bmpl reads and reviews
The Program by Suzanne Young (grades 7 +)

I know, I know...another one of THOSE kind of books. It's another sort of "future gone wrong" book. But this one stands out. Suicide has become an epidemic of sorts and all of the experts agree - it's contageous and all teenagers are at risk. In order to address this country-wide problem, they have devised a pilot program that they hope will put an end to the suicides. This pilot program is happening in Sloane's home town and although parents are hopeful it will save their children, none of the teenagers are thrilled. Sloane watches friends come out of the program and they are completely different people. True, they are happy - but they also aren't the same and have lost the memory of who they once were. Then Sloane's parents think she is as risk and she ends up in The Program herself. What is going on in there? Is The Program going to save the country from the teenagers' suicide epidemic? Or is going to ruin their generation? What happens when Sloane gets out? Will she ever be the same again?

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody (grades 8 +)

Lexi is a seriously obnoxious spoiled brat. She just turned 18 and is about to get her trust fund...she can't wait to party her life away in style with her independently wealthy friends. The night before she turns 18, she gets drunk and crashes her brand new custom made car. This doesn't phase Lexi much, her father can just buy her another one after all. So what if his PR person has a bit of explaining to do to keep her father's reputation intact? Well, instead of a trust fund check on her 18th birthday from her father, she gets a lesson instead. He cannot believe what a selfish and spoiled person he has let her become and aims to set it straight. She will have a different minimum wage job every week of the next year and she will have to perform them responsibly. After 52 weeks, after 52 jobs? She will get the trust fund. She now has 52 reasons to hate him. This book is a fun read and is satisfyingly predictable. If you enjoy the well done made-for-tv-teen-movie, then you will enjoy this book. Even though Lexi starts out as a person that's hard to stomach (surprise!) she grows and changes into a much more likeable person as the story goes on. Also, even from the beginning you can sympathize with her (well, a little bit) as she is raised by a series of nannies and butlers and her father only said he loved her on national tv for the photo opp...pick this up if you are in the mood for some satisfying fluff.

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
Cadillac Chronicles by Brett Hartman (grades 9 +)

What happens when an angry young [white] man and an "ornery old black man" go on a road trip together? Well in this book it does a lot to help the young man mature and the old man live again. Unfortunately, this trip is not authorized by the teenager's mom nor is it authorized by the old man's guardian. The boy and man meet this way: The boy's mom asks the old man to move in with them (to look like she is doing a good thing for her policitical career) and the old man turns out to be outspoken and say things that make her uncomfortable so she renegs on her generous offer and asks for him to be placed in a different home. Meanwhile the boy can't stand his mom or his life and has been forced into therapy for his aloof behaviors. He has always wanted to meet his dad and the old man has a cadillac and a sister that he would love to see one last time before he dies. The idea of the road trip is born. Too bad no one would allow it and they have to escape in secret. This is an engaging read that has heart. In the end the young man is a lot less angry...

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry (grades 7 +)

What if zombies were real? What if there was a huge plague and the disease that overwhelmed society, the disease that "killed" everyone you loved, the disease that spread like wildfire - was the sickness of becoming a zombie? The only big difference between other plagues and this one is that those that are sick, are not exactly dead - and they are dangerous. That is what happened recently in this novel. There is a small community of healthy people that cannot leave their fenced in area guarded by zombie hunters - or else they will be in the greater world where zombies roam aimlessly. The teenager brothers at the center of this novel must address the ethical question of whether or not they should go to find their now zombie parents and kill them once and for all. Should they do this so that their parents are no longer zombies? Is that the honorable thing to do? And is it worth the risk of going out into the zombie lands? This is a fast paced book that will be appreciated by any fan of "dystopian" type fiction. It is not just for folks who are fascinated with zombies, although those folks should certainly enjoy it as well. Look for the sequels as well...

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
Shine by Lauren Myracle (grades 8 +)

This is a thoughtful, well written novel that does not feel like the "chick lit" you might expect from Lauren Myracle. It's set in a backwoods impoverished Southern town after a hate crime attack on a local teenage boy. Cat has not hung out with any of her friends in three years, ever since one of them sexually assaulted her. But now, her absolute closest friend growing up (who was among those "dropped" three years ago) is in the hospital and the police are dismissing the crime as random "out of towners" who brutally assaulted Patrick because he is gay. Cat has a feeling that this was actually a more personal assault and she sets out to get to the bottom of it. In doing so she puts her own life at risk and must come face to face with her old friends and enemies. She is forced to come out from behind the wall that she has been building ever since the incident years ago. Pick this up if you are looking for a mature read and a change from the "typical teen novel."

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle (grades 8 +)

Jennifer Castle is a new young adult author that will appeal to Sarah Dessen fans. In this book, we follow Laurel's journey in life and in grief in the first year after her family is killed in a car accident. She struggles to figure out how to go forward and ends up drifting apart from her best friend in the process. She finds comfort in her new job at an animal hospital where nobody even knows what happened to her family. But the person who she seems to feel the most connection to is the most confusing of all. It is her childhood friend, David. David who has had nothing to do with her since they became teenagers. David who hung out with the druggies while Laurel was on a straight-arrow mission towards Yale. David -- who's mom was killed in the accident with her family...and who's father was the driver and was the only one who survived (in a coma). This is an emotional story that is at turns upsetting and uplifting, and is refreshingly real throughout.

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen (grades 6 +)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Jessica's journey from her tragic accident to her triumphant return to what she loves: running. Jessica's track team is involved in a traffic accident on the way home from a track meet (where Jessica just set a record in the 400 meter). She ends up losing part of her leg and her foot as a result of her injuries; and when the book begins she lies in a hospital bed declaring that her life is over. With the help of her fantastic and devoted best friend and her very supportive parents, Jessica gets stronger every day and eventually learns to not only be satisified with being able to walk again, but dares to dream of running with her track team next year. This is the kind of story that introduces you to characters that you feel like you really get to know, and WANT to know. Even though it's no secret how the book will end, the real story is how she gets there. This is a satisfying read for fans of realistic fiction looking for a story to pull them in, make them happy, and make them think.

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmmidt (grades 6 +)

Gary Schmidt does not disappoint with his latest offering. Your heart will bleed for Doug Sweiteck who is struggling to be a good person against all odds. I have started and stopped summarizing this book several times and have decided that trying to boil this book down into its major components will somehow simplify or make trite the complexities at work in the novel. This is a book for contemplative readers who wish to be taken into a rural town in 1968: ready to get enraged at the reality of horrid adults capable of ruining a child's life while simultaneously feeling hopeful as he finally encounters amazing adults who help him to find his voice. A wonderfully well written book that moved me to tears.

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook (grades 7 +)

Everyone at her boarding school thinks Hailey has the perfect life: perfect boyfriend, super popular, and a model student….but Hailey is only at this boarding school because when her mother died her father couldn’t deal with it and he sent Hailey away to a boarding school; and he’s been making excuses not to see her ever since. It’s after her father breaks the most recent plans, that Hailey was eagerly anticipating – an entire summer together – that she loses it. Wrapped up in her anger and disappointment, Hailey unravels and finds solace in a very good friend. By the end of the night they have kissed and vandalized a school statue. In other words, by the end of the night Hailey’s life has been ruined. She takes the fall for them both and ends up losing her boyfriend, her popularity, and her good standing at school in the process. However, this book might be more aptly titled the Re-Education of Hailey Kendrick because in her isolation she starts to find herself. In the beginning of this book it feels a bit predictable and doesn’t stand out from similar novels – but right when you feel like putting it down, the author introduces a new character – the young, handsome and cynical janitor who Hailey has been required to assist as punishment for her crime. Hailey finally finds a friend and the reader finally has a reason to eagerly enjoy watching the story unfold. This book is for chick lit readers that aren’t too picky and who love to read about that "falling in love" feeling – even if they have to suffer through a bit of the book to get there.

Reviewer, Amy Kaplan, Teen Librarian
Deadly by Julie Chibbaro (grades 7 +)

A young woman comes of age in the early 1900s in a fictionalized account of uncovering the role of “Typhoid Mary” in spreading disease. Sixteen year old Prudence Galewski, completing her education at a finishing school, finds a job with the recently formed New York City Department of Health and Sanitation. Helping her midwife-mother deliver babies in the tenements, along with a burgeoning interest in science and medicine sparked by a premature familiarity with death, readies her for a job in which she feels she can make a difference. Her first assignment is to take notes and type them up for the sanitary engineer on a team investigating the origins of localized outbreaks of typhoid. In her new role, she has her first experience using a microscope, meets the young men who staff the lab and is befriended by a female physician. In investigating Mary Mallon, the suspected carrier of Typhus, who claims to have never been ill, Prudence ultimately must deal with the fact that a livi ng, breathing person is the disease carrier. Along the way, Prudence experiences new emotions, says good bye to old friends and re-evaluates traditional roles open to women. The author creates a very sympathetic young woman in her protagonist in this compelling historical novel. Despite the setting of some 100 years ago, her struggles with who she is and what she will do with her future are timely for a modern audience.

Guest Reviewer, Gerry, Former Library Director
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman (grades 7 +)

Tennyson can't just sit still and watch his twin sister Bronte date the boy in their high school voted "most likely to get the Death Penalty." Even though Bronte begs him to stay out of it, Tennyson has to make sure that this guy is okay. It turns out that Bruiser has been distancing himself from people for a very good reason. The more Tennyson and Bronte get to know him, the more they like - and even start to love - him, but Bruiser is increasingly afraid of what is sure to happen when he lets more people into his life. The more people Bruiser cares about - the more sick, injured and upset he becomes. Tennyson and Bronte start to realize that just being around Bruiser makes them feel good and they start to almost need to be in his presence. This thought provoking sci-fi twist to a seemingly realistic fiction novel will definitely get you thinking about "what if." The story is told from all three main character's perspectives.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Hunted: Book 3 — Whiteout, a mystery by Walter Sorrells (grades 7 +)

This is a solid mystery choice, and I didn't even read the first two in the series. Chass has spent her entire life on the run with her mother. Kyle Van Epps is trying to kill them. Every time Chass's mother thinks that Kyle is close, she makes them move again. With every town comes a new name, a new "story" and a new start at a new school. This time, when they are in Minnesota during the biggest storm of the season - a white-out where you can barely see your hand in front of your face let alone know which direction you're heading - Chass discovers her music teacher shot dead in the snow near the school; and she is sure that the killer is there and sees her. Determined not to move to yet another town, Chass has decided that she has to solve the murder, prove it has nothing to do with Kyle Van Epps, and then they can stay in town for a while longer. But, it turns out this is Kyle Van Epps's hometown and he had a suspicious relationship with that music teacher years ago. Could this murderer be looking for Chass or her mother next? Are the teacher's murderer and Kyle Van Epps one in the same? Read this quick paced mystery to find out.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk (grades 8 +)

This is a great book, with a misleading cover. Will Halpin is your basic fat deaf teenager who spends a whole lot of time online. He decided this year not to go back to the special deaf school, but to attend the local public high school instead. He relies on his fantastic lip reading skills to get him through. He becomes fast friends with a fellow nerd, Devon Smiley. Besides this, nothing else is going particularly well, but lucky for the reader, you can count on Will's observations and running commentary on the goings-ons to be quite entertaining. Devon and Will's relationship and "dialog," mostly via handhelds, although Devon is doing his best to learn sign language, is what makes this book a great read. However, adding to the books appeal, a little mystery is thrown in when Mr. Popular dies on a class trip to an old mine; and Devon knows the police suspect murder (his father is on the force) and has decided that he and Will will solve the case. I don't think that the cover quite reflects the vibe of the book. But read it anyway because you'll enjoy "my good man" HamburgerHalpin and Smiley_Man3ooo, a couple of regular sleuths.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne (grades 6 +)

If you lived in a Shakespeare obessessed family with a genius younger sister you might spend your entire life mastering the art of blending in, too. Hamlet feels that she has been doing a pretty good job of it until she finds out that her seven year old sister will be attending school with her this year in order to catch up on some art requirements needed to attend college. As if this wasn't bad enough, her class is doing an intense study of Shakespeare and guess who's called up to be the guest lecturers? Her parents, of course. Not to mention the fact that her least favorite people are pretending to be her sister's friends just so they can cheat off of her; but her innocent sister won't even open her eyes to the fact that she is being used and will likely get hurt. Plus, her best friend since forever might have a crush on her - which would be terrible, they're like brother and sister! Now they can't just talk and be normal when she needs him most. This is a fun read about Hamlet's life in eigthth grade. I recommend this to middle school girls looking for light realistic fiction.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (grades 7 +)

This book is so fantastic, and yet makes you feel a little bit ashamed that you just can't look away. You are engrossed in the Hunger Games just like everyone in Panem; and the Hunger Games are a horrific, horrific event. Panem is the new country that is born in what was formerly North America. There are 13 districts all controlled by the Capitol. There was an uprising once, but the Capitol won and doesn't want the districts to ever forget who is in control. That is why the Hunger Games are born. Every district must send two children - one boy and one girl - between the ages of 12 and 18 every year to participate in this highly publicized, anticipated and televised event. The game? Everyone is fighting to survive - the rules are kill or be killed - and the Games aren't over until everyone but one winner is dead. This year Katniss is going to the Games and you will follow her there and be on the edge of your seat reading this book until the last page…when you will immediately be running out to read the sequel. Not only is the plot engrossing, but the book is well written, the characters are well developed and my brief summary of what goes on barely scratches the surface…

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natlie Standiford (grades 9 +)

Beatrice's family is moving to a new University town...again, to follow her father's career. On day one at her new tiny high school - where everyone has known everyone else since they were in kindergarten - she meets Anne: a typical gossipy somewhat-friendly somewhat-superficial girl, and she figures that's who she'll tag around with for this final year before she escapes to college. However, she quickly meets Ghost Boy, or Jonah and everything changes. Jonah hasn't really talked to anyone since 3rd grade and it was as if he wasn't even there - thus the Ghost nickname. Jonah and Bea click somehow and form a deep friendship cemented over listening to the same call in radio show all night long. It turns out Jonah has serious issues and that Bea is the only person who has brought him happiness in a very long time. Meanwhile, Bea's mother is going through some sort of mental breakdown that you learn just enough about to be intrigued by, but is then not fleshed out enough to be satisfying, and is finally completely randomly resolved. It is almost as if a whole other novel on the mother was in the author's mind but was never fully shared with the reader. I expected to enjoy this book a lot more than I did…I found the late night radio show dialog to be random, interrupting the flow, and not engaging (however, I could completely see these same sections being another reader's favorite parts). That being said, the book is well written and explores a unique friendship with many "discussable" opportunities.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Swim the Fly by Don Calame (grades 9 +)

I couldn't help but laugh along with this book all the way to its satisfying conclusion. That being said, it did feel a little bit like I was reading a cheezy teen movie -- it's just that it was a really good one. Matt and his two best friends have a single goal for the summer: to see a girl (a real, live, in person girl) naked. Meanwhile, a new hot girl joins their swim team and Matt signs up to swim the butterfly in the final match of the season to impress her. The only problem is that Matt can't swim one lap of the fly without needing a long rest. And so goes the summer with Matt training to swim and the boys strategizing to meet their goal -- both complete with hilarious attempts. All the while, Matt lives with his grandfather who has a summer goal of his own: to date the neighbor whose husband just died; and he drags Matt in on his antics starting right from the funeral. This is good for high school age boys who like funny realistic fiction; and for high school girls who want a little insight into the teenage male brain (of course, as a girl myself, I'm guessing...but I just have a feeling...)

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor (grades 9 +)

When I started reading this book, I didn't realize that it was a collection of three short stories (or three quite long stories or very short novels is more like how they felt). The first story was so engaging that I hated for it to end and was worried that the next story wouldn't pull me in – but, I shouldn't have worried because the next story and the third story pulled me in just the same. The stories bring you into worlds where humans must make deals with the devils -- souls and happiness in the balance. Teenage girls are at the center of each story – all of them trying to lead to regular lives while their families harbor dreadful secrets that make them anything but "normal."

In the first story we meet a girl who longs to be noticed and popular when she finally meets a gorgeous boy who likes HER and when he offers her everything that her grandmother warned her about her entire life, she's not sure she cares…In the second story, a deal is made in Hell to save the lives of hundreds of children in exchange for a curse on one baby born who must not ever make a sound, for her voice will kills anyone that hears it. We meet this girl when she is grown, yearning to sing, and beginning to doubt if the curse is real…In the final story a mother has managed to hide a dreadful past from her daughter but her daughter turns 17 and wakes up to the sounds of howling wolves, one of her eyes a different color, and memories that aren't her own and both of them are suddenly on the run with the past revealed and horrors of the future before them…

I would only recommend this to high school kids and wish that the title was better…also, in this proof copy it looks like there are plans for extensive artwork that I am not sure are necessary, but obviously cannot judge since they aren’t there yet. However, from someone who found Twilight to go on too long and be annoyingly predictable (Dare I admit this? And I only read the first one…), these tales are anything but. I definitely recommend this to teens looking for that “horror-meets-fantasy-meets-romance” experience.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen (grades 7 +)

I was very disappointed with this newest book by one of my favorite YA authors. In fact, had I not been away with only this one book (and finally some time to read!) - I'm not sure I would have finished it. Alas, since I did continue on, I ultimately got somewhat absorbed in Auden's story and rode it to its somewhat satisfying conclusion. It is the summer after Auden's senior year, and she decides to live for once (rather than study and drink coffee nonstop) by going to spend the summer at her dad's beach town. She winds up having to navigate through feelings about her family, how it might be to actually have some girlfriends, and even a real relationship with a boy - these are all firsts for her. I wish the story was more engaging and that the writing was better. If you normally read Dessen, you can skip this one -- and if you have never read Dessen before, start with something else.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han (grades 7 +)

This book was an absolute pleasure to read from beginning to end. This is the summer that Belly turns sixteen and it takes place where every summer of her life has taken place, at the her mother’s best friend’s beach house. Belly and Steven, her older brother, have been spending the summer at this beach house with their mom and Susanna and her two sons, Conrad and Jeremiah, since…forever. The four kids have an intimate closeness that has only grown deeper over the years; however, Belly is always a little bit "the outsider" as the only girl and the youngest of them all. Although they almost feel as if they’re all siblings, everyone knows that Belly has had a crush on Conrad since she was at least 10 years old, while he at turns makes her melt with joy and get frustrated with his aloofness. This summer, however, she meets a new boy at the beach who makes her feel like she might actually be beautiful. It is so easy to let this story take you in. So easy to see why Belly’s sad that this summer might be the last in a string of perfect summers. This is a book to get seriously cozy with and simply enjoy.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
The Center of the Universe, yep that would be ME
by Anita Liberty (grades 10 +)

Author Anita Liberty apparently found her high school stash of journals, notes and general random written record of her life at this age and decided to be inspired to write a hysterical book based on the contents. It is not clear how fictionalized the account is, but the book follows main character Anita's boy/SAT/parental-annoyances obsessed junior and senior years of high school. The book is peppered with "advice from Anita Liberty" such as: "Stop thinking so much. It's not rocket science. Just be happy you're finally getting some," and poems that offer equally wise insights. If you are you looking for a fun quick read - pick this up and die of embarrassment and jump for joy and have quite the senior year with Anita Liberty.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Trouble by Gary Schmidt (grades 6 +)

This book was one of the best books I have read for a middle school audience in a long time. It is no wonder that Gary Schmidt's books are often awarded and honored…Trouble is about Henry, a 14-year-old boy who's older brother is critically injured in a car crash the day before they were supposed to finally make a much anticipated climb. It turns out the driver of the car that hit his brother is a Cambodian refugee immigrant teenager named Shay. Everyone in Henry's rich town wants Henry's family to hate Shay - and all of the Cambodians who have been coming to settle nearby in recent years. Henry knows that his brother would also want him to hate Shay. However, Henry's family sits through the trial and it is obvious that the accident was truly an accident; and they wish the town would drop the whole thing and let them grieve. Meanwhile, Henry's sister barely leaves her room since the accident and Henry is determined to make the climb alone. In the end Henry finds himself in a position where he must accept help from Shay, and even though he really wants to hate Shay for his brother, he can't help but empathize with Shay's horrible life story. This is an excellently written story that deals with heavy issues but manages to be somewhat uplifting and keeps you eagerly turning the pages.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Paper Towns by John Green (grades 9 +)

This may not be quite as good as Looking for Alaska, but John Green still does not disappoint. His writing is superb and his characters are so well drawn that I couldn't help but eagerly read this book to its conclusion, even though the plot is a little cheesy and feels a little bit like you have read it somewhere before…Q has always had a crush on his neighbor and childhood friend Margo who he pretty much lost touch with since they became pre-teens and Margo was set on the very top of the popularity ladder. However, one night Margo climbs into the window of his room, which she hasn't done since they were kids, and invites him on a whirlwind night of adventure and revenge in their hometown of Orlando, Florida. He can't help but go along and ends up having a crazy, great night reconnecting with Margo. However, soon after this she disappears, a stunt she has pulled in the past…only this time she doesn't come back. She has always left cryptic, whimsical clues for her parents as to her whereabouts when she has run away before, but this time she leaves them for Q. Q is determined to find her and recruits his best friends to help him. The search for Margo takes over Q's last weeks of his senior year, and in his search he discovers that Margo is not really who everyone thought they knew. Read this book for the writing and the characters and enjoy the very humorous ride. By the end of the book you will feel as though you are a part of the group of Q's good friends and although the plot's a little predictable and the self reflection's a little bit corny, you won't want to miss a word.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Impossible by Nancy Werlin (grades 8 +)

Lucy Scarborough has always wondered if she was doomed to go mad like her mother did. But, raised by loving and stable foster parents, she thought that was an irrational fear to be put aside. However, when she is raped on prom night and ends up pregnant at 17, just like her mother was with her - she starts to worry a little bit more. Ater all, her mother went mad immediately after she gave birth to Lucy. It turns out that her mother had hidden a diary and a letter that she meant for Lucy to find and it reveals the fact that not only did she get pregnant at 17 and go mad after giving birth, so did her mother, and her mother's mother, and so forth. The reason: a curse placed on her family by the Elfin Knight. The solution: to complete the tasks laid out in a song passed down for as many generations. Lucy has the support of her parents and life long friend to try to complete the tasks in the song despite of how ridiculous the concept of the curse may seem. Although this book has a promising premise, it was a disappointing offering from Nancy Werlin. The unraveling of the plot starts to feel very predictable and I lost patience for reading the details of the story since I already knew where they going to lead. I don't know if it is because of my very high expectations, as a big fan of Double Helix and The Rules of Survival, but Impossible just fell short for me.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Jerk California by Jonathan Friesen (grades 8 +)

Although this book feels a bit scattered and slightly confusing in the very beginning, bouncing around in time periods of the protagonist's life, it quickly falls into a nice groove as you are invited into the life of an 18 year old boy with Tourrette's Syndrome living in a "middle of nowhere" kind of country town. Sam has always blamed his problems on his Tourrette's and, in turn, on his father who died wrecklessly, abandoning him and his mother when he was 2 years old and passing to him this "freak" disease. However, as the book progresses we learn along with Sam that everything his "new father" has told him about his "real father" - which is all he knows - is a lie - and we can only see just how bad this "new father" is as Sam discovers this for himself. Sam's emotional journey is prodded along by a carefully planned road trip mapped out by a very good friend of his "real father" that he ends up taking with a mesmorizingly beautiful girl with problems of her own. This is a very well written book about self discovery that feels a little bit more complex and dense than your average YA novel.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde (grades 7 +)

Before the book begins, you imagine that Theresa was living a fairly average teenage life - but everything changed the day that James died. And Theresa feels that it was all her fault. James had always been in love with her, and she used him, and betrayed him and broke his heart. The book is about Theresa trying to come to terms with her heart wrenching guilt, alternating between reflective journal entries and chapters that chronicle her current whereabouts. Theresa drops out of life for a while, and even tries to escape herself completely by shaving her head, moving, changing her name and never looking back. She discovers that you can never really escape being yourself…This is a short book that explores thoroughly, and from many different angles, a single and profound theme: carelessness with someone's heart. This would be a great book group book as there is a lot to discuss, ponder and explore here.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen (grades 7 +)

Evangeline finds a stash of cheesy romance novels and self-help books under her mother's bed and can't resist reading them. She falls in love with one book — The Crimson Kiss — and from that moment forward is determined to find her own. Evangeline goes from barely having ever kissed a boy before her junior year of high school to kissing 2 then 4 then 6…all in a span of weeks…and she is still not finding the "crimson kiss" she dreams about. Meanwhile, she is misleading boys and creating a reputation for herself in the proccess. This is a fun read that makes you keep reading as you can't help but wonder: which boy will she actually like? which boys actually like her? how will she and her best friend fair this storm? and will she ever get her "crimson kiss"? But, I would only recommend this to die hard chick lit fans.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper (grades 8 +)

It is not easy to be a woman in the 1650s…especially a poor housemaid. In this book you follow the unfortunate story of Anne Green. The book begins with Anne Green, presumed to be dead by hanging, laid out on the operating table about to be dissected in the name of science. However, Anne is actually stuck in a state of paralyzed darkness - and not knowing herself if she is dead or alive cannot help but recall and regret the events that lead her to this spot. Meanwhile, one of the doctors spies her eyelids flutter and, thinking it to be a miracle, halts the dissection. The team of doctors then try to help coax Anne Green - convicted murderess - back to life. The author has fictionalized the account of an actual recorded event where a poor woman named Anne Green is hung to death and comes back to life in 1650 proclaiming her innocence and prayers answered. The original documentation of the event is included at the end of the book. This is a fascinating, enjoyable quick read for historical fiction readers.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt (grades 9 +)

Harper's life as she knew and loved it is completely turned upside down when her dad divorces the only mom she's ever known. Not only that, but her efforts to keep her sexual relationship with her best friend as "casual" as he seems to be able to do is proving nearly impossible and taking a real emotion toll on her. In Harper's efforts to escape it all, and do some good in the meanwhile, she signs up for a teen summer program out in Tennessee to build a house for a family in need. The summer that she thought would help her escape and be completely alone ends up bringing her into close relationships that could change her life. This is another winner by Dana Reinhardt, proving again that "chick lit" can be fun, light and easy to read while dealing with heavy themes and thought provoking issues at the same time.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen (grades 8 +)

Ruby thought she was taking care of herself pretty well when her mom ditched her…again. But, when her landlords get suspicious and the authorities get involved they don't agree and she is sent to stay with her sister. Her sister had escaped the family years ago and now lives in a huge house with her new husband. Ruby is determined to run away immediately, but cannot make a smooth escape and ends up having to suffer through switching to a new school, for her senior year, on the rich side of town, getting reacquainted with her sister, and adjusting to this new life. Ruby doesn't think anyone will be able to help her or understand her - but it turns out that her sister, her sister's husband and her new impossibly nice neighbor, with secrets of his own, might be just what she needs to succeed. This is a well-written, fast paced, insightful story that will live up to the expectations of all Dessen fans and may create some new ones.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (grades 8 +)

Clay Jensen arrives home to find a package with no return address. He quickly discovers that the package contains 7 cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah Baker who recently committed suicide. After listening to the first tape he realizes these tapes are her way of telling why she decided to end her life...and that the tapes are making their way around to all of the people who led her there. Clay has no idea what he could have done to harm Hannah - he has had nothing but a crush on her since Ninth Grade. They had finally connected this year and then she blew him off…we follow Clay on this anxious night while he listens to Hannah's voice and waits for his name to be mentioned, sickened with each passing story about what he did not know and how rumors ruin everything and secrets are hidden everywhere. Although this is not a particularly complex novel, it will keep you turning the pages to find out everything that happened to Hannah. It will also make you wonder about why someone would choose to end their life, and what people around them could have done to stop it — if anything.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Gem X by Nicky Singer (grades 7 +)

If you are a fan of the Uglies series by Westerfeld then you should give this novel a read. The setting and pace of this novel feel very similar…with one major difference - In Gem X there are huge segments of the population still living the old way because they cannot afford to be perfect. Maxo Strang is one member of the newest and most perfected generation of humans living in the Polis. The Polis is a world of the future with ambisuits that keep everyone the perfect temperature at all times, food only in the form of perfect pills, and dumbed-down Clodrones that are happy to serve the privileged. However, strange things are starting to happen to Maxo, he is starting to develop wrinkles and foreign emotions, that indicate something has gone terribly wrong and his life may be in danger. Meanwhile, the poor people, or Dreggies, living outside of the Polis have limited electricity, water, food and medicine. Gala and her brothers are Dreggies and their mother is dying. Their father went to the Polis years ago to sell his skin cells and never returned. Gala's brother Stretch is determined to find their father and Maxo Strang has developed an alarming crush on Gala. The leader of this entire world is worshipped by all- but turns out to be evil and secretly staging "disasters" killing thousands and blaming it on Dreggie unrest. Maxo and Gala's family's lives end up intertwined as the fast-paced adventure unfolds. Although this book feels a lot like Uglies (in setting, pace, and writing style), the worlds/societies are quite different and would be very interesting to compare. Good quick plot-driven novel for tweens and teens. However, beware of the ending that doesn't really feel like an ending since much is left unsettled - opening the door for a sequel.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian
Three Little Words: A Memoir by Ashley Rhodes-Courter (grades 7 +)

Ashley takes us through her life story in this straight-forward but compelling memoir. Ashley was taken away from home by the state at a very young age. Ashley spent the next nine years in more than 10 different living situations – with and without her brother. This memoir is both a heartbreaking look at the failures of America's foster care system and a heartwarming story of a very smart little girl who endures it all. Ashley's story has a happy ending when she is finally adopted at the age of 13 by a family who intends to make her a permanent part of their family – no matter what happens. In her memoir she shows the reader how orphan children have no voice when it comes to their care…and how she is intent on changing that fact by speaking loud and clear for everyone. It is less intense than America by E.R. Frank, or Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons…but it really hits home with readers because, unlike those stories, it is true. Ashley's voice feels fresh, as she is only 22 writing this and looking back, and the experience still feels "raw" for the reader. This will appeal to thoughtful tween/teen girl readers.

Reviewer, Amy, Teen Librarian


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last revised January 25, 2013