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The Disenchantments

overalls and coffee
The Disenchantments
Nina LaCour

Colby has been excited about his post-graduation plan for years.  That is when him and his best friend in the whole world, Bev, are going to go tour Europe for a year!  Everyone else is going to college, but they have this beautiful plan.  But first they are going up the West Coast in Colby's uncle's vintage VW van, to take Bev's all-girl band on an all too brief tour.  Who cares if they aren't that good?  They are cute girls who love to rock out!  But right away things get difficult, when Bev reveals that she isn't going to Europe, and in fact has plans to attend an art school out East.  How could she have kept this huge secret from Colby?  And what other secrets are floating around this van full of friends...such as the fact that Colby is madly in love with Bev?

Terrific road trip book for older teens, full of heart and passion.  Especially recommended for artsy/musical teens and anyone who has big dreams and big questions about life.

To blog or not to blog

overalls and coffee
I just realized I haven't writing here since March.  MARCH!  Although that does make sense, since in April I dislocated my shoulder, and then had surgery at the end of June, so that is a lot of time I just wasn't up for typing and such. Though I have been doing some reading. The question is, do I start up again?  Does anyone read this?  Does it matter?  I guess it is good for me to have notes about books I like for booktalking.

The Future of Us

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The Future of Us
Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Josh and Emma are next door neighbors who have been friends forever.  Lately things have been a bit strained, as Josh made a move and Emma freaked...not wanting to ruin what they had.  Now something strange has brought them together again...when Emma's dad buys her a computer and she gets an AOL disc to go online, she discovers it somehow connects her to her AOL account of the future.  And under favorites is a weird website called Facebook where people talk about what they ate for breakfast and post their favorite photos.  Emma seems miserable in the future, while Josh is happily married to the hottest girl at school.  Will Emma's tinkering help her find a happy future, or just mess up Josh's?

Very fun and lightly thought provoking read by two great authors.  High school students will enjoy this retro-time-travel light sci-fi, heavy human relations story.  Some drinking and references to sex, but otherwise pretty squeaky clean.

The Fault in Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars  
John Green

Hazel is not one to feel sorry for herself.  Yes, she has had cancer for an awfully long time.  Yes, she is often in pain.  And yes, she is dying.   But she doesn't want people to feel bad for her.  She just wants to stay home and watch TV.  Her parents will be shattered when she dies, but that can't be helped.  But if she doesn't connect with others, she can protect them from the pain she will cause, right?  But her mom has other ideas and forces her to go to a support group.  And there Hazel meets Augustus Waters, and everything changes...

A lovely and heartfelt book about what it is really like to be a teen living with a terminal disease.  Sad, yes...but beautiful and full of life right until the end.  Possibly one of the great teen romances of our time.  Recommended for high school and up. 

Winter Town

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Winter Town
Stephen Emond

Evan and Lucy go way back.  They've grown up together, written comics, made up stories about spooky houses, walked around talking a ton.  Now Lucy's parents have split up, and she only comes up to New England to spend Christmas with her dad.  This one bit of the year is their chance to reconnect and catch up.  This year is different.  Lucy has had a rough year, and Evan can tell she has changed.  Plus, something is changing between them.  Something magical?  Or something doomed?

A sweet story full of heartfelt complicated emotions, the struggles of growing up, and nuggets of wisdom hard earned.  Excellent read for high school students.

Anya's Ghost

South Park me
Anya's Ghost
Vera Brosgol

Anya is trying very much to fit in.  Her family immigrated from Russia and she has worked hard to hide her accent, wear clothes that will help her camouflage, and throws away the all too ethnic lunches her mother packs for her.  But she is not terribly happy.  Her one friend at school is a partner for skipping and a source of cigarettes and insults.  She loathes the other Russian student at her school as a source of embarrassment and a reminder of all she is trying to hide.  And her little brother is a huge pest.  Then while skipping school and sulking, she accidentally falls into an abandoned well inhabited only by a skeleton...and it's ghost.  A bit freaked out, but more worried about her own fate, she escapes and forgets about the ghost, until she finds that a small bone has gotten into her bag and enabled the ghost to follow her everywhere she goes.  At first they find many benefits from each others company, but as time goes on a dark secret is revealed and Anya's family and very life may be threatened.

A very accessible and well drawn graphic novel that will appeal to immigrant teens and anyone who has questioned their own ability to fit in.    Highly recommended for high school girls, but could be enjoyed by just about anyone.

Half Brother

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Half Brother
Kenneth Oppel

Ben isn't thrilled when his family moves across Canada without consulting him.  His scientist parents are super excited because they have landed jobs that will enable them to live an experiment:  the family will raise a baby chimp as a member of the family, teaching it sign language as it grows.  At first Ben is totally resistant, but once he gets to know the baby whom he calls Zan, he falls in love and comes to accept him as his little brother.  But as Zan grows and becomes stronger, it becomes clear that not only does Ben's father consider the experiment a failure, he never loved Zan.  And now the family is threatened to be ripped apart...but this time Ben intends to make sure he has a say in things.

Inspired by true experiments from the 1970s, Half Brother will give readers insight about both animal experimentation and the wide range of motivations of scientists.  Both animal lovers and science fans will find much to enjoy in this book.  Acceptable for middle school, but fairly frank about animal impulses and drinking habits of the 1970s.  Nothing graphic, but not an innocent read either.  Excellent for high school.
pigeon - hmph
 I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President
Josh Lieb

Normally Oliver Watson is content to bide his time, waiting to turn 18, when he can legally take over his global empire and his billions of dollars.  Middle school is dreadfully dull for one so brilliant, but to make his mother happy he pretends to be dull witted and compliant.  But secretly, he has bodyguards who have infiltrated into the staff and student body, hidden cameras and spyware throughout the school, and secret tunnels, candy stashes, and chocolate milk buttons on water fountains...no expense spared to make his cover bearable.  But one person drives him crazy like no other...his do-gooder, public television working, sentimental father, who gives him nothing but frustration.  When he finds out his father was once class president, Oliver decides to ruin it for him, but getting his apparently dim-witted self elected.  But things don't go as simply as planned, and things get seriously out of hand.

Oliver is a nearly completely despicable character, greedy, gluttonous, and remorseless.  It is hard to sympathize with him.  But it is fascinating to imagine what a true evil genius might be like in middle school, and what he would do with all the money he has swindled and earned.  Best for middle school boys.

Brain Jack

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Brain Jack
Brian Falkner

Sam is a teen hacker trying to get him and his buddy Fargas some of the latest new hardware, when he accidentally crashes one of the biggest companies in the US and shuts down networks all over the East Coast for days.  He successfully snags new laptops and the hottest tech, Neurotech headsets, which arrive in the mail a few days later.  Soon after he hears about a hackers convention, which turns out to be a recruitment challenge for the real convention...which takes place on the White House's server.  Sam figures out how to get in, but soon is hauled away by government agents and put in a juvenile facility.  Realizing he could be facing years in prison, he hacks his way into a break-out, only to find this was his audition for the greatest team of hackers the government can hire, put together as a special defense force.  But soon things begin to go seriously wrong.  Are they outmatched?  Or is someone on the inside trying to take them down?

Fast paced, accessible near-future science fiction will grab readers, and make them wonder about what direction technology is really going in.  Lots of action, including some exciting chase scenes makes this just as much an adventure as science fiction.  Great for guys middle school and up.

Into the Wild Nerd Yonder

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Into the Wild Nerd Yonder
Julie Halpern

As Jessie begins her sophomore year her place (or lack thereof) in the social strata suddenly becomes uncertain.  Her two best friends have decided to go punk, and her punk older brother is suddenly getting awfully clean cut. When one of her friends betrays her with her crush, she decides it is time to go looking for some new friends.  The band geeks seem pretty nice and welcome her at their lunch table and encourage her to expand her drum playing.  But it is a particularly nerdy and kind group of kids that are drawing her in.  Can she bear to give up her cool points, and embrace the dork side?  Maybe for a girl with her mad math skills and crazy sewing talent, this is where she belongs.  But somehow giving in and learning to play Dungeons and Dragons seems like a bigger risk than she has ever taken before.

A delightful book about eschewing labels and finding true friends, plus with one of the best brother-sister friendships I've seen in a long while.  Truly unique and delightful!  Best for high school and up, due to sexual references, venereal disease, and teen drinking.

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