Monday, August 29, 2016

GUTLESS by Carl Deuker

Brock was a soccer player, an excellent goalkeeper, to be exact. It wasn't until he met Hunter that he considered playing football, and it wasn't until he met Richie that he considered playing chess.

Brock wasn't sure what his freshman year would have to offer. He was worried about his dad who had just been diagnosed with a disease that would gradually take away his ability to walk. Soccer wasn't as exciting as it used to be and his old friends seemed to be finding new interests.

The day Brock met Hunter at the park changed everything. Before he knew it, Hunter's dad had drafted him to act as wide receiver for Hunter's quarterback throwing practices. Brock's speed and agility made up for the fact that he had never played football. Despite his mother's reluctance, he was headed to team tryouts.

Brock also found a new friend. Another freshman named Richie began chatting with Brock during class and started saving him a seat at lunch. Brock was fascinated by the talented Chinese kid. He excelled in everything - chess, violin, architecture and design projects. It really wasn't a surprise that he was also a talented soccer player who ended up being an awesome kicker for the football team.

The catch was Richie was the target for every bully in the school. Brock caught flack for hanging out with him, too. Since Brock was accepted with most of the athletes because of his talent as a wide receiver, he hoped that Richie's involvement in soccer and football would earn him some respect as well. And, for a while that seemed to be the case, but the truth was, the bullies were just biding their time.

Author Carl Deuker has another hit on his hands. Deuker takes the sports novel a step farther than simply play-by-play action. He develops depth in his characters and intrigue in their lives beyond the playing field. GUTLESS is perfect for teen readers looking for a story to entertain and to relate to their own lives. This one won't be gathering dust on classroom and library shelves.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BIGGIE by Derek E. Sullivan

Henry Abbott weighs in at 300+ pounds. That explains his nickname, Biggie.

Although he is the son and stepson of two well-known baseball players, Biggie avoids physical activity whenever possible. He is more comfortable hanging out online where he has tons of online friends. At school Biggie keeps a low profile by sitting in the back of the room and staying out of everyone's way.

Even at the gas station where Biggie works, he keeps it on the down low. He considers it a challenge to wait on the customers without actually speaking to them. There's only one customer Biggie wishes he could talk to. He has had a crush on Annabelle for as long as he can remember. He ignores the fact that she is not only a regular customer, but also a regular shoplifter.

Biggie finds himself the center of attention when his mother refuses to sign the form to excuse him from participating in phys ed. Coach places a wiffleball in Biggie's hand and sends him out to pitch. Biggie takes on the challenge and ends up throwing a shut out. Inspired by his success, he lets his younger brother talk him into trying out for the baseball team. After all Biggie has baseball in his blood so why not workout, get in shape, and maybe get Annabelle's attention.

Author Derek E. Sullivan tells the story of a social outcast determined to turn his life around. Losing weight, giving baseball a try, and coming out of his shell, Biggie shows how courage isn't always easy, but the end results may be worth it.

Monday, August 22, 2016


The Smell of Other People's Houses
THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES is filled with fascinating characters each with unique life challenges. Author Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock does an amazing job developing her teen characters and making them relatable for her readers.

Ruth and her sister are shipped off to live with Gran when her father dies in a plane crash. Ruth clings to memories of home as she attempts to adjust to Gran's strict rules. It comes as no surprise that her first romantic relationship ends with an unplanned pregnancy.

Alyce loves her parents but their separation threatens to tear her apart. Thinking her own dreams need to be set aside to assure their happiness holds her back when she should be speaking up for herself.

Dora's good luck could open doors for her future, but family threatens to ruin everything. Should she really expect more out of life, or is she undeserving?

When Hank makes the decision to take his two brothers out of an abusive environment, he knows it won't be easy. Now with one brother missing, he must decide if he can risk turning to a stranger for help.

The four teens' lives intertwine as they face life's obstacles. Readers will quickly be drawn into circumstances that will have them cheering with, laughing with, and crying with Ruth, Alyce, Dora, and Hank. Although their lives are filled with struggle, they are filled with hope and inspiration.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Lies We Tell Ourselves
It's 1959 and it's been five years since the government declared segregation was illegal. Sarah and her sister Ruth are part of a group of ten black teens who will be attending Jefferson High School, an all white school, for the first time.

The NAACP and a community group have prepared the teens for what to expect when they arrive at Jefferson. Sarah thought she was ready, but the reaction of the white students was something she never could have imagined. Pushing, shoving, tripping amid shouts of "Nigger" and "Go home" exploded around the ten new students.

When Sarah entered her classrooms and found an empty seat, the white students immediately jumped up and moved away from her, even if they were forced to stand in the back corners of the room or sit on shelves. The teachers remained ignorant to spitwads and pencils hitting the back of Sarah's head. In study hall one of her black friends was hit in the neck by a baseball hurled from the back of the room.

Another side of the story comes from Linda. She is the daughter of one of the most vocal opponents of desegregation. Her father's editorials condemn the government's pressure to combine black and white students in schools across the South. Although Linda parrots her father's opinions, she begins to question the separation of blacks and whites when she is assigned to do a group project with Sarah.

Both Sarah and Linda are struggling with the huge change in their educational life, and at the same time they are also attempting to understand a strange physical attraction they both believe is unnatural. An accidental kiss shocks them both and has them frantically searching for some way to explain their growing feelings.

Author Robin Talley brings the tumultuous events of the Civil Rights Movement to life in LIES WE TELL OURSELVES. Today's teens will be stunned by the treatment of Sarah and her friends and the extend to which white community members were willing to go to protect what they believed was their right to keeping the South segregated. This book provides excellent reading to complement assigned books like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and historical texts.

Friday, August 19, 2016

PROMISE by Judy Young

Kaden doesn't remember much about his dad. When the man went to prison years ago, Kaden ended up living with Gram. Although a bit different, life with Gram has been good. Now Kaden is starting sixth grade and hoping to find a new friend, but the return of his father might change everything.

Living out in the woods in a series of five small cabins gives Kaden a lot of freedom. Gram keeps tabs on him and so does their neighbor Emmett, but Kaden spends most of his time hanging out at the top of an old fire tower with his pet crow Kubla.

The new music teacher's son, Yo-Yo, turns out to be just the crazy friend Kaden needs to convince him that not all kids are annoying bullies. Gram even thinks Yo-Yo is ok, and she's pretty hard to please.

When Kaden's dad shows up at the cabins, he brings with him secrets that threaten to tear apart the life Kaden has always known. He wants to trust the man and hopes that he has been rehabilitated, but the suspicious activity and hostile attitude that surround the ex-con make Kaden extremely uncomfortable.

PROMISE by author Judy Young is at times heartwarming and also heart-wrenching. Kaden learns that families are not easy and dealing with disappointments requires a strong individual. Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for providing a copy of this book for review.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

ALL WE HAVE LEFT by Wendy Mills

All We Have Left
ALL WE HAVE LEFT by Wendy Mills is an emotionally moving novel honoring the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. The majority of today's teens were not even born when the tragedy that changed the world happened. This new novel uniquely expresses how this tragic event brought terror into our lives.

Alia was in the south tower on the day it was struck by an airliner. She made the decision to be late to school so she could visit her father's office to plead her case. Despite her parents' objections, Alia was determined to get their approval to attend a special art program at NYU. She just needed to convince her father how important it was to her future dreams.

Jesse was only three years old when her brother Travis lost his life in the World Trade Center. His death tore apart her family, and she would give anything to learn more about him and somehow try to heal the wounds that have made her childhood so painful.

As Alia heads to her father's office, she notices an attractive, shaggy haired young man. His intentions seem questionable, but fate puts them together in an elevator at the exact time that the first plane hits.

Readers of ALL WE HAVE LEFT will feel the incredibly intense emotions of Alia and Travis as the events of 9/11 in the World Trade Center unfold. The connections between the two very different families speak to the many ways people experienced and reacted to the events of that historic day.

Monday, August 15, 2016

THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES by Diane Lang & Michael Buchanan

The Fat Boy Chronicles
Based on a true story, THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES tells of Jimmy Winterpock, an overweight teen struggling to fit into high school.

Assigned to write in a journal for English class, Jimmy writes about his trials and tribulations as a fat kid. Fortunately, his family and church offer Jimmy support which enables him to deal with the bullying he encounters on a daily basis while at school.

Readers shouldn't worry that Jimmy's story is completely depressing. He also writes entries about a local murder and the plans his friend Paul makes to catch the murderer. Authors Diane Lang & Michael Buchanan paint a realistic picture of what it is like to be different in a world that values external beauty above all else.

Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for the opportunity to read THE FAT BOY CHRONICLES.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

THE LEAVING by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving
Eleven years ago six kindergarteners disappeared. Now five of them have returned.

Scarlett, Lucas, Adam, Kristen, and Sarah arrive at their respective homes having followed maps each was given when they were released. Although, one family waits patiently, the sixth child, Max, doesn't return.

None of the teens remember anything about the eleven years they were missing. They don't remember how they were taken, where they were taken, or what they have been doing for eleven years. Lucas and Scarlett are determined to piece together their past despite the opinion that they should just accept their pasts are missing and carrying on.

THE LEAVING is a haunting tale with twists and turns galore. Just when the pieces seem to be falling together, the unexpected happens. Tara Altebrando, author of several other novels for teens, has outdone herself in the suspense department. Readers will be hooked in the first pages and won't want to put it down until they know the answers.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
*Thank you to for donating this book.

A senior in high school, Elizabeth has only recently announced to her family and a few select friends that she was born a girl, but she is really a boy. Those who know the secret are being asked to call her/him Gabe.

One thing that has helped Gabe cope with the emotions of feeling born in the wrong body is music. Having John as a next door neighbor has been a dream come true. John is an old time DJ and his collection of vinyl, tapes, and CDs is massive. He recognizes Gabe's talent and arranges for him to host a late night show at the local station.

Dubbed Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, Gabe's show is an immediate success with followers calling themselves the Ugly Children Brigade. Since Gabe introduces himself as a male DJ, he gains some welcomed attention from the girls in the audience. He finds it flattering, although a bit uncomfortable, since his true feelings are for his lifelong friend Paige.

Unfortunately, the radio show also gains him some unwanted attention when someone recognizes him from school and outs him as not being a "real" guy. There are threats of violence against Gabe and his family as well as Paige and John. Now the question is whether his love of music and DJing is worth possible physical harm.

Author Kirstin Cronn-Mills combines the anxiety of sexual identity and the impact on family and friends with a constant flow of musical references. Readers will instantly bond with Gabe and root for him to find love and happiness.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


Product Details
*Thank you to for this book.

Marcus's world is filled with negatives - his sister died, his father left, the rest of his family struggles every day. In the midst of his messy life, Marcus encounters CM and is introduced to the game of chess. According to CM, Marcus can learn a lot about life by playing the game.

CHESS RUMBLE is author G. Neri's first book. Written in verse with illustrations by artist Jesse Joshua Watson, it presents the life of a troubled young man who finds a way to make sense of the often cruel world around him. Check out Neri's other books - YUMMY, TRU & NELLE, KNOCKOUT GAMES, and GHETTO COWBOY.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

THREE TRUTHS AND A LIE by Brent Hartinger

Three Truths and a Lie

It was supposed to be a fun weekend in the woods. Rob, Liam, Mia, and Galen pack up and head to Mia's family's cabin in the forest.

After following the forest trail miles from the main road, they arrive at the moss covered cabin. No running water, no electricity, and no cell phone service means the four teens will have to make their own fun.

Mia suggests a party game called three truths and a lie. The object of the game is for one player to tell four personal secrets and the rest of the players are supposed to guess which of the four secrets is a lie.

Strange things begin to happen. The group hears unexplained noises and their emergency satellite phone goes missing, turns up, and then disappears again. Their imaginations begin to run wild dreaming up crazed killers, vengeful neighbors, and wild animals out to get them.

When Galen ends up dead, getting away from the cabin and back to the highway is all the others can think about. Who is out to get them? Can they trust one another? Will they make it out of the forest?

Author Brent Hartinger presents a psychological thriller that is sure to have readers on the edge of their seats. Be sure to get your hands on a copy of THREE TRUTHS AND A LIE, and be sure to keep the lights blazing while you read.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

HOW IT ENDS by Catherine Lo

How It Ends
"There are two sides to every story."

Annie's mom died on Halloween years ago. Her father has since remarried and now she has a stepmother and stepsister and is starting the year in a new school.

Jessie's best friends, Courtney and Larissa, have become her worst enemies. She has survived the bullying that began in middle school, but it has taken its toll. Plagued by anxiety and an overprotective mother, Jessie just wishes she could find a new friend.

When Annie invites Jessie to eat with her at lunch, a true friendship begins to blossom. Although, their lives are completely opposite, they somehow click and begin hanging out together constantly. Annie finds Jessie's fairly normal family a great comfort, and Jessie finds that Annie's bold personality helps bring her out of her shell.

One close friend is enough for Jessie, but Annie's more outgoing behavior has her looking for more. She connects with Courtney and Larissa despite Jessie's frustration. In hopes of helping her new friend reconnect with old friends, Annie shares the secret of Jessie's anxiety and everything begins to crumble. Violated trusts threaten their exceptional relationship. Will they be able to recover or is there a line that can't be crossed?

Author Catherine Lo hit the perfect note with her story involving the anatomy of a friendship. Teen readers will find much to relate to in their own relationships. Lo's portrayal of high school drama and teen angst is spot on. I will definitely have readers in my classes interested in HOW IT ENDS.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Daughters unto Devils
"Imagine Stephen King writing Little House on the Prairie." -- Cat Winters. When I saw this blurb on the front cover, I had to have it!

After a terrible winter in the mountains, Amanda's parents decide it is time to relocate their family of seven. On a trip to the nearby town for supplies, Amanda's father hears of prairie land available for settling. Told that there are even abandoned cabins empty and ready for resettling, he returns to their small, overcrowded cabin with news that they will be leaving immediately.

Amanda has mixed feelings about leaving the only home she has ever known. Having watched her sick mother give birth to a deaf and blind baby and being closed up in the cabin for months the previous winter had almost pushed Amanda over the edge.

Meeting a young man named Henry was the only thing that helped her recover. She fell in love with him and she thought he shared the same feelings until she discovered she was pregnant. How could she tell her family about her sinful behavior and the resulting baby on the way? The sudden decision to move and the need to pitch in to help the family meant that Amanda could avoid facing the truth of her current situation.

Travel was challenging, but the family made the trek without major mishap. They passed small cabins along the way but none were large enough. Finally, the perfect dwelling appeared, but as they approached there was an unbearable stench. Opening the door revealed the scene of some unthinkable event. Unable to imagine traveling any farther, Amanda's father insisted that he could make the building habitable so the family could settle there.

Readers will quickly realize that all is not quite right about Amanda and her family. Strange knocking on the window, the sounds of an infant crying, and odd happenings give the story an unnerving feel early on that increases with each passing chapter. DAUGHTERS UNTO DEVILS is the debut novel of author Amy Lukavics.