20 October 2010

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amelia Curry's dad died three months ago.  She's having a heck of a time admitting that this is her real life now.  Her mom decided that it was a good idea to move to Connecticut, so she's been there setting things up, and Amy is still on her own in California while they sell the old house.  When her mom decides that it's time for Amy to come "home" to the east coast, she sets her daughter up with a neighbor's son to travel across the country together, since Amy refuses to drive since the accident.  She gives them a strict itinerary, making all of their hotel arrangements and travel instructions.  When Roger suggests a detour, Amy quickly chooses Yellowstone National Park, where her dad used to take her and her brother, Charlie, when they were growing up.  From there, they embark on a journey that no one could have planned, especially not Amy's grief-torn mother, or even Amy herself.  Once Amy's cloud of grief clears just enough to notice how amazing Roger is, she's already comfortable with him in a way that can only come from sharing a car, money, and alternate identities.  In between bouts of 20 Questions, they help each other deal with their individual crises and give each other strength to deal with whatever lies ahead.

Not all loose ends are tied up neatly, and Amy and Roger don't offer any pat solutions to life's problems.  This story is about taking a journey, not always staying on the path that someone else might choose for you, and deciding that it's okay to make your own way, on your own or by accepting help and support from friends and family.  Recommended to all high school readers, mostly girls who are in search of a happily-ever-after (but without the whole "riding into a sunset" cliche).  
Call number: YA MATSON (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

Cardturner by Louis Sachar

The summer of his seventeenth year, Alton's mother forces him to spend time with his "favorite uncle" in order to try to work the family's way into the blind man's last will and testament.  Alton has to accompany his great-uncle, Trip, to his bridge games and act as his "cardturner."  Basically, he has to do whatever Trip tells him to do (both during the card game and any other time they are in each others' presence), no questions asked, no hesitations.  What is first an insufferable chore, soon becomes quality time between Alton and Trip, and Alton learns a lot about bridge -- and his uncle -- during the course of the ensuing two weeks.  When Trip passes away, there is more at stake for Alton than just his uncle's will, including uncovering the mysteries of the heart and mind.

The book includes an index explaining a lot about the game of bridge.  The audio intersperses these detailed explanations throughout the story.  This story is especially recommended to younger and older readers who are interested in discovering more about a classic card game that is making a resurgence in popularity among all ages.
Call number: YA SACHAR; YA CD SACHAR (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

18 October 2010

Calamity Jack by Shannon & Dean Hale

Jack is a self-proclaimed thief and a schemer.  Underneath, he truly has a good heart, wanting to undercut the bad guys in order to help make a better life for his mother, but bad luck is always chasing him and his plans never seem to turn out quite as ... well, planned.  When he purchases some magic growing beans on the street, plants a giant beanstalk, steals the giant's -- his latest, richest, and most powerful mark yet -- magic goose, he also manages to destroy the tenement where he lives, including his home and his mother's bakery.  So as not to wreak any more havoc or cause his mother any more pain, he leaves town ... to the wild west, where he meets Rapunzel.

Jack has always known that he can't rest until he knows that his mother is taken care of, and he wants to make her proud while also impressing his dear Punzie.  But when they return to the city of his birth, he finds that the giants have destroyed everything he's known and loved.  With the help of Rapunzel and a couple of other unlikely heroes, Jack seeks to take down the giant ... and win Rapunzel's heart.

Calamity Jack and its companion story, Rapunzel's Revenge, present an awesome mix of writing and illustration, sure to captivate readers of all ages and interests.
Call number: YA GRAPHIC HALE (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

07 October 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future by Michael J. Fox

Seriously, who doesn't love Michael J. Fox?

In this brief read, this incredible actor offers words of wisdom to high school and college graduates, and all those embarking on a new world, a new life, a new experience.  From a man who sought success even without a high school diploma or even always clear direction, the words in this volume speak to the heart using both humor, humility and wisdom.
Recommended to all readers of all ages in all situations.  Do yourself a favor, have a listen.

Reviewed by kate.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Most reviews would describe Going Bovine as weird.  Complex.  Convoluted.  Intense.  I've also heard the highly accurate (I would assume) comparison to a "trippy acid flashback."  I'd use all of those words to describe this tome as well, but I have to add one: fascinating.  Unquestionably fascinating.

Cameron Smith is sixteen years old and his most outstanding quality is that he just doesn't really care much about anything.  He's not incredibly social, but he's not incredibly awkward either.  Until weird things start to happen to his mind, anyway, and the doctors diagnose him with Mad Cow Disease.  Now, he's oddly the center of attention, but worse than that, he's going to die.  When he's admitted to the hospital (which is supposed to help him how?), he meets Gonzo, a Mexican-American Dwarf gamer, and Dulcie, a punk rock angel.  When Dulcie guides Cam to take a road trip to find Doctor X, the only doctor who can cure Cam's illness, Gonzo comes along for what ends up being the most entertaining and action-packed road trip adventure known to mankind.  

In this story, you'll find drunken college frat parties, talking yard gnomes, Fire Breathers, musicians, scientists, and Viking Gods.  But you'll also find what it means to live life, experience adventure, fall in love . . . even as reality slips through your fingers and disappears before your eyes.
Recommended to all high school readers, though you won't all get it and you won't all like it.  Either way, the audiobook version is worth a shot.
Call number: YA BRAY; YA CD BRAY (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate.