29 January 2015

Review: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless

Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen

TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS by Liz Czukas is both an endearing and lighthearted book that embraces mystery and humor. Chloe Novak is your simple teenage girl, head over heels for her crush Tyson, working a job at her local grocery story, GoodFoods, and trying to merely survive high school. Nothing in her life is out of the ordinary, and Chloe is hardly ready for the action packed day she is about to receive. When Chloe heads to work at GoodFoods on Christmas Eve, nothing is out of the ordinary besides the unappealing Christmas sweaters and light up jewelry customers have decided to wear. That is, until Chloe and five of her coworkers are accused of stealing $10,000! It is up to them to prove their innocence and try to determine who is to blame for the missing money.

TOP TEN CLUES YOU'RE CLUELESS is a cozy read with a light mystery, keeping the reader fully engaged. Czukas does a phenomenal job touching on humor, romance, and mystery to attract a broad range of readers. The diversity in characters makes for an interesting plot line and resembles The Breakfast Club, in the sense that a group of assorted teens are forced together, all being accused or punished for a crime. I applaud Czukas’ incredible job of having the majority of the story take place in the time span of a day and in one location, the grocery store. With such a simple idea, Czukas creates an intricate story and manages to make it hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. I would recommend this book for ages twelve and up.

26 January 2015

Review: We Should Hang Out Sometime

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
Publication date: December 23, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown

WE SHOULD HANG OUT SOMETIME is a hilarious and sarcastic memoir by Josh Sundquist, a Paralympic ski racer and cancer survivor. Sundquist goes on a "scientific" journey to discover why he has only ever had one girlfriend...for 23 hours...in eighth grade. The book is funny and has cute little graphs drawn throughout the book. I enjoyed the sarcasm and relatable writing style. It was hard to put down and very well organized in the format of a scientific experiment. I highly recommend this book. There is nothing overtly inappropriate about the book; there are a few mentions of sex, but nothing graphic. I would say that it is appropriate for ages 12 and up (the publisher's recommendation). However, I think slightly older readers, perhaps 15 and up, would be able to appreciate the story and humor more.

23 January 2015

Review: A Thousand Pieces of You

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Publication date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU by Claudia Gray is a science fiction romance novel about parallel universes, betrayal, love, and deception. Marguerite's parents are genius scientists, who along with their students Paul and Theo, invented an alternate dimension jumper known as a Firebird. Marguerite's father is murdered and the Firebird and Paul disappear, so it is up to Marguerite and Theo to cross the parallel universes to find Paul, and avenge her father's death. In each new dimension, they must live out the life of their counterparts while trying to hunt Paul down. However, not all is what it seems and Marguerite must find out who to place her trust in or risk getting killed.

When I first started this book, I thought that it was going to be a cliché story. However, after a few chapters, I easily saw how utterly wrong I was. The severe and sudden plot twists completely shocked me and I physically could not bring myself to put the book down. I would have appreciated a bit more foreshadowing throughout, but I still read the entire book in one sitting. The sci-fi tone of the story intertwined perfectly with the historical and futuristic aspects in a smooth and appealing way. I would recommend this book for ages 14 and up for mentions of drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence.

19 January 2015

Review: The Prince of Venice Beach

The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson
Publication date: June 3, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown

THE PRINCE OF VENICE BEACH is another great book that I have recently read. This tale describes a young man, Robert “Cali” Callahan and his adventures on Venice Beach. He spends most of his days playing basketball or skateboarding until he is approached by a private detective who seeks to hire him. After two of these jobs, Cali gets approached with an offer that seems too good to be true. For four times the pay, Cali began to comb the boardwalk until he runs into his target, the beautiful Reese Abernathy, and his whole life is changed. One of the reasons this book is so good is due to the simple fact that it’s interesting. Who doesn't want to read about someone who is disadvantaged their whole life making a name for themself in the often cutthroat world of private investigating? I would probably rate this book 4 out of 5 stars because it kept me occupied, interested, and most importantly, reading. This book can be read and enjoyed by anyone from ages 14 to 18.

16 January 2015

Review: For Real

For Real by Alison Cherry
Publication date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte

Claire has always lived in her older sister Miranda’s shadow. While Miranda loves adventure, parties, and people, Claire feels more at home with watching that on reality TV. However, when Miranda finds her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her right before they graduate from college, it’s Claire who saves the day with a plan. The sisters will get revenge on Samir by winning “Around the World,” a reality TV show where competitors participate in a race around the globe in order to win a million dollars. But when shy, careful Claire finds out the show has a twist, she’s not sure that she’s as ready as she thought she’d be.

Reading FOR REAL was like watching a TV show! It is paced well, and I was pleasantly surprised at the many plot twists. I also really enjoyed how different Claire and Miranda are. In the beginning of the novel, their differences cause problems between the girls, but by the end, they learn to use their differences to support one another. The romance aspect of the book was definitely unexpected, and it was interesting to find out where things ended up! Overall, I would recommend this for girl’s ages 12/13 and up.

12 January 2015

Review: One Man Guy

One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva
Publication date: May 27, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Have you ever read a book so good that at a certain point your fingers are flying, trying to turn pages as quickly as you're reading? Have you ever read a book that you couldn't put down, despite your best efforts? A book that, once finished, leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling within you for days? To clarify, have you read ONE MAN GUY by Michael Barakiva?

ONE MAN GUY centers around Alek, a young, awkward, and Armenian highschooler, who has just been sentenced to spend his vacation in summer school. However, while there, he meets Ethan, a free-spirit who takes a particular interest in Alek. A new take on the coming-of-age-romance genre, ONE MAN GUY is by far one of the best standalone books I've read. Barakiva has a sharp, quick, and witty style that makes the book easily accessible, and easily enjoyable. Not only is the writing style spot-on, but the characters are brilliantly diverse and exceptionally intricate. I very rarely read coming-of-age stories, but I'm glad that I read this one, because ONE MAN GUY definitely made it onto my list of favorite standalone books. If you're 13 or older, don't mind some profanity, and are looking for a sweet and fun read, I'd definitely recommend this book to you!

09 January 2015

Review: All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Publication date: January 6, 2015
Publisher: Random House

What really makes life worth living? This is the question that Finch and Violet both face. An unlikely pair of teenagers from opposite ends of the high school spectrum; Violet who blends in seamlessly and conceals her troubles beneath the surface, and Finch, a non-conforming outcast whose wild personality is out for the world to see, find themselves exploring their state of Indiana together on a school assigned project. As they wander from one place to another, and really get to know each other for the first time, Finch and Violet help each other confront the dark fears of their past and learn to experience life again after loss.

I became so immersed in both the uplifting and the heart wrenching moments of their story, that I deeply missed the presence of Violet and Finch long after I finished reading. It’s been a long time since I’ve found a story that made me feel as many different emotions as ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES did. Jennifer Niven does a wonderful job illustrating how the simplest moments of everyday life can be made beautiful just by being shared with the right person.

05 January 2015

Review: The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry
Publication date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Poison has struck St. Etheldreda's School for Young Ladies! When the cantankerous headmistress and her scoundrel of a brother mysteriously drop dead during Sunday dinner, the seven girls who attend the school face a new and difficult challenge. While the demise of their frankly unlikable guardians causes the girls little grief, they have no desire to be split apart and sent home. Led by the clever and ambitious Kitty, the group uses wit and talent to cover up the murders and maintain the facade of uninterrupted normal life. In order to remain both safe and undiscovered, the sisterhood must discover the killer and his (or her) plot before the killer discovers them.