Thursday, February 21, 2019


Ryan Pitts: Afghanistan: A Firefight in the Mountains of Wanat

Book #2 in the new MEDAL OF HONOR series by Michael P. Spradlin focuses on the war in Afghanistan.

Ryan Pitts was born in Massachusetts and raised in New Hampshire. During his senior year in high school, he decided to enlist. It was 2003. Ryan knew he wanted to go to college, but he wasn't sure what he wanted to study so he joined the army.

He trained at the U.S. Army Field Artillery School. His training specialized in close-combat aviation. After completing training as a paratrooper, he was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy. The 173rd was famous for combat in multiple wars.

The battle that earned Pitts his Medal of Honor involved the Battle of Wanat just outside of Kabul, Afghanistan. His unit was to defend Observation Post Topside to protect the Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler. The surprise attack took place at 4:00 am and lasted several hours. Pitts was badly wounded during the attack that killed the rest of his fellow soldiers. Despite severe blood loss, Pitt held back the insurgents with gunfire and grenades until supporting troops could arrive.

While reading Ryan Pitts' story, I learned about other achievements of the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam, about the difficult conditions of fighting in Afghanistan, about the role of paratroopers and the weapons they use, and also about aircraft used in battle like the Apache attack helicopters and more. Author Michael P. Spradlin's ability to research and share facts in an informative and entertaining way is sure to attract readers as his MEDAL OF HONOR series continues.

WILD BIRD by Wendelin Van Draanen

Wild Bird

As a total fan of Wendelin Van Draanen's books, I had to get my hands on a copy of WILD BIRD. Readers who enjoyed THE RUNNING DREAM will definitely want to read it.

Wren Clemmens is fourteen. She is the perfect example of a rebellious middle child. She never seems to measure up to her older sister Anabella, and she no longer possesses the innocence of her little brother Mo. If she can't measure up to everyone's expectations, why not act however she wants.

Wren meets Meadow in a school restroom. Meadow is into drinking and drugs which fascinates Wren. It doesn't take long for Wren to join in, and soon she is stealing money from her parents, shoplifting, and even delivering drugs for a cool, older guy named Nico. Her new life is filled with thrills and excitement, but that ends up sending Wren on an unexpected journey.

It is barely 4:00 am when several large men enter Wren's bedroom. They man-handle her out to a waiting vehicle and shove her in. Her family watches tearfully, explaining they love her and this is for the best. Wren is taken to the airport where she joins another teen just as confused as she is. Hours later she is given a backpack and supplies and marched to a camp in the desert.

Wren begins eight weeks in a wilderness therapy camp. Sleeping under a tarp, using a latrine pit, building her own fire, and cooking her own meals takes Wren to a mental place where she can contemplate what has become of her life. She is forced to face her anger and fear as she comes to terms with her actions and the pain and suffering she has brought to a family who she realizes does love and care about her.

WILD BIRD is a hard hitting, tough love story of what it sometimes takes to put someone back on the straight and narrow. Consider it a good addition to any middle/high school collection.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

NEW KID by Jerry Craft

New Kid

NEW KID by Jerry Craft is a graphic novel that deftly conveys the feelings of being the new kid in a world quite different than your own.

More than anything, Jordan Banks wants to go to art school. Unfortunately, his parents, especially his mother, have different ideas about what's best for Jordan. He is about to start seventh grade at Riverdale Academy Day School. Completely different from his urban, city school, it promises a great educational opportunity, but a lack of diversity means Jordon will be one of only a few brown kids.

The moment his "guide's" father picks him up in a fancy car, Jordan knows he's out of his element. A kid named Liam has been assigned to take Jordan around on the first day and be there for him should he have any questions. Liam quickly abandons Jordan. Using a map to find his classrooms proves nearly impossible, and no one seems to be interested in getting his name right.

Author Jerry Craft takes readers along as Jordan meets his new classmates and figures out both the written and unwritten rules of the unfamiliar society of Riverdale Academy. Each day when he gets home, his mother is excited to hear about his day, his dad seems oddly uninterested, and his neighborhood friends aren't as welcoming as usual. Will he ever make new friends? Will he survive the year? Will Riverdale ever seem like the best place to be?

Sunday, February 10, 2019


Jack Montgomery: World War II: Gallantry at Anzio

Author Michael P. Spradlin has released a new series titled MEDAL OF HONOR. The first book in the series is JACK MONTGOMERY: WORLD WAR II-GALLANTRY AT ANZIO. Thank you to the author and publisher for a copy and the chance to review it.

First Lieutenant Jack Montgomery was born in Oklahoma in 1917. He joined the National Guard and become part of a unit comprised of most Native American soldiers. After attending college and earning a Bachelor's degree in physical education, he went back to his National Guard unit. He was discharged after the required year of service in 1941.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor and the involvement of the United States in the European war, Montgomery ended up serving his country on the front lines in Sicily and Italy. His platoon saw action as the Allied troops worked their way up the Italian peninsula.

It was in the attack on Anzio that Montgomery earned his Medal of Honor. He single-handedly took out three machine gun nests, killing German soldiers while taking others captive. The remaining 20 or so soldiers in his platoon had him to thank for their lives. Montgomery was severely injured but went on to recover and accept his medal from President Franklin Roosevelt in January 1945.

The MEDAL OF HONOR series will feature some of the 3,500 soldiers who have received the honor since its creation during the Civil War. Author Michael P. Spradlin tells the story of Jack Montgomery's experiences and heroism on the battlefield and also sprinkles in photographs and colorful details of World War II throughout the text. History buffs are sure to enjoy this new series. It is perfect for middle grade and even high school readers and could be used to supplement history lessons about the time periods. Stay tuned for a review of Book #2 about Ryan Pitts, a soldier in Afghanistan.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

THE LONELY DEAD by April Henry

The Lonely Dead

This reviewer eagerly awaits all new books by April Henry. THE LONELY DEAD did not disappoint.

Adele can't believe she has become the main suspect in the death of her ex-best friend Tori. True, Adele was caught kissing Tori's boy friend during a drunken game of hide and seek, but that was an accident. It was on the way home from the party that Adele came face to face with the dead Tori.

Thanks to an inherited ability from her mother and grandmother, Adele sees the images of the dead  tethered to their remains. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, Adele doesn't see the images if she takes her medication, but recently she stopped, claiming to feel more like herself without the drug. The result - Tori appears to Adele tethered to her dead body buried in a shallow grave in the woods.

Tori begs Adele to help find her killer. A call from a nearby payphone sends the police to the woods where Tori's body is recovered and funeral proceedings follow. Adele continues to communicate with Tori's ghost attempting to find out the truth.

Adele's decision to report Tori's death backfires as police repeatedly question her about her presence in the woods after her confrontation with Tori at the party. Not able to explain her visions of the dead, Adele begins to doubt her own innocence and believes it might be easier to simply confess.

THE LONELY DEAD is classic April Henry with page-turning suspense and spot-on details. This may be my favorite yet.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

WHAT YOU HIDE by Natalie D. Richards

What You Hide

Spencer's parents won't lay off. They are constantly bugging him to do better in school and to try harder in hockey. Even his sister is nagging him about writing application letters and applying to colleges. He just isn't sure that whole scene is for him. That's why he decides to be a rebel and climb the library.

It would have been cool, too, if he hadn't accidentally put his knee through that $4000 dollar window on his way to the roof. Now he is doing community service at the library where he's shelving books, straightening chairs, and helping people log on to computers. It is also where he meets a green eyed girl named Mallory.

Mallory's mother has changed. She used to be independent and confident, but after she met Charlie, she seemed to lose herself. Mallory is trying to convince her mother, pregnant with Charlie's child, to leave him and start over before the baby is born.

She was sure she had convinced her, but when the time came to leave, her mother refused. But, Mallory wasn't staying a day longer. Now she's homeless and hiding out in the library after closing time, hoping it will provide a warm place for the night. That's how she met Spencer.

When Spencer realizes Mallory has nowhere to go, he tries to step in with a solution. The more he interacts with her during his library shifts, the more he begins to like her. Her life is so different than his, he can't stop thinking about her even when they aren't together.

The discovery of a dead body in the library throws a kink in Mallory's plans to continue hiding out there. Spencer not only wants to help Mallory, but also help solve the mystery of the dead woman and the strange signs left behind in the library. Mystery and intrigue mount as Mallory tries to stay hidden from Charlie's threats and Spencer hides from responsibilities he isn't ready to face.

Natalie D. Richards is also the author of SIX MONTHS LATER, ONE WAS LOST, and WE ALL FALL DOWN. Suspense and mystery are her trademarks and WHAT YOU HIDE will not disappoint.