Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. 2016. Abrams.343 pp.
Olivia hates that her mother walked away from her family three years ago. Kat holes up in her room with Internet games. Matt fills his days getting high. Juniper is the perfect queen of Paloma High. Valentine is a loner. Lucas is everyone’s go to guy for beer and weed. Claire wonders why she can’t be like Olivia and Juniper.
When the news breaks that someone is involved in a secret affair with a teacher, everyone is shocked. Each of these students has the power to reveal the truth, yet they all have their own secrets. Are someone else’s secrets more important than your own? As truth and lies blend, this unlikely group of students become bound together in ways they never imagined.
“Seven Ways to Lie” was very thought provoking, with each character having their own chapter to articulate their issues and thought patterns. She challenges her readers to think about the “why” of situations, reminding them that things are not always as they seem.
Recommended for ages 14 and older.
ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published August 20, 2013. Roaring Book Press. 342 pp.
Fourteen-year-old Jenna is the world’s most awkward middle schooler and babysitter. She spends half the book bemoaning the ugly clothes her “communist” mother buys in bulk, while stumbling and mumbling her way awkwardly through every situation (including babysitting) in the other half.
No one is more surprised than she when Luke, the hottest guy she’s ever seen, seems to like her. Turns out Luke was killed during the Revolutionary War and is now an angel posing as a teen boy sent to protect her from Adam, also killed during said War, posing as another teen but really a bad demon. Adam wants Jenna’s pendant, an ugly necklace that can keep Adam here in the modern world wrecking havoc forever. Jenna is supposed to protect the necklace from him, by always keeping it around her neck. Luke is supposed to protect Jenna but is too worried about getting in trouble with his boss to do much protecting. Meanwhile, Jenna is clueless about any of this, and only has eyes for Luke. Got it so far?
The plot of bad boy demon and good boy angel have been done before by many, many authors, but their story lines were so much better. A line like “I’ll get you and your little pendant too!” had me rolling my eyes in disbelief. Michael Jackson songs always played whenever Adam and Luke were together, in between scenes from “Fiddler on the Roof,” while Jenna continually bumbled her way through everything. It was confusion and total unbelievability on a massive scale.
I wanted to toss the book, and my cookies, but kept reading so I could review it for your sake. I don’t recommend reading it, but will leave it up to you to decide if you should read it or not.
ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published April 23, 2013. Random House. 241 pp.
Through present time and flashbacks, readers are introduced to sixteen-year-old Tyler Darcy. From the moment he first laid eyes on Rebecca in 9th grade, Tyler was in love. He kept all his feelings to himself, writing about her and fantasizing about the ways he’d “wow” her with his brilliance. Unfortunately for Tyler, no brilliance ever surfaced and he spent his high school years unable to let Becky know how he felt.
Despite getting involved with the school’s drama department so he could regularly see Becky, having a steady girlfriend, and being a talented writer, Tyler is fixated on one thing: being with Becky. It’ll take a major alignment of all the planets, stars and a few moons before Tyler gets the nerve to talk to her, but it’s worth the wait to read his story.
“Manicpixiedreamgirl” is filled with guy humor, and thoughts, as it’s told from Tyler’s lovestruck point of view. Being a guy himself, Leveen’s portrayal of Tyler is very realistic, good for plenty of laughs with Tyler and his friends as well as Tyler’s “insight” into female thoughts and behavior. Along with the humor, a dose of heartbreak keeps things on an even keel, and is sure to be enjoyed by readers 14 and older – especially boys.
ARC (Advance Reading Copy). To be published September 1, 2012. Graphix (Scholastic Inc.) 233 pp.
In this graphic novel, 7th grader Callie tells of her love for theater and set design. When her middle school prepares to put on a production of “Moon over Mississippi” she is thrilled at the chance to design the set. While working on the production, she is mixed up in various love dramas and triangles, while trying to figure out her own amorous feelings for someone who doesn’t even know she exists.
“Drama” is a good read for students aged 9-12, especially those interested in theater. Its graphic novel format will also encourage reluctant readers to give it a go.
ARC (Advanced Reading Copy). Published August 6, 2012. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. 236 pp.
Now that Arabelle is getting ready to start 9th grade, she knows her life is going to change. She has plans to be a star actress and to have tons of friends. She soon learns dreams are better in her head, as they fall to pieces before her eyes. In no uncertain terms she is told ninth graders are never cast in plays as no one is interested in her great actress skills, and her counselor insists her mandated high school community service be completed in a smelly nursing home.
Through her many daydreams and impetuous ways Arabelle finds ways to conquer and succeed when everything in her life seems to be leading towards multiple disasters, and learns nursing homes are not so bad after all.
Middle schoolers will probably enjoy Arabelle’s antics a lot more than I did.