister to go out with Casey).

And it only gets worse. Graham could not have foreseen the large number of fans willing to do anything to see Zinc. Or the attractive guy who attaches himself to Roxy from the beginning of the con. What should be the best Comic Con of Graham's life turns into a series of frustrating events.

For all of Graham's misery, this is fun excursion into the New York Comic Con. It's all you could ever want from a con without being there - laughs, suspense, adventure and pop culture references galore.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Autumn's Wish by Bella Thorne

Autumn receives a locket from her late father that allows her to travel through time. In the past two Autumn Falls books (which I have not read), Autumn gets a journal that grants her wishes and a dry erase map that lets her travel anywhere instantaneously. In conjunction with her father's wishes, she uses these items to bring peace and happiness to her little corner of the world.

As with any time travel story, there must be parameters. First, Autumn can only use the locket ten times. Second, she cannot travel into the past. Third, her visits are very short. Fourth, she cannot interact with anyone; she is merely an observing ghost.

By seeing the future, she can interfere with current events to change it. And what does she see? Her friends' lives are in turmoil and her mom is married to some goofy guy. So Autumn sets out altering the course of each person's life. But the changes often moves someone else's life in the wrong direction. Sometimes it makes her wonder what her dad really wants to happen.

I chose to read this because I like time travel stories. Imagine if you could see your own future. Would it be worth the risk to change it? Would you feel guilty about changing other people's lives? The possibility of time travel always causes more questions than answers, but that is the fun of it. And this books is an enjoyable, quick read.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.