Tuesday, October 18, 2016

MY KIND OF CRAZY by Robin Reul

My Kind of Crazy
Hank Kirby wants to go to the prom with Amanda Carlisle, but she barely knows he exists. When he comes up with an incredibly unique promposal, he nearly burns down Amanda's house. The idea to spell out "prom" in sparklers certainly didn't go the way he planned, and instead of impressing the girl of his dreams, Hank ends up sprinting across lawns to escape the lights and sirens.

During his frantic dash to avoid prosecution, Hank runs into Peyton Breedlove. Her tendency toward pyromania has her totally impressed with Hank stunt. Also not a fan of the popular people like Amanda, Peyton praises Hank for his efforts, and they fall into an unusual friendship.

When Hank's buddy Nick expresses interest in Peyton, Hank is ready to step aside still hoping to pair up with Amanda. However, as Hank's home-life becomes more complicated, he finds himself relating to Peyton whose own personal life is a mess. Maybe there is more of a connection than Hank imagined. He might be the only person who truly understands Peyton and has the power to protect her.

Author Robin Reul has created in Hank a hero readers will begin to root for on the very first page. Hank and Peyton are true underdogs it is a pleasure to support. MY KIND OF CRAZY has plenty of action, humor, and drama to be a sure winner with teen readers.

Monday, October 10, 2016

THE OTHER BOY by M.G. Hennessey

The Other Boy
Life hasn't been easy for Shane. If asked, he would tell you that he was born with the wrong body. His official gender at birth was female, but it didn't take long for Shane to recognize that he had the mind and heart of a boy.

Shane lives with his mother who supports his transgender status completely. His father isn't accepting it quite as gracefully. Having reached the age of puberty, Shane has the choice to begin getting hormone injections that would help his body begin developing as a male. His father isn't in favor of the injections, but Shane is determined to convince him that it is necessary for him to live the life he was meant to live.

In addition to issues with his father, Shane must also deal with his friends, his baseball teammates, and the other kids at school when the player from a competitive team posts a picture of Shane in elementary school. The picture shows Shane with long, flowing hair and the clothes of a girl. How will everyone handle Shane's secret? Will they accept him for who he really is?

Author M.G. Hennessey presents a well-written and realistic picture of being a twelve year old transgender youth. Shane has understanding and supportive people in his life, but as expected, he must deal with others who either don't understand or need time to adjust to the idea of his life choices. Readers will see the struggles involved as well as the inspirational determination of Shane and his family and friends.

Monday, October 3, 2016

TOP PROSPECT by Paul Volponi

Top Prospect
It wasn't until reading this book that I realized there are 8th grade football players so talented that they have been offered college scholarships before even beginning their high school football careers. Paul Volponi's new book TOP PROSPECT tells a story with a character who experiences just that.

Travis Gardner and his brother Carter both play football and play it very well. Travis is starting 8th grade and is extremely proud of his brother who will be starting his freshman year in college with a football scholarship.

While spending time with Carter, Travis gets to show off some of his skills as a quarterback. He attracts the attention of the college coach, and before he knows it, he is guaranteed a chance to attend college when he graduates in five years. The offer creates quite a sensation in town, and ESPN even shows up to interview him.

Now the pressure is on. Travis has to demonstrate his talents in each and every game and lead his team to victory. After a successful 8th grade season, he is then faced with making the high school team and earning the spot of first string quarterback.

Amidst the stress of football, Travis must deal with his brother's jealousy, a rocky relationship with their father, his first experience with death, and at the same time keep up his grades so his mom won't shut down the whole plan. Author Paul Volponi expertly describes the rollercoaster of emotions young Travis experiences as he fights to play his best and hang onto a chance for a stellar future.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

GHOST by Jason Reynolds

Castle "Ghost" Cranshaw has grown up feeling the need to be tough. He will never forget the day his father threatened to shoot him and his mother. Hiding in the storeroom at the back of Mr. Charles's store will stay with Ghost forever.

In trouble and kicked out of school more than he's in, Ghost doesn't like the thought of worrying his mother, but he just can't help himself. That's just how things are until the day he crashes track practice and shows off his natural ability to run by beating one of the team's best sprinters. Coach takes him aside and suggests he should tryout.

Running gives Ghost a purpose, but it doesn't guarantee he'll start following the straight and narrow. In an effort to fit in with the rest of his teammates, Ghost finds himself lying to Coach, the other newbies on the team, and even his mom. It takes a run-in with Coach and the threat of losing his spot on the team to turn things around for Ghost.

GHOST is the first book in a new series by author Jason Reynolds. Reynolds is well-known for WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST, THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT, and ALL AMERICAN BOYS. The new Track series will feature Ghost and his fellow runners who all might have a shot at the Junior Olympics.

Friday, September 23, 2016


The Memory of Things

The first plane hit the World Trade Center, and many thought it was an accident. Then the second plane hit the second tower, and the world knew it was an attack.

At Stuyvesant High School a relatively short distance from Ground Zero, Kyle Donohue and his classmates watch the first tower fall. The school is evacuated, and Kyle heads home to Brooklyn. As he leaves the smoke and dust behind, he stumbles across a girl covered in ash and dust and wearing a pair of costume wings. He decides to take her home.

Once home safe and sound, Kyle checks on his wheelchair bound uncle. After a number of attempts, phone calls confirm that his mother and sister will be stuck in California until planes are permitted to fly again, and his detective father is hard at work in the rescue effort at the attack site.

The girl seems to be suffering from amnesia and barely speaks. Kyle patiently tries to help her recall important details, and as the hours and days pass he begins to fall under her spell. Kyle bravely meets the challenges of caring for his invalid uncle, watching over the girl, and keeping tabs on the rest of his family from a distance. The impact of the events of September 11 unfold around him, erasing layer after layer of his youthful innocence.

Author Gae Polisner honors the anniversary of 9/11 with her new novel THE MEMORY OF THINGS not only with a stark reminder of what happened that tragic morning, but also with an emotional and inspirational story of a teen who responded courageously and responsibly in the face of frightening circumstances. The voices of Kyle and the girl tell two very different stories about the strength of love and determination.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

100 DAYS by Nicole McInnes

100 Days

100 DAYS is the story of the last 100 days in the life of sixteen year old Agnes. Agnes is one of a tiny fraction of humanity diagnosed with progeria, a disease that causes a rapid increase in the aging process. Although only sixteen, Agnes has the body of an elderly person and suffers from all the complications of aging.

Agnes, Moira, and Boone were friends in elementary until an unfortunate accident that left Agnes with a broken bone. Now they are in high school and fate arranges for them to join forces once again.

Moira dresses in black and wears dark makeup in an effort to diminish her weight issues. She has appointed herself Agnes's protector and would give her life to protect her friend.

Boone spends all his free time working multiple odd jobs to try to make ends meet for his widowed mother. While he is working, she hides a home assembling jigsaw puzzles as she tries to cope with her husband's tragic death.

Although things don't always go as planned, the three friends provide emotional support for one another as they negotiate the difficulties of their lives. Despite the odds stacked against them, they remain positive and determined to experience as much as possible.

Author Nicole McInnes takes readers into the lives of her unique characters and the experience is sure to have a memorable impact.

Monday, August 29, 2016

GUTLESS by Carl Deuker

Brock was a soccer player, an excellent goalkeeper, to be exact. It wasn't until he met Hunter that he considered playing football, and it wasn't until he met Richie that he considered playing chess.

Brock wasn't sure what his freshman year would have to offer. He was worried about his dad who had just been diagnosed with a disease that would gradually take away his ability to walk. Soccer wasn't as exciting as it used to be and his old friends seemed to be finding new interests.

The day Brock met Hunter at the park changed everything. Before he knew it, Hunter's dad had drafted him to act as wide receiver for Hunter's quarterback throwing practices. Brock's speed and agility made up for the fact that he had never played football. Despite his mother's reluctance, he was headed to team tryouts.

Brock also found a new friend. Another freshman named Richie began chatting with Brock during class and started saving him a seat at lunch. Brock was fascinated by the talented Chinese kid. He excelled in everything - chess, violin, architecture and design projects. It really wasn't a surprise that he was also a talented soccer player who ended up being an awesome kicker for the football team.

The catch was Richie was the target for every bully in the school. Brock caught flack for hanging out with him, too. Since Brock was accepted with most of the athletes because of his talent as a wide receiver, he hoped that Richie's involvement in soccer and football would earn him some respect as well. And, for a while that seemed to be the case, but the truth was, the bullies were just biding their time.

Author Carl Deuker has another hit on his hands. Deuker takes the sports novel a step farther than simply play-by-play action. He develops depth in his characters and intrigue in their lives beyond the playing field. GUTLESS is perfect for teen readers looking for a story to entertain and to relate to their own lives. This one won't be gathering dust on classroom and library shelves.