Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Money Run” by Jack Heath May 28, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Mystery,Thriller,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:44 am
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Money Run cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

256 pages; published April 2013

The Basics

Ash is a 16-year-old master thief. Benjamin is her super-techie-genius sidekick. Together, they are planning the daring, high-stakes heist of a lifetime – ripping off the super-rich, super-crafty Hammond Buckland. When a deadly assassin and a team of government agents get added to the mix, it’s clear that nothing about this mission is going to be easy.

The Booktalk

Hammond Buckland is not just rich, he’s super-rich, crazy rich, so rich he doesn’t know what to do with it all. Ash – ingenious teen thief – wants some of what he’s got and she has chosen today to steal $200 million dollars she knows is hiding in his fancy office building. It’s the most ambitious heist she and her techie-backup Benjamin have ever tried. Ash knows it’s going to be a challenge. She loves a challenge. But she never could have bargained for what she gets – a wild cat-and-mouse game involving a dangerously evil assassin, mysterious passageways, suspicious powders, and one flying car.

It’s non-stop action with endless mind-boggling twists on this Money Run.

But Wait … There’s More

Billed as #1 in the Ashley Arthur series, Money Run offers a great lead in to more adventures with a charming youthful criminal duo. Second in the series, Hit List has been released in Australia.

 

“Rotten” by Michael Northrop May 27, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 3:21 pm
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Rotten cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

256 pages; published April 2013

The Basics

JD is just returning from a summer spent at a location he doesn’t care to talk about. JR – Johnny Rotten – is a Rottweiler rescue adopted by his mother while JD was away. Having been abused and neglected, JR doesn’t trust men. JD isn’t sure he’s such a fan of the dog either – at first – but soon finds they have more in common than he might think.

The Booktalk

There’ s a lot of rotten in JD’s life. Just before his junior year, he had to spend the summer away. He’s not doing so well with his friends and his girlfriend because he doesn’t want to talk about it. His mom is tense and acting kind of weird. And now, he has to figure out what to do about the newest member of his household – a rescued Rottweiler with a checkered past and a bad attitude, especially toward men.

JD decides the name the dog Johnny Rotten – like the Sex Pistols lead singer. Just as he realizes he actually likes his new companion, one bad moment redefines many of his relationships and leaves JD fighting for his rotten life.

Random Thoughts

There is a sweetness to many “boy and his dog” stories that is lacking here, which makes the story more interesting and memorable. Still, it is a great choice for animal lovers.

 

 

“They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth” by Daniel Hernandez with Susan Goldman-Rubin May 16, 2013

Filed under: Books,GLBTQ,Memoir/Biography,Multi-Cultural,Non-Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:50 am
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They Call Me a Hero cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

240 pages; published February 2013

The Basics

People call Daniel Hernandez a hero because in 2011, he was the first to reach Gabrielle Giffords, a congresswoman who was shot at a public event. He raised her head and stopped the bleeding and, by all accounts, saved her life. In this account of that morning and the life that led to it, Hernandez explains why he doesn’t consider himself a hero – just a guy who was doing what anyone should have done.

Booktalk

On January 8, 2011, a man shot Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a Safeway parking lot where she was meeting with constituents. Six people died. Many others were injured. Daniel Hernandez, a 20-year-old intern in Giffords office, ran toward the gunfire to help Giffords. He is credited with saving her life by administering basic first aid mostly learned from health occupation classes in high school. That incident is why they’ve written a book about Hernandez. It’s what made him famous.

In a lot of ways, Hernandez is kind of an ordinary person. He’s pretty smart. He comes from a working class Latino family in Tuscon. He had some good teachers. He takes an interest in the world around him. He’s interested in politics. He’s openly gay. He has a heart for community service. Here’s what makes him extraordinary. Here’s what makes the book about him worth reading: Daniel Hernandez accomplishes things. Not “someday,” but all the time. He has grabbed every opportunity that goes by to learn new skills, to work hard, to get involved. He has campaigned for politicians he believed in. He has authored a bill that was approved by the Arizona legislature. He currently serves – at age 23 – on the school board for the district he attended.

I liked Daniel Hernandez’s story because he’s a person who takes the time and talent he’s been given and works hard to get things done and improve the world around him.

Random Thoughts

I find it hilarious that they have subtitled the autobiography of a 23-year-old “A Memoir of My Youth.”

 

“Etiquette and Espionage” by Gail Carriger May 11, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fantasy,Fiction,Science Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:50 am
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Etiquette and Espionage cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

307 pages; published February 2013

The Basics

Sophronia has a special talent for getting herself into undignified situations and causing trouble. After her latest mishap  Sophoronia’s quite proper mother has had enough. It’s off to finishing school with her wayward daughter. Sophoronia’s horror at the thought of being “finished” into a proper lady is soon replaced with delight as she discovers that Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality is as likely to teach you how to poison your tablemate as to do a proper curtsy.

The Booktalk

Sophronia is not like other girls. She likes to climb and sneak and invent and take things apart and generally cause trouble. Exciting? Yes, but not a great fit for her proper Victorian household. After she manages to hit a guest with a flying trifle as part of a “modification” to the household dumbwaiter, she is unceremoniously shipped off to Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. Horror of horrors for Sophronia, who has no interest in being a lady.

But she soon discovers not all is as it seems in the string of dirigibles that make up Mademoiselle Geraldine’s. After she is brought aboard by a werewolf and greeted by a vampire, Sophronia discovers that her lessons in eye fluttering and proper curtsies will be coupled with knife-throwing and the subtle art of poisons. And there’s a ready-made mystery to unravel. Sophronia is going to have an exciting year indeed.

 

Reflections on Reading: No Need for Speed May 9, 2013

Filed under: Reflections — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:25 pm
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Speed skaters image

Image courtesy of Microsoft

I take a lively interest in how often people boast to me – from the other side of the reference desk – about how quickly they read. “I’ll read this by tomorrow,” they say or “I’ll have this back way before the due date.” Everyone has their own standard, but by some mysterious code, they agree that they get extra points for speed.

It strikes me as a strange value when it comes to reading. I don’t really care if you’ve turned the pages quickly. Here’s what I want to ask, “Did you read it well?”

Did you let yourself be drawn into their world so deeply that your own became hazy for a moment? Did you engage with the characters so thoroughly that you miss them now? Did allow your imagination to weave together the descriptions of place and people and action so that the words created in your mind scenes more vivid, more dimensional, more stunning that any movie? Did you stop to wonder at the author’s unique turn of phrase or witty observation? Did you discover a new idea? Did you stop to appreciate interesting details? Did you peer at the world through a different prism and in that moment, open yourself to a new way of thinking?

That impresses me. Tell me about that!

Sharing stories is not a contest or a race. Relax and savor the journey.

 

“Cameron and the Girls” by Edward Averett May 7, 2013

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:06 pm
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Cameron and the Girls cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

224 pages; published April 2013

The Basics

Cameron has schizophreniform disorder – which is why he loses touch with reality and hears voices in his head. This particular disorder could be short term only, but no one knows, least of all Cameron as he fights against the medication and the doctoring and the parental hovering that is meant to help, but only makes him more inclined to get to know his voices better.

Booktalk

You look at the cover of this book and you look at the title, Cameron and the Girls, and you get the idea that it’s going to be a story about a guy named Cameron who likes two girls or had two girls that like him. And you’d be right … in a way. But for Cameron, deciding between two girls is more complicated that it sounds. One of the girls is a person in his school who suffers from depression and can be kind of weird to be around. The other girl lives in Cameron’s head. She’s perfect in every way, but she’s just one of the voices he hears because he has a mental condition – schizophreniform disorder.

The complicated thing is Cameron knows he has a mental illness, but he likes some of the voices in his head – especially The Girl who understand him so perfectly and loves him so much. He kind of wants to stay in touch with the voices. Also, he hates being zoned out on medication.  So he stops taking it. Which upsets all the adults, but feels right to him. He can manage on his own. Can’t he?

Random Thoughts

Edward Averett puts the readers in a tough spot. He really pulls us into Cameron’s world and his feeling that he should be left to talk to his voices if he wants to. At the same time, it’s impossible not to understand why Cameron’s parents, sister, doctors, and teachers can’t just let him “be.”

 

“Bad Taste in Boys” by Carrie Harris May 4, 2013

The Facts

201 pages; published July 2011

Bad Taste in Boys cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Basics

Kate Grable is a science nerd and volunteer medic for the tragically bad high school football team. When the desperate Coach starts injecting the players with a new kind of steroid, instead of improving their win record, he turns them into flesh-loving zombies. Kate is either going to save the day or have her lips chewed off.

The Booktalk

I think the really important lesson of Bad Taste in Boys is that it’s very stupid to inject yourself or others with something when you don’t really know what the something will do.

Here’s the truth of the matter. This is a very silly book. But it is also just plain funny. And it has zombies.

The zombies are created right under the nose of Kate Grable, a wannabe doctor who manages the Ace bandages and EpiPens for the totally awful football team at her high school. The job also gives her important proximity to Aaron, the untalented the totally adorable quarterback. After Kate says heck no to injecting players with some mysterious vials of liquid, the Coach does it himself and – boom – zombie football players.

The change comes on kind of gradually and in some cases, it’s hard to notice. Until fingers come loose and feet start flying. Oh, and until the newly minted zombies start supping on human flesh. But Kate does notice and – having lost part of a lip to a linebacker – she plunges in to unravel the medical mystery and try to save the day.

Random Thoughts

This is far more of a campy, fun read than a hard-hitting, award-winning novel. However, I absolutely give it my personal award for Awesome Cover Art on a YA Book. I mean come on, look at those lips!