Friday, October 28, 2016

Six Impossible Things, by Fiona Wood

Six Reasons why you should read Six Impossible Things, by Fiona Wood:

1. Dan, the main character, is adorkable: He's motivated, he's sarcastic/funny, he's actually pretty mature for his age, and he's soooo in love with Estelle. And we're talking the totally cute-sweet sort of puppy love that can only happen with a first crush. Also he admits to owning a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beanbag chair. How retro-cool is that?!? (wish I had a TMNT beanbag chair)

2. Howard the Dog. I'll admit it. The fact that there's an animal friend named Howard in this book hooked me. And I thought I was the only one with an animal friend by that name. True, my Howard is a cat and the one in the book is a dog, but the name is pretty unique for a pet. Plus, Howard the Dog is awesome! Wise, loyal, and awesome!

3. It's hilarious in the completely awkward, real way all well-written coming-of-age stories are. No spoilers, though. You'll have to stumble upon the humor yourself,

4. The romance! I can't make this list without mentioning the romance! It's not the hot & heavy stuff. There are no grand, sweeping gestures. This is the sweet, cute, innocent first-love romance that will totally give the warm fuzzy feels.

5. The side characters are well done, from the bullies to the parents to the friends. This makes the story feel more real.

6. The whole package! Six Impossible Things is an excellent book.

And So...
Dan's life has been going great up until this point: His well-off parents were able to provide a comfortable life, he was attending a prestigious private school, he was well-traveled, and he wanted for nothing (see: TMNT beanbag chair). He was happy. Or at least content. As much so as a 14 year old nerdish boy can be.

That was before. Before Dan's dad announced they were bankrupt, came out as gay, and ditched Dan and his mom to pursue other things. 

Now Dan and his mom only have the clothes on their backs, a few boxes worth of possessions (stuff hidden from the Reop team), and an inherited house that smells like, pee. No nice way of saying it.

Although Dan is at rock bottom, he's ambitious. He creates a list of six impossible goals. Among them being cheering his mom, getting a job to help with finances, and figuring out his place in the world. But the main goal, the one that tops his list, is to kiss Estelle, the cute girl next door. 

Admirable goals, all of them. Except that Dan hasn't even worked up the nerve to talk to Estelle, let along get into a kissing sort of situation.

What follows is Dan's stumbling, awkward, and inspiring journey to achieve all six of his goals. And he discovers he's capable of a lot more than he ever dreamed.

So DOES Dan kiss Estelle?

You'll just have to read Six Impossible Things to find out. --AJB

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Be Good Be Real Be Crazy, by Chelsea Philpot

I picked up Be Good Be Real Be Crazyauthor Chelsea Philpot's second book, because I loved Even In Paradise. Unfortunately, this one wasn't nearly as awesome as I hoped.

Shy Homer is impossibly in love with Mia. Impossible because a girl like that could never return his feelings. But being a typical myrtar of unrequitted love, Homer decides to further torture himself by offering to drive his (very pregnant, but not by Homer) dream girl from southern Florida to her new home in Glory-Be-By-The-Sea, a postcard town on the coast of Maine. Accompanying them on their road trip will be Homer's doomsday-obsessed little brother, Einstein who, true to his name, is a certified brainiac. And their mode of transportation? It's ugly, it's smelly, and it's very, VERY yellow. Like, Taxi cab yellow. Homer's mission: To confess his feelings to Mia and, maybe, convince her to stay with him and live happily ever after.

If this sounds like the typical setup for a typical road trip story, you're absolutely right. It is.

Be Good Be Real Be Crazy reads more like a collection of random cliches than a linear story. 

Mia is the stereotypical Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl. She dyes her hair unnatural colors, revels in cloud shapes, shoplifts junk jewelry (but it's ok, because she can charm her way out of trouble), and has a deliberstely mysterious past (because, of course, she's a fabulous liar). She's so quirky she's almost ordinary for a MPDG. She's more caricature than character, and that made her hard to relate to (or even care much about). As a reader, I've encountered so many MPDGs in my literary travels that I'm kind of sick of them. 

Homer and Einstein are equally quirky and have equal amounts of personal baggage, but they're, at least, more sympathetic.

As is typical with road trip stories, Homer, Mia, and Einstein encounter a series of unusual characters, eat bad road trip food, take photos on disposable cameras, and have a series of unfortunate (and also fortunate) things happen to them. Drama and angst and ghosts from the past all come out. 

And then...the bittersweet resolution. 

My overall reaction to Be Good Be Real Be Crazy was lukewarm, at best. I didn't dislike it, but I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. As far as road trip stories go, there are better ones out there.  Be sure to ask at the Teen Desk for recommendations. --AJB

Monday, October 24, 2016

Giant Days, vol. 3, by John Allison

Welcome to Giant Days #3

The first semester at University is ending, and Susan, Daisy, and Esther are all wrapped up in their own dramas. 

At the forefront of this is a highly-heated campaign for Student Union President (fitting considering the 2016 presidential election, perhaps the most dramatic one ever, is only weeks away). When the school paper writes a tell-all expose about the current president's sketcky behavior, ol' Prez is forced to resign after a riot breaks out on campus. With the help of an anonymous "Deep Throat"-like character, Susan gets so caught up in the new campaign she neglects everything: Her friends, her schoolwork, her health, McGraw. 

And McGraw is none too pleased. Could mean it's over for these lovebirds. And on Susan's birthday at that! Poor Susan. And poor McGraw!

On top of the usual guy drama, Esther must face a terrifying blast from her past...which may not be so terrifying after all. 

Ed has been having trouble shaking the aftermath of a humiliating first date with an older woman. But fear not! Help comes from a surprisig source! (See: "Terrifying blast from the past")

And Daisy... Well, Daisy is the voice of reason who is trying to hold everyone and everything together amid the turmoil. But even the most reasonable, patient people have their limits.

But wait! Just when things seem like they're mellowing out for our heroines, just before the "To Be Continued..." ending, Esther drops a HUGE bombshell!

Ah, the plot thickens...

Fans of the series will be anxiously awaiting #4. (I know I am!)

This fun comic just keeps getting better. Giant Days has everything one could want in a great story: Well-developed characters, exciting plot lines, humor, tragedy, romance, drama... everything! --AJB

Saturday, October 22, 2016

P.S. I Like You, by Kasie West

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West is ridiculously adorable. I'm a huge fan of modern settings/real world and I was very impressed with this story which had solid plots and strong characters.

Basically, Lily is an aspiring songwriter in an endearingly chaotic family. She sees a note on her chemistry desk from another student who shares her taste in music, so they leave notes for each other and build a strong connection throughout the semester. There are a few possible guys who could be it. So the first third of the story is trying to figure out his identity. The rest of the story is her trying to reconcile the guy she knows in the notes with the version she knows in real life. It's a total Darcy/Elizabeth relationship of Pride and Prejudice.

The way everything unfolded was the best part --the pacing and execution were perfect. The characters felt like totally believable, realistically flawed teens. Even the secondary characters were well done! I loved how important Lily's home life was and how kind she was to her brothers. Lily herself was hilariously awkward, stubborn, and probably my favorite main character.

I don't want to say who the guy is (even though it's really easy to guess!), so I'll just say that whole relationship built up perfectly. They go from hating each other to slowly getting to know each other to being in love. It's a hate to love romance that actually works and doesn't feel at all forced.

Kasie West is such a talented writer. Everything is so real and just pulls you in. It's one of the most adorable, feel-good books I've read in a long time. If you like her story, I also recommend you to read The Fill-In Boyfriend which is also my favorite! *JK*

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Still Life With Tornado, by A.S. King

Sarah used to be a normal, well-adjusted kid. She loved art, idolized her older brother, and lived in the shelter of the blissful ignorance that is common to very young children (even when everything is everything but ok). Then came the family vacation to Mexico when Sarah was 10. The one that changed everything. This is when her parents stopped speaking to each other. When her older brother vanished and never came back. 

Flash-forward to when Sarah is 16 and a complete hot mess. She stops going to school and stops anything to do with art. She can't tell you why she does what she does. Just that she simply can't continue. Instead, she spends her days wandering around the city, speculating about a homeless man (called Earl) and conversing with 10-year-old, 23-year-old, and 40-year-old versions of herself. Readers can only guess that Sarah has some serious baggage to work out, baggage that has everything to do with the events of that fateful family trip when she was 10. Despite her behavior, she actually DOES want to work things out. But first she has to remember what happened to make her the way she is.

If the plot snyposis of A.S. King's latest novel Still Life With Tornado sounds exceptionally convoluted, you're absolutely right. It does. This amazing book is one of those that can only be properly experienced in the actual reading. You can't figure thing out by skimming reviews. Any spoilers I could give you would make no sense (and I wouldn't give spoilers for a story like this anyway). You just have to read it for yourself.

And you absolutely should! --AJB

Friday, October 14, 2016

Great New Halloween Movies in Teen

There's no doubting that Halloween Movies are awesome (especially this time of year). To get your fix, look no further than the "New" section of the Teen DVD shelf. Just in are these Spooky favorites:

Hocus Pocus: How much trouble can three ancient witches cause in modern times? A whole lot, apparently! And this is the plot of this classic film: When the Sanderson sisters were hanged for practicing witchcraft 300 years ago, the residents of Salem thought they'd seen the last of the crafty trio. But they were wrong! Flash forward to modern day (well, 1993, anyway) when Max, the new kid in town, accidently resurrects the witches. On Halloween, of all days. Oops! The witches have until sunrise to capture a child, the final ingredient to complete their immortality spell. And they've got their sights on Max's little sister. With the help of his crush and a very unusual cat, Max must stop the sisters before they can put their plan into action!

The Watcher in the Woods: When Jan and Ellie's family begins renting the old English mannor house, the sisters instantly sense that something strange about their new home and the surrounding woods. Jan begins seeing the ghostly image of a blindfolded girl, and Ellie hears voices singing and calling to her. What could all this mean? And what does it have to do with the creepy old woman who is their landlord? One thing is certain: Something out there in the woods wants the girls for some strange, and possibly sinister, purpose. Can the sisters solve the mystery before it's too late?

Lady in White: Another creepy classic. When Young Frankie gets locked in his school one Halloween, he sees something terrifying: The ghost of Melissa, a young girl who was murdered several years earlier. Melissa wants Frankie's help in bringing her killer to justice before another child dies (because the guy is still out there), but can Frankie solve this crime before he, himself, becomes the killer's next victim? 


p.s. Check out this great article from School Library Journal for more movies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Romeo And/Or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure, by Ryan North (and that Shakespeare dude)

So you think you know the story of Romeo and Juliet? I mean...of course you do! You likely had to read it for some English Lit class. Or you've seen the movie starring that one dude from Titanic. But quick wrap-up: It's a classic tragedy about two hormonal teenagers who disobey their parents to be together...and end up killing each other in the process. Like, literally. 

But what if you DON'T know the whole story? What if Juliet had run away from that fateful party to instead go to the pub (and wrestle lions)? What if Romeo had just talked to Juliet's parents like a civil, sane person instead of sneaking around behind their backs? Or had just gone out to breakfast with his cousin, Benvolio (because HELLO! breakfast is awesome)? What if these two "star-crossed lovers" never even met?

Or what if there was time travel involved? Or ninjas? Or laser-eyed robots? Or zombies? Vampires? Werewolves? Well-meaning parents who want to have "The Talk" (OMG, the horror!)?

Or *GASP* a Happily Ever After?

Seriously, the possibilities are endless. It's like one of those Alternate Universes thingies that make even the most uber-intelligent physicists say, "Woah..." and stare blankly off into space.

This is what you'll get with Ryan North's extremely entertaining book, Romeo and/or Juliet: A Choosable-Path Adventure. That's right. A Choose Your Own Adventure Shakespeare. This exceptional book takes the classic tragedy and turns it on its ear, drop-kicks it out the window of a speeding car, and then tosses it into a blender along with a pound of mutton and a few dozen eggs to make a protein shake (which Juliet then drinks). And the result is awesome!

Romeo and/or Juliet is just as awesome as William Shakespeare's Star Wars, if not better. Because YOU, the reader, get to decide the course of the story. And if you still don't like the (new) ending... Well, begin anew with different choices. 

But your first choice (and it's a good choice) is to pick this book up and read it. Because NOT doing so is the only tragic choice.--AJB

The Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis

You don't always know who the truly crazy ones are. Not really. Sure, movies and media portray them as chainsaw-toting, metal finger nail-wearing, machette-wielding characters. Almost always they're physically scarred in some way. So they can easily be identified, I suppose. 

Oh yeah... These characters are always male.


But what if that portrayal isn't entirely accurate. This is the question posed by Mindy McGinnis' new novel, The Female of the Species.

So what if? What if the truly bonkers one was the Girl Next Door? The Head Cheerleader? Someone so seemingly innocent you wouldn't ever suspect them. Someone who wore her scars (yes, HER) on the inside. Somehow that thought is even more terrifying than all the Freddies and Jasons put together. all began a couple years back, when Alex Craft was just a freshman. One day her older sister Anna was taken. The authorities later found the missing girl in the nearby woods. What was left of her, anyway. And the guy who did it? He was one of the residents of the small town. Someone Alex and Anna probably saw dozens of times in passing: Driving by, in line at the grocery store, two rows back at the Cinneplex... Someone neither girl gave a second thought to. Until that fateful day. 

Anna's killer must have had a good lawyer, because he got off on a technicality. Walked free. And this was the last straw for Alex. Because something dangerous sleeping inside this seemingly sweet, quiet girl woke up. The thirst for vengence took over. And she began planning...

You don't need to know the details. Just know that Alex took matters into her own hands. Anna's killer may have escaped the law, but he didn't escape Alex. He became an urban legend. And Alex eventually faded into the background. She didn't talk to/interact with anyone. And no one talked to/interacted with her. It was better this way. For everyone.

Then Peekay and Jack enter Alex's life. They offer acceptance, friendship, love. And Alex begins to feel normal for the first time since before Anna's death. 

If only the normal could last. 

If only...

One night at a party, someone tries to hurt Peekay. But Alex sees. Alex saves her friend, but there is a price to pay. Because from there on out, it's a downward spiral that cumulates, inevitablly, in tragedy. 

Want to know the rest? Read the book!!! It's pretty awesome! Scary (really scary), but awesome!--AJB

Monday, October 3, 2016

Teen Read Week 2016: October 11-15

Stop by the Teen Department the week of October 11-15 and take part in a variety of Teen Read Week activities. 

  • Re-design a book cover (yes, any book!) and sumit it for the chance to win a prize (re-designs will be judged by library staff).
  • Make a bookmark out of craft paper, duct tape, and other art supplies. The sky's the limit.
  • Take part in a scavenger hunt. How well do you know the Teen Area? Find out!