Con Academy

Con-Academy-Joe-SchreiberTitle: Con Academy

Author: Joe Schreiber

Summary: Will Shea has a plan. He’s managed to hack the system and get himself into the prestigious Connaughton Academy for his senior year of high school. All he has to do is impress his absurdly wealthy classmates with his invented back story about being a scholarship student from a tiny island in the Pacific, enter their social circles and leverage those connections forge this path through those connections to a life of immeasurable influence, power and privilege. Will is determined to leave his rough and tumble life on the streets of Trenton, New Jersey, and his less-than-professional con artist father, behind. But things are not going to be as easy as that, once he collides with Andrea, another Connaughton student/scammer who herself is operating under a falsified identity, aiming at the same life path Will has his eyes set on. Suddenly, the long con is on: The first person to reel in the biggest, richest fish on campus gets to stay at the Academy while the other has to try their unlawful scheming elsewhere.

This is a fun and fast-paced story with plenty of twists, turns and fake-outs with elaborate swindles running through the entire story. You’ll be rooting for Will as he finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into his caper as unexpected challenges, including the appearance of his criminal family members and the possibility of a real connection to another Connaughton student, get in the way of his perfect score. Con Academy reads like your favorite school comedy movie and it deserves to find its way on to your list of must-read books.

Who will like this book?: Readers who have ever contemplated a life of (non-violent) crime. Anyone looking for a quick, light read with plenty of action and laughter.

If you like this, try this: How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller. Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick. Tracers by J.J. Howard. For mature readers, Catch Me If You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit by Frank W. Abagnale and The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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srsly Hamlet

hamletTitle: srsly Hamlet

Author: William Shakespeare and Courtney Carbone

Summary: I am a hardcore bardolator – I love Shakespeare. I read his plays for fun. I get really excited when new productions of his plays, especially the ‘boring’ historical ones, come to town. I’m the first person in line to see the latest movie adaptation. And yes – I am recommending a series of books that retells some of the greatest plays ever written using emojis. I know what you are thinking – I need to reconsider my membership to the Shakespeare Fan Club. I’m the last person I’d ever think would say this, but these books are so much fun! I expected to ‘hate-read’ them but as I kept turning pages, I found the design of the book, featuring not just emojis but all sorts of modern communication techniques, to be very, very charming. Take a look:

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These books are quick and light and probably best suited to readers who have already read the original plays or seen productions or film adaptations. Sometimes you just need a good laugh and these books provide that, making them perfect for end-of-summer reading. As the adapter of this volume, Courtney Carbone states perfectly in her dedication: “To all my extraordinary English teachers, I’m sorry.”

Who will like this book?: This book would put a smile of the face of pretty much any reader. It might make some Shakespeare lovers angry, but it’s all in good fun!

If you like this, try this: More books in the OMG Shakespeare series, including YOLO Juliet and the forthcoming Macbeth #killingit and A Midsummer Night (no filter). If you are interested in learning more about Shakespeare’s plays, along with his life and times, try DK’s The Shakespeare Book. And if you want to take a deep dive, read Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human by critic Harold Bloom.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ms. Marvel

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Title: Ms. Marvel

Author/Illustrator: G. Willow Wilson/Adrian Alphona and Jacob Wyatt

Summary: Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl living in Jersey City. She goes to school, hangs out with friends and fangirls over pretty much everything, including her favorite hero, Captain Marvel. She does her best to be a good daughter to her strict parents, as well as a faithful Muslim. But one night, she disobeys the rules to sneak out to a party, when something impossible happens: A strange mist drifts across the city, rendering everyone unconscious. When she wakes up, Kamala discovers that like her hero, she has superhuman (or, Inhuman) abilities – she can shape shift and even heal herself! Calling herself Ms. Marvel in homage to her hero, Kamala decides to use her new powers to protect and serve her community.

To say this is a groundbreaking comic is an understatement: This is the first ongoing storyline to have Muslim headline character. Kamala’s heritage is skillfully woven into the story as she tries to balance being a good and respectful person while discovering the full scope of her sometimes-scary new abilities. She is diligent and brave, even when facing dangerous situations, horrifying villains and potentially-embarrassing run-ins with legendary heroes. She is also lighthearted, silly and headstrong – an ordinary girl with extraordinary powers. This series, of which three collected volumes are now available, are perfect for summer reading. Funny, bold and heartfelt, the story of Kamala Khan is not to be missed.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like strong, sassy and brave heroes. Pop culture obsessives. Comics fans who like to see classic characters rebooted.

If you like this, try this: The Hawkeye books by Matt Fraction, which also spend time with a superhero going about their ‘ordinary’ life. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword Back by Barry Deutsch.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Drama

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Title: Drama

Author/Illustrator: Raina Telgemeier

Summary: Callie loves the stage…well, backstage anyway. A proud member of the stage crew, she is thrilled to get the opportunity to design the sets for her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. Callie may not be in the spotlight, but she and her friends all have some drama to deal with. Does she still have feelings for Greg? Or does she really like Jesse? Does Jesse like her? Or is he into boys like his twin brother? And how on earth is she going to convince everyone to let her fire a live cannon onstage in the middle of the show?

This delightful graphic novel is great fun for anyone who likes a little bit of innocent drama in their stories. Telgemeier perfectly captures the chaos of stage production and the calm of performance in such a way that you feel like you are right next to Callie as she preps the next scene. The characters are all teens you can root for, whether you are an ‘onstage’ type, a ‘backstage’ type or an ‘offstage’ type. This is a great choice for someone looking some something fast and fun to read.

Who will like this book: Theatrical types of all ages. Readers who like stories with love trianges…or pentagons…or octagons.

If you like this, try this: Dramarama by E. Lockhart, My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluge, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Diviners

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Title: The Diviners

Author: Libba Bray

Summary: Evie O’Neill finds herself in big trouble over a little parlor trick she performed at a party.  She only meant to get a little attention when she took Harold Brodie’s class ring and attempted to divine a few of his secrets for the crowd.  Instead, she ended up incurring the wrath of the Brodie family and getting banished from her small town of Zenith, Ohio to her Uncle’s home in New York city.  But being sent to one of the most lively cities in the country during the 1920’s is hardly a punishment for a girl who has always been too much for her hometown.  New York city is exactly where Evie wants to be and all she has to do to stay is live with her Uncle Will, a man who stirs up his own fair share of gossip being the head of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, and abide by the few rules he sets.

It doesn’t take long before Evie is swept up into the bustle of New York City and reacquainting herself with a childhood best friend and making friends with an exotic Ziegfeld girl, but the good times grind to a halt when a grisly serial killer with ties to the occult starts to accumulate a body count.  Uncle Will is called in by police to help decipher the cryptic symbols left at the murder scenes and Evie talks herself into being included in the case.  It’s a case where her ability to divine secrets from personal objects may just be the key to stopping the killer or in possibly marking her as the next victim.  However, Evie isn’t alone in her efforts to catch the killer or in possessing a unique and otherworldly gift.  Her uncle’s assistant, Jericho hides a secret while her new friend, Theta, is trying to escape from her past. And then there’s Memphis, a young man who has lost his parents and his gift but fights to protect and take care of his younger brother.

Who will like this book?:  Anyone with an appreciation for intelligent and well-written stories will throughly enjoy Libba Bray’s writings.  It’s rare to find a mystery/thriller driven by such well-developed characters, especially one where the paranormal is a key aspect of the storyline.   She’s the only YA author who can make 578 pages seem like a quick read and have you wishing the book was longer.

If you like this, try this:  Thank goodness this is the first in a proposed trilogy because this story is simply too big (and too good) to be confined to one book.  While you wait for the sequel to come out, try some of Libba Bray’s other writings, especially her Gemma Doyle trilogy.   If you are looking for another great historical fiction book try Code Name Verity, there’s no paranormal in the story, but it is an amazing historical story featuring strong female characters in life-and-death situations.  Ruta Sepetys, Out of Easy is another great historical fiction mystery that doesn’t feature the paranormal.  But if paranormal historical fiction is what you want to stay with, give Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy a try.

Recommended by:  Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

The Fault in Our Stars

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Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Summary: Hazel is a miracle. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has survived longer than anyone expected. Now at 16, she spends her days watching marathons of bad reality TV, attending classes at the local community college and rereading her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. When her mom forces her to go to a support group, she meets another young survivor named Augustus Wheeler, who would take her breath away if her damaged lungs could ever take in enough oxygen. It is clear that these two are soul mates. But first love is complicated enough without the big questions that dominate the life of any cancer patient, whether they are still sick or not.

Hazel and Gus are characters you’d want to know in real life. They might remind you of your best friend – or at least the kind of person you’d want to be your best friend or significant other: Funny, honest, warm and brave. As the improbable adventure of their romance grows, deepens and changes, you’ll find yourself considering the same ideas that they do: What gives a life value? How can you get up every day not knowing if it is the last one with the people you love? What happens when you die? This is another un-put-downable story by someone who just may be the best author writing for teens right now.

Who will like this book: Readers looking for a good, non-sappy love story. Yes, it’s a book about being sick, but it is not melodramatic (ahem, Lurlene McDaniel fans). People who like Jodi Picoult stories, but think they could be a little funnier. Deep thinkers. Nerdfighters, naturally.

If you like this, try this: Anything else by John Green. For younger readers, Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie and After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

 

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President

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Title: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to be your Class President

Author: Josh Lieb

Summary:  Can you imagine what it must be like to be the third richest person in the world?  Oliver Watson owns land in all fifty states and most of the capitalist countries in the world.  He owns investment banks, baseball teams, mines, plantations, a movie studio, two television networks, and three newspaper syndicates.   He is powerful enough to instigate the overthrow of a dictator of an African nation for personal reasons having nothing to do with setting the world right. 

Oliver Watson is exactly what the title of this book states – an evil genius – he is also a seventh grade middle school student.  He has used his intelligence to create a fortune.  He’s also used that same intelligence and fortune to rig his middle school up to cater to his every desire from a secret root beer dispensing button on the water fountain and a heated bus seat to the development of a secret chemical, Lazopril.   When released on a person Lazopril saps all hostility from them and gives them sudden intense flatulence.  Oliver even has three secret bodyguards within the school, so secret, in fact, that even Oliver isn’t sure of their exact identities.  

You may wonder the reason behind the necessity of Lazopril and bodyguards.  Why would anyone tease or bully the biggest evil genius in the world?  That question is best answered by looking to Oliver’s assumed alter ego, the dumbest kid in the whole school.  Oliver’s act is so perfect that it is going to take some work to get him elected as the 8th grade class president.  Why does the greatest evil genius in the world want to be class president?  For that answer you will have to read the book.

Who will like this?:  Anyone who has a bit of a wicked sense of humor  and those who are ready to graduate from the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series.  Oliver has the same air of superiority coupled with a dose of condescension for his peers, but unlike Greg Heffley. Oliver actually has the brains to back it up. 

If you like this, try this: Evil Genius series by Catherine Jinks,  N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society series by Michael Buckley, and H.I.V.E. : Higher Institute of Villainous Education series by Mark Walden

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian