Monday, April 13, 2015

Quick Reads for April Vacation

250 pages or less!

Science Fiction

Scored by Lauren McLaughlin - Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their recorded actions and confessions plugged into a computer program that determines their ability to succeed. All kids given a "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored 's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? (226 pages)

Human.4 by Mike Lancaster - Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual community talent show, expecting the same old lame amateur acts. But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. Televisions and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens. Everyone's behaving oddly. It's as if Kyle doesn't exist. Is this
nightmare a result of the hypnosis? Will Kyle wake up with a snap of fingers to roars of laughter? Or is this something much more sinister? Narrated on a set of found cassette tapes at an unspecified point in the future, Human.4 is an absolutely chilling look at technology gone too far. (227 pages)


Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore - For as long as Esmerine can remember, she has
longed to join her older sister, Dosinia, as a siren--the highest calling a mermaid can have. When Dosinia runs away to the mainland, Esmerine is sent to retrieve her. Using magic to transform her tail into legs, she makes her way unsteadily to the capital city. There she comes upon a friend she hasn't seen since childhood--a dashing young man named Alandare, who belongs to a winged race of people. As Esmerine and Alandare band together to search for Dosinia, they rekindle a friendship . . . and ignite the emotions for a love so great, it cannot be bound by sea, land, or air. (232 pages)

The Prophecy by Hilari Bell -  For five years, the 14-year-old prince has exhausted the castle's vast library hoping to discover how to slay a dragon, since one is laying waste
to his father's Kingdom of Idris. Perryn finally spots what he has searched for, but the king is uninterested. Instead, the prince finds himself locked in his room. Seeking answers from the magical Mirror of Idris, Perryn learns that his own life is in danger: Cedric, his father's master of arms, is in alliance with the Norsemen, who are threatening Idris with the dragon's help. Cedric plans to kill the prince to prevent him from slaying the dragon. Suspense grows as Perryn searches for a true bard, a unicorn and the Sword of Samhain in order to defeat the dragon. (194 pages)


Overboard by Elizabeth Fama - When the overcrowded ferry sinks off the coast of Sumatra, Emily, 14, must stay afloat and try to swim for shore. For more than 17 hours, she applies what she learned in her lifesaving class in the U.S., treading water, creating a makeshift float, and fighting the effects of dehydration, hunger, exposure, and exhaustion. In the background is her compelling family story. She was on the ferry because she was "sort of" running away from her do-gooder physician parents, who had dragged her from Boston to Indonesia. (158 pages)

Devil's Pass by Sigmund Brouwer - Seventeen-year-old Webb's abusive stepfather has made it impossible for him to live at home, so Webb survives on the streets of Toronto by busking with his guitar and working as a dishwasher. When Webb's grandfather dies, his will stipulates that his grandsons fulfill specific requests. Webb's task takes him to the Canol Trail in Canada's Far North, where he finds out that there are much scarier things than the cold and the occasional grizzly bear. With a Native guide, two German tourists and his guitar for company, Webb is forced to confront terrible events in his grandfather's past and somehow deal with the pain and confusion of his own life. (237 pages)

Realistic Fiction

Push Girl by Chelsie Hill -  Kara is a high school junior who's loving life. She's popular, has a great group of friends and an amazing boyfriend, and she's a shoe-in for homecoming queen. Even though her parents can't stop fighting and her ex-boyfriend can't seem to leave her alone, Kara won't let anything get in the way of her perfect year. It's Friday night, and Kara arrives at a party, upset after hearing her parents having another one of their awful fights, and sees another girl with her hands all over her boyfriend. Furious, Kara leaves to take a drive, and, as she's crossing an intersection, a car comes out of nowhere and slams into the driver's side of Kara's car.  When Kara wakes up, she has no memory of the night before. Where is she? Why are her parents crying? And, most importantly - why can't she feel her legs? (227 pages)

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Lawson by Susin Nielsen-Fernlund - Henry, 13, is in therapy, hence this journal. So, fine, he will write all about how his mom is in a psych ward, how his dad is floundering without her, their weird new neighbors, and, oh yeah, the reason they moved in the first place. It's been less than a year since Henry's older brother, Jesse, buckled beneath the pressure of bullying and did the unspeakable IT. No, they don't speak of it. Instead, Henry focuses on his dorky new friend, Farley Wong, and comes up with a big idea: he could reunite his parents by raising enough money to buy them all tickets to a Global Wrestling Federation event their favorite family pastime before Jesse ruined everything. (243 pages)

Historical Fiction

Soldier's Secret by Sheila Klass - In the 1700s, women's responsibilities were primarily child rearing and household duties. But Deborah Sampson wanted more from life. She wanted to read, to travel--and to fight for her country's independence. When the colonies went to war with the British in 1775, Deborah was intent on being part of the action. Seeing no other option, she disguised herself in a man's uniform and served in the Continental army for more than a year, her identity hidden from her fellow soldiers. Accomplished writer Sheila Solomon Klass creates a gripping firstperson account of an extraordinary woman who lived a life full of danger, adventure, and intrigue. (215 pages)

Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow - In post WWII Russia, one boy dares to save an entire race of outlawed dogs -- the German shepherd! World War II has just ended when thirteen-year-old Mikhail finds a dying man and his German shepherd, Zasha, in the woods. It's dangerous -- some say traitorous -- to own a German dog after Germany attacked Russia, so Mikhail must keep Zasha a secret to keep her alive. But Mikhail's rival, Katia, is determined to find the dog she is sure he's hiding. At the same time, a soldier named Dimitri is breeding a new Russian dog at a nearby farm. So many dogs were lost in combat, to starvation, and in the slaughter of German dogs that the country is in dire need of every kind of dog. (229 pages)


Absent by Katie Williams - When seventeen-year-old Paige dies in a freak fall from the roof during Physics class, her spirit is bound to the grounds of her high school. At least she has company: her fellow ghosts Evan and Brooke, who also died there. But when Paige hears the rumor that her death wasn't an accident-that she supposedly jumped on purpose-she can't bear it. Then Paige discovers something amazing. She can possess living people when they think of her, and she can make them do almost anything. Maybe, just maybe, she can get to the most popular girl in school and stop the rumors once and for all. (180 pages)

The Devil's Intern by Donna Hosie - Four years into an afterlife that's so like its predecessor that new residents retain their zits, Mitchell holds a nice gig in Hell's accounting department and hangs out with an ex-Viking, a victim of London's Great Fire, and Melissa, who fell off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1967. But when he learns that the stopwatch-like Viciseometer that his demonic boss keeps in storage is a time-travel device, Mitchell enlists his buddies in a scheme to prevent their deaths. Things go awry in no time because, as it turns out, all involved have secrets and counteragendas of their own. (229 pages)


Followers by Anna Davies - To tweet or not to tweet . . . what a deadly question. When Briana loses out on a starring role in the school's production of Hamlet, she reluctantly agrees to be the drama department's "social media director" and starts tweeting half-hearted updates. She barely has any followers, so whensomeone hacks her twitter account, Briana can't muster the energy to stop it. After all, tweets like "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark . . . and a body's rotting in the theater" are obviously a joke. But then a body IS discovered in the theater: Briana's rival. Suddenly, what seemed like a prank turns deadly serious. To everyone's horror, the grisly tweets continue . . . and the body count starts to rise. There's no other explanation; someone is live-tweeting murders on campus. With the school in chaos and the police unable to find the culprit, it's up to Briana to unmask the psycho-tweeter before the carnage reaches Shakespearian proportions . . . or she becomes the next victim. (216 pages)

Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten - Cole and Greg love playing practical jokes through Wikipedia.  They edit key articles and watch their classmates crash and burn giving oral reports on historical figures like Genghis Khan, the first female astronaut on Jupiter. So after the star soccer player steals Cole's girlfriend, the boys take their revenge by creating a Wikipedia page for him, an entry full of outlandish information including details about his bizarre death on the soccer field.
It's all in good fun, until the soccer player is killed in a freak accident . . . just as Cole and Greg predicted. The uneasy boys vow to leave Wikipedia alone but someone continues to edit articles about classmates dying in gruesome ways . . . and those entries start to come true as well. (219 pages)


Fourth Down & Inches: Concussions and Football's Make-or-Break Moment by Carla McClafferty - Anyone paying attention to football knows the concussion controversy is in sudden-death overtime. In this timely, well-thought-out overview, McClafferty explains how we got here, what concussions are doing to kids and young men, and where we might go from here. From the 1890s, football's appeal was its very roughness, and though 10 or 20 were dying of injury per year, even President Roosevelt supported the game. New rules led to fewer physical injuries but there's the rub. Got a broken bone or torn ACL? You're rushed off the field. But even diagnosing a brain trauma is tricky. Cutely termed head ringers back in the day, concessions are deadly the stories of NFL players ruined in their early thirties or high-school players killed on the field are heartbreaking and McClafferty counters the no pain, no gain culture with graphics, brain scans, brain samples, and details of new studies tracking how concussions lead to devastating legacies of dementia and trauma. Solid, powerful material this ought to make any football fan contend with the harsh realities of the sport. (96 pages)

Pandemic Survival: It's Why You're Alive by Ann Love - The Black Death. Yellow Fever. Smallpox.  History is full of gruesome pandemics, and surviving those pandemics has shaped our society and way of life. Every person today is alive because of an ancestor who survived and surviving our current and future pandemics, like SARS, AIDS, bird flu or a new and unknown disease, will determine our future. Pandemic Survival presents in depth information about past and current illnesses; the evolution of medicine and its pioneers; cures and treatments; strange rituals and superstitions; and what we are doing to prevent future pandemics. Full of delightfully gross details about symptoms and fascinating facts about bizarre superstitious behaviors, Pandemic Survival is sure to interest even the most squeamish of readers. (122 pages)

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