February 27, 2013

Review: The Reece Malcolm List

The Reece Malcolm List
Amy Spalding
Entangled Teen
February 2013

Devan has been collecting facts about best-selling author Reece Malcolm. For example: She graduated from NYU. She lives in L.A. She likes strong coffee and bourbon.

She's Devan's mother.

Now, with the sudden death of her dad, Devan finally gets to meet Reece Malcolm for the first time. She's greeted at the airport by a caffeine-addicted, jeans-and-T-shirt-wearing thirtysomething who seems more like a surly hipster than a mom. And even though she feels more like an obligation than a daughter, Devan has no choice but to move in with Reece and her (perfect, British) boyfriend Brad.

Reece and Devan are like the Gilmore Girls, without all the warm fuzzies. Even though Reece sets up Devan at a sweet performing arts high school and buys her a bunch of new clothes, she continues to give off the vibe that Devan is an inconvenience. Desperate to understand the mother she never knew, Devan gets into the habit of rifling through Reece's things and reading her emails. A healthy parent/child relationship this is not.

And yet—you can't help rooting for these two! Especially in Reece, Amy Spalding has created a character who's lovable despite her flaws. With a strong supporting cast and some serious musical theater nerdery, The Reece Malcolm List is fresh, funny, and tug-at-your-heartstrings touching all at once. It also features some good old-fashioned BOY DRAMA. Highly recommended for teen collections.

January 26, 2013

Review: The Madness Underneath

The Madness Underneath
Maureen Johnson
Penguin Young Readers Group
February 2013

The second book in Johnson's Shades of London series finds American teen Rory holed up at her parents' Bristol home, recovering from a near-fatal encounter with a Jack the Ripper copycat. What Mom and Dad (and her shrink) don't know is that her attacker was a ghost ... one that Rory had the ability to see.

Going slightly mad and desperate to reconnect with her friends in the secret ghost-busting police force, Rory jumps at the chance to return to boarding school in London. Back in the city, she discovers a new power that could help the Shades tackle their latest string of ghostly problems. But it may cost Rory her most cherished relationships—and maybe even her sanity.

The middle volume of a trilogy is always a tricky thing, but The Madness Underneath strikes a nice balance between following up on events from The Name of the Star and setting up for a final book, while also providing enough action to hold readers' interest. We revisit old friends (Jazza, Boo, Stephen—the gang's all here!) and meet some new characters, including a fabulously weird London therapist with a remarkable decorating scheme. Although the ghosts aren't quite as scary this time around, you'll close this book with great expectations for the finale.

Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

January 5, 2013

Review: Also Known As

Also Known As
Robin Benway
February 2013

Maggie has 12 different passports, an innate talent for safe-cracking, and absolutely no experience living as a normal teenager. But when "the Collective" sends her and her parents to New York on their next mission, it's up to Maggie to put on a private school uniform, trade in the high-tech safes for a boring old locker, and work some spy magic on the hottest guy in the class.

Jesse Oliver is the son of a magazine magnate who's about to run a story on the Collective—one that will name names ... including those of Maggie and her parents. The assignment should be as simple as befriending Jesse, getting access to his penthouse, and making off with a flash drive or two. If only Jesse wasn't so easy to fall for.

Also Known As takes readers on a fun romp through Manhattan as Maggie struggles with balancing her first real friendships and her responsibility to the collective. There are some sweet moments between Maggie and Jesse, alongside plenty of comic relief in the form of Maggie's new BFF Roux. It's impossible not to compare AKA to Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, and the upper-class NYC setting gives it a little Gossip Girl flavor, too. Romance and high-stakes adventure make this one a sure bet.

Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.