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Youth and Teen
Jessica: Mr. Penguin and the Lost Treasure (Mr. Penguin series #1) by Alex T. Smith
It has been weeks since Mr Penguin’s last adventure and he’s been stuck at his desk, twiddling his flippers ever since. That is until the phone rings!
Mr Penguin and Colin (a spider and Mr Penguin’s silent right hand man) are called in to find the missing treasure somewhere in the Museum of Extraordinary Objects. The quest finds them solving secret codes, fighting ferocious beasts, eating fish finger sandwiches and travelling deep below the museum to a lost jungle…
Why I like It: My son and I really love the characters of this series – Mr. Penguin, who love his fish finger sandwiches, and his partner, a uni-browed spider named Colin. This is a great adventure story for kids and adults to read together.
Jake: A Day at the Gallery by Nia Gould
This quirky and creative search-and-find book takes children, room by room, through a wonderfully illustrated gallery, where an array of animals are enjoying everything from Impressionism and Surrealism to Pop Art and Cubism. Each room is filled with strange and astonishing works of art, with things for children to spot and information that introduces artists and art movements. There’s a cat in a bowler hat, a cheesy Matisse, and plenty more to capture children’s imaginations as they enter the gallery for the first taste of the beautiful world of art. Perfect for children aged 6 and up.
Why I like It: Great way to introduce kids to art while giving great facts to learn!
Jake: Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Why I like It: This mixes ancient Greek mythology with modern day America. The adventures of Percy Jackson and his quest to save the world is a wonderful imaginative story to read especially in warmer weather.
Hannah: The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher
Kara finds these words in the mysterious bunker that she’s discovered behind a hole in the wall of her uncle’s house. Freshly divorced and living back at home, Kara now becomes obsessed with these cryptic words and starts exploring the peculiar bunker—only to discover that it holds portals to countless alternate realities. But these places are haunted by creatures that seem to hear thoughts…and the more you fear them, the stronger they become.
Why I like it: It’s got very loveable and funny characters, plus a very original premise of another world hidden behind some drywall in a museum.
Patty: Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline
Jake Buckman’s relationship with his sixteen-year-old son Ryan is not an easy one, so at the urging of his loving wife, Pam, Jake goes alone to pick up Ryan at their suburban movie theater. On the way home, Ryan asks to drive on a deserted road, and Jake sees it as a chance to make a connection. However, what starts as a father-son bonding opportunity instantly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes, and with Ryan’s entire future hanging in the balance, Jake is forced to make a split-second decision that plunges them both into a world of guilt and lies. Without ever meaning to, Jake and Ryan find themselves living under the crushing weight of their secret, which threatens to tear their family to shreds and ruin them all.
Powerful and dramatic, Keep Quiet will have readers and book clubs debating what it means to be a parent and how far you can, and should, go to protect those you love.
Why I like it: It is very fast paced, exciting, and suspenseful. I highly recommend it.
Sarah: Maid by Stephanie Land
At 28, Stephanie Land’s plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.
Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients’ lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.
Why I like it: It’s a well-written memoir. Also a great depiction of determination in the face of struggle. It speaks to many of the issues in our society and just how precarious our situations really are.
Brad: Masters of Doom by David Kushner
Masters of Doom is the amazing true story of the Lennon and McCartney of video games: John Carmack and John Romero. Together, they ruled big business. They transformed popular culture. And they provoked a national controversy. More than anything, they lived a unique and rollicking American Dream, escaping the broken homes of their youth to produce the most notoriously successful game franchises in history—Doom and Quake— until the games they made tore them apart. This is a story of friendship and betrayal, commerce and artistry—a powerful and compassionate account of what it’s like to be young, driven, and wildly creative.
Why I like it: This book gives you a window looking in on the early days of Id Software, creators of Doom, Wolfenstein, and Quake, and it’s not just some guys sitting at their computers. there’s Ferraris, computer heists, a door getting hacked to splinters by a battle axe, and plenty of backstabbing & betrayal. I’d love to see it adapted into an HBO series one day.
Jake: Westside Story
In 1957, the Jets are a gang of white youths that fight the Puerto Rican Sharks for control of San Juan Hill on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Officer Krupke and Lieutenant Schrank break up the brief skirmish, telling the gangs that their conflict is pointless since the neighborhood will be imminently demolished to make way for Lincoln Center. The gangs are too proud to care, and Jet leader Riff proposes a “rumble” (fight) between the two gangs. He approaches his friend Tony, who is on parole, for help. Tony refuses, wishing to turn over a new leaf with the help of Valentina, the Puerto Rican owner of Doc’s general store. Meanwhile, Maria, Shark leader Bernardo’s sister, is betrothed to his friend Chino but yearns for independence.
Why I like It: A retelling of an American classic.
Michelle: A Quiet Place Part II
Following the deadly events at home, the Abbott family must now face the terrors of the outside world as they continue their fight for survival in silence. Forced to venture into the unknown, they quickly realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path.
Why I like It: I really liked the way this nail biter keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. It’s a suspenseful thriller that makes a real Halloween chiller!