Monday, April 24, 2017


Milk and Honey
This book was first recommended to me by my 27 year old daughter. Then I saw it in the hands of one of my 11th grade English students. Her copy was loaded with post-its marking favorite poems. So, I ordered a copy.

Poet Rupi Kaur tells an extremely personal story through a powerful series of poems. Divided into four sections titled The Hurting, The Loving, The Breaking, and The Healing, Kaur takes readers on a journey through her experience as a young woman. The beginning and end of relationships, abuse, rape, and finally the recognition of what she deserves as a woman are vividly and graphically described in the hope of helping empower other young women as they learn to define themselves.

Early pages in the book are heart wrenching in their directness, but growth is clearly the goal and message of Kaur's wise words. My favorite section was The Healing. Her message here is that loving oneself is essential to love someone else. She also stresses the importance of taking control of one's own body and life and not allowing someone to hold that power.

MILK AND HONEY is a must-read for older teen girls and young adult women.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

ULTIMATUM by K.M. Walton

My students and I have enjoyed K. M. Walton's previous books, CRACKED and EMPTY, so I was excited to see this new book. Her focus on psychological drama between brothers didn't disappoint.

Oscar and Vance are in the middle of a terrible experience. Their alcoholic father has been checked into hospice care and has only days to live. Liver failure after years of drinking is not a pleasant way to go and having to watch their father's final days has both teens struggle to make sense of the pain.

Oscar's portion of the story is told in "real" time as he sits next to his father's bed counting the frequency of his respiration. His older brother Vance inhabits the same room, but communication is at a minimum.

Vance's story tells of several years leading up to their father's last moments. He recalls the chaos of their lives after their mother's death. There were pleasant memories before she became ill, but after her calming influence was removed, their father became more of a bartender for himself instead of for the customers in the local establishment he owned.

While Vance tried to fight back, Oscar became more and more withdrawn. Now the brothers are faced with the fact that after their father is gone, they will only have each other. Will they stick together? Can they pick up the pieces of their lives and help each other cope?

Author K. M. Walton takes readers on a messy journey. Death is difficult enough, but when the only person there to help you is someone you feel you don't know anymore, the problems multiple.

Monday, March 13, 2017


Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen
Arin Andrews is ready to share his story with the world. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED is described as "The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen."

Arin was born Emerald. Although his family didn't accept it at first, he always knew the body he was assigned at birth was not the body he believed belonged to him. Living and dressing as a girl felt alien. In his story Arin tells how he tries to convince his family that he was meant to have short hair, dress in flannel shirts and jeans, and live the life of a male.

With the help of counseling and a support group of other transgender individuals, Arin was able to educate his parents. In this honest and upfront story readers will hear Arin's tale. From coming out as male through testosterone injections and top surgery, Arin reveals the emotional journey to the person he is today.

SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED is perfect for readers looking to better understand the transgender issue. It is clear that Arin story is just beginning, but his willingness to share his story is to be commended.

Friday, February 24, 2017

ALL IN PIECES by Suzanne Young

All in PiecesI definitely had to pick up a copy of this one since Suzanne Young's THE PROGRAM series was such a hit with my high school students.

What happens when you stab a pencil into your ex-boyfriend's hand? If you are Savvy Sutton, you are now enrolled in Brooks Academy with other incorrigible students. That's where Savvy meets Cameron.

Of course, Cameron has issues, but he seems like a nice guy. Right now, Savvy needs nice. Her little brother has autism and her father is a drunk. It has been up to Savvy to raise her brother and try to make ends meet even when her dad can't hold a job.

When Aunt Kathy decides to demand full custody of little Evan, and Savvy best friend Travis ends up in rehab, she turns to Cameron. Hopefully, he isn't just a spoiled rich kid. Savvy needs a friend she can trust.

Very different from THE PROGRAM, in ALL IN PIECES Suzanne Young takes her readers into the  Savvy's dysfunctional world. It won't take long for teens to be rooting for this determined high school student as she struggles to keep things under control.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


How to Avoid ExtinctionSince the death of his grandfather, Leo’s family has been concerned about his grandmother. She’s forgetful and tends to wander off. Somehow it became Leo’s responsibility to watch out for her.

When Gram decides to go on an adventure involving in search of her favorite dinosaurs, Leo and his cousin Abby become her traveling companions. Abby will help with the driving and Leo, well, he’ll probably help with everything else.

Their adventure takes them to unlikely places and they meet some of the most colorful characters along the way. Keeping track of Gram isn’t an easy task, but Leo is guaranteed to learn a lot and might actually enjoy himself as he gets to know more about his beloved grandmother.

Paul Acampora is also the author of DEFINING DULCIE and I KILL THE MOCKINGBIRD to name a few. HOW TO AVOID EXTINCTION explores families and taking care of those we love.

Monday, January 2, 2017

SHUTTER by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Day Connor has grown up watching her parents both fight for justice for others so when she discovers a runaway teen accused of killing his father, hiding in her barn, she doesn't immediately call the authorities. It isn't in her nature to jump to conclusions that someone is guilty without checking out the facts.

Julian Roman is on the run. According to his version of the story, he arrived home on May 4 to discover his mother dead in the bathtub from an overdose and his father dead from a blow to the head. As the prime suspect, he is sent to juvie, but he escapes and ends up in Day's barn.

Through her photography Day has learned to look for details. When she listens to Julian's story on the news and compares it to the actual Julian hiding in the barn, she believes he may have been falsely accused. Following the clues like her parents would and asking pertinent questions, Day is determined to find out the truth.

While he waits in the barn, Julian writes in his journal and tries to make sense of not just the deaths of his parents, but also the death of his brother Steven. Ever since the car accident that claimed his young brother's life, Julian's family has struggled to keep things together. That may explain his mother's depression and his father's rage, but is Julian also a victim of his brother's death?

Author Laurie Faria Stolarz has crafted a thought-provoking thriller sure to fascinate her many fans. Also the author of PROJECT 17, WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE and its sequel, and the BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series, Stolarz never fails to disappoint.

Friday, December 16, 2016

THE BABY by Lisa Drakeford

The Baby
There's a party at Olivia's house. Someone reports unusual noises coming from the bathroom. Imagine the shock when Olivia discovers her best friend Nicola giving birth to a baby. Olivia never even knew her best friend was pregnant.

Once the baby is born, the truth comes out. Nicola confesses that Olivia's boy friend Jonty is the father. The two friends stop speaking.

As the months go by those involved with Olivia and Nicola have different reactions. There's Olivia's strange younger sister Alice. She was completely mesmerized as she watched the birth of a baby in her very own bathroom. Now that the baby has arrived, Alice loves to visit and spend time helping Nicola care for the tiny thing.

Jonty gradually begins to accept the role of father and spends more and more time with the baby. Nicola is grateful for the free time and even uses it to rekindle her friendship with Olivia.

Ben is the gay friend of both Olivia and Nicola. He tries to be supportive of both friends. When things get tense, he acts as mediator despite the problems in his own life.

Author Lisa Drakeford has crafted an interesting look at a teen pregnancy. THE BABY doesn't just focus on one perspective, but rather visits the inner thoughts of everyone effected by the event. Check out THE BABY to see how life changes for five friends.