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.


Friday, August 5, 2016

The Haters by Jesse Andrews

Wes and Corey love music, well except the music they hate on...which is a lot of it. They know they are haters - it's what they do. They are attending a jazz camp (Wes plays bass and Corey plays drums) with a bunch of young people way more into jazz than they are.

Back home, Wes and Corey do not play together a lot - they usually just end up listening to music. Needless to say they are not the best players in camp, so they end up in the worst group. But so does a guitar player named Ash. On the first day of camp, the three end up jamming together. They are so impressed with themselves that they decide to form a group and immediately hit the road to find venues to play.

What could go wrong with spur of the moment tour? Wes, Corey and Ash find out as the head through the South on route to New Orleans. It is a road trip of disasters, disappointments, weird characters and epic moments.

Music has a way of bringing people together. Wes, Corey and Ash came together through music and their lives will never be the same.

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



Monday, June 27, 2016

Drag Teen by Jeffery Self

JT has only done drag once - and it was humiliating. Of course, it wasn't the best venue with the most receptive audience (high school talent show with jocks watching). JT will not put himself through that again.

The problem is that JT does not want to be stuck working in his family's gas station in Florida for the rest of his life. His parents do not have the money to send him to college and do not seem to care what happens to him as long as he works at the station. How can he escape? His boyfriend, Seth, discovers a teen drag contest that gives the winner a four year scholarship to college.

So here are the problems (as JT sees it): 1)The contest is in New York City and he has no money to get there and 2) He is not a real drag queen since his only performance was a total embarrassment.

It's a good thing JT has friends like Seth and Heather. They are constantly talking him through his insecurities. And they have a plan. JT just has to find the confidence in himself and trust the people who want to help him. In New York and on the trip there, JT finds many of those people.

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



Saturday, June 18, 2016

Don't Get Caught by Kurt Dinan

Max is tired of being 'Just Max.' So when he receives a mysterious invitation  from the Chaos Club to meet at the water tower, he goes. For decades, the Chaos Club has pulled pranks around the school. Could this be an invitation to join the secret society?

Max soon realizes he is not the only one to get the invitation. The group includes a dumb jock, a tough girl, a slacker/troublemaker,  and the girl Max has a crush on. They make it to the top of the water tower as instructed only to realize they have been set up (and the whole thing is recorded and uploaded to the internet).

Tired of being pushed around, the group decides to pull their own epic pranks and take down the Chaos Club at the same time (and if they can make a certain coach look bad, too, all the better). Each group member will pull a prank to see who can do the best one.

How do you pull of pranks without involving innocent people? It's a question Max asks himself as the 'war' escalates. He wants to be somebody, but is it worth getting expelled?

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



A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Holmes and Watson must solve the mystery before the killer catches up to them. No, not Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (they are long dead). This is Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson, decedents of the famous crime solving team. Through coincidence (or is it?), they both end up at a private school in Connecticut. Watson knew of Charlotte, of course, but had never met her.

The death of a classmate finds them awkwardly paired. Jamie must adjust to Charlotte's unusual habits and eccentricities. From birth she has been trained in the Holmes tradition of crime solving and all the goes with it (observation, forensics, interrogation). Although the Holmes and Watson families have shared history, Jamie's mother has tried to keep him away from the Holmes'.

But once Jamie follows Charlotte through the dead student's window to examine the crime scene, there is no going back. Jamie is completely immersed in Charlotte's world. Adding another level of intrigue, the crime (and the ones that follow) mimics the stories of the original Holmes and Watson.

I have never been a reader of Sherlock Holmes (other than a few in high school), so I do not know how closely the characters of Charlotte and Jamie resemble their famous ancestors. I do know that there is enough mystery (mixed with teen angst) to keep the pages turning.

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