Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Squad

Heeey! I'm back, hyper, and better than ever! Well, except for a small sunburn that I picked up on vacation, but that'll fade. And I don't really know if I'm better than ever, just, you know, it sounds good to say. Sorry for the false advertising. (About the hyperness, I swear they put crack in those girl scout cookies). So yeah, due to a nasty stomach flu the week before last I now have two reviews to make up. I'm gonna try to do them this week and next, so here's the first. Soooo......drumroll...... here's The Squad: Perfect Cover by Jennifer Lynn Barnes!
Toby is the ultimate anti-cheerleader. She's into codes, puzzles, and hacking, and prefers to stay beneath the radar. A sophomore in high school, she despises the so-called "God Squad" with a vengeance. On most days, she wouldn't mingle with cheerleaders even if you paid her. This isn't most days, though. This is the day when she gets an invitation onto the cheerleading teamin code. Curiosity piqued, she decides to check it out (if only to see which one had a high enough IQ to write in code), though she's ready to bail at any second. When she confronts them, though, things really take a turn for the weird. Apparently, the Bayport High Spirit Squad is a front for a covert spy operation consisting of Brooke (the bossy one in charge); Chloe (the gadget girl); Tara (the linguist); Zee (the profiler); Bubbles (the contortionist. Yes, Bubbles is her actual name); and Lucy (the weapons expert). While Toby's processing that informationread: looking up the nearest mental hospital the girls of the Squad decide singlehandedly that Toby's one of them now. Soon she discovers how very real the operation is, right down to the extensive weapons lab hidden under the school. As she's inducted into the Squad, Toby's entire life gets turned upside down- in good ways and bad. Soon she has to figure out how to deal with her first mission while simultaneously dealing with her newfound (unwanted) popularity. One thing's for sure: she's never going to underestimate a cheerleader again.
Ooookay, that ran a bit long. Sorry, I don't really have an "off" switch. Would be nice if I did, huh? Anyway, this was the perfect airplane book because it wasn't super thick and kept up a nice fast pace. I actually really liked it, though I don't usually go for the really superficial-looking books. This turned out not to be so superficial! It was interesting, really funny, and I will definitely be looking up the sequel. Take my advice and read it, I think you'll like it. It's assumed lost at Kettleson, though, so you can either buy it or do an Interlibrary Loan.

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye

And here's your next one! This is another good plane book; I never got bored of it and was able to finish it in the Seattle-Maui flight. It's a mystery, and with the way it was written I think would appeal to any age group. Without further ado, I give you Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye by Victoria Laurie.
Abby is a psychic. Not one of those cheesy carnival psychics that look into a crystal ball or anything, but a real honest-to-god clairvoyant. She's grown up known as a freak, predicting house fires the week before they happened and warning her professor in college to get his heart checked out (guess who didn't listen and had a heart attack right after?). She mostly gets pictures, phrases, and emotions, and using those she can roughly tell a person's story and give them tips for the future. Abby runs a business in Royal Oaks, Michigan where she reads clients and gives them advice.
One day, she learns that Allison, one of her clients, had been murdered not too long after their last session. Through a detective named Dutch Riverswho manages to be extremely cute and infuriating at the same time Abby discovers that the killer knew about Allison's appointment with her and may come after her next. Despite Dutch's warnings, she decides to get to the bottom of Allison's murder. Along the way, some romance may spark between Abby and Dutch (hey, what can I say? It's a chick novel). All the while, the killer remains unknown. Will Abby's intuition be able to save her this time?
Yeah, that wasn't the best review I've ever done. I chalk it up to post-vacation brain. So, if you weren't quite convinced by the review, just take my word for it. The book has entertaining and well-written characters, and a plot that will keep you guessing till the end. It's part of a big series, which I'm already planning on reading. It's a perfect mix of mystery and supernatural! Get it at SHS.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Break

Hey, just wanted to let y'all know that I'm going to be in Hawaii over spring break. No, I didn't just tell you to make you jealous. Okay, maybe a little bit. Still! My real reason is that I may not have time to read or have access to my blog in the next two weeks. I'm going to try to read and review one before I leave on Friday, but I don't know how things will play out. Rest assured that I'll make up any week that I miss within a reasonable amount of time after I come back. Okay! Now that you've sat through my long and detailed excuse, scroll on down to this week's review. Ciao!


Woow. This was one of those really different books that you come across once in a while—and I mean that in the best possible way. Once again recommended by my awesome best friend, it wasn't immediately appealing to me but I quickly got into it (no kidding- last night I was busted at midnight—technically one AM with Spring Forward— for trying to finish it. It's that good!). It's unconventional but utterly captivating, and is perfect for both guys and girls from late middle school to high school (um, unless you only go for books with happy-fluffy themes and perfect happy endings. In that case, I proclaim you Utterly Boring). Anyway, keep an open mind as I tell you about Unwind by Neal Shusterman.
Unwind is futuristic, set in a time after the Second Civil War. The war was a long and intense battle fought over abortion, setting the pro-choice forces against the pro-life forces. The Bill of Life was proposed and passed in order to satisfy both parties. It stated that human life was untouchable until the age of thirteen, but when a child was thirteen to eighteen they could be "aborted"—on the condition that their life wouldn't "technically" end. The process was called Unwinding, and it kept every part of the child alive except, well, in different places. (Think of organ donors, just more sinister). Over time Unwinding became a common and accepted practice in society.
The story follows three teens. Connor, sixteen, grew up in a somewhat normal family, but he has temper problems and a knack for troublemaking that drove his parents to signing the Unwinding order. Risa is a street-smart orphan who grew up in a State Home, and is being unwound to cut costs. Lev, thirteen, is the youngest of ten children and lives in a very religious family. He's a tithe, someone who has been raised to be unwound their whole lives. All three get haphazardly thrown together on a blocked highway, and Connor and Risa band together to escape and drag Lev along with them. What comes next is a twisting and turning series of events involving unlikely helpers, unlikely betrayers, a ghost story, a true story, and three teens who will never be the same again.
You need to read it. Yes, I'm looking at you. It's completely worth your while. The book is dark, twisted, heartbreaking, and sweet. Unexpected events make you second-guess your ideas of the characters. Neal Shusterman has that JK Rowling-esque trait of interweaving every tiny character, event, and encounter and giving dimension to everything he writes. I could not recommend this book more. Find it at Kettleson or Mt. Edgecumbe!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Most Excellent Year

Okay, you all have to be subjected to another glowing review this week. It's a tough life. This one was also recommended by my best friend, once again proving that she has excellent taste in books (she told me about Fat Cat, too). I plan to consult her more in the future, so get used to raving reviews. This was one of those books that you're happy to curl up with all day because it just pulls you in and never gets boring. Here's a quick (or maybe not-so-quick) run-down of My Most Excellent Year.
       The story is told from the perspective of three teenagers in Boston, reliving their freshman year in high school as they're about to become seniors. Augie and T.C. are best friends and brothers in everything but genetics, and soon get to know Ale (pronounced "allie." The computer wouldn't do the accent thingy over the e).
Augie has been in love with Liza Minnelli, everything Broadway, and performing in general since he was little. The fact that he's gay is obvious to everyone but him. 
T.C., on the other hand, is completely straight. His mom died when he was six, so he grew up with just his dad. He's nuts about baseball, and tries to fit into the role of the cool kid at school; he never gets anything above a B and could get any girl he sets his sights on. 
Alejandra, Ale for short, is new to Boston. She's the daughter of an ambassador and doesn't have the people skills to match; she's fiery, doesn't take crap from anyone, and always speaks her mind.
All three get tangled up in ninth grade. T.C. sets his sights on Ale from her first day, but she's having none of it. Augie becomes friends with a boy called Andy Wexler that soon develops into something more; both Augie and Andy have to figure out how to deal with these new revelations and each other. T.C. finds a new friend in Hucky, a six-year-old deaf orphan whose solemnity and shyness just make T.C. want to get him to open up even more. Augie gets the grand idea of putting on a talent show-slash-play and quickly learns that a lot of things can go wrong. He enlists Ale's help to save the show. Overall, the year is filled with ups, a couple downs, twists, turns, setbacks, laughter, tears, and memories that will last forever.
This review probably didn't come close to doing the book justice, so I hope you'll take my word for it that this is a freaking amazing book! Instead of being just a normal narrative, it also has journal entries, letters, articles, and IMs. It made me laugh (many times) and almost made me cry once. Any self-respecting high-schooler needs to read this. I'm serious, if you don't read it there's something wrong with you. Get it at Kettleson, Mt. Edgecumbe, or Blatchley.