31 October 2011

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Katrina Bishop has grown up involved in the family business, especially around art museums - stealing from them, to be exact. She maneuvers her way into a fancy prep school only to find herself getting kicked out a few months later because she's caught in an exceptional prank. Only she knows that she didn't commit the offense, as creative and elaborate as it was. When W.W. Hale, an old friend, an ongoing flame, and a co-conspirator in the business, shows up, she's pretty sure she's being sucked back into a life that she still isn't sure she wants to be a part of. But when it's her dad who is in trouble, the job becomes personal and Kat is more determined than ever to set things right.

First I was reminded of Frankie Landau-Banks, and then I thought I might be running through a series of adventures in 39 Clues, but soon enough Kat, Hale, Simon, Gabrielle, and the Bagshaw
brothers claim their rightful place as six of the most successful teenage adventurers, pranksters, and art thieves - ever. Well-done! This swift-moving read is recommended to all middle and high school readers. 

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

In this follow-up to If I Stay, we learn a lot about where Adam has been and who he has become in the years directly after his (ex-)girlfriend Mia woke up from a coma after an accident that killed her entire family.

Adam "Wilde Man" Wilde is the lead singer and guitar player of the chart-topping Shooting Stars, he has hot model girlfriend Bryn on his arm, and he's got a steady supply of cigarettes and pills to help calm his nerves and keep his depression and anxiety at bay - most of the time. The one thing he doesn't have is Mia. Since leaving their hometown in Oregon three years ago for an illustrious Julliard education, she never once looked back and ultimately cut off contact with Adam. And despite his outward success, he hasn't been the same since this loss of the great love of his life. Until he's in the NYC with the band and sees that Mia is playing a show at Carnegie Hall. The whirlwind of memories, emotion, secrets, and revelations that follow is breath-taking, exhausting, and oddly refreshing as we watch Mia and Adam reconnect and - in some ways - deconstruct.

Readers might be sucked into this love story even without knowing the back-story, but those who already had their hearts broken and put back together again while reading If I Stay, will cry and cheer alongside old friends.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

19 October 2011

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Oskar Schell is unlike any nine-year-old you or I have ever encountered.  His business card lists countless of his specialties, interests, and skills.  But one thing that he doesn't have - which he desperately wants - is his father, who was killed in the September 11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks.  When he finds a key in a blue vase on the top shelf of his father's closet, he is determined to find out what the key unlocks, and hopefully come to terms with why his father had to leave him.  Along the way, he meets individuals who help him, make him laugh, frighten him. and ultimately propel him along on his journey.

Told from alternating perspectives, we also learn about the lives, heartbreaks, and sacrifices Oskar's grandparents, his father Thomas' parents.  Told with a beautiful talent and true emotional participation, the reader uncovers some of the mysteries encountered and growth accomplished on the varying journeys through grief. Recommended to all high school and adult readers.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

Britten and Bruightly : a Graphic Novel by Hannah Berry

Fernandez Britten is a private investigator, a self-proclaimed "researcher," commonly known in the field as "The Heartbreaker" because of the heartache he has brought to many of his clients by surfacing the truth.  When he gets a call from Charlotte Maughton, daughter of a wealthy owner of a large publishing house, about her husband's murder, Britten is intrigued enough to take the case.  Throughout the mystery, Britten proves his intelligence and his supreme observatory skills, though he comes across as desperate and depressing . . . the insanely hilarious bright spot is Britten's only friend, his partner Stewart Brulightly, a teabag.  Literally. 

Recommended to all.  Especially recommended to those with an attraction to irony and sarcasm.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Laurel was a pretty typical high school student.  She's checking out colleges, checking out boys, studying for standardized testing, and sharing every moment possible with her best girlfriend.   But that was Before.

The night that her mother, father, and brother Toby venture out to Freezy's for ice cream with Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman -- the night that Laurel decides to go home early to finish her homework, and the night that David Kaufman escapes time spent with the family once again -- everything changes.  The Meisner's and the Kaufman's don't even get to Freezy's before the car accident kills all but the driver, Mr. Kaufman.  As Laurel and David both struggle in the wake of their grief, they manage to find some peace in each other, though it isn't easy to figure out how to move on from what they've lost.  With a bittersweet ending, both Laurel and David make the choices that are best for themselves and each other, and finally, there is hope for After.

Though I'm not sure that The Beginning of After really lived up to all the publisher/consumer hype, I can't help but rank it right up there with the Sarah Dessen's, Elizabeth Scott's, Sara Zarr's and on the shelves.  Recommended to all high school girls, even those who might be a little bit afraid to cry.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

08 October 2011

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

He knows that his name is "Thomas," but he can't remember much else to tell you.  He arrived through the Box same as all the other teenage boys, one a month for two years, all with no memories of life before and all feeling pretty rough around the edges.

Thomas quickly learns the ropes of life in the Glade, knowing immediately -- though he doesn't really know why -- that he wants to be a Runner.  The Runners spend all day, every day out in the Maze that surrounds the Glade, methodically mapping out the maze and searching for exits or clues to figure out a way of escape.  Each day they have to return before the doors of the Glade close and the deathly Grievers come out to play, otherwise they'll be trapped out in the Maze all night, a sure death sentence.  Those who even just get a taste of the Grievers' claws or spikes must be given a serum, and even then suffer through the Changing, a horribly painful process that none will talk about, but those who have been through it are never the same.

The day after Thomas arrives, a girl is dropped off in the Box.  From that moment on, nothing is the same.  Will the Gladers be able to figure out the Maze, or will they give up all hope of survival and getting back to whatever unknown life they were forced to leave behind?

Recommended to all, but especially older middle school and high school boys.  Fans of The Hunger Games will surely eat up The Maze Runner series!

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

04 October 2011

TLT: Teen Librarian's Toolbox: Teen Issues: What does October 15th mean?

Love this blog post and this recommended reading list. October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day: http://www.october15th.com/

TLT: Teen Librarian's Toolbox: Teen Issues: What does October 15th mean?: In Megan McCafferty's dystopian world, everyone over the age of 18 is infertile due to a virus so teenage girls are paid to help bring new c...