Monday, August 31, 2009


SUPER STOCK ROOKIE is another fast-paced racing novel by Will Weaver. This is the second in his Motor Novel series and is sure to grab the attention of reluctant teen readers even if they aren't particularly racing fans.

Trace Bonham has been racing Street Stock for years on small town tracks throughout the northern Midwest. Now it's possible that he might get a chance to race a new, top-of-the-line Super Stock car. All he has to do is attend a tryout sponsored by a group called and Team Blu and hope for the best.

Joining Trace are some of his friends from his hometown track at Headwaters Speedway. Mel runs the track with her dad. Patrick sings the national anthem before races, does grunt work around the track, and wishes he could be a driver someday. There are also other racing teams that have watched Trace grow into the racer he is today. All of them wish him the best at the tryout, but if he makes it, will his success change these longtime relationships.

Team Blu offers Trace the best of everything - a great new car, topnotch mechanics and pit crew, and a super trailer complete with his own quality sleeping quarters. He just has to drive fast, look great, and promote their product. Seems pretty simple, but ...

I'm not a racing fan at all, but I found myself caught up in the action from the very first page. Weaver's first Motor Novel titled SATURDAY NIGHT DIRT was also a page-turner, so I'm definitely looking forward to whatever follows next.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

THE YOUNGEST TEMPLAR: TRAIL OF FATE, Book #2 by Michael P. Spradlin

The tale of Tristan, a young squire of the Knights of the Templar, continues. At the end of KEEPER OF THE GRAIL Book #1, Tristan's fate was in question as he sailed into a horrible storm. Book #2 begins as Tristan wakes to discover that he has survived, but he doesn't know where he has washed ashore or what is in store for him.

When he awakes he is surrounded by a half dozen people with weapons drawn. Tristan is able to use his limited French to determine the leader of the group is a beautiful young woman named Celia, and he has indeed washed ashore along the coast of France.

Soon Tristan's partners, Robard and Maryam, make an unexpected appearance and the new adventures begin. Tristan's old friends pledge to defend him as he decides to help Celia and her followers outwit the High Counsel of France. What follows is one trick after another as Tristan attempts to throw the High Counsel off the Cathars' trail.

Just when Tristan thinks all he has to do is help the Cathars and then resume his journey to deliver the Grail, his enemy Sir Hugh, arrives to make things difficult. Sir Hugh has supposedly joined forces with the High Counsel to rid the region of Cathars, but his real objective is to find Tristan and seize the precious Grail for himself.

Book #2 is filled with enough sword fights, bows and arrows and crossbows, battering rams, and flaming pots of liquid lard to satisfy any teen looking for adventure. Author Michael P. Spradlin takes his readers into a century long ago but makes it seem alive and relevant today. Tristan is a likeable hero with incredible courage, a clever mind, and a sense of humor one doesn't expect in a character from the middle ages. It is going to be difficult to wait for Book #3 to find out where Tristan's adventures will take him next.

Friday, August 28, 2009


A big thank you to Sarah Ockler, author of TWENTY BOY SUMMER, for her blogger interview series.

My interview is posted on her Flip It Friday post today! Check it out and you'll get to find out all my innermost thoughts. Yikes!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


It's senior year for linebacker Reggie Scott. He has just made a fabulous interception that could lead to a win for his team. Everything is terrific until he turns around and sees Nate Brown from the opposing team lying motionless on the field.

Even though Reggie's coaches and his parents assure him that Nate's injury is the result of Nate's poor tackle, Reggie blames himself for what happened. Yes, coaching and on the field experience tell players not to lead with their helmet when they tackle, but that knowing Nate may never walk again is making getting back on the field incredibly difficult for Reggie.

PARALYZED by Jeff Rud presents an interesting view of a sports injury. The focus is on a healthy player tackled by the injured athlete and left feeling responsible for the accident. Emotions run high with the injured player's family causing bad press in the sports section and the threat of suspension and a lawsuit. All this combined with some intense play-by-play action on the field creates a sports story sure to interest reluctant teen readers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and so have my students. On October 12 I'll be waiting in line if necessary to get a copy of #4.

by Jeff Kinney

Summary courtesy of Barnes & Noble:

"It's summer vacation, the weather's great, and all the kids are having fun outside. So where's Greg Heffley? Inside his house, playing video games with the shades drawn.

Greg, a self-confessed "indoor person," is living out his ultimate summer fantasy: no responsibilities and no rules. But Greg's mom has a different vision for an ideal summer…one packed with outdoor activities and "family togetherness."

Whose vision will win out? Or will a new addition to the Heffley family change everything?"

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Vampires, zombies, and werewolves seem to be dominating young adult literature, but Patrick Jones has created another life form with enough similarities to make it popular, but enough uniqueness to possibly make it a far more disturbing read. Enter THE TEAR COLLECTOR.

News reports around Flint, Michigan, have been filled with reports of young boys disappearing, taken right off the street, from playgrounds and backyards. Even more mysterious is their return several days later, terrorized but alive.

Someone paying close attention to these news reports is Cassandra Gray. She has an idea who or rather what might be responsible, but it is her duty to protect and serve the family that might be involved. Cass has been given the task of collecting the sadness and sorrow of humans in the form of their tears and bringing it back to a small circle of those dependent on her for their survival. Not vampires dependent on the blood of their victims, but another non-human form that draws energy found in the tears of its victims.

Cass has always accepted her role willingly. She has become the trusted friend of many in order to offer her shoulder during times of crisis. In Lapeer High School the drama of everyday life provides tears aplenty. But Cass's family responsibility is becoming clouded by the sudden death of her best friend and the appearance of a boy who has her feeling things she never has before.

THE TEAR COLLECTOR by Patrick Jones adds a new dimension to the current trend in YA lit. With the use of sorrow and tears, he has chosen a direction I found more believable than the vampire/zombie fare of recent years. Set in a high school where emotions run amok on the best of days, having tears represent the life-sustaining power required for this alternate life form seems more realistic than glistening fangs and dripping blood. Although this novel breaks from Jones's traditional genre, it reads well and will break open a whole new audience for his work.


Here's my TEASER TUESDAY #9.

Once again the idea is the original creation of SHOULD BE READING.

1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
4. You also need to share the title of the book that you're getting your "teaser" from. That way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
5. Please avoid spoilers!
6. Than add yours to the list at Should Be Reading.

by Jeff Rud
p. 2

"It fell into my left arm, and I slapped both hands over it. Interception!"

Monday, August 24, 2009


Head on over to YALSA and vote for your favorites of 2009.

Vote for three titles and register for the awesome contest, too!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

AFTER by Amy Efaw

The power of denial is examined in this moving story about teen pregnancy. It's not the typical story of young love followed by accidental pregnancy and early motherhood. Instead, AFTER takes readers into the mind of a teen who denies the pregnancy to the extent of hiding the birth and dumping the baby in the trash. According to author Amy Efaw, it is unfortunately an all too common reality and has been since recorded history.

Devon lives for soccer. She has been playing competitively since age eleven. Her position is goalkeeper, an excellent choice for a girl determined to keep her own life under strict control.

For as far back as she can remember, Devon has had to fend for herself. Her own mother gave birth to her at sixteen and never really grew up. There has been a parade of different men and countless dead-end jobs for Devon's mother, with a focus on filling each day with personal pleasure above all else.

Devon, having made an early promise to herself that she would not follow in her mother's footsteps, puts her focus on top-notch grades and error-free soccer performances. When she meets the amazing Connor and lets her guard down for one fateful night, she uses her rigid control to block the event from her mind.

AFTER attempts to explain how a young woman can deny a sexual encounter and the resulting pregnancy so completely that nine months later the birth of a baby can be a total and unexpected horror. Beginning after Devon's arrest and placement in a juvenile facility, the story unfolds as Devon and her lawyer prepare to face the charges of attempted murder. This emotionally charged novel is a must read that will make readers listen to similar stories on the news with a different understanding of the psychological circumstances that trigger such events.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Enter to win a copy of EVERYTHING IS FINE by Ann Dee Ellis.

I reviewed it here awhile ago and happen to have an extra copy, so take a second to read the review and enter by August 31.

+1 for sharing the title of the best book you read this summer.
+2 for becoming a follower.
+2 for already being a follower.

Be sure to include an email contact.

Winner will be chosen randomly.
Contest open to US and Canada entries only.

Good luck!

Friday, August 21, 2009

TROY HIGH by Shana Norris

What would happen if you took the story of the Trojan War and set it in a modern-day high school? TROY HIGH does just that as it pits the Trojans against the Spartans starring typical teens in the lead roles of the great old story.

Cassie is a student at Troy High. She keeps herself pretty much out of the action and observes as her two brothers play football and act as big men on campus. Her main interests are playing flute in the band and playing video games with her best friend Greg. They met two years ago when both their schools attended the same band camp.

There has always been a healthy rivalry between the Trojans at Troy High School and the Spartans from nearby Lacede. Things are different this year, however, because the geographical boundary line between the two school districts was changed causing a shift in attendance requirements. Some of the Lacede Spartans are now required to attend Troy High. This change has disrupted the students and school loyalty is being tested.

Elena, formerly a Spartan, is now attending Troy. She already was acquainted with Cassie since she dated Greg’s older brother. However, on her first day at her new high school, Elena discovers Cassie’s brother Perry. She immediately falls for him and decides to dump her Spartan boyfriend.

Cassie would like to steer clear of the romantic mess since she has some of her own to deal with, but Elena insists on turning their casual friendship into more of a best friend situation. At first Cassie thinks it is because Elena likes her older brother, but Elena constantly assures her that she is seriously interested in becoming BFFs.

TROY HIGH is not just about romantic interests. The school rivalry heats up and students from both sides begin playing more and more dangerous and destructive pranks. The administrators are not happy with the escalating level of these pranks and threaten to suspend the involved students. The football season is also affected by the rivalry. Players are out not just to win, but to disable their opponents in order to end with a winning record.

Author Shana Norris explains in her author’s note the amount of research necessary to make the famous Trojan War story come alive in this modern telling. She also lists the character parallels (Cassie/Cassandra, Greg/Agamemnon, Perry/Paris, Elena/Helen) just to name a few. Fans of mythology will appreciate the comparisons, but anyone familiar with traditional high school rivalries will find things to like about TROY HIGH.

Friday, August 14, 2009

KISS OF LIFE: A Generation Dead novel by Daniel Waters

“Wow,” Trent said. “It isn’t . . . easy . . . being young and undead . . . in America.”

The number of undead teens is increasing. At first it was considered a unique, localized event, but now it’s happening everywhere. Tommy Williams and his website and the Hunter Foundation are now known far and wide. The undead or “differently biotic” have been accepted by some but are still outcasts to others.

Phoebe’s life has changed. She still loves Tommy, but since Adam died saving her life, she has dedicated all her time and energy to helping him gain his full potential as an undead. His progress is slow and having Tommy acting petty and jealous doesn’t help the situation. At least she has the support of her friends (living and undead) at the Hunter Foundation standing behind her decision to help the two factions of their community adjust to the changing world.

Tommy’s efforts to help his fellow undead members of society adjust have him deciding to take his show on the road. With more and more differently biotic needing a support system, he realizes that many do have internet access to get help from his blog. His decision to travel to spread the word means he will need assistance from those he is leaving behind. Phoebe and her friends agree to manage the website and blog about things from their perspective.

Prejudice and intolerance of the undead teens is increasing making the job of protecting them even harder. Since the fire at the Haunted House, they are in more danger than ever. There are mysterious white vans traveling the countryside and groups of violent haters threatening everyone’s peace and safety. Law enforcement including the FBI are incarcerating differently biotics and not even attempting to recognizing any rights they might be due.
KISS OF DEATH continues the adventure begun in GENERATION DEAD. With all the vampire/zombie novels available to today, author Daniel Waters gives the genre a new twist. Combining the paranormal with the concept of prejudice against this new generation, provides a bit of depth to the usual zombie

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Here's my TEASER TUESDAY #8.

Once again the idea is the original creation of SHOULD BE READING.

1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
4. You also need to share the title of the book that you're getting your "teaser" from. That way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
5. Please avoid spoilers!
6. Than add yours to the list at Should Be Reading.

KISS OF LIFE: A Generation Dead novel
by Daniel Waters
p. 92

"Easy," he said, kissing the top of her head. "Aren't you worried that all of your zombie friends will see you hugging your uncool dad?"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

LIPSTICK APOLOGY by Jennifer Jabaley

All that Emily has left of her parents is a last minute message hastily written on an airplane lap tray in lipstick – “Emily Please Forgive Me.”

She barely had time to feel guilty about the party she had planned while her parents were gone on a quick trip to San Francisco when the news broadcast announced their plane had crashed. Three months later and Emily is arriving at her new home - her Aunt Jolie's beautifully designed New York City apartment.

Used to a nice quiet life in a small town compared to NYC, Emily has to adjust to city life and now a new private school where most students are from privileged families who will probably not look twice at her. Thanks to some advanced preparation, her welcome at the new school is warm and friendly. Unlike in her old high school, she is not on the fringes of the popular people, but instead she finds herself right in the middle of the cool crowd.

It's not long until Emily has found good friends in Lindsey and Anthony, and much to her surprise, highly popular Owen seems interested in her as girlfriend material. Time will tell whether he is sincere in his feelings toward her, or a "player" as her aunt's friend and fashion consultant Trent seems to say.

Readers will quickly come to sympathize with Emily's likeable and less-than- confident character. Plot lines like adjusting to the loss of both parents, life in a fast-paced new world, and attempting to understand her mother's strange apology help keep the action flowing in LIPSTICK APOLOGY. This is the first novel of author Jennifer Jabaley, but hopefully not her last.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

JUST ANOTHER HERO by Sharon Draper

JUST ANOTHER HERO is the final book in Sharon Draper's trilogy THE BATTLE OF JERICHO and NOVEMBER BLUES. It takes readers inside a Cincinnati high school to follow the lives of a group of students who are now seniors finishing their high school careers and heading on to whatever their futures may hold.

This group of friends has experienced a lot over the years. They have watched out for each other, fallen in love, and had disagreements that changed the course of their relationships. Now in their final year together, they are dealing with personal challenges, family issues, and the usual academic hassles of high school.
Arielle, having realized the error of her ways, is making her way back into her old circle of friends. November is returning to school after the premature birth of her daughter Sunshine. Kofi receives a letter of acceptance to MIT but now must worry about how to pay for the privilege of attending the prestigious school. Jericho and Olivia have a strong relationship and are the envy of everyone.

Running alongside the stories of this group of friends are some potentially explosive situations. Osrick continues to be the target for practical jokes and harassment. Crazy Jack creates chaos in the halls and classrooms and is no doubt the reason for all the fake fire drills disrupting the school day. Eddie has returned from juvenile detention, causing more unwanted tension. And everyone is completely frustrated by a rash of thefts plaguing students and teachers alike.

Author Sharon Draper is an expert at capturing the high school spirit and making her characters come alive. Her ability to create entertaining and believable high school scenarios makes her books popular with many teens.

Friday, August 7, 2009

BUG BOY by Eric Luper

BUG BOY takes readers deep into the world of horse racing. Eric Luper, author of BIG SLICK a book that highlights card playing, brings the behind-the-scenes images of horse racing alive.

Jack "Shabby" Walsh says he has loved horse racing since "his diaper hit the saddle." He is now sixteen and has been gone from home for years. His father first set him up with a character named Tweed. From Tweed, Jack learned the ins and outs of the horse racing circuit, but he also learned how evil a human being can get.

When the story starts, Jack has a pretty good thing going with Mr. Hodge and Mr. Pelton. He does everything from working the horses along with trainer Mr. Hodge to mucking out the stalls. The job pays enough to allow him to send money home to his family and to keep him alive. He still dreams of working as a real jockey some day.

Jack's luck changes with the bad luck of a jockey named Showboat. A fatal accident in the starting gate opens up a spot for a new rider. Jack is now officially a bug boy; in other words, a jockey in training. His luck holds when he is able to place in the first two races of his career. Things look fantastic for a quick rise to the top.

Amidst the training and racing activities, Jack connects with Elizabeth. She is horse racing's first female bookie. Even though she is from a world far different than Jack's and she towers over him, she wants him with her constantly and insists on showing him the town with his new-found wealth. Along with her attention, Jack finds himself in the sights of a creep named Jasper who wants to use Jack's inside connections to fix a race.

BUG BOY may start out focusing on a quiet stable boy, but the action ramps up quickly and doesn't slack off as the horses and characters race to the end. Readers who enjoyed BIG SLICK will be equally impressed with Luper's new book, and it is sure to win him many new fans as well.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I can't wait for this one!

by Robin Brande
Release date: October 13, 2009

Summary courtesy of Barnes & Noble:

"You are what you eat. . . .Cat smart, sassy, and funny—but thin, she’s not. Until her class science project. That’s when she winds up doing an experiment—on herself. Before she knows it, Cat is living—and eating—like the hominids, our earliest human ancestors. True, no chips or TV is a bummer and no car is a pain, but healthful eating and walking everywhere do have their benefits.

As the pounds drop off, the guys pile on. All this newfound male attention is enough to drive a girl crazy! If only she weren’t too busy hating Matt McKinney to notice. . . .This funny and thoughtful novel explores how girls feel about their bodies, and the ways they can best take care of their most precious resource: themselves."


ATTENTION: All you Cirque du Freak fans. Here's the trailer for the upcoming movie. It looks fantastic!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Here's my TEASER TUESDAY #7.

Once again the idea is the original creation of SHOULD BE READING.

1. Grab your current read.
2. Let the book fall open to a random page.
3. Share with us two "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
4. You also need to share the title of the book that you're getting your "teaser" from. That way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
5. Please avoid spoilers!
6. Than add yours to the list at Should Be Reading.

by Eric Luper
p. 110

"I want to tear off my gear and toss it in the dirt. I can barely stand on account of starving myself for two days, my left leg is on fire from getting whipped across the thigh, and now that bastard Pelton won't pay me the ten percent I've got coming to me because he's too busy sipping fancy champagne in the clubhouse with all the other fat cats."

NECROPOLIS: Book Four of The Gatekeepers by Anthony Horowitz

The first strange event in the life of Scarlett Adams was the day she was rescued from certain death when she innocently stepped into the path of a speeding white van. She would have liked to thank the Chinese man who bravely swooped her out of harm's way, but he disappeared into the crowd.

Scarlett always knew she was adopted. Born in China, she was brought to England by Paul Adams and his wife. Her life was one of excess and privilege, but it was spent mostly with a live-in housekeeper and at her exclusive private school. Both her adoptive parents were busy with important careers and when they announced they were divorcing, it was sad but not totally unexpected. Scarlett was content to continue attending her private school and living in the house with the housekeeper.

Another odd part of Scarlett's life was the dream she had on a fairly regular basis. Always set in a vast wasteland, it involved a familiar character named Matt. She always felt a strange connection with Matt and the feeling that they would one day meet.

Scarlett's world suddenly changes when she receives a message from her father requiring that she join him in Hong Kong. The message makes her suspicious the moment she reads it, and things become even more bizarre as she boards a plane for the other side of the world. She's met at the airport by people who tell her her father has been called away on important business, but they have been assigned to handle her care until he returns.

Readers of NECROPOLIS will immediately recognize that Scarlett is the fifth member of the Gatekeepers. Matt, Pedro, Scott, and Jamie are the other four talented teens whose duty is to save the world from destruction by The Old Ones. The five are the reincarnations of five who came before them and attempted to save the world in the past.

Anthony Horowitz uses his talent as an adventure writer to create the breath-taking world of monsters and shape-changers bent on the death and destruction of humankind. The Gatekeepers adventures will satisfy even the most hard-to-please readers with bloody battles, last minute getaways, massive insect swarms, and one double-cross after another. Readers will now have to anxiously await Book #5 to find out how the adventure is to continue.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Here are my answers to a few questions that might help new participants understand BOOK BLOGGER APPRECIATION WEEK.

1) What was the highlight (something that happened, a post, an activity, etc.) of BBAW for you last year?
As of last year I was a relatively new book blogger, so the experience got me in touch with other bloggers and helped give me the courage to continue.

2) What is one new blog you discovered during BBAW last year?
There were so many, but one that stands out was Mrs. Magoo Reads.

3) What tips would you share to help others get the most out of their BBAW experience?
When you discover a new blog, use their blog roll to travel around visiting other blogs. I'm constantly amazed at the dedicated bloggers out there, and also at the fact that many of them are young and completely committed to what they do.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

DUMB JOCK by Jeff Erno

Set in the 1980's, DUMB JOCK illustrates the struggle of two young teens coming to terms with their sexuality and their growing love. Although the book is not autobiographical, author Jeff Erno looked to his own personal struggle of coming out as gay in a small northern Michigan town.

Jeff and Brett are as different as night and day in appearance and interests. Jeff is a slightly built freshman with no athletic talent what so ever. His friends are other social outcasts, and he is often the target for mean remarks and cruel practical jokes. His mother loves and dotes on him while his father finds him odd and annoying.

Brett is a junior and the talented quarterback everyone hopes will take the team to a state championship. He runs with the popular crowd attending parties and getting voted homecoming king. He is the last person people would think of being gay.

When Coach McDonald, gym teacher/football coach, uses the threat of failing freshman gym class as motivation for forcing Jeff to tutor Brett in English, no one would have guessed the final outcome. It doesn't take long for the two teens to become comfortable with each other and begin an emotional and sexual relationship. They aren't afraid to express their feelings to one another, but revealing their relationship in public in the tiny Michigan community would surely ruin their lives.

Jeff Erno tells the story of their young love with honesty and directness. He reveals their heart-stopping passion as well as the agony of fear and jealousy that threaten to break them apart. Times have changed some since the 80's, but small towns still breed the misunderstanding and prejudice evident in Erno's story. DUMB JOCK is a bold example of one author's attempt to create a novel to help teens accept their own sexuality or better understand that of those around them. It is a worthy addition to any high school collection.