Thursday, June 28, 2012

MONUMENT 14 by Emmy Laybourne

If you haven't read MONUMENT 14, rush to your library or find a bookstore now!  If this one is hovering somewhere in your TBR pile, move it to the top today!!

One morning in the not too distant future a group of students innocently board their school buses thinking it will be a day no different than any other, but their lives are about to change.  First there is a terrifying hailstorm.  The incredibly huge hailstones shatter bus windows and punch holes in otherwise protective metal.  The two buses skid out of control.  One flips over onto its side while the driver of the other crashes her vehicle through the doors of a superstore.

Survivors scatter to safety within the store as the hailstorm continues and one bus explodes into a flaming inferno.  There are 14 kids ranging in age from kindergarten to high school.  The surviving bus driver secures the students safely inside the store and heads off to find help.

The older kids take charge.  The Greenway superstore has everything they need.  Injuries are tended to, dry clothes are located and put on, and supplies found in the pizza shack are used as comfort food while they wait for rescue.  It's just a matter of time until the bus driver returns with help.

Instead of help, the students are faced with violent earthquake shocks, news of a devastating tsunami, and a dangerous chemical spill that produces fightening results.  The terrified group elects a leader and together they begin to make the best of their situation. 

MONUMENT 14 is the debut novel of author Emmy Laybourne.  This story will grab readers in the first chapter and pull them from one breath-taking event to the next.  It is definitely a story I was unable to put down.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

GAME CHANGERS by Mike Lupica

He may only be eleven years old, playing in a Pop Warner league, but Ben knows exactly what he wants.  He knows he was born to be a quarterback.  Encouraged by his parents and inspired by old Doug Flutie films, Ben realizes he may be one of the smallest on his team, but with hard work and determination he aims to be the leader.

Ben gives his all during tryouts and makes an incredible pass he is sure will earn him the position of his dreams.  Unfortunately, the coach's eyes are elsewhere so he doesn't see the pass.  Another disadvantage for Ben is the fact that the coach's son is gunning for the quarterback position as well.  Bigger than Ben and fairly talented himself, Shawn ends up playing in the coveted spot.

It doesn't take long for Ben to learn that even though Coach O'Brien has great plans for his son as quarterback, Shawn's heart really isn't in it.  When the team's performance begins to suffer, Ben offers to help Shawn.  It's not easy to keep up his team spirit while he watches Shawn's negative attitude impact their chances of getting to the playoffs, but his love of the game and his determination have Ben doing what he believes is best for the team.

Author Mike Lupica is known for his great sports writing for middle grade readers.  GAME CHANGERS is book #1 in his new series.  Ben and his friends will soon return in a basketball story where they will face new challenges in the name of sports.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Thanks to a generous friend and his desire to clean off his bookshelves before he moves, I have some great books for giveaway.  Here's the first of many!

ATTACK OF THE SOUL-SUCKING BRAIN ZOMBIES and then just flip the book over and read BRIDE OF THE SOUL-SUCKING BRAIN ZOMBIES by Brent Hartinger.

This is an ARC, and it can be yours if you simply fill out the entry form below.

Winner will be selected randomly on July 10.

*Contest limited to US readers only.


According to Miss Volker, Norvelt was the creation of Eleanor Roosevelt.  The town was created to help a group of unfortunate families during the depression.  Miss Volker is one of the remaining original citizens of this tiny community. 

Jack gets to know Miss Volker and some of Norvelt's unique history when his mother volunteers him to help their elderly neighbor.  Most twelve year olds would be asked to mow the lawn, take out the garbage, or clean the garage, but Jack will be assisting Miss Volker in a different way.  He helps her write obituaries and deliver the finished copies to the local newspaper for publication.

Miss Volker is the local medical examiner and the town historian.  She promised Eleanor Roosevelt herself that she would see to it that all the original citizens would be honored with well-written obituaries upon their deaths.  Unfortunately, severe arthritis prevents Miss Volker from performing the task without some assistance.  That's where Jack comes in.

When Jack begins working for Miss Volker he discovers that the older citizens of the community are dying at a rather alarming rate.  He ends up not only helping with obituaries but also helping solve a mystery.  Is it possible that someone wants to wipe out the town of Norvelt?

Awarding winning author Jack Gantos shines in DEAD END IN NORVELT.  Quirky characters and history lessons combine to create a real page-turner.  Norvelt is a town where everyone must stay on their toes to keep up.  I found myself chuckling almost continuously.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A WORLD AWAY by Nancy Grossman

ARC ebook courtesy of
Release date: 7-17-12

Eliza is sixteen, but she has never seen a movie, used a telephone, or worn a pair of jeans.  Eliza is Amish.  Living with her family in an Amish community in Iowa, she is about to embark on her rumspringa.  It will be her chance to live in the world of the English and experience all their modern conveniences and live the life of a teen without all the strict rules of the Amish.

All Eliza's friends will be partying, listening to music, wearing a whole new wardrobe, and maybe even experiencing alcohol and tobacco all to allow them to later appreciate the simple, plain life in which they were raised.  Most of the young people will attended organized activities and local events during this time, but Eliza is invited to experience rumspringa away from home.

While working at her job in a local hotel restaurant, Eliza meets a woman from the Chicago area in search of a nanny for the summer.  After some convincing, Eliza's parents allow her to take the job.  She will spend the summer caring for the woman's two children and cooking for the family while she lives with them.  Eliza's dream of spending time in the world of the Englishers is coming true.

What follows is an amazing adventure.  Eliza learns the ways of the modern world including MP3 players, movie theaters, TV, video games, washing machines, and dishwashers, cell phones, and more.  The most amazing experience may be meeting Josh who shows her what it means to date, attend a homecoming dance, and make out.  She finds herself falling for him and wondering what it would be like to stay in this new world forever.

Author Nancy Grossman takes readers into the world of the Amish, especially the world of the Amish teenager.  Faced with making a huge life decision, Eliza learns about the world beyond her small, tight-knit community, about family secrets, and about her own goals for the future.  The Amish lifestyle is fascinating and somewhat mysterious, and A WORLD AWAY is just the story for anyone interested in learning more and being entertained in the process.

Monday, June 18, 2012

TRUE...(SORT OF) by Katherine Hannigan

Everyone is frustrated with Delly Pattison - her parents, her teachers and principal, and even the local police.  Delly is constantly in trouble.  She gets in fights, skips school, and sneaks out at night.  According to everyone, she is out of control.

Delly's parents are at their wits' end.  At school Delly is always in timeout at recess, and she has served countless after school detentions.  In a meeting with Delly's concerned parents, the principal threatens that the next time Delly misbehaves she will have to go to another school.  There are also problems with Delly at home.  Delly doesn't mean to make trouble.  Her anger issues are just beyond her control.

When Ferris Boyd comes to town, Delly's world changes.  Ferris Boyd doesn't talk and everyone is warned not to touch her because it makes her freak out.  For some reason Delly and Ferris Boyd click.  Delly is able to communicate with the strange, new girl, and together with her little brother RB, Delly draws Ferris Boyd out of her shell.  The relationship also helps Delly.  Her problems with anger fade away, and she surprises everyone with her excellent behavior.

It is not all smooth sailing for Delly.  Her new friendship involves secrets that complicate matters and add many interesting twists and turns.  Author Katherine Hannigan uses a combination of quirky characters, mischief, and misguided good intentions to make TRUE...(SORT OF) a fast-paced, inspiring read.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


OK, it's confession time.  I bought this simply because I figured the girls would like it; I wasn't planning on reading it myself.  Well, I'm glad I gave it a whirl.

When her father left for a temporary teaching job in London and then never returned, Hadley was left with mixed feelings.  Should she still love him or hate him for turning her life upsidedown?  Her mother finally pulled herself back together after the divorce and life was moving on.  Now Hadley's father has announced he is remarrying and he wants her to come to England for the wedding.  Reluctantly, she agrees.

Hadley knew she would regret the decision, but she didn't realize it would be so soon.  Just four minutes late, and she misses her flight.  She is able to get on the next flight, but it means waiting in the airport for hours.  Making the wedding on time is going to be touch and go.

Those four minutes end up making Hadley's trip one she will never forget.  An attractive, eighteen year old English guy named Oliver becomes Hadley's seatmate.  He is amazing!  Could the bond they develop during the trans Atlantic flight hold promise for the future? 

Author Jennifer E. Smith takes readers into Hadley's life for a mere twenty-four hours, but that one day gives the seventeen year old a new perspective on life, love, and family.  I'm definitely glad I bought this one and also glad I took the time to read it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

GRACE by T. Greenwood

Thirteen year old Trevor, his little sister Grace, and his parents Kurt and Elsbeth make up one side of this intricate story.  On the other side is Crystal whose life took an unexpected turn when she became pregnant at  seventeen.

GRACE is written in a style that reminds me of books by Jodi Piccoult.  Author T. Greenwood takes her readers deeply into the lives and minds of her characters as she gradually reveals their personal issues and their often complicated connections.

Trevor is suffering at the hands of two bullies, and at the same time finding his voice through photography.  Not able to talk about the daily torment he suffers, he escapes through the lens of an old film camera his elderly art teacher provides.  His deep love for his young sister also keeps him focused when all he wants to do is explode.

Kurt and Elsbeth are childhood sweethearts whose relationship has become stale over time as their focus has turned to economic survival.  Kurt works two jobs and any free time is spent looking out for his father whose hoarding issues have attracted the attention of the authorities.  Elsbeth works part time as a hairdresser and frantically attempts to hid a shoplifting habit that threatens to spiral out of control.  She dotes on Grace and worries constantly about Trevor.

Expectations for Crystal are high.  When her unexpected pregnancy threatens to derail her parents plans for her to attend college, her mother steps in and arranges to have an adoptive couple whisk Crystal's baby away immediately after the birth.  As time passes, Crystal regrets her decision and begrudges her parents' controlling ways.  The emotional impact of giving birth and giving up her child may have set her on a path toward destruction.

I was able to read GRACE thanks to my generous neighbor who passed it on after winning it in a Goodreads giveaway.  She suggested it might qualify as YA for older teen readers, and I agree.  I know of several high school readers I will be suggesting it to this fall.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

UNDER THE BRIDGE by Michael Harmon

Ebook ARC courtesy of
Release date: 11-13-12

Tate and Indy are brothers.  Both are well-known as local skateboard experts, and both agree that their father's expectations are set way too high.

Tate struggles in school, but manages to pull out passing grades.  He dreads report card time not because of his own grades, but because he knows there will be a major fight at home when Indy shows up without his grades.  Indy, perfectly capable of straight A's, hates school and skips class to get high instead.  Tate knows his father will drink a few extra beers and wait angrily until Indy makes an appearance. 

This time the fight takes an unpredictable turn when their father kicks Indy out.  Although Tate may not always agree with his brother's choices, he can't believe he has been told to leave.  Ever the protector, Tate makes it his mission to find out where Indy goes and attempts to bring him home.  Unfortunately, Indy heads straight to his suppler and ends up dealing drugs and getting involved in murder. 

Tate would like nothing better than to enter an approaching skateboard competition, but instead finds himself in his own challenging situations as he tries to defend his brother and convince his parents and the school that Indy is a kid worth fighting for.  Tate begins to make his own questionable choices as he heads to the rougher side of town looking for his brother.  He never realized he was capable of violence, and surprises himself when he strikes out in defense of Indy and others he feels are wrongly treated.  Tate learns following the rules may mean different things to different people.

Author Michael Harmon has created yet another hit.  Full of family drama combined with intense skateboard action, UNDER THE BRIDGE is sure to captivate teen readers.  Harmon has a way of drawing readers into the lives of his characters and making them feel a part of the action.  His fans will no doubt be eagerly awaiting this November release.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson

Just in case it is not exciting enough to head off to London for a year in an English boarding school, simply add what appears to be a Jack the Ripper copycat killer, and things are sure to get exciting.

Rory is used to the peaceful, laid back life in small town Louisiana, but when her parents are offered an opportunity to work in London for a year, she jumps at the chance to join them.  Shortly after Rory arrives at Wexford the first murder takes place.  The wounds on the victim are freakishly similar to those on the victims of the infamous Jack the Ripper.  Could it be that someone is copying the legendary London killer?

Rory quickly adjusts to the routine of Wexford, and she and her roommate become fast friends.  The business of school keeps Rory occupied as the murders continue.  Rory doesn't mind that the students are closely watched and restricted in their movements, but during this time she begins experiencing something strange.  Why does she start seeing people no one else around her seems to notice?

When another murder takes place, this time on the Wexford campus, Rory is one of the students questioned.  She mentioned seeing a strange man around the time and location of the killing.  Once again, Rory seems to be the only one who saw the man. 

At the same time a new student arrives and is placed in the room with Rory and her roommate Jazza.  Rory soon learns she is not the only one who sees these mysterious people.  Her new roommate reveals she is actually an undercover cop, and with the help of some colleagues, she explains that Rory is seeing ghosts.  One of them may even be the ghost of Jack the Ripper.

Author Maureen Johnson has created an amazing mystery filled with fascinating historical details and chilling descriptions of the modern-day murders.  Fans of Johnson's earlier works will not be disappointed with THE NAME OF THE STAR, and she is sure to gain a whole new group of fans with this latest offering.

Monday, June 4, 2012


Maria was born in New York City but moved to South Carolina when she was two.  Her artist mother headed back to NYC when Maria was four.  Since then Maria has been surrounded by her father and her grandmother and their views of how awful her mother was.

After a rough breakup with Brian, Maria convinces her father she should move to NYC and get to know her mother.  Her grandmother pulls some strings and invests considerable money to get Maria enrolled in a fancy private school, and Maria is on her way.

Maria's first clue about her mother's stability should have come from the fact that the woman mixed up the arrival time of Maria's train.  She didn't seem to be at all concerned that she left Maria sitting in the train station for twelve hours, but instead, she just hustled Maria to her tiny apartment.  After that Maria begins to try to settle in only to discover she hates the private school and finds herself spending more time with her mother's very young boyfriend than getting to know the woman who has been absent from her life.

Music is the only steady force in Maria's life.  She finds relief listening to mixtapes created by a best friend from back home.  She also finds music helps her form helpful connections with her mother's boyfriend and another young man she meets at a local record store.  An older woman named Nina also steps up to help Maria understand some of the secrets her mother has been hiding.

SUPERGIRL MIXTAPES is the story of a teen trying to understand the odd family relationships that make up her life.  Not willing to accept her father's side of the story, she insists on making her own judgements about her mother's choice to abandon her family.  What she discovers isn't exactly the happy ending she had hoped for, but knowing the truth could make her stronger and more appreciative of those who continue to stand behind her.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

BLOOD WOUNDS by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Willa's family consists of her mother, her step-father, and two step-sisters.  They are a close knit group.  Even though everyone is busy with tennis, dressage lessons and competitions, school, work, and college classes, they manage to have dinner together every Wednesday night.  Willa's mother even seems to have a reasonably friendly relationship with her husband's ex-wife; all for the sake of the children, of course.

Willa remembers little about her early years living in Texas with her mother and her biological father.  She doesn't know much, but she knows life wasn't great, and her mother decided it was best for them to leave and find a life without her abusive father.

When an old family friend calls to warn them Willa's father has killed his current wife and two of their three little girls, more family secrets are revealed.  Since her murderous father is on the road and headed in their direction, Willa and her mother could be next.

Author Susan Beth Pfeffer has created a real page-turner.  She illustrates the complex relationships that make up some families.  Just when you think you have the complete picture, something else pops up to complicate life for Willa.  BLOOD WOUNDS is filled with unspoken feelings, untold stories, and little known family history.  I know this one won't spend much time on the shelf.