Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I'm pleased to announce the winner of my very first contest.

*** Eli ***

Congratulations! Your Borders gift card will be in the mail as soon as you let me know where to send it.

I asked everyone to comment on the best book they'd read so far this summer. Eli's favorite was THE HUNGER GAMES.

Also, a great big thanks to everyone who entered my contest, included great book suggestions, and became followers. Keep watching for future contests.


Here's my TEASER TUESDAY #2. 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 L.K. Madigan
(Release date October 2009)

"Picking up the ice cream scoop from the counter, she plunges it into the carton of chocolate chip ice cream and digs around inside. She pulls the scoop back out a litle too forcefully, and a huge glob of ice cream goes flying across the room."

Monday, June 29, 2009

TRICKS by Ellen Hopkins

Eden, Ginger, Cody, Seth, and Whitney are teens whose life circumstances have taken them to an increasingly common yet horrible place. Simple survival is their motivation for selling sex for money.

Eden never thought about sex. Raised by a fire and brimstone father and mother meant hours in a church pew not on dates and at parties. Meeting Andrew changed her life. He was just as innocent as she was so the two learned about love together. It was real and special until her parents found out. She was sent away to a terrible place, and she did what she had to to escape.

Ginger's life was always filled with sex. Her mother had six kids by five different guys, and her attempt to keep food on the table involved any man looking for what she was willing to sell. Thank goodness for a grandmother willing to take them in and do what she could to provide for them. Ginger vowed to be different, but when her mother began to use her for profit, it was time to leave. But making a change from what you've always known is not as easy as it seems.

Life for Cody and his brother Cory improved when their mother married Jack. Jack was great at filling the role of dad, and Cody appreciated it. Cory may have been rebelling, but Cody did his best to be a responsible son and step-son. Then cancer struck and Jack was gone. Things got crazy when there wasn't enough money. Gambling might provide the answer, but he needed a supply of cash to make money that way forcing him in directions he knew were dangerous.

Seth and his dad survived the death of a mother and wife. Their simple Indiana farm life continued on without her, however, that simple life didn't welcome the fact that Seth had known for quite some time that he was gay. He actually lived two separate lives - the farm life his father assumed he would continue and the new life he had found in Louisville. As long as he could keep the two lives apart, he could make everyone happy. When a letter caused the two to collide, Seth learned that his father could not accept the truth so he was forced to leave. A man named Carl made an offer Seth couldn't refuse, but so often those offers don't last forever.

Whitney is popular and beautiful. She is used to having the things she wants but not always the attention she desires. Her doting father is gone a lot on business which leaves her with a busy mother whose focus has always been on her older daughter. Hooking up with a popular guy gives Whitney a reason to carry on, but when that relationship ends, she is left with anger. That anger drives her in a rebellious direction that she will soon regret.

Ellen Hopkins takes her readers on yet another dangerous journey into lives that have gone wrong. The focus is on the increasingly current trend of teenagers forced into selling themselves to survive. Whether it is out and out prostitution or the thinly disguised "escort" services, more and more teens are involved in sex for money. The five young people in TRICKS all have very different reasons for getting caught up in this destructive lifestyle and Hopkins paints a stirring and vivid picture of each of their paths into this terrible world. TRICKS is hard-hitting and disturbingly direct as it details the downward spiral of five lives. Fans of Ellen Hopkins are no doubt anxiously awaiting this new release. One word of caution from this reviewer is that this direct approach to a serious subject is best suited for older teens.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


BETTER LATE THAN NEVER is book #2 in the Gifted series by Marilyn Kaye. Things pick up where they left off with Amanda, Jenna, and Tracey.

Jenna's drunken mother enters a two week rehab program, and Jenna fears a possible placement in foster care. That's when Tracey comes to the rescue by asking her parents if Jenna can stay with them.

Another unusual development for Jenna is that her long-lost father shows up. He is full of apologies and promises. Everything he promises sounds terrific to Jenna, but the fellow members of the gifted group are suspicious of his sudden appearance.

Amanda experiences another body-snatching event. This time she feels pity when she observes Ken watching a soccer practice. She sees how much he wishes he could play and the switch happens. Being in the body of a hot guy is definitely disturbing, but Amanda thinks this might give her the opportunity to get Ken's attention focused on her and a possible relationship. She certainly isn't expecting what really happens, and it might just change her forever.

I don't know how many books Marilyn Kaye plans to have in this series, but she is working her usual magic by slowly giving readers a look at her cast of interesting characters. From the sneak preview included from book #3, it looks like Emily and her ability to see into the future will be the featured character.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Does anyone remember the REPLICA series by Marilyn Kaye? It was quite popular with my middle school students about 10 years ago. (Geez, that's probably before most of you younger bloggers even knew how to read.) Anyway, Marilyn Kaye has a new series, and I'm predicting it will be just as popular with my students.

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND is book #1 in this new series. Once again there is something special about a group of young people. This time there are nine teens that are "gifted". These "gifts" include things like being invisible, reading minds, and seeing future events before they happen.

A girl named Amanda stumbles across this unique collection of individuals when she discovers a "gift" of her own. Usually Amanda is known as one of the mean girls around school. She struts around like a queen bee and verbally harasses her classmates. What people don't know is that her behavior is a cover-up. She learns as a little girl that if she feels sorry for someone, she becomes that person. She sort of inhabits their body so that she feels their pain both mental and physical. This time she accidentally feels sorry for geeky Tracey, and the next thing she knows she is waking up in Tracey's bed in Tracey's body.

It's all confusing for Amanda/Tracey until she finds herself in one of Tracey's classes. It is a special class Amanda never knew existed. After several days living as Tracey and attending this class, she is beginning to understand that the small group of students has powers they call "gifts", and they may be more important than she ever realized.

Book #2 is titled BETTER LATE THAN NEVER, and book #3 is scheduled for release in October. These books are fast-paced and simply written, but just like Kaye's earlier series, they are addictive. I'm starting book #2 and will most definitely purchase any others that follow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams

Having watched specials on Dateline and 20/20 about the topic of polygamy and cult-like communities, I was interested to read THE CHOSEN ONE. It is the story of a young girl living in a religious community calling themselves The Chosen. Having multiple wives is part of their belief, and Kyra is about to learn that she will be marrying her uncle, a man some fifty years older.

Kyra loves her family. She lives with Mother Sarah, one of her father's three wives. Even though Mother Claire may sometimes be mean, and Mother Victoria has her own children to focus on, their family is held together by Kyra's loving and attentive father. She knows not all the families of The Chosen are the same as hers, but she never envisioned herself becoming part of one of those other families.

At age thirteen Kyra has been quietly and secretly spreading her wings. Years ago the Prophet forced the burning of all books except the Bible, but Kyra recently discovered the Ironton County Mobile Library on Wheels on one of her walks off the community property. The library van driven by a young man named, Patrick, becomes a haven for Kyra. She checks out and secretly reads books like THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and HARRY POTTER.

Kyra has also become friends with Joshua. Actually, they are becoming more than friends. They sneak out at night to meet in secluded areas around the community. Stolen hand-holding and stolen kisses turn into young love, and Joshua tells Kyra he will meet with Prophet Childs and state his desire to marry her. This secret life is dangerous and could result in severe punishment, but Kyra believes it is worth the risk.

Then the incredible happens. Prophet Childs announces he has had a vision. His vision has Kyra becoming the seventh wife of her Uncle Hyrum. Not only is he her father's brother, but he is also old and mean. Even the fact that he is an Apostle and lives in a grand house compared to Kyra's little trailer doesn't make marriage to him something she can tolerate. Can her father help her or can Joshua's offer of marriage save her? Or is running away the only escape?

Author Carol Lynch Williams captures the wide range of emotions that Kyra experiences as she battles to maintain her identity in a world focused on keeping women and children under strict and threatening control. As a reader, I was also filled with a mix of emotions - anger, fear, sadness, and sympathy. It is difficult to believe there are actually communities like the one described here and in those Dateline and 20/20 specials. THE CHOSEN ONE is definitely a book that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


TRICKS by Ellen Hopkins due for release in August.

I don't have much longer to wait because my review copy should be in the mail next week, so watch for a review.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Here's a great idea brought to you by 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.

This Tuesday I'll tempt you with THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams.

"Take him away," Prophet Childs says.
"No!" I say.

HANDCUFFS by Bethany Griffin

Where do you draw the line between actual love and dangerous obsession? HANDCUFFS by Bethany Griffin, explores this serious question.

Parker Prescott can't get her ex-boyfriend out of her mind. His pressuring to go farther than she wanted to was what ended their relationship, but she is now realizing that he is one of the few people she truly feels comfortable with and able to be herself. There could be a possibility of reuniting until the two of them are discovered in a compromising position by her parents.

Being grounded indefinitely gives a girl plenty of time to think. Parker examines her relationship with not only her ex, but also her entire family and her best friend Raye. There's her little brother - cute but ADHD makes him a bundle of annoying, non-stop action. Her older sister Paige is has a mess of problems including a brand new husband, a drinking problem, and a stalker complete with a restraining order. Loss of her father's job and financial problems are front and center in the lives of her parents, while best friend Raye is recovering from a nasty breakup.

I was a bit annoyed with Parker at times. She's a bit of a whiner and lets her heart rule her head too much for my taste. However, there are many lessons to be learned and enough plot action to entertain most teen readers. I'll be interested to see what Bethany Griffin takes on next.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Just wanted to let everyone know where they can go to find a complete list of the YA BOOK CARNIVAL contests.
Follow this link to Shootingstarsmag.com and look for the Mister Linky. Click on it and you'll be in contest heaven!!

Sunday, June 21, 2009


YA BOOK CARNIVAL is a creation of Shootingstarsmag.com. The official carnival dates are June 21-June 27. Bloggers everywhere will be holding giveaway contests or surfing the blogs to enter contests.

Here at READINGJUNKY'S READING ROOST, I'm holding my first ever giveaway contest. Since just about every book that I get my hands on goes on my classroom book shelves, I'm giving away a $20 BORDERS gift card to the lucky winner. That will allow the winner to pick their own special prize.

Here are the details of my giveaway contest. (The winner will be picked randomly.)

1. +1 = Leave a comment and include the title of the best book you've read so far this summer.
(Please include a valid email address so I can let you know if you are the lucky winner.)

2. +2 = Become a follower. (Please include a valid email address.)

Contest ends June 30. (PS - U.S. and Canada entries only.)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

THE DUST OF 100 DOGS by A.S. King

As soon as I saw the title of this book, I was intrigued. However, I must admit I had it on my TBR pile for quite some time and kept sliding it down a book or two. Why did I do that? I'm kicking myself now because it is a great book. Definitely not your usual adventure tale, but definitely worth reading.

THE DUST OF 100 DOGS is a story-within-a-story. Emer Morrisey is an Irish girl living a turbulent life back in the late 1600's. When her tiny village is attacked and pillaged, she is the lone survivor in her family. Rescued by an angry uncle, she lives with his family until he deems her old enough to be sold off as a wife. Emer bids a sad farewell to the young love of her life and travels to Paris.

When she meets her husband-to-be, she is repulsed and immediately makes plans for escape. What follows are miserable months slaving away for a group of nuns until Emer hears news of a ship departing for Tortuga where it is said women are in great demand. Perhaps a life in the Caribbean holds the future that will help Emer forget her family and her lost love.

The interesting thing about this novel is the parallel story running alongside Emer's. This second story is about a modern-day protagonist named Saffron. She has problems of her own. Highly intelligent and excellent at her schoolwork, Saffron has been raised by parents who hold her up as their only hope in the world. Her siblings, especially her brother Junior, are bitter disappointments, therefore, leaving her as the beacon bound to be the light of their lives. Saffron, however, has other plans.

What readers soon learn is that Emer and Saffron are connected in an unusual way. Emer's Caribbean life turned into a wild adventure with her as a pirate who pillaged and plundered Spanish treasure. At the moment of her untimely death, she was cursed to return to this world and live the life of 100 dogs. During this reincarnation her memories remain, and when the curse is finally fulfilled, Emer returns once more as Saffron. This explains Saffron's amazing ability to know so much about history and the world in general, and it also explains her childhood desire to be a pirate.

A.S. King has created a truly unique piece of work. Following the stories of Emer and Saffron is a treat. The raw, gritty pirate adventures of Emer mixed with the contemporary pressures faced by Saffron, offer something for all readers. The curse of living the life of 100 dogs is also reflected by occasional interruptions titled DOG FACT #1 and so on. The combination of it all provides three distinct points of view that make this a work of pure genius. Don't let this one slide down your reading list like I did. Get a copy today, and you won't regret it.

Friday, June 19, 2009


The Gecko and Sticky return! This is the second adventure of a young boy named Dave Sanchez and his pet Gecko. Once again they are battling the evil villain Damien Black.

It just happens that one day when Dave and Sticky are at the bank, a bank robber storms in and demands that everyone hit the floor. He proceeds to demand money from the tellers and fills a stretchy bag. Two things happen just before he uses an odd weapon to shoot sleeping darts into all the banks' employees and customers. First, Dave recognizes it is the evil Damien Black, and second, the villain turns back and steals a tiger-eye ring from a woman's finger. Dave and Sticky know what they have to do and the chase is on.

The two crime fighters follow Damien Black down into the sewer. They follow the trail to his fabulous mansion. Using the ingots of Invisibility and Wall Walking, they are able to sneak into the mansion. The question is can they find the money and the ring before Damien discovers they are there and uses his many thingamagigs, doohickeys, and multi-purpose gadgets to stop them.

Important facts that readers of the previous adventure will need to remember is that Dave and Sticky are in possession of the amazing Aztec wristband that utilizes the magic ingots. Dave only has two of the ingots while Damien Black has the rest and desperately wants them and the wristband back. This new adventure also continues the mystery of the famous Gecko superhero that Dave has become. He is still hoping for a more exciting name, but so far Sticky is making that impossible.

Wendelin Van Draanen must have a blast when she's writing these action-packed adventures. Thinking of the wacky, off-the-wall gadgets and gizmos, not to mention the witty dialogue, must keep her laughing as much as her readers will as they turn the pages. This is some fun stuff for middle grade readers.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Little Texas is a sixteen year old evangelist preacher. Early on readers learn his back story. Born Ronald Earl, he started life living in a trailer. His father raised pot underneath their home, but when his secret crop was discovered, he was carted off to prison. That left Ronald Earl with his mother who "entertained" gentlemen callers until one night when she had the misfortune of visiting the local meth lab on the night it exploded and burned to the ground.

Ronald Earl then found himself traveling with Miss Wanda Joy, an elderly preacher known as Sugar Tom, and an odd fellow named Certain Certain. Together they made an unusual, but devoted family.

Ronald Earl became known as Little Texas when it was discovered that he had healing powers and the ability to preach to and captivate an audience. The group traveled from town to town for years providing revival-type church meetings and taking in enough of a "collection" each time to sustain their operation. But as time passed Little Texas was becoming less comfortable with his role as child preacher and at sixteen, he was struggling with his desire to change course.

Things changed in a big way after one revival meeting when Little Texas was asked to heal a pretty young girl. Her parents stated that she suddenly became ill while they were traveling, and they put all their hope for her recovery in the powerful hands of Little Texas. He handled the situation just like his other miraculous healings and left behind what he thought was a grateful family.

It wasn't long after his contact with the young girl that Little Texas began experiencing some unsettling visions. A young girl calling herself Lucy, dressed in the same blue dress began appearing before Little Texas. His religious training and beliefs kept him from acknowledging her at first, but the appearances increased in frequency and contact with her seemed so real.

Then Miss Wanda Joy gets the idea to hold a revival at a historical plantation known for the mysterious disappearance of another revival preacher. Lucy's visitations take on a different tone. When she appears to Little Texas, she warns him of danger and suggests that with her help, the two of them can battle the evil that haunts the old plantation site.

DAYS OF LITTLE TEXAS is a different mix of plot twists and turns. Ronald Earl is a teen struggling with the traditional coming-of-age dilemma, but the religious angle adds an interesting element. Grateful for the support he has been given from his three family friends, he desperately wants to make them proud of him, yet he holds the nagging belief that what he is doing may not be representing the truth. He also clings to his religious upbringing as he battles the conflicting notion of ghosts/spirits/demons or whatever this Lucy represents.

Author R.A. Nelson will surprise readers expecting a revival, holy-roller experience as he deftly incorporates an intriguing mystery with the history of the plantation, slavery, and the Underground Railroad. DAYS OF LITTLE TEXAS would be an interesting addition to a high school collection.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


GOING BOVINE by Libba Bray comes out in October. I've seen a few early comments, and it's looking great! I got a kick out of the cover, too.

Summary courtesy of Barnes & Noble:

"Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Just as the title LOVE YOU HATE YOU MISS YOU suggests, Amy is experiencing a wide range of emotions as she adjusts to the fact that her best friend Julia is gone. Guilt is the overwhelming emotion that plagues her as she is released from Pinewood treatment center and returns to life at home and at school.

Amy spends most of her time reliving the past. She's filling a notebook with letters to Julia "J" and trying to move on. It seems nearly impossible since the two girls spent every moment together partying and avoiding their families whose behavior and expectations were so annoying. Amy misses the alcohol as well that helped her forget her gangly height and odd red hair. Now there is no one to insulate her from herself and the reality of the world.

Even though she is spending more time with her parents, she hears them asking her questions and saying they care, but underneath this concern she still sees how wrapped up they are in each other, underlining the fact that she has always felt like an extra person rather than a part of their lives. Her therapist, Laurie, wants her to talk about Julia and the choices that were made, all the while nodding and clicking her pen until Amy wants to scream.

Life at school is barely tolerable. Tests she took at Pinewood revealed she is more than capable of handling honors classes, but that class schedule puts her right in the middle of kids who never understood her or Julia. Is it possible to make new friends? Her parents are encouraging it, but who will be able to understand how she felt about Julia and how she feels like a murderer because of her behavior on that terrible night.

LOVE YOU HATE YOU MISS YOU is filled with raw emotion and complicated relationships. Author Elizabeth Scott does an excellent job of portraying the mixed emotions flooding through Amy as she attempts to put the pieces of her life back together. Most would think of family support as the answer in this stressful situation, but Scott doesn't make that an easy solution to Amy's problems. Instead, readers see inside a family with love enough to go around, but it is misdirected and misunderstood. The hope of recovery is present in Amy's story, but readers learn that the path there will not be easy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE by Katie Alender

Looking for a good old-fashioned, possessed by an evil ghost, story, then go out and grab a copy of BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE.

Alexis seems to already have enough problems. Her pink hair, rebellious attitude, and loner status would be enough for anyone to deal with in high school, but things are getting even more complicated lately. Her younger sister Kasey has always been a challenge, but now she's acting bizarre. Her obsession with her doll collection has turned from filling her room with the rag-tag assortment to actually carrying on conversations with them. Kasey's class assigned family tree project turns creepy when Alexis discovers that her sister stole the projects of half her classmates and is spending untold hours researching their ancestors’ lives.

As weird events in their historic home begin to escalate, Alexis has reason to believe her family's safety and that of others in town is at risk. Could their father's near fatal car accident be somehow related to her sister's strange behavior? And, naturally, their mother turns a deaf ear to any conversations Alexis tries to introduce about Kasey's odd activities.

Author Katie Alender fills BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE with all the appealing traditional ghost story characteristics. Readers are treated to things that go bump in the night, rooms that turn bone-chillingly cold even when the air-conditioning is turned off, strange and eerie lights that glow where no light should be, as well as multiple personality-type behavior and superhuman strength. All this and more, combines to create an entertaining and spooky read.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON by Mary Downing Hahn

New to the neighborhood, Logan isn't exactly thrilled when Arthur, the weird kid next door, bustles over to welcome him. Right away Logan can tell that Arthur is going to be a challenge.

The other less than thrilling thing that Logan learns about his new home is that its previous owner, Myrtle Donaldson, was murdered. How come his parents didn't check out something like that before they agreed to buy the rundown place?

At least it's summer vacation so Logan has time to get to know the place before he's thrust into making friends at school. He's not much of an athlete, and if his past school experiences are any indication, making friends with the cool kids will probably be a disaster. When Arthur shows up on Logan's doorstep and offers to show him around, he guesses his friendship is better than nothing. The two end up having a lot in common and finding Myrtle Donaldson's killer gives turns them into a sort of crime fighting team.

The murder, the possibility of the killer's involvement in embezzlement, and the bulldozing of a local, historic amusement park all combine for some great adventure. Normally law-abiding Logan find himself following the lead of reckless Arthur as they investigate Logan's musty attic, the local library, and the overgrown grounds of Magic Forest. They are clever and creative enough to discover some clues that lead them into some dangerous territory.

Mary Downing Hahn is a master of mystery. As the author of novels for young people, she captures the spooky atmosphere of the old amusement park and the excitement of the chase as she reveals the clues to the years old murder mystery. CLOSED FOR THE SEASON is an excellent addition to any middle grade mystery collection

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL by Justina Chen Headley

What is true beauty? Everyone who loves and cares about Terra Cooper tells her she's beautiful, but that doesn't erase the port-wine birthmark the covers the right side of her face. After years of trying laser treatments, lotions, and promising beauty creams, she now simply uses make-up to hide the truth and try to make herself feel normal.

Being determined and driven has always been a way for Terra to cope. She is athletic and stays in great shape by running in the summer and snowshoeing through the hills in the winter. Terra also uses her artistic talent as an outlet for expressing her appreciation for the beauty she sees everywhere but in herself. An excellent student, she will be completing high school a year early and has been accepted to her first choice college. That school is on the East coast and will give her the opportunity she wants to get away from her tiny town in Washington state and the father she never seems to be able to please.

Terra and her two older brothers grew up fighting a constant battle to please their father. Claudius and Merc are both gone now leaving Terra on her own to run interference between her domineering father and her timid, overweight mother. Over the years she has watched as her beautiful mother grew in weight but shrunk in her ability to stand up to her husband's constant criticism. They are a family with tremendous emotional baggage, but they've become experts at pushing their feelings aside and soldiering on without acknowledging the pain.

Believing college is her only possible escape, Terra is not expecting the empowering freedom she discovers when she accidentally meets someone new. Jacob's truck and her car collide on an ice street joining the two teens and their mothers in an uncommon friendship. The support and encouragement they provide for each other enables them all to grow and move beyond their personal obstacles.

Justina Chen Headley, author of GIRL OVERBOARD and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES), has outdone herself with NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL. It's hard to comprehend how Headley could put so much into one novel. Terra's story encompasses so many issues, readers from all backgrounds and experiences will take some meaning away from the book. Just like the collages Terra so lovingly creates, Headley builds this novel one interesting and thoughtful layer at a time.


RAGE: A LOVE STORY by Julie Anne Peters is due for release on September 8, 2009.

I enjoy her stories and so do my students.

Summary courtesy of Barnes & Noble:

Johanna is steadfast, patient, reliable; the go-to girl, the one everyone can count on. But always being there for others can’t give Johanna everything she needs—it can’t give her Reeve Hartt.

Reeve is fierce, beautiful, wounded, elusive; a flame that draws Johanna’s fluttering moth. Johanna is determined to get her, against all advice, and to help her, against all reason.

But love isn’t always reasonable, right?In the precarious place where attraction and need collide, a teenager experiences the dark side of a first love, and struggles to find her way into a new light.

Monday, June 8, 2009

KILLER PIZZA by Greg Taylor

Toby thought he was getting a summer job and that it might conveniently give him some needed experience for his future dream job as a chef in his own restaurant. Little did he know what applying at and scoring a job at Killer Pizza would mean.

Two other teens, Annabel and Strobe, start training at Killer Pizza at the same time as Toby. A fourth teen named Doug seems like a reluctant future employee when he arrives to join their team. The training is intense as the four teens learn recipes, oven skills, and the general rules involved in working for the popular pizza joint. They seem like a pretty good team except for Doug. He just doesn't seem that into it.

During the early weeks at Killer Pizza, Toby gets home pretty beat, and when some spectacular nightmares start interrupting his sleep, he's unnerved. The dreams seem so real, and the glimpses of a terrifying monster he experiences soon take on a meaning he never imagined possible.

The innocent summer job turns out to be a cover operation for a group of monster hunters. Disinterested Doug turns out to be Harvey, the head of the whole operation. Toby, Annabel, and Strobe are being recruited as MCO's - Monster Combat Officers. Their employment at Killer Pizza has been a test to determine their suitability as candidates for the MCO Academy. As soon as their participation begins, they learn that monsters really do exist. In fact their small town may be infested with hideous monsters known as guttata. Disguised as humans, these guttata are attacking and infecting innocent citizens with the hope of taking over the place.

What follows is a fabulous monster hunt complete with crossbows, explosive devices, deadly talons and fangs, and intense battle scenes. The three MCO trainees are now involved in stakeouts, illegal breaking and entering, and car chases instead of kneading pizza dough and slicing pies.

KILLER PIZZA is an action-packed romp sure to interest middle grade readers and teens, especially fans of authors like Darren Shan and R.L. Stine. Author Greg Taylor uses his previous screenwriter experience to create scenes that crackle with excitement and leap off the pages. This first novel offers great summer reading potential.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Stop on over to Another Book Read and enter her contest for TWENTY BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler. She's giving away 5 copies, and the contest runs until June 30.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

PUNKZILLA by Adam Rapp

Written as a series of long, descriptive letters, PUNKZILLA tells the story of a fourteen year old on a cross-country journey to visit his dying older brother.

Jamie (Punkzilla) is AWOL from military school. His father a retired Major convinced his mother that Buckner Military Academy would straighten out their youngest son. Jamie is the first to admit he was out-of-control. His ADD combined with meth, pot, and drinking had turned him into a punk. But Buckner is way more than he can handle with its emphasis on morning drills and athletic competitions; it's just not who he is.

As Punkzilla boards a Greyhound bus heading from Portland, Oregon, to Memphis, Tennessee, he begins writing letters in a notebook. The letters are addressed to his twenty-seven year old brother now dying of cancer. Through the letters readers learn about family tensions that began when Peter announced he was gay and then left to pursue a career as an actor and playwright. This left middle son Edward and youngest son Jamie at home with a demanding father and an emotional mother. A few scattered letters from these other family members help fill in the gaps in Jamie's tale.

One colorful letter after another reveals cross-country adventures as Punkzilla first travels by bus and then hitches rides with one disturbing character after another. Some encounters are helpful and kind, while others are downright creepy and dangerous. Through the letters is Punkzilla's attempt to make sense of his past and come to terms with who he has become. He has very little idea about his future other than his determination to reach Memphis before the death of his beloved brother.

Author Adam Rapp has created a world where readers will live vicariously through Punkzilla's letters. The world he paints is harsh and unpleasant with tiny hints of hope and kindness. Readers will appreciate the difficult life of the road as they follow Punkzilla from Portland to Memphis. At times I was frustrated with Punkzilla's actions and choices, but I was drawn to him and remained committed to find out if he arrived in time to say goodbye to Peter.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Once again Portia is on the case. There's a new girl at the middle school. Her name is Misty, and she's determined to make Portia her new best friend, in addition to getting Portia's help with a serious problem.

Portia is excited to have a new detective case and dives right in helping her new friend. The case involves a rabbit named Maxwell. He's one of the stray animals Misty has an uncanny knack for finding and bringing home. Although her mother doesn't approve, she can't seem to avoid running into animals with problems. Along with Maxwell the depressed bunny, she is dealing with a three-legged grasshopper that escapes in Portia's mother's restaurant The Tent. Needless to say, Misty is keeping Portia busy.

In other plot action, Portia is still searching for her absent father Patch. She is hoping for new developments in that case and gets one from an unlikely source, Vera, owner of Trash and Treasures. There is also a possible romantic interest in Portia's life. Webster the math genius seems to be trying to get Portia's attention with what he says is an important question. Indigo's restaurant is once again a backdrop for much of the action. This time the menu item of interest is the pomegranate, and Portia finds herself sampling all sorts of crazy concoctions her mother creates.

PORTIA'S EXCLUSIVE AND CONFIDENTIAL RULES ON TRUE FRIENDSHIP is a fun read with whimsical characters, a bit of mystery, and insightful comments regarding the meaning of friendship. Portia offers a needed breath of fresh air in tween lit. She doesn't worry about make-up, hair styles, and fashion magazines. Instead she focuses on family and friends and helping make the world a better place.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Pop on over to Presenting Lenore. She has a terrific giveaway contest.

CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins

LIAR by Justine Larbalestier

SHIVER by Maggie Steifvater

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

IF THE WITNESS LIED by Caroline B. Cooney

The four Fountain children are orphans. They first made headlines when their mother gave her life to save that of her unborn fourth child. The controversy centered on her battle with cancer and her refusal to accept chemo-therapy at the risk of harming her unborn child. Overzealous news reporters portrayed baby Tris as his mother's killer.

The second time the family hit the headlines was when a tragic accident killed their father. Once again little Tris was labeled as guilty of killing his remaining parent.

Now the media has been called in by their faithful guardian Aunt Cheryl. She believes that facing their tragic situation in front of television cameras in a docudrama is the only way to help the children deal with the ghosts of their past.

In the year since their father's death, young Jack has remained in the family home helping Aunt Cheryl with the care of almost three year old Tris. His sisters Madison and Smithy chose to head their separate ways, one to live with godparents and the other to attend boarding school. Now both girls have realized the importance of family and are returning home to discover startling developments regarding their father's accident.

Could it be that the one witness of the horrible event may have lied? Could that witness actually be a murderer, and how can three teens and one toddler prove it?

Caroline B. Cooney is known for her mystery and suspense. IF THE WITNESS LIED is one of her best. The tragic family portrait she creates is sure to captivate readers from page one. It is difficult to imagine the pain and suffering these characters have been dealt, and then to throw in a potential evil so cleverly disguised, it becomes a story almost impossible to put down. Once teens get the word on this one, it won't stay on bookshelves long.


JUST ANOTHER HERO is the final book in Sharon Draper's BATTLE OF JERICHO trilogy.

Due out June 23, I can't wait!

Summary courtesy of Barnes & Noble:

Suppose someone showed up in YOUR classroom carrying an AK-47.
You have a split second:

To think.
To act.
To be a hero.
But what is a hero?

That question becomes all too real for Arielle, November, Jericho, and their friends. They've been through so much: the hazing ritual that left Joshua dead and hearts aching; November finding out that she was pregnant with Josh's baby. But senior year is going well, and when the fire alarm goes off in English class, everyone assumes that crazy Jack is trying to get out of another quiz. But the alarm was pulled for a very different reason. A potentially deadly reason. There's only a matter of seconds to stop a tragedy, and all eyes are searching for someone — anyone — to step up and do something.

This shocking conclusion to the two-time Coretta Scott King Honor-winning trilogy by Sharon M. Draper will have you holding your breath to the very last page.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

UNDERCOVER by Beth Kephart

Having recently read NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, I was anxious to crack open another Beth Kephart novel. UNDERCOVER was her first novel, and I'm surprised I missed it. According to the cover, Kephart was a "National Book Award Nominee" and well-deserved, I'd say.

Elisa has always viewed herself as more of her father's daughter. Her sister Jilly and her mother share a passion for make-up and fashion. They are always dressed in perfectly matched colors with every hair in place. Elisa, on the other hand, has perpetually wild hair and could care less about clothes and colors. Her passion lies in words and nature.

The only person who understands Elisa is suddenly missing from her life. Her father shares her interest in words and literature, but his extended business trip is keeping him from home. At least that's the excuse Elisa imagines as she tries to keep him up-to-date with letters sent to distant San Francisco. As the days and weeks pass, it's becoming more obvious that his business travel may be a side-effect of trouble in her parents' marriage.

Elisa has previously accepted her backseat in life. At home she watches her mother and sister parade, and at school she uses her talent for poetry to ghost-write inspirational love poems for her male classmates to use as they court girls that don't even know Elisa exists. All this has been satisfying enough until she met Theo.

Theo gladly accepts Elisa's poem offerings because he's head-over-heels in love with Lila. Without Elisa's words, he knows he wouldn't have a chance. He shows his appreciation by developing a friendship with Elisa, but that friendship sparks something in her she never felt before.

With her father absent and conflicting feelings about Theo filling her thoughts, Elisa seeks peace by grabbing a pair of her mother's old ice skates and escapes to the hidden ice of a secluded pond. The freedom she feels as she imagines beautiful music and teaches herself to skate, helps her cope with the twisting emotions that have suddenly invaded her life.

Readers will be immediately captivated by Kephart's smooth and lyrical prose. Her words and story flow as cleanly and easily as Elisa's skates on the pond. UNDERCOVER portrays Elisa's struggle to deal with insecurities and push herself to achieve what those around her know she is capable of achieving. Teens will easily relate to her desire to fit in both at home and at school, yet not compromise her own personal spirit and view.