Monday, October 20, 2014

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This has been on my radar for quite some time. I heard about it at a couple of conferences I attended, but didn't think much about it. Fortunately, a young person at my library recommended it to me, and I cannot wait to tell her how much I liked it.

Once again I found myself in the pages of a book. Ari, our narrator, says things that I have thought in my own head (and even said out loud to a few people). I always pause when I hit one of those lines. It is a moment of clarity and wonder. I am always surprised that others have felt the same way that I have. But enough about me...

Ari doesn't have any friends until he meets Dante. And he questions their friendship often (for a long time). Dante is so different. He seems so sure of things and thinks about life a unique way. Dante's father is a professor; his mother a therapist. They are outgoing and friendly. Ari's dad doesn't say much; he was in Vietnam and never talks about it. His mom is a teacher and more open with Ari, but she, too, keeps things locked inside. Neither talk about Ari's older brother who is in prison.

Ari wants nothing more than to know about his brother. He was just a child when his brother was incarcerated, so he has only possible memories of him. Ari wants someone to at least acknowledge that his brother exists.

With Dante, Ari's life is more interesting and frustrating at times. They are both growing and learning about themselves as tragedies happen and events separate them.

If it seems like I am being purposely vague, that would be because I am. I don't want to give anything away in this amazing story about these boys and their complex relationship with each other and their parents.

Books fascinate me. If you read enough and you are lucky, you might find one that speaks to you on levels you never could have imagined. This is one of those books for me.

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



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fifteen Minutes of Fame by Julie Young

MonAmi is a world famous superstar singer. She has had numerous hit songs, sold millions of albums, and toured the planet multiple times. She wears custom made clothes with dazzling makeup. Megan is a Midwestern girl who enjoys singing and writing songs. She grew up in a nice house with hard working parents and a younger sister. MonAmi and Megan are the same person, but few people know it.

Megan lives a double life as her career is carefully managed and promoted. All goes as planned because from the time she begins her career at 15 Megan becomes one of the most successful singers ever. But through it all, Megan misses her family and feels the stress of keeping her success alive with an ever fickle public and of meeting the demands of the record company who has invested to much in her success to let her fail.

We begin our story with Megan running away at the end of MonAmi's farewell tour. She just disappears not even telling her long time (and mostly trusted) manager, Mike. Her rise to fame has been stressful - working hours writing and recording, doing tours that always have to top the last one, making appearances at award shows on the arm of some famous actor she doesn't even know. And through it all, she cannot tell the world who she really is.

Megan was just the person the record company was looking for when they 'discovered' through a scholarship application. After her reluctant parents were convinced that this was an opportunity to good to pass up, Megan was whisked away to Europe for months to make her transformation into MonAmi. She was given the new name, a new look (to hide her true face) and a vague history (along with a somewhat European accent).

As the runaway, Megan recounts her story for us while she decides what her next move will be. Megan is a great character that is living the dream, but finds that even dreams can have a darkness to them. It is an intriguing look into the music business and the 'manufactured' star as well as our culture of instant celebrity.

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



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora

Is there a better way to make a book popular than by making it hard to get? Three friends in a small Connecticut town do not think so. The summer before they start high school, they decide that the only book from their summer reading list that anyone should read is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

It seems like a crazy notion at first (even to them), but Lucy, Michael and Elena love books and want to pay tribute to their favorite teacher, Fat Bob, who died unexpectedly during school the past year.

So how does one make a classic book that can be found in any library or bookstore disappear? They can't steal them. Breaking the law is not an option. They decide to hide them among books in other sections of the stores and libraries. They are committed to the cause, taking the bus to as many surrounding stores and libraries as possible. Wanting people to know it is being done, they leave fliers in place of the missing books and become a presence on all the major social media outlets. Keeping their identities secret is a must.

They never meant to start a movement, but books start disappearing all over the country (ah, the power of the internet). What is driving people to participate and how can our trio stop it before it gets truly out of hand and their secret is revealed?

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


Monday, September 22, 2014

Perfected by Kate Jarvick Birch

Ella is a loyal pet to a wealthy congressman's family. She was bred in an elite kennel to bring happiness to her family who chose her specifically. She will be well taken care of in her new role as companion to Ruby, the youngest member of the family. Oh, Ella is human being.

It is not explained how the United States reached the point where genetically bred humans can be pets (to those who can afford them). We know the congressman was behind the legislation and feels obligate (so he says) to have one. He is always proud to show Ella off to important people.

Ella is our narrator and expresses her naivete about the real world (so many things were never explained in her proper education). Although she can play the piano exquisitely, she knows nothing of swimming, candy and romantic attraction. Being 16, it is only natural that she would have feelings toward, Penn, the congressman's son. She is, after all, only human.

Yes, owning humans is wrong. Keeping them as pets raises a whole myriad of questions - like what happens when they get older? What if there is a sexual attraction? And what if it is acted on? This story does not delve too deeply into these issues - just enough to raise the questions on how we view the value of individual freedom and how we treat others (including our animal pets).

For awhile, Ella seems content, but maybe she just doesn't know any better.

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


Monday, September 8, 2014

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Here we go...another teen book set in a Revolutionary War reenactment tourist destination. I mean, really, how many of these can you read? OK, just kidding. I actually chose this one because it was different. I like the idea of modern teens dealing with their usual issues but having to exist in another historical period.

Chelsea has spent every summer in Essex, where it is always 1774 and the colonies are on the cusp of the Revolutionary War. Her parents are reenactors, too. Her dad is a big time history buff (it's pretty much all he talks about) and works as the silversmith in the village. Chelsea (colonial name Elizabeth Connelly) has always worked in the silversmith's shop playing the (surprise!) daughter of her parents, but this year she requested a change and will be in the graveyard.

So you might think that working in a historic village answering questions, telling stories of George Washington and posing for pictures would make for a nice summer job. Not for Chelsea. Her best friend, Fiona, is working at Essex for the first time (although not in the same area), but so is her ex-boyfriend Ezra. Yes, she is over him...mostly...ok, not really. Even bigger is the war being waged with the Civil War reenactment place right across the street. The adults must never found out about the war even when the 'pranks' lead to injury and vandalism.

Maybe Chelsea should have worked at the mall like she planned.

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




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

Lane thinks she could be a serial killer. Not that she's ever killed anybody, but she knows how to do it. She has been fascinated with serial killers since she was 11 years old. She has a notebook with her findings - she keeps it a secret because she knows her interest could be misunderstood.

To help quell her urges, she decides to become a vigilante bringing justice to those who have hurt others and have gotten away with it. Donning a ski mask, dark clothes and carefully chosen supplies, Lane stakes out a rapist who was acquitted in a trial she witnessed (oh, Lane sometimes hangs in court to watch interesting trials). She doesn't know what she will do to the rapist, but she plans to show him no mercy.

Her dream is to catch the serial killer ("The Decapitator") that her FBI agent mother is hunting. Having two parents (her stepdad included) working for the Bureau is great for Lane. She sneaks a look at her mother's files to have an inside view of the case.

The more Lane digs (with the help of a long distance friend) the more the killer seems closely connected to her. When the killer contacts her personally, even Lane, the girl who methodically examines crime scene photos and police files, is creeped out. Will she become a victim, too, or is the killer just toying with her?

Lane's mystery is our mystery, too. Many suspects and many questions arise as Lane travels some dangerous ground - sometimes for the thrill, sometimes for justice, sometimes for knowledge but always with danger lurking close by.

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



Friday, August 22, 2014

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

This an early book by one of my favorite authors. It was written before I discovered her. Like her other books, this one blends a realistic setting with just a slight bit of fantasy. I don't mean elves or magic, but an element of the unreal going on in the life of Vera Dietz.

Vera's best friend Charlie died - as she says, she lost him twice: first as a friend and then for real. We learn all the details as the story progresses (with flashbacks thrown in to help). We also hear from Vera single dad (whose wife left both of them when Vera was twelve), Charlie (speaking from beyond the grave) and the town's landmark pagoda (yes, it is quirky).

Vera just wants to be ignored. She lives in fear that someone will find out her secret - her mom used to be a stripper. The fact that her mother moved away years ago doesn't matter. The people Charlie calls detentionheads would make her life hell if they knew.

So Vera goes to school and works nights delivering pizzas. Other than Charlie, who lives next door, she has no friends and no extra activities. Her dad has insisted that she have a job since she has been legally able to do so. He wants her to learn responsibility, so she won't become an alcoholic or turn out like her mother. Ya, he makes Vera's life a lot of fun. Thankfully, he doesn't know that Vera is not always follow his wishes.

Vera gets mixed messages from her father. Be responsible, but ignores the fact that Charlie's father abuses his mother. Everyone has their own issues, but are not necessarily dealing with them in the healthiest way.

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