Thursday, May 30, 2013

THOUSAND WORDS by Jennifer Brown

THOUSAND WORDS by Jennifer Brown should be made available to every teen!  Misuse of cell phones for sexting and bullying is an ever-growing problem.  What begins as a joke or something intended as a personal message for one individual can easily mushroom into an out-of-control situation that ends in ruined reputations and more.

Ashleigh has just finished her sophomore year and is hoping to spend a great summer with her boyfriend Kaleb who will be headed off to college in the fall.  While at a party, Ashleigh hears a suggestion from a friend that she should text Kaleb a sexy picture so he can be reminded of her when he is away at college.  Having had just enough alcohol to compromise her inhibitions, Ashleigh locks herself in the bathroom, removes her bikini, and takes a nude photo of herself, then hits send on her phone.

Unfortunately, Ashleigh's relationship with Kaleb deteriorates once he hits the college campus, and after a few unpleasant long distance arguments, Kaleb breaks up with her.  Bad feelings escalate and Kaleb is responsible for spreading Ashleigh's image via texts and emails.  The resulting chaos not only ruins Ashleigh's reputation, but also threatens her relationship with her parents and even her father's job.

Once again Jennifer Brown handles an extremely sensitive subject in the perfect way.  Her message is hard-hitting and will speak to any teen who picks up THOUSAND WORDS.  Ashleigh learns a difficult lesson and suffers realistic consequences that deliver an important message about an ever-increasing problem with modern technology.

Monday, May 27, 2013

LIFE AFTER THEFT by Aprilynne Pike

Moving to Santa Monica is the last thing Jeff wanted to do.  A new school and new friends are not easy to deal with, and Jeff finds them especially challenging.  When the first person he meets is has been dead for more than a year, he isn't sure he is up for the challenge.

Kimberlee died in a drowning accident.  Her life was filled with privilege most can only dream about, but despite her easy life, she made choices that didn't exactly make her popular among her classmates at a private school called Whitestone. 

Jeff meets Kimberlee on his first day at Whitestone.  Totally unsure of himself in this private school, wearing an uncomfortable uniform for the first time in his life, it takes Jeff some time to realize that the hot-looking girl who begins talking to him is actually a ghost.  She finally convinces him he is the only one who can see and hear her.  She then explains that she needs his help.

Kimberlee reveals that for years before her untimely death, she had been stealing.  She stole anything and everything from friends and from stores simply for the challenge and the thrill she felt afterward.  Now Kimberlee finds herself unable to pass on to wherever it is she is supposed to go after her death, and she believes if Jeff could help her return the stolen items, she might be able to rest in peace.

When Jeff reluctantly agrees to help her, he doesn't realize what he is in for.  A visit to an ocean side cave reveals stacks of boxes filled with the hundreds of items Kimberlee has stolen.  What follows is a crazy adventure involving anonymously returning stolen merchandise without getting caught.  Will Jeff manage to help Kimberlee without getting into trouble himself?  Will she learn her lesson and find peace in the afterlife?

Author Aprilynne Pike has concocted a unique, action-packed ghost story unlike any most readers have experienced.  Filled with typical self-involved high school students, a tough principal, annoying teachers, and one bitchy ghost, LIFE AFTER THEFT is a fun read guaranteed to provide entertainment around the pool this summer.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

IF YOU FIND ME by Emily Murdoch

Excellent book!  Ok, that said, here's a summary. 

Carey and her little sister Jenessa captured my heart by the end of the first chapter.  Raised by their bipolar mother in the deep woods of Tennessee, the sisters have learned to fend for themselves even when their mother disappeared for weeks at a time in search of her meth suppliers.

Carey vaguely remembers being told that running off to live in a hidden camper in the woods was the only way to protect them from an their abusive father, but something doesn't add up.  When the man claiming to be their father arrives at their hidden camp to take the girls back with him, Carey fears the worst, but since their mother has been gone for the longest time ever, she knows their survival may depend on this man.

Even though life away from the woods terrifies Carey, she knows it is better for Jenessa.  Their father's new wife seems to love Jenessa and provides both of them with everything they need.  Despite her fears, Carey begins to get comfortable, however, along with comfort comes an increasing nervousness as she thinks about the secrets she still has not revealed about their life in the woods. 

IF YOU FIND ME is at once heartbreaking and inspiring as author Emily Murdoch reveals the tragic life of Carey and Jenessa and their rescue by a loving father.  This one was hard to put down, and the story will haunt readers long after the last page.

Monday, May 13, 2013

PANIC by Sharon M. Draper

Don't talk to strangers!  Everyone knows the rule.  When a stranger talks to Diamond and tells her he can introduce her to movie stars and even get her a movie audition, all common sense leaves her mind.  She follows him out of the mall and into a nightmare.

It was an innocent trip to the mall to buy new tights before their performance, but Mercedes can't forgive herself for letting Diamond go off to the food court alone.  If she hadn't stayed back in the dance store to try on the red leotard, Diamond wouldn't be missing.

Everyone is frantic.  Diamond has disappeared from the mall without a trace.  Her friends and family can't get in touch with her because the battery in her phone is dead.  No one has a clue where she could be. 

When Diamond wakes up tied to a bed surrounded by video cameras, she can't believe what's happening.  Drugged and forced to do unspeakable things, she begs to be allowed to return home.

PANIC by Sharon M. Draper is a story ripped from tragic headlines about the abduction of a teen and the resulting community chaos.  A must-read for teenage girls who might be tempted by a stranger's promises despite the most dire warnings from parents and other authority figures.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

THE WAY WE FALL by Megan Crewe

Kaelyn had vowed to make this year in high school different.  She promised herself she would make more friends and get involved, but she never had the chance.  Little did she know that her world was about to become a very scary place.

Living on an island means isolation, but when people began getting sick, Kaelyn's island world becomes isolated from the mainland in an effort to contain what might turn out to be an epidemic.  It starts with an uncontrollable itching sensation and is followed by sneezing and coughing.  Within a few days those who suffer from the illness experience bouts of craziness and uncontrollable rage quickly followed by death.

Kaelyn's father is spending most of his time at the hospital trying to isolate the cause and create a vaccine in hopes of stopping the spread of the disease.  Kaelyn is left at home to care for her young niece whose father was one of the early victims.  When Kaelyn's own mother becomes sick, it is clear that they all may be at risk.

THE WAY WE FALL is the first book in the Fallen World trilogy by Megan Crewe.  The close knit island community hit by an unexplained virus struggles to survive as help from the mainland dries up.  Once a group of residents who worked together and pitched in to help, the people are now only concerned with avoiding the virus and saving themselves.

Friday, May 3, 2013

SKY ON FIRE by Emmy Laybourne

Only twelve days have passed since the apocalyptic hailstorm and earthquake that devastated Monument, Colorado.  While other parts of the country were experiencing their own horrific events, Monument and the surrounding area was hit by not only what mother nature handed out, but also by a man-made disaster when a crippling warfare compound was leaked from the nearby NORAD facility.

Fourteen children were stranded in a Greenway superstore in Monument and forced to survive on their own.  Now after holding things together for just short of two weeks, the group has decided to split up.  Their faithful leader Niko is taking part of the group and heading for Denver International Airport in hopes of finding family members and arriving in time to participate in the evacuation program.  Dean, who has bravely written an account of their adventure so far, decides it is best to remain behind with Astrid, Chloe, and the McKinley twins.  Since Dean, Astrid, and Chloe have blood type O which causes them to react violently if exposed to the compound, they hope by staying behind, the rest of the group will have a better chance of reaching the evacuation site safely.

SKY ON FIRE is the second book in the MONUMENT 14 series by Emmy Laybourne.  With the fourteen kids separating into two groups, the story continues in alternating chapters narrated by Dean and his brother Alex.  Dean continues to relate the adventures at the Greenway store including someone's attempt to break into the store and the arrival of a group of thugs who threaten to take over and endanger the small group of survivors. 

Alex relates the events that unfold as the rest of the group boards the ravaged school bus and heads toward the airport.  They must face the frightening, deserted landscape, the dangerous effects of the compounds, and a few other refugees out to get their hands on anything of value to prolong their own lives.  A journey that in ordinary circumstances would take barely over an hour becomes the longest, most dangerous trip of their lives. 

SKY ON FIRE is an all-too-real tale of determination and survival.  Fans of Laybourne's first novel MONUMENT 14 will be thrilled to rejoin the kids to learn what happens next.  Book #2 is due for release this month, and I know this reader will then be anxiously awaiting the release of the final book in the trilogy.