Thursday, December 27, 2012

Top 9 Books I Read This Year

I read several good books this year. I have narrowed down my favorites to this list of nine. Most were published this year, but not all. So why nine? I had several that were close to making the cut, but did not quite reach the standard set by these nine. Also, nine covers fit just perfectly in the picture to the left.

I have blogged about all of them, so you can find more info about them if you want.

So here they are (in no particular order), my favorite books that I read in 2012:

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
After the most beautiful girl in school is permanently disfigured by having acid thrown in her face, loner Jay decides to find out who is responsible. More than just a mystery with lots of suspects - this is about two drifting teens who find a connection.

Every Day by David Levithan
A jumps into a different person every single day. One day A spends the day as Rhiannon's boyfriend and falls in love with her. Now A must find a way to be with her at the risk of messing up other's lives. One of the most unique teen books I have ever read.

Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Butter is obese and only gains popularity after promising to eat himself to death live on the internet. Sensitive topics like bullying and obesity are handled with great care and depth. An unforgettable story.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Jazz hunts for the person committing murders just like his famous serial killer father did.  I love Barry Lyga's books, and this is one of his best.

Shine by Lauren Myracle
In a small Southern town, Cat's best guy friend is the victim of a hate crime, and she decides to find the perpetrators. This is one of those 'wow' kind of books where when you are finished all you can say is 'wow.'

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
A teen girl who wants nothing more than to life life as a boy struggles to be accepted by her family and the community. His only refuge is in music and sharing it with the listeners to his late night radio program. An incredible story set to music - my favorite combination.

My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend
A stunningly beautiful girl suffers permanent scarring to her face after a horrific car accident. Rumors fly, her popularity drops and the events leading up to the accident haunt her. Not a teen melodrama, but an exploration of loss and rediscovery.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
John Green gives us an exquisite story about two young people who find each other in a cancer support group. This book has won numerous awards and deservedly so. 

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
Logan falls for the interesting new girl in school who fears that her secret (she is really a boy) will be discovered. Enlightening and heartbreaking. This book is an eye opener for anyone unfamiliar with the struggles of transgender people. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis

Too many wars. Too many dead. Too many wounded. I have great respect for the sacrifices made by our military personnel and their families, but I would like them to serve in peace time. Some soldiers never return and some are wounded with scars that will never heal. It is with this story that we follow one such soldier.

Ben didn't have to enlist in the military. He could have gone to college to study acting or any other vocation. But as he says, there are plenty of others out there who can be actors. Ben feels an obligation to do something for his country.

Ben's parents are concerned but supportive. His brother, Chris, has autism and does not understand what is happening. Ariela, Ben's girlfriend, is furious and confused that he did not discuss it with her. His best friend Niko is not too happy either. I'm just going to boot camp he tells them, but they fear he will be deployed. And so he is. Ben is off to Iraq with a quick e-mail to them like its no big deal.

Ben and his fellow soldiers are on patrol, doing their job, guns are fired, tension is high and then the explosion. Ben suffers a serious brain injury. He is shipped back to the states. His family and friend feel helpless. He has no memory, can no longer speak or walk. Ariela and Niko wonder if he will ever be the same. Will Ben ever remember them?

The story is gut wrenching and heartbreaking. You know there are people who have lived this story and are living it now and will live it tomorrow. We are there with Ben, and we are there with everyone else as the tragedy plays out for all involved.

I only wish this book were longer. It would have been excruciating, but more depth would have been appreciated.

May we have fewer soldiers and families who can relate to Ben's story.

For more info about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and Peter Lerangis' site.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Burning Blue by Paul Griffin

I find it interesting when two books have a similar premise and yet do something completely different with it. I recently read (and blogged) My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend. In it, a beautiful teen girl's face is permanently disfigured. Same with this story, but the similarities end there. This poor girl, Nicole, has acid thrown in her face in the school hallway. She has no idea who scarred her face for life or why they would do it.

Nicole does not return to school, but still sees the school psychiatrist. On her first visit, she meets our narrator Jay. She kind of knows who he is since during a pep rally freshman year he had a seizure in front of the whole school that included urinating on himself (and was posted on the web for anyone who missed it). The small connection between them as they wait in the school office causes Jay, a secret hacker, to decide he will figure out who harmed Nicole.

Jay is tall loner with long hair. He and his dad live alone in a shabby apartment on the edge of a school district of mostly wealthy families. He was home schooled after the seizure incident - not that his dad was much help. He returns to school to find it hasn't really changed much, including the bullies.

Jay has numerous suspects, but has trouble narrowing the list. He hacks e-mails, chat rooms, private files and government systems to get what info he needs. He also starts spending time with Nicole. The answers don't come easy, but Jay is willing to risk being arrested to find the perpetrator.

This is well thought out mystery where the answers are never obvious (at least to me). It is trip worth taking. 

For more info about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Every Day by David Levithan

Every so often, I come across a book that is nothing like I have ever read before. The plot is fairly straight forward, but the complications for the characters are many.

Every day, A. exists inside a different person. Never the same person twice. No matter the gender, race or situation of the person, A. becomes that person for the day. He/she wakes up never knowing what the life will be. I will leave you to discover some of the other conditions of living such a life (like age and geography) - some subtle, others very obvious as we follow A. through each new day.

For the most part, A. is content to exist this way seeing life in a big picture sort of way; knowing what it is like to be a drug addict or have loving parents or be obese or a bully. It is the continuity of personal relationships that is missing. But that all changes when he is Justin, a do nothing high schooler who happens to have Rhiannon for a girlfriend. For the first time ever, A. is in love - truly in love, not just experiencing the feelings of the person A. inhabits. It is questionable whether Justin really loves Rhiannon at all, but A. knows he does.

So how can A. be with Rhiannon when he changes bodies every day? One day he is a sheltered homeschooled guy and another a very attractive African American girl (Beyonce like). Will Rhiannon ever understand or even believe it is possible? For A., it has always been important to not mess up the life of the other person. But how can he hold to that and see Rhiannon at the same time. It is a slip up that causes one of the people to tell the world that he was possessed by the devil. Suddenly, A.'s secret life is not so anymore.

If you want to dig deeper, there is so much to say about this story. About identity (A.'s sexuality is in constant flux). About seeing the world from many perspectives, but losing out on personal relationships. About the use of the devil as a way to explain people's motives. About how we are perceived based on our outward appearance and how that affects who we are on the inside.

All that aside, it is a fascinating story with an unusual protagonist in a fantasy situation who grapples with basic human problems.

For more info about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

When I first heard of this book it sounded interesting, but I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read it. The premise made me cringe - a teen boy named Butter plans to broadcast himself on the web eating until he dies. The very thought of it makes me uneasy (and a bit queasy). The author handles the subject with all seriousness, and it is much more about the struggles of an overweight teen with issues.

One of the questions throughout the story is whether Butter will go through with it. His classmates were asking and so was I (of course, I was't placing bets on it). One of Butter's dilemmas is that his plan to end his life has made him more popular and accepted than he has ever been. He is invited to hang out with the cool kids at lunch and at parties. But they don't really like him, Butter's pretty sure of that. Still, the attention is intoxicating.

Butter has actual contact with Anna. He has been chatting with he for months pretending to be a jock from another school named J.P. He constantly puts off sending her a picture of himself or arranging a meeting. Now as part of the popular circle, Butter actually gets to talk to Anna in person (but as himself and not the fake online persona). It is no coincidence that he chooses New Year's Eve as the night to eat himself to and meet Anna face to face as J.P.

His mother is doting, his dad distant and his friend from weight loss camp is actually losing weight. Other than playing his saxophone (which he mostly keeps to himself), Butter really feels like he has nothing to lose when the time comes. Even the name 'butter' originated in a horrible bullying experience.

I was struck by Butter's rationalization for his plan. It's a terrible struggle we experience along with Butter. He can't even see for himself the worth he has and the possibilities of a future. He writes off the loss others will feel thinking that it will actually be better since they won't have to worry about him anymore.

This is an amazing story - certainly not for everyone, but well worth a look.

For more info, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend

I have very crooked teeth. You will find few pictures of me smiling with my teeth showing, particularly when I was younger. I was ashamed of them. I could keep them mostly hidden if I kept my mouth closed. As much as physical appearance should not define who we are, it is an unavoidable fact that we are shaped by our outside and how it is perceived. I know my crooked teeth has affected who I am today.

For most of (soon to be sophomore) Lexi's life, she has been told how beautiful she is. Her mom hovers over her concerned about her boyfriends, her clothes and school dances. She dreams that Lexi could be a model. Even though Lexi has not let it go to her head, her beauty has certainly affected every aspect of her life from the way her friends feel about her (even if they don't express it) to her relationship with her older sister to the very types of food her mom allows her to eat. Lexi leads what many would call a charmed life.

And then it all goes away. At a late summer party, Lexi is in a car accident that scars her face forever. One small change that night might have spared Lexi the alteration of her face, but it was not to be. In addition to losing part of her face, she also lost her best friend Taylor and her boyfriend Ryan. They did not die in the accident, but caused Lexi to get so angry that she got in the car that night to leave the party.

So Lexi, who has been so defined by her looks, now hides her face behind hoods. Lexi feels like a freak. She says she will never forgive Taylor or Ryan for what they did. She cannot deal with her circle of friends who still hang out with Taylor. The rumors spread about what really happened that night.

At home, Lexi gets no slack from her sister who just wants Lexi to move on with her life. Her mother tries to pretend like Lexi's life has not changed - picking out dresses for dances and hoping that Ryan and Lexi can patch things up.

I sympathized with Lexi and her desire to never forgive her former friends. I felt for her when those around her failed to understand how difficult life had become. But there is also truth in what Lexi's sister says, too. Lexi must figure out how to adapt to all the changes in life. It was an interesting trip to take with Lexi as she healed, found her true inner self and discovered that beauty is more than just a perfect face.  

For more info, check out the Evergreen catalog and the author's site.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

I was reading another book when this one came into my hands. I was just going to glance at the first page, but I continued to read. I cannot read more than one fiction book at a time, so I abandoned my other book and kept on reading this one.

Eve's mother is the incredibly wealthy and successful head of Spiker Biopharmaceuticals, a medical research company. We meet Eve just as she has be struck by a streetcar and had her leg severed and her arm crushed. She arrives at the hospital and receives treatment only to be taken away by her mother to the headquarters of her company.

In all the chaos, Eve meets Solo. He is there with her in the hospital, the ambulance and her new room. Is Solo her mother's intern? He's certainly too young to be a doctor. Is he some kind of genius? Whoever he is, Eve finds him annoying.

Solo, on the other hand, finds Eve intriguing. Yes, she is the boss's daughter, but she is so different than he imagined, so different from her mother who he despises. Solo lives at Spiker headquarters. He does odd jobs here and there, but basically has no significant responsibilities. That doesn't mean he is unintelligent. Solo has spent his free time exploring the whole building - finding all the exits, empty rooms and security cameras. At the right moment, he plans to expose all the questionable activities done by the company.

To keep Eve occupied, Eve's mother gives her a project - build the perfect boy. Using a sophisticated software program, Eve sets out to design Adam. Eve's best friend, Aislin, helps out (when she is reluctantly allowed to visit - Eve's mother hates Aislin calling her a 'drunken slut'). Even though Aislin's boyfriend is a drug dealer, Eve needs her best friend and helps her when she can.

There is much to ponder as the story unfolds: Why is Solo allowed to live in the facility? What illegal research is being done by the company? What is the purpose of making a fake perfect boy?

Some intrigue, some romance and a little sci-fi thrown in. Even though I was a little disappointed in the ending, it is an interesting concept. I hope the author's collaborate more.

For more info about this book, check out the Evergreen catalog.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

I don't understand people who hate others because they are different. Looking back to when I was young, I realize now that I was bullied. For a long time I thought of it as teasing or even a right of passage for boys, but it was torment that made me afraid and uncomfortable. It never went beyond the verbal and was not everyday, but it was enough that I remember several times fearing the school day. I tell this because I know there are many young people who are constantly bullied and the face much bigger issues than I ever faced. And that leads us to this book...

Gabe started out life as Elizabeth. He has known for a long time that he was not comfortable being a girl. Although he dresses as masculine as possible in school, he is still Elizabeth to everyone else. Now that he is a few weeks away from graduation, he is hopeful that he can get away from his small town and just be Gabe all the time. He dreams of going to the Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) to be a radio DJ.

Gabe's one escape has always been music - an interest that has grown to near obsession thanks to his neighbor John (the first person to ever to play Elvis on the radio back in the 1950s). John gets Gabe a late night slot on a small local radio station where he can play pretty much whatever he wants. Borrowing heavily from John's personal music collection and vast knowledge of popular music of the past 60 years, Gabe creates themed programs each week that to his surprise attract a small, loyal following. Gabe also attracts a few female admirers who do not know his big secret.

It's a small town and secrets cannot remain secrets forever. When the truth is revealed, a few violent thugs threaten Gabe in person and online. Gabe is attacked for doing nothing but trying to be himself. It is a truth of life that still confounds me. 

Fortunately, Gabe is not alone. In addition to John and his radio listeners, Gabe also has his best friend (and the first person he ever told) Paige. She has always been there for him. His feelings for her are complicated, though. Is it possible they could ever be more than just friends? 

His family situation is more delicate. His parents are not adjusting so easily to the transition. They continue to call him Elizabeth and often refuse to even look at him. Will they ever come around to accept that their little girl has always been a boy on the inside and now wants his outside to match?

Of course, I love the music elements of this story. There are so many references to artists and songs that I like (every chapter title has Elvis in it!). Even though the music is cool, the messages and the characters are the real reason to read this. It is full of hope and strength for anyone who has ever been bullied. Gabe never gives up. He is always looking forward.

For more info about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney

Is this a vampire book? Kind of. Well, not really. I generally don't read vampire books. I have nothing against them - they just don't appeal to me. There has been a flood of them since the huge success of the Twilight Saga. But this one is not a typical vampire book. Mostly because there are not vampires in this book. There is one pretend vampire named Finbar Frame.

Finbar is a skinny, pale book lover who spends a great deal of time with his mother watching romantic movies and discussing books. He has a fraternal twin brother name Luke who is just the opposite - star athlete with girls flocking all over him. Even when people notice Finbar they think he is Luke's little brother. 

The family has just moved from Indiana to New York. It is a chance to get away from the bully who has tormented Fin for years and start all over, but it makes little difference because he can't change who he is...or can he? 

Fin overhears three girls talking about the latest vampire romance, Bloodthirsty, and how much they love the male vampire in the story. The more Fin thinks about it the more he realizes that he is a lot like a vampire - skinny, pale, brooding. And if this is what girls think is hot then he may have a chance to actually get a girlfriend. Fin decides he will become a vampire (not by getting bit or anything because the sight of blood makes him squeamish). You can't just go around announcing you are vampire, so Fin adopts the vampire attitude and drops subtle hints.   

While he is working on his scheme, he meets a girl who actually seems to like him. Does she know he's a 'vampire'? Will she like him more if she does? The life of a pretend vampire can get complicated. When people start to believe it the rumor spreads and he is no longer just Luke's little brother. 

For more information, check out the Evergreen catalog and the author's site


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando

I was on vacation for a few weeks and did not blog anything. I did read a few books, but was not impressed enough with most of them to blog. This is the only one I blog for you.

A few weeks before high school is over, seniors in the small town of Oyster Point participate in an unofficial scavenger hunt. For Mary, it is so important to not just be a part of the hunt but to win it. She wants to prove that she can do something important before heading off to college. A big part of her motivation is to beat Jake Barbone who is not only a bully (particularly to her friend Dez) but is going to her dream college of Georgetown on an athletic scholarship while she was rejected based solely on her academic record. In her thinking, Barbone took her spot.

The scavenger hunt items are many and vary in points (with the possibility of more points for creativity). Some items the teams just have to get (like a crown from Burger King), others have to be acted out (like picture of the team with an alien), and others are clues that must be solved. It's a race against time to earn enough points to qualify for the final round. And what does the winning team get for all the trouble? Some money, but more importantly a Yeti statue that they keep until the next year's hunt.

The night is so full of hope, but quickly becomes complicated when Mary's best friend since childhood confesses his love for her and she pines over another guy who is dating one of her friends. Actually the relationship issues gets even worse, but I will leave that for the author to explain.

When I read books about teens, I often find bits of myself in the characters. I am transported back to the time when I was a teen. I never participated in anything like this scavenger hunt, but I know the emotions Mary is feeling about moving on with life and trying to hold onto the last bit of your high school before going off into 'the real world'. Ultimately, what Mary needs to find most in the hunt is herself.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen Library catalog and the author's site.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How to Rock Braces and Glasses by Meg Haston

Once again, I dive into the world of teen girl angst. I have had this one on my to read pile for several months, and I finally decided I should get it back to the library.

So, we are following the life of Kacey Simon, popular girl. She gives out advice on the school's news broadcast and to anyone else within earshot any other time. She is quick to tell her clique what fashion mistakes they are making and why they should not be interested in a particular boys. That's where we are early in the story when Kacey's best friend Molly crushes on the new boy who happens to have a blue streak in his hair and wears skinny jeans. His jeans are reason enough for Kacey to caution Molly about pursuing him.

'Skinny Jeans' (real name: Zander) has overheard Kacey singing during rehearsal for the big school production of Guys and Dolls. He wants Kacey to be his rock group's new lead singer.

OK, we pause here because so far this story must sound like nothing out of the ordinary. You can see the complications of Kacey being in a band with the guy her best friend likes. There are also issues with the play because Kacey likes her leading man, Quinn, who she gets to kiss on stage. Potential girl angst ahead.

Here is the catch in all of this (big surprise - its in the title of the book): Kacey gets glasses and braces - both at the same time. One day she is at school being super popular and the next (ok, maybe there's a weekend in there) she is wearing huge glasses and lisping through her new braces. How can she do her broadcast and be on stage when she is being laughed at for lisping?

How much of her life does she lose? I'm not going to tell you that. I will say that she ends up hanging out with her neighbor (and former best friend) who offers to help Kacey return to her former status.

If you like this one, the sequel How to Rock Break Up and Make Ups is coming out this month.

For more information about this book, check out Amazon.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

This is a nice story about friends trying to make up for lost time and hurt feelings. Four years ago when they were freshmen, Alice, Summer and Tiernan had a huge event that ended their long friendship. They were connected through their love of the boy band Level3. They spent time in broken down green VW bus (aka the Pea Pod) that sat in Alice's backyard. Over the years, the bus became an abandoned shrine to the band (who also broke up) and the girls' friendship with the numerous collages the created left behind on the bus's walls.

The timing is all too perfect for Alice when her parents fix up the bus and give it to her for graduation at the same time a one-time-only concert reunion is announced for Level3. Finding this out five minutes before the tickets go on sale, Alice impulsively orders three tickets secretly hoping she can get her former best friends to go. Oh and the concert is in Texas - at least a five day drive from her home in New England.

I think I can say without giving anything away that all three girls end up in the bus on the road. They each have their own reasons why. For the ex-friends who have not spoken to each other all through high school, it is bumpy road at best. There is the specter of the night of the winter dance when their relationship imploded haunting them, too. Not speaking about it strains even the best of moments on the trip.

To learn more about this book, check out the author's site.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

For What It's Worth by Janet Tashjian

Quinn lives in Los Angeles in 1971. For him, there is not better time and place to live because he loves music. He can tell you the most obscure facts about the big performers of the day: the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell - just to name a few. His mom even hangs with Mama Cass of the Mamas & the Papas.

Music pretty much dominates Quinn's world. He collects albums; he transcribes music, he plays guitar and writes a column for the school paper. And then on the first day of school he meets Caroline.

The problem is that Quinn has never had a girlfriend before and is very insecure about himself and the relationship. He often checks his Ouija board for answers (hiding it from his mother who does not approve). Is the the Ouija board real? For Quinn it is and he believes for a while that he is contacting Club 27 - famous rock performers who all died at that age: Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Even though Caroline helps him make money from his connection to Club 27, Quinn still feels like his first real relationship is doomed.

This story is a nice trip into the past particularly if you like the music from this era. At times, I found the many references to the time period distracting, but overall I liked the story and its setting.

For more information, check out the Evergreen Library catalog or the author's site.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Peace, Love & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

This entry would have been much different had I done it last week when I started it. Since that time, I got to hang out with Lauren Myracle. I must tell you she is totally cool and amazing. If you ever get the chance to meet her or hear her speak you should. In the mean time, you should read her books - maybe this one.

Since I read Shine, I have read three other books by Lauren - all exploring the relationships between young women. Of course there is much more to the books than that, but that is what I take from them. Being a guy, the insight into the interactions between the teen girls is new to me, and I find it interesting.

In this story, Carly is returning to Holy Redeemer, a Christian Preparatory School (made up of rich, society kids) after spending part of her summer doing rough and dirty service work in the wilds of Tennessee. She wants to be real and not plastic like so many of the girls at her school. She is happy that her younger sister Anna will be joining her for the first time at Holly Redeemers. If only it were that easy for Carly...

One unexpected turn is that her sister is now hot - meaning her breast size has increased enormously. How many times on the first day of school must Carly endure people telling her how hot her little sister is? Then there is her disastrous haircut she gets when her dad will not pay for the good stylist. Carly is just not like the others in her school - socially or religiously. A new friend, a guy she likes, a sadistic gym teacher, a party out of control and some lost little baby ducks all make up for an up and down year for Carly.

I think Lauren does an excellent job creating a characters with depth. Carly makes mistakes - some are frustrating, but they make her more real. I don't know which Lauren Myracle book I will read next, but I look forward to getting know more of her characters.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Shine by Lauren Myracle

I wish I could say that I read this book because I heard it was wonderful and was highly recommended or I just know a good book when I see it. Not the case. In a few weeks (everything going as planned) I will have the opportunity to meet and speak with Lauren Myracle. I must confess I have never read one of her books. Of course, I have heard of her and I am familiar with her books, but I have never taken the time to read one. What magical process did I use to decide that this would be the first Lauren Myracle book I would read? It was the only one I could get my hands on for the weekend. And what a lucky bit of fate that turned out to be.

This is a powerful story about teen girl searching for the person (or persons) who brutally beat her former best friend Patrick. Cat has not spoken to Patrick or really anyone in three years. Something happened that caused her withdrew into herself leaving any friends she had behind including her brother Christian.

Cat had heard all the slurs aimed at Patrick. It's not easy to be openly homosexual in her small town, but Patrick withstood the scorn. Cat's brother and his friends welcomed Patrick into their group, but even some of them teased him about being gay. It was one night while Patrick was closing up at the convenience store that he was beaten and a gasoline nozzle shoved in his mouth. Now Patrick is in a coma, and the local police are getting nowhere with their investigation.

Cat must come out of her self imposed retreat to help Patrick, but some do not want Cat to find the truth. Cat has a miraculous journey along the way discovering new friends and rediscovering old ones and learning a lot about herself.

I highly recommend this book. I can't wait to find what else Lauren Myracle has written.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen Library catalog.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Sexuality is a powerful force in the world. What does it mean to be male or female? Is it physical appearance? Is it the emotions and thoughts on the inside of a person? It is a confusing thing sometimes. When you are a young adult trying to sort out who you are and where you belong in the world, thoughts of sex can be overwhelming and make life all the more puzzling.

Logan is still recovering from breaking up with Brenda, his girlfriend of four years. He thought they would always be together, but she cheated on him. Enter Sage, the new girl in school who breezes into biology class with confidence like Logan has never seen. She is nothing like anyone else in the small Missouri town and Logan is immediately drawn to her.

What confuses Logan is her reluctance to act upon some of the obvious feelings she has for him. She will touch him flirtatiously one moment but pull away at the beginning of a kiss. The more he learns of her strict parents and their double standard between Sage and her younger sister the more frustrated Logan becomes.

The secret Sage must finally reveal is that she is a boy. At least she was born that way - she considers herself a girl even though physically she isn't. I knew this going in to the story and the tension was almost unbearable as I waited for Logan to find out the truth. This reveal is only beginning to of the story and the complicated relationship between Logan and Sage. It is a journey with no easy answers as Logan questions his attraction to Sage and worries about how he will be perceived if the truth ever gets out. Sage must deal with the fact that she cannot truly live the life she wants and needs.

This book is incredible. I don't know why it took me so long to read it since I loved Brian Katcher's Playing with Matches. The characters and the situations are so gut wrenchingly believable. There are only a few moments of peace between Logan and Sage because her situation is never far from either of their minds.

This is a subject not often explored in young adult books. I am thankful Brian Katcher wrote such a great book to open our eyes to the struggle transgender people must face.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen Library catalog or the author's site.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zero by Tom Leveen

Mike's eyes were the first thing she noticed. Even from his position up on stage behind the drums, his eyes were all Zero could focus on. She had never heard of Mike's band Gothic Rainbow, but they were good. Her best friend Jenn would tell Zero to speak to Mike. Jenn was the one with all the experience with guys. Zero had never really had a boyfriend. Too bad she was no longer talking to Jenn (putting an end to their plans of hanging out all summer until they left for college). 

Not that Zero's college plans had worked out. She'd been accepted to the Art Institute in Chicago, but failed to get the needed scholarship. No money meant staying in Phoenix and probably going to community college. It might also mean having to stay with her parents who did nothing but fight all the time.

Zero's summer takes a turn for the better when she decides to talk to Mike after the band's set. To her surprise, he is interested in her. He encourages her to pursue her art and go after what she wants like he is doing with the band. He wants a gold record and is working hard to get it. Gothic Rainbow is on the cusp of making it (at least in Phoenix). So if she wants to be an artist, she should go for it.

So she does. She takes a summer art class. She starts talking to Jenn again. She begins to appreciate her own curves instead of hiding behind baggy clothes. But things get messy again before it can get better.

Zero's hopes drive the story. He desire to get her life in the right direction keep things moving. She is a fascinating character that I cheered for and I hope you do, too.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The List by Siobhan Vivian

The list is an annual tradition at Mount Washington High. It is a vile exercise that lists the prettiest and the ugliest girls in each class and is then posted all over the school for everyone to see. The 'tradition' has gone on for as long as anyone can remember.

We follow the lives of all eight girls from the moment they find out they are on the list on Monday morning until the following Saturday at the homecoming dance. Their lives are all affected by their place on the list.

Without giving too much away...Candace is pretty and is put on the ugly list because of her personality; Danielle is athletic and is called manly; Lauren is a former home schooler and new to the school; Sarah is rebellious and has no interest and being a girly girl; Jennifer is a senior who has made the ugly list every year; Bridget has lost weight during the summer and has body image issues that lead to destructive behavior; Abby is pretty and not as scholarly as her older sister; Margo is the expected homecoming queen, but may lose her friends because of treating another girl badly.

The point of this story is not about the hunt and punishment of the list's creators. The list is the author's vehicle for discussing various issues facing girls. Bullying at all levels of society is a problem. These girls face school wide abuse - the 'pretty' ones as much as the 'ugly' ones. Each story is equally compelling and ultimately intertwined with the others. 

For more information on this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo

Pink Cons: Bored. Yellow Cons: Nervous. Blue Cons: Excited. Orange Cons: Tired. If anyone ever knew Chuck Taylor's secret system for choosing his shoes for the day, they would know how he is feeling. But no one in his school even acknowledges his existence (except his best friend Steve).

The shoe system is just one of Chuck's compulsive behaviors. He has to check the stove many times during the night to make sure it is off. He turns the dial on his locker 14 times before walking away. And his must wash his hands whether his touched anything dirty or not.

A quick internet search leads him to the conclusion that he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What starts out as a self diagnosis leads to an appointment with a psychiatrist and the possibility of prescribed medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy. Maybe Chuck was better off just being himself and living with OCD.

Being invisible and having these issues has left Chuck in his senior year with no girlfriend (ever). And then one day Amy, the new girl, is introduced to everyone in math class. For Chuck, it is love at first sight. For Amy...well, Chuck will tutor her and see how it goes, but he will NEVER tell her about his OCD.

On some level, I identify with Chuck (and not just because I have several pairs of Chuck Taylor Converse). I have some issues (not OCD) that I dealt with in a similar manner to Chuck. It is difficult being patient during treatment and realizing that your 'illness' will always be a part of you.

But I don't want you to think that this is a depressing story about a kid with a disease. The author is a comedian and he has given us a humorous story. I look forward to more books by him.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

I love a road trip. I love packing the car and heading out  from home to see things in other places. I would love to see more of Route 66 - all those historic and sometimes wacky sites. When Luke sets out on a road with his brother Matt, he has no idea that's the kind of road trip he is on. He believes he is on a tour for his inspirational book Hallelujah: A Sprititual Chronicle of a Sixteen-Year-Old St. Louisan.

Luke's book started as an assignment for his church's youth group and was quickly published. Partly due to his appearance on the Pastor Mike Show, his book is selling well. His agent has trusted Luke and his brother to make the trip from California back to Missouri making stops at book stores for appearances. Matt has other plans - he wants them to stop at tourist spots to experience Route 66. He also has invited his girlfriend and her sister, Fran, who also happens to be the friend Luke hasn't spoken to in a year ever since she dyed her hair purple and started dressing differently. The trip didn't spiral out of control for Luke; it started that way. 

The book tour becomes a spiritual journey for Luke. He faces his 'fans' who expect so much of him. He gets reacquainted with Fran who he used to know so well. He must deal with the words in the book that he's not sure he believes anymore. He also must deal with the press who are looking for a story .

For more about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog or the author's site.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Ethan was abducted when he was seven. He got into a car in front of his house and was gone for nine years. His four year old brother, Blake, was the only witness. Now he has returned to his family as a sixteen year old with no memories of the family he was taken from.

It is an adjustment for them all. He has a little sister born after he was taken, a brother who is mad at him for getting in the car and parents who just want   their family whole again. He also must face the continuous questions of what happened to him while he was gone.

He quickly becomes attracted to the neighbor girl who knew as a boy, but she has a boyfriend who is athletic and popular. She is his only relief the tension in his house.

At times life is almost normal for Ethan, but those moments are few. He wants his memories to come back, but nothing is there. There is no real happy time for the people in this story. Blake and Ethan fight. Ethan's parents are strict about being home on time and checking in frequently.

As I read, I felt Ethan's family was pushing him too fast. A family gathering happens the a few days after he returns and he goes back to school the next Monday. None of it helps Ethan adjust any quicker.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's website.

You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

I surprised myself by reading this over this past weekend. If this was an action packed book that kept me riveted to the point where I couldn't put it down, I could understand (it probably helped that I had the TV off all day on Sunday). I was drawn into the story which is about a teen girl who discovers her dead mom's phone with seven unanswered messages.

Upon discovering the phone in her mom's still vacant studio, Luna listens to each message and uses it as a puzzle piece to discover what really happened the night her mother died. The phone messages could easily have been a gimmicky tool, but the author uses it well to drive the story. It never becomes the total focus. In fact, Luna only listens to another message after exploring what she discovers in the previous one. 

Luna's dad is a famous film director and her mom was a model. She loved her mom and her unconventional way of life. She always thought her mom and dad were happily married, but a year after her mom's accidental death she is not so sure. Her dad also is not forthcoming about details. His loves Luna, but is afraid to reveal too much. 

The discoveries about her mother allow Luna discover more about herself. She explores her interest in photography and opens herself up to the boy cello player across the street. 

This is a nicely crafted story with a little suspense and a little romance. 

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's website

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rock On: A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls and a Brother (Not Necessarily in That Order) by Denise Vega

Orion is in a band that is yet to be named. Through local appearances and their blog, the band is gaining notice as they work toward the local battle of the bands competition.

Ori is an exceptional guitar player, decent singer and pretty good song writer. He always lived in his brother Del's shadow. Now that his brother has lost his lacrosse scholarship and returned home from college, Ori is dealing once again with Del's Jekyll and Hyde personality. Once Del would have helped Ori with a girl he liked, but now Del sees any girl as an opportunity including Dawn, a friend of the band's new bass player. Del was enthusiastic about Ori's band, but now he is just jealous of its success. 

Ori has the support of his band mates and Alli the band manager (although she doesn't let him get away with much). He is just struggling to find himself and what he wants to be.

I've written before that this is the type of teen book that I like. I enjoy realistic fiction about teens in interesting situations. The rock band aspect is what drew me to this one.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen catalog, the author's website or Ori's band site.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Think, the Hunger Games, only brutal. In all fairness, this story came before the Hunger Games. It also is only similar in the overall concept of young people being thrown into a situation by their government where they must fight to the death.

In this case, 40 members of a junior high class think they are going on a field trip but wake up in a class room on an island as part of 'the Program.' Everyone in the country of Greater East Asia knows about the annual program since the results are broadcast. Still it is shocking to awake and realize the other students sitting next to you will be killed in the next few hours.

Shuya can't believe that anyone in his class would be willing to kill anyone else. Maybe if they all get together and refuse to participate they can all stop this insane exercise. He teams up with Noriko, the girl his friend had a crush on. He feels compelled to look after her even when she is hurt.

After being released on the island, the students take different paths over the next few days. Some scheme to escape. Some want to destroy the leaders who are making them do it. Some are just hiding hoping it ends soon. Others, in spite of what Shuya may hope, are ready to kill others to win.

The center of the story revolves around Shuya, Noriko and the mysterious loner Shogo as they work together to survive. All the students are mentioned, many in detailed sections describing their own schemes to survive; others are only mentioned at the moment of their deaths.

This is a gripping story for those who don't mind graphic descriptions of violence committed by young people.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Jazz's dad is a notorious serial killer who got caught because he started killing people in the small town where he grew up.

Jazz was raised by a man who shared the gory details of his killings. He taught Jazz how to be a killer and now Jazz struggles with those urges in every aspect of his life. For the past four years, Jazz's dad has been in prison and Jazz has lived with his grandmother, the woman who raised his father. She is no longer mentally stable (if she ever was).

When a body is found in a field, Jazz and the town must relive the killings of his father that brought them world wide attention. Jazz tries to help the sheriff (the one who caught his father) because Jazz knows how serial killers think. He knows this murder is not isolated. He knows that the killer is copying his dad's first murders. Jazz knows he can help catch this new murderer. But can he convince the sheriff?

Jazz is a victim of his circumstances. He is a tortured soul. He seriously doubts his own ability to control his urges to kill. He knows how to do it and get away with it. Jazz wants to catch the killer even at great risk to himself and those around him - maybe to prove to himself and others that he is not like his father.

Barry Lyga is one of my favorite authors, and he has created another memorable book that tackles tough subject matter.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the Barry Lyga's website.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Lucas and Tessa have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Now as seniors, Lucas is ready to profess his feelings for Tessa and ask her to the prom with a grand gesture that the whole town will see. Imagine his shock when Tessa confesses that she actually likes girls. It's bad enough that she embarrassed him but how could she keep this secret from him when they always shared everything.

It doesn't take long for everyone in town to know Tessa turned Lucas down AND that she recently bought a man's tux for the prom (she is hoping to go with her co-worker, Josie). People protest in front of her family's small store that is struggling to survive against the massive new store that came to town. Her locker is vandalized at school. She is taunted and pelted with food. Tessa can't even talk to her best friend Lucas because he is not speaking to her anymore.

The school tells Tessa she cannot go to the dance with another girl or dressed in boy's clothes. What will the school board decide when Tessa's family files an official protest? What can they do since Tessa states that she will go to prom?

Ultimately, this is not just about whether Tessa can attend prom; it is about being accepted by friends, family and society as a whole. Having grown up in a small Indiana town similar to the one in this story (although mine was urban and not rural), I can only wonder what the reaction would have been if two teens of the same sex had wanted to go to prom. It was a different time for sure. No one was openly gay in my school, but I have no doubt there was someone who dreamed of going to the prom with a member of the same sex.

Although this book has a lighter tone that it could have, this is a serious real issue for many. With all the talk of bullying among young people, there are too many adults bullying young people and encouraging others to do the same. I hope this book continues to raise awareness that people are more the same than they are different and that acceptance of others is a great gift.

For more info about this book visit the Evergreen catalog or visit Emily Franklin's and Brendan Halpin's website.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

I really like Jordan Sonnenblick's books. This one was no exception. He writes about regular teens dealing with interesting problems. In this case, it is Peter who has more time on his hands now that he is no longer an athlete.

Going into his freshman year, Peter was planning on trying out for the baseball team with his best friend AJ. They switch back and forth as pitcher and catcher and together they were unstoppable. That is until Peter seriously injured his pitching arm during a game. He had been feeling the pain long before but ignored it and now he will never pitch a ball again (something he cannot bring himself to tell AJ).

Also, something is wrong with Peter's grandfather, but Peter promises not to tell his parents. Peter's grandfather, a professional photographer, has taught him all about cameras and taking pictures. One day when they are attempting to capture the image of an eagle in flight, Peter's grandfather blanks out and misses the eagle. Shortly there after, he gives Peter all his photography equipment. These blanking out episodes and memory loss are only getting worse.

The upside in Peter's life is Angelika who he meets in photography class. She volunteers them to be the sports photographers for the school paper, so they spend a lot of time together. They discover more about each other than the portraits they must take for a class assignment.

I'll admit that this is not my favorite book by this author, but I still like the story of a teen dealing with struggles with good people around him to help.

For more info about this book visit the Evergreen catalog or visit Jordan Sonnenblick's website.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

How do I describe this book? Let me start off by saying that I really liked it. I read it in less than a day which is kind of unusual for me. It is funny and quirky.

The narrator is Greg who is obviously writing the book (more than once he questions whether the reader will make it to the end of 'this stupid book'). Throughout the story, Greg is self deprecating to the reader and the other people in his life.

His goal throughout his school life it so go unrecognized. He has been successful at this by carefully navigating the different cliques. He makes himself acquainted with each one without becoming involved with them. This fragile network he has created is imperil when a girl he dated a long time ago (and treated badly during the break up) is diagnosed with cancer. Only the unrelenting urging of his mother could make him contact the girl, Rachel, to be her friend in her time of need. His senior year is turning out much differently than he planned.

And then there's Earl. Greg and Earl seemingly have little in common except for the movies they make together. They have been making them for years and admit they are not very good. Bad acting, terribly lighting, cheap costumes, homemade props all lead to a series of films no one else would want to see, and that is just fine because Earl and Greg both agree to never share them with anyone.

In addition to the typical format for a book, Greg often uses lists and a script format (to recreate dialogue). He deals with his own self esteem issues with humor that sometime works and sometimes gets him into trouble. Although Greg might not agree, he has an interesting life filled with intriguing characters.

For more info about this book visit the Evergreen catalog or visit Jesse Andrews' website.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

Guy Langman's dad is dead, and he realizes he doesn't know much about him. His mother (much younger than his dad) doesn't talk about her late husband and knows little about his younger days. Guy does know that his dad made his money by inventing a valve for scuba diving equipment and finding a sunken treasure. His dad also said many interesting things, so Guy is going to write a book of his dad's quotes.

Writing a book would be very ambitious for Guy who generally doesn't do much of anything. He is interested in video games and girls, but that won't get him very far in life. His friend, Anoop, talks him into joining the after school forensics club. It doesn't hurt that Raquel is in the club.

How is this all tied together? Well, someone breaks into Guy's house and steals coins from the sunken treasure. He and his friends decide to put their newly acquired forensics knowledge to the test since the police seem uninterested in the case. Guy knows whoever stole the coins must be connected to his dad.

The 'mystery' is not the main part of the story. It is ultimately about a young man discovering more about his father and coming to terms with his death.

For more info about this book visit the Westfield Washington Public Library catalog or visit Josh Berk's website.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Boys Really Want by Pete Hautman

This is the kind of book I really like - interesting high schoolers dealing with issues in a humorous way. I've been reading a lot of darker teen books lately particularly ones with dystopian settings. I needed a book like this to provide a break.

Adam and Lita have been friends for a long time, but a rift forms when Adam gets the idea to write a book. Being an author has long been Lita's dream, but she has recently gotten distracted giving out relationship advice anonymously on her blog instead of working on her novel. Adam has only ever been interested in money making schemes, so Lita is annoyed when Adam decides selling a book on what boys really want could make money.

The conflict and hope of teen relationships are dealt with throughout the story. Lita has been known to sabotage Adam's relationships because she knows that those girls are not really Adam's type. She tries to help her best friend Emily get the attention of Dennis (who is only interested in Blair). Lita meets grease monkey Brett who may be dating Blair even though she is showing interest in Adam. Don't worry, it all gets sorted out in the end.

Told in the alternating voices of Adam and Lita, both boy and girl perspectives are represented. It's a quick, fun read.

For more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library catalog, click here or visit Pete Hautman's website.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tempest by Julie Cross

I like time travel stories, but it is often too easy to get lost in the potential paradoxes. That's why I think it is best not too give it too much thought as long as the author stays true to the story. This author avoids some of that by not allowing visitors to the past to change anything that affects the future (for the most part). The classic example of this is A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury where the smallest thing (like stepping on a butterfly) can have catastrophic consequences.

Jackson can jump into the past just by using his mind. At first he can only go back a few hours, a couple days at the most. As stated before, he cannot change anything, so if he were to kiss a girl in the past she would not remember it in his own time (or home base). If he injures himself, he does not return injured. In fact while he is gone, his home base self remains in a catatonic state. He tells no one about his ability except his friend Adam whose analytical thinking leads them to conduct experiments to test Jackson's ability.

It is the moment when something tragic happens to Jackson's girlfriend Holly that he jumps back farther than he has ever gone - two years in the past to 2007 and finds he cannot return to his own time. He can jump to the past but never beyond 2007. His many trips to his past lead him to suspect his father of living a secret life possibly as a government agent. He also takes the opportunity to visit his twin sister who died of cancer. Time travel is a physical strain for Jackson. It is also mentally taxing to discover so many things about the people around him and not be able to return home to rescue Holly.

I almost gave up on this book. I kept reading when Jackson decided to find Holly in the time before he had even met her. I was intrigued by the idea of Jackson meeting her and interacting with her when she was a younger and a less mature version of the Holly he knows. He also knows so much about her while she is just meeting him for the first time. The old saying is "If I knew then what I know now." That is what kept me reading - that Jackson can approach his relationship with Holly in a different way knowing everything he has learned.

The story has action and lots of twists and never gets to bogged down in some of the more confusing aspects of time travel.

For more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library catalog, click here or visit Julie Cross's website.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Imagine waking up after 62 years no older than the day you went to sleep. The world has changed. The people you knew are dead. In Rose's case, she was put into a stasis tube when she was 16 and forgotten. She was lost to the world until her tube was discovered and accidentally opened.

Rose is the only living heir to a vast global company. Her existence will upset the balance of the company and displace some who may otherwise have been in charge. This notoriety only complicates her life.

Rose attends school, but doesn't know how to operate the technology. The classes are too overwhelming, particularly history class where she learns about the Dark Times that devastated the population and probably killed the people she knew. She has not close friends and would rather be drawing in her sketch book than attend class. Worst of all, she misses her best friend and true love, Xavier.

I felt this book started slow, but I recommend sticking with it. There are questions to be answered, like who sent the humanoid to kidnap Rose and why did her parents put her in stasis in the first place.

For more information about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library catalog, click here or visit Anna Sheehan's website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I thought about reading this long before now. A movie adaptation is scheduled to be released in 2012, so I had been thinking about it again when someone donated a copy to the library. I read it over a weekend, staying up later than usual just to finish it.

Charlie tells the story of his freshman year in letters. At times, he has a worldly view of the things and people around him, but is also very naive when it comes to relationships. Fortunately, Charlie makes friends with two seniors who help him navigate the world of high school. He has experiences beyond anything he could have imagined.

The problem is there is something going on with Charlie - something in his family or past that may explain why he acts the way he does.

I did not lead a life anything like Charlie's, but the book did remind me of the times when I was in high school and the older kids were moving on with their lives at the end of the year. It was always a bitter sweet time even when it was my time to leave.

Click here for more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

I don't recall ever reading a book quite like this. It is mostly realistic but has a touch of surreal bits thrown in. These bits come in the form of Lucky's dreams where he 'travels' to Vietnam to rescue the grandfather that never came home from the war. Lucky's dad never seemed to recover from growing up without his father and puts the MIA/POW emblem on everything. He also spends so much time at his restaurant that Lucky feels like his father is missing, too.

Lucky and his mom leave to spend time with her brother and his wife in Arizona after Lucky is attacked again by Nader, the bully that has been terrorizing him for years. Lucky has tried being friends with Nader and ignoring him, but nothing helps...except escaping with his missing grandfather.

Lucky's grandmother never accepted that her husband died in Vietnam and she asked Lucky on her deathbed to rescue him. So Lucky drifts off and visits his grandfather who lives in a constant state of being a prisoner of war. It could be just elaborate dreams, but Lucky always 'returns' with something physical on him like a makeshift headband or dirt.

Away from the bully and his dad, Luck and his mom try to sort things out in Arizona - a nasy face wound, a strange aunt, a sympathetic uncle and a beautiful rebellious girl are all part of the journey...and what about those ants that Lucky sees everywhere...

Click here for more info about this book from the Evergreen catalog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Divergent by Veronica Roth

I would ask what is the deal with all the dystopian teen books lately, but I keep reading them myself so obviously I enjoy them, too. This one is set in a world where society has been divided into factions based on dominant personality traits: Amity are peaceful, Candor are honest, Erudite are intelligent, Dauntless are brave and Abnegation are selfless (and there are also the factionless).

Beatrice has grown up in Abnegation where her dad is a government official (being selfless, the Abnegation control the government). Upon turning 16, members of all factions are given a test to determine which faction they fit the best (they are allowed to choose their faction no matter what the test results say). Beatrice's test has mixed results meaning she doesn't seem to fit any particular faction which is a dangerous thing to be in her world.

So after choosing her faction (no, I will not tell what choice she makes), she must make it through the initiation and face the inevitable corruption facing the society as a whole.

I hesitate to bring up Hunger Games because I don't always like to make comparisons. I like books to stand on their own. I will say that if you liked the Hunger Games books, this is a pretty good bet. Beatrice is a strong character facing great odds with people underestimating her.

I look forward to the next book in this story.

Click here for more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I have enjoyed all of John Green's books, so I just knew I would like this one before I even got it in my hands. I was not disappointed. I remember wanting to read An Abundance of Katherines because I was intrigued by the idea of a guy trying to use a mathematical formula to understand why he always gets dumped by girls name Katherine. After reading Looking for Alaska, I was hooked.

After reading the synopsis, a co-worker of mine said this book sounded depressing. I get that - I mean the book is about teens who have cancer. But the characters lift the story above what could be a dark tale. They are trying to be regular teens who not defined by their disease. This is not always easy when they have frequent doctor visits, constant physical limitations and parents who, out of love and concern, hover over them with worried expressions and fear of what may happen to their children.

At the center of the story, we have Hazel who needs assistance to breathe because her lungs are very weak. She meets Augustus at a support group. Their growing relationship drives the story. They become closer through Hazel's favorite book that leaves her with too many unanswered questions. Contacting the author to find those answers becomes a key point for them. Through it all they deal with a disease that could turn on them at any point.

Click here for more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library. If this doesn't sound like the book for you, check out one John Green's other books.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dark Parties by Sara Grant

Neva believes there is something beyond the Protectosphere, the large clear dome that covers the Homeland. The government denies that anything exists beyond the dome, but Neva's grandmother (one of the Missing) told her of the old days and what might be outside their world.

Neva and her friend Sanna want answers and plan to stage a small rebellion. They know things are changing. People disappear with no explanation and procreation is encouraged to help sustain the population.

And then there is Ethan who has not been the same since he was taken away by the police. He is no longer the guy Neva liked so much. For him, questioning the government is no longer an option. The attention of Braydon, Sanna's boyfriend, only confuses Neva more.

Is there another world beyond the Protectsphere? Neva hopes so, but she is not sure she has the courage to go that far.

For more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library catalog, click here or visit Sara Grant's website.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Death Cure by James Dashner

This was a great end to this trilogy. The problem for me is that I cannot say too much specific about this book without spoiling it for you, and you really need to start at the beginning with the first book, the Maze Runner.

In Maze Runner, a group of kids live in a large field enclosed by high walls. They are not there by choice and have no memory of ever living anywhere else. The field is part of a large maze that is inhabited by large frightening creatures designed to kill. Escape is the hope that drives some of the kids to become runners and face the obstacles in the maze.

The second book, the Scorch Trials, finds some of the kids making their way across a barren landscape and avoiding those who have caught a horrible disease called the Flare that drives them mad.

By the third book it is hard to know who the main characters can even trust. They have been manipulated so many times and had their memories erased. When things finally seem to be going their way, something always seems to happens to hamper their attempt to finally be free of the horrible world they have been living in.

Click here for more info about this book from the Westfield Washington Public Library.