Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Some Boys by Patty Blount

Grace was raped by Zac, the school's most popular athlete. No one believes her. To everyone, she is trying to ruin Zac's life. Her own friends turn against her. To everyone, she is a slut.

Grace could run (her mother wants her to study in Europe), but she will not let her life be dictated by others. She is going to dress in her dark clothes no matter how much attention she gets (against the wishes of her dad and stepmother). Grace knows the truth and even though the police will not do anything she will not let Zac and his followers win.

Ian, Zac's best friend, liked Grace. In the world of unspoken guy rules: since Zac had Grace, she is off limits to Ian. Besides, she is accusing his best friend of rape. Grace must have wanted it - the way she was dressed at the party, the way she was drinking and dancing. She didn't fight off Zac when they were off together in the dark. She let him take off her clothes.

Over spring break, Grace and Ian find themselves together all alone in the school cleaning lockers. Ian is there after suffering a concussion that may end his athletic career and scholarship hopes. Grace is being punished - more fallout from the rape. After all, it's always her fault.

Grace and Ian's story is a powerful one. He is torn between his growing faith in Grace and loyalty to his friend. She is forever facing the verbal assault of others while trying to out Zac for who he really is. Ian is confused and reasonable. Grace is strong and vulnerable. Lots of questions with no easy answers, but a story worth reading.

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gone Too Far by Natalie D. Richards

How did a popular girl like Stella end up getting killed by a train? Piper has good idea how. She has seen the video that was posted on a school website. She was there in the hallway when Stella was being ridiculed by the same jocks who made the video and posted it. Piper just stood there and did nothing to stop it. Even if Stella was alone at the railroad crossing, others had a hand in her death.

Piper avoids the jocks and cheerleaders. She is not a part of the popular crowd (like Stella was), so she did not know Stella well. Still, Piper should have said something that day in the hallway. Someone needs to do something to stop the bullies and jerks who practically run the school and get away with everything. Maybe its not too late to do something.

An anonymous text offers Piper the chance to do just that. She just has to give the texter a name and he/she will do the rest. Piper will be told when it is going to happen so she can capture it all with her camera. For her first target she chooses the person most responsible for Stella's humiliation.

Revenge sounds like a good idea, but it can get out of hand. And does it really make you any better than your targets? Piper is drawn further into the scheme by this mysterious texter. How can she find out who it is without her secrets being exposed, too.

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

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. Hurst

In 2146, time travel is possible. But only for those with a specific gene. Bridger has the gene and is on training trip to the year 2076 to witness the assassination of the president. Bridger and his fellow cadets wear cloaking devices so as to not be seen while they record specific aspects of the event. It is most important to not disrupt the timeline.

In the chaos of the assassination, Bridger separates from his mission partner (and girlfriend) Vika. He sees his dad, a fellow time traveler who died months ago. His father's only words, "Save Alora, son." Bridger knows his father was never assigned to this time period. He also has no idea who Alora is and why she needs to be saved. If it involves time travel, Bridger's father is asking him to break the law.

Alora lives in 2013 with her aunt in a small Georgia town. At the age of six, her father left her there and has not been seen since. Alora's aunt refuses to tell her anything about her parents, so Alora must find any information she can even if it means breaking her aunt's rules. She is just starting to uncover things (in her aunt's room and the attic) when a guy named Bridger appears.

Bridger was never supposed to interact with Alora, but an injury upon his arrival makes that impossible. Why is Alora so important and can he save her without messing up the timeline? These are only two of the many questions that make the story so intriguing.

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Infinite in Between by Carolyn Mackler

When you were a freshman, did you wonder who you would be when you graduated? Did you think about what your life would be like over the four years of high school? I didn't. At least, I don't remember giving it any thought. I sure didn't know what I wanted to do after high school.

At freshman orientation, five students (Gregor, Zoe, Jake, Whitney and Mia) are assigned to the same group and must complete a project together. They choose to write letters to their future selves and agree to meet after graduation to read them.

We follow each of them through the four year of high school. Whitney is beautiful and popular. Gregor is not so popular but totally taken with Whitney. Jake is athletic (but no longer on the football team) and has a crush on his best friend, Ted. Zoe is the daughter of a famous actress who has a scandalous secret. Mia is searching for her identity and casually watches the others.

We follow each student through their ups and downs. We see how they change and grow and how their lives intersect with each other. In order to tell the story over a four year period, the author jumps several months at a time often leaving us with mini cliff hangers. The letters themselves aren't really important; they are just the vehicle for bringing the five together.

I found this story intriguing because it is different from many other books about teens. Normally, we see teens and their lives change around major events. This story allowed us to see a group of teens changing as a normal course in life.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Losers Take All by David Klass

In school, I never played sports. I was just not interested. And if my P.E. classes are any indication, I had little athletic ability anyway. Thankfully, there was no one who forced me to play organized sports. The same cannot be said for Jack and his fellow non-athletes.

At Fremont High, sports rule. And football rules most of all. Due to unforeseen circumstances (and the school board's obsession with sports), Head Football Coach Muhldinger is made principal and declares that all seniors must join an athletic team.

Jack Logan is one of the seniors who does not want to be on a team. He could be good at sports. His dad is the all-time football star ever at Fremont (and could have gone pro if he hadn't injured his knee in college). Jack's brothers also played. How can Jack defy the Logan family legacy?

Needless to say, Muhldinger (being a total maniac) is furious when Jack refuses to play football after demonstrating his quick speed. Instead, Jack and his friends decide to form a soccer team. A bunch of non-athletes who don't care about winning turns out to be the worst soccer team ever. You might even call it anti-athletics. For Muhldinger, the very legacy of the school is at stake - although not the way he thinks.

In our world of social media and the internet, small actions can become big issues particularly when recorded and posted online. Things get crazy and messy for all concerned before the Losers (the team's unofficial nickname) even play their second game. It's an interesting and fun look at school sports and the role they play in the lives of students.

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

Monday, November 2, 2015

Trouble is a Friend of Mine by Stephanie Tromly

From the moment Phillip Digby first appears on Zoe's porch, he will not leave her alone. Digby pops up at any moment and seems to know way too much about what is going on. It's kind of creepy and yet Zoe is drawn into his schemes even when she is breaking the rules.

And breaking the rules will not get Zoe into Princeton. Her goal is to get into the exclusive Prentiss Academy in New York first. Since her parents are separated, she will move in with her father and his new wife in New York (which her mom is not thrilled about).

After the divorce, Zoe and her mother moved to River Heights, a small town still reeling from the abduction of a local teen. Digby's mission is to find the girl or at least the person (or persons) who did it. It's just possible that this kidnapping may be connected to the disappearance of his own sister eight years ago.

Digby drags Zoe and his friend Henry through a series of investigative adventures: stakeouts, break-ins, interrogations, vandalism - you know, general mayhem that eventually involves the police.

Zoe keeps following Digby because she has no other friends and he at least gives her something to do. Plus Digby is smart and has studied police methods and procedures. He is passionate about finding this missing girl. It's suspenseful, a bit chaotic and fun.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sophomores and Other Oxymorons by David Lubar

It has been a long time since we followed Scott Hudson through his freshman year in Sleeping Freshman Never Lie, but for Scott it has only been a summer. Freshman year was a tough one, but he knows that sophomore year will be easier. Well...maybe not so much.

Let's start with Lee, Scott's best friend. He wants to ask her out, but doesn't know how. He's also afraid it will mess up their friendship - she might freak if he tells her how he feels.

At the bus stop on the first day, Scott protects a scrawny freshman named Jeremy from bullies. Jeremy is chatty, but he's not so bad. Scott decides he can help Jeremy by passing on all his words of wisdom from his own freshman year (for a small fee, of course).

The worst of it all is Scott's new English teacher, Mrs. Gilroy. Scott is an aspiring writer. He is on the newspaper staff and really liked his English teacher last year. Once he fails to impress Mrs.Gilroy on the first day, it all goes down hill from there. Scott makes it a personal vendetta to impress her or expose her silly 'arbitrary' rules (that he can't seem to follow).

A few other things: Scott does not impress his biology teacher when he vomits on the first day in class. His former best friend, Kyle, still seems to hate him. And he is still adjusting to his new baby brother (although Scott is writing down his own experiences to assist his brother when he is a teen).

Scott's life has its ups and downs, but it is a humorous story and even when he is making stupid choices you will be cheering him on.

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

Monday, October 12, 2015

Shackled by Tom Leveen

Pelly's friend Tara is gone. When they were ten, she disappeared from the mall. An innocent game of hide and seek has turned into a six year nightmare for Pelly. She barely functions from day to day. Having a stranger stare at her is enough trigger a panic attack. She never goes out at night and started smoking to help calm her nerves.

Working at the coffee shop has been a huge step in her recovery. If only she can keep her co-workers from discovering her issues (not made an easier since she stopped taking her meds and going to therapy). David, the co-worker who is nicest to her, saw her having an attack, so keeping her secret has not really worked out.

One afternoon, an older man with a teen girl comes into the coffee shop. Pelly knows the girl is Tara. The girl mouths 'help me' as they rush out the door. Not satisfied with the police response, Pelly decides to hunt down the man herself and free her best friend.

Pelly would do almost anything to find her best friend, but she cannot manage it alone so she risks bringing David along on her dangerous and suspenseful quest. It is worth the read to see if Pelly can save Tara and herself.

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

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Another Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan is one of the most original teen books I have ever read. It is the story of someone named A who wakes up in a different body every day. A only gets one day in that person, boy or girl, it doesn't matter. A knows no other life; he/she has always lived this way. It is difficult to connect to anyone when you are shifting lives all the time, so A is truly surprised when he/she meets Rhiannon while spending a day as her boyfriend Justin. It could be love, but the only way to know is to try to return to Rhiannon (as other people) whenever possible.

Every Day is told from A's perspective; Another Day is the same events from Rhiannon's perspective. Fortunately for me, it has been a long time since I read the first book. I had forgotten enough of the story that this was one was fresh and new to me. The stories are so parallel that you could probably alternate back and forth between them to get the full perspective.

In the first book, we learn about each person that A is inhabiting and the daily struggles of learning all about their lives. We also see A struggle to return to Rhiannon without disrupting the life he/she is inhabiting. In this book, we follow Rhiannon as she struggles with the idea of someone like A existing and how they could ever be together.

I think I would have enjoyed this book less had I just read the first book. Still, I recommend them both. It is a fascinating story about sexual identity and judging people based on their outward appearance.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Con Academy by Joe Schreiber

Will Shea attends the exclusive Connaughton Academy. He grew up on a tiny island in the Pacific. His parents were missionaries and died tragically. Sad story really - except none of it is true. Will is from New Jersey and is the son of a con-man. True to his upbringing, Will is pulling a con on Connaughton, successfully getting a scholarship to one of the most exclusive private schools in the country.

This con has no angle. Will wants to go legit and make something of himself. That hope quickly fades when another student Andrea discovers his secret and challenges him to a con-off. The first to fleece a load of money from the king of the campus, Brandt Rush, gets to stay and finish school.

Ah, Brandt. He's obnoxious and arrogant. Half the buildings on campus are named after his family. He throws crazy huge gambling parties and gets away with everything. Brandt is just asking to be taken.

And so it begins, Will versus Andrea. Who's conning who? Will brings in his uncle for help with his first big con, but did not intend for his alcoholic dad to get involved. With such a huge payoff that his dad is depending on, the stakes are even higher.

The story has twists and turns that keep everyone guessing. The story does borrow a few things from the movie The Sting, but it is still fun and suspenseful.

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

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds

Atticus is short with curly hair, not really thin and wears glasses. He's not athletic enough for his father or the baseball coach (yes, he is suffering through a season of baseball even though he has no talent for the game). He is being bullied by the coach's son, Danny (who cleverly calls him Fatticus). Atticus is starting to think he is the reason his father left.

Atticus copes by playing out fantasies in his head (like the one where poet Robert Frost helps him with a class presentation and tells Danny off, too). He also dreams of his classmate Audrey, the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.

What really seems to be his saving grace is the new substitute English teacher, Mr. Looney. And he lives up to his name right away. On the his first day of class, Mr. Looney doesn't say a word to any of the students. He just stares at them. Atticus feels like Mr. Looney can really see him - maybe he's the first person who has ever seen the real Atticus.

Atticus gets bullied more by Danny. His (once non-existent) friendship with Audrey gets stronger. And Mr. Looney's 'antics' get the attention of the school board. Through it all, we pull for Atticus. We want him to see what we know to be true (and what his mom and Mr. Looney see): that Atticus is a good guy.

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Imagine if the person sitting next to you in class can hear your every thought. He would instantly know about the boy you think is cute. He would know the answers you were writing on your test. He would know what you think about him. But what if you could read his mind, too?

The students of homeroom 10B know all too well the answer to this question. Through a twist of fate almost all the members of the homeroom have developed the ability to read minds. Fearing the consequences of what could happen if their powers are discovered, they decide to keep it a secret.

Polly (aka Pi) has a curious mind is most interested in exploring her new powers and keeping them secret.

Mackenzie is worried her boyfriend, Cooper, will find out she cheated on him (now that the whole group knows her secret, somebody is bound to tell him).

Tess has a crush on her best friend Teddy (they've known each other forever) and can now find out if he likes her in the same way.

Olivia is shy and cannot speak in public, but maybe her powers might help her with Lazar who she heard may like her.

Yes, this is a story of the normal teen experiences and worries with the added bonus of them knowing what everyone else is thinking. I am glad when I was a teen that I could not hear others' thoughts (and they could not hear mine), but it is fun to think and read about.

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Life Unaware by Cole Gibsen

On the outside, Regan is Little Miss Perfect, but really she is a schemer looking for dirt on people - sometimes for no other reason than to be part of the popular group. But sometimes she does it to get what she wants, like a spot on the cheer leading squad. She shouldn't need to (she was on the squad last year and is good friends with the captain), but a little bit of dirt on her closest competition won't hurt. Until...

Someone prints out Regan's texts and plasters them all over the school. Every nasty comment (including ones about her friends) is there for everyone to read. She quickly becomes the most hated person in school. Christy (the cheer captain) becomes openly hostile and 'steals' Regan's best friend, Payton. Only Nolan, Payton's weird brother, will talk to her. He follows her around with his video camera which she finds annoying.

Regan must be perfect at all costs; that is what her mother, the congresswoman, taught her. Cheerleading, National Honor Society and student council are all part of the plan. Regan needs to be successful and not embarrass her mother (especially with an election coming up). It's no wonder Regan suffers from panic attacks and relies on medicine to get her through the day.

Regan just wants to wait until it all dies down and in the meantime try to figure out how to return to her previous social status. What she finds on the way is that others have secrets even bigger than hers and that she has misjudged a lot of people. Time for Regan to make some changes - and you will be cheering for her.

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

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Debunk It! How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation by John Grant

More people have access to information than anytime in our history. That means there is more misinformation, too. If it were just social media and the internet causing it, it would be bad enough but people of authority (politicians, religious leaders and broadcasters) are helping spread misinformation everyday.

The author of this book wants to help you break through all that. He wants the reader to develop what he calls a bullshit meter to weed out arguments and methods of arguing that cloud the issues at hand.

The author begins by discussing the effects misinformation can have (and has had). He then describes common methods used by the people spreading misinformation. He uses plenty of examples along the way.

In the second part, he takes controversial topics like evolution and climate change and dissects them using the methods he's trying to teach. Needless to say, some readers will not be happy with his reasoned approach in discussing religion, mysticism, medicine and the climate.

With so many questionable sources, I appreciate the reasoned approach presented in this book.

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

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher

Zak and Ana. They shouldn't even be hanging out together, in Ana's opinion anyway. Just look at him: shaggy hair and his scruffy attempt at a goatee. He plays role playing games after school; he and his friends even wear goofy hats. And he's kind of a slacker.

Zak wouldn't mind hanging out with Ana. Even her frizzy hair is kind of cute. She's obviously smart. She does seem kind of uptight with all her extra-curricular activities, but that's why she should have joined in the war game with his friends when Zak invited her.

And how will fate bring them together? Zak messes up a health quiz and, to save his grade, he is forced to join the academic quiz bowl team on their trip to a competition. Ana is the captain of the team. Zak is not looking forward to it, but resigns himself until he realizes the competition is the same weekend as Washingcon, a huge sci-fi convention that Zak has never missed.

A weekend that should have been boring (for Zak) and satisfyingly successful (for Ana) turns into a mess when Ana's 13 year old brother Clayton (also on the team) decides the sci-fi convention sounds cool enough to see for himself. So he travels the few miles from their hotel to the convention center to see all the things Zak has been describing to him.

Zak has been warned not to leave the hotel and Ana's parents are way strict (to the point where she has no life outside of anything that will not help her get into college). Having to go in search of Clayton is a huge risk for both of them, but it's better than telling their teacher.

Their quest at the con is chaotic, dangerous, suspenseful and really funny. They are chased, attacked, insulted, many twists that you never know what is going to happen next. But through it all, Zak and Ana discover much about each other and that is really the story.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen

Four girls out for revenge. The football team has run the school for too long. The players get special exceptions with class work. They never get into trouble no matter how heinous the crime. They are treated like gods.

Well, enough is enough. When Liv and Melanie Jane are both dumped by their football player boyfriends at the same time, the secret of the List is revealed - some underclass players are forced to break up with their girlfriends or face the consequences on and off the field.

By chance the two girls find each other (and team up with Peyton and Ana who have their own reasons for disliking the football players) to beat the team at its own game - no, not football, the annual scavenger hunt. Losers have to walk on the field at homecoming naked.

The girls enter the scavenger hunt secretly (only team members are allowed). They are driven to get the sacred Football of '76, the good luck charm of the team. If they can just get the attention of the school and knock the team down a few notches...

We follow the girls on their hunt and learn the events leading up to it in flashbacks. Each girl tells her own part of the story. Liv is the girl with an undeserved reputation. Peyton is the shy girl who tries not to draw attention to herself. Melanie Jane has relationships with expiration dates - why be too serious at her age? Ana is the girl no one talks to - her reputation was cemented the night of the party that caused the split between her and Melanie Jane.

As they progress toward their shared goal, they bond with each other and address old wounds. It is a fun story with justice being the goal, but friendship being the result.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

So Cute It Hurts Vol. 1 by Go Ikeyamada

Twins, a girl and a boy. They are just so cute. Mitsuru, the boy, likes girls and they love him. He is popular and a strong fighter. Megumu (or Mego), the girl, is a history nerd and gamer. She has two otaku friends who share her interests. Neither twin has ever found true love.

Mitsuru and Mego go to different schools; his all boys and hers all girls. Mitsuru has a week of history quizzes that he needs to pass and Mego is good at history, so he thinks they should trade places for a week. She is reluctant, but has no choice when Mitsuru leaves early for school dressed as her (leaving his clothes and a wig for her to use).

The quizzes are forgotten as the story moves at a rapid pace with the brother and sister having their own adventures in each other's place. The brother's school is a rough place where the meeker Mego quickly runs into trouble thanks to her brother. Mitsuru finds Mego's friends confusing, but nice. He takes on the reigning queen of the school to protect a shy girl being bullied.

Both twins may have found their true loves in accidental encounters but now must interact with them as members of the same sex. How will it all be sorted out? I can't wait for future volumes to find out.

One must not question the improbability of it all and just fall right in with this fun, wacky story.

Did I mention there's a guy with an eye patch?

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Since You Asked by Maurene Goo

The most striking thing about this book for me was that I am sure I've read it before. So if I have, why did I not blog about it? Did I not like enough to include it? I liked it this time, so here we go.

Holly is a sophomore, and it's her first time on the school newspaper staff. Out of boredom, she rewrites a column by one of the editors that rips the school and all the boring, stupid stuff that everyone else seems to love. No big deal except the column accidentally gets published in the paper.

Holly has never sought attention, but now she has lots of it. Some students think her column is funny, others are furious. And the administration...not happy, but decide the newspaper needs a fresh voice that will bring interest to the paper.

Her columns are not the focus of the story; they are just the impetus for the changes in Holly's life: being friendly with the hot popular guy her friends hate, getting love notes from a secret admirer and disobeying her strict parents. Even though some things stay the same (like dealing with her parents and their insistence on sticking with annoying Korean traditions), Holly's life is influx, but with her good friends to support her maybe her won't be so bad after all.

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

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Kidney Hypothetical or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee

Poor Higgs. His life falls apart in one week. Just normal teen angst, you say? No, his whole future might be in jeopardy after this. So how does Higgs Boson Bing (yes, that is his real name) go from being top of his class, captain of the debate team to being the most hated kid in school? It all started with one question...

Heading into the last week of his senior year, Higgs was on the senior boat cruise sitting with his girlfriend, Roo and some friends. Higgs was desperately fighting sea sickness when Roo's friend, Samantha, proposed the following, "If Roo needed a kidney, would you give her one of yours?" Higgs being the rational, logical thinker that he is (just ask his debate opponents) refused to answer such a ridiculous hypothetical question. Conclusion: Higgs refusal to answer means 'no,' therefore Higgs is a horrible, selfish person.

First, the word spread. Then, an all-out campaign to discredit Higgs started. There was no escape...until Higgs wandered off into the forbidden area near the water tower and found Monarch, a quirky, strong-willed girl who is living on her own in an abandoned trailer.

Intriguing - a girl his own age who is living with no rules, no school and no overbearing parents to decide where she will go to college and what her profession will be. And she is so different from Roo. Maybe she is just what Higgs needs.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

The world may end as we know it. An asteroid named Ardor is coming to earth. Will it hit or just pass closely? Unknown. Will it change the lives of Peter, Anita, Andy and Eliza? Yes.

Anita wants to be a singer, but her strict parents have done everything to discourage her. For them, it's all about going to Princeton and becoming a respected professional. Prestige is important to her father.

Peter is an athlete dating a popular girl named Stacy, but he's not sure why anymore. He kinda accidentally kissed Eliza last year in the school's dark room. They were seen and word got around quickly. As Peter was dating Stacy at the time, she made sure everyone knew Eliza was a slut.

Eliza loves photography. Her father, who is dying from cancer, encourages her creativity. She likes being on the fringe observing rather than being observed. Getting a reputation and becoming the talk of the school was a nightmare.

Andy is a drug user living in the basement with practically no supervision from his parents. He plays guitar in a band with his friend Bobo. Their music is loud and mostly incomprehensible, but Andy does write other songs, more melodic and personal. He bets Bobo he will no long be a virgin when the world ends.

The lives of these four young people seem interconnected as society falls apart in the (possible) impending disaster. Just like the world, their relationships are in flux. Sometimes they hate each other and other times they need each other. Whatever happens (and I'm not going to tell you), the four are given new opportunities to make their lives better (no matter how short those lives may be).

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Endangered by Lamar Giles

She aims her camera, framing the shot from her place in the bushes. As always, Lauren (aka Panda) wants to go unnoticed. Anonymity is critical when exacting revenge via her blog. The photos she is taking tonight will bring retribution for another. Panda is a vigilante of sorts, specializing in bringing justice down on those who deserve it with her camera and computer. 

Her target this night is Keachin, a stunningly beautiful, popular girl who was unusually cruel to Nina, a girl who needs crutches due to cerebral palsy. Keachin is hardly an angel to those she believes are beneath her, but hiding Nina's crutches was too much for Panda to endure. 

Gray (Panda’s alias on her blog) has many followers. Sticking it to those who deserve it turns out to be popular on the internet. Her post about Keachin catches the attention of a lot more people than usual and ultimately leads to a huge scandal and death for someone involved. 

Panda is more determined than ever to keep her identity secret (people who are exposed do not tend to be happy about it). Someone who calls him/herself the Admirer has uncovered Panda's secret and uses it to blackmail her into a 'game' that pushes each of them to dangerous places. 

So many questions and so much tension...this is a nail biter for sure as Panda finds herself trapped in the mess she created with no easy way out. 

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

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

The gun was pointed right in her face. Just minutes before, someone had come into the school library yelling about the shooter. Alys heard shots fired and found herself facing the gunman, her brother Luke. The gun shots, the screams, the blood - a horrible nightmare and she was right in the middle of it.

In her life before the shooting, Alys had her best friend Delilah and her boyfriend Ben. She had time for little else, practicing her violin for an important audition at the end of the school year - the one she'd been preparing for her whole life. Her parents had sacrificed so much to get her to this point.

In her life after, Alys has lost everything. Her family is blamed for her brother's actions. Her parents are breaking apart. And Alys can't even pick up her violin. The only person who will speak to her is her brother's best friend, Riley and he is as confused as anyone about Luke's actions.

Alys cannot reconcile the brother of her childhood and the one who killed people. She is haunted by him; seeing him and talking to him. Is it real? It doesn't matter since the tragedy will never make sense. Luke will never be able to explain why he killed so many people including ones he knew his whole life, like Ben's younger sister.

Luke spared Alys's life, but she is a victim, too. He killed the life she had before and maybe the one she was going to have. This story gives us just a glimpse into an all too common event in our society.

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

How different would your life be if one thing could have happened another way or not happened at all? In Fiona's case, it is the accident - when she was five she burned her face leaving it scarred. She says she doesn't think about the 'what if...', but we get to see it for her.

This story alternates between Fiona, the girl with the scar, and Fi, the girl who never got burned. How much difference can living with a scar make? Fiona is more withdrawn and spends her time writing songs that she would never sing for anyone - it would mean opening herself up to others. She has spent her life being noticed and wants to draw as little attention to herself as possible.

Fi is a star lacrosse player. Although Fiona had the desire, getting hit in the face was too much of a risk for sports. Fi lives for lacrosse and is hoping to earn a scholarship to Northwestern. She hangs out with other popular athletes.

Fiona's grades are excellent; Fi needs to work harder. Fiona has a crush on Trent and has barely spoken to him; Fi and Trent are fellow athletes and best friends. Fiona's best friend is Lucy; Fi and Lucy can't stand each other.

Is Fi's life better without the scar? Would Fiona get rid of the scar if she could? It is a story with many questions and (fortunately) answers. It is sometimes confusing going back and forth between the different versions of Fiona (with the same people inhabiting her lives), but it is an intriguing story that make you ponder 'what if's...' about your own life.

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

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Alex was born with a rare condition that makes her physically both a boy and a girl. When she was very young, her parents decided to raise her as a boy, but at fifteen she knows she's a girl. She stops taking her hormone medicine and starts wearing girl clothes. Her mother freaks out (as usual) and her dad walks out.

Alex enrolls herself in a new school where no one knows the truth or that she was recently a boy. Her hopes for a clean beginning are dashed when the school asks for a birth certificate. It's not her fault she was declared a boy at birth, but it is her burden to bear. Alex stops at the first barrister (aka lawyer) she sees to learn how she can change her birth certificate.

Even though Alex lives in constant fear of being discovered, she likes her new school. She meets a group of friends including the beautiful Amina (yes, Alex is crushing on her from their first meeting). She gets the opportunity to be a model and wear amazing clothes and make up. It is such a girly thing to do and Alex loves it.

Alex's parents have never dealt with her condition in the best way for Alex, and this new decision has pushed them beyond their limits. Her mother (who we follow in her blog posts) is convinced it's just a phase and Alex is too young to know what 'he' really wants. Her judgment is questionable at best. Alex's father tries and is more accepting but still struggles with the change. Of course, guilt is weighing on them as well.

Alex has had a tough road and it's never going to be as easy as it should be. Society has a difficult time dealing with things that do not mesh with the perceived norm. Alex is just another teen with more obstacles than most struggling to find her place in the world.

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

Monday, March 23, 2015

Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers

Eight people flying around the world to historic locations, solving riddles, tackling physical challenges - the latest reality show? No, it is Avery's life, at least until she or one of her family members wins this contest.

After a nearly successful escape from her boarding school, Avery is returned to the mansion where she grew up under the watchful eye of her Grandmother VanDemere. For Avery, the mansion was like a prison - no sleepovers, no dating, no leaving the house except for school.

Grandmother is obsessed with family history and preserving the name VanDemere. Avery's existence is a black mark on that heritage. Her father had an affair with the nanny and Avery was the result. After that her alcoholic father disappeared, so Avery grew up with only her grandmother and occasional visits from her snobby cousins who look down on her.

Grandmother Vandemere is not happy with her sons or grandchildren and decides the only way to find a worthy heir to the family fortune is to pit them against each other. If it means Avery doesn't have to return to school, she will try her best at the competition. She faces backstabbing, cheating and uncles more knowledgeable in family history.

With the family lawyer's attractive son at her side, Avery sets out to the seemingly impossible task of taking on the family she loathes. Avery is not prepared for the things she discovers about herself and her family along the way.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist

Have you ever thought about tracking down all your exes to find out the real reasons you broke up? If you have, why stop there? Why not ask all the ones you dated one time or kissed a few times or held hands with once in 6th grade? Josh Lindquist wanted to know why by the age of 25 he had never had a girlfriend, so he decided to investigate and yes, this is a true story.

Before we delve into Josh's quest, it is important to know that Josh had his leg amputated at age nine due to cancer. As much as he tries to not draw attention to it being an amputee definitely affects his behavior and psyche.

Josh contacted each significant girl from his past and analyzed their reasons for not wanting to take their relationship further. We get the background of each 'relationship.' Sarah is the first. During a game of Truth or Dare on a school bus, Sarah said she didn't like Josh, but he found out later that she did. We learn how awkward Josh can be when trying to figure out if Sarah wants to be his girlfriend. Josh is clueless about girls which makes him a normal eighth grade boy. Of course when you are in the middle of your awkwardness, you don't realize that you are a normal teenager. You only know that you are embarrassed and feel completely stupid.

Josh follows up with a hypothesis on the reasons the relationships ended. He then recounts what happened when he met each girl (who are now women) again. He calls this part the 'investigation.' Charts and graphs are included (although they are not really based on data).

As a real life inspirational speaker, Josh tells his story with humor and purpose. I laughed out loud many times and sympathized with his difficulty trying to interact with girls. If you've ever been a teen interested in having a relationship, you will relate to something in this story.

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

Monday, March 16, 2015

Surf Mules by G. Neri

For surfers, it's all about the next big wave. Hitting the surf whenever possible to ride that perfect wave is a lifestyle. Logan and Z-boy never want to give that up. Just after high school (Logan graduated, Z-boy was short a few credits), they wonder about the rest of their lives. It's tough to make a living as a surfer, so they decide to become drug runners to make a lot of money quickly.

There are better ways to deal with your future plans than getting involved with drugs, but the opportunity presents itself at moment when their lives aren't exactly stellar. Logan and Z-boy just lost their close friend, Fin. He was an excellent surfer, but took a hit on a huge wave and never came back up. Logan recently fought with Fin and never reconciled. Also, Logan's deadbeat dad has his college fund tied up in debts. Z-boy has nothing to look forward to except the waves.

If the two could make enough money to buy a nice place near the ocean, they could live carefree for the rest of their lives surfing, smoking pot and meeting women. When someone connects them to a big time dealer who will pay them to drive a car filled with pot across the country to be sold, they see the possibilities of a bright future. They've never really traveled beyond California, but now they must drive to Florida under the guise of being young Republicans out to recruit for the party. Two inexperienced surfer dudes crossing the country on their own for the first time with a car full of illegal drugs, what could go wrong?

Even though we know these young men have made a stupid decision (not mention an illegal one) we hope they succeed. We want them to get back safe. They have long lives ahead of them and plenty of waves to catch.

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

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

JJ Green wants to be a professional songwriter. Her mom is a lawyer. Her dad is a judge. Her brother is in law school. Hmmm...I wonder what they want her to do?

Luckily for JJ, she lives in New York City. In 1963, there is no place better for aspiring songwriters than the Brill Building, home to successful music composers and publishers.

JJ's mom has nothing kind to say about the music business (largely due to her brother Bernie), but has agreed to let JJ work the summer as an intern in the Brill Building with the stipulation that JJ has to write a song that becomes a hit record by the end of summer or she gives up her dream of becoming a professional songwriter.

JJ often has lunch with her estranged Uncle Bernie (who is a big executive in the building). She is happy to learn from him, but she would never tell her mother about their contact. She meets Luke, who at first is aloof and mysterious, but turns out to be a lyricist who immediately understands her music. JJ befriends the night janitor who turns out to be the once famous singer Dulcie Brown herself. It is a fateful friendship that reveals much about everyone's past. And then there is the murder...

...Or is it suicide like the police think? This is not just a story of a girl trying to prove something to herself and her parents (with a little romance thrown in, too). JJ must solve the murder of someone close to her - it becomes more important than anything else that summer including songwriting.

Cynthia Weil, the author, is a songwriter who worked in the Brill Building in 1960s and along with her husband wrote some of the most famous pop songs of the time.

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

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond

What if Germany had won World War II? The life you know would not exist - you would not exist. There would have been no Beatles, no Martin Luther King, no walk on the moon, no President Obama. Everything we have known for that last 70 years would not have happened.

Knowing the premise, I expected that Germany would have won the war by changing one thing in history (like they built the atomic bomb first), but it turns out that they created genetically altered superhumans. That's how they overran Europe and eventually the United States. The US has been divided up: Germany controls the East, Japan the West, and Italy the Dakota region.

Zara lives in the same year we do now, but you wouldn't recognize it. Nazi's live in big, fancy houses in the center of town. Zara lives with her Uncle Red in a shack on a farm in the country. She is the descendent of Americans - even worse for her, she is part Japanese. Mixed race people are looked down upon even more than non-Germans.

Zara's uncle is a resistance fighter, but lost all energy after her mother was killed for being part of the resistance, too. Zara wants nothing more than to be part of the resistance and fight the Nazi's but her uncle refuses to let her. She lives a dreary life being a cleaning girl in a fancy prep school during the day and working on the farm until dark. The Nazi rule has left little hope for anyone not in step with the regime.

Zara is also an anomaly, a person with special powers (just another bit of science fiction). She can control the wind, even creating a tornado if she chooses. If the Nazi's found out, they would kill her for sure. It is this secret and her family's connection to the resistance that make Bastian's attention so unnerving. Bastian is a student at the prep school and the son of one of a ruthless Nazi colonel. Zara must choose her words carefully when he speaks to her, because she does not know his motive for the conversations.

As the Nazi atrocities hit closer to home, Zara is swept up in the movement to help restore America. The action and suspense will not disappoint.

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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Seconds: A Graphic Novel by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Write down your mistake, eat a mushroom, go to sleep, wake up anew with your mistake erased. If only it were that easy. First, the mushrooms are special. Second, the mistake must have taken place on the premises (in this case, the Seconds restaurant).

Katie is a talented young chef trying to open a second restaurant while not quite able to step aside at the first one - in other words, the staff thinks she's bossy and wishes she would go away.  The construction on her new restaurant is not going smoothly, causing her much stress. In the middle of this, she starts seeing a strange girl sitting on her dresser in the room where she lives above the Seconds restaurant.

In the dresser, she finds a mushroom and the instructions to erase mistakes. An accident in the kitchen that burns one of the servers causes Katie to follow the instructions for a 'revision'. A run in with her ex-boyfriend prompts her to do it again. The mysterious girl on the dresser warns her that she is only entitled to use the power once, but life is full of mistakes so if you have a chance to correct them...

Needless to say, things get out of hand for Katie. What life does she really want for herself? Does she want her ex-boyfriend back? Does she want to renovate the old building for her new restaurant or should she have chosen the other one at better location?

The author/artist (who also gave us the Scott Pilgrim series) has created vibrant graphics to tell this intriguing story. The manga inspired characters inhabit wonderfully detailed panels that only add to the enjoyment of this story.

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

I have great respect and admiration for those who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. I am awed by their courage to stand up and say "No more" to laws and people and attitudes so ingrained in society and everyday life. I cannot imagine what it was like for those who marched and boycotted; those who sat at lunch counters and at the front of buses; those who protested peacefully and practiced non-violence; those who fought in the courts and in the streets to obtain the basic rights and dignity that we all deserve.

This story follows the first African American students to attend an all white high school in a small Virginia town. Ten students are finally allowed to go years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of it. The governor and parents fought it. The school closed down for months to prevent it from happening - better for no one to go to school than to let 'them' go.

Sarah Dunbar and her sister are among the ten. Through Sarah's voice, we experience her life. We hear the racist chants by students and adults. We feel the spit on her clothes. We see teachers acting indifferent to the bullying if not expressing their own distaste of her presence in their classroom. We feel the ugliness of racism.  Sarah is a senior and one of the top students at the all black school. Her parents moved to Virginia to be part of the movement, but it is Sarah and Ruth who must face daily onslaught and threats.

Had we just had Sarah's voice, the story might have become overwhelming and desensitizing but we also hear from Linda Harrison whose father runs a newspaper and is one of the most vocal opponents to integration. She spouts the same hateful things her father has been saying her whole life about black people. She tries to defend segregation as Southern tradition. She believes it is unnatural for races to mix and be together in the same places. She knows God never meant for that to happen. Linda also blames the ten for messing up her senior year - if they had not riled things up, she could go to prom.

It is only when Sarah and Linda are put together for a school project that Linda begins to see Sarah differently and Sarah gets the opportunity to tell a white person how she truly feels.

This story takes the reader right into the minds of these brave students. We see all they see and hear all they hear. We know the excruciating reality they face every day. It is unpleasant and shameful. The story did go in a direction I was not initially expecting. If the author was trying to draw parallels with today's issues, I don't believe it was necessary. Nonetheless, this is a compelling read.

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

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Can rumors destroy you? Can your reputation be so ruined by others that you can no longer function? Alice was popular and now she is called a slut and shunned. One party started it all and the death of the star quarterback made it worse.

Alice lives in a small Texas town where football is everything. So when there is no game, what else is there to do. Parties are not those huge deals you see in the movies where hundreds of teens pack a house. Mostly, people (the popular upperclassmen and a select few of younger teens) hang out and drink. Occasionally, something big happens like at Elaine's party where Alice had sex with two guys in the same night. Brandon, one of the guys himself, said it, so it must be true.

Kelsie didn't go to the party (she was ill), but she has been Alice's best friend for...well, since she moved to Texas from Michigan. She was such a nerd back then and decided to start over in her new home. Alice was the first one to speak to her and they have been friends ever since - until the party. How could she risk losing her semi-popular status by staying linked to Alice the town slut?

Josh is Brandon's best friend. He was in the car when Brandon crashed and died. It was Alice's fault. She kept sexting him. It was that distraction that caused the crash. Josh can't keep that kind of info to himself, so now everyone in town knows (including the adults).

Kurt has been crushing on Alice for a long time. He is very smart and keeps to himself. Yes, he lives next door to Brandon, but Brandon would never admit to speaking to Kurt civilly (like he sometimes does when they are by themselves). And that's just fine with Kurt. He doesn't care about the rumors or whether they are true. He just wants to help Alice.

Through the alternating voices of Elaine, Kurt, Josh and Kelsie, we learn about the events leading up to the party and the accident. They each have their own motives and perspectives. What do they reveal and to whom? And is it too late for Alice.

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince

Liz knew at young age that she did not want to dress like a girl. She hated wearing dresses and all the frilly-ness associated with being a girl. She never identified with things that girls liked.

This autobiographical tale follows Liz's journey as she deals with her unorthodox feelings. She is bullied by other kids and dismissed by adults. She faces down the cultural norms dealing with confusion, sadness, and frustration. For many years, she wishes she could be a boy. Puberty is rude awakening for her (although not really unexpected).

Fortunately, Liz has an incredibly supportive mother. She gives Liz the strength to be who she is without compromising. Imagine having that support throughout your life - knowing that no matter what others say or do, you the blessing from someone who loves you unconditionally to be who you are.

The black and white illustrations are are simple, but convey the emotions perfectly.

We often think of kids being bullied for being gay or unathletic or smart. This particular gender issue is not one I have ever given much thought to. I am glad the Liz Prince choose to write her story and do so in such an accessible form.

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