Optimists Die First
With such an attention-grabbing title, how can I NOT blog about it? Plus it received starred reviews in School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and just about everywhere else you can star reviews.
Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
Vancouver teenager Petula de Wilde is aware that her personality is the very opposite of her last name. Since her sister died two years earlier, Petula constantly washes her hands, avoids construction sites (lest she get killed by falling stray metal), and scours the Internet for articles on random and accidental deaths to add to her scrapbook. She no longer pursues her many (more optimistic) craft projects, nor does she speak to her former best friend. Things begin to change after a new boy with a prosthetic arm shows up in her mandated art therapy classes. Jacob is gregarious, confident, and determined to make Petula come out of her shell. His enthusiasm for life and his ability with a camera pull them together and allow them both to heal, but is Jacob all that he seems? Will Petula and the other art therapy students be able to help Jacob as much as he has helped them? Nielsen has created a compelling, precociously paranoid protagonist and a bevy of wisecracking, heartwarming characters. But perhaps the novel’s greatest strength is its handling of the characters’ very real burdens with sympathy, wit, and not an ounce of melodrama. Nielsen excels at depicting troubled, clever teenagers in familiar environments. VERDICT Readers who are looking for a darker, more urban, but similarly hopeful Sarah Dessen novel will find it in this poignant book. (School Library Journal)
The Plot Thickens
The Last of August is the second adventure in the Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallero. I really enjoyed the reimagining of modern teen descendants of Holmes and Watson in the first book, A Study in Charlotte. Let's see what the sleuths are getting up to this time around.
"Jamie and Charlotte are looking for a winter break reprieve in Sussex after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But nothing about their time off is proving simple, including Holmes and Watson’s growing feelings for each other. When Charlotte’s beloved Uncle Leander goes missing from the Holmes estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring—the game is afoot once again, and Charlotte throws herself into a search for answers. So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover that this complicated case might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other."