Monday, September 17, 2012

Heist Society, by Ally Carter

At the beginning of Heist Society by Ally Carter, fifteen year-old Katarina Bishop decides to leave the life of art theft that her family is involved in. Things don't exactly go as planned, and she is whisked away from boarding school by her long-time friend and accomplice W.W. Hale the Fifith. She is notified by Arturo Taccone, a wealthy thief himself, that he believes that Kat's father stole five of his precious paintings. Kat is fully determined to locate the paintings and save her father from whatever scheme Taccone is planning. Kat forms both a plan and a team consisting of skilled teenagers to pull off a heist larger than ever before.

This fast-paced novel receives a nine of ten from me. The author combines action, humor, and some romance to create a book that captures the reader's attention from the start. After reading the Gallagher Girls Series, also written by Ally Carter, I anticipated another page-turner and was not disappointed. I recommend Heist Society to teenage girls seeking an engaging story with believable characters and a hint of romance.

-Reviewed by Rebecca S., grade 8.

Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller

Tom Shales' and James Andrew Miller's Live From New York chronicles the first 30 years of the seminal American comedy series, Saturday Night Live. The book opens with SNL's tumultuous creation by its Canadian executive producer Lorne Michaels, in order to replace Saturday night reruns of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The book- narrated by the stars, writers, and guest hosts of the program- reveals the behind the scenes tensions that existed between Lorne, the original cast, and the NBC network bosses. Live goes on to cover SNL's disastrous season and near cancellation at the hands of executive producer Jean Doumanian, its righting in 1981 by new EP Dick Ebersol, Lorne Michaels' return to SNL in 1985 with a cast of young actors who again nearly tanked the program, and its general success since then with such great players as John Lovitz, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman, Will Ferrell, and Chris Kattam.

Live From New York gets an 8/10 from me. While it presents an incredibly thorough look at SNL's formation and subsequent travails, it can sometims jump around confusingly between topics, making it difficult to follow the exact thread of SNL's history. That being said, the glimpse that Live reveals of the culture at SNL- the competitiveness between the writers and performers and Lorne Michaels' extreme reservation of praise, among other things- is an essential resource for understanding just what it takes to be part of the great American institution of SNL. Anyone interested in how show business really works, both thirty years ago and today, will find a wealth of information to enjoy in Live From New York.

-Reviewed by Jerry, grade 11.

Take Me There, by Carolee Dean

Dylan Dawson finds himself on the wrong side of the law too many times, in Take Me There by Carolee Dean. This is the story of Dylan being tired of living life on the run, Dylan and his good pale, Wade, try to start fresh and keep out of trouble's way. However, after a life full of bad choices and bad acquaintances, trouble keeps finding them. As you read of Dylan's past you also learn about the present and what he is doing through. Dylan is determined to get to know who his father really is. You feel all the anger and frustration Dylan goes through.

This rollercoaster of a story had the book stuck to my hand. I couldn't put it down. This is by far one of the best realistic fiction books that I have read in a long time. I enjoyed the way the story was told, going from past to present with sprinkles of his father's story in between. It is told honestly and truthfully and is actually quite inspriing. I have and will definitely recommend this book.

-Reviewed by Alex, grade 12.