Friday, June 28, 2013

CLAWS by Will Weaver

Jed is living the good life - nice house, loving parents, two sisters off at college.  He is doing well on the tennis team, has a great girl friend, and is getting decent grades.  Everything is fantastic until a girl with pink hair presents him with information that causes his perfect world to crumble.

According to this girl who identifies herself as Gertrude, her mother and Jed's father are having an affair.  Gertrude insists that Jed must approach his father about the issue and make him end the relationship. 

Jed can barely digest the information much less confront his father, but he begins to notice things about his parents' interactions that might hint that all is not well in their marriage.  With increasing threats from Gertrude, Jed arranges to have some time alone with his father and the truth is revealed.  That's when all hell breaks loose.

Knowledge of his father's affair and the potential destruction of his parents' marriage, Jed's school performance suffers, his temper flairs, his own relationships fall apart, and the only person he can turn to is the girl with pink hair.  He learns she doesn't really have pink hair and her name is Laura and she is just as terrified about the future as he is. 

A quote by Anton Chekhov on the cover reads "Life will sooner or later show its claws."  Readers will experience the truth of this statement as Jed and Laura attempt to hold their lives together.  Author Will Weaver presents a story that may not end with rainbows and roses, but will certainly leave readers with much to think about after they turn the last page.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

FULL IMPACT by Suzanne Weyn

Norval is one of several Southside High football players hoping to attract the attention of the college scouts.  If the scouts are interested, the scholarships that follow will guarantee college educations that would otherwise be almost impossible for the teens and their families to finance. 

When Norval's friend and fellow player Arnie begins acting weird both on the field and off, he finds himself in an awkward position.  Coach wants Norval to "spy" on Arnie and report any suspect behavior.  The constant headaches and missed plays have Coach worried that Arnie is suffering the side effects of a concussion.  But Norval doesn't believe it is his responsibility to rat out his friend.

As Arnie's symptoms and behavior worsen, Norval struggles with his concern about his friend and interfering with Arnie's dream of not only a college scholarship, but also the chance at a pro-football career. 

In this fast-paced read, author Suzanne Weyn explores the growing medical concerns about head injuries and the long-term consequences for young football players.  Teen readers will be entertained and also educated if they choose to read FULL IMPACT.

THE UNQUIET by Jeannine Garsee

Rinn has been diagnosis with bi-polar disorder.  This diagnosis followed a pattern of destructive behavior involving legal troubles, dangerous sexual encounters, and bad relationships as well as a suicide attempt.  When Rinn's behavior led to the accidental death of her grandmother, it ultimately destroyed the loving relationship she had with her step-father, and resulted in Rinn and her mother relocating from California to Cleveland, Ohio.

After a brief hospitalization and now on the proper medication, Rinn hopes to make the best of her new situation.  If she can fit in at her mother's small town alma mater and prove that she can make new friends, maybe there's a chance that her step-father will recognize that Rinn is serious about making amends and she and her mother can return to life in on the West Coast.  Rinn is excited when she meets Nate, their landlord's attractive young son, and with the exception of a girl named Lacy, everyone seems to welcome her to town.  All signs indicate that Rinn's life is beginning to head in the right direction.

It doesn't take long for small town ghost stories to surface.  It seems that Rinn's new bedroom was where the previous owner took her own life.  This suicide was connected to the drowning death of a teenager in the now closed high school swimming pool.  Rinn is reminded of these tragic deaths every day as she travels through a mysterious tunnel connecting the school's auditorium and gymnasium.  The off-limits swimming pool is a temptation most of the students can't seem to resist, and when more mysterious "accidents" occur, Rinn is determined to figure out what is going on.

THE UNQUIET by Jeannine Garsee is a riveting ghost story perfect for summer beach reading.  A very active ghost combined with endless plot twists and turns make it difficult to put this one down. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Christopher Healy is a fun read for all the fairy tale fans out there.  It is full of spoofs and chuckles about some of the most well-known fairy tale characters.

Healy creates an adventure combining characters like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty along with the Prince Charming characters who rescue them.  Readers get an inside look into the real personalities and quirky behaviors of these beloved individuals. 

If you enjoy it, you'll want to look for the sequel - THE HERO'S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

Oh boy, I'm a little worried.  It is only the middle of June and I fear that I've read the best book of the summer.  ELEANOR & PARK is one of those amazing books that you don't want to put down, but you also don't want to finish.  If you haven't check it out yet, please do!

Author Rainbow Rowell has masterfully captured the unique relationship between two misfits who never thought they would be destined for love.  Eleanor's life has dealt her one blow after another.  She simply doesn't expect anything but disappointment.  She has successfully built a barrier to protect herself from the taunts and teasing she faces on a daily basis.

Park has friends, but he would rather use his music and his comics to block out the crass, immature behavior that surrounds him.  His parents love him but don't always understand him.  When he suddenly finds himself sharing a bus seat with Eleanor, he tries to focus on his own little corner of the world, but he is drawn to her flaming red hair and her seeming indifference to the cruelty aimed in her direction.

Gradually, after sharing a bus seat every morning and afternoon, Park and Eleanor begin to communicate.  It begins as Park realizes she is reading his ever-present comic books as he turns the pages.  Music comes next when he mentions his favorites and begins to pass her a tape or two.  Eleanor can't believe he is so friendly, and when his actions suggest he may even think of her as more than just a friend, her world begins to blossom in a way she never would have imagined and isn't sure she can trust.

These two castoff characters captured my heart and pulled me into their relationship immediately.  I was fascinated but also felt a bit like I was trespassing on something private.  The relationship Rowell creates between the two is so tender and tentative, I found myself holding my breath and feeling the need to read carefully so as not to disturb or disrupt their personal space.  At least for now, it is the best book I've read this summer.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

Thank you to author Amy Fellner Dominy for kindly sending me a copy of OyMG.  Girls looking for a fun summer read should head to the bookstore or library in search of a copy ASAP.

Ellie Taylor has a chance to make her dream come true.  She has snagged a coveted spot at the CSSPA summer camp.  CSSPA stands for Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts.  Ellie's dream is to attend the camp and win the top spot in the oratory portion of the final tournament where the prize is a full-paid scholarship to Benedict's, the top speech high school in the country.

Although her family is supportive of her oratory dreams, they can't afford the pricey tuition required to attend the prestigious high school.  Ellie isn't really worried though because she is confident that she has the speaking talent to win the tournament, and on the first day of camp, she discovers an added bonus, Devon Yeats. 

Devon is the grandson of the scholarship sponsor, the wealthy Doris Yeats.   As soon as Ellie gazes into his piercing blue eyes, she experiences what her friend calls the "sizzle."  Not only is Devon the grandson of the person awarding the scholarship Ellie wants so badly, but he is also proving to be her biggest competition.

An unexpected complication arises when Ellie is asked to fill out paperwork required for the scholarship.  The form has a blank asking for her religious affiliation.  She knows that Benedict's is a Christian school, but she can't believe the fact that she is Jewish could be a problem.  When Devon explains that his grandmother hates Jews, Ellie realizes she must decide between her dream and family pride.

OyMG is a fast, fun read.  Readers will fall in love with Ellie and root for her success.  They will also appreciate the tough decisions she must make and the potential sacrifices those decisions require.  Thanks again to Amy Fellner Dominy for providing a copy for me to review and share with other readers.     

Sunday, June 9, 2013

WHAT WE LOST by Sara Zarr

Somehow I missed this Sara Zarr book, but happily that has been corrected. 

Living in Pineview doesn't offer much excitement, but when tragedy strikes Samara "Sam" Taylor wishes her town was back to its boring, old self.  Sam is struggling with family issues when Jody disappears.  The town focus is on finding the missing teen.  Sam joins in the search, but her own problems intensify causing her to worry that she will appear self-absorbed.

As the daughter of the local minister, Sam must be a glowing example of the perfect teen.  Over the years, her mother has succumbed to the pressures of being a pastor's wife and taken to drinking.  An accident and DUI conviction has her locked away in rehab, and with the town in chaos, Sam wishes more than anything that her mother was home.

Torn between her fear for the missing teen and her frustration and worry about her parents' crumbling relationship, Sam is looking for help in all the wrong places.  When she should be sticking close to home to prevent her busy father from worrying, she takes to disappearing which causes even more strain on fragile friendships and her relationship with her father.  How can she remain true to herself and her beliefs when even a minister seems to be compromising his faith every day?

WHAT WE LOST by Sara Zarr delves into family relationships and a young girl questioning her faith in God.  Readers will keep turning pages as they join in Sam's search for answers and the search for a missing girl.