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.