Sunday, November 30, 2014


The Bridge From Me to YouLisa Schroeder's new novel combines prose and verse in a touching story about friendship, love, and believing in yourself.

Lauren has moved in with her uncle and aunt and their three young children.  Lauren is still reeling from the fact that when things got tough with her mother, the woman who gave birth to her sent her away.  Now she is starting her senior year at a new school with no friends and not knowing if she will ever see her little brother again.

Colby's mother died years ago so he has been used to living with his dad.  Recently, his grandparents moved in, partly to make things easier for Grandpa who has MS, but also because Gram wants to lend a hand in taking care of Colby and his dad.  Right now football is consuming Colby's free time.  The team is hoping to make the state playoffs this year, and Colby's talent has attracted a number of college scouts.  His dad is excited about helping his son select the best scholarship offer, but Colby has other ideas.  Unfortunately, breaking the news about not wanting to play football in college is not going to be the news his dad wants to hear.

When Colby stops in at the town's bookstore to pick up a book he ordered, Lauren's uncle, the store's owner, asks Colby a favor.  Since Lauren is new in town, he is hoping Colby will introduce her around and help her make friends. 

A quick stop at the nearby convenience store results in a chance meeting between Colby and Lauren.  He is immediately captivated by the pretty girl and her quick humor. 

As the story unfolds, Lauren and Colby both face problems that threaten to derail their growing friendship.  Readers will cheer them on as they face these challenges and attempt to beat the odds to maintain a successful relationship. 

Author Lisa Schroeder's fans will be pleased by this latest offering, and it is a great way to introduce her to potential new fans.  I can't wait to get it in the hands of the teen readers I know.

Friday, November 28, 2014

DONUT DAYS by Lara Zielin

Donut DaysWhat do you get when you combine Crispy Dream donuts, the Living Word Redeemer church, and a Harley motorcycle gang?  You get a fast-paced story about a cheeky teen named Emma who is on a soul-searching mission to find where she fits in her family, her church, and her community.

Both of Emma's parents are pastors at the Living Word Redeemer church, and for as long as she can remember, she just hasn't fit in.  When everyone else is having visions and speaking in tongues, she is sitting on the sidelines wondering when God is going to speak to her. 

When the science teacher presents the unit on evolution, Emma doesn't jump up to protest like several of her classmates from the church.  Instead, she wants to listen and learn and compare the facts to what she hears her parents preach.  She also wants to warn her best friend Nat about the guy she wants to date, even though Nat tells her she needs to mind her own business. 

Emma knows there is a controversy brewing in the church, but her parents don't seem willing to share the details.  Since they are busy with church business, Emma decides to use her time trying to win a scholarship offered by a new local business.  Crispy Dream Donuts is opening a new store in the area, and in addition to other amazing prizes, they are offering a college scholarship to the young journalist who writes the best article for the local newspaper.  Emma sees the opportunity as a way to earn acceptance to the college of her choice rather than the Christian college her parents have said they want her to attend.

Torn between her parents troubles and her desire to win the scholarship, Emma camps out at the donut camp in the days before the grand opening.  Her experience not only broadens her view of what faith means to some people, but also helps her develop a deeper understanding of just what might be her future path in life.  From crooked businessmen to born again bikers, Emma observes a cross-section of humanity that renews her faith and brings her closer to her family than ever before.

Author Lara Zielin's character Emma is sure to capture the hearts of readers.  Zielin's novel speaks to the questions we all have about right and wrong and our place in the universe.  DONUT DAYS provides an entertaining story with a positive message for readers.

IN A HANDFUL OF DUST by Mindy McGinnis

In a Handful of DustIN A HANDFUL OF DUST is the sequel to NOT A DROP TO DRINK by Mindy McGinnis.  This second novel returns to Ohio and reunites with Lynn, Lucy, Vera, and Stebbs.  They are dealing with a new threat to their fragile existence - an outbreak of polio.

Vera and Stebbs are the lucky ones having been immunized against polio when they were young.  The generations since the Shortage were not as lucky.  With more people living in the area of Lynn's pond, the disease has claimed many, including Lucy's best friend.  Vera is working hard to determine the source of the outbreak, hoping to save the lives of those still remaining.

Lucy has learned much from Lynn since the loss of her mother and Eli.  She now considers Lynn her mother, but they often don't see eye-to-eye on what's best.  Lucy has also met Carson.  A love interest is quickly blossoming and both are planning a future together.  Unfortunately, Vera's discovery is about to ruin everything.  She believes that Carson is the carrier of the polio virus.  It might even be possible that Lucy is a carrier.

When Lucy learns the bad news, she is devastated and decides to accept Lynn's invitation to leave the safety of their pond and head to California and a settlement rumored to be the only place where things resemble the world before the Shortage.  Together they head off on a perilous journey hoping to find safe water along the way and avoid the other dangers sure to cross their paths.

Author Mindy McGinnis presents a completely new set of challenges for her characters that are sure to fascinate fans of NOT A DROP TO DRINK.  What could Lynn and Lucy possibly encounter as they attempt to cross the country from Ohio to California?  Get your hands on a copy of IN A HANDFUL OF DUST and find out.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

RANDOM by Tom Leveen

RandomTori is known as one of the Canyon Seven, a group of teens whose malicious online comments may have caused the death of one of their classmates.  It is the night before her trial begins, and she is busy hating everything about her life.  She hates her parents who removed the computer from her room and took away her iPhone, leaving her with a crappy, old flip phone.  She hates her brother who stopped talking to her when she was arrested.  She hates the reporters who keep pounding on the door wanting her to make a statement.

When the piece of crap phone she's being forced to rely on rings, Tori assumes it is someone calling to harass her about the trial.  Great, a crank call, just when all she wants to do is sleep until this whole thing is over.

Tori doesn't recognize the voice at the other end of the line.  When the male voice identifies itself as someone named Andy, Tori still doesn't have a clue who he is.  It turns out this Andy fellow has punched in her number at random.  At least that's what he tells her.  He then tells her he is planning to commit suicide.  He describes how he is in his car parked at the top of a mountain road, and unless she can convince him that life is worth living, he plans to drive his car off the cliff.

Can Tori convince Andy not to end his life?  Will talking to him help her make sense of the mess she is in and the potentially life-changing trial she faces in a few short hours? 

Author Tom Leveen presents a powerful story with a plot so real, readers will be gripped from the very first page.  With all the attention on bullying and the connection to social media, RANDOM strikes just the right tone and its message will resonate with teens.  RANDOM is a must read for teens and anyone with the power to influence young people.

Friday, November 7, 2014



Click here to check out a great new book review blog!

One of my 9th grade English students is quite a reader, and she was inspired to begin blogging about some of her favorite books.  She is doing an incredible job!  Please take a minute to stop by and give her a comment or two.


Read Between the LinesI'm so honored to be part of the READ BETWEEN THE LINES ARC Tour!  Thanks, Jo Knowles, for trusting me with your fabulous book.

Knowles' previous books JUMPING OFF SWINGS and LIVING WITH JACKIE CHAN have been very popular in my classroom so I'm thrilled to be able to let my students know she will have a new book coming out in March of 2015.

READ BETWEEN THE LINES is filled with an intriguing group of characters.  Their lives are artfully woven together, and their stories will draw readers into and through the book.  Each chapter allows the reader step into the life of a featured character.  The sense that their experiences and lives will be connected is present from the start.  The simple, yet crude gesture of an extended middle finger becomes a symbol that helps connect these small town personalities.

As the stories evolve, readers meet the cheerleader, the popular athlete, the closeted gay teen, the misunderstood teacher, the father and son, just to name a few.  Judgments are made, lines are crossed, hearts are broken, and tempers flair.  One thing that becomes crystal clear is that no one can know what lives in the mind of one's fellow man.  No matter how hard we try or how much we imagine, the hidden thoughts of others remain a private, hidden world.  Knowles deftly intertwines the lives of her characters and makes us care about them, making READ BETWEEN THE LINES a fascinating read.

Over the next several months this book will be in the hands of very capable reviewers.  Watch for their wise words on blogs, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and more; then look for your own copy of READ BETWEEN THE LINES at your favorite bookstore in March 2015.

Monday, November 3, 2014


The Boy in the Black SuitI was soooo excited to win an ARC of THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT when I attended the ConTroll YA author conference in Adrian, Michigan.  I didn't even know Jason Reynolds had a new book due for release in January until I saw it lying there on the giveaway table.  My students and I really enjoyed WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST so when my ticket was drawn, I knew just what I wanted.

Matt is starting his senior year a bit late.  The delay is because his mother just died.  He and his father are trying to get used to her absence, but it won't be easy.  She was the glue that held the family together.  Matt misses her steady presence and the fun times they had when she was teaching him to cook.  His father, a recovering alcoholic, needs her inspiration to stay sober. 

When Matt is offered a job at a neighbor's funeral home, he tentatively accepts the offer not sure of what to expect.  Will he have to touch and dead bodies?  Exactly what does working in a funeral home entail?

Soon Matt is wearing a black suit while he sets up chairs, organizes after-funeral dinners, and even acts as a pallbearer on occasion.  Oddly enough, what he enjoys the most is sitting in on the funerals and watching the mourners.  Seeing them grieve helps him deal with his own sadness. 

An accident that critically injures his father and an attractive girl named Love add additional complications for Matt to handle.  Readers will be drawn to Matt's likeable nature immediately and marvel at his ability to carry on as he deals with his grief.  His determination to move on but not forget the woman who influenced him is admirable.

If you haven't discovered author Jason Reynolds yet, be sure to check out THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT as well as his earlier book, WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST.