Category Archives: Series

Beat the Band – Review

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Title: Beat the Band

Author: Don Calame

Summer’s over and Matt, Sean, and Coop are ready to rock their sophmore year of high school. The problem? Coop’s been paired with epic loser “Hot Dog” Helen for a semester-long project on safe sex. How will he survive this social death sentence? By entering and winning the school’s battle of the bands contest. The thing is, the boys’ band, Arnold Murphy’s Bologna Dare (kind of an inside joke), is more theoretical than actual. Sure they rock Guitar Hero, but real instruments? Not so much. Coop is unstoppable, though, and whether they like it or not, Matt and Sean are along for the ride.

Beat the Band is every bit as funny as Swim the Fly. This time Coop tells the story, and he’s terrific as he wise-cracks his way through the book. There are tons of laugh-out-loud moments, although the scene in the library with the epic gas attack nearly killed me. As soon as you finish this, you’ll want to run – not walk – to get Sean’s story in Call the Shots.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Review

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Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

I’ve struggled with how to summarize this, so I’m throwing up my hands and posting the publisher’s summary: 

AROUND THE WORLD, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth has grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

MEET KAROU. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands;” she speaks many languages — not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers — beautiful, haunted Akiva — fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

After I finished reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I alternated between hugging the book to my chest and stomping around in a fit because I had to wait for the second in the trilogy. The story elements are familiar (angels, romance, star-crossed lovers, etc.), but Taylor puts such a fresh spin on them. Her writing is so richly descriptive, you feel like you’re right there on the streets of Prague or Marrakesh, and the romance is absolutely swoontastic. Days of Blood and Starlight comes out November 8, 2012 – hooray!

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Swim the Fly – Review

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Title: Swim the Fly

Author: Don Calame

Every summer, best friends Matt, Sean, and Coop set themselves a goal. When they were younger their goals were simple, like collect 1,000 golf balls before the end of the season. This year, the goal is fairly epic:  to see a naked girl – not in a magazine or online – a living, breathing naked girl.  The problem? None of them has a girlfriend. In fact, none of them has ever even been on a date, so how they’re going to see a naked girl is anyone’s guess.

As crazy as this goal is, however, it begins to look almost feasible when compared to the situation Matt has gotten himself into. You see, in order to impress the hot new girl on their swim team, Matt has volunteered to swim the fly – the 100-meter butterfly, that is. The thing is, Matt can’t even swim one length of the pool, let along the four lengths that make up the 100-meter race – and how he’s gonna make it through the summer is also anyone’s guess…

This book had me laughing from start to finish. At one point I was literally crying from laughing so hard. (The scene involves laxatives, cross-dressing, and the girls’ locker room. How could you not cry?)  Matt is an awesome narrator, and his friends and family are equally appealing. Everything about this book is fab, especially the fact that Coop and Sean have their own stories to tell in Beat the Band and Call the Shots.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Hourglass – Review

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Title: Hourglass

Author: Myra McEntire

After Emerson’s parents died, she went a little crazy – mental hospital crazy. That was a few years ago. Now she’s living with her older brother and his wife, and she’s hopeful that her life can get back to normal – except for all the ghosts she sees.

Hourglass combines the paranormal with some science fiction/X-men stuff, and plenty of humor, action, and romance, too.  The sequel, Timepiece, just came out.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading – Review

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Title: Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading

Author: Tommy Greenwald

Charlie Joe Jackson is determined to get through middle school without ever finishing a book. To meet this ambitious goal, he comes up with increasingly crazy schemes to help him succeed, and the amount of time and effort he puts into not reading is truly impressive.

This is a fun, quick book to read, and it includes 25 of Charlie Joe’s helpful tips on how to Not-Read a book.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

P.S. Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit comes out this August.

Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick – Review

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Title: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Author: Joe Schreiber

How bummed would you be if your mom made you take your family’s dumpy, frumpy Lithuanian exchange student to the prom – especially if your band has a gig the same night? And how freaked out would you be if she turned out to be a super-hot assassin on a mission to kill?

Perry Stormaire’s prom night turns into a nonstop ride through New York City with car chases, angry hitmen, explosions, and even a bear fight. There’s lots of humor, and some serious moments, too. This book is the definition of action-packed! The ending hints at a sequel, and I hope we get one sooner than later.

eta: As it happens, Perry’s Killer Playlist comes out November, 2012.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Legend – Review

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Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Are you experiencing Hunger Games withdrawal? Pick up Legend and you may get some relief. Chapters alternate between Day, a criminal with a price on his head, and June, the prodigy soldier tasked with tracking him down. Where are they? Los Angeles, the capital of the Republic of America, in 2130 AD.

Legend is the first in a trilogy, and the nonstop action, suspense, and touch of romance will have you anxiously awaiting the next installment. (Prodigy comes out in January 2013.)

Fun fact: the author was a video game designer before she started writing full-time.

And finally, here’s the trailer for Legend.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian