Monday, October 26, 2015


In Search of Mockingbird
Erin's mother died before Erin was old enough to know her.  Everyone is thrilled that her father is finally about to remarry, but the idea is making Erin feel uncomfortable.  She always wished her father shared more information about her mother so Erin can hardly believe it when his birthday gift to her is her mother's diary.

One of the first entries mentions her mother's favorite book, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.  Erin can barely contain her excitement.  Harper Lee's famous novel is also her all-time favorite.  She has read it countless times, so to learn that she shared this love with her mother is amazing.

Upset about the upcoming wedding, Erin makes a snap decision.  She packs a bag, uses the birthday money her grandmother sent to buy a bus ticket, and begins a journey from Minnesota to Alabama.  With TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD clutched in her hands, she boards a Greyhound bus determined to met her favorite author in person.  After all, her mother wrote in her diary about sending a letter to Harper Lee asking what it takes to become an author.  Erin would like to get an answer to that question as well.

She knows her father will probably ground her until the end of high school, but some things are more important than potential punishments.  The journey gives Erin time to read the diary and begin to understand the mother she never knew.  She also meets Sedushia, an aging exotic dancer, and Epp who becomes her protector on the journey.  Both help Erin gain the confidence she needs to complete the trip and accomplish the goal of getting to know exactly who her mother was and what she may have passed on to Erin.

Fans of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD will fall in love with Erin's story immediately.  Author Loretta Ellsworth voices the hopes and dreams of aspiring authors and anyone searching for the meaning behind love and loss.  Hand this one to any reader in love with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and they won't be able to thank you enough.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

DUMPLIN' by Julie Murphy

The Miss Teen Blue Bonnet beauty contest has been a part of Clover City, Texas, and the life of Willowdean Dickson for as long as most people can remember.  Being the daughter of a former Miss Teen Blue Bonnet winner/contest organizer, Willowdean is surrounded by frantic contest preparation once every year, but you can bet your last dollar, Willowdean herself stays as far removed as possible.

Generally, a confident, independent teen, Willowdean has one insecurity - her weight.  Her great best friend, Ellen, and her job as cashier at Harpy's burger joint keep Willowdean busy. 

She does miss her Aunt Lucy who died nearly a year ago.  Lucy lived with Willowdean and her mom.  Lucy and Willowdean's mother were huge Dolly Parton fans.  Dolly's music played nonstop in their home, and Lucy's room was crammed with Dolly merchandise collected through the years.  Willowdean counted on Lucy as a buffer when it came to dealing with her pageant obsessed mother. 

When a handsome, new employee begins working at Harpy's, Willowdean's world is turned upsidedown.  Bo seems inexplicably interested in Willowdean.  How could he be attracted to a fat girl in an unattractive, polyester fast food uniform?  The kiss they share behind the restaurant dumpster has Willowdean reeling, and the craziness continues when she decides to enter her mother's beauty contest.  What was she thinking?

Author of SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY, Julie Murphy, takes readers on another interesting journey.  Her main character, Willowdean, is a refreshingly smart, courageous heroine sure to connect with girls dreaming of relationships and adventures they aren't sure they deserve.  Willowdean proves that everyone deserves the best and can find exactly that if they stay true to themselves.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

TRAFFICK by Ellen Hopkins


TRAFFICK by Ellen Hopkins is a sequel to her intensely powerful TRICKS.  In TRAFFICK Hopkins provides a follow-up for five teens trapped in the tragic practice of human trafficking.

The victim of a gunshot wound, Cody is in the hospital learning that he may never walk again.  Diagnosed with a SCI (spinal cord injury), Cody must find a reason to fight his way back to some sort of normal life.  His gambling debts sent him in a downward spiral into the sex trade.  He knows he can't return to that life, but facing life in a wheelchair threatens to destroy any hope that remains for his future.

Eden wants a life with her true love Andrew.  Hoping to leave Vegas behind and return to her home in Boise, she just may have found a way to avoid her overly religious, controlling parents.  With help and guidance from a counselor at the rescue center, she files legal papers that will grant her emancipation so she and Andrew can work together to create a future.

After his father's rejection, Seth used his body to survive.  As a gay teen, Seth found everything but love as he tried to eek out a meager existence providing sexual favors beyond anything he could imagine.  Through it all, he wished for a way to reunite with his father and earn the man's respect.  Is it possible for him to return to the farm to live the life he misses so much?

Whitney had everything until she became a slave to heroine.  Drugs took her away from her privileged life and into the horrors of the drug and sex scene of Vegas.  In rehab she tries to overcome the power of the Lady, but her mind may not let her escape the pull of drugs and alcohol. 

Ginger lost Iris to AIDS.  No one ever cared for Ginger more than Iris unless it would be Gram.  Gram always wanted to give Ginger love and provide as much as possible.  It takes hitting rock bottom to remind Ginger how much she lost by running.  Might it be possible for Gram to forgive her and take her back?

Where TRICKS describes the dark and gritty life of the sex trade and the teens it destroys, TRAFFICK provides a glimmer of hope if only the teens can find a helping hand to pull them out of the depths of sex, drugs, and abuse.  Each teen struggles to find the determination and will to overcome great odds to regain control and start fresh.  In her typical fashion, Hopkins doesn't wrap up each story in a neat and tidy package, but instead shares the next step for each teen and allows her readers to relate to and learn from the struggles of others.

Review copy courtesy of Amy Del Rosso blog tour.
Release date: 11/3/15

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

INTO THE KILLING SEAS by Michael P. Spradlin

Into the Killing Seas

I'd like to thank author Michael P. Spradlin for kindly providing this ARC for reading and review.

Two young boys are in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Living in the Pacific during the height of WWII, they are being sent to a safe location until they can rejoin their parents and return to the U.S.  Their travel plans are destroyed when Pearl Harbor is attacked, and the two end up as stowaways on the infamous USS Indianapolis. 

Helped by Benny, affectionately known as Benjamin Franklin Poindexter, Private First Class, United States Marine Corps, Patrick and Teddy are loaded into a crate labelled "ammunition."  Their accommodations come complete with food, water, and a few other creature comforts.  Benny promises to let them know when the coast is clear so they can leave the crate and stretch their legs as the huge ship makes its way across the ocean.

Unfortunately, all Benny's well made plans crumble when the ship is struck by Japanese torpedoes.  As history books reveal, the warship is sliced nearby in half and sinks in minutes.  The two boys and their friend Benny are among the few survivors and soon find themselves in the ocean clinging to a wooden pallet.  Surrounded by crazed sailors, dead bodies, and circling sharks, Patrick is forced to protect his younger brother as he struggles to follow the directions of the severely injured Benny.

Author Michael P. Spradlin captures a moment in history is this action-packed, gritty story of survival.  The images he describes are frightening and vivid and sure to captivate not only history buffs, but also readers in search of a breath-taking adventure.  INTO THE KILLING SEAS is perfect for middle grade libraries and classrooms. 


The Truth Commission
I have been a fan of Susan Juby since reading ALICE, I THINK.  Her humor and uncanny ability to weave a story with quirky characters sharing the ups and downs of their lives hooked me immediately.  For me THE TRUTH COMMISSION carries on the Juby tradition perfectly.

Normandy, Dusk, and Neil are friends and classmates at the Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design.  They are dedicated to the exploration of their artistic talents and recently, also dedicated to the search for truth.

The three teens have decided to delve into the lives of their fellow students in search of the truth as it relates to each individual.  They are not seeking to expose secrets and generate gossip.  No, they simply want to question others and persuade them to face the real nature of what lies deep within.

Dusk and Neil jump right into the project, and the group finds the successes quite interesting.  When questioned, some individuals give up the truth easily, while others hold back with promises to reveal the cold hard facts when the time is right. 

Normandy "Norm" who gives voice to the trio's story, finds herself facing a truth that might be more of a challenge than she bargained for.  Her older sister Keira is a talented artist in her own right.  She is famous in the art scene for her comic series featuring her own family. 

Recently returned from a prestigious art school, Keira has been acting mysteriously.  She disappears for days at a time, and when she comes home, she spends every minute shut up in the closet she and Normandy share.  The closet has long been the studio where her artistic creations come into being.  Normandy is sure something with Keira is amiss, and when the older sister begins to share the details of a questionable relationship with one of her professors, Normandy is frightened.  Should she press Keira for more details?  Should she involve their parents or some other adult? 

Normandy is quickly discovering that the truth may be uncomfortable and even a bit difficult to control.  Conflicted by pressure from her friends and the love she feels for her sister, Normandy has some big decisions to make.

Author Susan Juby is sure to gain new fans with THE TRUTH COMMISSION.  Clever, witty, and completely truthful, it takes readers on a unique adventure with three spirited friends.