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.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

Almost by accident, Normandy, Dusk and Neil start a movement to find the truth. They ask the questions everyone wants to know but are afraid to ask. Why did Aimee have plastic surgery over the summer? Is Tyler Jones gay? But how do you get the answers - you go right to the person of interest and ask them.

Normandy, Dusk and Neil attend the Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. It is a unique school that allows students to focus on different aspects of art. Neil is a painter (of the female form). He also likes to dress as characters from classic 60s and 70s movies. Dusk is currently working on taxidermy. She is the most effortlessly beautiful girl in the school. Normandy is a writer who is famous for being portrayed in her sister Keira's hugely popular graphic novel.

Normandy is uncomfortable asking others about their secrets because she has enough of her own family secrets (like how her sister has left college in California but won't tell anyone why including her agent). Normandy's family has always revolved around her sister's gifts and talents, so as long as Keira is working on her novel her parents will not do anything to upset her.

Normandy tells the story in a paper (aka the book itself) she is writing (complete with footnotes) for her Spring Special Project. She includes all the humor and drama that is her life: her sister's breakdown and her friend's quest for the truth that becomes bigger than all of them.

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

23 Minutes by Vivian Vande Velde

Imagine if you could go back in time to change something. Correct an answer on an exam. Take back something hurtful you said. Save someone's life. It seems easy enough, but time can be unforgiving. Suppose you can only go back 23 minutes. Zoe can. She doesn't know why, but she has the ability to jump back 23 minutes (and reset 10 times before the she reaches her oringinal starting time).

So on a rainy day, she ducks into a bank to stay dry and finds herself in the middle of a robbery. The young man who steps between her and the gunman should not have to die, no one should. Zoe tries to intervene using her time travel abilities.

It should be easy enough - call the police before the robbery happens; try to stop the robber from entering the bank; tell the young man not to enter the bank. Zoe has ten tries to stop people from dying. Her time travel has never been needed for something so important.

The author has given us a tight scenario with strict rules that makes for a tense story.

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

Monday, April 25, 2016

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

I have started a few books assuming the gender of a character only to find out in a few pages that I was wrong causing me to rethink how I picture them. With this book, that's part of the point. Riley is gender fluid. Some days, Riley feels like a girl and other days Riley feels like a boy.

Starting a new school, Riley wants to go unnoticed. One problem is that Riley sometimes wants to dress like a girl and sometimes like a boy. Riley would never be able to do that - at school or home. So Riley dresses neutral, fighting anxious feelings and possible panic attacks.

Only Riley's therapist knows about being gender fluid. Riley's parents don't even know. It would be a particular sticky issue for Riley's conservative congressman father who is running for reelection. As election day gets closer, it is increasingly difficult for Riley to find a way to get out of attending campaign events - they only bring on the worst panic attacks.

Riley's attempt to be invisible at school does not last long either. Riley does meet a cool guy named Solo on the first day. But is he interested in Riley as a guy friend or a girlfriend? Riley is also taken with Bec, a girl who may or may not be flirting with Riley. But the new potential friendships are overshadowed by the taunts of star football player, Jim Vickers, and his snotty girlfriend. Everything Riley feared is happening again.

Following the therapist's advice, Riley starts an anonymous blog about being gender fluid that quickly finds a following. It is the blog that drives Riley and the story forward.

Many things in life are not as straight forward as people would like them to be including gender. This story reminds us that people need to be accepted for who they are and given the chance to find out who that is. Riley is a character you will not easily forget.

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

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Character, Driven by David Lubar

Cliff's life changes when he sees Jillian for the first time. Yes, she is that beautiful. She is new to school, and everyone notices her when she walks into class. Cliff knows he does not have chance with her but that doesn't keep his mind from thinking up things to say to her.

Cliff is telling us the story of his senior year. Jillian is only one part of it. His dad lost his job and is pathological about saving money. Cliff works two jobs to contribute to the money his mom brings home from working at a bakery. Cliff's dad is constantly harping about what Cliff cannot do because it is a waste of money (like go to a concert of one of  his favorite bands). His dad also tells Cliff he is wasting his time with art. Cliff is not sure what he wants to do with his life, but he would like art to be an option.

Cliff has two best friends, Butch and Robert. Butch has changed her name many times since he's known her. She is "a little twisted, but in a good way" (her skull collection is a good example). Robert moved from Jamaica. Both are very smart and 'fight' with each other constantly.

Then there's Jimby whose mother drank a lot while she was pregnant. As described by Cliff, it messed up Jimby's brain a bit, but he would take a beating for Jimby. Cliff tries to help Jimby whenever he can.

Cliff knows he is writing us a story and makes occasional references to remind us. In reality of course, it is David Lubar who has (once again) given the reader a story filled with humor and poignancy. There are some basic truths to be found alongside the funny musings of Cliff.

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